CREATURE WRANGLER K. A. MENG TACKLES FANGS & MISSING PERSONS

Not every vampire or werewolf you meet will set your heart aflutter. K. A. Meng knows this. In the fantastic world she helms, they can be mendacious and menacing. Or are they misunderstood? FINDING KAREN, the second installment in her Superior Species series sheds some light. Welcome K. A.

1.

Your fascination with paranormal mystery took off when you saw your first ghost. Can you tell the readers a bit about that experience? 

 

My dad was a huge influence on anything strange for me. He enjoyed watching sci fi or paranormal shows. I liked to hangout with him and I started to enjoy them too. What really made me dive into paranormal was seeing a ghost.

My sister and I were troublemakers growing up. We are fourteen months apart so our parents got the whole twin terror without having twins. We were messing around in our bedroom, jumping on the top bed of the bunk with our friends. One of them sat down on the edge and I was tried too so I sat down next to her to rest for a moment. We glanced to the side of us and saw an older man standing there. He gave us a stern look, the one adults know how to give when a child is doing something wrong. The man was a ghost. He wasn’t there the next second. We looked at each other to confirm what we say was real. When I saw it on her face, I ran screaming out of the room. She followed behind me, doing the same thing. All but one of our friends followed us to see what freaked us out. The one who stayed behind ended up bouncing off the bed and cracking her head open on radiator.

 

2.

Are you a medium? Have you ever been to one?


I am not a medium. I have been to see Theresa Chaputo and I would go again. It was a great experience.

 

3.

Let’s talk about supernatural creatures. I agree that vampires and werewolves aren’t ideal dates, yet your characters come into contact with them. What is the nature of those relationships?


My main character in Superior Species is Ivory Ames. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with the supernatural creatures once she finds out they exist. They scare her, even though she is attracted to them. The problem for this is that they want her and no one knows why. She does tolerate the gargoyle though. He isn’t as bad as the other guys in her life.

 

4.

Your murder mystery A TOWN OF MURDERERS takes a different direction—the monsters are all human. Are human villains more vile than their fantastical paranormal counterparts?

 

I think that human are worse monsters than their paranormal counterparts. Humans have the capacity to hurt others. We also have the capacity to do the right thing. I hope most people will do a lot more of the second then the first.I can’t read or see the images of acts of cruelty.

In A Town of Murderers, I want the readers to think who are the real monsters. Sometimes the villain isn’t who you think.

 

5.

You’ve worked on a few anthologies as well. Tell us what they’re about and how does a collaborative effort compare to a solitary project?

 

I’ve done several anthologies with my publisher, Solstice Publishing. I want to do a lot more.

The first one is a mystery called, Plots & Schemes Vol 1, published on May 3, 2017. You can find the paperback here: getBook.at/PS1. This features 8 short stories. Mine is The First Scheme, the first book in A Town of Murderers series. This is where I first dreamed up my little town and loved it so much I decided to make it into a series.

The second anthology had to have something to do with the Summer Solstice called, That Summer Day Vol 1, published on June 20, 2017 (the day of the summer solstice). The cover was taken on the summer solstice too. You can find the paperback here: getBook.at/TSD. This features 8 short stories also. Mine is Vampires Didn’t Exist, the prequel to my Superior Species series. I won’t say to much about this one. *winks*

The third one I was lucky to be a part of is a fantasy, Realms of Fantastic Stories Vol 2, published on August 16, 2017. You can find it here: getBook.at/RFS2. This features 7 short stories. Mine is Destination Bermuda. I hope this will be another short story series that follows Alexandra Porter and her adventures into the paranormal.

Project 9 Vol 3 was just released on September 15, 2017. You can find it here: getBook.at/P93. This features 6 sci fi short stories. Mine is Life Subscription, my first stand alone where everyone has to pay monthly to live or they die.

The big difference between doing a solitary project and a collaborative effort is with more people, you have help promoting. I do get a lot of help from my publisher. When you are one you own, its just you and your publisher. They have a lot of other authors to help out too. I promote daily and hoping in a few years to establish myself in the writing world. This month is the anniversary of the first book that was published.

 

6.

What are you working on now?

 

I am working on A Town of Murderers 2 The Second Plan. I am so happy to share it with you. It should be in the editing process soon. I can’t give you a release date yet.

 

7.

Thanks, K. A. Today, you’re promoting the follow up to SUPERIOR SPECIES. Can you introduce it for us?

 

Headshot2.jpgAfter I wrote the first book in the series Superior Species I had to write the second Superior Species Book 2 Finding Karen. This one focused on what Ivory Ames learned about her new town of Los Roshano. I finally got to share my thought that created this series. A lot of “romance fueled” stories have the main character dating the vampire, zombie, or werewolf as their thing and I do like those stories, but I wouldn’t date either of them no matter how good-looking they are. They can kill you. I was ready to begin my second book with this thought. Of course, Los Roshano always throws in a curve ball and it did just that from the first sentence. Poor Ivory.

 

Superior Species Book 2 Finding Karen

Ivory Ames has learned the truth about Los Roshano, New Mexico and the university she attends there, but it isn’t what she expected. Monsters exist. They’ve been running the town in secret to fill their ranks. She vows to keep her friends and herself safe from their evil clutches.

As soon as Ivory makes her pledge, her best friend is missing. The race to find Karen Bakke is on before she is killed or worse.

 

TERRIFYING AND COMPELLING

Superior Species 2-001.jpgI turned on the lights to my dorm room. My whole world shattered. Karen Bakke’s bed was stripped clean. I threw open her closet doors and checked her dresser, but everything she owned was gone.

“Damnit,” I cursed. Tears filled my eyes. I swayed, unable to stand anymore and sank to the thin purple carpet, resting my back against a white wall on her side. I had survived the horror from this morning to find my best friend missing; no, I bet she was taken.

The Models, her kidnappers, were monsters−real ones. They ate the things which went bump in the night. They ran the town of Los Roshano in secret where I attended the university.

Anger surged through me and my body overheated. Gripping my hands at my side, I wanted to strangle any Model with the little energy I had left. Karen would be either turned or mated. I didn’t know which one was worse.

My roommate wasn’t an orphan. The Models wouldn’t take her because their own rules were against it, one of them had informed me. I wasn’t sure if I should believe her words. Taking someone who didn’t have family made sense, though. If no one was searching for them, they were easier to steal, but Karen had a mother. The realization led me to a new question. Since she wasn’t here, where was she?

 

 

GET IT HERE

 

 

About the Author

K. A. Meng lives in North Dakota, in the same town she grew up. Her love for the paranormal started at a young age when she saw her first ghost.

Today, she spends her time writing paranormal romance, fantasy, sci fi, horror and everything in between. When life drags her away from it, she hangs out with her son and friends, goes to movies, watches TV, plays board games, walks her dogs, and reads books. She is actively involved in a writing group and wishes to some day visit Disney World.

 

Other Books by K.A. Meng

 

Superior Species

superior species-001.jpgIvory Ames has caught the attention of four gorgeous guys. At Los Roshano University this isn’t normal, even when all the upperclassmen have perfect physiques, flawless complexions, and hypnotic looks. That’s not even the weirdest part. The town has a strict sunset curfew because of wild animals attacking.

To keep her friends and herself safe, Ivory must figure out the truth behind the town’s mysteries before it’s too late.

 

GET IT HERE

 

 

 

Superior Species Book 0.5 Vampires Didn’t Exist

Vampires didn't exist-001.jpgFun in the sun turns into a nightmare after a murder.

On her first vacation ever, Ivory Ames awakens in the middle of the night to find her best friend missing. She searches the campground and finds Maria lying dead on the beach.

With more questions than answers and the police being uncooperative, Ivory decides to find the truth herself. She enlists the help of Maria’s other best friend, Harmony Lundy. As Harmony and Ivory search for clues, they learn that someone or something is stalking the campers.

 

GET IT HERE

 

A Town of Murderers 1 The First Scheme

The First Scheme-001.jpgOne murder, one plan, two possible outcomes.

The sound of a gunshot pulls Joann Fields from a peaceful sleep into a living nightmare. Her husband David is bleeding from a bullet lodged in his chest. She tries to save him, but she passes out instead.

Joann barely regains consciousness before two detectives arrest her for the murder. She turns to the only man who can help her, reporter Mike Carroll.  With the evidence piling-up against her, can Mike save her from prison or is she part of some elaborate conspiracy?

 

GET IT HERE

 

Links

Website: www.kamengauthor.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KAMengAuthor

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+KAMeng

Blog: http://www.kamengauthor.com/blog

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31651336-k-a-meng

 

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FREEDOM IN SHELL GAME AND THE STRANGE THINGS THAT RESULT FROM IT

Freedom has always been a big one for me, for what am I as a gonzo if I cannot judge, poke fun, get it wrong and then slide in a rueful subtext among the laughs and guffaws?

That’s my mission, anyway, and as SHELL GAME’s release date draws near, the notion of freedom as it relates to the plot and characters who seek to keep it has grown more dear.

Imagine a world peopled with ungoverned free-spirits culturally sanctioned to say whatever they like. You wouldn’t have to go too far. Ricky Gervais showcased the concept brilliantly in the film THE INVENTION OF LYING (2009). In it, characters managed to convey whole truths without the sturm und drang of hand-wringing, hair-pulling and copious tear-filled apologies. Chaos did not ensue, at least not until the protagonist started lying through his teeth.

The same happens in SHELL GAME. There, in the humble burg of Pictontown on the Downs, gentle folk go about the business of doing a great deal of damage at little or no cost to the neighbors they try so hard to ignore. It is only when a mysterious and very beautiful black cat enters the picture that untidied things like lies, invasion of privacy, group sex and a missing spouse become important; important because with each new revelation, the freedom to do as one pleases becomes very difficult.

Misunderstandings as a vehicle to catapult the plot forward figure prominently in SHELL GAME as one’s presumed murder victim becomes another’s bratwurst sausage. Likewise, the Beautiful Boy Politician. With all his wealth, intelligence, glamor and promise, it becomes very easy to mix him up with his lackluster opponents because they all wind up saying the same blah, blah, blah to the effect that nothing and everything changes.

A Shell Game is defined as “a deceptive and evasive action or ploy, especially a political one”[1] Readers might want to let that percolate when deciding if the surviving characters are free by book’s end, for as we all know, freedom is subjective and absolutely always illusory.

SHELL GAME releases September 21 on Amazon through Solstice Publishing. As a thank you to readers and supporters, it will be offered as a FREE DOWNLOAD September 21, 22 and 23. Get it here.

Adult, unapologetic, and wholly cognizant, I am

A.B. Funkhauser

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Twitter https://twitter.com/iamfunkhauser

Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/heuerlostandfound

And this website

 

UP NEXT:

THE ULTIMATE SHELL GAME Q & A

 

BUY LINK AND FREE DAYS:

As a ‘thank you’ to everyone who ever  believed in my crazy plan to quit work and write full time, I’m offering SHELL GAME for FREE for the first three days of it’s release. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! ❤

A. B.

[1] Google dictionary, of course.

MURDER MOST FOUL AT MOM’S HOUSE

Blog fave Maighread MacKay returns with her sophomore paranormal novel, this time with a BIG difference. This time, she wades into the murder mystery genre with a cast of characters you will love. Maighread has always wanted to write a who dunnit, her blood-thirstiness heralding from ancient roots. If you don’t believe me, check her DNA! Her take on the after world is refreshing, as is her ghost protagonist’s unique approach to crime solving.

Congrats, m’lady, on the new book. Welcome back!

 

1.

Your new book, MURDER AT MOTHER’S, features an observant ghost with plenty to say. How did you get to her story?

 

I’ve wanted to write a murder/mystery for ages as I am a huge fan of the genre. Awhile ago, I needed to write a short story about sharks circling their prey, and I came up with MAM. It was only about 1500 words to start with, but when I got thinking about it, I thought, wow, I can make this into so much more… and it took off from there.

 

2.

MURDER is dark and humorous in the English tradition. What spirit guide directed your hand?

 

Ha ha. Probably the spirit of my ancestors. I did the Ancestry DNA and found out that I’m 58% Great Britain and 25% Ireland, so the English tradition is pretty well ingrained in me.

 

3.

You told me while you were penning it that the characters hijacked you and changed the ending. Without giving spoilers, can you tell us what that was like?

 

That was a weird experience. Throughout the whole process, and in the original short story, I had one killer in mind and at the very last minute, while I’m writing the ending, another person let me know they were the killer and it made sense. I could feel the madness and the reason why they were driven to commit the murder so I wrote it that way. It’s very strange how the characters take on a life of their own. The same thing happened in Stone Cottage. I had the characters going one way when, all of a sudden, the story turned around on me. I just go with the flow and let the characters speak for themselves.

 

4.

STONE COTTAGE, your previous work, is also a paranormal mystery. What inspired you to explore the afterlife?

 

I have always been in awe of the vastness and complexity of our universe. This enthusiasm has led me to study a variety of viewpoints from different scholars and scientists. We humans are so limited in our understanding of who we are and why we’re here. The genre I write is termed Visionary Fiction, which is defined as “Besides telling a good story, VF enlightens and encourages readers to expand their awareness of greater possibilities. It helps them see the world in a new light and recognize dimensions of reality they commonly ignore.” The ideas presented are by no means meant to be a definitive answer to any question about life, death and what happens next. They are presented to give the reader a starting point for their own exploration.

 

5.

Do you believe in it?

 

Yes, I do believe in an afterlife although to me, it’s all life. Only the body dies. We continue, just in a different form of energy.

 

6.

What are you working on now?

Stone Cottage gives a tiny glimpse of how reincarnation, past life regression and a love that goes across time and space could play out in a life. Murder at Mother’s illustrates what could happen to a soul immediately after death, the consequences of its actions while in the body and the energy that connects us all.  My new novel has a working title of “Inn Time” and explores a young woman’s journey through parallel dimensions and what she learns from her experiences. I am excited about the new science of Quantum and String Theory and, although I don’t even begin to understand it, the possibilities they open to understanding our existence and the universe in a whole new light. Such fun.

 

 

CATCHING A KILLER FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE

Murder_at_Mothers_Cover_for_KindleA killer lurks at the Bancroft estate and the Matriarch, Martha Bancroft is murdered. Royally pissed, she hangs around to see what happened. When she doesn’t go immediately to the light, a member of her soul group shows up from the other side. Gladys is adamant Martha needs to come with her, but Martha has no intention of going anywhere until she helps Detective Ian “Mac” MacKellar and Coroner Dr. Cecilia “Cissy” Walsh find the murderer.  Gladys joins Martha and the two set out on their quest.

 

GET IT HERE

 

 

5 STAR REVIEWS FOR MURDER AT MOTHER’S 

 

I hope that Author MacKay had fun writing this story, because I know I had a marvelous time reading her latest book. – J.C. Henry, Author

 

This is a wonderful light weave of mystery, family drama, metaphysical and psychic threads …with a dark strand of greed added to the tapestry. I loved it. – R. Davies

 

This book has good pace, excellent characterisation and enough twists and turns to keep you interested. There’s humour too. – Becca from Amazon.co.UK

 

Excerpt

 

The fire was the first incident which caught Martha’s attention. One of the ranch hands needed a rope from the tack room and arrived in time to smell smoke and dampen the blaze. A few weeks later, Jared discovered a fence bordering the back forty was down. He repaired it before any of the horses escaped. She shivered as she thought about the danger they’d be in wandering around the forest at night. Both episodes could have been accidents.

Today, dressed in her favorite jeans and boots, Martha strode down the hill to the horses. As she walked, her cane stirred the dry ground with small circular puffs of sand. Her heart and pace were more accelerated than usual as she thought about her beloved mare. Her first baby. Wonder how she’ll take to being a mother. Jared said the delivery went well, but I’ll feel better once I’ve seen her for myself. As she approached the barn door she heard a call. “Grandma, look out.” Forceful hands grabbed her in a firm grip. Her cane went flying. Her hair lifted as something whizzed past her ear and caused a burning sensation where it grazed her arm. She clutched the arms which held her and looked up into the shocked eyes of her grandson.
 

Other Books by Maighread MacKay

 

STONE COTTAGE

book coverIf you could plan your life before you were born, what could that life look like? Rebecca Wainwright, successful, polished EVP tumbles into depression and panic attacks after a traumatic incident. Seeking a respite from the well meaning, but smothering care of her family and friends, she stumbles onto an old stone cottage where she feels like she has come home. After purchasing the home, she discovers it already has an occupant. Annie McBride has been trapped in her home for over 150 years. What do these two women mean to each other? Why meet now? A story of how love bridges the years and can heal even the saddest of hearts.

GET IT HERE

 

 

5 STAR REVIEWS FOR STONE COTTAGE

The reader gets to know how the events finally affected the characters’ lives and how they are dealing with a new reality. A lot of books omit this important piece and the future of the story is simply left up to the reader’s imagination. – Edna Marie

 

 I enjoyed the stories of the main characters, and found this book to be an entrancing read. – A Happy Reader

That the author weaves two parallel plots in different historical frames seamlessly is a joy for this reader. – A.B. Funkhauser, Author of Shell Game

 

Excerpt

The cacophony of the moaning wind and lashing rain concealed any sound of a horse’s hoofs.  She could see nothing, except the murky fog.  No light.  No Will.  Where are you?  Her anxiety escalated to new heights.  Her baby girl was asleep upstairs, but she seemed to have been sleeping for a long time. Was Maddy sick?  Victoria knew there was something important about the baby that she had to explain to Will, but she couldn’t quite remember what it was.  She needed her husband to come home to take her in his arms and tell her everything would be all right. Panic, like a bird’s wings trapped by the cage of her ribs, fluttered in her chest.  She leaned her head against the cold glass and clenched her fists. Taking deep breaths to try and calm herself, she flattened her hands on the window.

“He’s fine,” she said.  “I know it.  Oh, Will, where are you?  I need you so much.  Please, please come home.  Everything will be all right once you get here.”

Tears coursed down her cheeks. The old dog, sensing her unease, leaned into her leg and began to whine. Absentmindedly, she reached down to stroke his head.  She would just wait.  Wait for as long as it took for Will to come home.

Wait…wait…wait, her mind chanted to the ticking clock in the hall.

Tick…tock…tick…tock…tick…

 

About the Author

AuthorGhosts, spirits and things that go bump in the night. Ancient mysteries and the riddles of our vast universe. Questions – lots of fascinating questions about the reality of our cosmos. Are there other dimensions or planes of existence? Are they inhabited? Do parallel universes ever converge? Angels, Spirit Guides. Are they real? Can we communicate with them? What about other entities such as the Fae, Unicorns, or Dragons? Could they exist? What happens when we die? Has the soul that inhabits our body been here before? Why would we come back? What about animals? What happens to them when they die?

These questions have led me on a journey of investigating Christian Mysticism, Yogic Spirituality, Native Theology, Wicca, Celtic Shamanism, Quantum Physics, the Realm of the Fae and many other related topics.

Using my experiences to draw on, I weave tales of Visionary Fiction for both children and adults. Whether nine or ninety, I hope readers will join me in exploring alternate paradigms about life and the after-life experience.

 

Links

 

Website: http://mhefferman.ca/author/my-blog/

Amazon Author Central:  amazon.com/author/maighreadmackay

FB: https://www.facebook.com/maighreadmackay

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaighreadMackay

 

SHELL GAME: GENESIS

I didn’t plan on writing a cat book. In fact, I had every intention of devoting 2017 to THE HEUER EFFECT, the prequel to HEUER LOST AND FOUND. But I was sidetracked—drawn into a direction I had not counted on.

IMG_20151111_143637Two years ago, I met this cat. A comely fellow, he appeared at my back door with a “come hither” look that couldn’t move me. You see, I had lived my life deeply saddened by the knowledge that I was allergic to almost all things “fur and feather.” This did not dissuade him. Perhaps he knew I was susceptible—possessed of that human quality (or weakness?) of wanting that thing that I couldn’t have.

His visits went on for days, marked by chalcedony green eyes and an almost inaudible purr from cat epiglottis to my own ears. I didn’t stand a chance: he literally compelled me to open the door and let him in.

I’m so glad I did, and for so many reasons; chief among them, SHELL GAME.

Not long after our first contact, my fine visitor, along with his many free-spirited confrères, became the subject of a dedicated cat hunt spear headed by local Animal Control. According to the letter left on my door step, free-wheeling kitties and the accomplices that aided them were now subject to punitive fines / loss of liberty—theirs to roam, ours to love them on our own terms.

There’s a debate going on about whether it’s right to keep cats indoors and I can see both sides of that argument. But for the purpose of my latest fiction, let’s just say that free range kitties and the humans that aspire to similar behavior do so with the best of intentions.

Tomorrow:

FREEDOM IN SHELL GAME AND THE STRANGE THINGS THAT RESULT FROM IT

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Twitter https://twitter.com/iamfunkhauser

Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/heuerlostandfound

And this website

 

BUY LINK AND FREE DAYS:

As a ‘thank you’ to everyone who ever  believed in my crazy plan to quit work and write full time, I’m offering SHELL GAME for FREE for the first three days of it’s release. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! ❤

A. B.

A GONZO NEW RELEASE WITH A CAT’S EYE VIEW

September 11, 2017

SHELL GAME, A. B. Funkhauser’s third offering in the unapologetic lives series, launches September 21 on Amazon through Solstice Publishing. Part mystery, part social commentary, it will take a satirical look at a community fighting unwanted change through mechanisms silly and life-threatening. With insights that are both sympathetic and stinging, the novel’s hero and narrator, Carlos the Wonder Cat, will suffer overtures from an awkward feline fetishist sex cult, observe political gamesmanship that keeps going and going without apparent purpose, and assume a crucial leadership role in narrowing class divisions drawn by lines in a forest.

All with the lick of a paw.

If you believe—as many do—that cats are more than just cats, then SHELL GAME might be for you. For when has unquenchable curiosity not led to things unforgettable?

SHELL GAME

This time, the cat wins

Buy link pending

 

Tomorrow:

SHELL GAME GENESIS

 

For more information:

Twitter https://twitter.com/iamfunkhauser

Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/heuerlostandfound

And this website

BUY LINK AND FREE DAYS:

As a ‘thank you’ to everybody who believed in my crazy idea to quit work to write full-time, I’m offering SHELL GAME for FREE for the first three days of release. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

A.B.

KAREN MILLIE-JAMES THRILLS WITH NEW RELEASE ‘WHERE IN THE DARK’

Thriller writer Karen Millie-James is back with her latest Cydney Granger release. WHERE IN THE DARK is the second in the series. This time, protagonist Cydney goes after Nazi plunder and the shadowy figures that conspire to conceal and profit from it.

 

1.

Congratulations on your latest release WHERE IN THE DARK. Can you tease us with an elevator pitch?

 

The book starts with two holocaust survivors each receiving in the post a bearer bond for $1m each, completely out of the blue.  They have no idea why or from where but it strikes fear in their hearts because they have been keeping a secret since 1945.  On the other side of the Atlantic, in West Virginia, an escaped Nazi officer called Albert Whiteman, formerly Adolf Weissmuller, heads the family bank into which he married. His son is Governor and about to run in the primaries for president.  However, the bank is founded on gold looted by Weissmuller from the Jewish people of Europe.  Now he starts to feel remorse, or is he just afraid of dying and what awaits him? Cydney Granger is called upon to investigate and what she discovers is a web of deceit and lies which could ultimately bring down the entire banking system.

 

2.

Nazi loot features prominently in the news—a buried train, heated litigation—and more contentiously, the moral tension between treasure hunters versus familial claimants seeking social justice. What personally drew you to this issue and what side do your characters favor?

 

My father came out of Germany with the kindertransport in 1939.  From the end of the war until 1962 he spent his time seeking recompense for what his family had lost and finally he received the paltry sum of £1300 approximately.  For the last twenty years my family and I have been engaged with the courts of Frankfurt and Munich to discover what happened to all my grandparents’ assets and again, seek suitable recompense.  This has also involved the courts in New York and it will probably never happen because the courts have done everything in their power to delay matters and not make a judgment.

 

My two holocaust survivors seek no recompense for what they lost. They have no interest because they came to England to make a new life and want no involvement with Germany, nor do they wish to talk about what went on; it is enough that they went through the trauma and survived.  However, they are forced to face their demons, and specifically Weissmuller.

 

Yes, the question of discovering Nazi loot is in the news but these treasure hunters have no desire to recompense the people who lost everything, nor do they desire to repatriate the art, gold, diamonds and other treasures.  Their goal is to find the monies and become rich.  Again, the same desires as the Nazis which was to take what they believed was rightfully theirs from the Jewish people who were amongst the richest in the country and held the highest positions – doctors, bankers, lawyers, professors, musicians.  If they were doing this for altruistic reasons, I would applaud them, but this is blood money and should be left alone.

 

3.

DARK’s protagonist Cydney Granger is a corporate forensic investigator. Does her expertise in any way herald from your work background, or was she born from tough, dedicated research?

 

I have an international corporate consultancy which specialises in advising companies and individuals around the world how to run their businesses, and I sit on the boards of many companies in an advisory capacity.  Cydney is a fictitious character but some of the aspects of her work and mine run parallel, which is why I find her and the work she does easy to write about.  The research aspect did not encompass her, but purely the world around her and specifically, in Where In The Dark, focused around the banking world and how the gold moved from Germany and other occupied countries via Switzerland and possibly to many countries’ federal reserves.

 

4.

Cydney’s investigation is furthered with help from “beyond the grave.” Is there a paranormal element to DARK, or is Cydney’s ‘help’ the result of hard-nosed evidence gathering?

 

There is a paranormal aspect to Cydney’s investigations because she has a special gift; she can talk to people who have passed into the spirit world.  This assists her in her investigations and how amazing would that be to understand and know what the person sitting opposite you in a meeting is thinking, even to the point of wanting to commit murder.  This gift has helped her specifically in her quest for the truth in relation to the two survivors because she is drawn back into their time as children, going in the trains to Lodz Ghetto, then in the concentration camps and finally to their journey to England.  This makes her life much easier. However, she is forced to relive what they went through and this is one of the hardest things she has ever had to face.  Obviously, some of her research is purely down to fact-finding and looking through records also, something we all have to do.

 

5.

The impacts of Nazi Germany continue to be felt. How does DARK deal with history’s long shadow, and what can readers take away with them after the book is closed?

 

I think ultimately Where In The Dark is a positive story of survival against the toughest odds and bears truth to the adage that it is amazing what a human-being can suffer at the hands of another and still come out the other side with strength.  I wanted to ensure that this was the message and I did that by using Adolf Weissmuller, exploring his clearly psychopathic mind and wanting him to feel remorse for his crimes against humanity.  In some ways I gave him a voice, but this was purely to demonstrate his evil and lack of empathy against the people he had murdered.  My conclusions were that he was never going to feel sorry, but ultimately he was scared of dying and the fate that awaited him.

 

Whilst there are survivors of the atrocities of the Holocaust still alive, the entire impact of what happened in Germany during the war, will continue to be kept alive, as it should be, to ensure that such things never happen again.  Unfortunately, countries do not learn from their mistakes and atrocities are happening all over the world against innocent people.

 

A MYSTERY OUT OF THE PAST…

WITD_Visuals 8.inddTwo envelopes. Two holocaust survivors. Two anonymous bearer bonds each worth one million pounds. Corporate forensic investigator, Cydney Granger, with help from beyond the grave, enters a world previously unknown to her to unravel the truth behind a web of secrets, lies, corruption, blackmail and hidden Nazi loot as new horrors of the Third Reich come to light.

Still struggling to come to terms with the apparent death of her husband, Captain Steve Granger, five years’ earlier Cydney puts her personal feelings to one side and is determined to bring to justice

an escaped Nazi criminal, Adolf Weissmuller, living under the assumed name of Albert Whiteman, whose son is about to run for the US presidency. Can Albert ever make amends for his crimes against

humanity, or are some actions beyond forgiveness …?

Will Cydney, along with her trusted and tough protector, former sergeant, Sean O’Connell, also uncover the truth surrounding her husband?

The consequences of Cydney’s investigations, stretching back before WWII, are far reaching with the potential to bring down a banking dynasty as she faces insurmountable odds from which there is only one final solution.

The dramatic follow-up to The Shadows Behind Her Smile, a compelling debut which takes the reader from the heart of Cydney’s corporate world to the ruins of war-torn Damascus and where men will stop at nothing to achieve their goals.

 

EXCERPT

 

PROLOGUE

2005

 

It was the shock. As he fell, the pain ripped across his heart and he felt the familiar vice-like tightening of his chest as the muscles attempted to respond to the restricted blood flow, his arteries already hardened and narrowed. An overwhelming sense of anxiety enveloped him.  Harold reached into his inside jacket pocket and grabbed the pump spray he kept with him at all times containing the medicine he now urgently needed to relieve his symptoms. He opened his mouth and pressed the bottom of the pump firmly and placed a couple of squirts under his tongue; he had always hated the taste. The relief was immediate and as the pain eased he felt the onset of the pounding headache the spray always gave him.  Slowly, he managed to pull himself up into a sitting position so he could examine the cause of his attack.

The knowledge that in his hands he held a bearer bond certificate for one million dollars made Harold’s hand tremble to such an extent that he dropped the bond and the envelope in which it had arrived and saw it flutter and disappear under one of the Queen Anne chairs in his living room. It was with some considerable effort that he stretched out his arm and rescued the document with the tip of his middle finger, despite the arthritis that also beleaguered him.  He straightened up and mopped his brow with the back of his hand to remove the sweat that had accumulated, unsure if it was the shock that had brought it on, or the strain at his age that it had taken to retrieve it.

Still sitting on the floor, nervous to stand in case the pain returned, he examined the document in more detail, turned it over to check both sides and wiped away the film of dust from its fall. It was printed on thick cream quarto size parchment with a picture of Abraham Lincoln on the front in dark grey, and a red inscribed serial number to the right-hand side. The words ‘Bearer Bond to the Value of One Million Dollars’ were centred in large black letters. An utter sense of dread filled his entire being. It made no sense, unless …

Eventually, Harold got to his feet and waited for his world to stop spiralling down in front of him. He felt nothing but doom. The eyes of his parents and sisters framed within the sepia photo on his desk, taken before everything had overturned their lives, stared back at him, almost willing him to remember.  As if he were capable of ever forgetting.

His fingers shook as he ran them along the gold trim edges of the bond and stroked the red seal and ribbon at the bottom.  Further review of the envelope, including peering inside it in case there was a letter, revealed nothing further to assist him, not even after he had turned it upside down and shaken it to double check.  It bore an airmail sticker and US postage stamp, and his name and address were typed on it, however, there were no clues as to who had sent it or why it had been sent to him.  It certainly appeared genuine but the question that came to mind was whether someone was playing a joke on him.  The bond was drawn on an American bank, the name of which meant nothing.

Not only did he feel completely bewildered, but absolutely frightened. He really needed to sit again before he passed out.  He had no idea what to do so he called the person he always turned to when he had a problem. The phone was answered immediately.

“Alfie, it’s me. Harold. I have to see you.”

“I have to see you, too.”

“What?”

“You got the same envelope.”  It wasn’t a question, simply a statement, spoken in the same quiet tone that Harold was accustomed to hearing.

“That’s impossible.  How could you have got a million dollars, too?  Where did it come from?”

“You’d better come over to me.  Is the notebook in a safe place?”

“Of course it is. It’s not something I would ever lose, though heaven knows I’ve thought about destroying it so many times.”

“It’s all we have, Harold.  It’s our security.”

“Do you think it could be …?” He paused for a moment, gathering his thoughts. “Has he found us, despite all we’ve done?”

“I don’t know.  I’ve phoned Rupert.  We need his advice now.”

“We never told him, you know that.  We’ve held this secret for so long.  Can we trust him?”

“What choice do we have, my friend?”

 

GET IT HERE

 

CONTACT INFO

_92A7765 Retouched_optPR – Karen is represented by Midas PR in London

For further information on Karen Millie-James, The Shadows Behind Her Smile, Where In The Dark, or King of the Road Publishing, please contact info@kingoftheroadpublishing.co.uk or call 020 8236 8507

 

Karen Mille-James Website: www.karenmilliejames.com Twitter: @KMillieJames Facebook: www.facebook.com/karenmilliejames 

 

Thank you so much for joining us today, Karen. Best of luck with the release! — A.B.

 

FOLLOW THE TOUR

 

 

 

Sneaky’s Interview of Carlos, Star of A.B. Funkhauser’s New Release, SHELL GAME

In anticipation of SHELL GAME’s release on September 21st, 2017, its star and muse Carlos the Wonder Cat consents to a candid interview with Sneaky, the Library Cat. Take a look!

Sneaky The Library Cat's Blog

Good day, dark-haired fellow. What is your name and your author’s name?

I have many names, but for the purpose of this exercise I’ll answer to ‘Carlos.’ A.B. Funkhauser, the author who happened upon my tale, took it upon herself to exaggerate certain facts. Asserting that I am ‘Wonderful’ is a case in point. Though I found this amusing, it is also quite ludicrous.

Mice to meet you, Carlos. What book(s) have you appeared in? Please list them and their genre.

I can only admit to one—Funkhauser’s current SHELL GAME—which hints at other worldly qualities that I won’t deny. The writer calls it a “cat dramedy with death and laughs.” Her publisher calls it “dark humor.” I see it more as biographical, though the humans featured are quite insane, and therefore strain credulity. Like her other books, SHELL GAME is a “gonzo” piece which means that the humans are exaggerated to…

View original post 1,339 more words

WRITER GEOFF NELDER IS BACK WITH A NEW ONE–XAGHRA’S REVENGE–& IT’S DIFFERENT

 

Sci-fi thriller fantasy author Geoff Nelder is back on the blog with a new release from Solstice Publishing and it’s sooo different. XAGHRA’S REVENGE incorporates historical fiction, social commentary, adventure and revenge–all the things this blogger absolutely LOVES. Welcome back, Geoff!

I had a number of questions lined up for him, but in the author’s own words, he got a tad “carried away” and decided that one–and only one–question got to the heart of what he was trying to do this time out.

Here we go…

 

1.

XAGHRA’S REVENGE is an historical fiction piece focusing on something that, sadly, continues today–slavery. What is it in your past or psyche that facilitated the need to obtain social justice for the island’s inhabitants?

 

Geoff-IOM-12Never mind the past, I am a slave now! I don’t just mean marriage (Ed.- He dabbles in dry humor); I mean a slave to the economic system; a slave to society’s cultural mores and laws. I am a slave to my damn brain.

It’s a writer’s lot to own a rabid imagination and mine gets into the being of my characters so much so that I can’t escape. Of course, it’s not like the physical slavery of people being brought by force from one country to another to work.

I hadn’t come into contact with an actual slave or knew much about them before I went on a family holiday to Malta. There, I learnt with horror about the 1551 mass abduction by pirates of the entire island of Gozo. I couldn’t believe that cultured and intelligent people such as those pirate leaders could do that. We’re not talking about uncouth Hollywood pirates, but well-educated Muslims (Rais Dragut, who had himself been a galley slave to a Christian Templar Knight!) and Jews (Pasha) who have big, loving families at home. Yet, it was acceptable to them to abduct whole towns and islands, separate families, torture and kill for their meagre wealth, and then go home to their people. It’s another culture and history completely removed from what I was brought up with. Of course Dragut had religion on his side. If the abducted were righteous, their God will see them.

On Gozo, I discovered that not many people knew about the 1551 abduction. It gozocropsdidn’t happen to them or their ancestors because the emptied island was looted and reoccupied by people from Italy, Sicily, and Malta. The pirates were cunning enough to steal property deeds and sell them to the rich in Tripoli and Constantinople.

I found direct descendants of those Gozo abducted, but over in Tarhuna, Libya. They are still there! I could not find many people who felt strongly about that abduction so I had to do something on the victims’ behalf. My Xaghra’s Revenge is for those 5,000.

 

Excerpt from XAGHRA’S REVENGE

frontcoverXaghra is a real town on the small Mediterranean island of Gozo. I chose it to begin the story because I’ve been there many times. It’s the site of one of the world’s oldest buildings, The Ggantija Temple – older than the pyramids and Stonehenge! I’ve hugged those huge limestone blocks and the vibes touched me. I’ve stood in the spot where Stjepan hears the alarm bell, where he sees his friends chased by pirates, and outside his house. It’s personal.

This opening sets the story with a contrast and conflict: an idyllic rural and family scene versus a worrying incursion threatening to disrupt everything.

 

CHAPTER ONE from XAGHRA’S REVENGE

Published 15th July 2017 via Solstice Shadows, imprint of Solstice Publishing

 

The Mediterranean island of Gozo 1551, July 24th

 

Stjepan leaned on his hoe and listened. His beans needed rescuing from the bindweed, but they’d have to wait if that was the warning bell coming from the city.

Five… He stepped up onto a low limestone wall and scanned the horizon. A flock of starlings created an air sculpture – God’s chariots chasing each other. It always lifted his heart.

Six… The Citadel topped the hill to the west; the clock tower visible, but he couldn’t see if people were running up the lanes to the city walls.

Seven, eight… He strained to see, but hills prevented a clear view of the ocean even though Gozo was less than a day’s ride across.

Nine… Perhaps a pirate ship had been seen again. The damned Turkish corsairs raided more often these days. Pirate dogs. He spat at the soil. His short sword lay under his cot at home.

Ten… In spite of the heat, he shivered at the thought of his wife and four-month-old son thrown into the dank belly of a corsair galley.

Eleven, twelve… He held his breath as if that aided hearing. The starlings swirled around the citadel as if they knew something. His heart sank.

Thirteen, fourteen… curses.

He drove his hoe into the stony soil, wishing it was Dragut’s black heart. Stjepan picked his way through berry bushes and olive trees until he reached his village, Xaghra. Karlu, his neighbour, called as he walked in the opposite direction towards the capital, Rabat.

“Ho, Stjepan, you’ll get fined again.”

“I’m not going without Lidia and my son. Your wife?”

Karlu stopped, scratched his head and twitched his moustache. “In Rabat, staying at her mother’s. She’s been coughing up hairballs.”

“That’s cats. Ah, you never liked Senora Angelina. I’ll see you there.”

In spite of the humour, panic tightened his chest as he ran across the central square. Stjepan saw his marmalade cat, its tail upright. She possessed a sense for trouble. “Heket, you’re supposed to be Lidia’s guardian.”

He frowned pushing past neighbours then saw Lidia waving at him outside the church.

“Father’s tripped on the steps. He can’t walk to Rabat.”

“He’ll have to go on the priest’s cart.”

“Already gone.”

Stjepan gnawed on a knuckle while his brain raced. He couldn’t afford another florin fine, yet the alert was probably another false alarm.

“I’ll carry your father.” Blood seeped through Alfredo’s grey robe from his knee. His eyes apologised.

Stjepan crouched before the old man. “Come on, I’ll carry you on my back.”

They crossed the wide village square. Stjepan found the old man lighter than he expected. Nevertheless, he stopped.

“What about Calypso’s Cave?”

“No.” Lidia breathed heavily carrying infant Pietru. “It’d be too obvious a hiding place. Keep going.”

He did, with increased pace until he reached the top of the steep scarp slope. The lane wriggled as it fell to the valley floor before climbing the Citadel’s slopes an hour’s walk away. They could see the exodus along the most direct route from Xaghra to Rabat.

Lidia stopped. “No.”

“What?” He followed her free arm pointing to the north. A dozen men ran along the valley floor lane. Their scimitars flashed in the midday sun, and their white turbans gave them away as Turkish corsairs.

*  *  *

 

To read more of this chapter head over to Amazon Kindle

http://myBook.to/Xaghra

 

Free on Kindle Unlimited

 

Paperback

http://hyperurl.co/y953ga

 

There’s another excerpt from Chapter two where two modern young lovers have their inauspicious and suspicious first meeting.

 

Facebook page

http://www.facebook.com/xaghrasrevenge

Website

http://geoffnelder.com

Twitter

@geoffnelder

Amazon Author Page

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Geoff-Nelder/e/B002BMB2XY/

 

 

About the author

Geoff at Marton July2015Geoff Nelder has one wife, two grown-up kids, and lives in rural England within easy cycle ride of the Welsh mountains.

Publications: One humorous thriller Escaping Reality in 2005;
one award-winning science fiction, Exit, Pursued by a Bee in 2008;
another thriller, Hot Air, published in 2009 after receiving an award from an Arts Academy in the Netherlands; a science fiction trilogy, ARIA – starting with Left Luggage with an original premise, was published in 2012 by LL-Publications; and a fantasy, Xaghra’s Revenge, published by Solstice Publishing in July 2017.

Having had around 50 short stories published, Geoff was chosen to be the short fiction judge for the Whittaker Prize, 2009.

Geoff was a co-editor of science fiction magazine, Escape Velocity, and is a freelance editor.

SOMEONE NEW: WRITER BRI VOLINZ STEPS BOLDLY FORWARD

This post is not about me, but I cannot help but share a vital fact: I tried to write many times, many years ago, and could not. I chalked it up to youth and a lack of complaint-worthy and celebratory experiences to deconstruct. There was no use to it. Whatever it was that drove the youthful writer, I did not have it.

Which is why it’s a joy to meet someone in the ‘before thirty category’ laying down thoughts, scenes and stories with an ease I didn’t find until much, much later.

IMG_20151111_143637.jpgBri Volinz and I met by chance through a cat. That’s right, a cat. He appeared one day about three years ago at my back door looking suave and charming with appealing eyes that quickly won me over. My children, of course, wanted to keep him, but I knew he belonged to another. (The bell he wore around his neck was the clue.)

He visited us most days over the summer, and in that time, we named him Carlos (‘Clara’ was first, until we picked him up and turned him over and then — well. lol)

It took more than a few weeks to put together that “Carlos” was actually “Kobe” and that he belonged to Brianna, who lived six doors up from us. Since the day she and I met, we committed to co-parenting this very special cat, while fostering a mutual appreciation of all things writerly.  Not only did our cat tease a new novel out of me (#3), but he ignited — I believe —  a spark in my writer friend that only a true muse can facilitate.

But I’ll let the writer speak for herself.

She is a member of the Writer’s Community of Durham Region and speaks volumes through her keyboard. Though her tastes seem to lean toward shock horror, I believe she is capable of just about anything.

Meet a new writer with a fresh perspective. Hello, Bri!

 

1.

You’re a writer…

bri6Am I? Thank you for the reminder ha ha. I suppose I am a writer, or playing at being one at least. It’s the only passion I’ve ever pursued, and writing really is a labour of love for me, emphasis on the labour. It’s exhausting! It’s like going to the gym: pushing yourself to go is the hardest part, but the payoff from the workout is always worth it. And with writing, I can drink a beer and don’t have to wear pants while I work, which I can’t do at the gym. Trust me.

Ed. — I forgot to mention that she’s a comic too. lol

 

2.

I love that story you wrote about the dating game. What draws you to shock horror?

I actually wrote that one with shock value in mind because I thought it would help me win a contest. (It didn’t). I prefer subtle horror, stuff that’s quiet and lingers. I like horror that lives with you in the back of your mind long after the initial scare.

 

3.

Any sleepless nights because of it?

Unfortunately, no. Nothing I’ve come up with scares me enough, which is too badKobe 1 because I love nightmares. The only thing that keeps me awake at night is my anxiety, which is something I want to explore more in my writing. I’ve got a couple fetus stories (not stories about a fetus, but stories in the early development stages, just to clarify) about my fears blown up, but nothing concrete.

 

4.

Tell the readers how we met.

Through a mutual cat. When Kobe moved in with my parents he expanded his territory and had little care for peoples’ personal property. I remember you saying how one day he came to your door and marched himself up to your bedroom where he slept for hours like he owned the place. Over the years, Kobe’s constant back and forth between our houses brought us together; we’ve been co-parenting ever since.

 

5.

The arrangement with Kobe is, in my view, very modern and insightful. Do you think he knew all along that we’d make him a star?

Absolutely. I think he sought us out. Cats have much better sight than us humans and I think that goes for their foresight too. I bet he pissed off the neighbours on purpose so that letter from the city would reach you and inspire Shell Game.

Ed. — We were ready to pack him off to author Rachael Stapleton’s country abode. That’s how worried we were about losing him to THE MAN. :O

 

6.

Which brings me to that fab FOREWARD you wrote for the book. It’s beautiful. Have you ever tried literary fiction?

No, but I want to go there. I recently finished Karen Russell’s collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove and realized that’s the kind of writing I want to be making. Where the stories are strange, but each word is deliberately chosen and every other sentence makes you stop and say “Wow!” I don’t want to lose the horror element, because it’s what interests me, and I think there’s quite a bit of movement within the genre. But careful crafting is just as important. I want to coexist in both worlds.

Ed. — Then you just have to meet horror poet A. F. Stewart. She boggles!

 

7.

May I reprint the foreward here? (Dying to share!)

Please! I’ll take all the free exposure I can get!

 

Foreword by Bri Volinz

 

I’ve always been a “cat person.” Their aloof, self-sufficient nature matches my own, and I enjoy a good meow. As a child, I would spend hours spooning the family cat in some quiet corner of the house, whispering secrets and insecurities into his twitching ear, as if he were a best friend or a diary. Skin to fur, heart to heart. We had other pets, but it was the cat I sought out for this ritual: something in his jewel eyes told me he was really listening.

My mother once told me that on Christmas Eve the cats could speak. Though I never witnessed these conversations, I did not doubt their reality; the cats were capable of magic because they were cats. It seemed silly not to believe.

My belief was strengthened when I met Kobe. Even as I wrote these words he appeared11125391_496245340522473_5644758440502187682_o (1).jpg at the kitchen door, as if summoned by my thoughts of him. We started as roommates in a windowless basement apartment, where Kobe focused his energy on squeezing into holes in the drywall or escaping out the side door between the legs of the pizza man. Without a word, he was sending me a message: Let me go.

We moved Kobe into the suburbs, to my family home. There, his territory grew like the muscles beneath his fur, and he transformed from house cat to panther, watching over the sleeping streets and feasting on the season’s rabbits. The neighbours quickly got to know him, and he needed no collar to bare his identity (mostly because there wasn’t a collar he couldn’t slip). A graceful, savvy creature with a mind as sharp as his claws and a love for human attention made him the talk of the neighbourhood. Our own local celebrity, if you will.

Kobe 5Kobe met A.B. before I did, though her home is closer than our mailbox. A writer who, at the time, did not consider herself a cat lover, she fell hard for the feline (tall, dark, and handsome works for cats too). Kobe changed both of our lives, inspiring Funkhauser’s writing, and gifting me a mentor and dear friend.

 

Kobe haunts our neighbourhood like a friendly ghost, lingering long enough to be11057719_545573888922951_730878223886852973_o missed. He shows up when he is least expected, but most needed, providing comfort in the touch of his fur and a silence that says: Lay it all on me. At times Kobe is stingy with his affection, but he is just guarding his truth, keeping we humans guessing. We must remember that a cat’s trust has to be earned, like a blue ribbon to be pinned on the wall.

Shell Game was born because of a cat. The muscular, onyx beast who is undeniably something more. He will keep you waiting longer than the guy who hasn’t called, but love you for all of his nine lives. Kobe, or “Carlos the Wonder Cat ,” as you’ll come to know him, is as unique and complex as any human character you’ll read. He is the magic. He is our friend.

 

Bri Volinz

June 27, 2017

Pickering, Ontario

Canada

 

Ed. — Wow! TYSM. 😀

 

8.

What are you working on right now?

I have a few projects on the go, which is my downfall. I jump off so many different ideasbri1 and rarely have the focus to finish anything. One story I’m playing with revolves around two sisters, autism, guilt, and a closet monster. I’m also working out the logistics for a small webcomic about a slime princess and her wannabe Prince Charming, all done in MS Paint. I’m eager to see if either project reaches an ending.

 

9.

Have I forgotten anything?

Hmmm let’s see. I’ve got an online portfolio in the works, but until it’s up, I’m most active on Instagram @brivolinz. It’s the only social media platform I can competently use.

 

Also I have to thank you A.B. (and Kobe) for letting me tag along on this fantastic adventure. I couldn’t ask for better mentors or friends.

My pleasure, Bri. One thing I’ve learned from the writing journey is that writerly folk are generous. We talk, promote and share our stuff. Good things come from this.

Write on, darlin’ !

 

10.

Bri brought along a sample from one of her WIPs. As usual, it is mysterious, clothed with that creepy foreboding she’s so good at.

 

Excerpt from an unnamed wip

 

When the third child within ten miles of town disappeared, your mother insisted the summer be spent indoors. Not behind her doors, maybe, but someone’s.

“Mrs. Atwater is old, she’ll appreciate the help.”

“You mean Mrs. Gnatwater,” you mumble heading down the walk; everybody knows her place is crawling.

You rake your hand across the chipped tawny siding of Number 18, and when you depress the doorbell your finger is CheeZee orange and leaves a neon fingerprint. At your feet, a slop of coffee grounds shimmers, only to be scalped by the metal door frame as it swings open. A slime trail the colour of blackberries smiles up at you from the bungalow’s porch.

“Watch the ants,” says Mrs. Atwater’s voice.

Inside the place is swollen with piles, like a mouth full of sores.

Mounds of clothing stalagmite the floorboards. An overgrown mass of dish towels has split open, and from its core slinks a mildewey stench. Smudgy limbs of naked baby dolls climb up from behind a couch, just segments of body parts visible, like those pictures of aborted foetuses they make everyone look at in Science B.

“Where do I start?” Dust tints your face grey. A gob of chewed gum grows like fungus from the under lip of the kitchen counter, some of the fleshy wads still slick with spit.

Mrs. Atwater cricks her shoulders into a shrug and disappears behind a mountain range of bedding.

Alone, you let the sacred Eenie Meenie Miney Mo guide you to a cluster of shoes near the pantry, where you spend the next hour picking through crusted laces and light-up heels.

You pretend not to recognize the names from the milk cartons scrawled in faded marker on three of the soles.

Ed. – Yikes!

 

Thanks for stopping by, Bri, and good luck in all your writing endeavors. Keep us up-to-date!

–ABF

 

Help a young writer grow her following. Find Bri Volinz here!

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

 

1.

You have a debut novel. How are things going?

 

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

 

Ed. — That’s amazing! Congrats. 😀

 

2.

Tell us how you settled on 17th century England?

 

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

 

3.

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

 

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

 

4.

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

 

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

 

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

 

5.

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

 

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

 

6.

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

 

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

 

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

 

7.

What are you working on now?

 

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

 

8.

Have I forgotten anything?

 

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

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

 

 

TRAITOR’S KNOT

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Praise for Traitor’s Knot

 

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

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

 

“A thrilling historical adventure expertly told.”

– Carol McGrath, bestselling author of The Handfasted Wife

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

– Deborah Swift, bestselling author of The Gilded Lily.

 

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Excerpt

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

“Stand and deliver!”

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

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

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

“Toss your musket over the side.”

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

“Everyone out!”

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

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

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

Sir Richard did not twitch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Was there anything more, mistress?”

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

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

“Elizabeth Seton, late of Weymouth.”

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

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

“Aye, proudly so.”

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

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

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

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

 

 

About the Author

 

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

 

 

 

 

Links

 

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

Twitter: @CryssaBazos

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

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