STAND AND DELIVER! HISTORICAL ROMANCE AUTHOR CRYSSA BAZOS DOES IT WITH OUTSTANDING DEBUT

 

1.

You have a debut novel. How are things going?

 

I have learned that excitement fortunately doesn’t kill you, and it is possible to run on caffeine and adrenaline. I’ve had an amazing first week. I’ve managed to maintain my position on Amazon’s top 100 in my category, and even made a Hot New Release. I’ve also discovered new things about myself, specifically how competitive I am. Traitor’s Knot has been battling The Last Kingdom’s Utred son of Utred for position on the charts. “If it’s reputation you want…” Can you not hear him say that? At one point, he and the heroine on my cover were cozying up too close for my hero’s comfort, and he had a few choice warnings for the Dane. I was not best pleased with my grumbling hero when Utred pulled ahead. I’ve locked him in a water closet for now.

 

Ed. — That’s amazing! Congrats. 😀

 

2.

Tell us how you settled on 17th century England?

 

I’m not sure that I settled on the 17th century England as it settled on me. When I was mulling on what to write (the desire to write something came before what that something would be), I realized that all my favourite reads came from that era (i.e. The King’s General and The Three Musketeers). 17th century England is a time of social and political reform, civil war, advances in science and exploration! The Tudors have nothing on the  Stuarts (IMO) except a cross ginger-haired serial husband. The Stuart men were far better looking, with their dark, wavy hair, larger than life personalities, and their tragic ends. One day, HBO or Netflix will wake up to them.

 

3.

The monarch’s side is not usually favored in film and popular novels (unless it’s NETFLIX’S The Crown). Are you a monarchist generally, or specifically, as in the case of Charles?

 

That’s a good question. I wouldn’t consider myself a monarchist and yet I do find myself on the Royalist side. Here I am, waving an oak sprig. I can’t argue against what Parliament tried to accomplish in rising up against the crown. They had to deal with a stubborn king who believed in absolute monarchy which left no room for the will of Parliament. The moderates were trying to hammer home a constitutional monarchy, which happens to be  the system that we have today in Commonwealth countries. Furthermore, one of the movements that caught fire at this time were the Levellers, who lobbied for the freedom of men. If the war was only about fair representation and democracy, I’d be sporting a rosemary twig in my hat (nod to the Levellers). Unfortunately, as with all revolutionary movements, the fanatical extremists fill the void and redefine the conflict. The result was that the fanatical Independents (Puritans) in the New Model Army, with Oliver Cromwell at their head, purged the moderate elements and forced the King’s trial and execution. Cromwell sets himself up as a de facto king with a weak Parliament and no more rights for the common people.

 

4.

We’re hearing more and more about “blended genres.” Some might say that TRAITOR’S KNOT is a blend. Care to comment?

 

I do believe that Traitor’s Knot is a blending of the historical fiction genre with the romance genre in a way that the description ‘historical romance’ doesn’t entirely fit. The heart of the historical fiction genre is incorporating historical details to build a world that a reader can become immersed in. The history forms the spine of the story and propels the characters (historical or fictional) through the events. Historical romance is similar to historical fiction in that the best of the genre is well-researched and conveys a sense of place and time. But here, the romance drives the story, not the history. As a result, most historical romances are played out in the charm of a drawing room or a ballroom.

 

Traitor’s Knot puts the historical events front and centre with a central love story. Instead of allowing them to remain in the safety of a drawing room, I’ve thrown my lovers into the middle of a civil war. Their reputations are less at stake than their lives. They don’t spend the book wondering if they should or shouldn’t; James and Elizabeth instead fear that they will never see each other again. I would consider Traitor’s Knot a darker historical romance.

 

5.

Strong female characters are ‘most wanted’ these days. Gal Gadot’s Wonder WomanVikings’ Lagertha, and House of Cards’often villainous Claire Underhill. How would you classify your character Elizabeth Seton? Do you favor her over her beloved James Hart?

 

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I don’t have a favoured child, mostly. 🙂 I believe there is a strength to a woman that is not defined by her ability to run off and be badass. It comes through in the choices that she has to make and the steel in her spine when faced by those who want to take her down. In historical fiction you need to capture the sensibility of the age so it wouldn’t be credible to have sent my 17th century heroine off on a rampage. But she found other ways to show her strength, through her resistance against a hypocritical regime, protecting the weak, and defending those she loved. Not as badass as James racing along the highway, but both characters bring different strengths to the fight as well as compliment the other.

 

6.

Interesting. But how would they do in a modern context? How would they cope in our time?

 

James would be a football captain (British for soccer), and he’d give David Beckham a run for his money. James is a natural leader and inspires his men to pull together and never give up, no matter how deeply behind they are. Besides, he’d look great with his stubbly beard and shoulder length hair while rocking a red and white jersey. But he’d be pretty oblivious over his effect on his groupies.

 

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Without question, Elizabeth would be doctor. Probably an emergency physician. You can’t take the herbalist out of the girl no matter how many centuries pass. She always considered healing people to be her greatest calling, and she fought so hard for the right to practice her art. I can see her in a white lab coat and blue scrubs. Her dark hair would be tied back in a pony tail, and she’d be practically attached to her clipboard. Come to think of it, she’d probably be the attending physician when James is brought in over a pulled tendon.

 

7.

What are you working on now?

 

I’m working on the second book of the series, the Severed Knot. It touches on the fate of the Battle of Worcester prisoners, many who were shipped to the colonies as indentured servants. This story will focus on one of the characters from Traitor’s Knot who is captured and shipped down to Barbados. I’m not telling who though. I’m very excited about this as this is a part of history that hasn’t received very much attention.

 

8.

Have I forgotten anything?

 

If you enjoy being immersed in the past and are looking for a love story combined with action/adventure, then you’ll Traitor’s Knot should be your next read. Check it out on Goodreads and Amazon. And don’t forget to leave a review!

Ed. — Thanks, Cryssa. Let’s take a closer look at TRAITOR’S KNOT.

 

 

TRAITOR’S KNOT

Traitors Knot CoverEngland 1650: Civil War has given way to an uneasy peace in the year since Parliament executed King Charles I.

Royalist officer James Hart refuses to accept the tyranny of the new government, and to raise funds for the restoration of the king’s son, he takes to the road as a highwayman.

Elizabeth Seton has long been shunned for being a traitor’s daughter. In the midst of the new order, she risks her life by sheltering fugitives from Parliament in a garrison town. But her attempts to rebuild her life are threatened, first by her own sense of injustice, then by falling in love with the dashing Hart.

The lovers’ loyalty is tested through war, defeat and separation. James must fight his way back to the woman he loves, while Elizabeth will do anything to save him, even if it means sacrificing herself.

Traitor’s Knot is a sweeping tale of love and conflicted loyalties set against the turmoil of the English Civil War.

 

 

Praise for Traitor’s Knot

 

“A hugely satisfying read that will appeal to historical fiction fans who demand authenticity, and who enjoy a combination of suspense, action, and a very believable love story. Five stars.”

– Elizabeth St. John, bestselling author of The Lady of the Tower

 

“A thrilling historical adventure expertly told.”

– Carol McGrath, bestselling author of The Handfasted Wife

“Cryssa Bazos is equally at home writing battle scenes as writing romance, and the pace keeps the reader turning the pages.”

– Deborah Swift, bestselling author of The Gilded Lily.

 

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Excerpt

From nowhere, a racing black horse flashed past her window, the rider passing close to the carriage. Startled, Elizabeth craned her head, wondering at his reckless pace. Without warning, the coach veered off the road and pulled up, throwing her onto the floor. The others shrieked and braced themselves. They heard panicked shouts from the driver and the deep, jarring voice from another.

“Stand and deliver!”

Elizabeth heard the measured clopping of a single horse drawing close and the nervous shifting of their team. She crept to regain her seat. Mistress Pritchett shook with terror, and Elizabeth reached out her hand to reassure her.

“One inch more and your brains will lie in a pool at your feet.” They heard the click of a cocked pistol.

Elizabeth froze, fearful that he spoke to her. But with his next words, she knew that he still dealt with their driver.

“Toss your musket over the side.”

“You’ll have no trouble.” The driver’s voice cracked, and the carriage swayed and creaked as he scrambled down from the top seat.

“Everyone out!”

Elizabeth followed the Pritchetts, nearly stumbling on her skirts. Her foot found the first step and froze. A pair of pistols trained upon her, unwavering and baleful. Slate-grey eyes burned with equal intensity above a black scarf. Although every instinct screamed retreat, Elizabeth descended the coach.

The highwayman rode a large black horse with a white blaze on its forehead. He commanded the powerful animal by his slightest touch, moving like one, rider and horse, fluid and instinctive. The highwayman wore all black from his heavy cloak to his mud-splattered boots.

“Richard Crawford-Bowes.” The highwayman’s voice cut through the stunned silence. “Step forward. I would fain make your acquaintance.”

Sir Richard did not twitch.

Provoked by the absence of a response, he pointed his pistol at Sir Richard’s stubborn head. “Mark this well—I never repeat myself.”

“I am he,” he said and stepped forward.

The highwayman circled Sir Richard with the imposing horse. “This is a unique pleasure, my lord. Are you beating the countryside looking for desperate souls to fill your court, or have you reached your quota?”

“Now listen here,” Sir Richard sputtered. “If you persist in this venture, I vow to bring you before the assizes and see you hang!”

The highwayman shrugged. “You deserve nothing more than to share the same fate as the honest men you rob in the name of your Commonwealth. Strange idea that— common wealth. As though the wealth stolen from the King would ever be given to the common man. Deliver your coin or die.”

Sir Richard’s brow darkened. From his pocket, he withdrew a handful of shillings.

A shot fired. Elizabeth jumped and smothered a scream, pressing her hand to her mouth. Shouts and shrieks erupted from the people around her. The highwayman lowered his smoking pistol. Sir Richard remained standing, a foot back from where he had been and pale as chalk.

“My patience is nearing an end,” the brigand said, levelling his other pistol. He tucked the spent one in his belt and replaced it with a primed carbine. “A few pieces of silver. I’m sure you have more than thirty.”

Colour returned to Sir Richard, and his thin mouth pressed into a resentful line. “You will regret this.” He drew a larger pouch from his cloak and took a step forward, but the rogue’s next words stopped him.

“Take one more step and it will be your last. I care little for the honour of judges and trust their intent even less. Hand the purse to someone else.” His flinty gaze passed over the huddled couple and singled out Elizabeth. “Come forward, mistress. You’re neither fainting nor quivering.”

Startled, she considered pleading to be left alone but smothered the impulse. She would not show fear to this villain. Taking a deep breath, Elizabeth walked towards Sir Richard. A sheen of sweat beaded his forehead, and his Adam’s apple bobbed in this throat. She held out her hand and tried to keep it from trembling. Her nape prickled as if the pistol pressed against her skin. Sir Richard clutched the purse, glaring at her as though she was the villain.

“Your purse, my lord,” she whispered. “Please.”

Sir Richard hesitated for another moment before shoving it into her hands.

Greedy wretch. Elizabeth’s annoyance with Sir Richard gave her the courage to walk up to the brigand. With every step, her determination grew. She would be quite happy to hand over Sir Richard’s money.

The rogue motioned her to give him the pouch, and when she dropped it into his outstretched hand, she met his direct gaze. Elizabeth expected to see the cold eyes of a ruthless madman, but to her surprise, she did not. There was a hardness in those grey depths, but also a keen, calculating intelligence that heightened her curiosity. He stared back at her boldly, and she could not look away.

“My thanks.” His tone was an unmistakable dismissal.

Elizabeth stood puzzled. Old Nick’s small purse rested under her cloak, the sum of everything she owned. She would have been sick over parting with it but wondered why the highwayman had made no demands on her or the others.

“Was there anything more, mistress?”

She was about to shake her head and back away, but the muffled weeping behind her ended thoughts of retreat. Having reached the end of her endurance, Mistress Pritchett began to cry, soft at first and then with more violence. She would have collapsed to the ground had her husband not supported her. Elizabeth grew outraged for the hysterical woman. The audacity of the scoundrel, with all that he dared, awakened her. “Pray, what is your name, sir, so that we may know the coward who threatens us behind a scarf?”

The highwayman’s eyes narrowed. The silence unnerved Elizabeth. Beneath him, the great black shifted. “Who are you?”

“Elizabeth Seton, late of Weymouth.”

“So, Mistress Seton from Weymouth dares where others fear to tread.”

“Your words suggest you were once a King’s man,” she said, ignoring her better judgment.

“Aye, proudly so.”

“Your manner disclaims it. The Royalist soldiers I knew did not hide behind scarfs.” His expression darkened. “Times have changed,” he said in a rough voice. Instead of firing his pistol, he urged his horse closer. Its shadow cast over her. “Your people fought against these rebels?”

Elizabeth’s stomach gave a sick lurch as she realised her blunder. She prayed that Sir Richard didn’t mark the significance of her words. Being caught between a highwayman and a Roundhead justice, she should have had the wits to mind her tongue. Elizabeth’s eyes darted to Sir Richard—his entire attention seemed to be focused on the purse in the brigand’s hand.

The highwayman waited for her response, and when none came, it seemed to Elizabeth that he smiled behind his scarf. He leant forward as though they were the only two on the road. “’Tis a shame that we had not more with your bravery. We may have yet won the war.”

With a curt nod, he spurred his horse and disappeared down the road. Elizabeth released her breath in a rush, and her limbs dissolved into unset jelly.

 

 

About the Author

 

fullsizeoutput_d9Cryssa Bazos is an award winning historical fiction writer and 17th century enthusiast with a particular interest in the English Civil War. Her debut novel, Traitor’s Knot, is published by Endeavour Press and placed 3rd in 2016 Romance for the Ages (Ancient/Medieval/Renaissance). For more stories, visit her blog cryssabazos.com.

 

 

 

 

Links

 

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

Twitter: @CryssaBazos

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

Traitor’s Knot is available through Amazon.  http://mybook.to/TraitorsKnot

 

 

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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…

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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

 

WHAT READERS SAY

NOMINATED BEST HUMOR SIBA 2016

nominee newest

August 2016

OFFICIAL SCOOTER COVERIn the weeks following SCOOTER NATION’s release, I have been blessed with very positive reader comments through social media and face to face meetings. A recent speaking engagement revealed that  readers were not only ‘getting’ the dark humor, but that they wanted more of it. What could be more encouraging?

As a gonzo mortuary revenge piece, SCOOTER is many things. Characters play it straight for the camera even as the world around them disintegrates into chaos. Their narrative should not be trusted. With everyone cloying for a different result, protagonists and antagonists will say anything to get what they want. Lines blur as a result such that readers can’t always count on their heroes to be heroic especially when backed into a corner.

What if heroes are villains and altruism is priced? This is what SCOOTER NATION asks and what the characters almost without exception struggle to answer.

Thank you for your comments. Keep them coming!

–ABF

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

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

 

“Funky, gonzo, hilarious, brilliant.”

—Marissa Campbell, author AVELYNN

“Compelling, hypnotic, deliciously entertaining.”

—Connie DiPietro, author REFLECTIVE PANE

“Irreverent, hilarious and heartbreaking.”

—G.L. Morgan, author

HELMS REVIEW

BRUSH REVIEW

MAJANKA REVIEW

RIVAL GATES REVIEW

 LECKER REVIEW

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

 

 

TIME TRAVELING TRIPLETS, TELEKINESIS AND K.C. SPRAYBERRY

Multi genre author K.C. Sprayberry stops by the blog to discuss her latest YA, PARADISE LOST BOOK 2 THE ULTIMATE PARADOX, with a little help from her characters who compare her to ‘mom’. Welcome K.C. Talk to us about Paradox 2.

 

Book CoverParadox Lost Book 2: The Ultimate Paradox is about triplets (DJ, Matt, and Elisa) that are also time travelers. DJ and Matt are typical brothers, shutting out their sister, but not for the typical reasons. They sense that she’s not really supposed to be with them, so they’re giving her the cold shoulder.

While in most ways, these teens seem very typical, they also possess incredible talents. Not only are all three strong telekinetics, they also have other talents, such as spellcasting, healing, thought reading, telepathy, and a whole host of other skills. They’re about to finish their education when the story began in book 1, but that derailed quickly when it became clear that a legacy foretold two centuries ago is now about to come true.

DJ, the eldest of the trio, has to run for his life after being convicted of his dad’s murder. Only Dad is still alive, but seriously injured, in another time. Matt is a ghost, having been killed in a Rogue attack in Mexico, but he’s not the kind of guy that sits back and does nothing just because all the other ghosts tell him that’s what they do now. Elisa is a captive at Beaufort School for Visionary Studies and she’s not taking that sitting down. Her captors soon learn that she’s not someone they should ever mess with.

DJ, Matt, and Elisa try to go on their own path, thinking that is the best way to solve the problem. That only delays them in their quest, until all of them are reminded that together they’re a force to be reckoned with and then they have to get past a few stumbling blocks before they’re ready to combine forces.

 

Paradox Lost: The Ultimate Paradox releases January 15, 2016!

 

Welcome to book two of a series much like Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, and Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.

 

If you had the chance to read Paradox Lost: Their Path, you came to know DJ, Matt, and Elisa, and discover the path destiny has laid out for them. In Paradox Lost: The Ultimate Paradox, these triplets each have to make their way through a series of obstacles and prepare for a showdown with Rogues.

This new story brings out new information about the Sullivans and the destiny none of them was aware would be theirs to claim, along with several big surprises.

 

Book Blurb

 

The past changed the future …

                                    . . . the future must salvage the past.

 

Falsely accused of murdering his father, DJ faces a terrible penalty. That’s the least of his worries—Uncle Toby and his army of Rogues are bent on tearing history apart, and DJ and his allies have to stop them any way they can. But only a True Neutral can save their world, and The First, his family’s ancestor, is long dead. His brother Matt was killed by Toby’s actions, and his sister Elisa is fighting her own demons.

The past created by their uncle needs to be uncreated into what it was meant to be. And these three teenagers, triplets and direct descendants of The First, must learn to ally with each other to correct the errors made real in the past.

And the Gateways reveal themselves as something no one ever suspected….

 

Pre-order now!

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01AATE9UW

Author Bio

author photoBorn and raised in Southern California’s Los Angeles basin, K.C. Sprayberry spent years traveling the United States and Europe while in the Air Force before settling in northwest Georgia. A new empty nester with her husband of more than twenty years, she spends her days figuring out new ways to torment her characters and coming up with innovative tales from the South and beyond.

She’s a multi-genre author who comes up with ideas from the strangest sources. Some of her short stories have appeared in anthologies, others in magazines.

 

 

Website/Blog/Twitter links

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/KC-Sprayberry/331150236901202

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kcsowriter

 

Blog: http://outofcontrolcharacters.blogspot.com/

 

Website: www.kcsprayberry.com

 

CHARACTER INTERVIEWS

 

DJ Sullivan

  1. Introduce yourself to our readers. Where do you fit into the story? What should we know about you?

 

Lucas Till as DJ Sullivan croppedI’m Dennis James Sullivan XI. Call me DJ. Everybody does. I’m the oldest of triplets. We’re pretty astral with our powers. Not just telekinesis and telepathy but other stuff. My big thing is the ability to use brute force when I’m out helping my dad. That’s why Matt died instead of me. Kind of sucks. I could have… well, maybe I couldn’t have stopped those boulders. We’ll never really know that.

Anyway, lots of strange things have been happening to me. My uncle, Toby, wanted to have my powers bound but my posse helped me out of that tight spot and we’re now in hiding. That doesn’t sit well with me. Like Matt, I’m a take action kind of guy, but unlike him, I also need to think about stuff before I do it. And all of these powers are scaring me a lot. Like who doesn’t know about the True Neutral. I sure don’t want all that responsibility.

 

  1. What do you think about the author? Tell us everything. We want to know.

 

Nice lady. A lot like Mom. Matt will probably say that too. We think alike too much. This person understands us, lets us be ourselves. Love that. She’s even giving me time to think about Lexie, my girl. Well, she might be my girl, if everything works out all right.

 

  1. What are your feelings about this story?

 

It’s a good story. Real. What we face with Rogues right now. Rogues are Travelers who don’t like the rules and aren’t willing to follow them. They do what they want. The whole personal gain thing doesn’t seem to have caught up with them yet, but it will. See, we can’t do anything that will help us out of a tight spot, unless it’s to help humanity. That’s why I haven’t been able to go back to that place in Mexico, before Rogues attacked, and bring back my aunts and uncles… and Matt.

 

  1. How do you feel about being a character in this book?

 

Hey, don’t get me wrong. Sure I’m down about losing most of my family, but being in this book, letting the world learn about Travelers? Fantastic! We’ve been doing this for so long and it’s time ordinary humans learned about us. It’s totally cool going back in time, or even seeing the future—and I want to do that so bad one day. First, though, we need to clean up this Rogue problem.

 

  1. What do you see in your future? (No spoilers please!)

 

More of the same until we have all Rogues taken care of. But that’s cool. No problem there. See, Matt and I would have been in Repairs if this whole Rogue War thing hadn’t gotten in our way. Repairs is where Travelers go fix problems that have come up. We would have even got to work with TES (Traveler Enforcement Squad) to stop other Travelers from changing history. Now I’m not sure what I’ll do once we finish here. Sure would like to have a lot more adventures.

 

  1. Is there another Paradox Lost book in the future? Will you be part of it?

 

A few more. That’s what Matt and Elisa keep telling me. Sure hope they don’t include that whole True Neutral thing. I’d like to have a normal life for a while, as normal as Travelers can have.

 

  1. Say a movie producer comes knocking. What actor/actress would you want to play you and why?

 

Someone wants to make a movie about Travelers? Cool. Totally cool. Who would I want to play me? Let me think. There’s this guy. Just did a movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past a few years back. Lucas Till is his name. Yeah, he’d play me really well.

 

Matt Sullivan

  1. Introduce yourself to our readers. Where do you fit into the story? What should we know about you?

 

Stefano Masciolini as Matt SullivanYo, Matt here. Yeah. That’s right. The guy that died in the first book is coming on strong in this one. I get to tell my own story, and let me tell you, I’m not gonna hang around wherever the cosmos has stuck me and cry about being dead.

I’m the middle triplet, the one that is always on the go, always thinking up new pranks. Now, though, I’m the guy with a mission—to help my brother and sister kick some Rogue ass. First, though, I have to figure out how to get away from this prison without walls where I’m stuck, and that’s going to take quite a bit of work. Turns out that whole personal gain thing I’ve lived with all my life and didn’t think much about? Well, around here, it’s huge. You want to use someone for something, you run into this invisible wall that knocks you backward. Can’t get through it. But I’ll figure out how to get out. You can bet on that.

So, you want to know more about me, do you? I’m pretty much a what you see is what you get sort of guy. No sitting around discussing things in committee for me. Action—that’s where I’m at. Let someone else handle all the discussions. I’ll be out there teaching those Rogues a lesson they won’t ever forget.

 

  1. What do you think about the author? Tell us everything. We want to know.

Awesome lady. Kind of reminds me a lot of my mom. You know the type. Family first, kick the backside of anyone that hurts them. Herself last. She’s pretty cool the way she lets me take the lead instead of shoving me into a corner while Elisa and DJ get to have all the fun.

 

  1. What are your feelings about this story?

 

This story is intense. All our lives DJ and me (oh yeah, and Elisa) have had to live with this legend about the True Neutral. We’ve all heard over and over again how The First made this prophecy that someday, someone would get all the powers Travelers have. Crazy if you ask me. Some of those powers will be the direct opposite of others, but that’s the way it is. Anyway, like who wouldn’t want to be this person in total control? But not me. No way. I’m not a give orders kind of person, and besides, nobody would listen to me. But the story, especially the parts when I get to see my girl, Dixie, great.

 

  1. How do you feel about being a character in this book?

 

Love it. Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. People need to know what Travelers really can do, and why we can’t sometimes. They also need to know all about personal gain. That’s pretty important. It’s kind of like this—we can’t go save you from messing up your whole life because you’re about to be in more trouble than you thought possible. That was your choice. You have to pay that price.

 

It’s kind of like what happened to me when I begged to go with my dad in book 1. That wasn’t what I wanted, and I sure don’t like the consequences, but I figure I’ll somehow get used to this prison without bars. Maybe.

 

  1. What do you see in your future? (No spoilers please!)

 

Well… you mentioned no spoilers. Not much I can tell you except that there will be another book soon. Other than that, I’ll probably go back to that prison without walls, until it’s time to break free again.

 

  1. Is there another Paradox Lost book in the future? Will you be part of it?

 

Oh yeah. At least two. More if I can help it. I love the adventures, even as a ghost. Definitely going to make sure there are more books.

 

  1. Say a movie producer comes knocking. What actor/actress would you want to play you and why?

 

An actor playing me? Really? Definitely Stefano Masciolini. Dude might be Italian, but he looks exactly like me. And he’s into all the action and kicking major butt thing.

 

 

Elisa Sullivan

  1. Introduce yourself to our readers. Where do you fit into the story? What should we know about you?

 

Sophie Turner as Elisa SullivanMy name is Elisa Sullivan. I’m a Traveler. That means that I get to travel through time on these really great Gateways. And I can talk to them. Not many Travelers think Gateways are sentient, but they are.

I’m a triplet, the youngest one. Our family is part of this kind of scary but totally awesome legacy, where one of us is supposed to become the True Neutral. Only no one really knows when that will happen. And everything about Travelers, especially Sullivans, is connected to the 1906 Great Earthquake and Fires in San Francisco. There’s a huge world out there, but we can’t seem to get past the ‘original event’ and figure out that a lot of people need our help. Sure hope that happens soon, ‘cause I think I can find places where we can do a lot of good.

 

  1. What do you think about the author? Tell us everything. We want to know.

 

She’s great. I like how she makes me so strong, but also lets me be afraid. That’s real, how most girls will react in the situations I face. And she doesn’t make me into some wimpy crybaby. But that whole screaming thing? Yeah, I do need to learn how to tone that down. A lot. Got to hear myself as a little girl doing it. Wow! That really hurts the ears.

 

  1. What are your feelings about this story?

 

It’s a fabulous story, full of adventure and intrigue. My awful uncle doesn’t realize that I’m the one person he never can control. He tries, though. Has since I was a little girl, but I don’t like Toby one bit and I’ll never do anything he wants.

 

  1. How do you feel about being a character in this book?

 

I love it. Well, there are times when I’m not so sure, but mostly it’s a lot of fun. Can you imagine being able to hide from everyone on plain sight or sneaking around as a spirit and then going back to your body? And traveling through time, seeing all those great places. Riding in Gateways is a blast.

 

  1. What do you see in your future? (No spoilers please!)

 

Oh, a lot more adventure. My brothers—all Travelers—will learn that I won’t sit in the shadows any longer. I am as good as Matt and DJ, and I won’t let anyone stop me from being part of their adventures!

 

First, though, we have to get through the third book, and kick some major Rogue butt. I’m really thinking I need to deal with Miranda. She really pisses me off with that “wittle baby” thing she’s always doing. I’ll show her who is a baby. (pauses for a minute.) Or maybe not. Is that personal gain? Can I get in trouble for that?

 

  1. Is there another Paradox Lost book in the future? Will you be part of it?

 

Current plans are for at least one more Paradox Lost book, possibly two. Who knows what the future holds? This trio of young adults seem to like the action.

 

  1. Say a movie producer comes knocking. What actor/actress would you want to play you and why?

 

For Elisa? Sophie Turner from Game of Thrones. She’s an actress that has to overcome numerous obstacles. I can see her reveling in the role of Elisa, the child no one accepted, felt as if she shouldn’t have been there.

 

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/2dzY5Z0qOrY

 

Social Media Links:

 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/KC-Sprayberry/331150236901202

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kcsowriter

 

Blog: http://outofcontrolcharacters.blogspot.com/

 

Website: www.kcsprayberry.com

 

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5011219.K_C_Sprayberry

 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005DI1YOU

 

Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+KcSprayberry/posts

 

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/kcsprayberry/boards/

 

Manic Readers:

http://www.manicreaders.com/KCSprayberry/

 

AUTHORSdB:

http://authorsdb.com/authors-directory/5230-k-c-sprayberry

 

 

OF KNIGHT & DEVIL: FREDERICK CROOK’S LATEST EXPLORATION OF THE BROADER HUMAN NATURE

Visionary Frederick Crook delivers us to 2130 Earth where the rule of law exists in memory only and scores are settled with mortars. Have we come full circle, or are we on the precipice of something new and greater?

 

 

OF KNIGHT & DEVIL

KnightDevil_400croppedIt is July 2130, less than a year after the destruction of the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, the last of its kind in America. Major Reginald Mattersly of the British Army’s SRR has been slowly making his way to the west coast, where he wishes to find a home on the beach and live out the remainder of his life.

These plans are cut short when he is ambushed in Nevada by a mysterious trio of armed men. To his rescue comes a man of the 82nd Airborne who calls himself Elias Mulhaney. The two of them continue on to a town called Lovelock, currently embattled with their neighbors in Reno.

The mayor of Lovelock, Jazz Hernandez, is the prime target of her former lover, Gillespie, the mayor of Reno. His mentality: If he can’t have her, no one can.

Mattersly and Mulhaney band together to infiltrate the city of Reno to rescue her kidnapped niece, Nora, and destroy the factory that provides Gillespie’s military power.

In a post-Great Exodus Earth where there is no law and no national government, can there still be justice?

 

Excerpt

“I have to reload here,” Mulhaney said. “Both belts are about out.”

“Do it. Quickly,” Reginald replied.

Just as he finished speaking, an explosion rocked the parking garage.

“What the hell was that?” Elias wondered aloud and froze. “Artillery?”

“Just reload, now!” Reginald ordered. Seeing no one beyond his driver’s window, the major dared open his driver’s hatch to listen.

Another explosion rocked the building, this time more violently. Angel opened the infantry hatch and took a look behind them. Bits of concrete and dust filled the air around the two machines. Just as she was ducking back inside, a third explosion struck the building, directly above them. The outer hull was struck with falling concrete from the ceiling.

“Mortars!” Reginald shouted into the microphone for the benefit of their new ally, Sergeant Schamski. He slammed the driver’s hatch, locked it, and extracted himself from the seat, leaving the helmet behind. “Angel, get into the driver’s position and move if I tell you. We are being shelled!” With that order given, the major snatched up his Dragunov and lowered the rear ramp.

“Major, I don’t know how to drive this thing!” she protested.

“Just do it! Shut the door when I get clear!” he shouted as the next mortar round struck against the side of the parking structure, this time on their floor. Mattersly was shielded by flying bits of concrete by Necromancer, which was immediately covered in dust.

Reginald used the dust as cover for his run to the southwest corner of the building. He had judged from the trajectory of the first three rounds that whoever was launching the mortars would be found in that direction. He crouched low as he met with the wall, pulled his beret from his tunic’s breast pocket and placed it on his head. The action was more out of necessity than pride, for the gray surface of the cap would not reflect the sunlight.

Another mortar round struck nearly the same place as before, only one floor below. Wasting no time, he took a peek over the top of the waist-high wall, where his eyes found another large hotel across the street. Having adjusted his eyes for distance, he immediately located the mortar crew, which had taken a room on a floor slightly below the level of the garage on which Necromancer and Wolfhunter were trapped.

He quickly reset his eyesight to normal and brought up his Dragunov, being careful to remain in the shadows. Reginald watched as the crew fired a sixth round. In seconds, it was clear that this one was going to be rather close. He lay flat and covered his head as the round struck just left of his position, taking out the short wall and the leading edge of the pavement. Mattersly felt several bits of concrete strike him and was covered by dust.

His ears rang despite the audio devices’ cancellation attempts and his eyes burned from the dust. Reginald noted that Necromancer had again opened fire on targets trying to come up to their level. Without further thought, the major rose upon one knee, lifted his rifle to his shoulder and located a target. It was the mercenary attending or perhaps firing the mortar.

Reginald squeezed the trigger and dropped him. Training told him to move to another location, but he had found Renoite militia to be undertrained and inexperienced. He found a second target. This one was another militiaman which came to the aid of the man Reginald had just brought down. With another squeeze of the trigger, the second man was felled.

This time, Mattersly did drop to the floor to crawl to another location. It was none too soon, as the place where he had just fired from was struck with a smattering of assault weapon rounds, returned from the militiamen supporting the mortar. As the two Stryker’s fired at targets that he could not see, the major lifted his body onto his knee and prepared to take another look. Just then, the seventh round struck the parking garage, close enough to knock him flat.

 

Reviews:

 

Frederick H. Crook is a masterful storyteller. He pits good against evil with a way different from most writers in the genre. The dialog is crisp and believable.” ~ Frank Scozzari

The entire book takes place over the course of a few days and honestly, I was bummed when it ended. You will never get bored reading this book.” ~ Melissa Massey-Maroni

I loved each page of this tale of hope. Anyone who still believes in the magic of heroism, should definitely have Of Knight & Devil in their bookcase.” ~ Susan Lynn Solomon

 

biography

 

Frederick was born in Chicago in 1970 and now lives in Villa Park with his wife, Rae and their three dachshunds. He began by writing fictional works all through high school, but didn’t take himself seriously until 2009, when Frederick began writing his first novel, The Dregs of Exodus, which was self-published in late 2010. This was followed up with another novel, The Pirates of Exodus in 2012.

Throughout that year and 2013, he continued writing and published AuthorPic2four short stories in eBook form for Kindle. Runt Pulse, The Fortress of Albion, Lunar Troll, and Campanelli: The Ping Tom Affair.

 

His third novel, Campanelli: Sentinel, was picked up by Solstice Publishing in late 2014. Minuteman Merlin was released for the Kindle by Solstice Publishing in March of 2015 and followed up by his fourth novel, Of Knight & Devil in September.

 

He is currently an editor for Solstice Publishing and working on novel number five, another Frank Campanelli dystopian crime thriller.

 

Links Image

Website

http://frederickcrook.wix.com/crooksbooks

Facebook Page

https://www.facebook.com/TheDregsOfExodus/?ref=hl

Twitter

@FrederickHCrook

Amazon Author Page

http://www.amazon.com/Frederick-H.-Crook/e/B00P83FW02/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

YouTube Channel

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIiKxKPL6iaEmKqOLfoYbqQ

Thanks for dropping by Blog Funkhauser Frederick. Good luck with the book and all the best for 2016!

ABF

Christmas Day Message

 

 

 

 

TEN AUTHORS, TEN DAYS: DAY TEN: MEL MASSEY

Welcome to Day Ten. Rounding out the line up is Solstice Shadows author Mel Massey, whose penchant for things otherworldly is proved once again. Her latest, SERVANT OF THE BLOOD, is exceptional. If the play is the thing, then the creature is the écoulment.

Bravo, Mel!

Servant of the BloodThe Servant of the Blood, Allatu, will always come when called and has for generations. She will fulfill wishes – for a price. Set in Tunisia, an ancient creature is called to do her master’s bidding but nothing comes without a price.

Release date:

September 15, 2015

Buy link:

http://www.amazon.com/Servant-Blood-Mel-Massey-ebook/dp/B014JMYW5S/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

ExcerptPrologue

Two covered figures, one bent with age and the other a child, quietly made their way from the main house into the night. The older of the two pulled the smaller one along in the dark by the hand as they walked further and further into the shadows.

This was the night of the new moon. It was the perfect chance to see the deed done. If what her son, Samir, told her was true, this would be the last chance she would have. She could not let her son and his family fall to ruin. She would not allow it. They thought her an old and feeble woman. True, the years have taken their toll on her body – but not her mind. Her mind was as keen as it ever was.

She remembered many things. Many lost and forgotten things handed down to her by her own grandmother. For many years, she had forgotten them all. Her marriage, her duties as a wife, and then motherhood whisked those tales away as if a hawk swooped down and carried them off. Only as she lay in her birthing bed, laboring to bring her sons into the world, did pieces of the tales return. They gave her strength. She was a wife, mother, and now a grandmother – but once she was Luja who knew the family’s secrets.

Now, after so many years had passed, she turned once again to those memories of her grandmother. The new moon was when one did this sort of thing, she remembered. Her granddaughter, Hala, was her ever-present shadow and she meant to share this thing with her. She pulled the sleepy child along in the dark, headed for the farthest corner of the gardens.

“I’m tired, Grandmother.” Hala whispered.

“Hush, child. We have things to do, you and I.” She looked once more over her shoulder and pushed on, past the unkempt and dying gardens to the farthest corner beside the stone wall. “I think this will do.”

She handed Hala a small bundle wrapped in cloth before kneeling on the ground. She felt around until she found a stick big enough to suit her needs.  With more force than she knew she still possessed, the old woman began to dig a hole beneath the olive tree. Her arthritic hands ached, but her spirit soared. She would see this thing done. It had to be done. No one else knew what she did. She would save her family.

Hala sat heavily on the ground, her head resting in her hands as she watched her grandmother dig. That was good. Let her see each step. Let her understand there are ways beyond those of the modern world to get what one needs. Tonight, she was herself again. She imagined herself the young and beautiful Luja who had a wild spirit and a quick temper.  In the morning, she would be Grandmother again… but not yet.

Satisfied with the size of the hole, Luja reached for the bundle in Hala’s arms. She snatched it from her and anxiously unwrapped the contents.  The girl’s curiosity roused her from her fatigue. She leaned forward to see the objects of the bundle laid out in the dirt. A precious bowl of honey and two figs sat beside another, longer item.

Luja carefully began unwrapping linen from around it. It was sacred to her family, her grandmother told her. It was only to be used in the direst of circumstances. How to use it was only taught to the daughters of the family, for men were not permitted to touch such things.

“What is that, Grandmother?” Hala whispered.

“Our salvation, sweet girl.” From the folds of aged linen, a statue emerged. It was carefully made. The age, Luja did not know. She knew it was delicate and priceless. It was made from clay but held together by a thin layer of gold. It was the image of a woman, naked but for carvings on the body. She did not know what they meant but she showed Hala the statue reverently. It was as shiny as the day Luja’s own grandmother showed it to her. She remembered her voice shook as she told Luja of the power in the statue and how it worked.  Luja asked her grandmother if she would ever use it. “I would not dare,” she told her. Well, Luja dared.

“Who is it? Why is she naked?”

“She is the one who will help our family.” Luja told her.

“How? Papa says we have no money and soon we’ll be living on the streets.  Are we going to sell this, Grandmother? Sell it to pay the money Papa owes?” Hala’s words drove a knife into her heart. No child should know of the woes of her parents. Samir was foolish and selfish to say such things where the children could hear. But his foolish and selfish ways were the reason they were in such dire straights. He gambled what they had and risked everything on dreams that never came true.

“No, my child. We will not sell her. She is priceless and too powerful to sell, but she can help us in other ways. Give me your hand,” Luja carefully placed the golden statue in the hole and reached for Hala. “It will only hurt for a moment.” Before the child could understand, Luja pulled a knife from the folds of her dress and made a small cut in the palm of her hand.

“Ouch, Grandmother!” Hala tried to pull her hand back but Luja kept it firmly grasped over the gold statue.

“She only requires a little blood, child.  When you come of age, you will bleed every month. Blood is nothing to women. Men like to think they know of blood and pain but we are the ones who truly know.  Now, you know the power of your blood. It is precious because you are a virgin, unspoiled by men. Mine would not do for this. There,” she released her grip on the girl’s hand and watched as the crimson droplets painted the gold surface. “That is enough.”

“Who is she?” Hala asked, holding her injured hand close to her chest.

“She is the servant of the blood. She is the giver of desires and the force of the Mother. I do not know her name. She is what she has always been to our family – our salvation and our curse.”

“What do we do now?”

“We bury her, Hala. Then leave the offerings. If they are pleasing, if we are pleasing, she will hear them and come to answer our prayers.”

“Is it right what we are doing, Grandmother? I’m not sure Papa will approve,” Hala said as she stood.

“Certainly, he wouldn’t. If he did, I should question my actions.”

“I don’t understand–”

“Never you mind, my dear. Come, help me cover her and set these offerings to right.”

“How will we know? How will we know if she will help us or not, Grandmother?” Hala asked as she scooped dirt back into the hole.

“I am not certain. We women must do what we can to save those we love. Here, hand me that bowl.” Luja placed the bowl of honey directly above the buried statue. “There, we have done what we can. It is out of our hands now.”

Luja and Hala covered their heads once again and silently made their way back through the garden toward the house. The girl still held her injured hand close to her chest and her grandmother pulled her along in the dark. It had been years since Luja felt so alive. She committed a great sin tonight. This sin was one she would not apologize for. She was a woman and women must do what they can in the shadows to see their families prosper in the light of day.

Social Media Links:

www.melmassey.com

@melmmassey

Amazon author pagehttp://www.amazon.com/Mel-Massey/e/B00ID9Z9D8/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

TEN AUTHORS, TEN DAYS: DAY EIGHT: KAREN KING

Can love survive death?

sapphire blue cover“No one has ever walked out of Red. Once the Soul Catchers get you they don’t let you go.” Denny’s words scare me but I have no choice. If Will is in Red that’s where I have to go.

I’ve never really thought what it was like when you died. I’m only 16, too young to worry about that. At least I thought I was. I’ve heard about Heaven and Hell, of course, but it doesn’t look like I’m in either of them. All I know is that Will is here too and I need to find him. I can’t face spending eternity without him.

Friend and fellow author Karen King talks soul trekking in her new YA Sapphire Blue. Even better, as at press time, Karen had great news to share: She has racked up an award for cover design. Take a look:

golden star awards 2nd place - Paranormal trophy 300

Congrats!

Q & A

  1. Sapphire Blue reads like a quest journey; a YA novel that takes the protagonist through Hell in search of her Will, like Dante searching for Beatrice in the Inferno. What inspired you to follow this path in YA?

I’ve always believed that we live on after we die, that our souls go back to the place we came from, join our friends and family and carry on with our journey. I was talking about this to someone one day and they said that they hoped they didn’t forget life on Earth, when they died that they still had their memories. That started me thinking about what it would be like. If you loved someone would your love still survive in the afterlife? Does everyone go to the same place? It was from this that the idea of Sapphire Blue was born.

  1. In our fast-paced, social media driven culture here in North America, how do you account for the exploding popularity of YA literature?

People still like to lose themselves in a good book, kids, teens and adults alike, and there’s some amazing YA stories published at the moment. YA deals with things that teens (and adults) worry about, living, loving, dying, fitting in, the world ending. It’s imaginative introducing new worlds, magic, strong characters and above all it usually encompasses Hope. And that’s the thing I think people want to hold onto most in these uncertain times. Hope that you’ll survive, win through, that things will get better.

  1. What and who did you read as a teen and young adult? Which one(s) stayed with you?

Agatha Christie and The Saint books by Lesley Charteris. I loved trying to solve the mysteries in the Agatha Christie books and the nonchalant way The Saint dealt with the situations he was in.

  1. Let’s backtrack for our readers: Give us your elevator pitch for Sapphire Blue.

Sapphire Blue is a YA with a difference in that it’s set in the afterlife. It’s a story of love, bravery, drama, mystery, horror but above all Hope.

5. Your cover is in the running for an award. Tell us about it.

Yes I’m chuffed to say that the cover for Sapphire Blue –and the cover of my children’s novel, Firstborn – is in the finals of the Golden Star cover Art Contest run by Highlighted Authors http://highlightedauthor.com/golden-star-cover-art-contest/paranormal-cover-category/

I’ve got my fingers crossed for them both but there are some great covers in the finals so I’m just happy they’ve got this far.

6. What’s next?

Accent Book has just signed me up for three contemporary novels so I’m working on the second one of those – the first one is finished. After that, I’ve been asked by a couple of readers to write a follow up to Sapphire Blue so maybe I will.

ExcerptOur first drive together. Later, I’ll take photos of wherever it is we’re going, save a leaflet, a ticket, or receipt. Today deserves a whole page in our scrapbook.

Will’s a good driver. His eyes constantly dart to the mirrors to check what’s behind him, around him, in front of him, and he keeps his speed steady. I feel safe with him.

I look out of the passenger window, trying to guess where we’re going. As soon as we join the dual carriageway I know. Mawlish Cove. Where we went for our very first proper date. It’s our special place, the one we go to when we want to celebrate something, but usually we have to cycle there. I think of all the places we can go now that Will can drive, to the coast a few miles away, a sightseeing tour of the local villages, maybe even drive to Wales to see my cousin, Gemma. I’ll be seventeen in a few months and maybe I can pass my test too, then we can go away for weekend, share the driving. I glance at Will and smile. I’m so proud of him.

“I love you,” I say.

“Love you too,” he replies. Then he starts singing.

“Sapphire Blue,

I do love you,

Forever me,

Forever you!” I join in the chorus, bubbles of happiness fizzing through me.

Will wrote the song for me last Christmas, calling it Sapphire ‘Blue’ after the color of my eyes—he said. He knew his folks were buying him the guitar he’d been begging for all year, so had secretly written the song to surprise me. It was the first thing he played. I remember how he picked up the guitar, slowly strumming the strings, then he’d walked over to me, sat down beside me and gazing into my eyes he’d started singing. It was only a short song, one verse, nothing special, I guess, but it summed us up. Me and Will, together forever. A warm surge of love spreads through me. I reach out and touch his hand. He turns to me and our eyes meet.

Just for a couple of seconds. An eye blink. Hardly any time at all.

But long enough for us to not notice the container fall off the back of the lorry in front. When we do notice, it’s in the middle of the road, blocking our path. A shard of ice slithers down my spine.

“Stop! Will, stop! We’re going to crash!”

Even as I shriek the words I know that there isn’t enough time to stop. I’m frozen to my seat, my eyes fixed in terror on the huge metal box just meters away.

“Hold tight!” Will jerks the steering wheel to the left in an attempt to avoid it, but he loses control of the car, and we’re skidding off the road. OMG, now we’re heading for a huge tree. It’s looming in front of us, solid and immovable. Its long, leafy branches swaying in the wind like scaly, green arms reaching out to grab us.

“Shit!” Will’s almost standing on the brakes in an effort to stop the car. My body shoots forward, then is pulled back by the seatbelt. My head slams against the back of the seat. The tires screech as the car starts to slow down but not quick enough for us to avoid the tree. I shut my eyes, not wanting to see the inevitable, horrific moment of impact. I can hear Will shouting, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I love you!” I want to tell him that I love him too, but I can’t speak, can’t move, my body’s turned into a block of granite.

I’m dimly aware that someone is screaming as if their soul is being ripped from their body. It is a few seconds before I realize that the screams are mine.

We’re going to die.

Craaaaaash!

An explosion shatters in my head.

biographyKaren King has had over one hundred children’s books published. She’s written for many children’s magazines too including Sindy, Barbie, Winnie the Pooh and Thomas the Tank Engine. She writes for all ages and in all genres; story books, picture books, plays, joke books and non-fiction.  Sapphire Blue is her second YA novel. She also writes romance novels under the name of Kay Harborne.

Buy Links

Amazon UK  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sapphire-Blue-Karen-King-ebook/dp/B00QKYAL7W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417793348&sr=8-1&keywords=sapphire+Blue+by+karen+king#_

Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Sapphire-Blue-Karen-King-ebook/dp/B00QKYAL7W/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1417779552&sr=1-1&keywords=sapphire+Blue+karen+king

Solstice Publishing   http://solsticepublishing.com/sapphire-blue/

Author Links

Website: www.karenking.net

Author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn&__adt=7&__att=iframe#!/KarenKingAuthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/74448.Karen_King

Twitter: @karen_king

Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Karen-King/e/B0034P6W7I/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/kryski/

Wow, Karen. You are busy. Keep us appraised and best of luck. xo

TOMORROW:

Reily Garrett

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TEN AUTHORS, TEN DAYS: DAY SEVEN: SIMONE SALMON

Author Simone Salmon’s unbridled enthusiasm for EVERYTHING leaps off the page. Whether in her debut novel CAMILLE AND THE BEARS OF BEISA-DRAFNEL or in a simple print interview, she goes, grows and thinks OUT LOUD. See for yourself!

Welcome, Simone!

 

CAMILLE AND THE BEARS OF BEISA-DRAFNEL

 

Camille Final CoverSometimes running away is the best decision for self-preservation. 

Sometimes unlearning the truth reveals centuries of lies. 

Sometimes the shadows in the periphery simplify complex realities. 

Sometimes love is an expansive concept riddled with explosive diversions. 

Years of deception and suppressed trauma do not prevent secrets from unraveling when parallel worlds clash, intertwining families and exposing hidden agendas. An unwanted romance mirrored in an alternate universe has devastating consequences for an unsuspecting young woman and a mysterious stranger.

 

Q & A

  1. On their own, the teasers for Drafnel promise so much: lovers divided, literal magic, parallel worlds and lives spinning out of control. How would you classify your work?

Teaser 6 mind 1024x512Hi AB, first thank you so much for this interview and for having me on your blog. In response to your first question, my original intent was to write a ghost story so perhaps my initial thoughts were for a thriller. However, it became apparent that the more the story unfolded genre-specificity became less important. I just went where the characters took me and they wanted to cross the Teaser 3 clock 1024x512boundaries of many genres. The result is an entanglement of science fiction, paranormal thriller, time travel, folkloric fantasy and romance all blended into one cohesive genre-bending whole.

  1. Diversity in literature is close to your heart and your work. Can you offer us some insights into how best to achieve the goal and how you did so in Drafnel?

Old black magic book with lights on pages

This is a difficult question for me because in writing this story diversity was never part of my conscious thought process. I’m not sure if this is a result of my previous naïveté regarding the controversy over the lack of diverse characters represented in SFF or that in the quest to express my creativity the characters just reflected people who are most familiar to me. I cannot offer any advice other than to do some research if the subject matter is unfamiliar, which in a sense feels hypocritical because I did no research for anything unfamiliar in Drafnel. Truly, I feel that once you’re connected to creative energy all of the information needed is provided. Creativity is subjective and I am hesitant to provide instruction on how to include diversity in anyone’s story. In a sense, my feeling is that advice would somehow taint the creative process and inject an impartial influence thereby limiting individual inspiration. Diversity in any art form should always be an individual’s unique and very personal interpretation independent of society’s restrictive conformity to whatever is considered the norm or acceptable.

  1. The world we live in constantly heaves and changes. What inspirations did you take from our world and bring to Drafnel?

This concept of time, how it is viewed and used is a very integral part of the novel. The Dahli watch meltingstory operates in many locations and across parallel universes all within the same timeframe. My hope is to convey that time is relative and ultimately a man-made concept which has been used as a form of control in all aspects of our lives. Most of us feel the need to work regimented schedules such as a 9 to 5 job or we feel that we are running out of time when we reach a certain age. Once we are able to remove ourselves from that limiting construct of existence, that time is linear and absolute, we can achieve far more satisfying accomplishments with less effort, anxiety or energy. Time should be removed from all of our internal equations and messaging for optimum quality life experiences.

  1. Are you a Tolkein fan?

TolkeinYeaaasss! Who isn’t? Now let me first confess that I read The Lord of the Rings as a pre-teen. Although I marveled at the imagery and suspension of belief which is pure Tolkien mastery, it wasn’t until seeing the story on the big screen that my appreciation for his genius was truly sealed. He was a marvelous storyteller. I admire anyone who possesses the ability to tell a story in such a way that it inspires or motivates or sparks an emotional connection and appreciation of things unknown or known. I hope that Drafnel invokes those same feelings for readers.

  1. Tell us how you got started? What is your method, dear writer?

Drafnel Teaser Watch 1024x512Truthfully, I was able to write this book because I decided to hire a writing coach. Deborah Rigas, who passed away from cancer, kept me focused. Her passing fueled the completion of the first draft. As far as method, I cannot admit to any. I did not do any character mappings, or plan out plots or research any scientific data for Drafnel. Outlines have proven uninspiring and disastrous for me. Deborah told me “a writer writes” and that became my mantra. I find that true writing, the type that is engaging and surprising, is a mystical experience. For me it is a connection to the unseen energy that creates something out of nothing. The art form, whether it is a painting, novel, song, etc., starts out with a modicum of familiarity rooted in this physical world, but then evolves into the channeling of something unknown and unidentifiable which we choose to label as “imagination”.

Ed. My condolences, friend. Her legacy: your legacy. Beautiful.

  1. What’s next?

I’m in the process of writing the next book in the Camille and the Bear of Beisa series. It will be based on Catherine’s brother, Caleb, who we learn a little about in Drafnel. I am also working on a non-fiction book which discusses following intuition and higher guidance. That book will detail my own spiritual journey, including my realization of psychic phenomena. I’m hoping to complete both over the next six to twelve months.

  1. I love the cover. Who designed it?

Thank you so much for saying that. The cover was a very personal undertaking and looks amazing in the print copy. One day I had the urge to paint. I didn’t know how to, but a few YouTube videos later, decided to take a stab at trying. The background, on the cover, is one of my paintings which was actually, in my mind, unfinished. I really did not know what it was missing or why it felt unfinished, but it remained that way for a couple of years. When I completed the book, my friend, Leo, suggested that I use one of my paintings for the book’s cover. I decided that the unfinished piece would be ideal. In my hunt for the perfect cover designer, I discovered a talented artist, Cat Castleman, in a Facebook writing group. She designed the character illustrations which were added to the painting. That was my painting’s purpose I guess – to be the background on the book’s cover. Now it feels finished.

  1. Your guilty pleasure? (person, place or thing).

hammockI love candy, especially toffee and milk chocolate and of course ice-cream, specifically of the caramel sea-salt variety. It’s a terrible obsession and wicked on my hips and behind, but I cannot resist. I am also learning to appreciate the freedom to just be and do absolutely nothing. I used to feel guilty whenever I found myself unproductive, but hell I’ve been multi-tasking and working multiple jobs for most of my life. Now I relish those moments when I’m doing nothing at all, just existing and taking in the wonders and miracles of life.

  1. Happy endings: for or against?

Hmmm, I’m not a big fan of happy endings, mostly because my belief is that, if art does indeed imitate life, then, for me, most endings should be flawed or unexpected. And if there is happiness then there should be a tinge of something disastrous or unsettling just beyond the horizon awaiting the right impetus for activation. That’s not to say there aren’t happy endings. My feeling is that they are short-lived or appear to be rare, in my world anyway, unless the people involved are spiritually evolved or are on the path toward spiritual realization, but that’s a whole other discussion.

Ed. Count on it!

  1. The day you got your contract: care to share an anecdote?

OMG catOMG! I read that thing over and over in disbelief which then became unbelievable joy. This entire experience of finally realizing my childhood dream continues to feel very surreal. It’s sort of like when you awake from a deep sleep where you’re having an intense dream and you’re unsure if you’re awake or still dreaming. When you realize you are awake you try to remember everything that happened in the dream, but can only grasp little splices. Then you take those splices under continuous analysis trying to figure out the meaning or significant correspondence in your life. That’s how this all feels.  Like a dream. And I keep analyzing every moment along the journey wondering if there is deeper meaning or what will happen next.

 

biographySimone Salmon, a Jamaican born New Yorker, is the mother of two sons and a Jack Russell terrier. Her debut novel, Camille and the Bears of Beisa – Drafnel was released on August 28th, 2015 and has been receiving stellar reviews from bloggers and readers alike. She is a graduate of Bronx High School of Science and attended Barnard College.

Simone was raised by her father’s mother in Kingston, Jamaica until the age of eleven. She, along with her two brothers and sister, began living full-time with their parents in 1977.

Simone hosted the MiracleMindFest teleseminars in the summer of 2013 which spotlighted twenty-one spiritual teachers, including Vincent Genna, Mas Sajady, Howard Martin, Davidji, Julie Geigle, Jean Slatter, Roland Comtois, Sunny Dawn Johnston and Elizabeth Harper, just to name a few. She credits the series with catapulting her own spiritual journey, including her discovery of mediumship and a now trusted practice of following higher guidance. She is also a spiritual truth seeker who appreciates psychic phenomena and timelessness.

Simone is still working on her exit strategy from corporate America where she currently manages a word processing department in a law firm. She continues to write novels, poetry and expand her multisensory perceptions.

Music of all kinds, warm weather, lounging on the beach, and experiencing the unknown are just a few of her most favorite things.

 

Links Image

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

Twitter: @miraclemindcoac

Blog: Origisims

Website: www.ssalmonauthor.com

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/simsalmon/

Goodreads: Goodreads

 

Press

Review on Clatter and Clank – Fiction by BR Sanders

Spotlight on Alex McGilvery’s World

Feature on Tevis Shkodra – Dystopianauthor.com

Review by Merrill Chapman – Rule-set.com

Spotlight on Books and Blondes – John E. Guzzardo

Spotlight on Get In John’s Head

Spotlight on Tales of a Bookworm – Jaelyn Quisel

Feature on The Dark Geisha – Eden Royce

Spotlight on Gloria Weber’s Blog

Feature on The Mysterious Ink Spot – Rachel Stapleton

Interview with BR Sanders

 

Book Buy Link

getBook.at/ssalmon-drafnel

Thank you for stopping by Simone. Your journey is an amazing one and I, for one, look forward to following along! Best of luck.

ABF

 

“To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to.”

–Khalil Gibran

TOMORROW:

Karen King takes us on a preternatural journey to the underworld in her acclaimed YA novel SAPPHIRE BLUE.

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