Jan 01

This New Book is Not a Sleeper!

     Welcome to the first Hero Journey of 2016!  I’m privileged to begin this new year by publishing an interview with fellow veteran and Superstars Writing Seminar tribe member, Kevin Ikenberry, author of Sleeper Protocol, which is set for release on January 5, 2016.  This interview was conducted by Pete Aldin (www.petealdin.com).

Sleeper Protocol cover

First, Kevin, what are the origins of Sleeper Protocol?

     I first wrote Sleeper Protocol as a short story entitled “Walkabout.” It was about 8,000 words and focused on a particularly bleak scene where my characters “leave” civilization and enter the frontier that’s become the central United States.  When I sat down to outline the book, I wrote an opening scene where the protagonist wakes up on the shores of Sydney Harbor at a place called Mrs. McQuarrie’s Chair.  I spent three and a half weeks in Australia when I was seventeen and I tell people all the time that I left a piece of my heart there.  Having this book begin and end in Australia just felt right, so to speak.

     As for experiences, there are a ton of them in this book that I’ve tried to write in.  Living in Colorado and hiking frequently gave rise to a lot of the narrative.  Near the end, the action takes place in Tennessee where I call home (even after not living there in almost twenty-five years.).  Where the culmination of the journey comes together is at my family’s “ancestral” home.  We call it “The Farm”and I remember tearing up the first time I wrote that scene and the following one as well.  The concept of him piecing together his memory from experiences is the critical element to the story – so bringing a lot of my own experiences into his point of view was challenging, but a lot of fun.

 Why are you a writer?

     I can tell you that I am not one of those folks who say they wanted to be a writer their whole life.  I wanted (and still would go tomorrow!) to be an astronaut.  My decision to start writing science fiction in 2009 came, in large part, from my extensive background in space science education.  Through teaching, I’ve been able to share my love for space with kids of all ages.  Writing science fiction seemed like a natural progression of that love.  The idea that I could write stories and potentially novels seemed very far out there when I started, but now I know that I enjoy telling stories and I can’t see not writing.  When I first had a character start talking to me, I had no idea what to do other than start to write.  With the help of a great instructor, I found great friends and mentors as I delved into writing.  I’m glad that I did.

 What was the greatest hurdle to overcome in completing this project?

     I finished the original first draft of Sleeper Protocol in late 2013 and decided to let it sit in the drawer for a few months before I went back to the manuscript.  After a rewrite pass in September 2013, I decided to focus on a couple of other projects with the intent that I would return to Sleeper Protocol in March 2014 for a final polish and submittal.  That’s when life got in the way.

     In February 2014, I nearly died from an infection that attacked the skin on my right leg, shut down my kidneys, and put my heart in serious condition.  After ten days in the hospital, I went home for a prolonged at-home care period.  This should have been a blessing – a writer always wants more time to write and I had all I could handle.  The problem was that I couldn’t write.  I could barely do anything besides look out the window and try to come to grips with what had happened.  After a couple of weeks, I reached out to Clarkesworld editor Neil Clarke who survived a massive heart attack three and a half years ago.  Neil’s friendship and advice helped me get back to writing.  In May of 2014, I started that final polish on Sleeper Protocol for submittal.  Without Neil’s counsel and my team of beta readers, I might not have been able to make that happen.

As a writer, with a full time job and a family, how do you manage to get the work done?

     In all honesty, there are a lot of late nights.  Being a night owl when it comes to writing is a good thing.  After our kids go to bed, I have the chance to work on my writing.  Some times are better than others, but it’s just a question of dedication.  There are so many people who say, “I could write a book if I just had time.” My response to them is to get busy writing.  The only way I’m able to tell stories is to sit down and get them out of my head.  It’s a question of dedication and discipline.  If the story matters that much to you, you’ll find a way to get it down on paper or into the computer.  That’s what I focus on.  If you really want to do something, nothing can stop you.

 What tips from your road to publication can you offer other writers?

     Sleeper Protocol received an offer from a different publisher before Red Adept Publishing signed it.  I turned down that original contract because I’d taken the time to consult with mentors.  My biggest tip to anyone who will listen is simply to reach out to someone else if you don’t understand something.  I know it’s not easy to do so, but in my experience, I’ve never had someone that I reached out to completely reject me.  Writers, as a unit, understand that we are all in this together and everyone I’ve ever approached is willing to share their experiences.  In this particular case, I asked two NYT bestselling authors to review the contract because it didn’t seem right to me, and it wasn’t right.  Because I was brave enough to reach out, and they took the time to look over a bad contract, I saved myself a lot of trouble.  If you don’t know – ask.  Ask me, ask some one in your writing group, post a question on social media – there are a lot of people who’ve learned their lessons who will make sure you don’t have to do the same.

 With which of your characters do you most connect? Least connect?

     Obviously, Kieran and I are very similar and while you might think that was very easy to write, there were times it was very difficult to put myself out of the equation and tell the story from the perspective of this character that is a lot like me but not me at the same time.  Likewise, I can honestly tell you that writing from Berkeley’s perspective was very challenging.  Connecting to my characters was really easy, mainly because they’d been talking to me for a couple of months before I started writing the original draft.  All of them changed through the course of the drafts.  Making connect to the reader is my greatest hope – I think I’ve done that.

 What is your favorite book of 2015 and why?

     This is such a difficult question because I am very behind on my reading lists.  I will say this: the best two I’ve read so far are Clockwork Lives by Kevin J. Anderson and Neil Peart and The Martian by Andy Weir.  Clockwork Lives is a beautiful sequel to the novel (and Rush album) Clockwork Angels.  The attention to detail in the book is amazing, especially the print layout and design.  It’s a beautiful book and a beautiful story.

     The Martian is everything a space geek like me loves, and Mark Watney is a great character.  Andy Weir’s ability to create a thrilling story around the actual science that will get humans to Mars (and live there) is astounding.

What is your favorite paragraph from Sleeper Protocol:

From Chapter Six

     I landed in Perth after sunset, following an “in-flight delay for orbital debris mitigation,” whatever that meant. The bright side was that instead of circling out over the ocean or something, we flew three complete orbits around the Earth. Given what I remembered about my childhood and wanting to travel in space, I should have been thrilled. By my standards, or those from my time, I was an astronaut. The reality was that I dozed for most of the trip. The view of Earth from orbit met every expectation, but the tranquility of it lulled me to sleep after just a few minutes. Because of the late arrival, I caught the last maglev train to Esperance and stepped out of the terminus to a pitch- black night and torrential rain. The briny smell of the ocean floated on the strong breeze, and it made me smile. The lights of the modest town lay below me, down a slope of no more than a few hundred feet, and its warmth filled me. There were no buildings taller than a few stories and not much light compared to downtown Sydney, which was at once disconcerting and comforting. Lightning flashed out to sea and lit the rough, curving coastline for a split second. All of it was perfect. I wondered what it meant to feel so at peace in a place that I’d never seen in my life. I could be happy here. I walked in the rain without a jacket, and my coveralls were soaked through in a matter of minutes. Finding food and dry clothing would be high priorities eventually but not yet. The cool rain hammered my skin and washed the last bit of the Integration Center’s smell from my clothes.

What’s neKevin Ikenberryxt for you?

I’ve just concluded the first draft of Vendetta Protocol, the sequel to Sleeper Protocol.  While I’m letting it rest, I’m gearing up for the release of my military science fiction novel Runs In The Family from Strigidae Publishing in the spring of 2016.  I have another novel in discussions right now with my publisher.  I’m working on a variety of projects and staying very busy. Hopefully, I’ll just keep on writing stories.  That’s the plan.

Thank you very much, Kevin. How can readers contact you?

Here are the links to my social media:

Book Trailer:  https://youtu.be/rw-43aahrZ4

Goodreads Link:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26200391-sleeper-protocol

Amazon Pre-Order Page: Not ready yet – expected 12/24/2016.

Publisher’s Title Page:  http://redadeptpublishing.com/#!/Sleeper-Protocol-by-Kevin-Ikenberry/p/54142069/category=12029350

 About Kevin:

Kevin Ikenberry still wants to be an astronaut.  As an adult, he’s managed the U.S. Space Camp program, operated two Challenger Learning Centers, and worked in space operations as an Army officer.  He continues to work with space every day.  His short fiction has appeared internationally in publications and anthologies, and as a bestseller in the Kindle Worlds program.  Sleeper Protocol is his first novel and leads off a planned trilogy.

Permanent link to this article: http://diannthornleyread.com/wp/?p=61

Jun 18

Even a Hero Needs Rescuing Sometimes

In A Change of Plans, the first book in Donna K. Weaver’s Safe Harbors adventure-romance series, modern-day pirates took more than Jori Virtanen’s friends; they stole his face, leaving him a Torn Canvas.


Not only does the twenty-four-year-old former model have to confront months of reconstructive surgery, he discovers his previous life was as superficial as his looks. Jori struggles to make a new life for himself as an artist while evading the press. They expect a hero, but he knows the truth. His beauty masks a beast.

Olivia Howard has given up a normal life for her job, and the sacrifices are finally paying off. The twenty-six-year-old talk-show host’s ratings are heading to the top of the charts. Her dream is to make a difference in people’s lives, but the studio wants mind fluff—like interviewing hot model Jori Virtanen.

When Olivia learns the guy helped rescue passengers from kidnappers on a cruise excursion, she knows this is the story she needs to make her case. The only problem is the hero was injured, and now he’s disappeared.

The more Olivia learns about the man behind the scar, the more intrigued she becomes. But Jori is no girl’s happily ever after. Once she finds him, Olivia has to free his heart and help heal the beast.

If you prefer your romance with a healthy share of adventure, you’ll want to read Torn Canvas! I highly recommend it!

You can find Torn Canvas at:



https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/torn-canvas-safe-harbors-2/id882866665?mt=11 (Audio book!)



See the book trailer on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z07kxkS53Ys

Donna Weaver-20 (Copy)

Donna is the author of the Safe Harbors series and Second Chances 101, Book 5 in the Ripple Effect series. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, Harry Potter geek, Army veteran, and has earned a black belt in karate.

You may contact Donna at: donnakweaver@gmail.com, or you can find her at

Her blog: http://donnakweaver.com/ 

Her Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Donna-K.-Weaver/e/B00DXF7480/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1401553316&sr=8-2-ent 

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Donna-K-Weaver/417995298257527 

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheDonnaKWeaver

On Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/donnakweaver/

On YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdXV_0Rd8wr0lW8jV4_mNmg/videos  

And on Google+: https://plus.google.com/115926987623492948415/posts

Permanent link to this article: http://diannthornleyread.com/wp/?p=29

May 30

Introducing Derick William Dalton and “Houses of Common”

Derick William Dalton author

I met Derick William Dalton a few years ago in one of David Farland’s outstanding writing workshops. Derick and I became friends, stayed in touch, and became beta readers for each other.

When I first saw Houses of Common, it was a third draft, if I remember correctly. I do remember that I was extremely impressed! Derick had not yet been published, but that large manuscript was better written, better researched, and more gripping and intriguing than many a published book I’ve read! Besides, it was exactly the kind of thing I like to read: space-going adventure with believable but truly “alien” aliens, political intrigue with lots of twists and turns, and plenty of action. Definitely a can’t-put-it-down book!

Houses of Common recently–finally!–was published, and I want to make sure everybody knows about it.


HOC cover In the 22nd century, pilgrims leave Earth for nearby planets that terraformers have crafted to meet their needs. Ranyk is a smart-mouthed alien, the best of the world-builders employed by the US government—and he always completes his assignments solo, pushing to the deep recesses of space for the good of colonists and to avoid his growing fame.
Until he’s handed an on-planet assignment in Ireland, of all places, as an undercover international student of aquaponics. His real plan? To pull scientists and their families out of a country careening toward civil war—and off Earth, to a world of their own—before a martial law lockdown ends their groundbreaking discoveries. 
Risking his life is no novelty for Ranyk. He’s been battered by asteroids, nearly incinerated in volcanoes, and has out-piloted pirates. But political espionage on Earth is more dangerous than anything he’s encountered before, and he’s completely ill-equipped for such delicate matters. Now he must figure out who to trust and who to eliminate, or it will mean his freedom, the safety of forty thousand colonists, and the lives of his friends.
Paperback – https://www.createspace.com/4620885
Kindle – http://www.amazon.com/Houses-Common-Derick-William-Dalton-ebook/dp/B005AL38JO/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1398810153
Nook – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/houses-of-common-derick-william-dalton/1104240302?ean=2940149339990
DWD’s blog – http://shellytheboxturtle.blogspot.com/
FB page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Derick-William-Dalton/236975739668546

Permanent link to this article: http://diannthornleyread.com/wp/?p=18

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