BEFORE RULES: LEE RENE AND PRE-CODE HOLLYWOOD

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

 

 

Mitzi of the Ritz

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Q & A1.

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

 

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

 

 

2.

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

 

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

 

 

3.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

4.

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

 

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

 

 

5.

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

 

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

 

 

6.

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

 

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

 

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

 

Ed. – Lol. I hear ya!

 

 

7.

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

 

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

 

 

8.

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

 

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

 

 

REVIEWS FOR MITZI OF THE RITZ

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Cheers,

ABF

 

 

 

LOOKING INTO THE UNEXPLAINED WITH DAVID MANNES

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

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

Welcome to the blog, David.

 

 

1.

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

 

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

 

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

 

2.

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

 

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

 

3.

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

 

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

 

4.

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

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

 

5.

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

 

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

           

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

 

6.

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

 

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

 

7.

What is the glue that holds society together currently?

 

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

 

 

8.

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

 

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

 

9.

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

 

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

 

10.

Any last words?

 

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

 

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

 

THE CANTOR’S SON

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

 

 

SCARLET VENGEANCE 

Released October 14, 2016

 

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

 

THE TUNGUSKA ENCOUNTER

Released September 30, 2016

 

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

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

 

About the Author

david-m-mannes_4847_100516

 

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

 

 

Links

 

Email: david_mannes@hotmail.com

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

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

INDIE AUTHOR ANG D’ONOFRIO BREAKS OUT WITH A RIFF ON INSPIRATION & BUSTER HEYWOOD

Well read and schooled in the art of Netflix and Chill, independent author Ang D’Onofrio brings enthusiasm and an indomitable spirit to the writerverse. With the tools of the trade always in reach, she is quick to record what she sees for translation later into her bold and inventive fiction. Welcome Ang!

 

 

Your character Buster Heywood lives in Aviario. A quick Google tells me that Aviario is in Costa Rica. Is FROM THE DESK OF BUSTER HEYWOOD a South American novel?

 

Short answer: nope!  Long, more interesting answer: I named my fictional Connecticut town “Aviario” (pronounced AY-vee-uh-REE-oh) ages ago, back when it only had two inhabitants.  At the time, I had been writing my stories with the characters as animals – think Brian Jacques’ Redwall in a more modern time.  But I knew that I’d reach a wider audience with human characters … so the town name became a nod to the characters’ beginnings.    It took me until partway through my first draft in college to Google the word, and realize that there were other Aviarios.    Here’s a map I made of mine … minus the key, which is still under construction.  I keep it hanging next to my desk.

Map

 

So nice to meet another cat woman. My feline chap is also my muse. Do your kitties contribute to your process?

 

They supervise.  Bella likes to sit on the arm of one writing perch in the living room, but on days when I’m on my laptop, The Sneak sits under my chair and hopes I drop snacks.  One of the characters in my second novel, In The Cards, has some strong ties to cats, and I took a lot of inspiration from my girls when I wrote a couple of his scenes.

AngDsKitties

 

We met on Twitter. Care to tell the readers how?

 

It was #1lineWeds that brought us together, back before I started #2bitTues.  I noticed the theme of Heuer Lost & Found, and thought,”Hey! I have a mortician character, too.  And this lady seems super neat.  Maybe I should follow her.”   I had no idea what I was in for … but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Our conversations never fail to make me smile.

 

Ed. Lol. Morticians have a sense of humor. You didn’t see that coming! *wink wink* 

BE SURE AND VISIT ANG AND CREW EVERY TUESDAY ON TWITTER AT #2bitTues, A PLACE WHERE AUTHORS CAN TROT OUT THEIR CHOICE ONE-LINERS FROM WIPS. BE PREPARED TO BE AMAZED.

 

THE BOOK BLURB:

As lives go, Buster Heywood’s got it pretty good. His job with the town offices of Aviario pays him just enough to keep a roof over his head and food in his kitchen. His job even keeps him free from having to deal with his social anxiety. He’s always seen things a bit different from everyone else, and now that he’s found a comfortable little bubble, he’ll do everything he can to stay inside it.

But life never goes as planned, and a combination of the wrong place and the wrong time warp Buster’s cozy, quiet life into something he would never have imagined. His problems quickly become more than just a contest between his structured worldview and the way things are: soon he’s toeing a line between following his sense of duty and losing himself to a dark, dangerous underworld.

I love the book blurb and immediately think of Winston Smith from Orwell’s 1984. To what extent are we, as individuals, removed from the day to day world outside? Is this by intent or is it beyond our control?

 

BusterHeywoodFinalCoverWow, what a GREAT question!   I love getting the Big, Deep Ones.  I think both extent and intention depend upon the individual.  Introverted people are, no doubt, more removed due to their natures … but it doesn’t stop them from being curious, either (For example: my hero, Buster, avoids face-to-face interaction, but he’s a very, very avid reader, and likes to consider himself knowledgeable).  People have a very deep-seated, subconscious drive to protect themselves, and sometimes that protection is so amped-up that it shields us from our community and our world, whether we’re aware of it or not.

I like to think there are levels, too: someone can be a very gung-ho volunteer for their local community, but be oblivious to refugee plights or natural disasters in other countries … or, vice versa.  In a way, this sort of protection can be good: too much involvement would, without a doubt, overwhelm a human soul and tear it in too many different directions.

It’s my belief that if we’re lucky enough to notice that subconscious protection, overcome it, and make the effort to involve ourselves with our world, we need to be able to pick and choose our battles.  Sometimes, that’s a very hard choice to make: and most of the novels of Aviario deal in one way or another with those choices, and their consequences.   For me, the best stories happen when you push a character past their comfort zone and make them grow.

 

Available in eBook and print format, FROM THE DESK OF BUSTER HEYWOOD, can be bought here: www.angeladonofrio.com/from-the-desk-of-buster-heywood.html .

 

You tote your tools around with you in case inspirational lighting strikes. Care to give us an anecdote?

 

Several years ago, my dad, bless his stubborn soul, injured his wrist in a fall at his job as a telephone lineman.  He was on workman’s compensation, and I had found myself unemployed due to some legal skullduggery at my workplace that ended up, shall we say, putting them completely out of business.  So we were stuck with one another, and usually pretty happy about that fact.   I went along with him to his check-ups for the injury, and we’d go out to lunch, maybe a movie, and generally make something good out of the miserable hand we’d both been dealt.

I was sitting in the cab of his truck, waiting for him to come out of such an appointment and dealing with an allergy flare-up … his dog, Lucy, loved truck rides to the dump and hardware store.  My nose did not love the dander she left behind afterwards.  I’d just managed to stop a particularly horrid attack of the sniffles, when I saw a very unique woman heading toward the hospital doors at a fair clip.  She was a consummate professional from head to … er, ankle.   The neon running shoes were the only exception.   I had a tiny little notebook stashed in my purse, and scribbled down the detail.    That scribble became one of the plot points of From The Desk of Buster Heywood, and since then, my friends & family have learned to be very patient with me, should I call a grand halt to whatever we’re doing and dive for the notebook.  Everything can be used.  Everything!

 

Ed. I hear you, although family are less tolerant, I find, when I go for the notebook in the middle of the night.

 

Do you Netflix and Chill? If ‘yes’ why? If ‘no’ why?

Oh, I Netflix, all right.  My fiancee, Laurel, is a huge TV and movie buff… bigger than me, which is saying something.  We’ve been known to burn through a season of something in a weekend, if we don’t have anything planned.  Currently our guilty pleasure is the animated Clone Wars series (we’re Star Wars fans), and I’m waiting until she’s in the mood to burn through American Horror Story: Freakshow.  As for the Chill part?  Well.  Let’s keep that private, shall we?  Wink wink.

 

Ed. I gotcha there. Maybe staying indoors isn’t such a bad thing after all???

 

What are you working on right now this minute?

 

InTheCardsFinalCoverRIGHT NOW THIS MINUTE?  These questions.   (Sorry.  I am a proven Grade-A smartass … something else I got from my father.  THANKS, DAD!)   Ahem.   Beyond that, I’m carving away at the stubborn, knotted block of wood that is my next villain.  My third book, The Proper Bearing, is set in a 1970s British Public School, and the sinister Biology professor, Cole Goddard, has been very tight-lipped about himself since last September.  I’ve just barely managed to get to the heart of the block, and I can see him much more clearly than I could when I started my draft … so hopefully, by the time Camp NaNoWriMo rolls around in April, I’ll be ready to dive back in.    If nothing else, it’s keeping me occupied while I wait for my beta readers’ feedback on In The Cards, so I can spiff it up for its September release!

 

Ed. I love, love, love NaNoWriMo. It’s the only way I can get new stuff down. Also love the block of wood analogy. Michelangelo said the same thing about marble and the figure inside. He was just taking the extra away, liberating the inner beauty.

 

Your favorite woman in literature or history? Your favorite man in literature or history?

 

I’m going with literature, because my history brain is really out to lunch, today…  I’ll probably have brilliant answers for historical figures at about 1 AM this morning, with my luck.  My favorite literary female is, hands down, Clarice Starling from Silence of the Lambs.  She’s written with such a perfect balance of vulnerability and strength!   The scene when she goes to review Frederica Bimmel’s body in the morgue will always be one of my favorite pieces of writing.  Clarice draws her strength from such a painful memory and uses it to her advantage: not just to do her job, but to overcome a bit of sexism, as well.   I know most people remember her for the showdown in Buffalo Bill’s basement in the film, but the novel gives that morgue scene so many more layers that show her strength.
My favorite literary male is a tougher question: I have a few that fight for first place.  Given the gonzo nature of your books, though, I’ll go with the zany answer: Zaphod Beeblebrox!  I’ve got a soft spot for characters with huge egos, questionable intellect, and an immense amount of dumb luck – and Zaph takes the cake.

 

Ed. In your face intellect always bears close examination for the awesome flaws it reveals!

 

The place you run to?

 

Great, now I have Madonna’s “This Used To Be My Playground” stuck in my head, thank you for that.   I have two.  The first is my bedroom, which is a careful mess of ancient books, art from around the world, my mask collection, and a snuggly cat.  The second is as close as a gal like me can get to a Mind Palace: the first building in Aviario I ever created.  Marlowe House is a big, Victorian mansion, the kind of house I want to own someday, and if I really need to get my head on straight, I go hang out there.  Sometimes I sit in the foyer window seat and read, other times I chill out in one character’s bedroom and let him play piano.

 

Ed. Great answer! And I love Madge BTW. 

 

Your greatest joy?

 

That lovely high that comes from writing a perfect scene that sucks you in as it unfolds.  The world drops away so hard and fast that I forget it’s even there, and I’m always a little baffled when it comes back in around me after I’m done.

 

Thanks for sharing, luv.

 

For more on Ang and her books, visit her website at www.angeladonofrio.com where you can sign up and receive regular updates.

 

ABOUT ANG

HeadshotAngela (or Ang, but never Angie) lives in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire with her lovely fiancee, Laurel, two particularly eccentric cats, and one opinionated conure named Jupiter. She roots the places she creates in the places that she loves, and friends and family may just find hints of the familiar in the streets of Aviario. While writing is not currently her only bread and butter, she spends much of her free time on aspects of the process, toting around her tools of the trade in case inspiration strikes.

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

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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

 

 

ELEMENTAL MAGIC: YA AUTHOR MARNIE CATE REVISITS OLD FRIENDS IN ADVANCE OF HER NEW RELEASE

It’s my great pleasure to introduce to you Marnie Cate, a young adult fantasy author chasing her dreams with the same energy and verve as the characters she creates. Today on Blog Funkauser, she revisits REMEMBER: PROTECTORS OF THE ELEMENTAL MAGIC. She does this in advance of her next release EXIGENCY. Coming Soon.

Congrats, Marnie!

 

 

coverSynopsis

Hiding the truth from you is no longer protecting you. Sit and I will tell you what you need to know.

With those words, the secrets of my great grandmother, Genevieve Silver, were unburied and my role as a protector of the elemental magic was revealed.

My name is Marina Addisyn Stone but Mara is what my friends and family call me.  I had always felt that there was something missing and that nothing was permanent. Why would I feel that way?  I was being raised with my little sister by my grandmother that loved and doted on me. Then, there was Cole Sands. Who could forget the blue-eyed boy that had stolen my heart? What more could a girl need?  I always thought I was just being dramatic and that bad things do happen to people but that is part of life.  People die.  People go away. Little did I know that with one secret, my life would change forever and my new world would be surrounded by the world of elemental magic?

 

sale banner

 

Excerpt

As I felt my determination build, the mirror in front of me began to change and the reflection filled with rippling water. The image made me think of the choppy water of Sparrow Lake. At first, the small waves were calm but the speed and intensity of each movement of the water grew. I found myself being splashed as the waves grew harder and began to slap against the mirror. Standing up, I moved away just in time to watch the mirror before me shatter and the violent water burst out towards me.

The room began to fill with rushing water. Feeling around the room, I searched for an exit. Behind the shattered mirror, I only found solid rock. Looking to the ceiling, I could see the same hard stone. Feeling the emotions build inside me, I began search the floor and walls around me for any exit.

“Damn! Damn! Damn it!” I cried.

The water did not slow. Instead it continued to fill the room as I frantically searched for my escape. The water soon reached my knees and, what seemed like seconds later, I was wading through waist high water. As the water continued to rise, I was soon struggling to keep my head above water. It was not enough that the water was filling the room so rapidly but soon the water felt alive. The cold waves kept tossing me back and forth as the water rose and I began to feel like I was in a game of Ping-Pong where I was the ball. Soon, I found myself pulled under the icy water and surrounded by thousands of bubbles. Frantically kicking my feet to keep my head above water, I broke the surface.

Remembering the swimming lessons my grandfather insisted on, I thought about the times I spent with my grandfather learning to swim. I began to feel less scared as I recalled his calm voice and gentle words telling me that I would be safe. As I floated in the rising water, it seemed to respond to my emotions. The thrashing became calmer as I focused on my grandfather’s words. My brief moment of peace did not last. Before I knew it, I had almost reached the ceiling that had no exit and I began to panic. At this rate, I would be trapped and drowned in minutes. As if it was feeding off my fear, the water began to toss me around again.

As the water began to rise up my neck and almost over the top of my head, I tried to calm myself. You are the granddaughter of Mae Veracor and the great granddaughter of Genevieve Silver. You are the descendent of strong women. You have nothing to fear. With these words, the water once again calmed and I was able to tilt my head back above the water. How am I going to get out of this?

 

Remember: Protectors of the Elemental Magic is on sale $0.99 / £0.99 Kindle from February 5th – 11th 2016

 

Amazon Book link: My Book

 

Author Biography

marnie authorMarnie Cate was born and raised in Montana before adventuring to the warmer states of Arizona and California. Her love of Dame Judi Dench and dreams of caticorns and rainbows inspired her to chase her dreams. One great sentence came to mind and the world of elemental magic and the humans they lived amongst filled her mind. With Remember, the story has begun.

 

 

Other Works by Marnie Cate

Exigency: Protectors of the Elemental Magic – Coming Soon

The story of Mara Stone continues.  Her world was shaken but she is a fighter.  Facing new adversaries, Mara is learning what it truly means to protect the magic.

 

Awethology Light – Contribution Story  

Beginnings: Protectors of the Elemental Magic (Novellette)

The story of Genevieve Silver and the origins of the protectors of the magic. With the balance of the elemental world shaken, four elementals take on the task of protecting the magic.

 

Links:

http://www.marniecate.com

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

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00UJNT7J8

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Marnie_Cate

Twitter: @Marnie_Cate

TEN AUTHORS, TEN DAYS: DAY TWO: MAIGHREAD MACKAY BLASTS OFF WITH HER SOLSTICE DEBUT!

Today is a HUGE day for author Maighread MacKay: 5-4-3-2-1

Polaris Missile A3

That’s right! It’s LAUNCH DAY for her adult-themed paranormal novel STONE COTTAGE, and she has chosen this blog to be among the first to tell EVERYBODY.

This author/blogger is honored. Not only do we share the same publisher (Solstice) but we also share a penchant for book trailer making. (That’s another story.)

Today is your day Maighread. Let’s jump in with STONE COTTAGE followed by a tasty interview (keep reading)…

 

book coverVictoria Anne McBride is dead, mourned and buried. Unfortunately, she doesn’t see it that way and refuses to move on. There’s something she needs to tell her husband, Will. Until she does, she will wait for his return to their home, Stone Cottage. For as long as it takes, she will wait…wait…wait.

Rebecca Wainwright is a 21st century woman. Her world is perfectly controlled. Just the way she likes it. Tragedy strikes and she descends into chaos. Trying to heal, she searches for a sanctuary…a place of her own, away from the burdensome concern of her family and best friend. A place where she can lick her wounds without anyone watching. She stumbles across a lovely stone home located off the beaten path and feels completely at home, as if she’d been there before. Why is she so drawn to this place? How can it help her to heal?

Perhaps, Annie can help.

 

Q & A

 

  1. Maighread, Stone Cottage has so many things going for it: paranormal, romance, and a journey of self discovery to name a few. How would you classify this work?

I often ponder the meaning of life and had read a book Your Soul’s Plan by Robert Schwartz that presents a different paradigm from what I had been taught to believe. Wondering how his concepts would play out in everyday life, I wrote Stone Cottage. I am hoping that the readers will love the story as much as I do, but I’m also hoping that maybe it will also cause some of them to go ‘hmmm-never thought of life that way’. That said, I would classify the story as one soul’s journey to discover meaning in her life, while being presented with paranormal concepts that challenge her firmly held concepts. There is tragedy, but also hope. It does have a ‘happily ever after’ ending, along the lines of Ghost Whisperer.

 

  1. You’ve published three children’s books already. What made you switch to adult fiction?

Actually, I’ve always written adult fiction and non-fiction. The children’s books were written for my grandchildren as their legacy from me. I wanted my descendants to know who I was through my writing.

 

  1. Your love of the past (history) is apparent. That you weave it seamlessly into a contemporary parallel plot is a testament to your skill. To which time frame did you identify most as you were crafting Stone Cottage?

Ah, yes, I do love history. I love Regency romances, historical fiction, and I am the genealogist in my family. I really did identify with the Victorian era when I wrote the book. I love all of our modern conveniences, but sometimes they are very intrusive. Also, I am the youngest in my family and my Father was the youngest in his family, so a lot of my relatives were born in the Victorian era and I grew up under their influence and am comfortable with the language and customs of that time period.

 

  1. Without introducing spoilers, I’ll suggest that one of the characters starts out in a not entirely sympathetic vein. Was this done on purpose, or did she merely lead the way?

Yes, it was done on purpose. I am hoping that readers will learn that sometimes people we meet have a reason for the way they react to things. The old adage of ‘be careful how you treat people. Everyone carries a burden that you may know nothing about’ applies here. It doesn’t excuse the behaviour but it can explain it and bring understanding instead of judgement.

 

  1. Plotter or pantser?

A combination of both. Probably more of a panster. I have the main plot in my head, and think about it all the time. The characters live with me while I’m writing and they are always showing me new aspects of themselves that end up changing the parts of the plot.

 

  1. I’m so happy to be spotlighting you on today of all days: book launch day! Where can we buy your book?

It can be purchased through Amazon.com and Amazon.ca., through my publisher Solstice Publishing, and through myself.

 

  1. Whet our appetites: What is your elevator pitch?

Victoria Anne McBride is dead, mourned and buried. Unfortunately, she doesn’t see it that way and refuses to move on. There’s something she needs to tell her husband, Will. Until she does, she will wait for his return to their home, Stone Cottage. She’s been waiting a long time.

Rebecca Wainwright is a 21st century woman. Her world is perfectly controlled. Just the way she likes it. Tragedy strikes and she descends into chaos. Trying to heal, she searches for a sanctuary…a place of her own, away from the burdensome concern of her family and best friend. A place where she can lick her wounds without anyone watching. She stumbles across a lovely stone home located off the beaten path and feels completely at home, as if she’d been there before. Why is she so drawn to this place? How can it help her to heal?

It’s a story of second chances. How our lives intertwine like the weave of a tapestry to help us grow and become the people we are. It presents a different way of looking at life that will be new to some readers.

 

  1. What’s next?

I continue to write short stories, poems and such. My big work in progress is another novel with the working title – Friday: Dinner at Mother’s. I’m just at the very beginning stages of it, so I’m not sure where it wants to take me, although I can tell you that it deals with family dynamics and murder. I’m also doing a Twitter chat with Mel Massey of Solstice Publishing at 6 pm EDT on Monday, the 14th and I’m so excited about that! But there’s more: author Marie Lavender is interviewing Victoria Anne on her blog on September 11th.

Ed. — More details on these events later today!

 

  1. A lot of writers find promotions daunting. What will you be doing in the next few months to get the word out on Stone Cottage?

Yes, promotion can be very daunting. I will be doing more blogs, putting the word out on FB and Twitter, plus I have a book signing on October 11th at our local Chapters store in Oshawa and will be at Bookapalooza in November at Durham College.

 

  1. I’m not letting you go without a word on Chicken Soup for the Soul. You have a story in the next one. Deets, please.

Some of you may not know that I’m extremely fortunate to be married to the guy in the red suit that visits at Christmas. Yup, Santa! When I heard that Chicken Soup for the Soul was looking for stories regarding Christmas, I decided to submit a manuscript entitled “Being Santa” for the 2015 Christmas edition. It gives you a small glimpse of what it’s like to be Santa at other times of the year. I was fortunate that they loved the story and it will be coming out in the Chicken Soup for the Soul: Merry Christmas 2015 edition. The book will be available on October 20th. That will be so much fun. I’m really looking forward to it.

 

Thank you Maighread for the share. Here’s what we can all look forward to in STONE COTTAGE:

 

ExcerptIn the aftermath of the blinding flash, the darkness shimmered like liquid ebony. The wind ripped the leaves from the trees and tossed them aside. The rain slashed the windows of the isolated aged stone house.

Inside the dwelling, all was silent except for the ticking of the longcase clock in the foyer. The parlour to the right of the front door held a sofa placed in the centre of the room facing a large fireplace made of fieldstone. Two tall windows looked onto the lawn at the front of the house. Comfortable chairs flanked the fireside. A small table holding a glass lamp was located beside one of the chairs. A handmade throw rug covered the highly polished wooden floor in front of the hearth. An old dog lay asleep on the mat. With the shelves filled with books, the soft glow of the fire and gas lamp, and the comfortable chairs, the parlour had been warm and cozy in the gloomy night.

Victoria Anne McBride, the solitary human occupant of the room was curled up in one of the chairs, a blanket covering her and a book on her lap.

A sonic boom of thunder shook the house and ricocheted around the room breaking the spell of silence. Startled, she surged from the chair, the eiderdown and tome cascading to the floor. She had been feeling warm and drowsy under the quilt but now realized there was nothing but cold ash left in the fireplace. The gas lamp on the table had burned out and the room was freezing. How long had she been there? She listened as the rain scratched the window glass like the long nails of a ghostly hand pleading to be let in out of the cold. Bringing her awareness back to the moment, she tried to remember why she was here in the parlour.

 

LINKS AND BUY INFO:

 

Buy:

Amazon.com http://amzn.com/B01452HED4

Amazon.ca http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01452HED4

Solstice Publishing:  http://solsticepublishing.com/stone-cottage/

 

Link:

Website: mhefferman.ca

FB: facebook.com/maighreadmackay

Twitter: @maighreadmackay

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsDj938kUzM

 

TOMORROW:

A mystery? Find out at BLOG FUNKHAUSER *Adult, Unapologetic and Cognizant*

 

 

TEN AUTHORS, TEN DAYS: DAY TWO: HEIDI MASON

Please join me in welcoming Solstice Author Heidi Mason, whose debut novel INVESTIGATING THE HEART looks there and beyond…

INVESTIGATING THE HEART

Investigating the Heart 1After the death of her husband in a plane crash, Emma McCoy, a single mom of three, has given up on love. When she meets Liam O’Reilly, an FBI agent who is new in town, the chemistry is immediate.  Emma tries to keep her distance, but Liam is determined to win her over.  As the two navigate their feelings, Emma’s resolve begins to crumble. What Emma doesn’t know is that Liam is connected to her past in a way that she could never have imagined, and this connection could put their future in jeopardy.  In the small town of Beckland, Ohio, danger is the last thing that Emma expects.  However, since Liam’s arrival, it seems like peril is waiting around every corner. See below for a taste…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

Heidi Renee Mason always knew she would be an author. Heidi is passionate about writing with a flare
for fiction, as well as poetry. In her spare time, Heidi enjoys music, genealogy, all things Celtic, and chick flicks. A native of the Midwest, Heidi now resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and three daughters. Investigating the Heart is Heidi’s debut novel.

In the spirit of our times, the author opens up about her new novel and the novel things that drive her…

Q & A

  1. The blurb for Investigating the Heart is jam-packed with intrigue and peril, yet it hints at romance not
    unlike that shared by the famous Rick and Elsa from Casablanca. Are you a noire fan?

I am definitely a fan of Casablanca. As a matter of fact, there is a scene in my book where Emma is Rick and Elsawatching that movie. I honestly tend to lean more toward your traditional sappy romances. But, I am a sucker for a love story in any form.

  1. What inspired you to go down the romance, suspense path?

Investigating the Heart didn’t start as a suspense novel. I was planning a pretty traditional love story, but things took an unexpected turn pretty quickly. I just do what the characters tell me to do, so that’s the road we all went down. It was actually pretty fun to cross over to the “dark side” for awhile.

  1. Are you a big time reader? Who are your hero’s, mentor’s and fave’s?

green gablesI am definitely a reader. I have been from the time I learned how to string words together to make sentences. As a young girl,  my mother would actually ground me from reading when I got into trouble. She said it was the only thing that had a significant impact on me…and she was right. I love Nicholas Sparks. The way he can craft a love story is really like no one else that I’ve read. He draws you in and makes you care about his characters. I don’t think I have ever read one of his books that didn’t make me cry at some point. As an author, that’s really the goal, right? To make your readers feel something. I also have a special place in my heart for the Anne of Green Gables series. Those books were defining for me as a young girl. I love chick lit, and adore Elin Hilderbrand and Jodi Picoult. I love historical novels as well, and enjoyed the Pillars of the Earth books by Ken Follett. It’s really hard for me to choose. Books are pretty much my escape from life, and always have been.

  1. Do you find value in any other mediums such as HBO?

I don’t watch HBO, mostly because I don’t subscribe to it on cable. I do enjoy TV and movies, though. I love the Outlander series on Starz. I am a little bit obsessed with it. While I like a good movie or television show, though, I always prefer a book.

  1. What sense do you rely on most when framing a scene?

I would have to say I’m a visual person. I need to be able to see the scene playing out in my head while I write it. My goal is to craft the story in a way that my readers can see it as well.

  1. When did you start writing?

I really began to enjoy expressing myself with words when I was a teenager. I found that it was easier for me to put my emotions onto paper than to speak them. I wrote for the high school newspaper, then I worked for a time as a Staff Writer for a local newspaper after I graduated high school. Then, I began having children and I put it on the back burner for awhile. Anyone with small children knows that some days it is difficult to form a cohesive thought, let alone write something. As the girls got older, I gradually began writing again, then earlier this year, I decided it was time to write my book. So I did…in four months. I tend to be very focused on things, and once I start something I feel an intense need to finish it.

  1. Is it a Gift? Torture? Or Calling?

Yes, all of the above! I feel like it is all of those things, depending on the day. When the words are in there and don’t want to come out, it is torture. Most of the time, though, I feel like it really is my gift and calling. I feel very blessed that I get to do something that I love so much, and that people seem to enjoy what I write.

  1. Many writers thrill to that first draft: the rush of creating something new. Others love going back and layering in details and devices through the editing process. What’s your fave thing about this thing we do called writing?

My favorite part of writing is being able to take the story out of my head and put it into words. I love the way that the characters speak to me and tell me how it is all going to go. I am not in control, really, and I enjoy the surprise. I enjoy the act of creating something that will entertain, transport, and hopefully touch readers in some way.

  1. I belong to a group that says “writing need not be a solitary act”. Do you write in seclusion, or do you belong to a critiquing group?

I don’t belong to a critique group, but I’m definitely not opposed to it. I write alone, mostly because I don’t have a set time or writing schedule. I just write as I can fit it in.  I would say that I write in seclusion, but I really don’t. I write in the middle of the chaos of my house, and that’s how I work best. I have three daughters, and we home school, so it is always a delicate balance of being there for them, but finding the time to write, too.

  1. Happy endings: For? Or Against?

Most definitely FOR! I love happy endings. I am indeed a fan of them. However, happy endings don’t always have to be the expected outcome. Sometimes, the best happy endings are the ones you don’t expect.

Excerpt

Prologue

Moving as quickly as a woman seven months pregnant was capable of, Emma McCoy headed to the front door of her house. The loud knocking had awakened her from her afternoon nap. Emma yawned, trying to appear awake. She didn’t remember being this exhausted during her other pregnancies. This time, she could barely stay awake during the day.  “I’ll be right there!” She called toward the general direction of the front door.  She wondered to herself who it could be. Her best friend, Sadie, never knocked, and her husband, Jacob, was out of town on business. Mom and Dad wouldn’t have bothered knocking. They would have known she would probably be napping while the girls napped.  Opening the front door, she saw the two policemen. Fear immediately crept up inside of her chest. Her first thought upon seeing the officers was that something was wrong with her parents. Had they been hurt? Emma prayed the policemen were at the wrong address, but she had a feeling deep inside of her gut that they were not.  Investigating the Heart 1“Can I help you?” her heart raced inside of her chest. She willed herself to stay calm.  “Mrs. McCoy,” said the male officer. “Can we come inside, please?” “Of course.” Emma led them through the dining room and into her living room. She offered the officers a seat, but instead of sitting herself, she paced the living room floor, panic rising in spite of her best efforts to keep it in check. “Someone please tell me what’s going on. Has there been some kind of accident? Is someone hurt?” “Mrs. McCoy, please sit down,” said the female officer. “We need you to stay calm. Since you’re pregnant, we can’t have you getting too upset.”  Emma sat down awkwardly in the rocking chair.

The antique rocker had been in her family for generations. Her parents had given it to her as a gift when she gave birth to her oldest daughter. She ran her hands across the aged wood, thinking absently of her children, who were upstairs napping. She was aware that her palms were sweating and her heart was racing. She tried to slow her breathing, but she felt like she might throw up.  “Someone please tell me what’s wrong. I know something is wrong,” she said impatiently, looking directly at the officers for answers. “Is it my parents?” “Mrs. McCoy, there has been an accident. Your husband’s plane went down while it was descending into Canada. They searched, but there were no survivors,” said the female officer as she looked intently at Emma. “I am so sorry to bring you this news.” “What do you mean? There must be some mistake. Jacob’s plane wasn’t even flying to Canada. He was going to California on business.” Emma was momentarily thankful realizing the officers must be mistaken. “I know this is a shock, Mrs. McCoy, but it has been confirmed. The passenger on the plane to Canada was definitely your husband. We have copies of his plane ticket and his passport. We have him on the airport video surveillance. He boarded the plane with another passenger, a woman named Veronica Smith. I believe you might know her as well,” said the policeman.  “Veronica is our neighbor. I thought she was going to Pennsylvania to visit her family. That’s what she told me last week. Why were Jacob and Veronica on a plane together? Jacob was supposed to be going to California, not Canada. I don’t understand! Why was he with Veronica?” Emma demanded as a million questions filled her mind. She sat for a moment trying to wrap her brain around the information. The small voice which she had ignored for the past year spoke loudly in her head now. She had been suspicious of Jacob and Veronica, but told herself  she was just being paranoid. Jacob had told her she was just emotional because of the pregnancy. Emma had agreed that he was probably right, and had pushed aside the nagging suspicion she felt.  Images she had ignored because she didn’t want to believe them now paraded through her mind. There had been many times she had accused her husband of being friendlier with their neighbor than he should be. Jacob always got angry with her and blamed her for being paranoid. Emma always backed off, not wanting to fight with him.  In that instant, Emma’s denial came crashing down on her. She saw Jacob helping the beautiful and mysterious Veronica trim the hedge between the houses. She saw them laughing together at something Jacob had said. She heard Jacob’s insistence that he was “just being neighborly.” Emma remembered the morning she had seen Jacob and Veronica talking quietly on the sidewalk, their familiarity with each other making her jealous. Emma had chosen to ignore all of these things, but they could not be ignored now. The room began to spin. She felt faint. Jacob had been having an affair with Veronica, and now they were both dead. What was she going to do? She was alone, with two little girls and another on the way. Emma tried to stand, but her legs wouldn’t support her. The two officers rushed over and caught Emma as she slipped into oblivion.

 

Visit Heidi at:

www.heidireneemason.wordpress.com

On Twitter @heidireneemason

Or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Heidi-Renee-Mason/1588917641371359

author at www.solsticepublishing.com

 

Thank you for stopping by Heidi and good luck with your new release. Don’t be a stranger! ABF

 

TOMORROW:

Pause day or teaser? Find out at http://www.abfunkhauser.com.

TEN AUTHORS, TEN DAYS: DAY ONE: LYNETTE CRESWELL

It’s September 7, and the blog is back after summer hiatus. Hiatus? Well, not quite. I’ve been promoting HEUER LOST AND FOUND, revising SCOOTER NATION, and dreaming about what Part II of POOR UNDERTAKER will look like after November and NaNoWriMo. But it hasn’t been all about me. Friends and colleagues have been busy doing the same: crafting, molding, building, rebuilding and broadcasting to the world: “We’re here, and we’re writing.”
Bravo one and all. Keep on doing what you’re doing.
The blog for September begins appropriately enough with something I call TEN AUTHORS, TEN DAYS. Each day, a different writer will be showcased. Some are first timers; others, long timers, prize winners, novelists and short story magicians. Please welcome each and every one in turn. We are, after all, in this together.
Adult, unapologetic, and so glad to be back, I am,

FUNKHAUSER SIGNATURE

September 7, 2015

FIRST UP:

Clump, A Changeling’s Story by Lynette Creswell

Clump cover Feb - CopyA race of monsters by day and ferocious timber wolves by night, the Windigos who live in the Red Canyon are formidable creatures. They survive by eating immortals but, oddly enough, there is one amongst them who cannot abide the taste of meat on his lips. His name is Clump and he’s the chief’s only son.

On the night of his birth, his mother swallowed a potion which she hoped would stop her feeding on her young. The potion worked, but with dire consequences. Clump is born cursed and his father, Serpen, grows suspicious.

Clump’s life changes forever when he’s accused of a crime he didn’t commit and is forced to flee his village. This takes him on a magical journey where he strikes a dubious deal with a witch, is saved by a Plainwalker and finds a friend in an Elvin princess.

Be prepared! This is a touching story of unlikely friendships, unexpected love and the most deadly of betrayals.

About Lynette

Lynette was born in London but moved to Burnley, Lancashire when she was still quite young. From the Lyn pic2 - Version 3tender age of five she was raised by her grandmother and given books to help keep her quiet. Lynette found she had a passion for reading and subsequently started writing once she began school.

Years later, Lynette’s husband was so impressed with her ability to capture children’s imaginations with her stories, that he encouraged her love of writing by buying her a laptop in the hope she would write something more substantial. So with a little push in the right direction, Lynette decided to write a fantasy trilogy and the subject would be something that all children love to read about (and most adults too) – magic!

Lynette’s inspiration came from childhood books written by Enid Blyton. The Enchanted Wood and The Faraway Tree were her first real taste of fantasy. Later on in life Stephen King captured her own vivid imagination.

Sinners of MagicHer first novel, Sinners of Magic was published in 2012 and is now Betrayersreceiving attention from both London and American film producers. Betrayers of Magic became the second book of the series followed by Defenders of Magic. Her latest book Clump, A Changeling’s Story was released in August 2015.

Winner of the 2014 ‘Write On’ Competition, enabled one of her short stories to be made into film for TV and narrated by the actress, Julie Peasgood. Lynette has since had another of her short stories published in defendersAmerica, hitting No 4 in the US bestsellers charts. The Witching Hour is only available via Amazon.

Lynette lives in North East Lincolnshire with her husband and King Charles witching hour
Spaniel, Ruby. All of her grandchildren are the apple of her eye.

LINKS

Universal Link to the paperback: http://getbook.at/Clump1

Universal Link to Kindle: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00QXO08MW

My website/blog is: www.Lynetteecreswell.wordpress.com

My Twitter Account: @Creswelllyn

My Facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/lynette.creswell.1

 

Thank you, Lynette Creswell, for kicking off the Autumn writing season. Good luck with CLUMP as well as the UK and US producers. Come back to visit soon!

ABF

 

TOMORROW:

The blog welcomes an awesome Solstice Publishing double header: Heidi Mason and Maighread MacKay. Two authors, two debuts.  INVESTIGATING THE HEART and STONE COTTAGE  will keep you wondering who loves whom and why????????

DSC_3980-2
Heidi Mason
Maighread MacKay
Maighread MacKay

 

FIRST RADIO INTERVIEW

Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a faraway galaxy, I worked in politics. It was an amazing world peopled with amazing speech makers, luminescent scribes, and ambitious policy makers jostling to get the words out.

Which is why there’s a little thing called ‘media training’. Broadly defined, media training encompasses everything from elocution to breathing to physical deportment. Perspiration was a “no, no” — Richard Nixon debating Kennedy back in ’60 cemented that — as was the exclamatory pause “um”. Um was anathema, and as I watched politicians prep from debates, I picked up a thing or two…

Good thing, because it’s my turn now. Last month, I talked up HEUER LOST AND FOUND with Charlene Jones on 102.7 FM Whistle Radio Stoufville. It was a privilege to have been given the opportunity.

“Don’t say “um,” I kept saying to myself, “for cryin’ out loud DON’T.” And I didn’t, thank gawd.

Scheduled to air March 24, I just had to share a “sneak peek”.

The Interview

HEUER LOST AND FOUND available April 23, 2015. Advance orders begin March 26 at Amazon.com.

solstice publishing