Monthly Archives: March 2016

Author Spotlight: C.M. Boers

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Today I’m happy to welcome YA fantasy author C.M. Boers to the blog, to answer a few questions about her series The Obscured.

1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m 29 years old. I’ve had many majors in school, including many in the healthcare field, but I only have a certificate in Medical Transcription. I have three kids who keep my world spinning and two dogs, a Mastiff mix, and a Great Dane.

2. Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Arizona from the age of 2. My series is based in Arizona so much of the Arizona scenery and landmarks are talked about in the books.

3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
I write Paranormal Fantasy for YA. But I have considered branching out a bit after I finish The Obscured series. Only time will tell. I enjoy that I can create something, something that makes me want to be a part of it.

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4. What music do you listen to while writing?
A few of my favorite bands to listen to while writing are X Ambassadors, Imagine Dragons, Ed Sheeran, MisterWives and many others.5. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
Book three of The Obscured series will be coming out in the fall of this year.

6. “Welcome To My Worlds”: Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
My series is centered around a girl named Abby. Abby is uprooted from her life and moved to another state where life get crazy and out of control very fast. Immortals are now her friends, and she suddenly has enemies that were capable of the unthinkable. Throw in a gift of her own, and her head is spinning. Check out Obscured if you want to know more!

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7. What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I think the best part of writing is that what I’m writing will be read by so many people, and touch their lives. Somehow it will have an impact on their lives whether they hate my books or love them, I will have impacted them in some way, something not many people can say.Obscured is available at Amazon
Divulge is also available at Amazon

Where to find C.M. Boers:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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Music Monday: Haven by Kamelot

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Taking a break from final proofreads on For the Wildings for another Music Monday! This week I’m featuring Haven, the most recent album from one of my favorite symphonic/progressive metal bands, Kamelot. This is another album I’ve been enjoying a lot lately, and it’s a heavy influence on one of my upcoming books, Heir of Tanaris.

It’s hard to say what the strongest point of this album is, but the vocal performances are definitely a highlight. Tommy Karevik (the more-than-worthy successor to Kamelot’s previous singer, the extremely talented and classically-trained Roy Khan) has a powerful sound, amazing range, and virtuoso phrasing and vocal shadings that make each song an incredible listening experience. I’d have to say, among a lot of amazing singers I’m a fan of right now, he’s my favorite.

There’s some great songwriting on the album, both musically and lyrically. The instrumentals, played with the skill and polish of a longtime professional band, combine serious headbanging metal and beautiful string arrangements. The members of Kamelot are masters of their instruments and definitely know what they’re doing. As well, there are a lot of memorable melodies, some of the most beautiful melodies I’ve heard in metal. The bonus album contains the instrumental tracks of all the songs, which stand up well by themselves, as well as orchestral arrangements of some of the songs.

And then there’s the lyrics. A lot of authors who listen to music as they write prefer music without lyrics, so that those words and their words don’t get mixed up, but I get a lot of inspiration from the right lyrics, and when I start a new project I spend a lot of time carefully choosing songs that fit the overall plot and mood of the book as well as for specific scenes and characters. Lyrics matter to me, and I love the lyrics on Haven. They have a somewhat dystopian feel to them, and center around a loose concept of being torn between personal desires for good and evil, longing for power on the one hand and love on the other. At least that’s my read on it, and the theme fits perfectly with Heir of Tanaris, about a man torn between the evil that’s been instilled in him for years and his longings for personal power and domination, and his newly-awakened desires to be a better man and to be worthy of the love he’s found. The first six songs on Haven – Fallen Star, Insomnia, Citizen Zero, Veil of Elysium, Under Grey Skies, My Therapy, and a song from further down, Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy), form the core of my writing soundtrack for Heir, and I must have listened to it hundreds of times over and over and over while I wrote the first draft, and never got tired of it. My Therapy is especially appropriate; the female lead character in Heir is a healer, and Davreos, the male protagonist, looks to her to heal him not just physically but also emotionally and spiritually with her love.

To give you a taste of this amazing album, here’s the official lyrics video for Veil of Elysium, one of the most beautiful metal songs I’ve ever heard:


March Progress Report

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We’re 2/3 of the way through March, so I guess it’s time for a mid-month progress report (which started out as a look back/look ahead at the start of each month. Schedules are not really my thing.). I’ve mainly been working on edits to For the Wildings, the 6th and last book of Daughter of the Wildings, and now, finally, I’m on to the final proofreads. Looking at a release date the week of March 28. To make sure you don’t miss the announcement (and the special limited-time introductory price), go on over to the sidebar or to my email signup page and sign up for my email alerts. No spam, and I won’t share your info, and you can get information about new releases and special offers, and maybe even a freebie once in a while!

I’m also working on edits to a Silas and Lainie short story, “A Good Example”, set the summer after the events of For the Wildings. It’ll be available as a free bonus for people who read For the Wildings. You don’t want to read it without reading book 6, since it contains major spoilers for the book!

Being up to my eyeballs in edits for this book I really want to get out, I’ve slacked off a little on writing new words every day. I’m going to have to work a little harder to meet my word count goal for this month, but I did finish the first draft of the first book of the follow-up series to Daughter of the Wildings! It’s going to be a while before any of this sees the light of day, though.

Coming up next, I’ll be starting on revision of The Source-Fixer (working title, though I might end up keeping it since I’m having trouble thinking of something better). This novel is a return to Estelend, the world of Chosen of Azara, where magic comes from Sources, which are natural features like caves, trees, springs, and so on. Kaniev, the main character, has the job of repairing them when things go wrong, but some problems are harder to fix than others!

I’ve also got a new collection of short stories just about ready to release, probably in April (they’re all done and edited, but the final proofread and putting the book together got shuffled to the side while I finish For the Wildings). Email subscribers will have the opportunity to get this for free.

As for reading, again, that’s been taking second place to getting the book finished, though I’m still on track for my goal of 30 books for the year. I’ll get caught up with the reading roundups again soon.

And, finally, a new project: we got a raised gardening box put in our back yard, and I planted some seeds! Snow peas, mixed lettuce, and broccoli. I’m terrible at growing things, but there’s good soil in this box and it’s on the watering system so I don’t even have to remember to water the plants, so we’ll see if this works. Hopefully stuff will start to grow (besides weeds; it seems like weeds are the only things that like to grow around here!), and I’ll post photos of the progress. Here’s the first one, of my garden right after I planted the seeds:

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 So, watch for For the Wildings coming soon, and with any luck my next garden picture will have little green sprouty things in it!

St. Patrick’s Day Sale at OmniLit/All Romance eBooks

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Today, March 17, all my books and other selected titles are 25% off at OmniLit/All Romance eBooks!

Blog Tour: Brandy Isaacs

Today I’m happy to host Brandy Isaacs on her blog tour with Saskia Book Tours, to introduce her new novel, Don’t Let Them Find You, and interview Sydney Lake, the main character of the book.

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Sydney Lake has a secret. She has no idea who she is, where she is from, or what caused her to lose her memory in the first place. Four months ago she woke up alone and injured with a message written on her arm.

DON’T LET THEM FIND YOU

Not knowing who “they” were, she took the warning seriously. Sydney ran. For months she lived in hiding—always afraid of being found by Them. When Sydney wakes from a strange dream with a bleeding nose she chalks it up to just another bizarre turn of events. However, when she discovers she is just one of many who have had the same dream she realizes something worse is happening.

The dream sets into motion events that convince Sydney They have finally found her. At first Sydney is determined to run again—to save her friends as much as herself. But, to survive, she has to stop running. To keep her friends safe, she has to save herself.

Don’t Let Them Find You is available at Amazon.

Interview with Sydney Lake:

1. What is your full name? Is there anything significant about your name?
Sydney Lake.  Significance?  It’s not my real name.

2. How old are you?
About 23 I think.

3. Tell us about your family. What do you like and not like about them?
The only family I know is the friends I met four months ago.

4. Who was your first kiss, and what did you think of it?
The first one I remember was Xander.

5. What is your occupation?
IT whiz

6. What are your best and worst qualities?
The best?  I am a decent enough person to feel bad for whatever I did to get myself here.  The worst?  I am dragging my friends down with me.

7. What quality do you value most in a romantic partner?
Tattoos?  Just kidding! Someone that helps me remember why it’s important to fight.

8. What is your favorite thing to do?
Having hobbies is risky.

9. What is your greatest fear?
That I will get my friends hurt.

10. What is your most treasured possession?
My identity.

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About the Author:

Brandy Isaacs will tell you first that her name is spelled without an “I”. If that is the case, I will call her Brandy Isaacs. However, that ends up sounding like “Sacks” and will not endear me to her. Just remember, no I. The I is trashy as a terminal vowel.

She was raised in in Kentucky, but not the kentuck of the 70s where people had to dig holes for both one and two. It was a more cosmopolitan version of the place you’re thinking of. Instead of digging those holes, her family was able to hire someone to dig them – big difference. They did, however, love when the Sears Wishbook showed up in the mail each year. They were finally able to stop rubbing dirt in dirtier places.
None of that is true.
But all of it is true.
Your author is one of those curious people. She is of the library and the local witches. She loved words. Even better, she loved when those words were strung together.
In a word – stories.
Those stories, of witches that were real and those that were not; of boy wizards; of young women who volunteered; of men who would suck blood. These stories define her.
And it is stories that she wants to tell you. I could gloss her Bio for real – high school, college in central Kentucky, Grad school in Kansas, nonprofit work when she returned home – and it would miss the truth. Brandy Isaacs has stories inside her, and she need to tell them to you.

They will excite you; they will scare you; they will arouse you.
And you- — you will keep turning the pages. When you hit the end, you will wish there were more.

Links to find Brandy:
Smashwords | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Read my previous interview with Brandy here.


Tasty Tuesday: Meatball Minestrone

Meatball Minestrone

Welcome to Tasty Tuesday! First, though, I want to announce that this week, March 6-12 is Read an eBook Week at Smashwords! Lots of titles on sale, including mine, all 50% off (except for Cure for Nel, which is free!) using the coupon code on the book pages.

And now, on with the recipe. This week, I’ve got another yummy and healthy soup that’s easy to make and freezes well. Split the batch in half or make a double batch (depending on how many people you’re feeding), cook half now and freeze the rest. This cooks either in the crockpot for half a day or just on the stove in only half an hour or so.

I don’t remember where or when I got this recipe. From a magazine I read a long, long time ago (pre-internet; that long ago!), I think. I used to make it a lot, but making the meatballs by hand got to be too much work so I quit making it. Then I discovered pre-made, pre-cooked meatballs at the grocery store, so I dusted off this recipe and started making it again. Much easier now! That’s it in the picture; that was actually my lunch today! It tastes great left over.

Easy Meatball Minestrone

  • About 1 pound of Italian-style meatballs (pre-made from the grocery store, or make your own if you want)
  • 1 – 15 oz can diced tomatoes with juice (I use crushed tomatoes because, as I said last week, I don’t like bits of cooked tomato in my food. Yes, I’m a picky eater)
  • 1 – 15 oz can red beans or red kidney beans, with liquid (don’t drain the beans; the liquid from the beans adds great flavor and texture to the soup)
  • 1 – 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, with liquid
  • chopped onion to taste
  • 1 cup (or more) carrot slices
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced (I cut the zucchini in half lengthwise, then cut each half into half-circle slices)
  • 1 cup (or more) fresh or frozen green beans
  • you can also add sliced cabbage, chopped spinach, whatever vegetables you like, even celery (yuck)
  • 1/4 t. garlic powder (or equivalent of fresh minced garlic, but I’m doing the easy version here)
  • 1/2 t. dried basil (or equivalent amount of fresh)
  • 4 c. beef broth

Dump it all in a pot or the crockpot and cook until the vegetables are tender and the meatballs are cooked/heated through. If you freeze a batch, don’t add the broth yet; only add the broth when you put the soup on to cook. To freeze, put the soup (minus broth) in a freezer zippy bag, press out the extra air, seal, and lay flat in the freezer. Also write on the bag what it is and when you made it, so it doesn’t turn into the mystery bag that’s in there for years. And that you need to add broth for cooking.

I suppose you could also add pasta to the soup. I would only do that when the soup is cooking, to cook the pasta just long enough for it to be done but not overcooked.

To serve, I like to sprinkle shredded Parmesan cheese on my bowl of soup, and serve hot French bread or garlic toast on the side.


Author Interview: Alexandre A. Loch

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Last week I profiled author and psychiatrist Alexandre A. Loch and his novel Laplatia, Or, The City That Could Not Dream. Here he is today to answer a few questions about himself and his writing:

1. Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi all! I’m a psychiatrist with a background in philosophy. I like reading, studying and trying to understand how people and our society work. In 2013 I completed my PhD by studying the stigma of mental illnesses, and I decided I had to write novels. I think fiction is a different means to achieve the truth than scientific writing. By creating fiction you can reach the truth in an artistic and unconscious manner, and then share this truth with your reader.

2. When did you start writing, and why?
I started writing in 2013, after my PhD. I was kind of satisfied with my academic achievements, and I decided I had to do something different. Something to do with the arts. I had lots of things I needed to tell the world, things I could not write in scientific papers. And so my books came out.

3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
I write fiction with psychological themes. I like to create characters similar to real persons. I put many of the conflicts I see in people, my patients, and myself in my characters, and I feel they need to share these feelings with the readers. In my view when you read a book it needs to provide you a take home message. Or at least cause the reader to reflect on the world he is living in. That’s why I write, to urge people to think.

4. What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Surely the greatest joy of writing is to receive feedback from my readers. I love to discuss my books with them. And it satisfies me more when I see that a person really loved the reading, and that my book changed his life in some way.

5. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
My latest book is “Laplatia – or, The City That Could Not Dream”. I have some forthcoming projects but they are still very incipient. I need to shape them to have a better idea of what they will turn out to be in the future.

6. “Welcome To My Worlds”: Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
Laplatia is a city in the near future where natural resources for the generation of electricity have exhausted. In this society mankind invented machines to capture electricity from dreams and imagination’s brain waves to turn it into society’s electrical power. So, no one can freely imagine or dream anymore. How would it be to live in a world like that? Laplatia resembles our society, where our thoughts are shaped by the mass media culture. We are all sort of Laplatians in some way. And so I reproduce common current existential anguishes people show in our society in the book. It has something of darkness, of desperation, and of self-questioning. It’s an unforgettable journey into our own thoughts to read Laplatia.

7. Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?
There is Aaron, who works in one of the facilities that extracts electricity from human brains to turn it into societal electrical power. Though he is married, he is a lonely person, who finds himself trapped in his daily routine. There is his wife Daphne, who thought he was the love of her life but got deeply disappointed after years of marriage. Argos is one of the extractor facility’s leaders. He is a bit arrogant, and very stupid with his wife Ophelia. She, in turn, caught him cheating on her in the beginning of the marriage but still decided to stay with him. She is a very disturbed person who cuts herself to diminish her anguish. There is also a doctor, a drug addict, and so on. Wow, got a little bit excited here but never mind, there are no spoilers, lol.8. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
I spent nearly a month trying to write chapter 6! This chapter is one that explains the world of Laplatia. I thought it was filled with too much reflection, that it would bore readers with philosophical writing and reflections, and it nearly made me stop writing the book. Turned out that my beta-readers found that this specific chapter was one of the best chapters of the book! They commented that current writers usually do not explain their fictional world in details, and that in general disappoints readers. That’s an example of how different a writer and a reader can judge a same chapter…

9. Is there a message in your book? Do you want your readers to take something home?
Yes. There are several critiques on the homogenization of our culture. We know how films end, there are sort of “recipes” for writing books and making movies and TV shows. The new is rare. Though much has been debated about canned culture and its consequences, like dehumanization and the distant and impersonal character of human relationships in general, we keep doing things the same. Laplatia aims to provoke those questions in the reader’s mind.

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Laplatia, or, The City That Could Not Dream:
How would it be to live in a city where no one was allowed to use his imagination freely? Where dreams and fantasy had to be used for socioeconomic purposes? Laplatia is a dystopian city in the near future where natural resources for the production of electrical power on Earth have been depleted. With increasing chaos due to this shortage, civilization invented the Extractors, machines capable of extracting human imagination and turning it into Fos, electricity’s raw material. Consequently, citizens were prohibited to “spend useless thoughts,” such as those provided by imagination, dreams, and fantasy, unless they were destined to the Extractors. In this city, we follow the story of seven characters, their anguishes, their relationships, and their solitude. Laplatia is an erratic story that emotionally moves the reader and urges him to reflect about himself and the society. After all, who said one’s thought is free?Laplatia is available at:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords |

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About the Author:
Alexandre A. Loch is a psychiatrist who graduated from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, obtaining a PhD degree by studying the stigma of mental illnesses. He also holds a bachelor degree in philosophy, and in 2013, he started his career as a writer. Besides writing, he currently acts as a researcher, having authored many scientific articles published in international journals, and being the associate editor of Frontiers in Public Mental Health.Alexandre always liked to read. Early in his childhood, he read several best-sellers and classics of international literature. His favorite authors are Hemmingway, Dostoievski, Lee Harper, Virginia Woolf, Jose Saramago, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Alexandre also appreciates contemporary literature in Portuguese and in English.

His first released book, Bile Negra (Black Bile), is an introspective psychological fiction about Iago and his soul’s journey through a big city. The book was well received by the Brazilian critic. In 2016, he will release Laplatia (The City that Could Not Dream), in the United States, by Black Rose Writing.

With a shrill style, the aim of the author is to make people reflect upon the ideas presented in his books. His concept of art, which encompasses the art of writing, includes the idea that books should change people.

“I like to make people think with my fictions. A book should provoke catharsis; induce the reader to reflect about himself, his life, and the society he is living in. For that, I usually use a sharp style that touches directly the reader’s soul.”

Where to find Alexandre A. Loch:
Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn


Author Spotlight: A.S. Johnson

PictureMeet A.S. Johnson, author of multi-genre paranormal, science fiction, and romance novels:

1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in a traditional family structure with four older sisters and one younger brother. My father was a retired Navy Corpman and my mom was a traditional stay at home mom until we were all in school. Both our parents taught us that hard work and determination brokered success. After high school, I attended college and married. It wasn’t until my later years that I started to follow my passion in life and become a writer full time.

2. Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Oklahoma and Texas. I believe my writing is influenced by own strong personality. We moved a lot and in order to have friends, I couldn’t sit back and be a shy person, otherwise I would have had a lonely childhood. I actively participated in sports, band, and choir. I think this trait of being a leader and not a follower as well as participating in life is something I’ve developed that comes through in each main character.

Picture3. When did you start writing, and why?

Since childhood, I’ve written poetry and short stories. It wasn’t until 2008, after a crazy dream, that I actually started to write novels. I shared my dream with my niece Stacy, who encouraged me to write it out, so I did. In a matter of days, I had written the first six chapters of my debut novel “Orion” and it has been a continual journey ever since.4. Who or what are your inspirations/influences?
My influences in my youth are what lead me to my inspirations. My English Lit teacher, Mr. Black in tenth grade had us read Ray Bradbury’s Canterbury Tales. Never in my life had I been exposed to something so vivid and deep. After that year, my love of reading boomed and I found myself amazing at how someone could pull you in and make you feel like you were a part of the story.

5. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
I write a broad variation of Fiction sub-genres, Romance, Science Fiction, Paranormal, Altered History, that cover everything from young adult to erotica. The main thing I enjoy about what I write, is how the story unfolds the deeper I go into each plot.

6. What music do you listen to while writing?
I listen to a broad variety of romantic ballads in English and Spanish. These tend to spark my creative juices and help me overcome brief moments of writer’s block.

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7. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
My book, The Bayou Vampires: Lily, is to be released this March. It will be the first book in a erotica series of four. My forthcoming novel, Under Siege will be my first non-romantic based science fiction novel. I’m hopeful for a winter release date.8. “Welcome To My Worlds”: Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
My worlds are futuristic in nature and science fiction based. The Bayou Vampires: Lily is set three hundred years into the future after a peaceful alien race seeks refuge on Earth only to be subjected to the lies and betrayal of a U.S. Military with a desire to create a super soldier. This series follows Lily’s journey into uncovering the truth along with three others who enter uncharted water all determine to bring down the military and make those responsible pay.

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9. Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?
Lily Guidry, is a Cajun with a strong female presence who is raised as a vampire hunter. She is confident in her abilities, and a dominate force over her three older brothers. Landry, Rex, and Billy Guidry are famously notorious for being brutal in their interrogation methods of rogue vampires and aliens. Their entire existence is based upon getting the job no matter the cost, their only flaw is a family secret. These crazy Cajun brothers aren’t just crazy they are also vampires, a mutant race created when the human military tried to crossbreed with an alien race and Lily’s younger(not older) half-brothers.I like the structure of each sibling and the idea that despite their bizarre upbringing and genetics, each one of them would kill to protect the other yet when it comes to their little sister, Lily, she is the Alfa of this pack.

10. Is there a message in your book? Do you want your readers to take something home?
Every novel I write has a message of hope, determination, and self-awareness. Every female character I write is a strong female who never gives up her dreams. I want my readers to always believe in themselves first and remember they don’t need a man to give you self-worth or purpose.

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11. What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
My greatest joy is when readers get inspired to pick themselves up and get back to the task of following their passion in life.12. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
The main male character, Arturo Tregree, aka Art, is named after my husband.

Where to find A.S. Johnson:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads


Author Spotlight: Alexandre A. Loch

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Introducing author Alexandre A. Loch and his dystopian science fiction novel, Laplatia, Or, The City That Could Not Dream.

How would it be to live in a city where no one was allowed to use his imagination freely? Where dreams and fantasy had to be used for socioeconomic purposes? Laplatia is a dystopian city in the near future where natural resources for the production of electrical power on Earth have been depleted. With increasing chaos due to this shortage, civilization invented the Extractors, machines capable of extracting human imagination and turning it into Fos, electricity’s raw material. Consequently, citizens were prohibited to “spend useless thoughts,” such as those provided by imagination, dreams, and fantasy, unless they were destined to the Extractors.

In this city, we follow the story of seven characters, their anguishes, their relationships, and their solitude. Laplatia is an erratic story that emotionally moves the reader and urges him to reflect about himself and the society. After all, who said one’s thought is free?

Laplatia on Facebook

Laplatia is available at:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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About the Author:
Alexandre A. Loch is a psychiatrist who graduated from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, obtaining a PhD degree by studying the stigma of mental illnesses. He also holds a bachelor degree in philosophy, and in 2014, he started his career as a writer. Besides writing, he currently acts as a researcher, having authored many scientific articles published in international journals, and being the associate editor of Frontiers in Public Mental Health.Alexandre always liked to read. Early in his childhood, he read several best-sellers and classics of international literature. His favorite authors are Hemmingway, Dostoievski, Lee Harper, Virginia Woolf, Jose Saramago, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Alexandre also appreciates contemporary literature in Portuguese and in English.His first released book, Bile Negra (Black Bile), is an introspective psychological fiction about Iago and his soul’s journey through a big city. The book was well received by the Brazilian critic. In 2016, he releases Laplatia (The City that Could Not Dream), by Black Rose Writing (TX, USA).

With a shrill style, the aim of the author is to make people reflect upon the ideas presented in his books. His concept of art, which encompasses the art of writing, includes the idea that books should change people.

“I like to make people think with my fictions. A book should provoke catharsis; induce the reader to reflect about himself, his life, and the society he is living in. For that, I usually use a sharp style that touches directly the reader’s soul.”

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn


Tasty Tuesday (on Wednesday): Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

So according to my new blogging framework, Tuesdays are for Tasty Tuesday, where, sporadically, I will share things I like to cook that are good on busy days, like on a long day of writing, and other things I like. I don’t actually like to cook, so these are things that are easy and tasty enough to be worth the trouble. Normally on Wednesday I would do an Author Spotlight, but I was late getting interview questions out to this week’s author, so that will be later this week. Which just goes to show the futlity of blogging schedules, but at least I have prompts for writing posts more often.

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For the first Tasty Tuesday feature, on Wednesday, here’s probably my favorite easy dinner to make, Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup. I originally got the recipe from AllRecipes Magazine. I love this magazine, and it’s interesting because most paper magazines have gone all or partly digital, but AllRecipes started as a website and branched out into a paper magazine. Which I like because I’m a messy cook and I’d rather spill on that than on my Kindle Fire or my laptop 😛

Here’s the original recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/89539/slow-cooker-chicken-tortilla-soup/

You start with a 10 oz. can of red enchilada sauce (here’s a place where you can heat the recipe up or down by choosing mild, medium, or hot sauce), a 15 oz. can of tomatoes (I use crushed because I don’t like pieces of cooked tomato in my food), and I also add a 15 oz. can of black beans, drained. Add frozen or canned corn, spices (another place where you can heat the recipe up or down; I don’t use the cilantro), and chicken. The recipe calls for cooked shredded chicken breast, but I use uncooked boneless skinless breasts. You want about a pound total. They cook in the soup, which gives it a better flavor, then before serving you take them out, shred the meat, and put it back in the crockpot. The recipe also calls for a 14 oz. can of chicken broth and 2 cups of water, but I use 4 cups of chicken broth for a richer flavor. If you want a vegetarian recipe, double up on the corn and black beans, leave out the chicken, and use vegetable broth.

This makes way too much for just the two of us, so what I do is I divide the batch in half (before adding broth) and put half in the slow cooker and the other half in a freezer storage bag and freeze it. Only add the broth when you put it in the crockpot. Also, use two bay leaves, one in the batch you cook now and one in the freezer batch. And tadaa, two dinners for the work of one!

Cooks on low in about 6 hours. I put it together at lunchtime, and it’s ready by the time we eat dinner at 6:30.

To serve: the recipe tells you how to make your own tortilla chips, but that kinda negates the point of an easy dinner, so I just use bagged chips from the store. Serve up the soup, crumble tortilla chips into it, and top with shredded cheese, sour cream, lime slices (as per the picture), whatever Mexican food toppings you like. Yummy and easy (and it tastes great the next day!)