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Woop, woop! Brain 2 Books Cyber Convention Blog Hop – Yay #B2BCyCon2017!


Hi there, Toi here, and welcome to my ToiBox of Words. If you haven’t had a chance to stop by my booth yet, a.k.a my Author Showcase, be sure to do so.

I have some pretty cool stuff to share. I’m inviting everyone who signs up for my email list to receive a FREE short story, Clepher’s Heart (featured in the Of Past and Future anthology). It tells the story of how time travel and advanced technology might test the love of two brothers, but never break it.

Speaking of Anthologies, I’m one of the contributing authors to the B2BCyCon’s first anthology, Book Dreams Vol. 1. Please take a chance on this lovely collection… I heard that some of the authors are giving some freebies with it.

Also, if you haven’t had a chance to check out the Fantasy Scavenger Hunt, check it now. It’s loads of fun.

For this hop, I have quite a sampling to share with you, including insights into my creative thought process, book trailers, and fun games. Feel free to take it all in or simply peruse, picking and choosing what looks good to you. And, just for taking a chance on this hop… I give you my B2BCyCon GRAB BAG! Enjoy.

I hope you enjoyed yourself here. See all of my books (print and digital) in one place by visiting my Amazon Author pages. Please follow one of my pages to help increase my ranking and be notified of my new releases.

US | UK | France | Germany | Japan

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords  * Click below to see who comes next.

Zachary Chopchinski

#IWSG April 2017: #B2BCyCon2017, Monsters in Our Wake, & a #giveaway

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Created and hosted by the Ninja himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writers Support Group posts the 1st Wednesday of every month. Click the image to learn more or sign up.

So, I have a lot to share this month. Gonna keep some stuff real short so I can spotlight an amazing interview. Please stick around to see it all. It would really mean a lot.

1) My Countdown to Con Season is coming to a close and the cons are on. Check out these two videos to see what I have to look forward to this weekend OR bookmark them to watch later.

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2) Monthly Question: Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge?

No, no I haven’t. I’ve wanted to, but it just hasn’t happened yet.

3) So, I’ve been trying out new authors this year and it’s been paying off pretty well. Please enjoy this interview with J. H. Moncrieff, an author I’m sure to become a lifelong fan of. Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of the interview.

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Where did the idea for Monsters in Our Wake come from?

This book was initially inspired by my anger at the irresponsibility of the oil industry and offshore drilling, but it got a lot more complex as it came together.

I can already tell that this is going to be a passionate interview. I’m so up for it.

How did the title of this book come about?

I normally struggle with titles, but this one just popped into my head while I was writing. I loved it, and it suits the book, so I went with it. Thankfully the publisher liked it as well.

What genre is this book and why did you choose to make it so?

I thought it was a straight-up horror tale, but some readers are also seeing elements of sci-fi and fantasy, which surprised me. As I was writing it for a horror press, choosing the genre was easy.

Many find that the line between horror and sci-fi is a very thin one; the Alien films are a prime example. Are you happy or worried about the effects sci-fi elements will have on your readers?

At this point, I’m not sure what to think. It may broaden my audience and attract some sci-fi fans, which would be great, as long as it doesn’t turn off those who think sci-fi is always about aliens, distance galaxies, and technology. Just like horror, sci-fi suffers from a lot of misconceptions.

What would you say is the overall message or the theme of this book?

If I had to pin it down, I’d say the overall theme of this book is the importance of respecting all living creatures and their environment, but it’s also about the importance of communication.

Misunderstandings and miscommunication are to blame for most of the conflict in Monsters in Our Wake.

I hear that. Empathy and better communication all around would make the world a much better place.

Tell me about the main storyline within this book.

The story centers around a family of ancient sea creatures whose lair is invaded by a crew of offshore-oil drillers. The creatures retaliate, damaging the drill ship and stranding the crew in the middle of the South Pacific. And then things really get crazy!

Whoa, I’m in! I mean, I was already, but that’s a great pitch. See my review here for more of my thoughts. Would you like to tell our viewers what kind of sea monster we’re dealing with (giant octopus, dino-relative, etc…) or should they just read the book?

It’s not really spelled out in the book, except for some elements of physical description, but the creatures are related to the famous Loch Ness monster, so I picture them as giant plesiosaurs—something we know once existed but thought was extinct.

Who is the protagonist of this story?

Nøkken and Flora are the protagonists. Nøkken is extremely intelligent, with an incredible amount of wisdom and insight, due to his advanced age. But he’s not as “above it all” as he would like to think.

Flora is a single mother who’s taken a job with an oil company to pay for karate lessons for her son. She quickly realizes she’s out of her depth when most of the all-male crew resents her presence and expertise. Her anxiety disorder only complicates matters.

Who is the antagonist of this story?

There are no clear good-or-bad guys in Monsters. Every character is flawed, with both positive and negative traits. Most of the crew view Nøkken and his family as the monsters, yet the humans are the ones who invaded the creatures’ home and who will destroy it without a second thought.

There is a certain crew member who has a great potential for violence, but the tendency to react with violence to those we don’t understand or identify with is the real antagonist in this story.

I love when a story doesn’t have a clear good or bad guy, it usually adds more depth when characters are portrayed with flaws. It humanizes them even when they are not human.

What is the major conflict in this story?

The crew on the drill ship just wants to do their job and return home; the creatures are driven to protect their own home, the ocean.

That’s the major conflict, but there’s quite a bit of internal conflict between the crew members and also within Nøkken’s family. Picture Lord of the Flies on the open ocean with sea monsters.

I like that description. It really does give you an idea of what to expect without giving too much away. Do you think readers will find themselves sympathizing with both sides of this conflict?

Yes, most definitely. Even characters you may start out hating often have redeemed themselves by the end.

Where and when is this story taking place?

Monsters in Our Wake is contemporary and set in the remote South Pacific.

Tell me about the experience of writing this book; how long did it take.

While I had a lot of leeway when writing about Nøkken and his family, the oil industry was a different story. I had to do a lot of research, and I had a great source who works in the industry. In the end, I had to make the ship in Monsters a prototype, because nothing that exists right now fit my plot the way I needed it to.

It took about a year before I was happy enough with Monsters to submit it to the publisher.

I don’t think the average reader realizes how much research can go into one story. I think it’s a mark of a good writer.

Who is your favorite character in this book?

Nøkken is by far my favourite character and the most fun to write. Since he has a unique perspective, I suspect readers will love him as well. So far, reviewers have mentioned that being able to see the story from the creature’s point of view is one of the things they liked most about the book.

Are there elements of your personality or life experiences in this book?

This book was originally inspired by my anger at Big Oil and its destruction of the environment. I’m extremely passionate about the natural world and the ocean, so that informed a lot of the creatures’ rage about what is happening to them.

But a lot of people depend on oil companies for their livelihood, and that is addressed in the story as well. Once I began writing, I realized it was a lot more complicated than, “Oil bad; environmental protection good.” We definitely need to strike a much better balance than we’re currently doing, though.

I agree, all too often I feel that we as people place limitations on ourselves that come back to haunt us. We never should have become so dependent on fossil fuels that our world is suffering from it. We should have been researching and implementing alternative fuel sources from the start, not just because it’s good for the environment, but because it would be one less thing for people to fight and kill over… I’m off my soap box now.

What is one thing from this book you wish was real or could happen to you?

I would love to see a sea creature one day. Visiting Loch Ness and seeing Nessie has been my dream since I was a child.

That would be really cool! I have a thing for dragons and have always thought of Nessie as a type of water dragon.

What is something you wish wasn’t real and hope doesn’t happen to you?

Ha! Pretty much everything in this book. I wish people respected our oceans more. I wish there was a less destructive way to harness natural resources—or that someone would come up with a better alternative.

I also felt for Flora and her struggles to fit into a man’s world and overcome her anxiety attacks. While I’ve never experienced that exact scenario, I think almost everyone has felt like a “fish out of water” at some point, and it’s not an enjoyable experience.

Anxiety attacks are often overlooked because not that many people have them. While I wouldn’t wish them on anyone, I sometimes wonder if people did experience just one, if they would continue to be so dismissive about them… Darn it. No more soap box from me. I promise.

Let’s say your book is being turned into a feature-length film; quick-cast the main two characters and pick a theme song or score.

Julianna Margulies would make a great Flora. And I’d love Morgan Freeman to do the voice of Nøkken.

As for theme song, something orchestral and powerful? I’m sure James Horner would do it justice.

That sounds like a movie I’d be glad to see.

Do you have any special plans for this book in the near or far future?

I’ve already had a few people, including a director, tell me it would make an amazing film. So while I can’t plan for that and the budget would have to be huge to pull it off, I can always dream.

If anyone knows J.J. Abrams, please feel free to send him a copy.

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To obtain your copy of Monsters in Our Wake, please visit this link: AMAZON

Sign up for the J.H. Moncrieff newsletter for a chance to WIN 1 of 2 ebooks of Monsters in Our Wake.

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Are you doing or have you done the A to Z?
Think you might check out B2BCyCon?
Isn’t J.H. great? And how about Monsters in Our Wake?

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After hanging out with Alex, be sure to stop by and visit this month’s co-hosts:
Christopher D. Votey,
Madeline Mora-Summonte,
Fundy Blue, and
Chrys Fey!!

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Click here to visit other IWSG blogs and sites to receive and share more inspiration and support. (This month, I’m #69).

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse #Review: Monsters In Our Wake #horror #ebook

The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you’ve finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same. In this way, we’ll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers. Please join us below.

Title: Monsters In Our Wake: A Deep Sea Thriller
Author: J.H. Moncrieff
Genre: Horror, Science Fiction Thriller
Pages: 190
Reading Level: Adult
Content: R (language, gore, suspense, dark theme, mature and adult situations, violence)

This book caught me off guard and I’m glad. I was expecting a great monster story but got something else entirely. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the classic monster elements are there, but the differences make all the difference.

The story is about a strange connection between an ancient sea creature and a marine geologist. As a single mother, Flora takes a job on an oil rig purely for the money, but between her anxiety and the machismo on the ship, it doesn’t take long to wonder if it’s worth it.

Then there’s Nokken and his dysfunctional (sea creature) family. A bit of sport with an oil rig, something that looks like a toy to him, starts the drama that unfolds. Nokken is somehow torn between sticking to his nature and having compassion for the creatures that could destroy his home.

Being familiar with the reputation of Moncrieff, I was expecting an intense horror story to boggle the mind. That’s what I got, but I felt like the story was more of a science fiction thriller, which make sense because thriller is in the title. Because the story is told from the perspective of both the humans and the sea creatures, there’s an element of terror missing, but it’s still scary.

Right from the start, the creatures are humanized to the reader and the story plays out like a crime drama or thriller from then on. The story becomes a mental battle for the sea creature (Nokken), who has the upper hand in all aspects, to decide what is the right thing to do. All the while, back on the ship, the real monsters begin to show themselves as survival takes a back seat to individual self-preservation. And none of the humans come off looking very good, even Flora.

While she’s the best of humanity on the ship, some of her actions or lack there of, don’t make her the fittest in terms of survival. I wanted to like her more, but I didn’t. There were other characters with likable traits and some who did heroic things, but I didn’t really ‘like’ any of them. Of course, I sympathized with Flora and wanted her to make it out alive more than anyone else; I just don’t know why I didn’t like her more. I can relate to her, though, in one respect. Anxiety is crippling in a way no one can understand unless they’ve experienced it.

Overall, I’d recommend this to horror and sci-fi fans, and to anyone who appreciates a good monster story or one with a twist. Not suitable for pre-teens and young children.

I give this book a 4.

If you’d like to obtain a copy of this book, try this link: Amazon

Please stop by and see what others have read 😀

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

#Review: The Legends Saga #paranormal #ya

Sorry for the late post. Life happens its own way no matter how much you plan.

Goodreads

Title:  Crane

Series: The Legends Saga #1

Author: Stacey Rourke

Genre: Paranormal, Retelling

Pages: 298

Reading Level: Adult

Content: PG-13 (violence, adult situations and content, some gore)

This is two stories in one with a dark comical twist… Well, actually two twists.

Ireland Crane just moved to Sleepy Hollow because she couldn’t pass on the opportunity to be associated with the legend of Ichabod… No, not really. I just thought that was a silly coincidence that was going to ruin this book, but it didn’t. Actually, Ireland just broke up with her boyfriend and needed a change so when a job in Sleepy Hollow opened up, it was a chance to escape. Of course, once she gets there, people start dying and old men start waking up in her basement. Enter, Rip Van Winkle.

One thing I’ll say about this story is that it is refreshingly dark and funny. I fell in love with the humor of Stacey Rourke in her Gryphon Series, but this was an entirely different experience. This story is more New Adult than YA, but not filled with a lot of steam. That may be a deterrent for some who feel that New Adult exists only to add more steam to stories.

While I didn’t fall as hard for the first installment of the Legends Saga as I did the Gryphon Series, the story still won my heart. The paranormal elements of this story are right up my alley, and the comedy is just a bonus. The strong female lead, Ireland, is not what I expected which is always a plus for me. She doesn’t start off as a kick-butt character but develops a duality that lets her be the quintessential girly-girl and feme fatal all at once. Kudos to Rourke on the character.

Ireland isn’t the only likable character in this book, but I don’t want to give too much away. A sleepy Rip does steal the show a few times, and have I mentioned the dreamy Noah. Of course, there’s a love interest, but I like that the romance is not the major focus of this story. In fact, as twists go, romance and damsels get mashed up pretty good and I like it. The way the whole curse comes together was original and exciting. The rest of this series is a must read for me.

Recommended to fans of paranormal, myth and fairytale retellings, and dark humor.

I give this book a 4.

This review has been posted to GoodReads.

If you’d like to obtain a copy of this book, try this link: Amazon

Goodreads

Title:  Raven

Series: The Legends Saga #2

Author: Stacey Rourke

Genre: Paranormal, Retelling

Pages: 211

Reading Level: Adult

Content: PG-13 (violence, adult situations and content, gore, mature and dark themes)

I don’t think it’s fair to compare the tale of Ichabod to the fictionalized story of Edgar Allan Poe, but that’s what we’re faced with comparing books 1 and 2 of The Legends Saga. Considering I am rating both books the same, it seems silly to say that I liked the second book more, but I did. However, I think that is mostly the fault of my enthusiasm for Poe. In any case, Rourke has thoroughly entertained me again with Raven, to which I will doubt her nevermore.

I honestly didn’t know where else this story could possibly go, and knowing who’s showing up for the third book, it’s all I can do not to speculate. I can’t wait to be surprised. To say that matters turned darker in this second book is an understatement, but there’s no denying that Ireland is still Ireland. She’s silly, and sweet, and a bit slow at times, but that’s just part of her charm.

As the Hessian, unfortunately, she gets put in her place when the scorned love of Poe turns out to be much more powerful. Let’s face it; while revenge and rage are powerful forces, love is the ruler of all. As if being the Hessian wasn’t enough to put a strain on Ireland and Noah’s relationship, the handsome Ridley shows up just having to be the missing key to resolving Poe’s century-old relationship issues.  Just as in the first book, life and death are a delicate balance held together or torn apart by love.

This story is much darker than the first, but it didn’t turn me away. Even through all the darkness and death in this book, there was room for quite a few laughs. An addition to the second book, not experience in the first, at least for me, was also a sense of sorrow. Rourke really dug deep and offered a gambit of emotions and experiences for her readers.

Recommended to teen and adult readers; fans of paranormal, Poe, and other twisted retellings.

I give this book a 4.

This review has been posted to GoodReads.

If you’d like to obtain a copy of this book, try this link: Amazon

Goodreads

 Title: Steam

Series: The Legends Saga #3

Author: Stacey Rourke

Genre: Paranormal, Retelling

Pages: 228

Reading Level: Adult

Content: PG-13 (violence, adult situations and content, gore, mature and dark themes)

I’ll go ahead and admit that I enjoyed this story, but I didn’t like the way this series ended. I probably would have given this final installment of the Legends Saga a 5 rating, had the ending been more resolute. For me, having so many questions at the end leaves me wondering if these characters will pop up again down the road, just as other Rourke characters have. The uncertainty is agonizing… but still; you gotta read this for yourself. It’s totally worth it.

Aside from my issues with the ending, Rourke has managed to awe and amaze me yet again, adding extended depth to her characters and twisting ageless tales in unexpected ways. Steam takes everything to another level. If you snickered in the first two books, you’ll LOL in this one. If you whimpered a bit with the first two books, your heart will ache with this one. There is one scene in particular that actually made me feel a bit of terror, bordering this tale on the edge of horror, but it’s so much more than that.

Book one seemed to focus on conquering demons and finding purpose. Book two seemed to focus on the power and, even danger, of love. Book three is all about the choice to live with hope and the sacrifices one makes to keep hope, and perhaps even love, alive.

In this installment, Ireland and Ripley are joined with a new character who has ties to witchcraft and the story of “The Scarlet Letter”.  This oddball assortment of humans and their supernatural gifts have been gathered together by HG Wells to defeat the greatest evil any of them have ever seen. Even with Well’s ability to travel through time, he knows that even if they win, there will be a price to pay, he just doesn’t know what it is.

If you read the first two, you should definitely read the third and decide for yourself if the ending is or isn’t totally satisfying.

Recommended to teen and adult readers; fans of paranormal, and other twisted retellings.

I give this book a 4.

This review has been posted to GoodReads.

If you’d like a Kindle copy of this book, try this link: Amazon.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

Yay, More Winter-ish Stuff ’17 Haul – #books #vinyl

Well, today is a day of, what one art teacher I know calls, ‘happy mistakes’. Not sure how I didn’t know about this, but I was interviewed by Angel M, but somehow missed the post. Please check it out here. It’s a really fun feature called #SQUIRREL.

So, this is a fun little video I threw together in preparation for an early Spring. Turns out, I jumped the gun. Oh well, I still got some pretty cool stuff: clothes, vinyl, and of course books. I’m so blessed.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords