Friday, May 26, 2023

Author Interview - Truth in Blue by Mirai Amell #HighFantasy

Tell us a little about your latest or upcoming release.

Truth in Blue is my latest (well, first ever) release. It's a high fantasy novel set in a fictional world where four realms coexist in parallel: the human, the fae, the angels, and the shades. The human and fae realms separated five hundred years before the story's beginning as an aftermath of a magic-driven massacre. Truth in Blue follows four main characters: Malakai, Ciaran, Una, and Amaryllis. Malakai is the second prince of the human country of Castellon who is a fugitive right now, Ciaran is his best friend and a knight, Una is a mage who wants to become a knight, and Amaryllis is a fae queen who crossed into the human domain after all these centuries in search of a lost relic. Their chance meetings would precipitate the events that would challenge the foundation of these realms and cause more trouble than the celestials could have envisioned.


Have you ever based your book or characters on actual events or people from your own life?

Yes. Truth in Blue is heavily inspired by my own life experiences. The friendships, the love, the loss, the misunderstandings, and the realizations are all based on real events that I translated into fantasy through metaphors and allusions.


Is there a theme or message in your work that you would like readers to connect to?

I wanted to write Truth in Blue to make sense of certain events in my life. By the end of it, the message I left for myself was that there is no justifying a loss. And there is no way to predict where life would take us. We might begin our journey with a plan or dream so concrete that we couldn’t imagine how or where it could go wrong, but it can. Goals keep changing and priorities too. We must change with it.


What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?

I can’t read or watch sci-fi. Too close to home :)


When you’re not writing what do you do? Do you have any hobbies or guilty pleasures?

I am a scientist who passionately loves her job. When I am not writing, I am either planning experiments or doing experiments. The rest of the time (or whatever remains after science and writing), I enjoy watching subbed anime.


Is there a genre that you’d like to write that you haven’t tackled yet?

I would love to try urban fantasy or paranormal fiction someday.


Of all the characters you’ve ever written, who is your favorite and why?

My favorite character is the Devil. He is the master of the realm of shades, Tarderan. He is a side character who grew bigger than his intended role and has surprised me throughout the book. While he is feared as the torturer of souls, the Devil in my story actually prefers to lounge on a couch and read a good book while enjoying some tea.


If this book is part of a series…what is the next book? Any details you can share?

Yes. This is book 1 of a trilogy (All That Matters series). The next one is Jaded Reasons. While Truth in Blue focuses more on Castellon, one of the human countries, with occasional insights into Heaven and Hell, Jaded Reasons shows us much more detail about the other two human nations, including the politics of the fae realm. It is quieter than the fast pace of Truth in Blue, as the characters deal with the previous book's events and sort their lives out. Even if each book resolves its primary conflict while continuing an overarching theme, I feel Truth in Blue plunges us into the ocean without a vest. Jaded Reasons is our weary selves trying to find the shore.

What book are you reading now?

Daughter of the Moon Goddess, and two fantastic indie ARCs.



Truth in Blue
All that Matters 
Book One
Mirai Amell

Genre: High Fantasy
Publisher: Shadow Spark Publishing
Date of Publication: March 20, 2023
Number of pages: 379
Word Count: 102K
Cover Artist: MiblArt

Tagline: Sometimes life is better as a lie.

Book Description:

Malakai wanted to protect his kingdom from threats beyond its borders. Instead, stripped of his magic and on the run, he now needs to save it from his brother, the king himself.

Amaryllis wanted to have nothing to do with humans. Instead, stranded in the wrong realm, she now needs to retrieve a lost fae relic with powers no one comprehends.

Una wanted to be a knight in shining armor. Instead, haunted by the memories of a life she never lived, Una now needs to find answers from someone she doesn’t remember meeting. 

When their paths cross, each must decide what matters to them the most.
Or risk losing everything they hold dear.

In a world where Angels and Shades battle for souls while the Devil sips his tea, the fate of one country, two races, and four realms hangs in the balance when love and loyalties are tested to their limits. 

Excerpt - Chapter 1

No place like home

The palace was too quiet.

It should have been abuzz with many familiar noises: gardeners tending the plants, cooks clanging the utensils, and servants running errands. Instead, the rhythmic clip-clop of the hooves from Ciaran’s horse was the only sound echoing across the palace courtyard. The perfectly manicured shrubs and flowers blooming during peak summer looked exhausted, having to keep the facade of their expected sunny disposition. In contrast, barricaded in a garden corner, rooted yet lifeless, the prana plants glinted cunningly. With the sunlight bouncing off their amber-colored crystalline form, it was as if they were watching him.

As if they knew something he didn’t.

The trained senses of a King’s Knight warned him, but Ciaran dismounted, nevertheless. How could he be wary of a place he had called home for so long? After a few moments of deliberation, Ciaran decided to tie his horse to one of the pillars near the doorway, just in case. 

He had practically grown up at the palace, having arrived there at thirteen to live and train as an apprentice knight. His father, Oswald—a Bender and the Lord of Korbridge—had still been alive then to watch with pride when Ciaran had received the royal crest that declared him a King’s Knight five years later. The metal emblem, carved with a golden sun rising from behind a jeweled dagger, was pinned to the chest of Ciaran’s black coat when Oswald passed away a few months after the ceremony. That had been six years ago. Malakai had stayed by his side through the ups and downs, the triumphs and losses. He was a friend, a rival, a comrade, and the closest thing to a family Ciaran had left.

He would gladly walk into a raging fire if it were for Malakai.

Now, Ciaran walked into the decidedly frosty palace.

No one greeted him in the main hall. The throne room, offices, and foyer were all eerily deserted.

He could sense people around, hear their hushed whispers and the echoes of their footsteps, yet it seemed they were deliberately avoiding him. Ignoring the strange stillness in the air, he resolutely walked toward his sleeping chambers in the north wing. Of all the knights in the country, only ten were chosen to be King’s Knights, the ones who lived in the palace, attending to the ruling King of Castellon.

Halfway to his destination, he stopped at the edge of the winding stairs. The stairs diverged here: one set of steps went up to the royal residence, and the other went down to the palace dungeons, a place that brought back haunting memories for him. He tried to shake them off and turned to take the stairs going upwards.

“I see you’re back already.” The hostility in the voice of General Atkins standing before him startled Ciaran. The five knights, who had crept up behind him in the meantime, didn’t appear any friendlier. Reva, Lucia, Feris, Goran, and Jahir all held weapons. To make things worse, they knew each other too well.

“General, where is he?” Ciaran could not stop panic from rising in his heart. The aging General had gray in his hair, but his height and breadth made him a mountain of a man. The formidable presence of this experienced warrior was enough to make grown men wet themselves (most grown men). Still, Ciaran did not break eye contact with his mentor, his emerald eyes demanding answers.

The General winced almost imperceptibly before replying, “The king sent him to Lasceraz.” Ciaran’s blood froze in his veins; he was too late for his friend.

“They’d such a shouting match that the stewards had to call me from my home in the city,” Atkins said. “I found Malakai unconscious on the floor, and the only thing I got from the king was the order to transport him to the dungeons in Lasceraz. In chains. Ciaran, what’s going on?”

The General implored him for some explanation.

“How long ago?” Ciaran ignored the General’s question to ask his own.

“Nearly three days now. What are you guys keeping from us? Answer me!”

Ciaran didn’t reply, his mind already calculating his next steps. Lasceraz, the infamous prison, was in the southernmost corner of the country. It would take several months to reach it on horseback unless he secured the service of a space-Bender mage—like the General, for sure, had. Fortunately, he knew one who used to work for his father, but Bender Farley lived in Ciaran’s hometown Korbridge, and it would take a few days to reach there from Castle. The longer he delayed, the more time Malakai would rot in Lasceraz.

Just as Ciaran turned around to leave, the knights readied their weapons: two sets of daunting daggers, two shining swords, and one menacing mace pointed straight at him. The General himself did not carry anything, standing with his arms crossed in front of him. Not to mention that Ciaran was not a mage, but two of the knights and the General were. Taking a deep breath, he brushed his sandy hair back with his right hand; a few locks strayed back over his green eyes.

“You truly believe you can stop me from leaving?” he asked, smiling for the first time since entering the palace grounds.

The knights looked highly uncomfortable, for they were well aware of who they were up against. People in the kingdom might not know his name, but every knight in the country knew of Ciaran’s reputation.

“No. I don’t believe we can manage that…” The General replied truthfully, “But I need to say that we tried our best regardless.”

Ciaran gave his mentor a quick nod, steadied his sword, and took his stance. “I understand.”

He couldn’t understand how he was still alive.

His entire being ached; his muscles and even his bones were sore.

Malakai tried to turn on his bed to find an angle where it would hurt slightly less, and a pained yelp escaped his mouth. The cold iron bit his wrists, sinking its unyielding teeth into his joints. He opened his eyes to find himself chained to the walls.

Lasceraz. A wave of despair overtook him, making it hard to breathe. Was the air always so stale and thick here? Malakai had toured the prison many times but never noticed how dark it was. The cells were made of thick granite, without even a tiny window to allow light to peek through. With some effort, he turned his head upwards and regretted it immediately. Everything swam before his eyes, and a sharp pain made him retch, only to realize he had nothing left to vomit apart from his blood.

After his body stopped shaking from the shock, Malakai felt a strange emptiness inside him; the warmth and comfort of his magic were barely there anymore. The panic that rose through him was worse than the bile he tasted in his mouth. He tried his best to calm himself, to convince himself that it could not be gone, for magic was made of prana: the life energy coursing through every living being. It had to be somewhere if he was here. But the more he searched, the more it became evident that it was dying.

And he was dying with it.

Malakai’s eyes blurred once more. Were they tears of sadness, knowing he had lost everything he held dear, or tears from the burning torment his body experienced with the slightest movement? He couldn’t tell them apart.

As his eyes focused again, Malakai remembered there used to be a window in every cell once upon a time. The first king of Castellon knew light was a beacon of hope; it kept the fight alive in people. His descendant, the current king, also understood what it meant to the prisoners. So, five years ago, he ordered all the windows to be boarded up. Malakai was the one who had supervised the project and seen the dejected looks on their faces, caked with dirt and grime, yet he never fully comprehended. Until now.

Many of them were murderers, kidnappers, and swindlers, but there were others who couldn’t pay the ever-increasing taxes; people who had no reason to be in the infamous jail of Lasceraz.

Yet, they were.

So was he.

“Get 'im to eat somethin’.” The metallic tinkle of keys alerted him as the room door opened. A guard dressed in red and yellow placed a bowl of soup in front of him while another held a lantern in his hand. Malakai wondered how many days had passed since he was sent here and if Ciaran knew his fate yet. It was no coincidence that he was incarcerated when each of his allies within the King’s Knights happened to be out of the capital.

“Three days. You’ve eaten nothin’.” The guard brought a spoon with the soup near his mouth.

“Please!” the man nearly pleaded and added, “Yer Highness.”

The other guard looked equally awkward. Malakai understood how disturbing it must be to treat the second prince of their kingdom as a mere prisoner—torn between their absolute loyalty to the orders issued by the king and their instinct to protect a member of the royal family. His older brother might be the ruler of Castellon (and he made sure to remind people of that constantly!), but Malakai was a soldier, first and foremost. He had spent time with guards, trained them, and inspected prisons as part of his duties, something the pampered king never bothered himself with.

He opened his mouth to let the guard feed him. Under no circumstance was he allowed to be free of his manacles. Such was the rule in Lasceraz, where every prisoner was kept in maximum-security solitary confinement. Sip by sip, he finished the bowl of soup, and the guards released simultaneous breaths of gratitude, likely because they had half-expected him to protest, or worse. Malakai didn’t want to make it any harder on them than necessary, considering they would have a tough enough time when he escaped. His weak stomach rebelled despite his noble intentions not to trouble the guards; a dull ache radiated from his core, spreading out like a volcano spewing lava, and Malakai keeled over in pain.

After they helped him throw up everything he had just ingested in the chamber pot, one of the guards tried to say something but couldn’t. Ignoring the grip of fatigue threatening to suffocate him, Malakai smiled and said, “It’s not your fault.” He meant it, but they hung their heads in shame and left the room without checking the chains, forgetting that they’d loosened the shackles slightly to let him clean up earlier.

He didn’t doubt that Ciaran would find a way to get him out of here.

But maybe Malakai could beat him to it.

Being beaten in a battle wasn’t something Ciaran ever worried about.

However, victory always comes with a price.

As he rode his tired horse away from Castle, the capital city of Castellon, Ciaran had to admit that while he’d managed to get out of the palace in one piece, thankfully without killing any of them, it hadn’t been easy. Every hesitation, every indecision from one side was used by the other. It was a wonder he’d made it this far.

About the Author:
Mirai Amell is the pen name of a neuroscientist who believes in myths and magic as much as she trusts molecules and microscopes. When she is not doing science, or reading fantasy books, or watching anime, Mirai scribbles poems published in anthologies like From One Line Vol(s) 1-3, Wounds I Healed, and The Crow’s Quill magazine. 

Currently, Mirai lives in Seattle, where she researches various brain things.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

In the Kitchen with LS Delorme: Gluten Free Pie Crust #IntheKitchen #GlutenFreePieCrust

One of the things that has been important to me in writing is the tell the stories of people for whom "physical" life can be difficult.  It was important for me to explain a reason for things like chronic pain, to give it meaning and make it feel less unfair and random.  In "Caio", the book I just published, I look at certain mental health issues.  My main character, Sarah, has voices in her head.  She has adapted to this, but it makes her question her mental health on a regular basis.   Caio is someone who has been physically altered by his environment.  Caio is also a major "foodie", as he was born in a village in Brazil.  So, food plays quite a role in this book, as it has in my life.

I must admit that I wasn't really into food when I was younger.  It wasn't abnormal for me to have 3 Twizzlers and a Diet Coke for lunch when I was working in legal.  However, when I moved to London, I was diagnosed with celiac disease.   That diagnosis might have upset some people, but for me, it explained issues that I had been dealing with for years.  The nerve damage done over the years means that if I run into gluten now, it could result in days, if not weeks and months, of pain.  In the beginning it wasn't too difficult adapting to this because London is very celiac friendly…. then we moved to Paris.  

Parisian restaurants are NOT generally celiac friendly.  I could tell lots of stories about that, but I'll leave it with the warning that celiacs eating in Parisian restaurants should try to limit their options to cuisines that don't generally rely on gluten or wheat.   Creperies will advertise that they are gluten free, but they use buckwheat.  So, if you are also allergic to wheat, which I am, it can really be a problem.  The positive side of all this was that I have learned how to cook gluten free, and to produce good results.   It takes time to experiment though.  I am sharing a recipe for gluten free, milk free pie crust.  This took me 5 years to develop but you really can't tell the difference from regular French pie crust.   This came from experimentation and the fact that my son took a gluten free cooking class from Alain Ducasse, a major chef here in France.   This recipe sits in what my kids call my "Food Grimoire"…lol. 

Gluten Free Pie Crust


250 Grams of Gluten Free Flour:  I use one from Dove's Farm because it has a mix of rice, tapioca, and potato flour, in addition to a bit of Xanthan Gum.

75 grams of chilled/ frozen Margarine (milk free); It's important to have the right level of chill for this.  I usually hard freeze it the night before and remove it to the fridge on the day I plan to use it.  The chilled margarine helps form pockets during cooking to make it lighter.

2 Large Egg Yolks:  This provides a bit of elasticity that is missed in gluten free flour.  You can use 3 if your eggs are small.

1 tsp Baking Powder:  Also helps make it lighter.

1 tsp salt

¼ cup Sugar

500 Grams Soy Cream or Coconut crème:  This is easy to find in Europe, but it's a bit like condensed milk but made of soy or coconut, which you can find in the US.  Whole Foods generally carries it. 

Guar Gum:  I usually use about ¼ to ½ cup.  It provides more elasticity.  This was the final piece that made it work.  You can be liberal with the use of it. 

1 tsp Vanilla


1) Mix the dry ingredients.

2) Add margarine into dry ingredients, using your fingers until the margarine forms penny or quarter sized lumps.  

3) Combine Egg Yolks, Soy Crème, Vanilla

4) Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  This will be a little bit more wet than you might be used to, but that's ok.  

5) Split this into two balls, and cover with plastic wrap.

6) Put in the Freezer for 30 to 45 minutes.

7) Remove and immediately roll out on to a floured surface.   I use a rolling pin, but you need to make sure that the pin stays floured.  Add more flour as needed.

8) When you are ready to transfer to a pie pan, it's best to either slide it from a higher surface to a lower surface or to flip whatever board you are using over the pie pan.  This crust is more delicate and falls apart more easily.  If it does, just fix it once in the pan.

9) After this you can fill it and bake, or you can put it in the freezer to use later.  

Limerent Series
Book One
LS Delorme

Genre: Paranormal, Romantic, Thriller
Publisher: Limerent Publishing
Date of Publication: Feb 11, 2023
ISBN: 979-8-9874880-1-3 Paperback
ISBN: 979-8-9874880-1-0  ebook
Number of pages: 294
Word Count: 114030
Cover Artist: Brittany Wilson

Book Description:

Sarah Baker is a paralegal in a law firm in modern-day Brooklyn. Her life is bouncing between her abusive lawyer boyfriend, the voices she hears in her head and her soul sucking work at the law firm. On a New York spring day, she meets Caio as he plays basketball on a street court. He is alluring, intriguing and young. Yet that’s the least of his mystery, for Caio was beaten, thrown into a hole and left to die. In 1905.

Sarah tries to understand this enigmatic stranger while juggling the dubious ethics of her law firm and the ghosts in her head. As she struggles with loss, grief, love, beauty and lawyers, she will need to summon the strength to break all of society’s rules, save several lives and step into a new and potentially magical life.

Caio is the opening book of a new series of supernatural romantic thrillers that will pull on your heart (strings), challenge your perceptions and lead you on a singular journey of discovery and revelation.

Books2Read      Amazon     


How can you be as smart as you are and have no backbone, girl? or You’re not pretty enough to be able to expect a man to take care of you, so you better find an administrative job so you can support yourself, or Self-consciousness is just another form of vanity. It’s just you thinking about yourself too much.

That simply scratched the surface of what Sarah heard on a daily basis growing up. On the positive side, she could take criticism with the best of them. She had also learned to channel her sensitivity into an awareness of people’s motivations that coworkers called “uncanny.” On the negative side, when her parents died, she had absorbed their voices into those that already spoke inside her head, and now they were the loudest ones.

It was her heightened awareness that told her that something was not quite right with the Davies case. She wasn’t sure what, and she would need to be careful about how she researched, but it tickled her curiosity.

Sarah was lost in these thoughts as she left the grocery store and made her way home, past the park and toward the basketball courts. When she realized where she was, her heart started to race a little bit at the thought of seeing the boy she had seen last week.
There were some boys playing on the court. She scanned them for someone in grungy clothes, but from a distance, they all looked like they were wearing appropriate attire.

Sarah’s heart sank a little.

Don’t be ridiculous, she told herself. Although she wasn’t exactly sure what she was chiding herself about, it was nice when the voice doing the talking was her own.

As she got closer, she saw the tall, red-haired boy miss a shot and retake the ball. He was one of the regulars. When the red-haired boy landed, he jostled one of the other boys near him. That boy staggered, regained his footing, and in the process deftly stole the ball. When she saw his face, Sarah actually heard herself gasp. The boy who had been pushed, the one who now had the basketball, was the boy she had seen before. She hadn’t noticed him because his appearance was quite different. His shoulder-length dark hair had been cut. He had on a red-and-black striped shirt that didn’t look expensive, but did look brand new, as did the matching shorts. His sneakers were black with pristine white soles. And right at the moment, he was dribbling the ball down the court—straight at her.

Sarah froze. She was standing on the sidewalk behind the basket on the other side of the chain-link fence. She felt like her feet had grown roots as she watched him set up, jump, and make the basket. He came down right in front of her. As he landed, before turning to run back down the court, he stopped and caught her eye. His eyes widened ever so slightly, and he smiled.

For a moment, he looked directly in her eyes and she felt a strange dizzy feeling in seeing him and being seen by him. No one in her life ever seemed to actually see her. No one ever had.

About the Author: 

Lexy has lived an eclectic life.  As a 'navy brat', she grew up in various US states until her father retired to North Carolina when she was 14.   As an adult, she has continued this "tumbleweed" life, having since lived in 3 countries, 9 US states, and 21 cities around the world.  She has been a musician, scientist and attorney, and was one of the first employees at 23andMe.  But, through all this change, her love of writing has been the one constant whether it be songs, scientific writing, legal briefs, travel blogs or fiction.  Writing the Limerent Series allows her to combine all of this to help her create new worlds.  Lexy lives in Paris with her husband and two very cool sons.  

Caio is book one of 8 in the upcoming Limerent Series

Guest Blog: Scrooge’s Folly – Saving Jacob Marley by David Weinberg #RomCom #PNR #AuthorGuestBlog

Writing is work.  Sentences and paragraphs need to make sense.  Every character has their own voice and they are always telling me what they would say…and what I should write.  It can get very noisy inside my head.  Andrea, Beth, Scrooge and Marley all have their own wants and desires.  

It can get exhausting, and sometimes I need to shut them off and take a break.  So what do I do?  I play guitar.

The guitar is an amazing instrument.  I currently own 10.  Seven acoustics, two electrics, and a classical.  I’ve been playing since I was 14.  Now I’m 63.  The guitars chronicle my life.  I can still remember conquering my very first full barred F chord. I still take lessons…from one of America’s best guitar players.  There is always something new to learn…and many things to relearn.

Guitar’s have always been my very best friends.  They offer refuge from a world that is often both out of control, and beyond my control.  So where do I begin my practice sessions?  Tuning, of course.  Outside of saran wrap and duct tape, clip on tuners are mankind’s best and most important invention.  I play guitar in synagogue once per week.  Nothing crashes an evening faster than being out of tune…especially if I’m playing with other musicians.  

Playing guitar is the best therapy in the world.  I highly recommend it.  Chinese made instruments are not expensive…and many sound great.  If you are looking for a new best friend…head on down to your local music shop.  If Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley are there, tell them David Weinberg sent you…and keep on picking.

Scrooge’s Folly – Saving Jacob Marley
David Weinberg

Genre: Romantic Comedy/Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Old Fezziwig Press
Date of Publication: May 23rd, 2023
ISBN: 9798218104054
Number of pages: 285
Word Count: 80,000
Cover Artist: Nicole Collis

Tagline: Love and redemption are always possible…even for the dead.

Book Description: 

Award-winning, but down-on-her-luck playwright, Andrea Smilow, is commissioned by The Playhouse in Connecticut to save it from bankruptcy with a new work.  

When she arrives, she discovers that The Playhouse is inhabited by the spirit of the real Jacob Marley, and he wants her play to be about him…to set the story straight about how Dickens ruined his life with A Christmas Carol. 

Andrea believes he needs to be reunited with the spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge, who lives in the caretaker house.  It is all Scrooge’s idea.  He has been working with Andrea’s roommate, the most powerful witch in North America, to win a second life for Marley from God…and to get Marley and Andrea to fall in love.

Amazon     BN

     Andrea walked to the coffee table and picked up the letter. She held it up and jabbed at it with her right index finger. “Eleven regional theatre companies have performed Rememberings this year, and I get a royalty check for $750. How could that be right? They’re screwing me and I have no idea what I’m supposed to do.”
     “Call Roger and see what he has to say.”
     Andrea laughed. “Roger? He texted me yesterday. Not a word about money. He texts me once a year and never once has mentioned royalties…let us not forget that Roger is my last remaining tie to Brian. I met Roger through Brian. Fifty agents wanted to sign me, and Brian insisted I go with Roger and WMA. He’s a pleasant enough guy, unlike Brian, but he’s never done a damn thing for me. Is it Brian’s fault for recommending him, or my fault for listening to him?”
     Thoughts of Brian hit Andrea like a face against a windshield. She hadn’t thought about him consciously in a long time, yet he was never far from her thoughts. Some guys are like that; they just get into your blood. Often it is the horrible ones that stay there. As the hot water from the shower touched her skin, it elicited an almost imperceptible sigh. She and Brian had spent many a shower together. She remembered how he loved to soap her breasts, and make her nipples hard…until they begged for his lips. She tossed her wet hair out of her eyes and slapped the wall, chastising herself for even thinking about him. He was just one of many evil spirits she had encountered in her life, and he was her past. Perhaps Ivoryton would point the way to her future. She shook her head as she dried her hair with a towel. She had no idea that she was not quite done with Brian yet.

About the Author:

David Weinberg is a screenwriter and musician. Most recently a quarter-finalist in the 2022 Creative Screenwriting Pilot competition. 

He has a B.S. in Environmental Health from Quinnipiac University and a Masters in Liberal Studies from Wesleyan University.  He is divorced and owns the two most spoiled cats in America.

You can also enter The Contest on the author's site to win

1st Prize – A cameo in the movie version when it gets produced. 
Winner chosen Christmas Eve -2023

2nd Prize – Ibanez 6 string sunburst acoustic guitar, gigbag and capo.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Interview with Marcella Kroll - The Roast Iconic Oracle Deck #OracleDeck #OracleCards

Hi Marcella, welcome to our blog. Please tell us a little more about yourself.

My name is Marcella Kroll, and I am a lifelong artist, psychic medium, and non-denominational witch. I love to bridge art and magic together because I feel like it is part of my purpose and soul's plan to bring in this life in this journey to bring people closer to their intuition and Empower them through ART and Magic and revisioning their future.
Do you have any other decks available or do you plan to create other decks in the future?

So I previously self-published four decks, three oracles, and one tarot, including the first incarnation of the roast iconic. 

Luckily, all four of my decks are being re-visioned and rebirthed in partnership with Union Square publishing. 

The fourth edition of the Sacred Symbols Oracle for divination and meditation was published worldwide in November 2022. Now the Roast Iconic Oracle comes out in May 2023. 

Next, after that, we will have my very own Tarot deck called The Dreamers tarot. It is a non-binary archetypal Tarot deck geared towards young adults and anyone getting in touch with healing their inner child coming in the fall of 2023, and then we have my nature nurture deck. It's also an oracle deck coming out in the spring of 2024. 

I plan to work on more projects that provide tools of empowerment and inspiration for others. In the meantime, I am also writing a book that will also be available through Union Square in 2024, which I'm looking forward to immensely.

What was the inspiration behind The Roast Iconic Oracle Deck?

The inspiration for the Roast Iconic Oracle deck came from a job where I was commissioned to create two custom tarot cards within another deck for some clients who had a TV show on HBO Max called Search Party. They are a group of brilliant writers and actors who are always making thought-provoking content. They explicitly created a season that poked fun at occult and spiritual knowledge. I created two cards that would be used by a character inspired by me and my Instagram weekly readings. It felt only right and natural to develop this deck to bring some fun to the heaviness and seriousness that can happen when we become too wrapped up in ourselves and forget to find humor and humility. 
Who do you think is the target audience for this deck?

The target audience for this deck is anyone who has a spiritual practice um but is also okay with taking the punches of life not so seriously. I think it's if the target audience is meant for anyone who wants to get hard truths, perhaps because while it is intended to be a deck with some comedy relief, it's also meant to make some serious inquiry and wants to be right-sized within the space they occupy. 
Tell us about a few of the cards? How can readers interpret them?

This is hard for me to answer, since cards are so personal, and so relative to the individual, and what your inquiry might be. I think it’s important no matter what card you pick to first go on your initial gut response before solely going to the booklet for its meaning. The best part of working with divination tools like oracle decks and tarot, is learning how to utilize them in harmony with your own psychic gps. 
Do you have suggested spreads to use with this deck?

My suggestion for working with the cards is that there is no wrong or right way to work with them, and you can use them as daily practice. You can use them when clarifying a particular situation, especially if you have ego blockages to understand where you are. You can also break them out at a party and use them with friends or work to break the ice or lighten the room's mood.
Can you tell us more about your metaphysical background and the programs and workshops you facilitate?

So my background comes from several things. I am a multiracial, autistic, hereditary medium, artist, witch, and spiritual counselor. I've been reading tarot and Oracle since 1995 but publicly full-time since 2009 when I started offering private sessions to the public and teaching group classes. My classes range from Intuitive Empowerment, Intro to Oracle, Cord Cutting, Past Life Healing, Psychic Self Defense, Spell Writing, Timeline Jumping, and many other subjects that invite magical workings into your daily practice. Over the years, I've had the honor and privilege to teach tarot for teens with the Los Angeles Public Library for the last 15 years (I recently retired from that), teaching classes and speaking on panels worldwide and nationwide. 

Tell us about your podcast Saved by the Spell?

Saved by the Spell is a podcast I've had for several years. It also is the name. of my business. My podcast lets you learn about magic, practicality, and function. I would say it is not an instructional manual, or by no means like an academic classroom vibe, it's not a mentorship either, but it is a great resource when one finds the wonders of magic and the power it can have to help shape and shift our lives. I've been able to offer a lot of 101 and baseline information to help you get started in your magical journey and how to get connected to your practice. I've also had some fantastic guests I love and respect share their practices on the show. It's laid-back and meant to feel personal. I share a lot; I'm a pretty open book, and I like to make people feel like anything is possible and that all are welcome. 

The Roast Iconic Oracle Deck
Marcella Kroll

Genre: Body/Mind/Spirit / Tarot
Publisher: Sterling Ethos
Date of Publication: May 9, 2023
ISBN: 9781454948759
ASIN: 1-4549-4875-2
Number of pages: Kit: 64 pages, 30 illustrated cards + booklet
Cover Artist: Marcella Kroll

Tagline: Sassy, snarky, and hilariously harsh, this oracle deck will tell it like it is.


When you do your one-card draw for the day, looking for a sign from the cards, what happens when you pull Fashion Witch? Bitch? Influencer? Red Flag? 

This intentionally sassy 30-card deck from well-known witch Marcella Kroll is a great way to get real talk from the Universe. 

Don’t settle for being coddled by the Rider-Waite-Smith. This deck will not hesitate to throw shade or tell you you’re trying too hard. If you’re tired of the mystic limitations of the Lenormand, get wrecked by Kroll’s hilarious hand-drawn illustrations.  

Direct, full of salt, and contemporary in its presentation and affect, The Roast Iconic is just what you need for days when you need your intuitive messages to be as direct as possible.
Whether used alone or as a fun party game with friends, The Roast Iconic will deliver blunt truths that make you laugh just as much as they make you think.

Amazon       BN      Bookshop

About the Author:

Marcella Kroll is a professional artist, intuitive, and workshop facilitator. She has been practicing her gifts since 1995. 

Marcella works in private practice with clients all over the world and was a program presenter for the Los Angeles Public Library for 14 years, leading public classes for teens on tarot and other divination subjects. 

She regularly holds healing circles, guided meditation groups, and empowering workshops for men and women in the greater Los Angeles area and around the United States, and hosts a podcast, Saved by the Spell. She is also the co-author of Tarot in the Library Esoterica series from Taschen. She lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Interview with Raven Dark- Forged In Lies by Raven Dark and Jenna Stirling #DarkDystopian #WhyChoose #MCRomance

Tell us a little about your latest or upcoming release.

Forged In Lies is The Handmaid's Tale meets Sons of Anarchy with a dash of Flirefly. Society has fallen apart, and women have become property. No rights, no recourse. Smoke longs to be more than a slave the world expects women to be, or the Ol' Lady her MC planned for her to become. She fled her club wanting to make a difference, only to end up kidnapped by a rival MC. When she kills a biker using skills she shouldn't have and can't remember learning, she realizes there's more to her than she thought. Over the course of the series, Smoke will use those skills to challenge the status quo, turning MC society on its ear, and changing the world forever.

Have you ever based your book or characters on actual events or people from your own life?

I can't think of a book that I based on real events or my own life, but there are parts of the Monarch Series as a whole that feature some dark elements which are based on real occurrences. In Smoke's world, it's common for women to be lobotomized for being too "uppity.' That used to happen years ago. There are tools used for punishment on women. One of the later scenes in the series will show a woman in what is called a Head Cage. It's based on a real thing, but in history it had another name. All of the crimes that are done to women in this series were, at one point in time, committed in real life.

Is there a theme or message in your work that you would like readers to connect to?

It sounds a lot less corny in the book, but... Never settle for what anyone expects you to be. Be the best version of yourself, and never let anyone hold you back. You are stronger than you think, and you have the power to make a difference. One person can change the world.

What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?

I have an astoundingly good memory for certain things. I've lost whole chapters of work, long ones, and been able to type it out again, word for word, including the errors. I've tested myself. It's scary. Spencer Reid would be proud.

When you’re not writing what do you do? Do you have any hobbies or guilty pleasures? 

I'm a writer. I have no life. Just kidding. Sort of. When I'm not writing, I feed my addiction to reaction videos. I'm hooked on Buffy and Cobra Kai reactions right now. If you haven't ever watched a reaction, you've got to check them out.

Is there a genre that you’d like to write that you haven’t tackled yet?

I would love to write horror, but I am a romance writer so that wouldn’t work. 

Of all the characters you’ve ever written, who is your favorite and why?

Venom from the Monarch Series because he's a badass with a broken heart. And he likes to kill things. My favorite kind of hero.

If this book is part of a series…what is the next book? Any details you can share?

The second book in this series is Forged In Fire. There are 7 or 8 books planned. Fire is already half written, and should be coming out sometime in June. While Lies does end on a cliffy, the second book feels much more like a resolution. It does leave some things open ended for other plotlines in the series, but there are some elements that are resolved.

What is next for you? Do you have any scheduled upcoming releases or works in progress?

I won’t be moving on to anything until the Monarch Series is complete. 

What book are you reading now?

I am currently reading about 6 books, including book 5 of the Steel Demons MC Series. 

What is in your to read pile?

Have you got an hour? 

Forged In Lies
The Monarch Series 
Book One
Raven Dark and Jenna Stirling

Genre: Dark Dystopian, Why Choose MC Romance
Publisher: Raven Dark
Date of Publication: April 23, 2023
Number of pages: 348
Word Count: 106,428 words
Cover Artist: Raven Dark

Tagline: This world is full of deadly beasts. And I might be worse than any of them…

Book Description:

This world is full of deadly beasts. And I might be worse than any of them…

I remember life before the solar flare destroyed society. And I remember pieces of the dystopian hellscape that followed.

But my memories are fractured. Full of holes and inconsistencies.

How I managed to slit the throat of a biker twice my size is a complete mystery.

But I did. Easily and without thought.

Now, the dead man’s four ruthless MC brothers want me as their captive plaything in the bedroom, and their assassin in the outside world.

I should hate them. Fear them. But I don’t.

My attraction to these sexy savages is as inexplicable as my nagging feeling that something—or someone—is coming for me.

All I can do now is hope the sleeping beast inside me is ready to kill when I need it…and that the brutal men I’m falling for don’t get caught in the crossfire.

“Forged in Lies, book 1 in the Monarch series, is a dark, post-apocalypse why choose romance featuring a strong heroine, and the merciless alpha males who love her. (Think The Handmaid’s Tale meets Sons of Anarchy, mixed with a dash of Firefly, but with more happy endings and spicy times.) Download today and hope your e-reader doesn’t go up in smoke.

***WARNING***This book contains sexual situations and dark scenes that may upset some readers. If you have triggers, please do not buy this book. Cliff-hanger ahead. HEA at end of series.


Havoc’s grip tightens, unmistakably possessive. His eyes gleam down at me. “Back off, Twig. I choose who she’s with. And you won’t be on the list.”

Twig’s brows go up in surprise.

Havoc looks at me and blinks, apparently caught off guard by his own words. “Relax, pretty girl,” he adds, pushing past Twig. “You belong to me now. No one will touch you unless I say so.”

“Is that supposed to make me feel better?” I mutter.

And yet my sex slicks at his sheer possessiveness.

“Not sure how you’re getting to me, but you’ll pay for it later.” His voice is suddenly gruff.

“You better count on a rough night.”

My pulse stutters. What’s with this guy? One minute he sounds as if he wants to keep me all to himself, and the next he wants to pass me around. How many guys are we talking here?

Trying to distract myself from Havoc’s effect on me, I dig the bread out of my pocket and nibble on it. I look at Sage. Not sure what I’m hoping for, but his expression tells me nothing. It’s as if I’m frozen out, and something between us has evaporated.

“Havoc, Sage,” a guy shouts, striding over to us. He’s tall and athletic-looking like Sage, but with blond hair pulled into a ponytail. “What the fuck took you two so long? Venom’s pissed.”

“That’s nothing new.” Havoc grabs a beer from a barrel near him, and Sage does the same.

“What happened at Gore’s?” Ponytail smirks, watching me eat. I don’t like the way he’s looking at me. “And what’s up with the strange?” he adds.

My gaze zeros in on the patch on his cut. I take in the acronym, committing his rank to memory. Second In Command.

At his tone, Havoc’s hand moves to my nape. I could swear Sage stepped closer. Ponytail’s smile widens.

“Gore’s dead,” Havoc says, guzzling his beer. “Couldn’t pay his dues.”

“Fuck. Another one? This’ll put the Keep in a hell of a mood. What about his women?”

“Dead too,” Sage says. “They were gone by the time H found them.”

“Shit. They would have fixed a lot of problems. All right, Sage, send a couple guys out there to scavenge.”

“You got it, Hutch.” Sage heads over to a group of guys standing with Twig.

“So, who’s the bitch?” Ponytail—Hutch—asks, nodding to me.

 “Gore tried to hide her when we showed up,” Havoc says. “She wasn’t his, though.”

“Stray pussy, is it?” Hutch’s eyes narrow on me. “I’ll take first crack at her.”

Havoc pushes me behind him. I think I actually hear him growl.

Hutch grins and lifts his shoulders. “Fuck, what’s with you? You’re like a dog with his food.

Well, you better bring her to Keep first before you stick your dick in her.” He’s laughing as he

turns and heads for the house.

I scrunch my brows at his retreating back, then glance up at Havoc. He knows I’m MC. Why didn’t he report it to his Second?

“This way,” Havoc orders me, heading after Hutch. “Wait until Venom sees you. He’s probably gonna want your ass first.” He pauses and leans down, lowering his voice to that growl that makes my blood heat. “And I’ll eat up every second, pretty girl. I bet watching would be almost as good as fucking you.”

Alarm bells ring in my head. I gotta get out of here now before this gets any worse. And I have to get to Charlie. As long as I’m here, I can’t do that.

Heart in my throat, I lower my eyes, searching for an escape route. Some of the bikes sit without men near them, keys dangling from ignitions. One’s a few feet away. Even if I could get Havoc to let go, he’d catch me before I reached it.


We’re closing in on the front doors, Havoc’s long strides eating up the grass. If I’m going to act, it has to be now.

I lurch, pretending to stumble. Havoc loses his grip. I whip around and sprint toward the nearest bike.

Havoc curses. Shouts ring out. Panting, I swing onto the bike, kick the stand up, and fire up the engine.

“Stupid bitch,” Havoc roars.

Out of nowhere, a strong arm snakes around my neck and I’m yanked off the bike. I land on my ass with a yell before I’m pulled to my feet and spun around.

I have about a half a second to see silver-blond hair before the guy swings his fist right at my face.

About the Author:

As a young girl Raven Dark dreamed of being abducted by a savage alien warrior, whisked away by a brutal pirate, or rescued by a cape-bearing hero. When none of these men came to claim her, she brought them to life in her stories. Then twelve years ago she met the man of her dreams. He doesn't wear a cape, fly a spaceship, or wield a sword, but sometimes she swears they've mind melded.

Raven lives with her dream man and their one cat that thinks she's a dog in the Mundane world's version of Ontario, Canada. When she isn't working on her latest erotic romance novels and crafting interesting worlds in which to set them, she's spending too much time with friends, feeding her Youtube addiction, or curled up on a couch watching favorite shows with her future husband.