True life is lived when tiny changes occur.

At least, that’s what Leo Tolstoy thought. If Leo is right, then I’ve been living life to it’s fullest lately, because tiny changes are all around.
For the past eight years I’ve enjoyed having six (yes six) different WordPress blogs. The idea was that each would not only be about a book I’d written, it would also talk about the subject matter of that book. My hero was a telepath? I’d also talk about empathy and understand the feelings of another. Seemed like a great idea. And sometimes it was.
Only now I’ve gone and written more books.
The best idea I could come up with concerning my blogs was to retire at least a couple of them, then figure out why I blogged and what I liked about it so much, and then parcel those needs and joys out to the remaining blogs.
This one had my favorite tagline. So why not make it the place where I get to talk about all those things other than writing that I find fascinating. I love travel, wine, and that place where science meets mysticism. I enjoy cooking a fine meal, late night philosophical discussions, and creating spots where plants are happy to grow. I’ve been sneaking posts about these things and more into all six of my writing blogs.
But not any more. Starting now, all those fun subjects will be mulled over here. Yes, often with a nice glass of wine.
Is it a bad idea to change course after eight years? I don’t think so. It’s said a wise woman changes her mind, but a fool never will. So, here’s to trying to be wise.

La Paloma

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Willard Thompson and his suspense/adventure/romance novel, La Paloma.

Author’s description:

When Teresa Diaz’s father is arrested in an ICE raid in a Los Angeles area city and deported back to Mexico, her family begins to come apart. She is a student at UCLA on a scholarship for undocumented aliens (Dreamers) looking to have a life in the U.S. in communications. Her brother in High school and her elementary school sister begin having serious troubles without a father in the household.

At work in a fast-food drive-through, Teri, as she wants to be known is approached by a Mexican gangbanger who offers to take you to her father. Doubting the guy wants more than picking her up, she resists, but day by day, as her sister is sent home from school and her brother is brought home dunk by the police, she gives in and goes across the border with him. Against her wishes, he takes her to a beach house in Tijuana and leaves her. She learns that illegal activities are going on in the house but without transportation, and without a birth certificate –either Mexican or American– she can’t cross the border alone.

After several days, virtually a prisoner, the owner of the house, a fat woman known as Mama Gorda arranges to get her across the border with a young Mexican man who rides a fast motorcycle. On the way, he takes her to lunch and there offers to talk her deeper into Mexico to find her father. She agrees, travels in his private plane and begins a romance while searching for her father in Michoacan state. The more she becomes involved, the more she is involved in activities she doesn’t understand but suspects they’re illegal.

Returning to Monte Vista, her LA area home, still without her father, she finds she can no longer return to UCLA, seeks a job, connects with a Latina who bullied her he school. When her brother is arrested for jobbery, Teri returns to Mexico seeking help from the people she suspects to belong to a cartel.

Ultimately, she is sponsored by the people in Mexico to participate in the Miss Mexico contest, not realizing it is the Cartel that is promoting her. In the end, she will face a life-changing decision whether to continue her romance with the son of the cartel’s head or try to stand on her own. And whether to remain in Mexico or return to LA.

Researching drug cartels and illegal border crossings?

As a writer, I’ve found myself typing questions into Google like “How big a bomb does it take to blow up an airplane?” Yes, asking such questions makes me nervous, so I asked Willard Thompson if researching drug cartels and illegal border crossings on the internet caused him apprehension. Here is his fascinating answer:

Thanks, for asking one of the few pertinent questions of this VBT! Let me explain the story, it’s not exactly what you think, and it’s not exactly isn’t.

La Paloma is not a crime-heavy cartel story with lots of murders and bloody events. It is a story about Teresa Diaz facing the question of who she is, a daughter of Mexico’s proud history or a Latina trying to fit into American Culture? When the story opens, she is an AB540 scholarship student at UCLA, working for a degree in communications and dating a Caucasian boy.

When her father is deported in an ICE raid, Teri must go into Mexico to bring him home. She doesn’t have documentation, so it is a risk, but her family is falling apart and she feels compelled to go. Her journey into Mexico is like falling down a rabbit hole of mysterious events, but it also becomes a journey of self-realization that included a romance with the son of a cartel boss. In the end, many of her questions about her life are answered, some are left ambiguous and unanswered.

My interest, as it is in all my novels, is how a situation effects the people involved in it. In this case a 20-year-old Latina named Teresa Diaz. She is a young woman who has been brought up in many of the traditions of Mexico, living in a southern California community that is heavily Latino, trying to be an American girl. How can that possibly be good for her self-image?

I love Mexico. I’ve been there more than a dozen times, several on business. I know first-hand the beauty of the states of Michoacan and Guanajuato, and the country’s history. I spent 4 days working with the US Border Patrol as a journalist intercepting Mexican smugglers wading across the Rio Grande River from Juarez to El Paso. These were not dangerous men. They were middle age men trying to make a living to support their families.

I interviewed several of the smugglers we apprehended (that is a story for a different time because it was a cops and robbers comedy it you ever saw one) and one of them told me in Spanish, pointing at his running shoes that his daughters didn’t want to wear cheap shoes like he had on to school. They wanted Nikes and Adidas. That tells you a lot about the Mexican economy.

Some years back I became familiar with the fact that UCLA was giving free scholarships to undocumented aliens under a state law AB540. It led me to start thinking about the situation of a young Latina with no documentation trying to get an education in order to blend in to the American culture.

I didn’t do the trip with the Border Patrol to gather input for the novel, but it gave me all the input I needed when it came time to write it. This is not a gritty cartel crime story. In reality this is a coming of age story in which Teri must wrestle with and decide who she wants to be as an adult. In the next to last chapter she tells a new friend, “I just want to be proud of who I am.” The ending is ambiguous. Hopefully asking readers to think about what Teri will do; and maybe asking themselves what they would do.

More recently, our government has struggled with what to do about the DREAMers. The situation has been compounded by Congressional battle over immigration and building walls (we used to call then fences), and ICE raids that deport undocumented Mexicans, breaking up families. Finally, the situation with drug and crime cartels has come strongly into public awareness. So, all of this is great grist for a novelist.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to write about my novel. Sure, it’s a suspense/romance with some gritty scenes but no cartel madness. I hope it might have some staying power in our current environment. Anything you can do to help that along I will greatly appreciate.

And I thank the author for such a well-thought-out and interesting response!

About Williard Thompson:

La Paloma is Willard Thompson new suspense/adventure/romance novel inspired by current headlines. It’s set in present day Los Angeles, California, and various cities in Mexico.

The Girl from the Lighthouse published last year is Thompson’s Award-winning historical romance set in California and Paris, France in the 1870s.

He is the gold medal-winning author of Dream Helper, the first in The Chronicles of California series of three historical novels set in the early days of the Golden State. He and his wife live in Santa Barbara, California.

Buy La Paloma on Amazon.

Buy La Paloma at Barnes and Noble.

Find the Author on Goodreads, or visit him on his Amazon author page.

Yes, there is a giveaway.

Willard Thompson will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift certificate to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish.

Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

A Personal Note:

I researched and wrote about many of these same topics in my novel Twists of Time and I share Williard Thompson’s passion for a sensible and compassionate policy regarding our nation’s dreamers. I hope his book will be read by many and will inspire others to push for a humane and caring solution to this situation.

My Favorite Excerpt:

Javier looks over at me from the pilot’s seat. He must have noticed my clenched hands, or my pallor or the way I sit slumped down in the seat. “First flight in a small plane?” he asks.

“First flight, period.”

He laughs. “An American girl like you has never flown?”

I think I hear a hint of sarcasm in his voice when he says, “American girl.”

I am an American girl, but not a privileged one. Mama wasn’t anxious to go any place that might require IDs. There was no extra money for vacations to places that required a plane ticket. At first, our family spent all our holidays with Rogelio and Lupe, but after Antonio died, mama and Lupe drifted apart.

“There’s only one place I’d want to go,” papa always answered when the question of travel came up, “back to Michoacán where mama and I grew up. I’d like to show you the beautiful land we came from.” At that, he always paused, getting a kind of sad-eyed look. “But we can’t go there, my little dove. So, we’ll go to Disneyland or Magic Mountain instead.”

To Javier, I’m an American girl, To Ryan, I’m a Latina. Mama Gorda said I was neither. She said I was lost. Who’s right? Who am I? I feel lost in this airplane. I sit up straighter in the cushy leather seat next to Javier.

“I am American,” I tell him. “I guess I’m a pretty naïve one though, jumping into a small plane with a man I hardly know. You think I’m a fool, don’t you? Or something worse.”

“Not a fool, Teresa — please let me call you that — but perhaps too trusting. That could get you in trouble in Mexico. Here it is better to trust no one.”

“Not even you?” I tease.

“Not even me.”

I hadn’t expected that. “Tell me why?”

“Please call me Javier.” His smile is warm and genuine, but he keeps his eyes straight ahead and his hands on the controls.

I wait for more.

Reluctantly, in little bits and pieces, as the plane flies on, he tells me about himself. He says his family is in the export and distribution business. They’ve done well, and he is benefiting from it. A little embarrassed, he says he hasn’t done much to contribute to the family business since graduating from Stanford.

“So why were you at Mama Gorda’s?” The question has bothered me from the start.

His eyes scan the horizon. It’s several seconds before he answers. “We each have our embarrassments,” he starts. “Sometimes it’s good not to ask too many questions. I won’t ask you about what you were doing at Carmen’s house, and I hope you’ll do the same for me. Suffice it to say my family’s company does some distribution work for her. Most of her business is over the Internet, of course, but we deliver some DVDs to L.A.”

“Smuggling, you mean?”

“As I said, some questions should not be asked or answered.”

We fly on in silence and land in Culiacán to refuel. Javier leads me into the tiny airport restaurant where we eat a quick lunch in silence. Questions ricochet in my head like the bullets that killed Antonio. What kind of danger am I in? Am I in danger with Javier? Who are all these people? Ever since I agreed to cross the border with Knobhead, it feels as if one bad decision after another is plaguing me. My life is out of control.

Sitting at a table in the small airport lounge, Javier breaks the silence as I sip an iced tea. “Look, I’m sorry if I shock you. I thought it was better to be honest with you from the start. You don’t understand life in Mexico so let me try to explain—”

“Explain? What’s to explain? You all but said you are a smuggler, Javier. what’s to explain?”

Vengeance of Grimbald

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Richard Hacker and his fantasy thriller Vengeance of Grimbald.

Author’s description:

Addison and Jules, members of the League, a secret alchemist society of Inkers who protect the time continuum, believe they defeated their enemy, Cuthbert Grimwald, known to them as Kairos. When he resurfaces filled with vengeance, intent on destroying the League, and acquiring the Alchimeia, a book of such power the League has hidden it for millennia, Grimwald leaves a path of destruction across centuries. As he quests for absolute control of reality, Addison and Jules pursue him through time and death in a desperate struggle to save the world from his vengeance.

A Special Guest Post from Author Richard Hacker:

I asked Richard Hacker to share his thoughts about the difficulties of writing about time travel.  Here is his fascinating response:

VENGEANCE OF GRIMBALD, the second book in the Alchimeia series is a fantasy sci-fi novel with a unique take on time travel and alternate time continuums. Some writers have used the supernatural to transport characters through time, like Scrooge’s encounters with the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, in A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Another method allowing for time travel, especially in science fiction, involves space and time warps–usually a ship passing through a warp in the space time continuum or characters passing through portals from one time to the next. Stephen King employs the portal in 11.22.63. But the most common method to move characters through time requires a mechanism or machine. From H.G. Wells, THE TIME to the much-loved DOCTOR WHO, these stories use some kind of machine to transport from one time to the next.

The Alchimeia series uses alchemy, a precursor to empirical chemistry, as the mechanism for movement through time. Combining an ink and an alloy in the nib, a fountain pen becomes the catalyst as inkers write themselves into past lives, leaving their bodies in the present. Unlike conventional time travel scenarios, the characters leave their bodies in the present—only their consciousness moves through time to inhabit a host. However, once an Inker is in a host’s body, time is not on their side. They are in danger of losing themselves to the mind of their host, becoming psychotic and then melding completely with the host, lost in time forever. In order to avoid such a fate, upon completion of the mission, they must die in order to break the link and return home.

Die Back allows me to blend genres of fantasy, science fiction, historical, and speculative fiction to tell a fast-paced, action filled story of characters struggling to save the time continuum and reality itself. As you might imagine, this mechanism for moving back through time also has its challenges. In a conventional time travel story, a character travels back in time. It’s fairly straight-forward keeping the character distinct from others in the scene. In the Alchimeia series, since the characters leave their bodies in the present and only their conscious minds go into the past, the most significant challenge is having a physical character, such as Franciso Pissaro but with the conscious mind of Addison Shaw. Rather than visiting the past as a foreign entity, the character becomes the past. You’ll notice the inking scenes shift to first person which I’ve done to make a distinction with the present and to create an immediacy. The reader experiences the inking scenes within the perspective of the inker.

I think technically one of the more difficult scenes involved a German soldier in a fox hole at the Battle of the Bulge. There were essentially two characters inside the mind of a third character. The German soldier, Grimbald, and Addision’s mother, Rebecca, who has been held captive by Grimbald. The dialogue needed to distinguish between the internal voices of Grimbald and Rebecca in the German soldiers head, as well as dialogue with the American soldier external to them. Here’s a little excerpt to give you a sense of what I’m talking about. We begin in Rebecca’s perspective.

I look to the boy soldier and our guard, but of course, they cannot hear our thoughts. “How could you force me to act against my son, Grimbald?” His real name is Cuthbert Grimbald, using the alias Kairos to keep him clear of League Inkers. “You promised if I helped you–”

I promised I wouldn’t take his consciousness. For all the good it did me.

“I could have killed him. My own son. Please, I’ll do anything you want, but please don’t ask me to hurt Addison.”

You sabotage me at every turn, Rebecca. If I didn’t need your knowledge of the League I would scatter your consciousness across time. By God, I’ll do it anyway!

“No! Please. I’m sorry. It’s just that when I saw him…it’s been so long. I–”

Think about it, Rebecca. Didn’t you see his eyes when he squeezed the trigger? The boy, knowing you were in Maya, blew out your brains! Trust me, you no longer hold a place in his heart.

“No! He still loves me, uh…. “

My mind…compresses…a fist closing around me to darkness.

“Please…stop.”

You continue to defy me?

“Please.”

I cannot breathe, I cannot think.

“Please…no…”

My mind goes to some dark corner. A desolate loneliness enfolds me. All senses closed off, no space, no time, no sensation. Nothing. Nothing. Noth…

He releases me. The world expands from a small, black hole, back to the Ardenne Forest. The boy still sits beside me in an almost fetal position. The icy cold air smells of pine and death.

About the Author:

Richard Hacker, lives and writes in Seattle, Washington after living many years in Austin, Texas. In addition to the science fiction/fantasy novels of The Alchimeía Series, his crime novels ride the thin line between fact and fiction in Texas. Along the way, his writing has been recognized by the Writer’s League of Texas and the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. As a judge in literary contests shuch as PNWA and ChicLit, and as a freelance development editor, he enjoys the opportunity to work with other writers. In addition, he is the Sci-Fi/Fantasy editor for the Del Sol Review. DIE BACK was his first novel in the Alchimeia series. Follow the author at www.richardhacker.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RWHacker

Buy Vengeance of Grimbald on Amazon.

Books by Richard Hacker:

The Alchimeía Series:

DIEBACK: Book One
VENGEANCE OF GRIMBALD: Book Two

Nick Sibelius Crime Series:

KILL’T DEAD OR WORSE
BUZZARD BAIT
ALL HAT AND NO CATTLE

All Del Sol Press books by Richard Hacker are available at Amazon.

Yes, there is a giveaway.

Richard Hacker will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift certificate to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

 

A few more words from the author:

Thanks for having me on the blog and thanks readers for dropping in today. Please check out DIE BACK and VENGEANCE OF GRIMBALD.  Both are available on Amazon. And I’d love to hear from you. Visit my website, www.richardhacker.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RWHacker and drop me a line.

I don’t have a trailer for Vengeance of Grimbald, but I do for Die Back and it’s a good visual introduction to the series. You can find it here.

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