A very well written piece on free speech and what it entails.
The Right to Free Speech vs. the Right to Not be Offended
First… The right to free speech is a constitution right. The right to not be offended does not exist. There are limits to free speech such as lies (yelling “fire” when there is none), derogatory statements about race or gender (which can be construed as hate speech), using obscenities on the radio and tv, and a few more you can look up yourself.
Being an author, a blogger, and an artist, I’m strongly attached to this issue. There is an important discussion going on in this country regarding our right to free speech, and many organizations are circling the wagons, but there seems to be some major confusion between “recognizing bad taste” and “being deeply offended.” There was recently an incident of a satirist being accused of sexual harassment over a college newspaper article published on April Fool’s…
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Today I welcome back Francis Guenette, author of the Crater Lake series. She’s recently published Chasing Down the Night, the third book in the series. I loved each of the previous novels, Disappearing in Plain Sight and The Light Never Lies. I’m very pleased to turn over the reins of Author Wednesday to her capable hands.
Writing a Series of Stand Alone Novels
By Francis Guenette
Beware of the person of one book – Thomas Aquinas
I doubt Aquinas had authors of book series in mind when he penned these words but I seem to have derived my raison d’entre from this thought – at least when it comes to writing.
Many thanks to P.C. for inviting me to appear on her wonderful blog. My guest post will delve into a sticky issue. How stand-alone must each book in an ongoing series be?
First off, let us clear up one point. There is a distinct difference between books in a series and serialized books. Each book in a series must be somewhat stand-alone. The storylines introduced should be resolved by the last page – at least resolved enough so that if the author never again laid fingers to the keyboard to continue, all would be well. Not to say fans wouldn’t be sad but such is life.
Not so with a serial. These books can leave a reader dangling over the verge of a veritable cliff and the authors congratulate themselves on a job well done. The message is clear – buy the next book if you want to know what is going to happen as the train barrels down the track towards beautiful Mary tied to the tracks.
I suppose the most important part of this distinction is that readers know what they’re getting into before they start reading.
A series of novels can be loosely knit together or tightly woven. I see my books as falling close to the tightly woven side of things. Even so, I aim for stand-alone status. A good analogy would be to an ongoing TV series. Viewers coming in at season three or later will have to do a bit of guesswork but a well done TV show will provide enough backstory to keep all who watch in the loop.
Agreement on how much backstory is necessary is mixed.
After reading Chasing Down the Night, a reader said, “I didn’t have a clue who Tim and Marlene were.” Soon after these characters were mentioned, I included a line that went something like – no wonder Lisa-Marie loved boarding with them when she was in high school. A reader felt sidelined when Brigit comments that Izzy has a lovely daughter and Izzy thinks that she will let that comment slide. Going into book three without having read the second book in the series, Sophie’s parentage is left deliberately vague. This is true to who the characters are; that is the first imperative for the author. And this bit of tension results in a delicious eye-widening when the truth becomes obvious.
Wearing my reader hat, I have often jumped into a series partway through. I enjoy the guessing game tensions that ensue. My curiosity drives me to find out if my suspicions are right by buying and reading earlier volumes. Jamming my author hat on, I am profoundly thankful for reader feedback and take seriously the comments. The next time I’m back at Crater Lake writing book four, I may decide to add more clues.
To make sense of the third book in my series – Chasing Down the Night – is it necessary to have read the first two? No. My editor and I agree on one point – give only enough information to pique the reader’s interest but tell no more than is required to move this particular story forward. Is a finer understanding of the characters derived from reading all three books? Definitely.
I don’t guarantee that readers starting the Crater Lake Series after book one will enjoy an effortless read but the breadcrumbs laid out along the paths are there. I do promise a story worth the energy it takes to put the puzzle together.
About Francis: Francis Guenette has spent all of her life on the west coast of British Columbia. She lives with her husband and finds inspiration for writing in the beauty and drama of their off-grid, lakeshore cabin and garden. She has a graduate degree in Counselling Psychology. She has worked as an educator, trauma counsellor and researcher. Chasing Down the Night is her third novel in the Crater Lake Series.
Read other Author Wednesday features with Francis Guenette
Purchase Links for Chasing Down the Night
Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome bestselling author Andrew P. Weston who’s here to talk about the creation of his very successful novel The IX, science fiction fantasy with mythology and alternative history thrown in the mix. It’s quite a journey for readers who love any genre of fiction. See for yourself. Here’s Andrew’s blurb about the book.
Roman legionnaires, far from home, lost in the mists of Caledonia.
A U.S. cavalry company, engaged on a special mission, vital to the peace treaty proposed by Presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln.
A twenty-first century Special Forces unit, desperate to prevent a nuclear catastrophe.
From vastly different backgrounds, these soldiers are united when they are snatched away from Earth at the moment of their passing. Thinking they may have been granted a reprieve, imagine their horror when they discover they have been transported to a failing planet on the far side of the galaxy, where they are given a simple ultimatum. Fight or die. Against all odds, this group of misfits manages to turn the tide against a relentless foe, only to discover the true cost of victory might exact a price they are unwilling to pay.
How far would you be willing to go to stay alive?
The IX. Sometimes, death is only the beginning of the adventure.
How I cooked up the idea for…The IX
By Andrew P. Weston
The concept surrounding The IX came about following a lively and opinionated discussion during a veterans reunion dinner in the early part of 2013. Military history has always been a hobby of mine, and several ex-Royal Marine colleagues started chatting about the fate of the legendary lost 9th Legion of Rome.
It’s not until you begin to research the subject that you realize what a mighty edifice a legion was. More than five thousand strong, they were a self-sufficient micro-civilization on the march, capable of building an entire fortification at the end of every day’s journey in which to sleep soundly. And yet, the 9th Legion marched into the swirling mists of Northern Caledonia (Scotland) sometime between AD100 – 120 (Estimates vary, which is a mystery in itself) and were never seen again. How come?
That conversation stayed with me for several months until I happened to catch an old movie on TV, entitled, Millennium. In that film, time travelers visit the present day and steal passengers from doomed aircraft with the intention of repopulating a barren world of the future.
I am an avid science fiction fan, and the conversation from the reunion dinner immediately sprang to mind. Obviously, I began to imagine what if?
What if the 9th Legion were taken? Not just into our future…but somewhere and somewhen else entirely. What if their antagonists were also snatched away with them? A scenario like that would obviously create a cauldron of bubbling tension, especially if those adversaries were then forced to rely on each other in order to survive an even greater peril. Ouch!
I started to let those thoughts foment, and came up with a spicy twist. Would it be a good idea to include additional groups of refugees from other time periods, especially if they had to face the very real prospect of death all over again as well? (I know, it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, doesn’t it?)
I chose a U.S. cavalry unit from around the time of the presidential elections of 1860. That period has always fascinated me. Presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln was juggling growing pressure between state governors and congress regarding the issue of the Native American peoples. So, I invented a secret peace proposal between him and certain tribes from the Plains Cree nations. Of course, this ‘treaty’ would also be compounded by an ongoing internal conflict between the actual clans themselves, all of which would add to the simmering uncertainty.
Into the pot, I added a straightforward anti-terrorist Special Forces team from the near future. That was easy, because of my military experience.
It took a great deal of research and preparation, but I was very pleased with the resulting outline, as it provided a fresh approach to what many people had started to look on as a boring genre.
But of course, I couldn’t just leave it at that. Yes…I’d started off well by basing the plot around the fictional fate of an actual legion. But how could I add a sweetener, one that would bring things to the boil and ensure the reader could taste a hint of realism?
As many people appreciate, when books have a ring of truth about them – even Science Fiction and Fantasy stories – it gives your story a solid foundation. If it’s believable, people will be able to relate to what they’re reading. If they relate to it, you capture their attention. You suck them into your fabricated world and get them chewing things over for themselves. That’s exactly what I wanted. Yes, I had to stretch the imagination – make it a “stir-fried’ adventure – for want of an apt synonym, but nonetheless, I had to ensure the main ingredients were based in well researched ‘reality’.
With The IX, the 9th were a real Legion who existed and disappeared into the mists of Caledonia. The 5th cavalry company were based in a time of real civil unrest during American history. The Special Forces unit were based on real experiences from my life in the military. The fighting styles and methods of each faction involved are based on real elements and techniques. So yes, even though the IX is a science fiction novel, it’s as historical and as realistic as it can be.
And of course, the story hits you with the indulgence of a real moral dilemma too.
Sometimes, we face hurdles in life that seem overwhelming. Then something bigger and nastier comes along that makes you realize, wow, my problems seem so small and insignificant. In The IX, former enemies who hated each other with a vengeance are thrown into a situation where their choice is really simple.
Forget your former animosities, and pull together against a greater enemy…or you simply won’t survive.
Being a military veteran who has seen action in a number of theaters around the world, I’ve often pondered the notion. You know, what would I do in a situation like that? Would I really be able to put aside my feelings and concentrate on staying alive, especially if it was against a relentless, remorseless adversary who wanted all life snuffed out?
I’ve faced some pretty unpleasant people. Even so, the survivor in me answered the question without hesitation…Hell Yes!
As the tagline of The IX says, Fight or Die!
So, there you go. That’s how The IX came to be. I took a cup of imagination and stirred in three tablespoons of research. To that, I added a healthy dash of determination. The final sprinkling of magic is what rounded it off. A certain recipe for success.
People seem to like it, which makes all the hard work worthwhile.
An astronomy and law graduate, he is a contracted writer of fiction and poetry. Creator of “The IX” – and the “Guardians” and “Cambion Journals” series, has also has the privilege of being a member of the British Science Fiction Association, and British Fantasy Society.
When not writing, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with one of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories.
Click below to find out more about Andrew P. Weston
Summer is heating up with 14 traditional romances from USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors, brought to you by Book Boyfriends Cafe. Foreword by USA Today bestselling author, Leanne Banks.
Cora Rules by Mel Curtis, USA Today Bestselling Author. NBA coach Trent Parker is a stickler for the rules, until he meets Cora Rule, the biggest rulebreaker of the Rule clan.
Surrender to Love by Raine English, USA Today Bestselling Author. When Tara Spencer agrees to spend the summer caring for her ailing grandmother, she has no idea how her life will be changed by the handsome stranger next door.
The Merry-Go-Round by Author Donna Fasano, USA Today Bestselling Author. When Lauren divorces her husband, her life quickly turns into a 3-ring circus. Will she step off the merry-go-round–or reach out and grab the brass ring?
Twist of Fate by Patti Forsythe, USA Today Bestselling author. Rebecca Perris is on a dangerous quest to find her sister, but when she meets Aaron al-Rashid again, it’s her heart that’s at risk.
Her French Count by Mona Risk, USA Today Bestselling Author. A Da Vinci Code in a French Chateau. The lovely American architect has turned his life upside down, but are his chateau and a missing statue worth endangering her life?
Love Me Forever by Ari Thatcher, USA Today Bestselling Author. Escaping to Maui to get over her divorce, Jen runs into her first love, who blew her off at the end of her vacation. Matt had given up hope of ever finding her again. Can he convince her to give him a second chance?
Playing the Rookie by Rachelle Ayala, National Bestselling Author. A rookie pitcher and a sports intern on the rebound connect to get over their exes. Will their fling turn into true love or destroy both of their careers?
Duke of Devonwood by Carly Carson, National Bestselling Author Sparks fly as Miranda plots to gain control of her inheritance from a modern day Duke who tries his best to resist her wiles. Can both of them win?
True North by Kelly Collins, National Bestselling Author. Alexa leaves Los Angeles with a scarred heart, a beat up car and a secret. She’s fleeing her hopelessness to find her future. Can a sexy stranger mend her heart and be her compass?
Fashion Victim by Suz deMello, best-selling, award-winning author: Hot isn’t a hot enough word to describe corporate raider Fletcher Wolf, but since he’s suing couturier Cara Fletcher for, oh, a gazillion dollars, she figures she shouldn’t hit on him…at least not too hard.
Season, Unforgettable by Keta Diablo, National Bestselling Author. He promised his mother he’d wrap up the Pine Bay project, and he would have if not for a nature lover who can’t be bought at any price. Now he’s fighting for the other side, fighting to recapture his abandoned dreams, and fighting to win her heart.
Most Likely to Turn up the Heat by Cheryl Harper. Sue Walker’s “no soldiers, no cops, no coworkers” policy doesn’t stand a chance against injured cop turned high school security guard Max Holt. His mission to return to Dallas and danger could be the deal breaker.
My Favorite What If by Lyssa Layne, National Bestselling Author. Jacob “Smitty” Smith and Sloan Talbott have both have been hurt. Neither is looking for love. Will one week in paradise be a fling to remember or could it possibly lead to something more?
Relay For Love by Susan Ann Wall, National Bestselling Author. A cancer survivor who celebrates in silence…a widow who remembers the man she lost…a fight back where two hearts battle to be together.
Welcome to Author Wednesday and a guest post by Janet Morris, the author Tempus, a best-selling work of fantasy that has developed into much more than one work of fiction. Tempus even has its own Wikepedia page. Tempus is also a part of the box set, At Odds with Destiny. I’m pleased to have Janet here today to talk about how her dynasty with the Tempus character.
The Birth of Tempus
By Janet Morris
I started writing stories about my soon-to-be iconic character Tempus in a most unexpected way. At the World Science Fiction convention, I sat on a panel with editor of the Thieves’ World series, Robert L. Asprin. In front of a packed house, he leaned forward into his microphone and asked me to write for his new “shared word” series, “Thieves’ World.” Flustered and delighted, but having no idea what Thieves world might be about, I said yes.
After the panel, Bob Asprin explained what he wanted: a story of up to ten thousand words, set in Sanctuary, a town meant to be the armpit of fantasy, a town we writers would all share as the locale for our stories. Our characters would remain ours to do with as we pleased elsewhere, but the Sanctuary locale belonged to the story, and Bob would send me a backgrounder about the town and the unfortunate and corrupt people who lived there in some forgotten place and past. He said he wanted it dark; he wanted the characters to be thieves and murderers and witches and such, and the government to be unable to keep the peace. There was one volume of this shared anthology already published, and Bob said he’d send me a copy of the book to show me what others had done.
But by then I already knew what I wanted to write, and what characters I wanted to use. I had written a very short story about a mage-killer, Cime, and her target, Askelon, the last great archmage, and the place where he ruled. I asked if I could bring some pre-existing characters and places, and the editor gave me permission. I asked if I could write characters who were both heroic and anti-heroic, and the editor said yes. So I originally thought I’d expand my existing story, and reference my archmage’s world of Meridian, an island which only sometimes appeared in our world. Bob Asprin okayed this as well.
But by the time I arrived home, I had another story in mind: Tempus, my character, had come storming into my brain: Tempus the Riddler, Tempus the Black, Tempus the Obscure. Tempus would be analogous to Heraclitus of Ephesus, but be the man Heraclitus would have been if he’d done what he advised others to do. So from that assignment came Tempus at his nadir, once a general, now a mercenary fallen on hard times, alone in lawless Sanctuary with a mission from the capital to see if the feckless prince who ruled the town could ever make a king. Cime would be his sister, and Askelon his nemesis, but first I had to introduce him in a way that would make the editor want not only that story, but more stories of Tempus and Cime and the wizard-ridden world they perceived.
So I wrote, “Vashanka’s Minion,” the first story in the Tempus epic; Bob loved its anti-heroic flavor, and asked me to do another, which was “A Man and his God,” in which two men kiss, a priest of the Storm God dies, and Tempus’ world forever changes as he inherits the Sacred Band.
Right there, when the Sacred Band begins, the story becomes historical fantasy, since our Sacred Band is modeled on the heroic but doomed Sacred Band of Thebes.
I loved writing the first Tempus stories; the characters obsessed me; once I connected Tempus to Heraclitus and fantasy Sanctuary to the real ancient past, I knew exactly what to do. I have never had more fun writing.
And evidently the readers had fun reading the Tempus stories, for the Thieves’ World series was a great success, selling more than a million copies, success enough that I could propose and sell a stand-alone Tempus book, to be a novelized anthology in which my earliest Tempus tales are seen by his young companion in war, Nikodemos. And in which (even better) I could publish my story about Cime the mage-killer and Askelon, lord of dreams who rules Meridian.
It was during this interval as I was preparing the novelized anthology, Tempus, that the shared-world Thieves’ World became a bestseller; then I also sold the to-be-written trilogy about Tempus and his Sacred Band, called the Beyond trilogy (Beyond Sanctuary, Beyond the Veil, Beyond Wizardwall) as hardcovers for Baen Books, as Science Fiction Book Club selections, and as Ace mass market paperbacks. Subsequently, I wrote three more Tempus novels for Baen, and then many years later assembled the final Thieves’ World Sacred Band tales, along with new stories written expressly for that volume, in a second novelized anthology, The Fish the Fighters and the Song-girl, and also, for Perseid Press, the epic Tempus novel, The Sacred Band.
For more than thirty years now, I have been writing about Tempus (and his sister-in-arms Cime, and the Sacred Band of Stepsons), and he has been living in my head much in the same way that Tempus is inhabited by Enlil, the Akkadian Storm God. But this book Tempus is the original, the earliest, and these are the tales that made Tempus famous — how it all began.
About Janet: Janet Morris began writing in 1976 and has since published more than 20 novels, many co-authored with her husband Chris Morris or others. She has contributed short fiction to the shared universe fantasy series “Thieves World, (TM)” in which she created the Sacred Band of Stepsons, a mythical unit of ancient fighters modeled on the Sacred Band of Thebes. She created, orchestrated, and edited the Bangsian fantasy series Heroes in Hell, writing stories for the series as well as co-writing the related novel, The Little Helliad, with Chris Morris. Most of her fiction work has been in the fantasy and science fiction genres, although she has also written historical and other novels. Morris has written, contributed to, or edited several book-length works of non-fiction, as well as papers and articles on nonlethal weapons, developmental military technology and other defense and national security topics.
Click below for links to more about Tempus and Janet Morris
Ten Authors and Ten Novels
including Tempus by Janet Morris and Native Lands by P.C. Zick
Great Summer Reading for only $.99 cents
(The Santa Monica Trilogy, #3)
Mature content, 18+. Heat level: 4 (out of 5)
When Angie goes head to head against her old nemesis Zach, “backroom negotiation” takes on a whole new meaning. As lawyers on opposite sides of a case, they’ve got plenty to argue about. She’s an environmentalist. He’s in-house counsel for a land developer.
But handling difficult clients, interfering family and friends, as well as courtroom battles proves easier than facing a growing mutual attraction that threatens to spin out of control. While Angie wants to believe there’s more to life than legal briefs, she’s been burned before. Can she learn to trust Zach, or will complications of his playboy past derail any chance of a happily-ever-after?
(Please note: Though this is the third book in the Santa Monica Trilogy, it can be read as a stand-alone novel.)
“Heard your dad’s company is getting sued.”
Zach dove for the ball, slamming his shoulder against the floor. “What?”
Mike gave him a hand up. “It was on the CNS dinger this morning. You didn’t know?”
Zach scowled. As in-house counsel for Stewart & Landry LLC, it was his job to know. That’s why he regularly monitored the Courthouse News Service, and kept tabs by phone and email. It figured this would happen the one day he headed out the door without checking.
He swiped an arm across his sweaty forehead and readjusted his grip on the racquet. “Your serve.”
Another minute passed in silence, punctuated by grunts and the slap of the ball against polyurethaned hardwood and tempered glass.
“So who’s the plaintiff?” Zach asked when the volley ended.
Mike shrugged. “Some woman claiming CEQA violations.”
No surprise there. The California Environmental Quality Act was the bane of every developer’s existence, and a cash cow for any shady real estate lawyer who could find a tree-hugger willing to take up the cause.
“Damn leeches,” he muttered.
“You’d think people would be grateful that we’re infusing life into a sluggish economy.” He struck the ball with such force that it rebounded off the back wall and would have hit Mike if he hadn’t jumped out of the way.
“If not for us redeveloping the area, they’d have nothing but urban blight on their hands. Some of those buildings are barely standing, with so many code violations they should have been razed decades ago.”
“Hey, don’t kill the messenger. If you want to be angry, take it out on the plaintiff’s attorney.”
“And who’s that?”
“Judge MacDowell’s daughter. Alice? Anna? Something with an A.”
Zach drew up short. “Angie?”
“Angela. That’s it. Pretty hot commodity in real estate law, from what I hear.”
“Yeah.” Zach forced his attention back to the game.
“Pretty hot in all respects, come to think of it.” Mike grinned. “The ass on that babe…”
Zach gritted his teeth. “Grow up, would you?”
“Oh, please. Like you haven’t thought the same thing?”
“Not about her.”
“What, are you blind?”
“No. But her sister’s a friend of the family.”
Mike blinked. “Then what’s she doing suing you?”
“I don’t know. But I’m sure as hell going to find out.”
The raised voices outside her office gave Angie a few seconds’ warning before the door burst open and a glowering Zachary Stewart stormed in.
“What is this crap?” He flung a large manila envelope on her desk.
“Hello, Zach.” She got up slowly. “I see the process server found you.”
“What the hell are you trying to pull here?”
Angie took her time responding. It wasn’t every day that six feet of ripped, fire-breathing male invaded her office. Her gaze slid down the broad shoulders and lean waist. Oh, my. The things he did for a navy pinstriped suit and oxford shirt should be illegal.
By the time she’d worked her way back up to meet his gaze, she could almost feel the anger rolling off of him in waves.
“You seem a little hot under the collar, Zach. Would you like an ice water to help you cool down?”
His blue eyes narrowed. “Knowing you, that water would likely get spilled ‘accidentally on purpose’ down my suit. No thanks.”
“You overestimate my aggressive tendencies.”
“I don’t think so. I still remember how you negotiated your sister’s settlement. You could teach a Doberman a thing or two about aggression.”
She folded her arms across her chest. “Roger and your dad started S&L together. It was only fair that Roger’s widow get compensated for his share of the company. And in case you forgot, there was no buyout agreement in place when he died. I wouldn’t have had to push so hard if there had been.”
“A buyout agreement wouldn’t have covered all the legal problems Roger caused,” Zach retorted. “In case you forgot, he was dabbling in suspect investments on the side.”
Angie bit her lip. Zach didn’t even know the half of it. Luckily, Eva had managed to emerge—with Angie’s help—from the legal and financial nightmare following her husband’s death. She’d had to sell her house and scramble for a job, but in the end, everything had worked out for the best.
Zach’s voice interrupted her thoughts.
“In any case, that’s over and done with. But this—” he leaned forward and jabbed a finger at the paperwork he’d tossed on her desk “—is ridiculous, and you know it. S&L has jumped through all the regulatory hoops mandated by state and local government. Your client had plenty of time and opportunity to voice her concerns. The Environment Impact Review was released for public comment over a year ago. And in that time, the city council, planning commission, and rent control board have held dozens of hearings. Everyone’s objections were duly noted and addressed.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me. The objections were swept aside and ignored. A de minimis change in your developmental agreement that doesn’t trigger further review of traffic and environmental impacts makes a mockery of the whole process. The city council basically rubber stamped whatever plans you put in front of it, with complete disregard for the residents’ concerns.”
“Everything S&L did was by the book,” Zach said.
“Maybe in your view, but my client sees it differently. And at this point, the only way to get the city council to sit up and take notice and hopefully redress her grievances is exactly this.” She nodded toward the manila envelope between them. “And while the courts re-examine everything, the injunction we’re requesting will at least prevent you from demolishing my client’s home.”
He scowled. “This is extortion, plain and simple. S&L made a more than generous offer for relocation payments to the residents. Your client was the only one who refused to sign.”
“She had good reason.”
Zach took a deep breath. “Look, let’s cut to the chase here. What will it take for this to go away?”
“If you’re asking me that, you obviously haven’t read our complaint carefully enough. It’s all spelled out in black and white.”
“I read it,” he said. “And it’s complete bullshit.”
Angie shook her head. “For shame, counselor. Is that the kind of language they teach you at Harvard Law?”
A muscle ticked in his jaw. “Angie…”
“You know the drill, Zach. Thirty days to file your answer.” She ushered him toward the door. “I’ll see you in court.
Jill Blake loves chocolate, leisurely walks where she doesn’t break a sweat, and books with a guaranteed happy ending. A native of Philadelphia, Jill now lives in southern California with her husband and three children. During the day, she works as a physician in a busy medical practice. At night, she pens steamy romances.
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I sure hope author Lori Crane (click here for Author Wednesday interview) plans to release the next book in her new historical fiction series on the Culpepper family very soon. When I finished the first book, I, John Culpepper, I felt like I’d lost a good friend. I need to find out what happens in this spitfire’s life after . . . Sorry can’t say anything more than that without giving away a spoiler. Ms. Crane said when she first starting writing about this man (her 10th grandfather), she realized she had stumbled upon more than just one novel.
The author transports the reader back to the early 1600s and straight into the lives of the Culpepper family. Tensions start in the beginning chapter between John and his father, playing an integral part in the overall plot of I, John Culpepper.
While many things seem so different from our fast-paced lives today, universal emotions and relationships show us we have much in common with our ancestors, and learning about them may help us to avoid the same downfalls as them. Ms. Crane says the history of our ancestors is the collective history for us all. And it is clear, through the father and son relationship she tells in this story, that we do share a universal past.
Sometimes I put the book down to simply contemplate what it must have been like to travel two weeks or more to visit the family home by horseback. That trip today might take a few hours out of the day. What did the others do while waiting for a family member to return? Imagine how few books had been published up to that time. They must have memorized the ones they had. Reading this book puts into perspective how far we’ve really come in some areas. However, in others we haven’t grown quite as much. Or perhaps the lesson to take away from reading this book is that the conflicts we face in life provide us with the opportunity to grow and mature.
Beyond what we might learn, I, John Culpepper is simply an enjoyable read that I highly recommend.
Purchase links for I, John Culpepper
His novel Dream Student traces the life of Sara Barnes when she starts seeing other people’s dreams. Unfortunately, those dreams come from a serial killer. Dream Student in the first book in his popular Dream Series of paranormal novels.
Hi, J.J. It’s nice to have you back on Author Wednesday. Have you ever felt as if a subject chose you rather than the other way around?
My entire Dream Series basically chose me. I got the initial idea from asking a question. Why do people in mystery stories try to solve the crime themselves, instead of calling the police like any sensible person would? My answer was: If they only saw the crime in their heads, through the eyes of the criminal, they’d have to investigate themselves. The characters were born fully-grown from that idea, and I’ve never looked back.
That’s so true about wondering why folks do what they do in the movies when we know they’re headed for trouble. I like that you were able to build on that–in quite a large way! So what’s going on with you now? Anymore books in this series ready for release?
I’m publishing the ninth book of the Dream Series (Fever Dream) later this month, and I’m working on the tenth and (I think) final book right now as well.
We’ll see. You’re on a roll and popular with your fans, so you might be persuaded to continue. Do all of these books in the series have common threads?
The series follows the same characters, specifically Sara and her family. Sara’s a seemingly ordinary woman, except for her special gift: She can step into other people’s dreams. When we meet her in the first book, she’s in college. In the newest book, coming out later this month, she’s in her late thirties, and she’s in charge of a hospital.
What’s your one sentence pitch for the Dream series?
“What if you could see everyone else’s dreams?”
How did you choose the title?
It took a long time to come up with “Dream Student” for the first book. I had several working titles I didn’t like before I finally happened on that title, and it ended up creating a common theme with “Dream” in all the titles. I’ve carried it through the rest of the books.
How long does the process take for you from the idea for a novel to a finished, published book?
The first book took fifteen years – from the time I wrote the first (not very good) draft, to when I picked it back up two years ago and rewrote it from page one. For the rest of the books, it’s taken from three to five months to write each additional one and release it.
You really picked up speed, but once you had the original concept, it probably helped all the other ideas fall into place. What type of research is required to write a book in the paranormal genre?
I’ve done so much research into all sorts of weird things. Not so much for the first book, because it’s set where (and when) I went to college, so memory got me though that. But the second book is set during Sara’s first month of medical school, and I knew absolutely nothing about that. So I had to do a lot of research into what med school is like. In the later books, I’ve had to dig into criminal law, the history of West Point, common childhood poisons, the procedure for an appendectomy, and a lot of other offbeat things.
Research sounds about the same as it would be for any other genre. Still need those facts about history and subjects to be accurate even though it’s fiction. Great talking to you today, J.J. I wish you great success with your new release. I know readers are waiting!
About J.J.: J.J. (James) Dibenedetto’s fans would swear he’s got a sixth sense when it comes to seeing into the minds of others and often wonder if his stories could possibly be fiction. He enjoys suspending disbelief with suspenseful paranormal tales that are a perfect blend of reality meets fantasy. His popular Dream Series continues to delight readers with each and every exciting installment.
Born in Yonkers, New York, he currently resides in Arlington Virginia with his beautiful wife and a cat he is sure has taken full advantage of its nine lives. When it comes to the cat, he often wonders, but then again it might just be his imagination.
Click below for links to J.J. and his books