Turning Points Series – Darlene Jones

The famous camel returns, bearing fantastic author Darlene Jones. She will bring us up to speed with what’s happening in her novel Embroiled, and then treat us to an excerpt showing us a turning point in the story.

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But first Darlene Jones tells us about herself:

A long time ago, I lived in Mali. Every single day, I wished I could wave a magic wand to relieve the heart-wrenching poverty. The storyline of my books reflects my desire to wave that wand and make the world a better place. If only wishes could come true. And of course, every novel needs its love story, so along with the sci-fi magic, I’ve added the requisite romance.

I’ve always believed we can’t be the only beings existing in the vastness of the universe. There must be others “out there somewhere” and I brought some of them along for the ride.The setting stays, for the most part, within the realities of our world, but I’ve found that I love the magic the sci-fi element of other beings can bring to the story.

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EMBROILED

Emily doesn’t believe in heaven, but she has an insane desire to go “up there.” A yearning that’s so strong that she can no longer function in daily life. Even the wonderful Dr. David can’t help her find the answers she needs.

Then a stranger arrives claiming to be her soulmate, claiming to have loved her in other lives. She is inexorably drawn to him even as she runs from him.

To prove what he says is true, Yves takes her to his world. There she meets gods and Powers and people rescued from doomed planets—living the perfect heavenly life. She knows she belongs “up there” with Yves, but all is not as idyllic as it appears. Emily is the only one who sees the danger. Can she leave her family and friends to stay with Yves? Will she be able to save him and his world?

Turning Point

Excerpt from Embroiled

Yves ordered a second round of liqueurs. They sipped and sat in tense silence. At least, for Emily, it was tense. She clasped her hands in her lap. It’s now or never, girl. “Yves, did you … did you make the kids … that is … did you influence the kids to go back to school?”

“Yes.”

Emily felt her mouth drop open. “How on Earth did you do that?”

Yves hesitated. Emily’s heart dropped and her stomach fluttered. What story was he formulating in the pause? What lies would he tell?

“That’s not an easy question to answer, Em.”

“Emily.”

“It has to do with your world and mine.”

Emily frowned. “Your world? What world is that?” She laughed nervously. “Are you saying you’re an alien?” Asking the question, she felt like an idiot.

“Sort of.”

Emily went cold. Her heart seemed to drop right out of her. “Sort of!?” She was so flustered she choked on her words. Aware of odd looks from the people at neighboring tables, she struggled for control. She took a deep breath and hissed, “What the hell does that mean?”

Yves winced at her sharp tone. “It’s a long story.”

“They always are.” Emily gathered her handbag and keys and slid from her chair, more disappointed than she ever thought she could be. The keys fell from her trembling hand. She reached down to scoop them up.

Yves was faster. He caught her hand and wrapped her fingers around her keys without letting go. “Please don’t leave.” He slapped some money on the table and stood. “I promised you an explanation, but I think it would be best if I showed you.”

“Showed me what?”

“My world.”

Emily stalked off to her car, as majestically as one could stalk off in flat sandals. “From another world. Yeah! Right!”

“Em, wait up,” Yves called. “You said, you believed.”

Without slowing down or looking back, Emily clicked the fob to unlock her car, opened the driver’s door, and tossed her purse inside. If Yves wanted to show her where he lived, she’d go along. Truth be told, she’d go anywhere with him. God, girl, you are so stupid. What if this guy is on the lam from some loony bin? “Where to?” she asked.

Yves’s face lit up. A sort of halo wavered around his head. Too much alcohol tonight, she thought. She closed her eyes for a moment and gave herself a mental shake, but, when she looked again, the halo was still there.

“You’ll come?” Yves asked. She nodded and saw his face glow. “We won’t need your car.” Emily clicked the lock button and pocketed the keys. “Take my hands and close your eyes.”

With a shiver of apprehension, Emily did as he asked. Her feet seemed to lift from the ground. The air felt cool on her face. Then grass tickled her toes and Yves was telling her to open her eyes. Emily glanced down. Yes, it was grass. But they’d been in the paved parking lot just a second ago. Turning full circle to examine her surroundings, she knew she wasn’t in Kansas anymore. Maybe if she clicked her heels together…. “Where are we?”

“This is my home,” Yves said softly.

 *****

Find out more about Darlene Jones and her books by clicking these links:

Website: www.emandyves.com

Amazon: http://ow.ly/vz9SA

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/307726

Christmas Interview – Dan O’Brien

My guest today is Dan O’Brien, the author of many books. He enjoys writing dystopian novels – stories of weird situations that we probably hope will never really happen on Earth. Still, after you read them, you won’t be able to stop thinking about them.

Welcome, Dan.

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1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

I do indeed. I am thinking of moving closer to my family once again so my wife and I could spend more time with them.

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

I did a few times when I was in my late teens and early twenties. It was kind of a sad affair.

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

I’m not really sure what a non-traditional dinner would entail. We sometimes spend the holidays with friends if we are unable to be with family.

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I prefer giving gifts that are made instead of purchased. I am personally not a fan of gift-giving during the holidays because of the forced necessity. I like to give smaller gifts throughout the year.

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

Play games with my family during a holiday break. Great part of my year, every year.

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

I do not. We don’t have a fireplace and I feel like one is required in order for proper stockings.

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

Simply the gift of family.

8. What do you do with gifts you don’t like?

I will generally give them to pledge drives or for needy families.

9. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

I write books for living.

10. What would you change about Christmas?

Nothing. Christmas is personal. The holidays are about family. I don’t really care how anyone else spends it.

11. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

Silent Night perhaps?

12. What do you like best about Christmas?

Family time, for sure.

Water

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FUR5NT6

Christmas Interview – Darlene Jones

The countdown to Christmas continues. Sharing her thoughts and ideas about Christmas is a special author, Darlene Jones. She has written an Earth-based sci-fi series of four novels about a woman who is re-incarnated in each book in order that she can continue her work to fix what’s wrong with the world. “Em,” the very capable main character in this series reminds me very much of my guest today, Darlene Jones.

How many of you have ever ridden a camel? Pretty special!

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Questions I asked Darlene:

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Yes, with family and friends. The more the merrier, as they say.

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

No, and I’m glad for that as I think a Christmas alone would be unbearably sad.

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner?

Yes, in Mexico we have had tamales and flan. Delicious, but I missed the traditional dinner especially the leftovers for breakfast the next morning which is the best part of a turkey dinner so now we cook a turkey on the barbecue.  We also have a piñata for the kids. One year I celebrated Christmas in Mali. My friend and I were volunteers with CUSO. We found a way to make pie crust from beurre de karite (the same karite that’s used in skin care products). We found the karite oil in a big barrel at the market, bought some, and took it home not knowing what it was. We put it in the fridge and a few hours later decided, by the texture, that we had a perfect shortening. We bought canned apples from China and made an apple pie. It was a huge success with all the Canadian CUSO volunteers.

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4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

We try to give gifts that we know our family need. After that we make donations to charity.

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

Going body boarding for one, sleigh rides down our street with all the neighbours for another. My husband brought his horse and sleigh into town and spent the day giving rides. We lived right by the river so it was very scenic and very Christmassy.

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

I can’t imagine Christmas morning without stockings and we try to fill them with the traditional things we had as kids–candy canes, chocolates, mandarin oranges….

7. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

Oh, this is an easy question. One of my secretaries gave me a night light with the bubble tube. As the light heats up it sends bubbles up the tube. She had decorated it with Christmas ribbons. It was just like the string of Christmas lights we had when I was a kid on the farm. I still have that night light and I plug it in in my kitchen each year.

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8. What would you change about Christmas?

I’d make it less commercial if I could. That’s one thing I like about Christmas here in Mexico. We aren’t bombarded with all the ads to buy, buy, buy, but people do put up decorations and trees with lights so we still have the beauty of Christmas, albeit without the snow.

9. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

Since we moved from Edmonton, the one thing I miss is a “white Christmas.” Clean snow on the ground, frost on the trees—that was always so magical. I hope to give my granddaughter a “white Christmas” one day.

***

Visit Darlene at her website:  www.emandyves.com

There you can find out all about her excellent novels.

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Water – A B-Sides Story

I want to thank you for having me on your blog to promote the release of my latest publication. Water is a novella in the B-Sides universe, which follows people in a post-apocalyptic world. While each story is a standalone adverture, together they form a deeply intricate web of action, drama, and hope. Here is a brief summary of the novella:
The next installment in the B-Sides series follows a father and son living out a quiet life in northern Arizona. A strange occurrence at the border, and a series of events that turns the world upside down, plunges society into a spiral from which it might not be able to recover. Having to flee from their home with a band of unlikely friends in tow, the open road beckons. 

Can they survive? 

And here be an excerpt for your enjoyment:
Tuesday
His phone vibrated as it slowly ventured toward the edge of his nightstand. Shaking and spinning, it was a ballet of electronic futility. James had left it behind; it wasn’t even an afterthought as he neared the valley of sand and heat that he had passed through only the night before. There were two reasons to live in the desert: sunsets and sunrises.
This particular morning was no exception.
The valley was formed of a crimson pastel rock that from a distance looked like the mountains at the entrance to some unknown world. But in the morning and just before the wisps of night grab a hold and smother the day, there was an explosion of colors. It was a beautiful cornucopia of blistering and beautiful art.
The sun crawled just above the sand dunes, flooding the valley in sunshine. The splashing light tumbled across the rock formations, and iridescent stones ignited the walls of the basin.
This was the part of the day James loved the most.
This was when his life felt less worthless.
There was purpose here.
The sun came into the valley each day to create this beautiful marvel, and each day he was here to witness it. The twisting serpent of the road wove in and out of the majesty of nature, until the paved parking lot of his daily grind came into view.
A grotesque sign was perched just off the road.
It read: Our Stuff.
The door of the jeep creaked as James closed it. He pulled his red vest over his black t-shirt and ran a hand through his short hair.
The parking lot was mostly empty.
A beat-up Buick had been parked there since the late 90s and had never moved. By this time, it was a makeshift homeless shelter for local transients. It was an important component of his duties for the day, driving off the homeless when they panhandled in front of the store.
Silence permeated the morning––a rare treat James relished in the early mornings. She walked in from the other side of the parking lot. A blue Honda with a dented door and missing hubcaps was parked some distance away. She was his dream girl, of a sort. She was married to––or had been, it was a strange situation to be sure––a local drunk and abuser.
Light brown hair to her chin: It was often combed over one eye, mirroring a childhood memory. There was too much eye shadow to hide indiscretions, long shirts to hide bruises.
She was a broken doll.
“Hey Violet,” James mumbled as he got closer, chancing an awkward wave.
She rarely looked up and when she did, all he was struck by was the wide eyes that looked at him in gratitude for recognizing her existence. This day, she smiled weakly. Dimples in her cheeks deepened as he got closer.
“Hello, James,” she whispered back, her voice small.
He felt protective of her.
As he neared, he smiled widely, invitingly.
“Did you bring Julie with you today?”
Julie was her eight-year old daughter who often frequented work with her mother when her father was away on a binge, or more violent than usual. James felt defensive of her as well, much to his detriment.
She shook her head. Most of the time she wore an over-sized coat with a faux fur lining and hood that was often the barrier of her hidden face.
“Her father took her today.”
James nodded absently, as he could not imagine what that man could do with a child. He could barely take care of himself. Too often, he would barrel into the store––half-drunk and yelling––and would have to be dragged out by the police. The automatic doors at the front of the store did not open as they approached.
Reaching out, James pulled them open and gestured for Violet to go first. She bowed her head, making an already smaller person even more diminutive. The interior of the store was still dark. The echo of the speakers played elevator music, water-downed versions of songs no one wanted to hear. As Violet disappeared into the aisles of the store, James turned and shut the front doors and locked them.
“See you later,” he spoke, trailing off at the end.
*
The morning passed as it often did.
The sun rose.
Heat sweltered in the desert and the fringe humanity of Miranda sought air-conditioned shelter. James was a walker, a transient employee who sauntered through the store. Seeking out customers who required help, he sometimes cleaned the bathrooms. Often, he attended to those duties that fell between the cracks of other employees. As the morning gave way to the afternoon, there was a palpable tension in the air.
Customers were more curt than usual.
People left angry.
It was not until James had the distinct pleasure of interacting with a deranged desert degenerate that he began to understand what it was about that day that was enraging people so.
“Nametag.”
James did not register the cruel tone at first.
“Nametag,” he repeated, this time drawing James’ attention. “Nametag, I’m talking to you. Turn around.”
James turned, his grimace dissipating into an even line.
It was his best attempt at a smile.
The man was a caricature of a person. His chin disappeared into his pocked neck and his bulging brown eyes seemed to be of two different sizes. Crooked teeth were revealed as he opened his mouth to speak once more.
“Hey, what about customer service? C’mon, nametag.”
“What can I help you with, sir?” mustered James.
The man’s face twisted into a sneer.
He was wearing a shirt three sizes too small, his hairy belly exposed from just beneath the dirty white shirt. Putrid breath radiated from the man. It was an odor that could have risen from a trash heap in the Mojave Desert. “Attitude? You giving me attitude now, nametag? Time like this, in a crisis and what not.”
“I’m sorry that you feel I am being discourteous…”
The man sneered again. His voice, though masculine, broke as he spoke again. “Using big words on me now, college dropout. You think you’re hot shit, selling commodities to us lower folk.”
James looked at the man in disbelief, his behavior was deplorable. “Perhaps if you can just calm down, I can help you find whatever it is you are looking for.”
The man moved in closer, the scent of body odor was overpowering. “You some kind of wise guy? Why do you think I’m here? You retarded? Don’t you listen to the news? Don’t you know what’s going on?”
James looked at him, bewildered.
“Sir, I…”
“Water,” the man spoke clearly. “Water, I need water.”
“Bottled water? Is this about the Hernandez thing? The border?” queried James, making a connection slowly, though uncertainly. “Are they peddling hysteria already?”
“Hysteria, boy, you must be living under a rock. It’s coming. That border thing’s old news. Poison is in Texas now, parts of New Mexico. They’re talking about rationing and sanctions on tap water. You believe that shit?”
James looked around the store. “I really don’t.”
It had evaded him previously.
The scampering populace of Miranda bustled about the store, arms full of plastic water bottles and greater containers. One woman had another by the hair, dragging her away from the last water bottles on the shelf. People screamed at each other, pointing accusing fingers, claiming water as their own.
“It would appear you aren’t the only one looking,” replied James, as he pointed to the pandemonium. “Best of luck to you.”
The man glowered at him as he passed by, but James could not believe his eyes. Lines were backed up, people nearly climbing over each other to get water and carry it away in the heat of the day, to survive.
He stalked over to the throng of people who had begun to congregate around the empty shelves. As he approached, the masses turned as one. Their bleary eyes and angry words were upon him before he could even speak.
“Where is the water?” one cried.
“Is there more?” queried an elderly woman shakily.
“What do we do?” screamed another.
James held up his hands, trying to calm them.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he began, but they continued to bicker. Each voice rose above the others. Some shoved those smaller than themselves, like a rabid mob. He raised his voice. Some mumbles remained, but most had directed their attention at him. “Let’s all calm down for a moment. I will go in the back and see what we have.”
He moved away from them, not giving them time to object or grow ever angrier. The store was packed. Never in his eighteen months there had he seen such a rush on the store. He wondered what it was he had missed to which everyone else was reacting so intensely. Pushing open the double doors that led into the warehouse, James sighed.
The madness was tangible.
It permeated the air, made it thin.
Other employees had congregated in the back, seeking shelter from the madness. Two of them talked loudly with each other. One he knew, the other was a new employee or perhaps someone with whom he had never crossed paths. The first was dressed in a style that could only be described as early fuckup. The other was the kind of person who you would not give another look, as average as they come.
An unevenly mounted nose ring, jagged teeth, and a tone that was filled with ignorance: The younger man James did not know spoke in an overbearing tone.
“This is epic. All these fucking hillbillies running around like the skies are falling in. I’m surprised the fat ones aren’t screaming Chicken Little. Epic.” He held his hands up demonstratively. “Epic.”
Average Bob watched the less-than-eloquent fellow employee with a listless gaze. “The news said it was serious though…”
“The news? You can’t trust the news, man. They are trying to pull some bullshit over our eyes. Always, trying to force your hand,” he continued to rant.
James moved past, making sure not to make eye contact, as he did not wish to engage them in some kind of rhetorical conversation. As he moved out of earshot, he could not help but shake his head at the redundant movie references that took the place of grammar and syntax. There was only the replacement of actual thought with recycled thought. It had become the repetition and regurgitation of the words of another. He was not necessarily bitter toward fan worship, but was simply irritated by the lack of thought most other people his age seemed to show. They were more content in the safety of what other people thought––more concerned with their small shell of a world and not the greater picture.
His face twisted into a scowl as he moved past racks and racks of brown boxes marked in black permanent marker with various numbers designating position, quantity, and retail-related mediocrity. As he reached the back, where normally there were pallets upon pallets of shrink-wrapped water cases, he swore.
Reaching down, he picked up the wayward bunched band of plastic that had once held the pallet in place. There were seven empty pallets, the entire back stock of what the store carried.
Where had he been?
How had he not seen this?
The voice startled him. “Pretty intense, huh?”
James rose slowly, turning to face Violet. “Yeah, wild. How did I not notice all of this water going out?”
She moved next to him, folding her arms across her chest. “You’ve been in a daze lately, moving around as if you didn’t notice anything, anybody.”
They lingered like this for a moment.
Neither spoke––nor breathed really––except in fractured, shallow breaths. Finally, letting out a burst of air and licking his lips, James shifted his feet and ran a hand through his hair. “I should check on those people out there. They were acting like fucking animals.”
Violet nodded, tucking her hands inside her sleeves.
“Yeah, my break is almost over. I should be getting back.”
James nodded again, awkwardly.
Turning away, he disappeared into the racks once more, leaving Violet to her thoughts. He shook his head and mumbled to himself in mock anger. Whenever there was a moment when he and Violet seemed to connect, they both froze, neither making a move. She was scared, but was looking for a way out.
He knew that.
He could be there for her.
Smacking a hand against his forehead, he whispered to himself angrily. “Stupid.”
A psychologist, author, editor, philosopher, martial artist, and skeptic, he has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, The Journey, The Ocean and the Hourglass, The Path of the Fallen, The Portent, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter (@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog http://thedanobrienproject.blogspot.com. He recently started a consultation business. You can find more information about it here: http://www.amalgamconsulting.com/.

Writing Styles – Part 11 – Embroiled

Embroiled is the last of a series of four novels about an amazing woman. You’ve met her as Em, or Miracle Madame in Embattled. She was Jasmine in Empowered, and Abby in Embraced. Em’s latest reincarnation will have you turning pages to find out why she is so obsessed with getting out of this world. No, she doesn’t want to die, but something or someone is drawing her like a magnet and she is finding the pull hard to resist.

IMG_1077Author Darlene Jones will share with us some snippets of her setting, character, and a scene ending from this amazing novel.

EMBROILED

 CHARACTER: Hypnosis! Emily slammed a pot on the counter. She hated cooking, but she had to eat. She didn’t need hypnosis. She remembered it all. Every single damn obsession.

SETTING: “I’m driving home from the conference when the slough catches my eye. I’m mesmerized by the damn thing. I feel an insane urge to walk on the thin fall ice, to explore the fishing holes, to lie spread-eagled to distribute my weight. I know full well I’ll break through and drown, but I’ll be warm and taken care of. What I find down there will make it worthwhile.” Emily felt her chest tighten. Each time she came to David’s office, each time she spoke of her greatest fears, she felt the strings to sanity loosening. Am I crazy, Doc?

SCENE ENDING SENTENCE: What is holding you back from loving and being loved?”

Emily sucked in air. “Whatever is under that ice,” she whispered. “That’s what.”

 ?????????????????????????????????????????????For more information about this fascinating series, please visit Darlene Jones’ webpage:

http://www.emandyves.com

Writing Styles – Part 9

EMBRACED is the third book in a series of four by Darlene Jones.

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Em, the heroine of the series, has been reincarnated as Abby, a high school teacher who hears clicking in her teeth. Can you imagine if your teeth made clicks that sounded like Morse Code? Wouldn’t you worry that people would think you were crazy if you told them about it? But what is causing this clicking?

In this part of Writing Styles, we’ll be treated to a sample of Darlene Jones’s writing taken from her book “Embraced.”

CHARACTER: “God, I’m stupid. Whatever made me think Rice Krispies would lead me to an answer?” She sighed. Yet another failed attempt to identify the sounds. She dumped out the cereal, rinsed the bowl, and left it on the counter for morning.

SETTING: The play of clouds and moonlight over the water and mountains beyond calmed her. She licked her lips and tasted salt. From the heavily laden sea air or from tears? A few notes of music echoing across the water caught her attention. A bagpipe of all things.

SCENE ENDING SENTENCE: I don’t know why I think they’re messages from outer space.

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Find out more about Darlene Jones and her novels on her website  www.emandyves.com

Her books are available on amazon.com and smashwords.com

Writing Styles – Part 8

My guest on Writing Styles – Part 8 is author Darlene Jones.

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You’ve seen her here before, and you’ll see her again, because she has written four novels. I love Em, her “wonder woman” character, in “Embattled.” In “Empowered,” Em is reincarnated as Jasmine, a character most women would envy.

 Here is a character description of Jasmine, followed by the setting of one of the scenes from “Empowered,” and a scene ending. You’ll see that Darlene Jones can paint a picture with words. 

CHARACTER: “Ooh, you’re cute,” she cooed. He had the feeling she’d been lying in wait for this moment. Her tone was low and neutral, but loud enough to catch everyone’s attention. Phone conversations were cut short, receivers cradled, papers shuffled and set aside, and keyboards left idle. Jasmine spoke again, this time with a sarcastic bite, “My new babysitter. Lucky me.”

SETTING: Nick sensed the rise in tension and knew that all eyes were on him. Sure of a telltale flush creeping up from under his collar, he decided to brazen it out. They would talk about him anyway, this inner circle, the top dogs of Berdin Corp who toiled up here in the rarefied air of the penthouse floor.

 SCENE ENDING SENTENCE: Great way to start your new job, buddy. Subject of your undying bodyguarding devotion wants no part of you.

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Find out more about Darlene Jones and her novels on her website  www.emandyves.com

Her books are available on amazon.com and smashwords.com