Friday, July 28, 2017 | By: Cafe
Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. 
– John F. Kennedy
Thursday, July 27, 2017 | By: Cafe

Naughty Nana Touches Hearts

The Write Way Café welcomes Saralyn Richard, who tamed her incorrigible dog Nana's antics into a series of children's books.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? 
I’ve wanted to write books since I was around ten years old. I just never dreamed my first book would be a children’s picture book about my incorrigible sheepdog pup. Nana was my second sheepdog. The first was a docile fluffball with perfect manners, essentially a person in a dog suit. When Nana came to live with me, I thought she would be the same, but no! She was a holy terror. I began calling her the Princess of Pandemonium, the Duchess of Destruction, the Countess of Chaos. I started making a list of all her misdeeds, and the list was growing longer than my patience or hopes for relief. One day, while taking her for a “pull,” it occurred to me that Naughty Nana might be an instructive and entertaining book for youngsters.

What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do? 
I began by writing Nana’s story. I took a Writer’s Digest webinar led by a children’s book publisher. From that I learned many important strategies and received a critique on the story. I spoke to another publisher, who discouraged me from seeking a traditional publisher, as the market was flooded with adult fiction authors who had turned to writing kids’ books and whose name recognition made their books bestsellers. So I researched self-publishing options and read a lot of books, articles, and blogs on the subject. I joined a Picture Book Month group (PiBoMo) on social media. It was helpful in giving me a source for answering some of the thorny questions, like whether hardbacks or softcovers sell better. I learned how to distinguish between the quality printing companies and those who just print anything to make money for themselves. I started looking for an illustrator whose style matched my concept for the book, and when I found my printing company, they recommended one whose work I loved. Our collaboration took about a year, during which we communicated weekly. Together we cut the text, laid it out, and worked through rough sketches, tight sketches, and vivid paintings.

Dog in Naughty NanaWhere did the idea for your story come from? 
Nana’s misbehavior was the obvious impetus for the story, but I also task analyzed over a hundred children’s books, identifying qualities I admired in each. I noticed a scarcity in the number of books in which grandparents served as main characters, and I decided Grammy and Papa would be the ideal foils for Nana to play against. I wanted Nana to tell her story from her own point of view, so children could identify with her naivete’ and impulsive behavior.

Why did you pick the setting you did? 
The setting of Naughty Nana is an unnamed city, but it has a beach and a seawall, like the city where we live. Since most of the plot events really happened here, it was logical to place the story here, as well.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself? 
Nana, the narrator and focus of the story, is very much alive! She has become a celebrity, not just locally, but all over the country and internationally, too. She has a thriving social calendar, as she is invited to schools, libraries, museums, parades, festivals, book stores, birthday parties, and other special events. Fortunately, she is not naughty anymore, and she loves her public as much as they love her. The other characters in Naughty Nana resemble real people, but, of course, they are modeled in the story to bring out certain characteristics and happenings for Nana.

Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret? 
In a 32-page book, one might think there wouldn’t be obstacles, but that was not the case. The original text for Naughty Nana was over 1800 words, way too much for a children’s book. The challenge was to cut the text without losing the spirit of the story. Anyone who has written a children’s book knows that cutting and revising is the hardest part. I must have re-read the story a thousand times.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after? 
The biggest surprise has been the whole new world that Naughty Nana’s publication has opened up for Nana and me. We have ventured into new friendships and partnerships, gone places, done things that we never would have done before. There have been lectures and mentoring classes, interviews and magazine articles, road trips, spa days, autographs and pawtographs. The best part is knowing that Nana’s story has touched the hearts of young children. It gives both Nana and me a bit of immortality.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about sheepdogs and writing for children? 
I learned that the whole world loves a great story, whether it’s written for children or adults. The process for writing a children’s book is not dissimilar from that of an adult book. There is still the movement from concept to written text to revision and editing and finally to publication. After that, the process of distributing and marketing is practically identical.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you. 
I share a tiny office with my husband. My desk is cluttered with books and magazines, my calendar, and the detritus of a dozen different projects going on at the same time. I have certain important reminders and bits of information on sticky notes on the bookshelves behind my computer screen. A picture of Nana’s predecessor, Lucy, is framed and on the shelf. Best of all, there is a window to my right, so I have a sense of weather, time of day, season, and nature whenever I glance up. The room is large enough to accommodate my working materials and small enough to allow me to block out the rest of the world and enter the “zone” of the book.

What are some of your favorite books and why? 
Some of my favorite children’s books are Harold and the Purple Crayon, The Giving Tree, Where the Wild Things Are, and Good Night, Moon. I also love Giddy Graegert’s new series starting with Don’t Play with Your Food:  Fufu’s Bistro. The best stories are the ones that have humor, interesting characters, and positive messages.

What are you working on now? 
After Naughty Nana, I wrote an adult mystery novel, Murder in the One Percent, which is coming soon from Black Opal Books. I’m polishing a second mystery, Murder at Lincoln High, and contemplating a women’s novel after that. Many stories are incubating in my brain, growing and flexing, nudging to come out.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be? 
Other jobs I’ve held and loved were:  teacher, administrator, school improvement consultant, party consultant, legal secretary, health informatician, library assistant, newsletter editor, curriculum writer, book editor, and babysitter. For me the best job is one where you interact with people and make their lives better.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
I wouldn’t call it trouble, but I find ending a novel to be the most challenging task. In the final chapter, I feel pressure to unify all of the book’s elements and bring the plot to its most satisfying conclusion. It’s a huge task, and I find myself over-thinking and over-fretting.

Who is your favorite hero/heroine? 
This may be the most difficult question to answer. I’ve considered naming Atticus Finch, Scarlett O’Hara, Madame Bovary, Jenny Fields, Owen Meany, O-Lan, and many others, but I think I’ll choose Lizbeth Salander from The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson. Despite so many obstacles in her life, such as poverty and misogyny, she uses her intelligence and technology skills to every advantage. Nothing can squash her indomitable spirit and practical nature. Even when she behaves badly, she is a force to be admired.

Written by Saralyn Richard, Illustrated by Rebecca Evans
Nana, the Old English sheepdog pup who  "just wants to have fun," tells how her shenanigans cause bedlam wherever she goes.

Naughty Nana is published by Palm Circle Press, and can be purchased in hardback or softcover at http://palmcirclepress.com/bookstore.

Sensitively written and vividly illustrated, this book features grandparents, grandchildren, and two lovable, but very different, canine companions.
ISBN: 978-0-9896255-0-0
Juvenile:  ages 2-9, grades pre-K -6, 32 pp., English, hardcover and softcover.


About Saralyn:  Mystery and children’s book author, Saralyn Richard, has been a teacher who wrote on the side. Now she is a writer who teaches on the side. Some of her poems and essays have won awards and contests from the time she was in high school. Her children’s picture book, Naughty Nana, has reached thousands of children in five countries.
     Murder in the One Percent, soon-to-be-published by Black Opal Books, pulls back the curtain on how the privileged and powerful rich live, love, and hate. Set on a gentleman’s farm in Pennsylvania and in the tony areas of New York, the book shows what happens when someone comes to a party with murder in his heart and poison in his pocket.
     When she is not writing, Saralyn likes going to movies and concerts, traveling, and walking on the beach with her husband and two dogs. She is an avid reader and is working on her second mystery.

Website     Facebook       Twitter       Goodreads

Tuesday, July 25, 2017 | By: Cafe

Tuesday Special: Inescapable with Madge H. Gressley

Madge H. Gressley



When Darcey Callahan, tumbles for Brad Daniels, it starts her on a dark and perilous journey that quickly turns into her worst nightmare. Believing Brad has gone missing—while investigating an attempt to sabotage his top-secret project in Peru—Darcey dashes off to find him, setting in motion a series of events beyond her control. Awakening from a near-deadly car crash, she finds herself with no memory and a prisoner in the dangerous world of human trafficking, murders, and espionage. Held captive in Morocco until she can be “sold,” she doesn’t know whether to trust the stranger who has come to rescue her. Is he really willing to help her, or is this a nightmare from which she may never wake up?


Black Opal Books       Google Books       Kobo

Barnes & Noble      Amazon       Smashwords


About Madge:
       I grew up in the Midwest, specifically Sedalia, Missouri, home of the Missouri State Fair, and for over 60 years, I have been a visual artist.  From the early years in elementary school where I drew horses and horses and horses (I like horses) for my classmates to the present, I have been honing my skills as an artist, winning numerous awards along the way.
     Unfortunately, my life took a drastic turn in 2011 when my husband and biggest cheerleader passed away. At that time, I totally stopped painting or drawing. But, the growing need to create would not go away. I tried many times to bring out my brushes again, but to no avail. The excitement for the paint was just not there. So, I made the decision to channel my energies into my graphic design business.
     Then in 2013, I was introduced to the “Twilight Saga” and that changed everything. My family can attest to how obsessed I became. I bought the books, the DVDs, the CDs, and anything else “Twilight” related did not escape my grasp. One day, while surfing the web to add to my obsession, I came across a website totally dedicated to the “Twilight Saga,” and that was the beginning.
     The site was full of thousands of other “Twilight” followers, some even more obsessed than I was. Hard to believe, but I assure you it is true. Among the many obsession-filled pages were the pages featuring Fan-Fiction. Some of the stories were extremely good while others were so-so, but I enjoyed the creative bent they all took on Meyer’s work. Slowly, as I read, I felt a small creative fire developing. It finally exploded into a full-blown inferno when I put pen to paper, or in this case fingers to keyboard and turned out my first 500-page novel, later separated into three books for my “Inescapable Series.”
     The “Inescapable Series” has been picked up by Black Opal Books and the first book in the series came out in April 2017. Book two is scheduled for release in October 2017. In the meantime, I have been keeping busy writing my young adult series “Sophie Collins Mysteries.” Sophie is my vision for a modern-day Nancy Drew. “The Red Coat” is book one in the series. I have just finished book two “The Secret of Trail House Lodge,” which has just been released.
     I have also written and illustrated two children’s picture books—“Dexter’s Wonderful Day” a Purple Dragonfly Book Awards winner, and “Totally Terrible Tommy” a 5 Star Readers’ Favorite choice. I also have a short story with four other authors in the romantic anthology “Now & Forever.”
My granddaughter and two dogs (Pixie and Lily) live with me. I enjoy working from home where I squeeze in my writing in between my jobs for my graphic design business and letting the dogs in and out—a full-time job in itself.

“INESCAPABLE: The Beginning”  Paperback or eBook on Barnes & Noble
“The Red Coat”
“The Secret of Trail House Lodge"
“Dexter’s Wonderful Day”
“Totally Terrible Tommy”

Follow Madge on Twitter, Facebook, or Facebook Author Page 







Friday, July 21, 2017 | By: Cafe
Whatever you want in life, other people are going to want it too. Believe in yourself enough to accept the idea that you have an equal right to it. 
– Diane Sawyer
Thursday, July 20, 2017 | By: Cafe

Ignore the Fear and Write by Jami Gray

The Write Way Café welcomes Jami Gray,  an award-winning author with a reminder to send all voices but your characters' to go play in the other room when you sit down to write. 

We all face it, that frightening moment when our flying fingers pause mid-motion over the keyboard. Wait, was that the wrong tense? Did I say that before? Is that a realistic reaction from my character? Oh pink elephants, that’s too predictable!

Suddenly we’re frozen as the barrage of multiple lines of advice rain down upon us, making the thought of typing another word, hell, another letter, an unforgivable sin.

Writers are wonderfully supportive, so much so that we tend to share advice as freely as we’d share a cup of coffee. (Well, some of us might pause before offering our motivating elixir, but…) As receivers of that glorious advice, we drink it up until we’re running to the restroom like we’re training for the Olympic sprints. Yep, even me.

With the amount of learning a writer undergoes, sometimes their internal storyteller will be unintentionally drowned out by the older fable slingers. As we begin to hone our craft we hear all the rules regarding voice, tense, showing versus telling, character arc, story arc, and the list goes on until it has us backed into a dark, distressing corner where we question every word we write.

How do we escape?

Write.

Simple, uh? But it’s true. Write through your fear. Who cares if the tense is wrong? It can be fixed later. Worried your plot is predictable? Guess what, if you keep writing, you might get smacked upside the head by your character who has a better idea for the situation. If you’ve hit on a phrase you just can’t stop using, use it. It’s why we edit afterwards. Thing is, you can’t edit what isn’t written. So write.

Don’t let the fear of worry stifle your story. The wonderful thing about stories, they’re ours to tell.  Each of us uses a unique voice to share, and some of our voices don’t fall neatly into “typical” roles. Advice is a beautiful thing, but writing is an art, not a one-size-fits-all sort of thing. Art, at its core, is a form of individualized expression, so go forth and express your story. Delve deep, take on those difficult subjects and characters. Don’t stop because your main hero is going to do the unforgiveable, or your plot is getting twisty, don’t cheat yourself or your readers from what’s in your heart. Share it, write it down, let it roam free.

When the story’s freshly etched, then you can go back and polish that ragged corner, or trim down those rough sections, but that’s okay, because the story that lit your heart on fire LIVES, in all its courageous glory.

Here’s the hardest thing to accept, and I won’t lie to you, it’s a doozy. Your readers will either love it or hate it, but either way, they’ll feel something because of what you shared. In the end, that’s what a writer should take encouragement from—their readers’ reactions. Positive or negative, if you managed to evoke an emotional response from your readers, you’re doing it right.

So, listen to the helpful pieces of advice from those who’ve gone before you, but remember to let all those voices go play in the other room when you sit down to write. When it’s you, a screen and a keyboard, the only voices allowed to rise should be your characters.

Write on!


Jami Gray is the coffee addicted, music junkie, Queen Nerd of her personal Geek Squad, Alpha Mom of the Fur Minxes, and award winning author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams, and her latest Romantic Suspense series, Fate’s Vultures. She writes to soothe the voices in her head.

If you want to hunt her down, she can be found lurking around the following cyber locations:

Website       Facebook       Twitter       Goodreads       Google+       Amazon Author Page




Tuesday, July 18, 2017 | By: Cafe

Tuesday Special: Fate's Vultures 1 by Jami Gray

Jami Gray


LYING IN RUINS, Fate’s Vultures 1

In a world gone to hell, it's hard to tell the good guys from the bad...


The world didn't end in fire and explosions, instead it collapsed slowly, like falling dominoes, an intensifying panic of disease, food shortages, wild weather and collapsing economies, until what remained of humanity battles for survival in a harsh new reality.

Charity uses lethal survival skills learned too early in her work as a 'Hound, sniffing out pivotal secrets for one of the most powerful people on the west coast. Her work is deceptive, deadly, and best performed solo, which means when she has a run-in with a member of the notorious Fate's Vultures, she has no intention of joining forces in some mockery of teamwork. The man might be sexy as hell, but she travels alone. She will accomplish her mission and she will settle a score - hopefully with the edge of her blade. But fate has other plans.

As one of Fate’s Vultures, a nomadic band of arbitrators known for their ruthless verdicts, Ruin witnesses the carnage of corruption and greed battering the remnants of humanity, and he bears the scars to prove it. Now he has a damn 'Hound showing up in suspicious circumstances, leaving every cell of his body skeptical - and painfully aroused. The woman is trouble, and Ruin has every intention of steering clear. But when they realize they have a common enemy, Charity and Ruin will have to set aside their distrust if they want to achieve their mutual goal - justice and revenge.

Sometimes, when the world's gone to hell, it's better to stick with the devil you know...

Escape Publishing       Amazon       Kobo       Barnes and Noble


Jami Gray is the coffee addicted, music junkie, Queen Nerd of her personal Geek Squad, Alpha Mom of the Fur Minxes, and award winning author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams, and her latest Romantic Suspense series, Fate’s Vultures. She writes to soothe the voices in her head. 

Website        Amazon Author Page      Goodreads       Facebook



Friday, July 14, 2017 | By: Cafe
Often when you think you're at the end of something, you're at the beginning of something else. 
- Fred Rogers
Thursday, July 13, 2017 | By: Cafe

Chapter Chatter—The Write Way is Your Way By Elizabeth Harmon

The Write Way Café welcomes Elizabeth Harmon, whose experience suggests chapter length is debatable.

A few years ago at a mixer for my local Chamber of Commerce, I chatted with a Realtor who seemed to have an opinion about everything. When I mentioned that I was also a fiction author, she was ready with advice.

“Never make your chapters longer than five pages.”

Since my chapters averaged ten to twelve, I was curious as to why. The lady was quick with an answer—“because that’s how James Patterson does it, and look how successful he is!”

Four (soon to be five) books into my career, I’m nowhere near as successful as James Patterson, at least not yet. Is it because my chapters are too long? Or does something other than trying to mimic a best-selling author, dictate ideal chapter length?

The good news is that chapters can be as long, or as short as you like. It all depends on the story.

Writer’s Digest blogger Brian Klem’s advice is to think of chapters breaks the same way that commercials break up a TV episode. Something important happens, the show cuts to commercial. Action resumes, builds to the next big event and BOOM! Cut to commercial. Return. Repeat.

This is the mini-cliffhanger at work. By breaking your chapter just after a major story turning point, you entice readers to stay tuned and keep turning pages.

But a 90,000-word novel might use the first 10,000 to 15,000 words to establish characters, goals, conflicts, and settings before the first major plot point kicks in.  At the story’s climax, turning points might happen in every scene.  And what’s the best way to handle multiple point of view characters? Should each have her own chapter, or is it okay to combine them?

The answer? It’s up to you and what works best in your story and genre.

A simple rule of thumb is that shorter chapters increase pacing, while longer chapters slow it down. In a fast-paced genre like thrillers or suspense, short chapters help sustain the rush. Genres like romance, historical, women’s or literary fiction might need longer chapters to reveal character and establish setting and story, especially early on. Shorter chapters occur as the story closes.

Your publication format can also play a role. Romance author Abigail Owen’s editor advised her to use 5 to 8 page chapters for her ebooks to accommodate the format’s  “ADD approach to reading.” Keeping chapters shorter helps maintain engagement and minimizes the reader’s sense of not knowing where they are in a story.

My own experience bears this out. I’ve DNF-ed lots of ebooks because of chapters that seemed to drag on and on. Would I have had the same reaction if I’d read those books in print? Likewise, a print book with chapters of five pages or less feels choppy to me—though my Realtor friend and James Patterson might disagree.

As a digital-first contemporary romance author, I’ve found that my sweet-spot chapter length is about ten to twelve pages or around 3,000 words. My chapters typically have two or three scenes and I prefer to stick to one character’s point of view. Sometimes, I’ll break a chapter in the middle of a scene to switch from one POV to another.

Longer chapters tend to come early in the book, while I like to use shorter ones near the end to wrap things up, especially if plot developments are fast and furious.

Generally, my editors, readers, and reviewers have praised my books’ pacing—with one notable exception.

In a book that was highly character-driven, I used longer chapters that averaged 15 to 20 pages. While the book’s reviews were positive overall, one consistent issue seemed to be its slower pace. For the next book, I returned to my 10 to 12-page comfort zone. No one complained about pacing.

Was this because of how readers interact with ebooks? Was it because readers had become used to my style and were thrown when I changed things up? Tough to say. But I do know that I’ve found an approach that feels right, works with how I like to tell stories and seems to engage readers.

It’s one less thing to worry about as I strive to be as successful as James Patterson!

Is there a method to your chapter-length madness? Short and sweet, long and leisurely, or somewhere in the middle? One POV or several? 

Post a comment to win a copy of Pairing Off, the first book in my Red Hot Russians series!


American figure skater Carrie Parker’s Winter Games dreams were dashed when her philandering partner caused one of the greatest scandals in skating history. Blacklisted from competing in the United States, her career is over…until she receives a mysterious invitation and is paired with the most infuriating, talented—and handsome—skater she’s ever met.

Russian champion Anton Belikov knows sacrifice. He gave up a normal life and any hope of a meaningful relationship to pursue his dream. And he’s come close—with a silver medal already under his belt, the next stop is the gold. All he needs is a partner. While he’s never forgotten the young American skater he seduced one long-ago night in Amsterdam, he never expected to be confronted with their past…never mind share the ice with her.

When what starts as a publicity stunt grows into something real, Carrie and Anton’s partnership will test their loyalties to family, country and each other. With only a few months to train for the competition of a lifetime, can they master technique and their emotions, or will they lose their footing and fall victim to the heartaches of their pasts?

Amazon      Barnes & Noble      Google Play      Kobo

Carina Press       Goodreads Book Page


About the author: Contemporary romance author Elizabeth Harmon loves to read and write romances with a dash of different. She is the author of the Red Hot Russians sports romance series. Her debut novel Pairing Off is a 2016 RITA® Award Finalist.


Website        Facebook       Twitter       Amazon Author Page       Goodreads Author Page





Tuesday, July 11, 2017 | By: Cafe

Tuesday Special with Lainee Cole

Lainee Cole


Cool off with Christmas in July!

Smashwords July eBook Sale:
Get Captured by Christmas 
with 1/2 off coupon code: BW78F
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/687546


In The Mistletoe Effect, Christmas is second-grade teacher Tess McCall’s least favorite holiday, but she’s doing her best not to let it show. Learning he’s a father to seven-year-old Holly makes Alex Randle anxious about the upcoming holidays. When Tess’s class starts reading to shelter dogs, Holly and the antics of shelter dog Mistletoe lead them all to rediscover the magic of Christmas.

In Snowbound, Lynn Crandall lets readers check in on favorite Fierce Hearts series were-lynx characters Kennedy Mitchell and Asher Monroe as they uncover the identity of the creature scaring the humans in Octavia, a small rural community in northern Michigan. Plans for an intimate getaway and family-style holiday are crumbling as the snow piles higher and Kennedy and Asher find themselves snowbound with a killer outside their door.


Lainee Cole is a Midwestern girl who writes in the company of a husband always trying to talk to her. Her characters often take on a life of their own, surprising and annoying her. But writing fictional characters also gives her hope and inspires her to follow her dreams. Lainee’s goal is for her stories to make readers laugh and cry, give them hope, and encourage them to believe in the power of love. When she’s not writing or reading, Lainee enjoys spending time with family and friends; hiking, camping, and traveling with her husband; and consuming daily doses of chocolate. Find Lainee at https://www.facebook.com/LaineeColeAuthor/ and follow her on Twitter @LaineeCole.




Friday, July 7, 2017 | By: Cafe
Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.
- Anna Quindlen
Thursday, July 6, 2017 | By: Cafe

The Problem with Character Names by R.R. Brooks

authorThe Write Way Café welcomes R.R. Brooks, a prolific author who asks what's in a name?

Do fantasy authors have a problem?  I’ve encountered readers of my novel Justi the Gifted who can’t deal with character names of any oddity.  My sister read the book, an epic fantasy, liked it, but complained about the character names.  She couldn’t pronounce them and couldn’t distinguish so many.  Another person who received the novel as a gift said he couldn’t handle all the strange names.  A third reader echoed this concern.  None of these readers had ever read a fantasy book, which may have contributed to the problem.  I now have a  pronouncing list of characters I give to buyers.  Even slipped them into the bookstore copies on consignment.  I wish I had included it in the book and will do so in the next book.

To be fair I should mention that other readers, including my twelve-year-old granddaughter, did not mention names as a problem, but I wonder if the fantasy genre is prone to the character-name barrier. This seems true when the setting is an imagined world. Mark Lacy’s The Dreamtunnel Sequence uses names like Enkinor, Visylon, and Banshaer, which are tough (the author does have a glossary of names, but it is hidden in the back of the book). Renee Scattergood’s Shadow Stalker has characters named Cathnor, Cali, Kado, and Auren, different but short. Tolkien, the grand master of the epic fantasy tale, hits us with Frodo, Meriadoc, Gandalf, Legolas and dozens more in the Lord of the Rings. Yet readers embrace Tolkien even without having three movies with these characters. Fantasy novels with imagined worlds entered from this world do get by with common names. Phillip Pullman uses Lyra and Will in His Dark Materials where it takes a subtle knife to cut into the imagined word. J.M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy uses ordinary names, but Neverland is entered from this world. Just close your eyes, imagine happy, and fly.

Justi the Gifted is entirely a story about the Kingdom of the Zell, an imagined place where names are not the same as in this world. Epic fantasy by definition involves different groups and different locales, which contribute to the number of strange names. Name confusion is not confined to fantasy books, of course. Harry Bingham’s Talking to the Dead, a delightful British mystery, has two characters named Brydon and Bryony who I did not glean were different persons of different genders until well into the book.

I continue to wonder if the veteran fantasy reader has trained him/herself to deal with strange names. Regardless, part of the solution to removing this barrier is to choose different names, maybe shorter and quite distinct and starting with different letters and sounds. The real solution is to so establish the character by description, action, dialog, and quirks that only a stone would fail to know who they are. Scrooge and Marley have strange names, but who could confuse them? What’s your thought?


R.R. Brooks is the author of the epic fantasy tale Justi the Gifted (A gift of the gods is good, but what if it is damaged?).

Barbarians, bringing death and slavery, invade and all but destroy the Kingdom of Zell. The only hope for the people's salvation lies with a young peasant boy. Gifted with a sense of justice by the god Li, this child, named Justi, will grow to be a young man blessed with the power to save the kingdom, meanwhile cursed with a power to kill-a power beyond his control. The prophecy of this wounded land has foretold of Justi's coming and his meeting with another of the gifted, a young and beautiful girl his age who carries a great secret. But those who stop at nothing, influenced by the dark power of Dar, use kidnapping, assassination, and seduction to block their union and prevent them from fulfilling their destiny. With help from many Zellish, Justi must use powers at his command to avert disaster and to face the one fear that has haunted him: killing an innocent.

Read a chapter
Available on AmazonBarnes & Noble



About R.R. Brooks:  Bob Brooks (R.R. Brooks) spent his career doing pharmaceutical research and development.  Now living in western North Carolina, he’s published fiction and nonfiction, including science fiction and fantasy stories exploring strange encounters and issues of doubt and belief (e.g., “To Believe or Not” and “The Diest”).  He is the author of the epic fantasy novel Justi the Gifted, released in 2015 by Leo Publishing.

His themes for novels are eclectic.  A psychological mystery novel The Clown Forest Murders, co-written with A.C. Brooks will be released in a year or so by Black Opal Publishing.  A science fiction tale of espionage is being finalized, and second fantasy novel to conclude the adventure of Justi is underway.  He is a member of the Blue Ridge Writers Group, the Appalachian Round Table, the Brevard Authors GuildInternational Thriller Writers, Inc., and the N.C. Writers Network.  He maintains author’s pages on FacebookAmazon, and Goodreads.
Tuesday, July 4, 2017 | By: Cafe

Independence Day



Let us dare to read, think, speak and write.
- John Adams