Star Rider: On the Razor’s Edge by Heidi Skarie — book excerpt

star rider cover

Science Fiction / Visionary Fiction
Date Published: December 2014

Undercover operative Toemeka Ganti, code-named Star Rider, lives on the edge.

Her latest mission is to overthrow the despot of Jaipar, General Bhandar. His protection comes from sorcerer Samrat Condor, an interplanetary conqueror whose space fleet destroyed Toemeka’s home planet and killed her family years ago. And Condor isn’t about to lose his stranglehold on Jaipar.

Making matters worse, Toemeka must preserve her cover while secretly developing an oscillator, a shield-destroying device wanted by both sides. All this must be accomplished under the watchful eye of her boss, Commander Rochambeau, who is pressuring Toemeka to become his mistress.

Accompanied by her Coalition team and trusted partner Erling Fenian, Toemeka bands with the local underground resistance and Michio Kimes, a handsome spiritual warrior trained to fight sorcery. Together they must battle to free the people of Jaipar and restore its rightful heir to power.  


Something touched Toemeka’s leg.  Her eyes snapped open and she saw a vine curling itself around her ankle.  It twisted up her thigh.  Amazed that a vine could move, she touched one of its blue iridescent leaves.  “What an unusual plant, you are.”  Another stem twirled around her arm. She tugged at the vine, trying to pull it off.  It tightened its grip.

She heard Michio calling her name.  “I’m over here.  By the river,” she yelled.  She tugged harder at the vine on her arm as it climbed to her shoulder.  It wound its way around her neck and tightened against her windpipe.  Frantically, she grabbed the thick stem with both hands and screamed for help

Toemeka couldn’t breathe as the vine tightened around her neck.  Her lungs burned. Fear pumped through her veins and black spots flashed before her eyes.  The world spun.  A branch cracked, then Michio appeared and began slashing at the base of the stalk with his knife.  The plant let out an ear-piercing scream and squirted a stinging, putrid orange fluid on Toemeka’s arm.

Light-headed, she collapsed.  Michio pulled the vine from her throat, and she gasped as fresh air filled her lungs.  She distantly heard Michio ask if she was okay.  She opened her eyes to find him crouching next to her, looking worried.

A vine tentacle slithered around her waist.  She grabbed the stem and tried to rip it away.  “Get it off me!” she cried hoarsely.

Michio started to help her when he fell forward onto the ground. A vine had wrapped itself around his ankle and it dragged him toward waving reddish-orange tubes.  Michio hacked himself free, the plant screamed and sprayed more juice.  Scrambling back to Toemeka, Michio whacked at the vine that gripped her.  It shrieked as he chopped and slashed the knife into it.  Finally, it released her, climbed up a nearby tree and wound around its trunk.


star rider authorHeidi Skarie’s life as a writer began when she had a dramatic dream about a futuristic world at war. The vivid dream was like watching an action/adventure movie. Excited about the dream, she recorded it upon awakening. That night the dream continued where it left off. After six nights, Heidi had a hundred-page journal recording the series of dreams. This awakened her interest in writing, which continues to be one of her greatest passions today. Heidi is a visionary author who writes science fiction and historical fiction novels.  Her novels are a an exciting blend of action, adventure and romance, featuring strong, spiritually inquisitive heroines. Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge is her first science fiction novel. She previously published Red Willow’s Quest, a historical novel based on a past life, about a Native American girl training to become a medicine woman. 

At Water’s Edge by S. McPherson: Author Interview

At Water’s Edge by S. McPherson:

S. McPhersonPublisher: by S. McPherson Books (November 10,  2015)
Category: Romance/Fantasy
Tour Dates: October/November, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-993360503
Available in: Print & ebook,  347 Pages

‘At Water’s Edge’, tells the tale of two lovers trapped in two different worlds. One world is Earth, and the other is Coldivor; a dimension full of magic and danger. When Dezaray Storm is mistaken for th
e most powerful sorceress of this other realm her life changes forever. She finds love in the arms of Milo Thor, but this love can also lead to her death and the destruction of seven empires.

‘At Water’s Edge’ is book one in the ‘Water Rushes’ series.

Tell us about this story.

At Water’s Edge tells the tale of Dezaray, a seventeen-year-old girl in England who falls in love with an eighteen-year-old boy from another world. A case of mistaken identity, lost portals and battling empires leads to an adventure between worlds, centred around love, loss and magic.

Dezaray; under the questionable care of her brother finds herself having visions of a boy she has never met – Milo, a teenager from another world with the ability to teleport. One night, when on the run for her life, Dezaray comes across a portal and when mistaken for the most powerful sorceress of this other land, she is pulled through it and immersed in a world of magic and empires, meeting the man of her dreams…literally.

But Dezaray cannot stay in this realm and as this other world, Coldivor, descends into war, in desperate need of their true sorceress, Dezaray realises that her journey into Coldivor will end in one of two ways; with her return or with her demise. But what about Milo?

They say love can cross oceans but can it cross worlds?

What’s your idea of perfect happiness? I think happiness is when you are one hundred percent comfortable in your own skin. When you still strive for more, making every day an exciting adventure but knowing deep down that there is nothing missing from your life, even if on paper it looks like there is.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? I think the lowest depth of misery is when you truly cannot see anything positive in yourself. When you actually manage to convince yourself that you are worthless. The brain is a powerful tool and we have to be careful with the ideas we let it build.

Why do you write? Because the places I long to see, the people I long to meet and the adventures I would love to embark on, for now only exist in my mind; unclear and disarrayed. Writing allows me to experience them. I delve in to every detail and just for a moment, I find magic at my fingertips.

What is your motto? If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got. Although now I’m also really trying to live by the words of J.D. Rockefeller. ‘Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.’

Who’s your favorite writer?

I will always bow down for the infamous Shakespeare with his wonderful way of turning a phrase and his delightful yet traumatic tales of love and woe however, (yes, however) J.K. Rowling definitely stole my heart with the brilliant Harry Potter series. I do love, love but it seems I love magic just as much…although perhaps they are one in the same. The desire to combine my two favourites; epic love with illustrious magic is actually what lead to ‘At Water’s Edge’, where the love story is just about the two characters and where the magic is so much more- stories unto their own mingled into one.

Praise for Chapters One-Three of ‘At Water’s Edge’ by S. McPherson:

“Loved the teaser! It pulled me in and made me want to read more. Your writing style is clean, uncluttered and brimming with tension. Well done!”

“You got a lovely and interesting story,  hope to read more from you.”

“I liked it a lot! While I was reading it, I was able to be drawn into the story easily by your words. A stormy night like you were describing sets the perfect scene for a suspenseful fantasy novel.”

“I really enjoyed reading your first chapter. It was gripping. The descriptions are well written.”

About S. McPherson:S. McPerson

S. McPherson is a young British expat living in Dubai and working as a Foundation Stage 1 (FS1) teacher. When she was younger S. McPherson travelled a lot with her family, though, no matter how often her surroundings changed, one thing never did. And this was her love of writing and dreaming up the impossible. After combining her two loves of teaching children and writing, S. McPherson self-published her first book; a rhyming verse children’s story titled ‘Shania Streep wanted to Sleep’. Thus fuelling her love of seeing her work in print and sharing her stories. This is S. McPherson’s first novel.



Follow the ‘At Water’s Edge’ by S. McPherson Tour:

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Oct 5 Tour Kick off & Giveaway

Through Eyes Of A Book Goddess Oct 6 Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

Sunshine Book Promotions Oct 7 Excerpt, Interview, & Giveaway

Cassandra M’s Place Oct 9 Review & Giveaway

Infinite House of Books Oct 12 Interview

Tome Tender Oct 13 Review & Giveaway

Binding Addiction Oct 15 Excerpt

Father, Writer, Logistical Wizard Oct 19 Review

Bookishly Me Oct 20 Review & Interview

Buffy’s Ramblings Oct 21 Review & Excerpt

Rockin’ Book Reviews Oct 22 Review & Excerpt

Pomegranate Radio Oct 23 Review

Books, Authors, Blogs Oct 26 Review

What U Talking Bout Willis? Oct 27 Guest post & Excerpt

Books, Books, & More Books Oct 29 Review

The Writing Desk Oct 30 Guest Post

Little Read Riding Hood Nov 2 Review, Excerpt  & Giveaway

Happy Tails and Tales Nov 4 Review & Giveaway

I Can Has Books? Nov 10 Review

Deal Sharing Aunt Nov 11 Review

Avenue Books Nov 12 Interview

Ashley’s Bookshelf Nov 18 Review

Alpha Book Club Nov 23 Spotlight

Teatime and Books Nov 24 Interview

A Room Without Books is Empty Nov 25 Review

Self-Taught Cook Nov 27 Excerpt

Universal Creativity Inc. Nov 30  Interview

S. McPherson

Blood Diamond by RJ Blain: Author Interview

Blood Diamond

Paranormal Suspense / Urban Fantasy / Supernatural Thriller / Light Paranormal Romance
Date Published: June 25, 2015

The world is full of corpses, and Jackson knows them by name. When a group strives to destroy the Inquisition, his powers may be all standing between the supernaturals and extinction.

However, when he learns the truth behind the deaths of his wife and unborn daughter, Jackson may prove to be the greatest threat of all to the survival of mankind…


What living person do you most admire? 

This is a terrible thing to say, but most of the people I admire are dead—and have been for a long time. I’m a bit of a hermit, which doesn’t help things, either. I don’t admire a lot of the famous people, mainly because the media rarely tells the full truth about them.

So, it’s cliché, but I’m going to go with my husband. He puts up with me each and every day, and there’s no one out there who can top that—because he does so by choice… and that’s a pretty spectacular thing.

We’ve been married for thirteen years now, and that’s saying something about his special sort of crazy.

What is your most prized possession? 

My Levenger Circa journals. They contain all of my writing notes, which is extremely precious to me. My macbook pro comes a close second, since I write the novels on it…! I love office supplies, but my journals and their precious pages are my most prized possessions.

Who is your favorite fictional character of all time? 

This is worse than asking me what my favorite book is… so many wonderful characters, so little time. Do I really have to choose one? This is like telling me to go into a bookstore and saying I can only buy one book. Just one?

I… I…

Fine. I’ll pick FitzChivalry from Robin Hobb’s Farseer etc trilogies. He’s definitely up there… and if he doesn’t get a happy ending by the end of the current trilogy, I will be ruined. There are so many reasons to love Fitz… and hate that he always, always seems to get the short end of the straw. I hope he gets a Happily Ever After. Of all of the characters I’ve read—and loved—he truly deserves it.

Caz from The Curse of Chalion is an honorable mention.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? 

Ironically, FitzChivalry’s existence. That character doesn’t catch a break ever. The books are so good, but the depth of misery this character endures is epic. I’m of the opinion if you want someone to suffer, make them walk in Fitz’s shoes a while.

Why do you write? 

Is it terribly cliché of me to say ‘Because I must?’ I don’t think I could stop at this point. Writing is such an integral part of who I am, I’m not sure I could walk away from it now.

I love everything to do with writing, but I want to entertain and give readers a chance to escape their reality for a while and step into a new world. I was a practitioner of escapism as a teen and young adult, and I want to pass that on.

I write because I love books… and I love people who love books, too. It may be such a canned answer, but it’s the truth. I write to entertain, but I write for myself as much as I write for fans.

Where would you most like to live? 

California… and I get to move there in the near future. Yep, I get to check an item off my to-do-before-I-die bucket list!

I’d say Yellowstone, but I don’t think they’d let me live in the park.

What is your motto? 

Sit down, shut up, and get the <bleep> to work. Yep, I’m one of those ass in chair and type types. My solution to most of my problems is “work harder.”

Who’s your favorite writer? 

This is almost as bad as asking me who my favorite character is. Do I really have to pick one?

I’m a rebel. I’ll pick a few. I can’t just pick one.

In no particular order… Brandon Sanderson, Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Robin Hobbs, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Mercedes Lackey, Vince Flynn, Tom Clancy.

I could go on all day, but here’s a good start…

Happy reading!


RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency toRJ Blain - Author Photo pun without warning.

When she isn’t playing pretend, she likes to think she’s a cartographer and a sumi-e painter. In reality, she herds cats and a husband, and obeys the commands of Tsu Dhi, the great warrior fish.

In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Should that fail, her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until she is satisfied.

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The Cypress Trap by JC Gatlin: Author Interview

cypress trap Cover Design
Mystery / Suspense
Date Published: August 16, 2015

A good vacation delivers you home alive.
This is not a good vacation.

When Rayanne commandeers her husband’s weekend fishing trip, she knows it’ll take work to adjust Owen’s attitude. She has no choice. Since the tragedy, they lost so much. They need to reconnect.

Without her knowledge, Owen texts his best buddy, Daryl, to join the getaway. The three of them aren’t alone in the backwoods of Georgia, though.

Owen took something that didn’t belong to him. Something that changed their lives. And now the owner wants it back. By any means — including a posse led by a killer dog.

At first, Rayanne is clueless about the item and its value. One thing becomes crystal clear: If it’s not returned, they might not make it home alive.

Coming from a large family with five brothers, JC Gatlin grew up in Grapevine, Texas, a small town outside of Dallas. In 1999 he moved to Tampa, Florida, where he now resides. JC’s cypress trap authorfishing trips help him breathe authenticity into his stories, which feature the rich landscapes of Texas and Florida as backdrops.

He has written a monthly column in New Tampa Style magazine and penned several mystery-suspense stories. His first, The Designated Survivor, was published in 2013. JC invites you to visit his mystery writing blog at


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The Bipolar Millionaire and the Operation by John E. Wade II: Author Interview and Book Excerpt

bipolarmillionaireJohn E. Wade II, retired CPA, author, investor, television producer, and philanthropist, reveals in his memoir, The Bipolar Millionaire and the Operation, his personal struggle with bipolar disorder and his experience being the focus of an all-encompassing and benevolent entity he calls the Operation.
Wade takes the reader through his family experiences, political aspirations and beliefs, spiritual journey, relationship trials and errors, and battle with mental illness, as well as writes about how he feels he has been cured of the detrimental aspects of bipolar disorder.
With the help of a unique and powerful network he calls the Operation, and through religious beliefs, personal perseverance, and the help of friends, family, and his mental health professionals, Wade lives an active, creative, and successful life.
His memoir doesn’t end with contentment at achieving a balance in his life, however. Instead, Wade expresses a determined vision for the future, aiming to assist humanity in what he describes as achieving heaven on earth through his writing, political and spiritual endeavors, as well as through being the focus of the ever-pervasive Operation.


I was struggling and dropped into a walk from the jog required of fourth classmen. It was an autumn day in 1963, just a month after I’d had a near-fatal attack of meningitis, and I was still fighting to regain my strength. Panting for breath, I was confronted by a first classman. He asked very directly why I wasn’t jogging. I quickly replied that I had a medical excuse, knowing full well that the excuse had expired. He ordered me to produce the excuse, which I did. Noting its date, he nonetheless allowed me to proceed.

Soon, I was in the academy hospital, lying flat on my back in an almost catatonic state, unable to cope with my mental torment. Although this severe depression, the first in my life, was not diagnosed at the time, it must have been my first bipolar episode, possibly having been triggered by the recent attack of meningitis.

My mother and Carol, my then-girlfriend, came to try to revive me, but I don’t remember responding. Years later, Carol told me that I asked her to help me kill myself, but I have absolutely no memory of making such a request.

Until this illness I had been a model cadet. I had prepared physically according to academy guidelines, so the transition to basic cadet summer was rigorous but easier than it would have been without vigorous training.

One other thing that helped me during basic cadet summer was the stream of daily letters from Carol. My fellow cadets were jealous, partly because of the letters, but also because of the picture of her I had in my room. Even though it was black and white, it was clear that she had blond hair, a sweet smile, and a pleasing, pretty face. That face helped me get through the rest of what we all had to endure to complete our training.

Each week we were given certain “knowledge” to learn, such as types of aircraft or chains of command. I always spent part of Sunday afternoon memorizing the information so that I could recite it during Monday’s meals. The upperclassmen pointedly asked several questions of each basic cadet, which kept us from finishing our entire meal. The first classmen took turns performing the interrogation, but as the questions were considerably shorter than the answers, they always had plenty of time to eat. I always felt I was short-changed because I was the only one who knew the trivia from the first day it was due, and yet I didn’t get a chance to eat more than the other basic cadets.

At the end of basic cadet summer, all the cadets were subjected to a physical fitness test, and I scored the highest in my squadron. At about the same time, we also went on a survival exercise in the mountains for which we were organized into small groups with twenty-four hours’ worth of food and about a week’s time to find our way back to the academy. The experience was particularly taxing for me. I became so obsessed with saving my food that I still had some left when we got back to the academy.

After the final tests, those of us who successfully completed basic cadet summer became fourth classmen. My personal excitement was not long lasting, however. Although I had scored high marks on the physical tests, I was disappointed with my first academic grades, which included some Bs, as I was used to all As in high school. When I asked a first classman for his opinion, he said I did just fine considering that I came from a weak high school.

Basic cadet summer had ended—then the meningitis hit. I’ve since read that physical illness can trigger the onset of bipolar disorder, and although the diagnosis was not made at that time, I believe that is what had happened. My father eventually was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder also, so it appears that I was genetically predisposed to the condition, as is often the case.

I had entered the academy in June 1963, and I received an honorable medical discharge that December; whether I was right or wrong, I considered the situation a great disgrace. It was definitely a life-defining event for me, and I was overcome with depression.

But, there was another aspect to my failure at the Air Force Academy that I didn’t disclose to anyone else until years later: part of the reason I attended the academy was that I had presidential ambitions, which I knew would be shattered by the stigma of mental illness. I internalized and brooded over that stigma for the next forty years.

To make matters even worse, when I finally got home I also lost my girlfriend.

It was quite a shock to me and had a negative effect on my confidence with the women I would date for most of the rest of my life.

I have often wondered what would have happened had I not had the meningitis and bipolar episode. What aspects of my life would have been altered? It’s a haunting possibility to consider.

Still, even though the realization of some of my dreams has eluded me, I have had and am having an interesting, fulfilling life in spite of bipolar disorder, and I invite you to understand its role as I work toward what I believe is my destiny.


Tell us about this story.  

It is a deep, honest and interesting true story of my life to date.  It’s an unusual life from 1963 on—when I had my first episode of bipolar disorder.  I struggled for about eight years before I even got a correct diagnosis and lithium, the first at least partially effective drug for the illness.  I had had a few hospitalizations prior to then.  But I’m very proud that I never gave up and was the first in my accounting class at the University of Georgia, president of the accounting honor society, earning both my BBA and MA followed by passing the CPA the first time.

I had two marriages that succeeded beautifully for a while and then failed, the first producing my daughter with whom I’m extremely proud along with my son-in-law and two grandchildren.

Jobs, good jobs came and went, sometimes my bipolar disorder interfered, sometimes not.

In late 1998 the Operation—that’s what I call it—came into my life.  It is a highly secretive government and private entity that takes on big tasks like what it sought for me; curing the negative aspects of my bipolar disorder, guiding me spiritually and making me a force in the Republican Party.  A good part of the book explains how the Operation used transaction analysis to accomplish these lofty goals.

What is transactional analysis and how was it used on me?  The method was to use thousands of acts directed at me—intentionally overheard conversations, direct therapy and messages from other persons of all types, vehicles and all sorts of unusual and yet normal acts—signs to me, ordinary to others.

Why do you write?  

It has become a compulsion.  My mother was an English major and she was careful to teach her four children proper English, so I really say she taught me to write.  But I went through business school and worked as a CPA in public, private and governmental accounting.

But on January 2, 1998 I woke up and wrote the start of what was to become a complete unedited manuscript, Focus Investing.  Eventually the book was edited and completed with a publishing contract signed by me with John Wiley & Sons, but the deal fell through and the book was never published.  I continued writing with a book of essays which I self-published, Deep Within My Heart.  I conceived, financed and partially wrote How To Achieve a Heaven on Earth, Ronald Reagan’s Wisdom for the Twenty-First Century and A Glimpse of Heaven on Earth.  This book, The Bipolar Millionaire and the Operation is the first book that I have authored completely and has been published.  I have high hopes and prayers for it.

I have for years carried around in one of my back pockets a personal notebook, and I write many times as I dine alone.  Many of these writings are typed up by an assistant, go through an editor and are placed on my websites as blogs.  I also love to review worthwhile nonfiction books, going through them word for word the first time and then two to five times, writing my review on the last time through.

Where would you most like to live?  

Right where I do, in the Garden District in New Orleans.  I was blessed with inheritances that allowed me to purchase a comfortable home, renovate it and care for the wonderful grounds in the front and back as well as inside too.  Of course, New Orleans is such a unique place; the food, architecture, music, streetcars, World War II Museum, Audubon Park and City Park…on and on with so many festivals to celebrate.

What is your motto?  

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.

Who’s your favorite writer?  

Walter Isaacson. He gives great attention to details without becoming boring and also he writes about such interesting people.  I’ve read his biography of Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs and listened to his audio book biography of Benjamin Franklin.


Praise for The Bipolar Millionaire and the Operation by John E. Wade II:
“The book is 5 stars without a doubt.”- nursenancy26, Amazon Reviewer
” This is a must read book for any caring person.  What an interesting life story! John Wade writes an insightful memoir of his struggles with bipolar disorder while the “Operation” guides his existence and spiritual journey.
John Wade’s experiences with bipolar disorder and his “cure” should give heart to anyone with the disease and teach the importance of kindness, patience, and respect from those of us who know anyone with the disease.”- Rebecca A Morgan, Amazon Reviewer
” John Wade has learned to overcome his weaknesses and triumph over his disorder. Everyone who has loved ones with Bipolar Disorder or those who are struggling with it should read this well written book.”- E L  Davis, Amazon Reviewer
Praise for How To Achieve Heaven On Earth by John E. Wade II:
“These essays encourage readers to reflect on their own means of achieving peace in their lives, making a fine addition to any general lending library!”-Midwest Book Review
“A fascinating octopus of a book on global change, reaching in all directions at once.”-Library Journal
About John E. Wade II:
John E Wade II Bipolar millionaireBronze Medalist of the 2014 Living Book Award in the category of Social Activism/Charity, John E. Wade II, born in Decatur, Alabama and longtime New Orleans resident, is a philanthropist, an investor, and a retired accountant, who is an active member of his church.
Wade began writing in 1998 and has published many essays, blogs, and book reviews, as well as one book filled with his own essays, Deep Within My Heart, and three books that he has co-authored: How to Achieve a Heaven on Earth, Glimpses of Heaven on Earth, and Ronald Reagan’s Wisdom for the Twenty-First Century.
In his free time Wade likes to travel the world and learn about other cultures.  He also enjoys exploring his hometown of New Orleans, enjoying the unique food, architecture, and music.  Wade also regularly attends New Orleans Saints games as well as football games at Mississippi State University, where the Davis Wade Stadium was named after his father.

Author Interview: Insights: Reflections from 101 of Yale’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs


The Value of Preparation

Roger McNamee

Co-Founder, Moonalice,

Co-Founder, Elevation Partners, Silver Lake Partners, Integral Capital Partners

Co-Founder, The MoonTunes Project, Reverb



Many entrepreneurs discount the value of preparation in disrup-tive technology startups on the theory that if you are inventing a new world, you are better off approaching it unfettered by precon-ceptions. Some investors have stopped backing companies with ex-perienced teams, believing that disruptive change comes most often from first-time entrepreneurs. That was certainly true with Micro-soft, Oracle, Google, and Facebook, but the other side of the ledger includes tens of thousands of companies that crashed and burned because of inexperience.

What is the best way to begin an entrepreneurial project? If you are not a domain expert, become one before you start. Domain ex-pertise gives you an edge in identifying product or business model changes that customers will value. It also enables you to “make new mistakes,” rather than repeating ones that have been made by oth-ers. Once you identify your opportunity, then you have to figure out whether or not you are capable of executing the strategy. This re-quires self-awareness, which is not as widely distributed in the entre-preneurial population as one would hope. At this early stage, uncer-tainty has value, as it provides an incentive for greater preparation.

Then comes the moment of truth. You’ve got your idea; you have a plan for making it happen. Should you do it? My rule of thumb is to sleep on it for a few nights. When you awake, if you can’t imagine doing anything else, then you are good to go. If you can imagine anything at all that you would rather do, bail out from the start¬up. It’s not the right thing for you. Remember that startups are harder to unwind than a marriage. If you make the wrong choice, you will be stuck with it longer than you would like.


Tell us about this story.

In May 2012, I was at a crossroads. I was just about to graduate from college, and I was faced with the challenge of taking a more traditional job (a guaranteed salary and benefits) or attempt to take my newborn startup, TouchPoints, to the next level. In the process of trying to decide, I reached out to successful entrepreneurs from my alma mater for advice and to learn about their stories. The feedback and mentorship I received was incredibly powerful and I wanted to share it with everyone who was interested in starting their own business or organization.

The publishing industry has become increasingly accessible, and because of the entrepreneurial spirit of this book, I decided that the best way to share what these mentors told me was in a book. INSIGHTS: Reflections from 101 of Yale’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs is exactly what the title says it is – a collection of the best advice shared by successful entrepreneurs of my alma mater.

What living person do you most admire? 

I’m going to sidestep the question and say the living person that I’d most like to have dinner with is Elon Musk.

What is your most prized possession? 

It has to be some piece of technology. I have things that are sentimental and meaningful, but what possession could I not do without? Let’s go with my iPhone. I can Facetime with loved ones, text friends living all over the world, run a business, take a library of books with me anywhere I go, and spend what little remaining free time I have on Instagram.

Which talent would you most like to have? 

To be a legitimate coder. I think everyone should have a basic understanding of a coding language. Rails and Python should be the new Spanish and French for high schoolers all across the country.

Who is your favorite fictional character of all time? 

James bond. He’s been alive for over 60 years, and his style is still setting trends. He’s smart, classy, optimistic, and tech savvy.

What’s your idea of perfect happiness? 

Happiness to me is giving the perfect gift to someone you care about.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? 

I wish I could function on less sleep. There are too many good books to read and too many places to see in a lifetime.

Merry Mary by Ashley Farley — Author Interview


Merry Mary by Ashley Farley
Publication date: October 15th 2015
Genres: Adult, Romance

A young woman longing for a child stumbles upon a Christmas miracle.

Investigative journalist Scottie Darden is photographing the homeless for her Lost Souls series when she makes a discovery that could change her life forever. Under a makeshift tent in subzero temperatures in a downtown city park, she finds a woman’s dead body with her infant child. Without her cell phone to call for help, Scottie makes the split-second decision to take the baby home. Her initial instinct is to provide the baby with food and shelter until her family can be located. But as her fondness for the baby grows, she finds herself facing a life on the run or worse—prison time for abduction.

Curl up with Merry Mary this holiday season. A heartwarming story of the powerful connection between a caring soul and an innocent child in need.


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Tell us about Merry Mary in one sentence. Merry Mary is a heartwarming story about the powerful connection between a caring soul and an innocent child in need.

What do you think readers will enjoy most about your story? I hope readers, especially mothers, will identify with my protagonist’s desperate longing for a child and empathize with the decisions she makes. I also believe they will enjoy the close relationship Scottie shares with her brother, Will.

Are you working on a new novel? Yes, the sequel to Merry Mary, which I plan to release in Spring 2016. My currently untitled WIP is a full-length romantic political suspense starring Scottie, Will and the charming Guy Jordan.   

Who or what was the inspiration for your story? I created my protagonist, photojournalist Scottie Darden, out of my love for photography and my desire to see the world. Understanding some of the technical aspects of photography adds credibility to my story. All of my plots focus on familial relationships. My first novel, Saving Ben, which I wrote as a tribute to my brother who died of a drug overdose in 1999, depicts a college-aged brother and sister. Her Sister’s Shoes portrays three middle-age sisters struggling to balance the demands of career and home while remaining true to themselves. Scottie Darden shares a close relationship with her brother In Merry Mary and the upcoming sequel. Certain aspects of their relationship remind me of my brother and me, but mostly I created them out of the special bond between my own children, who are close in age—21 and 20—as well as spirit.

What is your favorite thing to do to get ready for the holidays?

Definitely not shopping. Every year on the day after Thanksgiving, I put my small artificial tree up in the corner of my kitchen, where I spend most of my time, and decorate it with food-related ornaments. I enjoy this tree so much more than the live tree I put up in the living room, which stresses me out and makes me a bah humbug.

What is your favorite holiday . . .

Movie? I’ve seen The Holiday with Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, and Jack Black at least a dozen times. Jack Black is lovable. Cameron Diaz wears the most amazing clothes. And Jude Law steels my heart every time when he cries at the end.

Novel? The Christmas Train by David Baldacci. Disillusioned journalist Tom Langon meets a host of interesting characters as he travels from Washington to Los Angeles by train for Christmas.

Song? Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You”

Tradition? It’s all about the food for my family. We have many traditions for the holidays, but our Christmas Eve meal is the most important. We invite the whole family over for a formal sit-down dinner. Even though we have the same dishes every year, everyone always raves about Emeril Lagasse’s Twice Baked Potato Casserole, which I thought you might enjoy.

10 large russet baking potatoes (about 7 pounds total)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

3/4 pound bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled

1/2 pound sharp white Cheddar, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

3/4 pound mild Cheddar, grated (3 cups)

1/2 cup finely chopped green onions

3 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Scrub the potatoes well and rinse under cool running water. Pat dry with paper towels and prick the potatoes in several places with a fork. Place the potatoes in the oven and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the oven and set aside on a wire rack until cool enough to handle.

When the potatoes have cooled, cut each potato in half and, using a spoon or a melon baller, scoop the flesh out of the skins, leaving as little flesh as possible. Place the potato flesh in a large bowl and add 1 stick of the butter, the sour cream, heavy cream, salt, and pepper and mash until chunky-smooth. Add the bacon, cubed white Cheddar, half of the grated Cheddar, the green onions, and eggs and mix thoroughly.

Butter a 9 by 13-inch casserole with the remaining tablespoon of butter and reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F.

Place the seasoned potato mixture in the prepared casserole and top with the remaining grated Cheddar. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly around the edges and heated through and the cheese on top is melted and lightly golden. Serve hot.



Ashley Farley is a wife and mother of two college-aged children. She grew up in the salty marshes of South Carolina, but now lives in Richmond, Virginia, a city she loves for its history and traditions.Ashley

After her brother died in 1999 of an accidental overdose, she turned to writing as a way of releasing her pent-up emotions. She wrote SAVING BEN in honor of Neal, the boy she worshipped, the man she could not save. SAVING BEN is not a memoir, but a story about the special bond between siblings.

HER SISTER’S SHOES—June 24, 2015—is a women’s novel that proves the healing power of family.

Look for MERRY MARY this holiday season, a heartwarming story of the powerful connection between a caring soul and an innocent child in need.

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