Newsweek’s Nostalgic ‘Scary Summer’ Issue, Alien, and Giant Parasitic Wasps

Newsweek: Hollywood’s Scary Summer

Why Novels About Giant Parasitic Wasps?

I can’t … won’t … tell you about the time I first encountered a parasite. I tried sharing that childhood experience once before and was told the story was far too disgusting and unnecessarily TMI. The second time came when I saw television footage of thousands of carnivorous worms inside an elephant’s trunk, using the trunk as an incubator, the white, writhing worms spilling out of the surgical incision in the pachyderm’s bloated nose, falling like clumps of spaghetti, trying to crawl to water sources where some other dimwitted large animal would drink them up. Parasites, ick, are organisms that live on or in other organisms at the host’s expense. I can remember a dead mouse at the bottom of the path leading down to the local elementary school I attended, white worms infesting and then bursting from the mouse’s gut, swimming in a small puddle hoping another animal would drink before the sun evaporated the tiny pool. I also remember the bloated dog tick a friend pulled off his Irish Setter and splattered on another’s friend’s white t-shirt. I learned there were ectoparasites like ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes that hooked onto your skin, but also endoparasites that got inside of you and drank your blood from the inside like roundworms, hookworms, pinworms, and tapeworms. Ick, ick, and double ick.

Ick was soon to become a major ‘ack’ when in the summer of 1979 I begged my dad to take me to the movie Alien, even though I was only 11. All the other kids my age had seen the film with their fathers, so why shouldn’t I be allowed to see my first rated R team? After all, I was a hardened horror afficionado who’d already seen PG-rated Jaws and every sci-fi and horror film I could cast my eyes on. Why not this hot new phenomenon Newsweek featured in its memorable “Hollywood’s Scary Summer” issue, right next to the equally hyped but not as effective as Prophecy and Dawn of the Dead?

We sat in a crowded Avon Theater in Stamford, CT, Dad and me, and the film started slowly and ominously, the screen mostly dark, the beginning of the musical score creepy. A large mining ship cruises sleepily through space until an alarm wakens the crew. The seven astronauts/space truckers learn from ship’s computers that they are legally required to investigate a distress call from a little-known planet before they return to Earth. Reluctantly, three of the crew members explore the planet, the crash site of an enormous vessel. Inside the bowels of the alien derelict are rows and rows of meter-high eggs. One cracks open and from it springs a crab-like creature that attaches itself to astronaut Thomas Kane’s face. They bring the unfortunate and unconscious Kane aboard, ignoring space quarantine. In the medical bay, the captain and science officer are unable to get the disgusting crab-like thing off so they leave Kane alone and eventually the creature detaches itself and dies.

The crew welcomes their recovering colleague back to consciousness for a meal before going back into hyper-sleep for the remaining voyage home, but during dinner Kane starts choking and spasming until a toothy reptilian creature bursts through his chest, killing him. The reptilian creature scurries away and then hides on the ship until it grows large enough to slay all but one of the seven astronauts. (At some point, Ash, the science officer, informs the crew that the crablike face-hugger had laid eggs down Kane’s throat, and the creature that had popped out of the man was a different form of the monster.) Only heroine warrant officer Ellen Ripley and orange tabby cat Jones ultimately survive the adult monster’s stalking and rapacious appetite.

Thus, the concept of parasitoid, or deadly parasite, hatched in my mind. A parasite that kills its host(s). I went on to read Alan Dean Foster’s novelization of Alien, and the author compared the alien life form’s biological cycle to a wasp and spider analogy on earth. Through the dialogue of the ship’s medical officer, Ash, whom we later find out is a lethally programmed robot, Foster tells us: “It used him for an incubator. Like certain wasps do with spiders on Earth. They paralyze the spider first, then lay their eggs on the body. When the larvae hatch, they begin to feed on …”

Sure, there are others sci-fi horror movies that deal with parasitoids: Invasion of the Body Snatchers, David Cronenberg’s Shivers, and John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), but Alien and its sequel Aliens from director James Cameron were and are the gold standard. 

Some of these parasitoid life cycles of organisms bursting out of hosts are frighteningly real. A memorable highlight from Carl Zimmer’s popular science book “Parasite Rex” covered a ruthless parasitic barnacle called the sacculina that drills into green crabs, takes over the crabs’ brains and nervous systems, lays eggs, and then forces their crab hosts to serve as distributors for its violently breaching hatchlings. The fascinating book also explored multi-stage parasitoid life cycles in snail and bird populations, where a snail feeds on bird droppings, swallowing the barnacle’s eggs. The eggs hatch and worms crawl up into the snail’s brain and eyestalks, making them glow like beacons. Zombie-like, the snail slithers up to the top of a tall strand of grass. Attracted to the new bright coloration of the snail’s eyestalk, a bird swoops down to snack on the zombified snail. Then, it is the bird through which the cycle continues as the egg-laying worms irritate the bird’s bowels …

Now, I look for parasitic (and parasitoid) activity in everyday nature, from the mud dauber and other spider-hunting wasps that visit my backyard from a nearby abandoned barn, to the cicada killers that frequent the area every seven years to parasitize and bury alive members of the emerging cicada population. It’s not always so bad what wasps do to their hosts, not if you’re a gardener, farmer or vineyard owner, who often welcome or place parasitic wasps on the property to deal with, for example, the tomato hornworm (the larva of a crop-damaging moth). All these wasps with their strangely alien life cycle inspired a monster of my own making.

Vespa 2007, the First Flight of the Giant Parasitic Wasp

Sometime in 2006, I completed work on a novel titled “Vespa,” named after the Latin word for wasp. It was and is a pioneering venture into the wasp as an apex parasitoid predator. And why not the wasp? It’s the heavyweight champ in the insect world. It can generally lift 10 times its own weight. It can sting repeatedly … without losing its stinger and dying like with its often smaller and better-liked cousin, the bee. The wasp has recently made headlines, adding to humanity’s worries and woes in the form of Vespa Mandarinia, the Asian Giant Hornet, aka the murder hornet, which does a double whammy of stinging and killing us and preying on honeybees as well. And, most eerily, many wasps can paralyze their prey and impregnate it with its eggs, which then hatch and eat the host from the inside out. And like something out of a science fiction novel or movie, some wasps, such as the emerald cockroach wasp, can hypnotize and zombify their prey into doing their bidding …

Uberwespen: Wasp Invasion

Alien, Ash, Kane, O’Bannon, Shusett, Alan Dean Foster, Carl Zimmer … thank you for bringing the parasitoid life form into real focus and into science fact and fiction. Your inspiration has gestated my second of three sci-fi horror novels on parasitoid monsters. It is a progressive or standalone novel, take your pick. 

Here’s a description:

Earth unleashes giant parasitoid wasps, a holistic natural response to deforestation and destructive human expansion across the globe. The wasps are potent enough to immobilize humans and bury them alive with their hungry hatching eggs, like smaller wasps do to pest species such as caterpillars, cockroaches, and spiders.

Teamed with an FBI agent, parasitologist, and a teen hacker, Dr. Beth Halfers, a California entomologist, must stop the wasps’ spread. But it’s not easy, because the invasive wasp larvae can also take over human nervous systems and brains from the inside out, making it difficult for Beth to trust anyone.

Uberwespen: Wasp Invasion… and you thought murder hornets were bad.

Got a Kindle? Give it a whirl at just 99 cents. Also, available in very affordable paperback.

Check out “Vespa” on Amazon.

Read the frightening sci-fi horror novel “Uberwespen: Wasp Invasion,” recently released by Raven Tale Publishing.

Part 2 of Donkey Sense and of Life

What could symbolically represent the second leg of one’s life better than a brief, medically induced coma out of which you awake reborn, in some way better put back together? I don’t want to bore you with personal details but for me it was hip surgery and weeks later I am walking without great pain and sans a limp.

I believe in both God AND Science and the two are not mutually exclusive here. This recovery represents my second life… my second chance at a happier life.

Sometimes our brains sell us on the objective of becoming something we are not. I used to want to outshock the leading horror novelists of yesterday and today by taking it up a notch. I was good at it, but my mind was in the wrong place. It’s not about disturbing people, even in horror. It’s about inviting them to care, hold their breaths in suspense, and finally smile and share the story with their children or friends. Now I try to make my readers’ already challenging lives a bit more inspired through tales that lead readers to empathize and find joy.

This spiritual change in me began pre-surgery, when I drafted a tale for my mother who wouldn’t live long enough to read it. She’d always wanted me to write a sweet tale that anyone could read, not horror or bleak science fiction that shocked and disturbed in an, albeit, cautionary way.

Perhaps inspired subliminally by Davey and Goliath and Mister Ed, and definitely by Mark Twain and Bugs Bunny, I researched and wrote Donkey Sense quickly in 2012 and into 2013, receiving months of multi-peer feedback. Fellow novelist and friend Susan Finlay read Donkey Sense online and pointed me toward a small traditional publisher now doing business as Clean Reads Books. My submitted manuscript was sweet enough to be warmly accepted by this publisher whose authors’ material sometimes feeds G-rated Hallmark Channel movies.


Davey and Goliath

This physical and spiritual reawakening was just the break I needed toward channeling a healthier voice long hidden inside of me and toward telling professional tales in a new genre: Middle grade / tween fiction, or if you prefer tales for children of wonder who are near adulthood.

The remaining big challenge in this second life of mine is to continue to write charming books my mom would be proud of, tales that have realistic conflict and villains, but that still leave us with hope. Because hope should be the focus, balanced with healthy respect for any realistic future threats. I for one have shed that dark and hopeless past of horrors in a metaphysical exorcism disposal bag full of surgical detritus and my extracted bogus hip. Let’s forget it. Let it go. It’s gone. I’ve re-found myself as someone who tells stories that inspire.

I humbly invite you and your family to try Donkey Sense in paperback or e-book. Along with another inspirational animal tale I’m working on, Clean Reads Books and I will have a sequel for your enjoyment in early 2018: It’s called Donkey Sense 2: Saving the Farm.

Donkey Sense, the E-book: Try it for just 99 cents.

Donkey Sense, in Paperback. Own the beautiful paperback edition from Astraea Press, now Clean Reads Books.

Even the Writer Needs a Vacation: Reading, Sunning and Shooting Gators With a Camera

Need a vacation? I surely did. Yet even as I write this, it’s nearly over.

But first, let’s flash back. I was researching and writing my tail off seven days a week, nonfiction mostly Monday through Friday, and fiction predominantly Friday night through Sunday.

It’s a lonely, indoor activity. Minus any vital sun on my skin, it was getting to the point where I was subconsciously consuming huge amounts of vitamin D (mostly Jarlsberg cheese) just to stay healthy. My back and hip ached to the extent that I could barely walk or even sit comfortably. I needed to get out of the writing chair or standing desk and onto a beach, into the ocean, or find myself a whirlpool. I needed to do so without any guilt. You see, Americans working for international companies often catch grief for trying to take a week or less while their European counterparts are entitled to weeks and even months at a time, regardless of deadline schedules.

So, in the spirit of not writing during my writing break, I promised myself during my R&R in South Carolina to check work email only once in a while, move work-related projects forward when I could, draft this lousy blog, and read a lot, because all the top writers say that reading is one of the best methods for training for the craft. Already during this mini-vacation I’ve completed Preston and Child’s “Thunderhead,” and now, I’m getting a kick out of my damp, sandy copy of J.A. Konrath’s “Whiskey Sour,” which my son buried in the beach bag under his sand-caked pair of flip flops.

I was expecting to have some exciting details in this blog about the sequel to my third novel, “Donkey Sense,” but the communication lines are staticky and slow, so at this time I can just say that “Donkey Sense 2: Saving the Farm” has been accepted for publishing by Clean Reads Books. I can provide more information about that in future blogs.

Now, here are some pictures from my vacation. Hehehe.


Reading on the job.

Beach Chair Reading

Big alligator sighting/ Sneaky Gator (8 to 10 feet long).

Sneaky Gator

Here he/she comes! I better give her some room.

Here he comes

A close-up! Little fella (5 and ½ feet) crosses the trail to get to the other side.

Gator Crossing

And that concludes our vacation pictorial. If you’re looking for a good beach read yourself, check out my books.

Donkey Sense eBook:

Donkey Sense paperback:

Princess Plume eBook:

Princess Plume paperback:

Vespa eBook:

These books are available on Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.


Introducing ‘Princess Plume,’ the Second in the Animal Guardian Series

Hello there, Kids… Moms and Dads. Pets alike. Welcome, once again to the Animal Guardian Series of Tales. I’m Dean Lombardo, sole custodian of the Animal Guardian chronicles. It is an honor to be the proprietor of these sacred tales, which have been handed down from master yarn-spinner, to master humorist, to master storyteller, from Mark Twain, to James Thurber, to John Steinbeck, to the likes of humble little me.

In our last animal guardian tale, “Donkey Sense,” we witnessed a donkey with a rather feisty attitude teach a bullied boy how to make friends and stand up for himself. Pedro… he’s the donkey… also taught troubled Timmy a lot about confidence building, which leads us to our next tale, bestowed “Princess Plume.”

Eleven-year-old Sara Massey feels neglected and depressed. Two years after a haunting, near-crippling crash from the uneven bars, Sara can’t return to her favorite sport of gymnastics without risking death or complete paralysis. Or can she? In a hopeful flicker of her desperate heart and soul, Sara adopts the kitten of a wild barn cat, and the fearless kitty gives Sara all she can handle, plus a jolt of confidence.

But as Sara begins her risky comeback in gymnastics and life, an imposturous Turkish sultan calling himself Orkhan Hamid arrives to claim the kitten for his own. Desperate for the kitten’s rejuvenating power, Hamid will even steal to turn his fortune around. Can broken-hearted Sara stop this mysterious pet-napper to keep the cat of her dreams?

A fun and meaningful read for all ages.

Note to my faithful readers: I’ll follow up Princess Plume, with another Animal Guardian novel. In this third Animal Guardian book, I shall aspire to inspire youngsters and people who want to believe in themselves, and introduce an almost-mythical species of animal that we’ve only begun to understand…

Now, here’s the cover of “Princess Plume.”

Princess Plume by Dean Lombardo

Princess Plume by Dean Lombardo

It’s All Relative—In Defense of Olive Garden

You may have recently encountered a series of memes on social media, each featuring a scene from the movie Goodfellas where a laughing Ray Liotta is dubbed as saying something like, “And he insisted that Olive Garden was a real Italian restaurant.” Hahahaha.

This has been a running joke among us Italian Americans for at least a year, as best as I can tell, but I have to make a confession I sincerely hope won’t have me fitted with cement overshoes and dumped at the bottom of the Brooklyn Bay.

I actually like Olive Garden.

Wait! Before you come after me, listen, please!


The Sporkie, from Bertucci’s

I grew up in Norwalk, CT, about 40 miles outside New York City, and every Sunday my dad would take me over to Grandma and Grandpa Lombardo’s in the nearby town of Darien for Grandma’s outstanding pasta and meatballs covered in scrumptious marinara sauce. And the salads—if you could stand the copious amounts of vinegar Grandma doused the lettuce with—were, well, mouth-wateringly delicious. These Sunday feasts, in addition to my living in the world’s best pizza region stretching from New York City all the way to New Haven, CT, have made me qualified to judge what’s good and what isn’t.

But at the age of forty I somewhat reluctantly left the northeastern United States, so teeming with Italian Americans and their culinary talents, and, as part of a job transfer, landed in Loudoun County, Virginia, where Italians are as rare as polar bears in the Sahara desert. It’s all about U.S. migration patterns, you see. Here, in rural Northern Virginia, the land was predominantly settled by Germans, Scots, and Irish, and other non-Olive-green-skinned Europeans. Here, they do barbecued pulled pork, hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries. Here, should an authentic Italian American open a ristorante or pizzeria the locals are just as likely to choose Domino’s or Chef Boyardee. They wouldn’t know a good slice of pizza or bowl of pasta if it bit them on the lips. One year, I won a free Domino’s pizza which I couldn’t even get the dog to eat, and the dog was a Labrador who once even ate a full diaper. Bleurgghh! Later, when I was a Little League coach down here, we threw the kids a “pizza” party when the season was over. The moms ordered Domino’s because it was the cheapest. I politely abstained.


The wife, she rise to the occasion. Make me the cavatelli and meatballs.

Yeah, there are exceptions such as Teddy’s Pizza in Middleburg, VA, and 900 Degrees in Purcellville, each owned and operated by authentic Italians and cooking up delicious pizza, pasta and more. Teddy’s is a long drive for my family and me, and 900 Degrees has to cater to the local “tastes” or risk going out of business like so many Italian restaurants in the area, so I can’t exactly get cavatelli or spumoni there. However, for the most part, the Italian food south of the Mason-Dixon Line is a perversion of the traditional ingredients and flavor. As a general rule, the farther you get from the cities where Italian immigrants settled, the scarcer and more unappetizing the Italian cuisine gets. My cousin in Connecticut felt so sorry for me she shipped a family-sized portion of cavatelli, meatballs and sauce to me, courtesy of John The Baker in Stamford, Connecticut.

So, for all you Italian Americans scorning Olive Garden, why don’t move down here and see how long you can go looking for the ingredients you need to whip up your own traditional Italian food? See how long you can go without a sweet cousin shipping you cavatelli and meatballs from the northeast? See how long you can go before waiting in line at Olive Garden or Bertucci’s for something different than pulled pork and better than fast food abominations such as Domino’s?



Wendy May Andrews Releases Latest Tale Set in Regency Era England

Today, Dean’s Den is delighted to feature a new sweet regency romance novella, “The Governess’s Debut,” by Wendy May Andrews of Toronto, Ontario. Here’s more about the book and Wendy.

The Governess' Debut, by Wendy May Andrews.

The Governess’ Debut, by Wendy May Andrews.

After her parents died in an accident and her brother gambled away her inheritance and dowry, leaving her to fend for herself while he ran off to the colonies, Miss Felicia Scott must find a way to keep a roof over her head. No longer able to enter the Marriage Mart but certainly not of the servant class, the only option is to find a position as governess.

Her luck finally turns when an acquaintance refers her to the haughty widower, Lord Victor Astley, Earl of Standish. His spoiled, seven year old daughter has been through three governesses in the 18 months since her mother died.

The earl is highly doubtful the young, inexperienced Miss Scott could possible manage his irascible daughter but since he is desperate he agrees to give her a chance. Much to the astonishment of the entire household Felicia succeeds beautifully, bringing the little lady under control and brightening the lives of everyone she comes in contact with, including the jaded earl.

Will her joyful spirit be able to finally melt his resistant heart?

Buy Links:


Barnes & Noble:

About the Author:

Wendy May Andrews has been reading whatever she could get her hands on since the age of five. She has been writing for almost as long but hasn’t been sharing those stories with anyone but her mother until recently. Wendy lives in Toronto with her own real-life hero. When not writing or reading, they love to travel wherever the mood takes them. This is Ms. Andrews’ second publication with Clean Reads. To learn more about Wendy, visit her at:

Author website:

Facebook author page:

Twitter: @WendyMayAndrews

Paranormal Romance Author Charlene A. Wilson and Characters Visit Dean’s Den

Charlene A. Wilson

Charlene A. Wilson

Hi, and welcome to Dean’s Den. Today’s guest is Charlene A. Wilson, author of “Aumelan – Blessed of the Gods,” and she’s brought along several characters from this recent novel and a few other works to entertain us. Let’s hope that as these characters share the stage they can all get along. They do come from very different walks of life…

Charlene: Thank you, Dean, for inviting us here today. We’re having a little girls’ get-together and you’re welcome to hang with us! *looks at her watch, then down the street, excited* 

A cloud of dark smoke darts up the sidewalk and billows in front of her before turning into Vincent and Elaina.

Charlene: *smiles* Hi guys!

Elaina: *hugs Charlene* Hi. Sorry I’m late. I had muffins in the oven and had to wait for them to get done, so Vince offered to fly me here.

Charlene: That’s okay. The others aren’t here yet.

Elaina: I’m so excited to finally get to meet the girls from your other book.

Charlene: Yeah. It looks like Aumelan is doing great, so I wanted to introduce you to the main characters.

Vincent: Isn’t Chad the main character? I don’t see him around.

Charlene: I thought I’d introduce him through Becca, Salana, and Dee. You know, let the reader find out about him indirectly.

Vincent: You’re having three women involved with Chad together at one time…to talk about Chad?

Charlene: Oh, you’ll love them. *tweaks his cheek* Want to hang around and get your nails done too?

Vincent: *raises his brows and looks away, mumbling* That’s not really what I was getting at.

Becca: *steps out of the salon* Well, it’s about time someone showed up.

Charlene: Oh, Becca. You’ve been inside all this time?

Becca: *squints at the sun* Have you forgotten already that I don’t deal with that?

Charlene: Oh, it’s not that bright. You could have stood out here with me.

Vincent: *kisses Elaina on the cheek* I’ll be off. Just call me when you’re done. *waves a hand and turns to smoke, then darts down the road*

Elaina: *smiles at Becca* Wow, you took Vincent’s leaving well. Doesn’t it surprise you that he can disperse his elements?

Blessed of the Gods by Charlene A. Wilson

Blessed of the Gods by Charlene A. Wilson

Becca: *shrugs* Chad’s telepathic and Styne and Becca have gifts too. Why not other characters in Charlene’s head?

Elaina: Oh. Right.

The sound of a scooter comes from around the corner with Dae’s voice screaming over it.

Dee: I cannot do this!

Salana: Dae, please loosen up the grip. *pulls the scooter up to the salon door and turns it off* Okay. You can open your eyes now.

Becca: *folds arms* Well, you made it. We’ve been waiting.

Charlene: Be kind, Becca.

Becca: I’m always kind. It’s the only way to get what I want.

Charlene: Hey, ladies. *waves* Glad you came.

Salana skips up the steps and Dae hesitantly follows. 

Charlene: *whispers to Salana* I’m glad you got Dae to join us.

Salana: Chad had a hand in that.

Charlene: *motions to each in turn* Elaina, this is Becca. She’s from Aumelan, The World Beneath the Rock. This is Salana, from Sun City, World of the Sun. And this is Dae. She’s from Aumelan too.

Elaina: *waves as each nods to her* It’s nice to meet you all. I’m from Cornerstone Deep.

Becca: We know. Your book’s the one that took over Charlene’s mind and knocked us to the back.

Elaina: Oh.

Charlene: *opens door* So let’s get started. I’m looking forward to this.

Becca: If you wanted real pampering, we should have stayed in Aumelan.

Charlene: We don’t need a repeat of what happened to Salana during her visit before.

Salana: Oh, I would be okay with Chad there.

Becca: I don’t know where you got the notion that Chad could protect you from anything.

Charlene: Becca.

Becca: *smiles sweetly and picks out a polish* I think I like this one.

Charlene: Nice choice.

Salana: Which color do you like, Dae?

Dae: I cannot. It is not my place.

Salana: I don’t want to hear about placement. You deserve special treatment as much as anyone.

Charlene: Relax, Dae. We’re not following the plot right now.

Dae: I still do not feel right about this.

Becca: Honestly, if you’d rather go back to that rutty ferry keeper’s shack, go right ahead. Chad would probably enjoy having his favored server around… Alone.

Charlene: Becca!

Becca: Oh, it’s true and you know it. You wrote the outline. He’s held affection for her since they were children.

Dae: I would not do that to Chad! He is high above me.

Salana: Don’t talk like that, Dae. You’re not any different than any of us.

Becca: Oh come on, Sandra, you’re with him now. You had to notice how he looks at her. I did when I was at his side.

Salana and Charlene: It’s Salana.

Salana: *blushes* You were Chad’s girlfriend?

Becca: For a very long time. He left me when he left for the World of the Sun. *glances at Dae and mumbles* At least he didn’t go to his slunk.

Salana: Don’t call her that!

Elaina: *eyes widen and she steps back*

Charlene: Okay, okay, ladies. I see this probably wasn’t the best idea. *mumbles* I would have done better inviting Tara.

Becca: *crosses her arms* Well, what did you expect to gain from all of this? You knew we were all connected to Chad’s romantic side.

Charlene: Maybe I just wanted some of my favorite female characters to meet. I love you four.

Salana: Aww.

Elaina: We love you too, Charlene.

Becca: Well, I’ve never been irritated to the point of losing my mastery skills. *tosses money on the counter and pockets the nail polish* I’ll have Iolet do my nails. At least she still knows her place.

Dae: *shrinks back and turns red*

Charlene: Oh, Becca. You really need to calm down and reassess things. You sound like Tara.

Becca: *steps to Charlene* Promise me you’ll give me one more shot at Chad.

Charlene: You’ve got it.

Becca: *smiles with a nod* Okay. Good. But really, I can’t stay here with them knowing what I know is going to happen.

Charlene: *sighs* Okay. I guess I understand that.

Becca leaves.

Salana: What did she mean by that?

Charlene: Sorry, Salana. I can’t let you know that just yet.

Salana: *glances at Dae* Um… I think I had a meeting I needed to attend with… someone. I’d better go too. This was enlightening.

Salana leaves with Dae rushing along behind her.

Charlene: *turns to Elaina* Not such a good idea, huh?

Elaina: *squinches her nose and shakes her head* I’ll call Vince. He can take us both home.

Charlene: No offense, but I’ll leave the traveling by Smoke of Night to you guys. I don’t like to feel all the bugs flying through me.

Elaina: *laughs* Well, I’ll stay with you, Charlene. *picks out nail polish* What do you think of this one?

Charlene: *nods* You know? Maybe I will call Tara. Who knows Chad better than his sister, right? *puts fingers to temples and closes eyes*

Elaina: Oh…Um… *steps back and quietly calls Vincent’s name*

Vincent: *his face appears above her watch* Having fun?

Elaina: Shh! *motions to Charlene with her head* How could you let me forget about the party tonight? You need to hurry me back to the manor.

Vincent: *grins with a nod* Right. Okay. On my way.

Elaina: *tiptoes to the door and opens it, peering out*

A dark cloud zips past and Elaina disappears with it.

Charlene: *lowers her hands and sighs* Well, Tara won’t leave the World Beneath the Rock. *turns to Elaina and looks around the empty lobby* Hmm. So much for a girl’s day out. *sets hands on hips* Maybe I can talk Soley into a little girl time. *grabs nail polish and heads for the door* Just because she’s a wolf doesn’t mean she wouldn’t love pretty nails.

* * *

Aumelan – Blessed of the Gods Blurb:

Chad Aumelan is in love, but his world isn’t right. Not when he’s forbidden to have Dae just because she’s his slave.

When Salana Goffin meets Chad, she’s faced with the unbelievable: A man who must take energy from a host to survive. He wants to find a cure to free the woman he loves. How can Salana turn away such a noble cause?

Together, they search for answers, but fate has another plan. 

Buy links:







Author site:

Book Trailer:

About the Author:

Charlene A. Wilson is an author of tales that take you to other dimensions. She weaves magic, lasting love, and intrigue to immerse you into the lives of her characters.

She began writing in her early teens when her vivid dreams stayed with her long after she had them. The characters and worlds were so amazing she brought them to life through her books.

Charlene resides in a small community in Arkansas, USA, with her two beautiful daughters, husband, a cuddly Pekingese, and a very chatty cockatiel named Todder.


Author Links

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The Battle for Barren Island (LIVE!) – with AFE Smith


AFE: *in a conspiratorial whisper* Hi, it’s me, AFE Smith. Welcome back to the author interview series Barren Island Books, where my guests are exiled to a remote island with only five books for company. Um, you’re probably wondering why I’m whispering and hiding in this tree dressed as Jane from Tarzan. The circumstances are a bit different today. You see, some jerk has taken over my island for the purposes of talking exclusively about his own books and I’ve had to sneak onto the island to stop him. He thinks he’s tough and doesn’t have to play by “island rules”, but don’t worry – I’ve got a plan to take back my island, to take back my interview series. The pilfering pirate’s podium is just below. Yeah, I see him now. Just listen to this hot-air windbag and I am certain he’ll incriminate himself before I attack.

*covers her mouth and sniggers*

Just listen to him … I’ve got a surprise for him.

Dean: My loyal fans. Thank you again for joining me on Dean’s Island. Now I know some of you have heard the whinings of a certain red-headed novelist who thinks she developed the idea of stranding an author on an island, but it’s not true. I came up with this concept longgggg before Little Red stole it from me. Stole it from me, you hear. This is my show!

*kicks the sand, then abruptly clears his throat*

Uh, we’ve got a great show for you today. I’m gonna talk about some of my recent accomplishments …

AFE: *still whispering* His name is Dean Lombardo and he’s a real heel. Speaking of which … ahhhh-ahh-ahh-ahhhhh! I’ll just swing in here as he turns …

*uses a vine to soar over the lagoon and deliver a downward hook kick to Dean’s face before swinging back again*


Heehee, a direct hit to the mouth. That’ll shut him up.

Dean: *spitting blood and pressing button on remote control* Not so fast, you crimson-headed woodpecker!

*a hatch opens under the water and a shark emerges into the lagoon*

*AFE grins, swings on the vine again and jumps right over the shark, landing in front of Dean*

Dean: What the –?

AFE: Yeah, that’s right. I jumped the shark. And now, I’m going to weaponise it.

*grabs shark by the tail and swings it against the side of Dean’s head*


Hey Dean, would you rather wrestle a bear or punch a shark? I’m guessing you wouldn’t choose the shark. Haha.

*chucks shark back into lagoon and takes microphone from Dean’s prone form*

Well, since we don’t have an authorised author guest today … *kicks Dean in the ribs before turning away* … I guess that gives me a chance to talk about my own new release from Harper Voyager. Darkhaven is a completely awesome fantasy novel about shapeshifters and murder. It doesn’t have any sharks in it, or bears for that matter, but it does have a rampaging wyvern. So there’s that. The basic storyline is that a girl is accused of killing her own father and –

*in the background, Dean clambers to his feet*

Dean: You scarlet-headed ostrich! This is my island!


*AFE turns, grabs a coconut and shatters it over his head*

AFE: Didn’t knock you out, huh? Must be that thick skull of yours.

*two more coconuts follow*

Wow, you’re a tough nut to crack. Ha, see what I did there?

*Dean finally falls to his knees with coconut milk dripping down his face*

*AFE knocks him over with a push of her foot*

As I was saying. My new fantasy murder mystery Darkhaven has just been released, so if you want action, intrigue, swordfights, romance, a pistol-packing mercenary and a really unique city, you should definitely check it out. You can pick up the ebook for only $3.99, which is clearly a bargain though I do say so myself. That sound good to you, Dean?

Dean: *incoherent mumble*

AFE: Exactly. Now, before we whisk Dean away, we have one last decision to make: How should we expel him from the island? I can kick him into the lagoon where the shark will eat him … nah, it’ll probably spit his rotten self out. I think the trusty old cannon is the best idea.

*wheels out a cannon, shoves Dean inside and fires him off the island*

*wipes her hands together and laughs*

Well, it’s been fun. Thank you for joining us, Dean, and I hope you enjoy your trip! And the rest of you who have been so kind to join us, I hope you enjoy Darkhaven.

More about Darkhaven


Ayla Nightshade never wanted to rule Darkhaven. But her half-brother Myrren – true heir to the throne – hasn’t inherited their family gift, forcing her to take his place.


When this gift leads to Ayla being accused of killing her father, Myrren is the only one to believe her innocent. Does something more sinister than the power to shapeshift lie at the heart of the Nightshade family line?


Now on the run, Ayla must fight to clear her name if she is ever to wear the crown she never wanted and be allowed to return to the home she has always loved.

You can buy Darkhaven from HarperCollinsAmazonBarnes & NobleGoogle playiBooksKobo


And find AFE Smith on her websiteFacebookTwitterGoodreads


You can find out more about the Darkhaven blog tour here. If you’re taking part in the scavenger hunt, here’s today’s letter!


The Closser Method, An Article by Author Dean Lombardo

Reblogging my guest spot on author Susan Finlay’s blog.

Susan Finlay Writes

I often hear from people who want to write a book but don’t know how or where to begin. Or from people who have already written a book that’s ready for publication but don’t know how to get it published. I recently began a new blog series, Writing and Publishing Tips From Authors Around the World, to help writers.

Dean Lombardo1

Donkey Sense

The seventeenth contributor is U.S. author Dean Lombardo and he’s here to talk about using every available hour to write.

The Closser Method: Using Every Available Hour to Get That Novel Written by Dean Lombardo

In the past I would postpone my fiction writing for days at a time when I didn’t have huge blocks of time available to me. I’d have to wait for Friday night or Saturday morning to work on my novels—and even then it was difficult with Little League baseball games filling in many of those once…

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On Friends and Frenemies: A Visit From “True Colors” Author Krysten Lindsay Hager

Today I’m fortunate to have author Krysten Lindsay Hager on The Den. Krysten writes books for teens, tweens and adults, and today she’s here to discuss her debut novel, “True Colors,” and the sequel that’s coming out soon.

Hi Krysten. Welcome to Dean’s Den. Tell us about yourself.

I’m a book addict who has worked as a journalist and humor writer. Now I write books for tweens, teens, and adults. I’m originally from Michigan and I’ve lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and currently reside in southwestern Ohio where you can find me reading and writing when I’m not catching up on my favorite shows: TrueColors453X680Hart of Dixie, The Goldbergs, and American Dad. I received my master’s in American Culture from the University of Michigan-Flint. “True Colors” was my debut novel and the first book in the Landry’s True Colors series.

Does True Colors take place in middle school or high school?

My character, Landry Albright, is in eighth grade, but she talks about getting ready for high school and has a crush on a guy in high school. In the second book (out March 24th) she goes to the high school for an orientation and feels like she’s stepped into another world. That was exactly how I felt when I went to my high school orientation. Even the first day of ninth grade felt overwhelming. I remember getting off the bus, walking into school with my friend, Dene’, and wanting to turn back around and run out the door. Funny thing is that I ended up loving high school. The whole idea of it terrified me, but in less than a week, I was having a great time. Middle school, on the other hand, was nothing but conforming and rules, and I did not enjoy that, which is probably why I started the series in a middle school setting —because I had a lot to say about it.

Times change – did you have to research the issues that this age group encounters, go by memory, or both? Explain the process.

A bit of both. The general issues and feelings stay the same, which is why there are so many great YA books that stand the test of time. I use some of my memories, but I also stay current by reading magazines for that age group, books, and talking with teens and tweens. It’s kind of funny how the themes do stand the test of time. One of my favorite YA novels, “My Mother Was Never a Kid,” was one I picked up in the library when I was in grade school. I had no idea how old the book was when I picked it up (written before I was born), but it dealt with a girl in the 1970s and it flashed back to WWII times when her mother was a teenager. Even though those time periods were nothing I could technically relate to—the story about Victoria feeling as if her mother was never a kid was a timeless one. And that book is still out today and still a great story.

What are these issues that teens encounter and is there advice and coping mechanisms for your teenagers cleverly built into the story?

Landry is a very realistic teen in that I didn’t create her to magically have all the answers. She gets pushed around by friends and you see her trying to deal with the situations and handle moving from one group of friends who turns their back on her, to another group where she might need to conform to fit in. We see Landry realize she feels most comfortable with friends she can be herself around and not have to pretend to like certain things to fit in. She doesn’t come to that realization overnight that you need to find those kinds of friends, but it’s by trial and error and in learning it’s okay to be yourself and that good friends will accept you for who you are—not who you pretend to be.

Why is a book like True Colors so important for teenage girls?

Landry is a very real character and shows her flaws and the things that make her anxious (talking to her crush—actually talking to boys, period; modeling competitions; being on live TV; and public speaking). Even though she makes it through a few rounds of the modeling contest, she still deals with self-doubt due to her own insecurities and mean comments made by “frenemies” as well as girls at school. I’ve had readers share with me that they identify with Landry and liked that we saw even her embarrassing moments where she gets so nervous she makes a bee-line for the bathroom. One reading specialist wrote me to say her students felt better seeing that even this teen model sometimes felt bad about how she looked. I wanted to write a book that made people feel less alone in their own insecurities and hearing that from readers means so much to me.

And now a little bit about the author life, from one writer to another – where do your ideas come from?

Krysten Lindsay Hager

Krysten Lindsay Hager

I get ideas from all over. I always carry a little notebook with me to jot down ideas. I’ve been inspired by everything from a photograph to a song. I keep a file of ideas, pictures, etc. so I can go back later when things start to get pieced together in my mind. The idea for the group of friends Landry wants to get in with came from a CD cover I saw when I was in sixth grade. You never know what might spark inspiration, but for me it’s often seeing a picture of a person whose expression interests me.

When do you like to write fiction and what are your optimum conditions? Are you a night-owl or a morning person?

Night owl for sure! I used to write with music in the background (specific stuff, not just any music), but now I need silence. Complete silence. I can hear a squirrel sniffle outside and get thrown off.

You seem to have built a solid author platform … on TV shows, a lot of ink, blogging, promoting, giving talks. What can you share with other authors about making this happen?

I was a journalist years before this book came out and also have been writing and publishing essays, short stories, and articles. So I have been putting my work out there and getting used to what it’s like to deal with all that comes with having your work out there in the big scary world and with that comes the connections you make over the years. I always say start getting your name out there before you ever get the book out there. People need to get a taste of your work before they’ll invest in it.

And what would you tell aspiring novelists?

To understand there are two sides to it: the artistic side and the business side. When I first signed my contract, I saw an author from our publishing company say she loved being a writer, but hated being an author because it was, “hard and scary.” So I would say to go in with realistic expectations and be prepared to work hard to make connections and learn the business side of it through conferences and classes.

Finally, I understand “True Colors” is part of a series. Tell us what you can about the next book and anything else you are working on.

“True Colors” is the first book in the Landry’s True Colors series. Book two will be out on March 24th and is titled, “Best Friends…Forever?” The sequel picks up right where the first book left off so we see Landry dealing with her parents living in separate states (they’re still married, but living apart due to her mother’s job taking them to Michigan) and dealing with her new friends and all the friend and frenemy drama that comes with middle school and high school. Also, in this book her crush, Vladi begins emailing her and that is a big deal for her. I go a little deeper into Landry finding out why some of these frenemies act the way they do and how to handle it as well. Landry tells one of her friends, Devon, the truth about their friend India going behind Devon’s back. India ends up spinning the story and making Landry look like the bad guy setting off a chain of events that leads to Landry being the outsider again. She has to figure out a way to get her friends back without compromising the truth. It’s filled with those moments of connecting with your first big crush, dealing with a breakup, losing your best friends, Landry getting her chance to meet her modeling idol, and a lot of funny stuff along the way, too.

I’d like to add that people often ask me if Landry is/was me as a teen and we do have some similarities, but we have our differences as well. At her age, I definitely internalized everything and was a big over-thinker (okay, that part hasn’t changed at all.) She’s more of an introvert than I ever was, but I think considering the school I was attending at the time (a small, private school much like Hillcrest Academy where Landry goes), I definitely conformed to fit in with the small groups there and I can admit now that I really didn’t show my entire personality. When I got to high school, I felt freer to be myself and met more people with common interests.

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