A. F. STEWART AND THE ART OF HORROR POETRY

horror-haiku

 

Words linger…In the darkness of shadows, in the distant screams.

They whisper past the drip, drip of blood.

The strange beauty of words hide, waiting for you.

Embrace the horror.

 

Venture past safe reality, into the world of terror told in verse.

Horror Haiku and Other Poems brings forth surreal dread and spins it in artistic countenance. From small chilling bites of poetry, to murky morsels of fright, come find where the words haunt you, where they live and die.

Welcome A. F. Stewart.

 

1.

By your own admission, you are drawn to geeky things and the immense beauty behind the terrible. Tell us how you reconcile camp with high gothic, or do you keep them separate?

 

I think geek and gothic are two intrinsic sides of speculative fiction, i.e. the horror, fantasy, and sci-fi genres, but tend to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. When adding a lighter touch or levity I generally shy away from writing camp, (although I have been known for using a few bad puns), and lean more towards satire and gallows humour. I’m more comfortable with the gothic end as I often use historical settings, but tend to be more macabre and less theatrical. I like to take the normal and twist it into the abnormal.

 

2.

As an east coaster, you have the sea for a neighbor. What is that like, and how do you tame this force when it grows inhospitable?

 

I love the sea. There’s a certain majesty and wildness to it, some of that terrible beauty that you mentioned. It’s vast and picturesque, and ferocious as well. You don’t ever tame the sea. You batten down the hatches and ride out any storm. It’s funny though, until my current WIP, Ghosts of the Sea Moon, I’ve never written a seafaring story, just a few sea themed poems.

 

3.

Tell us about what went into your upcoming book of poetry HORROR HAIKU AND OTHER POEMS. Did it come together over many years, or did it spark with a single inciting incident?

 

Much of my poetry is based in the same genres as my prose:  horror, fantasy and science fiction. I’m not one for sweet romantic verse. This particular book was inspired by #HorrorHaikuesday ( a weekly Twitter hashtag event run by @horror_made), where you write a horror based poem in the haiku style. I loved the idea (I’m a big fan of haiku) and after a few months I had quite the collection. So I compiled all my efforts into this book, added a few of my longer poems and some photos, and voila, a poetry book is born.

 

4.

Compare and contrast your painting with your writing. Can you share some photos of your painted work and explain what each means?

 

orchid-poemI strive to be a professional in my writing, but I’m strictly an amateur painter, (although my skills as a graphic designer are improving), and I’m not sure your readers want to be subjected to my poor attempts at landscapes. I have included two of my computer generator paintings that I used as backgrounds for my poems. The first is an artful-poemorchid done in watercolor style in an homage to Asian calligraphy art, and the second is an abstract piece set to a poem inspired by the TV show Hannibal.

 

5.

In addition to your poetry, you have several novels available on Amazon. Can you share some of the common themes running through each? For you, are these themes more pet peeve or sacred cow?

 

My favourite theme is “consequences” and I think that is a natural by-product of the genres I write in more than a pet peeve or a sacred cow. I enjoy sticking my characters in sticky situations of their own design (or on occasion, other people’s design) and letting bad things happen to them. Very bad things.

 

6.

Have I forgotten anything?

 

Only to be sure to check out HORROR HAIKU AND OTHER POEMS when it releases on October 11th. It’s debut will be part of my participation in the October Frights Blog Hop that runs from October 10th until the 15th. The hop is a delightfully dark gathering of horror and paranormal authors celebrating all things strange and morbid, and I’ll be running spooky posts on my blog all that week.

 

 

 

About the Author

A. F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada and still calls it home. She favours the dark and deadly when writing—her genres of choice being dark fantasy and horror—but she has ventured into the light on occasion. She is fond of good books, action movies, sword collecting, geeky things, comic books, and oil painting as a hobby.

 

Website: https://afallonblog. wordpress.com/

 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/A.-F.-Stewart/e/B00653FUOW/

Blog: http://afstewartblog.blogspot.ca/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/scribe77

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

 

Thank you A. F. Stewart for sharing your work and thoughts.

 

This concludes our month of authors. A heart-felt thanks to those who participated. Look for more titles and interviews in November.

 

UP NEXT: The A.B. goes under in preparation for a new book tour and giveaway beginning October 17th with Roxanne Rhoades and Bewitching Book Tours.

 

See you soon! ABF

13335656_897003367095972_2442088226258039172_n

FROM COMEDY TO MURDER, VERSATILE AUTHOR JACK B. STRANDBURG KEEPS ‘EM ROLLING

banner

He began his writing career on a lark, penning a humorous tale of cowpokes with a taste for larceny. Little did he know that that work would be published years later with more to follow. Multi-genre author Jack B. Strandburg can celebrate: the muse is strong with more to come.

 

1.

Welcome to the blog, Jack. Tell me, how did you go from a pool sharking Western comedy a la Mel Brooks to a serial killer thriller?

 

I wrote the Western comedy in the mid 1980’s just for fun, with no thought or dream of ever publishing the work. Even when I wanted to become an author, I never dreamed this work was good enough to make the grade. It just happened to kick off my publishing career (if you can call it a career). I’ve always loved the mystery, suspense, and thriller genre, however, so once I decided to pursue my dream, I knew that genre would be the one of choice.

 

2.

Your current WIPs focus on investigations: one from the POV of an armed forces veteran; the other from someone inside the police force. How does this style of detective work compare? Does the veteran have more freedom than the cop, as in the case of a P.I.?

 

I don’t really focus too much on the “definition” of a P.I. vs. a cop vs. another protagonist, but you’re right in assuming the veteran will have more freedom. I’m more concerned with my protagonist making sure the antagonist gets the justice he or she deserves, even if the cop, P.I., or other have to bend the law a little.

 

3.

THE MONOGRAM KILLER has ‘history in the mystery.’ Can you give us a teaser?

 

Catherine chewed her lip before answering. “I didn’t recognize the name either, so I did some research. Herman Mudgett is the real name of Dr. Henry Holmes, allegedly the first documented serial killer in America. In the 1880s, he operated a hotel in Chicago. They called it The Murder Castle. It was a torture chamber. He confessed to twenty-seven murders but evidence suggested there were actually two-hundred or more. Some believed he was Jack the Ripper but that was never proven.”

 

4.

And of course, I’d love a look at HUSTLE HENRY. I keep thinking of A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST.

 

Twelve days later, Henry sat in a saloon in Flintrock, Texas sipping whiskey from a shot glass riddled with fingerprints. The barkeep claimed his towels were too soiled from wiping up beer and tobacco spit from the floor and counter to keep the glasses clean. Whatever. The saloon had seen better days. The legs on most of the chairs and tables were either cracked or broken, the walls bare, the piano hideously out of tune, and the stairs so rickety, the survival rate for getting to the upper floor was less than twenty percent. The odor of urine and vomit mixed with liquor hung in the air like a horse’s fart in high humidity. Flintrock, located two-hundred miles south of the Oklahoma-Texas border, would never rank high as an Old West tourist attraction.

 

5.

The Sahara sands paid you a recent visit. What is that like and have you dug out?

 

A few years ago I was diagnosed with allergies to dust mites and mold. Allergy shots have helped, but the dust dropped by the sandstorm flared my allergy symptoms. Unfortunately, I don’t get a runny nose, itchy eyes, or scratchy throat, my symptoms are lethargy followed by fatigue. At first I didn’t know the reason why my allergies flared up until I read about the sandstorm. People all over Southeastern Texas (apparently the storm’s destination) are flocking to doctors, many asking why they are getting symptoms they never experienced before. Those suffering with asthma and respiratory ailments are warned to stay indoors as much as possible. I guess I should consider myself somewhat fortunate I’m not more sick. The situation is improving, and I don’t have the symptoms as often, but still must fight through occasional suffering.

 

Ed. – You have my sympathies, sir. I’m currently surrounded by Ragweed!

 

6.

Any last words?

 

Anyone with creative talent and who wants to be a writer / author, keep on the lookout for sources of inspiration. They could come from anywhere. The idea for The Monogram Killer came when I was on the treadmill listening to “Hollywood Nights” by Bob Seger. The first two lines go, “She stood there bright as the sun on that California coast, He was a Midwestern boy on his own.” I had two characters, one wanting to meet the other, somehow it became a serial killer story with a paranormal twist. Go figure.

 

Ed. – I couldn’t agree more.

 

TITLES BY JACK B. STRANDBURG

Hustle Henry and the Cue-Ball Kid

Published by Solstice Publishing:

hustle_henry_and_the_cue-ball_kid_coverClarence Flannery was luckier than most men his age to discover his life’s ambition, particularly in the unpredictable years just following the Civil War. Born with an unmatched skill to play pool, he left his home in Kansas when he turned twenty-six and traveled throughout the Southwestern United States to make his mark as a legendary pool hustler, with every intention of amassing a fortune in the process.
Clarence needed help for both support and protection, and recruited James Skinner as his partner, along with nine other highly-skilled pool players to assist him in his quest.
Wanting to be included in the same sentence as Attila the Hun and Alexander the Great, Clarence changed his name to Hustle Henry, Skinner became the Cue-Ball Kid, and the eleven men would go down in history as The Hole-in-the-Table-Bunch, known far and wide for hustling wannabe pool sharks out of their life savings.
All goes to plan and life has a rosy and profitable outlook, but Henry and his men want more than what pool halls and saloons offer, so they decide to challenge the more affluent clientele on a riverboat.
Initially, the venture proves profitable, but the millionaire tycoon and owner of the fleet of riverboats, takes exception, and intends to bring down the Bunch and thrust Henry and The Kid into a life of destitution.
Taking along the Kid’s girlfriend, Penelope Henderson, the Kid and Henry flee to South America – where there will be a final showdown…
Hustle Henry and the Cue-Ball Kid is a fiction work of Western humor with an interesting and amusing cast of characters.

 

 

Reviews

 

“I have to give accolades to the author for being unique — I never would have thought of writing a historical western about a pool hustler, of all things! In my opinion the book is one that you can’t take too seriously — it’s meant to be fun and light hearted and the writer accomplishes just that. I think guys would get a kick out of this one.”

“Loved the character and the format! Very happy with the writing, an easy and very fun read! Hoping this author will work on another!”

“Very Easy reading. The story line kept me wanting to know what was next in the story. I highly recommend reading this book.”

 

 

The Monogram Killer

Published by Solstice Publishing

the_monogram_killer_coverWhen Julia Ballard meets Kelly Nichols, she believed he was the man of her dreams. Julia’s best friend has doubts, and her investigation into Nichols’s life encourages her suspicions. Despite Jessica’s warnings, Julia is convinced he is sincere and cares for her. Nichols is hiding secrets from a legacy he cannot escape, and Julia is the key to a sinister plan. When two homicide detectives combine forces to search for a serial killer, it becomes a race to see who accomplishes their goal first.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reviews

 

“Excellent story, well told. Jack leads you on an emotional roller coaster ride by the heroine and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Quick read and before you knew it, the mystery was solved. Great character development, wonderful and professionally descriptive prose and several twists and turns kept me tuned in. Need more like this!!”

“Surprise ending. Like the history behind the mystery.”

“A romance – a mystery – a surprise. Before I knew it I was at the end. A good read for all.”

 

 

Works in Progress

 

A Matter of Honor (short story) – Luke Coleman returns from the armed forces and learns the truth about the deaths of his father and brother, both police officers.

 

A Head in the Game (novel) – Chicago Homicide Inspector Aaron Randall faces his toughest case while dealing with doubts about his career and the potential of a romantic relationship. Jared Prescott, a Heisman Trophy winner and Vice President of a large and respected pharmaceutical company, is found murdered at a seedy motel. The investigation uncovers more suspects than normal, with motives ranging from jealousy to revenge to extortion. When the body of his close friend and number one informant is found stabbed to death in a deserted alley, and a woman claiming to be present at the time of Prescott’s murder is gunned down in front of him, and a woman who worked for the same company is found murdered in her home, Randall knows he is dealing with a conspiracy. Randall is hamstrung during the investigation by pressure from the commissioner down the chain of command because the president of the pharmaceutical company, anxious for resolution to Jared Prescott’s murder, is a close friend with a Senator whose sights are set on the Oval Office.

 

 

About the Author

 

jack_website_picJack Strandburg was born and raised in Cleveland Ohio.  He is a degreed professional with a background in Accounting and Information Technology and recently retired after more than 33 years working for a Fortune 500 company.  He has been writing since his teenage years.

He self-published an inspirational titled An Appointment With God: One Ordinary Man’s an_appointment_with_god_coverJourney to Faith Through Prayer, by Trafford Publishing.

His first published novel by Solstice Publishing is Hustle Henry and the Cue-Ball Kid, a parody of the movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

His third work, a novella titled The Monogram Killer, published by Solstice Publishing, was released in May, 2016.

He is currently working on a short story titled A Matter of Honor, revising his first mystery novel, A Head in the Game, writing journals for an upcoming inspirational non-fiction book; and completed 70% of a first draft for a second mystery novel titled War Zone.

He is an editor and proofreader for Solstice Publishing.

Jack currently lives with his wife and two grown children, in Sugar Land, Texas. He has three grandchildren.

 

 

Links

 

An Appointment With God

 

Hustle Henry and the Cue-Ball Kid

 

The Monogram Killer

 

 

Thank you for joining us, Jack. We look forward to your WIP’s. Write on!

 

TOMORROW: Author and poet A.F. Stewart shares HORROR HAIKU and the art of a line.

CURIOSITY AND FICTION EQUALS NEW WORLDS AND HENRY ANDERSON

banner

He’s a globe trotter and journalist with a taste for steampunk, creating worlds we cannot see but fervently seek. Please welcome  to the blog author Henry Anderson.

 

1.

Congratulations on releasing your first novel, THE MOUTH. How does it feel?

 

Thanks for having me on A.B. It feels fantastic – I can now look people in the eye and say I’m an author. My words have somehow escaped out into the wild!

 

2.

Can you give us an excerpt?

 

mouth-solstice-cover-461x660When sixteen-year-old Jack’s home town is burned down and his family killed, his only chance of survival is to travel through a dangerous device called “The Mouth” that opens doors into other worlds.

He must do the impossible – find the world that gave his enemies their extraordinary power and travel to a mythical place known simply as “The Maximum.

The Mouth is a gritty science-fantasy adventure story about hope, resolve and finding the courage to carry on fighting even when all seems lost.

 

 

 

From Chapter One:

 

The forest was a dark line ahead of them.

Badger disappeared into the woods.

A bullet smacked into a window frame by Jack’s feet. He climbed up a heap of rubble and jumped into the treeline.

Birch saplings broke his fall.

Soon he was sprinting amongst the old, broad- leaved trees of the Weald.

The noise behind him died away.
His boots crunched on frozen leaf mould.

Two notes from a horn sounded in the air.

Badger stepped out from behind the bulbous trunk of an old beech tree.

“What was that?” said Jack.

“Death.”

Sweat steamed from Badger’s hair. He said, “They won’t want to do us straight off. Those fellers like to take their time.”

“What can we do?”

“When I was a kid, my old man used to lay something on the ground to put them off the scent, like wild garlic. Or a blood trail. The dogs like blood, you see.”

Jack pulled a string necklace out of his jumper. A key hung from it.

“I know a place near here where we can hide,” he said.

 

 

3.

I’m intrigued by steampunk. Can you define it for us and tell us what draws you to this genre?

 

I’m currently writing some short stories that are a bit steampunk. I grew up reading the science fiction of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells – their adventure stories had steam-powered machines and unfeasibly large dirigibles. Steampunk seems to look back to nineteenth-century science fiction – and fashion. It also allows some of the prejudices of that time to be scrutinized and possibly opposed. Sometimes there are top hats – and corsets.

 

4.

As an army kid, you grew up with your bags packed. How did this experience impact your fiction?

 

As a writer and reader I think a sense of place in fiction is important. Not just landscape and geography but people’s character as well. It doesn’t even have to be a “real” place. In “The Mouth” I’ve tried to create fully-realised worlds that feel as authentic as the real world (which is also in the novel). Back to the question – growing up we moved around a lot – including foreign countries so I don’t really have deep roots. Maybe I’m now over-compensating.

 

5.

You also worked the news a reporter in the UK. Is the axiom true? Is reality stranger than fiction?

 

I’m not sure about stranger – I think real life is often a bit more random than fiction. Fiction is quite structured.

I think reporting can be good training though.  Daniel Defoe wrote “Robinson Crusoe” after a long career in journalism. The book was initially presented as a true story. It reads like classic reportage. An older journalist told me early on in my career that when reporting you should always be on the lookout for the “telling detail”.  Defoe had no experience of being shipwrecked or marooned but the book is full of thousands of telling details – all invented. It feels authentic.

Also, journalism is similar to fiction in that it’s about capturing people’s attention and then keeping them interested enough to get to the end of your story.

 

6.

The battle to triumph over extreme challenges is a primary theme in your work. What other subtexts are at play? Do these run through all of your written work?

 

I think it’s good to defy the fates sometimes! Maybe some of the triumph-over-adversity tropes are wishful thinking on my part. I have had a few challenging life events which I have struggled to triumph over. Sometimes we are at the mercy of forces we can’t control. I think it’s good to be defiant. Sometimes when the shit hits the fan it’s the only thing you have left.

On a larger scale I think it’s also incumbent on people to try and make society better and fairer. I also think politically we should confront bad behaviour and hold it to account. Maybe fiction can help with that.

 

7.

THE MOUTH, in some ways, reminds me of Python Terry Gilliam’s TIME BANDITS. What are some of your key influences?

 

I love that film! Travelling between worlds is such an exciting idea. The guys in that film have a map to help find openings between worlds which the character in my book doesn’t. “Time Bandits” probably is an influence subconsciously. The idea of escaping into different fictional worlds has always appealed to me. I liked the episode of Star Trek where Kirk and his away team are transported to a parallel dimension where the federation is an evil empire and the crew’s counterparts are barbarians. I was quite taken with Michael Moorcock’s “Warlord of the Air” where the hero wakes up in a parallel world still ruled by empires – allowing the author to explore themes of colonialism and imperialism.

 

8.

Superhero movies: High art, or strictly for kids?

 

There was a time when comics were for kids. Graphic novels like “Watchmen”, “Maus” and “The Dark Night Rises” changed that in the 80s. I generally find it difficult to differentiate between “high” and “low” art. I contend it takes just as much skill to write a successful comic strip as it does to write a “literary” novel.

 

9.

And the WIP?

I’m currently writing an urban fantasy about a police officer who encounters some strange events during a robbery investigation. I’m also trying to write some steampunkish short stories.

 

 

Links

 

Website https://henryandersonbooks.com

Blog: https://henryandersonbooks.blogspot.co.uk

Twitter https://twitter.com/handersonbooks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/henry.anderson.books

Facebook author page:  fb.me/henryandersonauthor

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/hhenryanderson/

Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/henryandersonbooks

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15568224.Henry_Anderson

 

Amazon

Author Page: http://author.to/henryanderson

The Mouth : http://mybook.to/themouth

 

Thank you for joining us, Henry, and best of luck with the short stories.

 

MONDAY: Versatile author Jack B. Strandburg talks serial killers and playing for laughs out west.

SPOTLIGHT: NATALIE SILK AND SNOWFALL’S SECRET

 

DSC00255.JPGMy current work is Snowfall’s Secret.  It’s about a girl from another world who must live like any other tween on Earth (and she suffers from amnesia).  Of course, she learns to enjoy shopping at the mall with her very own debit card and has a few secrets. At its core is the message that everyone has value and has something special to share.

The story was inspired by a dream I had when I was twelve.  I saw five monks standing in a semi-circle.  They were all wearing a triangle-shaped pendant with a red stone in the center.  One of the monks looked at me and said, “You’re not ready,” and I woke.  I had subsequent dreams of a girl with a pendant to the one the monks wore and I wrote them all down.

My favorite character to write about (funny how that turned out) was a secondary one to the story:  Mrs. Margot Greenfield. I based her on a favorite childhood teacher.

By the way, my favorite genre to write is science fiction.  Surprise!  Just kidding.

My focus right now is science fiction for girls; but I’m still playing around with a short snowfalls-secret-1story that’s alternative history to give myself a mental stretch.  I have this irrational fear that the last thing I finish writing will be my last.  I wonder if I’m not alone.

I’m pretty ‘old school’ when it comes to my writing habits.  The first thing I do is buy a brand new hand-sized spiral notebook and use it to write the basic story that’s mostly action punctuated here and there by dialogue.   The little notebook helps me believe that I’m accomplishing so much.  I then use my trusty laptop to write the second draft that looks as if I threw words down to see what sticks.  The technical term I like to use is word hurl.  Each subsequent draft looks a little more refined than the previous one.  I then use the little spiral notebook to make notes and jot down ideas for the story.

I began writing when I was ten and back then we didn’t have home computers.

I’ve been asked advice by aspiring writers.  I’m very, very flattered.  But let me tell you, I’m still an aspiring writer. My advice is simple:  don’t ever, ever (and I mean ever) give up.

Please reach out to me on:

Facebook  Natalie Silk, Author

https://www.facebook.com/Natalie-Silk-Author-313822162074307/?fref=ts

Twitter @natalieasilk

https://twitter.com/natalieasilk

My website

www.nataliesilkauthor.com

Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Natalie-Silk/

 

TOMORROW: Henry Anderson drops by with a science-fantasy adventure centering on hope, resolve and finding courage.

 

FROM HISTORICAL TO ANTHOLOGY, RALPH PELUSO ROCKS THE SHORT STORY

banner

author-photoHe’s been here before, chatting up The Game and the man who helped make it in his novel “512.” One year later, author Ralph Peluso returns with a fresh interview  and a WIP very different from his debut.  Congratulations, Ralph, on your ground breaking new work.

 

 

1.

You’re writing an anthology…

512, as you may recall is a historical fiction, re-imaging the outcome of the immortal Babe Ruth’s career.  My second work is pure fiction, a compendium of short stories. The characters have some sort of competitive prowess in their back ground, for example the high school star athlete, but the outcome of their lives follows a twisted path.  Taking a page from Stephen King.

 

2.

I love departures. Keeps the creative process fresh. Have you gained any new insights in the process?

 

Yes. I tip my hat to all fiction writers. It is a lot more difficult than I thought it would be.  Unlike biographies, or even historical fiction, you need to keep the story, rolling with only that which you can create, or the experiences you can draw on.

 

3.

You’re writing directly from experience this time out?

One of the things I have discovered is that there is a setting for a story in every situation. You just need clear your mind, turn off your transmit button and go into ‘receive’ mode. It does not matter what you’re doing; walking, at dinner or even watching TV commercials.  Although I said fiction is hard to write because it is completely made up, I think that it is completely creative is more to the point.  Reaching into the recesses of our experience leads to the creation.

 

4.

Did you rely wholly on your experiences in the current work? That’s pretty bold, my friend!

 

Ha, more than I care or ever will admit.  I’d say the stories are based on what people around me experienced, not necessarily what I did directly.

 

5.

Have you decided on a title for the anthology?

After three tries, I have finally settled on “Inglurious Days”. And, yes, I intentionally followed the misspelling Tarantino used in his movie.

 

6.

Ha! As a fan of the maestro, I just knew it! What’s the connection?

Well, I finally decided on the name sitting on the upper deck at our home on the Outer Banks.  I had the Oldies station playing Springsteen’s ‘Glory Days’.  It is about looking back at where you grew up, and about those you grew up with never letting go of the past.  That would have been all too simple for these characters.  In my novel the characters get over the past and propel forward, just not necessarily in a good way.

 

7.

You were kind enough to share a fan fave: requests to be ‘written in’ to the next work. Can you tell us how you respond to such requests?

 

Interesting. When they learn you’ve had a book published, you are always asked if there is another book in the works. Everyone sees themselves as a potential character in the book and asks if I can write them in.  Absolutely. Always. The trick is tacking a sliver of a personality  or a physical characteristic someone can easily relate to in, and they are in the story.

 

8.

When does INGLURIOUS release?

 

 

Next spring is the new target, April 2017. My daytime job still gets in the way.

 

9.

You write after work?

 

Between 4:45 AM and 7:00AM. The house is quiet. The day has not yet begun. All my dreams still so vivid!

 

10.

You mentioned King earlier. He generally has a centerpiece in his short story compilations. Do you?

 

Of course. Common thinking has everyone with a great love in their life.  The main character is an academic genius, destined for greatness.  Except he has a flaw: a combination of Casanova and Don Quixote, but mostly suffering from a Sir Lancelot complex, he suffers through seven great loves.

 

11.

Winding up with the truest?

 

I cannot give away the ending.  But the outcome is inevitable

 

12.

What is the one thing you’d like readers to take away from Inglurious Days?

 

Be careful what you wish for, you just may get it!

 

512

512-coverGeorge Herman “Babe” Ruth is widely regarded as the most recognized American sports icon. In 1902 at age 7 disheartened parents abruptly delivered him to an “orphanage”. Called incorrigible” his father coldly turned and walked away. Emotionally scarred Ruth forever craved acceptance. Painfully he mistook the exploitation of his talents for emotional bonding. Decades later his emotional void finally filled by the love of a strong and determined woman.

At the turn of the 20th century, popular American sports had fallen prey to the evil influence of gamblers, baseball was not immune. In a game controlled by mean spirited and cheap owners, players were the real victim: chattel tossed aside when no longer having purpose. Impoverished players easily lured into the web of deceit. In 1903 with the advent of the World Series, the stakes increased. Players had big paydays altering the outcomes. Baseball’s little secret hidden until 1919 when news shocking the nation broke. The World Series was fixed!

Enter a self-serving and biased federal judge handed absolute power to save the crumbling sport. He looked for help in the one player unapproachable by gamblers. In Ruth, Landis found a perfect and unsuspecting accomplice for control over every aspect of baseball. Ruth, with popularity soaring, was not controllable. A second scandal erupts in 1926 threatening to end the Landis grip on baseball. Never more fragile, the game was on the precipice to status as another corrupt sport. Landis looked to Ruth once again. This time Ruth wanted assurances about his future.

This is the remarkable journey of Ruth’s assault on the baseball record book including his attempt to surpass the unreachable record of 511 wins as pitcher. He meets an assortment of unique characters and experiences colorful events; leading to a dramatic showdown with his chief adversary, Commissioner Landis.

Buy Link

 

 

About the Author

rp pixRalph was born and raised in New York City. At a very young age his father introduced him to baseball. He has been a sports enthusiast since. Active in youth sports for over thirty years, he has coached high school and middle school teams to many successful seasons. He has served on the board of several regional youth team organizations. He is an advocate of player and parent sportsmanship. In 2006 he became a member of the Society of American Baseball Researchers and currently serves on the Overlooked Legends committee.

He has an MBA in Finance from Bernard Baruch College (Zicklin School of Business) of the City University of New York. Ralph has had a successful and award winning business career, serving in senior executive positions for several major corporations including MCI, WinStar and Cisco. Today he is a partner in a boutique consulting practice that helps emerging companies fulfill their promise.

Ralph has published a series of short stories including ‘Outer Banks Chronicles’ and ‘Jersey Shore Fever and Other Seaside Maladies.’

Ralph and his wife Renee currently reside in Virginia.

 

Published Short stories: Jersey Shore Fever and Other Seaside Maladies (2012); Jersey Shore Fever and Other Seaside Maladies, Part 2 (2012); OBX Chronicles (2013)

 

Thanks for joining us, Ralph. Let us know your release date when available! Cheers. ABF

 

TOMORROW: SciFi YA author Natalie Silk on dreams and science for girls.

INDIE AUTHOR DON LORAH TALKS WIPS & NEXT STEPS

banner

For frequent flyers on the Twitter hashtag game circuit, Don Lorah is a familiar face. #MuseMon, #2bitTues, #1lineWed, #Thurds, #FictFri, & #SlapDashSat know him for his regular contributions. Gritty, honest, funny and thought-provoking, his words find a home 140 characters at a time.

With three books already available on Amazon.com, Don looks forward to completing his current WIP with a mind to querying. Agents, be aware!

 

Welcome, Don.

 

 

 1.

Like me, you’ve had a lot of jobs, changing careers with apparent ease. Pop commentators on job trends say that this is the way in North America. Did you find career changes easier with each transition?

 

I don’t know if it’s easier. I’ve never really thought of it that way. I became a teacher because everyone said I’d be good at it. I wish people had told me I’d be great at making money. I might still be doing that.

But I am a seeker. My philosophy is if I haven’t used something or done something within a two-year time frame, I get rid of it. This philosophy is in contrast to my wife’s. Disagreement’s ensue.

People get upset about that. They think I’m rejecting them. I’m not. I love the people I meet at different stations in my life. But I’m not ready to settle. I’m not someone who will be doing something for 40 years and accept a plaque at the end of my life. Some people — that’s what they want and I think that’s excellent for them — but it’s not for me. I am a creature of habit, but I’m also someone who can have a conversation with anybody. I’ve never met a stranger, just someone I haven’t talked to yet.

Right now, I am patiently/not patiently waiting for my kids to graduate so I can pick up stakes and move again. If I could get paid to travel that would be awesome. That’s one of the things I like about writing. I can type away on my computer anywhere!

 

2.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we could change our perceptions in the same way? You seem to have through your fiction. Good characters, bad characters, all with equal amounts of flawed and redemptive qualities. Are you a ‘character’ author?

 

Yes. Yes. And more Yes.

People fascinate me. I tend to read mostly biographies. I want to know people’s stories. I want to know what they’re thinking. When something happens, what’s their reaction? Why? Why do people do the things they do?

Plus it’s so cool creating someone you would want to hang out with. It’s like creating your own friend.

Dean Koontz wrote two books Fear Nothing and Seize the Night. The characters he created in those books made me go and read the rest of his collection. There was a part in the second book where Bobby and Christopher were sitting in Bobby’s jeep drinking beer and I kept thinking I want to be there with them knowing full well murderous monkeys were hot on their tail!

When you break most stories down to their basic elements it’s the same thing; good guy vs. bad guy, bad guy vs. really bad guy, guy meets girl, etc… But it’s the characters that make you care about the story.

I can speed read a mass market paperback in an hour and tell you the butler did it. The books I care about enough to slow down and savior the words are the ones with lasting characters.

I hope to one day create such a character.

 

3.

You long for the beach. What draws you to water?

 

Two reasons really. One, I love the ocean. I love the waves crashing over and over. I love the feel of the ocean breeze. I love how I feel floating in the water. The beach is a happy place for me.

The other reason is because of nature. Me and the outside do not get along. I break out from everything. I hate touching plants because I know a rash will form. I cut the grass and look like I’ve got walking pneumonia. (Maybe that’s an exaggeration.)

But every spring, every fall, when the weather changes, I break out. Right now I have these spots on my arm, I get them every year, that make me look like I’m a heroin junkie. Poison Ivy will send me to the emergency room. I’m a pro at taking my steroid shot.

The ocean helps wash all that away. It’s a cleansing every time I go in the water. Hiking in the mountains is a completely different experience.

With the ocean, I’m refreshed. We’re drawn to each other. That being said, I cannot surf. Tried. I’m not coordinated enough. I also hate open water. I don’t do well on boats. I have heard every shark story ever. No thank you.

 

Ed-I hear ya! I never go in past my knees. JAWS really ruined it for me. Lol.

 

4.

The list of writing credits you’ve supplied is lengthy and varied. Will you give us an excerpt from one of them?

 

The following was something I submitted for a short story contest. You had to use the line “You don’t have enough points, sir.” as your opening line. I didn’t get nominated. The contest encouraged creativity but the five finalists were all dystopian society pieces. If the contest rules had said they were looking for dystopian pieces I would have written something along those lines. Either way, I had fun. It was a short 700-word contest. Title of the piece is Devil’s Grin.

“You don’t have enough points, sir,” the young attendant scolded Big Jim.

“Points? Who said anything about points?” Big Jim scowled. “I want that doll.” He spread his hands on the counter with a thud demonstrating his strength and willingness to do anything to get the doll.

“Sir, in order to get a prize, you need to collect points through those machines.” She pointed. “You don’t have enough points.” The young girl was matching his intensity.

Big Jim squinted trying to stare her down. She matched his gaze. He knew what was up. He stood up and grabbed his wallet. “Alright, how much?” Big Jim threw two twenties on the counter.

The prize attendant blew out an agitated breath, “Sir, I can’t sell the doll to you. You obtain the doll through points.” She pointed towards the video game machines with their beeps and flashing lights.

Kids wired on sugar stared blankly into the screens accumulating that which Big Jim did not have.

He threw two more twenties on the counter, “My little girl wants that doll and I ain’t staying here all afternoon chasing electronic pellets.”

The attendant folded her arms in refusal.

Big Jim tossed another twenty on the pile. A young punk eyeballed the cash. Big Jim shot him a look telling him to move on.

Big Jim scooted the five twenties towards the attendant. “Look, I don’t care if you keep the money or not. I just want the doll.”

The girl looked at Big Jim, then at his young daughter. She was covered in melted sugar. Sticky. No woman accompanied Big Jim.

“Must be hard raising a daughter without a wife.” The young attendant motioned towards Big Jim’s little girl.

Big Jim followed her motion seeing his princess sucking on a lollipop. He smiled, sure he’d won, “Sure is.”

The attendant smiled back and pushed the money back towards Big Jim. She leaned in close drawing Big Jim down to her level. With a wicked grin she whispered, “Still gonna need more points to get the doll, sir.”

If Big Jim thought he could have gotten away with it, he would have slapped her. He slapped the counter instead. The attendant, those nearby, and Big Jim’s little girl all jumped from his sudden outburst.

He poked a finger in her face, “Look here, missy!”

The young attendant stepped back, folded her arms across her chest and smiled.

Big Jim’s face was redder then the polo shirt his adversary was wearing.

Big Jim was not used to people treating him this way. Usually, he demanded something and he got his way. This insolent little girl was due for a spanking. That’s what he told her.

She feigned fright, “Why are you threatening to beat little ol’ me? Do I need to be punished? Was I a bad girl?” She swayed from side to side with her finger to her lips teasing Big Jim for his outburst.

Big Jim finally read her name tag, “Nancy.”

She raised her eyebrows at the sound of her name.

Big Jim pulled out his wallet and threw a hundred-dollar bill on the stack of twenties, “May I please have the doll?” He asked as calmly as he could.

Before Nancy could answer, her manager walked up, “Nancy, is there a problem here?”

“No.” Nancy looked at Big Jim.

The manager looked Big Jim over, “Well, then let’s get a move on, you’re starting to get a line.”

The manager walked away.

Nancy pushed the money back towards Jim, “You’ll need to get more points, sir.” She smiled the same smile the devil wears when meeting someone in the desert.

Jim grabbed the money off the counter and walked towards the machines with their beeps and flashing lights. He sat his daughter up on a stool facing the electronic screens like so many other children. They chased pellets, points and dignity one token at a time.

Fifteen minutes later, Nancy finished her shift. She stole the doll off the shelf, clocked out and never went back wearing the same devilish grin she’d worn every day of her life.

 

5.

The promo tag I saw recently on Twitter for SHARE GIRL carries a warning: Not for the faint of heart. Exercise caution when reading. Was it your intention to shock and awe, or did the characters hijack you?

 

The characters totally hijacked me. I never really know what’s going to happen. In Share Girl, she’s attacked. But it couldn’t be a simple attack. It had to be something horrific to change her from Amber to Share Girl. Otherwise it’s unbelievable. We watch her as she is slowly sucked into a world she is not prepared for. It leaves her broken both physically and spiritually. What is she going to do? How does she change into Share Girl? What type of person is Share Girl?

I want to write a nice story about a guy and girl who love each other. But the guy isn’t cooperating.

The Love Tree was like that. I sat down to write a witty, romantic short story but a couple sentences in, I knew the guy was lying. He bummed me out, but it gave me a great story.

The characters hijacked what I wanted to do, but they helped me create this world, a dark world, a world I wouldn’t have been able to create on my own.

That totally sounds weird.

My characters always do that. In the book I wrote, Something Wild, the same thing happened. My main character got into his car and was joined by someone else. I wrote the scene not revealing the other person. My wife is reading the draft asking, “Who is it? Who is it?” I’m like “I don’t know? I’ll find out tomorrow.”

It adds some excitement to the day!

 

Ed – I do that too, create characters with nic names not really knowing their true identities until they reveal themselves. It’s always shocking for me!

 

6.

We met through Twitter #hashtag games. Care to comment on this trend? What do you get from playing them?

 

I love playing the #hashtag games. I love the sense of community the games provide. We’re all in this together. We met through Twitter, we may never have met otherwise. Like I’ve said earlier, I love meeting new people. Some of my biggest fans are people who I’ve connected with on Twitter. I find that amazing.

Plus, there is such an abundance of talent on Twitter. How some people can take 140 characters and evoke such strong feelings is amazing.

I love the instant feedback a line can give. It’s awesome to think of a great line and share it with the world. I’m always amazed at what people like and don’t like. Something I think is great may only get a couple of likes, but something I think is a throwaway could be my most popular tweet that day.

 

7.

I love writing series, but I need breaks from time to time, usually through short stories and novelettes. Do you write more than one manuscript at a time? If so, how do you keep it all sorted?

 

For a while I was. I’d have a couple of things going at the same time. That’s changed with the last book and the one I’m working on now.

I was writing short stories for different contests and magazines, but I found the process difficult.

The last book I published on Amazon completed a trilogy, and this book now is tying a lot of my recent short stories together.

I haven’t been blessed with a new idea yet. Most of my ideas come from dreams. Maybe I need to sleep in a little bit more and the good stuff will flow once again.

 

8.

Have I forgotten anything?

 

I don’t think so.

I’ll end with advice. Write because you can. Write because you love to do it. If you become famous or successful, awesome, but don’t do it because of that.

Yes, you have talent. Yes, you have incredible ideas. Yes, no one may ever read them. But you did. You took the time to create something that is from you. You have value, therefore, your work is valuable, even if no one has ever put a price tag on it.

You never know what may last in this world and what will fade away. None of us knows the future. In a time we may not be a part of, your words could be what changes a generation.

If your words, your story, your creation changed the world, changed the course of human history for the better, would it matter if you never made a dime?

Maybe your words will do nothing more than prove to your kids anything is possible. Dreams are worth chasing. There is more to this life than social media and video games.

We all have something to say. Some of us simply have the courage to write it down.

 

In his own words

donI grew up at the beach in Delaware. After a couple of twists and turns down the road of life, I got stranded in Northern Virginia. But I’ve got my wife and kids with me, so life isn’t so bad. Trust me, as soon as the youngest graduates, I’m out of here. Life is short, I need to spend it at the beach.

I’ve had an abundance of day jobs. My family owned a well-drilling company, so I dug a lot of holes every summer. I finally got out of that and worked at a bookstore, selling books and learning how to make foam for a cappuccino.

People always told me I’d make a great teacher. I didn’t like school, but that didn’t stop me from becoming a teacher. News flash, if you didn’t like school as a student, it isn’t any better as a teacher. At least, for me, it wasn’t. I taught 7th and 8th grade math and social studies.

I hated every day!

I’m not exaggerating. Every day.

Still I won several awards: Outstanding Student Teacher, First-year teacher of the year, Math teacher of the year, Social Studies Teacher of the Year, and yes, Teacher of the Year.

Imagine if I had liked teaching!

I left teaching to become a youth minister. Here’s another tidbit to tuck away for future reference: Do not work for small minded people who have no want for growth, personal or otherwise. Too many people get comfortable and don’t want to explore new things. I want to change my whole life about every two years.

In the end, we both believed in God but the similarities ended there. Again, good with the kids, terrible with everyone else.

I gave up ministry life, and worked at a gym for two years. I’m not big on fitness, just really good at picking things up and putting them down. Simply put, I love sugar, carbs and all the other bad things I’m not supposed to like.

I workout regularly but I’m not interested in being Mr. Universe or extending my life cycle.

Now I write. I’ve got a website: www.donlorah.wordpress.com. It contains short stories I’ve written. Some I’ve submitted to magazines and contests, some I haven’t. I also have a three books on Amazon.

something-wildThe three books in the series are told from the point of view of three different people. In the first book, Something Wildthe story is told by Bodhi, a children’s writer whose wife, Rachel, has gone missing. After accepting the fact she may never be found, clues start popping up that may help him find her.

In A Bona Fide Good Guywe find Gene, a demolition specialist good-guyfor the mob trying to make a better life for himself. He’s paved with good intentions, but that doesn’t always make things right. He learns about Rachel and tries to rescue her.

the-winter-roseWith The Winter Rose, we learn there is more to Rachel then a simple missing wife. There is something evil attempting to change our world forever. Our new hero, Kendall, wants to find inner peace after a lifetime of pro ball and wealthy living. He becomes the final piece of the puzzle, helping Bodhi, Rachel, Gene and the others stand against a force more evil than Satan himself.

 

My current WIP

 

I had two different ideas. I even had people vote on them. The first story was about a two siblings with special powers in search of their mother. The other was a full length novel based off of some short stories I had written. The stories revolved around characters found in the Blue Tree Forest. Simon and company, if you’ve read the stories, are not good people. Some unlucky travelers ended up in the forest and are in a fight for their lives to escape.

The story about the siblings won. It made sense — happier ending, people like kids. I’ve been working on the story in my head longer, etc. But when I sat down to write, the second story came out.

I have very little idea where the story will end, and how my travelers will fare. I do know the story will combine, Simon, the fairies, the Blue Tree Forest, The Love Tree, Share Girl and Limbo.

The whole concept of the story came about from one of those crazy late night pillow talks you have with your wife, when you’re half tired, half loopy.

I don’t remember the details, but we got talking about mischievous things and fairies came up. I said I should write a story about fairies. I had this idea of a man taking a leak in the forest and fairies biting his butt. My wife asked if the fairies could have blue hair. I said sure, their hair will be blue as an homage to the Blue Tree Forest they live in.

https://donlorah.wordpress.com/the-blue-tree-forest/

 

The Love Tree was supposed to be a sweet love story. Something sappy. But I realized early on that my male character was a liar. His lying introduced me to Simon. Simon is in charge of the Blue Tree Forest, a forest that contains the Love Tree.

https://donlorah.wordpress.com/2016/06/24/the-love-tree/

 

Once I had those two stories, I realized I had a world to explore.

The idea for Share Girl came about from a miscommunication. One day the hashtag #Sharegirlstalkboys was trending on twitter. It was to promote the single, Girls Talk Boys, from 5 Seconds of Summer. The song was featured on the Ghostbusters Movie Soundtrack.

I didn’t know all of this when I saw it. Not a big 5 Seconds of Summer fan. Not really their demographic.

Anyway, I inquired, “was the hashtag Share Girls Talk Boys or Share Girl Stalks Boys?” I liked the character called Share Girl. It’s a hard read. It was hard to write. Our main character Amber is Share Girl. She is used, goes through a metamorphoses with Simon’s help and comes out as Share girl.

https://donlorah.wordpress.com/2016/07/19/share-girl/

 

Limbo was a five part mini-story based off of a series of dreams I had. The first night I dreamt of losing my youngest son. So I wrote a story with this character in mind. Each night I would dream different details I would add to the story. Limbo ended up in the Blue Tree Forest as a challenger to Simon.

https://donlorah.wordpress.com/2016/08/09/limbo-part-1-the-creation/

 

So now, I’m attempting to unite all these characters into one story. Crossing my fingers, it can come out like I want. I won’t self-publish this book like I have done with the others. This will be the one I send to agents in the hope of landing a book deal.

Thanks for joining us Don, and best of luck with the querying. *sending good vibes* — ABF

 

TOMORROW:  Historical fiction author Ralph Peluso tries his hand at short stories and wins with a new anthology coming SOON.

 

FOLLOW HER: ROMANCE AUTHOR RACHAEL TAMAYO

banner

The blog resumes this week with authors doing what they do best: coming up with NEW STUFF. This week, we will look at anthologies, novelettes, full novel releases and emerging artists on the cusp of signing.

Today, we visit with multi-published paranormal romance author Rachael Tamayo. Always romantic, always ‘this side’ of the whimsical, she highlights her series FRIEND ZONE and provides a ‘look see’ at what’s coming next.

 

1.

Welcome to the blog Rachael! Without reading your biography, I can tell that you have strong links to the Lone Star state. Are you a resident?

 

Yes! I’ve lived in Texas my whole life.  I was born in Tyler, which is in east Texas. I’ve lived in south east Texas (Gulf Coast) as long as I can remember.  I live 20 minutes from Houston and about 45 minutes from Galveston.

 

2.

Your short stories and novels are relationship focused with generous doses of whimsy (GRETYL THE WITCH) and regret (FRIEND-ZONE 1 & 2). Why do we mere mortals allow third parties to constantly come between us and our happiness?

 

I think it’s because we tend to base our happiness on outside circumstances and events going on around us.  Not to mention the people we care about influence us.

 

3.

Is that why magic and paranormal elements figure so prominently in your work?

 

I tried The Stones as an experiment to see if I could branch outside of my comfort zone and write Paranormal. It went so well, I decided to do Gretyl and The Witch, a twist on Hansel and Gretyl that was inspired by a scene in the movie, The Visit. (My imagination went crazy! Lol)

 

4.

The attraction between friends and what to do with it is a tantalizing and recurrent theme. How does it compare to ‘love’ with a complete stranger?

 

I’ve always loved the friends to lovers thing. I am working on a couple of stories, one couple starts out as strangers and the other are acquaintance.  I think either way we have to develop a level of friendship with the other person. The ones that are already friends just have a head start. ; )

 

5.

Define ‘love’.

 

What a question! Love is so many things, and I think it’s different to different people.  Its that unseen force that turns your world upside down and inside out. It can tie you in knots and change who you think you are. It can make you do things that you never dreamed possible. It can make you believe in yourself when you never did before. It can tear you up or build you into something greater. It’s a force, an entity, a being that takes root inside you and never quite goes away. You have no control over it, it controls you.

 

6.

Does that make you a romantic?

 

Believe it or not, I’m not overly romantic in my personal relationship with my husband. I never have been. He’s not either. I can write romance, but I tend not to be romantic too often.

 

7.

Your next release, a follow up to Friend-Zone 1, features a motorcycle riding bad boy. Do you ride?

 

No, but my husband used to ride. He also has Tattoos, just not quite as many as Shane does, the male lead in the story.   Although he’d love to ride again, we have a family now and safety outranks him, ha! Working in law enforcement, I’ve seen my share of motorcycle accidents and I’m paranoid about it!

 

8.

What’s next for you?

 

Friend Zone book 3, about Chloe and Micah. After that, a stand alone suspense called Crazy Love. I’m particularly proud of Crazy Love! There is definitely a romantic relationship in it, but its also about the female Emily being stalked by a wealthy man who thinks they are in love and will do anything to make her his.

 

 

Chase Me (Friend-Zone Book 1)

 

chase-me-0011Adrienne Lawrence loves her friends. It seems, however, that she doesn’t get along with her family as well. One hot Texas summer, Adrienne manages to fall headfirst over her own big mouth when she lies to her Mom about a long term boyfriend in efforts to squelch her Mom’s nasty comments about having a date for a family wedding.

Clint Montgomery, one of her best friends, kindly steps in agreeing to play the part of the devoted boyfriend during a week-long venue wedding across the country.

After a week of pretend kisses and smoldering looks, the lines between what is fake and what is real seem to become fuzzy. The only problem is, Adrienne doesn’t want to become one of the women that Clint leaves in his wake, but fighting what she’s feeling is becoming almost impossible.

 

Excerpt and book trailer:  http://www.rachaeltamayowrites.com/published-works/

 

Gretyl and The Witch

 

31682615It’s always been a bit of a joke, since Gretyl started dating him. When your names are Ansel and Gretyl, you have to have a bit of a sense of humor about it. What isn’t funny, is the fact that her father doesn’t approve of twenty year old Ansel for his seventeen year old daughter.  After much thought and discussion, the young love struck duo decide to strike out on their own, and Gretyl runs away from home with Ansel to his granny’s house deep in the woods.  It doesn’t take long for Gretyl to see that something is wrong. When Ansel tells her the whole truth about his granny and himself, it turns out to be a tough cookie to swallow.

Gretyl and the Witch is a modern day retelling of the classic fairytale, Hansel and Gretyl.  Darker paranormal elements and a more adult theme make this a great read for any age.

 

Other current works, The Stones (Paranormal Short) and all titles available at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01HC2VZ0C

 

And the WIP?

My work in progress (One of many, actually) is Friend-Zone Book 2, Reach for Me. I hope to have this one submitted to my publisher, Solstice Publishing, by the end of August.

Blurb: When Ashley’s high society life crumbles around her in the space of one afternoon, she’s forced to swallow her pride and move back home to Dallas.  Having lost both her husband and her career, she takes up a job at her father’s restaurant under her little sister Adrienne’s management.  After months living with her parents, she decides to move in with her coworker and friend, Shane.  Ashley vows to never let a man cause her life to come crashing down around her ever again.  Never will feelings cause her to make “stupid decisions.”

Of course, that’s before she knew Shane.   Can she resist his charms? Not to mention, blue eyes, tattoos, and a ride on his motorcycle.

 

In her own words

web-size-2I’m a police dispatcher/ 911 operator, and a romance writer. I like to say that writing is my full time hobby, but it’s in my blood just as answering 911 is.
I’m a wife and mother. I live in the Houston, Texas area with my husband of twelve years and our three year old son. We all live happily with our yellow Lab, Daisy and our African Grey parrot, Sassy,

When I’m not writing or working, you can usually find me at home enjoying quality time with my husband and son, or maybe a large family get together with my fantastic extended family.

 

Links

Website/blog    www.rachaeltamayowrites.com

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

Twitter https://twitter.com/rtamayo2004

Amazon author page is listed above

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15251093.Rachael Tamayo

 

TOMORROW: Maverick Don Lorah hits the road on fiction and on life.

 

 

A SHADOWY PAST AND A DESIRE TO GET CLOSE IN M. A. CORTEZ’ YA SISTER SLEUTHS

banner

In the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, mystery writer M. A. Cortez crafted a tale of two sisters who meet two sisters with secrets to hide. Drawn to the irresistible unknown, the young sleuths pursue a line of inquiry that combines deduction with the acute in-your-face panache of youth. Welcome to the blog, M.A.

 

1.

Your character Samantha has Autism Spectrum Disorder. How did you prepare your character in terms of research?

 

Samantha’s character was inspired by a family member who is on the spectrum but is much younger than Sam. I did further research by interviewing teens and siblings of teens on the spectrum, and visited several online sites hosted by young people with ASD. There are many informative online resources that bring awareness to the understanding of Autism.

 

Book Description
cropped cover.png

Sandy and Samantha may be twins, but sharing the same birthday is where their similarities end. Sandy is desperate to find a friend she can relate to. Samantha lives life on the Autism spectrum, her social skills can be off putting to some, but her honesty is endearing to others. Sandy likes cute boys and cute clothes. Samantha likes math and mysteries. It seems like the girls will never find a common ground until they stumble upon another set of siblings. Sisters who are hiding secrets, telling lies, and living in the shadows of the past.

 

 

 

 

2.

Does Samantha’s ASD advance her deductive powers?

 

I would say she’s a natural born detective, but yes, I believe her fascination, (single mindedness tends to be a common trait among those on the spectrum) with the Nancy Drew mysteries gives her an advantage. Individuals on the spectrum often have an eye for detail, which of course makes for a good detective.

 

3.

Twin siblings I’ve known over the years acknowledge a shared telepathy: if her sister is ill, she feels it too. Do Sandy and Samantha possess the same ability?

 

They can definitely hone into each-other’s energy but not things like injuries, or physical pain.

 

4.

The girls find common ground when they discover the siblings. Can you tease us with a little more from the plot?

 

The second set of siblings, Adriana and Anabelle, had a quarrel that they never had the chance to resolve. It’s the bond of sisterhood that motivates Samantha and Sandy to help their new friend solve the mystery of her twin sister’s death.

 

Excerpt

I pace back and forth in front of my computer, compelled to check my messages again. A jolt of excitement rushes through me when I see the little exclamation point that means I have a message in my inbox. As I move the cursor to open it, I realize I’m not as angry with Annabelle as I thought. I’m more curious to see what she has to say. Sandy, I know you came to my house. I watched you from the window. Was that your sister with you? I tried to get your attention with the roses. I’m trapped up here. They won’t let me leave. I hoped she would let you in, but she sends everyone one away. Please try again.  I need a friend.

 

5.

Sister Sleuths is a mystery. Tell us how you got started in the genre. Who are your idols?

 

I’ve always loved Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew. The Sister Sleuths is my first attempt at writing a mystery. It was so much fun planting clues, asking questions and solving the mystery that I just had to write a sequel.

 

6.

The past is often characterized as ‘shadowy’ in literature. Is this a popular subtext in your writing? In 27xs and Moon Dance as well?

 

Not in those stories, but I have a WIP titled Dream Well that fits that subtext.

 

7.

You live in Colorado, a place that, to me, conjures up fabulous vistas and weather. What’s a day in your life like?

 

It’s not very glamorous. Most days are filled with typical household tasks. I try to write everyday or do something creative, like crafting or sewing. I love to spend time with my big family on weekends. When the weather permits I get outside and enjoy the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.  

 

About the Author

head-shot

M.A. Cortez is the author of The Sister Sleuths and the Shadowman, 27xs, and Moon Dance. She lives in Colorado surrounded by the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

 

 

 

Links

getBook.at/SisterSleuthsandTheShadowman

https://twitter.com/@maryanncortez16

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMaryAnnCortez

https://itsthewriteplace.blogspot.com

 

Thank you for joining us, M.A. Please come back again when the sequel comes out.–ABF

 

TOMORROW:  The blog takes a long weekend to rest, recharge and resume work on the WIP. We will return Monday with Texas native and paranormal romance author Rachael Tamayo. See you then!

JOHN L. DEBOER EXPLORES TERROR IN THE BACKYARD

banner

Seven-time thriller writer John De Boer has a new book coming out later this year. WHEN THE REAPER COMES places a coordinated multi-threat right in the backyard of the protagonist, an Ex-Navy SEAL on protection detail for a rock star with a fatwa. John has written in a number of genres. REAPER is his first foray into international terrorism.

 

1.

Welcome back to the blog, John. WHEN THE REAPER COMES is your seventh in a list of thrillers, this time with analogous threats in the protagonist’s backyard. How does terror at home differ from terror abroad?

 

Thank you for having me back, A.B. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss my latest book, When the Reaper Comes, and the issues it deals with.

Homeland terror vs. terror abroad. Naturally, the further away such incidents occur, the more they’re removed from the threat radar. I don’t know the Canadian mindset, but I think Americans are pretty much inured to the multitude of terrorist attacks that have been going on in the Middle East and Asia for generations.

But attacks in Europe is another story. Europe, for most Americans, is the land of our ancestors. When Europeans become targeted by ISIS and its ilk, the question of America being next inevitably rises – especially when isolated instances of terrorism related to Islamic extremism have occurred here over recent years. Granted, these attacks have been committed by so-called lone wolves, but we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, in my view, wherein ISIS, and not just its ideological adherents, decides to take the war against infidels directly to America (and/or Canada!). After all, the precedent was established on September 11, 2001.

That is the premise of my book.

 

Book Description

when-the-reaper-comes-cover-artAs the NSA gets a strong lead on one of the most prominent faces of ISIS, the Islamic State embarks on a bold course of action – an attack on American soil.

Former Navy SEAL Adam Taylor, on a break between assignments for a global paramilitary security firm, is visiting his folks in his home town when he gets a new mission – provide security for a rock star who is in town for a St. Patrick’s Day concert. Unknown to Adam, a team of American ISIS soldiers will soon arrive with a plan to wreak havoc on the Jersey Shore, and Adam will get caught up in a deadly game of wits between the terrorist menace and those tasked to protect the citizens of the homeland.

 

2.

Navy SEAL Adam Taylor must coordinate security for a rock star. What was it like putting these two in a room?

 

The first meeting between my protagonist, Adam Taylor, and my fictional rock star, Brian Callahan, was revealing, and it was one on my favorite scenes in the book.

Callahan, like Bruce Springsteen, is noted for songs with patriotic themes. He had made some comments in Rolling Stone that essentially blamed Islam itself for creating ISIS. In addition, his latest album cover tried to do a Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper thing, but with various well-known enemies of the U.S., past and present, depicted on it. Also included was an image of Muhammad, which according to Muslim edicts is punishable by death. An imam put out a fatwa on Callahan, and his record company was worried an assassination attempt would occur during a St. Patrick’s Day concert he was going to put on in Asbury Park, N.J. So they hired the paramilitary security firm Adam works for to protect their cash cow. Since Adam happened to be in the area visiting his folks between assignments, he got the job.

Besides the inherent conflict between Adam and Callahan’s bodyguards, the issue of Callahan’s supposed anti-Muslim beliefs arose during the meeting. Callahan’s explanation presents a capsule of the research I did for the subject. Most notable of my sources was an article last year in The Atlantic: “What ISIS Really Wants – and How to Stop It.” I recommend that eye-opening article to anyone who hasn’t read it.

(This issue between Muslims and non-Muslim Americans is also represented by two Muslim women characters in my story, each with differing viewpoints on what it means to be Muslim in America.)

 

3.

The film LONDON HAS FALLEN was roundly criticized for playing up to people’s worst fears. What are the challenges facing thriller writers in 2016?

 

Despite the real terror extant around the world in 2016, fictionalizing it presents no problems for the thriller writer! Though I have to admit, I was a little concerned while I was writing the novel that real events were mirroring my invented ones, possibly making me look like a copycat!

There are numerous subgenres of the thriller genre – legal, medical, political, psychological, etc. – other than plots involving terrorism, providing the thriller writer with abundant themes. And there remains plenty of fodder for new terrorism thrillers. Just ask Nelson DeMille, whose protagonist, John Corey, combats terrorists in novel after novel.

When the Reaper Comes is my first foray into this subgenre. I’ve written medical, crime, psychological, and personal-revenge thrillers. Good guys vs. bad guys with potential lethal consequences is the heart of any thriller, and I see no dearth of such plots in the future.

 

4.

Give a sketch of the bad guy. Can you share an excerpt?

 

I have more than one bad guy in my book, but the main protagonist, Yusuf Khouri, is a Muslim man born to Muslim immigrants in New Jersey. He becomes radicalized, as the expression goes, in his youth, fueled by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and eventually becomes an ISIS fighter in Syria. An ISIS sheikh decides to take the fight to America by sending a team of U.S.-born-and-raised soldiers to attack the Callahan concert as their first mission. This team is led by Khouri. As Americans, they can blend in with the locals. I’ve chosen a scene for the excerpt that will show a little of that situation.

 

Excerpt from WHEN THE REAPER COMES

Angela Martin’s apartment

Friday morning

 

“I’m Joseph,” Yusuf Khouri said when Angela opened the door.

“Come in, Joseph.”

As Angela closed the door behind him, Khouri quickly scanned the living room, on alert. When he didn’t see federal agents suddenly storm into the room, he relaxed. He dropped his duffel bag on the floor, the jostling of its contents making a sound of metal on metal.

“Is Abdel here?” he asked.

“Yes. He’s in the kitchen.”

“Muhammad?”

“He called after you did last night. He’ll be here this afternoon.”

“Good.”

“I’ve made coffee. Would you like some?”

“Yes, thank you.” Khouri followed her into the kitchen where Abdel Hadad sat at the table reading a newspaper. He looked up.

“Yusuf?”

“That’s me.”

Hadad stood and offered his hand. “I’m Abdel.”

The two men shook hands. “Allah Akbar,” Khouri said, and this was answered in kind by Hadad.

“You don’t know each other?” Angela asked.

Khouri smiled. “I don’t know you, either. The sheikh brought us together. Better to have no connections from the past.”

“That makes sense.” Angela went to the coffeemaker, poured a cup, and handed it to Khouri. “Well, you can get acquainted now. I have to go to work. I’ll be back after five. There’s food in the fridge and in the pantry. See you later,” she said and left.

Khouri sat at the table across from Hadad. “Anything exciting in the news?”

Hadad laughed. “Republican senators are saying Obama is weak on combating the ISIS threat. They want boots on the ground.”

“Yes, that euphemism has become quite popular. Makes it sound less scary. As if these inanimate boots aren’t being worn by flesh-and-blood soldiers who could be shot out of them.”

“Do you think they will commit to ground troops?”

“They’re stupid enough to do that. And it would mean our campaign is succeeding, right? Get those soldiers into another war they can’t win in the Middle East. One can never underestimate the macho jingoism of Americans. And while their troops are dying over there, we’ll cause havoc over here. The two-pronged strategy will get them to fold.”

“Yeah, that’s another weakness of theirs. Okay to wave the flag and send troops into battle until the bodies start to pile up. ‘Gee, we didn’t think it would be like this. Oh, dear. This has to stop.’”

“Exactly.” Khouri sipped from his cup. “So where are you from?”

“Milwaukee. I was in Syria for six months before the sheikh sent me here. I flew into New York yesterday. And you?”

“I grew up in Long Branch, just a few miles from here. I came from Iraq through Canada.” Khouri chuckled. “Tell me, Abdel, do I look Italian?”

Hadad perused the features of the other man for a moment. “I don’t know. Maybe a little. Why?”

“That’s who I was when I crossed the border. Tony D’Agostino.” He smiled. “Fooled the Customs guy.”

“Are you back to Yusuf now?”

Khouri shook his head. “Sergio Montez, resident of Newark, at your service.”

Hadad frowned.

“What’s the matter?”

“Why all the aliases? I’m using my own passport and driver’s license.”

“But no one, Allah willing, is looking for you, my friend. I, on the other hand, have attracted the attention of the NSA.”

Hadad looked alarmed. “Really?”

“I must assume so. I made speeches for the cause in my youth. And there’s something else.”

Hadad didn’t respond, but stared intently at Khouri.

“I took over from Jihadi John when he was injured.”

Hadad’s jaw dropped. “I heard rumors he’d been hit in a drone attack when I was in Syria. So you’re the American they were talking about?”

Khouri nodded.

“I’m in the presence of a freakin’ celebrity!”

Khouri deflected the compliment by changing the subject. “Do you know anything about Muhammad Basara, the missing member of our group?”

“No, only that he’s an American, too. He was supposed to come yesterday, but he got detained at Orly because – get this – he had the same name as a suspected terrorist!” Hadad laughed.

Khouri narrowed his eyes at the other man. “Soldier for Allah, you mean.”

Hadad’s smile disappeared. “Of course. From the point of view of the French is what I was referring to.”

“Yes, the French.” Khouri shook his head and took another sip of coffee. He looked down at the table for a moment before his head came up. “Anyway, do we have the bicycle?”

“Yup. Complete with a basket that will accommodate the IED.”

“Show me what you’ve made and how it works.”

 

5.

Lew Wallace’s BEN-HUR, written in 1880, is getting a cinematic re-tell, this time with a stress on the book’s original themes, including forgiveness. What themes do you focus on in your work? Are they enduring?

 

I have read the reviews of the Ben-Hur movie remake but have not seen the film. Frankly, I can’t believe it can top the original, 1959 version! But I understand that the new one adheres to the book by Lew Wallace more faithfully, in that forgiveness, rather than revenge, plays a more important role. Christ-like forgiveness for what Judah Ben-Hur and his family suffered is certainly admirable, but is, frankly, a difficult standard for most of us – including me! – to embrace. For example, I don’t think I could do what those families of the slain churchgoers in Charleston, S.C. did – forgive the killer of their loved ones.

In my books, I focus on right vs. wrong. As I said, the good guys against the bad guys. The good guys aren’t always so good, and the bad guys can have admirable qualities, but justice for wrongdoing must be served in my stories. Ambiguity is okay for characters, but not for my plot climaxes!  In one of my books, the protagonist, while not actually forgiving the antagonist for almost doing him in, at least lets her go without retribution. If I was Wallace’s Ben-Hur, I might have left it at that. But I’m not, and I didn’t.

 

6.

Is Adam Taylor a hero?

 

Adam Taylor is a hero in the classic sense. I didn’t burden him with flaws (or ambiguity!), unlike some of my other protagonists. He had been a Navy SEAL involved in the raid that got Osama bin Laden, and when he became disillusioned because of publicity hunting by two of his comrades, he left the service. Then he traveled around the world protecting diplomats and other celebrities from harm. In my story he wins the battle of wits with Khouri and defeats him. So he is a true-blue American hero. As far as protagonist character types go, I think he comes close to the Harry Bosch character in Michael Connelly’s novels.

 

7.

When does the book come out?

 

I’ve finished the first round of editing, and there weren’t many issues to deal with, so I expect the book will be coming out before next year.

 

8.

Any last words?

 

I hope you don’t mean that in the literal sense, because I’m not ready for that yet! But if I could one day be included in a book of Famous Last Words, that would be cool.

Thanks again for letting me opine.

 

Ed – Opine as much as you like! You’re a fantastic interview!

 

About the Author

 

johns-author-photoAfter graduating from the University of Vermont College of Medicine, John L. DeBoer, M.D., F.A.C.S. completed surgical training in the U.S. Army and then spent three years in the Medical Corps as a general surgeon. Thirty years of private practice later, he retired to begin a new career as a writer. A member of International Thriller Writers, Dr. DeBoer is the author of seven published novels. For the last twenty-eight years, he has called North Carolina home.

 

Links

 

TOMORROW: Mary Ann Cortez talks SISTER SLEUTHS,  Autism Spectrum and characters finding their matching groove.

UNSTOPPABLE MARIE LAVENDER

banner

 

TOMORROW: John L. DeBoer talks terror, counter-terror, expansion and containment as the focal of his new release WHEN THE REAPER COMES.