Saturday, March 19, 2016

Koolura and the Mayans (Koolura series Book 3) by Michael Thal

I'm honored to host author, Michael Thal, on my blog today. Today marks the release of his latest novel, Koolura and the Mayans (Koolura series Book 3) which is available on Amazon.

I want to wish Michael the very best of luck with his new endeavor.


Koolura is no ordinary girl. Neither is her best friend Leila. While visiting Mexico, the girls discover a device which hurtles them back in time to an early Mayan civilization. The Mayans have troubles of their own—the alien Aquari people have all but enslaved them. They need a goddess to set them free. Could Koolura be the one?


Twelve-year-old Koolura Akopyan stood in the middle of her bedroom, staring at the open suitcase on her bed. She looked at what she had already packed. “Okay, I think I have everything. Laptop and books are in the backpack. Clothes and bridesmaid’s dress in the suitcase.” She paused and flopped onto the bed. “Gosh, I can’t believe Daddy and Terri are finally getting married.”

Koolura took a deep breath and stared out her window. Palm tree fronds swayed in a gentle Southern California breeze under a cloudless sky. Her room was decorated in a seaside motif with navy blue pillows pressed against the headboard and resting on a turquoise comforter. The ceiling was dotted with billowy white clouds she had painted during a boring winter vacation.

“Enough daydreaming, time to go.” After all, there was a wedding to attend in beautiful Oaxaca, Mexico. It would be followed by a parade with a mariachi band and Mayan dancers and then a big wedding reception and party.

She stood up and latched shut her suitcase. Then she slung her backpack over one shoulder and picked up her suitcase with her other hand. She thought of the weekend trip she and her dad took to visit her best friend forever (BFF) Leila and her parents a few months ago. The drive to Marin County had been seven hours of boredom.

This will be a lot quicker.

Then, focusing on the memory of Leila’s bedroom, Koolura evaporated into a burst of white light reappearing instantly at a doorway on the second floor home across the bay from San Francisco.

“I did it!” She grinned just as Leila poked her head out of the bathroom and jumped.

“Oh! You frightened me.”

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to,” Koolura signed in American Sign Language (ASL). “The good news is that I’m hitting the bullseye more often now when teleporting.”

Leila giggled. “The last time we teleported together you missed the boat and we had to swim 100 yards.” She wrapped her arms around her friend and gave Koolura a warm hug.

Koolura hugged back and then stepped into Leila’s room. “Huge improvement,” she signed, wide-eyed. Lavender drapes covered the windows looking out at the Golden Gate Bridge in the distant background. Wallpaper on one wall showed large black and gold circles floating into each other.

Koolura plopped onto the loveseat, taking it all in. “Sure beats my marina bedroom by a nautical mile.”

Leila’s freckled cheeks swelled into a grin. “Thanks. So fill me in. What’s the plan with this trip?”

“Simple. My dad bought us tickets to Oaxaca, Mexico, where he’ll meet us at the airport.”

“Oh, so we’re flying?”

“Not exactly.” Koolura’s eyes twinkled with mischief. “I’ve cashed in our tickets to Oaxaca for pocket money. We’ll fly back to California with Dad and Terri, so we’ll keep those. I’ll teleport us straight to the hotel in Oaxaca. I’ll tell Dad we arrived early and grabbed a shuttle from the airport to save him time.”

Leila shook her head, but was grinning. “Don’t you mind lying to your dad?”

“I hate it,” Koolura signed. “But Dad doesn’t know I can teleport, fly, and heal the sick. All he knows is that I have the power of telekinesis.”

“Moving objects with your mind?” Leila signed.

“Yeah. That scares him enough. I don’t want to freak him out any more than I have to.”

Leila nodded knowingly. When Koolura first revealed her powers to Leila at Camp Saddleback, she had thought Koolura was an alien from a faraway star.


The Legend of Koolura was Michael’s debut novel. This was shortly followed by Goodbye Tchaikovsky. Two years later, Koolura and the Mystery at Camp Saddleback was published. What began as an impromptu story for his daughter blossomed into the Koolura Series. Koolura and the Mayans is the third installment in the series.

Michael has a masters’ degrees in Education from Washington University, St. Louis and California State University, Northridge. Previously a middle school teacher, after suffering from a severe hearing loss leaving him near deaf, Michael redefined himself to become an award winning writer.

Koolura and the Mayans (Koolura series Book 3) is now available on Amazon

Friday, March 4, 2016

What would you do if you could vanish?

Lola’s not pretty. Lola’s not popular. Lola wishes she could disappear … and then one day she does just that...

For seventeen-year-old Lola Savullo, life is a struggle. Born to funky parents who are more in than she could ever be, Lola’s dream of becoming a writer makes her an outsider even in her own home. Bullied and despised, Lola still has the support of her best pal Charlie and Grandma Rose.

Not only is she freakishly tall, Lola’s a big girl and when forced to wear a bathing suit at her summer job as a camp counselor, Lola’s only escape from deep embarrassment seems to be to literally vanish. Soon after, she discovers the roots of her new “ability”.

Slowly, with Charlie’s help, Lola learns to control the new super power. The possibilities are endless. Yet power can be abused, too…

When tragedy strikes, Lola must summon her inner strength, both at home and at school. She has to stand up for herself, despite the temptations and possibilities of her newfound super power.

A coming-of-age story that will warm the heart.

For a limited time, the ebook will be available for just 99 cents (FREE for KU)


Chapter One

“Lola, get your suit on and help supervise the pool. The more eyes the better,” Justine, the athletic, sun-kissed, twenty-one-year-old camp director ordered once we wrangled our none-too-obedient charges off the bus. The gaggle of four to eight year olds ran around in a loud, unruly horde as soon as their sneakered feet hit the parking lot pavement. Counselors soon managed some semblance of organization. Calls for straight lines and, “Hey, get back here,” reached my ears.

Luckily, my group was well behaved, perhaps because I had the fewest kids—only six of them and most, thank God, were girls.

“Lola?” Justine was beside me, glaring. “Didn’t you hear me?”

Without looking at her, I shook my head no. But I had heard her, loud and clear, except I wanted desperately to push her words away, hoping she’d recant and it would be business as usual.

“Get. Your. Suit. On,” she said again and this time, my heart took off in a sprint.

“What? Why?” I tried to hide the wobble in my voice. It was my job to watch the kids who weren’t swimming—the ones who’d left their suits at home or didn’t feel well.

Curious, expectant gazes turned to my way as fellow counselors waited with evil half-grins, for my reaction. Although no one, except my best friend Charlie, knew how I felt about wearing a bathing suit, I realized my co-workers had to be aware of my private horror, because it was the horror of every fat girl.

Justine sighed as she flipped through the sheets on her clipboard, running a finger down the column of names. “No campers are sitting out today, Lola, so you have to help supervise the pool.”

The impossible had just happened. In my three summers as a counselor, there had always been at least one measly kid who didn’t swim on pool day.

For one long, awkward moment, I stood frozen in place. How could I get out of this? A sudden migraine? My period? I tried to speak, but nothing came out except a tiny, almost inaudible, moan.

Justine rolled her eyes and walked away, taking my chance for escape with her. I searched through my bag for my black one-piece, barely able to see a thing through my tear-blurred eyes. Somehow, I managed to stuff away the panic and gather the nerve to march past my co-workers, who I’d never thought of as friends, despite working with them summer after summer.

Finally, in the dank change room, I entered an empty stall and locked the door with shaky fingers. I was sweating from both the heat and anxiety. The stench of my panic filled my nostrils as I felt around in my bag for a stick of deodorant, though I knew full well, I wouldn’t find one. With a sigh, I stretched my suit over sweat-slicked skin, wriggling and struggling to pull it up past wide hips and a bulging belly.

A moan escaped me. Not only was I fat, I was freakishly tall. God only knew why, since Mom was petite and Dad was on the short side. My older sister, Eva, was the spitting image of Mom, fair and fine boned. Apparently, I took after Dad’s side—bulky, dark, and thick. I must have gotten some of Uncle Sammy’s genes, the giant of the family, who topped out at six foot five.

I peered down at the coarse dark hair creeping up my calves to just past my knees, where it gradually petered out. My insides dropped as if I’d placed a foot on a step that wasn’t there. I ran a hand across the tops of my thighs. The triple bulge of my belly prevented a good look at what my hand told me was a sorely neglected bikini area. There had never been a reason to shave. Even in the blazing August heat, I wore baggy cotton Capri pants, never exposing more than an ankle.

My throat pulsed with an ache to cry and my eyes misted again. I swallowed my distress and pinched away tears. It would be torturous enough to step out of the change room looking like this, but I wouldn’t give the other counselors the satisfaction of watching me have a meltdown. I lifted my chin in resolve and opened the door. As I peeked out, I spied a line of girls jumping with excitement and a few harried counselors corralling them to the exit.

A whistle blew, signaling the beginning of the session. Screams of delight filled the air, as the kids ran to the pool and jumped in, finding relief from the ninety-degree heat.

I fastened a towel around my waist as best I could. Towels never seemed large enough to wrap completely and comfortably around the bulge of my belly. To the pool I went, treading silently so as not to draw attention.

“Where’s Lola?” Sonia, a counselor, asked loudly to no one in particular.

She had to be joking. I was no more than a foot from her as I trudged to the edge of the pool, where I yanked off my towel and splashed clumsily into the cool water.

“Yeah. Where is that hippo?” Jerod replied, looking around, a wide smile on his face. He was a year younger than me, but looked older with his muscular build and chiseled jaw.

“I hope she doesn’t show,” he continued, “who wants to see that thing in a bathing suit anyway?”

Sonia made her way over to Jerod, laughing a little too hard. She put a hand on his shoulder and sat beside him; both dangled long slender legs in the water. “Maybe she ran away. Can’t really blame her. I’d never wear a bathing suit if I was that fat,” Sonia said.

Puzzlement and anger competed within me. I was standing in the pool right in front of them! Jerod lifted a leg and kicked at the water; splashes hit my face, making me turn away. I was used to rude comments and knew what everyone thought of me, but this was beyond mean. I couldn’t stop the tears from spilling down my cheeks. An urge to tell them off surged through me. Instead, I slipped under the water, hoping to wash away the evidence of my pain.

Kids bounced all around me, laughing and playing. Justine stood like a sentinel, a Baywatch babe in her red suit, one hand gripping an emergency flotation device. Her steel blue eyes were focused on the pool.

Jerod jumped in, nearly landing on me, but I managed to get out of the way just in time. Blood rushed to my temples and pounded there, giving me an instant headache. I hurled myself at him, elbows aimed at his chest. I hit nothing but air and flew into the rough concrete wall of the pool, scraping a hole in my one-piece and rubbing raw a patch of skin. Blood pin-pricked to the surface.

“Hey,” I screamed, bewildered. How the hell did he get out of the way so fast?

Jerod slipped under the water looking like a god, all six-packed lean muscle, and emerged at the other end of the pool in one long, slick glide.

I pulled myself out of the water, slipping one chubby leg over the lip then landing on my side like a beached whale. After struggling to my feet and gathering up what was left of my dignity, I marched over to Justine.

“Did you see what that asshole just did?” I hollered. She was my boss and could probably can my ass for the way I’d just spoken to her but I couldn’t help it. Frustration and anger had hijacked my brain.

Justine brought the whistle hanging from her neck to her lips and blew two sharp blasts, making my ears ring. “Stop horsing around,” she called to a group of boys, who immediately offered up sheepish grins and stopped their horseplay.

What the hell? I moved directly in front of her so she could no longer ignore me. “Justine?”

She stared past me, eyes still glued to the action in the pool. I reached to touch her shoulder but impossibly, my hand fell through her.

“Justine?” I called again, this time louder, my voice panic-laced. With both hands, I grabbed her, or tried to. Again, it was as if she wasn’t there. My mind was swept along in a current of anxiety. What was happening?

Then it hit me... it was me who wasn’t there.


I've worked as a professional editor for one of the world's largest publisher for over twenty-five years and have written two novels and two novellas. Invisible is the closest to my heart.

When not writing, I enjoy spending time with my husband, Dave and our daughters, Nina and Sara as well as our fur babies, Spencer (a badly behaved Tabby) and Lila, a sweet Boston Terrier.

You can find me on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter

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