AUTHOR! AUTHOR! THE JOYS AND CHALLENGES OF EDITING

My third novel is ‘done,’ but not really, because after I typed “THE END,” I went right back to the beginning and started editing. Was that the right thing to do, or should I have waited a week or two? Cooled off? Got some distance? I put the question to my friend, the writing genius and all-around great person Lexi Miles. Lexi knows of what she speaks. She writes, she blogs, she promotes, all with an energy that I wish she’d bottle and sell.

Lexi not only weighed in on matters of editing, but she inspired an idea: Why not do a Q & A double-header? Two writers. Two edits. Plenty of questions…and selfies too!

Voila!

1.

When you sit down to edit, how do you begin your process?

green shirt elfLexi Miles: The first thing that I do is to make sure that I am editing in a space that is free of distractions. My preference is for it to be quiet when I settle in to edit. After that, like a beta reader, I just read through it looking for the big issues. I try to find anything that jumps out at me: errors (ex: spelling, etc.), holes in plotting, loose ends, my personal favorite all names are correct (Giggles. I have swapped a few characters a time or two.), and all other major issues. In the first sweep, I also look for points that may need clarification and enhance points to strengthen the outcome of events in later chapters.

2017A.B. Funkhauser: My mind must be absolutely clear, which means I can’t have anything out there that’s been left undone. So, if the lawn needs raking, I rake it. If the kids need a hand with a big study project, I’m there. When all’s done, it’s me and the book, and that’s the way it pretty much is until it’s done! 😀

2.

What is one of the most rewarding and joyful aspects of editing?

bagelAB: My writing gets better with each outing, and that comes from doing, doing, doing. That’s what I see in the editing. There are fewer missteps and errors, and when I do find something, it’s glaring. No second-guessing because I’ve been there before. Best of all, I’m getting a better handle on the fixes. It took three books, but I can finally ‘see’ the problems fast and, even faster, get them fixed because I know how. That’s satisfaction in editing.

hair up white tank carLM: One aspect that I find to be the most rewarding is that I have a chance to sit down and read what I have written. I love being able to enjoy it as a reader.

3.

What are some of the challenging aspects of editing?

head rocked upstairsLM: It can be tedious. In addition to that, between us, I am someone that likes to deliver a high standard of excellence in anything that I do. So, one of the hardest realities for me to accept is that no matter how many times or how many eyes are upon the novel there are going to be a few things that slip through. It is just the process of publishing a novel.

bimmerAB: First and foremost, you have got to be well-rested when tackling this. If three great days are followed by an hour or two of sheer grind, then something’s up. It usually means my attitude is skewed either because I’m tired or my mind is wrapped up in something else. When the grind hits, I walk away for a few hours or days and then go back with fresh eyes. Makes a huge difference.

4.

Have you over-edited a part of your novel and it turned into a disaster? If so, how did you go about fixing it?

CampNaNoWriMo2016AB: Ha! See above. In the beginning, yes. This was mostly because I didn’t know how to spot an indulgence, and when I did, didn’t have the heart to ‘kill my darling.’ This improved thanks to the hashtag games on Twitter. There’s nothing more exhilarating than taking an overwrought beauty, chopping it down to 140 characters, and then finding that it’s…BETTER!

But now as then, I always save the full MS at the end of each day as insurance. That way, nothing’s lost and anything can be restored.

impish smile insideLM: (Laughs) Oh yes. I have done this. Unfortunately, the first time that I did it I completely messed it up. I ended up hating that part so much that I removed it and had to try my best to rewrite the original from memory. It was such a heartbreaking experience. The process taught me a few new tricks. So what I have learned is to edit on a copy of the book and not the original. That way, if I tinker too much with a certain part, I can copy that section from the original and begin again. Adding to that, I limit the size of my edit. I will not write more than a certain amount of words. I find this minimization restricts me from altering the original idea beyond what I loved about it as well as makes me construct my words in a way in which I have to make my words concise, powerful, and count. It helps me to keep focused and continue to drive the story forward at a great pace.

5.

Can you please share what techniques you find helpful to identify or catch issues in your work? (ex: know favorite words that get overused, favorite words to misspell or misuse, other issues that you’ve spotted that you now look for, any helpful tips that are you go-to, etc.)

looking over sunglassesLM: For me, there are several things. The first, I know my overused words or favorite to misuse. I look for them. The second, I use a checklist similar to the helpful links included at the end. Another, I read out loud. It helps me to catch things that I might miss in my head. And finally, the best tips that I can offer you is to make notes about what past editors/betas have caught and always look for new editing tips resources that can help you.

CanadaAB: Scene for scene, I will read each one aloud after an edit session to listen for the clunkers that can so easily be missed in quiet reading. Then I move on to the next. The next day, I go back and reread the previous day’s work before beginning new sections. I always find more to trim!

Reading aloud also helps me identify my favorite repeaters: ‘at once’ ‘surely not’ ‘outrageous’. When I hear them, I make a note of them and then do a universal search at the end to prune them out.

My very first manuscript years ago had over 200 cuss words. Lol. I was able to cut them to 5 very essential oaths. I was proud of that!

Dropped words are a constant. “Do you have cat?” instead of “Do you have a cat?” I’m always on the lookout for dropped words. Hyphens and em/en dashes are also a bane. I either over-use them, or don’t use them enough. I’m working on this too. Lol.

6.

In what ways have you improved your editing? (Time efficiency, Using Deadlines, Sticking to Specific Steps, Checklist, Betas, other, etc.)

cat christmasAB: Beta readers are crucial, but to help them out, I work very hard to deliver the cleanest possible draft I can. I also parse out assignments so that no one is overwhelmed. Some betas look for the aforementioned dropped words, repeaters and spelling, while others check for continuity, credulity and pacing.

I’ve also learned that editing, like novel writing, cannot be done in a week. It’s a slow, lengthy process if you want to get it right. I’ve worked hard to make a friend of it. Atmosphere, background music and regular breaks help, along with very understanding family members that don’t mind pizza three times a week. lol

pole paint .jpgLM: I stick to specific steps on my sweeps (editing passes) and follow them in order. To give you more insight as to what I am referring to, I start edits as I am writing the novel. I edit at the end of each chapter. Then on the first read through of the full length written novel, I don’t attempt to edit the numerous issues all at once. I address the sizable/noticeable issues then progress to the more intricate or detailed issues. Following that, I move to my next steps to address grammar, pace, dropped [missing] words, punctuation variation, vocabulary enhancement, and so on.

I also use a loose deadline process (to account for creativity and details in editing) for editing chapters to help my time efficiency. If not, I may never put a book out. (Giggles.) I found that I work great with deadlines; accordingly, they keep me focused.

In addition to those elements, Betas [for clarification and several other critical elements of editing] and Checklist have improved my editing in spades!

7.

What is something that you stay away from while editing?

tight shot grayLM: Although I use deadlines, I do not rush. I STAY AWAY FROM RUSHING and take my time. Like a painter, a chef, or any other creative soul, take the time to create a work of art.

 

 

 

12747980_583865931760413_6710413406243198729_o (1)AB: My other novels! I’ll read the news before I go back to something already done. It would confuse me.

8.

How many passes do you take through the manuscript?

At the beachAB: Usually three passes and then another two after the betas weigh in.

 

 

pole paintLM: Honestly, as many as it takes. I usually find that number to be about four times through (not including my daily end of chapter edits as I write).

9.

When is the best time for you personally to do edits? (by chapter, start of day, completed manuscript, all of the above, other, etc.)

ponytail pinkLM: [While writing] I perform edits at the start of each day as a great help to get back into the groove. [Once the book is written] I do my editing at the top of my day or in a moment where it is quiet with minimal interruptions. As far as frequency, I do edits at all points of the novel construction process. As I progress, the focus of the editing will evolve as needed. I think it is critical to do edits at the end of each chapter, an in-depth scrubbing at the completion of the fully written manuscript, and any other edits that the book requires to make it polished and sparkle with life! Again, I edit at all points so that the book, at the completion, is the book I sat down to write!

doggie doggieAB: I prefer the morning, although multiple competing schedules don’t always allow for this. I treat editing the way I do my writing: if I work at it a little bit each day, I’ll get it done…and I do!

10.

When editing, do you edit for a set amount of time, set daily chapter goals, or do you go until you are tired, etc.?

EAR CUFFAB: I leave it to my moods, though I have certain deadlines in mind. There is usually a contest deadline lurking ahead that drives me to finish. I also like to have the book ready for publication in advance of NaNoWriMo so that I’m free and clear to begin the next novel.

 

rustic house backdropLM: I set a certain amount of time daily, and I also have a daily chapter goal. I set both of those so that I am completely fresh when I am editing. If I finish the daily chapter or the allotted time passes, I will call it. I do not go over the time I have blocked out in my schedule to avoid missing anything.

11.

What are a few editing resources that you use?

smiling pinkLM: I like to utilize a checklist, editing programs, Beta Readers, Professional Editors, thesauruses, grammar websites, Google, grammar reference texts/books, Youtube, my dusty college educated brain (Giggles), blogs, other Authors, and the list continues. (That is code for see below for more resources.)

 

 

Fall ColorsAB: I constantly refer to the rules of punctuation, which remain fixed in spite of conventional use changes. e.g. the ‘war’ on the semi-colon. The more I blog, the more I ‘unlearn’ the rules, so when it comes time to dig into a 60, 70 or 80K manuscript, I study up. Always, I ask: Oxford comma, or not?

Lexi’s Awesome Editing Resource List*

*We are not affiliated with these sites in any way. The links are helpful for editing.

Jerry Jenkins (21 things Checklist)

http://www.jerryjenkins.com/self-editing/

Creative Penn (Editing Questions Answered by Professional Editor/Author Jen Blood)

http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2014/08/11/editing-writing-craft-tips/

Grammar Girl (Editing Checklist)

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/grammar-girls-editing-checklist

Mike Nappa (4 steps to Edit Book)

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/how-to-edit-your-book-in-4-steps

25 Tips for Tightening your Copy

http://thewritelife.com/edit-your-copy

10 Simple Ways To Edit Your Books

https://thewritelife.com/self-editing-basics

KM Edits (Not for Blog)

http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/how-i-self-edit-my-novels-15-steps-from/#

12.

A lot of us jump into edits ‘boots first’ right after typing ‘THE END.’ What are the advantages/disadvantages of moving fast?

fat man bluesAB: The advantage for me is that I’m super keen. The pistons are firing and I know exactly where all the characters are and what motivates them. This makes inconsistencies a lot easier to spot. The disadvantage is that I’m too close to the work, and so I’m more apt to miss dropped words, and issues of clarity. Stepping away from ‘THE END’ strips a lot of that away. Distance really draws out what could be clearer or what scenes really don’t need to be there at all.

tight shot grayLM: The advantage to jumping right back in is that the story is in the forefront of your mind. The disadvantage is that your eyes aren’t so fresh and you tend to miss issues/mistakes that you will most likely catch when you have stepped away from a project. That is code for I tend to favor NOT jumping right back in. My golden rule is to step away from the full-length written novel for a bare minimum of two weeks before I return to it for the first full book edit pass. That way I can see it fresh as if I am reading it for the first time.

13.

The publishing world is evolving as never before. Do you agree/disagree with the current trend toward ‘sensitivity’ editing in the modern age?

upstairs sunglassesLM: First let me say some people are vile. And you have to write them accordingly. There is no sensitive way around that. If the story’s essence is rooted in that fact, has a purpose for writing a character a certain way, or a mirroring element is there to strengthen the storytelling. That is the story that must be told.

Now, having said that, as far as my writing in general, I tend to write with a certain level of ‘sensitivity’ anyway with respect for people being people. I don’t buy into people being different. Long before I studied the discipline of Cultural Anthropology[Human Behavioral Studies], I felt, which was confirmed by my studies, that we are all the same at our core. What I am saying is, my writing is written in a way so that anyone can sit down, read the books, and with minimal effort be able to see themselves or elements of themselves inside of the story. The hope is that anyone can connect to it. So, I agree with sensitivity editing because it is writing a story free of stereotyping. To me, that is an enjoyable read. Unlike some may argue, I don’t think it dilutes a story, but quite the opposite. I think that it enriches it and tells a better story. It is a story that is closer to life. As a romance writer, I am not a fan of the girl looking for someone to rescue them. Rather, I write from the unique perspective in the romance genre of a girl looking to share a new chapter of her life with the love of her life as they face realistic challenges. Also, I don’t write a man that can’t access his emotions. Those stories, in my opinion, also are the pits [weak writing]. Unless of course, there is a quality backstory there and there is a purpose [not an overused idea]. I think not writing with the crutches of false ideas gives an author the chance to step up their writing and enhance what they write with depth/substance that everyone can say huh, that’s an important challenge I am facing, and am benefiting as I read this material. I think it forces new dimensions and robust layering. You don’t fall back on comfortable elements of the past but are called to create new dimensions in a written work. You are forced to dive a bit deeper and to peel back the layers of emotion that the other method of storytelling glosses over or allows the reader to remain at a safe distance. That is limitless and something thrilling for the mind to savor, chew on, digest, and evolve to a new level of awareness. I love that!

finishing heuerAB: I think it depends on genre, non-fiction in particular. In non-fiction, as in journalism, balance is critical to accuracy. Information is conveyed in a manner that should allow readers to debate and then draw their own conclusions. Whereas in fiction, art, character and mood are apt to take the front seat to big-time tells and balance. Villains are villains because they are nasty. They say and do things outside of what the reader finds acceptable in law and culture, which is precisely the point. The insensitivity and cruelty we see in certain characters drive the action driving the protagonist to the big fix (if a ‘happy ending’ is what you’re going for). I don’t see how sensitivity editing would make it better.

14.

Which brings us to the subject of self-censorship. ‎ To what degree is editing for the market beneficial?

first bookAB: There are so many guidelines out there geared to writing success. Whether these guidelines lead to ‘self-censorship’ or are an invaluable metric to publishing success is between writers and their agents/publishers. I like to think that the moment I start tempering my words is also the moment where I need to take a break. I write fiction and I write morally challenged characters, so I have to take care not to make them too nice. 😀

yellow sunglasses smileLM: I think that as long as the true essence of the story is not altered then editing for the market is extremely beneficial. I feel this way because due to the editing the work falls into a clearer defined market. As a result, a larger number of people will have access to as well as have an opportunity to connect with the book’s material. Without that mild/targeted editing, readers might not have had the chance to meet up with the story.

15.

Self-publishing can cut out entire layers including ‘professional’ editing. Does this lend to greater artistic freedom, or heart-wrenching do-overs after the first run?

hair up white tank carLM: I have taken part in both styles of publishing. Despite my style of publishing, I ALWAYS utilize a professional editor as well as a professional editing program. I do not self-edit alone; however, over time I have learned from personal as well as other professionally conversational/documented resources outside of myself, even with the most skilled eyes professionally editing your book every book will have the occasional typo. As a writer, as I stated previously, you have to understand that some typos never get caught. Even the most experienced, well-known, or traditionally published authors release new editions with modified content. So, to answer the question above, any time you have to make a detailed alteration to a written work it can be heart-wrenching as well as tedious. That’s my way of saying it is not fun no matter what style of publishing.

Now to address the portion of the question about creative freedom when Indie Publishing versus Traditionally Publishing. I’d have to say for the most part it is close to the same, but in some ways, it is more restrictive to traditionally publish. I will briefly elaborate. There are some cases when you may want to write something that you have experienced within your life, but a publisher may deem it too harsh of a depiction, and the content may be too intense for the publisher’s audience. Another example of a restriction of freedom with a publisher may be a descriptive word while voicing something within a conversation. In very specific cases, saying that someone whispered something versus whimpered would shift the book from mainstream romance to erotic. Sometimes that can diminish the intensity of a moment.

Closing out what I am saying here is, to maintain your creative voice while working with an editor or publishing house it is important to find the right one. I am fortunate on both fronts my editors and publisher respects my voice, and they give me the final say. I feel the story you get when picking up my novel is the one I wanted to tell or at least very close to it.

floridaAB: Self-publishing, like the writing journey, is not necessarily something done in a vacuum. As writers, we have access to all kinds of writing services staffed by accredited professionals who can make our books better. The decision to use these services are personal ones governed by many things; craft uncertainty and budget are two. I’m lucky in that I belong to a highly-accomplished writing group that strives to excel. I’ve learned a great deal from them while keeping the creative drive alive. I think I try new things on in writing to see how they’ll react. Their critiques, 9 times out of 10, have proven correct.

16.

Speaking of editing, which books have your attention at the moment and when will you be sharing them with everyone? Care to give us a peek at the covers (or at the most recent book you have released)?

Cat MommyAB:  I’m hoping to get SHELL GAME out there in the next couple of months or so (depending on how the editing goes!). I’m really excited about this one in that it’s a departure from the first two novels. Rather than anchor the piece in a funeral home, I decided to take it outside into a fictionalized neighborhood that isn’t everything that it appears to be. As the title implies, everyone concerned plays a kind of SHELL GAME with neighbors, colleagues and even family members.

The thing I love most about this one is that the main protagonist is a tabby cat with a lot of insight. By being present, he makes things happen for good and for ill. There is still plenty of gonzo and revenge of the type readers have come to expect from HEUER LOST AND FOUND and SCOOTER NATION, but there are more insights, bigger laughs with a dollop of darkness on the side. i.e. One of the central questions is: What is that sausage really made of? 😉

A cat’s-eye view of the human soap opera

coverCarlos the Wonder Cat lives free, traveling from house to house in a quiet suburban neighborhood. Known by everyone, his idyllic existence is threatened when a snarky letter from animal control threatens to punish kitty owners who fail to keep their pets indoors. The $5,000 fine / loss of kitty to THE MAN is draconian and mean, but before Team Carlos can take steps, he is kidnapped by a feline fetishist sex cult obsessed with the films of eccentric Pilsen Güdderammerüng. Stakes are high. Even if Carlos escapes their clutches, can he ever go home?

https://abfunkhauser.com/wip-shell-game/

 

And Lexi?

impish smile insideLM: There are three that are in the forefront.

The first is WILDFIRE (coming May 2017), hybrid poetry collection with a short bonus romance accompaniment SOME LIKE IT HOT. SOME LIKE IT HOT is a firehouse romance about an unexpected night of events for Bella and Lt. Xander Garten that changes everything.

The second is a romance about a psychiatrist, Lila, who goes on vacation in Vegas and runs into a sexy familiar face, Clark, she really should not become romantically involved with entitled OUR SECRET (coming Summer 2017).

And finally, PRIVATE LESSONS (coming Summer 2017). A romance-suspense about a recently divorced professional woman, Ryan, who gets much-needed lessons in self-defense and love from her alarmingly sexy private instructor Jimmy.

My most recent release is The Order of Moonlight. A vampire love story about a young woman, Clair, and a mysterious stranger G that invites her to a masquerade ball as well as into his magical world. Is Clair ready for all she will learn about his world?

 

The Order of Moonlight

cover Order of the Moonlight - CopyClair De Lune a young woman, who works at a small town café in the middle of nowhere, likes to live her life off of the radar.  One afternoon that all changes when a wildly handsome mysterious suit wearing gentleman walks into her café.  Intrigued to know more about the gorgeous enigmatic stranger, when he extends an invite to the masquerade ball later that night, she decides to meet him.  Soon Clair finds that there just might be more to him than meets the human eye.  Is Clair ready to step into his magical world of passion?

 

See the Trailer

 

Get it Here:  

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MXH3QDL )

Coming Soon

Private Lessons

aweb privatelessons - CopyRyan DeVain, a travel agent, gets tricked into taking much needed self-defense classes by her best friend Piper.  She is apprehensive, even given the looming threat of her past, until she meets the ultra-sexy brown haired instructor Jimmy Jalin.  Will there be sexy benefits included with his training?

Our Secret

cover our secret - CopyLila, a psychiatrist, hops on a plane to Vegas with her recently divorced best friend. They have a fun girls’ night out, but when Lila retires to her room she can’t sleep. Instead she has the same haunting thoughts that keep her up every night. Knowing that sleep is not going to happen that night, she goes out on a walk to clear her head. While out, she encounters the every so sexy Clark who just so happens to be off-limits because he’s a client of hers. Will she be able to deny what she feels for him or will they keep Vegas their little secret?

Wildfire Poetry Collection

cover wildfire - CopyLove in many ways is a wildfire that goes nuts within the heart. The poetry within this romantic collection gets the pulse racing and the heart fluttering. If you are in love, have been in love, or dream to be in love this sweet and sexy collection is for you. Fall in love with Wildfire and you’ll be happy that you did!

 

Some Like It Hot (Bonus Story In Wildfire)

Bella, a computer tech, just so happens to love that Fire House 34 is one of her assignments. It has everything to do with the fact that she gets to see the ever so sexy Lt. Xander Garten daily. But what’s not to like about him; he’s a tall, muscular, and madly heroic firefighter. No wonder Bella has developed an attraction to him. One day after work, Bella’s roommate Janine convinces her to go out for a much needed girls’ night. When Bella’s evening takes a turn for the worst, will a chance meeting with Xander heat things up between them and end up making it the best night of her life?

 

Ed. – Wow! You’ve got a busy summer ahead! Congrats!!!! ❤

17.

Writing the book is a great achievement. Editing it well, even more so. Do you agree?

looking over sunglassesLM: I am going to keep this answer simple, YES!

 

 

 

 

funky meAB: Yes, yes, and yes. Here’s my golden rule:

DON’T RUSH IT! You spend months or years putting something together that has meaning. Rushing the edits doesn’t serve it. Read it, say it, LISTEN to it. Spelling and grammar usage are as important as continuity, credulity and pacing. Get it right and you’ll love it forever. Your readers will too!

 

Thank you for stopping in to share a moment with A.B. Funkhauser and Lexi Miles. We hope that you enjoyed what we had to share. Feel free to drop a friendly comment below with your thoughts and other editing tips that have helped you.

Keep laughing. Keep smiling. Keep writing.

xo

About the Authors

A.B. Funkhauser

author 2017Toronto born author A.B. Funkhauser is a funeral director, classic car nut and wildlife enthusiast living in Ontario, Canada. Like most funeral directors, she is governed by a strong sense of altruism fueled by the belief that life chooses us, not we it.

Her debut novel Heuer Lost and Found, released in April 2015, examines the day to day workings of a funeral home and the people who staff it. Winner of the Preditors & Editors Reader’s Poll for Best Horror 2015, and the New Apple EBook Award 2016 for Horror, Heuer Lost and Found is the first installment in Funkhauser’s Unapologetic Lives series. Her sophomore effort, Scooter Nation, released March 11, 2016 through Solstice Publishing. Winner of the New Apple Ebook Award 2016 for Humor, and Winner Best Humor Summer Indie Book Awards 2016, Metamorph Publishing, Scooter picks up where Heuer left off, this time with the lens on the funeral home as it falls into the hands of a woeful sybarite.

A devotee of the gonzo style pioneered by the late Hunter S. Thompson, Funkhauser attempts to shine a light on difficult subjects by aid of humorous storytelling. “In gonzo, characters operate without filters which means they say and do the kinds of things we cannot in an ordered society. Results are often comic but, hopefully, instructive.”

Funkhauser is currently editing SHELL GAME, a psycho-social cat dramady with death and laughs.

Lexi Miles

author pic black and whiteLexi is currently living in California, has one sister named Cat, and is a proud pup mom of 2 mischievous Yorkies. Tropical warm spots and out of the way ranches are Lexi’s favorite escapes. Lexi loves to giggle. She’s a huge fan of positivity, and she is delighted when she can help someone else smile. Lexi loves a good Netflix binge. She also enjoys music (all genres), baseball, bubble baths, cooking, and long walks on the treadmill (aka working out). As far as writing, she fell in love with it from when she was a kid, and she still finds that she falls more in love with it every day. Lexi is growing a cult following for both her poetry and romance novels and believes that love—all forms—is the most precious gift that we are given in life. She is thrilled to pen romance, and all of that comes with it on paper! To find out more about Lexi, please go to www.LexiMilesAuthor.com!

Contact:

Lexi’s Links

Website: www.leximilesauthor.com

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lexi-Miles/e/B0196OSLBU

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bVg6xj

Email: leximiles.author@gmail.com

Lexi Rom Readers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1746560782284851

Twitter: www.twitter.com/leximilesbooks

Facebook: www.facebook.com/LexiMilesAuthor

 

A.B.’s Links

Geo Buy Link: http://myBook.to/ScooterNation

Geo Buy Link: http://myBook.to/heuerlostandfound

Walmart:  http://www.walmart.com/ip/Scooter-Nation/53281677

Website: www.abfunkhauser.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamfunkhauser

Facebook: www.facebook.com/heuerlostandfound

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

YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0Ztg_M3NvIJV4hDzyXdf9g

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/118051627869017397678

Publisher: http://solsticepublishing.com/

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1FPJXcO

FAQ’s: https://abfunkhauser.com/faqs/

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

 

 

 

INDIE AUTHOR DON LORAH TALKS WIPS & NEXT STEPS

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.

 

RAEGYN PERRY AND A PAS DE DEUX FOR THE AGES

big-book-imageTorrential rain spikes. A scream pierces the dark night. Greye Fields has immersed herself in her literary work, with no desire to chase the inevitable sting of rejection she knows too well. She won’t allow herself the time or the desire to pursue love. Until she meets him. Connor Donovan is perfectly content with his bachelor status. Life is good, teaching middle school English, and being the favorite uncle. He wants for nothing. Until he meets her. Shattered glass. A wash of blood. Is it a nightmare or a memory? Can Connor and Greye overcome the obstacles to the love of all time, or is tragedy doomed to be repeated? What if love found the right people in the wrong time?

Eleven months after the release of LAVENDER FIELDS, Solstice author Raegyn Perry returns to the blog with a clutch of five star reviews AND an exciting WIP on the way. FIELDS is the beginning, CYPRESS GROVES is the continuum with characters old and new. Welcome back, Raegyn.

1.

Lavender Fields won an award. Tell us about that.

 

readers-favorite-awardIt was a FIVE STAR review actually from Reader’s Favorite. RF is a great online site that connects authors and readers. We all know any exposure is key to getting more readers. Having someone enjoy the story, and give it 5 *’s is like the icing, sprinkles and cute decoration on the adorable, moist and delicious cupcake!

 

2.

Critical praise has been stellar. One reviewer, in particular, referred to a scene so unique that nothing else like it shows up in literature. You can’t leave me hanging here, friend. Can you give us a clue???

 

It is a pivotal scene! All I can say is, it is actually part of a bigger revelation in the second and third books!

 

3.

You’ve been kind enough to suggest a dream cast for Lavender Fields, the movie. I love, love, love, Zoe Saldana. She commands a room with a glance. Can you give us a sketch about her Lavender Fields character?

 

I love Zoe too! She would be perfect as Greye Fields, a well-to-do executive at the Literacy Foundation in Boston. She is a writer and admitted daydreamer. She knows love hurts, and would just as soon avoid it. An unexpected encounter with a handsome man has Greye rethinking her life plan. Just when it seems things couldn’t be more perfect, they go terribly awry. She learns that sometimes memories can be signs of history being tragically repeated, or of an amazing second chance at love.

dream-cast-banner

 

4.

You have romance, mystery, and paranormal elements in book one of the series and book two is on the way. Tell us about your WIP and what we can expect from your amazing cast of characters.

 

cypress-groveCypress Groves will take the paranormal aspect in a different, darker direction. Single mom Angela Donovan left Boston to come back home to Roy, WA to start her life over. Tragedy befalls one of their own, and the timing is suspect with a stranger coming to town to solve the community’s financial woes. There is also a new sheriff in town. (always wanted to say that!). Is the small town as safe as it once was? What is the likelihood of the stranger, who also came from Boston, is a coincidence? Is Angela in danger for her life or for her heart? There are cameos from some Lavender Fields characters, as well as some fun, interesting (and dangerous) ones.

 

5.

Reincarnation figures prominently in your storyline(s). It is a tantalizing idea, especially when we enter into the notion that memories can be passed from generation to generation. Have you ever experienced moments of déjà vu? Do you have a strong affiliation with another part of the world where you have never been before in this life?

 

17284329I did quite a bit of research when I decided to go with a reincarnation theme. My characters in Lavender Fields have connections with Ireland, but myself, I have a strong connection for some reason with France. I haven’t fully traced any roots/ancestry there, but I remember when I went to Paris once, I felt like I could have moved there and been just fine. In my home, I have a lot of Paris themed décor’ all over!  I’m even on Duolingo brushing up my Parlant Français!

 

6.

Your biography says you’re a binge watcher. Spill! What are you currently engrossed in?

 

Oh, I can binge-watch like nobody’s business! I’m currently engrossed in a fun show from New Zealand called ‘The Almighty Johnson’s’-about four brothers who are the human incarnation of the Norse Gods. My all time favorite binge watch is still hands down, ‘Chuck’. I can go on- Outlander, Limitless…

 

7.

Any last words?

 

Thanks for having me on A.B.! You’re one of my favorite “Solstice Siblings!” Hugz!

 

Solstice Publishing

 

Well, thank you, darlin’! I’m really looking forward to CYPRESS GROVES.

 

Let’s check out the trailer for LAVENDER FIELDS. The star looks familiar! NOTE: Raegyn is an actor, too!

 

About Raegyn

 
download-1Raegyn (pronounced Reagan) Perry is thrilled to share her debut novel, Lavender Fields, with readers. This is the first book in the Eternal Journey Series. It asks the question,

‘What if love found the right people, at the wrong time?’

With the inspiration coming from a true family story, and having found the uninhibited time to write, a story of unequaled love and desperate circumstances was born.

When not writing, Raegyn is perfectly content curled up with a good book, TV binge watching, or on a fun travel adventure. Also, anyone who knows her knows she loves to dance (a lot!) wherever and whenever possible! How would she describe Lavender Fields?


big-book-image“It’s a paranormal romance that centers around reincarnation; so it’s basically two romances! The story is funny, sexy, dark, and raw while being twisted, mysterious, and still somehow romantic.”

Raegyn believes readers can connect with her lovers, Connor and Greye, on a few levels. It has the elements of the classic love story: boy meets & gets girl, but it also tackles some real and uncomfortable issues, while introducing characters that anyone can relate to, root for, or despise altogether! Then, throw some odd clues with a helping of paranormal in, and you have a unique take on a timeless aspect of romance. The author hopes so anyway!

For a love even time can’t deny…

After Raegyn completes the Eternal Journey Series, she hopes to begin work on another series, which readers can actually catch a glimpse of first within the pages of Lavender Fields.

The beautiful Pacific Northwest state of Washington has been home since 2001. She has one grown son whom she adores. Raegyn is currently working on the second book in the series, Cypress Groves, and as a playwright, she’s currently investigating options to get her full length stage play, Daisy Juice produced in the area.

 

 

 

Excerpt 

 Excerpt from Lavender Fields 

The Dream

 

Screams of outrage and pain crashed against the howling wind. Breaking glass followed while a crimson ooze covered the wet ground.

A lingering scent carried on the breeze was swallowed by the night. The orange glow on the horizon turned an ominous dark and the sky rumbled with agitation.

Each time the dream came to her, it was as vivid and profound as before. Through the fog of this dream appeared a hazy universal image. The small, obscure wooden marker at the top of the hill marked a long-forgotten resting place.

 

Greye had dozed off on the park bench and the haunting dream had come upon her again, as it had so many times in years past. She was never able to understand the nightmare, and it unsettled her still, as an adult. Set in a faraway place and time, there was always something more just beneath the surface… hinting at an unknown that should somehow be familiar.

Greye couldn’t have known the role this recurring dream would play in her future.

***

 

Greye looked down to begin writing again when a searing pain shot straight up her leg. She froze in shocked confusion. She grabbed her knee as her eyes blurred with tears. Then she noticed the bright green Frisbee that had smashed into her right kneecap.

The kids were now otherwise occupied, their voices softer and further in the distance. The man was approaching with the Lab in stride. Greye could sense he had stopped in front of her. She heard an anxious and strong, deep voice.

“Oh God, I’m so sorry. Are you OK? I’m so sorry.”

Clutching her throbbing knee with one hand, and wiping her eyes with the other, Greye looked up into his cobalt blues, which were still cringed looking at where his errant disk had landed. Managing to conceal an unexpected sigh, she replied, “I’m fine, I think. Just wasn’t expecting it.”

 

She watched as he drew a hand through his dark, short hair. It was a nervous habit she figured. She also noticed the tousled, shiny waves that threatened to end in curls if his hair got much longer.

***

Connor caught an intriguing scent on the wind he thought he remembered, but couldn’t quite place. “My apologies really. I didn’t expect it to catch that much air.”

As if feeling guilty by association, the golden Lab came and rested its big head on her uninjured leg. When Connor saw the smile she gave his best friend, a warm feeling began to blossom in his chest.

 

Scratching the dog’s ears, she offered, “It’s OK, I’ll live. May never walk right, but I’ll live.”

The casual smirk she quickly added had Connor feeling the stricken pallor of his face blush with heat.

 

“Well, it has to be said, there has been considerable advancement in knee replacement these days. Though I do hope it doesn’t come to that.”

Greye let a soft laugh escape and she countered with, “I don’t think it will. I’m tough. I’ll forego the surgery, and wear this limp with pride.” She gently massaged her red and puffy knee.

 

This time Connor had to laugh. He really liked this pretty woman with the quick and easy comebacks. She appeared to be of mixed race, most likely black and white, with her flawless honey colored complexion. It was those expressive green eyes he found he could get easily lost in. He strongly resisted the urge to touch her soft chin length brown hair, which he noticed, was lit with auburn highlights as it fell in loose waves around a diamond shaped face. He noticed a scar than ran just under her jaw line. Her slender body looked to be in pretty good shape as well.

 

With a cocky grin, and a small bow he said, “A battle wound then I most humbly take credit for. Then he added, “I couldn’t help but notice your perfume. It’s really … nice.”

“Thank you. It’s just hand lotion; honey and—”

“Lavender,” he finished. That’s her scent.

She replied, “It’s honey and lavender, yes.”

 

LINKS AND PRAISE

Lavender Fields (Book 1 of the Eternal Journey Series)

Cypress Groves (Book 2 of the Eternal Journey Series) -WIP

FB Author page:      http://facebook.com/authorRaegynPerry

Twitter:                http://twitter.com/RaegynP

Website:              http://raegynperry.com

Blogsite:               http://raegynperry.wordpress.com

Affiliations:        PNWA (Pacific NW Writers Association) Romance Writers of America

Publisher:            Solstice Publishing/Summer Solstice

Email:                    raegynperrywrites@gmail.com

 

Find out why readers are laughing, crying, and fanning themselves over Lavender Fields! Maybe it’s the humor, heart and hotness within its pages!

 

 readers-favorite-award

***** “Raegyn Perry has a unique talent for transporting her readers beyond the here and now. I found that I was incredibly involved in the love story of Greye and Connor.”

– Angela Beck-Kalnins for Readers’ Favorite

 

***** (5 Stars)

Lavender Fields is a multilayered story that captures the reader’s attention. My first criteria for a good book is do I care about the characters. Greye and Connor have the protagonist likability factors. As their love story unfolds we are given glimpses into an underlying drama. Just a hint of foreshadowing and coincidence that move the story along beautifully. One particular scene is so unique that I have never experienced it in literature (and no, I am not describing it because that would spoil the impact of it.)
I enthusiastically recommend this book and am looking forward to the next installment in the trilogy.
Great work, Raegyn Perry!

~Linda R.

***** (5 Stars)

I loved this story! Lavender Fields is a mixture of mystery, romance and intrigue. It is at times, thought provoking and I could feel the emotions that Miss Perry was spilling over the pages of this heart wrenching love story. The correlation of the past and present comes to together to solve a mystery that pulls the reader in and then tips them over with the reveal. I can’t wait for the sequel!

-Vicki-Ann Bush (Author of Room 629, Fulfillment)

 

Available in eBook and Paperback formats

 

Solstice Publishing: http://solsticepublishing.com/lavender-fields/

Amazon:   http://www.amazon.com/Lavender-Fields-Eternal-Journey-Book-ebook/dp/B015NC4D8E

Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lavender-fields-raegyn-perry/1122711459?ean=9781625262790

Bookgoodies:    http://bookgoodies.com/a/B015NC4D8E

 

 

TOMORROW: KATEMARIE COLLINS AND THE CAVEATS ASSOCIATED WITH INHERITED WEALTH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PARANORMAL CRIME WRITER DAZZLES WITH MULTI-ERA ANTHOLOGY

witchee pooFresh off the Carnival of Parahorror in Buffalo, N.Y., author Susan Lynn Solomon couldn’t fly higher. Not only did she sell a ton of books, but she got to road test her brand new Turbo Charged 5.0 liter RT racing broom. Okay…some of this is not true — the broom blew a spark plug and wouldn’t fly — and Susan, with her dry sense of humor, would be the first to NOT point this out. Likewise her character Emlyn Goode who is a modern day witch coming to terms with her newly inherited power.

 

It was my great pleasure to read and review THE MAGIC OF MURDER and BELLA VITA in 2016. Now it is my additional pleasure to spotlight an amazing new anthology as well as the author that sparkles behind it. Ready, Susan?

 

 

1.

Your anthology VOICES IN MY HEAD covers so many different eras. From whence comes the historian, sociologist, and sage, and how long did it take you to complete the collection?

 

How long did it take to complete the collection of “Voices In My Head Stories…? Hmm. Leave it to you, my friend, to ask the hardest question first. At my very advanced age, it’s hard to remember back that far. Fact is, dear heart, these days it’s hard to remember what I ate for lunch yesterday. Maybe if I spread out my tarot cards… Sorry, got lost for a second in the research I’ve done for the next Emlyn Goode Murder Mystery.

 

Okay, I wrote the first draft of “Mystery of the Carousel” about 12 years ago. A friend asked me to do a story for the museum in what used to be Herschell’s Carousels and Amusements Factory.  I’d been playing with the story on and off since then—just couldn’t seem to get it right. Then, last year I figuratively pulled it out of my drawer while searching for my notes on another story. After reading the first page, I recalled an article on PTSD I’d recently read in the newspaper. “Oh,” I said to my bedroom wall (my bedroom is where I do my writing), “is THAT what this story is about?” Working late into the night, two days later the story was finished.

 

Ah, and “Witches Gumbo”. About 10 years ago I was trying to write a romance for a short story competition. Short? Right. The competition limited the word count to 3,000, but the story kept growing and growing until it slid into the novella stage. It was about a woman—a descendent of a Louisiana bayou witch—who’d been hurt and was afraid to love again. She was using her distant relative’s writings to get past her fear. Not terribly original, but hey, I was reading Nicholas Spark’s books at the time. Anyhow, I brought the story to my writer’s group one evening. After I received comments on it, Trudy Crusella, who was moderating our group at the time, told me that while the writing was good, she was more interested in the back story set in my mythical Bayou Lafit. Happily, I listened to her. A lot of research into witchcraft, the nature of bayous and the use of language by people who lived there at the time, and I had a story. I can’t begin to thank Trudy enough. Seven years ago (and a lot of rewriting later) “Witches Gumbo” became my first published story.

 

As to why these stories take on their historical settings… I have no idea. The places and people—what they do and say… I suspect those characters jabber away in my head all night, because when I wake up, they’re sitting near my computer, yelling at me to listen to them.

 

AND THIS JUST IN…

mandm-126x150-126x150

 

2.

In his assessment of you as writer Gary Earl Ross touts you as a “devilishly clever tour guide who puts us in touch with the ‘rhythm of our lives’.” Did you know you were doing that?

 

Aw, Gary’s just being kind to a frail old woman… And me, Devilish? Why, A.B., who could think such a thing… cackle cackle. All I’m doing is telling fantastic lies… What? Aren’t we authors just professional liars?

 

Okay, okay. I’ve been around a while, gone places and done things—for some of which my mother would have beaten me with a spoon. Once upon a time I was a campus radical, then a music business attorney, and then I spent some years as a contributing editor and page designer for an art magazine. What underlies my stories, whether realistic or more fantastic, is what I’ve seen. And heard. People I’ve met, and the fixes they, like I, have gotten into. You might want to again read “Kaddish”, the last story in Voices In My Head” to see what I mean. “Kaddish” is blushingly close to autobiographical, and tells more about me than I usually let on.

 

So, in essence, the journey I want to lead a reader on is actually… my life. Of course, I’m never sure if I’m motivated to warn people about sinkholes in the road, or to teach them how to cause those sinkholes.

 

3.

We’ve been friends for only a short time, but I know from our delightful conversations that you find it challenging to say anything in under 500 words. (She said it first *laughs*) Would you say that writing VOICES was more challenging than your longer pieces?

 

This is too true. People have noticed I even have trouble saying good morning in less than 500 words. Fortunately, I wasn’t limited to a word count in “Voices In My Head”. Well, in all but one of the nine stories, that is. That story is “Second Hand”, which was initially written for a flash fiction journal that had an 800 word limit. 800 words! Aaargh!

 

The story was easy enough to write—different names, but the characters are my sister, Robin, and I. And the story is true… uh, more or less. See, I’d just finished researching witchcraft for “Witches Gumbo”, and I’d decided that the material I’d read made sense. I mean, witches are caretakers of the earth, and they know the herbs to mix and chants to sing to make things come out as they desire. Also, they get to worship a beautiful goddess instead of an old man who wants to smite you (and there are a lot of things for which I could’ve been smited). Need I say it? I decided I would become a Wicca, and practice witchcraft. I went out and bought colored candles, and a double bladed knife with runes carved in the handle (I had the herbs I’d need in my spice cabinet). That summer I visited Robin in Florida, and while driving around one day we passed a second hand store that had a cauldron in the window. This was the last tool I needed. When Robin asked why we had to stop at that shop, I made the mistake of telling her. That’s when she grabbed me by the collar, pulled me back into her car, and explained in words I’d understand why I was the last person on earth who should know how to do such things.

 

So, writing the story. My first draft was about 1,200 words. I spent two days cutting and moving sentences, and finally got it down to 817. After another day, it was 809 words, and no matter what I did, I just wouldn’t get any shorter. Damn! As I recall, I sat in my room, screaming at my computer, and threatening to beat it with a spiked heel if it didn’t get rid of those last 9 words. Right then I swore a mighty oath I’d never again try to write a piece of flash fiction.

 

4.

Identity is a feature of your work. What comes after we figure everything out?

 

A better question, A.B., is what happens after I figure everything out. I think the world is safe, though. I doubt I ever will.

 

But, good catch there, my friend. Much of what I write IS about trying to understand who I am, and what it is I’m meant to do. I don’t have an answer to that, so I keep searching. And my search keeps leading me to more stories… or, at least, more voices jabbering in my head.

 

5.

You visited the Carnival of the Parahorror recently. How’d that go?

 

Ah, the Buffalo Central Station. What can I say that the Ghost Hunters program hasn’t already said? To paraphrase the old song: Ghosts to the left of me, demons to the right, and here I am, right in the middle…

 

This is an incredible venue. Marble floors and walls, high ceiling, and crowds of people as much into the paranormal as I. I loved meeting other writers, and talking to everyone about my work—even sold a few copies of my books. What could be a better way to spend a long weekend…?

 

I just hope a ghost hasn’t followed me home—I already live with a ghost, and she gets rather jealous.

 

6.

And you also released Bella Vita on the heels of Magic of Murder. Tell us about those and when, if ever, did you sleep?

 

Sleep? What’s that? Who can sleep with all these characters constantly yammering at me, and demanding I tell the world about them?

 

Bella Vita CoverAnd yes, my latest release is “Bella Vita”. I didn’t set out to write this as the follow-up to “The Magic of Murder”, though. In fact, I was more than half done with “Dead Again”, the novel that was supposed to be the follow-up. At the same time, I was working on a short story called “Smoker’s Lament”. Yes, I’m a smoker, and yes, the story is about some havoc I almost caused. I won’t say more about it, because it will be published in an online journal this fall, and it’ll be more fun if people read it then.

 

Anyway, in the middle of this, my publisher, Solstice Publishing, put out a call for short stories focused on the summer solstice. To my ears, this sounded like a dare—something I’ve never been smart enough to turn down. Besides, the narrator in “The Magic of Murder” is an author who’d just learned she’s directly descended from a woman whom the Salem witch trial judges decided should dangle from a tree limb. Since I was heavily into murder mysteries at the time I wrote this novel, I decided it would be fun to annoy my narrator by dangling a murder in front of her.

 

To accomplish this, I gave her a neighbor and dear friend who was a Niagara Falls police detective. Then, I killed the detective’s partner. So, when Detective Frey’s partner was discovered in a frozen alley with eight bullets in his chest, he swore vengeance. But Detective Chief Woodward had forbidden him or anyone else on the detective squad to work the case. Emlyn Goode, my narrator, knew Roger would disobey his boss, which would cost him his job and his freedom. Because she cared for him more than she’d admit, she needed to stop him. Desperate, she could think of but one way.

 

41ZsodZxIJL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Emlyn had recently learned she’s a direct descendent of a woman hanged as a witch in 1692. She had a book filled with arcane recipes and chants passed down through her family. Possessed of, or perhaps by a vivid imagination, she intended to use these to solve Jimmy’s murder before Roger took revenge on the killer. But she was new to this “witch thing,” and needed help from her friend Rebecca Nurse, whose ancestor also took a short drop from a Salem tree. Also in the mix was a rather hefty albino cat (Elvira detests being called fat). Rebecca was not much better at deciphering the ancient directions, and while the women and the cat stumbled over spell after spell, the number of possible killers grew.

 

Then, to keep people at the edge of their seats, I set it up so the women had to quickly come up with a workable spell, because, when Chief Woodward’s wife was shot and a bottle bomb burst through Emlyn’s window, it became clear she would be next on the killer’s list.

 

So, “Bella Vita”. Since the history of the summer solstice all the way back to the ancient Greeks, Romans, and certainly the Druids, is filled with the practice of magic, and with the characters in “The Magic of Murder” already talking to me, it was as if Solstice Publishing called out, “Susan. Susan! Wake up and kill somebody else!” I mean, how could I refuse?

 

In this short story (well, short for me), a car burns in the parking lot behind Bella Vita Hair Salon. The corpse in the front seat has a short sword pushed into his ribs. Beneath the car is a cast-iron cauldron filled with flowers. This seems to be a sacrificial rite Rebecca Nurse had been teaching Emlyn Goode. But is it? The corpse has been identified as George Malone, and earlier on this summer solstice day, he and his wife had severe argument. Could it be that Angela Malone murdered her husband? Prodded by Elvira, the overly-large albino cat that wants the case solved so she can get some sleep, to Rebecca’s dismay Emlyn again dips into her ancient relatives Book of Shadows to find the answer before her friend and neighbor, Detective Roger Fry, can.

 

Both stories have received 5-Star reviews, and people tell me that once they start reading, they can’t stop. This makes me smile, because I can’t stop writing about these characters.

 

Oh, and by the way, the Bella Vita Salon is where I have my hair done, and the women who run the salon are front and center in the story. Fortunately, they like what I wrote, so I’m still allowed to go there.

 

7.

And Emlyn Goode is making a comeback?

 

Absolutely. I mentioned earlier that I was in the middle of the next Emlyn Goode story when I wrote “Bella Vita”. This new story, which I call “Dead Again” is finished—five drafts finished. The story is about— No, let’s wait until it comes out. Right now I’ll only say that Gary Earl Ross, who was kind enough to edit it for me thinks this novel is better than the first.

 

And now that “Dead Again” is in its final stages, I’ve begun work on the next in the Emlyn Goode Murder Mystery series. This one will be titled “Writing Is Murder”—well, it is, isn’t it?

 

8.

Any last words, dear mistress?

 

Oy, this sounds like a call for my obit. Well, then I write because I must—can’t think of anything I’d rather do. The people I create have become friends… well, most of them, and I can only hope those who read their stories like them as much as I.

 

Thanks, doll. Let’s dive in to VOICES IN MY HEAD.

 

Voices In My Head CoverIn The Magic of Murder, Susan Lynn Solomon let readers laugh at the antics of an albino cat and a witch. Now, in nine short tales she takes a serious look at relationships and their impact on characters who confront their pasts.

A young soldier returns, changed by his war. A young British girl faces the people of her town after parental abuse. An older man who as a teenager fled his hometown, returns when his childhood girlfriend begs a favor. A radical of the ’70s leaves the cemetery after her mother’s funeral, searching for where her life will lead.

In these stories and five others, Solomon explores the persistence of memory and the promise of hope.

 

 

Praise

 

Susan Lynn Solomon is a writer’s writer.

Suzy, as she is known to her friends, is a person driven by an inescapable need to tell stories. She can no more give up imagining characters and circumstances than she can give up air or food. She writes at a furious rate, producing novels and stories that captivate and delight. Her imagination is what sustains her, and we, her readers, are the better for her obsession.

Like all gifted writers, Susan is a universalist, unburdened by the curse of being able to tell only one kind of story. She gets an idea, then decides upon the best way to discharge that idea, the best characters, the best settings, and the best narrative voice to attain maximum effect. If reading is a way to slip into other times and places and faces from the relative comfort of an armchair, she is a devilishly clever tour guide who can take you to surprising places and surprising connections. In the nine tales in this book, she dazzles us with journeys into the unexpected and its impact on people we feel we already know.

War? In Mystery of the Carousel, she explores the link between a veteran of the Great War and the carousel on which, as a child, he imagined great battles. Incest? Where better to explore its devastations than early 19th Century England in Maggie’s End? Magic? Witches Gumbo takes us to Bayou LaFit and a powerful comeuppance. Mystery? Try The Holmes Society for a new take on amateur sleuthing. Death? Kaddish shows the unavoidable bond between death and identity.

In these and the other stories that comprise the voices in her head, Susan Lynn Solomon opens our minds, and the rhythm of our lives, to the voices in her heart. Enjoy.

 

Gary Earl Ross

Professor Emeritus, University at Buffalo

Author of Nickel City Blues and The Mark of Cain

 

Excerpt:

The 9th life in Crisis: Kaddish

 

Pellets of snow stung my cheeks. I bent into the January wind, and reached for my brother’s arm. He glanced at me from the corner of his eye. For a moment I thought he might brush my hand from his sleeve.

“It was nice,” I said.

Linda, his wife of three years, leaned across him. “What was?”

“What the Rabbi said about Mom.” My chest tingled as I recalled the eulogy. “The only time she made her family cry was when she died—that was nice, wasn’t it, Robby?”

“Robert,” my brother corrected me in a voice as stiff as his shoulders. He stroked his moustache, then flicked snowflakes from his black hair, so flecked with gray it belied his age. Next month he would be forty-three.

“It was nice,” Linda said. She pulled her knit hat so low over her ears she nearly knocked the glasses from her small nose.

“I suppose,” Robert said. “But, he didn’t know her.” He drew his coat tight around his broad frame. “For a few bucks, he probably says the same thing about everyone.”

“I wish Phil were here,” I said. “He knew Mom.” Rabbi Bentley and his wife, Deborah, were old friends.

Robert shrugged. Who officiated at our mother’s funeral made little difference to him. It wasn’t that he didn’t love Mom—he and Linda had cared for her, seen to her every need during the nine months cancer gnawed at her lungs. But, for my brother, this rite—anything to do with religion—was merely to be endured.

“At least the guy kept it short.” He shook my hand from his arm, and wound his scarf around his neck.

Linda frowned at him. “Did you remember to ask the rabbi to come over and lead the prayer tonight?”

“Did you?” I said.

His eyes straight ahead, Robert’s lips tightened. It was as though I’d accused him of a breach of etiquette.

We were walking along the narrow road cutting through the heart of the old cemetery. To the left and right paths bent off, curled around a city of mausoleums, and ran through arches erected by burial societies named for the shtetls—the villages in Eastern Europe—in which our grandparents had been born. Beyond the arches were tall headstones which in the spring would be adorned by neat flower beds.

At the end of the road we passed through an iron gate, and into the chapel’s parking lot. I waved goodbye to my two surviving aunts and the cousins who’d braved the snow, and dropped my eyes when I received no more than half-hearted nods in return. This was the price of being the family outcast.

With a sigh, I pulled a set of keys from my purse. As I unlocked the door of my car, I called to my brother, “Is there anything we need? I can stop at the market on the way.”

We would sit shiva at Robert’s house, and I suspected he might not have bought enough food and drink for the relatives and friends who would stop by in the next seven days to share memories of our mother. Hosting this ritual wasn’t my brother’s choice: our father had passed away two years ago, so the obligation for shiva and gathering with a minion of nine other men to say Kaddish—the Jewish prayer for the dead—was wrapped as tight as the scarf around his neck. He was the only son.

“We’ve got plenty,” Linda said.

“And people always bring food,” Robert added, then muttered, “As if I can’t afford to feed them.”

Linda smacked his arm.

“Okay, then,” I said, “I’ll just stop at home to get what I baked.”

They didn’t hear me. My brother’s car was already exiting the lot.

 

***

The large colonial house in Roslyn Heights was by no means a mansion. Still, it announced to passersby a successful man dwelt within. My brother had become what my parents wished for their children. I, on the other hand, had been unable to do something as simple as make a marriage work.

What might have been a full stadium parking lot greeted me when I turned onto Robert’s street. Even his circular drive was jammed. A quick glance informed me my eight-year-old Saturn wouldn’t fit into the only small space, so I parked around the corner. Balancing two trays of noodle pudding—when I was a child, Mom had taught me Grandma’s kugel recipe—and fighting a wind that tried to rip off my coat, I made my way down the block. When I opened the front door, it seemed as though I’d walked into a cocktail party.

I saw no torn lapels, no covered mirrors or crates to sit on. I heard no soft-spoken remembrances of a woman’s life well-lived. Instead, laughter pealed from the large square living room, dining room, down the hall and up the stairs. Bottles clinked on glasses. Someone was playing the piano. My brother had made this an Irish wake.

Robert circled the corner from his den. He’d changed from his suit into a tan corduroy jacket, jeans, and oxblood penny loafers. His cheeks were red—they would get that way after only two drinks. He glanced at the trays in my hand. He glanced at my old wool overcoat. Speaking to the glass of tequila in his hand, he said, “Glad you could make it, big sister.” He didn’t reach out to take the trays I held.

Had I the desire, or at the moment the strength to point out his ill manners, he would have claimed he was being ironic. My brother had difficulty differentiating irony from sarcasm. He hadn’t always been this way. It’s just that he had little tolerance for failure, and a failure was how he viewed me since my divorce.

Mom had also thought me a failure—with good reason, I supposed. “You and Ron can work it out,” she’d told me the day I showed up at her house, suitcase in hand. “Your father and I always worked things out,” she’d told me each time I visited her at Robert’s house during her illness. Tied to a marriage which had gone sour, I had an affair, and moved out. The judge gave my ex custody of our daughter. Mom was again terribly disappointed in me, embarrassed in front of her friends. It had never been different: I’d been a hippy in college, a rebel, a nomadic wild-child disappearing who knew where, sleeping with who knew whom, and getting arrested in Birmingham and in Chicago. “No wonder you can’t get along with your husband,” she’d told me.

I’d lost my temper then. “Guess people are right when they talk about the apple and the tree,” I’d snapped. “After all, you named me for Dad’s great-aunt, and she got burned by the Tsar’s army for causing trouble.”

Unlike my brother, I recognized sarcasm when it bounced out of my mouth. I’d heard Mom crying when I stormed out my brother’s house a few weeks before she died. Though he never said it, I’m sure Robert blamed me for our mother’s death—he believed I was the reason she refused treatment which might extend her life by maybe a year.

Nights I sat alone in my apartment, I blamed me, too.

 

 

 

About the Author

 

Susan Lynn Solomon PhotoFormerly a Manhattan entertainment attorney and a contributing editor to the quarterly art magazine SunStorm Fine Art, Susan Lynn Solomon now lives in Niagara Falls, New York, where she is in charge of legal and financial affairs for a management consulting firm.

After moving to Niagara Falls she became a member of Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Writers Critique Group, and since 2009 many of number of her short stories have appeared in literary journals, including, Abigail Bender (awarded an Honorable Mention in a Writer’s Journal short romance competition), Ginger Man, The Memory Tree, Elvira, Going Home, Yesterday’s Wings, and Sabbath (nominated for 2013 Best of the Net by the editor of Prick of the Spindle).

Her latest short stories are Reunion, about an individual who must face family after undergoing a transgender operation, appeared in a recent issue of Flash Fiction Press, Captive Soul, which was included in Solstice Publishing’s Halloween anthology, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, Volume 1, and Niagara Falling, about a man returning to his hometown, which was written for the Solstice Publishing anthology, Adventures in Love.

Susan Lynn Solomon’s Solstice Publishing novel, The Magic of Murder, is available at Amazon.com, and Bella Vita, a short story written for Solstice Publishing’s Summer solstice anthology, continued the adventures for the characters from this novel.

Now, a collection of her short stories, Voices In My Head, has been published by Solstice and is available in both Kindle and paperback editions on Amazon.

 

Links:

 

https://youtu.be/_58_goH7sU0

http://www.susanlynnsolomon.com

https://www.amazon.com/Voices-Head-Susan-Lynn-Solomon-ebook/dp/B01FURPIZE/ref=sr_1_1?s=dig ital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1463655784&sr=1-1&keywords=voices+in+my+head+susan+l ynn+solomon

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01FURPIZE

http://www.facebook.com/susanlynnsolomon

https://www.linkedin.com/in/susan-solomon-8183b129

 

Thank you, Susan, for your enthusiasm and artistry. You are my Wicca ‘go to’ person!

— ABF

 

 

HAPPY LABOR DAY WEEKEND ONE AND ALL! The Blog returns Tuesday, September 6th with special guest Raymond Chilensky, whose topical F.I.R.E. Team Alpha series will surprise and scare while making you think…

 

 

 

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF ON-LINE AWARDS

By now, many visitors to the blog have read that I won the 2016 New Apple E-book Award for Humor and Horror through New Apple Literary. It’s an important win in that it was decided by a jury panel. For winning these awards, I will receive from New Apple a year-long promotional campaign free of charge. I can’t thank them enough! (Especially you, Becca. You’re a doll!)

Will lightning strike twice? I was also nominated in the humor category for a 2016 Summer Indie Book Award “SIBA” “Humor” sponsored by Metamorph Publishing. Voting began midnight Central U.S. Time on the morning of September 1 and will continue until midnight Central, September 11.
 
Unlike other awards competitions I’ve been privileged to participate in, the SIBA allows multiple voting inside the same category enabling voters to show their support for all of their favorite authors. I think that’s kind of cool, especially since a number of author friends are also competing and I didn’t want to choose one over another.

But what kind of system allows multiple votes over a series of days, a dedicated pollster may ask. Isn’t that like voting for all candidates from all political parties once in the voting booth?

I don’t believe it is.

There is a great deal of value to be derived from an award like SIBA. For one thing, it forces shy and retiring authors like me out of my shell and into a marketing headspace. Tweets, blip ads, blogs, and micro blogs on Facebook become very important in getting the word out that we’re actually nominated. It also gets the juices flowing mightily in terms of tags and loglines. All the material generated for the ‘campaign’ can be used in other promotions. The point is that they got generated.

The other thing an on line award with open voting does is show if a writer and book has a following; more importantly, if that following was attained through creative use of social media. More and more, I hear stories of jobs won or lost because of the candidates’ social media presence. For those seeking out the next break out author, on-line poll results might be an area of interest.

I, for one, get pretty excited around awards season because it gets me talking; gets me connected. A Toronto Sun newspaper article by Aaron D’Andrea (September 1, 2016; p. 3) stressed that the purpose of social media was not to bombard followers with a one-way flow of information but to engage and interact.

I will be asking friends and fans to vote for me, but I will offer them something in return: a blog, a joke, a story, a picture… and my heart-felt gratitude.

Gods willing, maybe I’ll generate enough numbers to attract the eye of someone looking for that kind of thing.

From the #Writerverse,

Adult, Unapologetic and wholly cognizant,

I am

 
FUNKHAUSER SIGNATURE
 

Vote for SCOOTER NATION (Every day…it’s allowed)

Vote link: http://goo.gl/BDFJoV

 

AND WE’RE BACK!

Something about September 1st gets me going. Maybe it’s a throwback to the division between school and summer holidays, that work v. fun mindset that drives us into a corner believing that happiness has a shelf life limited to the number of days the sun actually comes out.

I’ve always tried to ignore the lines we draw. Whether artificial: hot v. not; or natural: spring v. fall; summer v. winter — tripping the continuum is the preferred route. Nothing comes to an end on the first of September; nothing begins either. In 2016 CE, September 1st is merely a Thursday in another month of Thursday’s.

Or is it?

I, for one, had a bonzer Summer. Severe drought and weather notwithstanding, I pursued the usual things associated with the time of year. Movies with the kids; beach days; volunteerism; reading; writing and reviewing.

Suicide SquadOn the movie front, I was pleasantly surprised a couple of times. Proving once again that I am free to choose, I ignored the rhetoric surrounding Suicide Squad and went and saw it anyway. Man, am I ever glad I did. No matter how much shoot ’em up ’em’s film makers insist on serving up, nothing works better than good repartee and a STORY to go with it. Producers take note.

At the beachWith one of the hottest summers on record where I live, I was delighted to reconnect with a place long forgotten: the shores of Lake Ontario. Long seen as a place to look at water rather than wade in, I was pleasantly surprised to find environmental responsibility paying off with clean water in 2016. I went in: not once, not twice, but more times than I have in my ENTIRE lifetime (which is getting pretty long, but I don’t dwell on that!) Bravo to the good people who persevered all of those years and got at least some of our beaches cleaned up! Salutes all around.

Then there was the matter of this thing called writing, reading and reviewing. I am so close to finishing the WIP that I’m already dreaming about NaNoWriMo and the HEUER prequel. I’m also staying true to my promise to review ten books each year. A promise made, a promise kept makes me glad, and – wow – what talent abounds! Look for all ten reviews to be posted here very soon.

Today is not any old Thursday, it turns out. It’s a time to reacquaint.

There is so much to tell, including the awards won and the one’s still in balloting. There’s The Word on the Street Toronto Book and Magazine Festival to chat up as well as my growing affiliation with the amazing Sisters in Crime Toronto Chapter. Authors, new and returning, will be lending their insights as well, with cool new releases, WIPs and interview questions and answers all through the month of September. Invisibility, the art of knowing Jackie Chan, and how to get a broom with a blown spark plug off the ground, among other things, will be examined.

It’s September 1. Hello!

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant, I am

FUNKHAUSER SIGNATURE

Links:

Geo Buy Link: http://myBook.to/ScooterNation

Geo Buy Link: http://myBook.to/heuerlostandfound

Walmart:  http://www.walmart.com/ip/Scooter-Nation/53281677

Website: www.abfunkhauser.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamfunkhauser

Facebook: www.facebook.com/heuerlostandfound

Branded: https://branded.me/abfunkhauser

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/118051627869017397678

Publisher: http://solsticepublishing.com/

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1FPJXcO

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

FAQ’s: https://abfunkhauser.com/faqs/

 

FUNERAL DIRECTOR AS WRITER

It was my great honor recently to address the Sisters in Crime­ – Toronto Chapter at their monthly meeting this past April. Not only did the experience tease me out of the relative safety of my writing vault, but it also, as a newcomer to the mystery scene, afforded me the opportunity to examine the challenges faced by funeral directors like me who endeavor to write.

It’s an exciting time for funeral directors in Ontario. Legislative changes in force since JulyBAO 1, 2012 continue to filter through the industry; the most recent realized April 1 with the creation of the new Bereavement Authority of Ontario. What this new body will mean for service providers and the client families they serve can only be determined through anecdotal experience. Let these be positive as the spirit behind the changes intend. What it means for me—a purveyor of gonzo, paranormal, mortuary, fiction—is how important it is to tell the story of the industry in a way that is accessible without compromising my duty to protect the deceased person and family he/she leaves behind.

A lot of what a funeral director sees and, indeed, does remains confidential for obvious reasons. Human beings do not stop being human beings with the cessation of breath. In fact, their humanity is heightened, given that their ability to protect themselves from harm is now taken from them. Dignity, privacy and integrity of the individual falls under the purview of the funeral service professionals charged with their care. This is the funeral director’s oath and the writer’s oath as well.

loved one movieIt is not surprising then that confidentiality as a mainstay of funeral service lends itself to broad artistic interpretation. As I revealed at the April 21 Sisters in Crime meeting, it is easy to lampoon/throw rocks at something that cannot defend itself. And yet, examination from unusual quarters can only strengthen the dialogue. There’s a lot of fine satire out there to drive the discussion; some older, but classic pieces like Evelyn Waugh’s THE LOVED ONE and the newer gothic horror AFTER.LIFE whet the public’s appetite to ‘know’ what really goes on.

after.life poster 1

Which is why I turned to gonzo as my genre vehicle of choice when I chose to weigh in not as expose—because I love my industry—but as a spotlight to inform and, yes, entertain those who rarely, if ever, set foot inside a funeral establishment.

Gonzo, as I’ve said before in previous articles, is a kind of first person journalism created and perfected by the late great Hunter S. Thompson of ROLLING STONE fame. Taken off road into fiction, it is both a humorous and slightly subversive means of drawing attention to difficult subjects and making them whole.

Later this month, I will attend professional development seminars at my alma mater. There, I will be brought up to date on the latest innovations in an industry undergoing constant change. I’m looking forward to it. Where there is education, there is dialogue; where there is discussion, there is growth.

Such is the stuff of the journey in both life and art.

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant, I am

FUNKHAUSER SIGNATURE

 

LINKS

Geo Buy Link: http://myBook.to/ScooterNation

Geo Buy Link: http://myBook.to/heuerlostandfound

Website: www.abfunkhauser.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamfunkhauser

Facebook: www.facebook.com/heuerlostandfound

Branded: https://branded.me/abfunkhauser

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/118051627869017397678

Publisher: http://solsticepublishing.com/

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1FPJXcO

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

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

FAQ’s: https://abfunkhauser.com/faqs/

 

 

 

 

SEXY TALK TIME WITH AUTHOR JEWEL E. LEONARD

author picIt gives me great pleasure to introduce to you debut novelist Jewel E. Leonard. Jewel and I struck up an immediate friendship when we crossed twitter paths on Ang D’Onofrio’s #2bitTues one liner theme party for WIPs.

There’s a lot to love about Jewel. Not only is she fast with a quip, but she is a cat woman like yours truly! There’s more: her collection of male chicken sculptures (cocks) and her penchant for hot, steamy, erotic passages has translated into a toe curler of a read. Check out the blurb and excerpt and then dash down to the interview. My ears are burning!

 

 

THE BLURB

TBRBookCoverPreviewGoodFresh from a failed marriage, Rhea hops on a train going from Los Angeles to Chicago. It’s the perfect escape from her troubles with the added bonus of meeting a sexy stranger. What begins as innocent flirtation swiftly escalates to sexual encounters beyond her wildest dreams.

** This erotic romance novella is for adults only! It contains super hot, one-on-one anonymous sex.

 

 

 

THE EXCERPT

“I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that your ex wasn’t the complimentary type.”

Rhea’s hands traveled down to Surfer Boy’s shoulders where she transitioned into a deep tissue massage.  He groaned, bracing himself against the seat.  She otherwise failed to acknowledge his statement.  She preferred to leave Mark out of this.

Unlike last night, Rhea watched what she touched.  The way his t-shirt pulled and puckered over his skin.  Rhea clenched her jaw, making a conscious effort to keep her arousal at bay.  But—as they had both demonstrated previously—blood was apt to flow wherever it damn well pleased.  Her core throbbed despite her efforts to repress it; the best she could do was to focus on him with what little concentration she had to spare.

She alternated between deep tissue and Swedish massages, at times doing nothing more than running her hands over his muscles and lamenting that he hadn’t taken off his shirt first.

“Oh you are so good at that,” Surfer Boy murmured.  “But . . .  my thigh’s really cramped.”

“Oh, sure, sure, I’m on it!  Turn back around, then.”

He repositioned himself so that he was sitting in the seat the way its designers intended.  Rhea leaned forward and rested her hands on his knees, her v-neck shirt gapping away from her chest.  When Surfer Boy inhaled, she saw how his eyes locked onto her exposed skin.  “That’s . . .  swell,” he breathed.

Her gaze dropped to his crotch: That was swell, too.  She smiled.  “So which muscle is giving you grief?”  Her hands slid up the length of both thighs, stopping so close to his crotch that she could feel the fabric of his shorts straining over his hard-on.

“That one.”  Surfer Boy nodded to his left leg.

She slowly assessed his muscle spasm with both hands, her smiling broadening.  “You are aware that I can totally tell you’re faking your cramp.”

“How else was I gonna get you to touch me there and still look cool about it?”

“You don’t need to play these games.”  Her thumb slid across his zipper.  He pushed back from beneath it.  “I’m alone in a confined space with you already.  You closed the door and the curtains and I didn’t protest either.”  Rhea raised her eyebrows pointedly.

Surfer Boy lifted her face by the chin, meeting her gaze.  “Kiss me.”

She leaned in, pressing her lips to his; she could swear there was a spark between them, but it was possible that it was just static electricity.  Albuquerque—or the air aboard the train, anyway—was dry.

He tilted his head, gliding a hand up the nape of her neck.  Rhea sighed.  She felt him smile against her lips.

“. . . What?”  She asked, pulling back.

“I liked that sound.  And I wanna hear you make it again.”

“I’m sure there are plenty of ways to make me sigh.  Or . . .”  Rhea bit her lip.  “To get me to make even better sounds.”

“Is . . . that . . . an invitation?”

Oh just screw me already!  She chose a more diplomatic reply, instead: “As a general rule, I don’t touch my clients’ willies.”

“As a general rule?”

“Allow me to translate . . .  I’ve never done that.”  With a coy little smile, she added, “I also don’t go around kissing strangers.  You’re the exception to all those rules, so . . .”

“So.”  Surfer Boy brushed back her hair, sliding his hand down her neck to her collarbone.  Further down he went until he cupped her left breast through her shirt and squeezed it with restraint.

She moaned, her head tipping back.  “Yes.”

“Oh that is a better sound.”  Surfer Boy kissed the side of her neck.  His kisses turned to sucking and she leaned into him with a deeper moan.  She shuddered and sighed.

Rhea was having the inarguable need to be free of her underwear…

 

LINKS

Goodreads

Smashwords

Amazon

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

 

 

THE INTERVIEW

Tell me about your new novel.

Tales by Rails is a 28,000 word novella, which makes it the shortest completed writing project I’ve ever done.  The novella follows Rhea’s escapades immediately following her divorce.  She’s without a home when she decides to take an unplanned vacation from her problems—so she hops on a train going from Los Angeles to Chicago (the Southwest Chief—a route I’ve traveled many times over).  She’s open to adventure as she has no plans for her future, which is good because the sexy stranger she meets on the train wouldn’t factor into them.  What starts as innocent flirtation swiftly escalates to adult encounters beyond her wildest imagination . . . and before the 43 hour train ride is over, Rhea finds herself facing a whole new set of problems.

 

I’m all for a good pas de deux, but the up against the wall encounters played out on television and in film seem to be at hyper saturation levels? Can you account for the popular preoccupation with vertical coital?

I could take a stab at it, I suppose.  My best explanation for the popularity of showing not a horizontal mambo but a vertical one is because the average person in the real world has neither the physique nor the stamina  . . .  nor the prowess . . .  nor the health insurance coverage . . .  to successfully do, if you will, such acrobatics.
I won’t name names but I personally know a great many women who fantasize about being pressed against a wall (to put it politely) but who can’t seem to manage the mechanics of such feats with their partners.  There’s also the lack of wall space in the average person’s home to contend with.
Lastly, I think it looks better to viewers to have lovers upright rather than on their backs, particularly women—in that case, gravity is their breast friend.  When laying down, things tend to flatten or ooze into armpits without a bra (and let’s face it, if they can get away with showing chest meat, they will).  If you’re going for realism, there’s nothing wrong with a little chesticle displacement.  But this is Hollywood we’re talking about, right. . .?

 

A fine, practical answer with a bit of humor.  I love it!

 

E.L. James has taken plenty of critical hits for FIFTY SHADES OF GREY yet her choke hold on the mommy porn market remains solid. In your opinion, is she getting a raw deal?

In all things sex, I think discussing this phenomenon is about as taboo as taboo things get.  Erotica writers like me have to be careful if we’re going to criticize James because our audience is sipping from the same chalice as hers.  We don’t want to support it either because there are folks who will think less of our work if we associate with hers positively.  Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

As a person with feelings, I think it’s horrible the way people treat her.  I think it’s safe to assume she has feelings, too, and I like believing she did the best she knew how.  Lord knows I am!
I think the critics of literature need to have some perspective when they assess Fifty Shades of Grey (the reaction to The Flintstones movie comes to mind—what did you expect? It was a movie based off The Flintstones . . .  Not gonna be fine art!).   It’s erotica, not classic literature.
(Would I like to see higher standards for self-pubbed erotica? As a reader, hell yes please.)
I can’t and won’t touch upon the debate on BDSM because I have no first-hand knowledge of  anything BDSM.  I can’t and won’t touch upon the underlying problems posed by the book and the relationship the main characters have, as I read very little of the first book myself (page one and the first sex scene before I NOPE’d right out of there).  Nothing against James, but her writing was not my cup of tea.

I do, of course, make a passing reference to it in my novella because it seems these days you can’t have a talk about sex and not bring it up.  🙂  If you read my novella following this review, you’ll see where I injected a bit of my reality into Rhea’s existence when it comes to the topic of Fifty Shades.

 

We’re definitely on the same page here!

 

Playboy Magazine is getting out of porn art photography with Pam Anderson as the final centerfold. Has a battle been lost or won?

For Playboy to cease photographing nude women is throwing in the towel.  The plethora of pornography on the Internet squeezed the life out of an empire and I am, frankly, stunned it took that company as long as it did to give up the ghost.  With the Internet, all kinks are easily accessible and in many places even free . . .  (I’m lookin’ at you, Tumblr!  Not a complaint at all, just an observation.)  Could they find a new niche?  I’m sure they could.  Would it be cost-effective?  In any way successful?  Couldn’t tell ya.

 

Sensual encounters with strangers are among the top fantasies for men and women. Do these always result in happy endings in your fiction?

Yes.  No, wait.  Do you mean happy endings like the fabled Happily Ever After?  Or happy endings like, you know, *eyebrow waggle, nudge-nudge-wink-wink* happy endings?
*Carefully sidles on to the next question . . . *  😉

 

*Nudge. Nudge.* Let the reader find out!

So what’s wrong with being on Team Slytherin?

For the life of me, I can’t figure it out.  I’ve been placed in Slytherin by several Sorting Hats and I’m fairly certain it’s because I always say I want recognition.  When seeking recognition became a villainous trait, I don’t know.  But I will tell you this:
I have always thought snakes are beautiful.

 

Clarification: Jewel gave me her top ten list of getting to know the author points. Here it is:

AUTHOR TOP TEN

  • My longing for success has always earned me a spot in Slytherin when I take those Hogwarts house sorting quizzes online.
  • My poisons of choice are coffee, cola and chocolate. And Red Wines.
  • I’ve been writing since the early 80s. One of the earliest stories I remember writing was about a runaway. Tales by Rails?  About a runaway.  Some things never change.
  • I have a neck fetish. I may also have a thing for a finely groomed mustache.
  • I wrote smut in elementary school. It was so dirty that when my parents found it, they wouldn’t allow my older brothers to read it. (I didn’t know a thing about what I was writing.)
  • I have a cock collection. My roosters range from ceramic to wood to metal and they are all over my kitchen.  My husband always tells me to pick up another decoration when he sees them on sale.
  • I’m writing my dearly departed kitty into a novel. She’s going to be a vampire.
  • I love music. The more I listen, the more I write.
  • Like Surfer Boy, I’ve never stepped foot on a plane. I have traveled much of the United States and into Vancouver, British Columbia.  I love road trips and train rides! I collect key chains from states I’ve driven through.
  • No matter how hopeless I feel, no matter how likely I am to fail in this endeavor . . . I will keep going. I always do.   As long as the stories are there, I’ll write them.

 

I recently rewatched BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS (1970), the ‘go to’ dirty movie in my time. What was yours?

I’ve heard tales of a movie called Debbie Does Dallas but I’m pretty sure it’s just an urban legend. 😉
One of these days I think I need to watch it when my son’s at school.  For . . .  research purposes.  Yeah.

 

What will you do with your kitchen cocks when you run out of space?

I’m a long way from that point, sadly.  But should the time come, I have no doubt that the cocks will propagate into other rooms of the house.  There’s space on top of our bookshelves and I have a half-empty antique China Cabinet . . .

 

This might be a good time to open the doors to the henhouse!

 

chickens

 

I agree that a well-groomed mustache can be comely, but if given the right circumstances would you ever give a full beard a try?

I’m not a huge fan of the full beard.  It takes impeccable grooming and just the right face to pull that off.  I like my honey with a neatly trimmed Goatee (actually, it’s a Van Dyke).
Before I get hate-mail for not being gung-ho about full beards, let me just say my father has a full beard (that is kept groomed but has been around longer than I have).  So . . .  yeah.  To quote Chandler from FRIENDS: “Can open . . .  Worms everywhere . . .”

 

Lol. Fair enough. On a serious note:

 

My condolences on the loss of your kitty. Tell me how (he/she) inspired a vampire character in your next work?

catThank you.  My first kitty (after a lifetime of pining for one) went to the Rainbow Bridge the day after Christmas in 2012.  She was my constant companion, kept me company while I was on bedrest with my son.  Never left my side through my ill-fated second pregnancy.  She was the best kitty a girl could ask for.  It was only natural to want to immortalize her.  A vampire (vampurr) seemed like just the way.

Her name was Miranda.  When it came to affection, she got overstimulated quickly and turned to love bites as a means of defense.  And every time she nibbled, she’d lick us afterward in apology.  When hubby and I were hashing out some of that future book, I said I wanted to have some vampires in my paranormal universe.  One careless comment led to another about this sexy but naive vamp who would bite her (lucky) victims and then lick their necks afterward and the next thing I knew, Miranda the kitty became Miranda the vampire.
I’m so excited to tell her story (but alas, it’s a few books down the road)!

 

What are you doing right now this minute?

I’m watching as my new cat, Pandora, wanders down the hall in search of mischief.  My 20 month-old daughter is working on getting to her feet at her toy piano.  My boys (hubby and son) are playing Minecraft on either side of me.  My phone is buzzing like crazy (my Starbucks app is out of date, I can’t stand for that!).  And I’m finishing this interview.  Thank you so much for the smiles and some really interesting, challenging questions!

 

Thanks for stopping by Jewel. Best of luck with your sizzling new book!

Best,

ABF

 

 

From Humor to Horror: The Mortician and Her Charge

A fellow scribbler recently asked if I’d thought about working in other genres and I had to take a moment before answering. After a couple of slugs of coffee, here’s what I said: Anything’s possible, but do YOU consciously sit down and say ‘I’m going to write a romance today’?

It’s true that we have an idea what we are about on the page after a few false starts and a meme or two. But if you’re like me, you give your characters a wide berth and let them do the driving.

The tale of halting mortician Enid Krause and her charge, the badly decomposed Jurgen Heuer (read ‘Heuer’ as in ‘lawyer’) for me was a platform from which to launch some stories about what it’s like to be a funeral director in the space of a few precious days. The minutae, the stuff we as directors take for granted, like getting the flowers from visitation suite to church to grave without the family and mourners seeing us do it, became a subject of intense interest for some readers. The fact that the work was so physical, along with the long hours often spent waiting for something to happen seemed to be a jump point for discussion as well.

That HEUER went from conversation piece about an atypical job to an award winner under the HORROR category in this year’s PREDITORS & EDITORS reader poll did not surprise readers, but it did surprise me in the best possible way.

HEUER LOST AND FOUND is many things to me: it is a platform from which to rhapsodize about things near and dear, but it’s also a staging point for exploring complicated grief, guilt, addiction, false love, false starts, and, yes, embalming while under the influence of all of the above. Most exciting to me, was that I was able to present difficult and often horrific subjects under the umbrella of gonzo fiction; that is to say: by making the tough accessible through humor.

I’d like to thank my publisher Summer Solstice, a line division of Solstice Publishing, for believing in what I was trying to do. Solstice gave me the courage to press on through the hard slog that is editing and promoting. Most importantly, they gave me what I needed to keep creating NEW WORK. Thank you Melissa Miller, Kate M. Collins and K.C. Sprayberry for keeping me on task.

Preds and Eds thank youThe PREDITORS & EDITORS Reader’s Poll is my first award and as such my most precious, not just for the validation it gives me personally (shades of Sally Field at the Oscars back in 1985 dogged me, but only for a moment) but for the acknowledgement that the book and characters are MORE than they appear. What seemed incredibly funny to some, mortified others and vice versa. Tissue boxes, I’m told, were reached for in the closing chapters, while others cheered for Heuer, a “strange and complicated” character, to succeed in spite of his sometimes odious behavior.

Will I try another genre? Most probably, but only if the characters allow me to do so. If HEUER LOST AND FOUND has taught me anything, it’s that everything is subjective at all times.

Thank you one and all for your tremendous support on the journey. I am incredibly grateful.

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant,

I am

FUNKHAUSER SIGNATURE

NEXT UP:  SCOOTER NATION Releasing March 13, 2016 through Solstice Publishing

 

Biography

IMG_20160104_121131A.B. Funkhauser is a funeral director, classic car nut and wildlife enthusiast living in Ontario, Canada. Like most funeral directors, she is governed by a strong sense of altruism fueled by the belief that life chooses us and we not it. Her debut novel HEUER LOST AND FOUND, released in April 2015 after five years of studious effort, has inspired four other full length works and over a dozen short stories. SCOOTER NATION, her sophomore effort, is part of her UNAPOLOGETIC LIVES series. Funkhauser is currently working on POOR UNDERTAKER begun during NaNoWriMo 2014.

 

HEUER LOST AND FOUND

Heuer Lost and Found - PrintUnrepentant cooze hound lawyer Jürgen Heuer dies suddenly and unexpectedly in his litter-strewn home. Undiscovered, he rages against God, Nazis, deep fryers and analogous women who disappoint him.

At last found, he is delivered to Weibigand Brothers Funeral Home, a ramshackle establishment peopled with above average eccentrics, including boozy Enid, a former girl friend with serious denial issues. With her help and the help of a wise cracking spirit guide, Heuer will try to move on to the next plane. But before he can do this, he must endure an inept embalming, feral whispers, and Enid’s flawed recollections of their murky past.

Geo Buy Link: http://myBook.to/heuerlostandfound

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-C5qBpb0Yc

 

 

PRAISE

“Funny, quirky, and sooooo different.”

—Jo Michaels, Jo Michaels Blog

“Eccentric and Funny. You have never read anything like this book. It demands respect for the outrageous capacity of its author to describe in detail human behavior around death.”

—Charlene Jones, author THE STAIN

“The macabre black comedy Heuer Lost And Found, written by A.B. Funkhauser, is definitely a different sort of book!  You will enjoy this book with its mixture of horror and humour.”

—Diana Harrison, Author ALWAYS AND FOREVER

“This beautifully written, quirky, sad, but also often humorous story of Heuer and Enid gives us a glimpse into the fascinating, closed world of the funeral director.”

—Yvonne Hess, Charter Member, The Brooklin 7

“The book runs the gamut of emotions. One minute you want to cry for the characters, the next you are uncontrollably laughing out loud, and your husband is looking at you like you lost your mind, at least mine did.”

http://teresanoel.blogspot.ca/2015/05/heuer-lost-and-found-unapologetic-lives

“The writing style is racy with no words wasted.”

—David K. Bryant, Author TREAD CAREFULLY ON THE SEA

“For a story centered around death, it is full of life.”

—Rocky Rochford, Author RISE OF ELOHIM CHRONICLES

“Like Breaking Bad’s Walter White, Heuer is not a likeable man, but I somehow found myself rooting for him. A strange, complicated character.”

—Kasey Balko, Pickering, Ontario

Raw, clever, organic, intriguing and morbid at the same time … breathing life and laughter into a world of death.

—Josie Montano, Author VEILED SECRETS

LINKS

Website: www.abfunkhauser.com

Scooter Page: https://abfunkhauser.com/wip-scooter-nation/

Podcast:  http://mhefferman.ca/author/podcasts/episode-3-an-interview-with-a-b-funkhauser/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamfunkhauser

Facebook: www.facebook.com/heuerlostandfound

Publisher: http://solsticepublishing.com/

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1FPJXcO

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

Email: a.b.funkhauser@rogers.com

Audio Interview:

Interview Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2yhaXfh-ns

Interview Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoPthI1Hvmo