Author Vince Bailey shares insight into Merging Paths, conclusion to the award-winning Curtis Jefferson series
Vince Bailey writes about the journey. In the case of African-American youth Curtis Jefferson, the protagonist of the award-winning series of the same name, it's been a journey filled with ghosts, both real and imagined. There's a running theme in Curtis's journey: evil, in whatever form it may take, can never really be destroyed; rather it takes a new shape.
Vince's original vision for this story also took a new shape—it transformed from a single tome into three individual novels. Path of the Half Moon—the first book in the Curtis Jefferson series—was the Winner of the Arizona Authors’ Association Literary Award and the Chanticleer International Book Awards for Paranormal and Supernatural Fiction. Book two--Courses of the Cursed—was a Finalist in the 15th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards. Merging Paths is the exciting conclusion to the colorful, intricate world presented in this unique paranormal series.
We caught up with Vince for a Q&A session that sheds some light on his intentions behind the series. Merging Paths is available in print and e-book on October 11, 2022.
I try to be subtle in my writing with regard to themes—I don’t think readers need to be hit over the head with pretty platitudes. -Vince Bailey
About Merging Paths
African American youth Curtis Jefferson’s supernatural saga of restless spirits and ghostly vendettas continues as Curtis escapes from Fort Grant—the remote detention facility to which he was unjustly sentenced. As he sets out upon a dangerous journey, Curtis realizes quickly that the century-old curse of Fort Grant has not been extinguished by the brutal demise of his nemesis, as was hoped.
This final installment in the award-winning Curtis Jefferson series follows our hero through his escape from the cursed reformatory, his struggle to survive a perilous desert crossing, and his attempts to evade a fierce lawman—one whose aim is not to capture, but to kill the young fugitive.
Meanwhile, in a parallel story related to the curse of Fort Grant, Isabel and Ray Cienfuegos continue to elude their spectral stalker, the murderous demon-spirit Ezra. Former chief of the Aravaipa Apache and self-appointed avenger of the mass murder of his people, the old shaman’s tireless pursuit of his quarry provokes a defensive instinct in Isabel, who refuses to be cornered. Merging Paths presents an alliance of protagonists who grapple with the forces of evil in its various forms, and concludes with a riotous climax that is sure to gratify readers who have followed the journey of good versus evil in Path of the Half Moon and Courses of the Cursed.
"As a young adult, I authored letters to my local newspaper, taking issue with home-grown matters that struck me as unjust or worthy of comment." -Vince Bailey
Interview with author Vince Bailey
We caught up with Vince upon the release of this final novel in the series for a behind-the-scenes look at the end to Curtis's long journey.
Tell us a little about your book’s title and what it represents.
As the final installment of a three-part series, Merging Paths, recaps its predecessor books, Path of the Half Moon and Courses of the Cursed, and brings the trilogy to its raucous conclusion. Each of the titles suggests a journey, rather than an experience. But I have to confess that, while I worked hard at presenting each of the three as a stand-alone work, the series was originally written start-to-finish as a single effort. Consequently, there are a number of sought-for resolutions held in abeyance for book three, including Curtis’s coming together with the characters and subplots evolving through the first two books—thus the title Merging Paths.
Tell us something in your book that is not in the summary.
Like its two parent novels, Merging Paths continues as a “frame story,” that is, a tale within a tale. We find Curtis feeling inclined to share his harrowing Fort Grant experiences with his friend, Vince. It is Curtis who tells the story while it is fresh in his mind, but it is Vince who absorbs the tale and commits it to ink, presumably years later. The tale-within-a-tale device introduces a number of intermittent points of clarification I call “interludes.” These interludes are presented by Vince in the first person, relating his dialogue with Curtis. But when the tale transitions to the narrative, it is offered in the third person. It is still Vince, channeling Curtis, so to speak, but from an omniscient perspective. With this background in mind, the ever-shifting points of view that punctuate the series should be quite simple for readers to navigate.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I try to be subtle in my writing with regard to themes—I don’t think readers need to be hit over the head with pretty platitudes. However, there certainly are a number of recurring themes in the Curtis Jefferson series that run just under the surface. One theme that merits mentioning involves the notion that evil can never really be completely vanquished. We see it all the time: whenever a wicked plot or evil actor seems to be extinguished, it invariably reincarnates itself in some other way. J.R.R. Tolkien said it best in the opening pages of Fellowship of the Ring: “Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.” In order to avoid spoilers in Merging Paths, I won’t cite examples—just a heads-up for readers to watch for it.
Do you plot your stories or just get an idea and run with it?
I have to laugh at myself over this one. As I said, I wrote the trilogy as one epic tome—1,200 pages blooming from the seed of an excerpt from another (ongoing) writing project. I think that effort was fueled in part by a need for me to know what happens next. Clearly, I leave the plotting to my characters, and I seem to have little control over what they do or say.
Tell us how you became a writer—what inspired you to write your first book.
I was always a daydreamer in grade school—these days they’d call it ADD—always scribbling down all the tales and vignettes that my wandering mind would conjure in order to distract me from long division. Later, I took up journaling as an extension of my adolescent scribbling. As a young adult, I authored a number of letters to my local newspaper, taking issue with home-grown matters that struck me as unjust or worthy of comment. Eventually, the paper hired me to pen a weekly column. In time, I began to write for magazines on a freelance basis (I still write a monthly column for a nationally distributed trade mag). I embarked on the Curtis Jefferson journey at the behest of my young sons who convinced me that I was (am) a pretty good yarn spinner.
Available October 11, 2022 in print and e-book
Author Peter Berk reflects on working with his father & the inspiration for the new action thriller series, TimeLock
Peter and his father, Howard, shared more than DNA—they shared a love of film and television and a talent for writing. Indeed, Howard was an award-winning film and TV writer and book author whose credits included such classic series as Columbo, Mission: Impossible, and The Rockford Files.
Over the years, Peter and Howard worked on numerous projects together, but one screenplay stood out among the rest. It was a clever idea about the future of the justice system in America.
In a country burdened with rampant crime and prison overcrowding, ambitious politicians roll out an innovative, but controversial technology called 'TimeLock' that instantly ages prisoners the number of years of their sentence—the ultimate punishment for inmates and the ultimate deterrent for potential criminals.
Just one problem, though: what happens . . . if you happen to be innocent?
"I always thought the premise of TimeLock was one of my father’s cleverest ideas."
These and other questions about morals, politics, and the danger of power are brilliantly addressed by the authors in this story, along with a plucky hero, a little romance, and lots of action and humor.
Although Peter lost his father, Howard, before translating this exciting story into a novel, the father-son spirit of family and creativity is fully present in this work.
And the circle continues as Peter now collaborates with his own sons, Jordan and Daniel, on various creative endeavors.
"It’s a silly but I think important scene . . . that depicts Morgan as the young and slightly immature man he is before TimeLock changes everything."
We caught up with Peter ahead of the TimeLock book release on September 22 and learned more about the origins of this utterly unique story and the authors who created it.
Why did you pick this particular subject matter to write about?
I always thought the premise of TimeLock was one of my father’s cleverest ideas, so when COVID hit and I was stuck at home day after day like most people, I was inspired to translate the original screenplay we wrote into a novel. Beyond the action and sci-fi elements of the story, however, I always felt the most interesting aspect of the premise was how a young man with his whole future ahead of him is forced to adjust to sudden middle age when he becomes one of the first to undergo the radical and terrifying process that is TimeLock.
What makes you the happiest?
Corny as it is--family, of course, friends, writing (both fiction and music) and tennis--the one sport I’m fairly good at (for my age!).
What fact about yourself would really surprise people?
I can’t say this would qualify as surprising info to anyone, but I actually originally planned on becoming a film composer and songwriter. Inspired by such movie composers as John Barry, Jerry Goldsmith, and John Williams, I locked onto writing music as a career as young as 13 years old and thought I’d have my first Oscar by 25. It obviously didn’t exactly work out that way, but to my great pleasure, both of my sons, Jordan and Daniel, are excellent composers and Daniel has already amassed some 75 film, TV and commercial music scoring credits--about 73 more than I ever did!
What is your favorite scene in your book? Why?
I have two favorite scenes, actually. The first is an early lighthearted scene at Morgan’s workplace when he and two of his fellow programmers hack into their horrible boss’s car and take over its spoken navigation system. It’s a silly scene that doesn’t advance the plot in any way, but I think it provides some levity before the action kicks in shortly thereafter. It also, I hope, depicts Morgan as the young and slightly immature man he is before TimeLock changes everything. My other favorite scene is in the prison auditorium when Morgan, his fellow inmates and we the readers first truly become aware of what TimeLock is and the horrifying future these prisoners are about to face.
What books did you love growing up?
Like many young people of my generation, I devoured the Ian Fleming/James Bond novels, but also gravitated toward sci-fi authors such as Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov, while also taking in such classics as Catcher in The Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird. As I got older, I tended to alternate between “fun” reads like some of the ones mentioned above and books about WWII and world history. And of course I can’t leave out my father’s first two novels, The Hero Machine and The Sun Grows Cold.
Please tell us something about your book that is not in the summary.
TimeLock actually began life as a screenplay I wrote with my father—and two more of the five novellas planned for the series also originated as movie scripts. In tandem with IngramElliott Publishing, I very much hope to bring some or all of these stories to the big or little screen in the future.
What motivates you to write?
The never-ending inspiration of my father, Howard--the best writer I’ve ever known. I’ll cherish the countless hours we spent writing together and now I can honestly say that thanks to IngramElliott, bringing the projects my dad and I wrote together to life in this series of novellas is easily the most gratifying work I’ve ever done in my life.
Available September 22, 2022 in print and eBook
Special IE author guest blog post
By M.M Cochran
Writers and social media don’t always mix very well. But authors and social media? That’s a must. I know, I know. . . writers of all kinds are typically reclusive when it comes to making private life public. All we ask of the world, with puppy dog eyes and hands in prayer position, is this: “Will you buy my book?”
Here’s a fact: the world just might do that––IF you put it out there for them to see. So, the nagging topic that seeps its way into every author’s life . . . “social media as a new author.” Let’s chat about it.
I’m M.M. Cochran, new author of my debut young adult novel Between the Ocean and the Stars, published by our very own IngramElliott. When I first signed my contract with them, they told me to prepare to do some heavy marketing on social media. And if you’re trying to promote your book, personality/brand is what’ll make you or break you. Seems crazy, right? But as a new author myself, I had to find a way to make myself known, and to tell you the truth, branding myself, which means also branding my book, is really quite fun.
New authors, Instagram is your best friend. (Raise your hand if you want to consider spending hours on Instagram “work”!). My tips and tricks for promoting my book is this:
After all, your audience follows you for a reason, and that reason is because they’re interested in seeing your life as a writer. With a debut novel coming out, show them what the publishing process looks like, or the writing process, or the editing process.
My social media development started taking off when I announced on Instagram that I’d signed my first publishing contract. It’s been growing ever since. Here’s some quick tips and tricks that helped me get the ball rolling:
Let me expand on this.
By posting bookish content, my followers became familiar with my brand, what I do, and what they can expect from me. Even if your novel is a year away from seeing a bookshelf, don’t stop promoting it. Keep your followers excited for release. Between the time I signed my contract with IE and now, I have gained fans from all over the world who have told me they love my content, love my story, and can’t wait for release so they can get their hands on my novel.
I let my audience know that they can reach out to me day or night. Just as they encourage and support me, I want to offer the same right back to them. If they see that you care about them, they’ll never leave your side (or your book! *wink wink*). This builds a strong community around you, which, in the discouraging times that writing often brings upon us, is much needed.
This pivotal tip can make or break a follow:
keep your page pretty.
Determine your aesthetic and stick to it. Depending on the season, I keep my pictures on Instagram nice and matching to the weather. During winter, I post white and blue colors. During spring, I like to keep it pastel. In summertime, I post vibrant, colorful pictures. When fall comes around, I like to share lots of outdoorsy, turtleneck sweater pictures. Meanwhile, I keep readers informed on my publishing process and what’s to come.
But don’t be afraid to get honest in your posts. Everyone has a vulnerable side, and sharing yours will draw people closer to you because of your relatable content. Writing isn’t easy. In fact, that might just be the most vulnerable form of art out there. The whole point of publishing your book is for people to feel your words and experience your story. Why stop at a paperback or e-book, though?
New authors, take it a step further and start sharing your words on social media. Be confident in your book––in your vulnerability, in your branding, in your journey to publication––and show the world who you are.
I promise they’ll love you!
Have questions? Need advice as you enter the publishing industry? Follow me on Instagram at m.m.cochran_writer and let’s chat!
It's been an an interesting year as the world peeks out of it's shell once again. IngramElliott has been working behind the scenes with both existing and new authors to bring you four exciting new releases for 2022. Whether you're a fan of mystery, young love, sci-fi, action, or otherworldly fiction, we've got something to tickle your fancy. You'll see release dates for late summer/early fall and author interviews and information in coming days. Follow us on social media for the latest updates on pre-sales and release information. Enjoy a sneak peek below and feel free to share the love on your own social sites!
An innocent man. A radical punishment. The clock is ticking . . .
With crime rampant, the President authorizes a hugely controversial program: TimeLock, a cellular acceleration process whereby select prisoners are instantly aged the total number of years of their sentence. In other words - three strikes and you’re old…very old.
A sci-fi-tinged action-adventure with heart and humor, TimeLock is the first in a new series of novellas set in the crime-ridden near future where a bold new technology transforms the justice system and challenges America’s moral compass. Only one problem—what happens if you’re innocent?
An award-winning novelist and screenwriter, Howard Berk’s credits include memorable episodes of such classic TV series as Columbo, Mission: Impossible and The Rockford Files, as well as the feature film, Target, starring Gene Hackman and Matt Dillon. Peter Berk has written six novels, three TV pilots and a dozen screenplays, including several with his father which became the basis for the TimeLock series of novellas. Peter and his family live in Southern California.
If he could be her tragedy, I could be a better one.
As a newcomer on Ophelia Island, Florida, Sam Carter is less than enthused about moving away from West Virginia. But the moment he lays eyes on Georgia Gabeheart at the beach one morning, he can’t help but surrender to her bewitching allure that summons him toward breaking the rules.
A young adult novel where high winds and passion collide, "Between the Ocean and the Stars" is a debut novel by a fresh new voice that will take your breath away.
M. M. Cochran is an award-winning fiction writer, who lives in Greenville, South Carolina. With an educational background in English and creative writing, she is currently a journalist for the world’s smallest daily newspaper. She has also worked in the agenting and publishing industry. A lover of all things coffee, autumn, and baking, M. M. delights in spending her afternoons in the kitchen creating goodies for her family, and when she’s not scouting for new coffee shops, she can be found listening to a Frank Sinatra vinyl or hanging out with her standard poodle, family, and friends. Connect with M. M. Cochran on Instagram @m.m.cochran_writer to keep up with her upcoming novels.
It's finally time . . . for journeys to conclude. The final chapter in the Curtis Jefferson series.
As the title suggests, this third book in the award-winning Curtis Jefferson series concludes Curtis's journey to gratify readers who have sought for fulfillment of unresolved issues of good versus evil, as presented in Path of the Half Moon, and developed through Courses of the Cursed. This final installment of his supernatural saga follows our hero in his escape from the reformatory, his struggle to survive a perilous desert crossing, and his attempts to evade a fierce lawman.
Vince Bailey grew up in Central Arizona, starting in the late nineteen-fifties. His youthful experiences there contribute significantly to his award winning Path of the Half Moon and Courses of the Cursed - Books 1 & 2 in the award-winning Curtis Jefferson series.
Vince has also been published in several college and local newspapers, and penned a column for a nationally distributed trade periodical. Mr. Bailey currently resides in Arizona, with his family. Connect with the author at vincebaileyauthor.com.
A mystery that's out of this world
Sam Abernethy plays by the rules, but his sister Alex doesn't. These siblings are closer than anyone but can their bond transcend the grave? When Sam, a by-the-book insurance investigator, begins channeling letters from dead people after his daredevil sister's untimely death, Sam's eerie new ability may be the only thing that saves his family from a deadly arson case.
This other-worldly mystery will have readers on the edge of their seats . . . and craving some plain, old cornbread.
A fan of action, thriller, mystery, and literary fiction, author T.E. Lane enjoys blending aspects of many genres into a single work, creating a unique reading experience that will keep readers turning the pages. From the shores of south Florida to the mountains of the Carolinas, T.E. Lane creates worlds you want to inhabit with characters that make you feel right at home.
Students of Heidi E. Kent now have a reason to celebrate. Heidi's new non-fiction book Highlights of Palmistry goes on sale September 7th. Heidi spent a decade sharing her wisdom with students at The Kent-Cook Institute in Davidson, North Carolina. The Institute, now closed, served the Lake Norman community for many years as a school of meditation, mysticism, spiritual healing, and a place for seekers to discover their deepest gifts and connections.
Heidi is a highly-experienced Master Palmist and has practiced palmistry and other metaphysical arts all over the world. Her psychic gifts of clairvoyance, clairaudience, and clairsentience were trained at the Spiritual Community of Camp Chesterfield where she received a diploma as a Certified Medium.
Heidi is now sharing some of those gifts through her new book, Highlights of Palmistry. We caught up with the author recently to learn a bit more about what inspires her.
What fact about yourself would really surprise people?
My hobby throughout my life has been history. I fit the description of “Armchair Archaeologist.” Most Sunday afternoons you will find me in my comfy chair reading my Archaeology magazines.
What motivates you to write?
My writing gives me an avenue to share some of my experiences, my passions and my accumulated perceptions. One of the most important aspects, in my opinion, of being human is sharing information which one has experienced.
What makes you happiest?
The greatest joy of my life is spending time with my grandchildren. The fun of watching them interact with their peers, participating in sports and listening to their opinions of world events. These and other sensory inputs bring chuckles and pride.
What books did you love growing up?
Since I learned to read, reading has been one of my greatest joys. In early years my favorite books were by Carolyn Keene--both the Nancy Drew and the Dana Girl series. Later in life, one of my favorite authors was Robert Heinlein, especially Stranger in a Strange Land. Today I mostly read metaphysical authors, particularly The Impersonal Life by DeVorsa &Co. Publishers, and I Ching (the book of change) by John Blofeld.
Please tell us something about Highlights of Palmistry that is not in the summary.
Palmistry gives a person a reason to touch another person (hold hands). With this connection and a few basic palmistry lessons, an individual is empowered with personal knowledge of this stranger.
Why did you pick this particular subject matter to write about?
The study of the human mind is infinitely fascinating and the hand projects a great deal of that information. Sharing it has been a long time project for me. I have demonstrated palmistry, lectured extensively on the subject, and now have shared my knowledge with the world through publication. I hope you all enjoy it!
Highlights of Palmistry
Available September 7, 2021 in e-Book and paperback
Explore who you are . . . with Master Palmist Heidi E. Kent. Highlights of Palmistry is designed to help you explore the world of palmistry with simple techniques and illustrations. This introduction to the art of palmistry is a quick method of exploring your own nature—in simple shorthand and useful tidbits. Learn to see the hand as a map of the self, a physical expression of the inner you. Embark on your life’s journey with a map of your destiny . . . in the palm of your hand.
A Lesson on Narration Styles and Adverbs
By guest contributor Macy Cochran
Hello writers, new and experienced alike! There’s never been such a thing as over-studying, so allow us here at IngramElliott to offer our best lesson on narration styles and adverbs in dialogue tags, a couple of the most important aspects to consider while drafting.
Point of View
The point of view (POV) of your book sets the initial tone for readers whether we’re aware of it or not. While first person narrative gives the story a tighter grip on the main character, third person offers a more story-telling tone. But let’s dig deeper…
First person narrative is used often in thrillers and young adult novels so readers can feel a deeper connection with the main character (MC). This style of POV reads as though the MC is speaking his thoughts, though it can be written in present tense or past tense. I’ll share an example from John Green’s young adult novel The Fault in Our Stars, “I woke up in the ICU. I could tell I was in ICU because I didn’t have my own room…”
Notice how that quote is written as if coming straight from the mind of the MC and being told as though it happened in the past by using past tense verbs. This narration style is used frequently when authors strive for their audiences to experience a more intense relationship with the book and the characters within, and past tense is included to give a more nostalgic tone. Here’s an example of first person, present tense in Gayle Forman’s If I Stay: “I can feel them praying. Which also makes me think I’m dead…And I’m not crying either, even though I know that something unthinkable has happened to my family.” This tense is used by authors who want to convey a story that’s more action-packed with an in-the-moment feel.
Third person narrative is a regularly used POV, especially in literary fiction, using pronouns like “he,” “she,” and “they,” opposite of first person’s pronouns like “I,” “myself,” “me,” etc. However, there are two types of third person POV––omniscient and the more common past tense. Third person omniscient is rather flexible for writers in that this POV is all-knowing of numerous characters in the story, following more than just one character. This omniscient style allows readers to be aware of what is happening in each of the character’s lives, permitting the author to “head-hop” from one person to the other.
Editors note: Take care when hopping from one character to another while using omniscient point of view--if not crafted with much care, this approach may confuse readers.
Third person past tense follows only one character, similarly to first person, though the story is told from the author’s point of view, saying things like, “He walked to the store,” or “She helped the man up, and then she pushed him back in his chair.” Most genres in commercial fiction such as thrillers or young adult pieces are written in first person narrative. Literary fiction is most often seen in third person. Some examples of this are Great Expectations, Pride and Prejudice, and The Scarlet Letter.
Overall, each of these POVs is fun to work with, so before you take on your first draft, do a little research and find which narration style works best for you!
Now for the Adverbs
Watch out, avid writers, because we’ve all come across adverbs in dialogue tags like this one: “‘I love you,’ she said sweetly.” Now let’s try, “‘I love you.’ She touched his cheek and rubbed the tip of her nose on his.” Notice how readers can interpret that the dialogue was said sweetly due to the actions that followed.
Editors often warn against adverbs in dialogue tags because adverbs are known to tell action instead of show it. But how come we see adverbs so much in bestselling novels? Many times, authors with a high platform can get away with including these risky techniques in their writing because publishers want the authors’ exposure.
But the cornerstone to good writing is using exciting verbs that help the reader see the action rather than taking the easy way out by using adverbs. The best way around adverbs is to step back, imagine what action you’re trying to convey, and search out your best verb for that description.
So once you’ve nailed your POV and started writing, choose your words carefully! They just might land you on the bestseller list…
Macy Cochran is a freelance editor and writer for the Tryon Daily Bulletin. Learn more about how to work with Macy on her website at ElegantEditingServices.com or by email at email@example.com.
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