MARINA BLACK: BIKERS, BADASSES & A LITTLE ROMANCE

It’s my great pleasure to welcome #GuessWrite winner for March 2017 Marina Black. Marina is a practicing registered nurse and multi-published romance author with a taste for bikers and happy endings. Now seeking representation, she is currently pitching her work on today’s #pitmad pitch party on Twitter. Join me in wishing her luck!

 

1.

Welcome, Marina. Your work designation suggests medical thrillers, yet you write badass bikers. Tell us how you got there.

Thanks for having me! I often get this question and the answer is two-fold. When I’m not 51pogTvnjZL._UY250_at work, I like to keep my thoughts separate from my occupation. On a daily basis I deal with the critically ill, distraught, and dying. Coming home, I write romance to escape and as a coping mechanism. It’s a really great way to unwind! The second reason I prefer not to focus my writing on medicine is: as a nurse, if you didn’t chart it, it didn’t happen. I find myself compelled to write in gritty detail of each and every assessment my patient—character—might encounter. I have a very lovely beta reader who reads everything and tells me when I’ve gone too far into detail. Trust me, it’s quite often!

Ed. – The temptation to share specialty knowledge is huge. I get where you’re coming from. 😀

 

2.

So you write romantic thrillers?

51z-VpfYWxL._UY250_I write contemporary romances. It just so happens that I also enjoy the suspense elements sprinkled in with my romance; it gives my novels some extra pizazz! My Badass Bikers series and upcoming novel Bargaining for Blood have a mystery, dramatic storyline that runs parallel to the romance. For Unintentionally Yours, there is no mystery or suspense involved—unless you’re wondering if they will or won’t live happily ever after!

 

 

3.

I noted recently that a lot of modern ‘romances’ end badly. What, in your opinion, accounts for tragic endings? Is this a trend in romance writing?

Tragedy in romance is all well and good, however this is not something you’ll find in my 51uS9RwPAJL._UY250_work. I see enough heartbreak, violence and bloodshed in my day-to-day life—I’m not looking for that when I’m reading or writing! Certainly ‘happily ever after’ eventually will come to an end for one reason or another, but you won’t find it in my work. I’m a big fan of the ‘happily ever after’.

Ed. – It’s nice when things work out!

 

4.

Your current protagonist (from the new novel BARGAINING FOR BLOOD) Adeline is charged with rescuing the one she loves, yet she makes an interesting compact that reminds me of 1,001 Nights. Do you like to blend the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ in your characters, or do you prefer to keep them behind their own lines?

I love to strike the balance between good and evil in all of my characters for sure. Each and every one of us has a ‘line’ and I like my characters to flirt with it on the regular! Adeline in particular learns a lot about herself in BARGAINING FOR BLOOD and, as the story progresses, begins to see that things are not always black and white.

 

5.

What feeds a series? As the writer, do you find this exhausting, exhilarating or just plain psychotic? (last part said tongue-in-cheek! lol)

Characters are the drivers for me. In DEALING WITH THE DEVIL, I introduced four distinct 51PCLDICpLL._UY250_Motorcycle Clubs and a set of characters. After the book came out and people were reading I kept getting readers asking me about Cecelia and Danny and if their story was next. So, as an author I started thinking about them and that’s when SINNING WITH LOS SANTOS came into play.

 

6.

What are you watching on T.V. right now?

I’m a huge DC junkie so the entire Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow lineup is my jam. The 100 is absolutely fantastic—and my drug of choice. I’ve also been greatly enjoying Superstore—my guilty pleasure show!

 

7.

Have I forgotten anything?

BARGAINING FOR BLOOD is coming soon! I’m also seeking representation, and that’s very exciting. Here’s an excerpt from CHAPTER ONE:

 

Bargaining for Blood COMING SOON

 

“Ms. McGinnis?” Malcolm Savage lurked in the shadows like a panther stalking his prey. Adeline straightened her spine, coppery hair spilling from its bun and framing her cherubic face. Her steely eyes were wet and her cheeks were flushed; she stormed past him like a vengeful angel and his palms itched with the need to touch her. “Adeline,” he growled, more sharply this time, and she stilled.

“How did you get in here?” she demanded. “Mr. Savage—”

Malcolm,” he corrected, narrowing inky black eyes at her. Their gazes caught and held, the electricity palpable in the air as he grasped her arm. “You and I are well enough acquainted by now, wouldn’t you say?”

Her body seemed to contract and she wrenched away from him like a caged animal, snarling and sneering. “Get away from me!”

If he was perturbed by her outburst, it didn’t show on his face. “I’m not here to hurt you, if that’s your fear. Frankly, I’m not even angry. Color me impressed.” She was wound tight enough to snap and he didn’t blame her. Adeline had always clung to her moral values; turning down the lucrative lifestyle he offered took guts. He may not have understood it on a fundamental level but he certainly respected the hell out of her gumption. For her to go and do something like this…it was out of character and out of desperation.

“We need to talk. We can do it quietly amongst ourselves…or we can do it at the police station. What would you prefer?”

 

Other Books by Marina Black

41GtbqG7cLL._UY250_Losing Charlotte left a deep chasm within Bellamy Blake. It was the kind of hole that could only be filled by Clarke Griffin. This story chronicles the soul-binding love of two people who are destined to be lovers and leaders, despite the odds.

 

 

 

 

51pogTvnjZL._UY250_Lucy was born to ride. Three generations of Harding men have pledged their loyalties—and their lives—to the Devil’s Own Motorcycle Club. The club is her legacy, its blood runs in her veins, and she’ll be damned if she lets them exclude her. Lucy Harding will stop at nothing to take her place among the Devils and prove her worth once and for all.

 

 

 

51PCLDICpLL._UY250_Cecelia Santos was born for greater things. As a brilliant electrical engineer and a member of Los Santos Motorcycle Club, she’s always been regarded as a force to be reckoned with…but that doesn’t mean she’s had it easy in life. Cece has always been a fighter and now that she’s home after being kidnapped by a rival gang, she’s harder and tougher than ever. When a new threat rears its ugly head in her hometown of La Verdad, she vows to crush it all by herself. She doesn’t need help…especially not from the redheaded menace she’s trying to deny her feelings for.

Daniel Harding knows all too well how difficult Cecelia can be. He’s not only seen her as a warrior on the battlefield but as a woman warm in his bed. Although she’s made it clear he doesn’t stand a chance, he can’t back down. Los Santos are outclassed, outmanned, and outgunned; if they fall prey to Los Lobos, it won’t just be Cece’s family that’s in danger. For the good of everyone he loves, he has to make sacrifices…even if it means stepping on a few toes.

Tensions run high, blood runs hot, and the stakes get higher…will they be able to protect La Verdad or will they be damned for good?

 

41QDCieq24L._UY250_The battle for control rages deep within the heart of New Orleans. While Hayley seeks to comprehend what it finally means to have a family, Niklaus must fight a thousand years of darkness to find a shred of humanity. The bond of blood runs deep…family, love, loyalty. All will be tested as two unlikely lovers come together. Will they find happiness or destroy one another?

 

 

 

51z-VpfYWxL._UY250_When Mona Gallo finds herself accidentally pregnant, the life she worked so hard to build begins crumbling around her. Although she’s determined to raise the baby on her own, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to her sexy boss despite his rakish ways. Maybe it’s just hormones but Mona can’t seem to help herself when it comes to Reno. She should know better, of course. She’s been a stripper for half her life and seen first hand how letting down her guard only leads to heartache.

Vincent “Reno” O’Keefe’s life is falling apart. He lives three thousand miles away from his family, dates all the wrong women, is a terrible Catholic, and his fortieth birthday is around the corner. Now, his little sister has announced her engagement and he can’t bear to go to the wedding alone. Asking Mona seems like the perfect solution. She’s newly single, gorgeous, and in desperate need of a vacation.

Mona is eager to see Boston and enjoy one last trip before the baby comes. She can hide a pregnancy for a week, right?

Besides, what’s the worst that could happen…?

 

518KHIkIpKL._UY250_The treatise between the Grounders and the Sky People is a tenuous one. Danger lurks around every corner and war is imminent. Against all odds, Murphy befriends a young orphan and catches the eye of the Commander. For the good of their people, sacrifices must be made…the choice was almost too easy.

 

 

 

 

51uS9RwPAJL._UY250_Harper’s life hangs in the balance as she rests in the depths of Mount Weather. Past, present, and future collide as Harper fights against the experiments the Mountain Men are doing on her. The only thing she’s sure of is that there’s only one sick, broken man who can save her…Harper has no choice but to put her faith in Cage Wallace.

 

 

 

51K+piwqNNL._UY250_The road to perdition is fraught with violence, anger and heartache. The way back to redemption is twice as bad. John Murphy lost his way in the world long ago. He vowed to numb the pain with bloody revenge. But she was the only one who wasn’t there to watch him hang for a crime he didn’t commit. Hurting her was never an option…

 

 

 

All Titles Available Through the Author’s Amazon Page

https://www.amazon.com/Marina-Black/e/B00W4C05E8

About the Author

Marina BlackMarina Black was born in the state of Connecticut. She is a busy registered nurse who works at a bustling inner city hospital. By night (and the occasional weekend), she is a prolific writer who has penned many short stories and works of fiction over the years. Dealing with the Devil (August 2015) was her debut original novel and Book 1 of the Badass Bikers series. Unintentionally Yours (November 2015) is a fan favorite! Sinning with Los Santos: Book 2 of the Badass Bikers series is on sale now! For author updates, follow Ms. Marina Black on Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter!

 

Amazon.com: Marina Black: Books, Biography, Blog

Twitter: @MarinaBlack99

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorMarinaBlack/

 

OUTSIDE THE LINES: MARIE LAVENDER

 

Marie LavenderPlease welcome back to the blog, crowd-pleaser Marie Lavender. With a shiny new release out, Marie takes a pause to answer some questions about multi-genre writing and staying outside the box. Oh! And she has a WIP on the go too. Hey, Marie.

 

1.

With so many sub-genres to choose from, romance fans are truly fortunate. How do you define your work? Are you a traditional romance writer?

 

UYL promo - AI actually prefer to define myself as a multi-genre author because I’m truly all over the place when it comes to the type of books I write. After releasing a children’s fantasy in 2015, I took a hard look at my works-in-progress, and then realized I needed to make a change instead of just calling myself a romance author. Some of the stories I have planned are dystopian or have time travel themes. I’ve even tried my hand at horror. Compared to some of the romance stories I’ve written, it was just easier to term my work as multi-genre.

As for what types of romance I write, I never like to box myself in. If I can cross different genres, it’s all for the better. Case in point, book two of the Blood at First Sight Series, Blood Instincts, which I’m currently editing, is more detailed than the first book in the trilogy. It’s a paranormal romance/urban fantasy with a futuristic angle. Also, the book I just sent off to beta readers, titled Directions of the Heart, is a modern romantic drama collection. Don’t get me wrong; I’ll always have a soft spot for romance. But I see no reason not to break the mold with genres now and then. Even Upon Your Love is a family saga as well as a historical romance.

Ed. – I love mixing it up too. There are more surprises for the reader and the writer, I think.

 

2.

The challenges the protagonists face in UPON YOUR LOVE are not time sensitive: work vs. family; personal goals vs. self-sacrifice. When thinking about the near past, how do these challenges differ in a contemporary setting?

 

I think they are universal themes. Even today, parents struggle to raise their children UYL promo - C - Adrienne and Christian1while balancing careers. And who hasn’t accepted a not so great job just to make ends meet? Obviously, some of the challenges Adrienne faces as a woman in Victorian New Orleans aren’t quite as relevant, but I think readers will quickly see she is a formidable character, and will appreciate that she knows what she wants. Shouldn’t we all be so self-aware? Besides, she quickly became a female quite out of her time as I grew to understand her during the writing process. I believe the audience can easily picture the heroine in the present day, making her own mark on the world.

 

3.

What would Scarlett O’Hara think?

 

Are you kidding? Scarlett would be appalled at Adrienne’s behavior, like most of her contemporaries. Perhaps Ms. O’Hara could even take a page from Adrienne’s book. She’s rather admirable.

Ed. – Well, fiddle-dee-dee. lol.

 

4.

What are the greatest villains in romance: persons, places or things? How do you co-opt these in your own work?

 

UYL promo - C - Adrienne and Christian6I always gauge these things based on the character’s strengths and fears, things deep in his or her background which can influence what happens. The plot forms from there. For one, I believe society usually interferes with the HEA (or, Happily Ever After) in romance. That especially occurs with historical romance. Modern settings are a different animal entirely. Secondly, events or yes, villains often prevent the characters from finding their happiness. To me, every story is different. Every character is different too, so it all depends upon the subtle nuances you discover as the tale progresses.

 

5.

Strong female leads always rule. Which of your three characters in UPON YOUR LOVE are the strongest? Weakest? Is this deliberate, or did they emerge that way as you wrote?

 

Am I biased if I say I believe they’re all strong, at least in their own ways? Of course,UYL promo - C - Adrienne and Christian8 conflict Adrienne is the one rated most likely to be stubborn and act as unladylike as possible, to forge her own path, in a sense. But I do not think any of them are weak. If a reader reads the series from the beginning to the end of the trilogy, he or she will notice how these characters grow as capable women in a time when females don’t have much power at all. I even admire the ones that aren’t mentioned in the blurb; Claudette Giroux has a quiet kind of strength, which, of course, appeals to Eric Caron.

Ed. – Not biased at all, more like a true believer, which is essential to reader belief, yes?

 

6.

Romance is alive and well, yet so many stories end tragically. Categorically, this may not be romance in a true sense (no happily ever after). Where do you think the demand for tragedy comes from?

 

Ah, you thought you’d catch me in a spoiler, didn’t you? Did I say there was no HEA in this book? Well, I would never categorize it as a historical romance without one. As for tragedy, I think personal tragedies hit us all at some point in our lives. My stories tend to have some drama here and there. And my loyal fans know I enjoy torturing my characters for a while before they can have what they want.

 

7.

What can readers take away from UPON YOUR LOVE after the last page is turned?

 

I think a key lesson is that we’re all human, capable of flaws and strengths, and you’ll often see that nowhere else but close to home, within your own families. One takeaway here is how important family is, and how strong they can make us once they band together.

 

8.

Last words?

 

Check out the book! Upon Your Love will be a pleasant surprise, I promise. Emotion-filled, yes, but entirely worth it. You can find out more about me and my work via my website, as well as my monthly author newsletter. Follow me on Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for other updates. Also, I host three blogs if you’re interested; Writing in the Modern Age, the MLB blog and the I Love Romance Blog.

As always, happy reading! Thanks for hanging out with me for a bit! 🙂

And thank you so much, A.B. You’re a great friend and such a talented author!

 

Why, thank you! It’s always a pleasure dreaming up new questions to tease out your authorly insights. Congrats, again, on the release!

UPON YOUR LOVE released February 26th, and is available through most booksellers online.

 

Read This

 

Upon your love-final coverThe Hill family saga concludes as loyalties are questioned, faiths will be tested and undying love may come at a terrible cost…

Fara Hill, mother and faithful wife, is torn between her family at home and her urge to be at sea. Soon, she learns some disturbing truths. Was the past a fairy tale instead of reality?

Chloe Hill, loving wife and young mother, questions her faith when her husband sets an ultimatum she cannot meet. Will she be able to keep her marriage from falling apart?

Adrienne Bellamont Hill, born of a valiant captain and a fiery redhead, is untamed to her core and will bow to no man. Then Christian du Plessis enters her life with an offer she can’t refuse. Discovering the man behind the polished gentleman, she is drawn to him in many ways. Holding out for love is a family tradition, but can she resist the temptation of passion?

Christian finds this young woman to be a fascinating challenge, and is torn between keeping his distance from her and succumbing to her charms. A fierce battle of wills ensues as he sees she is much more than he ever imagined.

But danger lurks, threatening to destroy everything…

Can these two strong-willed individuals unite in the cause before time runs out?

 

See the Trailer

Marie Youtube art.png

 

Excerpt

The neigh of a horse brought her out of her reverie and she looked over, but her mare stood quietly beside the stream. Adrienne’s instincts nagged at her and she stood up, her ears on alert. The clomp of hoof beats came to her on the swift afternoon breeze. Was the rider coming from the estate or perhaps it was simply a stranger? In any case, a sense of unease grew in the pit of her stomach and she reached down to unearth a small dagger Gabriel had gifted to her two summers ago. She kept it in a sheath around her thigh. Gabe had always said that if she didn’t have a sword on hand, it was best to have something. And she couldn’t agree more.

She clucked her tongue to alert Persephone and led her quickly by the reins under the cover of the trees. The rider was closer now and her mare shifted uneasily, blowing a breath out of her nose. She must have heard the approaching horse as well. “Shh. It’s all right,” Adrienne whispered, stroking her neck. She tied the reins to a tree and waited.

When the rider appeared from the forest, she couldn’t see him clearly. It was a man—that much she was certain—but the lapels of his dark coat and the thicket of limbs brushing her face kept her from placing his identity. He had dark hair and was tall, his body lean and muscled. She watched as he got down from a fine, black stallion and led it to the stream for a rest. The man took a drink from his cupped hands. He wiped the remnants of the water from his chin, and then seemed to search the area nearby. She shivered. Was it possible the man had been tracking her? If that was the case, her dagger would certainly come in handy. Adrienne crouched on alert, spying through her vantage point in the trees. From behind, she observed as the tension eased from his shoulders and he sighed.

A frisson of unease ran through her again. Taking it as a sign, she confirmed he was still faced away before she quietly eased out of her haven. Stepping up behind him, she lifted her dagger to his throat. A smile of grim determination danced over her lips as he stiffened.

“Who are you? Why are you here? Are you following me?”

“What if I was?”

Fine shivers moved along the surface of her skin, caused by the deep timbre of his voice.

“I would have to ask for your reasons, Monsieur.”

“I haven’t come to kidnap you, if that’s what you’re worried about,” he sighed. “I didn’t expect you’d be prepared. I commend the effort, of course.”

She frowned. The compliment threw her for a moment, but she then brushed it off. Surely, he ridiculed her, and thought he could overtake her somehow. She shook her head. He would be gravely disappointed.

“You will state your reasons for your presence and your identity, sir.”

“And if I don’t?”

“You will regret it, of course.”

“Indeed? Do you intend to harm an unarmed man?”

She scoffed. “Unarmed? No, I doubt that. With the way you appeared to be tracking me, I am sure you’re quite armed.”

“Right again. What will you do about it?”

She shrugged. “This is Bellamont land. You’ve clearly trespassed. If I must, I will drag you straight back to the house. You know, I believe the foreman has a Winchester sporting rifle. He can be quite formidable when he puts his mind to the task.”

“I’m sure,” he murmured.

“What say you then?”

“I say, Mademoiselle, that you have no idea who you’re dealing with.”

Before she could open her mouth to take him to task, she felt a blow to her arm and the numbing pain caused her to drop the knife. Everything else happened in a blur. As he turned, he caught her leg, which caused her to collapse. But, before she landed, he grasped her up in his arms. He was too close, she thought. Panic threatened inside of her, but she fought it by degrees. She was a fighter, not some idiot who would succumb to a man’s power. Gabriel had taught her many tricks, as had her father. She forced herself to go limp so that he’d pull her closer. She let her eyes drift closed and pretended to have swooned.

Mon Dieu,” he whispered.

Then she unmanned him with a swift rise of her knee. He coughed out a grunted response, releasing her.

She retreated from him, intent on finding her dagger, but did not see it. The leaves in the grass crunched beneath her hands and knees as she struggled to her feet. She would have to rely on the resources of the forest to save her if he pursued further. Somehow, she doubted he’d be able to. She turned and her mouth dropped open as she looked at her attacker.

His dark hair had fallen over one eye and he was hardly doubled over in pain. No, he scowled at her now and he seemed quite well. She’d missed her target, she realized. His identity shocked her further. She felt quite stupid for not recognizing him, even from behind. But, why had Christian tried to attack her?

 “How…,” she whispered.

“You are not as fast as I, Mademoiselle.” Then he laughed, but there was no mirth in his expression. His eyes seemed darker suddenly. “You little brat,” he bit out. “You almost had me.”

She sucked in a breath and, when she saw him advance, she backed away. But, it UYL promo - C - Adrienne and Christian3.jpgeffectively put her back right up against a nearby tree. She cursed. Christian closed in, blocking her in with his arms as he braced his hands on the tree trunk. Her breaths came out in harsh pants and her stomach had fallen somewhere at her feet. Dear God, what would he do? She jerked her arms out to break his hold, but his muscles were like the ratlines between the shrouds of a mast in a ship’s rigging. Solid. Struggling with his obvious intimidation of her, she managed, “Why are you trying to kidnap me?”

Some of the arrogance left his face. “I’m not. I thought we already established that.”

“Then why… this?” she asked, weakly. And why couldn’t she breathe? His clean, male scent caused her to feel lightheaded. No, she thought. That just had to be terror.

“I wanted to get you alone so that we could continue our plans. I didn’t mean for you to see me as a threat. I certainly didn’t expect a dagger at my throat.” He reached out and cupped her face, stroking the line of her jaw gently with his thumb.

Adrienne gazed into his nearly black eyes. She thought she saw a hint of admiration and something more, perhaps desire, in his gaze.

“P… plans?” she stammered, annoyed with the hypnotic effect he had on her. And what was that strange, but wonderful scent coming off him? She detected cologne which contained a hint of fresh pine. But then, she’d smelled it before, both in her room and at the Broussard’s engagement party. Even though the fragrance was pleasant, she tried to ignore it.

“Our matchmaking endeavor, chére.”

“Oh. That.”

“Yes, that. Did you forget?”

She cleared her throat. “No, of course not.” Her resolve returned in full force then. She slapped his hand aside and sidestepped him. Stalking away to locate Persephone, she unearthed her mare from the brush in no time. When she returned, he still stood there, watching her. She shivered again.

Mon Dieu, she thought. Why was this happening to her? Why did the man tie her in knots?

 

About the Author

Bestselling multi-genre author of UPON YOUR RETURN and 21 other books. March 2016 Empress of the Universe title – winner of the “Broken Heart” themed contest and the “I Love You” themed contest on Poetry Universe. SECOND CHANCE HEART and A LITTLE MAGICK placed in the TOP 10 on the 2015 P&E Readers’ Poll. Nominated in the TRR Readers’ Choice Awards for Winter 2015. Poetry winner of the 2015 PnPAuthors Contest. The Versatile Blogger Award for 2015. Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013 and 2014. Top 10 Authors on AuthorsDB.com. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for a little over twenty-five years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 22 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, dramatic fiction, literary fiction and poetry. She has also contributed to several multi-author anthologies. Her current series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Magick Series, The Blood at First Sight Series and The Code of Endhivar Series.

 

Links

http://marielavender.com/
http://iloveromanceblog.wordpress.com/
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https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJu8HjRVYCFOqcIoX6ZxdqQ/videos 

Amazon Universal link:  https://bookgoodies.com/a/B06XBPVS7D

myBook.to/UYL

Publisher:  http://solsticepublishing.com/upon-your-love/

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/upon-your-love-marie-lavender/1125931721

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RICHARD WALL ON MUSIC, MYTH AND THE CROSSROADS

My friend across the ocean has been at it again, writing, writing, writing about the things he loves most: music, myth, the ties that bind and, my favorite, the crossroads. Do you know what it means to journey to the crossroads? Richard Wall will tell you. Welcome Richard.

1.

As a funeral director and artist, I have long been fascinated by the story of the crossroads. For the untutored, can you give us a rundown on what the myth entails, and share with us your attraction to it?

 

In folk magic and mythology, crossroads represent a location “between the worlds”, a site where supernatural spirits / demons may be summoned in order to broker a supernatural deal. When bluesman Robert Johnson started out playing, his mentor, legendary bluesman, Son House, said Johnson had very little musical talent. The story goes that RJ “disappeared” for a year, and when he returned his playing had improved immensely. Son House said that Robert Johnson sold his soul at the crossroads, in return for musical talent – a cynic might say that twelve months of practice would achieve the same result, but why spoil a decent story with the truth…?

For a writer, the crossroads theme is a superb device for portraying all manner of human emotions. I mean, how desperate must you be to sell your soul? And how much of a bad guy must you be to trade for it? This is the premise of Fat Man Blues, supply and demand.

 

2.

You’ve got to be a musician. Right?

 

I wish! When I begin singing, deaf people stop lip-reading. I play delta blues tunes on a shiny resonator guitar (the one on the cover of Fat Man Blues) but only for myself or one or two close friends.

 

Ed. – I hear you! There was a time when I could belt out opera…but NEVER in public. lol

 

3.

You love the Blues. Do you love the past too?

 

I do indeed. And listening to old school delta blues music is like opening a door to the past. What I enjoy most from scratchy old recordings from the 1930s, apart from the rawness of the music, are the ad-libs and background detail you can sometimes hear – be it Charley Patton’s spoken asides, Robert Johnson’s bottleneck clattering against the frets of his guitar, or the sound of a steam train going past the hotel where Son House was being recorded.

 

4.

Which brings me to Fat Man Blues. Give us the broad strokes and then tell us if you saw yourself in Hobo John.

 

OK, in broad strokes, a blues nut from England visits present-day Mississippi, and is offered the chance to see the blues being played as it was in the 1930s. Naturally this comes at a price, but it’s an offer that he can’t refuse. Did I see myself in Hobo John? Absolutely I did! The opening chapter is based on a real life conversation that I had in a juke-joint in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Any white blues nut worth his or her salt would willingly sell their soul to see the delta blues as it was.

 

5.

You come face to face with the devil. What happens next?

 

I’d ask him if he wanted to sell me his soul… 🙂

 

Ed. – Clever!

 

If I did meet him, her, or it I would love for it to go the same way as the song “Conversation with the Devil” by Ray Wylie Hubbard: https://youtu.be/8qX5TSmTyHc

 

6.

The love that went into this work is on every page. Where did you write and how long did it take?

 

Thank you. I wrote it whenever I had free time outside of my day job, usually in the study at home. From start to finish it took me three years, but as a blues nut it was a labour of love.

 

7.

That new Rolling Stones album is out. Should we all race out and buy it?

 

I would say yes, go for it. Not only to hear the Stones going back to their roots and demonstrating that first and foremost they are the best kickass blues band on the planet, but also to get acquainted with some wonderful songs. The track “Commit a Crime”, originally sung by Howling Wolf, is magnificent.

 

Ed. – I’m on it.

 

8.

Have you ever been on a Blues holiday? Rubbish or worthwhile?

 

I once did a slide guitar weekend workshop, sitting in an arts centre with a dozen other white, middle-class, Charley Patton wannabes. I really enjoyed being in the company of like-minded anoraks, and my guitar playing skills rocketed from Terrible to Mediocre… 🙂

I think like everything in life, you get out what you put in.

 

9.

What do you do in your spare time? How do you fuel the creative beast?

 

I listen to music a lot, and I read a lot, both of which fuel the creative beast with tidbits of inspiration or ideas. I also take part in blog interviews…

 

Ed. – 🙂

 

10.

And you have a new work out, a short story. Tease us with a wee bit please?

 

I do indeed! Hank Williams’ Cadillac, out now on Amazon:

It was my buddy, Stu, who came up with the idea.

My name’s Vince, and when this story began, Stu and me, we were 19 year-old high-school drop-outs and occasionally reformed stoners sharing a broke-down, drunk-leaning, leaky old double-wide on a third-world trailer-park in a small town in Nowhere, Texas. 
Sometimes in life you don’t know where you’re headed until you reach that point where you lift your head, take a look around, and then have to decide if that’s really where you want to be. 
Somehow Stu and me ended up in entry-level jobs at Walmart. That was two years ago. 
Need I say more?
Notwithstanding our ongoing education from life and the internet – majoring in popular culture and low animal cunning – two years of the real world made us realise that maybe we should’ve made more of an effort at school.
As a fat man once said, “It is what it is.” 
It was late one Sunday evening, both of us dreading the prospect of another year-long week at the nowhere branch of a multinational retailing corporation, when Stu experienced a bong-inspired epiphany that he and I would join the US Marines. All we had to do, he said, was serve long enough to qualify for a college education, get ourselves a degree and then all our dreams would come true.
“Well, hell,” I said. “That’s pretty random, let’s do it.”
We had nothing to leave behind, Stu’s mom was dead, and mine was in jail, partly for dealing in meth-amphetamines and Oxycontin, but mostly for trying to kill me (but that’s a story for another day), and so we were raring to go, both of us excited to embark on this next stage of our lives.

 

 11.

Any last words?

 

Thanks for allowing me space on your blog, and to everyone reading this, go in peace, and play nicely.

 

Ed. – Amen, brother.

 

Novels and Short Stories by Richard Wall

 

Evil KineivalEvel Knievel and the Fat Elvis Diner: In this short story, an Englishman in Oklahoma is watching a storm approaching when he receives an email on his phone. As he waits for the email to download, it causes him to reflect on his childhood in 1970’s England, his relationship with his father and the journey that brought him to the USA.

 

 

 

Five Pairs of ShortsFive Pairs of Shorts is a collection of ten, 1000-word stories inspired in part by the weekly prompts of a small writing group somewhere in England.

 

 

 

 

 

Fat Man BluesFat Man Blues: “Hobo John” is an English blues enthusiast on a pilgrimage to present-day Mississippi. One night in Clarksdale he meets the mysterious Fat Man, who offers him the chance to see the real blues of the 1930s. Unable to refuse, Hobo John embarks on a journey through the afterlife in the company of Travellin’ Man, an old blues guitarist who shows him the sights, sounds and everyday life in the Mississippi Delta. Along the way, the Englishman discovers the harsh realities behind his romantic notion of the music he loves and the true price of the deal that he has made.

 

My Review of Fat Man Blues

Review Fat Man Blues

CadillacHank Williams’ Cadillac – Vince and Stu’s road trip through Texas is cut short when Stu’s ancient Honda breaks down in the quiet town of Rambling. Nearby is Bubba’s used-car lot, containing a collection of classic American cars. Following a bizarre encounter with a talking crow, and a deal signed in blood, Stu trades in his Honda for a powder-blue 1952 Cadillac convertible. Back on the road, the two buddies continue their journey in style, until a series of Burma Shave road signs and an encounter in a cemetery changes things forever.

 

All titles available through the author’s Amazon author page

About the Author

Author Richard WallRichard Wall was born in England in 1962, and grew up in a small market town in rural Herefordshire before joining the Royal Navy.

After 22 years in the submarine service and having traveled extensively, Richard now lives in Worcestershire where he works as a freelance Technical Author. Having a keen interest in writing since childhood, Richard joined Malvern Writers’ Circle in 2003 and since then has had poems published in magazines and newspapers and has appeared several times at Ledbury Poetry Festival.

His first stab at prose writing produced the short story, “Evel Knievel and The Fat Elvis Diner” (available on Kindle), followed by “Five Pairs of Shorts” a collection of ten short stories.

A self-confessed Delta Blues music anorak, Richard embarked on a pilgrimage to the USA to visit the Deep South, where a bizarre encounter in Clarksdale, Mississippi inspired him to write his début novel, Fat Man Blues.

Completed in 2015, Fat Man Blues has attracted acclaim on Amazon, together with a surprisingly wide cross-section of readership. Fat Man Blues has also caught the attention of an independent film-maker in New York City, who is interested in adapting the novel to a movie.

 

Richard blogs occasionally at http://rawall.wordpress.com.

 

Thank you for dropping by, Richard. Keep us posted on the movie! — ABF

TURKISH DELIGHT

As a writer, it makes sense to me to ferret out arcs, plot and character in unlikely places if only to knock loose that most elusive of creatures: the impish muse. And so, it was to that end that I began binging in earnest eclectic series on Netflix, Crave and the now defunct and sorely-missed Shomi platforms.

What an odyssey! Binging not only allowed this student to pick out problems with continuity, pacing, character cred and sagging middles (season four of almost anything) to name a few, but it also sling-shotted back the fixes that, I think, really make a story groove.

mag-century-1

It is to this point that I’m delighted to highlight a story-telling gem that I cannot get enough of, the incomparable Turkish period soap MAGNIFICENT CENTURY (available on Netflix Canada and other adventurous steaming outlets). Debuting in 2011, this 16th century historical romance details the triumphs and travails of Crimean-born Alexandra aka Roxelana aka Hürrem Sultan who turned the house of Sultan Suleiman upside down at a time when Ottoman rule was mounting an ambitious and often ill-fated sweep into Europe.

Maybe it’s a visual thing?

mag-century-sadSold into the harem by her Tatar kidnappers, 15-year-old Alexandra not only wins the favor of the Sultan (after much soul searching—she is the daughter of an Orthodox priest) but goes on to marry and live with her volatile spouse for the entire span of her life.

Those who know a little about Ottoman history grumpy-suleimanknow how uncommon a move like this actually was, given that sultans typically packed off their concubines with the princes they produced once the ‘young lions’ turned 16 and were deemed old enough to govern a principality of their own.

Hürrem, famously captured by the artist Titian (another first), took no prisoners when it mag-century-4came to protecting herself, her off-spring and even her sultan. Against tradition, she became the legal wife of a king in a royal house that did not have queens, bore five sons and a daughter against the one son per concubine policy, and was laid to rest in a tomb far grander than her spouse’s and immediately adjacent to him in the Süleymaniye Mosque.

A reinterpretation of history for art’s sake? No.

That this ‘character’ was actually real and pulled these rabbits out of her magical hat will be the subject of further personal study.

pargalaHistory, without question, drew me to this story. But what keeps me there (humorous subtitles notwithstanding) is the inane and highly unusual circumstances major and minor characters alike find themselves in. What, for example, distinguishes a major execution from a minor one? How far can second concubine push her agenda when the Haseki (1st concubine) and Valide (sultan’s mom) precede her and really, really don’t like her? And how does one remove a greedy grand vizier from the picture when his friendship with the sultan borders on a bromance to end all others?

The show runners of HBO’s excellent ROME series remind us that a lot of what the mag-century-schemeingcharacters feel and do in this type of genre is governed by a culture and belief system that so totally predate everything we know in the current CE that we at times question the credulity of the plot. We shouldn’t. Duking it out over who sits under the canopy is normal. Hürrem Sultan would rather commit suicide than allow a new Russian concubine into the harem and tells her sultan so with flourishing soundtrack to back her up. And she’d do it were it not for the fact that she knows him so well!

Melodrama at its best!

hurrems-ringsWith the soap genre allowing for glacial pacing (finding the stolen ring happened over a three-episode arc) the story still grooves, thanks to ambitious characters, raucous political and personal agendas, and costuming that, frankly, thrills.

The art direction, too, is luxe and adventurous, at times using painted murals (a la the old Sinbad movies of the Sixties) and digital gaming CGI that we know is ‘fake’ but is no less satisfying and entertaining. (Note: watch for the same flying bird patterns over the Vatican, the Buda palace of King Louis of Hungary and the Topkapi palace in Constantinople.)

Over the top and fast forward, even at snail’s pace, may not be new, but if MAGNIFICENT CENTURY is any indication, it somehow works and might be a grand fix for many things writerly.

What I could do if I could bring kitsch und vroom to the page. Maybe I’ll give it a try.

Stay tuned.

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant,

I am

FUNKHAUSER SIGNATURE

#amwriting #amwatching #magnificentcentury #writerslife

#GUESSWRITE WINNER TANYA CHRIS TALKS RELATIONSHIPS & FORGIVENESS WITH HER NEW M/M COMING-OF-AGE ROMANCE

Welcome to the blog, Tanya!

1.

Tell us about you.

fred-the-catI live in the northeastern United States with my boyfriend and my cat. I’m going to allow my boyfriend his privacy, but the cat’s name is Fred. Here’s a picture of him dressed up for Christmas. You can see how much he enjoyed that. Fred’s favorite things are pats and food. If you aren’t feeding him, you should be patting him, and if you aren’t patting him, you’re useless and must die.

Oh, you said tell you about me. My favorite things are chocolate and good reviews. Don’t make me kill you.

Ed.- You got me at hello 😉

 

2.

Optimist or pessimist?

Optimism and pessimism are different filters through which we try to predict the future. I’ve given up on trying to predict the future. Whatever will be, will be, and it’ll be all right, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now. So, that sounds somewhat optimistic.

 

3.

You have a lot of themes at play in WHEN IT ALL FALLS DOWN. Without giving spoilers, what underlying message do you hope to convey through the work?

The primary theme in When It All Falls Down is that relationships (people) are all that matter but that in order to make our relationships work, we have to be forgiving of each other.

 

4.

Are we better off as a society today? What, in your opinion, is the biggest lesson learned from our past?

We really are. I know it doesn’t feel that way in the US right now, but progress has never been linear. The overall trend, if you look at the history of civilization, has always been towards a more inclusive rendering of “liberty and justice for all” and I don’t think anyone can stop that upward trend for long, even if they manage to set back the clock temporarily.

 

5.

Growing up is tough. Growing old, maybe tougher. What does the raging success of the 50 Shades series say about adult readership?  Are they missing the point?

I haven’t read 50 Shades, so I can’t render an opinion on the series itself, but it’s an example of the billionaire trope which is enjoying popularity right now. Women today are required to be very strong, very adult, and so the temptation is there to escape into a world where someone (a man, for those who are heterosexual) takes over the adulting. That doesn’t mean those women want to abdicate control in real life, but at the end of a day of juggling work, family, and cultural expectations, they’re tired and sometimes overwhelmed and they deserve whatever fantasy brings them relief and joy.

 

6.

The definitions of family and gender are changing. Is it legislative or evolutionary?

I don’t think the compositions of family or gender are changing, just our ability to recognize the legitimacy of those various compositions thanks to social evolution. Legislation then slowly catches up to understanding.

 

7.

What are you working on now?

My next release will be Aftercare, which is a M/M BDSM romance. It features a Muslim immigrant (a very urbane, but somewhat, reluctant Dom) and the attorney who’s handling his brother’s murder case. I’ll be releasing that hopefully in April if I can get the editing finished! In the meantime, I’m writing a dystopia like everyone else in the US.

 

8.

Any last words?

I just want to put in a plug for the #guesswrite competition on Twitter. Any writer who’s trying to break in to self-publishing can definitely benefit from this prize package. I’m grateful to all the people who came before me, like the hosts of #guesswrite, for their guidance and example. I’ve made friends through Twitter and through NaNoWriMo who’ve critiqued my manuscripts, shared their lessons-learned, and been a source of inspiration and motivation. Remember: relationships are everything.

Ed. – Amen, sista!

 

When It All Falls Down

by Tanya Chris
Published by Tanya Chris Publishing (self-published)

M/M contemporary, coming-of-age romance, 64K words

Available 2/2/17 from Amazon in paperback and on Kindle. Eligible for Kindle Unlimited.

http://mybook.to/WIAFD

 

Blurb:

wiafd-cover-75dpiMaybe Charlie should have waited until he graduated high school before coming out, because since that revelation there’s been a growing distance between him and his friends. Charlie’s tough, though. He doesn’t mind eating lunch alone or watching his former gang interact with their new best buddy. What he does mind is seeing Drew Lavoitt suffer the same fate.

Drew didn’t come out. As far as he, or anyone else knows, he’s straight. What Drew did is accidentally hit and kill a little girl. Now the boy who was voted Most Popular, and who Charlie has maybe had a crush on since eighth grade, faces financial ruin, expulsion, and the fear that if he’s not everything, he’s not enough.

Popularity, wealth, acclaim—these things are easily lost. In each other’s arms, Drew and Charlie find something that can’t be taken from them. Together the two build a foundation on which they can re-create their lives.

 

Excerpt:

“Drew, I’m not your boyfriend.”

“At school, you said yes.”

“I can be your boyfriend at school, if that makes it easier for you to be at school, but I’m not your real boyfriend. Are you really expecting me to be … faithful to you?”

“I came out to my parents for you.”

“I don’t understand that part either. I don’t understand any of this.”

“What’s so hard to understand, Charlie? I want to be your boyfriend. Not just at school. All the time. But if you don’t want me—”

“Come on,” I said, cutting him off, “don’t start the drama up. You’ve got to know how much I want you.”

“Then we don’t have a problem.” He snuggled deeper into my side until he was rubbing his cheek along mine, our faces pressed right up together. Drew might not have a problem, but I did. My problem was that I wanted to turn my face into his and kiss him—not a quick brush of lips like what he’d given me in the hallway yesterday but the real thing. And then I decided, fuck it. I’d show him that being my boyfriend wasn’t what he wanted.

He was startled when I did it—when I brought my hand up to cup the back of his head and hold him still so I could really get my mouth against his, my tongue between those softly parted lips. Like he hadn’t been expecting it, like he hadn’t known that this was what happened when you rubbed your almost-too-skinny boy body up against a gay guy. He gasped, which opened him further up to me, and his body got stiff where it had been pliant, and I thought you see? and then that thought vanished beneath a whole bunch of oh my God because once he got past that initial shock, he kissed me back.

Praise for When It All Falls Down

“Read this faster than I’ve read anything in ages. Bittersweet, and strangely addictive.”

“Lately, books have seemed almost boring…and then I read this one.”

“Drew and Charlie are instantly shippable, love these boys to pieces.”

 

About the Author

tanyachrisTanya writes in a variety of romantic and erotic genres, being an avid follower of many of these genres herself. Some of her favorites are M/M romance, MFM threesomes, and BDSM with male submissives.

Tanya lives in New England with her boyfriend and her cat and has participated in many of the activities about which she writes, but not all of them. It’s left to the reader to decide which are which.

http://www.tanyachris.com
Twitter: @tanyachrs
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tanyachrispublishing/ Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15067939.Tanya_Chris

 

Thanks for dropping by, Tanya. See you around the Twitterverse! — A.B.

 

COMING OFF HIATUS

With just two chapters — that’s right — TWO chapters — left on the WIP, I though it was time to come out of #amwriting hiding to fire up the blog.

teaser-2So much has happened since the start of the year, beginning with the home stretch gallop for SHELL GAME, my third in the Unapologetic Lives Series. What began as a reaction to an aggressive letter from city hall has turned into a novel journey that examines relationships through the eyes of a feral tabby cat.

Equal parts dark and humorous, SHELL GAME  didn’t reveal it’s true self until the tag lines started teasing their way off of the pages.

It’s to all those amazing Twitter hashtag games geared to writers that I owe a debt for knocking the subtext loose:

#amwriting Psycho-social #cat #dramady with death and laughs #Thurds Words #ShareWrit

#SHELLGAME This time, the cat wins #2bitTues

A pastoral community tweaks when it crosses the black #cat #humor #wip #wipjoy #GuessWrite

This proves again what I have always known about art: ready or not, it finds you. And in this vein, I’m pleased to share two things, beginning with this chestnut:

Writing is one part of the author journey. Getting up and performing is another.

There’s no way to sugar coat performance: it’s tough. Even the most accomplished veterans, the late Sir Laurence Olivier most famously, suffered from mighty stage fright. Canada’s own Gord Downie from The Tragically Hip, I recently learned, is another. But reading the work is critical to getting the word out that writers are alive and well and writing. Believe me, the reading out loud gets easier with practice, and I proved it again just the other night.

compositeBack in 2013, a group of crime-loving authors came together and launched NOIR AT THE BAR, an event that has spread across the country and south of the border too. The February 16 event in Toronto provided a golden opportunity to get up and read from the WIP. Was I nervous? You bet! Am I glad I did it? Absolutely! Writers Rob Brunet, Jennifer Soosar, Tanis Mallow, Hope Thompson, Ian Hamilton, and Howard Shrier shared their dark work with aplomb, along with Noir img_2340Founding Father Peter Rozovsky, who came all the way up from Philly to do so.

That I found myself in such august company was in large part due to hard work (the writing) but also finding the wherewithall to bravely get out to as many events as I could so that I could talk up what I was getting up to (the writing). The invitation to read at Noir followed.

Which leads to the second chestnut:

Talking about your work is well and good as long as you pass on the good karma by talking about the work of others.

paintnet-guess-writeThe incredible power of february-9the Twitter hashtag game cannot be stressed enough. For while the Twitterverse is huge, it lends itself to lasting relationships forged through shares, one line at a time.

Case in point: A group of us recently got together and pooled our hashtag games under the umbrella of #GuessWrite. Each month, game hosts like yours truly, offer up a different theme that acts as a clue to a single, larger #GuessWrite theme. The lucky tanyachrisparticipant(s) that guess the theme share in a prize pack offered up by the hosts. It is through this that I am able to share this space with February 2017 #GuessWrite winner Tanya Chris. Tanya and I have crossed paths many times through #2bitTues #1lineWed #ThruLineThurs, #Thurds Words and many, many more. Yet it is through the shared resources of participating writer gamers that I have the honor to feature her work here.

I can feel the good Karma, already. Can you?

And so it is, without further ado, that I sign off here and get to work on Tanya’s feature post, which will go live later today.

Such joy to be back here in the Blogosphere!

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant,

I am
FUNKHAUSER SIGNATURE

#amwriting #amblogging #amreading #amsharing #writerslife

February 17, 2017

GILMORE GIRLS: A DISSENTING OPINION

Is it me or did the Sherman-Palladino’s get passive aggressive with a weird reboot ending?

Like every series fan, I got more than a little keyed up when I heard about the return of Gilmore Girls, an old fave that formed part of a near mythical line up on the old WB network. Would it fly?

Nine years is a long time, and scoring back the entire cast (the late Edward Herrmann excepted) for a mini Season 8 was a coup too good to miss out on. I had enjoyed a seven year love her-hate her relationship with Lorelai Gilmore, probably because I saw some of myself in her. Yacky, quirky, vulnerable and funny, she was also wise in the face of tragedy, if not hyper malleable when caught in a tough spot. Her on again, off again relationships, her inability to take a position and stick with it, and her fierce loyalty to her community always kept me rationalizing, wanting to make sense of her in the hopes that she’d come around to what I, the fan, wanted for her. In this, the Sherman-Palladino writing team succeeded in 2016.

The reboot showed us a Lorelai who hasn’t changed much since the show’s first run, and for those of us who caught on to the pathology behind her inertia, it was not only expected, but immensely satisfying on delivery. Still fast talking and coffee swilling, she is plagued by doubts about what the future holds and how she’ll deal with it when inevitable change comes. Aging is not touched upon nor should it be. Lorelai is timeless, blundering through life with steely determination and a calculating glint in her eyes. Both fox and hare, she will go on no matter what the show runners do to her and we love her for that. But when the narrative turns to Rory, something strange happens. Like her mother, she is still where we left her: questioning, seeking, battling to retain her optimism. All good things to highlight, given the current zeitgeist. But for the character, I wanted more.

After a Yale education and years on the international journo circuit culminating in a triumphant feature piece in a major magazine, thirty-two-year-old Rory Gilmore returns to Stars Hollow and her mother. Dislocated, without home and purpose, the gal is down. Will she pick herself up and triumph as her plucky mother did thirty-two years before, when she settled in the mythical burg at sixteen years young with a baby in tow?

I’m not sure.

HUGE SPOILER (BOLDED)

After four ninety minute episodes, writers “came full circle” to quote one of the series stars, ending with four (or three, depending on how you look at contractions) simple words from Rory: “Mom, I’m pregnant.”

Given the propensity for supermarket tabloids to push themes like “Baby and wedding on the way,” “Pregnant and dumped,” and “Christmas divorce,” I shouldn’t have been surprised. But I was. One of the many charms radiating off this series was the sparkling message that a Gilmore Girl could not be kept down. Her errors, missteps and heroic stubbornness would always give way to a solution more positive than the last go ’round.

Rory’s rejection of her Gilmore past with a thorough dumping of privileged boyfriend Logan at the end of Season 7 marked her escape from her mother’s past, which she had little choice but to live as a minor. Nine years later, she is back, older and presumably wiser, but still tripping the edges of the past we thought she rejected. Instead of feeling good about it, I was reminded, yet again, of how dastardly nostalgia comes into play when its disciples spend too much time caught in its tentacles.

Is replicating the main protagonist’s life the penultimate or final plot point in 2016, or has Gilmore Girls been a spec fiction piece in a divergent universe all along? Far from happy ending, it seems to hint at something darker in the Stars Hollow universe: a loop doomed to repeat. Run, Rory, run, and don’t look back!

The reboot has been embraced and celebrated widely, with many fans calling for more. I had so wanted to be part of that club, but find I can’t: At least, not now; not until I figure out what I just saw and what it really means.

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant,

I am,

FUNKHAUSER SIGNATURE

Gilmore Girls Fan

Links

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/abfunkhauser

Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamfunkhauser

Facebook: www.facebook.com/heuerlostandfound

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/funkhausera/

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Publisher: http://solsticepublishing.com/

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FAQ’s: https://abfunkhauser.com/faqs/

The Complete Scooter Q&A: https://abfunkhauser.com/the-complete-scooter-q-a/

BEFORE RULES: LEE RENE AND PRE-CODE HOLLYWOOD

frannieLee Rene is a Los Angeles-based, jazz-loving writer who grew up in the City of the Angels as the child of two fervent movie addicts. Lee has studied and researched classic Hollywood for a number of years and spent much of her writing career as an entertainment journalist and movie reviewer in print, on-line, and on the radio. She co-authored a biography of Sarah Bernhardt, The Diva and Doctor God, which Poverty Row Entertainment has recently optioned for a feature film. Lee has also co-written an article for the prestigious British publication, History Today, and had two articles published in The Lancet. Lee collaborated on The Soul of Los Angeles, the history of African Americans in Los Angeles, published by the Los Angeles Convention Bureau. Lee is member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Lee is a contributor to the Simply Sxy on-line magazine. Loose Id published her erotic romance, The New Orleans Hothouse, in 2015 and Solstice Publishing is releasing her Depression-era romance, Mitzi of the Ritz, later this year.

 

 

Mitzi of the Ritz

 

beautiful-mitziPops is dead, the Stock Market has crashed, and the wolf is at the door. When Mitzi Schector crosses the threshold of the Broadway Ritz for a lowly usherette job, little does she know that she has just stepped into her future. Mitzi’s life is about to change into a world of movie moguls, platinum-blonde bombshells, and romance.

 

Welcome to Mitzi of the Ritz, a raunchy and often humorous romantic mystery set in Depression-era Hollywood. The manuscript was a semi-finalist in the 2011 ABNA and a top-twenty favorite with Swoon Reads. Publishers Weekly wrote, “The dialogue is so telling of the era and the mind-set of a young girl. This writing is filled with the specifics of the era, the feelings, the bits and pieces of a girl caught up in a situation that is moving and engrossing, sad and fearsome at the same time.” 

 

In the fall of 1930, the plucky eighteen-year-old protagonist meets a handsome young theater owner named David Stein. Their attraction is immediate, but David is married, a fact that derails their romance before it begins. The feisty teen soon finds herself the unwilling object of the affection of a local mobster. His unwanted advances push Mitzi and her older sister to flee New York for Los Angeles, the scene of a Schector family tragedy. In the early 1920s, Mitzi’s uncle, a handsome film extra, lost his life in a studio fire. While crossing the country aboard the famed Santa Fe Chief, Mitzi meets a cast of the characters who will change her life. Her arrival in Los Angeles coincides with the film industry’s transition from silent dramas to talkies. During this period, known as the Pre-Code, racy films flourished in spite of the constant threat of censorship.  Mitzi soon reconnects with David. Their path to love is a long and rocky one, but David finally discovers his humanity, Mitzi transforms from teen to woman, and solves a decade-old Hollywood mystery.

 

 

Q & A1.

Welcome Lee. I recently introduced my husband to the films of Claudette Colbert and he was taken by their racy nature. Shall we begin with a definition of the Pre-Code era?

 

First I must say that Claudette Colbert’s Pre-Code films are a terrific introduction to a very provocative era in Hollywood history. The term Pre-Code is a bit of a misnomer because from the earliest days of cinema, filmmakers pushed the envelope, and local film censorship boards to keep them in line. Silent films often had provocative subject matterpre-code_hollywood and even nudity, but since there was no dialogue, local censors could snip out objectionable scenes with no problem. The issue became serious when a series of Hollywood scandals in the 1920s threatened the existence of the movie industry. Hollywood producers took matters in their own hands and created their own censorship board with a man named Will Hays. They also had a list of dos and don’ts which filmmakers pretty much ignored. The issue became problematic with the arrival of sound. Moving pictures were no longer silent, the language became rawer, and local board couldn’t just cut out provocative dialogue or a titillating scene without destroying the continuity of a talking picture. Also, producers were looking to Broadway for plays with explosive subject matter. A Catholic priest and a layman created the production code in 1929, but producers were able to maneuver around it or just ignore it until Joseph Breen, or “Mean Joe Breen” as he was known around Hollywood finally implemented it late in 1934.

 

 

2.

The Jazz Age promised social freedom through abandon, joy and booze. Then the shoe dropped with the Depression. What draws you to this age?

 

decoI’ve always loved so much about the Jazz Age, flappers, the birth of the automotive industry, Prohibition (I had a bootlegger great-uncle who made a fortune as a very young man), and the birth of the film industry. I grew up in Los Angeles near some of the larger studios. I loved the classic film tours of Hollywood and Beverly Hills and seeing the mansions where major stars lived. When I became a journalist, I actually visited those same studios. In addition to Pre-Code films, I also loved listening to the Depression stories my neighbors and relatives shared and watching the fabulous films. I also love the silent cinema which I watch on TCM or film society screenings. Thank goodness for Turner Classic movies and the amazing stars of the 1930s.

 

 

3.

Tell us about Mitzi Schector and the qualities that help her navigate that tantalizing landscape in MITZI OF THE RITZ.

 

Mitzi is a plucky eighteen-year-old New Yorker whom I based on several women I met new-york-1930through the years. The story begins in New York in 1930 after the Crash has wiped out the fortunes of so many. Her father’s death leaves Mitzi and her older sister, Leah, destitute. Leah takes a job as a taxi dancer, something that was well-paid, but not respectable at the time. The times force Mitzi to drop out of college and look for work. When she answers a newspaper ad for a theater usherette, the drama begins the minute she crosses the threshold of a huge New York movie palace, the Broadway Ritz.

 

She meets a handsome young theatre owner named David Stein, a young man much like the actual boy genius, Irving Thalberg, who has been running his late father’s theater company since he was barely out of his teens. David’s attraction to Mitzi is fiery and immediate, but she doesn’t return his feelings. In addition to being controlling and cynical, David is a married man, a reality that derails any hope for romance. Mitzi also finds herself the unwilling object of affection of a local mobster who will stop at nothing to make Mitzi his. Mitzi and Leah flee New York and board the Santa Fe Chief heading for Los Angeles. The two girls meet people who will change their lives and begin their adventure.

 

I loved writing Mitzi and her two older sisters, Leah and Zisel. I wanted to create a plucky heroine who speaks in the parlance of the time. I also loved adding Yiddish slang to the mix, writing a Jewish romance, and exploring the racial politics of a different time and place.

 

 

4.

I see you coauthored a biography of Sarah Bernhardt that has been optioned. Do you find collaborations more satisfying than working in solitude? Do you go off on your own when you write?

 

I wrote the Sarah Bernhardt project with a doctor who lives in Australia. We worked together online. I’m used to writing solo, but I enjoyed getting another perspective on Sarah’s life and times. My collaborator is French fluent and visited Paris frequently. While I made a number of great connections online, she was able to get the book published in French and make a lifetime connection with people who helped us on our journey.

 

 

5.

Mitzi of the Ritz is the latest in a career begun in print, on-line and radio journalism. When does it come out and does it mark the beginning of a career in novels?

 

I’ve already had another novel published, an erotic romance. I worked with a small publishing house and went through an extensive editing and proofing process with experienced editors. They sent me a style guide that I continue to use. The problem with erotica is that it’s difficult to find reviewers, and some people feel uneasy with it. There has also been a glut of erotic novels since Fifty Shades of Grey became a success and it’s next to impossible to break out of the pack. While I like writing erotic romances, I wanted to try another direction with a more conventional romance although my newest bends genre, crime drama and romance. Mitzi is New Adult with a moderate level of heat. I also write Young Adult novels under a different pen name.

 

 

6.

I watched a “thriller” over the weekend that featured some very talented actors sitting around a table watching flat screens as other actors effected change through push buttons while also watching flat screens. Do you think our gadget infused culture robs characters of useful things to do? Is that why we’re seeing more recent past stories being published and then made into film?

 

Look at the popularity of shows like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, shows with vibrant action and intriguing characters yet nary a computer in sight. Look at Outlander, a time-travel romance based on a popular series of books.

 

Once upon a time, I’d go to moves two or three times a week and when I was a reviewer, I was out five nights a week during movie season. Now, I pretty much skip them and get screeners. Marvel Comics, remakes, and films for the teen market pretty much dictate what’s out in theaters. I don’t have an issue with them, they aren’t my type of film, but if I want provocative fare, I won’t find it at the movies. I go online with Netflix or Amazon, watch premium cable or God forbid, read.

 

Ed. – Lol. I hear ya!

 

 

7.

Is the Code alive and well? Are we better when we go around it?

 

The Code ended in 1968, but now studios are playing it safe with remakes and comic book adaptations. The most interesting projects are usually I think the premium cable and online studios like Amazon and Netflix are creating the most provocative works, but certainly not film or network television. I understand the issues with censorship, but I think we’re better off without it.

 

 

8.

Any WIPs in the works, or are you taking a well-deserved break?

 

I’m always working on something. I have four unpublished manuscripts that I’m presently querying and I’m writing a YA story set in New Orleans in the 1950s. I also started outlining a wild, contemporary saga set in the meth amphetamine capital of California. I hope to write more novels set in the same fictional movie studio in West Hollywood that I used in Mitzi. I’d like to write a generational saga that looks at the movie industry from the silent era to the 1950s. I plan to create different characters, but the setting will be the same studio.

 

 

REVIEWS FOR MITZI OF THE RITZ

“The dialogue is so telling of the era and the mind-set of a young girl. This writing is filled with the specifics of the era, the feelings, the bits and pieces of a girl caught up in a situation that is moving and engrossing, sad and fearsome at the same time.”  Publishers Weekly

 

“I enjoyed the story and loved the how the early 30’s were brought to life. I liked the heroine but it did take me a little while to warm up to the hero (although he was worth the wait). I thought the story was well paced and the imagery vivid. For me, the end was a little abrupt. I guess I would have liked one more scene with David and Mitzi – then again that could just be me being greedy. That being said, I really enjoyed Mitzi of the Ritz and would recommend it.” 🙂 – Nicole – Swoon Reads

 

“I’m a few chapters in. The quirky dialogue and descriptions feel authentic to the era. Great cover too.” 😉 – Kristy Brown – Swoon Reads

 

“Okay, that’s it. I’m officially in love with this book. It’s awesome! The style is so well done, historically accurate, a very distinct voice, I’m impressed. As for the story and the romance, they kept me at the edge of my seat, waiting to see what would happen next. I would totally buy this book and reread it, I love it 🙂 Also, it reminds me a bit of Anna Godbersen’s Bright Young Things which has the same tone and glamour. Thank you for writing this, it’s perfect!” – M.C. Frank – Swoon Reads

 

“Wow!! I felt like I was in the olden days! The writing was easily to follow along and smooth and the characters were lovable. I wish I had some criticism, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and can’t really think of any to give! Great job!” ABNA

 

“I felt like I was transported back in time to a strange place that somehow felt eerily familiar. I remember my grandma telling me stories of life in depression-era LA. Lee Rene captures the feeling perfectly. I loved her characters and the way the story unfolded. Her characters seemed real and not stereotypes. I couldn’t put this down.
I wish it were longer.” – Peter Taubkin – ABNA

 

“I’m a fan of romance, a dedicated Twihard. I love to be transported to different places and times. Mitzi of the Ritz delivered. I learned about Hollywood during the Depression, a dark time in American history. It brought a much-needed smile to my face and is worth Five Stars!” Amazon

 

“I don’t normally read romance novels and was a bit leery of starting this one. Luckily, it’s not a traditional historical romance, no bodices are ripped, no hyper-sexuality. Instead, it’s a funny look at a dark era in American history, the Great Depression. I felt very much a part of the action, loved the characters, the banter, the 30s slang. A real winner.”Swoon Reads

 

 

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Thanks for joining us today, Lee. Count on a lot of us checking out MITZI AT THE RITZ! 

Cheers,

ABF

 

 

 

LOOKING INTO THE UNEXPLAINED WITH DAVID MANNES

Hello from beautiful Bonville, Ontario! Like so many writers this time of year, I’m neck deep in a brand new work for NaNoWriMo 2016. For those not in the know, NaNo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Believe it or not, a 50K manuscript can be hashed out in a month if a writer dedicates about 1,600 new words to the page every day. But I digress…

The blog needs to be fed, and so it is my great pleasure to welcome multi-talented author David Mannes. Spiritual and curious, David plumbs a fascination with the paranormal while exploring relationships at their most personal. With TWO releases out this year, his energy and creativity is an inspiration to us all.

Welcome to the blog, David.

 

 

1.

As a Cantor-Educator you are a spiritual man who is also interested in the paranormal and the unexplained. How do you reconcile dogma with secular interests?

 

Judaism’s belief about what happens after you die is a gray spectrum with an evolution of beliefs over the millennium looking at biblical and Talmudic views. We do believe that the soul is eternal. But I certainly don’t believe in demons, possessed souls, or Satan- at least in terms of the Christian view, which has its origins with Egyptian, Greek, and Roman theology. In Judaism Satan-pronounced Sah-tahn in Hebrew- or the Accuser, is sort of like a prosecuting attorney.  (Satan is mentioned briefly by a couple of the prophets and predominantly in the book of Job (an allegory piece of literature about faith).  However,  I did live briefly in a haunted house for awhile in my teens. (See May, 1976 issue of Fate Magazine-‘The Spite House’) and I have friends who are psychic. I tend to keep an open mind as to what happens to our spirit after death and in terms of Jewish belief.

 

Re: the unexplained or extraterrestrial: In Jewish tradition God created and destroyed many worlds before creating this one, and then God continues to create.  God is a creative force. It’s what God does. Also, it’s pretty egotistical of us to think we’re the only intelligent life form in the universe, and really, looking at our world and the history of humankind, there’s got to be something out there smarter than us.  The universe is billions or trillions of years old.Humankind is still in it’s relative infancy.  We may have become more sophisticated, but we haven’t matured much.  We don’t know everything.  The world and the universe will continue to surprise us.

 

2.

Is that how you became involved in the arts? Or did the arts come first?

 

I was always interested in fine art (especially cartooning) and writing. I majored in Art initially in High school and my first year of college, then switched it to a minor and majored in English. I’ve been writing since upper elementary school and got a lot of encouragement from teachers and in creative writing classes. I’ve always had an overactive imagination. I knew I wanted to be a writer since fifth grade.

 

3.

Your character Jeff Reimer in THE CANTOR’S SON reminisces about the year of his Bar Mitzvah, which took place in the 1960s. I’ve been listening to a lot of Beatles lately and find it very reassuring. What is it about the 60’s that keeps us coming back?

 

We are the baby boomer generation. We had great music, great causes and its generational influence is still present. While The Cantor’s Son has a Jewish slant, it also speaks to baby boomers and any kid whose father was clergy.  I think it was a great era to grow up in, despite all the war and social problems.

 

4.

Jeff “comes home” after forty-six years. What is his take on ‘home’ in the year 2016 CE?

The book is about Jeff’s journey not only as a young adult but as an adult. Getting older gives us a different perspective on life and what’s important. There’s a lot of people (adults) that are still figuring it out.  Overall change happens. Growth happens. Life is a continual journey and Jeff is entering a new stage but experience has given him a new outlook too, one that I think the character is happy with.

 

5.

You have also authored THE REPTILIAN ENCOUNTER and SCARLET JUSTICE. Do these works support common themes, or are other agendas at work?

 

scarlet vengeance-001.jpgWell Scarlet Justice started out as a screenplay that I was going to produce with a couple of buddies, but there was a recession on in the early 90’s and we couldn’t find interest or financing so I did a novelization of it. I grew up watching old B westerns and the Clint Eastwood and John Wayne movies. While doing research for the Writing-on-Stone documentary I read a lot about the early years of the Mounted Police and it  gave me a lot of story ideas that I’ve incorporated in this series. The second book, Scarlet Vengeance will be out this fall, and I’m working on a third book in the series.

           

The Reptilian Encounter is actually the third part of a trilogy (I published the first two volumes independently on Amazon kindle) but it’s also a spin-off for a continuing series. I’ve been interested in UFOs since I was a kid. I use to read Frank Edward’s column in the newspaper and have been doing reading and research on UFO’s for probably about 50 years.  As well, having grown up in the 60’s, The Man from U.N.C.L.E was one of my favorite shows, as was X-Files in the ’90’s. Both influenced tunguska-cover-2the creation of my character Damien Wynter.  According to some of my research, after the Roswell crash of 1947 President Truman set up Majestic 12, a group of military, industrial, and private organizations and individuals who investigate and obtain alien technology, and understand extraterrestrials, but at the same time keeping it secret to prevent public panic. My novels are based on actual or alleged incidents but with fictional license and conclusions.  The series is sort of a Man from U.N.C.L.E meets the X-Files. The second book, The Tunguska Encounter is coming out this fall.   I’m hoping this series takes off and I think it’d be great to see The Reptillian Encounter made into a movie.

 

6.

And you have also worked in film as a producer/director and scriptwriter. How do these experiences compare to writing in solitude, if you, indeed, write in solitude?

 

Definitely there are parts of media production that are creatively collaborative; but both involve storytelling. I think visually no matter what the media. I always have. The difference for me is in the pacing. Working in media is a very intense and frantic pace a lot of the time, given budgets, deadlines, etc. Writing is more relaxed. The only deadline we have (other than from our illustrious publisher during the editing phase) is one that we set.  There are times I enjoy being in my ‘Batcave’ with music in the background and letting the story take me in new places.  Solitude is essential when writing. I find myself quite comfortable when I’m in ‘the zone’.

 

7.

What is the glue that holds society together currently?

 

Relationships and common goals. To have a society means that there has to be rules that everyone agrees to and abides by. That’s the main purpose of the Ten Commandments (though in Judaism according to the rabbis, there’s 613).  It’s the minimal rules to have a safe and just society.

 

 

8.

Many of us imagine life before the digital age. Others of us have lived it. Which category do you fall into? Can you share a pre Instagram anecdote with the readers? (Mine involves chasing my younger brother with a manual egg beater *lol*)

 

I definitely lived life before the digital age and was very thankful when computers came out. Made writing a lot easier..lol.  I remember as a kid we’d play army.  Our next door neighbors were an older couple.  They had a retaining wall on one side of their property.  We kids used to go around through another yard and take a running leap off the retaining wall and do a tuck and roll to pretend we were parachuting.  The problem was the cement walk that separated the wall and the grass. You had to jump far enough so you didn’t splat on the walk.  We didn’t understand liability issues, but the old guy was always chasing us away when he caught us doing that.

 

9.

What words of wisdom would you impart to our first extraterrestrials when they arrive?

 

Don’t judge us by the stupidity you see. We are worthy and capable of better. We are also tenacious and unpredictable. Don’t piss us off.

 

10.

Any last words?

 

Follow your dreams. You only live once. Appreciate the people in your life because that’s the most important.

 

Thanks, David. Now let’s check out the novels…

 

THE CANTOR’S SON

the-cantors-son-cover-conceptRabbi-Cantor Jeff Reimer returns to River City, Iowa after forty-six years, as spiritual leader of Temple Beth Shalom. As Jeff connects with the congregation on a variety of issues, he also connects with his past.  It leads him to reminisce about the year of his Bar Mitzvah, and the pivotal events and personal relationships that have led him back to River City again, and that makes Jeff the man he has become. This is a humorous coming-of-age story set in the turbulent 1960’s where Jeff fights off the stigma of being a clergyman’s son, contends with Junior High shop classes, stumbles through B’nai Mitzvah party dances and a semi-reluctant romance with April Blackman.

 

 

SCARLET VENGEANCE 

Released October 14, 2016

 

scarlet-vengeance-001Ride with Northwest Mounted Police Constable Alfred Kingsley and  ex-gunfighter turned scout Charlie Buck in two new adventures: Scarlet Vengeance–  Hatred is a powerful motivator. When rancher Amos Pike spots ex- runaway slave and black rancher, Elijah Samuels, a man he blames for his family’s downfall, Pike plots a merciless revenge to take away everything Samuel’s holds dear. But he doesn’t count on NWMP Constable Alfred Kingsley and Charlie Buck, who head out on the trail to track the kidnappers and murderers down.   In the second novella, Scarlet Gold, Kingsley and Buck, while on their way escorting a prisoner to Fort Benton, aid the U.S. cavalry and Marshal Ben Tucker track down a ruthless band of gold thieves in Montana.

 

THE TUNGUSKA ENCOUNTER

Released September 30, 2016

 

tunguska-cover-2The cold war is back on but with a twist…a remnant, a computer chip, exists from a  UFO that exploded over Russia in 1908. Now Damien Wynter, special agent for the clandestine Majic-12, is on a race to get it before  SETKA, his Russian counterparts.  From the canals of Venice to old city of Dubrovnik, to the pyramids of Bosnia, Wynter and  Michelle Martin run a gauntlet of anarchy, destruction and death in an all out battle to obtain technology that could be the greatest boon to humankind or launch its destruction in THE TUNGUSKA ENCOUNTER!

The Majic-12 series explores the clandestine side of UFOs and the covert organizations that investigate them.  This is an espionage-action-adventure sci-fi series that takes place in present day.

 

About the Author

david-m-mannes_4847_100516

 

David M. Mannes is a Cantor-Educator and a member of the American Conference of Cantors. He has served congregations in the United States and Canada.  He is also a former educational film producer/director and scriptwriter. He was nominated in 1990 for best non-dramatic script in the Alberta Motion Picture Industry Association (A.M.P.I.A.) awards  for “Writing-on-Stone” that he wrote and produced for Alberta Parks. David is the author of  The Cantor’s Son, The Reptilian Encounter (Damien  Wynter –Majic-12 series), Scarlet Justice (Constable Alfred Kingsley and Charlie Buck series), among others. He has had a long time interest in history, as well as UFOs, paranormal and unexplained phenomena. David is a member of the Writer’s Guild of Alberta and the International Thrillers Writers.  David Mannes is married and lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

 

 

Links

 

Email: david_mannes@hotmail.com

Webpage: http://davidmannes.wix.com/david-mannes

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/David-M.-Mannes/e/B004RQNWNA