Conquering the Divide: The Legend of Barsicon Is an Outstanding Fantasy Fiction Debut by Angela Stever

Book Review

Title: Conquering the Divide: The Legend of Barsicon
Author:  Angela Stever
Imprint: Tellwell Talent
Released: October 30, 2021
Pages: 284
ISBN-13: 978-0228863120
Stars:  4.00

Conquering the Divide: The Legend of Barsicon is new, young adult, LGBTQ-friendly fantasy/dystopian science-fiction for the 21st-century by well-known Kingston, Ontario radio host, Angela Stever. The book’s hero, Seneca Ellis-Brant, is a girl just turning 16 years old, and she’s the youngest Light Seeker in Barsicon history. Seneca has been training her whole life to be a Light Seeker with the help of her two moms, Ma Marie and Mama C (Catherine), and her combat instructor, JD, a diminutive warrior with a neon-coloured mohawk.

In July 2022, two days before the Light Ceremony she believes it is her destiny to conquer, Seneca meets Alex, JD’s cousin, who is referred to using the pronouns they/them. Alex is the first stranger Seneca has ever met, a popular singer in Light City, and sexual-spiritual fireworks ensue.

Seneca has trained diligently for the Light Ceremony, believing that she will complete it and be able to move her family from The Darkness, the land to the east of Light City, inhabited by the 1% elite of Barsicon on the shores of West Ocean. To gain the privilege of living in Light City, Light Seekers must successfully complete Seven Steps into the Light, Steps that amount to a battle to the death. But has Seneca been brainwashed? Is the story she has been told about her miraculous birth true? Is she simply a pawn in a very toxic game?

Light City is ruled by President Barbara Crow, an angry woman with daddy issues whose father, General Walter Crow (a comic book buffoon of a bullying leader, with no real backbone), demanded the construction of a wall between Light City and The Darkness following the Battle of Barsicon in 1972. Northern Warriors erected the barrier which runs parallel to the coastline, two miles inland from the West Ocean. Only the wealthy live along the West Ocean, its residents made up of people who sleep until noon and feast until midnight, playing games and dancing all day. The wall offers them protection from the ‘unworthy.’

While reading this book—which could arguably be a parable—during the middle of the umpteenth lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic, one cannot help but recognize the parallels in the world in which we live and the authors’ world of Barsicon, a simply constructed, dystopian fantasy world. Many of us are seeking a higher spiritual path in light of the darkness we have found ourselves in for the past two years. The 1% elite who govern us and decide upon how we will conduct ourselves and live our lives, have divided us with vaccine mandates, passports, and other draconian restrictions. In today’s world, there is a divide between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, people who are described by the media and even our own Prime Minister, as unworthy to live in regular society. It may only be a matter of time before we are physically segregated from each other, even though many of us can see that our leaders’ plan to deal with the pandemic is not working. Right now, most of our lives are about survival and not thriving, just like the citizens of Barsicon who live in The Darkness.

There are psychopaths and unexpected twists and turns in Conquering the Divide, and a little bit of magic, lots of mystery, and plenty of heart-centered heroes to cheer for. If you loved The Hunger Games or The Mortal Instruments, you’ll want to join Seneca as she discovers her new normal and realizes her true destiny, moving out of The Darkness and into the light. This fast-paced, exciting adventure is filled with nuggets of spiritual wisdom and a satisfying ending that will leave you wanting more.

Angela Stever has peppered her story with “Easter egg” references to local singer-songwriters who music fans in this region, know and love, and named the main protagonist and another heroic character after her two sons. I suspect she may have used Prince Edward County and Sandbanks Provincial Park as inspiration for Barsicon. Conquering the Divide (available on Amazon now) is her first novel, and it is an outstanding debut. This reader cannot wait for more stories by Stever.

May the God of Light’s Final Judgement find you worthy before you are forced to die for the greater good. “The power should be in the hands of the people, not in the hands of one man.” As in all fantasy stories, there is a battle between good and evil, and the protagonists have to overcome seemingly impossible challenges to defeat their adversaries.  Sometimes the men in power are simply weak, bullying idiots being controlled by psychopathic puppet masters. And sometimes, it takes standing up to our oppressors and being willing to start a revolution before the light can shine through The Darkness.

Careers AF! (2nd Edition): New Rules, New Tools for the Post-pandemic Gig Economy Offers a First-Rate Fail-Proof Career Strategy

Careers AF!: (2nd Edition) New rules, new tools for the post-pandemic gig economy by M. Michelle Nadon

Careers AF! (2nd Edition): New Rules, New Tools for the Post-pandemic Gig Economy Offers a First-Rate Fail-Proof Career Strategy

Book Review

Title: Careers AF! (2nd Edition): New Rules, New Tools for the Post-Pandemic Gig Economy
Author:  M. Michelle Nadon
Imprint: FriesenPress
Released: July 6, 2021
Pages: 252
ISBN-13: 978-1039126480
Stars:  5.00

Recently, a dear friend and colleague, public and media relations specialist Irene Carroll, invited me to attend M. Michelle Nadon‘s Wednesday Career Jam Zoom group.  As I am trying to grow my second business as an entrepreneur, I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to network and it is.  I was immediately struck by Mitch’s (as the author prefers to be called) dynamic, forthright, sincere, and warm personality, and it was clear that she knows about what she speaks. She genuinely wants to help people to become career activists who achieve their short, mid, and long-term career goals.

I just finished reading her book, Careers AF! (2nd Edition): New Rules, New Tools for the Post-Pandemic Gig Economy, from cover to cover, and Mitch’s authentic voice comes through in every sentence.  It is chock full of first-rate, mindful, and initiative-taking advice as well as a clear-cut strategy for everything you must do to land your dream job in the post-pandemic economy—not that the never-ending pandemic is post yet!

Careers AF! is easy to read and understand, and the content is golden.  It contains a professional career strategy plan for everyone in today’s job market from New Canadians to Boomers, Millennials to Gens X, Y & Z. Nadon interspersed terrific Mindset Alerts, Landmine Alerts, and Killer App Alerts in the book that highlight important tips to grab your attention. Careers AF! also contains insightful quotes and links from media industry professionals, many of whom have worked with Mitch, who is a highly regarded recruitment specialist, career strategist, and media instructor who has serviced the Canadian media, entertainment, and cultural sectors for nearly twenty years.  Her company, mediaINTELLIGENCE, “links today’s business with top talent through innovative recruitment models and cutting-edge career enrichment programs.”

Chapter 21: Smart Start: How To Start Your Own Business was particularly helpful to me, and I wish I had known its contents when I started my first entrepreneurial endeavour in 2008.  Oh, to have known then what I know now!  I have begun to implement Mitch’s career strategy and will be referring to this book repeatedly as I move forward.

I would like to see branded graphic images within the pages of this book as I believe they would perfectly highlight and punctuate the content, making a simply designed book, shine. The Table of Contents at the back of the book contains the complete contents of this edition so if you’re skimming through it, head to the back of the book.

M. Michelle Nadon Careers AF!
Recruitment Specialist, Career Strategist, and Author M. Michelle Nadon

Mitch Nadon offers a terrific Career Toolkit for only $19.99 from her website that contains everything you need to reinvent yourself and build a new business.  I highly recommend that you purchase this book and the toolkit if you’re trying to navigate the post-pandemic gig economy to land your dream job or to build and grow your business. If you do, there’s no way you can fail.  Get it on Amazon here.

Book Review: God of Nothing: Book #1 The ALL by Shane Scott, a Writer to be Reckoned With

Book Review

Title: God of Nothing: Book #1 The ALL
Author:  Shane Scott
Imprint: Self-published
Released: February 6, 2021
Pages: 499
ISBN-13: 978-1735518213
Stars:  3.5


Gods, Devils, Titans, Dragons, Angels, Demons, Bool (a.k.a. Werewolves), Vampires, and Mortals all inhabit the fantastical worlds created by gifted author Shane Scott in his debut novel, God of Nothing: Book #1 The ALL.

At the beginning of each chapter, the reader is provided with knowledge about the facts of the worlds that Scott has created by Miranda, God of Knowledge (a Titan librarian and historian of the ALL). Don’t skip reading these as they contain essential information that you will undoubtedly go back to.

The story shifts back-and-forth through time, beginning in the year 2002 (January) on Planet Earth with Aja Ashe Jensen, a 17-year-old girl who lives in Maine with her father, Matthew Jensen. Vacationing at Matthew’s cabin in Naples, ME, with her dad’s friend, Dr. Theodore Kane, and his son—her best friend, Bobby—Aja is itching to take the new Ski-Doo she received for Christmas for a ride. As a blizzard is in progress, she must wait for the storm to pass.

We know almost immediately that there is something very different about Aja as she has begun to notice an electric blue and gold aura emanating from her person, while a serpent has been twisting and turning through her insides.

The next day, Aja goes for her snowmobile ride and ends up having “an accident” that results in her and her machine going through the ice and her body instantly freezes. We soon discover that Silver, God of Death, and a Titan, is responsible for the death of Aja, the Dragon. We also discover that Aja‘s father is Memnoth, God of Love, who has been hiding as a Mortal. However, not only is he God of Love, but also the God of Hate, Satan. And Lucifer is the God of Evil. I’m not clear on whether Lucifer is also Memnoth.

This is just the beginning of an extremely ambitious, complex story, that weaves in and out of time, space, and different planets that make up the ALL. The author has provided the reader with a timeline that explains the main characters, significant dates for their introduction to the tale, and how they are related but it is a bit hard to understand until we read more. There is so much going on in this story that one must pay close attention so as not to miss any key plot points.

We learn about different Immortals’ romantic relationships, how they are related to others, and what part they will play in the future of the ALL. We also learn that “before the beginning, God existed without form or substance. In the realm of Nothing, She existed as something.”  The author’s creation of the history of the universe that exists in this novel is interesting. Nothing is what we would expect based on anything in this genre we have read before. God creates time yet finds it difficult to hold Her thoughts, existing in a battle for Self. The only weapons in God’s arsenal are Her Will and Her Word but She nevertheless made nothing into something and with it created Her own body. Time confuses many cultures in the ALL and Immortals can walk through doorways into various places and times.

This book turns the myth of Creation that we understand, upside down. God created Memnoth to be different from Her and so that She wouldn’t be alone. Memnoth was her Next (soul mate). Memnoth named God, Ashe, and he loved Her, but She didn’t love him. She was not capable of emotion. So, Memnoth created Spirit, resembling DNA, compiled of threads that go beyond infinity, as well as threads of emotions, to fix her, or to give her the choice to love him or not. From this gift exploded a massive Dragon of Spirit that amalgamated itself with Ashe.

Ashe and Memnoth created Silver, God of Death, and first of the Titans. However, Silver wanted what she couldn’t have, Memnoth. Silver kills Ashe, destroying Memnoth’s love, and Memnoth, God of Love became Satan, God of Hate. Satan curses Silver to bring pain, suffering, and misery into God’s creation. And with her dying breath, the Voice of God whispered in Memnoth’s ear, “let there be life.“ “An endless explosion of God’s perfect, pure love turned nothing into Everything. God’s ALL, 12 dimensions of infinite, came into existence.”

The use of the capitalization of the pronouns is a bit tedious for this reader. However, the story itself is compelling and engaging and the author is a mad scientist genius with a wicked sense of humour.

In Part Two, we visit Planet Gella, Home of the Immortals (a place with few rules or laws) where no Immortal ever harms another as it is forbidden. The Immortal races control energy without technology. They touch sources of power and shape it to their will which is majik. What a person does with majik or tek defines if it’s good or evil. Mortals capable of doing limited majik are known as Seer, Witch, and Sorcerer.

Sel, a Dragon, falls in love with Lilith who is a Demon and a prisoner in the dungeons of The Castle Sovereign. He rescues her from the dungeons and after Lilith gets sick because she has trouble acclimating to Planet Gella, Satan (Sel’s grandfather) and Sel take Lilith to The Downstairs (where Demons are chained) and set her in Hellfire. She absorbs its energy and stores it in her heart, which restores her health. Lilith slowly finds her way to trusting and then loving Sel.

Sel is the son of Aja and Wyatt/Yennifer/Gia, and his partner is Lilith. Jaxx is the son of Sel and Lilith and his partner is Olivia. Jaxx and Olivia’s story takes place in the year 2236 on Planet Gella. Jaxx is the only Dragon with a Demon heart. He is in love with an eighteen-year-old Vampire named Olivia. Miranda helps Jaxx and Olivia understand their place in the ALL and the difference between Nothing and Everything which is very helpful to the reader.

These characters mostly behave like humans, eating, sleeping, having sex, working, and participating in a fantastical soap opera directed by Satan.

In Part Three we go to The Upstairs, a part of Hell, and a place of decadent pleasure. Cassamodia (Cassy) manages The Upstairs which is a hedonistic nightclub for every species in the galaxy. It’s where everyone comes to party in Hell. It’s also a place where they have a tough time keeping staff but when Cassy hires a human named Evangeline (Eva) she soon finds not only a capable, loyal employee, but after a long Ebezzian courtship, a life partner as well. Eva has an AI chip she calls Hal installed in her brain and it helps her to figure out how to win Cassy’s heart.

Wen, God of Chaos, is a Titan who stands between chaos and order. Her mother is Ashe, aka God. Her best pal is Beelzebub, the Chained God, who does anything he wants and makes the impossible possible. He hangs out in The Upstairs where he enjoys teasing the hell out of Eva.

In Part Four – Dragon, we’re introduced to Hugh and Alexa Nash (nee Conroy) who met in 1587 at the beheading of Mary, Queen of Scots and married soon after. Hugh Nash works for the Devil at H-Corp as a lawyer who lies for a living. And Alexa works there too. They are still working for H-Corp in 2002 and have been taking care of Aja’s body while she has been comatose. After two months in this state, Aja awakens to discover her inner Dragon who she soon discovers is her identical twin, intended as a weapon of mass destruction. Dragon keeps Aja’s body alive and teaches her that lightning is hers to command and that she can do anything she likes, even go to Mars.

Alexa (aka Lexxi) tells Aja about the true nature of her father, but Aja has trouble believing that he’s the Devil. And I mean really, who wouldn’t?

Aja meets John, a handsome young man who she discovers is a Bool joined with Yennifer, a female human, and Gia, a female two-thousand-pound polar bear. Aja is attracted to John and stalks him until she bumps into him. John can shift into Yennifer (born approx. 900 AD and raised and tortured by Silver before she turned Yennifer into Bool) and he can see the past and all possible futures. He can also shift into Gia and that is when things get remarkably interesting.

Establishing all the characters, their relationships and their place in the ALL takes up almost half the book so one must be a patient reader because the main plot point concerning Aja isn’t revisited until Chapter 16 in Part Four. I haven’t even mentioned all the characters here. There is little action in the first half of the book but this is Book #1 in The ALL series so the author intends for there to be lots more action to come.

This self-published fantasy novel has been very well edited, has striking, colourful cover art that may lead one to believe this book is for Young Adults (I would never let my children read something like this if I was a parent), and there is no denying the clever twisted mind or ambition of author, Scott. He has included a warning on Amazon to let readers know that this book is intended for people 18 years or older.

It turned my stomach to read this passage:

“Excitement coursed through Silver when she conducted her experiments. She touched herself when torturing others. The amount of animals, sentient animals, and human species the Titan tortured, raped, maimed, and murdered would have left Charles Manson vomiting and begging for it to end.”

I was afraid to read further because this isn’t the kind of content I like or am interested in, but I pushed on anyway. And that’s not all. Silver hates all cats and tortures kittens. Ugh. Silver and Lucifer help each other but as often as they do, they also screw each other over, figuratively, and literally because Lucifer only wants to make Demon Bool while Silver creates the Born Dead. They kill their assistant and lover, Dr. Susan Baker via sexual torture. The story contains considerable profanity including the F-word and C-word, so read it at your discretion.

As someone who believes in a Higher Power, reading a book like this feels like bad juju to me. It’s like watching a graphic horror movie that I must turn my head away from because I don’t want to go there anymore. The world we live in is horrific enough. However, then the author writes statements like “No abomination can stand in the Light of God.”  I’m curious as to what comes next, so I proceed. By the end of this book, the tone shifts, and the reader is left to wonder about the answers to many unanswered questions asked by Olivia. We’ll just have to wait for those answers until Scott publishes God of Everything: Book #2 The ALL.

If you read all the above and still want to read God of Nothing: Book #1 The ALL,  then this book is definitely for you. I didn’t read the Amazon warning before I read it, but I would have given God of Nothing four stars if the areas I found offensive had been toned down. All in all, Shane Scott is a writer to be reckoned with.

4 Benefits of Being Part of an Anthology

21 Resilient Women and Beyond the Smile Anthologies

There is a saying that sometimes you need to get your feet wet before you jump in the water.

Many writers who want to publish a book, take their first step by writing one chapter in a compilation of stories called an anthology.

What is an Anthology?

An anthology book is a collection of short fiction, poetry or nonfiction works (or excerpts) by a variety of authors. Typically, the book is organized around a particular subject, theme, writing style or genre.

One of the most successful anthology book series has been the Chicken Soup for the Soul series by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen.

Each book in the series is a collection of inspirational stories targeted at various markets such as pet lovers, cancer patients, nurses, new moms, runners, gardeners—the list is exhaustive.

Participation in an anthology can be by invitation for free, for pay (share of royalties or flat fee) or pay to participate, meaning that authors pay to be included in the book. In the business arena, paid anthologies are common since authors use the opportunity to promote themselves. Some projects also require authors to purchase a certain number of books either in addition to any fee or in lieu of a fee.

Authors are provided with a list of guidelines for writing and submitting drafts for their segments of the book.

The compiler or publisher bears the costs of producing the book to include editing, graphic design, layout, proofing, publishing, printing, marketing, and distribution, and retains the right to reject any author’s submission or participation in the project.

4 Benefits of Being Part of an Anthology

Less effort: Self-publishing or getting published by a regular publishing house can be quite a project! An anthology only requires authors to submit a segment and leave those details to the editor and publisher. This allows authors to concentrate on creating their best work.

Less cost: Depending on the nature of the anthology agreement, a writer can purchase books instead of a fee or pay a small participation fee which is a fraction of the cost of self-publishing. The compiler of the anthology picks up the tab for editing, design, cover design, proofreading, distribution, and launch.

In good company: Some anthologies gather top authors and experts. So, being included with recognized writers can afford less famous writers the benefit of being considered on par with them.

Today’s business card. Being able to say, “I’m one of the authors of _____” can carry a lot of weight for writers who are seeking additional writing opportunities. The book becomes a great business card! It says that someone of note considered them and their work worthy to be included.

The contacts you make can lead to a larger marketing pool. The other authors are going to market the anthology to their readers. This essentially means you get free marketing to a different audience simply because your work is compiled in the same place. It also means you might be able to market a little less than you do for your singular works because several people will be sharing this information. (No need to overdo the marketing and make readers tired of the promo.)

Here are some recent Anthology Projects we managed.

Dawn James
Managing Director, Publish and Promote
1.888.767.8423