Snowfall’s Secret, Chapter 7

This scene was one of many from my childhood dreams:

. . .As they pulled into a driveway, Tom pressed a button on his car’s visor and a huge door on the side of the big, yellow brick building opened.

Jamie asked, “Is this where your—our family lives?” when the car pulled into the garage and into a numbered space.

“It’s just the two of us.”

“Oh, this huge building is just for us? I was hoping there would be at least cousins.”

She now felt so foolish because he looked at her bewildered and then took two beats before turning off the car and answering, “There are other families living here.”

He got out and opened the door to the back seat so that he could help with her things. “You can get the rest behind your seat. Okay?”

“Sure.” Jamie got out and retrieved two bags and a box. For being here only a few weeks, she really had accumulated a lot. She followed Tom through a door and down a hall and then through another door that led to the main entrance lobby. While searching for his apartment’s key on his key ring, he pressed the elevator’s button with his right elbow. They waited for the door to slides open.

“We’re on the fourth floor—West. Four-two-four.”

“Four-two-four.” Jamie repeated.

“It’s home.” He shrugged.

She had a fleeting memory of walking through the front gates and then towards the front entrance of her home after school before . . .

The elevator stopped and the doors opened. She followed Tom down another hall way until they came to a door with ‘424’ in gold letters on it. He unlocked the door and pivoted so that he could use his back to hold it open. Before he pushed, Jamie helped her half-brother by using her Skill to hold the door open.

Regaining his balance, Tom looked at her with amazement. “I hope I can get used to that,” and walked over the threshold.

No matter how often he saw her use her Skills, he always seemed to her to be just as shaken as the first time. “Used to what?”

“That. Thing you do. You know—,” he said, looking at the door that just swung closed. . .


Author Highlight: Alex Pilalis, (Island Legends) The Awakening of James Island

Hi All, I love fantasy and Alex’s latest offering is worth the look-see:

Book Title:

Island Legends: The Awakening of James Island

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Amazon link: (geolocked to the Amazon site of the country it’s clicked on)




Fantasy Adventure


Trying to unlock his hidden past, one man must learn to trust a strange young alien in order to prevent a galaxy-wide threat


After awakening two years earlier as a fully grown man, James Island has managed to make a life for himself in the city he found himself in. Until the day a lost young alien named Evan Goodheart appears, claiming to be on a mission sent by the gods, who have named James as his aid.

Despite trepidation, James finds an affinity with the lost and bewildered Evan and takes it upon himself to help him find his way; all while attempting to maintain some order in the life he’s made and his construction work responsibilities. Throughout the course of the day James will come to realize the extent of Evan’s claims of their fates being entwined, as the truth of his unknown past is revealed to him.

Island Legends is set in a galaxy reeling from devastating wars, filled with countless alien species, a rich history of powerful magical forces and the interventions of many gods and dangerous spirits and demons constantly at war.


Island Legends: The Awakening of James Island is the first book of an epic fantasy adventure series. Set in a galaxy filled with aliens and different planets, it is part science fiction, but more strongly geared towards high fantasy. I like to describe it, in a very broad sense, as a cross between Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. I wanted to create worlds with different aliens and cultures, and also have my characters running around swinging swords and throwing magic, which I feel gives it a fairly unique tone. It is a serial book series, where each book tells the next part of a long journey. A bit like if the Lord of the Rings books were split up into ten or so parts instead of three big books.

Along with the fantasy genre tropes of magic and high adventure, it is also a story of self-discovery, particularly for James, and seeks to delve deep into the human psyche to ask such questions as ‘what does it truly mean to know who we are?’ and ‘how important are our past memories for shaping who our present selves are?’ I like to think of it as a character study, inspired by the varied and flawed characters forced to survive together on the television series Lost, or the daily lives of the intricate characters in Mad Men.

The novel was published by Solstice Publishing on January 15th 2016 (timed perfectly with my second niece’s first birthday!), and is available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.


Author Bio:

After completing an Art Foundation course and a BA in Digital Arts, Alex Pilalis pursued his interest of animation with an MSc in Computer Animation and an online course with Animation Mentor. He is currently an animator on children’s television shows.

Snowfall’s Secret, Chapter 6

…Half of the family room floor was soon covered with colorful balloons. Jamie remembered that some of the wealthier Zonpres would purchase decorations that would float for their celebrations. S’Renens, on the other hand, could easily make any decoration float by Thinking.

The metallic sound of the door to the garage opening echoed followed by Roscoe bounding in and barking.

“Oh, no,” Jennifer said under her breath. Then, more loudly, she called to Mike. “Get the dog! He’ll make a mess if he sees the balloons!”

“I can’t, I have my hands full.”

Jennifer put a half-filled party bag down on the counter and quickly walked out of the room. “Roscoe! Roscoe! Heel! Heel!! HEEL!”

Unfortunately, Roscoe managed to escape Jennifer’s grip and bounded in to the family room, scattering balloons all around him.

“No, Roscoe! No! Bad boy!” Eluding Jennifer again, he was now trying to get out to the backyard by jumping at the patio door from the kitchen. In her panic, she was still trying to grab the excited dog but he escaped her reach at each attempt.

Ami, during this time, was giggling at the commotion. 91 • Snowfall’s Secret

Jamie had an idea and still would be able to keep her promise to Tom (sort of). She focused and Moved the button on the door bell.

Hearing the sound of a visitor, Roscoe quickly swerved, managing to escape Jennifer yet again and headed for the front door. Now out of view of Ami, Jamie was satisfied that she could really help by quickly Moving Roscoe out of the way.

“ROSCOE!” Jennifer was beyond exasperation as she ran after the dog.

Mike came into the kitchen. Pushing some of the filled party bags aside to make room for a pink and white long, flat box, he said, “Where’s the dog?”

Jennifer came back in the kitchen, bewildered. “I don’t know. One minute I was about to reach for him and then he seemed . . .”

They both looked at Jamie while Ami started to kick a yellow balloon into the air.

“Jamie, honey, please come over here,” Jennifer said.

Feeling a little guilty, Jamie put down the pump and walked over to Mike and Jennifer.

In a hushed tone so that Ami wouldn’t overhear, Jennifer asked, “Where’s Roscoe?”

“He’s in my bedroin the guest room. I gave him some meat in his dish. And one of his chew bones.”

Mike looked at his wife and then at the spot where Roscoe’s bowl should have been. Jennifer followed her husband’s gaze. They were definitely amused.

“Where did the meat come from?” Jennifer asked.

“From the refrigerator. From the other meat.”

Jennifer reached the refrigerator first and opened the right-hand door while Mike looked over her arm at the two stacks of uncooked burgers. One stack was lower than the other…


The Storyteller’s Secrets

I finished an exceptionally wonderful book by Carmine Gallo, The Storyteller’s Secrets.  Needless to say, I took a lot away from his messages.

I’m a quiet person who uses the written word as her voice.  In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m a Toastmaster; but I’m still a quiet person.

Carmine Gallo’s message is to use storytelling as a means to persuade the audience and promote a product.  Here are a few key points:

  • Identify your brand’s core purpose.
  • Dream in moonshots.
  • Reframe the story you tell yourself.
  • Share the backstory of your life.
  • Tell stories of struggle and the lessons learned.
  • Introduce a “hero”–person or product–who triumphs over adversity.
  • Consistently and publicly frame your vision in a founder’s story.
  • Make stories at least 65 percent of your presentation.
  • Violate expectations.
  • Use simple words and analogies to hide complexity.
  • Enrich your story with specific and relevant details.
  • Unleash your best storytellers.
  • Deliver serious topics with a side of humor.
  • Tell authentic and personal stories tailored to your audience.
  • Be succinct; use a few well-chosen words.

Three other points:

  • Before delivering a speech, check the wording with the Flesch-Kincaid readability formula (
  • Pictures trump words.
  • Share stories to strengthen cultures.

My purpose to my books, Stars’ Fire and Snowfall’s Secret is to have eliminate bullying of any kind.

My Mother’s Eulogy

When our mother passed, I realized what I truly missed the most:  listening to her working late at night at the kitchen table creating a new piece of jewelry.  It was her creativity that I will always cherish.

When she was a little girl during World War II, she walked into a local CSO, determined to knit a sweater for a GI (never mind that she didn’t know how to knit). The ladies told this child to come back when she was older.  She said, “No!  Let me try!”  She walked out with yarn and a pattern.  She taught herself how to knit and a lucky GI was the recipient of her first sweater.

Years later she had knit exceptional Irish cable stitch sweaters for her husband which were followed by beautiful sweaters for her children and then grandchildren.

There was nothing that her hands couldn’t create:  she painted, embroidered, and sewed. She made her daughters’ party dresses.  Later, she made doll-sized pillows, blankets, and rugs for her granddaughters.

Our mother joined the Red Hat Society.  When she couldn’t find a suitable red hat, she decorated a red hat with her hand-made jewelry.

She loved to hear about the triumphs and adventures of my friends.  She was concerned with my friends sorrows.  In essence, this was my mother:  she always cared about other people.  Even when she was in the hospital, she was more concerned for her roommate than for herself.

She loved to hear about the many triumphs and adventures of my friends’ children and then finally her circle included her grandchildren. Our mother loved the nightly calls  . . .

. . . Mum, you taught your children to love books, art, and needle craft. You taught your children the phrase, “I can.” Please don’t worry about us–we’ll always watch out for one another.  And some day soon we’ll fulfill one of your dreams of taking a paddle-boat ride down the Mississippi.

In a eulogy given by Mark Twain to his daughter, I quote:

“Warm summer sun, shine brightly here/Warm Southern wind, blow softly here/Green sod above lie light, lie light/Good night, dear heart; good night, good night.”

Mom, we love you.

Author Highlight: Margaret Egrot, Girl Friends

Margaret Egrot

What genres do you enjoy writing?

I write novels, short stories, and plays for young adults and adults. Mostly they are adventures set in the present and gently humorous.

Girl Friends - cover






Tell us about your latest book:

Girl Friends is for young adults and is due for release by Solstice Publishing on May 6th. It is about two fifteen year old girls and the strain put on their friendship when the glamorous one (Grace) who wants to be a model, meets a young man who says he can help her. Her friend thinks she is getting into something sinister – or is she just jealous?

What inspired the story? Where did you get that first bit of “ah ha” inspiration.”

The story is told in the first person by Courtney. Nothing is really working out for her, but she does so want to have a ‘normal’ life, get an education, a decent job, nice boyfriend etc. I have met a few ‘Courtney’s’ in my life. One of them in particular seemed to have experienced more problems in her short life than I had in my considerably longer one. But she was so keen to learn! Courtney is a totally fictional back story for girls like my young friend.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? 

Courtney gets encouragement to change her life around from a surprise source and, despite her poor self-image, problems at home and worries about her friend, she makes the most of this opportunity. Along the way she meets a boy who also encourages her and, with help from him and his family she is able to rescue her friend from sex traffickers (her suspicions were justified) and help her own family.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Grace – She’s tough and brave, and the one most badly hurt in this story. When I first thought about this book, sexual exploitation of young girls was not really an issue. Now the British media and the courts have shown that it is a big problem in some areas. The facts as we now know them are far worse than my fiction. But Grace is a survivor!

How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

Courtney’s step father, Brian: a work-shy, heavy drinking bully, with an unhealthy interest in young girls.

How much research did you have to do for this book? Any travel involved?

I drew on my experiences as a probation officer, youth worker, and social worker which have taken me to several parts of the UK.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

Letting go – I kept wanting to change things as events unfolded in the British press. I had to keep reminding myself that I

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I want readers to enjoy the story first and foremost.

What are you working on at the minute?

I am working on a collection of short stories based on female characters in Shakespeare’s plays. Basically, what they got up to before making their first appearance on stage. For example, in Journey to the Fair Country, Hamlet’s mother is traveling as a young girl to Elsinore to marry Hamlet senior – and clearly fancies his younger brother Claudius more when she gets there.  Some of these stories have already been published by Solstice.

Why do you write

I really don’t know. I’m supposed to be retired, with time to walk the dog and smell the roses. Writing feels awfully like hard work sometimes!


Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

If I work too hard on getting an outline crafted, I tend to lose the momentum when I come to write the actual story. So I usually work with the germ of an idea, and make a few rough notes at the end of each writing session to follow up (or not) the next day.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read. Not just the ‘great’ authors, but little known ones too who don’t necessarily write very well. Then throw the book down and tell yourself: ‘I could do better than that.’

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

sleeping beauty

Readers may like to know they can sample a short story of mine for free. Called Sleeping Beauty, it can be downloaded from Amazon Books on 3rd May, and is about a young girl’s thoughts as she comes out of a coma. 

 All my recent work is available via my Amazon Author page, and Girl Friends will be available to pre-order from April 29th (release date is May 6th)