Release Day for “Fearless” EP by Jodi Essex & The Jodi Essex Interview

Hello Jodi, it’s a pleasure to discuss your album and single title release “Fearless”. Before we get into the album, though, I’d like to know a little more about you. I’ve read that you’ve accomplished many things in your life. You’ve acted in T.V. and film, and you’ve done producing and film-making as well. You also became a licensed airplane pilot and a model. You are also a cancer survivor.

So, how would you answer the question, who is Jodi Essex?

First, hello to you! Thank you for taking the time to conduct this interview, appreciate it tremendously…and wow, looks like you’ve done your research! I really appreciate that as well.

Good lead-off question. I have indeed gone after many pursuits in my lifetime. We only have so much time on this planet and I’ve always thought it wise to make the best use of it. Of all the things I’ve done, experienced, or amassed, nothing compares to my mission at hand… being a fearless warrior for Christ and speaking truth through my music. 

Your music is Christian Rock and your songs have strong messages? Do you write all of your own songs?

Yes, definitely a Christian rocker! Though I started out singing adult contemporary and worship songs as a child, ending up singing music of a rock genre was a pure evolution of how my personality would develop; how I was shaped by life experiences. The messages in my songs are also indicative of that. I believe that we all come out of the womb wired a certain way. I think I came into this world wired as a generally strong person. How we develop from that point into our adult lives is an amalgamation of how we are raised, people that may influence us (negatively or positively), adversity or hardship we experience, and the decisions we make along the way—the good, the bad, the ugly. 

One thing I try to remember is that our beginnings don’t always define our endings. I dealt with a lot of dysfunction growing up that could’ve steered me straight into a spiral of drugs, misdirection, and maybe even death if I had let it. But during those times, my faith in Jesus held me together. My emotional and mental strength, working in tandem with hope and prayer, helped me make good decisions. No matter how bad things were at their beginnings, I clung to hope that there would be a light at the end of the tunnel and here I stand today (praise God!) writing and singing Christian rock music.

I do write all my own songs. From time to time, I may perform a cover song of another artist but most of the time it is all original material—both autobiographical and biographical.  I also love the synergistic energy of collaborating with other people as well!

Why did you choose Christian Rock over other music genres?

I like to think we, as humans, have layers. As I mentioned above, I started out singing adult contemporary and worship music, but rock music became an identity for me. I have an older sister who used to listen to Stryper and Petra back in the day. I instantly loved the dichotomy of both the energetic rock sound, in contrast to a ballad like “Don’t Let Your Heart Be Hardened” (Petra). I was drawn to the feel of that sound. There was a holy irreverence to it!

Rock music, being a bold style, usually carries a strong message along with it. It sometimes reflects an outspoken, willful, and fearless warrior behind the mic. It’s energetic and spirited; a liberating and let-it-all-out style with no holding back in one’s delivery. The style is definitely reflective of my personality.

The layers I mentioned make us multi-dimensional. Music is part of my soul and how I connect most in my times with God. “Layers” refers to the love of singing other styles as well…nothing like a heartfelt hymn, a maranatha-era worship song, an oldie from The Imperials or a classic by Amy Grant. And Lord knows I love Sandi Patty! Perhaps there will be an iteration of one of her songs in the near future….hmmm…BUT I am a rocker at heart!

How did you become a Christian and what does being a Christian mean to you?

I was born into a Christian household.  I’m half Filipino and half Irish. Though my dad, who is Filipino, was raised Catholic, I grew up attending a non-denominational Christian church as my mom did throughout her life. I don’t think, as children, we actually grasp the true concept and meaning of Christianity and what a true walk with Jesus looks and feels like until we’re a bit older. So, though baptized as a child, I didn’t start that deeper process to my faith journey until I was about 12 and baptized again as a teenager around age 13.

My walk since then looks like the peaks and valleys of an EKG screen! (laughs)

There have been awesome moments, filled with the highest highs, the lowest lows, the greatest happiness, the deepest sadness and incredible disappointments. There were a good many battles between being “in” the world versus “of” the world. I also spent some time really mad at God for various reasons, including trauma that occurred within my family.

To sum it all up, I was human, born of free will, and made some good decisions and bad decisions. But my faith was always embedded deep inside me somewhere.

To me, being a Christian starts with commitment. An acknowledgment to accept Jesus into your heart as Lord & Savior, followed by the action of doing just that—living in a way that reflects the commitment you have solemnly made to Him. Living heart-in-hand to God and allowing yourself to be open and vulnerable to Him, and the change only He can inspire in our lives.

Is this transformation an easy road? No. Remember I mentioned my life looking like an EKG read-out? Following Jesus is hard at times. It takes discipline, consistent stewardship, and being irreverent to the world for the sake of the path that God has carved out for us. We also have to be bold enough to stand up to the naysayers for what we believe in. We need to suit up in our armor, go out, and truly spread the word no matter the cost. Would you go the lengths and do what Jesus did for us? Think about that. What we are called to do is an incredibly small price to pay for what He had to endure here on Earth. Forget all that you think you’d lose by following Jesus and living a life “of” the world, along with all its trappings and treasures. 

It’s nothing compared to all you would gain for being His warrior! 

I read an interview Dan Locke did with you for Unrated Magazine on December 27, 2019. In the introduction, Dan wrote, “After years of casually ignoring God’s prompting to write faith-based music, Christian-rock artist Jodi Essex is ready to answer it boldly, and he goes on to talk about the title song from your first album, “Irreverent”, which was released in January 2020. What made you decide to answer God’s call and start writing faith-based music, and how do you feel about that decision now?

There were many times as I traversed my life phases, mad at God and all, I was prompted to write and record faith-based music. Years ago I founded and participated in a couple of secular rock bands. I was receiving those promptings even then, but I chose to ignore them and kept doing what I thought was right for my life. Now, I’m not judging those who listen to secular music—I listen to secular music, but my heart is not rooted in it. I believe a lot of people are blessed with the gift of music and it’s up to them how they decide to use it. There’s nothing like a ballad from the “voice,” Whitney Houston, or a ray of sunshine melody from The Beach Boys. You can’t deny their gifts or influence, but it comes down to one’s own personal convictions and heeding those convictions.

I was receiving very heavy-hearted prompts to turn the bus around and go a different direction. I am stubborn, so naturally I kept doing what I was doing at the time, until I hit an emotional rock-bottom. Life is good at that—beating us down to the point we literally feel that we own the biggest piece of real estate in the pit of despair! Sometimes we decide to call upon God only when we’ve truly reached the very bottom. So ironic that so many people call on God only in a crisis (me included). I’ve since learned to call on God even when things are going well in pure gratitude. 

Anyway, after feeling like Moses in the wilderness for 40 years, I finally decided to heed the call. I will always recall the very moment I deem the “turning point.” I gave up everything in my mind and heart that I had built up as an identity for myself. I made the decision to shed all the things the world made me think I needed over the years. I made the decision. I made the commitment. God broke me wide open once again and let all the light shine in. I felt like a huge burden had been lifted, though it would look to “the world” like I was giving in and giving up. 

It was a major reset for me and without realizing it at the time, I had loads of songs ready to write themselves and float through the sound waves into the ears of today’s culture.

I can’t imagine life happening any other way. It happened as it should and, in God’s time. I should say that one of the most frustrating things about being a believer is that things don’t necessarily happen when we want them to. God’s plan and timing for our lives is better than we could ever plan. He is the master architect!

It’s been said that “you’re not afraid to speak your mind and/or offend people to spread Your message”. Who do you see as your target audience and what message do you want them to get from your music?

For me, doing Christian music has the word “mission” attached to it. It comes with a specific purpose and I am committed to that. I hope to inspire and influence people for God through the messages woven in my songs. Therefore, I think my target audience is anyone who will listen, believer or not. If you’re a believer, I hope to inspire you to keep fighting the fight. I hope to equip like-minded listeners with the courage, boldness, and tenacity to speak truth into others’ lives. If you’re thinking about needing a change in your life…if you feel lost…if you feel you need something in your life to help you find your way out of your own pit of despair—I hope my music speaks to those people, as well as those who are curious about God. If you’re curious about Jesus or you’ve wandered away from Jesus, let’s rock it all out together and move toward action and fearlessness to move ahead! The awesome thing about being inspired to make a change is that you can start now. Immediately. God doesn’t get caught up with your past, nor should you. He wants your present and your future. NOW. Forever. Remember where I stated that your beginning will not define your ending. Make it so. Let’s do this!

Your upcoming single from your upcoming album, is the title release, “Fearless”. In the song there is a line that says “Speak the good, expect the wrath. I wanna say ‘I knew you’,” and the chorus says, “You’re gonna be fearless. I can see you now. You’re gonna be fearless. I can show you how.” Since the Covid Pandemic began in 2020, fear has become prevalent in the everyday life of many people. Was that the inspiration for this song and what are you hoping people will get from its message?

While I think the pandemic is great cause for the seemingly massive increase in fear-driven living, I think fear en mass was already bubbling below the surface. I feel like the unfolding of it all also served as a vehicle for fear-based actions and behaviors as well. It did magnify everything that already existed. I think we have been existing in a culture of fear for decades now, fueled by political action and inaction; the woes of internet-based activity, and major shifts in cultural platforms and societal systems.

My story behind “Fearless” is a call to action of individuals from all walks of life—some inspired but fearful of next steps; some down-trodden by life’s, oftentimes turbulent storms just trying to get by, and some on a ledge debating whether they matter. I’m here to tell everyone that they matter. That they are all worth it. Every single moment. By the grace of God, every human deserves a place in His heaven.

When I look at the word “Fearless,” I see a simple message in that very powerful word: “Fear less.” Literally. By fearing less, we’re capable of so much more. Being rooted in fearlessness can make life a bit easier to traverse. Being FEARLESS allows us to let go of things we hold so tight that add little to no value in who we are and will become. HOWEVER, fear is not without power, as it keeps us either focused on the past or worried for the future. That’s a huge stake of distraction in our heads that we sometimes find impossible to escape. I think if we truly understand the power that fear can have over us, the desire and drive to disentangle ourselves from FEAR becomes even more imperative and even palatable. 

In the beginning of the song and throughout the song, there is a tribal chant that bellows out, “Warrior, lift up your face, be a warrior in His race, warrior!” We cannot lose when we suit up in the armor of God and go forth to do what we are meant to do. Warriors are not passive followers. WE are His soldiers. Has he not done enough for us that we might, in return, be the warriors in His race to make the world aware of our fearless leader?

At the heart and foundation of it all, we need resilience, a fearlessness to get through, to get by—not just to survive—THRIVE. This is what FEARLESS is about. Lean into God and be equipped!

There’s a song on the upcoming “Fearless” album that was already released as a single on September 10, 2021—“Offend”. It’s a great song with a great message. It seems to be a challenge for your listeners. Will you share what that challenge is?

 (Laughs) Oh yes. A similar challenge happened with the song “Irreverent” from my first album as well. I’m more than happy to clear that up. It’s as simple as this: I am not saying to go out and offend people for the sake of the gospel. What I am saying is that while we are called to go out and speak truth, there will be people who will naturally be offended by what you have to say. Some people are innately offended by religion as a whole. No matter what you say to them, they will be offended no matter what. 

I will reinforce that—regardless of how strong their rebuttal is to the truth of the gospel, we must stand firm and resilient in our beliefs and not let the opinions of others derail our hearts and mission. Stay the path. Know your truth and you will not be swayed or influenced by all the un-truth out there. People will try to wreak havoc on your spirit, but stand strong and, if it means you have created an “unsettling” in someone, then you have done your job. You have them thinking. But be confident in your mission and as a Christian soldier, always deliver and share your truth in bold love. 

Do you have a Bible verse that you lean on when you face struggles and challenges? If so, would you please share it here? 

Ah yes! My all-time favorite is Isaiah 40:31. 

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

All I have to do is say this to myself and imagine the incredibly beautiful visualization of it all!

Would you share links where readers who want to hear your music can purchase or access your upcoming “Fearless” album, as well as links to your other music?

Of course!

Here is the link to pre-save the “Fearless” single:

If you’re feeling really brave, here is the pre-save for the “Fearless” EP:

This link will lead you to everything you’d like to know!

Thank you so much for your time. May God bless your upcoming song and album, “Fearless” and use it to reach and encourage listeners.

Thank you so much! Appreciate your kind words! It has been an absolute privilege being able to share my faith and music journey with your readers. Go forth and be FEARLESS!

Deputy at Large by Judge & Alanna Rodriguez

As a Book Reviewer, I received a free ebook copy of Deputy at Large by Judge & Alanna Rodriguez and this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor any review.

Deputy at Large is the second book in the Legends of the Landrun series by Judge & Alanna Rodriguez. It definitely follows the first book in the series, The Marshal of Denver, and I highly recommend you read the first book prior to reading this one. You will need to read The Marshal of Denver in order to really know and understand the characters in Deputy at Large, and also to follow the story line.

Where The Marshal of Denver seemed to tell a story leading up to a story, Deputy at Large is the story. Deputy at Large includes more action and less graphic violence. Many of the same characters in the first book of the Legends of the Landrun series return in Deputy at Large and continue their journeys and relationships. A few new characters are introduced and lots of twists and surprises keep the reader turning pages.

Deputy at Large is well written and engages the reader more than the first book of the series did. It also begins with an unexpected shocking surprise and the twists and surprises continue throughout the book. If you enjoy reading books set in the old west, you’ll enjoy these books by Judge & Alanna Rodriguez. As you read, you are swept back in time to a United States that was wild and untamed – both the land and the people. You fall in love with several characters and love to hate others.

I found Deputy at Large much more enjoyable than the first book of the series, but I am glad to have read The Marshal of Denver to fully understand both the characters and plot of this novel. While reading this second installment, I came to care more deeply for the characters. I also became more involved in their lives.

I also found myself missing a character that was introduced in the first book that didn’t make an appearance in this one. However, the character was mentioned a couple times, and there where hints of the character’s return in the next book of the series, one of the reasons I will continue reading this series.

Deputy at Large definitely kept me engaged throughout the entirety of the novel and, though the ending was very satisfying, I was left wanting more. I look forward to reading the next book in the Legends of the Landrun series by Judge & Alanna Rodrigues.

I give Deputy at Large 5 stars.

The Marshal of Denver by Judge & Alanna Rodriguez

As a Book Reviewer, I received a free ebook copy of The Marshal of Denver by Judge & Alanna Rodriguez, and this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor any review.

The Marshal of Denver is the first book in “The Legends of the Landrun” series by Judge & Alanna Rodriguez. It is a western story set in the late 1870s. The story deals with the fighting between American soldiers and Indians as well as small town lawmen trying to deal with outlaws.

The main character of the book is John Cardwell and the story follows John from his mid-teen years to his mid 40s. In the beginning of the book, I struggled to like John Cardwell. He seemed to be out-of-control and blood thirsty. The story jumps back and forth between John’s young adulthood to his mid 40s, and in his mid 40s he seems to have calmed down quite a bit and isn’t so violent and blood thirsty, but uses his head before acting. However, there is never any real explanation as to what caused the change in his personality and character. That was something I was looking for and was disappointed that it wasn’t ever really revealed.

John, in his mid 40s, is The Marshal of Denver, and in that position, he makes many good friends who have a strong influence upon his life. These characters are very interesting and add more depth to the story.

I struggled to read The Marshal of Denver as it is told in third person present tense, which never let me into John’s head. Instead I was told John’s story through quite a bit of narrative, like a narrator was telling me the story. There were long sections throughout the story that lacked action. These consisted of narrative and dialogue, and I must admit, there were times when I started to lack interest.

However, I was interested enough in John, as I was still looking for a reason for the change in his character, to keep reading. Near the end of the book, John does undergo something that changes his life, but this is a new change and so, the book never does explain the reason John in his mid 40s was different than the John in his teen years, so that still remains a disappointment to me.

I did find the final eight to ten chapters captivating enough that they kept me turning pages, and the ending made some clear resolutions but also left one or two things unresolved and a bit mysterious, leaving the reader wanting more. I do plan to read the next book as I believe much of this book was back story to set up the next books. The Marshal of Denver also included some unexpected twists and turns and so I look forward to more surprises in the future books.

I must warn sensitive readers that there is quite a bit of violence in The Marshal of Denver and some of it is quite graphic.

I give The Marshal of Denver by Judge and Alanna Rodriquez 3 stars.

Song of Echoes by R. E. Palmer

As a Book Reviewer, I received a free ebook copy of Song of Echoes by R. E. Palmer and this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor any review.

Song of Echoes is a fantasy novel and there were times it reminded me of Lord of the Rings. However, R. E. Palmer included a lot of history to build the world and explain the current happenings in the world in which Song of Echoes takes place.

The story moves back and forth between the happenings in the lives of his two main characters, Elodi, the Lady Harlyn, and Toryn, a farm worker from a village. Elodi has recently taken on a leadership role in one of the five realms, following her father’s death. Toryn has reached the age where he is to go to serve the Archon in Archonholm. The Archon has been responsible for keeping the five realms safe for years. However, a complication changes the course of Toryn’s life and, instead of going with his friend to join those leaving for Archonholm, Toryn goes off in a different direction with his friend and mentor, Hamar.

Though the story has some battles and action and I found the characters interesting, the pace of the story seemed to drag at several places and it took me much longer to read this book than most books I read, but I was interested enough in the characters and what was happening to press on to the end. I enjoyed Song of Echoes solely because of the main characters, which I feel R. E. Palmer did a good job of creating, developing, and putting them in situations that made me care and want to keep reading to see what would happen to them.

I give Song of Echoes by R. E. Palmer 4 stars.

From Fame to Ruin by Jina S. Bazzar

As a Book Reviewer I received a free ebook copy of From Fame to Ruin by Jina S. Bazzar and this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor any review. From Fame to Ruin is not Jina S. Bazzar’s first novel, but it is her first New Adult and College Romance novel.

From Fame to Ruin is a novel about two people who meet and fall in love, but Carol wasn’t counting on falling in love. This was just supposed to be a weekend fling – something to take her mind off the problems she had to face and deal with when the weekend was over.

Four years later, Carol is facing another crisis and believes the only person she can turn to is the man she walked away from after a weekend she never forgot.

This novel is written in two different time frames and two different settings. It is written in the two main characters’ Points of View, but there is one chapter written in another character’s Point of View.

From Fame to Ruin is a book about love, betrayal, misunderstanding, and crime. It has romance, danger, and suspense.

The main characters, Carol and Ricardo, are easy to like and care about. Though I found the pacing of the plot a bit slow sometimes and thought the story could have been shorter, I cared enough about the characters to keep reading. When the crime was committed and the criminal became part of the story line, I was definitely hooked and turning pages as I tried to figure out who the criminal was.

Ms. Bazzar writes deep, interesting characters and a very thorough storyline.

I do want to caution my more sensitive readers. This novel contains some profanity and some sexual scenes between unmarried people, though the sexuality is not explicit or detailed.

If you like a complicated storyline that includes suspense, mystery, and romance, you will like From Fame to Ruin by Jina S. Bazzar. Ms. Bazzar is a talented writer and I give From Fame to Ruin 4 stars.

Author Interview with Brett Salter

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Brett Salter, author of The Talisman Series. I have read and reviewed the first two books in the series so far. You can read my reviews here and here. You can also read my interview with one of the main characters from this book series if you click back to the post just before this one.

Me: How long have you been writing stories?

Brett: Gosh! Since I was probably about 9 or 10. On and off, of course. Never a full-time gig. I used to read a lot of fantasy and science fiction when I was younger, so I took inspiration from those and enjoyed crafting my own stories.

Me: Did you go to college? If so, did you know, then, that you wanted to be a writer, and if so, what

courses did you take to achieve that goal?

Brett: I did attend the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!) until I ran out of money. I studied English there and wanted to go on to be either an editor or a teacher. So, luckily, I took a lot of literature classes where I studied the classics and English classes where I studied different literary forms and structure. I never really considered writing as a career. It has always been more of an impassioned hobby. Unfortunately, until I get traditionally published, it will have to remain one.

Me: What made you decide to write books for middle grade readers?

Brett: So, I am a huge anime and comic book fan. It goes without saying that I love the action and characters in those mediums, so when I sat down to write something I would enjoy reading, it just fit right in with the YA/MG category. I pull from everything from kung fu epics and action-packed comic books to Shakespeare and Dr. Seuss. I get my ideas from pretty much every source you can think of; and just mix them together in my old noggin. Also, I am TERRIBLE at writing romance. Like, I just can’t do it at all, so there you go…Most middle grade doesn’t have much romance. Bullet dodged!

Me: Is either Rome or Julian anything like you when you were a boy? If so, in what ways?

Brett: Oh man! Rome and Julian, huh? Yeah. Those two are crazy! So, this can all be learned on the wiki I created (link below). In the beginning, I based my characters off me. Just me. I’ve known myself for a long time, and it was a small cast, so it was easy. I made Rome and Julian to represent the two different sides of my personality. Rome represents the levelheaded and introspective portion of me that wants to do the right thing, but rarely jumps at the chance to be a leader. Despite his uneasiness about assuming a leadership role, he always has the best interests of his friends and family in mind. Rome’s internal dialogue and hesitant decision making reflect how I feel about myself specifically during my teenage years. Julian, on the other hand, is brash and braggadocios. Not to mention loud, and most times, his mouth operates without properly consulting his brain first. These characteristics are also like me. Even the idea of him rebelling against his family ideals is indicative of my own brazen and defiant nature during my teenage years. He also uses informal language with everyone other than his father to emphasize the fact that he tries to be “cool” with a “devil-may-care” attitude. Whereas Rome is more the internal example of how I felt as a teen, Julian more closely resembles my physical appearance during those years. Finally, the spatial linking that the two share as Synergist Knight and Master Dragon is a metaphor for how my two personalities differ and interact inside my head. LOL. Seems funny to really say it out loud, but the idea of splitting the sides of my personality into two characters was an idea I wanted to explore since the earliest days of my writing.

Me: How long did it take you to write each book in the series?

Brett: I wrote the first three books within a year. Then, slowly released them about one per year. I worked on books 4-6 for a couple years before taking a small break. Then, in 2019-2021, I hit it hard and wrote the barebones drafts of 7-11. Recently, I’ve been focused on promoting rather than writing, so 7-11 are taking much longer. It’s the editing that takes forever. I need an editor, man!

Me: How many hours a day do you spend writing and is writing your only job? If you have another job, what is it?

Brett: I get about an hour a day to work on writing. After everyone is asleep and it’s just me and the dog watching TV. My current career does not allow for a ton of downtime like my previous job where I wrote the first 3 books and most of 4 and 5. I work a classic 9-5 like most everyone else. It’s nothing spectacular, like saving the world from Darkbrands, but it allows for me to spend ample amount of time with my kids and to pursue my passionate love of writing. For those things I am ever thankful.

Me: Were you a reader as a boy?

Brett: Oh yes! I read all the fantasy and science fiction novels I could get ahold of. Back then, it wasn’t really pigeonholed into genres like today, but I would say most of what I read would be considered YA nowadays. You know, C.S. Lewis, Piers Anthony, Madeline L’Engle, Tolkien, Robin McKinley, Douglas Adams, and ALL the comic books you could imagine.

Me: What inspired you to write about dragons?

Brett: Honestly, a couple things. I am intrigued by the lore of dragons and other mythological creatures. Like, did they exist or not? What if they are out there somewhere? There’s something cool about them too. Especially for kids (and me). Dragons embody what I dreamt about as a kid. I mean how rad would it be to spit fire or fly with huge leathery wings? I dig ‘em, man!

Me: The latest book in “The Talisman Series”, Desperate Tides, Desperate Measures — Book 5 just released in February, 2022. Do you have plans for a new book or new series after The Talisman Series?

Brett: I plan to release the twelve books I have planned in The Talisman Series about one per year or so. If I get picked up traditionally, that would be great, and I could start focusing on other projects. As an indie author, I have to spend my time doing the writing, the editing, the promoting, etc. Traditional publishing would alleviate most of that from my plate. That being said, I currently DO have another series that I have the plot and all the characters for the first book ready to go. I think I want to do like 3 books on that one. I want to make it a little edgier and more mature than my current series. You know, more of an R rating than the PG-13 of the Talisman Series. I think after I release book #6, I will start working that into a complete rough draft.

Me: What advice would you give to young people who think they would like to be authors someday?

Brett: I know it’s cliché, but I would say I am a strong proponent of using your influences. That way what you love will come out in your writing.  If you like stories about ghosts, write stories about ghosts.  If you watch TV shows about unsolved crimes, make your series about unsolved mysteries.  If the coolest thing you can imagine is a boy that can secretly transform into a dragon and go on quests with a knight-in-training…  Read my books!!!  And THEN go write about them. The point is that writing can be daunting. And if you want to make the challenge more enjoyable, then you should dabble into what you like. It makes the climb much more agreeable and all the more rewarding once you get to the top.

Follow Brett Salter on Social Media:



Authorsden: (other works like poetry)

Fandom Wiki Page:

Instagram Interview with BookishWeebOlivia (come check me out):

Character Interview: Rome of Brett Salter’s The Talisman Series

I would like to welcome Rome to my blog today. He is one of the main character’s in Brett Salter’s The Talisman Series, and I recently had the honor of interviewing him to post here for my readers.

Me: What did you notice that made you different from other boys your age?

Rome: I have never really thought I was special by any means. But I DID always have this yearning to break free. Like I knew I had this yearning in my heart to escape my humdrum life. Almost like I was a prisoner in my own skin. It is weird, I know.

Me: Are you an only child?

Rome: Yes. And after seeing how Camela and Julian fight all the time, I am very glad for it.

Me: What’s your favorite thing about being a dragon?

Rome: The best part of being a dragon is everything! It is the freedom. And the strength. And the unbridled emotion! And the love that comes with a full heart.

Me: Why do you consider your dragon self to be your natural self?

Rome: Well, the way Mr. Jones explained it to me is that the concealment spell was actually hiding my true form. But even that did not feel like the real version of me. It was not until Jules and I performed The Great Synergy that I really felt like my natural self was unleashed.

Me: How old are you?

Rome: I am 13 in human years. Also, I am 13 in dragon years. Luckily, dragon years are the same as human years. We just age slower, so we stay alive longer. Not sure how old I am in dog years! Math was never my strong point.

Me: Ha ha! Mine neither, that’s why I am a writer. What’s your favorite thing about Julian?

Rome: Who? Jules? Jules is my best friend, and I cannot imagine my life without him. I understand now why he was shy around people. Knowing the truth about this world must have been quite a pressure on him. And feeling the ever-growing need to find a dragon so he could start saving the world must have been tough. I like him BECAUSE I understand him. And every adventure, every step forward, just makes us stronger as friends.

Me: What’s your least favorite thing about Julian?

Rome: Ha! Where do I start? How much time do you have? Just kidding! The only thing that really bothers me about him is that sometimes he can be a little invasive of my privacy. You know, since we share The Great Synergy, we can see into each other’s minds and stuff. Sometimes, I just want to be left alone, and Julian is like trying to be there for me mentally. It’s a sweet sentiment, but sometimes it is just a little too much. I know he is just trying to help, but I have a lot on my shoulders. I am a dragon trying to adapt into a human world. And sometimes I just need a little space. That is probably the only thing. Oh, and his singing voice is awful.

Me: How did you meet Mr. Jones?

Rome: Jules introduced me to him at the local library one night. It was right after Jules caught me losing control of my eye fire in my yard. Mr. Jones sure did freak me out a little when he started talking about knights and dragons. I thought for sure those two had gone bonkers or something.

Me: Why do you think middle grade readers should read about your adventures with Julian?

Rome: What did you just say? What do you mean by “middle grade readers”? You…You mean… I am not real? I am just a fictional character in a book? Mind blown! Just kidding. I think middle grade readers will love the cinematic action and zany characters Jules and I meet along the way. And with 5 books currently published and the next 6 books already in AT LEAST first draft stages, there is plenty of adventure on the horizon!

Me: Five books finished and six more to come? Wow! I have only finished reading the first two. Looks like I’ve got some more reading to do. It has been a pleasure talking with you today, Rome.

I hope all of you enjoyed reading this interview with Rome of The Talisman Series by Brett Salter. Be sure to stop by tomorrow for my interview with Brett Salter, the author himself! And, if you haven’t read any of The Talisman Series by Brett Salter, be sure to pick one up and read it soon! Each one is a great adventure! They are available on Amazon.

Flash Fiction Friday: Vanilla Ice Cream

Photo by Kyle Hinkson on Unsplash

Vanilla Ice Cream

by Kelly F. Barr

Here he came again—blond hair and blue eyes. He walked with a confident gait, but his smile was always shy. Becky wondered if he had a girlfriend. He came into the creamery once a week. Always alone. Always perused the menu, then ordered vanilla—Every. Single. Time.

Becky watched as he stood back and stared up at the large board of thirty flavor choices. He cupped his chin in the thumb and index finger of his right fist. After a minute or two, he stepped forward. Becky smiled and said, “What can I get you?”

He looked into her eyes, then dropped his gaze and said, “I’d like a waffle cone with two scoops of vanilla. Do you ever have vanilla bean?”

Becky choked back a laugh and cleared her throat. Vanilla bean? Was he serious?

“No, I’m sorry. We’ve never had vanilla bean. Just vanilla. Would you like to try one of our other delicious flavors with one scoop of vanilla? Be a little daring today?”

His eyes locked on hers. She was grinning at him.

“Are you teasing me?”

She chuckled. “I’m sorry. I can’t help it. You’ve been in here every week for a month and you always get vanilla.”

“I like vanilla.”

“How do you know you don’t like any of the other flavors?”

He stared at her in a moment of silence, then said, “Well, what’s your favorite?”

“I have more than one favorite. However, if you want my opinion, for you, I’d suggest a scoop of Wilbur chocolate.”

“Wilbur chocolate.” He cupped his chin and looked up at the menu board again, then returned his gaze to hers. “Why’s that?”

“Well, since you’re a plain vanilla guy, I figure if you’re gonna step out and risk trying a new flavor, you don’t want anything too complicated.” This time she laughed out loud.

“You’re teasing me again.” He smiled his shy smile, but Becky noted a sparkle in his eyes.

“I can’t help myself. I can’t imagine not indulging in something more exciting than vanilla.”

“Are you saying vanilla is boring?”

Becky chewed her lower lip, guilt warming her cheeks, and nodded, hoping she hadn’t offended him.

“You’re very pretty when your cheeks flush and someone leaves you speechless.”

She stared at him. This time, her lower jaw hung a little low.

He smiled, a little less shyly, and said, “Okay. I’ll take one scoop of vanilla and one scoop of Wilbur chocolate … if you’ll … uh … tell me your name and what time you get off on a Friday … and promise to join me in an ice cream cone … uh … next Friday … after your shift.”

Now his face was red. Much redder than Becky was sure her face had been a moment ago. “I’m Becky Johnson and I work most Fridays till seven, and yes, I’d like to join you for an ice cream cone next Friday after my shift.” She scooped his ice cream as she talked. Then as she handed him his cone, asked, “What’s your name?”

“I’m Grant Miller.” He flashed his shy smile, took the cone, and moved to the cash register as Becky waited on the next person in line.

* * * * *

The following Friday Becky couldn’t wait for her shift to end. She kept glancing at the clock, willing the hands to move faster. She still couldn’t believe her flirtatious teasing had led to a date with Grant. She’d been attracted to him the first time she’d waited on him at the ice cream counter.

At five minutes til seven, as Becky was waiting on her last customer of the evening, Grant walked in, caught her eye, and smiled at her. She smiled back and as soon as she finished with her customer, she walked to the back door of the ice cream kitchen area, took off her apron, tossed it on the laundry pile, and punched out at the time clock. Then she stepped into the ladies’ room to use the facility and, as she washed her hands, she checked her hair and makeup in the mirror.

She stepped out of the restroom and moved toward the dining room. Grant met her in the middle of the room just beyond the customer line at the ice cream counter. He motioned with his right hand toward the line. “Shall we?”

She smiled, nodded, and stepped into the customer line with Grant directly behind her.

“So, what flavor do you recommend I try with my scoop of vanilla this evening?” He leaned forward and spoke near her ear.

His warm breath sent a shiver down her spine. She turned and grinned up at him. “How about the chocolate covered strawberry?”

“Hm. I was considering chocolate chip cookie dough. I understand that’s in vanilla ice cream.” He flashed an unusual mischievous smile at her and her heart skipped a beat.

“Not feeling very daring this evening?” She raised an eyebrow at him. “Do you like raw chocolate chip cookie dough?”

“Raw? You mean it’s not pieces of chocolate chip cookies?”

“Of course not, silly. That’s why it’s called chocolate chip cookie dough.”

“Maybe I’ll go with the chocolate covered strawberry after all.”

Becky laughed out loud.

When they had their ice cream cones in their hands, Becky and Grant found a table for two in the small room, off from the main dining room, where it was quieter.

Grant asked, “Do you work every Saturday?”

Becky shook her head. “Every other Saturday.”

“Have you ever been to the drag races?”

Becky’s eyes widened. “You like drag races?”

“Did you think that because I prefer boring vanilla ice cream that I am boring?”

“Well … no. But I wouldn’t have pictured you attending drag races.”

“Does that mean you’ve been to a drag race?”

“No, but I saw them once on T.V.”

“Would you like to go to one with me on your next Saturday off? I have a friend who has a dragster and races.”

“That sounds like fun. I actually have tomorrow off.”

“Great. Where should I pick you up?”

Becky gave Grant her address and he said he’d pick her up at one o’clock the next afternoon. They talked about things they enjoyed doing while finishing their ice cream cones, then Grant walked her to her car and said good night.

* * * * *

The next day was warm and the sun was shining when Grant picked Becky up. They talked about music and books they both enjoyed as Grant drove them to the drag race track. As they pulled into the parking lot, Grant said, “Randy Martin is my friend who races. His car is red. He started racing here last year. He’s only won a couple times so far.” He took Becky’s hand, sending a jolt through her, as they walked to the viewing area.

When they chose a place to stand and watch, Grant pulled something out of his pocket. “You might want these.”

He handed Becky a pair of foam ear plugs. She looked at him with a wrinkled brow, and he said, “These races are quite loud.”

Becky inserted the plugs in her ears just before the first two cars took off down the race track. Even with the ear protection, Becky jumped at the noise as the cars took off.

Grant’s friend, Randy, actually took third place that day.

On the way home, Grant asked, “Do you need to get right home?”

“No. Why do you ask?”

“I’d like to take you to dinner.”

“That sounds wonderful.”

Twenty minutes later, Grant pulled into the parking lot of an upscale Italian restaurant.

As they stepped out of his car, Becky asked, “Aren’t we under dressed for this restaurant.”

“No. It’s not a pizza joint, but it’s not a super classy Italian restaurant either. It’s in between.” Grant took her hand as they walked through the parking lot and Becky smiled. She liked holding his hand.

Grant ordered lasagna and Becky ordered chicken fettuccine Alfredo. Dinner was delicious and Becky couldn’t have been happier with the company. While they waited for their cannoli to arrive, Grant reached across the table and took Becky’s hand in his, rubbing his thumb over the back of hers.

“I really enjoy spending time with you. Would you be willing to be my girl?”

Becky smiled at him. “I really enjoy spending time with you too. I don’t mean to sound like I’m making fun of you, but your girl … what exactly do you mean by that? It sounds old fashioned.”

“Yeah, I guess I am kind of old fashioned.” He tugged at his shirt collar. “What I mean is … uh … going out with only me—no one else.”

“Oh, you want us to be exclusive.” Becky smiled at him. “In that case, I would love to be your girl.”

Riders of Fire and Ice by Brett Salter

Riders of Fire and Ice is the second book in Brett Salter’s “The Talisman Series” and as a Book Reviewer, I received a free ebook copy of this book. This is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor any review of this book.

Rome and Julian return in the second book in “The Talisman Series” with a new adventure. They travel to England to visit Julian’s sister in a very upscale boarding school. Julian’s sister is quite precocious and the boys hope their adventure will keep them too busy to spend too much time with her. While there, they do some research for Mr. Jones and are excited about a couple things they discover. In Riders of Fire and Ice, Rome and Julian also get a couple surprises, as well as face a stronger, darker enemy than they faced in Book One: The Search for Synergy.

Riders of Fire and Ice begins with the same characters, Rome and Julian, preparing for a new adventure. Their banter creates fun in the story and their eagerness for their adventure adds to the excitement of traveling to a new place.

Fun, adventure, surprises, and a dangerous battle fill the pages of Riders of Fire and Ice. In this novel, the talismans are introduced and explained, giving more credence to the boys’ adventures. Again, the end of this adventure is satisfyingly resolved, while promising another book with yet another adventure and more danger and battles for Rome, Julian, Mr. Jones, and a few other characters.

Brett Salter’s talented stories take readers on adventures filled with magic, knights, dragons, and dangerous enemies. Though there are dark creatures and dangerous battles, the darkness nor the battles are ever too intense or graphic for middle grade readers, and older readers will enjoy them as well. These fun, easy reads keep readers turning the pages and eagerly anticipating the next book in the series.

I give Riders of Fire and Ice by Brett Salter 5 stars.