Thursday, January 25, 2018

Takeover Thursday with Michelle Levigne ... and a GIVEAWAY!

Michelle Levigne has graciously offered to give away an electronic copy of this new release. You can enter by using the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. (Giveaway ends February 1, 2018. If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information.) Here's Michelle...

DORM RATS: The newest Neighborlee, Ohio story.

Dorm Rats is the rest of the story of Lanie Zephyr growing up, learning to be a semi-pseudo-superhero and guardian of the town of Neighborlee.

Nothing is ever simple when it involves this weird, magical, dimension-spanning town.

Neighborlee first came into existence when I wrote a short story that took place in Divine's Emporium, the central point of all the magical, weird events in town. I wrote several very short stories and made notes for more story ideas. One was published, then the online magazine I was writing them for folded.

I played with the idea of a superhero who was sick and tired of picking up after the mental midgets in the town she was assigned to protect. She quit and moved to another town, where weird things seemed to be happening, and yet no one paid much attention. She encountered another superhero, whose job seemed to consist of kicking grumbling superheroes' butts and getting them to go back to work. That story kind of died out after about one hundred pages. When I came back to it years later, it became the basis for Hero Blues. In it, Jane, a superhero called the Ghost, returns to the town where she was found as an abandoned toddler and learns more details about her mysterious past.

However, before that story was restarted and fixed and finished, I wrote a series of silly short stories dealing with Fae running amok in the mortal world and falling in love, called All's Fae in Love and Chocolate. So I had a good idea of the Fae, their society, their "justice system," and had an idea about a rebellious young Fae (young at 200 years old). Maurice pushes the envelope and gets sentenced to two years of exile in the mortal world, shrunk down to six inches tall, with shrunken magic and wings Tinkerbell wouldn't be caught dead in. He was exiled to … Divine's Emporium. I recycled and added to the first Divine's stories, basically following Maurice as he learned to temper justice with mercy and helped bumbling mortals find true love, guided by Angela, the mysterious proprietor of the shop, who is also his parole officer.

During this time, I roughed a book called Living Proof, about a wheelchair-bound comedienne who worked at a small-town newspaper and happened to be a broken semi-pseudo-superhero. Where else was I to put Lanie Zephyr but in Neighborlee? Lanie and her friends appeared in the books that followed Divine's Emporium. I figured out more about Lanie, how she and her friends landed in Neighborlee, the mystery of the Lost Kids, and other "rules" about their powers and the magical, weird, wonderful things that happen in town. I also used Neighborlee as the "landing" spot where kids from another dimension gathered in a YA fantasy series called The Hunt.

Then Splickety Magazine came into existence. They do flash fiction, which is a story of 1,000 words or less. I took it as a challenge and wrote a story about Lanie's first Christmas after she was adopted out of the orphanage. Midnight Magic dealt with her problem of trusting her new parents with the secret of her semi-pseudo-superhero powers. That was followed by several other stories of Lanie and her friends, Kurt and Felicity, as they figured things out and sometimes got in trouble. For instance, the time they decided they were aliens and tried to "phone home" at Halloween.

By this time I had a number of books planned out to follow Living Proof, but I needed to get from Lanie as the six-year-old adoptee, learning how to be a superhero from reading comic books, to Lanie with the broken back and snarky attitude, spouting one-liners. (As a side note: Lanie's humor is borrowed directly from my brother, a comedian in a wheelchair. I'm serious. He did comedy on a regular basis for many years in the Northeast Ohio area. I have his joke book for a resource.)

Thus, Growing Up Neighborlee was born. The adventures of Lanie, Kurt, and Felicity, dealing with learning their powers, their duties as guardians of Neighborlee, and the general weirdness of the town. The book goes up until Lanie's sophomore year of high school. Dorm Rats, the newest Neighborlee book, starts with a family vacation/research trip to England, then takes Lanie through college (from which comes the title, after discovering a somewhat insidious experiment, manipulating the freshmen class's living situation) and ends with the accident that lands her in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

See? How the story came to be written is not a simple answer at all.


Lanie and her Lost Kids friends continue growing into their semi-pseudo-superhero powers and responsibilities and learn more about what it means to be a guardian of the odd little town of Neighborlee. Sometimes that meant protecting the rest of the world from the everyday weirdness and magic around them. 

The transition from high school to college is marked with challenges and mystical, magical attacks from outside Neighborlee's borders. When the academic game-playing and politics of the local college are used to run a questionable experiment on the entire freshman class, Lanie is there in the middle of it. Sometimes those who realize there's something strange going on aren't as enchanted as Lanie and her geek friends, and it takes a lot of fast talking and faster maneuvering to keep the lid from blowing off the entire town.  

The threats grow bigger and the enemies grow meaner, but it's all in a day's work for the guardians of Neighborlee. This is home, and they're willing to pay the price. Sometimes, they do. With their lives.

The really big questions remain: Why are they the way they are, and how can they do the things they can do? At least when they mess up and use their talents in public, most people don't even notice. It's just part of the background weirdness of Neighborlee, Ohio.

Purchase links...

Book page at Uncial Press:

About Michelle...

On the road to publication, Michelle fell into fandom in college (she is a recovering Trekker and adores “Warehouse 13,” “Stargate SG-1,” "The Dresden Files," and "The Librarians."), and has 40+ stories in various SF and fantasy universes. She has a BA in theater/English from Northwestern College and a MA focused on film and writing from Regent University. She has published 70+ books and novellas with multiple small presses, in science fiction and fantasy, YA, and sub-genres of romance. Her official launch into publishing came with winning first place in the Writers of the Future contest in 1990. She has been a finalist in the EPIC Awards competition more than thirteen times, winning with Lorien in 2006 and The Meruk Episodes, I-V, in 2010. Her training includes the Institute for Children’s Literature, proofreading at an advertising agency, and working at a community newspaper. She freelance edits for a living ( for info/rates), but only enough to give her time to write.

Where to find her online...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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