Nathaniel, the leading character is only eleven — I have a grandson that age. It is heart rending to watch/read about a boy growing up so fast to make mature decisions and choices between opinions and laws where his family members are at conflict as is the country around them. Battle hasn’t reached this farm yet in terms of fierce fighting, but the battle between justice and sometimes law is running high. But, now Nathaniel is faced with choices regarding the lives of a runaway slave family. Will he help them escape or will he let the slave hunters find them and supposedly return them to ‘rightful owners’.
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The Chosen: Astra. Kromin. Volgon. Earth. To each of the four planets are sent four Guardians, with one mission: to protect and serve the Chosen, those unwitting champions of prophecy who alone can save the galaxy from the terrifying Mekans. But the signs of prophecy have not yet appeared, and the decision to send the Guardians early could doom all in the galaxy to death
Shattered Destiny: In the second book of The Portals of Destiny series, the Chosen have teamed up to learn about each other’s worlds. But things on their home planets are not as they left them. Astra is plagued by a genocidal maniac, Earth’s Jhinn are worse for the wear after losing their General, and Volgon is turning over a new leaf.
Meanwhile, the Chosen discover there is a lot about each other they don’t understand, and that makes fighting anything–let alone the universe threatening Mekans–difficult.
When more of the Chosen die, the question becomes not how will the Chosen defeat the Mekans, but can they?
Ozarks Mystique (OM): Tell us, please, three things about yourself that we wouldn’t know.
Shay West: “I have 3 (yes, three!!) Star Trek tattoos, I have tiny pinkies, and I love tough guy movies. I’d rather watch Die Hard or Terminator than a mushy girl movie any day.”
OM: I can see the Star Trek ink and Terminator movies in a personality that conceived Portals! Tiny Pinkies? Tell us more, please.
Shay West: “I really only became aware of my pinkie issue in high school during typing class. The finger itself it the same size as everyone else’s, it’s the metacarpal bone (the long bone that makes up the hand) that is too short. I couldn’t (and still can’t) type like everyone else. To make my tiny fingers reach the keys, I have to take my other fingers off their keys. And don’t even get me started on how tough playing Rock Band is with these dang things.”
OM: A unique ‘mark’! For me that does fit you right into the Portals story!
You’ve taken the marketing of the Portals series in some unusual directions with a line of Portals merchandise. Please tell us more about how you are working this clever marketing idea.
Shay West: “I was invited to an Indie author panel in Denver last month and one of the authors uses CafePress, a website where people can upload images and people can then order various products with that picture. I asked around and several people mentioned a similar site called Zazzle that was a little easier to use. I uploaded five images that my cover artist did of one character from each of the four Chosen planets (Astra, Kromin, Volgon, Earth) and one picture of the Mekan (the enemy the Chosen have to fight). People can order anything from clothing to coffee mugs to iPhone covers.”
OM: Here, folks is a link to Portals at Zazzle
OM: Do the animals in the Portals series connect to your own pets? I’m thinking esp; especially of No Name (the Horse) and Moira (the Urgit)
Shay West: “No Name is definitely based on my cat, Buddy. I’ve always loved horses and just had to have one that was as much a part of the story as her human counterparts. Sweet Moira is based on Princess, the other kitty.”
OM: What is an urgit? (I have a mental image of something between a mercat and a gremlin)
Shay West: “An urgit is a very curious, though skittish, critter that is found on the planet Astra. The closest thing I can think of that look like urgits are the kith and kin from the book Trafalgar True. Only urgits are black and pink, have tufts of hair on the tips of their ears, have much rounder chops, and their tails aren’t so long. But definitely cute like them :D”
OM: Definitely cute! I’ve never outgrown the Steven Cosgrove stories.
OM: When you get to work on a book, do you outline and plan an entire series? Or do the follow-up stories flow after the one before is completed?
Shay West: ” I had a rough outline for the series that I broke down into three books. I knew the beginning and end but not much about the middle. Most of that just sort of came as I was writing or was based on an event that was happening at the time.”
OM: You are a busy person — do you have a scheduled time to write?
Shay West: “I find that if I try to schedule it in, life comes in and ruins it so I don’t really schedule it. When I have time, I work on the next book. If I don’t have time, I don’t beat myself up over it. It keeps the writing fun for me rather than something I am forced to plow through.”
OM: What is your ‘best’ time of day?
Shay West: “I haven’t actually found that any time of day is better than another. It just really depends on my teaching schedule.”
OM: Do you ever mentor other authors?
Shay West: “I haven’t as of yet. I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable mentoring someone else as I feel I’m still in the very early stages myself.”
OM: Do you intend your stories to be a social statement for things like tolerance or teamwork or environment?
Shay West: “I did somewhat but I didn’t want to beat anyone over the head with it. I have always been fascinated by the idea of free will versus destiny and this is one of the big themes that readers will face by the time they finish the Portals of Destiny series.”
OM: Or do you simply want to tell a story that gives the reader pleasure?
Shay West: “I definitely write for this as well. These are the kinds of books I enjoy reading. Adventure and friendship and a little romance.”
OM: When will the next book, Resigned Fate, be ready for readers?
Shay West: “The publisher is hoping for a late 2013 release date but it may also be early 2014. Either way, the readers are in for a treat!”
OM: Were the Chosen selected or were they born into their calling? Why didn’t they have a substitute for Tess when she was murdered?
Shay West: “They were selected by destiny (or whatever force of the universe you want to insert here). Each was marked as Chosen and when they are gone, they are gone for good. There is no substitutes. Besides, that would have been too easy and I don’t do easy. I wanted my poor Chosen to suffer and doubt their abilities and eventually grow closer to the others from the various worlds, mostly as a reminder that even here on this one tiny planet, there are various points of view and that it’s best if we can somehow work together through our differences rather than let them tear us apart.”
More about Shay West: Shay West was born in Longmont, CO and earned a doctorate degree in Human Medical Genetics from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO. Dr. West currently lives in Grand Junction, CO with her two cats. When not writing novels, she plays with plushie microbes and teaches biology classes at Colorado Mesa University. She is the author of the Portals of Destiny series and the Adventures of Alexis Davenport series. She has also been published in the military scifi anthology, Battlespace. Her final book in the Portals of Destiny series, Resigned Fate, is forthcoming from Booktrope in 2013.
- Website: Dr. Shay West
- Facebook pages: Portals of Destiny and Alexis of Davenport
- Twitter: SciFi/Fantasy Dr. Shay West and YA/Fantasy ShayWestYA
Back to Ozarks Mystique, I’m complimented to be added to the launch team for Shattered Destiny, which led to this interview and communication. I’ve read and reviewed both books on Amazon, GoodReads and here at Ozarks Mystique. I’m looking forward to the third book. I recommend you read them in order! Easy reading, modest suspense…no need to peak at the end; just roll with it!
A country with a heart and soul cramp — The War Between the States led to serious pain from one end of the country to the other. Yet, interconnection and helpful Christian neighboring and compassion were a present unguent to begin and continue healing.
In Bachelor’s Buttons, Kathleen L. Maher uses historical documents and her personal family history to weave a romantic adventure that covers but a few hours in the heart of New York City during the Civil War. At time when fear stalked the ‘little’ people who were pawns for politicians, regardless of race. The dreaded draft of emigrants from Ireland and the fear of losing subsistence jobs — they had starved once and were loathe to do it again — and the fear of the unknown dark people fleeing slavery toward a free life were heavy and confusing burdens to bear.
Unacceptable, but understandable, violence and rioting, born of this spirit of fear, tore through the inner streets at the same moment that Rose Meehan needs the assistance of both of her presumed suitors, their skills and their connections to bring rescue for first her toddler brother, then for Rose herself. Rose is faced with the crises of family along with knowing that she will choosing between the poor, working violinist and the established doctor for her future.
Ms. Maher writes quickly (this 3rd volume in Murray Pura’s Cry of Freedom is not very long.), but with riveting description and feeling. We join Rose, William Lee and Dr. Ian Guinness as they risk life and limb to be out during the riots surrounding the outrage about the draft and the influx of a different race. Readers will be drawn in; right there with them as people from both races, Irish** and Black stepped forward to help and protect neighbors from the mindless mob.
Which will bachelor Rose choose? And award him a bright flower from her garden? Give yourself a rich reading treat — add this volume and the others to your collection so you can find out.
**Even in the 20th century, one of my great-great-grandmothers had ‘Irish’ listed as her race on her death certificate — a certificate attested to by my grandfather’s signature.
Set in a golden time between the recovery from the Great Depression and the Murmurs of World War II, the quiet south Georgia country is rattled by murder…again.
Trisha O’Keefe’s smooth delivery of a hometown story is more than a typical who-done-it. The question of who-done-it is well hidden and worth reading steadily to learn. I hope you will like the presentation of the story from a newspaper reporter’s point of view as much as I did. The news room environment is realistic. The dogged need to get at the truth and facts that are part of a journalist DNA provide a stimulating vehicle for the multiple plots that are entwined to keep the story maze a tight one. The flavor of the culture in the south in 1938 is well-played. Racial differences and some class differences seem painful to watch as we hope we’ve moved into a more tolerant and wise state of mind. I appreciated the description of cars, roads, housing,sports and social events of the era as added spice for the story.
I really enjoyed this book — spent time reading it when I had other chores to do, but just wanted to get one more twist untangled before I put it down! A delightful labyrinth of connection and support. “We’re family.” comes from different directions at the right time. The real friends are a surprise.
The story touches painful points in the lives of the characters in terms of race, family acceptance, sexual abuse, murder scenes, and crime, yet the ethics, honor, family solidarity, and community respect triumph. There are moments — tender, humorous, terrifying. These little lights make the story a great one. Other reviewers have written about a bit of ‘contrived plot toward the end’ and I guess that is accurate. Problematic characters are wrapped in little packages of closure. They aren’t the real grist of the story mill; other readers want these characters’ condition addressed and prefer a neat wrap-up/epilogue.
I don’t want to give you too many details in a typical book review, but I highly recommend that you follow Jordan Tanner as he seeks justice for the innocent. Walk with him page by page and don’t cheat yourself by peaking at the end!
I really hope that Trisha O’Keefe has another novel of this quality in the works.
Teams of the Chosen and their Guardians leave Gentra and return to the planets to learn more. They only visit one before their learning is interrupted by encounters with hostility which leads to tragic loss among the Chosen and Guardians.
Shay West has taken her gentle Gentrian guardians and elders another step forward in leading the Chosen from each planet toward their goal of defeating the Mekan threat.
The Chosen team up in types of two to visit planets. They take on the form of the visited planet which is an alien form for one team with a better understanding of cultures. Their experiences and views of the ‘new’ forms add some new humor to Shattered, helping the reader become attached to them all. I don’t want to have a spoiler here, but the prophecy does get into a muddle and the Masters are confused. There is attachment/attraction among the male and female Chosen and there is tragedy.
The author has imaginative description to reveal the various planets and their population. If you’ve read Portals, you already know that Gentra and two of the planets have very unusual looking inhabitants, while Astra and Earth dwellers do physically resemble one another. West provides enough color that readers can envision each form and each habitat — which helps increase reader attachment and involvement as the characters overcome personal issues and face danger and death. Readers will enjoy the stories more if they read in COLOR because of the in-depth descriptions of the various lifeforms.
As begun with Portals of Destiny, the characters continue learn respect and tolerance in the midst of their daily trials because the planet visits are not pleasant social encounters. Some cultures have strong prejudices that are part of their survival system. Some have powerful magic powers while others have impressive physical powers. Their puzzlement at the difference give them personality and lift them from the level of flat print.
As with Portals, there is some violence; no smut and very little bad language. A little search on my Kindle Fire found a few uses of the word ‘damn’. I admit to being distracted while reading trying to follow the story; I didn’t keep a ‘bad word count’. I don’t recall thinking “this is not good because of the profanity.” There is gentle, exploratory romance, but no graphic sex.
Continuing as mentioned in the review of The Chosen, I don’t usually choose Fantasy romance/adventure because I’m not attracted to vampires and shape changers. To have planets, emotionless clones and colorful Gentian shapes helps keep me interested.