Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Rachel's Legacy by Lizzy Stevens

Rachel Connors loved her life, and her job as a manager at a ski resort in Aspen Colorado, but after learning she was ill, she decided to take a long needed vacation to her parent's home. This was when she met Kyle Landers, who in her absence had moved into her parent's lives, and before he'd even met Rachel, Kyle had decided not to like her. Kyle had been alone in the world when Rachel's parents had taken him in; and he couldn't understand why their ungrateful daughter had chosen to distance herself from them. 

Rachel and Kyle grew closer, and she knew she was falling for him. Everything changed when Rachel was scheduled to meet Kyle, but a call from her doctor summoned her back to Aspen, telling her parents there was a problem at work. When Kyle hears of this, he boards a plane to find her, learning the truth of her condition. Their love blossomed but it was to be short lived when on their flight back to the ranch the plane crashed. Despite an extensive search, Kyle was never found, and Rachel was forced to go on without him.

Four years had passed, and Rachel's relationship with Marcus, her new boyfriend, was moving to a different level, but at the same time, the thought dead Kyle had come out of his coma; his mind lost in the events four years earlier. After Rachel accepted Marcus' proposal, Kyle returns, leaving Rachel with a dilemma. For four years Marcus had been by her side, but now Kyle was back, wanting her just as much as he had the day of the crash. She needed to get away to make her decision, so she left for Aspen, only Kyle followed her to try to convince her that they belonged together. 

Who will Rachel Chose? Is Kyle's love enough to bring her back to him?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Interview with Miss Havana

Host: Today we welcome Miss Havana, the beautiful starlet of the Miss Havana paranormal comedy series. Please, Miss Havana, have a seat.

MH (flicking her hair while looking down at the chair): Is that seat clean? Do you have a towel so I can dust it off?

Host (providing paper napkins): As I said, thank you for joining us today. We—

MH (interrupting): You wouldn’t have a glass of chardonnay would you?

Host: Ah, no, but I do have water.

MH (adjusting her mini-skirt): If that’s all you’ve got, I guess it’ll have to do. A lady simply must be careful about what she puts in her body.

Host (flipping through notes): Really? It says here you once gave birth to Lilith, Lucifer’s daughter. That would indicate you weren’t very discriminating about what you put in it back then.

MH (yawning): That’s such old news. Seducing that dolt was just a means to an end. I’ve become a better person over the years, although my ex would still choke the life out of me if he could get his grubby hands on my neck.

Host (shuffling through the pages): I wondered about that. It says here you married Samuel Jackson. The actor? Does Lucifer resent that?

MH (deep sigh): Your research sucks; I’d never marry a liberal. My Samuel Jackson is a fireman…and he understands that accidents happen.

Host (clears throat): His occupation could come in handy if Lucifer ever catches up with him.

MH (grinning): Our daughter, Angel, protects us. She has friends in high places.

Host (wide-eyed): You mean God, right? Some people think He is her real father. Is that true?

MH (scrunching up face into a scowl): All I can say is that Immaculate Conception isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Our daughter … is just an angel.

Host: My notes indicate you have two daughters now…both adopted.

MH (shaking head): Things are not always what they seem. Living or dead is not necessarily black and white in my world. Shades of grey crop up all the time.

Host (changing topic): Our audience wants to know—does Lucifer still seek to do you harm?

MH (sitting up straight and glaring into host’s eyes): My, my, we are focused on the dark side today, aren’t we? Lucifer wants to do you harm, you idiot. It’s what he does.

Host (flushing): No need to get personal. How about I just ask about your new book, The Trophy Wife? That’s due out soon, isn’t it?

MH (smiling): Don’t you just love the picture of me on the cover? I teased the photographer with that one. He sweat so much he had to clean his lens. But you are right. The book was released yesterday, February 10! I’m so excited.

Host (loosening his collar): Yes, the cover is, well, you. Can you tell us a little about the story?
 
MH (flexing her shoulders): Oh, yes. The Trophy Wife is my most outrageous novel yet. You will laugh until you cry! Because I’ve made Lucifer’s afterlife a nightmare, he kills me—again—but God intervenes. I find myself on the good side for a change. God sends my spirit to inhabit a six-year-old Cuban child, who becomes a flawed but beautiful high school teacher, and Lucifer sends our daughter Lilith, the Princess of Darkness, to haunt Lily, one of my students. Lilith rains comical torment on me like a natural enemy, and we ratchet up our level of destructiveness as we discover more of our underworld power. Murder eventually becomes an option…for both of us. Despite dips into horror and tragedy, the novel is a hilarious romp through heaven and hell. God helps me a lot, frustrating Lucifer and Lilith enough to char the pages. Even though my journey toward happiness is fraught with peril, I still find inner faith and strength along the way.

Host (glancing up to observe MH over the top of his glasses): So, you’re on the good side? That’s a new role for you, isn’t it?

MH (huffing): There you go again. Things are not always black and white and they never will be.

Host (putting down his notes): Can you give us a sample from The Trophy Wife, just for fun?

MH (rolling her eyes): That’s the reason I’m here. Here’s a couple of paragraphs where I strike back at Lilith with my famous paddle. I didn’t know I was once the Queen of Darkness at the time, or that Lilith was once my daughter, so what happens to Lily seems, well, just coincidence.

* * * *
Miss Havana then strutted to the front of the room, picked up the paddle and began tapping the rounded end on the floor. Once again her hardened glare fell on Lily. “Discipline can be a bitch. You may come to the front of the room now.”
Suddenly Lily seemed compelled to get out of her chair and walk robot-like to the front of the classroom as if on autopilot. She couldn’t scream. She knew what would happen next but seemed helpless to prevent it. Although she fought with every muscle in her body, she stooped over and grabbed her ankles. Miss Havana lined up behind her and, with all the strength she could muster, swung the paddle against Lily’s butt. Whack!
Lily danced on her toes as soon as the paddle made a fire-hot imprint on her ass. She wanted to cry out, but whispered sympathy from the other side of the door kept her in check: “Oh, my God”…“Poor Lily”…“What comes around goes around”…“That’ll leave a mark.”
* * * *
Miss Havana heard the hushed voices too, and smiled. From now on, my other students should be far more receptive to my lessons. Watching Lily gyrate in abject pain on her tippy toes produced the same reaction Miss Havana had noted before. Her private area dampened, and she secretly wished Jackson would show up to put out the flame building inside her.
When Lily stopped her dance of silence, Miss Havana blew a quick puff of breath across the surface of the paddle. “We can do this forever, Lily, or you can just stop attacking me.”
Lily shot back. “I hope you choke on the next penis you swallow!”
And Miss Havana responded without thinking, “And I hope you drown in shit, but neither is likely to happen. You may leave now.”
Both Lily and Miss Havana could hear the shuffling outside the door, like a herd of cockroaches abandoning a dumpster. Lily stormed out and slammed the door behind her.
Miss Havana sat at her desk. Her fingers twitched and tremors shook her arms. She took a deep breath and exhaled slow. Why didn’t Lily resist? I called her to the front like leading a lamb to slaughter. Does the girl actually have a shred of decency, a tiny bit of respect for authority? Miss Havana expected a showdown, and had even brought pepper spray, the “Hello Kitty” brass knuckles Duane insisted she carry…and a Taser. She thought this might be her last day teaching in a public school, but the session with Lily had gone down smoother than double malt whisky. Why?
* * * *
Lily reached the parking lot in F5 tornado rage. She wanted…needed…to destroy something…anything. She dragged her ignition key the full length of Miss Havana’s car as she passed by and then walked to each door panel and kicked it in while screaming “Bitch!” at the top of her lungs each time her foot impacted the metal. Other students gave her a wide berth. No one wanted to get involved.
Lily stormed to her Festiva, revved the engine far more than advised by the manufacturer’s owner’s manual and threw the car in gear. Her tires squealed as students scattered in all directions. She accelerated through the parking lot, ran the stop sign as she entered the main drag, and raced through the crosswalk like she had the right of way.
Two blocks from Redmond High, she rounded the corner much too fast to remain in her own lane…and slid sideways into a large yellow truck with black trim, red flashers, and the words “Stool Bus” stenciled on the doors—a vehicle owned by a local firm that profited from pumping port-a-potty effluent. The Festiva slammed into the pumping valves with such force they penetrated the vehicle’s driver’s side door just above Lily’s lap…and snapped off. Lily screeched, “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” as the entire chunky load emptied inside her car.
* * * *

MH (with sheepish grin): Okay, you get the picture. Now you need to get the novel. You can buy it at http://www.amazon.com/James-L.-Hatch/e/B005CQB6E6. (She leans forward just enough to expose the tops of her marshmallow-like breasts) I really wish you would.


Host (now sweating): Yes, yes, I will. Thank you for being with us today. (Turning to face the audience) And thank all of you wonderful people for taking the time to read this post. Just a quick reminder: The Trophy Wife makes a fantastic Valentine gift for both men and women. Nothing says “I Love You” like a good laugh.





Saturday, January 25, 2014

Announcing a New Release: Fairy, Texas

Coming from Solstice Shadows Publishing on February 4, 2014: Fairy, Texas. Here’s the blurb:

Fairy, Texas, is a small town like any other, and Laney Harris didn't want to live there. When her mother remarried and moved to Fairy, where a date meant hanging out at the Sonic, Laney figured that "boring" would have a whole new meaning. A new stepsister who despised her and a high school where she was the only topic of gossip were bad enough but, when she met the school counselor (and his terminal bad breath), she grew suspicious—he had wings only she could see. Josh and Mason also piqued her interest, two gorgeous, glimmering-eyed classmates whose interest in her might not be for the reasons she hoped. Even more, she could not begin to explain the dead guy she tripped during gym class. Perhaps Fairy, Texas, wouldn’t be so boring after all.
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Excerpt 1:

 Fairy High could have fit into one wing of my old school. The three-story, red brick building looked like it had been around for at least a century—it actually had carvings over two of the doorways that read “Men’s Entrance” and “Women’s Entrance.” I was glad to see that none of the kids paid any attention to those instructions.
   “Counselor’s office,” I muttered to myself. At least I wasn’t starting in the middle of a term—though given the fact that there were fewer than 500 students in the entire high school, I didn’t think I was going to be able to go unnoticed, even in the general bustle of the first day back from summer vacation.
   I walked through the door marked “Men’s Entrance,” just be contrary, and faced a long hallway lined with heavy wooden doors. The spaces in between the doors were filled with lockers and marble staircases with ornate hand-rails flanked each end of the long hallway. Students poured in behind me, calling out greetings to each other and jostling me off to the side while I tried to get my bearings. None of the doors obviously led to a main office; I was going to have to walk the entire length of the hallway. And people were already starting to stare and whisper.
   God. I hated being the new kid.
   I took a deep breath and stepped forward. I made it halfway down the hall without seeing anything informative—all the doors had numbers over them and many of them had name plaques, but neither of those things did me any good since I didn’t know the name or office number for the counselor. I was almost getting desperate enough to ask Kayla, but of course she was nowhere to be seen.
   I turned back from scanning the halls for her and caught sight of the first adult I’d seen—and almost screamed. As it was, I gasped loudly enough for a guy walking past me to do a double take. The man standing in the open doorway was tall, over six feet, and way skinny—so emaciated that it looked like you ought to be able to see his ribs through his shirt, if his shirt didn’t hang so loosely on him. He had white hair that stuck out in tufts, thin lips, a sharp nose, and pale blue eyes that narrowed as he watched the kids walk past—and all the kids gave him a wide berth without even seeming to notice that they did so. He stood in an empty circle while students streamed around him in the crowded hallway.
   But none of that was what made me almost scream.
   For a moment, just as I’d turned toward him, I could have sworn that I’d seen the shadow of two huge, black, leathery wings stretched out behind him.

_____________________________________________

Excerpt 2:

   “Okay, girls,” Coach Spencer yelled above the chatter around me. “We’re going to get warmed up for this year with a little run around the outer track.” She gestured toward a field off to the right of the building. I could see a dirt track wending its way along the edge, disappearing into a copse of stubby trees and scrub brush at the far end. “Four laps,” Spencer added. A general groan went up, and I was glad that the discussion at lunch had distracted me from eating too much. Late August in Texas is hot.
   “Well?” the coach said. “Get going!”
   We started off at a trot toward the field, many of the girls around me still complaining. For a moment, I considered hanging back with the crowd, but Andrew had told me that Spencer coached the girls’ track team. I wanted to impress her. So I stretched my legs out as I hit the track and settled in to a long stride, my breathing still easy.
   The afternoon sun beat down on my head. I watched the small grove grow closer, anxious for some shade. By the time I hit the bend in the track that led into the thicket, I was yards ahead of the rest of the runners—so when I rounded the curve and tripped over the body, I was all alone.
   It didn’t take long for everyone else to catch up, but it seemed like an eternity as I scrambled back, crab-like. It took a moment for my brain to translate the messages my eyes were sending it—the images coalesced slowly, like one of those magic pictures with the 3D images inside.
   He had been stretched out spread-eagle across the trail, head and feet half-concealed in the brush on either side. Blood pooled around him, sticky and half-dried at the edges. His shirt had been ripped open and a slash opened him from his throat to his stomach.
   As the other girls rounded the bend, I realized that the high, keening noise in the background was the sound of my own screaming. As soon as I realized it, I stopped, but several of my classmates picked up where I left off.
   My hands and knees were coated with blood where I had landed; my skin was tacky with it. I crawled over to the nearest bush and vomited.
   Coach Spencer shoved her way through the girls and stuttered to a stop, her hand to her mouth. “Oh, God,” she said. “It’s Cody Murphy.”
 _____________________________________________

Excerpt 3:

I was partnered with Mason Collier, the infamous football-playing, cute, but possibly black-magicky friend-of-Bartlef I’d heard about at lunch. I looked around and saw a guy waving at me from across the room. He was looking at me kind of like he was hungry and maybe I was breakfast. It worried me.
Still, at least I hadn’t been paired up with Kayla. It could have been much worse.
“Okay,” Carlson said. “Go ahead and meet with your partner and plan your strategy.”
Mason and I stood up at the same time and walked toward each other. I was so busy making sure I didn’t trip over any desks that I didn’t see Kayla headed toward me until she was right in front of me. And then she leaned in close to my face and hissed at me. “Don’t get too cozy. He’s way out of your league.”
I rolled my eyes and moved around her without responding. Three days. Three days I’d been in Fairy, and already I had an enemy. And I lived in her house. My life kept getting better and better.
Mason and I met in the middle of the room. Kayla and her friends huddled nearby, watching us.
“Hey,” Mason said.
“Hey.” Nice, neutral word, hey. Can mean almost anything. Or nothing.
“So,” he said, “where do you want to start?”
He was asking me? Where I wanted to start was away from here, where there weren’t any dead boys to trip over.
So much for that option.

_____________________________________________

About the Author

Margo Bond Collins is the author of a number of novels, including Waking Up Dead, Fairy, Texas, and Legally Undead (forthcoming in 2014). She lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, and several spoiled pets. She teaches college-level English courses online, though writing fiction is her first love. She enjoys reading urban fantasy and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about vampires, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and other monsters.

_____________________________________________

Connect with Margo
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MargoBondCollin  @MargoBondCollin
Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/vampirarchy

Be sure to add Fairy, Texas to your Goodreads bookshelves: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19502285-fairy-texas



Friday, December 27, 2013

D.M.Sears, Author and Baker

Today I welcome Diana Sears, author of Eden’s Mark, Book 1 of the Ellethny Series. Diana tells us a little about herself, and then give some insight into her new book.

·         Tell us a little about yourself.
            Let’s see, that is kind of hard. I usually don’t talk about myself, but since you asked…
            I am a mother to a 12 year old daughter. I start with that because she is my life. This whole book series began because of her (it was a bedtime story). We live in Mid-Missouri, which most of you probably think is boring, and you are right! However, I love it here, the country is peaceful.
            I am a baker on the side, when I am not working or writing, and recently was told my name about town is Cupcake Diana! I sing a lot, used to sing for weddings and such, now it is reserved for the unfortunate souls in my car and karaoke!

·         What inspired you to write your latest release?
            The Ellethny Series began as a bedtime story for my daughter when she was young. Her middle name being Eden, I thought it would be exciting for her. As the years went by, the story unfolded into this world that I never knew was inside my head. The voices began to scream at me until I wrote them down, gave them names, and a place to live. They are perfectly happy now.

·         Was there a certain moment of the book that was your favorite to write?
      I enjoyed the moments when Eden really has to think about things, come to terms with her life, her reality. We all have these moments and my goal was to create the link from character to reader, hopefully I did that.

·         Who is your favorite author?
     I have more books than I can count, so picking one is too tough. I will say, I read Eon and Eona by Alliason Goodman, Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and the four books in the Inheritance Cycle by Paolini at least 15 to 20 times a year, if not more. I am also an Anne Rice, Christine Feehan, J.R.R Tolkien, and P.C. Cast book lover too!

·         Tell us one thing about yourself that people would be surprised to find out.
     I am the biggest nerd you have ever met! I love Star Wars, Star Trek, Legend, Hobbit, and all those Sci-fi movies! My movie collection is full of them and that makes me happy. I also game, no really, WoW, Diablo 3, etc…love it all =D.

·         Do you have any advice for anyone hoping to write their first novel?
     Just keep at it! Nothing comes easy, and your first novel, novella, etc. is the same. You will find your groove and when you complete that work of art you toiled over forever, the feeling of pride and accomplishment will flood you!

Blurb: Eden's Mark, Book 1 in the Ellethny Series
What would you do if you had to save a world you knew nothing about?
Eden Arik was a typical teenager who lived the typical teenage life...until the pale eyes showed up in her dreams. The birthmark, Eden had always ignored, burned at the new nightmares, raising questions about her past. Eden finds out she is more than a mere human that is destined to save a world she never knew existed. Her only solitude is the woods behind her house where she meets a mysterious stranger with steel eyes. With the help of her guardians, two unlikely shape shifters, and a vampire who can bring her to her knees with one glance, Eden goes on to search the secrets of her past, present, and future. Along her way to discovery, Eden comes across Circenn, her grandmother, consort to the Darkness and the evil magic he possess. Circenn will stop at nothing to bring Eden to the darkness so she can harness her granddaughter's limitless power. Seduction, power, and death pave the way towards Eden's destiny and the fate of Ellethny.

Blurb: Eden's Darkness, Book 2 in the Ellethny Series
Time waits for no man, or so they say. Darkness has but a little time to find a vessel to inhabit so he can find his true form, only problem is...Eden is the key. She is tied to his future, giving him his true form, or casting him back into the shadows for another millennium. Circenn is mad with jealousy at the revelation and wants to destroy her granddaughter more than ever. 
For Eden, things just go from bad to worse. Terrifying nightmares of death and betrayal surrounds Eden, nightmares about her beloved. With a child on the way, she must protect the future ruler of her new home and raise an army to defeat Circenn and Darkness.
The life she hoped would be hers hangs in the balance in the second installment of the Ellethny Series. To be released in Feb/March 2014 from Solstice Shadows.
Excerpt from Eden's Mark 
When Gregor opened his eyes, my world shifted a tiny bit. The blood rushed through my veins and I felt it pool at my wrist. My skin tingled, my mark glowed a golden white. He sent back an expression of curiosity. I felt compelled to kiss him. I wanted, no, needed to kiss him. My soul reached out to his knowing he was meant for me alone. Our faces were closing the inch gap between us and I felt his cool sweet smelling breath on my face. My wrist pulsed out the faint golden light leaving an effervescent trail in my blood.
His lips touched mine; electricity arced down my skin fueling my desire. I pressed against him fervently as images faded in and out before me.
Excerpt from Eden's Darkness
The stone courtyard lay in the midst of large dead trees. The branches were gnarled and knotted, linking into the others forming a halo over the stone below. Night blooming flowers of scarlet and snow white covered the ground. Candles were abundant, placed in trees giving the glow of a thousand fireflies. The space held the presence of beauty and evil combined, just like Circenn. A large boulder had been placed in the middle of the courtyard, off to the left, a roaring fire blazed on.   
The sliver of moon showed her silvery beams on the giant flat rock. Linden and Bronie each had a prisoner in tow, bringing them to their fates, to the end of their lives as they knew them. Gregor struggled against his shadow bonds as he was pulled before Circenn and the vaporous figure of Darkness. Marcus had no need for restraints, he walked willingly behind Bronie, his face filled with longing and hopes to see Eve in the afterlife. 

Bio:
D.M. Sears lives in Missouri with her daughter and one crazy cat. Her first paranormal fantasy, Eden's Mark, was recently published by Solstice Publishing. D.M. Sears is a Director of an early childhood center and bakes cupcakes on the side. She loves most genres of books and has just signed a publishing contract for Eden's Darkness, Book 2 in the Ellethny Series, which will be out Feb/March 2014. 



Thursday, October 31, 2013

Winter's Spirit

Today is my Wedding Anniversary. Sixteen years ago today, we visited the Town Hall, enjoyed a small gathering at our home and finished the evening off with some fireworks and a few drinks. As it was so close to bonfire night, we didn’t actually need to buy our own fireworks either. Luck was certainly on our side.

So, today got me thinking. What traditional gift should I buy for my husband? A quick bit of research informs me that 16 years means a gift made of wax. Well, that’s a handy one. I’m sure he’d appreciate a lovely scented candle. 

So I’m looking through the list and the previous fifteen years’ worth of gifts and just checking that he has been provided with everything. 

1.    Paper – Yes. I seem to have given him lots of paper in our first year of marriage. Usually till receipts for all the shopping I did.
2.      Cotton – Yes. I’ve bought him lots of shirts over the years.
3.       Leather – Yes. He has had the honour of seeing me with a leather bag or two.
4.       Fruit – Of course. I make sure to buy him some every week.
5.       Wood. Certainly. He has been the proud recipient of some super pieces of garden fencing.
6.       Sugar and iron. Sadly, no he doesn’t take sugar. However, I have more than made up for this by providing him with an iron (usually at the weekends) and many iron nails (usually used for his no.5 gift.
7.       Wool and copper. Jumpers – yes – there have been many. Copper –lots of coins – he has his own jar for loose change.
8.       Bronze and pottery.  I failed with bronze, but always provide him with at least one piece of pottery every evening with his dinner.
9.       More pottery and willow.  I think we’ve covered the pottery.
10.   Tin, aluminium. Yes. Often used to wrap his sandwiches in the absence of some Tupperware.
11.   Steel. Does the car count?
12.   Silk and linen. Bedding covered with that one.
13.   Lace. No comment readers.
14.   Ivory. No. Illegal.
15.   Crystal. We have some lovely wine glasses.

Wow. He’s one lucky man. Bet he can’t wait for the next 16.

Speaking of gifts, the heroine in my story, Winter’s Spirit, runs a gift store. It’s full of all sorts of exciting goodies. Come through the door with me now and have a look around. I’m sure you’ll find something in there you’d like.

Winter’s Spirit Blurb:

Winter McAndrew is on the brink of divorcing her philandering husband, Philip, when he dies in a car crash. One year later and with unfinished business; Philip is still earth bound and interfering in his wife’s love life. Trying to make amends isn't always easy when you're dead. Not only has Winter fallen for her old crush, Jack Tobin, but he also happens to be Philip’s cousin. With more complications than a woman needs at Christmas, Winter tries to find peace at her holiday home in The Lake District. However, when she finds herself snowed in with Jack; ghosts, old and new cause quite a stir. Will Winter get her man, or will ghostly Philip put an end to all her festive fantasies?

Excerpt:

“Oh heck,” she muttered. Not only did the vase shatter, but so too did her sexy daydream. Would it ever be possible for her to get though one of these daytime fantasies without breaking something in the shop? Last week it had been a coffee mug, the week before, a china soap dish. It wouldn’t do to get her sister too suspicious.

“Tut, tut,” came the voice she was fast learning to hate. “Not another one of your smouldering day dreams I hope.”

She turned around to see Philip; floating somewhere between the fragranced soaps and bath bombs.

“I’m starting to get annoyed at you just turning up here uninvited, Philip. Can’t you send out a psychic calling card or something? Or even better, leave me alone.”

He grinned, displaying his still perfect white teeth. Sadly, death had done little to deteriorate his charming good looks. “I can’t leave you until the deed is done. Whatever it may be. You know full well I need to do my good act on earth before I can pass over.”

“Well hurry up and do it. It’s been a full year already. I thought you would have figured it out by now. Haven’t you any idea what it is you need to do?”

“No. I haven’t. Believe me, I wish I could. This situation is just as bad for me as it is for you. I didn’t ask for it. Or this.” He gestured towards his attire. “It’s bloody freezing at the best of times, but this week has been awful. The cold gets everywhere.”

“Perhaps you should have thought about your appearance before you died in a hospital gown. I’ve no sympathy at all. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to tidy this mess before Summer comes in.”

“Ah, yes. You wouldn’t want her to see the evidence of your day dreams would you? If only I could read your mind dear wife. I’d love to know who is occupying your thoughts these days.”

“Well let me assure you, it isn’t you. Now go.” He folded his arms sulkily and vanished into the ether.

“Good riddance,” she muttered, bending to pick up the pieces of the broken vase. Her occasional clumsiness could be explained away, but she shuddered at the prospect of explaining her dead husband’s haunting. 

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About the author; Deborah Melanie writes romantic stories, is the wife of a retired semi-professional footballer and lives in the historical town of Northampton.




Author’s Twitter Page ; https://twitter.com/deborah_melanie

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Skunk Ape Semester


Miss Havana: (flashing a “come hither” smile at Mike Robinson): Oh, my, do I have a treat for all my lovely visitors today—and for me as well—an outstanding writer, the author of Skunk Ape Semester. Now, let’s be real, with a title like that, the book must be outstanding, right? So, I want to delve right to the heart of things … you know, get to the most important questions first if Mr. Robinson doesn’t mind. (Miss Havana leans forward, rests her elbow on the table and places her chin on her closed fist) Tell me, Mike, are you married?

MR (blushes): Ah, no, I'm not married. How is that relevant to Skunk Apes?

MH (flexing her shoulders forward playfully): I’m not entirely certain what a Skunk Ape is, Mike. Please tell me … and then I might be able to answer your question.

MR (looking incredulous): Even blondes know what a Skunk Ape is. Are you pulling my leg?

MH (shrugging and with an even blanker look than normal): Well, maybe not everyone.

MR (sighs): A Skunk Ape is a sasquatch … a Bigfoot.

MH (eyes lighting up and grinning as she glances toward the ceiling): I dated a guy with big feet once. It’s true what they say.

MR (rolling his eyes; shaking his head): Any chance we could get back on topic? I’d like to tell you a little about my book. It’s about a paleontologist and three students who go on a quest to find a Skunk Ape. They travel from place to place meeting level-headed and eccentric characters and, in seeking Bigfoot, Chupacabras, UFOs, goblins and lake monsters, they discover truths about themselves and one another.

MH (clapping her hands together; grinning from ear-to-ear): I knew a paleontologist once. His name was Jeremy and he liked to jump my bones. As a kid, he claimed that meeting a ghost would be more exciting than meeting a girl. I never believed that because he hadn’t met me yet. Too bad he married that Sheri Belhem girl before he finished college. I would have been a lot more fun.

MR (Snorts. Clearly irritated): I heard about that, but you told him your name was Beth. Jeremy is my main character.

MH (eyes wide open): Oh, dear. I hope he isn’t one of those loose-lipped guys who kisses and tells all the sordid details. What did he say about me?

MR (places hand on forehead, grimaces): Nothing … nothing good at all. As I was saying, my book is about an experience with a Sasquatch Jeremy Fishleder had when he was ten, and his subsequent quest to re-capture that moment as an adult.

MH (dabbing on face powder): Interesting. So, how would you classify your book? What genre?

MR: I’d call it a Literary Paranormal Road Trip. I try to go where no others have gone before.

MH (looking puzzled): You mean, like Star Trek?

MR: No, no … that’s not what I mean. All I’m saying is that my genres are unique. My novel, The Green-Eyed Monster is a horror-mystery, and The Prince of Earth is literary horror. My forthcoming Negative Space is uniquely genre-less. Honestly. Read it and tell me what exactly it is … if you can. It has elements of "coming of age" and "thriller," but those descriptions just don’t encompass all of it. You can read … can’t you?

MH (snapping her purse closed; curls upper lip and casts an angry glare): Of course I can read … I’m a substitute teacher. But I’m not teaching now. I’m learning. Do you have children?

MR (raising his eyebrows): I told you … I’m not married.

MH: Well, duh. The two aren’t necessarily connected. Are you evading my question because of child support issues? I can assure you, the IRS rarely reads my blogs.

MR (gasping; places splayed fingers over sternum): You are one messed up character, Miss Havana, I’ll give you that. No, I don’t have children. Unless you count brainchildren. They can be just as messy as the real ones, in a more metaphysical sense.

MH (Huffs): Well, I did like Jeremy, so your brainchildren must be pretty good. (She sighs) For an average-looking zoology professor, he had his moments. Why don’t you give our visitors a look into your book, a little excerpt to whet their appetite?

Mike Robinson
MR: Sure. Picture this:

The night is a bristly alive thing in the Florida summer, and it spreads from the shadows and comes in close and suffocating while concealing secrets rarely glimpsed. I was a kid when I encountered one of these secrets, barely a decade removed from my physical birth, and it was then that the real Jeremy Fishleder was born.

As I sat alone the smell returned but it was faint and hollow, so much so I initially took it as an imaginative perversion of some other smell, if not downright fabricated by my heightened, caffeinated senses.

I righted at the sound of disturbed foliage and snapping branches. Something big lurked on the fringe our backyard, just beyond the light of the back porch. Fortunately for the adult into whom I would later develop, my young fears weren’t big enough to drive me into the house, screaming and disrupting Mom’s phone call and who knows what else. At this point – God knows why, given the last month – curiosity trumped fear.

I waited and tried to peer past the foliage, then got up and went down the porch steps to the grass when something truly did make me halt in fright: the smell, oh God the smell, that sulfurous stench that was like a harsh olfactory whip, bladed and terrible, worse than anything I’d smelled of it prior.

There was something there. Two eyes glinted back at me from the brush, elevated in the darkness. I assumed it a deer, especially in the way the animal froze.

But the smell grew. Deep and musky. Wild.

Then the lighted eyes rose -- it was definitely taller than a deer. Maybe six feet. I stepped back. We stared at one another across a gulf not only of species but of spirit, two entities from two different dimensions suddenly intersected.

The eyes rose a final time as it stood its full height, and for a long second all of civilization drained from me. It was gargantuan.

And cautiously, it came forward and the light drew it further and further into form.

The thing emerged from the fringe of the backyard and I stepped back. Our eyes remained dead-locked and I could see them better, see them deeper and they were orange-tinted, small citrus gleams alien but identifiably terrestrial, even twistedly empathetic. The animal was bipedal, more erect than most people I see, and so goddamn massive – to my child brain, a Rose Parade float. All functions in my young body came to a standstill. It was like a childhood fantasy thrust upon me, a trespassing dream lost in reality, and I had no reaction other than a strange sensation that straddled the line between awe and terror.

The creature stood and looked towards the house, then back into the warm syrupy wilderness from which it had come stomping. The odor held firm and strong, a noxious force field. It opened its mouth as if to yawn and I could see long wet canines. Then the mouth closed sharply and the head – which was fastened directly to the shoulders with no discernible neck – slanted back and from the depths of its throat issued a burst of whooping noises that ranged from fleeting to full, long and slow. Its body responded to each whoop with a tremble that ruffled the lengthy silver-blue hairs hanging like coarse tinsel from its skin.

Then it turned, moved, and was gone.

Hurrying back inside, I went for the first visible person which was my father. Though I stammered and was probably somewhat incoherent, he was patient enough to bring it out of me.

“What’s wrong, Jeremy?” he asked.

MR: Does that pique your interest, Miss Havana?

MH: Sounds wonderful, Mike. You’ve got my attention, and apparently the attention of others as well. I loved the reviews below.

"One of the best books I've read this past decade." 
------ Leslie Ann Moore, award-winning author of Griffin's Daughter

"I loved this book! Are you interested in the weird and unexplained? SKUNK APE SEMESTER by Mike Robinson’s a page-turning road trip--a journey of the mind, heart, and spirit. I was captivated from the first page, and I learned a lot. Most of the stories in this novel (other than Bigfoot) I'd never heard of before. You'll like the characters and feel like you took this fascinating journey with them."
------ Syrie James, international bestselling author of The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen and Dracula, My Love

“‘On the Road’ meets ‘The X-Files’!”
------ Marla Miller, author and columnist

"A love song to Fortean Americana....a truly unique book."
 ----- Richard Freeman, author / researcher

MH: I’ll read Skunk Ape Semester, and then review it here on my blog in the near future. I look forward to it. How would our visitors find you?

MR: That’s an easy one: mike.blackrat@gmail.com. Readers can find the book at http://www.amazon.com/Skunk-Ape-Semester-ebook/dp/B0076S5TH8/ref=tmm_kin_title_0. But here’s a question that’s not easy. This blog is part of a scavenger hunt. Your readers need to answer the following question at http://cryptopia-blog.com/ to be eligible to win: What phony name did Miss Havana give Jeremy when she toyed with him in college?

MH: Hey … I don’t tell anyone my real name until I get to know them better … and the phone number I gave him was for the IRS.

Thanks for reading!

James L. Hatch
amazon.com/author/jameshatch 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Secrets of the Subplot


James Hatch, I thank you for hosting me on the website with my favorite name in cyberspace. I’ve got a few literary thoughts to offer as well as info on my new novel, The Maxwell Vendetta, and I hope your readers will enjoy the thoughts and, of course, buy the books. Yes, books, plural. The Second Vendetta is the sequel to The Maxwell Vendetta and they’ll make a great pair for your library. Anyhow, here we go:

Secrets of the Subplot

There’s lots of ink devoted to plot technique, but relatively little to the subplot. It also seems to me that contemporary writers pay scant attention to this opportunity not only to spice up the action, but to add dimension and depth to their work.

The still-reigning subplot king is the bard of Avon. From the Toby Belch-Maria-Aguecheek-Malvolio action in Twelfth Night to the Laertes-Ophelia-Polonius family dynamics in Hamlet, Shakespeare knows how to keep us so involved in the secondary action that we sometimes forget what’s happening with the main characters. But never for long. In the end, he always brings the two streams of action together in a way that not only complements but enlarges and influences primary plot and character. In Twelfth Night, the humiliation of the Puritan Malvolio serves as a warning to those who would overreach and pervert the course of true romance such as that of Duke Orsino-Viola and Sebastian-Olivia. In Hamlet, of course, Laertes becomes the instrument by which Hamlet not only accomplishes his goal of avenging his father’s death, but fashions his own demise as well.

A more modern example is F. Scoot Fitzgerald’s use of Nick Carraway as the narrator of the title character’s rise and fall in The Great Gatsby. So skillful is Nick’s storytelling that it’s easy to forget that he’s romanticizing the image of a narcissistic gangster with a perverted idea of love. In that sense, the book is as much about Nick as about Gatsby. However, Gatsby carries the story, and important as he is, Nick’s part in the action is a subplot, an essential element without which the story would not have happened as it did, but is nevertheless background. Gatsby & Daisy are the characters we remember. Nick brings them together, and Nick helps Gatsby cover his and Daisy’s hit and run. But Fitzgerald is not satisfied with only one subplot. It’s a character from a second—George, the husband of the hit-run victim—from killing Gatsby and bringing the whole edifice tumbling down. We, the readers, view Gatsby’s death, then, not so much as martyrdom, as Nick does, but as rough justice. The point here being that 1) Without the subplot(s) the main plot could not survive; 2) without the subplots the view of Gatsby as a victim of his romantic yearnings would remain untarnished.

Different though they are, the common thread running through all these works is that the subplot operates parallel to the main action, but merges with and becomes vital to the finish. Furthermore, the subplots add color and dimension to the ideas and themes which would be impossible without them.

I offer here an illustration from my own work, not because I count myself in the ethereal realms of these masters, but because I believe it’s important to study and learn from them. Plus, of course, I want to plug my book.

In my recently released historical thriller, The Maxwell Vendetta, Andy Maxwell sets out to quash a vendetta that threatens to wipe out his prominent family and destroy their Sierra Nevada Ranch. The inciting incident is the murder of his younger brother on a San Francisco sidewalk in the summer of 1908. Along the way, Andy runs into a Chinese underworld lord named Charley Hung, to whom said brother owed a considerable sum, which Hung wants to collect from Andy. Andy goes through some harrowing adventures to escape Charley and his henchmen early in the book, then proceeds to his main mission of defeating the main agent of the vendetta, one Michael Yellow Squirrel. Near the end of the book, just when it appears Andy is about to accomplish his goal, Charley’s minions show up again at a most unexpected time and place and put his entire scheme in jeopardy.

True to the principles I’ve outlined above, these subplot characters become essential to the book’s finale, and (I hope) help add some texture to this novel that is more than an action-adventure-romance tale, but one with some telling insights into such matters as racism and political corruption as they manifest not only at the turn of the last century, but even today.

Give it a go at http://amzn.to/16KTlyU, & don’t pass up its sequel, The Second Vendetta at http://amzn.to/PXmxt8.

Biography—Carl R. Brush

Carl Brush has been writing since he could write, which is quite a long time now. He grew up and lives in Northern California, close to the roots of the people and action of his historical thrillers, the recently-released The Maxwell Vendetta, and its sequel, The Second Vendetta. A third volume of the trilogy, set in pre-gold-rush San Francisco is nearing completion. Its working title: Bonita.

You can find Carl living with his wife in Oakland, California, where he enjoys the blessings of nearby children and grandchildren.

Journals in which his work has appeared include The Summerset Review, Right Hand Pointing, Blazevox, Storyglossia, Feathertale, and The Kiss Machine.  He has participated in the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Tin House Writers’ Workshop.