COMING OFF HIATUS

With just two chapters — that’s right — TWO chapters — left on the WIP, I though it was time to come out of #amwriting hiding to fire up the blog.

teaser-2So much has happened since the start of the year, beginning with the home stretch gallop for SHELL GAME, my third in the Unapologetic Lives Series. What began as a reaction to an aggressive letter from city hall has turned into a novel journey that examines relationships through the eyes of a feral tabby cat.

Equal parts dark and humorous, SHELL GAME  didn’t reveal it’s true self until the tag lines started teasing their way off of the pages.

It’s to all those amazing Twitter hashtag games geared to writers that I owe a debt for knocking the subtext loose:

#amwriting Psycho-social #cat #dramady with death and laughs #Thurds Words #ShareWrit

#SHELLGAME This time, the cat wins #2bitTues

A pastoral community tweaks when it crosses the black #cat #humor #wip #wipjoy #GuessWrite

This proves again what I have always known about art: ready or not, it finds you. And in this vein, I’m pleased to share two things, beginning with this chestnut:

Writing is one part of the author journey. Getting up and performing is another.

There’s no way to sugar coat performance: it’s tough. Even the most accomplished veterans, the late Sir Laurence Olivier most famously, suffered from mighty stage fright. Canada’s own Gord Downie from The Tragically Hip, I recently learned, is another. But reading the work is critical to getting the word out that writers are alive and well and writing. Believe me, the reading out loud gets easier with practice, and I proved it again just the other night.

compositeBack in 2013, a group of crime-loving authors came together and launched NOIR AT THE BAR, an event that has spread across the country and south of the border too. The February 16 event in Toronto provided a golden opportunity to get up and read from the WIP. Was I nervous? You bet! Am I glad I did it? Absolutely! Writers Rob Brunet, Jennifer Soosar, Tanis Mallow, Hope Thompson, Ian Hamilton, and Howard Shrier shared their dark work with aplomb, along with Noir img_2340Founding Father Peter Rozovsky, who came all the way up from Philly to do so.

That I found myself in such august company was in large part due to hard work (the writing) but also finding the wherewithall to bravely get out to as many events as I could so that I could talk up what I was getting up to (the writing). The invitation to read at Noir followed.

Which leads to the second chestnut:

Talking about your work is well and good as long as you pass on the good karma by talking about the work of others.

paintnet-guess-writeThe incredible power of february-9the Twitter hashtag game cannot be stressed enough. For while the Twitterverse is huge, it lends itself to lasting relationships forged through shares, one line at a time.

Case in point: A group of us recently got together and pooled our hashtag games under the umbrella of #GuessWrite. Each month, game hosts like yours truly, offer up a different theme that acts as a clue to a single, larger #GuessWrite theme. The lucky tanyachrisparticipant(s) that guess the theme share in a prize pack offered up by the hosts. It is through this that I am able to share this space with February 2017 #GuessWrite winner Tanya Chris. Tanya and I have crossed paths many times through #2bitTues #1lineWed #ThruLineThurs, #Thurds Words and many, many more. Yet it is through the shared resources of participating writer gamers that I have the honor to feature her work here.

I can feel the good Karma, already. Can you?

And so it is, without further ado, that I sign off here and get to work on Tanya’s feature post, which will go live later today.

Such joy to be back here in the Blogosphere!

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant,

I am
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#amwriting #amblogging #amreading #amsharing #writerslife

February 17, 2017

GILMORE GIRLS: A DISSENTING OPINION

Is it me or did the Sherman-Palladino’s get passive aggressive with a weird reboot ending?

Like every series fan, I got more than a little keyed up when I heard about the return of Gilmore Girls, an old fave that formed part of a near mythical line up on the old WB network. Would it fly?

Nine years is a long time, and scoring back the entire cast (the late Edward Herrmann excepted) for a mini Season 8 was a coup too good to miss out on. I had enjoyed a seven year love her-hate her relationship with Lorelai Gilmore, probably because I saw some of myself in her. Yacky, quirky, vulnerable and funny, she was also wise in the face of tragedy, if not hyper malleable when caught in a tough spot. Her on again, off again relationships, her inability to take a position and stick with it, and her fierce loyalty to her community always kept me rationalizing, wanting to make sense of her in the hopes that she’d come around to what I, the fan, wanted for her. In this, the Sherman-Palladino writing team succeeded in 2016.

The reboot showed us a Lorelai who hasn’t changed much since the show’s first run, and for those of us who caught on to the pathology behind her inertia, it was not only expected, but immensely satisfying on delivery. Still fast talking and coffee swilling, she is plagued by doubts about what the future holds and how she’ll deal with it when inevitable change comes. Aging is not touched upon nor should it be. Lorelai is timeless, blundering through life with steely determination and a calculating glint in her eyes. Both fox and hare, she will go on no matter what the show runners do to her and we love her for that. But when the narrative turns to Rory, something strange happens. Like her mother, she is still where we left her: questioning, seeking, battling to retain her optimism. All good things to highlight, given the current zeitgeist. But for the character, I wanted more.

After a Yale education and years on the international journo circuit culminating in a triumphant feature piece in a major magazine, thirty-two-year-old Rory Gilmore returns to Stars Hollow and her mother. Dislocated, without home and purpose, the gal is down. Will she pick herself up and triumph as her plucky mother did thirty-two years before, when she settled in the mythical burg at sixteen years young with a baby in tow?

I’m not sure.

HUGE SPOILER (BOLDED)

After four ninety minute episodes, writers “came full circle” to quote one of the series stars, ending with four (or three, depending on how you look at contractions) simple words from Rory: “Mom, I’m pregnant.”

Given the propensity for supermarket tabloids to push themes like “Baby and wedding on the way,” “Pregnant and dumped,” and “Christmas divorce,” I shouldn’t have been surprised. But I was. One of the many charms radiating off this series was the sparkling message that a Gilmore Girl could not be kept down. Her errors, missteps and heroic stubbornness would always give way to a solution more positive than the last go ’round.

Rory’s rejection of her Gilmore past with a thorough dumping of privileged boyfriend Logan at the end of Season 7 marked her escape from her mother’s past, which she had little choice but to live as a minor. Nine years later, she is back, older and presumably wiser, but still tripping the edges of the past we thought she rejected. Instead of feeling good about it, I was reminded, yet again, of how dastardly nostalgia comes into play when its disciples spend too much time caught in its tentacles.

Is replicating the main protagonist’s life the penultimate or final plot point in 2016, or has Gilmore Girls been a spec fiction piece in a divergent universe all along? Far from happy ending, it seems to hint at something darker in the Stars Hollow universe: a loop doomed to repeat. Run, Rory, run, and don’t look back!

The reboot has been embraced and celebrated widely, with many fans calling for more. I had so wanted to be part of that club, but find I can’t: At least, not now; not until I figure out what I just saw and what it really means.

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant,

I am,

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Gilmore Girls Fan

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The Complete Scooter Q&A: https://abfunkhauser.com/the-complete-scooter-q-a/

AND WE’RE BACK!

Something about September 1st gets me going. Maybe it’s a throwback to the division between school and summer holidays, that work v. fun mindset that drives us into a corner believing that happiness has a shelf life limited to the number of days the sun actually comes out.

I’ve always tried to ignore the lines we draw. Whether artificial: hot v. not; or natural: spring v. fall; summer v. winter — tripping the continuum is the preferred route. Nothing comes to an end on the first of September; nothing begins either. In 2016 CE, September 1st is merely a Thursday in another month of Thursday’s.

Or is it?

I, for one, had a bonzer Summer. Severe drought and weather notwithstanding, I pursued the usual things associated with the time of year. Movies with the kids; beach days; volunteerism; reading; writing and reviewing.

Suicide SquadOn the movie front, I was pleasantly surprised a couple of times. Proving once again that I am free to choose, I ignored the rhetoric surrounding Suicide Squad and went and saw it anyway. Man, am I ever glad I did. No matter how much shoot ’em up ’em’s film makers insist on serving up, nothing works better than good repartee and a STORY to go with it. Producers take note.

At the beachWith one of the hottest summers on record where I live, I was delighted to reconnect with a place long forgotten: the shores of Lake Ontario. Long seen as a place to look at water rather than wade in, I was pleasantly surprised to find environmental responsibility paying off with clean water in 2016. I went in: not once, not twice, but more times than I have in my ENTIRE lifetime (which is getting pretty long, but I don’t dwell on that!) Bravo to the good people who persevered all of those years and got at least some of our beaches cleaned up! Salutes all around.

Then there was the matter of this thing called writing, reading and reviewing. I am so close to finishing the WIP that I’m already dreaming about NaNoWriMo and the HEUER prequel. I’m also staying true to my promise to review ten books each year. A promise made, a promise kept makes me glad, and – wow – what talent abounds! Look for all ten reviews to be posted here very soon.

Today is not any old Thursday, it turns out. It’s a time to reacquaint.

There is so much to tell, including the awards won and the one’s still in balloting. There’s The Word on the Street Toronto Book and Magazine Festival to chat up as well as my growing affiliation with the amazing Sisters in Crime Toronto Chapter. Authors, new and returning, will be lending their insights as well, with cool new releases, WIPs and interview questions and answers all through the month of September. Invisibility, the art of knowing Jackie Chan, and how to get a broom with a blown spark plug off the ground, among other things, will be examined.

It’s September 1. Hello!

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant, I am

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Links:

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FAQ’s: https://abfunkhauser.com/faqs/

 

UPFRONT AND PRESENT: AUTHOR SUSANNE MATTHEWS

The Authors Susanne MatthewsToday, the blog welcomes romance author and fellow Ontarian Susanne Matthews. Educator, visionary, novel crafter, Susanne tackles her storylines with a view to a journey. From first page to last, her characters move and we, the readers, are transformed with them. Welcome Susanne.

The White CarnationThe last person disgraced reporter Faye Lewis wants back in her life is Detective Rob Halliday, the man she blames for ruining her career and breaking her heart. But when she finds an old friend murdered, he’s the one she calls.

For the past year, Rob and his team have been hunting the Harvester, a serial killer who ritualistically murders new mothers and vanishes with their infants. What Rob doesn’t need is another case, especially one involving his ex-fiancée.

Then Faye is assaulted, and Rob realizes the cases are connected. She may hold the answers he needs to find the elusive killer. But the more they investigate, the more complex the situation becomes. Can they set the past aside and work together, or will the Harvester and his followers reap another prize?

Excerpt from: The White Carnation

After more than four hours of hobnobbing with the rich and not so famous, Faye was hot, tired, and exasperated. The engagement tea had been even worse than she’d imagined. Clowns—they’d had clowns—and she hated clowns. You never knew who was behind that pasty white makeup. What kind of adults used a kiddy theme for their engagement party? Alright, so the groom’s family was in the home party décor business. What difference did that make? There had to be hundreds of themes more suitable to the occasion.

Imagine that snooty little bitch thinking she was the help—it might be the society page, but press was press. Thank God she wasn’t one of them anymore. Sure, the money, clothes, and bling were nice—although Faye wasn’t penniless, she did have to pinch the ones she had—but at least she had a valid reason for getting out of bed each day. Hopefully, Abigail and Reginald would be happy, but she wouldn’t count on it. If ever there was a marriage arranged in the boardroom, that was it. Imagining that couple on their wedding night as they completed the merger made her laugh out loud in the car. Miss Ice Cube wouldn’t possibly warm up enough for Mr. Icicle to penetrate in the first place … clowns or no clowns.

She slapped the steering wheel in frustration. The drive from Wellesley to Beacon Hill seemed interminable, and more than once, Faye cursed inept drivers who didn’t know the least little bit about driving or where they were going. She hated being late, and thanks to overlong speeches and bad traffic, she would be.

“Tourists,” she grumbled when a sudden exit off the highway almost caused an accident. “Too bad GPS doesn’t come with idiot-proofing.” When she eventually got off the I-90 and onto the side streets, she spotted a parking space on Marlborough only half a block from Mary’s family home, a neighborhood she remembered fondly from her youth. Well, at least the parking fairy’s on my side.

Glancing at the heavy gray clouds on the horizon, she cursed. It would rain soon, and she’d forgotten her umbrella in her desk. This jacket needed to be dry-cleaned, and she’d already blown this month’s budget for that. Grabbing the white carnation with the rainbow ribbon that her secret admirer had left on the windshield this morning, she got out of the car. That flower was the only bright spot in her otherwise dismal day. As always, there’d been no card. The individual flowers, their stems tucked in micro-vases that held the precious water they needed, arrived on a more or less regular basis. This was the fourth—no, the fifth one. Sloan had joked about the first one.

“Maybe O’Malley learned you hate roses.”

Jerk!

She was convinced her secret admirer was sweet and maybe a little shy. For a while, she’d thought Jimmy might have been leaving the flowers for her, but he’d been out of town on assignment the last two times. At least Mr. Mysterious wasn’t some crazed stalker sending her death threats. It was good to know someone still admired her, and if the only romance in her life was a carnation four or five times a year, so be it. Her crushed heart wouldn’t be in any danger that way. She usually took the flowers home, but this time, she’d give it to Lucy Green. Why not? The woman deserved a bright spot in her day, too.

The neighborhood hadn’t changed much. Did someone ensure that the geraniums in the window boxes looked exactly the same from year to year? Was a gardener paid to fluff the petals just so? The geraniums she’d hung on her tiny balcony had more than one dead bloom that needed removing. These? Not one.

The Greens lived in a unit on the top floor of a renovated brownstone. As she walked toward the building that had practically been her second home, Faye tried to let go of her frustrations and think of the simpler, happier days when she’d lived just a few blocks away. That had been fifteen years ago; Faye had been sixteen when her life had changed forever. She’d been the fun-loving one, the one people sought when they were down.

“Forgive me. I’m sorry.” God, she hated those words, the last ones her father had penned. She’d trusted him to love her and protect her, but he’d let her down. After one too many bad financial decisions, instead of sticking around and trying to fix things, Dad had taken the easy way out and left her and her mother to pick up the pieces. “Trust no one but yourself” was Faye’s mantra. Sadly, she’d forgotten it four years ago when she’d met Rob, and look at what had happened.

Today, her career was on life support and her heart was broken into so many pieces, she doubted it would ever be whole again. Sometimes, the easy way out didn’t look so bad. Maybe she was more like her father than she thought. She’d certainly made a few bad decisions of her own.

About the author:

new picture of meSusanne Matthews was born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. She’s always been an avid reader of all types of books, but always with a penchant for happily ever after romances. In her imagination, she travelled to foreign lands, past and present, and soared into the future. A retired educator, Susanne spends her time writing and creating adventures for her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.

Follow Susanne on her:  Website    Blog    Facebook page    Twitter @jandsmatt

Amazon author page    and    Goodreads author page

Proustian Questionnaire Image BIG
What are your thoughts on muses and do you have one? 

Muses are an interesting breed. Since I’m a pantser, I have to have a muse, otherwise, where would the stories come from? I can’t describe her, but she’s real. She enjoys tormenting me at night—giving me all kinds of great ideas that keep me from sleeping—ideas that disappear when I finally do, and even if I write down some key idea, that doesn’t make sense the next day. But, essentially, she’s kind, and shows up when I need her most. Since a lot of my books are suspense novels, she’s got to be the one with the experience, right?
Characters have a great capacity to love, yet they’re starved. Why do you think this happens in fiction and in real life? 

Love can be a scary thing. If you love someone deeply, you have to lay it all out there, and when you do, you can get hurt.  I think in many ways people are afraid to love. As a writer, I torture my characters, make it hard for them to find love because in real life, finding love and keeping it is a struggle. If it comes too easily, it’s not necessarily going to last. We value what we work hard for.

Without giving spoilers, would you say you’re a “happy ending” writer? 

Yes, absolutely. No matter what torment my characters undergo, in the end, things will work out for them.
What would you like to be remembered for?

I’d like to be remembered as someone who made a difference in someone’s life. If they enjoyed reading one of my books that would be great.

If you could dine with any historical figure living or dead, who would it be and why? 

William Shakespeare. I’d like to know how he’d feel knowing that those plays he wrote by hand have been immortalized. I’d also ask him why he created two such weak men as Hamlet and Macbeth. Even King Lear was powerless.

Past, present or future? Where does your mind dwell? 

Solidly in the present at least half the time. Since I write historical romance too, I guess 25% of the time I’m in the past. The other 25 % I’m thinking of the future and planning out what I need to do.
What informs your writing most? 

Not quite sure what you mean by this. If you’re asking about my inspiration, then it’s events in the news. I’ll see an article and research various aspects of it until I find a story notion—that’s where the muse kicks in.
Growing up in the Seventies, school kids were encouraged to think globally and act locally. Have you ever flirted with this philosophy? 

Growing up in the Fifties and Sixties, the world was a smaller place. I might dream globally, but I was firmly rooted at home. That really hasn’t changed. I have lots of friends around the globe now, thanks to Twitter and Facebook, but I tends to stay in my own corner of the world.
Guilty pleasures: we all have them. What is yours?

Cheesecake and red wine
Your greatest victory? 

Selling my first novel, Fire Angel. It was a dream come true.
Tell us about the one that got away. Person, place or thing. 

I had a chance to go to Woodstock in 1969, and I turned it down because I didn’t like the idea of having to sleep in a tent. I was 19.
What are some of the overriding themes in your work? Do you have a favorite? 

Good wins out in the end is the overriding theme. I don’t like to see women diminished or minimized in any way. True love always shines in the end.

Who do you admire and why? 

Nora Roberts. She has always been one of my favorite authors and I aspire to be as good as she is one day.

My daughter, Angela, because she has faced adversity and overcome it. She has four young children, and has raised them on her own while working full time. She’s my hero.
Are writers fully formed works of art or works in progress?

A work in progress for sure—one that gets better all the time.

Thank you for dropping by Susanne and much success with THE WHITE CARNATION.

Tomorrow: Author Raegyn Perry showcases LAVENDER FIELDS and muses her way through the Proustian Questionnaire

RP musing

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REALIZING A DREAM: AUTHOR RIVAL GATES

The  Authors Rival GatesMichigan born Ontario raised author Rival Gates has a foot in two countries and two worlds. His first novel, QUEST FOR THE RED SAPPHIRE, Book 1 of the Sapphire Chronicles, had its genesis in a young man’s dreams, becoming a reality in adulthood as a finished work under the auspices of Solstice Publishing. Rival owes his determination to supportive family members, but the drive to realize the written word is wholly his own. QUEST fuelled an imagination for years, but it has sparked a career that will span many years to come. Welcome, Rival.

QUEST FOR THE RED SAPPHIRE, BOOK 1

Cover2

General Linvin Grithinshield was used to enemies trying to kill him on the battlefields of the medieval world of Lavacia.  Now he has the fear of being killed anytime, anywhere.  He thinks he is summoned home from the goblin wars to oversee the family merchant empire after his father’s disappearance; and for a while he is right.  Then his mother is assassinated and Linvin’s true purpose is revealed.  He must seek out and find the all-powerful Red Sapphire and claim its might before the murderers find it…or him.  With new dangers around every turn in an ever-escalating spiral of violence, he must prove himself worthy of the gem and lead his party to success against insurmountable odds.  To fail would mean death for far more than just him.  The world, itself, could fall into permanent shadow and darkness.

 

Excerpt 1

Linvin was still. He closed his eyes and tried to put aside the events of the day. At last he spoke, “My life makes no sense to me. There I was, growing up with my parents and then out of nowhere my father tells me, ‘I must send you away, son. You are destined for something greater than the life I can provide. The greatness in your future lies down a separate road than I must travel. To prepare for that, I must send you to the greatest teacher you could have, Sedemihcra.’”

“‘You will be trained to be a soldier, a commander and a leader of men. He will also train you to use your mind to solve problems that force alone cannot solve. He will set you on the right path. When the time is right and your training is complete, I will send for you to return home.’”

“I asked him what was at the end of my path. He had such passion in his voice as he told me, ‘One day you will make an unrivaled difference in the lives of others. The weak, the helpless, the oppressed; all will one-day look to you as their champion. They will be counting on you. I will be counting on you.’”

“‘To send you away is the hardest thing I have ever done. Your mother is against this but the time has come for you to begin your training. There is so much at stake, son. You will have the chance to stand up to tyranny, oppression and all the evils of the world. That task will fall to you alone. You can rise to the challenge or turn your back. If you do turn away though, millions of people will suffer. Terrible storms are on the horizon. You are the only shelter the people will have. So you see my son, that is why you must go.’”

Anvar sat his stein on the rail and began to pace. “Your parents agonized over the decision and your mother was indeed set against the entire idea, but in the end, your father would not defer. He sent you away because he knew that you needed training.”

Linvin finished his ale and refilled the great vessel. “I had many years to ponder those words as I grew up in Valia. It never made sense to me but I had to trust my father’s judgment.”

“So here I am at last, summoned home to fulfill my destiny. As it turns out, I am destined to be a merchant or politician and marry some cold, greedy woman who comes from the right family. I will settle down, make more money and be a proper member of society.” Linvin’s tone had been sarcastic and his movements, grandiose.

He approached Anvar in a combination of frustration and anger. “So, dear uncle, best friend of Dirk Grithinshield, is this the life for which my father sent me to be trained?”

QUEST FOR THE RED SAPPHIRE is on sale on Kindle for .99 and can be bought at  http://amzn.to/1npYd0S 

BIOGRAPHY

Rival Gates Suit Enhanced(2)_peI was born in Port Huron, MI and was the youngest of four surviving children.  At the age of five my Father took a position as a magazine editor in Toronto, Ontario Canada.  We moved to a large city just outside Toronto called Mississauga.  The different cultures and demographics to which I was exposed formed many of the ideas for my story.

When I was thirteen, my Father’s declining health forced him out of work and our family struggled.  It was at that time that I decided to channel my negative energy into a constructive purpose.  I set out to write a short story about a magical gem called the Red Sapphire.  My brothers teased me that such a stone was simply a ruby.  That irony was part of the attraction for me.  After all, who would be writing about a Red Sapphire?  Years went by and we moved down to my Father’s home town of Harrow, Ontario on the shores of Lake Erie.  It was a drastic change from city life and I found myself retreating more and more into my ever growing story.  By age fifteen I had a two-hundred page hand written manuscript.

Advancing from high school to college at Michigan State University there was little time for writing and the project sat in a drawer in my parent’s home.  In spite of my lack of attention to writing, every night I would fall asleep working out details of the book and the series to follow.

I met a wonderful woman at Michigan State who agreed after graduation to become my wife.  As we started our family I began a career in retail management and sales.  For over twenty years I excelled in the field and even incorporated some of my knowledge into the book.  I hold my position in the greatest esteem.

While I rewrote the story several times on my computer, I did not attempt to publish it until the longest supporter of my writing, my Mother, became terminally ill.  She told me the last time I saw her how proud she was of the story I had created and made me promise to publish it and share it with the world.  With the loving support of my wife, our three children and the help of the good people at Solstice Publishing, I am fulfilling that promise.

When my Father (ever the editor) read the book, he told me how proud he was and that somewhere he knew my Mother was equally proud.  I present to you the first part of the saga which is my life’s work, “Quest for the Red Sapphire.”  May it bring you as much joy to read as it has brought me to write.

Rival Gates

LINKS

Web Site: http://www.rivalgates.com/

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

http://rivalgates.tumblr.com/

Facebook: Author http://on.fb.me/1qqrjiB

Series: https://www.facebook.com/thesapphirechronicles

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rivalgates1

Buy Links for “Quest for the Red Sapphire”

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1npYd0S

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1mSIAkT

Purchase “The Sapphire Crucible”

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1lGfOVN

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1n8o0yN

Goodreads “Quest for the Red Sapphire”

http://bit.ly/1u1DJxN

Goodreads “Sapphire Crucible”

http://bit.ly/ZqUav3

Excerpt 2

Linvin looked into the darkness but only saw the swaying trees in the night’s sky. “That wolf sounded close,” he noted.

“That was no ordinary wolf,” Rander commented.

“What is so unusual about that wolf?” Linvin inquired as he found his bow and arrows.

“Remember those predators I was telling you about before?” Rander asked. “That’s one of them. You can tell from the low howl. Up here, we call them Trogoandras Wolves.”

“What is so special about those wolves?” Anvar asked.

“Well, to start with, they are the size of a full grown human. Their claws can effortlessly cleave flesh from bone. They have powerful jaws that can snap your thigh in two, like a twig. Inside their mouths, are two rows of teeth. The outer set is for tearing and shredding while the inner ones are for grinding.”

“They have been the bane of loggers and farmers.

You see, for all of the creature’s strength and power, Trogoandras have one flaw. Their legs are disproportionately short for their body. Most of the prey out here is long legged and too fast for them to run down, so they hunt in packs. One will mark a target and call for the pack to assemble. Then they will corner the herd they are tracking and attack. They are reasonably intelligent and crafty hunters, few escape the net of death they drop on their victims.”

“With the ax men driving away the herds from these woods, Trogoandras have set to devouring stock and as necessary, people.”

“They attack people?” exclaimed Linvin as he placed an arrow on the string of his bow.

“Sure do,” said Bander. “Lost two friends in the last month to ‘em. Can’t run as fast as deer, ya’ know. Out a control, them Trogos are.”

“I shouldn’t worry for now,” Rander told his cousin. “That was only one Trogoandras we heard. They seldom attack alone and will never come near a campfire without a pack. As long as we keep the fire going through the night, we should not have anything to fear.”

Proustian Questionnaire Image BIG

What are your thoughts on muses and do you have one?

I have known people who had them and found them instrumental in their art.  It has never been an avenue I have taken as my ideas flow from within.  If you read the lyrics to the Pearl Jam song “Black” you will see the downside when the muse is gone.  I like to look inward for inspiration.

 

Characters have a great capacity to love, yet they’re starved. Why do you think this happens in fiction and in real life?

Often times fiction reflects a writer’s experiences in the world.  There is a huge difference between a person’s capacity to love and the right opportunity to do so.  Love is like a butterfly passing by.  It doesn’t happen often and it is illusive when it is near.  But if you are lucky enough to get your hands on it, you have something special, indeed!

Without giving spoilers, would you say you’re a “happy ending” writer?

Most of the time I am a “happy ending writer.”  I think the books and movies with sad or distressing endings are fine, but I rarely want to read or watch them again.  This life throws enough negative things our way.  We seek entertainment to lose ourselves in another story and I think most people want to finish it happy.

 

What would you like to be remembered for?

Aside from my writing, I would like to be remembered for the lessons I have taught my children and hopefully for being a good father and husband.

 

If you could dine with any historical figure living or dead, who would it be and why?

I would love to dine with Marco Polo and hear firsthand about all his wondrous adventures.  

Past, present or future? Where does your mind dwell?

My mind is usually looking to the future as I am a compulsive planner.  I reflect on the past and draw inspiration from there but I use that inspiration to plan for the future.

What informs your writing most?

I would have to say my imagination.  I dream up different scenarios I think would be cool and then I find a way to fit them into my work.

Growing up in the Seventies, school kids were encouraged to think globally and act locally. Have you ever flirted with this philosophy?

It governs my charitable contributions.  For example, hunger is a terrible thing worldwide.  But before I send my money overseas I would rather feed the hungry in my city. 

Guilty pleasures: we all have them. What is yours?

In a word: Doritos

Your greatest victory?

My greatest victory was publishing my first book.  My father wrote for his whole life and never accomplished that.  So far I have published two with more to come.

Tell us about the one that got away. Person, place or thing.

There was a girl in college I had asked out the same week I asked out my wife.  It just so happened my wife was available earlier in the week and we went out.  I knew right then that she was the one for me and I cancelled the other date.  The other girl and I stayed friends throughout college.  She went through a slew of really bad boyfriends and at one point asked me to leave my girlfriend (now wife) to be with her.  I couldn’t do that.  So she moved on after graduation and I never heard from her again.

What are some of the overriding themes in your work? Do you have a favorite?

One of my favorite themes is if you rush into a situation, it will almost always end badly.  If you think it through, the answer is always there.

Who do you admire and why?

I admire the great artists of the past who were often unappreciated in their time but continued to do what they loved even without all the tools we have at our disposal these days.

Are writers fully formed works of art or works in progress?

Writers are definitely works in progress.  We are like water.  We bend around our surroundings and pick up characteristics of them.  Writers change their styles over time and vary quite a bit on different pieces.

 

Thanks Rival, and best of luck with the series. Rival can be found on Goodreads. Be sure to add him to your MY BOOKS list.

Tomorrow: Educator and incurable romantic Susanne Matthews talks about THE WHITE CARNATION and more http://www.mhsusannematthews.ca/

new picture of me

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THE FUNKHAUSER ROAD SHOW; BLOG TOUR, DAY 3: Spotlight, Saph’s Book Blog, http://saphsbookblog.blogspot.com/

Blog Tour brought to you by BEWITCHING BOOK TOURS

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Bewitching for Authors

Roxanne Rhodes, President and CEO
Roxanne Rhodes, President and CEO

Bewitching Book Tours is geared towards the new author, the ebook author, the small and independent press author, and the mid-list author- the author who doesn’t have a huge marketing budget but wants the most bang for their promotional buck.

Bewitching Book Tours aims to offer just that by pairing authors and their books with targeted book bloggers and readers who enjoy the types of books the authors write.

Bewitching Book Tours specializes in paranormal romance, urban fantasy and paranormal erotica book tours though we tour almost all fiction genres including horror, YA, NA, and all the romance sub-genres (contemporary, historical, thriller, suspense, etc).

Bewitching for Readers

Bewitching Book Tours offers readers the chance to discover new books while getting behind the scenes information about authors, books and characters.

Join us for a virtual book tour -you can read author guest blogs, interviews & book reviews and exclusive excerpts, listen to radio interviews, and participate in chats with the authors- all from the comfort of your home.

And there are always chances for readers to win prizes; free books, gift cards, prize packs, Kindles and more. New tours start every Monday.
http://www.bewitchingbooktours.com/

 

LOVIN’ THE VAMPIRE: MARIE LAVENDER

 The Authors Marie LavenderRomance author Marie Lavender takes the chair with a view to SECOND NATURE, the first in her BLOOD AT FIRST SIGHT SERIES. Energetic, prolific and with a love for NOW and dark chocolate (see Proust Questionnaire) she radiates positivity. Maybe vampire relationships can work? Welcome, Marie.

 

SECOND NATURE

SecondNature-final cover

She never expected it…
Desiree Edwards has a problem. She’s been attacked, kidnapped and forced to get along with a vampire of all things. It’s something right out of the story books she reads, or her worst nightmare. But, sometimes he’s not the monster he appears to be. He seems so humanlike that she can’t help it when her emotions betray her, when her body betrays her. To make matters worse, she finds out more about herself than she ever wanted to know.
She was unlike any other…
Alec has a problem. The animal in him wants Desiree. But, so does the man. The more he learns about her, the harder it is to deny what he wants. But, he’s a freak, and she’s just a human. The two species don’t mix that way. Then an old enemy surfaces and Alec is forced to make a choice. His life or hers.
Can Alec’s soul be saved by this unique human? Or will it be far too late?

Purchase Links

Universal Amazon:  http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00Q7FWIWA

Publisher:  http://solsticepublishing.com/second-nature/

Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/second-nature-marie-lavender/1120879883

CreateSpace link: https://www.createspace.com/5131233 

Book Trailer

http://youtu.be/CaD_-pJ0fE8

Book Excerpt

He chuckled. “You’re amusing, Desiree. I knew I liked you the moment I saw you, as soon as I heard your voice.”

The blood drained from her face. Oh my God. He had been that close when he was stalking her? That was eerie. She thought back to the festival and remembered that feeling of being watched. Natalie had brushed it off, but Desiree had sensed something was wrong. “What if … I had seen you?” she managed weakly.

“You didn’t.”

“But what if I had? Would you have given up your pursuit of me? Would you have lost interest?”

“No.”

“But why?”

“You don’t see your appeal at all, do you?”

She went silent. She honestly didn’t know what to say.

They entered a garage, or at least that’s what she thought it was. He turned the car off and got out. When he opened the passenger side, he caught her foot just in time before she nailed him.

His eyes narrowed. “Play nice, sweetheart. I don’t have to be easy on you.”

“You’ve certainly proven that already.”

“You haven’t seen anything yet.” He grasped her body and jerked her out of the seat.

With the bright lights of the garage over them, she had a better look at him now. Alec was very tall, with wide shoulders and defined muscles that she could see through his black tee shirt. He had black hair that sprung over his head in spiky layers. His eyes were dark, almost without color, with such a hypnotic quality to them that she had to blink. He towered over her and the hard look in his eyes didn’t help any.

She shivered. But, that was his intention, wasn’t it? To keep her off-balanced and afraid? “You’re doing this because I know too much,” she said as she stood before him, even though she was still bound. She firmed her lips for a moment. “Take me back now and I won’t say a word to anyone. I swear. This never happened.”

Author Bio

Mariepic2Bestselling author of UPON YOUR RETURN and 19 other books. 2014 BTS Red Carpet Review Nominee. Finalist and Runner-up in the MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013 and 2014. Top 50 Authors on AuthorsDB.com. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published twenty books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. Lavender just released Second Nature, a paranormal romance/urban fantasy, in December of 2014. She released Magick & Moonlight, a romantic fantasy, back in March of 2014. Upon Your Honor, released last April, is her second historical romance. Her current series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Magick Series and The Blood at First Sight Series. Feel free to visit her website at http://marielavender.com/ for further information about her books and her life. Marie is also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

A list of her books and pen names are as follows:

Marie Lavender: Upon Your ReturnMagick & MoonlightUpon Your HonorSecond Nature

Erica Sutherhome: Hard to GetMemoriesA Hint of ScandalWithout YouStrange HeatTerror in the NightHauntedPursuitPerfect GameA Touch of DawnRansomLeather and Lace

Kathryn Layne: A Misplaced Life

Heather Crouse: Express Café and Other RamblingsRamblings, Musings and Other ThingsSoulful Ramblings and Other Worldly Things

Author Links
http://marielavender.com/
http://iloveromanceblog.wordpress.com/
http://marielavenderbooks.blogspot.com/
http://marielavender.blogspot.com/
https://www.facebook.com/marie.lavender.58
https://www.facebook.com/MarieAnnLavender
https://twitter.com/marielavender1
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarieLavender/posts
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/marie-lavender/27/187/10a
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6938764.Marie_Lavender
http://authorsdb.com/authors-directory/1578-marie-lavender
http://www.pw.org/content/marie_lavender
http://amazon.com/author/marielavender
http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00Q7FWIWA
http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00JTKTODG
http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00IRKN5P2
http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00I0D9LQ8
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJu8HjRVYCFOqcIoX6ZxdqQ/videos

“A true man does not need to romance a different girl every night, a true man romances the same girl for the rest of her life.”–Ana Alas

Proustian Questionnaire Image BIG

What are your thoughts on muses and do you have one?

Life is my muse. I think that as writers, or at least for myself, we go through experiences, garner knowledge and store it. All of that jumble in our consciousness simmers for awhile and then the muse spits it back out into random ideas, seeds that have the potential to be so much more, stories to be told.


Characters have a great capacity to love, yet they’re starved. Why do you think this happens in fiction and in real life?

It is true that as people, we could probably be kinder, love all human beings more and respect them. We are all human, capable of numerous flaws, with the ability to make mistakes or turn it around and make things right, to carve out a piece of happiness for ourselves. The truth is that those decisions are up to us, and how we look at life within our power. That outlook can color our beliefs in ourselves, and in love. Are people starved for love? Perhaps they are, yet I imagine a lot of their avoidance of love has to do with trust, trust in themselves and other people. Breaking through those barriers is key to finding a deeper understanding of others and opening ourselves up to love.

I think a character is three-dimensional when you give them the ability to love, show them living it on the page and yet still portray the endless array of human emotions in the story. As for seeing starved characters in fiction, if I read a book and I find a character isn’t fully developed, I still see great potential. The author has the opportunity to bring that character to fruition, to delve deeper, to get to the core of the character and discover their hard truths, however heartbreaking and wonderful.

And perhaps the reason why the character is starved is also about trust. It takes a great deal of trust for a writer to relinquish some of their power in order to let a character step into the story and shine in his or her glory. It takes courage to resist the urge to direct everything. As writers, we think we’re in control, but we’re not, not really. We’re along for the ride on this crazy journey of character development. Once a writer starts to truly listen to a character and the story that needs to be told rather than the one he thinks “should” be told, he will never be lost again.


Without giving spoilers, would you say you’re a “happy ending” writer?

I am a firm believer in happy endings, or at least a hint of them. I love reading and writing romance novels, and those usually require an HEA.


What would you like to be remembered for?

I just hope that I have made an impact with my books, that a character will have touched a reader to the point that they will remember him/her for years to come.


If you could dine with any historical figure living or dead, who would it be and why?

I’d like to have dinner with Jane Austen. I think she would be quite fascinating to see in person. Based on her prolific books and from what I know about her history, she had great talent and a quick wittedness that I think would lend itself to good dinner conversation.


Past, present or future? Where does your mind dwell?

While I do think of my goals for future, I am mainly in the present with occasional thoughts about my past.

What informs your writing most?

Meeting new people, having new experiences and learning as much as I possibly can about different subjects helps to shape my writing.


Growing up in the Seventies, school kids were encouraged to think globally and act locally. Have you ever flirted with this philosophy?

Of course. I have definitely considered volunteering for charities. I already donate to several. But, I think the best thing we can do to honor this philosophy is to lend a helping hand however we can. For now, my efforts are virtual as I offer guest slots on several of my blogs and I try to help my fellow authors out whenever possible. Locally, we can do more by helping out in our own cities. Even just doing a favor for your neighbor or helping a stranger out now and then is a good start.


Guilty pleasures: we all have them. What is yours?

One word…well, all right, it’s two.  Dark chocolate.

Your greatest victory?

Probably getting my first book contract. I can’t even describe how exhilarated I felt when I read that email for the first time, and found out a publisher wanted to publish Upon Your Return.


Tell us about the one that got away. Person, place or thing.

In a past life, I had briefly entertained being a music performer. Fate did not see fit to have that happen, and I think I’m better for it because writing is my true calling.


What are some of the overriding themes in your work? Do you have a favorite?

Some themes are love, honor, survivalism, the importance of family, strength and hope. I think I tend to write a lot about strong characters who endured some major traumas in life, and how they rose from the ashes to attain their goals. So, the survivalist theme resonates for several characters.


Who do you admire and why?

I admire my fiancé for his beliefs, and the way he pursues his dreams fearlessly. I am so proud of him.


Are writers fully formed works of art or works in progress?

Whether you’re born with ability to write or you learn it somewhere along the way, I believe we all have room for improvement. We should seek to better ourselves, to develop our skills and cater to our writing careers the way you’d groom yourself for any other career. So, yes, we are, in a sense, still works in progress.

Thank you Marie Lavender for taking care of my site today. Be sure and include Marie on your authors to read list!

Rival Gates Suit Enhanced(2)_peTomorrow: Rival Gates, Author of QUEST FOR THE RED SAPPHIRE, Book 1 of The Sapphire Chronicles. http://www.rivalgates.com/

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DAY 2: FUNKHAUSER GETS BEHIND THE SPIRIT OF HEUER ON Author Rachael Stapleton’s The Mysterious Ink Spot, http://rachaelstapleton.blogspot.ca/

TAKING CHARGE: AUTHOR JOHN DEBOER

The Authors John DeBoerThe page welcomes John DeBoer, our first guest in a spotlight series that will cover the site in tandem with the Blog Tour. Today, John offers up two selections from his authorial archive and boldly tries on the site’s Proustian questionnaire. Eureka! Thank you, John.

THE BOOKS…

Get the Picture

Get the pictureJack Lansing, M.D. is a widower who’s now ready to get on with his life when a chance meeting with a beautiful young woman changes everything – but not in the way he hopes. After a one-night tryst with the enticing vixen, the unsuspecting surgeon finds himself the target of a powerful U.S. senator, organized crime, and a figure from his past he’d long forgotten – all because he succumbs to the charms of a woman he can’t resist, despite the predicament she has put him in. Beginning in Jack’s once-peaceful beach town, a deadly game of sex, money, and retribution plays out to a thrilling conclusion.

The Sincerest Form of Flattery

The Sincerest Form of FlatteryFormer surgeon Jack Lansing, M.D. has become a bestselling mystery writer. At a book-signing event he meets an old colleague who, unbeknownst to Jack, has carried a grudge against him for thirty years. Then murders start popping up in and around Jack’s peaceful beach town – murders that mimic the plots in his books and make him a suspect. Jack must convince the police and the FBI of his innocence while trying to solve the mystery himself. Because, realizes, he and his wife could be the killer’s final victims. It is a chilling tale of twists and turns worthy of Jack’s imagination. But this time he doesn’t know how it will end.

Proustian Questionnaire Image BIG

Q: What are your thoughts on muses and do you have one?

A: I hesitate to invoke Greek mythology to explain what overcomes my “thinking blocks,” but perhaps there is a Muse-like feature we all carry in our brains. All I know is that when stuck thinking of an idea for my next book, or trying to figure out what my character will do next in the one I’m working on, I always manage, though it might take days or even weeks, to have that Eureka! moment. So far.

Q: Characters have a great capacity for love, yet they’re starved. Why do you think this happens in fiction and real life?

A: Love makes the world go around, as they say. Some have it, others don’t but want it. It’s the human condition. I’ve written novels in which the journey to attain love is part and parcel of the story, but in other novels of mine, an abiding love is already present and provides the foundation, the support, for the protagonist’s struggle with conflict. So I don’t think a character, or a real person, for that matter, needs to be always searching for it.

Q: Without giving specifics, would you say you’re a “happy ending” writer?

A: Yup. That’s me. My story conflicts all get resolved in favor of the good guys.

Q: What would you like to be remembered for?

A: Irrespective of career accomplishments, I’d like to be remembered as a good person.

Q: If you could dine with any historical figure, living or dead, who would it be and why?

A:  I’d like to have dinner with Yogi Berra. His unintentional wit has always amused me, and he seems like a genuinely funny guy. I think our senses of humor are compatible. And I love Italian food!

Q: Past, present, or future? Where does your mind dwell?

A: Well, I have a long past, the results of which, especially my family growing up and aging, I continue to see in the present. And this naturally leads to musings about what the future has in store for them. I suppose I dwell in the present – have to write and promote those books! – but I can’t escape thinking of what preceded the now and what lies ahead.

Q: What informs your writing most?

A: Reading . I’m a voracious reader of books in my genre, and seeing what works in them and what doesn’t makes me a better writer for it.

Q: Growing up in the Seventies, school kids were encouraged to think globally and act locally. Have you ever flirted with this philosophy?

A: I assume this question is meant to inquire whether global events affect what I do in my home town. Two of my novels – one published, the other being written – have international aspects, and attendant author points of view, but other than that, I don’t think I’m in the position to respond in a meaningful way to foreign situations. All I can do is use the power of persuasion to sway votes for those who do have the power to effect change in the world for the good.

Q: Guilty pleasures: we all have them. What is yours?

A: Junk food. Not the sugary, dessert-like goodies, but those other snacks that go very nicely with an adult beverage. I’ve never met a chip I didn’t like!

Q: Your greatest victory?

A: Getting my wife to marry me!

Q: Tell us about the one that got away. Person, place, or thing.

A: Linda Anderson. I was smitten with her in junior high school. Alas, it was unrequited puppy love, and I never got the chance to see if it would bloom, because my family moved away, and I never saw her again. Are you still out there, Linda?

Q: What are some of the overriding themes in your work? Do you have a favorite?

A: I try to have different themes in my novels, but the overriding driver in my stories is what is common to all thrillers – the triumph of the good guys against sinister forces.

Q: Who do you admire and why?

A:  Professionally speaking, I, of course, admire the stars of my genre – DeMille, Connelly, Iles, Crais, Child, etc. But I don’t know them as people; I’m not even on their Christmas card lists. The one person I admire the most, and forgive me for getting a little mushy here, is my wife. Not only has she put up with me all these years, her constant effort to do the right thing and her innate ability to put all those she meets at ease, not to mention her work ethic, are what I find most admirable.

Q: Are writers fully formed works of art or works in progress?

A: Ha! I can only speak for myself, but my experiences with other writers, and learning about the early struggles of those writers now at the top of their profession, leads me to the conclusion that we’re all works in progress!

THE BIOGRAPHY

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.

 LINKS

http://www.amazon.ca/Sincerest-Form-Flattery-John-DeBoer-ebook/dp/B00W23X3CK/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1429530507&sr=8-2&keywords=John+DeBoer

http://www.amazon.ca/Get-Picture-John-L-DeBoer-ebook/dp/B00VKYI2VY/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1429530586&sr=1-3&keywords=John+DeBoer

http://www.amazon.com/Get-Picture-John-L-DeBoer-ebook/dp/B00VKYI2VY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1429530682&sr=8-2&keywords=John+DeBoer

http://www.amazon.com/Sincerest-Form-Flattery-John-DeBoer-ebook/dp/B00W23X3CK/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1429530682&sr=8-3&keywords=John+DeBoer

Thanks for taking the chair, John. Tomorrow: Romance author Marie Lavender talks SECOND NATURE, BLOOD AT FIRST SIGHT, Book 1 in a series. 

Mariepic2

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VICTORY LAP? FIRST REVIEWS ARE IN

There’s that old saying that one must never put the Lord Robertcart 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”.

FIVE STARS
Heuer Lost and Found - PrintEvery 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
FIVE STARS
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
FIVE STARS
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
FIVE STARS
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
FIVE STARS
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
FIVE STARS
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
FIVE STARS
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
FIVE STARS
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
FIVE STARS
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
FOUR STARS
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
FIVE STARS
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.
—Dawn-Jane Dusomos-Guay, Cornwall, Ontario

What a great start to a blog tour!

THE FUNKHAUSER ROAD SHOW BEGINS APRIL 20 WITH AN INTERVIEW AND REVIEW AT http://shylawolff.blogspot.com/

Heuer Lost and Found Banner 540 x 200

GUILTY PLEASURES: THE ONE’S THAT STICK

Many years ago, I hooked into a public television series that brought to life the detective novels of Dorothy

Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter Wimsey
Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter Wimsey

L. Sayers. WHOSE BODY? CLOUDS OF WITNESS and UNNATURAL DEATH to name a few brought we, the devotees of Masterpiece Theatre and MYSTERY!, face to face with an immaculately dressed, preternaturally wealthy English nit named Lord Peter Wimsey. Fussy, feckless and a bit grating in his dedication to detail, he was the ideal sleuth, rambling freely against a background of country houses, ornate gardens and immaculately tended lawns. Fans couldn’t get enough of him and neither could his creator Sayers, whom aficionados said was actually in love with her creation.

Lord Peter might not be my type, but I certainly get the notion of a writer getting more out of the character than mere words on the page.

A lot of people have asked me where Jürgen Heuer comes from, and my answers vary, depending on my mood. Yes, he’s a work of fiction, but every fiction, to paraphrase Ian Fleming, “is precedent on some kind of fact.”

Rhett and BelleHeuer, like Sayers’ Wimsey, is incredibly real, although I doubt very much either she or I would make it through a meal with him without an outburst or two. Maybe it’s a condition of what inspires. The bad, the badder, the really, really broken. Good guys—perfect guys—just don’t pack the same punch. Heck, even Rhett Butler hung out at Belle Watling’s house of extraordinary extra circular activities, and NOBODY held that against him.

I did not set out to warp Heuer as much as I did. In fact, he plays rather nicely in the opening chapters of THE HEUER EFFECT which traces his early life. But there was something about the later man, the mature man, that courted the darkness. He’s been through the wars and has been affected by them, such that he screamed “go darker” and so I did.

simcoeThe idea that the bad side of a character is more compelling than the good follows me to this day: The anit-appeal generated by the real life figure of Capt. John Graves Simcoe on AMC’s excellent TURN: Washington’s Spies, is a case in point. Excellently portrayed by actor Samuel Roukin, Simcoe wreaks havoc among Republican forces in Setauket Long Island, hangs innocents without a blink, and composes creepy love sonnets to a winsome lass who’d shoot him herself if she could. And all the while, the lanky red coat finds time to prep for higher office north of the border as the First Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. (True stuff and crikey, we even named a lake and a civic holiday after him.)

It’s not the rich sets, protagonists and dialogue that brings me back. It’s Simcoe, and it pains me to say so.

Likewise, there’s the affable, ne’er do well Saul Goodman from BETTER CALL SAUL, another AMC sauloffering on hiatus after just ten episodes. Unlike Simcoe and Heuer, Saul is sweet, rubber faced and apologetically dishonest. With every bad deed, Saul struggles to do good and we love him for it. But each time he backslides into the old life—that of Slippin’ Jimmy from Cicero, Illinois—we’re on our feet, cheering. Shame we know how it ends: Saul is a prequel to BREAKING BAD. But the end’s not the point. It’s the “how” of the getting there that does it.

Heuer’s story isn’t over yet. The third book in the series “Unapologetic Lives” offers hope. But given this writer’s penchant for her creation, redemption is highly unlikely.

Salut, D.L. Sayers

THENCE COMES THE DARKNESS…AND THE LIGHT

My guest blog at author Rachael Stapleton’s Mysterious Ink Spot. Appropriately dubbed “The Treasured and Tipsy Timeslip” the spot asks writers to detail places real and imagined that they have visited or would like to visit. Congrats to my friend Rachael for a cool idea and a truly off planet experience.

“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men. Only The Shadow knows…Bwahahahahaha.”

For many my age and younger, knowing the origin of the above might be a bit of a stretch: yet I do. Corny? Yes. Hilarious? Absolutely! The quote, or more correctly, the radio program to which this voice over belongs comes from none other than The Shadow, which got its start in pulp fiction and later ran an incredible seventeen years of American radio from 1937 to 1954.

Featuring lurid tales narrated by a supernatural all-seeing being that always knew better than the affected hapless humans it oversaw, The Shadow spoke to me in reruns throughout the Seventies.

What got me was the voice. What hooked me was the medium. Radio, you see, forced me to conjure up images of just where the plays took place. As a ten year old, it was no mean feat, seeing that my world barely extended past the hydro field in summer and the school yard in winter.

“What evil lurks?” I wondered. And was it always in sinister places?

The answer, I found, lived in dreams, and it was to some of these that I return over and over again years after they first played out. That I have recurring dreams—usually in Technicolor—I think speaks to the impact of radio: if given a choice, I would color my dreams no matter how frightening. Somehow, in color, the sinister seems palatable. Even inviting.

PLANET OF THE BATHROOM STALLS
Apes
I could relate to Cornelius’ sensitivity, but I could not get my head around the human “hunt” scene in PLANET OF THE APES. Gross.

I remember finishing a harrowing week of Grade 12 second term exams. Exhausted, relieved and flat out broke, I had no choice but to celebrate my accomplishment with a long sleep. Waking in dreams, I was confronted by a highly stylized ape man in an orange jump suit. He wasn’t Roddy Mcdowall from Planet of the Apes, but a curious hybrid that co-opted equine features in a high cheek-boned, narrow face that embraced intelligence and a promise. The ape did not speak as he took my hand, ushering me over verdant hills backed by brilliant vistas I instantly recognized from the beats out of Sgt. Pepper’s.

We were barely out of the Seventies at this point, so strawberry fields made perfect sense, even if my companion—a behemoth of eight feet or more—could have easily made Poe’s House of Usher his home. I asked him where he was taking me, but the ape said nothing, pulling me along with kind, if not gentle urgency, until, at last, we arrived at our destination: a row of bathroom stalls as orange and shiny as his coveralls. He wanted me to step inside the first one, yet I could not. It was a pay toilet, and I didn’t have a dime.

THE LAKE AND THE DRAGON
Wikimedia Commons 3.0
Wikimedia Commons 3.0

It will be eighteen years this May since my amazing German daddy passed away while on vacation in sunny Florida. His death, completely unexpected, knocked all of us near to him on our collective rear ends. Yet his passing was perfect—at least for him. My dad came from another age, an age currently celebrated on AMC’s Mad Men. Cool, collected and always on top of his game, my pa drank scotch and smoked cigarettes to his end of days: his pockets, when turned out, contained an empty pack of Chesterfields. He smoked his last one. Good on you pa. I missed him in those early days—I still do—yet in the afterburn of the funeral, seeing him again was paramount. It was not long before he visited me in dreams, this time in a lake setting muted with sepia tones save for a cobalt sky and bone bleached trees denuded of their summer leaves. My dad, you see, was renowned for saving the day. And so it came as no surprise when I tipped my fishing boat and fell into the dark water, that he would rescue me from an odd looking creature that reminded me of TV’s H.R. Pufnstuf.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5e9yCB-hiw Confronted by the large yellow beast with his

I didn't mind Puf, but I really dug Witchypoo's ride.
I didn’t mind Puf, but I really dug Witchypoo’s ride.

oversized spots and tousled felt-twist mane, my first impulse was to shoo him away. “Be gone absurd beast with your goggly doll eyes!” Before I could reach him, strong arms overtook me, drawing my close. It was dad in his favorite black and rust hunting jacket, impossibly dry despite the cold water we found ourselves floating in. Pufnstuf, the dragon, opened his soft felt mouth at the sight of dad, as if to frighten him, but my father just laughed, reaching out with one of his short fingers (the rest of it claimed by a band saw in the Fifties) to poke the silly bugger in the eye. Puf retreated beneath the waves. I haven’t been back to the lake lately, nor have I been visited by the large, yellow, felt-mouthed beastie, but I wish it so most terribly. My dad is there, and I’d love to see him again.

THE HOUSE OF USHER AS HOME
maxresdefault.jpg
maxresdefault.jpg

Edgar Allen Poe’s Fall of the House Usher stayed with me if only for the author’s assertion that the cursed family tree ran vertically and without branch. “How strange,” I thought at the time. Yet, when I woke for the first time in an amazing home—high ceilinged and trimmed with thick mahogany baseboards and crown molds—I knew where I was. Imagine a long hall, the plaster walls stained cerulean blue to compliment large crystal chandeliers to mark a white ceiling honeycombed with bowed crossbeams of black and tar. The hall, never ending, opens every thirty feet or so into rooms beautifully decorated from the Age of Empire; each a different color, each recognizable every time I visit because I’ve had this dream before. And never, ever, is there an intersection along the way. It is Usher’s family tree, but I do not fear it. This is not a family tree cursed, but a home filled with history, its rooms lovingly curated by something I have yet to see.

MISTRESS BISCUIT AND HER SHORTBREADS
www.travelmob.com
http://www.travelmob.com

In a similar vein, I have visited the home of Mistress Biscuit many, many times. Each time, it is the same. I wouldn’t have it any other way. The front door opens into a spectacular foyer, shitake monochrome walls accented with glass and chrome backed by sky high windows capped by a vaulting ceiling twenty feet above our heads. I say “our” because the guests are there, wrapped in looks reminiscent of the disco era, but tasteful to one who was there. “Mistress is busy,” the tall, slightly balding fellow in livery informs me. “Would madam care for a swim before chicken?” Don’t mind if I do. Pocketing a couple of sweeties fetched off a silver tray of shortbreads and arugula, I head to the indoor pool where a friend awaits. He is young, wearing a white terry cloth robe. I have no idea who he is.

Trippy, no?
Thank you, Rachael Stapleton, for taking me back…

Adult, unapologetic, and cognizant, I wish you good day. Let’s stay above it.

ABF

For more Rachael, please visit:

www.rachaelstapleton.com

http://rachaelstapleton.blogspot.ca/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Rachael-Stapleton/137831156290570

https://twitter.com/RaquelleJaxson

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7271862.Rachael_Stapleton