RICHARD WALL ON MUSIC, MYTH AND THE CROSSROADS

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

1.

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

 

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

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

 

2.

You’ve got to be a musician. Right?

 

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

 

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

 

3.

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

 

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

 

4.

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

 

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

 

5.

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

 

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

 

Ed. – Clever!

 

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

 

6.

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

 

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

 

7.

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

 

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

 

Ed. – I’m on it.

 

8.

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

 

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

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

 

9.

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

 

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

 

Ed. – 🙂

 

10.

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

 

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

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

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

 

 11.

Any last words?

 

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

 

Ed. – Amen, brother.

 

Novels and Short Stories by Richard Wall

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

My Review of Fat Man Blues

Review Fat Man Blues

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

 

All titles available through the author’s Amazon author page

About the Author

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

SPOTLIGHT: NATALIE SILK AND SNOWFALL’S SECRET

 

DSC00255.JPGMy current work is Snowfall’s Secret.  It’s about a girl from another world who must live like any other tween on Earth (and she suffers from amnesia).  Of course, she learns to enjoy shopping at the mall with her very own debit card and has a few secrets. At its core is the message that everyone has value and has something special to share.

The story was inspired by a dream I had when I was twelve.  I saw five monks standing in a semi-circle.  They were all wearing a triangle-shaped pendant with a red stone in the center.  One of the monks looked at me and said, “You’re not ready,” and I woke.  I had subsequent dreams of a girl with a pendant to the one the monks wore and I wrote them all down.

My favorite character to write about (funny how that turned out) was a secondary one to the story:  Mrs. Margot Greenfield. I based her on a favorite childhood teacher.

By the way, my favorite genre to write is science fiction.  Surprise!  Just kidding.

My focus right now is science fiction for girls; but I’m still playing around with a short snowfalls-secret-1story that’s alternative history to give myself a mental stretch.  I have this irrational fear that the last thing I finish writing will be my last.  I wonder if I’m not alone.

I’m pretty ‘old school’ when it comes to my writing habits.  The first thing I do is buy a brand new hand-sized spiral notebook and use it to write the basic story that’s mostly action punctuated here and there by dialogue.   The little notebook helps me believe that I’m accomplishing so much.  I then use my trusty laptop to write the second draft that looks as if I threw words down to see what sticks.  The technical term I like to use is word hurl.  Each subsequent draft looks a little more refined than the previous one.  I then use the little spiral notebook to make notes and jot down ideas for the story.

I began writing when I was ten and back then we didn’t have home computers.

I’ve been asked advice by aspiring writers.  I’m very, very flattered.  But let me tell you, I’m still an aspiring writer. My advice is simple:  don’t ever, ever (and I mean ever) give up.

Please reach out to me on:

Facebook  Natalie Silk, Author

https://www.facebook.com/Natalie-Silk-Author-313822162074307/?fref=ts

Twitter @natalieasilk

https://twitter.com/natalieasilk

My website

www.nataliesilkauthor.com

Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Natalie-Silk/

 

TOMORROW: Henry Anderson drops by with a science-fantasy adventure centering on hope, resolve and finding courage.

 

BLOGGER, JOURNALIST, NOVELIST DEBBIE DE LOUISE: ALL WRITING, ALL GOOD

Good Monday morning mighty Blogosphere. It’s decidedly fall-like outside, and with the cooler temperatures and school buses rattling past my front window, there is a tremendous sense of excitement brewing. Beginning last week, guest bloggers have been dropping by to share their work and insights. This week, we continue. Today’s guest, Debbie De Louise, is a multi-published author, catwoman, and library scientist. Check out what she has to say about A STONE’S THROW, the future of paper, and her exciting work-in-progress. Welcome, Debbie…

 

1.

You are an award winning writer with a third book releasing through Solstice Publishing. Trace your career for us with an anecdote or two.

 

After I self-published my first book, “Cloudy Rainbow,” I tried writing another but gave up. I didn’t have any experience promoting books at that time and had no network of professional contacts. Everyone in my family bought the book, of course, but it didn’t sell well otherwise. Since my daughter was young at the time, I decided it was a good time to take a break from writing.

 

I probably would not have written another book except for three things that happened years later. The first was that a patron at the library where I work kept asking if I was writing something else. She had read and enjoyed my first novel and urged me not to give up. This went on for some time, but then my library began to offer online classes through a database called Gale Courses. All the librarians were encouraged to enroll in one of the classes before we advertised the database to the public. Since Gale Courses included quite a few publishing classes, I enrolled in one. I got hooked and kept taking classes. Then I started writing articles and short stories again. I began sending out my work. I received rejections for the stories, but some of the articles were published online and in my local newspaper.

 

As I kept writing, I came up with more ideas. One of them grew into my second novel, “A Stone’s Throw”. Although I received some initial rejections for the manuscript, I took a chance and participated in an online twitter event called Pit2Pub where authors could tweet a pitch to publishers. I received several responses to my pitch and was offered a contract by Limitless Publishing. A year later, I pitched another book at this same event and was signed with Solstice Publishing.

 

2.

We have Sisters in Crime in common. What came first for you: crime writing or your Sisters’ membership?

 

I don’t consider myself exclusively a crime writer. My books usually feature both mystery and romance. I joined Sisters-in-Crime recently because I wanted to belong to a professional organization of mystery authors for contacts and networking opportunities. I also plan to join the International Thriller Writers after my book with Solstice is published.

 

3.

As a librarian, what kind of future do you see for paper-bound books in the digital age? Will libraries become museum pieces?

 

I don’t think digital books will replace physical books anytime soon. Patrons at my library still request physical books and indicate that, even though some of them have e-readers, they still prefer books in a physical format. I, myself, feel that way. While I appreciate the availability of the written word in various formats and own a Kindle Fire, I still return to the traditional format of paperback or hardcover books. My daughter who is of the generation that grew up with computers and is constantly on different electronic devices also still enjoys reading physical books.

 

Regarding libraries becoming antiquated, it’s true they are changing, but I don’t see them disappearing soon either. Libraries play much more of a role in society than places to borrow books and other materials. They are community centers featuring a variety of programs from defensive driving courses to cooking and exercise classes. Our library hosts a literacy group for adults learning English as a Second Language, and we also recently started a writer’s club in addition to open poetry nights and a memoir writing class. Children and YA programs are popular, and we loan free passes to local museums. Through Overdrive and subscription databases, we also extend the “walls” of the library into the homes of our patrons.

 

4.

Comparing journal articles, short stories and novels is tantamount to comparing apples and oranges and… heroically sized watermelons, but I’ll ask you to try. As a crafter of all three, do you favor one method of expression over another?

 

There are pluses and minuses to each type of writing, but I believe they are all connected in certain ways. Novel writing is extremely time-consuming but can be more rewarding because the product you produce is one that allows for full creative expression and the opportunity to receive recognition and acclaim (and eventually some profit). Article-writing is factual and requires research without the added imaginative spark. However, unless you’re writing scholarly articles, there’s always room for creative ways to present research. Blog posts are a perfect example of this. Also, even with novels and short stories, some factual research is necessary to lend realism to the writing.

 

I truly can’t say which type of writing I prefer because I like them all and enjoy doing each as a change from the other. It’s like an artist working in different mediums. It gives you a chance to develop skills in other areas. Another plus is that you can occasionally use something you’ve written in one type of writing in another. For instance, short story themes can be expanded into novels. Information from articles can be used in short stories and novels.

 

5.

We also have kitties in common so I have to ask about the Cat Writer’s Association. Where do we sign up?

 

Just check out their website www.catwriters.com. There’s an application form there that gives information on how to join. It’s a great organization, and I have been a member for many years.

 

6.

Tell us about your new release.

.

My upcoming mystery novel that I just signed with Solstice, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” (tentative title) can be read as a standalone or sequel to my novel “A Stone’s Throw” that was published last November. I don’t want to give too much away about it except to say that it features kidnapping, burglary, and murder. Some of the characters from “A Stone’s Throw” are in it and some new characters are introduced. It takes place in the same small, upstate fictional town of Cobble Cove, New York near the holidays and there are some scenes in New York City, too. I consider it a mystery, but it features many cozy elements and no explicit violence.

 

7.

And the WIP?

 

I’m very excited about my WIP because it’s totally different from my previous books. I usually write in third person but, in this book, I alternate chapters between first and third person. Most of the narrative is told by the main character, but I do include some other “voices.” The action also alternates from the present time to incidents that occurred twenty years before. While this book features a mystery, I consider it a psychological thriller. It deals with a variety of topics including alcoholism and mental illness Again, I can’t go into detail, but I’m hoping to begin querying it sometime in the fall to agents as well as publishers.

 

8.

Let’s finish with a library anecdote: humorous, spooky or both.

 

Lots of funny things happen in the library. My co-workers all say that we could write a book about them, but I can’t think of anything specific right now, so I’ll share a romantic anecdote instead. I actually met my husband when I first started working at the library. He was teaching computer classes there in the early days when there was a big demand for them. We still offer computer classes, but they are now given by our computer support technicians. Anthony was not an employee. He gave the classes in the evenings, and I took one. No one knew we began “seeing” one another until we were announced we were engaged. My co-workers threw an engagement party for us in the library’s community room and many attended the wedding. That was 24 years ago, and I am still working at the library and married to Anthony.

 

 

A STONE’S THROW

stonesthrowamazonWidowed librarian Alicia Fairmont needs answers…

After her husband is killed in a hit and run accident, Alicia travels upstate to his hometown of Cobble Cove, New York, hoping to locate his estranged family and shed light on his mysterious past. Anticipating staying only a weekend, her visit is extended when she accepts a job at the town’s library.

Secrets stretch decades into the past…

Assisted by handsome newspaper publisher and aspiring novelist, John McKinney, Alicia discovers a connection between her absent in-laws and a secret John’s father has kept for over sixty years. But her investigation is interrupted when she receives word her house has burned and arson is suspected, sending her rushing back to Long Island, accompanied by John.

Back in Cobble Cove, cryptic clues are uncovered…

When Alicia returns, she finds a strange diary, confiscated letters, and a digital audio device containing a recording made the day her husband was killed. Anonymous notes warn Alicia to leave town, but she can’t turn her back on the mystery—or her attraction to John.

As the pieces begin to fall into place, evidence points to John’s involvement in her husband’s accident. The past and present threaten to collide, and Alicia confronts her fears…

Has she fallen in love with her husband’s killer?

Ed.-WOW!

 

1

 

Excerpt

 

After Alicia unpacked her things, heated up Sheila’s stew that turned out to be quite tasty, and changed into pajamas, she lay in bed with a book, but she couldn’t concentrate on her reading. She turned off the light and tried to sleep, but the heavy rain against the window kept her up, as did the loud purring of Sneaky Cat, who snuggled against her, happy to have company again. She thought about Tina, the girl who’d stayed here last. From what Alicia knew of her, Tina was a young library school graduate who’d been hired by Sheila as quickly as Alicia had. She’d lived over the library in this space, as well, taken care of Sneaky, and left after a year and a half to care for her sick mother in Florida.

 

Sneaky dug his paws into the quilt at her back. It had been a long time since she’d had a cat, but she recalled the kneading sensation both male and female cats practiced to comfort themselves. Maybe it would comfort her too. Had she done the right thing by returning to Cobble Cove? Would she be bored in this small town with only a hand full of people patronizing the library each day? Sheila had mentioned the large number of homebound patrons, the seniors of the town, who needed books delivered. She might enjoy that. She liked reader’s advisory work, selecting books that would interest people. Sometimes it was a challenge, but she always learned through the experience and even found new authors and books for herself.

 

After a few hours of restlessness, Sneaky finally got sick of her tossing and left the room. She felt strangely deserted. She decided it might be better to get up and do something than spend unproductive time in bed. She turned on the light and went out into the hall. All was quiet from downstairs except the continuous downpour. She didn’t plan to go into the library, but she considered checking some of the unprocessed books Sheila had mentioned Mac was working on in the storage room. Perhaps she’d find something more interesting than her current reading that could help her fall asleep.

 

When she entered the storage room, she didn’t see Sneaky, although she thought he might’ve headed there to use his litter box. Cats can be quiet and liked to sleep in the strangest spots, so he could be there in some corner. Mac’s jacket was still draped across the chair by the desk. She laughed recalling the story about what Sneaky had once done to it out of spite, so typical of an angered cat. She sat in the chair and perused the stack of books on the desk. A few were from James Patterson’s “Private” series. She didn’t read too many series and had only read a few of Patterson’s standalone titles. As she was about to choose a book from the pile, she heard scratching in the corner. She jumped. Hopefully, that was Sneaky and not a mouse he hadn’t caught, for this place probably attracted them. She walked cautiously to the corner where she’d heard the noise. It wasn’t coming from the litter box under the window but from the opposite side.

 

Since the one bulb in the room was dim, she could hardly see in the dark recesses of the room. She wished she had a flashlight. As she approached the area where she heard the noise, she saw a bunch of boxes. She was relieved to see Sneaky scratching the side of one, cardboard pieces scattered at his feet. “Oh, Sneaky,” she said. “You scared me, but you’re only using a box for a scratching post.” The cat, caught in the act, stopped in mid-scratch and scampered away through his cat flap. Alicia made a note to speak to John about helping her find a real scratching post for Sneaky,. but before she left the room, she went over to the boxes. She figured they contained more books, but when she looked inside the one Sneaky had been scratching, she saw a few papers bundled together with rope. Newspapers? They weren’t that thick. She realized as she picked up the first bundle, they were a stack of letters. She felt uneasy snooping through them and was about to toss them next to the other two stacks in the box when she caught the name on the top envelope, Miss Carol Parsons. Her heart thudded in tempo with the rain. Were these the letters Mac wrote to Peter’s mother all those years ago? If so, how had Mac gotten them back?

 

About the Author

 

debbieDebbie De Louise is a reference librarian at a public library on Long Island. Her first novel, “Cloudy Rainbow,” received an honorable mention in the Writer’s Digest self-published awards. Her mystery novel, “A Stone’s Throw” was published November 2015 by Limitless Publishing. The sequel, tentatively titled “Between a Rock and a Hard Place,” is currently contracted with Solstice Publishing. Debbie was awarded the Lawrence C. Lobaugh Memorial Award in Journalism from Long Island University/C.W. Post where she earned a B.A. in English and a M.L.S. in Library Science. A member of Sisters in Crime and the Cat Writer’s Association, she has published articles in several pet publications and journals. Her Catster.com article, “Brush Your Cat for Bonding, Beauty, and Better Health,” won a special award from Hartz Corporation. Her short mystery, “Stitches in Time” was published in the Cat Crimes Through Time Anthology. She lives on Long Island with her husband, daughter, and two cats and is currently working on a standalone psychological thriller.

 

Links

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/debbie.delouise.author/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Deblibrarian

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2750133.Debbie_De_Louise

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Debbie-De-Louise/e/B0144ZGXPW/

Website/Blog/Newsletter Sign-Up: https://debbiedelouise.wordpress.com

 

Here are some teasers for a Stone’s Throw and its buy links:

Buy links for A STONE’S THROW:

Amazon U.S.: KINDLE: http://amzn.to/1MjaJgN

Amazon Australia: http://bit.ly/1Sdh82D

Amazon Canada: http://amzn.to/1SdheHi

Amazon U.K.: http://amzn.to/1QutXBW

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1nQPyv4

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1KGYHep

Also available on iTunes and Ingram

Thanks for dropping by, Debbie. We wish you well and look forward to that new release! — ABF

 

TOMORROW: Novelist, blogger and graphic designer Marie Lavender.

 

 

 

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.

HUMANIST, ARTIST, PHILOSOPHER RAY CHILENSKY

Writing’s been a long time coming according to author Ray Chilensky, but once he got going there was no turning back. A ‘penciler’ in his spare time, his career as storyteller began with a “penchant for improving” source material in childhood. Today, he creates layered characters in dystopian worlds with a message that finds a home in the time we live in. Welcome, Ray.

1.

We have more than a few things in common. Let’s begin with the drawing. Is it an inherited gift? What are your favorite subjects?

 

You can be born with the talent to draw, but I really can’t point to any family member that I inherited any talent that I may have from. Even if you have natural talent, you have to work to develop it. I once aspired to be a comic book penciler so I spent a lot of time studying anatomy and basic things like perspective and foreshortening.

wav team posthcover66666

F.I.R.E. Team Alpha began as a concept for a comic book series but the story outgrew that medium. My favorite subjects for artwork are usually characters that I created over the years. My favorite genre is fantasy art. I love drawing ornate armor, weapons and ancient ruins.

 

2.

You worked in law enforcement and private security. What aspects of this kind of work did you bring to your fiction? Did it inform your passion for storytelling, or was that always there?

 

My time in law enforcement and security exposed me to the fantastic camaraderie the people who work in those fields share with one another. Many of the people that I worked with were military veterans as well, and I was impressed by the bonds of fidelity that people in those kinds of professions form. I try to convey that sense of respect and loyalty in the Team Alpha books.

I’ve always been a story teller. If someone told me a story when I was kid, I tended to make ‘improvements’ when I retold it. That got me into more than a little trouble. I used to write stories based on the role playing game campaigns my buddies and I played and only showed those stories to them.  I wanted to be an author my whole life, I think. It’s only been within the last few years that I’ve taken writing seriously.

 

3.

The F.I.R.E. Team Alpha series is jam packed with topical issues: global warfare, eugenics, profiteering. Is it humankind’s destiny to repeat the mistakes of the past? Does your series offer hope?

 

Sadly, yes, mankind will continue to repeat his mistakes. We’re in the process of repeating them right now. There is a frightening lack of historical knowledge these days and that lack of knowledge lets the powers-that-be repeat their mistakes and use the same old bag of tricks to further cracked agendas. It really is the doom of man that he forgets.

Although my subject matter is bleak, I do offer hope in the form of my characters. My protagonists don’t give into despair and they never, never give up. They say ‘Ok, the world is broken; let’s fix it’. They never say ‘the world is broken, let’s whine about it.’ My protagonists work together to make their world better. They have hope, so the reader has hope.

 

4.

Give us a sketch of Douglas Carter. Do you identify with him?

 

01-Carter-2013I’ve psychoanalyzed Carter quite a bit over the years. What defines him more than anything else is that he cares deeply about humanity. That may seem odd if you read my books because he tends to leave a trail of corpses in his wake. But when he kills he does it with the conviction that he is fighting evil and freeing people, all people, from slavery. He takes tons of bad karma on himself so that other people can have better lives.

I, myself, identify with Carter only in that I share his caring for every individual on the planet. Until everyone is politically and morally free, no one really is. Carter is in a better position to act on his convictions. All I can do is write books and weave sociological and geopolitical elements into my stories and hope anyone who reads them is inspired to ask some questions. They don’t have to agree with me, but I hope that if they disagree they’ve done enough homework so that they can disagree logically.

Ed-Ray literally gave me a sketch. Fantastic!

 

5.

Filmdom is dotted with awesome war scenarios: The Mouse that Roared, Dr. Strangelove and, more recently, In The Loop come to mind. What’s your ‘go to’ movie in this genre?

 

‘The Guns of Navarone’ and ‘Where Eagles Dare’ (both written by Alistair MacLean) are two of my favorite war movies and influenced the Team Alpha series. Black Hawk Down is also a favorite. The 1975 film ‘Rollerball’, although technically not a war movie, is also one of my top ten faves. It’s set in a corporate run world that has replaced war with very violent sport.

 

Ed. I’ve seen all of these many times. They really stand out!

 

6.

Let’s talk about SEVENTH. Similar, but different, it has that fantastic ‘other-worldly’ component to it.

 

Seventh has a different feel to it than the Team Alpha books.  It’s the first of the Blessed Warrior series and revolves around the Selkirk family, which is one of seven Blessed Bloodlines; each of which is  endowed with supernatural powers by one of the seven archangels so they can defend mankind against the  demons that have stalked the Earth since before the flood of Noah. The main character is Cadell Selkirk, the seventh and youngest of the Selkirk brothers.  Being a Seventh makes him very special an extra- powerful Blessed Warrior and puts a lot of pressure on him.

What I like most about writing the Selkirks is the family aspect. There’s a tendency in a lot of fiction today that if you have a family featured prominently in a story it has to be dysfunctional. The Selkirks, despite having lost their father and a brother while fighting the demons, are a loving, supportive family. They have their issues, but they stick together no matter what. I’m the youngest of four brothers and I’m close to all my siblings. When I’m writing the Selkirk brothers, I can draw on those normal, but precious brother-to brother moments that siblings everywhere share. The normalcy of the way the brothers interact with one another, their mother and their grandfather is a great contrast to the distinctly abnormal activity of fighting demons. I think that the supernatural aspects of a story work better if their grounded in a reality that is relatable to everyday life.

 

7.

Have you ever experienced preternatural phenomena? If ‘no’ is there anything to it?

 

When I was seven, I was with some friends when I saw a huge glowing triangle in the sky. At the time I was convinced as a seven year old could be that I’d seen an alien spaceship.

 

8.

When has this planet ever been war free? What the heck would we do if we suddenly went peaceful?

 

Well, I think mankind knew a measure of peace before he became ‘civilized’. There might have been some fighting over land, food or mates, but the real carnage didn’t begin until man got organized. We’ve institutionalized religion, food production, education and most other things. We’ve really, really institutionalized warfare. Individual people can live together peacefully. Institutions can’t.

I don’t know what would happen if peace were to suddenly be achieved. A case could be made that civilization would collapse because all civilization is based on force or the threat of force. Jared Diamond wrote an excellent book on this subject:’ Guns, Germs and Steel’, which was made into a PBS documentary. I’ve worn out two hardcopies of it.

 

9.

The other day you shared an observation where you had completed a scene that would ‘probably make some people mad.’ I gotta know: can you throw out a teaser line or two?

 

That scene had to do with the corruption of many of the world churches and how the institution of the church became more important than the mission of the church. Here’s a quick expert:

 

…Cadell chuckled and shook his head. “No, we’re not religious in that sense. When a Blessed couple gets married they can have whatever kind of ceremony they want. It could be a big, traditional church wedding or they could go to Vegas and get married by an Elvis impersonator. For the Blessed it’s the commitment a man and a woman have to each other that matters, not a ceremony. Our ceremonies are for casting spells when the words spoken have real power.

The Blessed don’t have a particular sacred book or a bunch of sacraments that only elite class of oligarchs can perform. We don’t have a pope, or deacons or saints. There are no councils or conclaves. We do what is right and we answer to our own conscience and to God and his angels. We worship in our own way and interpret the Holy Word for ourselves without middle men or bureaucracy to get between us and God. The Blessed deliberately avoid organization and making the Blessed into an institution. Everything works around the family unit.”

Evelyn began her own pre-workout stretching. “Why? Wouldn’t organization make you more effective at fighting the Grigori and Nephilim?”

Cadell took a training broadsword from the rack used it to make a figure-eight in front of him. “At first maybe,” he replied. “But as soon as you make an institution out anything and start giving people titles and authority the institution almost always become more important that the reason for its existence; more important than the mission. People start jockeying for position and influence within the institution and forget about what the institution is supposed to be doing. All of that gets even worse as soon as money gets involved.”

Evelyn’s Vulcan eyebrow arched. “That would be a pretty bitter pill for many Catholics, Mormons and most Southern Baptists to swallow,” she observed.

“Look at the Vatican, though,” Cadell retorted exchanging a series of sword-strikes with an imaginary foe. “There’s proof that the Vatican knew about the Jewish Holocaust during World War Two and did nothing. It made a deal with Mussolini’s gang of Fascists so he would leave the Pope and his cronies alone. A let’s not forget that the Vatican, as an institution, covered up the fact that a good many of its priest were molesting children for decades. All of that was to preserve the institution and keep its reputation clean…”

 

 

10.

What are you working on right now?

 

I’m about two-thirds of the way done with Seventh and should have the rough draft ready to submit in mid- September. After that I’ll take a week or two off from writing and then start outlining and researching for the third Team Alpha book: ‘The Pandora Principle’.

 

11.

Any last words?

 

Just to thank you for having me on you blog. And thanks to your readers for taking the time to learn about my work. I hope they enjoy it.

 

Thanks, Ray. Let’s jump right in…

 

 

F.I.R.E. Team Alpha: The Series

The Fast Intervention Raiding and Espionage teams; elite units of genetically enhanced special operators are the tier one striking forces of the United States and its Free Nationalist Forces allies.  Drawn from the world’s finest special operation forces; the F.I.R.E.  teams combine the best, most demanding military training in the world with more than human physical and mental capabilities granted by advanced genetic engineering. The F.I.R.E. teams are the most lethal warriors in human history.

 

The Fate of Nations: F.I.R.E. Team Alpha Book One

The Fate of NationswpOver thousands of years, the tools of war have evolved from simple clubs to precision guided missiles while the warriors wielding those weapons have changed very little. In 2099, the warriors became as advanced as their weapons. The potential of human evolution was unlocked and accelerated. Soldiers became faster, stronger and smarter. In 2099, genetics became the deadliest science. Douglas Carter was among the first of this new breed of living weapons called paranormals. Already a consummate soldier before undergoing transformation into a paranormal, he has fought for his country for his entire adult life. With the United States and all other nations at the brink of destruction, he and a team of other genetically enhanced soldiers from many nations fight a war that will either free humanity from global slavery or doom it to a life under tyranny

Amazon Link

Blood and Treasure: F.I.R.E. Team Alpha Book Two

Fire Team Alpha Book 2In 2108 the First Sovereignty War is in its final stage. The World Central Authority has disintegrated after the destruction of its European command centers at the hands of the six allied F.I.R.E. Teams. American led allied armies are marching across Western Europe; bringing sovereignty and self-determination back to formerly enslaved nations. While the Pan-Asian Homogeny watches the fighting and waits for the Allies and Europeans to slaughter each other, the Corporate Consortium profits by financing all sides.  With the planet already devastated by fourteen years of global war, a cabal of scientists plans to enslave a remnant of mankind in a Utopian oligarchy after unleashing a plague that would kill most of the world’s population.

 

Without official sanction, F.I.R.E Team Alpha is sent into the corporate exclusion zone in Frankfurt, Germany to stop the scientist’s plot. The team becomes entangled in a web of deceit, conflicting political agendas, and genocidal eugenics. Operating without outside support, and able to trust only in one another, the operators of F.I.R.E. Team Alpha must not only accomplish their mission, but also discover what forces in their own government are working against them.

Amazon Link

 

The WIP: SEVENTH

The Selkirk family is one of the seven Blessed bloodlines; true emissaries of God empowered by his seven Archangels. The Blessed have protected humanity from the Grigori and their demonic allies for over nine hundred years. Trained from birth to battle the Grigori,  the Selkirk brothers fight forces that most people do not believe in yet still instinctive fear.   The seventh son of a seventh son, Cadell Selkirk has power beyond that of his brothers and the other Blessed. That power has made the Grigori fear him and mark him for destruction. With the Grigori gathering their forces against them Cadell and his brothers are the only hope of stopping a plague of vengeful demons from being unleashed on an unbelieving and unprepared human race.

 

About the Author

Ray Chilensky lives in rural Tuscarwarus County, Ohio. He has worked briefly in law enforcement and for several years in private security. He has studied political science and history at Kent State University. Late in life he decided to pursue his passion for storytelling and combined that passion with a lifelong interest in history and politics to seriously peruse a writing career. In his free time Ray’s interests include the martial arts, shooting sports, drawing and, of course reading good books.

 

Links

 

TOMORROW: Author Raegyn Perry talks LAVENDER FIELDS and her WIP follow up CYPRUS GROVES.

 

 

 

 

GOING NOIR WITH SIMON MALTMAN

Simon Author PhotoIt’s September 1 and the blog is alive again, and what better way to begin a new season than with a catch up. Some of the writers appearing over the next few weeks are returning as old friends dearly missed, while others are completely new with plenty of stories to tell. Today, we begin with North Irish author Simon Maltman. Simon’s into noir, music and characters from a time long passed. Welcome, Simon.

 

1.

You’re a contemporary artist with a foot in the past and your fans love that. What drew you to the 1940s and the noir it evokes?

 

The Billy Chapman character was actually the first protagonist I had come up with for crime fiction stories and I had used him in an earlier short story. I really love the original film noir movies and that was a big influence. Raymond Chandler is a great favourite of mine too which is probably pretty obvious to anyone familiar with his work. I suppose that part of the ‘story within a story’ in my novel is a bit of a homage to the likes of Philip Marlowe. I wanted to see what a PI in Belfast from that time might get mixed up in.

 

2.

I love dark humor and use it wherever I can. How do you account for yours? Where does it come from?

 

I think it would be fair to say that coming from Northern Ireland, there is a lot of it about. It’s quite unique here in its style and there can be trouble in translation! I’ve had a great editor to help me out!  Even for those from the Republic or the rest of the UK, it can be taken up wrong and is often very dark, black really! I enjoy that and I enjoy comedy in general. I try not to take myself too seriously and I think there’s good reason to find humour in life as much as you can.

 

3.

Tell us about your music and whether you put that skill to use in your writing. Do you hear the music in your fiction?

 

That’s an interesting question. I actually view them quite separately. With music I love recording and I am very much for the first take is great- that’s the one! Some say that’s just lazy haha! I find I have to be much more disciplined in writing and that it is much more about chipping away and refining. In that sense it reminds me of the editing and production elements in the recording of a song. I’ve heard people like Nick Cave say it’s harder to write a song than a book, but one or two verses compared to 50,000 words or so- I have to disagree!!

 

4.

The book cracks on at a fantastic speed with no words wasted. Are you like that personally?

 

Haha I’m not sure! My wife thinks I can be quite verbose at times! I probably do prefer to be concise when writing in work contexts and the like that’s true. When I was first approached about writing a novel I had just been doing short stories and it seemed like a mammoth task for sure. In saying that, the shorts I have written after it, I’ve struggled now to keep the word count down!

 

5.

I’m intrigued by the spate of recent past films cropping up. The Seventies and Eighties appear to be everywhere. I speculate that it has a lot to do with gadgetry and the lack thereof. Do you think modern characters are shortchanged by technology that does all the work for them?

 

I think there’s definitely something in that. I find it can be a narrative problem sometimes that everyone has a mobile phone and are so ‘connected’ all the time; especially when you want someone to be trapped by some type of elaborate threat! I suppose there’s always a pining for ‘simpler times’ and that too. Maybe it is harder to ground characters now in a way and still hoping they appear to live in the real present with all its trappings.

 

6.

Your character Brian Caskey is an ex-cop with a lot of baggage. Are ‘dark’ characters more interesting to write?

 

Yes, I think they are. An interesting nice guy protagonist is always going to be harder to pull off without them being a bit boring I think. Maybe that’s very cynical haha! I also think most people have their demons anyway and crime fiction in particular just highlights more of those flaws.

 

7.

And you’re a poet and short story teller as well?

 

Yes, I haven’t written much poetry in a long time. I enjoy still writing the short stories. In general I kind of focused in on crime fiction a few years ago and it’s definitely what suits me best, or is for now anyway.

 

8.

Northern Island and its history informs your story. Tell us about home and hearth.

 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve definitely developed a real love of my country and it’s scenery, culture and history. There’s a lot of bad stuff, but so there is anywhere else I suppose. However dark is a story I am trying to tell, I always endeavour to tease out some of the beauty that Northern Ireland has to offer. I thinks it’s true too to write about what you know and I find it essential to plot stories in real places.

Simon’s novel A CHASER ON THE ROCKS will be available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Solstice Publishing.

 

A BIT ABOUT…

chaser coverHardened by the mean streets of Belfast, ex-cop Brian Caskey works as a struggling PI. He is isolated and erratic, often losing the battle to maintain his fragile mental health. Caskey escapes the real world by writing crime fiction stories about a 1940’s PI investigating mysteries during the Belfast Blitz.

‘A Chaser on the Rocks’ follows both of these characters in parallel as a ‘novel within a novel’. The two stories collide in a dramatic conclusion set against the backdrop of The Giant’s Causeway.

Simon Maltman has created a modern noir with a new twist, a dash of black humour and a fresh approach and comment on storytelling.

 

Excerpt

“Reaching to check for my phone, I realised I had left it in the car and my smokes too. I started to idle back towards the car when I heard what sounded like a large door slam followed by fast footsteps. I jumped over the three foot, outer wall onto the grass at the side of the driveway. Ducking down behind it, my breath rattled in my throat and a wave of nausea splashed about my stomach. I felt cold, but clammy, in my jacket and pulled it close to me opening out my collar. The footsteps had turned the corner and were running towards me. Each pair sounded several paces behind the other. One set passed and I stiffened. An alarm started to scream out into the cold air. A second pair of trainers raced past. The last set approached and for no good reason my body shot up. I looked the husband in the eye before I lunged at his sprinting silhouette, pushing him over with a shove. I tumbled over the wall after him and scrambled to get up myself; a few feet to the side of him. A blaze of light danced on my eyes and half my vision melted away like a Dali clock. Two scuffled steps and he was on me. I flapped like a swan in a sand pit and hit out as best I could. We rolled and I could feel my back scraping on stones and dirt. He hit me a few more times but was too close to hurt me much. I heard shouts, then the beginning of car sirens as he started to try and get off me. I got in a punch to his back which I could hear in his groan had hurt him some. He seemed to struggle to his feet and this time the running was accompanied by a siren duet. I fell against the wall and felt unconsciousness almost overwhelm me. The sirens were close now and an engine started. There was a crash of metal on metal, then a car door and more shouting. I went to sleep.”

 

Praise for Simon Maltman

 

“I’m amazed how a writer can cram so much into such a short space of narrative. You hit the ground running and it’s a sprint finish.”

Crime Book Junkie

“Praise Satan for Bangorian Simon Maltman.”

Irish News

“Long may he continue.”

Hotpress magazine

“A compelling tale… a short but snappy read that gives a fresh glimpse into a life of crime and where it can lead you.”

Writing.ie

“Those who foresaw the end of the book as artefact with the coming of the digital age hadn’t banked on the ingenuity and skill of a number of young writers who are converting the e-book into a work of artistic relevance. Such a case is that of Simon Maltman, a multifaceted writer and musician from Bangor.”

Dr. David M. Clark

Director Departamento de Filoloxía Inglesa

Universidade da Coruña

 

About the Author

Simon Maltman is a writer and musician from Northern Ireland. This is his debut novel after previously having crime fiction short stories featured in a number of magazines and anthologies. He has also had poetry and articles published in a range of magazines. Simon has self-published a number of crime fiction e-books over the last year. There is work underway for further crime fiction releases in the near future.

Simon is an established musician, along with his current band The Hung Jury. He lives in County Down with his wife and two daughters.

 

Links

facebook.com/simonmaltmancrimefiction

twitter.com/simonmaltman

Novellette RETURN RUN  http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01I1Y6RX0

 

All the best with the new release, Simon. Come back again!

–ABF

TOMORROW: Fresh off the Carnival of Parahorror in Buffalo, NY, Susan Lynn Solomon flys in with a Wicca tale or two.

 

 

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/

 

 

 

 

SUPER DUPER GLORIA WEBER

 

Just knowing author Gloria Weber has brought an added dose of whimsy to THIS writer’s life. Not only does she write spec fiction, but she’s also an out there advocate of all things SUPERHERO. She makes loving comics and reading manga COOL! Thank you for that, darlin’!

Gloria joins the blog today to unveil her latest UNMASKING LEMON’S THESIS.  Read on and enjoy!

ABF

LemonsThesis-CoverWelcome to Trowbridge City. It’s home to superheroes, maniacal villains, and everyday citizens. The stories here aren’t about good versus evil, but about hard choices, prejudices, and experiences complicated by superpowers.

Lemon “Em” Law is a super genius and she’s also the daughter of Trowbridge’s most infamous super villain, Yellow Fellow. After being fired, bullied by her professor, and dumped all in the same day there’s only one thing she can do! And that’s work on her thesis. Truth is, the last thing Em wants to be is evil. Unfortunately that thesis of hers is so revolutionary it could be dangerous. Is she ready to learn the secrets behind the masks?

 

Product Link:

http://amzn.com/B01BP8YT5W

Ebook: $2.99

Print: $9.99

 

Book Trailer:

https://youtu.be/-C5AfyaVovY

 

Excerpt:

“Now, take a guess. What has a national average of 52 percent, but in Trowbridge is an extremely high rate of 98 percent?” He asked while looking at Em.

He was baiting her. Still, she raised her hand.

“Yes, Miss Law,” he said her last name with as much sarcasm as he could muster. He always did.

Em was so over him and his childish antics that she didn’t bother rolling her eyes; she just answered. “That refers to the amount of children of super villains that turn to crime themselves.”

“Correct, as always.” He took a moment to sneer and give her a look of displeasure before continuing. “There are studies going on at the moment and the most promising of those attributes the cause to high concentration of villain groupies in Trowbridge. Of course, everyone here knows of Miss Nelly Law, right?”

The low blow made Em shut her eyes and take a deep breath in. Yeah, everyone knew about her mom. Her mom had earned her fame for two reasons. Number one was surviving being pushed off a roof by Yellow Fellow, Trowbridge’s most infamous super villain, and, number two, giving birth to Lemon, Yellow Fellow’s daughter.

Em opened her eyes in time to see Professor King point at someone behind her.

“Isn’t she in a wheelchair now? Wasn’t it a murder attempt?” The female student’s voice seemed uncomfortable and a little sympathetic.

“Correct your classmate, Miss Law.” He smiled now with joy and malice as he came to a stop before Lemon.

“My mother is indeed in a wheelchair,” Em said as her fingers curled around her pen, knuckles turning just as white as her ex-boss’s had been earlier today.

“Not that part,” he goaded.

Em took another deep breath while closing her eyes. She knew he would make her say the answer so it was better to get it over with.

“It wasn’t attempted murder. It was attempted abortion of me,” she said as loud as she could muster.

 

Author Bio:

Gloria Weber lives in Ohio with her husband, son, daughter, and many pets. She has been writing for publication since March 2006. Over a dozen of her short stories have been published in ‘zines and anthologies. During the not-writing-times, she can be found doing not-fun-at-all-adult/mom/wife stuff, yoga, running very slowly (because that’s as fast as she can go), or cooking/baking. No matter what she is doing, she is a geek. There’s no turning that off.

 

Author Website:

https://gloriaweber.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

OF KNIGHT & DEVIL: FREDERICK CROOK’S LATEST EXPLORATION OF THE BROADER HUMAN NATURE

Visionary Frederick Crook delivers us to 2130 Earth where the rule of law exists in memory only and scores are settled with mortars. Have we come full circle, or are we on the precipice of something new and greater?

 

 

OF KNIGHT & DEVIL

KnightDevil_400croppedIt is July 2130, less than a year after the destruction of the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, the last of its kind in America. Major Reginald Mattersly of the British Army’s SRR has been slowly making his way to the west coast, where he wishes to find a home on the beach and live out the remainder of his life.

These plans are cut short when he is ambushed in Nevada by a mysterious trio of armed men. To his rescue comes a man of the 82nd Airborne who calls himself Elias Mulhaney. The two of them continue on to a town called Lovelock, currently embattled with their neighbors in Reno.

The mayor of Lovelock, Jazz Hernandez, is the prime target of her former lover, Gillespie, the mayor of Reno. His mentality: If he can’t have her, no one can.

Mattersly and Mulhaney band together to infiltrate the city of Reno to rescue her kidnapped niece, Nora, and destroy the factory that provides Gillespie’s military power.

In a post-Great Exodus Earth where there is no law and no national government, can there still be justice?

 

Excerpt

“I have to reload here,” Mulhaney said. “Both belts are about out.”

“Do it. Quickly,” Reginald replied.

Just as he finished speaking, an explosion rocked the parking garage.

“What the hell was that?” Elias wondered aloud and froze. “Artillery?”

“Just reload, now!” Reginald ordered. Seeing no one beyond his driver’s window, the major dared open his driver’s hatch to listen.

Another explosion rocked the building, this time more violently. Angel opened the infantry hatch and took a look behind them. Bits of concrete and dust filled the air around the two machines. Just as she was ducking back inside, a third explosion struck the building, directly above them. The outer hull was struck with falling concrete from the ceiling.

“Mortars!” Reginald shouted into the microphone for the benefit of their new ally, Sergeant Schamski. He slammed the driver’s hatch, locked it, and extracted himself from the seat, leaving the helmet behind. “Angel, get into the driver’s position and move if I tell you. We are being shelled!” With that order given, the major snatched up his Dragunov and lowered the rear ramp.

“Major, I don’t know how to drive this thing!” she protested.

“Just do it! Shut the door when I get clear!” he shouted as the next mortar round struck against the side of the parking structure, this time on their floor. Mattersly was shielded by flying bits of concrete by Necromancer, which was immediately covered in dust.

Reginald used the dust as cover for his run to the southwest corner of the building. He had judged from the trajectory of the first three rounds that whoever was launching the mortars would be found in that direction. He crouched low as he met with the wall, pulled his beret from his tunic’s breast pocket and placed it on his head. The action was more out of necessity than pride, for the gray surface of the cap would not reflect the sunlight.

Another mortar round struck nearly the same place as before, only one floor below. Wasting no time, he took a peek over the top of the waist-high wall, where his eyes found another large hotel across the street. Having adjusted his eyes for distance, he immediately located the mortar crew, which had taken a room on a floor slightly below the level of the garage on which Necromancer and Wolfhunter were trapped.

He quickly reset his eyesight to normal and brought up his Dragunov, being careful to remain in the shadows. Reginald watched as the crew fired a sixth round. In seconds, it was clear that this one was going to be rather close. He lay flat and covered his head as the round struck just left of his position, taking out the short wall and the leading edge of the pavement. Mattersly felt several bits of concrete strike him and was covered by dust.

His ears rang despite the audio devices’ cancellation attempts and his eyes burned from the dust. Reginald noted that Necromancer had again opened fire on targets trying to come up to their level. Without further thought, the major rose upon one knee, lifted his rifle to his shoulder and located a target. It was the mercenary attending or perhaps firing the mortar.

Reginald squeezed the trigger and dropped him. Training told him to move to another location, but he had found Renoite militia to be undertrained and inexperienced. He found a second target. This one was another militiaman which came to the aid of the man Reginald had just brought down. With another squeeze of the trigger, the second man was felled.

This time, Mattersly did drop to the floor to crawl to another location. It was none too soon, as the place where he had just fired from was struck with a smattering of assault weapon rounds, returned from the militiamen supporting the mortar. As the two Stryker’s fired at targets that he could not see, the major lifted his body onto his knee and prepared to take another look. Just then, the seventh round struck the parking garage, close enough to knock him flat.

 

Reviews:

 

Frederick H. Crook is a masterful storyteller. He pits good against evil with a way different from most writers in the genre. The dialog is crisp and believable.” ~ Frank Scozzari

The entire book takes place over the course of a few days and honestly, I was bummed when it ended. You will never get bored reading this book.” ~ Melissa Massey-Maroni

I loved each page of this tale of hope. Anyone who still believes in the magic of heroism, should definitely have Of Knight & Devil in their bookcase.” ~ Susan Lynn Solomon

 

biography

 

Frederick was born in Chicago in 1970 and now lives in Villa Park with his wife, Rae and their three dachshunds. He began by writing fictional works all through high school, but didn’t take himself seriously until 2009, when Frederick began writing his first novel, The Dregs of Exodus, which was self-published in late 2010. This was followed up with another novel, The Pirates of Exodus in 2012.

Throughout that year and 2013, he continued writing and published AuthorPic2four short stories in eBook form for Kindle. Runt Pulse, The Fortress of Albion, Lunar Troll, and Campanelli: The Ping Tom Affair.

 

His third novel, Campanelli: Sentinel, was picked up by Solstice Publishing in late 2014. Minuteman Merlin was released for the Kindle by Solstice Publishing in March of 2015 and followed up by his fourth novel, Of Knight & Devil in September.

 

He is currently an editor for Solstice Publishing and working on novel number five, another Frank Campanelli dystopian crime thriller.

 

Links Image

Website

http://frederickcrook.wix.com/crooksbooks

Facebook Page

https://www.facebook.com/TheDregsOfExodus/?ref=hl

Twitter

@FrederickHCrook

Amazon Author Page

http://www.amazon.com/Frederick-H.-Crook/e/B00P83FW02/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

YouTube Channel

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIiKxKPL6iaEmKqOLfoYbqQ

Thanks for dropping by Blog Funkhauser Frederick. Good luck with the book and all the best for 2016!

ABF

Christmas Day Message

 

 

 

 

PRESENTING NATIONAL TREASURE AUTHOR SUSAN SOLOMON

Fall leaves and magic in the air. This is the season of Susan Solomon. Author, jurist, practitioner of the possible. Today on the blog she answers questions about her latest MAGIC OF MURDER as well as her penchant for snowy places. Welcome, m’ lady.

 Q & A

 

From Manhattan to Niagara Falls; Susan Solomon: please explain to our readers what draws you to snow? Describe for us your snow plow.

Actually I came to Niagara Falls from Long Island (pronounced Lon Gisland by those of us who lived there). In 1999, The VMC Group, the efficiency consulting firm I work for moved to Niagara Falls, and invited me to relocate with them. You can imagine the angst: leaving everything and everyone I knew. But at that time in my life I was ready for a new adventure. I remember the day I flew here to set up the new offices. A major snow storm hit the East Coast early that morning, and the puddle jumper that carried me was delayed for hours (oh, I just recalled a story to write about that flight). When we landed in Buffalo, I immediately learned about “white-outs”. It snowed during each of the 12 days I was here, and I remember thinking, This is another fine mess you’ve gotten us into, Ollie (yes, I’m old enough to remember Laurel and Hardy). This is the kind of snow storm described in Magic of Murder.

Funny, though. It didn’t take long for this place to feel like home. It’s the people, you see. So different from the big city in which I grew up. Here folks have time for each other. And the landscape: when spring, that coy mistress, finally unpacked her bags and moved in I drove around. Some of the places I saw were so beautiful, I had pull to the side of the road and cry. I think this is what pushed me to at last begin writing. It was then that I knew this was, and always would be my home.

But it’s the snow you asked about. Yeah. Through the years I’ve learned to enjoy even that—that is, until February when scraping snow and ice off my car every morning becomes old real fast. But at least I don’t have to plow. I have a lovely townhouse in a condo complex, so I don’t even need to own a shovel. My snow plow is big, noisy, and wielded by a couple of good-looking hunks (through my window, I get to watch then go at it—yum). One of those guys became the model for Roger Frey, the Police Detective in my novel. As to the roads…well, up here we know how to deal with the white stuff.

Your 2015 release MAGIC OF MURDER captivated me right off the bat in that it tugged at my inner girl ambition: having magical powers. Did you share the same dream/fantasy growing up?

I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of magic—not the kind seen on stage, but that which people have practiced since the days of the Druids. I hadn’t begun to learn about, though, until somewhere around 2010 or 2011 when I began to write my short story, “Witches Gumbo”—you’ll find the link to this story on my www.susanlynnsolomon.com website. When I presented an early draft to my writers group, someone suggested that if I wanted the story to ring true, I should research witchcraft and herbalism. So, I got a few books on the subject, then a few more. In a matter of days I was hooked. Everything I read made sense to me. Within weeks, I decided I would become a Wicca and practice the craft. That lasted only until my Cousin Robin (who’s always been more my sister) found out what I was up to. She yanked me aside, and explained in simple words even I would understand that with my personality and sense of humor, I’m the last person who should know how to do such things.

By the way, how Robin found out and, “Second Hand”, the story that led to is also on my website.

The thing is, though, I’ve since learned where my fascination with the craft has its roots. Researching another story that still sits someplace in my mind, I engaged in a past-life regression session. If what shocked me about that is true, I actually practiced the craft in the distant past—and paid the price for it in a prior life. I suspect this shows up in my empathy for Emlyn Goode’s (my book’s narrator) ancestor, Sarah Goode, who was hanged in Salem in 1692.

Of course, I haven’t given up the idea of practicing the ancient craft. Every once in a while during a time of a new moon… Uh, maybe this is a story better left untold. Anyway, perhaps this is why I’ve always looked forward to Halloween.

 

I hear you have a ghost in your house. Fact or fiction? Give us an anecdote.

Ohhh, yes. A ghost definitely shares my home. If theories I’ve heard are correct, I invited her in a number of years ago when I wrote “Abigail’s Window”, an as yet unpublished novel about a woman haunting an old house in the Canadian town, Niagara-on-the-Lake. So, I call my ghost Abigail, though I can’t be certain that’s her name. I know she’s here, because there are middle-of-the-nights when I wake to hear someone walking at the foot of my bed. And there are times things disappear and show up later somewhere else, or as something else. As an example (and only one of a number), one evening I was doing a crossword puzzle while watching TV. I remember clearly, I was using a green pen—not the ink, but the pen itself. I put the puzzle and pen down on my end table, and went to make a cup of tea. When I returned to my chair, the pen was gone. I pulled the cushions from my chair, moved the chair, shook the cover I’d had on my lap. I moved tables. No pen. Then, the next morning while straighten up my living room, I found a green plastic guitar pick on the carpet near the end table. A.b., the pick couldn’t have been there. First, I hadn’t played my guitar in weeks; second, I had never owned a green or a plastic pick. I have no explanation for this—except Abigail.

Abbie isn’t the first ghost to share my space. Years ago there was another far less friendly one that tossed eggs at me. That episode is recorded in a scene I wrote for the short story, “Captive Soul”, that appears in Volume 1 of Solstice Publishing’s anthology, “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep”. The link to this is also on my website if you’d like to see a more horrific scene.

Your short stories are published in journals and you’ve won honorable mention. What inspired you to jump into novel writing?

Actually, I started out to write novels. The Niagara-on-the-lake house I mentioned earlier?—it was a bed & breakfast owned by the man for whom I work. One year, as Halloween approached he asked me if the story I written about the ghost in his B&B was true. You see, he wanted the local ghost tour people to stop by on Halloween night. I knew there really was a ghost in that house—friends and I had heard it roaming around—and had done research to learn who it was. I couldn’t find an answer, so I did what so many writers do: I made her up. Still, to please the man I work for—always a good idea—I broke the novel down to a short story, and sent it to the ghost tour people with a letter in which I swore the story was gospel, and I had witnessed the ghost (the Devil has me by the collar, and I’m headed south as soon as I die). Now I had a short story in hand—my first short story. So, I submitted it to the Writers Journal’s short romance competition, and it won an Honorable Mention. My first published piece of fiction—go figure.

Since that time I’ve stopped worrying whether something I start to write will result in a short story or a novel—in fact, I’m never sure of the length until I’m done. Also since that time I’ve had a number of short stories published. Often they result from a cue in an online journal I follow. Creative on-demand is something I learned during the years I worked at the quarterly magazine, SunStorm Fine Art where, as press-time approached I would be handed a group of slides of an artist’s work, and told to create an article of anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 words about the artist.

As a cat owner, I’m immediately drawn to your Elvira character. Does this comely feline resemble a real life kitty?

I adore cats. Dogs, too. Elvira’s look and personality is a combination of many of the cats I’ve known, both real and fictional. And her attitude—every cat I’ve met certainly struts around with a bit of ’tude. As to Elvira being hefty (she hates being called fat) and albino…well, that part I invented because it so fits the animal I envisioned for The Magic of Murder.

As a working lawyer, did you bring any magic from your profession to the novel? (Be honest, have you ever binge watched Law and Order?)

Law and Order? Hmm. Being a writer, I lie for a living. I can’t about this because too many people know. Yes, I’ve binged on Law and Order, both the original and SVU. And I know the channels on which every day reruns of these shows can be found. Damn! I love these episodes because so much about them rings true.

Now, you asked about whether I’ve brought any magic from my profession to The Magic of Murder. Although I’ve had a lawyer narrate other stories—in particular “Kaddish” which was published by the “Tampa Review Online” on 2014, and “Yesterday’s Wings” which is in the October issue of the online journal, “Imitation Fruit”, Emlyn Goode, who narrates “The Magic of Murder” isn’t one. Still, when I write I’m constantly aware of my legal training. There’s a difference, you see, between legal writing and fiction. When I draft a contract, everything must be spelled out—the logic must be A, B, C, D, and therefore, E. On the other hand, in writing fiction leaps of logic—the things left unsaid—allow a reader to fill in the blanks, draw their own conclusions. This is part of what makes a story sing. It allows a story to ring true to different people, each in their own way. In a contract, leaving something to interpretation makes for disaster.

What’s next?

I’m currently engaged in what, for a writer, is sheer insanity (but—to use a bridge metaphor—sane has never been my strong suit). I’m about half-finished with a sequel to The Magic of Murder—in this new story, Emlyn Goode’s mother returns to Niagara Falls for her 42nd High School Reunion (a 42nd reunion should give you an idea that nothing will be as it seems). At the same time, I’m working on a fifth or sixth draft of another novel called “Search for Stonemaiden”, in which I’m having a wonderful time reliving my past as a ‘70s songwriter and rock musician. Also, I’m in the middle of a new short story, a fictionalized version of learning well after his death that my father was actually a hero in WWII—the things one doesn’t know about ones parents. And with my writers group, I’m working on a mystery short story about a group of young people who’ve formed a group they call The Holmes Society (it’s been suggested I turn this into another mystery series). All this, while I continue to be in-house counsel to an efficiency consulting firm. Does this explain why my mind seems to have taken an extended vacation?

For every writer, getting the word out is key. What events do you have planned in the coming weeks and what is your all-time favorite social media tool?

The Magic of Murder is still in pre-release mode, by which, as you know A.b., means it’s on Amazon and on the Solstice Publishing websites as available for pre-order in a Kindle version. However (oh, my, that’s such a lawyer word), I don’t yet have paper copies of the book, so actually scheduling events has to wait a few weeks. Yet, a number of friends and acquaintances—and several of my firm’s customers who’ve become friends over the years—have asked to schedule private readings and book signings as soon as the paperback is available.

Beyond this, I’ve begun to post about the novel on Facebook, and several friends (including, Robin) have begun to twitter about it. Twittering would be an impossible medium for me since on twitter one is limited to about 120 characters and, as you know, A.b., I’m incapable of saying good morning in less than 500 words. So, besides the wonderful blogs that have been done about my book, my social medium is Facebook. On it I’ve met some beautiful people who share my sense of humor, my love of cats, and my passion for a good mystery. I’ve learned so much from and about these Facebook friends—laughed with them, cried with them—I think of them as family. A number tell me they’ve already pre-ordered The Magic of Murder, and I can’t wait to hear whether they have as much fun reading it as I had in the writing.

Share with us your most inspiring witchcraft vehicle from any medium? (The old WB show ‘Charmed’ is a guilty pleasure of mine, while WITCHES OF EASTWICK by John Updike is my high brow pick).

“Charmed”, of course. Today being a day off from work, while I had my morning coffee and worked on crossword puzzles, an episode of “Charmed” was on TNT (as you can tell from my description of the stories I’m working on, I’m incapable of doing just one thing at a time). And yes, I enjoyed Witches of Eastwick (but then I’d devour anything John Updike wrote). I’m also fascinated by a series of made-for-TV films Hallmark did about “The Good Witch”—a few seasons ago this was turned into a series and, loving the characters, I try not to miss an episode when it’s on. I’m also ancient enough to recall watching the TV show about Samantha wrinkling her nose. And when Anne Rice dove into witchcraft—ohhh!

Any last words?

Someone once said if you survive childhood you have enough to write about for the rest of your life. I’m learning this is true. In everything I write is a smattering of me, what I’ve seen, how I grew up and things I experienced, family, teachers, people I’ve known. I believe we all have stories aching to be told, and I love hearing those stories. With all I’ve been through, I began telling mine later in life, and now that I’ve begun I can’t stop. For me, reading what I’ve written is a bigger thrill than passing the bar exam or my first job as an entertainment business lawyer. Bigger than the nights my band opened shows in front of crowds gathered for Lovin’ Spoonful performances. It’s second only to having seen my children grow. Had I been given a choice as to the life I’d lead, I can think of none I’d cherish more than that of a writer.

The Magic of Murder

magic of murder coverWhen his partner is discovered in a frozen alley with eight bullets in his chest, Niagara Falls Police Detective Roger Frey swears vengeance. But Detective Chief Woodward has forbidden him or anyone else on the detective squad to work the case. Emlyn Goode knows Roger will disobey his boss, which will cost him his job and his freedom. Because she cares for him more than she’ll admit, she needs to stop him. Desperate, she can think of but one way.

Emlyn recently learned she’s a direct descendent of a woman hanged as a witch in 1692. She has a book filled with arcane recipes and chants passed down through her family. Possessed of, or perhaps by, a vivid imagination she intends to use these to solve Jimmy’s murder before Roger takes revenge on the killer. But she’s new to this “witch thing,” and needs help from her friend Rebecca Nurse, whose ancestor also took a short drop from a Salem tree. Also in the mix is a rather hefty albino cat (Elvira detests being called fat). Rebecca’s not much better at deciphering the ancient directions, and while the women and the cat stumble over spell after spell, the number possible killers grows. They’d better quickly come up with a workable spell: when Chief Woodward’s wife is shot and a bottle bomb bursts through Emlyn’s window, it becomes clear she’s next on the killer’s list.

What people are saying

This book pulled me right in. I think it must have been the fact that Susan Lynn Solomon puts her characters first. The story revolves around the murder of a Niagara Falls Police officer… The adventure that ensues is absolutely entertaining and well-written. It is funny, exciting, and fast-paced. Every character has depth and is…believable. The Magic of Murder is one fun read and is definitely worthy of all 5 stars.

—Frederick Crook, author, Of Knight & Devil

Suspense, humor, compelling characters, a dash of the supernatural dating back to Salem, a powerful sense of place, and Emlyn Goode, a passionate and determined woman new to witchcraft and murder. Susan Lynn Solomon captures both the city of Niagara Falls and its quirkiest resident, an unusual sleuth. The magic of Murder is a winner and, we hope, only the first appearance of Emlyn Goode.

—Gary Early Ross, author of Blackbird Rising add the Edgar Award—winning Matter of Intent

Links Image

www.susanlynnsolomon.com

www.facebook.com/susanlynnsolomon

http://www.amazon.com/Magic-Murder-Susan-Lynn-Solomon-ebook/dp/B015OQO5LO/ref=sr_1_1?s=boo ks&ie=UTF8&qid=1443212271&sr=1-1&keywords=the+magic+of+murder+solomon

http://www.solsticepublishing.com/the magicofmurder

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Susan author photoFormerly a Manhattan entertainment attorney, and then a contributing editor to the quarterly art magazine SunStorm Fine Arts, Susan Lynn Solomon now lives in Niagara Falls, New York, where she is in charge of legal and financial affairs for a management consulting firm.

After moving to Niagara Falls she became a member of Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Writers Critique Group, and turned her attention to writing fiction. Since 2009, a number of her short stories have appeared in literary journals, including, Abigail Bender (awarded an Honorable Mention in a Writer’s Journal short romance competition), Witches Gumbo, Ginger Man, The Memory Tree, Elvira, Second Hand, Sabbath (nominated for 2013 Best of the Net by the editor of Prick of the Spindle), and Kaddish.

Her latest two short stories are, Yesterday’s Wings, about a woman searching for the courage of her past, appears in the October 2015 edition of, Imitation Fruit; and Captive Soul, which is included in Solstice Publishing’s Halloween anthology, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.

Excerpt from The Magic of Murder

March brought a worse storm than the one we were hit with in December. It seems that’s how we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day around here. When it ended after four days, a reserve unit from the Niagara Falls Air Base declared war on the snow. With military precision, the reservists piled the stuff into dump trucks and carted it to Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, and the Canal. They might have hauled it to the top of the mountains if their trucks’ tires could get enough traction. Since they couldn’t, it appeared as though they shoved what was left to the shoulder of River Road and into my driveway. When I gazed through the kitchen window at gray heaps so high my mailbox was buried, I was certain the dunes would still be there in July. They weren’t, of course. In two days the streets had been plowed and salted, and cars crawled past. Thanks to my neighbor, Roger Frey, even my driveway had been cleared. In Western New York we know how to deal with the white stuff.

My preferred way of dealing with it is to turn up the thermostat and remain inside, comfy and warm. At least until the sun pokes through the clouds. This is why, still in my robe and flannel pajamas with thermal socks pulled up to my knees, I was snuggled on the sofa under my grandmother’s grey wool afghan. I still wondered about the runes Grandma had sewn into the afghan. Maybe one day Rebecca Nurse would find a book to help me interpret them.

From a corner of what had become her wingback chair, the hefty albino cat—Elvira detested it when I referred to her as fat—glared at me. She seemed annoyed I was wasting the morning on a made for TV movie.

“What?” I said to her.

She rolled her eyes—well, that’s what it looked like to me.

“Give me a break, will you?” I said. “I was up half the night writing.”

She snorted.

“What do you mean I didn’t write anything that mattered?”

She tilted her head.

I shifted on the sofa and bent toward her. “I’m not bullshitting you!” My voice went up an octave. “You were there. You saw what I was—”

At the very moment I realized the cat had again drawn me into an argument, I heard a knock on my front door. My face hot—from anger at Elvira or embarrassment at letting her get the better of the argument?—I jumped from the sofa and yanked the door open.

“What?” I demanded with a sharp edge to my voice.

On my door stoop stood a black quilted jacket, green rubber boots laced over baggy jeans, a flannel scarf wound around the little I could see of a face, and a knit cap pulled so low on a head the figure looked like a cartoon character with no ears. The man on the stoop might have been a predator who intended to break into my home, ravish my body, and make off with my treasures. Okay, I’ve already admitted I have an active imagination. There are no treasures in my home, and my body—well, let’s just say it’s been a long time since anyone would risk jail for ravishing me. Besides, I knew who this was. Earlier, while I poured my coffee, through the window I’d watched my neighbor ride his snowplow like it was the mechanical bull at Flannery’s Bar.

On the frigid side of the storm door, Roger Frey swiveled his head from side-to-side, as if searching for who I hollered at.

At times, I’ve stood before a mirror, arguing with myself, and seen what I look like when I blush. My neck gets as red as my hair, then the color dashes uphill past my face to my forehead. So, I knew what Roger saw when he looked at me.

“Sorry,” I mumbled to what I could see of his face. “Cranky. I was up half the night.”

His voice muted by the scarf covering his mouth, he said, “No need to apologize.” He knew the hours I kept when the muse plopped down next to me.

The glass door misted when he leaned close to peer past my shoulder.

I looked behind me. Elvira had followed me to the door. She stared at us, head slightly tilted. The pale pink of her eyes darkened as if she’d decided something.

Roger nodded at her. “At least you’re not alone anymore.”

“Me or the cat?” I said.

“Both, I suppose.” When Roger pulled down the scarf, his grin showed the small gap between his front teeth.

“I prefer being alone,” I said. “If you want company, feel free to take the cat.”

My friend and neighbor had been alone since his wife took off for a warmer place three years ago.

Elvira sniffed once. Then she turned abruptly, wiggled her large derriere at me, and curled up on the floor at my feet.

Roger laughed out loud.

As if loosened by the laughter that exploded from deep inside him, a sheet of snow skidded off the roof. He must have heard the rumble, because he took a quick step backwards. He wasn’t fast enough, though. While half the snow thudded to the ground, the rest flattened his wool cap and spilled down his face. His hazel eyes rounded in surprise.

Now I laughed. With snow all over his body, it looked as though Frosty the Snowman was on my stoop. I opened the storm door and brushed the snow from his cheek. “Come in here,” I said. “Let me dry you off.”

He stamped his feet on the mat to rid himself of most of the snow.

As I stepped aside to make room for him to pass, I stumbled over the cat.

Roger moved faster than he had to avoid the snow drift from my roof. His arm shot out. “Careful!” he said, and grabbed me around the waist just as I began to flop like a rag doll to floor.

The man is certainly strong. In a single motion, he lifted me from my feet then set me down. His arms still surrounded me.

“You okay?”

I nodded, but couldn’t speak, not even to say yes. I’m sure it was because I was a little bit in shock.

At last he released me, and bent to stroke the cat. “That wasn’t nice, Elvira,” he said. “You could’ve hurt Emlyn.”

I also leaned down to stroke her. “This beast probably intended to do it.”

When I glanced at Roger, his face was precariously close to mine. The look in his eyes told me he might not mind being nearer still.

“Uh, yeah,” I mumbled, and pulled back to put a safe distance between us. “She probably did it on purpose…” My words drifted into a crimson haze.

His cheeks also a bit red—I told myself this was probably from the near-zero temperature outside—he straightened up, and unwound his scarf. His chin and upper lip were dark. The morning stubble enhanced rather than detracted from his chiseled cheekbones and slightly cleft chin. This was a handsome man by anybody’s reckoning. More than that, he was kind. He looked after his neighbors, and made sure we were safe. I’d often wondered why Judy, his ex-wife, would leave such a man.

“I, uh, stopped by to, um…” he said.

I looked down. I had nothing on but my pajamas and robe, and the robe had fallen loose when I nearly fell. Trying not to be obvious about it, I tied my robe closed.

Roger took a deep breath. “Yes, uh, the UPS guy brought this.”

He pulled off his gloves, unzipped his jacket, and took a cardboard box from a large inside pocket. Holding it out, he said, “It came yesterday afternoon. All the snow, the UPS guy couldn’t get to your door, so he left it with me.”

The box was about nine inches wide, a foot long, and maybe two inches thick. I turned it over in my hands, examined the label. The return address said the package came from Naples, Florida.

“It’s from my mother,” I said.

“What is it?” Roger asked.

I shrugged. “I’d have to open the box to find out.”

“So, open it.”

Glancing sideways at him, I smiled. “Later.”

“Come on,” he said, and reached for the package. “I hauled it all the way over here. Plowed out your driveway while I was at it. You gotta show me what’s in there.”

“All the way over, huh?” I laughed. “You live next door.”

“Yeah, well.” He took off his jacket, and draped it over the back of a kitchen chair. His black hooded sweatshirt barely made it to his hips. “I had to wade through three feet of snow to get here. That’s gotta be worth something.”

I laid the package on the kitchen counter. “How about some coffee?”

I yanked the wet knit cap from his head, and tossed it into the sink. Snow clinging to the fibers sprinkled onto his dark brown hair, and melted into the gray that had begun to invade his temples. While I brushed the wet beads from his curls, I said, “A gentleman takes off his hat when he comes inside.”

He picked the box up and handed it to me. “Don’t try to change the subject. I know you, Emlyn Goode. You’re dying to look inside.”

I was. But it was just so much fun to tease him. A girl’s got to do that now and then, just to stay in practice. I turned my back, and refilled my mug then poured coffee into a second mug.

He pushed the box in front of me.

“You’re a big snoop, you know that?” I said.

He let out the laugh that never failed to disarm me. “Of course I am. I’m a cop. Snooping is what I do.”

“Yup, and I’m your good buddy. Like in novels, it’s the sidekick’s job to give the cop a hard time. That’s in my job description.” I pointed at the package. “And see, it’s written right here.”

Another deep, resonant laugh burst from him.  “You’re definitely a piece of work,” he said.

Elvira seemed to grow impatient with my stalling. She leaped onto the counter and pawed at the package. How the devil did she manage to move her large body so lithely?

“Okay, okay,” I said. “I can’t fight both of you.”

I took the box to my dinette table, and sat, glancing around.

“What now?” Roger asked.

“I need something to slice the tape with.”

He tilted sideways in his chair and pulled a Swiss army knife from his pants pocket. As he flicked open the smaller blade, he said, “I was a boy scout, I’m always prepared.”

Settled on Roger’s lap, the cat smacked his hand with her paw. Then she glared at me. C’mon, knock off the flirting and get to it, she seemed to say—well, that’s what her growl sounded like.

I slit the tape and raised the cardboard flaps. Inside was what appeared to be a very old book. Without removing it from the box, I carefully lifted the leather cover. The words on the first page were faded. Still I was able to make some of them out.

“What is it?” Roger asked.

“Seems to be someone’s diary.” I suspect I sounded puzzled. Why would my mother send me something like this?

Between the next two pages was an envelope addressed to me. Inside was a note. I’ve been holding onto this, Mom wrote, hoping the line that’s led from Sarah Goode would end with me. Apparently it hasn’t, so I’m sending you this. Please, Emlyn, try to make better use of this than some of our ancestors have.

Elvira sniffed the book and purred.

Quickly, I refolded the letter.

Roger leaned over, peered into my eyes. “What is it?” he said.

“It’s…um, it’s…” I stammered as I searched for a lie he might believe. I didn’t want to tell him my mother had sent me Sarah Goode’s Book of Shadows. A guy like Roger—his life was built on the belief every mystery could be logically explained, and magic is nothing but sleight-of-hand. He’d remarked about that the night we saw David Copperfield perform at the Seneca Niagara Casino. The fastest way to end our friendship was to tell him I’m the latest in a 350-year line of witches. If I said that, he would stare at me as though I’d winked at him from a third eye in the center of my forehead. Then he’d leave and not come back. Oh, he’d be polite about it—Roger’s always polite. But our friendship would be over. I mean, if it ever got out Detective Roger Frey of the Niagara Falls Police Department had a witch for a friend, he’d die of embarrassment. Or maybe he’d have to resign his position or even move to Rochester or something. If he did, who would plow my driveway then knock on my door to share my morning coffee and help me with the Sunday crossword puzzle?

What? I already said I have a vivid imagination.

As if Sarah Goode’s book was catnip, Elvira dropped her head on it, mewed, and rubbed her paw across her face. Roger shoved her aside, and leaned over to see, I supposed, what caused my concern.

Before he could remove the book from the box, I closed the flaps.

“It’s, uh…um, just an old family diary,” I said. It wasn’t much of a lie. A Book of Shadows is a diary of a sort. Witches record their herbal mixtures in it, and the words they chant to work their magic. My friend, Rebecca Nurse, had explained that when she showed me hers.

Thank you so much for dropping by Susan. We’ll keep an eye on The Magic of Murder, a perfect Halloween read!

ABF