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Monday, August 8, 2011

The Secrets of Sequels, by Rai Aren

Hi everyone,

I was honored to be asked to be a guest blogger on Printsasia. Since we are finishing the sequel to Secret of the Sands, entitled Destiny of the Sands, I thought blogging about sequels was a timely topic :)

I hope you find value in what I shared. Here's the link to my post:

The Secrets of Sequels

I very much enjoyed writing it & reflecting on the process.



New trailer - Secret of the Sands!

Hi peeps,

I wanted to share our new trailer for Secret of the Sands, our award-winning archaeology adventure novel. Hope you like it!

Here's the link to it on YouTube:

Secret of the Sands trailer #2

You can also see it on my Amazon Author page, as well as our website & other online profiles :)




Saturday, August 6, 2011

Guest post: Author Darren Pillsbury

Hi everyone,

It's my honor to share a guest blog post with you, by author Darren Pillsbury. He's written the series PETER AND THE VAMPIRES, PETER AND THE WEREWOLVES and PETER AND THE FRANKENSTEIN. They sound like lively reads!

Have a read & get to know a new author :)


Thank you, Rai, for letting me do a guest post on your blog!

One of the questions I hear a lot of readers asking writers is “Where do you get your inspiration?” I thought I would answer that specifically about the ebooks I’ve just published, PETER AND THE VAMPIRES, PETER AND THE WEREWOLVES, and PETER AND THE FRANKENSTEIN.

I’ve always liked scary stories. I remember sneaking into the grocery store as a kid and reading the Stephen King books in the book aisle. (My mom was very conservative, and there was no way she was going to let me read CUJO or SKELETON CREW. So I did it while she was picking out tomatoes and peanut butter a couple of aisles over.)

So, when I decided I wanted to be an author, I always told myself that I would write my ‘vampire’ story. And my ‘werewolves’ story. And my ‘swamp monster’ story. And my ‘evil freak show’ story.

The problem was, a writer expends a lot of pages setting up the characters and situations every time he writes a new novella. If I wanted to write a dozen stories, that would be a dozen different main characters, a dozen different supporting casts, a dozen different settings. Ugh.

Why couldn’t it be simple? On THE X-FILES, you jumped into a new episode every week knowing who Mulder and Scully are. Why couldn’t you –


Problem solved. I would do something in a series, with the same characters, and with character arcs and larger plots that unfolded over hundreds of pages and through different books.

In actuality, the books really do resemble television shows in that each ‘novel’ has four or five different ‘episodes,’ or shorter novellas within it. And basically each story picks up where the last one ended.

What about the hero? Who was he? How old?

If I was going to do a series of supernatural stories, I wanted to do something about a time when everything seemed possible…and maybe even magical. I decided on a younger protagonist. Probably out of nostalgia, partly because the last time I remember feeling that the world might truly be magical (supernaturally magical, that is) was when I was very, very young.

But…it’s quite a different thing to say, “I’m going to write a vampire story,” and then write it. What do you do with it?

Is the vampire loathsome or gorgeous (and sparking, according to TWILIGHT)? Evil or misunderstood? Sociopathic or tortured by a conscience? The hero or the villain?

I don’t really start there, to be honest. I start with an image. In the case of the story “Peter And The Vampires” (the second story in the novel PETER AND THE VAMPIRES), the image was of a little girl in a rainstorm, standing under the ten-year-old hero’s third-story window, calling out “Peeeeeeeteeeeeeeeer” in a soft and mournful voice. When the lightning flashes, she is standing there in the rain; seconds later, when another burst comes, she’s gone.

I think – though I’m not absolutely sure – that the image comes from “The Dead,” the short story by James Joyce, in which the main character’s wife tells him how the love of her life stood out in a rainstorm and called up to her window.

(To be clear, I do not compare anything I have ever written to be in the same league, or even the same sport, as Joyce. If “The Dead” is the filet mignon and lobster tails of literature, then mine is a McDonald’s Happy Meal. But, hey, at least with mine, you get a bright, shiny toy.)

I had a lot of thoughts about that scene when I read the story in college. One that stuck with me was, “If she didn’t want that guy to be there, that could be a really creepy moment.”

BAM. That was the jumping-off point, though it took years to actually sit down and write a story about it.

For my other stories in the series, I always ask myself, What’s creepy? (And not in a gory way. Though there is gore in some of my stories, I try to keep it to a minimum.)

For years as a child, I vacationed at a lake house my grandparents owned. I always thought of sitting on a dock, legs dangling down into the water…and some unseen horror reaching up and dragging me down to the depths.

Bingo. There’s my opening for “Peter And The Swamp Monster,” the fourth story in PETER AND THE VAMPIRES.

One of the creepiest things I can imagine is looking out from a window, and someone dressed all in black – whose face you can’t see – is staring up at your window. Then they slowly lift their arm and point, as though to say, I see you.

Voila. “Peter And The Dead Men.”

As a kid, I saw a Spiderman cartoon that freaked me out. In it, a bunch of mannequins came to life and attacked poor Spidey. For years, I never, ever took my eyes off the mannequins when I entered a Macy’s.

“Peter And The Mannequins,” first story in the book PETER AND THE WEREWOLVES.

So there you have it. Most of my stories start from an initial scene in my head: some bad memory, some dark fantasy, some imagined scenario (often from my childhood) that can form the cornerstone of a story.

If you’re interested in checking out my books, please visit the links below!

eBooks By Darren Pillsbury:

















Thank-you Darren, for sharing with us! I'm always interested in learning more about my fellow scribes & their works.

You can visit Darren online at:

I hope this helps Darren to find new readers :)



Rai's reviews: 5-stars: Dust on His Soul

Hi peeps,

Sorry I've been away from the blog for awhile, life's been pretty busy. However, I still make time to read & then share worthy tomes with you :)

Here's a recent read, it's a literary novel, historical fiction, based on the life of Stephen Biko. Here is a story description:

The Story of One Man’s Journey to Hell and Redemption

Hell does have a name… Robben Island.

This story, though fictional, is inspired by, and honors, the life - and death - of Stephen Biko.

It is the 1970s and 80s in South Africa. Some cruelly and sadistically wielded power meant to scourge. Some broke under its weight, while some remained unbent, immovable under it, resolute of spirit, and ultimately, triumphantly, indomitable.

This is the story of such a man. A character study of an unconquerable heart, an unyielding spirit.

This is not a story for the feint of heart or stomach. It is a story, not meant to shock, but to shine the unapologetic, unflattering light of truth on a situation that was, and is very real.

Told through one man’s journey, it will lay bare any and all realities of a world that for some was inescapable. The pain is real. The horrors are real. Ignoring them won’t change a thing though understanding them just might.


Here is my review:


Outstanding, Powerful, Moving

This was a powerful story, incredibly well-told, that has stayed with me. I don't think I will ever forget it, it has been burned into my memory. Many people know the facts (or some of them at least) of the terrible apartheid regime that ruled over South Africa with utter brutality, but stories like this one can make it much more 'real' for those of us who were not there and did not see or experience it firsthand.

This story was told by someone who obviously cares about the subject matter and who has great love for his country and those who suffered there. It is a tough read in that it is incomprehensible the ignorance, hate and cruelty that have existed (and in places continues to exist, sadly). You feel like you are there with the main character, your heart aches for him, your spirit cries out - stop! You will wish you could jump into the pages of the book, or of history and save these people from those who make them suffer so much pain - physically, mentally, emotionally. Once you put the book down, try to reflect, and take a deep breath to recover from the punch this book packs, an inescapable reminder comes forth, that though this story is fictional, the truth behind it is not. You will wish it was.

However, if because of stories like this, we can have a better understanding of these terrible evils, perhaps we will be more sensitive and more easily moved to fight for positive change in this world. It is also a reminder of the power of an individual to be a lightning rod for change and how we can never, ever give up hope for a world ruled by peace, love, tolerance and mutual understanding and appreciation.

This was truly one of the most powerful, memorable, worthwhile and moving novels I have read...

Rai Aren

P.S. You can also find it on kindle for less than $5!