Wednesday, October 17, 2012

This week I had the pleasure of reading Baby, Species Intervention #6609, a novel by J.K. Accinni (edited/published by Skinny Leopard Media). As fate would have it, only last week I blogged about the reasons I read/write Sci-Fi at the Sweet N Sexy Divas blogspot, and it is against that blog I rate Baby as a solid five-star read. As stated in my blog, my criteria for outstanding Sci-Fi are imagination, technology, believability and some link to a fundamental force in the Universe larger than us. Baby brought all of those elements together, plus a compelling story that I couldn’t put down.

Baby tells the plight of a poor young woman, Netty, who escapes a brutal and violent marriage. Netty’s husband, twenty-two years her senior, is a corrupt judge during the time of prohibition (1929). As a lawyer years earlier, he discovered Netty inherited land and money she knows nothing about, and he married Netty to get her wealth. When he plans Netty’s death several years later, she escapes to a childhood hiding place. It is there she encounters a dying Oolahan, a creature who crash-landed on earth. That’s where the story gets incredibly interesting.

Author J.K. Accinni
The Oolahan can heal living things, but not themselves. Netty nurses the creature back to life, and they establish a lifelong bond. Astonishingly, Netty’s dilapidated farm undergoes a metamorphosis that defies logic as the Oolahan gets stronger, and J.K. Accinni develops the relationship between the two so carefully the reader will fall in love with them both. Hard work brings some success to Netty, but she can scarcely keep up. She subsequently saves Wil, a younger man, from freezing to death, and the two become close as he pitches in to help with the chores. Wil eventually discovers “Baby,” the Oolahan, and the three of them blossom into a loving family.

There are, however, downsides. Both Wil and Netty are changed, physically and mentally, by Baby. Alas, Netty’s  husband  remains a mean-spirited brute with far reaching influence. When her husband re-discovers his wife, and realizes his claim to her inheritance could be challenged, he moves to have everyone associated with her eliminated. Murder after murder follows, and the story of love becomes one of heartache and horror.

But wait, there’s more. Netty, Baby and Wil have all changed … to the point they transcend death. And Baby has produced an offspring of his own. The retributions begin, and we find even the kindest creature imaginable is capable of vengeance.

Beyond a fantastic and imaginative storyline, there is also this: the book is extremely well-edited and the vocabulary is refreshing. J.K. Accinni is an articulate and masterful storyteller with a solid understanding of grammar. I loved reading this novel. You will too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Notes from Annual NM Chili Cook-off

For those of you who have lived in New Mexico, you know the truth of this story. The annual Chili Cook-off is held about the time Halloween comes around, and takes up a major portion of a parking lot at the Santa Fe Plaza. Judge #3 was an inexperienced chili taster named Frank, who was visiting from  Springfield, IL.

Frank: "Recently, I was honored to be selected as a judge at a chili cook-off. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge's table, asking for directions to the Coors Light truck, when the call came in. I was assured by the other two judges (Native New Mexicans) that the chili wouldn't be all that spicy; and, besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted and became Judge #3."

Here are the scorecard notes from the event:


Judge # 1 - A little too heavy on the tomato.  Amusing kick. 
Judge # 2 - Nice, smooth tomato
flavor. Very mild. 
Judge # 3 (Frank) - Holy crap, what the hell is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway with it. Took me two beers to put the flames out. I hope that's the worst one. These New Mexicans are crazy.


Judge # 1 - Smoky, with a hint of pork. Slight jalapeno tang. 
Judge # 2 - Exciting BBQ flavor, but needs more peppers to be taken seriously. 
Judge # 3 - Keep this out of the reach of children. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to taste
besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.


Judge # 1 - Excellent firehouse chili. Great kick. 
Judge # 2 - A bit salty; good use of peppers. 
Judge # 3 - Call the EPA. I've located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting
 Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now. Get me more beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the back. Now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I'm getting shitfaced from all the beer.


Judge # 1 - Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing. 
Judge # 2 - Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods, not much of a chili. 
Judge # 3 - I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to taste it. Is it possible to burn out taste buds? Sally, the beer maid, was standing behind me with fresh refills. This very ugly woman is starting to look HOT ... just like this nuclear waste I'm eating! Is chili an aphrodisiac?


Judge # 1 - Meaty, strong chili.  Jalapeno peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick. Very impressive. 
Judge # 2 - Chili using shredded beef, could use more tomato. Must admit the jalapeno peppers make a strong statement. 
Judge # 3 - My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted, and four people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue
from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from the pitcher. I wonder if I'm burning my lips off. It really ticks me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming. Screw them.


Judge # 1 - Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spices and peppers. 
Judge # 2 - The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, garlic. Superb.
Judge # 3 - My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames. I crapped on myself when I farted, and I'm worried it will eat through the chair. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except that Sally. Can't feel my lips anymore. I need to wipe my butt with a snow cone.

Judge # 1 - A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers. 
Judge # 2 - Ho hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. I am worried about Judge #3. He appears to be in a bit of distress as he is cursing uncontrollably. 
Judge # 3 -You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn't feel a thing.  I've lost sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which slid unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava to match my shirt. At least during the autopsy, they'll know what killed me. I've decided to stop breathing. It's too painful. Screw it; I'm not getting
any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I'll just suck it in through the four-inch hole in my stomach.

Judge # 1 - The perfect ending. This is a nice blend chili. Not too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence. 
Judge # 2 - This final entry is a good, balanced chili. Neither mild nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge #3 farted, passed out, fell over and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself. Not sure if he's going to make it. Poor fella. I wonder how he'd react to really hot chili.
Judge # 3 - No report.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Vampire Tales from the Mind of Tony-Paul de Vissage

Did anyone hear about that little vampiric uprising that was held back in 1422 in Transylvania?  It made all the newspapers at the time, and the town criers were yelling about it from one street corner to the next.

Seems Baslo Rigla, Domnitor (that’s leader, to you English-speakers) of the nosferatu had to put down a revolt by one of his fledglings. They met in Transylvania, in a little place called, appropriately enough, Vale lui Destrugere (Valley of Destruction) and believe me, it was. All the rebels were killed, except one, and he—the upstart who started the whole mess, one Vlad Chemare by name—suffered the most extreme punishment of all. While his followers were burned to ash by the morning sun rising over the valley, Vlad was buried alive in an unmarked grave.

Rigla laughed all the way back to his castel and a long time afterward, as he sipped from a good dark wine, vintage Romanian Nobility, 1399. Unfortunately for Rigla, he forgot that Vlad had a very faithful thrall who was determined to find his master no matter how long it took.

So, in 2012, when a certain Marius Racleta flew out of Aeroportul International Bucuresti Henri Coanda from Bucharest, Rigla had no idea what was going to happen.  Had he known, perhaps he wouldn’t have been so complacent, sitting there in the ballroom-converted-into-an-audience-chamber in the abandoned mansion in Savannah, Georgia.  For that plane carrying Marius also carried a coffin in its luggage hold, in which a certain still-rebellious but now very much older and wiser nosferatu rested, in his sleeping heart a desire for revenge a-simmering…until he reached the Land of the Free and the Home of the Prey and ran into very much Undead Valerie Swanson and her equally alive twin, Meredith, and got slightly sidetracked.  But not for long.

After all, a woman is just a woman, but revenge is a dish best served cold.  And 700 years can make for some mighty chilly morsels!

The Last Vampire standing will be available from Class Act Books on October 15.

My new novelette, Blood Will Freeze, is now available from Silver publishing,

EXCERPT: (Vlad is introduced by Valerie to her sister, Meredith)

“So you’re Valerie’s boyfriend?” as he nodded, I went on, “At least her tastes have improved.” I decided I’d better act like a hostess. “Can I get you anything? I’ve got coffee, some homemade wine, and milk.” I knew vampires could tolerate the first two. Milk I wasn’t so sure about.
“I never drink…milk,” he intoned solemnly but I swear those fantastic eyes were twinkling.
“Of course you don’t,” I murmured. And apparently you also watch vintage Universal horror movies. “So how about a glass of wine? Homemade,” I repeated, as if enticing him. “132-proof.” Actually I had no idea what proof it was or alcohol by volume, either. But I’d discovered that the guys I occasionally dated went for it if they thought it was particularly alcoholic.
He laughed, revealing the expected pointed incisors. “In that case, perhaps not. I doubt you’d want a tipsy vampire floating around in your living room, knocking things off tables with his wings.”
That conjured up a picture that made me laugh. So vamps can get drunk? On alcohol?  How about blood? That brought another, less comical picture. I shivered slightly and turned toward the fridge.
“Are you chilled?” It came out so solicitously.
“No. Why do you ask?”
“You were trembling.”
“Don’t worry about it.” As if he didn’t know.
“Perhaps I should. If I was the cause.”
So he did know. That conceited smile said a lot. “You certainly have a lot of self-importance if you think you can make me tremble.”
“My dear Meredith.” His voice dropped to a whisper and he sidled closer. Slowly, not that quick-as-a-wink movement Valerie’s so fond of making because she knows I hate it. More a shifting. “I’d do more than that…” He brushed a stray strand of hair from my face, tucking it behind my ear. “…if you’d let me.”
“Back off, buddy.” Nevertheless, I was the one who moved away, untucking the hair as I did so. “There’ll be none of that.”
“Whyever not?” He gave me a wide, transparent, and totally ingenious stare but didn’t follow me.
“Duh! Because you’re my sister’s boyfriend.” Really. Did he have to ask?
This guy was unbelievable. He sincerely looked as if he didn’t have a clue. “So I don’t poach on Valerie’s property.” Though she’d certainly done it to me enough. So why not turn the tables? The thought flashed through my mind. I shoved it back out before it could park itself and cause trouble because Vlad was definitely looking as if he were interested… Stop it right there, Meredith. You don’t do that kind of thing. That’s Valerie’s department. 
“I’m no one’s property.” It was said so quietly that it sent another chill through me. I’d insulted him by referring to him that way. “I’m the one who does the possessing.” He cocked his head to one side, as if viewing something fascinating. Could he read my thoughts? Damn, I’d never thought to ask about that. Valerie had certainly never volunteered the information and I doubted if she could. You have to have a mind to read one. “And I’m wondering who claims you.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Blonde Cookbook!

MONDAY: The recipe for today is angel food cake. You have to beat 12 eggs separately, so I'm lucky the neighbors had some extra bowls to let me borrow.

TUESDAY: Fruit salad supper, serve without dressing. I didn't get dressed at all, as per recipe, and what a surprise when my boyfriend brought his friends home for supper.

WEDNESDAY: Rice pilaf, wash thoroughly before steaming the rice. I took a good bath and washed very thoroughly, even between my toes. The taste of the rice was same as last time for some reason, so washing doesn't seem to help.

THURSDAY: New salad recipe for a change. Prepare ingredients by laying a bed of lettuce one hour before serving. I was rolling around in the garden laying on the lettuce heads for one hour and then I got sunburned. 

FRIDAY: Being Friday, it's great to try some treats, so today it's time to make cookies. The recipe calls for placing the ingredients in a bowl and beat it. I beat it to the grocery store to pick up some more milk, came back, but nothing happened to the ingredients I placed in the bowl. I ended up throwing the whole thing out, what a waste. 

SATURDAY: My boyfriend's parents came to our house and stayed for dinner. I wanted to serve roast but we only had hamburgers in the freezer. I put the hamburgers in the oven, and set the dial to roast. Unfortunately, the taste was still almost exactly like hamburger, just a bit roasted. 

This has been a great time cooking and I'm having a lot of fun. I can't wait until we buy a new and much bigger oven, because I want to surprise my boyfriend with chocolate mousse.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Soon to be Targeted by Homeland Security

It all started on a trip to World Fantasy Con in San Francisco, where I got the splendid idea to set my next Zombie Exterminator novel there.  I had a bunch of great ideas of zombie vignettes at different tourist sites, but no overarching evil zombie plot to make a novel out of.  Later that week, my brother-in-law, who worked for Chevron in Richmond, suggested the refinery would make a great location for a zombie attack.

Karina Fabian
I started the book, I Left My Brains in San Francisco.  It had it all—romance, intrigue, environmentalism…Zombies!  All I needed was to plot the attack on the refinery.  However, suddenly, my brother-in-law took a trip to Kansas (or so they said).  Months of not returning my phone calls—had someone silenced him?

My book in peril, I nonetheless made the journey to WorldCon-Renovations, where I met the mysterious Figment.  Figment had knowledge of chemical plants and emergency procedures, and was only too glad to share it just for the fun of planning a zombie attack.  Like Deep Throat, Figment shall remain anonymous, possibly until after my or his/her/its death.

Thus armed, I returned home to write—but visualizing the locale stalled me.  My brother-in-law, meanwhile had been promoted (or had he?) and they moved to Los Angeles, so I sought a local source for some information about refinery set-up and logistics.  Greg Hardy, manager of State Government Affaris, Rocky Mountain Region, of Chevron, spent a wonderful and informative hour or so with me on the phone giving me ideas on layout and operations…which I totally reworked to fit my refinery.  Naturally, I also tossed in some cliché’s of every cop show that ever had a fight in a refinery—it’s that kind of book.

The book is out—I Left My Brains in San Francisco.  The final attack on the refinery is awesome fun—but I just know, if zombies ever do rise up and attack Richmond, Homeland Security will come knocking on my door.

I Left My Brains in San Francisco
The second Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator book
Author Karina Fabian

Special Favor to Ask:
Could you please let your readers know about the “Are You the Next Zombie Idol” singing contest?  Damnation Books and I are looking for someone to sing the theme song I wrote for I Left My Brains in San Francisco.  I have the words and the tune; but we need a singer.  We are offering prizes for the best singer, the most creative audition video, and are giving one in ten entries a copy of the e-book.  The details are at


Zombies in San Francisco? Call an exterminator! What’s worse than zombies?  Radical environmental terrorists! I Left My Brains in San Francisco.

Blurb: Zombie problem? Call Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator--but not this weekend.

On vacation at an exterminator’s convention, she's looking to relax, have fun, and enjoy a little romance. Too bad the zombies have a different idea. When they rise from their watery graves to take over the City by the Bay, it looks like it'll be a working vacation after all.

Enjoy the thrill of re-kill with Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator.


Karina Fabian is an award-winning fantasy, science fiction and horror author, whose  books make people laugh, cry or think—sometimes all three.  Winner of the 2010 INDIE for best Fantasy (Magic, Mensa and Mayhem) and a Global eBook Award for Best Horror (Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator), Karina Fabian’s writing takes quirky twists that keep her--and her fans--amused. Check out her latest at

If there’s such a thing as ADD of the imagination, Karina Fabian has it—in spades.  Craft books, devotionals, serious science fiction, comedic horror and chilling fantasy—she follows her interests and the characters that tell her their stories.

Even before she could write, Karina strung tall tales about everything from making human pyramids in Kindergarten to visiting alien worlds.  Her first attempt at novel writing was in fourth grade; she completed her first novel in college.  However, her first published work was an anthology of Christian science fiction, Leaps of Faith, an EPPIE finalist for best anthology in 2006.  Her next anthology, Infinite Space, Infinite God, featured Catholic characters and themes and won the EPPIE for science fiction.   The second Infinite Space, Infinite God anthology came out in 2010.

Watching the comedy improv show, Whose Line Is It, Anyway, inspired her noir-style dragon detective, Vern.  Vern and his partner, Sister Grace, have solved mysteries and saved the Faerie and Mundane worlds numerous numerous times in the DragonEye, PI stories and novels.  Their serial story, World Gathering, won a Mensa Owl; and the novel, Magic, Mensa and Mayhem (Fabian’s first published novel), won the INDIE for best fantasy in 2010.  The second DragonEye book, Live and Let Fly, came out in April 2012.

At a friend’s request, Karina wrote a funny story about a zombie exterminator, which grew into the Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator novels.  The first, Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, won the 2011 Global E-Book award for best horror, and was runner-up in the eFestival of Words for best YA.

She also writes serious science fiction.  Her SF novels, Discovery and The Old Man and the Void, are currently under consideration, and she’s working on the next DragonEye novel, a superhero spoof, Gapman.

Karina has a strong faith, which she explored in her devotional, Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life, which she wrote with her father Steve Lumbert, and which won the 2011 Christian Small Press Publisher Award.  She also writes Catholic school calendars and has written three craft books for the Little Flowers/Blue Knights clubs.

Fabian is married to Colonel Robert A. Fabian of the USAF, and they are currently enjoying a long distance relationship while he’s stationed in Iraq.  They have four children, an overgrown pup, and a harried cat.  When not writing, teaching writing, or chatting about writing, she’s hanging out with her kids or swinging a sword in haidong gumbdo.


"Hi! Welcome to Zomblog!  It's ‘Time to Re-kill!’  This is Kelsey Gardenberger, and we are reporting to you live from Fisherman's Wharf, where zombie exterminators Rii and Hi Lee of Bay Exterminations have been called in to take out a zombie."
Police held back spectators who had cell phones to film the event.  On the ground lay a man in a black-and-white striped shirt, black pants with suspenders and gold makeup on his rotting skin.  He pounded on the air with imaginary fists, and then felt along imaginary walls with his hands.  Where he should have had fingers, only mangled skin and bare bones showed. Rii and Hi, both in protective gear, watched the prone figure and spoke among themselves.  The zombie continued his act unconcerned, except to pause now and again and make drinking motions before pointing to the top hat waiting beside him.
"It looks like Rii Lee and Hi Lee have decided on their strategy.  Despite the fact that the zombie appears so docile, it could turn violent at the slightest provocation--and if you don't believe me, check out 'Don't wave that thing at me!' on the Zomblog archives.  They're starting!"
While Rii stood by with a power blaster of anti-zombie foam, Hi ambled up to the prone zombie, sword relaxed but ready in his left hand.  He watched the undead mime its struggle against the imaginary coffin, nodded appreciatively, and tossed a twenty into the hat.  The Wasted Mime started clawing with fervor, dug himself up, and brushed himself off.
Some of the crowd in the front stepped back.
It picked up the hat, checked the money.
The crowd took in a breath.
It faced Hi.
Hi bowed.
The crowd gasped.  Cameras flashed.
The zombie bowed back, deeply and theatrically.
Hi lashed out with his sword, its blade cutting deeply and theatrically into the zombie's neck.
The re-killed corpse folded over.
The crowd broke into wild cheers.
Kelsey smiled big for the camera.  "And there you have it!  Looks like a mime isn't such a terrible thing to waste after all."


Survival Hardware hadn’t seen such a rush of customers since the last Armageddon prediction coincided with Black Friday. 
Manager Clint Sanders rubbed his hands with glee.  Oh, Marley, if only you hadn’t gotten drunk and decided to go zombie hunting.  Was it only last Christmas? 
He hurried to Customer Service, crafting an announcement in his mind.  “You want to live!  We want to live!  That’s why you are going to file calmly to the back if you need a suit.”
Yeah.  Sense of urgency, plus that “We’re in this together” crap.
He got to the counter and nodded at Bitsy, who had rung up a chainsaw and a half-crate of bleach.
God bless survivors. Clint continued to the back.  Out of habit, he checked the exit door, even though it was always locked from the outside.  He needed to delete Marley's old code from it.
He cleared his throat.  “Listen up!  You want to live!  We want to live!”
The exit door clicked.
“That’s impossible!” he declared.  The store fell silent. 
“Boss?” Bitsy’s voice ended in a squeak.
“That’s not what I meant!  Security team to customer service!”
He reached under the counter for a shotgun.  Bitsy grabbed the chainsaw.  They had filled them that morning—another example of the excellent service at Survival Hardware.
The door swung open, and the zombiefied remains of his late business partner, Marley, staggered through.
Clint to blasted him with the shotgun.  The impact knocked the Marley out the door.
Clint used the gunsight to scan the parking lot.  “He brought friends!  Call Nine-One-One.  I’m putting this place on shutdown.”
“Screw that!  I’ve been prepping all my life for this!”  With a howl of challenge, Bitsy dashed out the door.  She swung low and decapitated her former boss before moving on.
Thundering footsteps signaled the customers following in her wake.
He gaped at the carnage while Dirk called 9-1-1.  It’d be too late by the time they got there.  All that’d be left was to clean up the zombie parts and get the customers back in to pay.
God bless survivors.

Find Karina at:

Find I Left My Brains in San Francisco at:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Trouble with Villians

I’m excited and honored to be the guest of a successful author such as James Hatch and on a site with one of the sexiest names in the blogosphere. I don’t know if I can live up to the sizzle, but I’m going to give it a try. So onward to a discussion of something every fictional good guy and/or gal needs—a bad guy and/or gal.

 The Trouble With Villains

Be clear: There are plenty of fine books without black-hat characters. A great example in my most recently experience is Denis “They-screwed-him-out-of-a-Pulitzer” Johnson’s Train Dreams. (Click on for my rant on this subject.) Wendell Berry pens tale after tale without introducing an archetypal antagonist I can recall. There’s plenty of trouble, naturally, in these books—no trouble, no story, after all. For others of us, however, the villain is our artistic bread and butter, and creating personified evil isn’t all that easy. Here’s hoping I can clarify some of the choices and put forth a principle or two.
Vast forests have been clear-cut parsing the motives of nasty literary characters from Iago and Richard III to Anton Chiguire of No Country For Old Men. But consider this: Maybe these people/characters are bad for one reason: They’re bad.
In Medieval morality plays, which tradition informed Shakespeare’s writing, the devil wore a horned red mask, and the audience knew right away he was up to no good. Thus, for Elizabethan audiences, Iago, though he doesn’t wear the mask, didn’t need a psychological reason to mess with Othello. He needed to be clever and formidable and have the power to assume a pleasing shape, but motive, shmotive. And Cormac McCarthy’s Chiguire doesn’t need a reason (money is involved, but I’d argue it’s secondary) for popping people with his “captive bolt pistol.” He’s just bent that way. Like the serpent says to the lady in the song: “You knew I was a snake before you let me in. Thus, from early on through McCarthy and nearly every paranormal story, writers give us villains who are villains who are villains.
Many bad guys are more complex, of course. In my The Second Vendetta, Michael Yellow Squirrel has a legitimate beef. The Army forced his Arapaho people onto a reservation in his childhood—the old story of broken U.S. promises. Because his father kidnapped a mother and child and tried to use them as leverage to gain more land, Yellow Squirrel’s family was particularly targeted. That was in 1864. It’s now 1910. Everyone else has moved on, but Yellow Squirrel still wants to wipe out the pioneer family of the kidnap victims because he thinks the mission to rescue them led to all the other depredations. So, what started as a true grievance became misdirected fury against descendants who had nothing to do with the original incident.
More complex than Michael Yellow Squirrel are the malefactors in Melissa Foster’s Chasing Amanda. I won’t give too much away and spoil your reading of this terrific book, but suffice it to say that good people with fine intentions perform an act of mercy that over time becomes, almost inadvertently, an act of wickedness.
These few examples don’t exhaust the catalogue of creations, let alone of infinite future possibilities. However, I think that we can extrapolate from them a few cardinal rules.
First, your villain must feel real and be powerful. If you paint a sneer on a cardboard figure, then have your protagonist kick it over, you’ve created boredom with a capital “B.” Batman’s Joker and Penguin aren’t just cartoonish incarnations of evil (though they are that), they’re formidable opponents with brains, resources, and the capability of taking down Gotham and our superhero entirely. They outsmart and outmuscle the forces of good over and over before they finally succumb. If your antagonists don’t have that prowess, your readers won’t give your protagonist many points for defeating them.
Second, don’t be afraid to make your bad person likeable and sympathetic, or at least admirable and fascinating. Would we care so much about Batman’s victory over the joker in The Dark Knight if Heath Ledger hadn’t made him such a compelling character? Would we care so much about whether Ron Rash’s supremely evil Serena rose or fell if she weren’t such an awesome force of nature?
Third, make sure your villain grows out of the soil of your story. Don’t bring her marching in and commence smashing the china because you, the author, need conflict to feed the action. Protagonist Molly Tanner’s involvement in the Chasing Amanda dilemma grows out of her psychological needs as well as out of events in her recent past. Without those elements, she’d have likely been as oblivious to the story’s surrounding events as everyone else in town, and the underground mystery would never have been uncovered. Similarly, Serena lands in the middle of the battle to create Smoky Mountains National Park because of her character, not just because Ron Rash decided it would be interesting to put her there.
Finally, don’t let your villains out of your readers’ sight. They’re the main source of your story’s dramatic tension, and even in the middle of a heroine’s love scene on a balmy summer’s day, a threat needs to lurk offstage, even if your protagonist is totally unaware. That doesn’t mean we need to hear the wolf growling and slobbering in the woods as in a grade C horror flick. It does mean that we need reminders, hints, that something evil this way comes. Or will soon. Or at least might.
Many have said that the devil is the most interesting character in Milton’s Paradise Lost. So must your villain be—whatever category to which he/she belongs—or you have a Disney story in which nothing truly bad ever happens to anyone. In other words, no story at all.

The Second Vendetta Synopsis:

Not again.
It’s taken Andy Maxwell two summers—1908-1910—to help his family recover from the effects of the murderous attack on them and their Sierra Nevada Ranch. That vendetta nearly killed his mother, severely damaged barn, house, and livestock, and exhumed some long-buried family secrets—including the fact that his father was black. He’s had to alter his whole notion of who he is and where he came from. But now that he’s Shanghaied the vendetta’s perpetrator, nursed his mother back to health, and got the ranch operating again, he thinks he can return to grad school and pursue his history doctorate in peace.
Not so.
First of all, it turns out they don’t want a miscegenated mongrel in the University of California doctorate program. Just when he’s enlisted the eminent San Francisco journalist, Ambrose Bierce, to help him attack that problem, it turns out that the murderer’s Shanghai arrangement didn't stick. Michael Yellow Squirrel has returned for another try at eliminating every last Maxwell on earth. So much for school. Andy’s back to defending himself and his family against a savage and formidable enemy.
And then there’s the election.
Hiram Johnson is running as a reformer for California governor against the railroad barons and needs a Republican Assembly candidate from Andy’s district to replace the recently-deceased incumbent. Time is short. Andy’s a prominent rancher with name recognition among the local voters, and Johnson wants him on the ticket, but why would Andy make himself an easy target for his nemesis? The answer? The promise of a post-election appointment to the university board of regents where he could influence the policy that bars him from his dream of a place among the academics.
And then there are the women.
Andy’s just revived the relationship with the love of his life, the debutante daughter of a prominent, if corrupt, state senator, and that’s going pretty well. But an Arapaho princess he thought he’d left behind two years ago suddenly returns to threaten the new version of his old love.
So, Andy Maxwell, how are you going to deal with all these quandaries? My historical thriller, The Second Vendetta answers that question and many more with a tale-telling style that pulls readers into the book and doesn’t let them go till they’ve turned the last page, wishing there were more yet to turn. 

Biography—Carl R. Brush

Carl Brush has been writing since he could write, which is quite a long time now.
His historical thriller, The Second Vendetta has just been released by Solstice publishing, and a prequel, The Maxwell Vendetta is scheduled for release by Solstice in early 2013.
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.
Carl lives with his wife in Oakland, California, where he enjoys the blessings of nearby children and grandchildren.

Buy Links:

Solstice Publishing:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Christmas in October

A message from Penny Estelle:

The holidays will be here before we know it!  If you’re like me, you have at least one person who already has EVERYTHING!  Not to mention your sons, daughters, or nieces and nephews – who have so many computer games and toys, you trip over them when you walk into their bedrooms?

Instead of one more toy that will be forgotten by January, or spending money on a gift someone MIGHT like, why not go for something different. A gift that sparks a child’s imagination or allows your friends to relax and lose themselves in a world of humor, romance, mystery or fantasy – a book!

We just might have the solution and the good news is you just might get them for free!

During the month of October we have over 40 authors to showcase their book covers with a short blurb and a give away.  Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, for the entire month, different authors will show you what they have to offer! 

How does this help you?  Simple.  All you need to do is add a comment at  The more you comment, the more chances to win.  On November 1, you might get an email stating you are the lucky winner of the big jackpot!  There will also be other prizes!

Keep watching – more info will be coming the entire month of September!

 A Message from Me: My side-splitting paranormal comedy, The Substitute, will be given away on Oct 3! Don't miss the chance to get this great novel for free!