RICHARD WALL ON MUSIC, MYTH AND THE CROSSROADS

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

1.

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

 

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

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

 

2.

You’ve got to be a musician. Right?

 

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

 

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

 

3.

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

 

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

 

4.

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

 

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

 

5.

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

 

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

 

Ed. – Clever!

 

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

 

6.

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

 

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

 

7.

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

 

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

 

Ed. – I’m on it.

 

8.

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

 

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

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

 

9.

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

 

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

 

Ed. – 🙂

 

10.

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

 

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

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

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

 

 11.

Any last words?

 

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

 

Ed. – Amen, brother.

 

Novels and Short Stories by Richard Wall

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

My Review of Fat Man Blues

Review Fat Man Blues

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

 

All titles available through the author’s Amazon author page

About the Author

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

SUSANNE MATTHEWS HAS A NEW RELEASE

Blog Funkhauser is thrilled to welcome back fellow northerner Susanne Matthews. As usual, the prolific author has been busy releasing THE WHITE IRIS, her third in the HARVESTER SERIES. Congratulations mon amie!

About The White Iris

coverTime’s running out for Special Agent Trevor Clark and his FBI task force. They’re no closer to uncovering the identity of the Prophet, a dangerous serial killer who has been murdering new mothers and vanishing with their infants. If Trevor can’t unlock the clues, the killer’s threats to unleash what the FBI suspects is biological warfare could mean death for all of them. His only recourse is to swallow his pride and reach out to his former fiancée, the CDC’s renowned virologist, Dr. Julie Swift.

Two years ago, Julie ended their engagement after Trevor abandoned her when she needed him most. Now, faced with the possibility of the greatest epidemic since the Spanish flu, she has to put her faith and her safety, as well as that of countless others, into the hands of a man she doesn’t trust. Can they set aside their differences to stop the Prophet, and in doing so, will they find the love they lost?

From the streets of Boston to the wilds of Alaska, this thrilling conclusion to the Harvester Series takes several turns you won’t see coming!

Sensuality Level: Sensual

http://www.amazon.com/White-Iris-Harvester-Susanne-Matthews-ebook/dp/B01AOH6LCE

http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B01AOH6LCE

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-white-iris-susanne-matthews/1123273304?ean=9781440591259

http://www.crimsonromance.com/romantic-suspense-novels/the-white-iris/

 

Excerpt

Trevor ran his hand through his hair, frustrated by his inability to find the answers he so desperately needed. Here it was, two-thirds of the way through September, and despite the man-hours involved and the stack of bodies piled up by that madman and his henchmen, he was no closer to stopping the Prophet today than he’d been when he’d started. Sure, they’d made some inroads—hurt him, taken away the people he wanted—but it wasn’t enough. The Prophet and God alone knew how many followers were still out there, watching and waiting, and the task force, half of whom were now on the injured list, was powerless to stop him. No one would be safe until they could neutralize that son of a bitch, but how the hell did you prevent someone from doing something when you had no idea who he was, exactly what he planned, or where and when he’d do it? To make matters worse, the sick bastard still seemed to be one step ahead of them.

The Prophet, furious about losing the women and children in the successful New Hampshire raid in July, had targeted the task force, threatening to unleash ten plagues—another biblical event Trevor could do without—unless his people were freed and returned to him. The first, based on the premise of turning water into blood, had been a pipe bomb three weeks ago in a pub frequented by Boston police officers and the task force members. He’d lost one man and another was crippled and might never walk again. In addition, two innocent people had been killed and several others injured.

While the fact that the deadline for the second plague had come and gone without any new bodies dropped in his lap should please Trevor, knowing that each day that went by without any action on their part gave the Prophet time to perfect his biological weapon did not. The people whom his nemesis had requested, the brethren captured in July, had recanted their beliefs and were in Australia, safely out of the maniac’s reach, living on Evergreen, Jacob Andrews’s fruit farm in the Northern Territory. The Australian millionaire, an undercover police officer who frequently worked with Interpol, was currently seconded to the FBI. Jacob had grown up in the New Horizon commune before it had morphed into the sick cult it was now. He’d provided priceless insight into the commune as well as his uncle, the Prophet.

James Colchester’s children, Jacob’s nieces and nephews, the objectives of Garett Pierce’s one-man killing and kidnapping spree in early September, were also in Australia, some at Evergreen with the “settlers,” as the former members of the commune called themselves, others with their mothers in Melbourne, where Jacob; Lilith Munroe, Trevor’s cult expert and BAU analyst; and Rob Halliday were recuperating from injuries sustained in the fight two weeks ago with Pierce, the FBI agent who turned out to be their mole and the Prophet’s right-hand man.

What had Julie said? Call me if you get a credible threat. They had proof the Prophet’s henchmen could build bombs and that he had an army of angry, disenchanted teens ready to do anything for him, but they still didn’t know exactly what he planned to do or how he’d do it.

Thanks to Jacob, they’d narrowed it down to a biological weapon, but what? A poisonous gas? A nerve agent? Some kind of super flu? All three? Jacob said the Prophet had referred to dengue fever as causing a great burning inside, a cleansing, but how would he distribute something like that?

Trevor wished he could call Julie, talk to her about which virus might be the most devastating, but now wasn’t the time. She might still be in Colorado. He should’ve gone to Ellie’s memorial service in Atlanta, but … Would Julie have wanted him there? As she’d clearly demonstrated in July, he meant nothing to her now. He’d burned that bridge, pylons and all, two years ago. His presence would just have complicated matters for them both, dredging up memories of the first funeral he’d failed to attend.

Keep telling yourself that.

Avoiding difficult personal situations was a time-honored Clark family tradition.

 

The White Iris is the third book and final book in the Harvester Series

 

Book One, The White Carnation, begins the hunt for a serial killer kidnapping pregnant women, murdering them, and then vanishing with the newborn infants. But there is much more to the crime than the detectives on the case can possibly imagine.

 

Book Two, The White Lily, continues the hunt, but the Harvester is angry, determined to reclaim what he sees as his, not caring how many have to die for him to achieve his goal.

 

 

About the author:

portfolioPic-20150722A former high school teacher, Susanne Matthews lives in Ontario, Canada, with her husband, the inspiration for all her heroes. When she’s not writing, she enjoys camping in summer and romantic getaways in winter. Find Susanne Matthews at:www.mhsusannematthews.ca/, on Facebook, and on Twitter @jandsmatt.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for dropping by Susanne. Stay in touch!!!!

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

GHOSTLY BITS O’ WHIMSY WITH K.C. SPRAYBERRY

Night is falling faster and the leaves are turning. What better time to search behind what’s right in front of us? Author K.C. Sprayberry has no difficulty whatsoever doing this. For her, supernatural is second nature. Welcome K.C. and her latest…

COVERGhosts are popping up all over Landry. The town is being overrun and no one knows why—least of all Hailey Hatmaker and her Ghosties crew. Only none of these ghosts are talking. They’re terrified of something that only Hailey and her team can figure out. Something which could prove disastrous for them all.

Excerpt:

It felt so good to discover ghostly action in Landry once again. The Ghosties had just finished a dry spell like no other we had ever seen. We’d just gone through five months with nary a ghost to bother us. No goo oozing out of heating vents, or papers flying out of hands to plaster against the ceiling.

The call this morning had me, the fantastic, fabulous Hailey Hatmaker, gathering my group together lickety-split. We met up on the run, and raced all the way over to Bank of Landry. Once there, we had almost danced with glee at what greeted us. That was an hour ago. This particular ghost was proving far more difficult to exterminate than we had anticipated.

We could have got harsh long ago. I grinned. I sure don’t want this to end any time soon. I’m having fun again.

“You won’t stick around. No ghost has ever ignored me.”

I planted my pink and white beret more firmly on my head and darted forward. When I put on white jeans and a peppermint pink t-shirt this morning, I never expected an emergency call.

Nope, I wasn’t a cop, a firefighter, or even a paramedic. I had my thirteenth birthday just before Halloween and started dealing with ghosts nine years ago. Me and my fellow Ghosties had helped Landry, Georgia deal with weird hauntings, and this one proved we had a lot more ghostbusting to do in the future.

“Banks don’t give out free samples,” I yelled. “Tell me who you are, and what you want.”

That should have worked, except for one little thing. The wispy man behind the counter wearing a baggy black coat, vest, and pants with a white shirt ignored me. With a frantic expression and a bobble of his checkered bow tie as he swallowed, he tossed more money in the air. It was the worst thing to do when the Ghosties carried weapons that brought instant obedience from the other ghosts we had encountered.

I signaled the other Ghosties over. They gathered in a circle, two on each side of me.

“Did you get the dirt?” I asked.

“The manager said he worked here in 1912,” Annie Knott said. “He went bonkers after the Titanic sank.”

She tucked one side of her chin length, light red hair behind an ear after delivering the current info in a clipped voice. Her green eyes darted from side to side when the ghost cackled.

“Did he do this when it happened?” Freddie Conders asked.

“Of course,” she replied. “I’m pretty sure that he won’t quit because we asked nice. Lemon juice and salt?”

“No other way to handle it.” I pulled out a spritzer from a fanny pack. “Sly, Freddie, take the left. Annie, you’re in the middle. Tink and I will handle the right. Don’t miss.”

Sylvia ‘Sly’ Cherboom broke into giggles while Tinker ‘Tink’ Kacklin groaned. None of the others ever lost a chance to remind him about the day he doused one of our sworn enemies. He still claimed that it was an accident.

Like the rest of us wouldn’t have loved to cover Suzie in lemon juice and salt. Tink really needs to explain that better than he has.

“Places,” I said.

Tink held up a salt sprayer, a baby bottle with the tip of the nipple sliced off. I stood beside him with a spritzer filled to the brim with lemon juice. Annie faced our target. She had a weapon in each hand since she was such a great shot. Sly and Freddie hauled out their containers and skidded to their position.

“One last chance,” I said to the spook. “Leave. Don’t come back.”

The ghost tossed a bundle of hundreds into the air. The Ghosties fired. Our target sizzled and howled before vanishing.

https://youtu.be/qphwGt1suyc

About the Author:

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. Three of her books (Softly Say Goodbye, Who Am I?, and Mama’s Advice) are Amazon bestsellers. Her other books are: Take Chances, Where U @, The Wrong One, Pony Dreams, Evil Eyes, Inits, Canoples Investigations Tackles Space Pirates, The Call Chronicles 1: The Griswold Gang, The Curse of Grungy Gulley, Paradox Lost: Their Path, Canoples Investigations Versus Spacers Rule and Starlight. Additionally, she has shorts available on Amazon: Grace, Secret From the Flames, Family Curse … Times Two, Right Wrong Nothing In Between, and The Ghost Catcher.

Social Media Links:

Facebook

Twitter

Blog

Website

Goodreads

Amazon Author Page

Google +

Pinterest

Authorgraph

TEN AUTHORS, TEN DAYS: DAY THREE: SHYLA WOLFF

Blogger, tour promoter, cover designer and purveyor of paranormal romance fantasy Shyla Wolff joinsTiny wolves BLOG FUNKHAUSER today. Welcome her aboard as she shares her methods, aspirations, and an excerpt from her latest SHADOWED HORIZONS. Hello Shyla!

  

  1. I was walking in the woods over Labor Day Weekend and found some amazing wolf tracks. I Q & Afollowed for a little bit before realizing that it would be very rude on my part to barge in on the wolf’s den! Do you like the woods?

 

As a hick from the stix – Yep, I absolutely love being in the woods. Can’t say I love the ticks much, but you have to take the sour with the sweet.  My three shepherds and I spend a good deal of time playing/training there, S & R, one furbaby is a therapy dog, the others…not so much. Lol. There’s an innate peace and calm found in the woods I can’t replicate anywhere else.

  1. We’ve enjoyed many discussions as writers and friends. Would you classify yourself as a spiritual person…whatever that might mean?

Not per se. Without excavating personal convictions, I’d say that we’re all a part of something awe inspiring, the whole being greater than the sum of the parts, and that there are forces at work which we’ve yet to understand. I believe in honoring those with compassion, integrity, and motivation.

  1. You have a great blog. Tell the readers what it’s about and maybe share some links to favorite posts?

Thank You. At this point I’m still new to blogging and have much to learn. I’ve been hosting a lot of book tours/ giveaways and drawing a ton of hits to the page. Everyone loves a giveaway.

Now – I’m starting to branch out and do interviews and relevant blog posts. Relevant to writers and readers.

I’ve found it absolutely fascinating to converse with other writers – there’s a wealth of information, not to mention friendships waiting to develop, if you just reach out.

Also – I’m beginning to design book covers and headers for fb, blogs, etc. Below is a sample of what I’m working on now. They will show up on my  blog very soon.

Anath banner

My favorite posts would be to books I’ve read (and would love to have time to read more). Like you, A. B. Funkhauser, I can think of two others whose works have fascinated as well as entertained.  I know there are many more fantastic authors out there, but darned if I can find the time to read their works.

Heuer Lost And Found entertains throughout. I love a sharp wit.

http://shylawolff.blogspot.com/2015/05/heuer-lost-and-found-by-b-funkhauser_14.html

Charley Daveler also has a fascinating talent and I’d read her work even though it’s not usually my genre.

http://shylawolff.blogspot.com/2015/08/interview-with-charley-daveler.html

Carnal Beginnings – Everyone loves when an underdog can turn the tables and emerge victorious.  The sequel  – Carnal Innocence will release on Sept. 15, 2015.

http://shylawolff.blogspot.com/2015/08/carnal-beginnings-by-reily-garrett.html

  1. What are you working on right now, this minute?

I’m working on a romantic paranormal fantasy, set in the Amazon jungle. I love to step outside my comfort zone and bring new things to life for readers.

Deep in the rainforest, it is said there is a mythical creature called Kurupira who protects all within his realm from those who would rape and destroy the land. From this, I branched out and had a ball developing the story line.  It should be released sometime in October, 2015. Below is the cover art.

tIAGO for interview

  1. Do you like contests? Ever submitted? Tell us what that feels like?

I’ve never entered a contest, but it’s time I started.

  1. This thing you do called writing. What’s it all about? A gift? A torture? A path to follow?

 It’s a compulsion, pure and simple. I love it.

  1. Got a publishing anecdote? Share, please…lol

I find this the most hilarious thing that’s ever happened to me. A year ago, I’d been working on a novel during the prior six months. A private editor told me I’d never get it published. This person also told me to get over my squeamishness of writing romantic scenes.

Being the obstinate person I am, I wrote what I thought was a scorcher.  While I was waiting on edits for my first book, I submitted the scorcher to a publishing house. It was accepted within 48 hours. Furthermore, it won TOP Pick at The Romance Reviews… I think I laughed for a week.

And the book I was told would never be published? It along with 2 sequels have also been published.

Don’t ever let someone tell you  “You can’t”.

  1. Do you have a muse?

 No. Just tons and tons of ideas that won’t leave me alone until I write them down.

  1. What do you read when you aren’t writing?   

Through my blogging/reviewing, I’ve found quite a few fascinating authors. I love reading those works that are convoluted but yet easily understood.  Now that I have so little time, I don’t get to read near as much.  I’m an avid reader of Dean Koontz.

Other than that – S & R training  stuff for working with my dogs.  One is a therapy dog.  They are my life, my support and my inspiration. I include dogs in each of my books as integral characters.

  1. Guilty pleasure: person, place or thing???leyna snow

Spending too much time with my dogs…

Thanks for the update on your blog and design work. Now let’s tuck into your newest:

SHADOWED HORIZONS

Shadow HorizonsLove is a flame we embrace with open arms.

Kiera, adopted from the streets by her psychic brethren, is fated to protect Carlin, an electronics genius. Passion flares after extracting him from death’s clutches, drawing her into a world of espionage, romance, psychic stalkers and an extraordinary destiny.

Kyley’s years of abuse at Roth’s hands have yet to crush her spirit. In order to prevent him from creating chaos and anarchy, she must escape his psychotic hold and acquire the support of other paranormals.

Taylor is a strong telekinetic craving to set Kyley free, replacing her memories of torture and fear with hope and passion.

Two groups of warriors, their unique skills unknown to mankind, live and fight in the shadows with courage and honor, to preserve our way of life. Their incredible stories are a spirit-stirring journey that speaks to the dreams we all share.

 

ExcerptCarlin strode beside his bodyguard through the dimly lit parking garage fidgeting with his keys. “Adam, this does not make it to my top five favorite places to visit.”

A rat skittered across the floor in the shadows, and he imagined it turning a gimlet-eyed stare on its intruders. Filth, gas, and pizza from a nearby restaurant thickened the air, reminiscent of the alley apartment he occupied during college. Small pools of dingy light challenged macabre shadows for dominance—and lost. Clashing of the bleak rays and murky silhouettes added an ominous, prophetic feeling he couldn’t shake. Water stains mingled with the shadows to create fleeting two dimensional monsters. Carlin was not a fan of Rorschach. Crap, I haven’t been spooked like this in years.

Adam shrugged. “Sir, as your bodyguard, I admit this isn’t my idea of a secure location either, but it is the closest enclosed parking available to meet with your client. The open street leaves you too vulnerable. As much as you cherish your privacy, I’m surprised you agreed to help at all.”

“He’s a college buddy, needed help with a simple, high-tech security task. Seems twenty-first century technology left him in the dust.”

“Next time, why don’t you at least suggest meeting during the daytime?” Adam’s narrowed eyes and tilted head as if listening to a far-off sound—usually spelled trouble.

Next time, remind me a proctologist’s exam would be more enjoyable, okay?” Sweat beaded his forehead despite the cool December breeze drifting over the graffiti-covered knee wall.

“Yeah, I’m feeling it too. Let’s get the hell out of here.”

Carlin’s skidding on a badly patched piece of concrete prompted his bodyguard to scan the area around them. Dirt and crumbles skittered, their audio report echoed off the walls.

“Watch your step, sir, we don’t need to broadcast our location.” Adam murmured as he reached out to steady him.

“You know…” Carlin muttered, “Folks generally think of me as a good analytical and concrete thinker. Perhaps whatever higher power gifted me with intuitive abilities for logistics and computers decided on a mental tariff—common sense.”

“My sixth sense says trouble’s GPS has already locked on. Stay close.”

The gentle slide of Adam’s gun from its shoulder rig compelled Carlin to suck in the cool night air, searing his lungs.

“Sir, instincts are the best survival tool we have. They’re rarely wrong. Better safe than sorry.”

Sharp chirps split the silence, Carlin’s cell threw his heart rate into overdrive. Hair on his nape prickled as he fumbled in his pocket. With an all-thumbs equivalent, he extracted the nuisance and hit ignore.

Massive pillars supported the five-story concrete structure. Rounding one to his left, his foot stalled mid-step when Adam snatched him sideways. The colossal thug he almost plowed into blended into the shadows.

“Jesus!” The man personified hulkish features with abject malice in his gaze. The split-second observation brought Carlin a rush of adrenaline. “You’re huge!” Brown hair pulled back in a ponytail swept his shoulder giving the look of a mob enforcer. A bulge of pitted, tanned skin separated a straight line of bushy eyebrows. Dark eyes appeared to hold a terrible knowledge and gave his hard stare a cold calculating look.

The brute’s gaze raked Carlin’s body head to toe. Chipped yellow teeth appeared as his thin lips pulled back in a wide grin. “Time to meet your maker, prodigy.” He mimicked Carlin’s sidestep in a lightning-fast move and knocked Adam’s gun from his right hand. Its ricocheting underneath a nearby Toyota produced multiple tin-like clinks.

Time seemed to fracture. Adam’s left arm shoved Carlin to the side. His assailant took wily advantage in that flash of time. He watched his bodyguard go down hard from his attacker’s leg sweep.

One blink and a dagger appeared in the thug’s hand. Its arc and swift speed toward his belly made it little more than a glimmer in the weak light. His neurons couldn’t fire fast enough to follow its passage. Two feet stood between Carlin and a trip to his maker, complements of this walking nightmare.

 

BIOGRAPHY

Life teaches us many lessons. One of the most important ones Shyla’s learned is to take the time to enjoy family and friends. Our circumstances change on a daily basis. However small the differences may seem, they add up over time. Through a lifetime of various trials and tribulations, she’s discovered the enjoyment of sharing her stories with those that would relish participating in the journey of extraordinary people through their everyday lives.

After years of employment in various fields including medical, law enforcement, and private investigations, Shyla’s experiences inspired the stories she brings to life. From the horrific to the awe-inspiring, life’s lessons affect us all, regardless of the virtual walls we build or the blinders we don.

The way we incorporate these into our daily life helps determine our character and how we affect those around us. A simple and small kindness can go a very long way and have a profound effect on others.

 

LINKS

https://www.facebook.com/shyla.wolff

http://shylawolff.blogspot.com/

https://twitter.com/wolff_shyla

http://shylawolff.com/

Amazon buy link

http://www.amazon.com/Shadowed-Horizons-Anath-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00RC7QOIQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1422718443&sr=1-1&keywords=Shadowed+Horizons

Link to Shadowed Origins

Shadowed Origins big pichttp://www.amazon.com/Shadowed-Origins-Anath-Book-2-ebook/dp/B00SKL3O1S/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1422718469&sr=1-1&keywords=Shadowed+Origins

Link to Shadowed Passage

http://www.amazon.com/Shadowed-Passage-Anath-Book-3-shadowedpassage72ebook/dp/B00XFRFAXM

 

 

Thank you Shyla for stopping by. Wishing you every success with SHADOWED HORIZONS as well as all projects current and future.

ABF

 

TOMORROW:

Short story maven Gloria Weber talks speculative fiction and the “What if” that can change worlds. Tune in!

GloriaWeber

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*

 

 

SPOTLIGHT APRIL KELLEY

TARNISHED COVER Violence has always solved most of his problems, but it can’t help him win over a man whose whole life is surrounded by things that scare him.

Brad Flynn had a rough start to life. With an abusive father and an addiction problem, his life hasn’t been easy. He has always been the resident bad ass and the town drunk. Even when he gets sober and becomes an upstanding member of the community it doesn’t seem to change the town’s mind about him. If it weren’t for his two brothers he would have no one.

His past doesn’t make having a love life easy either, but when he meets Kendrick Ashby, the local bar own, he wants to give it a try. The only problem is Kendrick has his own problems, ones that make having a violent boyfriend impossible. Both have to decide if dating is even worth a try.

EXCERPTKendrick didn’t even bother to knock on the door. He just walked into the house like he owned the place. Caden looked up at him from his seat on the couch with raised eyebrows, but didn’t say a word about him barging into a house that wasn’t his. It was almost as if Caden expected him just to walk in, which was weird.

“Oh good, you’re here. I have some ribs I need you to show me how to cook,” Caden said.

“Okay. But where’s your brother?”

“Luis isn’t home from work yet.” Caden grinned at him.

Kendrick glared. “Smartass. I meant you’re older brother.”

“Luis is my older brother.”

“Caden.” Kendrick took a step closer to him.

Caden chuckled with delight. “God, you’re so touchy. It’s going to be fun having you around.”

“Don’t forget. You need my help with those ribs.”

“Fine. He’s in the shower.”

Kendrick walked down the hall and knocked on the bathroom door when he came to it.

“Come in. Again. You pee more than anyone I know, boy.”

Kendrick sat on the closed toilet seat and gathered up his courage to speak. The fact that Brad was okay was a relief. For some insane reason Kendrick couldn’t understand, he really thought Brad was going to hurt himself. Beyond sounding annoyed with Caden—who could blame Brad—he was unharmed. Kendrick sighed and silently thanked God for that fact.

“I don’t like being hung up on,” He finally said, because that was annoying. If this relationship was going to work then he really needed to be more assertive.

Something crashed down on the tub floor. It sounded like a shampoo or conditioner bottle. “Ouch. Shit.” Brad said.

“Are you okay?”

“Fine. What are you doing here?” Brad said, sounding even more irritated and surly.

“I wanted to make sure you’re okay.”

“I’m just fine. Can I have a shower by myself now?”

Okay that was it. Kendrick had enough with the attitude. Kendrick quickly stripped off his clothes and pulled back the shower curtain. He stepped in behind Brad. Brad whipped around when Kendrick entered. “No. You can’t.”

“Jesus Christ, Kendrick.”

 LINKS

Buy Now: http://www.extasybooks.com/A-Tarnished-Strength/

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Tarnished-Strength-Pickleville-Book-ebook/dp/B00XMCQRZK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431687180&sr=8-1&keywords=a+tarnished+strength

About the Author

April lives with her husband and two kids in Southwest Michigan.  She has been an avid reader for several years.  Writing her first story at the age of ten, the characters in her head still won’t stop telling their stories.  If April isn’t reading or writing she can be found outside playing with the animals or taking a long walk in the woods.

Email : authoraprilkelley@gmail.com

Website : http://authoraprilkelley.com

Best of luck to April Kelley in her endeavours. Stop by anytime.

Best, ABF

The Blog Welcomes Author Malay A. Upadhyay

I’ve only known Malay for a short while, but I can already tell you that this guy thinks DEEP. Like my favorite existentialists, Malay commits his fiction to the belief that individuals have the power to alter their existence but with unusual consequences. What lies beneath the surface is something that we, as human beings, cannot but help to toy with. In Malay’s case what lies beneath, what can be found just behind the curtain, is not one but two or more possible realities. The question always, is which one is the better one?

About the author

Malay A. Upadhyay grew up in the Eastern provinces of paradoxical India. It was a childhood of anomalies – a different spacetime, where he could not understand a friend’s passion for books on one hand even as he wrote for school elocution on the other. Recently back to contemporary Earth, he conceived many of the techno-economic ideas described in his book – Kalki Evian: The Ring of Khaoriphea – at Bocconi University in Milano. His Blog of a Fly subscribes to the elusively effervescent, ephemeral connection among beings across space and time. That is after all, a belief that underlies every piece of literature ever written.

The Book In His Own Words

Every choice we make leads to its own unique consequence. To Cover - Kalki Evianchange the consequence, therefore, one must travel back in time to change the choice. But what if such change, instead of altering our future, simply created another – one that came to exist simultaneously with our world?

This is a story of how one such moment of love led to two parallel futures; a story of how your choices have an impact far beyond the world you know; a phenomenon that we had sensed, and wished for, all along. Set in Italy, while one timeline scales a city of the future where not just people but also things like money evolve, the other cradles itself in an amalgamation of contemporary Europe with ingredients of a new age. Step by step, the story embarks on a journey in a parallel world that we all live in but rarely see.

Q & A

What inspires you to write?

Experiences, and the ideas they generate to understand how things around us function on different levels. I try to learn something every day and what I write intends more to document these than to simply entertain with a good story.

Do you listen to or talk to to your characters? (You aren’t alone 🙂 How do you interact with your characters while you are writing?

Certainly. My characters are a mix of three things: an overview to begin with, an inspiration from people I know, which gives them a shape, and their reactions which begin to unfold in each scene and situation as the story progresses, for it lends a level of detail that you could not have imagined at the beginning.

What advice would you give other writers?

There is no specific rule or method to go about a story. It just needs diligence for as long as it takes to write, and a balance of thought – to ensure that you go with the flow without losing sight of where you are going.

How did you decide to publish your books?* What influenced your to publish with a publisher or go the self-publishing route? 

I researched a bit to understand how the process of submissions works. I was lucky to have found an agent – Emerantia Antonia Parnall-Gilbert of Gilbert Literary Agency – who was receptive of new authors and clearly told me how arduous the path was going to be, and the risks involved therein. I will simply suggest new authors to be patient in their search and analysis of online information, to check how the submission process works with publishers in the country they wish to publish in, and to verify publishers/agents by checking them in any of the renowned literary database.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?*

In the medium-term, I think it will strongly be determined by the digital innovations in place. Whether as a mix of sounds, imagery, weblinks or simply the way books are read, both the phenomenon of internet-of-things and the evolution of mobile gadgets will determine how ebooks change. However, the traditional paperbacks would continue to hold fort, albeit with changes in how they are discovered in online and offline stores.

Do you have any unusual writing habits?

I blog as a Fly. That’s one! The other is my habit of taking incessant notes as and when ideas arrive, most of which happen during a re-enactment of conversations that characters may have in the story.

What inspired the book?

The futuristic ideas for Kalki Evian came to me during my time at Bocconi University in Milano. However, I am more drawn towards subtle romance in any story. That is primarily because I find it to be the most natural form of conduct between characters. It lends the strongest incentives to their actions and gifts a sense of beauty to any plot under any circumstance. It is also what makes the characters human, and the story, regardless the genre, have a soul. That is how the plot took shape.

The Excerpt

Nothing gives me greater joy than being able to shine a light on the work of others. Writing takes time; getting it out there: much more.

Malay A. Upadhyay: Kalki Evian – The Ring of Khaoriphea

To those who ceased to trust their instinct
just because everyone told everyone else
that no one did.

Foreword

Hypothesis #1: Every choice has its own unique
consequence.
This would imply that at any given time, the choice
we make leads us on an entirely different path from the one
that any other would take us on. It is like driving a car. Once
we turn right at any junction, all roads on previous left turns
cease to matter. And that right turn takes us on to a new
junction with a new set of turns, each with its own choice of
left and right, and so on. None in particular is better or
worse. It is just different. And these paths may even meet
later on.

Hypothesis #2: Time travel could be possible at
some time in the infinite future.
Time is a dimension like any other; only somewhat
beyond our understanding. The day we evolve enough to
comprehend exactly how it works, we may be able to travel
in time and return to a junction/event that occurred in the
past – our own, or maybe someone else’s.

If we combine hypothesis #1 and #2, it would
indicate that at least someone may have travelled back in
time to warn Caesar of an oncoming conspiracy, or
persuaded Hitler’s father to allow his son to become an
artist, or simply changed something in their own past. In
each instance, that change would involve going back to an
event, and may result in an altogether different set of affairs
to consequence. In other words, the second path – one
different from that which we took initially – could come
alive.
That said, we do not yet seem aware of any such
changes to our known history. Brutus continues to
exemplify treason rather than honour. Hitler remains the
author of Mein Kampf. And our life remains dotted with
specific, unchanged events just as we remember them.
These two points mean that as a consequence of any
active and influential time travel, one or more parallel
realities must come into existence, somehow unknown to us.

Hypothesis#3: We do not yet know how to time
travel.
That is a gap that exists . . . in common knowledge
as per common beliefs. But then, news from many unknown
corners of this world remains obscure.

Hypothesis#4: The relativistic view of time and
space shows a warping of the spacetime plane, audience to
the disparities in distance and time travelled with changes
in velocity.
General relativity is Einstein’s brainchild, whose
applicability to this case shall be assumed to be
hypothetical.

Malay A. Upadhyay: Kalki Evian – The Ring of Khaoriphea

Chapter 1
“Is this where she falls?”
“Two miles further south.”
“Then,” the former hesitated but asked with hope,
“is this where we save her?”
Wind blew perfectly in accordance with fresh traces
of floating memory that lay in the latter’s mind. The man
smiled. Significantly taller and older than the inquiring
other, he stood with a sparkle in his eyes, unmoved and
unblinking and gazing ahead under the faintest crease of
brows that stood in striking contrast to the amused pair
ordained by one to his right and to the tense pair of a third
who stood behind him, looking up, awaiting a sense of their
plan.
It was pitch dark on a brazen land. Clouds usually
decorated the sky at this time of the year but they had
arrived today in galore, witness to a moment of particular
significance that bore a perfect sense only to the one who
had stood there without a twitch of muscle for over an hour.
Metal cape was a rather unusual coat to adorn those heavy
shoulders, but he wore it as if he had journeyed from a
battlefield. The younger, chubby individual who
accompanied him – Bree was his name – would have
vouched that he had. The graphene, fashionably
complimented his neatly combed silver hair. Uniform white
stubble graced his cheeks, save for three short creases on the
upper end of his cheekbones. Together, it all directed one’s
focus to his sharp eyes that he relied upon to speak out more
than words could. Even under the dark shade of that
evening, his face glowed not through a visible shine but
through a perceptual radiance. Drizzle marked their borders,
illustrating the elder’s stern body language, with his hands
neatly folded at the back and fingers clasping on to each
other. Two in particular seemed to gently toy with a ring on
one of his thumbs. Bree’s younger pair of shoulders,
meanwhile, heaved under his heavy breathing. They bowed
smoothly on to fleshy arms that hung parallel to his thick
legs positioned with utmost care to stand beside but half-astep
behind the pair in boots – as if to conform to the latter’s
authority.
As the first drops began to trickle from above, the
metal-clad almost allowed himself to smile again – one
fairly invisible to any who could see him. For, the sound of
rain had been perfectly tuned to a faint rumble on the metal
rails far in the distance, reflecting a coherence that was
nothing short of little verifications that he belonged there in
that moment.
The third – a doctor and the one with the questions
initially – had heard the rumble too. He tried to stab his sight
through the darkness to find its source. The effort had
brought about a spark of excitement from within his
exhausted body. His shoulders were straighter, the dressing
sharp. Only a little pouch hung across on a thread-like string
and repeatedly bounced off the waist in constant attempts to
fly under the wind.
The little smile on the elder’s face waned amidst
continuing sounds of those drops on metal as he spoke,
unflinching still, “Any issues?”
The task that the doctor had been sent for not many
moments ago had drained sufficient proportion of his
energy. He quickly gathered his breath to reply, despite
having had enough time since his arrival, as if all air had
stalled in his lungs during the anxious moments that had
recently passed. “The information was precise. I reached
just in time to warn them. Such carelessness . . .”
“It wasn’t beyond the norm, doc,” Bree spoke with
an almost juvenile amusement, “It was an inevitable
consequence of a long chain of cause and effect that
perceivably began with a pack of milk.”
“Milk?”
“Yes, and some superstition.”
“I believe that is simply a misnomer for
carelessness,” the doctor quipped.
“It is one for precisely the opposite. Whether
superstitions have any viable meaning is trivial. They are
always true – not because they work but because they make
us believe they do. It’s a belief that often runs stronger than
even any other faith. In this case, it was one that pertained to
spilt milk – a bad omen in these parts of the world. But that
story is quite unworthy of this moment and is rather
irrelevant.”
“How can it not be relevant, Bree?”
“Because subtle chains of cause and effect are too
complex to decipher for an individual mind. There lies no
beginning to such stories, no matter how many millennia
one traverses back in time. The only matter of relevance
then is to know that life is always, and exclusively, what it
turns out to be . . . nothing more, nothing less and certainly
nothing different.”
“That explains your persistent sense of adventure,”
the doctor replied in an implied jest under a very serious
face. “What’s with the tweed cap?”
“My sense of adventure needs props, much like your
little pouch” Bree replied, contrasting his comfort in the
situation with the other’s panic.
Two large bags lay almost kissing his wet feet. The
doctor pointed at them, “I prefer mine to those!”
“Aah, yes. I would help if I could, doc. Sorry to
spoil an otherwise perfect evening . . .”
It was then that the heavy voice intervened once
more. “Perfection is a matter of perception,” the elder said,
“and there’s much left in this evening. She’s here.”
The other two looked out into the distance. A yellow
ball of light shone hazily through the heavy curtain of rain
in the dark but was intensified by a deafening horn riding on
a sudden screeching on rails that stabbed through the space.
A red light in that area was never part of the itinerary for the
train but that order stood defiant, facing the speeding frame
of metal and forcing it to apply its brakes, perhaps unaware
of the catastrophe that may follow for the souls seated
inside. The distance, though, had worked in the train’s
favour as the driver sprung into action the instant the red
light had come into view. The screech was unsubmissive,
the shock unavoidable, but the tracks lay embedded within a
slight cavernous stretch on the land. As short hills rose on
either side of the tracks, the slopes might just cushion the
near-fatal consequence that was soon to be. And so the train
slid more than sped in those last few hundred metres with a
wave of scream and confusion rippling along her entire
length. The last few coaches bounced off but followed
helplessly under the dual force of a roaring engine in front
and the waves of elevated earth on the sides. Things rattled,
tilted, inverted, shook, bounced and broke – all within the
perceived parameters, all except one.
“Make the call,” was the command. Bree sprung into
action. He closed in the fingers on his left hand and gently
rubbed the tips of the three-fingered glove he was wearing,
with his thumb. As the tips illuminated under the charge, it
seemed to the doctor as if light had stuck itself to them, for
the thin spot of illumination stretched in between as the
fingers moved away. Soon, the gluey spot of light turned
into a ray between his forefinger and the little one. It
broadened to produce a thin film on his palm, which
immediately came alive with embedded blue lights. Bree
tapped on the virtual phone.
The three scanned past the rough muddy terrain
under the leadership of the pair of feet that seemed to
outline two steps in advance, a finality of objective as to
where they intended to land. As the three approached the
only coach with a door thrown open, the anticipation on the
doctor’s face gave way to a flush of subdued panic.
Secluded from the air of shock that prevailed around the
train, someone lay unconscious, stained in red.
The victim was pulled to the other side of the slope
as his rescuers got down to business; two inspecting the
immediate wounds while the other stared at his bloodsmeared
face.
“You knew he would fall out?” the doctor asked in
haste.
“Yes,” the elder replied, his eyes fixed on what lay
before him.
“How? What of the others?”
He asked with a calm blink of those eyes, “What
would you say, Bree?”
The man climbed a few feet on the slope and began
to scan the coaches with his naked eye. At length, he replied
with eyes strained on those opaque walls, “Injuries
sustained throughout but I see a conglomeration at only two
places, both in the dismounted coaches. No deaths though,
just urgent movements and significant shock.”
“How long is it before the others arrive?”
“Half an hour for the emergency services; quarter
more for the media. In two, the area should be swarming.”
“Are we in position?”
Sweat was beginning to work its way, softening the
crisp hair of the one nursing the body. The doctor’s words
then, were those of unparalleled concern, “His heart beats
slow.”
“But beats still . . .”
“Yes. But did you check him? Is it him?”
“To every detail,” was the definitive reply. The mass
of metal heaved with the elder’s shoulders as he bent over
the body and analysed it comprehensively with a blank stare
that defied any form of indifference it may have been
ordinarily reserved for. This one belonged to a trance. The
body lay spread out with one palm clenched on to nothing in
particular. The man held something in his fist, something
that had been dear enough to have extracted every inch of
endurance in him to keep it within his grasp even through
the painful – and seemingly endless – course of his fall from
the train. The elder looked at that fist as though he could
conjure the invisible piece in his own imagination. “Hope,”
he uttered softly and blinked. The name had proclaimed
itself louder in its rarity.
He stood up and spoke, with the usual heaviness
back in his voice, “Prepare the cart.” The doctor pulled one
of the bags and dropped inside a miniature stretch of metal
wound on two small rods. He placed the bag on the ground,
stretched it wide, and began tapping on his wrist band.
Streaks of blue shone and faded where he touched it, and the
bag began to twirl from within. Inside, sand-like particles
ran over each other as they encapsulated the little piece he
had dropped inside. Once the rendering was complete, he
took out the object, poured more of the particles, and tapped
a few more times. Gradually, more and more particles
joined in to form a large replica of the tiny object.
The doctor then turned back to the other sack and
dropped another piece. The routine followed and out came a
flat board. He then placed it near the body, and stuck a
charge underneath. It slid seamlessly and activated itself.
Another push and the two boards stuck together as the air
was sucked out from between them. He then dug into his
pouch to extract a metal frame that he attached under the
contraption. A few wrist-taps later, it lit blue immediately
and the light spread along the borders of the board as the
entire mass began to float few inches above the ground.
He looked up once done. Bree was smiling. The
doctor guessed, “Electro-permanent magnets, I suppose.”
The reply was almost instant and familiarly amused,
“Not bad for an expert in biology.”
“The problem when you focus too much on one
subject,” the doctor countered, “is that you lose your grip on
the rest.”
“Unless the rest begin to converge . . .”
Bree had left a cryptic possibility free to implant
itself in the other’s mind and was aided conveniently by the
elder’s interruption to march forward.
The two men pressed charges near their torso while
the doctor climbed on his contraption. With soles lifted
inches above, the three began to move with the body. Many
minutes passed before they came by a small instalment, few
miles away from the railroad and everything else. The site
of commotion had been left far behind and only ghostly
whispers of the breeze continued, sans the drops of rain and
their clinks on metal. The doctor questioned, all thoughts
relegated in the face of a larger lump in his throat, “You
took a risk.”
It was as if the metal-clad elder had been
anticipating it. His words nearly overrode those of the
doctor’s, “One that saved some two hundred lives; perhaps
more.”
“You facilitated one accident to prevent another.”
“It was a necessary risk.”
“Enough to justify this?”
The reply came almost immediately once again, but
the voice was far gentler and had come from behind them.
“Any act has its consequence. Every act changes the world.”
Those broad shoulders turned to face the source of
the sound with an unmistakable constriction in the pair of
eyes above, as if in attempts to fashion a smile. A woman,
dressed in a silhouette sharply accentuated by a short cloak
that covered her head, came towards the three from around a
little tent. She was nearly as old as the elder but carried a
significantly warmer gaze. Her hair was wavy and grey and
seemed to rest on her shoulders with the softest touch,
fashioned with streaks of silver in the front locks.
She looked at the body that lay on the board, and
sighed. A welcoming look then followed on to the man who
sat upon it. The doctor ignored the warmth of that attention
that lay bestowed through seconds of concern. He addressed
the elder again, though with slight hesitancy, “I can’t . . .
just . . .”
“What happened?” Bree asked as if charged with
managing the doctor’s conundrums for the evening.
“Nothing,” came the desolate reply, followed by a
more professional concern, “A hospital would have been
more appropriate . . .”
“That wouldn’t be necessary. We can trust each
other on this,” replied the elder. His words were calm but
bore a striking directive towards haste.
“How . . .” an argument attempted to ensue but
gulped itself down its bearer’s throat, switching instead to a
taunt, “Are you really willing to watch this lad die?”
The elder did not speak. His eyes expressed a
strange concoction of pain and calm as he was helplessly
diverted to the lifeless body that lay in front. That entrapped
chunk of oxygen in his lungs was measured immediately by
the recently arrived. She spoke on his behalf, with a smile
that was an answer in itself, “Of course not. That is why we
have you here.”
“But how do you know I will save him?”
“Because if you had not already done that, we would
still be human.”

Chapter 2
The eyes opened gradually. Light had not entered
them for an age, or at least the brain had ceased to process it
so. Any part of the world, then, should have been a beautiful
vision to come across, but all he saw were streaks of blue
running across in mid-air against a plain white background.
Everything was hazy except these sharp blue characters, and
a crystal clear voice of a woman, as if programmed to
initialize the moment he woke up.
“Welcome. Default settings now active. Visuals
confirmed. Data status, basic. Volume level: aligning . . .
aligning . . . aligning. Saved. Thank you. Your world is at
your service.”
The streaks and the sounds faded as the background
came into clearer view – a lone glass frame stood on a white
stretch of the wall, with the words: One hand washes the
other; both get clean. His pupils narrowed in trying to read
it carefully, and immediately, little edges appeared out of
nowhere to focus on the text. There they waited, and
shivered with the confused movement of his pupils.
Fidgeting to get the little blue edges away from his sight, he
shook his head and blinked as he moved. The visuals
hanging in mid-air twitched, lost focus and tried to target
something else on that otherwise bland wall. He resisted but
to no avail and then held his eyes static on the frame,
waiting. Nothing happened. With eyes beginning to burn, he
blinked once more with a perplexed gaze fixed at the wall.
The projection of little edges joined together over the frame
and gently faded away to display a copy of that text in blue,
somewhere in the empty space, followed instantly by the
words: Curaçaon proverb. Origin: Former Caribbean. He
blinked again, and they disappeared.
“I’ve been waiting to see them. . .” It was a different
voice, equally gentle but so much sweeter. He held still,
expecting to see another series of obstructions, until
footsteps sounded somewhere to his left. He turned to find
white flat-soled shoes crisscrossing their way to him,
carrying slender legs that rose up to partially visible fingers
holding a tray, followed higher by a sparkling white shirt
sprinkled towards the top with fluffy locks of hair bouncing
around a young slyly smiling face. Their eyes met, and the
books would have spoken of an emotional concordance. But
the blue edges appeared again. Unable to draw his sight
away, he quickly blinked. The projections displayed one
line of text after another: Friuli, Fridgeon. F, 25.
Permissions denied. Possibly 1st.
“Fri-uli-,” he muttered.
“Those eyes,” she interrupted matter-of-factly, “I’ve
been waiting to see them.”
“Huh?”
“Although now the perplexity seems equally
catchy.”
“Uh-I’m . . . sorry,” he said with weak, broken
voice, continually blinking and shaking his head to ward off
the information displayed.
“You will get used to it. If you want it stopped, just
tell it so.”
“Tell what? Tell whom?”
“Your brain. The password’s right beside you.”
He turned to his right. A table lay at about his height
with a little white card embossed with an alphanumeric code
that was barely visible. He strained once again as the edges
appeared, and managed to read out the letters: QIn45.
Nothing happened.
She corrected him, “It is one word. They confused
with the caps. Sorry for that.”
He uttered it accordingly. The edges disappeared and
nothing followed, drawing his eyes to move all around the
room as if they had been let loose to absorb his
surroundings. They stood wide open in anticipation of the
source of what he had just seen. He fell back on his pillow,
already exhausted under the stress.
“You should rest,” Friuli spoke, smiling still. “Or
you won’t be able to handle it.”
“Handle what?” He enquired.
She waited, looking directly into his eyes, letting
him absorb her tease of curiosity, and then answered, “What
we have done to your world.”
The pupils changed shapes again. He was nervous.
“You?”
“We the people, Qin. Welcome back, and good
morning.”
She walked out and the room fell back to a white
stretch of space. He rose to look at himself, strapped and
bandaged in a long robe. But there was no plaster, stitches
or even pain. How long had he been there? The simplicity of
that query dragged his thoughts back to the dreadful night.
Nothing came back perfectly but in his blur, he remembered
a sudden shock, a muscular effort, a short flight, a series of
scratchy rollovers, and a determined fist. Attempts to think
further strained his nerves as exhaustion overtook a bit
more. Sleep dawned and he closed his eyes with troubled
relief. The images came back in view, but differently so: a
girl breathing heavily . . . he saw himself scream and run
away . . . a train came into view shortly after, and with it
came a feeling of uncontrollable rage. And then there was
shock, a muscular effort, a short flight, a series of scratchy
rollovers, and that determined fist.
It felt chillier and the surface his skin touched felt
rougher than it appeared. He woke again and quickly got off
his bed. His feet dragged and stumbled on their way to the
wash basin. The water was a respite but felt nearly numb
when it splashed against his face. He looked up in some
irritation to find a long stretch of glass, in the centre of
which stood a man many years older than him.
“Wh-,” he jerked back in surprise. “Who are you?”
he asked, feeling misled into believing it was glass. But the
figure mimicked him to produce an unwelcomed realization.
He looked down at his arms, closely and in disbelief. They
looked larger, and older. He tried to take a closer look at his
reflection. It was him, much older than he could remember.
His fingers slowly crawled towards the mirror but the
moment he touched the glass, more words rolled out, this
time displayed firmly over his own reflection, without a
sound: Welcome. Four more words appeared beneath as he
half-muttered what he saw: News, Weather, Sport,
Emergency. But by the time he pronounced the first of
those, the characters disappeared and were replaced by a
statement in bold: Etna wakes up, and puts everything else
to sleep, followed by more texts highlighting the headings
of various articles on the day. He nervously read them while
trying to shake away the text on glass until he found a little
series of icons beneath. He tried each with different results.
A familiar voice read out the text at one, one translated it all
in different languages, one changed the pattern of the text, a
fourth stuck to his fingers and ran along as they moved,
highlighting all text that came in its way, while another
switched to a different screen that began to ask for his
identification. With his head splitting, he drew away and
shouted, “Stop it!”
Everything vanished, and he stood there, alone, in
silence and decades older than he remembered. “The card,”
he thought, and uttered, “Qin45.” A beep sounded as he
took a deep breath, focussed on his reflection and blinked.
Texts appeared again, seemingly in mid-air, but they had no
mirror image. He strained further until he noticed little blue
streaks on the reflection of his pupil. The image was
startling, but his focus was immediately drawn away on to
the text itself: Permissions denied. He tried again, to a
similar result.
He would have screamed again, this time to an
audience extending far beyond the bounds of his room. But
with those very first steps that went backwards without any
direction or intent, carrying a lost mind and a panicking
body, the sweeter voice returned, “I told you to rest.”
He turned in anger to face the face he could not help
being intrigued at. He fought the diversion and addressed
her sharply, the intensity of his voice increasing with each
word, ‘Rest?! You tell me where I am. You tell me RIGHT
NOW!”
“Anger won’t help you, Qin,” she spoke softer still.
“You know this better than most people. Nor would
restlessness, or even solitude.”
The last word hit him as hard as his confusion had,
for it ran on inconvenient memories that came back
distinctly. He breathed again and asked, simply but sternly,
“Where am I?”
“I would tell you right now, but please spare a
thought to this: you are alive. And if you can remember
anything, it was quite unlikely.”
He did realize the fact, for if nothing else, he did
remember an excruciating pain that he had shut his eyes
amidst. He remembered, if nothing else, that more painful
had been his final regret that had stormed out from within
all illusions of uncertainty and righteousness, as he lay in
seclusion, smeared in his own blood and clenching on to
what felt most dear in that moment. I didn’t see, he had
thought as his grip had tightened over a ring. And then, it
had all gone blank.
The nervousness marginally waned as the breathing
normalized but he was restless still when he asked, “Why do
you keep calling me that?”
“Calling you what?”
“Qin, you said.”
“Aah, but that is what we have had registered here.
Is that not right?”
Qin thought for a while but could not explain his
agitation under the severe headache. He exclaimed in agony,
“I . . . don’t know.”
Friuli enquired, “Do you remember anything?”
“Only vaguely. Bits and pieces, but it’s too
difficult.”
“It will come back. You need rest.”
“What is all this, these screens? And what the hell is
on my eye?”
“So you activated it again?” she asked, walking up
to help him back to his bed.
“I had,” he said guiltily, feeling much easier with her
very first touch. “. . . switched it off.” He continued, as he
looked at the smooth stretch of her fair skin, “Couldn’t take
it.”
“You have been in a coma for quite a while, Qin.
Things have changed as they always do with time. So it is
not that the world is upside down now but as you can see,
there have been a few developments. What you see are
automated projections designed to assist you with any
information you need in real time. Some you can switch off
while others are ingrained in the objects.”
“But why on my eye?”
“On your eye is nothing spectacular. Most have it.
As to why we put you in such a shock with it, I extend both
my apologies and my sympathy. These were orders,
intended to help you accommodate with what has come to
be. Quite naturally, you wouldn’t have allowed the
implantation once you woke up, given that you are still,”
she hesitated, “a bit old school.”
“This thing is implanted?!” He asked with a sudden
high pitch.
“Well, of course it is. Is it really that bad a thing,
considering how bad your eye was after that fall?”
“H-how bad was it?”
Friuli gave a gentle smile as she tucked the sheets
around him, never taking her eyes away from his. She
whispered, pointing to the whiteness of the entire room,
“Let’s just say all white is better than all black.”
He knew panic would not help things. He was just
too oblivious at the moment. Friuli walked around his bed,
setting the table straight, replenishing it with fresh water and
taking a good look at everything else.
“The water-,” Qin said, under subtle hiccups,
“doesn’t taste . . . very well. It doesn’t taste at all actually.”
“Well, I guess it’s absolutely pure then! I’ll put that
on record for the maintenance staff,” she mused, and spoke
with greater sincerity, “Sleep Qin. Get your energy back.”
As she approached the door, he interrupted again,
almost shaking in his voice, “Quite a while,’ you said. How
long is that?”
Friuli stopped to take a heavy breath. Few seconds
passed in silence before she answered with a decisive effort,
“Twenty three years.”

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