Good morning everyone. Lately, it’s been suggested to me that I get a newsletter up and running because 1) it’s a great way to connect with people who might want to pick up what I write, and 2) it forces me to use first person, a device I fervently stay away from in fiction because the “I’s” make me feel self-conscious.
I thought on it, and while the newsletter works very well for writer colleagues of mine, I can’t see myself doing it because I have Das Blog on WordPress–this wonderful space where I celebrate the publishing journey: yours, mine, everybody’s.
But here’s what I can do. I can spout off daily (or bi-daily or other daily) missives of 500 words plus or minus as the spirit moves me. Content shall be mine.
Welcome, then, to The Daily Yammer, a sub-sid of Das Blog where thoughts are short, commas are few(er), and everything said will be said so with “I”.
First person: this will take getting used to.
Adult, unapologetic and still writing fiction in third person,
Mother, Mortician, Monkey
If you have something to say to me write: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve known A.B. Funkhauser for many years, and to say that she’s as gonzo as her characters is to get it wrong. Sure, she gravitates to larger than life characters on the page and in the public eye, but she appreciates the contemplative too. Claiming to be an “introverted extrovert” she relies on her characters to do all the heavy lifting, to do the things she’d never dream of doing in real life. Her latest work, SHELL GAME, is no exception. Here, characters stay behind closed doors, preferring to spy on one another through windows under cover of night. Interaction appears limited, but is it really? When they aren’t questioning themselves and the motivations of others, they take cues from a black cat that may or may not have real supernatural abilities. Everything is subjective, including what the omniscient narrator chooses to share when and where.
A.B., let’s talk about SHELL GAME, shall we?
Since your publishing date was announced, you’ve been all over social media. Do you love it, or hate it?
A. B. Funkhauser:
I hear writers talking about promotions a lot; how it sparks their creative juices, how it saps their energy, how it calls them out and maybe forces them to be more “in your face” than they would normally like to be. And I agree. But promotion goes hand in glove with writing ‘The Book,’ and so it’s a must. There’s a great deal of competition in the writing world. There’s a lot of competition in anything that’s worthwhile. For me, chatting up SHELL GAME is equal parts excitement and self-interest; exciting for me because I’ve completed another project successfully and delivered it to market; self-interest because who else will know about it if I don’t say so?
I also notice you tagging yourself as a multi-genre author. What’s up with that? You turning in your gonzo badge?
No! Never. But the characters ultimately set the tone, and the people of SHELL GAME are conniving, dastardly, sympathetic and very often contrite. They can’t help it, really. That’s why they need the cats. My hero Carlos is renowned for his quiet, stolid ability to be where he needs to be, affecting certain outcomes because of it. He’s quite brilliant.
At the same time, this piece tilts more in the direction of satire and social commentary in the sense that while the humans are behaving outside of the usual boundaries assigned western society, there is still a moral conscience at play that makes them question their actions. This makes them a little less mendacious than the characters in SCOOTER NATION, for example. They are still capable of doing harm, but this time they feel really bad about it.
Where did that come from?
An event in real time, actually. I hadn’t intended to write a cat book and I’ve gone on about that on this blog and others. I wanted to tuck into the prequel to HEUER LOST AND FOUND, which currently sits at a tantalizing 89,000 words with no end in sight. (I did figure out the ending half way through SHELL GAME, and if I can pull it off it will be quite diabolical.) But like the opening paragraphs of SHELL GAME, I did receive a snarky letter from Animal Control that specifically mentioned the street I live on. I wasn’t the only person on the street to get it—it was a blind drop—but I did take it very personally. The cat I share with a neighbor had brought so much joy into my life and the lives of my family that the faceless person(s) behind the letter threatening his freedom and my pocketbook just infuriated me. The $5,000 fine for not keeping the kitty inside was either a deterrent or tax grab—popular where I live—and the intrusion could only be answered through a ragin’ fiction that sees the cats win for a change. Of course, I can see both sides to the argument for keeping cats indoors in urban areas, and I’m happy to report that my shared kitty spends far more time indoors. But that’s owing to his age and the natural order of things, not from some crummy letter from a human in an office.
And SHELL GAME, like SCOOTER NATION, features characters from many different ethnicities. Is this your response to the current debate on cultural appropriation?
Ha! That’s a minefield and I’m not stepping into it until I have all the information. From the gonzo side of the street, my read of the issue is that writers should keep to their own pasture so as to be authentic. If that’s true, then all I can really write about are past middle-aged straight white human females and that would be a shame. It would be boring for me to write, and boring for anyone else to read.
But, research, foreknowledge, personal history and cumulative story-telling must play a big part in any writing project if the characters are to ring true and shine. To know what we’re on about—that’s our job—and that’s pretty much all I can say about this topic until I learn more.
So, what’s SHELL GAME about?
Oh, that. Lol. Well, I always say that I don’t really know for sure until some reviews come in and I get a few interviews under my belt. The best I can say right now is that it’s about a cat, a community, unwanted change, and the mechanisms employed to cope with this change that result in positive and negative resolutions. Change, I believe, cannot be stopped, but it can be messed with, and with these characters you will see activities that are silly AND life threatening. That’s the gonzo element. But there’s a love element to it as well. And of course, the cats are at the center of things, calling the plays, controlling things, just like they’ve done for millennia.
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! ❤
Toronto born author A.B. Funkhauser is a funeral director, classic car nut and wildlife enthusiast living in Ontario, Canada. Like most funeral directors, she is governed by a strong sense of altruism fueled by the belief that life chooses us, not we it.
Her debut novel Heuer Lost and Found, released in April 2015, examines the day to day workings of a funeral home and the people who staff it. Winner of the Preditors & Editors Reader’s Poll for Best Horror 2015, and the New Apple EBook Award 2016 for Horror, Heuer Lost and Found is the first installment in Funkhauser’s Unapologetic Lives series. Her sophomore effort, Scooter Nation, released March 11, 2016 through Solstice Publishing. Winner of the New Apple Ebook Award 2016 for Humor, and Winner Best Humor Summer Indie Book Awards 2016, Scooter picks up where Heuer left off, this time with the lens on the funeral home as it falls into the hands of a woeful sybarite.
A devotee of the gonzo style pioneered by the late Hunter S. Thompson, Funkhauser attempts to shine a light on difficult subjects by aid of humorous storytelling. “In gonzo, characters operate without filters, which means they say and do the kinds of things we cannot in an ordered society. Results are often comic, but, hopefully, instructive.”
Funkhauser is currently working on THE HEUER EFFECT, the prequel to HEUER LOST AND FOUND.
About the Interviewer
Cryssa Bazos is a member of the Romantic Novelist Association, the Historical Novel Society, the Writers’ Community of Durham Region and the Battle of Worcester Society. Her articles and short stories have been featured in various publications, both in Canada and the UK. She is a co-editor and contributor of the English Historical Fiction Authors site and blogs as the 17th Century Enthusiast. Her debut novel, Traitor’s Knot, placed 3rd in Romance for the Ages in 2016 (Ancient/Medieval/Renaissance).
“A thrilling historical adventure expertly told.” – Carol McGrath, bestselling author of The Handfasted Wife
England 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.
My third novel is ‘done,’ but not really, because after I typed “THE END,” I went right back to the beginning and started editing. Was that the right thing to do, or should I have waited a week or two? Cooled off? Got some distance? I put the question to my friend, the writing genius and all-around great person Lexi Miles. Lexi knows of what she speaks. She writes, she blogs, she promotes, all with an energy that I wish she’d bottle and sell.
Lexi not only weighed in on matters of editing, but she inspired an idea: Why not do a Q & A double-header? Two writers. Two edits. Plenty of questions…and selfies too!
When you sit down to edit, how do you begin your process?
Lexi Miles: The first thing that I do is to make sure that I am editing in a space that is free of distractions. My preference is for it to be quiet when I settle in to edit. After that, like a beta reader, I just read through it looking for the big issues. I try to find anything that jumps out at me: errors (ex: spelling, etc.), holes in plotting, loose ends, my personal favorite all names are correct (Giggles. I have swapped a few characters a time or two.), and all other major issues. In the first sweep, I also look for points that may need clarification and enhance points to strengthen the outcome of events in later chapters.
A.B. Funkhauser: My mind must be absolutely clear, which means I can’t have anything out there that’s been left undone. So, if the lawn needs raking, I rake it. If the kids need a hand with a big study project, I’m there. When all’s done, it’s me and the book, and that’s the way it pretty much is until it’s done! 😀
What is one of the most rewarding and joyful aspects of editing?
AB: My writing gets better with each outing, and that comes from doing, doing, doing. That’s what I see in the editing. There are fewer missteps and errors, and when I do find something, it’s glaring. No second-guessing because I’ve been there before. Best of all, I’m getting a better handle on the fixes. It took three books, but I can finally ‘see’ the problems fast and, even faster, get them fixed because I know how. That’s satisfaction in editing.
LM: One aspect that I find to be the most rewarding is that I have a chance to sit down and read what I have written. I love being able to enjoy it as a reader.
What are some of the challenging aspects of editing?
LM: It can be tedious. In addition to that, between us, I am someone that likes to deliver a high standard of excellence in anything that I do. So, one of the hardest realities for me to accept is that no matter how many times or how many eyes are upon the novel there are going to be a few things that slip through. It is just the process of publishing a novel.
AB: First and foremost, you have got to be well-rested when tackling this. If three great days are followed by an hour or two of sheer grind, then something’s up. It usually means my attitude is skewed either because I’m tired or my mind is wrapped up in something else. When the grind hits, I walk away for a few hours or days and then go back with fresh eyes. Makes a huge difference.
Have you over-edited a part of your novel and it turned into a disaster? If so, how did you go about fixing it?
AB: Ha! See above. In the beginning, yes. This was mostly because I didn’t know how to spot an indulgence, and when I did, didn’t have the heart to ‘kill my darling.’ This improved thanks to the hashtag games on Twitter. There’s nothing more exhilarating than taking an overwrought beauty, chopping it down to 140 characters, and then finding that it’s…BETTER!
But now as then, I always save the full MS at the end of each day as insurance. That way, nothing’s lost and anything can be restored.
LM: (Laughs) Oh yes. I have done this. Unfortunately, the first time that I did it I completely messed it up. I ended up hating that part so much that I removed it and had to try my best to rewrite the original from memory. It was such a heartbreaking experience. The process taught me a few new tricks. So what I have learned is to edit on a copy of the book and not the original. That way, if I tinker too much with a certain part, I can copy that section from the original and begin again. Adding to that, I limit the size of my edit. I will not write more than a certain amount of words. I find this minimization restricts me from altering the original idea beyond what I loved about it as well as makes me construct my words in a way in which I have to make my words concise, powerful, and count. It helps me to keep focused and continue to drive the story forward at a great pace.
Can you please share what techniques you find helpful to identify or catch issues in your work? (ex: know favorite words that get overused, favorite words to misspell or misuse, other issues that you’ve spotted that you now look for, any helpful tips that are you go-to, etc.)
LM: For me, there are several things. The first, I know my overused words or favorite to misuse. I look for them. The second, I use a checklist similar to the helpful links included at the end. Another, I read out loud. It helps me to catch things that I might miss in my head. And finally, the best tips that I can offer you is to make notes about what past editors/betas have caught and always look for new editing tips resources that can help you.
AB: Scene for scene, I will read each one aloud after an edit session to listen for the clunkers that can so easily be missed in quiet reading. Then I move on to the next. The next day, I go back and reread the previous day’s work before beginning new sections. I always find more to trim!
Reading aloud also helps me identify my favorite repeaters: ‘at once’ ‘surely not’ ‘outrageous’. When I hear them, I make a note of them and then do a universal search at the end to prune them out.
My very first manuscript years ago had over 200 cuss words. Lol. I was able to cut them to 5 very essential oaths. I was proud of that!
Dropped words are a constant. “Do you have cat?” instead of “Do you have a cat?” I’m always on the lookout for dropped words. Hyphens and em/en dashes are also a bane. I either over-use them, or don’t use them enough. I’m working on this too. Lol.
In what ways have you improved your editing? (Time efficiency, Using Deadlines, Sticking to Specific Steps, Checklist, Betas, other, etc.)
AB: Beta readers are crucial, but to help them out, I work very hard to deliver the cleanest possible draft I can. I also parse out assignments so that no one is overwhelmed. Some betas look for the aforementioned dropped words, repeaters and spelling, while others check for continuity, credulity and pacing.
I’ve also learned that editing, like novel writing, cannot be done in a week. It’s a slow, lengthy process if you want to get it right. I’ve worked hard to make a friend of it. Atmosphere, background music and regular breaks help, along with very understanding family members that don’t mind pizza three times a week. lol
LM: I stick to specific steps on my sweeps (editing passes) and follow them in order. To give you more insight as to what I am referring to, I start edits as I am writing the novel. I edit at the end of each chapter. Then on the first read through of the full length written novel, I don’t attempt to edit the numerous issues all at once. I address the sizable/noticeable issues then progress to the more intricate or detailed issues. Following that, I move to my next steps to address grammar, pace, dropped [missing] words, punctuation variation, vocabulary enhancement, and so on.
I also use a loose deadline process (to account for creativity and details in editing) for editing chapters to help my time efficiency. If not, I may never put a book out. (Giggles.) I found that I work great with deadlines; accordingly, they keep me focused.
In addition to those elements, Betas [for clarification and several other critical elements of editing] and Checklist have improved my editing in spades!
What is something that you stay away from while editing?
LM: Although I use deadlines, I do not rush. I STAY AWAY FROM RUSHING and take my time. Like a painter, a chef, or any other creative soul, take the time to create a work of art.
AB: My other novels! I’ll read the news before I go back to something already done. It would confuse me.
How many passes do you take through the manuscript?
AB: Usually three passes and then another two after the betas weigh in.
LM: Honestly, as many as it takes. I usually find that number to be about four times through (not including my daily end of chapter edits as I write).
When is the best time for you personally to do edits? (by chapter, start of day, completed manuscript, all of the above, other, etc.)
LM: [While writing] I perform edits at the start of each day as a great help to get back into the groove. [Once the book is written] I do my editing at the top of my day or in a moment where it is quiet with minimal interruptions. As far as frequency, I do edits at all points of the novel construction process. As I progress, the focus of the editing will evolve as needed. I think it is critical to do edits at the end of each chapter, an in-depth scrubbing at the completion of the fully written manuscript, and any other edits that the book requires to make it polished and sparkle with life! Again, I edit at all points so that the book, at the completion, is the book I sat down to write!
AB: I prefer the morning, although multiple competing schedules don’t always allow for this. I treat editing the way I do my writing: if I work at it a little bit each day, I’ll get it done…and I do!
When editing, do you edit for a set amount of time, set daily chapter goals, or do you go until you are tired, etc.?
AB: I leave it to my moods, though I have certain deadlines in mind. There is usually a contest deadline lurking ahead that drives me to finish. I also like to have the book ready for publication in advance of NaNoWriMo so that I’m free and clear to begin the next novel.
LM: I set a certain amount of time daily, and I also have a daily chapter goal. I set both of those so that I am completely fresh when I am editing. If I finish the daily chapter or the allotted time passes, I will call it. I do not go over the time I have blocked out in my schedule to avoid missing anything.
What are a few editing resources that you use?
LM: I like to utilize a checklist, editing programs, Beta Readers, Professional Editors, thesauruses, grammar websites, Google, grammar reference texts/books, Youtube, my dusty college educated brain (Giggles), blogs, other Authors, and the list continues. (That is code for see below for more resources.)
AB: I constantly refer to the rules of punctuation, which remain fixed in spite of conventional use changes. e.g. the ‘war’ on the semi-colon. The more I blog, the more I ‘unlearn’ the rules, so when it comes time to dig into a 60, 70 or 80K manuscript, I study up. Always, I ask: Oxford comma, or not?
Lexi’s Awesome Editing Resource List*
*We are not affiliated with these sites in any way. The links are helpful for editing.
A lot of us jump into edits ‘boots first’ right after typing ‘THE END.’ What are the advantages/disadvantages of moving fast?
AB: The advantage for me is that I’m super keen. The pistons are firing and I know exactly where all the characters are and what motivates them. This makes inconsistencies a lot easier to spot. The disadvantage is that I’m too close to the work, and so I’m more apt to miss dropped words, and issues of clarity. Stepping away from ‘THE END’ strips a lot of that away. Distance really draws out what could be clearer or what scenes really don’t need to be there at all.
LM: The advantage to jumping right back in is that the story is in the forefront of your mind. The disadvantage is that your eyes aren’t so fresh and you tend to miss issues/mistakes that you will most likely catch when you have stepped away from a project. That is code for I tend to favor NOT jumping right back in. My golden rule is to step away from the full-length written novel for a bare minimum of two weeks before I return to it for the first full book edit pass. That way I can see it fresh as if I am reading it for the first time.
The publishing world is evolving as never before. Do you agree/disagree with the current trend toward ‘sensitivity’ editing in the modern age?
LM: First let me say some people are vile. And you have to write them accordingly. There is no sensitive way around that. If the story’s essence is rooted in that fact, has a purpose for writing a character a certain way, or a mirroring element is there to strengthen the storytelling. That is the story that must be told.
Now, having said that, as far as my writing in general, I tend to write with a certain level of ‘sensitivity’ anyway with respect for people being people. I don’t buy into people being different. Long before I studied the discipline of Cultural Anthropology[Human Behavioral Studies], I felt, which was confirmed by my studies, that we are all the same at our core. What I am saying is, my writing is written in a way so that anyone can sit down, read the books, and with minimal effort be able to see themselves or elements of themselves inside of the story. The hope is that anyone can connect to it. So, I agree with sensitivity editing because it is writing a story free of stereotyping. To me, that is an enjoyable read. Unlike some may argue, I don’t think it dilutes a story, but quite the opposite. I think that it enriches it and tells a better story. It is a story that is closer to life. As a romance writer, I am not a fan of the girl looking for someone to rescue them. Rather, I write from the unique perspective in the romance genre of a girl looking to share a new chapter of her life with the love of her life as they face realistic challenges. Also, I don’t write a man that can’t access his emotions. Those stories, in my opinion, also are the pits [weak writing]. Unless of course, there is a quality backstory there and there is a purpose [not an overused idea]. I think not writing with the crutches of false ideas gives an author the chance to step up their writing and enhance what they write with depth/substance that everyone can say huh, that’s an important challenge I am facing, and am benefiting as I read this material. I think it forces new dimensions and robust layering. You don’t fall back on comfortable elements of the past but are called to create new dimensions in a written work. You are forced to dive a bit deeper and to peel back the layers of emotion that the other method of storytelling glosses over or allows the reader to remain at a safe distance. That is limitless and something thrilling for the mind to savor, chew on, digest, and evolve to a new level of awareness. I love that!
AB: I think it depends on genre, non-fiction in particular. In non-fiction, as in journalism, balance is critical to accuracy. Information is conveyed in a manner that should allow readers to debate and then draw their own conclusions. Whereas in fiction, art, character and mood are apt to take the front seat to big-time tells and balance. Villains are villains because they are nasty. They say and do things outside of what the reader finds acceptable in law and culture, which is precisely the point. The insensitivity and cruelty we see in certain characters drive the action driving the protagonist to the big fix (if a ‘happy ending’ is what you’re going for). I don’t see how sensitivity editing would make it better.
Which brings us to the subject of self-censorship. To what degree is editing for the market beneficial?
AB: There are so many guidelines out there geared to writing success. Whether these guidelines lead to ‘self-censorship’ or are an invaluable metric to publishing success is between writers and their agents/publishers. I like to think that the moment I start tempering my words is also the moment where I need to take a break. I write fiction and I write morally challenged characters, so I have to take care not to make them too nice. 😀
LM: I think that as long as the true essence of the story is not altered then editing for the market is extremely beneficial. I feel this way because due to the editing the work falls into a clearer defined market. As a result, a larger number of people will have access to as well as have an opportunity to connect with the book’s material. Without that mild/targeted editing, readers might not have had the chance to meet up with the story.
Self-publishing can cut out entire layers including ‘professional’ editing. Does this lend to greater artistic freedom, or heart-wrenching do-overs after the first run?
LM: I have taken part in both styles of publishing. Despite my style of publishing, I ALWAYS utilize a professional editor as well as a professional editing program. I do not self-edit alone; however, over time I have learned from personal as well as other professionally conversational/documented resources outside of myself, even with the most skilled eyes professionally editing your book every book will have the occasional typo. As a writer, as I stated previously, you have to understand that some typos never get caught. Even the most experienced, well-known, or traditionally published authors release new editions with modified content. So, to answer the question above, any time you have to make a detailed alteration to a written work it can be heart-wrenching as well as tedious. That’s my way of saying it is not fun no matter what style of publishing.
Now to address the portion of the question about creative freedom when Indie Publishing versus Traditionally Publishing. I’d have to say for the most part it is close to the same, but in some ways, it is more restrictive to traditionally publish. I will briefly elaborate. There are some cases when you may want to write something that you have experienced within your life, but a publisher may deem it too harsh of a depiction, and the content may be too intense for the publisher’s audience. Another example of a restriction of freedom with a publisher may be a descriptive word while voicing something within a conversation. In very specific cases, saying that someone whispered something versus whimpered would shift the book from mainstream romance to erotic. Sometimes that can diminish the intensity of a moment.
Closing out what I am saying here is, to maintain your creative voice while working with an editor or publishing house it is important to find the right one. I am fortunate on both fronts my editors and publisher respects my voice, and they give me the final say. I feel the story you get when picking up my novel is the one I wanted to tell or at least very close to it.
AB: Self-publishing, like the writing journey, is not necessarily something done in a vacuum. As writers, we have access to all kinds of writing services staffed by accredited professionals who can make our books better. The decision to use these services are personal ones governed by many things; craft uncertainty and budget are two. I’m lucky in that I belong to a highly-accomplished writing group that strives to excel. I’ve learned a great deal from them while keeping the creative drive alive. I think I try new things on in writing to see how they’ll react. Their critiques, 9 times out of 10, have proven correct.
Speaking of editing, which books have your attention at the moment and when will you be sharing them with everyone? Care to give us a peek at the covers (or at the most recent book you have released)?
AB: I’m hoping to get SHELL GAME out there in the next couple of months or so (depending on how the editing goes!). I’m really excited about this one in that it’s a departure from the first two novels. Rather than anchor the piece in a funeral home, I decided to take it outside into a fictionalized neighborhood that isn’t everything that it appears to be. As the title implies, everyone concerned plays a kind of SHELL GAME with neighbors, colleagues and even family members.
The thing I love most about this one is that the main protagonist is a tabby cat with a lot of insight. By being present, he makes things happen for good and for ill. There is still plenty of gonzo and revenge of the type readers have come to expect from HEUER LOST AND FOUND and SCOOTER NATION, but there are more insights, bigger laughs with a dollop of darkness on the side. i.e. One of the central questions is: What is that sausage really made of? 😉
A cat’s-eye view of the human soap opera
Carlos the Wonder Cat lives free, traveling from house to house in a quiet suburban neighborhood. Known by everyone, his idyllic existence is threatened when a snarky letter from animal control threatens to punish kitty owners who fail to keep their pets indoors. The $5,000 fine / loss of kitty to THE MAN is draconian and mean, but before Team Carlos can take steps, he is kidnapped by a feline fetishist sex cult obsessed with the films of eccentric Pilsen Güdderammerüng. Stakes are high. Even if Carlos escapes their clutches, can he ever go home?
The first is WILDFIRE (coming May 2017), hybrid poetry collection with a short bonus romance accompaniment SOME LIKE IT HOT. SOME LIKE IT HOT is a firehouse romance about an unexpected night of events for Bella and Lt. Xander Garten that changes everything.
The second is a romance about a psychiatrist, Lila, who goes on vacation in Vegas and runs into a sexy familiar face, Clark, she really should not become romantically involved with entitled OUR SECRET (coming Summer 2017).
And finally, PRIVATE LESSONS (coming Summer 2017). A romance-suspense about a recently divorced professional woman, Ryan, who gets much-needed lessons in self-defense and love from her alarmingly sexy private instructor Jimmy.
My most recent release is The Order of Moonlight. A vampire love story about a young woman, Clair, and a mysterious stranger G that invites her to a masquerade ball as well as into his magical world. Is Clair ready for all she will learn about his world?
The Order of Moonlight
Clair De Lune a young woman, who works at a small town café in the middle of nowhere, likes to live her life off of the radar. One afternoon that all changes when a wildly handsome mysterious suit wearing gentleman walks into her café. Intrigued to know more about the gorgeous enigmatic stranger, when he extends an invite to the masquerade ball later that night, she decides to meet him. Soon Clair finds that there just might be more to him than meets the human eye. Is Clair ready to step into his magical world of passion?
Ryan DeVain, a travel agent, gets tricked into taking much needed self-defense classes by her best friend Piper. She is apprehensive, even given the looming threat of her past, until she meets the ultra-sexy brown haired instructor Jimmy Jalin. Will there be sexy benefits included with his training?
Lila, a psychiatrist, hops on a plane to Vegas with her recently divorced best friend. They have a fun girls’ night out, but when Lila retires to her room she can’t sleep. Instead she has the same haunting thoughts that keep her up every night. Knowing that sleep is not going to happen that night, she goes out on a walk to clear her head. While out, she encounters the every so sexy Clark who just so happens to be off-limits because he’s a client of hers. Will she be able to deny what she feels for him or will they keep Vegas their little secret?
Wildfire Poetry Collection
Love in many ways is a wildfire that goes nuts within the heart. The poetry within this romantic collection gets the pulse racing and the heart fluttering. If you are in love, have been in love, or dream to be in love this sweet and sexy collection is for you. Fall in love with Wildfire and you’ll be happy that you did!
Some Like It Hot (Bonus Story In Wildfire)
Bella, a computer tech, just so happens to love that Fire House 34 is one of her assignments. It has everything to do with the fact that she gets to see the ever so sexy Lt. Xander Garten daily. But what’s not to like about him; he’s a tall, muscular, and madly heroic firefighter. No wonder Bella has developed an attraction to him. One day after work, Bella’s roommate Janine convinces her to go out for a much needed girls’ night. When Bella’s evening takes a turn for the worst, will a chance meeting with Xander heat things up between them and end up making it the best night of her life?
Writing the book is a great achievement. Editing it well, even more so. Do you agree?
LM: I am going to keep this answer simple, YES!
AB: Yes, yes, and yes. Here’s my golden rule:
DON’T RUSH IT! You spend months or years putting something together that has meaning. Rushing the edits doesn’t serve it. Read it, say it, LISTEN to it. Spelling and grammar usage are as important as continuity, credulity and pacing. Get it right and you’ll love it forever. Your readers will too!
Thank you for stopping in to share a moment with A.B. Funkhauser and Lexi Miles. We hope that you enjoyed what we had to share. Feel free to drop a friendly comment below with your thoughts and other editing tips that have helped you.
Keep laughing. Keep smiling. Keep writing.
About the Authors
Toronto born author A.B. Funkhauser is a funeral director, classic car nut and wildlife enthusiast living in Ontario, Canada. Like most funeral directors, she is governed by a strong sense of altruism fueled by the belief that life chooses us, not we it.
Her debut novel Heuer Lost and Found, released in April 2015, examines the day to day workings of a funeral home and the people who staff it. Winner of the Preditors & Editors Reader’s Poll for Best Horror 2015, and the New Apple EBook Award 2016 for Horror, Heuer Lost and Found is the first installment in Funkhauser’s Unapologetic Lives series. Her sophomore effort, Scooter Nation, released March 11, 2016 through Solstice Publishing. Winner of the New Apple Ebook Award 2016 for Humor, and Winner Best Humor Summer Indie Book Awards 2016, Metamorph Publishing, Scooter picks up where Heuer left off, this time with the lens on the funeral home as it falls into the hands of a woeful sybarite.
A devotee of the gonzo style pioneered by the late Hunter S. Thompson, Funkhauser attempts to shine a light on difficult subjects by aid of humorous storytelling. “In gonzo, characters operate without filters which means they say and do the kinds of things we cannot in an ordered society. Results are often comic but, hopefully, instructive.”
Funkhauser is currently editing SHELL GAME, a psycho-social cat dramady with death and laughs.
Lexi is currently living in California, has one sister named Cat, and is a proud pup mom of 2 mischievous Yorkies. Tropical warm spots and out of the way ranches are Lexi’s favorite escapes. Lexi loves to giggle. She’s a huge fan of positivity, and she is delighted when she can help someone else smile. Lexi loves a good Netflix binge. She also enjoys music (all genres), baseball, bubble baths, cooking, and long walks on the treadmill (aka working out). As far as writing, she fell in love with it from when she was a kid, and she still finds that she falls more in love with it every day. Lexi is growing a cult following for both her poetry and romance novels and believes that love—all forms—is the most precious gift that we are given in life. She is thrilled to pen romance, and all of that comes with it on paper! To find out more about Lexi, please go to www.LexiMilesAuthor.com!
It’s been a privilege getting to know the incredibly talented author Angela D’Onofrio this past year. Ang and I met, like so many authors do, through the #Twitterverse, striking up a fast and growing friendship. As the creator of #2bitTues, a hashtag of influence, Ang inspired me to create my own #Thurds Words. Both tags appeal to writers, bloggers and poets with that one thing in common: a desire to express and share.
Ang’s first novel FROM THE DESK OF BUSTER HEYWOOD is a fascinating fish out of water tale with a twist: the unsavory thing in the trunk is the ticket to belonging. Winner 2nd Prize “Thriller” 2016 Summer Indie Book Awards (Metamorph Publishing), she is full of energy, releasing earlier this month, her sophomore effort IN THE CARDS. Aviario, Connecticut will never be the same! Congrats, Ang.
This past summer, Ang did an amazing thing, posting on her blog, an awesome compare/contrast piece of my two books. In it, SCOOTER NATION and HEUER LOST AND FOUND are examined closely, and I was blown away by her observations.
With Ang’s permission, I am reproducing her piece here with the hope that I can do a similar piece for her very soon!
Thanks, again, friend, for your tips, your generosity and your commitment to this thing we do called writing.
Or: unsolicited reviews of A.B. Funkhauser’s first two novels…
Those of you who have been following my blog for a while will remember A.B. Funkhauser’s name, as she was kind enough to interview me back in February about From the Desk of Buster Heywood. At that time, I had already read her debut novel, Heuer Lost and Found, and known I’d found a new favorite author. Funkhauser’s Unapologetic Lives series follows the surprisingly zany ins and outs of the Weibigand Funeral Home. I was expecting eclectic humor on par with Carl Hiassen and Christopher Moore … I got that, and far more.
The lost Heuer in question is Jürgen Heuer, a lawyer whose life was about as unapologetic as anyone’s can get. Rude, lewd, and thoroughly self-serving, Heuer despises his neighbors and alienates his colleagues. So when he dies in an apartment that would make episodes of “Hoarders” look tame, it takes a good, long while for anyone to notice he is missing… much to Heuer’s dismay, as his spirit still remains, kicking around the apartment and forced to come to terms with the life he lived.
When Weibigand’s is hired to handle Heuer’s preparation and funeral, mortician Enid Krause is sent to the scene with her co-worker, Carla, and has a nasty shock: Heuer was a lover in a summer long ago, and she had put him far out of her mind. Now she must be intimate with him again, in ways she would not have imagined… and Heuer’s spirit has his chance to redeem himself.In introducing her readers to the Weibigand home and its denizens, Funkhauser makes it plain from the very start that her funeral directors, embalmers, and owners are very real people, and just as prone to the same sort of drama as any workplace: scheming Jocasta Binns hopes to gain control of the family business from her half-brothers, manager Charlie strives to hold it all together with a little of the old-school decorum, and Carla Blue is navigating her fair share of relationship issues, while finding solace in her friendship with the funeral home’s resident rat. Oh, and then there’s the fact that Heuer’s spirit finds its guru in a possessed floor lamp…
There is something for everyone in this novel: romance, drama, and suspense are all interlaced into what Funkhauser has aptly dubbed a gonzo style of novel writing. Anything goes, and almost everything does, told by a narrator who is as unapologetic as her characters: matter-of-fact, even as she’s winking at you and nudging you in the ribs. Every single character is fully developed, and you will fall in love with all of them – even those you love to hate… and yes, even the floor lamp. (I’m not kidding. That lamp is pretty fantastic.)
With a little bit of horror, just a dash of magical realism, and a lot of heart and humor, Heuer Lost and Found teaches us that there is beauty to be found everywhere, as long as we still have the will and the eye to look … and that it is never, ever too late for a soul to redeem itself.
Scooter Nation brings us ahead in time, to a year after the events of Heuer Lost & Found. Carla and Enid have both recovered as much as they can from what they endured, and have been joined at Weibigand’s by Carla’s old friend Scooter Creighton. I think that “old coot” would be the most fitting label for Scooter, and I apply it in as endearing a manner as possible.
The scheme Jocasta Binns has been brewing comes to full fruition: the funeral home is sold out of its generational ownership to a chain, and the repercussions of the sale shake every member of the Weibigand’s staff to its core. The more liberties Jocasta takes with the home, the more her employees fight to keep their own integrity intact… and eventually, desperate times call for desperate measures.
Weibigand’s isn’t the only place having trouble with its status quo, however: a gang of motorized scooter owners is becoming more and more vociferous about their right to full access. Their ringleader, Alma Wurtz, is the worst of them, with a personal vendetta against Jocasta Binns. Scooter and Carla make an alliance with her in an attempt to save the dignity and decorum of the trade and the home they have come to love over the years, and the death of a public figure provides the perfect opportunity… but will they go too far?
I came into this novel expecting something on par with its predecessor, and was not disappointed in the least. The characters who were so full-fledged and rich grow and develop by leaps and bounds, especially when pushed to their boundaries. Funkhauser digs down deep into each character and shatters the lines of morality, showing us the darkness and light within all of them… and forcing us to take a good, hard, look at it ourselves as we decide, as readers, who we should really be cheering for. It is a difficult decision, in the end, and I think a second read is in order to really decide.
There is not quite as much in the way of magical realism in Scooter Nation: no spirits or sage advisory objects … but the spirits of Weibigand’s are still very present in the imprint they have left upon the people who remain. In the midst of death and chaos, life endures … unapologetic, plain, beautiful, and crazy. To be reminded of that should be the goal of every good book, and Funkhauser passes that test with flying colors.
Yesterday, I broke my own rule by indulging in a little memory lane traipsing. I don’t normally do this as I stubbornly cling to a self imposed ethos that demands attention be paid to what’s ahead in lieu of what can’t be rewritten.
I’m not Gatsby: I leave the past to sociologists, historians and novelists (chuckle).
The last bit about novelists is probably why I fell off the wagon. That, or a certain nagging sentimentality that’s been trying to get into my psyche since hitting the half century back in March.
The first thing I did was opine on Face Book and Twitter about the end of Mad Men and of how much this incredibly stylish show impacted me. Not to contradict myself: it wasn’t the style…or the odd nomenclature of the culture…or the social ambiguities that we, today, find so astonishing, that grabbed me, but the realization that I was actually born to that era. Let’s be clear, I was a kid, but I did have eyes and ears. I grew up watching Nixon defend the war (his broadcasts always interrupted the Paul Lynde
show, which irritated me to no end) and my country’s enigmatic, larger than life Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau rage against the pequiste separatist movement in Quebec. Heck, I remember the lunar landing in 1969 if only for the fact that I watched it in my grandmother’s living room against a background sound and aroma of sizzling German doughnuts—kreppels—boiling up in the big pot on her kitchen stove.
It was a good time…for me at least.
Watching Don Draper twist and turn on the AMC show week after week, I wondered if grownups had it as rough as portrayed. I don’t mean the men and women who went to war—war’s awful at all times—or the marchers who put their lives at risk for something as basic and necessary as human rights equality; I mean the regular civvies born between the wars who’d made it and got the picket fence.
I wouldn’t know. I was born to that fence. But I was also born to plug in the wall record players, pellet guns with real pellets and neighborhood bullies who preyed on the small, awkward and buck toothed because it was expected and they could. I got my revenge: bully lived in a white clapboard house and there was no shortage of crab apples on crab apple trees to pelt his house with…and also, I had a big brother who gladly dispatched anyone who got in my face—you could do that back then. My dignity was rescued from crass stupidity.
You could do a lot of things back then. Watching the Joan Harris character on Mad Men cope with sexism and exclusion reminded me of a time in the distant Eighties when grown men made sucking noises when pretty girls walked by. That I was fifteen —and obviously so— didn’t seem to bother them, but it sure as hell bothered me. I’m glad that’s gone, and I’m glad I won’t be reminded of it every Sunday night.
Bidding adieu to Mad Men took me to another place I hadn’t been for many years: 1979, a great year for many reasons—my braces came off, my disco moves were rad, I smoked my first cigarette and fell in love with Robert De Niro. Gritty realism in cinema had been de facto since Clute, but nothing prepared me for the august beauty and sheer power of The Deer Hunter. Released just four years after the war and probably meant to compete with Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (which I also liked) there was something about the nuanced performances in Deer Hunter that kept me watching and rewatching for many years. The set pieces, the dialogue, the unconventional “real people” look of the actors sharpened my senses to everything around me. Appreciate your time it seemed to say, because it doesn’t last. The future takes it away.
I know the ending where the mourners gather in the bar after a major character funeral and sing God Bless America was seen as a controversial move by some. I didn’t feel that. Not the first time I saw it, or indeed yesterday when I viewed it again. It reminded me that I always need something to believe in and as long as I have that, I’ll be able to press on, hopefully with great joy.
If the future steals the past, does the present arm us for that unseen thing in front of us?
That’s another discussion for another day.
In the meantime, I will focus on what needs doing: there are weeds to be pulled out back, and a sleepy old cat that needs his lunch; the truck tires could use some air and…
In support of HEUER LOST AND FOUND releasing on April 23 on all Amazons, Bookgoodies, Solstice Publishing and wherever else Createspace is sending it, I will be popping in on fellow authors through to May 18 (with weekends off—I need my beauty sleep!) Here’s the roster for week one. Feel free to stop by.
Monday, April 20
Interview and Review with Shyla Wolff, Shyla Wolff’s Thoughs
Covering off the home desk www.abfunkhauser.com while I’m away are some amazing guest authors who will be answering a Proustian questionnaire of my own design as well as showcasing their latest projects, blogs, interviews and more. Check them out. First up, John DeBoer, author, medical doctor and duffer (that’s golfer for those of you not in the know). Welcome, John.
Biography: John DeBoer
After graduating from the University of Vermont College of Medicine, John L. DeBoer, M.D., F.A.C.S. completed a surgical residency in the U.S. Army and then spent three years in the Medical Corps as a general surgeon. Thirty years of private practice later, he retired to begin a new career as a writer.
When not creating new plot lines for his novels, Dr. DeBoer pursues his interests in cooking, films and film history, politics, and the amazing cosmos. Though he’s an avid tennis player, his yet-to-be-fulfilled goal is to achieve a level of mediocrity in the frustrating game of golf.
The father of two grown sons, he lives with his wife in North Carolina.
There’s that old saying that one must never put the cart before the horse, so what if I just leave the cart at home and carry on? First reviews for HEUER LOST AND FOUND are in and so far, THEY’RE GOOD. So I think I will leave the cart at home and have a once around. As Lord Grantham would say: “Steady On”.
Every now and again you come across a treat and this book was as good as chocolate, mostly because of its originality. It takes a serious premise and gives it a light touch. The author is a word technician. The unusual catalyst? We have a man who dies but is still extremely vocal and active. But if his experiences beyond the Grim Reaper are typical, then I advise you, new readers, to stay in this life – or find some parallel universe.The writing style is racy with no words wasted. Early example: “May had given over to June with its outdoor patios and brain blasting surround sound systems—zesty realities that didn’t always mesh with work.” Midway example: “A tall lamp of ancient origin flickered in a large room ahead of him. Piled high with boxes and debris—a compendium of past lives—the space reminded him of a place he’d just come from and was not anxious to see again.” Late example: “Heuer looked at his smooth hands—a musician’s hands—with their perfectly tapered fingers filled with music that went unplayed. Peace? There was no peace to be made with Werner.”
It’s all tidily edited and I didn’t keep tripping over typos.
The characters are painted clearly right from the start, not in laborious detail, but in the little hints and the ways in which they do things.
A lot of care, background knowledge and zest with the pen has gone into this book.
—David K. Bryant, Author, Tread Carefully on the Sea
This beautifully written, quirky, sad, but also often humorous story of Heuer and Enid – one living and the other a spirit stuck between this world and the next – gives us a glimpse into the fascinating, closed world of the funeral director. Years after their relationship ended, the past catches up to both of them in the most unlikely place – the funeral home. Fresh writing filled with rich vocabulary, this story features a vivid cast of colourful, living-breathing characters. This one will keep you reading late into the night until the final page.
—Yvonne Hess, Charter Member, The Brooklin 7
Ms. A.B Funkhauser is a brilliant and wacky writer incapable of dumbing things down and amen for that. Her distinctive voice tells an intriguing story that mixes moral conflicts with dark humor, not too mention booze and cigarettes.
The book’s title refers to the lead character, a lawyer who dies in his home. As the body decomposes, the man’s spirit experiences euphoria, rage, disappointment and eventually hope. One of my favourite characters Enid, an employee of the Weibigand Brothers Funeral Home where Heuer now resides just happens to be Heuer the dead lawyer’s former girlfriend, and as we re-live the flawed recollections of their murky past—it really poses the question. How do we deal with death?
—Rachael Stapleton, Author, The Temple of Indra’s Jewel and Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire
The macabre black comedy Heuer Lost And Found, written by A.B. Funkhauser, is definitely a different sort of book! Her protagonist Heuer dies but his spirit hangs around as he waits for his body to be collected a week later from his dirty, litter strewn flat. In the funeral home, ready to be embalmed, he finds out it’s an ex-girlfriend, now alcoholic, who will do the process. Add to that a talking rat…
You will enjoy this book with its mixture of horror and humour.
—Diana Harrison, Author, Always and Forever
Heuer Lost and Found is a quirky and irreverent story about a man who dies and finds his spirit trapped in a funeral home with an ex-lover who happens to be the mortician. He has to come to terms with his hoarding, degenerate past before he can escape. I love the character of Heuer, the Lawyer. He’s not a loveable character, but he’s as fascinating as watching a bug under a microscope. I found myself rooting for the guy, which is always the mark of a strong character. The characterization is rich the story well-told.
—Cryssa Bazos, Writer’s Community of Durham Region, Ontario, Canada
Author A. B. Funkhauser strikes a macabre chord with her book “Heuer Lost and Found”. Written from the perspective of an undertaker, she gives her readers a ringside seat at the Weibigand Mortuary where Enid, a middle aged woman with a taste for scotch, arrives on a Monday morning still in a stupor from the night before. Initially, the reader learns a bit about Enid and the history of the mortuary, its original owners and their heirs who continue to operate the family owned business, along with all of its eccentric employees. Early in the day, a call is received and there after a not so typical day in the life of a mortuary begins. Heuer, a well known middle aged attorney has been found dead in his apartment, where he laid for several days. The story now moves between present day and flash backs to a time when Heuer, Enid and others in the story are intertwined in one way or another. Heuer appears as a ghostly spectre to enchant us with his own take on his past, and his current impressions of what is being said and done as his body is prepared for burial. I for one like this book. I found it to have a similar feel to the HBO series “Six Feet Under”.
Ms. Funkhauser is a wizard with words and did a fine job of weaving this story of Greek, German and English speaking families that bounced back and forth throughout the entire book.
—Young, Author, A Harem Boy’s Saga Vol I, II, and III
Heuer’s difficult relationship with women and his mother seems to be a focal here, but so are references to friendship, loneliness and feelings of inadequacy. The irony that it’s an old girlfriend with a ton of problems taking care of him as his funeral director, is startling. The author depicts the flaws and human nature in both characters. This book is an incredible read that does not allow the audience to “fall asleep” at any time. A MUST READ!
—Daisy Kourkoulakos, Mississauga, Ontario
Not really horror or occult, this book mixes soul searching with some pretty off the wall humour. When a lawyer dies in his home with his spirit body for company, he must pass the time reminiscing with the walls while learning to move objects with his mind. Once his body’s found by a sexy coroner he madly wants to date, he finds himself stuck at a funeral home with a bunch of odd strangers including an ex girlfriend who likes to drink. What does a guy have to do to get on with his after life? Scaring the crabby neighbor is a start. I enjoyed this book because it’s extremely witty and the characters do really unexpected things like house breaking and scaring mourners at funerals. Perfect for anyone who likes gallows humour!
—Suzanne Fairbrass Stacey, Lake Simcoe, Ontario
Having received my copy of the work personally from the author, the first thing I have to mention, is that although not my usual cup of tea, but Heuer Lost and Found, is without a doubt a great story to get into and stay captivated by.
The setting may seem a little unorthodox and considered slightly macabre, but that is what made this work. This is a story that to me, felt like it abides by its own set rules and the pace is brilliantly maintained by the ever wordy A.B. Funkhauser. Even with an extensive vocabulary, the variety of words used were more of a pleasure than a pain and reminded me of the works by Bram Stoker, a personal favourite author of mine.
The story is lovingly crafted and is full of noteworthy lines that just stick in the memory, such as the phrase: Was sein wird, wird sein und was hineinschaut, schaut auch wieder raus—What will be, will be, and what looks in, looks out.
And if that’s not enough to entice, maybe the ensemble cast of Enid, Charlie, Clara is. A trio who although feel like a mix-matched bunch that shouldn’t be in each others lives, author Funkhauser bound them together just so.
For a story centered around death, it is full of Life.
—Rocky Rochford, Author, Rise of Elohim Chronicles
I didn’t know what to make of this at first, and then I was half way through it, and then I was at the end…but I didn’t want it to be over. Funkhauser made me learn new words like “aegis” and then I was laughing too hard to notice that I was actually at a sad part. Like Breaking Bad’s Walter White, Heuer is not a likeable man, but I somehow found myself rooting for him. A strange, complicated character. I have to look at him again. I hope there’ll be more where this came from!
—Kasey Balko, Pickering, Ontario
Multifaceted characters layered into a modern plot with plenty of sub cues based in the past. Heuer and Enid in their own way are similar so it makes sense that they’d come together again even if the circumstances are strange. Though spirit and funeral director never meet face to face, their simpatico is strong and their conversations are heartbreaking and real. The staff at the funeral parlour are good for laughs! Charlie, Dougie and poor old Robert the intern, who has to put up with a lot, break the tension and keep this thing rattling to a poignant conclusion.
No stranger to this blog, author Bernard Foong (A Harem Boy’s Saga I, II, and III) had a look, and in advance of Heuer’s debut April 23rd, here’s what he had to say:
5 star review:
Author A. B. Funkhauser strikes a macabre cord with her book “Heuer Lost and Found”.
the perspective of an undertaker, she gives her readers a ringside seat at the Weibigand Mortuary where Enid, a middle aged woman with a taste for scotch, arrives on a Monday morning still in a stupor from the night before. Initially, the reader learns a bit about Enid and the history of the mortuary, its original owners and their heirs who continue to operate the family owned business, along with all of its eccentric employees. Early in the day, a call is received and there after a not so typical day in the life of a mortuary begins. Heuer, a well known middle aged attorney has been found dead in his apartment, where he laid for several days. The story now moves between present day and flash backs to a time when Heuer, Enid and others in the story are intertwined in one way or another. Heuer appears as a ghostly spectre to enchant us with his own take on his past, and his current impressions of what is being said and done as his body is prepared for burial. I for one like this book. I found it to have a similar feel to the HBO series “Six Feet Under”.
Ms. Funkhauser is a wizard with words and did a fine job of weaving this story of Greek, German and English speaking families that bounced back and forth throughout the entire book.
Hooray! And thank you, Bernard Foong.
Drop by #1lineWed for more Heuer and some excellent one liners from incredible authors. 🙂