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Working with an Illustrator

Splashes of Colorful Ink Vector Art 

 

Writing my first children’s book meant having illustrations. There is no doubt about my inability to draw. My cats look the same as I was taught to draw them in kindergarten. Not an ounce of improvement toward the likelihood that someone might recognize what it is supposed to be. Thus, my search for an illustrator began. Creating books can get expensive when you pay everyone to do something for you. We are trying to learn to do as much of the process as we can because it is harder for Indy writers to sell books. As I said, I can’t draw.Many of us are on very limited incomes.

My search for an illustrator was very short since I knew a few artistic souls and had been following some of them on Facebook. I only had to approach one and she was agreeable and reasonable and exactly what I needed.

Things to think about when you are considering hiring an illustrator. You want to know that you both are willing to set the same timeline. If you wish to get the book for sale at a specific time, you need to be agreed as to what that timeline or finish date looks like for you both. We, as authors, must not be unreasonable or inflexible since your illustrator or artist may have many more projects ahead of yours. You may both have to give a little to accommodate everyone’s schedule and anticipated time to complete the work.

If you approach someone to do your illustrations, you should check their previous projects, so you can see a sample of their work. I had seen some of this illustrator’s work previously so already knew she had talent. She, however, had never done book illustrations in the past, but then I had never written a children’s book before or worked with an illustrator. We agreed to learn the process as we worked together and went on.

After establishing the agreement as to what you want or need and their willingness to do the job you asked them to do at the price you both settled on, you need to see if your vision is their vision. It is not often the fact that the price is as much as they deserve, but many of us are working with small budgets.

You need to be able to covey what you want so that they will understand what they need to give you. This was a wonderful experience for us. I had not finished the final draft when she took on the job, so I sent her what I thought we needed for each illustration. A paragraph description of what each picture should show. Even though you wrote the book, your illustrator should be given control of the drawings and let them show you their interpretation of what it should look like. Something I read talks about allowing the writer to make a couple minor changes, but if you are ‘on the same page’ so to speak this should be unnecessary.

A super important element of this selection of illustrator should be a happy working relationship. We did this whole project online through texts and emails and never met each other. I am hoping to remedy that and to meet in person someday.

Your illustrator should have the following qualities: patience with you because you are new to each other, a detail – oriented mind, be an excellent listener, a person that doesn’t get too excited because life is unpredictable and a person you could have a long- term relationship with and I found exactly that person. Part of me does not want to share, but that would be selfish.

 

I highly recommend Janice Ducrepont and would suggest you contact her for help with your next project.

E-mail Janice here-paintwrangler@gmail.com

Once the book is published I will replace the drawing above with an illustration from my book.

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Book Review-A memoir of the craft- On Writing by Steven King

 

 On Writing Steven King

I have been quoting this book long before I read it. I found it with books on sale at a thrift store. I am so glad I found it because it is one of the best books about writing that I’ve ever read. The appeal for me was the biographical information of Stephen King that is responsible for who he is. I have little patience for writing books that reiterate the grammar and spelling rules that we learned in school. I am sure I have not mastered does but do not feel they are as important as some of the more elusive solutions in writing that most of us never think about. Rules are very important to know how the craft should be executed, but more important are what goes in to the actual writing not the mechanics or logistics of it.

 

This is an enjoyable book because it offers you suggestions, options and choices and how you produce the material. I like that about the book because every writer works in different ways. We are all not a like nor do we profit by cookie-cutter solutions.

 

The book is very interesting as you get glimpses into what went in to creating Stephen King. He had to work for everything and did not have anything handed to him and yet he is published dozens of books and many countries.

 

I think the hints given in this book are an insight into what we might look for in our own lives. I believe all experiences are reflected in our own writing.

 

I would recommend this book even to non-writers because it is entertaining. All authors and writers would find it helpful and a good resource to keep on your shelves. I highly recommend it.

 

Interview with Suzanne Burke

sooozI have been overwhelmed by the beauty of this author and the warmth she has for people in spite of her personal past. She should be a cold, unfeeling woman with nothing to share with the world. Instead she has the most giving spirit and it comes across in all she does. There is a graciousness about her and trustworthiness you feel at first contact.We have never met in person, but she herself would be a compelling reason to visit Australia. If I ever have the opportunity to do so, I know we will be friends. This is my take on the person and I cannot say enough about her as an author. Her talent is extraordinary.She writes with truth and her characters are so complex yet perfectly right for the book she has written. I am referring in this case to Acts Beyond Redemption.

My review-https://joannwentzel.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/book-review-of-acts-beyond-redemption-by-suzanne-burke/

“Please say hello, to my Aussie Friend-Suzanne Burke. Thanks Soooz for allowing me to do this interview and the honesty with which you answered my questions.”

 

 

Question #1- Suzanne tell us about yourself. Can you tell us a little bit about your childhood and past? How has it affected your writing?

Firstly, I would like to offer my personal thanks for your kind interest in my work, and by extension the things that sparked my need to write.

We are all such complex creatures, Jo. We all have layers of protection that are utilized whenever the need arises. It took me almost five decades before I decided to remove that shield, before I was brave or bold enough to write the words that my heart ached to set free.

As for my childhood? I didn’t have one. The innocence of that time, that precious time, was stripped away by those that should have given their own lives to protect me. Child abuse, physical abuse, and the emotional abuse that happened day-in and day-out every day, took away that childhood. I spent fifty years of my life seeking to find it again, but we can’t go back. Once I learned that precious lesson, it freed me to pursue a future. That future of course would always be colored by the textures of darkness that my past brought forward. That is an inevitable factor in all our lives, the joys, the heartaches and the memories cling to us like perfume, some rich and fragrant, some sour and bitter.

I discovered that that bitterness was an odor that prevented me from moving forward. I made the decision to rid myself of it, and I believe absolutely that the decision to do that saved me from the continuous hell I was allowing myself to be enslaved by.

I’ve lived with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for my entire life, but I refuse to allow it to dominate. I fall prey to it more often than I’d like, especially when writing my memoirs. The nightmares and flashbacks can be horrendous, and I have resorted to alcohol as a memory salve more often than I ever should have. I am currently a recovering alcoholic and well aware of just how fragile I can be.

The decision to write my memoirs was a difficult one, I had no way of assessing just how tremendously difficult it would become, but I will never regret writing Empty Chairs or Faint Echoes of Laughter. The people I loved most in the world were dying one after the other, all of them deserved to be remembered. They took their own lives for the most part. That would never have happened if they had not endured the nightmares that no child anywhere should be subjected to.

I am now in my Sixties, my health is bad. I have so much more I need to accomplish. I am happy now. I am safe. I am loved. No one can ask for more than that. I have lived long enough to see my own child grow and blossom into a marvelous, strong, and loving woman, and I have the utter joy of living with her and my delightful young grandson. I am content with that. Yet I know that I have still one more memoir left to write. That is currently in progress.

 

Question #2 – Suzanne, when you choose what to write what influences your decision? Does it reflect those things most important to you? Does your choice come from another place or result from an altogether other reason?

I have covered what inspires me to write non-fiction. My fictional books are written to entertain. Reading has always offered me a means to escape. I find it the most relaxing of all the places in the world to escape to. I love the thriller/suspense/mystery genre above all that I have read thus far. I guess primarily because so much of it could be easily grounded in fact, yet it’s fact that makes complete sense in a world that is crazy. I have written in several different genres, with paranormal being a close second of my chosen genres. People (Characters) that take a strong stance for what they believe in inspire me. Even the wickedest amongst them are usually inspired by what they utterly believe to be truths.

I escape happily into my characters’ lives and they take control of the words that I write. I find myself to be uncompromising in writing of their actions, for they are the actions rightly or wrongly, of men and women who do not bow down.

I have to laugh as I read this. It really does expose my underbelly. I’m okay with that.

 

Question #3 – We know you wrote at least two books under another pen name? Was the reason for that the personal nature of those books?

Absolutely. I write my non-fiction under the pen name of Stacey Danson. Why? Simple really, those that I write about have private lives. Many of them discussed this undertaking with me. They were to a person all happy that I was doing so, but by choice, many of them had chosen to never reveal the hell that they had come from to the loved ones that now peopled their lives. I promised them anonymity. I will never break that promise. Despite the fact that one of the Big Five publishers approached me when Empty Chairs was first published. They required confirmation. I refused to give it. I will continue to protect the very few that remain, and the blessed memories of all that have passed. End of story.

 

Questions #4 – Briefly describe each of your books. What was your message or what was the purpose for writing each selection.

Great questions, I’ll try to be brief, but brevity is never going to be my strong point when I’m so passionate about what I do.

Empty Chairs … Was written because despite the passage of time (Four decades) I found that the naivety that existed about the evils of child abuse to be unbelievable. I just couldn’t understand how ordinary folks could remain so unaware, or be so unwilling to open their eyes to what could be happening right under their noses. In their own neighborhoods, their own streets. The general consensus appeared to be that this horror simply couldn’t exist in well to do families from upper crust areas. They needed to understand just how very wrong they were. I came from a wealthy home, I lived in a wealthy neighborhood, my abusers were well to do, and a few of those highly respected members of that community were the most abusive and sickest human beings of all I encountered. I wanted to help people understand that Child sexual abuse in all its perverted forms, knows NO social, political or religious boundaries.

Faint Echoes of Laughter… I ended Empty Chairs too abruptly. I should have continued with it. I allowed myself to be under contractual obligation to a publisher, and to be fair I also had reached a point in the writing when I fell too ill to continue at that point. I felt I had cheated those who deserved their stories to be told. I wrote Faint Echoes of Laughter to continue my promise both to them … and to my readers and myself.

Acts Beyond Redemption … Was written initially as a means to escape the nightmares evoked in my life by my non-fiction work. That’s how it began. Then I discovered to my absolute delight that I LOVED writing fiction. I immersed myself wholeheartedly into that adventure, the research, the characterizations, the whole nine yards. I found it to be a rewarding emotional experience. That book unleashed the writer in my soul.

Acts of Betrayal. The first book wouldn’t let me go. It deserved a sequel. I enjoyed the creating of it more than I can ever express.

 

Question #5-We know you recently released your sequel to Acts Beyond Redemption. The title is Acts of Betrayal. Therefore, will you take a breather between books or jump right back in? Do you break from writing at all?

No time left for breathers, Jo. I have too much left to do. Why take a break from the thing that fires my passions and nourishes my soul. I’m already well into my third book in both Non-fiction and fictional works.

 

Question # 6 – What are your next projects? Do you know what you wish to write next? Can you give us a teaser to increase our anticipation?

Next projects in rough order.

Non-Fiction: Book 3 in my Standing Tall & Fighting back series. Titled “Still Sassy at Sixty.” This is about an third completed. I discovered I had so much more to say. This will in all probability be the final book in the memoir. But then of course, I could always write again, when I hit seventy. Life has a way of adding to the book count. “Still Sassy at Sixty” is due for release early July 2017.

Fictional Works. Book 3 in my Unintended Consequences thriller series. Working title “Acts of Reckoning.” Newly started, and I have no idea just where it will lead me. I love the fact that it has such a plethora of possibilities for my imagination to run with. I hope to have ‘Acts Of Reckoning” out by January 2018.

Other Fictional works: Genre Romance. Yes, I did say romance. Eeek! Working Title: “Priceless” a Romance that will take the reader from Outback Australia to the glittering and shallow world of Hollywood.

Basic Synopsis:

Maddison Howard lost both her husband and their unborn child in a horrific car accident. Maddison a country girl from a small Australian country town is grief stricken and takes herself off to the farthest reaches of the Australian outback. Working on a large cattle station as a ‘Jillaroo’ she rides the enormous open spaces with the Jackaroo’s herding cattle to market, spending long hot months in the saddle and sleeping under the stars. Located finally by Lawyers acting for a Los Angeles based law firm she is stunned to discover that her dear childhood friend Carol Landers who has become a huge star of screen and stage has tragically died from Cancer. Maddison, together with the rest of the world is stunned to discover that Carol had a child out of wedlock. A three-year-old daughter named Danielle who has been hidden away on the late stars’ multi-million-dollar estate in Malibu under the care of the household staff sworn to secrecy by their late employer. Dannielle (Danni) has no idea that the pretty-lady that visited her from time-to-time was her mother. Maddison is further shocked to find that she has been named as the child’s sole guardian and beneficiary of the multi-million dollar estate, and an even larger trust fund.

The story covers Maddison’s journey to Los Angeles where she is met by the lawyers and hurried away to meet her new charge. She must decide within three-days whether to accept the guardianship and all it entails; or leave the little one to be cared for by the law-firm and a succession of Nannies and strangers.

The story covers Maddison’s initial arrival, her meeting with a sad and frightened little girl, plus the feeding frenzy of the crowds of press hungry for photographs of both she and the child. She is under the protection of three superbly trained bodyguards, headed by an ex-Navy seal in the shape of the disenchanted Tyler Bradford.

A kidnap attempt ensues. To ensure Danni’s safety Maddison decides to bring her to Australia where she and the bodyguards must secrete the child and themselves from detection. Can Maddison learn to open her heart again? Or will she continue to distance herself from a pain-filled-world? I anticipate “Priceless” to be out by Mid-2018.

As for a teaser? Sorry, Jo. It’s too soon yet to reveal more from any of the new works.

Thanks so much for having me here. I have rarely enjoyed an interview more.

 

 

My New Book – Just Released – A Collection of Jo Ann’s Thoughts

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I just released my new book called A Collection of Jo Ann’s Thoughts. This was a way for me to answer the many questions I get from readers and chat room attendees. It was a way to corral the numerous pieces of writing in one place and still this book certainly does not contain all my articles.

This book is available on Amazon in e-book and print format-https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N05161P

You may also purchase this at Create Space-https://www.createspace.com/6689159

For decades I wrote articles for websites online and print offline. Many of them were addressing parenting and foster parenting issues. I specialized in many different types of articles for specific websites. For example I wrote hundreds of articles about party planning and celebrating holidays for Suite 101. As an Examiner, I covered small business issues and rescue pets topics. There were many more issues especially when covering newspaper stories.

When you are involved in the social services field for foster parents, dysfunctional families and challenging kids, topics you deal with daily results in articles you wish to share. Sometimes they are a form of advice and some of mine have even been used in parenting and foster parent training. Dan and I used them in doing our job and others have included some of them in their agencies training as well. Many of my articles were also reprinted in newsletters for various foster care and adoption agencies.

Some articles discuss terms and concepts which I found vital when working with at risk kids. These include “Success is Relative,” “Unconditional Love” “Separate the Kid from the Behavior” and “Foster Care is a Different World”

While working with whole families, it became apparent that some parents do not know how to provide activities for their children which led to a whole series of articles such as starting your children on a collecting hobby or tracing your roots for your kids.

Kid’s parties and I believe in celebrating holidays of all kinds even when money is short. There are non-expensive ways to keep the holiday and at least include its recognition. Since I love theme parties, I have included several plans in this book.

Relationships have their own set of issues and being married to the same man for over 52 years, I think I found a few of the answers to popular questions about marriage. Communication is one topic discussed in this book along with how to choose friends and mates.

Since wring for such a long time, almost every imaginable topic has been explored in my articles. Of course they are not all in this volume. The miscellaneous section includes such things as an essay of food, how to organize a bedroom closet, spiritual issues and my take on gun control.

This book includes 60 articles. All fairly short and easy to read. Lots of topics not discussed here. If this book finds interest, there are enough articles to at least do two more books.

Please grab a copy since I will need readers and reviewers. Thanks to all who have supported me.

Authors-Finding the Right Book Club is Important! Try RRBC

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I am very new to this author thing and the ways to promote your book and get it noticed. I have tried several different methods and found a few hard working people that were good at promoting and had wonderful ideas but, still the results were not impressive.

Finally, a few months ago, I signed up for Rave Reviews Book Club. It was a low cost solution that fit into my meager promotion budget. I thought it an encouraging sign when I introduced myself in a post that many immediately welcomed me and seemed interested in knowing me and my work.

Next, as part of my membership, I needed to obtain, read and review other’s work. I have only done a few reviews but, know how important this part of the agreement is and have several more books lined up to meet the membership qualifications and beyond. Any time I post something on Twitter about my books or others, I see an immediate response of lots of retweets from this club’s members. I try to spend a little time reading others posts and responding as often as possible. The whole club is involved in doing the same things so you get lots of help and support. It is truly the most active bunch of authors and readers I have come across so far.

Recently when they held their month long book and blog tour, I signed up two of my different blogs. The amounts of visits and comments received was phenomenal. In fact, when I turned on my computer at 6 am, I already had 20 comments. This is a very loyal group. The tour was lots of fun and we even won prizes.

After the blog tour, I was invited to be a guest on the club’s radio station. That program will air on September 24th and I will be one of four guest who will get their five minutes of fame. I am looking forward to that program and hope it furthers my quest for more notice of my books and ultimate sales.

The response from this club makes me feel that I have found a true group of friends who actually care about my struggles and challenges as an author.  They are more like family in that they are encouraging and helpful without reason to act in that way. The group exemplifies the concept that everyone needs to help everyone else become the best they can be. The fact follows that being supportive of others returns the same back to yourself. The simple concept isn’t hard if your goal is to be the best you can be while pulling others along with you. There is no need to discredit others to make yourself feel better since we are all in the same situations. There is no need to really compete except to help others excel while you do. We all need help and are made better by lifting others up. A truly Christian concept.

I highly recommend this group. The Rave Reviews Book Club led by Nonnie Jules is a wonderful place to propel your writing career. The notable names that make up the roster are not just great authors but, caring people who you feel proud to know even a little. For more information about this great club every author needs to join check out this link.

https://ravereviewsbynonniejules.wordpress.com/join-here/

 

Check it out- I feel like I finally came home.

 

RRBC Blog Block Party Tour

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Hi! Welcome to the Rave Reviews Book Club 2016 Book & Blog Party.

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Check out the rest of the RRBC blog tour  lineup

Today I am honored to be your host. My name is Jo Ann Wentzel and I am pretty much a new kid on the block. This club has given me a warm welcome so I am ready and willing to become a supportive member. This tour is such fun and a wonderful way to get to know all of you. You are all great authors and I am so impressed with the quality and quantity of the books you have written. I must admit I am somewhat overwhelmed by all the great books I want to read and wonder if I will ever find time again to write myself. I want to read them all and how I try (Former home town librarians can vouch for that fact.) My husband and I are retired to a small motor home so this blog comes to you now from the 90 plus degree New Mexico. Specifically, we are in Sumner Lake State Park where we can enjoy the wilder side of nature while keeping an eye out for a recently sighted cougar.

Comment to be entered for prizes

Today’s prizes include 1-$10 Amazon gift card, an autographed copy of It Begins and Ends with Family and an autographed copy of Ultimate Betrayal.  So three prizes and three separate winners. Just comment below for a chance to win.   Good Luck!

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       Let Life Begin

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Who am I?

For those who care I am a wife to the same wonderful man for over 52 years. I am a mother of two children, a daughter and son. I am also a grand mom to three grandsons plus the granddaughter I was blessed with when one grandson married. I am a former foster parent and worked with over 75 kids. Often our house saw 8 teen boys at a time so there was never a dull moment. My entire life was spent working with challenging kids and at risk families, retail jobs and writing. I adore party and event planning. In between, during or in addition to normal jobs, I often was employed in a variety of pursuits -anything from pulling chickens out of cages to send to Campbell’s for soup to selling cars. For a while I even fancied myself a goat herder.

You can see I have a love of color, no pale pastels for me; nothing that speaks of a sedate, classic personality. Besides this is a party!!! I have a weird sense of humor and people call me creative. Once bought a rickshaw at an auction and planned a whole promotion around it for a gas station we ran. I came late to the career of being an author and still am very green. Trying to learn how to write, how to promote, how to get reviews and how to sell books. Have no book trailers, videos or audios to offer yet. Hopefully, they are in the near future. This blog tour is enabling me to learn from all of you and that is appreciated. Since I can use all the help I can get.

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Ultimate Betrayal (a first novel by Jo Ann Wentzel )

No one knows when the end will come! The Bible points to signs of those final days. It provides the warnings as to what the times leading up to it may be like, some very clear but, most more obtuse. We are warned that at the beginning of the end lawlessness will prevail. It speaks of cold hearts where no one really cares for their fellow man and even feelings for close relatives takes a back position behind a person’s own selfish desires. It is a world that is all about me. It is about selfishness and caring only for what you want or need. We have seen signs of this already and if not for the Church, we would be a people without concern for others and a world void of love.

Ultimate Betrayal explores a world like this. The world’s children are in trouble. When a criminal element explodes during the same time as a wonderful technological breakthrough; a unique and unthinkable solution results. This is not what the scientists promised. It is not any reasonable answer that those with a conscience could abide. Follow this time of hopelessness and misery but, don’t despair because the innate good in people will overcome and save all the children and restore human kindness and love.

Read a sample chapter here

 

Buy your copy here!

Ultimate Betrayal will be followed by a sequel soon.

What reviewers are saying about this book!

“Good plot!”

“Hardly able to put it down once started.”

“Difficult subject… at times hard to read.”

“Read in one 4 hour sitting.”

“Found the book an interesting study of life and the way we treat others, especially kids.”

“The story pulls the reader into a fictional world that could easily become reality.”

“This book made me feel a myriad of emotions. Mostly anger.”

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Author Website

It Begins and Ends with Family by Jo Ann Wentzel (a non-fiction book)

After decades of fostering and working with at risk, challenging kids, a book was born. Over 75 kids each brought a lesson with them. They were all troubled and many broken. They had different stories but, the final results were always the same. They needed help to become functional or whole again. They needed to regain trust in any person especially those closest to them. For most of their lives, they had been let down time and time again by those who should have protected them and loved them unconditionally. They all needed some place to belong and a family that loved and protected them- blood or not. This book reveals the way we worked our way back to the beginning family to find the origin of the problems and tried to help that family once again become a place to belong and be loved in again. While this challenge was being met we gave them what they needed -love, support, a safe place to be themselves and people they could begin to trust again.

Read a sample chapter here.

Buy your copy here

Who should read this book?

Foster parents it explores a world only they understand. Those professional parents know foster care is not about dressing children up in cute outfits and giving them a cookie. This is almost a manual for those newbies.

Parents– we all know how hard the job is and that sometimes we should have more tools in our parenting tool box. You may not have kids with so many problems but, we all could use solutions that are creative and focus on a sense of humor.

Those who love reading about the dynamics of a large family– I was an only child, so much of the time growing up was rather boring. I always gravitated toward large families because there was always something going on. They were full of fun and all the different personalities in the family meant interesting and entertaining encounters.

Foster kids– You may enjoy reading about our brand of fostering and the things that made our house unique.

All readers may find the topic informative and eye opening. When you work within the system and need to advocate for the children they place with you sometimes you must recommend solutions not everyone is comfortable with or agrees with but, must be implemented for the good of the child.

 

Thanks for stopping and enjoy the rest of the book and blog tour! Don’t forget to comment. Consider joining the Rave Reviews Book Club for great author exposure and support.

Book review of The Lost Heir( Book 1 of the Dragonath Chonicles) by Andi O’Connor

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If you haven’t yet read this book, The Lost Heir, by Andi O’Connor, add it to your To Be Read List. This is book number one of The Dragonath Chronicles and has set the stage for more entertainment coming our way as there is at least a second book to look forward to in the series.

The worlds of Mystandia and Dragonath are places filled with beauty and wonder but, as often is the case with anything special, the challenges and problems are numerous especially when the royal head of this land is at stake. The battles for the crown and the power that it holds is raging and the subtlety of palace intrigue is not in short supply.

O’ Connor created a world where magic plays an enormous role in everyday life. There are the masters of the art with their enormous resources of power and bag full of tricks. There are also the newbies just discovering their gifts though they still do not know how to use them. Magic is used to save worlds, lives and a way of life that in some cases is dying.

As with any skill, the choice as to how to wield all that power is very personal and can be difficult and the final decisions world altering. This book explores the always intriguing good versus evil theme but, in such an original way that you will be caught up in the story.  The reader will suspend disbelief and accept the characters, their gifts, their actions and motives as a certainty.

The author has provided a story, really a maze, with so many turns and twists that keeps you guessing where it will end and makes you cry out for more.

A very enjoyable read, good plot and I am anxious to read the next one in this series very soon.