NEW URBAN FANTASY FROM KATEMARIE COLLINS

Award winning author KateMarie Collins visits the blog for the first time, sharing her thoughts on identity, home and reconciling the two. GUARDING CHARON is her fourteenth title. Welcome KateMarie.

 

 

guarding-charon-001One should always read the fine print…especially with an inheritance from a relative you didn’t know existed.

In a rut doesn’t even begin to describe Grace’s life at 22. Her ex is using his position as a cop to stalk her, getting her fired from every job she finds. Her parents, not knowing how abusive he could be, believe all her problems would vanish if she’d simply marry him. After losing yet another job, a lawyer arrives. A relative has died and left her entire estate in Maine to Grace.

Eager to shake the dust of Bruce and small town Texas off of her for good, she leaps at the chance. She even changes her name. Then she learns that her great aunt was a Witch…and the house has some big secrets. Secrets that she has to protect for six months if she hopes to inherit the entire estate and truly be free of her past.

 

 

1.

Welcome KateMarie and congrats on your latest GUARDING CHARON. The boatman Charon first appears in classical literature and evokes images of fear and loathing, but he also represents a passage into the nether and a new beginning. What themes dominate most in your novel?

 

New beginnings, definitely. Finding out who you truly are when you escape the people who want you to be something else because it benefits them.

 

2.

Who doesn’t dream of inherited wealth from a surprising source? Your character Grace faces some unusual challenges when she does. How does she cope?

 

Grace/Amber isn’t afraid of her future nearly as much as she is her past. She tends to embrace the challenges because what she left behind was so awful that almost anything would be an improvement on her life.

 

3.

There are strong paranormal overtones in your novel including witchcraft. Do you consider magical powers a strength or a curse for protagonists?

 

Strength, definitely. I’m a Solitary Wiccan and made sure that the presence of witchcraft was positive and in line with how Wiccans really live their lives. Part of what I hope is that this book educates someone on what witchcraft really is.

 

4.

The states of Maine and Texas figure prominently in your narrative. What is your link to these settings?

 

I have none! LOL. I chose Texas as the starting point because it tends to be conservative. Amber is a bit more liberal minded. Maine seemed to be about as far away as you could get and stay in the continental U.S. I also wanted an area that had a lot of historical homes, so East Coast was a must.

 

5.

This is your fourteenth title, starting with DAUGHTER HAUK and your seventh print book. Does one work inform another, or are they very different in plot, tone, theme?

 

‘Guarding Charon’ is my first urban fantasy novel. Everything else is more high fantasy. Though I tend to have mainly female protagonists in my books. I’m a woman, so it’s easier for me to write from a female point of view. Almost every single book has reflections of my own life, though. Be it discovering my faith, escaping from a town where I couldn’t be who I really was, or battling personal demons. There is a part of me in each title.

 

6.

I’d love a teaser from you work. Care to share an excerpt?

 

Glancing up at the house, she saw lights in the living room and nowhere else. Briefly, she thought about going around to the back door and trying to get to her room unnoticed, but she dismissed that quickly. Her mom would know she’d lost another job already. There was going to be a confrontation no matter what door she went through. She took a deep breath and strode up the path to the house. Might as well get this over with.

She opened the front door and closed it behind her. “Hey, Dad,” she said as she pulled her jacket off and hung it on a too-ornate-for-the-room coat tree.

She heard him shift in his chair. “Mom told me you lost another job today. What’s the matter? Too stupid to clean dishes right?”

“No, Dad. He said he loved how I ran things. Business was slow, though, so someone had to go.” She crossed to the arched opening on the other side of the room. “I’m pretty tired, so heading to bed early.” She headed down the hallway to her bedroom. If she moved fast enough, she could avoid her mom. She hoped.

“Gracie, baby, is that you?” Grace’s heart sank as her mom’s shrill voice called out from the kitchen. She stopped, her hand on the knob. So close!

June came down the hallway, busily drying her hands on a towel. “Oh, baby. Bruce called and told us how you quit another job.” She reached out to hug her, and Grace knew better than to refuse. “Don’t you worry, baby. You and Bruce can set a date now, you’ll lose yourself in planning the wedding. You don’t need to work, after all.”

Twisting the handle, she looked at her mother. “Mom, there’s not going to be a wedding. I’m not marrying Bruce. See?” She held up her bare left hand. “No ring.” She wiggled her fingers for emphasis.

Her mom’s lips tightened into a disapproving line. “That’s because you’re too stubborn, Gracie Lynn! That man’s being very patient with you, Lord bless him. You’re denying us a beautiful life!”

Grace arched her eyebrows. “‘Us?’ Sorry, Mother. But I’m not paying the price for you to live in luxury.” She threw open the door, slamming it behind her. Turning, she put the chain on. She’d installed that about two years ago, after finding out her mom had been snooping through her journals.

Then she burned them all.

She removed her purse, tossing it on her desk before collapsing on her bed. Her hands flew to her face. Stifling the urge to scream, she tried to get rid of the headache threatening to form. She had to do something, but what? No one in town would hire her. And she didn’t have enough saved up for a bus ticket to anywhere worth going. Anywhere big enough to disappear in.

Tomorrow, she’d go to the library. Search for a job with a cruise line or something. Do they still want people to teach English in Japan? Sighing, she dismissed that idea. She’d need a valid passport, for one. That cost money. And the only place local to apply was housed in the same building as the police department.

A knock at her door broke through her panicked thoughts. “Grace,” her dad called. “Come out here, please. Someone wants to see you.” His steps retreated.

Something in his voice gave her pause. It couldn’t be Bruce. He would’ve said his name. And none of her friends lived in town anymore. They’d gotten out and stayed out.

She rose, glancing at herself in the mirror on the wall. Pulling out the scrunchie, she grabbed a brush and worked it through her hair quickly. That’d have to do.

Sliding the chain off the lock, she opened the door and closed it behind her. She heard her mom talking to someone, her voice nervous. Whoever this was, it wasn’t someone they expected.

Grace stopped in the archway. Her parents sat on the edge of their chairs. Near the front door stood an older man, his dark suit neatly pressed. His gaze settled on her, his face lighting up. “You must be Miss Adams,” he said, his voice warm. “I’m pleased to meet you. My name is Laurence Dixon,” he extended his hand to her. “I’m a lawyer. Please, sit. We have much to discuss.”

Grace shook his hand, surprised at the greeting. She eased into a chair nearby. “Hello, Mr. Dixon. I don’t understand why a lawyer would be here to see me, though. I haven’t done anything wrong.”

He smiled at her. “Oh, I know you haven’t, Miss Adams. I represent your great aunt, Amanda Cross.”

“I don’t have a great aunt, Mr. Dixon,” she answered.

“She’s been dead to me for decades!” Her mom stood, anger on her face. “Whatever she might want with my Gracie, she can’t have it!”

Mr. Dixon looked her way. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Adams. But your daughter,” he nodded toward Grace, “is named as her heir. And is of legal age to inherit. Whatever your issues with Ms. Cross may have been, it has no bearing on her last wishes.”

Grace blinked. “What inheritance, Mr. Dixon?”

He turned back to Grace. “Ms. Cross has named you her sole heir, Miss Adams. She has left you her home, and entire fortune. There is but one stipulation you must fulfill to inherit.”

For the first time in a very long time, Grace felt hope stirring within her. This could be her chance to escape! Disappear forever! “What’s the stipulation, Mr. Dixon?”

“Ms. Cross’ estate is on the Allagash River, in upstate Maine. In a small town by the name of Cavendish. Her will explicitly states that you must reside in her home for six months. The estate will pay all of your expenses for the duration. After that time, you will inherit all of Ms. Cross’ assets and can dispose of the home and contents as you feel best.”

“She is getting married! I’m not going to allow her to travel across the country to live in some hole in the wall!” Her mom screamed, her voice shrill.

That decided it. Grace stood, extending her hand. “Mr. Dixon, I accept the challenge. When do we leave?” She didn’t care how much her mother sputtered in rage and disbelief. She was, as he pointed out, of legal age to inherit. At twenty-two, her life was hers to lead. But she had to get out from under Bruce’s radar to do it. Six months in Maine? That should do it.

Mr. Dixon took her hand, placing his other one on top as they shook. “We can leave tonight, Miss Adams. I have a car outside. And a private plane at the airstrip. As soon as you’re ready to go.”

She smiled, genuinely happy for the first time in over a year. “Give me five minutes,” she replied and then darted out of the room.

 

7.

What’s next?

 

I’m working on ‘Emile’s Blade’ currently. Another Amari novella. When that’s done, I’ll be putting all three (the two already out are ‘Fin’s Magic’ and ‘Alaric’s Bow’) into a single print volume. After that, not certain. Could be a sequel to ‘Mark of the Successor’ or more about Amber, Charon, and Cavendish, Maine!

 

Looking forward to that! Thanks for joining us, KateMarie. Come back soon.

–ABF

 

Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01H13QF8E#nav-subnav

Print: https://www.amazon.com/Guarding-Charon-KateMarie-Collins/dp/1625263902

Universal link: myBook.to/guardingcharon

Web site: http://www.katemariecollins.wordpress.com

 

TOMORROW: Martial artist, freelance writer and author of umpteen short stories and novels Mark Iles drops by to talk about his latest A PRIDE OF LIONS.

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FUNERAL DIRECTOR AS WRITER

It was my great honor recently to address the Sisters in Crime­ – Toronto Chapter at their monthly meeting this past April. Not only did the experience tease me out of the relative safety of my writing vault, but it also, as a newcomer to the mystery scene, afforded me the opportunity to examine the challenges faced by funeral directors like me who endeavor to write.

It’s an exciting time for funeral directors in Ontario. Legislative changes in force since JulyBAO 1, 2012 continue to filter through the industry; the most recent realized April 1 with the creation of the new Bereavement Authority of Ontario. What this new body will mean for service providers and the client families they serve can only be determined through anecdotal experience. Let these be positive as the spirit behind the changes intend. What it means for me—a purveyor of gonzo, paranormal, mortuary, fiction—is how important it is to tell the story of the industry in a way that is accessible without compromising my duty to protect the deceased person and family he/she leaves behind.

A lot of what a funeral director sees and, indeed, does remains confidential for obvious reasons. Human beings do not stop being human beings with the cessation of breath. In fact, their humanity is heightened, given that their ability to protect themselves from harm is now taken from them. Dignity, privacy and integrity of the individual falls under the purview of the funeral service professionals charged with their care. This is the funeral director’s oath and the writer’s oath as well.

loved one movieIt is not surprising then that confidentiality as a mainstay of funeral service lends itself to broad artistic interpretation. As I revealed at the April 21 Sisters in Crime meeting, it is easy to lampoon/throw rocks at something that cannot defend itself. And yet, examination from unusual quarters can only strengthen the dialogue. There’s a lot of fine satire out there to drive the discussion; some older, but classic pieces like Evelyn Waugh’s THE LOVED ONE and the newer gothic horror AFTER.LIFE whet the public’s appetite to ‘know’ what really goes on.

after.life poster 1

Which is why I turned to gonzo as my genre vehicle of choice when I chose to weigh in not as expose—because I love my industry—but as a spotlight to inform and, yes, entertain those who rarely, if ever, set foot inside a funeral establishment.

Gonzo, as I’ve said before in previous articles, is a kind of first person journalism created and perfected by the late great Hunter S. Thompson of ROLLING STONE fame. Taken off road into fiction, it is both a humorous and slightly subversive means of drawing attention to difficult subjects and making them whole.

Later this month, I will attend professional development seminars at my alma mater. There, I will be brought up to date on the latest innovations in an industry undergoing constant change. I’m looking forward to it. Where there is education, there is dialogue; where there is discussion, there is growth.

Such is the stuff of the journey in both life and art.

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant, I am

FUNKHAUSER SIGNATURE

 

LINKS

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

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

Website: www.abfunkhauser.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamfunkhauser

Facebook: www.facebook.com/heuerlostandfound

Branded: https://branded.me/abfunkhauser

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/118051627869017397678

Publisher: http://solsticepublishing.com/

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1FPJXcO

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

Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/unapologeticadult

FAQ’s: https://abfunkhauser.com/faqs/

 

 

 

 

SEXY TALK TIME WITH AUTHOR JEWEL E. LEONARD

author picIt gives me great pleasure to introduce to you debut novelist Jewel E. Leonard. Jewel and I struck up an immediate friendship when we crossed twitter paths on Ang D’Onofrio’s #2bitTues one liner theme party for WIPs.

There’s a lot to love about Jewel. Not only is she fast with a quip, but she is a cat woman like yours truly! There’s more: her collection of male chicken sculptures (cocks) and her penchant for hot, steamy, erotic passages has translated into a toe curler of a read. Check out the blurb and excerpt and then dash down to the interview. My ears are burning!

 

 

THE BLURB

TBRBookCoverPreviewGoodFresh from a failed marriage, Rhea hops on a train going from Los Angeles to Chicago. It’s the perfect escape from her troubles with the added bonus of meeting a sexy stranger. What begins as innocent flirtation swiftly escalates to sexual encounters beyond her wildest dreams.

** This erotic romance novella is for adults only! It contains super hot, one-on-one anonymous sex.

 

 

 

THE EXCERPT

“I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that your ex wasn’t the complimentary type.”

Rhea’s hands traveled down to Surfer Boy’s shoulders where she transitioned into a deep tissue massage.  He groaned, bracing himself against the seat.  She otherwise failed to acknowledge his statement.  She preferred to leave Mark out of this.

Unlike last night, Rhea watched what she touched.  The way his t-shirt pulled and puckered over his skin.  Rhea clenched her jaw, making a conscious effort to keep her arousal at bay.  But—as they had both demonstrated previously—blood was apt to flow wherever it damn well pleased.  Her core throbbed despite her efforts to repress it; the best she could do was to focus on him with what little concentration she had to spare.

She alternated between deep tissue and Swedish massages, at times doing nothing more than running her hands over his muscles and lamenting that he hadn’t taken off his shirt first.

“Oh you are so good at that,” Surfer Boy murmured.  “But . . .  my thigh’s really cramped.”

“Oh, sure, sure, I’m on it!  Turn back around, then.”

He repositioned himself so that he was sitting in the seat the way its designers intended.  Rhea leaned forward and rested her hands on his knees, her v-neck shirt gapping away from her chest.  When Surfer Boy inhaled, she saw how his eyes locked onto her exposed skin.  “That’s . . .  swell,” he breathed.

Her gaze dropped to his crotch: That was swell, too.  She smiled.  “So which muscle is giving you grief?”  Her hands slid up the length of both thighs, stopping so close to his crotch that she could feel the fabric of his shorts straining over his hard-on.

“That one.”  Surfer Boy nodded to his left leg.

She slowly assessed his muscle spasm with both hands, her smiling broadening.  “You are aware that I can totally tell you’re faking your cramp.”

“How else was I gonna get you to touch me there and still look cool about it?”

“You don’t need to play these games.”  Her thumb slid across his zipper.  He pushed back from beneath it.  “I’m alone in a confined space with you already.  You closed the door and the curtains and I didn’t protest either.”  Rhea raised her eyebrows pointedly.

Surfer Boy lifted her face by the chin, meeting her gaze.  “Kiss me.”

She leaned in, pressing her lips to his; she could swear there was a spark between them, but it was possible that it was just static electricity.  Albuquerque—or the air aboard the train, anyway—was dry.

He tilted his head, gliding a hand up the nape of her neck.  Rhea sighed.  She felt him smile against her lips.

“. . . What?”  She asked, pulling back.

“I liked that sound.  And I wanna hear you make it again.”

“I’m sure there are plenty of ways to make me sigh.  Or . . .”  Rhea bit her lip.  “To get me to make even better sounds.”

“Is . . . that . . . an invitation?”

Oh just screw me already!  She chose a more diplomatic reply, instead: “As a general rule, I don’t touch my clients’ willies.”

“As a general rule?”

“Allow me to translate . . .  I’ve never done that.”  With a coy little smile, she added, “I also don’t go around kissing strangers.  You’re the exception to all those rules, so . . .”

“So.”  Surfer Boy brushed back her hair, sliding his hand down her neck to her collarbone.  Further down he went until he cupped her left breast through her shirt and squeezed it with restraint.

She moaned, her head tipping back.  “Yes.”

“Oh that is a better sound.”  Surfer Boy kissed the side of her neck.  His kisses turned to sucking and she leaned into him with a deeper moan.  She shuddered and sighed.

Rhea was having the inarguable need to be free of her underwear…

 

LINKS

Goodreads

Smashwords

Amazon

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

 

 

THE INTERVIEW

Tell me about your new novel.

Tales by Rails is a 28,000 word novella, which makes it the shortest completed writing project I’ve ever done.  The novella follows Rhea’s escapades immediately following her divorce.  She’s without a home when she decides to take an unplanned vacation from her problems—so she hops on a train going from Los Angeles to Chicago (the Southwest Chief—a route I’ve traveled many times over).  She’s open to adventure as she has no plans for her future, which is good because the sexy stranger she meets on the train wouldn’t factor into them.  What starts as innocent flirtation swiftly escalates to adult encounters beyond her wildest imagination . . . and before the 43 hour train ride is over, Rhea finds herself facing a whole new set of problems.

 

I’m all for a good pas de deux, but the up against the wall encounters played out on television and in film seem to be at hyper saturation levels? Can you account for the popular preoccupation with vertical coital?

I could take a stab at it, I suppose.  My best explanation for the popularity of showing not a horizontal mambo but a vertical one is because the average person in the real world has neither the physique nor the stamina  . . .  nor the prowess . . .  nor the health insurance coverage . . .  to successfully do, if you will, such acrobatics.
I won’t name names but I personally know a great many women who fantasize about being pressed against a wall (to put it politely) but who can’t seem to manage the mechanics of such feats with their partners.  There’s also the lack of wall space in the average person’s home to contend with.
Lastly, I think it looks better to viewers to have lovers upright rather than on their backs, particularly women—in that case, gravity is their breast friend.  When laying down, things tend to flatten or ooze into armpits without a bra (and let’s face it, if they can get away with showing chest meat, they will).  If you’re going for realism, there’s nothing wrong with a little chesticle displacement.  But this is Hollywood we’re talking about, right. . .?

 

A fine, practical answer with a bit of humor.  I love it!

 

E.L. James has taken plenty of critical hits for FIFTY SHADES OF GREY yet her choke hold on the mommy porn market remains solid. In your opinion, is she getting a raw deal?

In all things sex, I think discussing this phenomenon is about as taboo as taboo things get.  Erotica writers like me have to be careful if we’re going to criticize James because our audience is sipping from the same chalice as hers.  We don’t want to support it either because there are folks who will think less of our work if we associate with hers positively.  Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

As a person with feelings, I think it’s horrible the way people treat her.  I think it’s safe to assume she has feelings, too, and I like believing she did the best she knew how.  Lord knows I am!
I think the critics of literature need to have some perspective when they assess Fifty Shades of Grey (the reaction to The Flintstones movie comes to mind—what did you expect? It was a movie based off The Flintstones . . .  Not gonna be fine art!).   It’s erotica, not classic literature.
(Would I like to see higher standards for self-pubbed erotica? As a reader, hell yes please.)
I can’t and won’t touch upon the debate on BDSM because I have no first-hand knowledge of  anything BDSM.  I can’t and won’t touch upon the underlying problems posed by the book and the relationship the main characters have, as I read very little of the first book myself (page one and the first sex scene before I NOPE’d right out of there).  Nothing against James, but her writing was not my cup of tea.

I do, of course, make a passing reference to it in my novella because it seems these days you can’t have a talk about sex and not bring it up.  🙂  If you read my novella following this review, you’ll see where I injected a bit of my reality into Rhea’s existence when it comes to the topic of Fifty Shades.

 

We’re definitely on the same page here!

 

Playboy Magazine is getting out of porn art photography with Pam Anderson as the final centerfold. Has a battle been lost or won?

For Playboy to cease photographing nude women is throwing in the towel.  The plethora of pornography on the Internet squeezed the life out of an empire and I am, frankly, stunned it took that company as long as it did to give up the ghost.  With the Internet, all kinks are easily accessible and in many places even free . . .  (I’m lookin’ at you, Tumblr!  Not a complaint at all, just an observation.)  Could they find a new niche?  I’m sure they could.  Would it be cost-effective?  In any way successful?  Couldn’t tell ya.

 

Sensual encounters with strangers are among the top fantasies for men and women. Do these always result in happy endings in your fiction?

Yes.  No, wait.  Do you mean happy endings like the fabled Happily Ever After?  Or happy endings like, you know, *eyebrow waggle, nudge-nudge-wink-wink* happy endings?
*Carefully sidles on to the next question . . . *  😉

 

*Nudge. Nudge.* Let the reader find out!

So what’s wrong with being on Team Slytherin?

For the life of me, I can’t figure it out.  I’ve been placed in Slytherin by several Sorting Hats and I’m fairly certain it’s because I always say I want recognition.  When seeking recognition became a villainous trait, I don’t know.  But I will tell you this:
I have always thought snakes are beautiful.

 

Clarification: Jewel gave me her top ten list of getting to know the author points. Here it is:

AUTHOR TOP TEN

  • My longing for success has always earned me a spot in Slytherin when I take those Hogwarts house sorting quizzes online.
  • My poisons of choice are coffee, cola and chocolate. And Red Wines.
  • I’ve been writing since the early 80s. One of the earliest stories I remember writing was about a runaway. Tales by Rails?  About a runaway.  Some things never change.
  • I have a neck fetish. I may also have a thing for a finely groomed mustache.
  • I wrote smut in elementary school. It was so dirty that when my parents found it, they wouldn’t allow my older brothers to read it. (I didn’t know a thing about what I was writing.)
  • I have a cock collection. My roosters range from ceramic to wood to metal and they are all over my kitchen.  My husband always tells me to pick up another decoration when he sees them on sale.
  • I’m writing my dearly departed kitty into a novel. She’s going to be a vampire.
  • I love music. The more I listen, the more I write.
  • Like Surfer Boy, I’ve never stepped foot on a plane. I have traveled much of the United States and into Vancouver, British Columbia.  I love road trips and train rides! I collect key chains from states I’ve driven through.
  • No matter how hopeless I feel, no matter how likely I am to fail in this endeavor . . . I will keep going. I always do.   As long as the stories are there, I’ll write them.

 

I recently rewatched BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS (1970), the ‘go to’ dirty movie in my time. What was yours?

I’ve heard tales of a movie called Debbie Does Dallas but I’m pretty sure it’s just an urban legend. 😉
One of these days I think I need to watch it when my son’s at school.  For . . .  research purposes.  Yeah.

 

What will you do with your kitchen cocks when you run out of space?

I’m a long way from that point, sadly.  But should the time come, I have no doubt that the cocks will propagate into other rooms of the house.  There’s space on top of our bookshelves and I have a half-empty antique China Cabinet . . .

 

This might be a good time to open the doors to the henhouse!

 

chickens

 

I agree that a well-groomed mustache can be comely, but if given the right circumstances would you ever give a full beard a try?

I’m not a huge fan of the full beard.  It takes impeccable grooming and just the right face to pull that off.  I like my honey with a neatly trimmed Goatee (actually, it’s a Van Dyke).
Before I get hate-mail for not being gung-ho about full beards, let me just say my father has a full beard (that is kept groomed but has been around longer than I have).  So . . .  yeah.  To quote Chandler from FRIENDS: “Can open . . .  Worms everywhere . . .”

 

Lol. Fair enough. On a serious note:

 

My condolences on the loss of your kitty. Tell me how (he/she) inspired a vampire character in your next work?

catThank you.  My first kitty (after a lifetime of pining for one) went to the Rainbow Bridge the day after Christmas in 2012.  She was my constant companion, kept me company while I was on bedrest with my son.  Never left my side through my ill-fated second pregnancy.  She was the best kitty a girl could ask for.  It was only natural to want to immortalize her.  A vampire (vampurr) seemed like just the way.

Her name was Miranda.  When it came to affection, she got overstimulated quickly and turned to love bites as a means of defense.  And every time she nibbled, she’d lick us afterward in apology.  When hubby and I were hashing out some of that future book, I said I wanted to have some vampires in my paranormal universe.  One careless comment led to another about this sexy but naive vamp who would bite her (lucky) victims and then lick their necks afterward and the next thing I knew, Miranda the kitty became Miranda the vampire.
I’m so excited to tell her story (but alas, it’s a few books down the road)!

 

What are you doing right now this minute?

I’m watching as my new cat, Pandora, wanders down the hall in search of mischief.  My 20 month-old daughter is working on getting to her feet at her toy piano.  My boys (hubby and son) are playing Minecraft on either side of me.  My phone is buzzing like crazy (my Starbucks app is out of date, I can’t stand for that!).  And I’m finishing this interview.  Thank you so much for the smiles and some really interesting, challenging questions!

 

Thanks for stopping by Jewel. Best of luck with your sizzling new book!

Best,

ABF

 

 

SUSANNE MATTHEWS HAS A NEW RELEASE

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

About The White Iris

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

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

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

Sensuality Level: Sensual

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

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

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

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

 

Excerpt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep telling yourself that.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

About the author:

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

 

 

 

 

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

ABF

NANO AND THE MUSE

It’s with mixed emotions that I say goodbye to another NaNoWriMo season. On the one hand, I’m delighted to have (realistically) come out of it with about twenty five thousand usable words to build on when edits begin; on the other hand, the intensive energy that went into their creation has spilled over into other WIPs that now SCREAM for attention.

 

It is a happy problem to have. Subjectively, I’m delighted that the muse is so strong; objectively, I’m torn between following them (yes, there is more than one) or putting a lid on it all so that I may clean my house (not pretty after a month of creative).

 

fireIn a previous article punched out on the eve of this year’s effort, I talked about finding inciting incidents—the ones that make us BURN—and following them to a fiery NaNo conclusion. In every sense, this is what happened in 2015, but with one amazing difference: as SHELL GAME began to take shape, kernels of competing ideas—pop scenes—inured to places of NaNo’s past.

 

My sparkling diamonds—pop scenes—invaded mid sentence, forcing treesopen new pages and a flurry of keystrokes. In one instance, an entire scene written in just twenty minutes became the ending without a middle fully realized. Relieved to know where my gem was going, I was interrupted by a pop meme that reminded me of my mandate as both a funeral director and purveyor of fiction. That meme, both bon mot and bête noire, took me to a darker manuscript begun in 2010 that had posed many problems in the ensuing years. Thanks to NaNo, I suddenly (and very unexpectedly) had an answer to questions both structurally and tonally. I can’t wait to get back to it.

 

doggieBut wait! After another shining moment sparked by a week-long stay in a gorgeous part of the country, I found myself smack in the middle of a conundrum. Isolated, without internet connection, devoid of fire pallets (burning stuff helps), and only a large hunting dog for a bed mate (Ah Choo) I had another soul saving 15,000 words to add, but for ANOTHER NaNo, this time begun in 2014.

 

WHAT’S IT ALL MEAN?

 

As much as I can tell, I have a few options before me: 1) finish the NaNo 2015 project at the expense of all others; 2) put this NaNo on the shelf and follow the meme’s and landscapes that call me to NaNo’s past and previous; or, 3) shut this damn laptop down and get some sleep…

 

Or, I could clean my house.

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant, I am

 

A.B. Funkhauser

Lover, NaNoWriMo

CRIME AND GONZO

It was with unparalleled delight that I met some chapter members at the WCDR Bookapalooza event on November 21st.  I say unparalleled for two reasons: one; the engaging ladies I refer to could not stop grinning at me, which told me I was doing something very right; and two: they somehow saw through my gonzo humor enough to invite me to join the most excellent  Sisters in Crime, Toronto Chapter.

 

What is gonzo and what does that have to do with crime? I’ll tell you. Gonzo is a kind of subversive social commentary created and promoted by the late Hunter S. Thompson (He of ROLLING STONE fame). Geared at shining a light on things we hold dear (and don’t), gonzo’s operate under a basic tenet: characters can say and do things we cannot do in a civilized society AND get away with it!

 

I am the author of two published works, both of which touch on the things I know best: funeral directing and sausage making. As a funeral director that both embalms the dead and assists the living in funeral planning, I have been honored to glimpse a world that very few ever see. Thanks to my immigrant background, I am imbued with a sense of irony that I fiercely hold on to as it is the wellspring for my fiction. I grew up in a household that made bratwurst FROM SCRATCH and favored long ARMED walks in the woods, not because we sought protection from animals, but rather from the hoomans that aspire to behave like animals when not under the watchful eyes of others.

 

Given my history and the imagination it feeds, it came as a logical step that my characters would, at times, do strange things, including engaging in criminal acts, all in the name of what they saw as ‘righteous’ or ‘fitting’.

 

Can anyone really get away with murder anymore? I don’t think so. The scope of forensics being what it is makes it impossible for even the craftiest humans to dispose of evidence completely. The second and most compelling reason, I think, is human nature and its fundamental frailty in the need to confide. We absolutely cannot keep our mouths shut; believing that sharing will somehow justify or at least ameliorate the consequences of our actions.

 

Which is why crime fiction is so much fun! Pair suspension of disbelief with the author’s own commitment to the character on the page and a murder undetected becomes wholly possible.

 

Can a funeral director get away with murder? They’ve tried, and they always get caught. When I meet everyone at the next meeting, I’ll tell you why…

 

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant,

 

I am A.B. Funkhauser

Member, Sisters in Crime, Toronto Chapter

Bailey's Undertaker

TEN AUTHORS, TEN DAYS: DAY EIGHT: KAREN KING

Can love survive death?

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

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

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

golden star awards 2nd place - Paranormal trophy 300

Congrats!

Q & A

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. What’s next?

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

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

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

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

“I love you,” I say.

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

“Sapphire Blue,

I do love you,

Forever me,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’re going to die.

Craaaaaash!

An explosion shatters in my head.

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

Buy Links

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

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

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

Author Links

Website: www.karenking.net

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

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

Twitter: @karen_king

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

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

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

TOMORROW:

Reily Garrett

Carnal Innocence Banner

TEN AUTHORS, TEN DAYS: DAY SEVEN: SIMONE SALMON

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

Welcome, Simone!

 

CAMILLE AND THE BEARS OF BEISA-DRAFNEL

 

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

Sometimes unlearning the truth reveals centuries of lies. 

Sometimes the shadows in the periphery simplify complex realities. 

Sometimes love is an expansive concept riddled with explosive diversions. 

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

 

Q & A

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

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

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

Old black magic book with lights on pages

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

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

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

  1. Are you a Tolkein fan?

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

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

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

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

  1. What’s next?

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

  1. I love the cover. Who designed it?

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

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

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

  1. Happy endings: for or against?

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

Ed. Count on it!

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Links Image

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

Twitter: @miraclemindcoac

Blog: Origisims

Website: www.ssalmonauthor.com

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

Goodreads: Goodreads

 

Press

Review on Clatter and Clank – Fiction by BR Sanders

Spotlight on Alex McGilvery’s World

Feature on Tevis Shkodra – Dystopianauthor.com

Review by Merrill Chapman – Rule-set.com

Spotlight on Books and Blondes – John E. Guzzardo

Spotlight on Get In John’s Head

Spotlight on Tales of a Bookworm – Jaelyn Quisel

Feature on The Dark Geisha – Eden Royce

Spotlight on Gloria Weber’s Blog

Feature on The Mysterious Ink Spot – Rachel Stapleton

Interview with BR Sanders

 

Book Buy Link

getBook.at/ssalmon-drafnel

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

ABF

 

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

–Khalil Gibran

TOMORROW:

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

Karen jpeg

 

 

TEN AUTHORS, TEN DAYS: DAY SIX: JIM CRONIN

author photoScience fiction writer Jim Cronin takes up the the reins as we enter week two of the blogothon. Citing a preference for 50’s and 60’s era Sci Fi movies, classical music and my favorite martian as creative influences, I can’t help but applaud this wildly inventive author. Word to the wise, though: keep an eye on your DNA!  Hi, Jim!

­­­­­­

The Story:

Book CoverHis home world is dead; the victim of a supernova, but this does not stop Karm from attempting to save the Brin, his extinct species. Rescued by an alien race from a derelict spacecraft as a vial of DNA, then cloned, Karm must travel back in time, convince a small team of co-conspirators to join him in his quest, and outmaneuver a power hungry monarch and his fanatic brother, leader of The Faith, both absolutely committed to opposing him.

All of Karm’s plans rest on the untested and controversial cloning theories of the young geneticist Dr. Jontar Rocker, and the abilities of his bodyguard, personal assistant, and surrogate niece, Maripa. Will their combined efforts be enough to overcome the power of the monarchy and the planet’s most influential religion? Will Karm’s secrets destroy the trust of his companions and ruin his campaign to save the Brin?

Reviews:

Great book! Twists in plot were well thought out & timed perfectly – just when you thought you knew where you were going, a twist comes into play…

by Clare Bruno

Mr. Cronin writes on several levels successfully: from the detailed lives of a myriad of characters to the larger economic & political powers at play in a full world, complex and dangerous. And that’s not even counting the star that’s about to go supernova!…

by Debauched Sloth

The author’s characters are varied, both in personality and trait, which makes them all interesting…. Hegira augurs well for Jim Cronin’s future books. I look forward to reading more from him…

by Tracy Black

Excerpt“Come in, Latonia Base…come in Latonia Base. This is Starship Hegira, repeat, this is Hegira. Come in, Latonia.”

Static crackled from the speaker. The lieutenant, bleeding and dying from the injuries he received during the mutiny trembled feebly as he gripped the microphone. Blood soaked his crest feathers; his talons broken and jagged from the hand-to-hand combat in the spaceship’s passageways. He knew his wounds were fatal, but his duty was clear: to report back to base about the failure of the mission. His body tensed as the next wave of pain shot through him.

“Latonia Base, this is Hegira. Come in. Priority clearance Falcon, Delta. Come in Base. Damn you to hell!” the soldier shouted in desperation. “Somebody answer! Come in, Latonia!” The microphone dropped from his talons, clattering on the control panel before falling to the metal plated floor. The lieutenant slumped back into the chair, pressing a blood soaked rag to his shoulder. Staring out the view port he watched the star-filled blackness and wondered at the cruel turn fate had taken over the past few days.

Link to Amazon .com Page to Order: http://www.amazon.com/Hegira-Jim-Cronin-ebook/dp/B010E3EKC6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1435425640&sr=1-1&keywords=Hegira+jim+Cronin

Q & A

  1. HEGIRA features a character cloned from a vial of DNA. To what degree did your knowledge of Zoology play a part in the science behind the story?

While I do have some familiarity with cloning, my main goal was to pick some aspect of science which has the potential to be controversial. I wanted to deal with the schism between science and religion and bringing cloning to its full potential struck me as an interesting subject. Evolution is too familiar, but I wanted something with a similar potential.

  1. Your self-confessed struggle with the English language (tongue in cheek) is refreshing and all too familiar. Tell us about    the writing courses you took and which ones helped you most on your quest to write The Novel.

To be honest, I only had one writing course in college. That one consisted almost entirely of us writing each night whatever struck our fancy. The topic did not matter. We could write nothing but “I have nothing to say tonight” if we wanted, so long as we wrote something.  The professor then would respond. His response may or may not have been anything related to what we wrote. I guess it was sort of a late ’60’s or early ’70’s sort of thing. What I have learned about writing came more from working as a teacher and paying attention to what my Language Arts partners taught and my trying to copy them whenever I required my students to write something.

  1. Your worst rejection letter ever: what did it say?

These actually were pretty much the standard “Sorry, but this is just not the sort of story we are looking for right now.”  Rejections. None of then were rude or anything, but always disappointing.

  1. The day you got your contract: anecdote, please!

ShhhhhPlease don’t tell my wife this, but I actually did a bit of a victory dance in the living room. I NEVER dance. It is absolutely not something I do. But for some reason I did then. If she ever hears I did a dance she may force me to take her out dancing.  That would be bad. 🙂

Ed. Don’t worry friend. Your secret is safe with me!

  1. There are a lot of science fiction films out there that have suffered darts. DUNE comes to mind (and I liked it for all its campy 80’s fashion). What’s your favorite and how did it inform your work as a science fiction writer?

I much prefer the books to their films, but Ender’s Game was pretty good. I also am a Ex Machinacompulsive viewer of almost any 1950’s or 1960’s era sci fi movies. Of course I also thought Guardians of the Galaxy was a hoot. Ex Machina made me think and was very interesting. The new Star Trek movies are very good as well.

  1. What’s next?

Currently I am almost finished with the sequel to Hegira. This will be a trilogy, I hope. The third book is only in rough outline form so far though. I also have an idea for a YA science fiction story floating around.

  1. What’s your second favorite genre and why?
Author Jeff Shaara
Author Jeff Shaara

This is kind of a toss up between fantasy and historical fiction. I love Tolkein, Eddings, and Martin, but Jeff Shaara and David McCoullough are also incredible. Of course books on Physics, Evolution, and science in general are always good too.

  1. Who and what do you read when you aren’t writing, editing and publishing?

Science Fiction, History, Historical Fiction, Science, and the occasional Stephen King or James Patterson, among others. I almost always have two or three novels going on at the same time. Does that qualify as an addiction?

  1.  Do you have a muse?

MarvinNot really. Guess I am too grounded in science for that.  Unless you count all of my Marvin the Martian characters I have hanging around. But I do listen to classical music when I write.

  1. Last words? Tell us something you want us to know.

Whether it’s writing, or some other passion you may have, never give up until you have exhausted every ounce of effort and drive you can muster to achieve it. And then go out and give it some more before you move on and try to find another dream. If you give up before you have given it your everything, you’ll always have regrets. That, and just a simple, Be Nice To Others.

Ed. I can live with that!

biographyI worked for thirty five years as a middle school science teacher, but am now semi-retired, working part-time as an educator/performer at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. I have been married for thirty seven years to the love of my life, Diane. Together, we raised two incredible sons, and now have a beautiful granddaughter to spoil rotten.

I was born in Kansas City, Missouri and lived in Arlington, Virginia before moving to Denver where I attended High School and eventually college at Colorado State University, graduating with a degree in Zoology and a teacher certification. I currently live near Denver in the small town of Parker.

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Website:  http://www.authorjimcroninhegira.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Jim-Cronin/704524026327838?ref=hl

Twitter: @authorjimcronin

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/hp/?dnr=kjTxJ-RsTaDhq19ukZhtJ3GJTaCRW19d27h8

Link to Amazon .com Page to Order: http://www.amazon.com/Hegira-Jim-Cronin-ebook/dp/B010E3EKC6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1435425640&sr=1-1&keywords=Hegira+jim+Cronin

Thank you Jim Cronin. Best of luck with HEGIRA and the sequel! Let that imagination roll. Cheers,

ABF

Whether a character in your novel is full of choler, bile, phlegm, blood or plain old buffalo chips, the fire of life is in there, too, as long as that character lives.”
—James Alexander Thom

TOMORROW:

Author Simone Salmon talks time relativity, the importance of relaxation and her new novel CAMILLE AND THE BEARS OF BEISA-DRAFNEL.

NEW HEAD SHOT

TEN AUTHORS, TEN DAYS: DAY FIVE: HOWARD GLEICHENHAUS

Blog Funkhauser is delighted to welcome versatile author Howard Gleichenhaus to Day Five of a ten day extravaganza that spotlights writers of various genres and formats. Howard’s latest THE SUBTERFUGE CONSPIRACY takes the reader on a wild ride from the shores of Lake Ontario to the backstreets of Paris and beyond with protagonist Ted Lansing who is currently evolving in an as yet untitled follow up to Subterfuge. Welcome Howard!

 

THE SUBTERFUGE CONSPIRACY

 

Book CoverThe murder of a young prostitute followed by a police shootout on a cold, deserted beach on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario draws FBI Special Agent Ted Lansing into the most deadly case of his career,

Lansing and his partner, Jennifer Fallana, have three months to lay bare the Subterfuge Conspiracy, recover a shipment of stolen radioactive cesium pellets smuggled into the country across Lake Ontario and thwart the detonation of a dirty bomb set for New Year’s Eve on the National Mall in Washington D.C.

From New York to Paris, to Yemen, and back to Washington D.C., Fargo Blake, ex military, cold and deadly, is tasked by the true conspirators to eliminate their Arab coconspirators and lay blame for the attack squarely their shoulders —The perfect subterfuge terrorist plot.

Backed by a cabal of politically powerful men tied to the highest echelons of the United States government, the conspiracy reaches all the way into the halls of the U.S. Senate. The plotter’s endgame: discredit the first elected Hispanic president’s credibility on global terrorism, bring down his administration, deny him a second term and elect their hand picked successor, a radical, right wing United States Senator.

 

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Subterfuge-Conspiracy-Howard-Gleichenhaus-ebook/dp/B00W2256AI

 

 

  1. The Subterfuge Conspiracy reminds me very fondly of Frederick Forsyth’s Day of the Jackal: Q & Ainternational locales, multiple POVs and high stakes intrigue. What is the genesis of Subterfuge?

 

First, allow me to say thank-you for the Forsyth comparison. It is always flattering (and hopefully deserved) to have a novel you’ve written fondly compared to one of the literary giants of the genre.

Some writers plot out their story before hand and stick to the outline. For me that just doesn’t work. I prefer to allow my characters to react to the situations I place them into and ask myself what would he/she do. I dope out at least two scenarios and write them both. Subterfuge began as a standard terrorist plot with a hard-boiled FBI agent in pursuit. During one particular meeting of my weekly critiquing group The Delray Beach Public Library Writer’s Studio (I am the group moderator) an off hand comment was made by one member of the group. I doubt he even remembers making it now. “What if the plotters weren’t who the reader thinks they are?”

I made a note in the margin of my manuscript. At some point I was struck by the usual temporary writer’s block that happens every so often. Going back through early drafts I saw the margin notes I’d made weeks before. Not a bad way to go, I thought. I knew I couldn’t just drop that bomb from out of nowhere so I went back into what I had already written and began to plant foreshadows. Once the co conspirators were firm in my mind the story began to flow again.

 

  1. As a Canadian, my interest piques at the mention of Lake Ontario. What dictated your choice of location for the jump-start of the plot?

lake ontarioThat is an interesting question. My youngest son went to college at SUNY Oswego, which is on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario. Over the years I visited Oswego many times. I was familiar with the lakeshore beachfront and how desolate it looked in winter. Researching Canadian nuclear facilities I discovered that Canada had a facility close to the lake, a short boat ride from the US side. It made the perfect route to smuggle nuclear materials. What started as a rather short narrative, “telling” the reader about smuggled material I rewrote the novel’s beginning to “show” rather than tell and draw the reader in with a non stop thrilling police confrontation, totally misunderstood as a simple drug interdiction. I now had my “usual” suspects in country. I then allowed by protagonist (Ted Lansing) to uncover the plot one slow page at a time, always ending a chapter with a cliffhanger to bring the reader along.

 

  1. Let’s backtrack for the readers: Can you give us your elevator pitch?

Hours, moments and seconds tick away, with millions of lives hanging in the balance. Could the unthinkable really happen, a dirty bomb, armed with stolen cesium from a Canadian Reactor site, is set to detonate on New Year’s Eve on the National Mall in Washington DC. FBI Special Agent Ted Lansing tries to make sense of who the real enemy is in one of the most diabolical plots ever conceived to subvert the United States government.

CIAWho can Lansing trust? Are Middle Eastern Jihadists really eiffel towerbehind the plot, or is it far more sinister. Could his one time friend, CIA Paris section chief, Colin Mills. be involved? Is Mills tied to a white supremacist army led by a disgraced ex military man, an avowed racist, Lt. Colonel Kyle Nugent and his right hand, Fargo Blake? Also ex military, Blake is a stone-cold killer who strikes without conscience, until a beautiful Parisian flight attendant makes him believe that a different life is possible — But Blake is trapped, he cannot get out. High-ranking members of the United States Senate are plotting to overthrow a duly elected president. Unthinkable, that is until small inconsistencies appear sending Lansing on a nonstop coaster ride from New York City to the Adirondack wilderness in upstate New York to the National Mall in Washington on New Year’s Eve. Lansing pursues Blake, and Mills into snow covered Virginia’s countryside to a clandestine CIA training facility. Two old friends facing off in one last confrontation from which only one will emerge alive.

 

  1. Espionage (is there a better descriptor?) fiction is a favorite of mine though I lack the mental courage to ever tackle such a genre. As a writer, what goes into a work like The Subterfuge Conspiracy? What is your method?

I don’t know if it’s mental courage, but I certainly wasn’t sure when I began to write Subterfuge if  I could pull it off. There were so many unanswered questions. I knew I was going to take my readers to locations I had never visited. Sure I’d been to Paris, for example, but tourist Paris. What was a typical Paris street like, not the Champs-Élysées visitors see. No more typical than portraying Times Square as a typical New Yorker’s day of fun I need to “be” in the Paris of working Parisians. For my writer colleagues, here is a secret. A Google search of Paris neighborhoods followed by Google Earth puts you on the street in front of your location and the ability to move up and down the street. You can see cars parked in front; does the bistro have a window facing the street? What is on the menu and how are the tables arranged? It may all sound like unnecessary minutia but in my writing I create authenticity in my visuals. Readers who may have been there say “Yes, exactly how I remember it.” I believe these details enhance the plot and breathe life into the characters.

 

  1. Chicken or egg? What came first: plot or character(s)?

For me it is the plot, at least in this book. My latest project, almost 100,000 words (now in first draft) will be the other way around because Ted Lansing is my protagonist, but the book is not a sequel. Since his character qualities, warts and all, were developed in Subterfuge, I have a better framework to get him in and out of situations. That being said, I always keep in mind the fact that most readers are meeting him for the first time and I cannot assume facts not in evidence. Admittedly, my first drafts lack much foreshadowing of plot line because I tend to write a linear story in that first draft. In second draft copies, knowing where I am going, I move entire chapters, add foreshadowing, and clean up plot holes my critique group uncovered. Once plot and character are finalized (reconciled?) a third rewrite readies the manuscript for the editor. A side note for my fellow writers still trying to get published: Do not skimp on professional editing. Editors are worth their weight in gold. They can take a good manuscript and transform it into a smooth professional book.

 

  1. Care to share a publishing anecdote?

I have one that is a cautionary tale for would be writers. My first attempt at getting published, back when I knew nothing about it, was to scour the Internet for an agent. I found an intriguing ad from an agency, since discredited, that made it sound so easy. I sent my query and waited. In a month came the response that I was so good they wanted me as a client and thought my book would sell. New to writing and gullible I thought them reasonable when they asked for a moderate sum ($65) to send email blasts to publishers. A month later they told me I was “this” close and another $65 would do it. Only then did I search the web for other authors who used that agency. If I had done it sooner I might have saved the $65. Fellow writers, if they ask for money, be skeptical.

 

  1. What was the first thing you thought of after typing “THE END”?

That’s an easy question. What did I leave out and how can I fix it. There is always doubt. Even now when I reread portions of Subterfuge I ask myself why I did it that way when I could have improved on it by doing it another way. There is an adage from the Pennsylvanian Dutch, Too soon old…too late smart.

 

  1. What’s next?

My third novel, still untitled, has Ted Lansing with a new partner, an African American, Washington DC Metro detective named Arlen Drew. Lansing now lives in Washington and has remarried his ex wife, FBI Assistant Director, Felicia Albreda. In what begins as the murder of a Russian forensic archeologist at the Smithsonian, Lansing is drawn into a case of international intrigue taking him to Israel and the Sinai Peninsula in search of the Ten Commandments. Readers, who have read Subterfuge, will recognize the changes in Lansing, the developing new relationship with his wife and the renewed relationship with his son, now a junior at MIT and there in Israel to receive a prestigious award for a paper he wrote on drone technology.

 

  1. Do you ever think outside your genre? Do you have the courage to tackle romance? (This question is very tongue and cheek)

Whisper in the pinesMaybe not so tongue and cheek. My first published novel, Whisper in the Pines-Secrets of the Heart is so different from Subterfuge that a reader may not recognize it as my work until they see my name on the cover. It is an unabashed love story/mystery set in 1938, in Moultrie Georgia, about a once wealthy southern aristocrat, Reggie Laverneaux, who is trying to rebuild his life after losing everything in the Great Depression. His errant wife has returned to town followed by a sociopath she ripped off while on the run from her old life. Whispering Pines, Reggie’s decaying antebellum house in Moultrie is the setting. Long forgotten family secrets are unearthed when a stranger, an elderly Jewish businessman from New York, arrives in Moultrie with answers and a promise, hope for Reggie to rebuild his life

 

  1. Your favorite all time spy (again, is there a better descriptor) movie is….?

If I had to name one character (spy) (counterspy) from literature and film it would be Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Sometimes I write traits I admire in Jack Ryan into Ted Lansing’s character. Ryan is fiercely loyal with a tenacity that will not quit even under extreme duress. Lansing is often down and counted out, only to prevail in the end through sheer guts. Like Ryan, Lansing can go from dealing with violence to tenderness in a heartbeat. Unlike jack Ryan, Lansing does all of this while dealing with the demon that neatly destroyed his life.

 

biographyHoward Gleichenhaus was born in Philadelphia, PA and grew up in the Bronx, NYC and Spring Valley, New York. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Southern Connecticut State College, and a pair of Master’s degrees from Fairleigh Dickinson University; one in Biology and a second in Psychology.

After a short career in neuro-biochemical research at Rockland

Psychiatric Institute, he taught high school biology for thirty-four years in the Clarkstown Central School District, Rockland County NY. During that time, he also operated his own portrait/wedding photography business. Self-taught in Photoshop, he keeps his hand in the portrait business and still does restoration of heirloom photographs and portrait retouching. Now retired from teaching, he and his wife Fredda now live in Delray Beach, Florida. They have two married sons, and three grandchildren.

He is currently Chairman of the Board of the Institute for Learning in Retirement in Boca Raton and moderator of the Writer’s Studio of the Delray Beach Library.

Writing fiction began after his retirement from teaching in 2001, with a couple of successful short stories published before he turned his full attention to writing novels.

 

AUTHOR’S PHOTO GALLERY

When he isn’t writing, author Howard Gleichenhaus captures memories…and escapes run-ins with the guarded and famous!

Arod Yes that is the Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez. He took offense at my photographing him with his bodyguard in the pool at a Tampa hotel where we went to see the Yanks play the Rays. Wish I was that famous. He saw me standing at the edge of the pool, tele lens in hand and got real angry.
Arod. “Yes that is the Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez. He took offense at my photographing him with his bodyguard in the pool at a Tampa hotel where we went to see the Yanks play the Rays. Wish I was that famous. He saw me standing at the edge of the pool, tele lens in hand and got real angry.”
Loves Three new loves came into our lives.Alexa, Levi and Casey. They say that grand kids are your reward for not killing your own kids. So true!
Loves. “Three new loves came into our lives Alexa, Levi and Casey. They say that grand kids are your reward for not killing your own kids. So true!”
Fredda. "That's the love of my life for 42 years. She is my muse."
Fredda. “That’s the love of my life for 42 years. She is my muse.”
TUX. "(Florida life is easy and laid back, especially for writers, but every once in a while a guy needs to clean up and go all James Bond."
TUX. “(Florida life is easy and laid back, especially for writers, but every once in a while a guy needs to clean up and go all James Bond.”
Dream House. "We built it in Delray Beach, Florida, and artist and writers paradise."
Dream House. “We built it in Delray Beach, Florida, an artist and writers paradise.”
St Maarten. "Chillin' on the island. We met mystery writer Cathy Ace on the cruise ship. We talked writing and publishing all day while sipping fancy colored drinks on the fantail deck. She was so, so accommodating in sharing her publishing experiences."
St Maarten. “Chillin’ on the island. We met mystery writer Cathy Ace on the cruise ship. We talked writing and publishing all day while sipping fancy colored drinks on the fantail deck. She was so, so accommodating in sharing her publishing experiences.”

Thank you so much for sharing your means and methods, Howard. There’s a lot of great advice here. Be sure and pay us a visit again when Ted Lansing’s next exploit hits the presses.

Cheers. ABF

 

“There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.”
—Doris Lessing

MONDAY:

Spotlight science fiction author Jim Cronin and his latest HEGIRA.

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