Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Latest Hell Swamp review

I’m always thrilled to find an unsolicited review. This morning, this was on Facebook:

"Hell Swamp, a lovely place for a vacation if you like finding floating skulls, cottonmouths, being pushed into the river, shot at, whacked over the head and stately southern plantations. Lest I forget, the plantation had an addition that I should mention. An old lady, dressed out like a freshly-killed deer and hung from the main chandelier in the foyer.
This is the situation that SBI agent Logan Hunter discovered when she was called off of vacation to head up an investigation in rural North Carolina.
The story spins along at an entertaining pace as you follow Logan through her investigation.
Peculiarities abound as you meet the suspects. Whitfield has drawn a cast of characters from 'down by the Black River' that rings delightfully true and scary, injected with just enough humor to make HELL SWAMP stand out from the pack. Read this book. It's a good 'un."

If you want a copy,  Hell Swamp and the rest of the Logan Hunter series (to date), pick up a copy at my site or, online stores, or your favorite store. If they don't have it in stock, they'll be glad to order it for you.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Red Storm Regime

Since men first started recording words on the walls of caves and on parchment, the greatest stories handed down through the ages deal with the battle between good and evil. The first four volumes of The Regime Guard’s 1,000 Years of War continue in that tradition with four separate but interlinked stories of the fight for dominance of an entire galaxy. The stories are set approximately three hundred years apart. They show the evolution and the rise and fall of the three primary societies, as the eternal struggle to balance good and evil rages on.
Red Storm Regime is the first volume of the series by authors MJ Goodnow and Marie Pacha. In a unique twist to the norm, it is not the adults who are the saviors of the forces of good, but rather a group of eight pre-teen children who are willing to give up their youth and their innocence to preserve the way of life of an entire galaxy.

One by one, these youngsters instantaneously morph from children into adults through the power of their god, Elahim, who represents the ultimate good. They are lead by Lena and Elana, twin sisters torn from one another at birth, yet retaining a psychic link. 

They step forward to fight forces that range from the savage Strigoi, to the mystic Lucid, and a minion of the evil goddesses. They put their faith in ancient prophecies and become the Storm Regime. This initial war lays the groundwork for the sequels. As this manuscript ends in a spectacular battle, the Damanite race is decimated and the Zaeferi race survives to rebuild its civilization.

My guests today are the authors, Marie Pacha and Mike Goodnow. Welcome, you two. Please tell us more about you.

Susan, thank you for the opportunity to introduce ourselves and our work to your readers.

MJ Goodnow: I was born, raised, and educated in Connecticut. Over the years I traveled between Connecticut, New York City and Buffalo before finally settling in Minneapolis where I live with my wife and two children. In those interim years, I attended college and focused my studies in Religion and Theology.

Marie Pacha: I was born, adopted, and raised in Iowa. Aside from a few brief periods as a young adult living in Buffalo, NY and Lincoln, NE, Iowa was home until almost three years ago when I moved to a mountain ridge in West Virginia. I tell everyone that I ran away from home when my youngest went off to college so that my three kids couldn’t come back home to nest, but the truth was that all three of them needed a chance to fly on their own. So did I.

When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?

MJ: I had a teacher in high school, Wally Lamb, who has since gone on to win awards for his novels. I was a freshman and he gave me the encouragement I needed to begin writing the story that eventually became Red Storm Regime. The worlds that exist within the series were, in a way, my refuge as I dealt with issues above and beyond the normal growing pains of a teenager. Each climactic moment, each battle is a symbol of something that happened to me, although obviously not a replication. This book is science fiction, but I also write YA novels.

Marie: I started writing poetry in high school and have continued writing in that genre, and obviously also in fiction. I honestly never considered that I would be a novelist, especially in the genre of science fiction.

When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

MJ: I used writing as catharsis, while I struggled with inner demons. I felt it was my opportunity to heal and cleanse myself of those issues. As the story evolved, I felt others could benefit from my approach and also be entertained by the drama that unfolded on the pages of the manuscript. I wanted to see my idea published and I came in contact with Marie through a classified listing for a co-author. From day one, we were a good fit and I told her frequently that “she was in my head” as she immediately grasped my vision and expanded upon it. We had spent about five months evolving the plot and characters before it was accepted for publication.

Marie: Initially, I wanted to share my thoughts so people could understand me better, and in the process find like-minded people. Prose has taken me beyond those purposes. Now, I want to entertain people, and at the same time express some of my philosophies about life and make my readers take a deeper look at the world around them. And yes, that means there’s more to my work than just an entertaining story.

Briefly tell us about your latest book. Stand-alone or series?

 MJ: If you have written both, which one do you prefer? Red Storm Regime was written to stand alone. It is complete as it’s written and I think some readers may not expect a sequel, but it is part of a series that covers over 1,000 of war between two primary races. I think the story dictates which it should be.

 Marie: But Red Storm Regime is part of a series conceptualized by my co-author, MJ Goodnow. It is a rather detailed and complete story as written, but the full story as indicated in the sub-title will be revealed in the sequels. My works in progress are intended as stand-alone works. I don’t have a preference, because I feel the plot and characters dictate if there is a need for a series.

 What’s the hook for the book?

MJ: We’ve taken the age-old battle between good and evil and given it some unique twists. Our heroes are young and unproven in war and battling some really nasty creatures.

Marie: Since men first started recording words on the walls of caves and on parchment, the greatest stories handed down through the ages deal with the battle between good and evil. The first four volumes of The Regime Guard's 1,000 Years of War series continue in that tradition with four separate, but interlinked stories of the fight for dominance of an entire galaxy. The stories are set approximately 300 years apart, and show the evolution and the rise and fall of the three primary societies as the eternal struggle to balance good and evil rages on.

Red Storm Regime lays the groundwork for the rest of the series and establishes the main characters that will be present throughout. Each regime of guardians has specific powers and abilities and the titles allude to those. In this manuscript, members of the Red Storm Regime have the elemental powers of nature as their weapons.

 How do you determine that all important first sentence?

MJ: The first sentence in this manuscript gives the reader a sense of the power and sometimes the violence that occurs within the novel. We wanted to grab our readers immediately and not let them go until they finished the final page.

 Marie: Our first sentence is part of the prologue and we wanted to jump right into the back story. The sentence, “The thunder of war rumbled below the dimly lit cavern” sets the tone for the chaos of the storm and battle scenes within the book.

How do you develop characters?

MJ: Funny you should ask. These characters have been inside my head for 20 years. I had names for most of them and the idea of what would happen to some of them, but my character development was superficial. Marie expanded on my ideas and refined them. She also added a few new characters. For instance, at one point I had the twins (you’ll meet them in the book) as combatants against each other. In the finished version they are allies and act as one person. So we talked on the phone and hashed it out. Setting? The settings were revised to fit the actions of our characters.

Marie: MJ had a ‘vision’ for many of the characters and he created the basic plot. Once we joined forces, he allowed me to take them beyond his original concepts and further define their individual traits and characteristics. Because MJ had a rough idea of where the sequels were headed, characters had to be developed that could either survive or die within the course of this story. That limited me somewhat, but it also gave me the freedom to expand the main characters and action.


Marie: When a writer creates a galaxy, he or she has the advantage. In this case, we built it to suit the story and characters. We tried to set limits that would make it believable, but at the same time define it as “otherworldly.”

 What are your protagonist’s strengths? Flaws?

MJ: Our protagonists are young, but they are a determined group. Their strengths are based on the powers they receive with their swords and the fact that they are fighting for good and the survival of their species.

Marie: They have powers and weapons their enemies don’t possess. And, they are fighting for the survival of their species, a huge motivator. If that’s not enough, they have a god on their side and a few other advantages. As for flaws; they are young and inexperienced at fighting. Their enemies have no sense of right and wrong, no sense of mercy, and seek total domination.

How do you determine voice in your writing?

MJ: Our characters age and backgrounds dictated the voice we used.

Marie: Parts of this manuscript, the prophecies, are written in very formal voice. That was done in part to distinguish them as coming from a separate time and place and to set them apart from the main text. The Damanites, our bad guys, also retained a rather formal voice.

When we wrote dialogue for the members of the Regime we had to lighten the tone. After all, they were children who were suddenly thrust into the shape and responsibilities of adults, and we decided that although they matured physically their language skills would stay on par with their chronological ages.

Ultimately, I guess I’d have to say our characters dictated the voice we used.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

MJ: Once we decided where we would start and end, we discussed how the action was going to progress. I envisioned the story scene by scene. Marie tied them together and refined them.

Marie: We had the basic plot determined, but in the process of the collaboration it expanded and changed a great deal, as did the characters. Obviously, the basics were in place and we had to have protagonists and antagonists, and conflict and then resolution. Within this book, we have a number of conflicts and subplots playing out.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

MJ: I see things in black and white, which is obvious to most people who know me on a personal level. Good and bad are clearly defined for me. Death and loss of love were part of my childhood, more than most peoples, and I incorporated that into the book.

Marie: Both MJ and I believe in good and evil, although our formal education in religion varies considerably. We have tried to incorporate aspects of those beliefs into the book.

Our environments and upbringings are drastically different; especially when you consider that I am twenty years older than he is. My voice as a writer is a product of my education and experiences. Those have been pretty varied and allow me some latitude.

Tonight, with the sounds of war still ever present, Kapulin finished polishing the sword. He felt the power within, as if it were a living thing, waiting to be set free. He knew he achieved his purpose in this life. He also knew that soon he would be called to the presence of Elahim and his final home on Paradise Isle.

He placed the sword in its hiding place within the cavern, and lay down on his pallet one last time, exhausted.

Immediately, a burst of lightening streaked across the sky. It crashed through the mountaintop that housed the final sword and struck it, intensifying the power that it held.

In the village below the Damanites stood and stared in disbelief as the mountain was torn apart by lightning. They were unaware it was the beginning of their destruction.

Interrans recognized it as a sign from the great Elahim. They rallied together and took the remaining Zaeferi with them to safety.

The Damanites ran, desperately trying to save themselves as additional bolts of lightning turned against them. The peril they now faced was greater than the control they once held over their captives. Each element of the swords: lightning, rain, ice, wind and all their counterparts, soon filled the atmosphere seemingly aimed directly against the Damanite forces. The Damanites dropped to their deaths unable to save their own wretched souls.

Have you started any online networks or blogs to promote yourself and others?

MJ: I have a website in development. I am a member of and I have my own google blog.

Marie: I just set up a blog: and I have a Facebook page. I also hope to have a website soon.

After hours of intense writing, how do you unwind?

MJ: I play video games, play with my children, and spend time with my wife just talking. I relax sometimes with a can of pop and a television. Music really helps. I listen to epic music like “Nightwish.”

Marie: I play a pretty terrible game of chess, but I love the battle it represents. Or I sleep! If I feel the need for comedic relief I watch the Housewives of NYC and Orange County.

What are your current projects?

MJ: I am working on the sequels to Red Storm Regime with Marie. Also, I am working on another novel, Evolution of the Fallen, which is about four teenagers challenged by mental illness who find peace and recovery through music. I am also working on a manuscript titled Syn, and a heartwarming tale called What Heaven Looks Like.

Marie: MJ and I are developing two of the sequels to Red Storm Regime simultaneously. One is a more detailed back story for the races that exist throughout the series, and one of my favorite characters, Lucid. The other covers the next period in the 1,000 years of war.

I’m also working on three manuscripts of my own: Alpha to Omega and Ewetopia, A Land Far from Normal and I, Entity. And I do ghostwriting and editing for clients.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

MJ: They can go to Weaving Dreams Publishing website

Marie: Look me up on Facebook, under my name or check out Weaving Dreams Publishing:

Continued success with the other books!