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/

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

THREE GENERATIONS IN SEARCH OF PEACE

 

Multi-disciplined resident of planet Earth author Sandra sandraPerez Gluschankoff can rightly claim expertise in the fields of psychoanalysis, anthropology, Judaic studies and Hebrew language. And, man, can she write! Today on Blog Funkhauser, the celebration of the publishing journey continues with an amazing shining light. Welcome Sandra!

 

 

1)   Tell us about your book?

 

Franzisca’s Box is a story that spans seven decades and delves into the irreversible damage war causes in the lives of three women, in this particular case. The novel is set against the backdrop of World War II in Romania, the immigration of Nazi criminals into South America, and present day California. It’s a heart-beating journey through mystery, murder, betrayal and passionate love.

 

2)   What made you decide to write it?

I don’t have specific reasons why I write a story. The ideas strike me like lightning, well, it’s not that dramatic… I get to walk away with my life, though. Anyway, back to the question, when a story strikes me, comes to me, I know I have to write it. It is then, during the writing process, when I start identifying stored memories, personal experiences, which make for key parts of the story. Very Freudian, if you ask me.

 

3)   How long did it take you to complete?

I started and abandoned the story a few times, life and other things got in the way, but all in all, less than a year.

 

4)   Do you have more planned?

Of course. I’m in the midst of another historical/women’s fiction novel. It’ll be my third.

 

5)   What’s your guilty pleasure?

Cheesy, romantic holiday movies.

 

6)   All writing and no play makes the writer suffer. What do you do in your spare time (other than work the day job)?

I exercise regularly, love hot yoga, spin, I run sometimes and when I get the chance I ride horses. I also get together with friends and we gossip till no end. Shopping is always on my to-do list, I may own more shoes than Imelda Marcos at this point. Also, I live a block from the beach, so I do take advantage of it and walk along it for miles.

 

7)   What’s the thing you love most about this thing we do called writing?

The stories, the characters, the deep emotion I feel when everything comes to life before my eyes as I pour it into words. But I guess, one of my favorite parts of being a writer is that no matter how uphill I feel the path sometimes is, I still sit down and write with a smile on my face.

 

Thanks, Sandra. Her new book, FRANZISCA’S BOX is available now. Read on 

 

Cover FranziscaMystery, betrayal, murder, and passionate love were things Sofia Lazar only experienced as a movie producer. All of that changed after her grandmother’s sudden death when she comes face to face with an unwanted revelation contained in a tattered box. The meager contents take her back to her childhood and the fantastic bedtime stories that Abuela, her grandmother, used to tell her of a heroic warrior girl named Franzisca. Now, two decades later, fragments of Franzisca’s stories creep back into Sofia’s life, tying Franzisca and her grandmother to an unknown past. With the memories of her childhood bedtime stories to guide her, Sofia sets out to piece together her grandmother’s mysterious history leading her to discover the truth behind her life.

Set against the backdrop of World War II Romania, the immigration of Nazi criminals into South America, the later years of the Military Regime in Argentina during the 1980s, and present-day California, Franzisca’s Box is a story of war that ultimately affects three generations of women who will never find peace until they call for a ceasefire in their own wars and surrender to forgiveness and love.

 

Excerpt 1

“Sofia, are you happy?” she asked.

No one had ever asked me that question before, especially not her. Before answering, I looked around the set, felt a pull in my lower back that had nagged me for the past two weeks and visualized my unshaven legs.

“Yes, I am.”

After a prolonged silence, she came back on the line sounding a bit hoarse as though she had been crying. “I love you, Sofia.”

Her urgent declaration had come as a shock. For Abuela the word love was not spoken freely. Her conception of love was a raw, unrestrained surrender of oneself to another, a responsibility, a lifetime commitment. I knew she loved me, but why had she the need to assert it now?

“Abuela, are you all right?” I asked. My chest had tightened with concern.

“Never better,” she said, regaining her steady commanding voice.

The conversation continued without any mention of the sudden pronouncement of her feelings and with my assurance that I would be back home in time for our rescheduled breakfast the following Sunday, even if I was dead on my feet.

Standing alone in her study, the irony of the metaphor undid me. One of us was indeed 115dead. My eyes slid over the darkened order of the room then went back to the box staring insolently back at me from the center of the desk. It wasn’t an ordinary box. Its battered state spoke of safely kept secrets, hardship, and survival. There was only one character in my life that had tempered all of those experiences and more. With that in mind, the events of the last twenty-four-hours were gradually falling into place. I thought back on the last conversation I had with Abuela. The way in which she had pronounced the words I Love You, brought back long buried childhood memories. Her words hinted to a time when we had shared a love for stories, fantasy, adventure. To Franzisca, the make-believe heroine she had introduced me to during my early childhood years. The fearless adventurer who could do it all, the fictional character I had secretly admired all of my life. The brave woman I’ve always aspired to be.

I remembered looking around the disheveled state of my rented apartment in Sienna, wondering if I had become who I had dreamt of being. Wondering if I was really happy. I shrugged. Was there a real answer to such an existentialist question? I saw my life as sliced in two. One part was infused with unlimited possibilities alongside Franzisca and her adventures. The other was limited by my fears, my skeptical thoughts on happy endings and my repudiation of everything Franzisca stood for.

Perhaps it had been the piled-up exhaustion throughout the production of The Italian Nightmare that had me fervently wishing that I could be embraced again by those stories that used to bring me so much warmth and comfort. Stories I ejected from my life because regardless of how much Abuela loved me, I had learned the hard way that fairytales only belonged in books. The most important question that nagged me with a big question mark was, why now? Why did I want to claim Franzisca back? The answer was simple. I missed Abuela terribly; moreover, I missed the connection we shared when we were both immersed in the land of Franzisca.

 

Excerpt 2

A wave of conflicting memories invaded Margaret as soon as her eyelashes rested atop her cheekbones. But this time, unlike the weeks preceding this trip, she did not pursue the safety of the light, and kept her eyes shut. It was time she revisited the event that had triggered her becoming Margaret.

Her silence had been sworn more than sixty years before when she was only a little girl. But her tender age had nothing to do with the years her soul had accumulated during her short life. Perhaps it had to do with the distress all survivors of war suffer. She had been amongst a group of thirty-five fortunate children who have fallen under the protection of an anonymous philanthropist.

It had happened during the second year of War World II when Margaret was a girl of six. Streets, sewage tunnels and abandoned buildings had become her temporary housing during the war-years. Margaret learned survival skills and to hide like a rodent during the daylight. She was not certain of the reasons that drove her to live in hiding, but the memory of her parents’ glazed eyes, as they lay dead after being shot in the head, caused her to avoid being seen by anybody in uniform.

Since the death of her parents, the butchery on the streets had diminished significantly. The soldiers sporting the interlaced crosses on their jackets became a common sight in her town, especially around the oil refineries. On many nights, when she was scared and hungry she had made her way back to where she thought her home was. But when she approached the main gate of the property, visions of guns and death pushed her back into the darkness, back to the safety and the anonymity of homelessness.

However terrifying the Nazi occupation had been in her town, Margaret had found a certain balance to her survival. The intense questioning the citizens of Ploesti had been subjected to during the first year of the war had ceased soon after her parents were murdered. She noticed that most men, the ones she knew as neighbors or local business owners, were no longer in the vicinity and she wondered if they, just like her parents, had breathed their last breath down the cold barrel of a pistol.

The lack of adults made for a large amount of unattended children, which at one time or another moved together as a swarm of bees only to shoot in different directions at the slightest sign of danger.

When caught, children were forced to work in the oil refineries managed by the Nazi soldiers. The activities inside the refineries were a mystery to her. Yet, the results of being swallowed by those grim buildings stayed branded on the faces of their young prisoners. Some of the kids, who only days before had been on the run with her, were now gradually turning grey behind the barbwires surrounding the forced labor camp. Margaret was too young to understand the concepts of freedom and oppression, but she was old enough to notice the path of death, a one-way road, the imprisoned kids were set upon.

The refineries had become a target for continuous bombings. It was said that the Germans milked the depths of Ploesti to help finance their dream of worldwide domination. With each blast, the interest the Nazis had in the town waned. The cash cow Ploesti represented during the first years of the war became a trap where high ranking Nazi officials lost their lives; burning in the fires of the hell they created. As the production of the rigs stopped, the number of people imprisoned diminished. Soot-faced zombies in striped pajamas became the latest sight along the deserted streets of Ploesti. The Nazis did not waste bullets on the escapees; the smoke and tar inhalation took care of their dirty work for them. After a few steps into a desperate freedom, the former prisoners met their untimely death by natural asphyxiation.

Although tender in age and ignorant to the mechanics of war, Margaret noticed that the appearance of the enemy had changed over the years. No longer were the neatly dressed soldiers wandering the streets of Ploesti. Instead a new breed of bearded savages roamed the shell-shocked industrial town. Much like the Germans, the newest invaders, the Bolsheviks, were bent on mayhem. Both spawns of similar evil, sought out murder as a way to leave their imprint and manifest their domination. However, there was a noticeable difference between the two. While the Nazis conducted their operations in a cold and organized manner, turning their massacres into business transactions, the Russians behaved like butchers. Their trail was bloody and dirty.

The day she was discovered, she was huddled, with two other children, in the bowels of an abandoned aqueduct in the outskirts of Ploesti, Romania.

There were three things about herself that Margaret did not remember. One was her name. She had no recollection of her given name. She remembered her mother’s panic-stricken face and her last attempt to call for her. However, every time Margaret tried to put a sound to the last word formed on her mother’s lips, all she heard was the deafening explosion of the gunshot that silenced her. The next thing she did not remember was how to talk. Since the day she became an orphan, nobody ever addressed her directly again. She understood the tongue of the local people, the foul sound of the iron invaders; however, she could not articulate a single word.

The third thing she did not know was what she looked like.

Not until the day before she was found did she discover her face for the first time. Right before the earth swallowed the ball of fire that illuminated the city, the children made their way to the Teleajen River to try their chances at catching anything edible from the riverbank. It was customary for fishermen to take pity on the little souls that roamed the docks as if sleepwalking, and before retiring for the evening they would toss them a few scraps of fish.

A storm had hit the vast river the previous week, and after succumbing to its natural course, the waters became once again a silver mirror. Margaret was among a group of children who inched hopefully toward the docks scouting for food. The sight of a lone fisherman cleaning his dinghy sent the group of starving children running his way. Margaret was ahead of the pack when she hit a rock with her naked toes. The impact sent her flying a hairsbreadth from plunging in the river. Suddenly her face was confronted by a pair of hollow dark circles that fixed her with shock. She blinked a few times, fighting tears ready to slide down her face. The pain shooting through her toes was unbearable, but the curiosity at the image that floated on the face of the river was enough to make her forget about it. The vision staring back at her from the water remained still while she did her best not to breathe. Then, she wrinkled her nose and arched her eyebrows. The silver image mimicked her actions without skipping a beat. Margaret suddenly forgot about the nagging hunger clawing at the inside of her stomach. Instead, she smiled at a reflection that accepted her with the same smile. Move by move, she discovered the contours of her face, the mechanics of her facial joints and the many funny things she could do with them. For a brief moment, her mind was free of war, and in the watery mirror, she relived her short life before everything was lost. Filled with memories of happier times, that evening, Margaret snuggled next to her wretched companions and fell into a deep slumber.

When they heard heavy footsteps approaching the large sewer pipe where they had decided to spend the night, two of the children took off running. She and a few others were too tired to flee and slept beyond the allowed depth for survival. There was a soft knock on the outer wall of the tunnel. Resigned, Margaret and the other children crawled out. She was worn out, and if surrendering meant going back to the warm embrace of her parents that had kept her safe during one the best dreams she had in years, so be it.

What she encountered outside out of the pipe was far from fear. A soft hand reached out and took hold of hers and from that day forward, Margaret was never alone again.

 

How to contact Sandra:

Email: Sandra@palabrasandstories.com

Social Media

Website: www.palabrasandstories.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Sandra-Perez-Gluschankoff-1960339320857070/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

Twitter:  @SandraGluschank

 

Buy Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6451518.Sandra_Perez_Gluschankoff

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Franziscas-Box-Sandra-Perez-Gluschankoff-ebook/dp/B01BX2M7A4

Amazon USA: http://www.amazon.com/Franziscas-Box-Sandra-Perez-Gluschankoff-ebook/dp/B01BX2M7A4

 

 

 

A TRUE DRAGON HEART

 

I welcome to the blog Army Veteran, Florida State University grad and former police officer Arthur Butt. A native Long Islander now living in Florida with his spouse, two puppies and one adored SnoopyCat, this confirmed coffee drinker devotes his artistic energies to conjuring fantasy fiction.

 

You have a wide and varied resume. What prompted you to write?

Reading. If you read enough you want to write also.

 

Tell us about the genre you work in. What draws you to fantasy?


414c59728b2e7b4f3a01342a87e600c2f89a12d5-thumbI don’t work in just fantasy, but whatever genre I write in I like to use a blend of science, history and romance in a realistic way.

I have to ask: did you read/watch Game of Thrones? If ‘yes’ care to weigh in on the dragon sub plot?

Don’t watch a lot of TV. Mostly history channel.

As a veteran what in your opinion stands out most in modern portrayals of warfare/policing in literature and visual mediums?

Most of what you see on the television or read is for the masses, more action/adventure than real life.

 

Tell me about your book(s). Your protagonists are brave, self-assured females. Are they based on anyone you know?

goblin warNo one I know, however in a male dominated world, brave, self-assured females (and none of us are self-assured, right?) are often overlooked. GAIL IS GAEA is based on the legend of Nyabinghi, Mother, warrior-goddess of Africa. In ROD OF REALITY and GOBLIN WAR, the MC’s are male and female, neither one self-assured, but knowing they have a problem to solve and trying their best to solve it. Nevertheless, if you look for brave, iron-willed woman you can find them from Boudicca to Margaret Thatcher.

 

You have dogs and a cat. Was this a compromise to please the house? Are you a cat person?

Cat person, have had cats (Siamese) for 30 years. Wife and I got dogs for the grandchildren.

 

I’ve spent some time down in Florida and I love it more every time I visit. How does it compare to Long Island?

I’m in the panhandle of Florida, totally different from the Florida you think of (like Disneyworld). Country life, have to drive a half an hour to go to the store. On Long Island, you’re still rural, but you have the convenience of nearby shopping areas, NYC if you prefer, or wooded areas.

 

What’s next?

Next? Working on MS “CAITLYN” Not a nice story, based on a murder mystery that happened in the 70’s and discovered in the 90’s. Basically, it goes – Boy meets girl, boy kills girl, boy marries her sister, boy turns into alcoholic, wife wonders why her marriage is falling apart, boy is arrested for murder. Not a nice story.

 

 

Some of Arthur Butt’s published works include:

B.E.V. – Clean Reads Pub.

Valley of Shadows – Clean Reads Pub.

The Rod of Reality (Book 1 of Fairyland series) Clean Reads Pub.

The Goblin War (Book 2 Fairyland series) Clean Reads Pub.

(in edits now – World’s End (Book 3 Fairyland series) Clean Reads Pub.

Dragonkiller – Solstice Pub.

The Girl Who Rode Dragons – Solstice Pub.

Gail is Gaea – Solstice Pub.

 

A short excerpt from GAIL IS GAEA:

 

GAEAPontus, Typhon, and Chron crowded around her. “I thought you did not want to be called the spirit goddess?” Pontus said, a puzzled look on his face. “Now you are calling yourself that.”

Gail shrugged and looked grim. “They’re already doing it, so I might as well use the fact.” She gave each a stern look in turn. “But if I hear it out of any of you three, I’ll take this sword and paddle you good, understand me?” She touched her short sword for emphasis.  “That goes for our men too, I don’t care what they think, but they’d better not call me spirit goddess where I can hear it.”

Pontus grinned and said, “Yes, Gaela, as you will.”

“It’s getting dark.” Gail said. Her legs felt weak, sweat and dirt covered every inch of her body. I would love a hot bath, she thought with a sigh, but I can’t put this off any longer. I have to do this so the men can see me – know I’m not afraid.

“I’m going to walk in the battlefield,” she said, tugging on Amber’s leash, “and see if there is anyone I can help that we missed.” The tribesmen parted as she and the oslo left.

In the building darkness, crows and vultures flapped into the sky, disturbed by the passing of Amber and Gail as they strolled among the dead. A few warriors were still busy stripping the bodies of weapons, a low rumble of distant thunder echoed behind her from their voices.  As Gail wandered across the battlefield, she heard the hunters whisper, “Spirit Goddess.”

She said nothing.

 

The Girl Who Rode Dragons

girldragonAll Jackie wanted was equal treatment and a chance to ride a dragon. When her cruel brother-in-law takes over as head of the household and makes her quit school, she is forced to do all the chores and collect wood in the forest. Jackie finds a dragon’s egg, and although law forbids girls to ride dragons, she secretly hatches the egg, and dons boy’s clothes. After she brings the gift of fire to the dragonriders, she becomes an accepted member of their band.

Civil wars break out, dragonrider against dragonrider. Jackie leads the loyalist faction against the rebels. The stakes – the fate of the kingdom and the life of her and the man she has grown to love.

 

 

Links: Twitter – https://twitter.com/?refsrc=email  Facebook / Author Page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Arthur-Butt-The-Fantasy-SyFi-Author/1528729850734703

Amazon link:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=Books+by+arthur+butt

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=Arthur+Butt

Instagram Link:

https://www.instagram.com/artyny59/

INDIE AUTHOR ANG D’ONOFRIO BREAKS OUT WITH A RIFF ON INSPIRATION & BUSTER HEYWOOD

Well read and schooled in the art of Netflix and Chill, independent author Ang D’Onofrio brings enthusiasm and an indomitable spirit to the writerverse. With the tools of the trade always in reach, she is quick to record what she sees for translation later into her bold and inventive fiction. Welcome Ang!

 

 

Your character Buster Heywood lives in Aviario. A quick Google tells me that Aviario is in Costa Rica. Is FROM THE DESK OF BUSTER HEYWOOD a South American novel?

 

Short answer: nope!  Long, more interesting answer: I named my fictional Connecticut town “Aviario” (pronounced AY-vee-uh-REE-oh) ages ago, back when it only had two inhabitants.  At the time, I had been writing my stories with the characters as animals – think Brian Jacques’ Redwall in a more modern time.  But I knew that I’d reach a wider audience with human characters … so the town name became a nod to the characters’ beginnings.    It took me until partway through my first draft in college to Google the word, and realize that there were other Aviarios.    Here’s a map I made of mine … minus the key, which is still under construction.  I keep it hanging next to my desk.

Map

 

So nice to meet another cat woman. My feline chap is also my muse. Do your kitties contribute to your process?

 

They supervise.  Bella likes to sit on the arm of one writing perch in the living room, but on days when I’m on my laptop, The Sneak sits under my chair and hopes I drop snacks.  One of the characters in my second novel, In The Cards, has some strong ties to cats, and I took a lot of inspiration from my girls when I wrote a couple of his scenes.

AngDsKitties

 

We met on Twitter. Care to tell the readers how?

 

It was #1lineWeds that brought us together, back before I started #2bitTues.  I noticed the theme of Heuer Lost & Found, and thought,”Hey! I have a mortician character, too.  And this lady seems super neat.  Maybe I should follow her.”   I had no idea what I was in for … but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Our conversations never fail to make me smile.

 

Ed. Lol. Morticians have a sense of humor. You didn’t see that coming! *wink wink* 

BE SURE AND VISIT ANG AND CREW EVERY TUESDAY ON TWITTER AT #2bitTues, A PLACE WHERE AUTHORS CAN TROT OUT THEIR CHOICE ONE-LINERS FROM WIPS. BE PREPARED TO BE AMAZED.

 

THE BOOK BLURB:

As lives go, Buster Heywood’s got it pretty good. His job with the town offices of Aviario pays him just enough to keep a roof over his head and food in his kitchen. His job even keeps him free from having to deal with his social anxiety. He’s always seen things a bit different from everyone else, and now that he’s found a comfortable little bubble, he’ll do everything he can to stay inside it.

But life never goes as planned, and a combination of the wrong place and the wrong time warp Buster’s cozy, quiet life into something he would never have imagined. His problems quickly become more than just a contest between his structured worldview and the way things are: soon he’s toeing a line between following his sense of duty and losing himself to a dark, dangerous underworld.

I love the book blurb and immediately think of Winston Smith from Orwell’s 1984. To what extent are we, as individuals, removed from the day to day world outside? Is this by intent or is it beyond our control?

 

BusterHeywoodFinalCoverWow, what a GREAT question!   I love getting the Big, Deep Ones.  I think both extent and intention depend upon the individual.  Introverted people are, no doubt, more removed due to their natures … but it doesn’t stop them from being curious, either (For example: my hero, Buster, avoids face-to-face interaction, but he’s a very, very avid reader, and likes to consider himself knowledgeable).  People have a very deep-seated, subconscious drive to protect themselves, and sometimes that protection is so amped-up that it shields us from our community and our world, whether we’re aware of it or not.

I like to think there are levels, too: someone can be a very gung-ho volunteer for their local community, but be oblivious to refugee plights or natural disasters in other countries … or, vice versa.  In a way, this sort of protection can be good: too much involvement would, without a doubt, overwhelm a human soul and tear it in too many different directions.

It’s my belief that if we’re lucky enough to notice that subconscious protection, overcome it, and make the effort to involve ourselves with our world, we need to be able to pick and choose our battles.  Sometimes, that’s a very hard choice to make: and most of the novels of Aviario deal in one way or another with those choices, and their consequences.   For me, the best stories happen when you push a character past their comfort zone and make them grow.

 

Available in eBook and print format, FROM THE DESK OF BUSTER HEYWOOD, can be bought here: www.angeladonofrio.com/from-the-desk-of-buster-heywood.html .

 

You tote your tools around with you in case inspirational lighting strikes. Care to give us an anecdote?

 

Several years ago, my dad, bless his stubborn soul, injured his wrist in a fall at his job as a telephone lineman.  He was on workman’s compensation, and I had found myself unemployed due to some legal skullduggery at my workplace that ended up, shall we say, putting them completely out of business.  So we were stuck with one another, and usually pretty happy about that fact.   I went along with him to his check-ups for the injury, and we’d go out to lunch, maybe a movie, and generally make something good out of the miserable hand we’d both been dealt.

I was sitting in the cab of his truck, waiting for him to come out of such an appointment and dealing with an allergy flare-up … his dog, Lucy, loved truck rides to the dump and hardware store.  My nose did not love the dander she left behind afterwards.  I’d just managed to stop a particularly horrid attack of the sniffles, when I saw a very unique woman heading toward the hospital doors at a fair clip.  She was a consummate professional from head to … er, ankle.   The neon running shoes were the only exception.   I had a tiny little notebook stashed in my purse, and scribbled down the detail.    That scribble became one of the plot points of From The Desk of Buster Heywood, and since then, my friends & family have learned to be very patient with me, should I call a grand halt to whatever we’re doing and dive for the notebook.  Everything can be used.  Everything!

 

Ed. I hear you, although family are less tolerant, I find, when I go for the notebook in the middle of the night.

 

Do you Netflix and Chill? If ‘yes’ why? If ‘no’ why?

Oh, I Netflix, all right.  My fiancee, Laurel, is a huge TV and movie buff… bigger than me, which is saying something.  We’ve been known to burn through a season of something in a weekend, if we don’t have anything planned.  Currently our guilty pleasure is the animated Clone Wars series (we’re Star Wars fans), and I’m waiting until she’s in the mood to burn through American Horror Story: Freakshow.  As for the Chill part?  Well.  Let’s keep that private, shall we?  Wink wink.

 

Ed. I gotcha there. Maybe staying indoors isn’t such a bad thing after all???

 

What are you working on right now this minute?

 

InTheCardsFinalCoverRIGHT NOW THIS MINUTE?  These questions.   (Sorry.  I am a proven Grade-A smartass … something else I got from my father.  THANKS, DAD!)   Ahem.   Beyond that, I’m carving away at the stubborn, knotted block of wood that is my next villain.  My third book, The Proper Bearing, is set in a 1970s British Public School, and the sinister Biology professor, Cole Goddard, has been very tight-lipped about himself since last September.  I’ve just barely managed to get to the heart of the block, and I can see him much more clearly than I could when I started my draft … so hopefully, by the time Camp NaNoWriMo rolls around in April, I’ll be ready to dive back in.    If nothing else, it’s keeping me occupied while I wait for my beta readers’ feedback on In The Cards, so I can spiff it up for its September release!

 

Ed. I love, love, love NaNoWriMo. It’s the only way I can get new stuff down. Also love the block of wood analogy. Michelangelo said the same thing about marble and the figure inside. He was just taking the extra away, liberating the inner beauty.

 

Your favorite woman in literature or history? Your favorite man in literature or history?

 

I’m going with literature, because my history brain is really out to lunch, today…  I’ll probably have brilliant answers for historical figures at about 1 AM this morning, with my luck.  My favorite literary female is, hands down, Clarice Starling from Silence of the Lambs.  She’s written with such a perfect balance of vulnerability and strength!   The scene when she goes to review Frederica Bimmel’s body in the morgue will always be one of my favorite pieces of writing.  Clarice draws her strength from such a painful memory and uses it to her advantage: not just to do her job, but to overcome a bit of sexism, as well.   I know most people remember her for the showdown in Buffalo Bill’s basement in the film, but the novel gives that morgue scene so many more layers that show her strength.
My favorite literary male is a tougher question: I have a few that fight for first place.  Given the gonzo nature of your books, though, I’ll go with the zany answer: Zaphod Beeblebrox!  I’ve got a soft spot for characters with huge egos, questionable intellect, and an immense amount of dumb luck – and Zaph takes the cake.

 

Ed. In your face intellect always bears close examination for the awesome flaws it reveals!

 

The place you run to?

 

Great, now I have Madonna’s “This Used To Be My Playground” stuck in my head, thank you for that.   I have two.  The first is my bedroom, which is a careful mess of ancient books, art from around the world, my mask collection, and a snuggly cat.  The second is as close as a gal like me can get to a Mind Palace: the first building in Aviario I ever created.  Marlowe House is a big, Victorian mansion, the kind of house I want to own someday, and if I really need to get my head on straight, I go hang out there.  Sometimes I sit in the foyer window seat and read, other times I chill out in one character’s bedroom and let him play piano.

 

Ed. Great answer! And I love Madge BTW. 

 

Your greatest joy?

 

That lovely high that comes from writing a perfect scene that sucks you in as it unfolds.  The world drops away so hard and fast that I forget it’s even there, and I’m always a little baffled when it comes back in around me after I’m done.

 

Thanks for sharing, luv.

 

For more on Ang and her books, visit her website at www.angeladonofrio.com where you can sign up and receive regular updates.

 

ABOUT ANG

HeadshotAngela (or Ang, but never Angie) lives in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire with her lovely fiancee, Laurel, two particularly eccentric cats, and one opinionated conure named Jupiter. She roots the places she creates in the places that she loves, and friends and family may just find hints of the familiar in the streets of Aviario. While writing is not currently her only bread and butter, she spends much of her free time on aspects of the process, toting around her tools of the trade in case inspiration strikes.

SUSANNE MATTHEWS HAS A NEW RELEASE

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

About The White Iris

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

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

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

Sensuality Level: Sensual

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

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

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

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

 

Excerpt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep telling yourself that.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

About the author:

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

 

 

 

 

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

ABF

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

 

 

 

 

NANO AND THE MUSE

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

WHAT’S IT ALL MEAN?

 

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

 

Or, I could clean my house.

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant, I am

 

A.B. Funkhauser

Lover, NaNoWriMo

CRIME AND GONZO

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant,

 

I am A.B. Funkhauser

Member, Sisters in Crime, Toronto Chapter

Bailey's Undertaker

ON YOUR MARK, GET SET, NANO!!!!!!

LET IT BURN

In the run up to this year’s NaNoWriMo, I’d half expected to struggle, owing to the tedium of a couple of broken bones that limited my ability to roam free range, and the fine line I’d drawn between completion of the sophomore novel and starting another manuscript. Turns out, I didn’t have to worry. Somewhere between draft six, aluminum crutches that skid, and a much anticipated finish line, I locked on to the key ingredient for a successful writing experience—the inciting incident.

For many of us, the grocery store can be a harrowing experience. Years ago my ‘baby on board’ and I were nearly taken out by a grocery cart piloted by a veddy veddy important looking hooman on a cell phone too busy to notice us. When I protested the T-bone collision, its ensuing effect resulting in a twenty degree kant that toppled the produce from my cart and freaked out my heir, the important telephone person suggested that I “bite [her].”

Bite her?

I didn’t want to do that. I had standards and I didn’t care much for pork. What I did have were my big girl words, and it was to these that I turned in the face of profound absurdity. A speech made by the late Sir John Gielglud’s character to Liza Minnelli in the film Arthur (1981) seemed apropos, so I paraphrased, suggesting to the reckless grocery cart operator that one “didn’t often meet such quality in another person outside a holding cell or drunk tank.”

The line—spectacular in its arrogance—had the desired effect, silencing the ‘bite me’ hooman in a way that I hoped would ruin the rest of her very important day. A shining moment to be sure, its effect sparked something remarkable. Getting slammed was leveling, but taking it out on the page? Elevating. I could not do to the offending human what I might have wanted to, but a character certainly could. In that pursuit, I’ve built my philosophy for creating at NaNo Time:

What good is fiction, if fiction cannot roam freely? What better a character than one that can do what we cannot?

Scooter Banner Blurb

“Seltenheit manager Kevin Gustavson had kept the sale secret, such that the transition from heritage building to hole in the ground happened without a single heart attack or lawsuit. For his subservience, Kevin got a timeshare. The others got a payout indexed to inflation. The old embalmer, unimpressed, hanged himself in the garage.”

“Symbols of the old regime, the suit of the undertaker was forbidden to them, as if looking like a mortician was some kind of intolerable offense in the house that Jocasta built. Yet Scooter took no heed of the boss’s orders, tossing his pomegranate colored blazer into the dumpster with a finality that impressed Carla Moretto Salinger Blue. The morning suit he wore, like the cigarette he smoked, was a clear act of defiance as was, she supposed, the firearm he was holding.”

“Anybody who ever worked at B.H. Hoage, Funeral Directors, where Clayton managed in the late Eighties and early Nineties, never forgot him. Whether inflicting time management strategies on the lowliest earthworm or back breaking lady heels on the feminist wedge ‘steam rollering this fine business of ours,’ Clayton left his mark, much like a cat spraying its territory.”

 

—SCOOTER NATION (WIP completed October 21, 2015)

 

 

Rude, inane, maybe even profane, free ranging characters can drive a story farther and faster than their creator ever dreamed possible, especially when the rigorous demands of NaNoWriMo come up from behind.

Generally, I like to mull a NaNo story for a good year in advance of November 1st. Character names like “Zoltan” “Bronaugh” “Poonam” “Gus” and “Carlos the Wunder Katz” are scratched down and stored in a file along with pop scenes as they make themselves known. But what gets the beauty started is that moment THE MOMENT when you know:

Twitter compressed

On October 6, 2015, a letter was received. In it were a set of instructions and a veiled threat. “Dear Home Owner: It has come to our attention that residents have not been cleaning up after their pets. This is particularly true of Saffron Drive where cats have been roaming freely without proper banding and/or licensing.”

The homeowner frowned.

“City bylaws are explicit. Failure to comply shall result in seizure and a fine of up to and including $5,000. All pets seized by the municipality shall be considered forfeit, property to be retained pending appeal or adoption by an appropriate third party.”

Bronaugh Caley scowled.  It was barely past sunrise, the morning air still carrying on it that vaporous layer of moisture from a cool night and above average day time high’s for that time of year. The missive in her hand wrinkled with the wet of it. Plain stock, Helvetica lettered and baring the stamp of the nascent city’s newly minted coat of arms, it was not francked, but hand delivered. Her tax dollars at work.

She crumpled the paper in disgust. The assessors would be out soon to see if they could raise the levy on her addition. Meantime, she could recycle the plain stock paper. What else could she do with it? She didn’t own a goddamned cat.”

—SHELL GAME (WIP NaNoWriMo 2015)

On October 6, 2015, a letter was delivered to my door from municipal animal control. Chilling and vague, the inference contained within was clear: our beloved neighborhood visitor, a black cat of exceptional beauty, had been singled out by city 5-O. A complaint from a single resident has forced this beauty indoors against his nature, forcing his owner and legions of fans to find a proper home for him in the country where cats can be cats.

A story here? I think so. It incited the above paragraphs. I’ll see if it takes me through to the end of November.

What is your inciting incident? Find it and let it burn bright.

Adult, Unapologetic and Cognizant, I am

A.B. Funkhauser

NaNoWriMo 2015

GOOD LUCK ONE AND ALL!

AUTHOR SUSANNE MATTHEWS DROPS BY WITH A NEW BOOK AND INTERVIEW

Thanks so much for having me!

My pleasure, Susanne.

On your website I count three publishers plus self published titles. How do you keep it all straight?

At one point there were four publishers, but one recently went out of business. Keeping them straight is probably easier than you think. Other than the Canadian historical novel, The Price of Honor, the work I submit to Solstice consists of short stories, although I do intend to write the sequel to the historical romance next year. For Anaiah Press, I have to keep the content squeaky clean. Since faith is an important component in my life, if I’m working on a story, and I know God and prayer have roles, I’ll develop something that will suit them. Crimson Romance was my first publisher, and I work with the same editor, so I have a pretty good idea as to what they’ll take, and what won’t make the cut. I guess the hardest part is formatting the manuscripts to suit each publisher’s taste.

Crimson Publishing offers everything from contemporary to historical romance. There’s even a reference to “spicy” titles. Which category best describes your work?

With the exception of Just For The Weekend, which is a contemporary romance, my other Crimson titles: Fire Angel, In Plain Sight, On His Watch, The White Carnation and The White Lily are all romance suspense. I think the easiest way to accurately describe them would be suspense with a touch of romance, as if Criminal Minds met Castle. The books are considered sensual, since there are a few hot scenes, but not really spicy.

You have a new release out Oct 12th. Deets please?

The White Lily is Book Two in the Harvester Series. While it’s the second book in the series, like the first, it stands alone, although I think the reader will get more out of it if he or she reads them in order. Essentially, there is a megalomaniac cult leader who sees himself as the Creator’s prophet with a mission.

The story started in The White Carnation which is book one in the series. As the blurb puts it: The last person disgraced reporter Faye Lewis wants back in her life is Detective Rob Halliday, the man she blames for ruining her career and breaking her heart. But when she finds an old friend murdered, he’s the one she calls.

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

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

Rob and Faye foil the Harvester’s plans, but they don’t stop him, and the search for him and his followers continues into book 2, The White Lily. In short, The Harvester is out there…watching, waiting, biding his time.

FBI cult specialist Lilith Munroe lives in dread that one day the man who tortured her when a case went bad will find her again. So leaving her sanctuary in Quantico to join the Harvester Task Force in Boston is her version of hell. But the Harvester is kidnapping babies, and Lilith’s profiling skills may mean the difference between life and death for the most innocent in society.

Australian millionaire and former member of the New Horizon commune Jacob Andrews returns to the United States searching for his sister. Instead of the happy reunion he expects, he discovers she is dead and his twin brother may be responsible. He agrees to lend his law enforcement skills to help find his former cult leader before the man can implement his plan to kill millions.

Now uneasy partners, Jacob and Lilith must learn to trust each other even as they fight their growing attraction. But when Lilith’s greatest fears materialize, will Jacob be able to set aside his anger and save the woman he loves?

The story comes to an end in Book Three, The White Iris, due out in February 2016.

You describe your evolution into a micro publishing house. What’s that like?

I was unfortunate enough to be one of the authors sucked in by not one but two corrupt and deceitful women who set themselves up as publishers.

As a new author, getting offered a contract for a book was amazing, and seeing the book published was really something. I was over the moon when Crimson published Fire Angel, and that was my impetus to keep writing. I’d been warned about putting all my eggs in one basket. I had other new author friends who encouraged me to send stuff to their publishers, and I did. In fact, over the course of a year, I sent her three of my own books and one I co-wrote with another author to Front Porch Romance, and another to Entranced. At first it was great, but then, FPR published the books quickly, and although the editing wasn’t fantastic, it was okay, and the covers were nice. Then, people started quitting and she stopped paying royalties or paid for fewer books sold than Amazon said we had. By the time we realized we’d been screwed, it was too late. She declared bankruptcy, never paid what we were owed, but she did revert the rights to my books, but not the edits. I was faced with a choice. Lose all that work for good, try to find another publisher who’d take previously published material, or try to publish it myself. I was just coping with this when Entranced did the same thing, but because that book had never been published, I was able to send it to Crimson. One of my FPR books not yet published went to SCP, the other to Solstice. Friends persuaded me to self-publish the others, and helped with editing, formatting, and covers. That’s how I became a micro-publishing house.

I started with my historical, The Captain’s Promise and then my concurrent Christmas romances about a set of twins, Holiday Magic and The Perfect Choice. I edited all three books, got new covers for them, added significantly to the length of the Christmas ones and published them myself. When Secret Cravings Publisher went under in August, the publisher returned our rights and allowed us to keep our edits. Incidentally, she’s also doing her best to see we get the money we are owed, so very different from my first experience. I republished Echoes of the Past, which is a paranormal/romance/suspense set in Prince Edward County, Ontario. The other indie work I have consists of a sci-fi space opera called Eloisia, which comes out in monthly episodes, the way comic books used to when I was a kid. The story continues each month, the way television episodes do, building on the plot and adding new characters and new crises as needed. Each book ends on a cliff hanger. I don’t know how well it will do, but I’m happy with it. I have a beta reader and a cover artist who’ve been great. I’ll be releasing a novel on November 17, called Secrets and Lies. It’s part of a series of books about a small town called Hearts of Braden. It would’ve been published by SCP, but when the publisher failed, the other authors and I agreed to go ahead and do it ourselves.

Tell us about your Anaiah titles. How do you keep fresh, versatile?

Writing for Anaiah Press is different because of the restrictions—no sex, no swearing, etc.—but it lets me touch on the inspirational aspects of life. All For Love, currently available, and Hidden Assets which will be released in September 2016, are both romance/suspense novels, but while they look at the uglier side of humanity, they let me share my faith and my belief system. It may be naïve, but I firmly believe good triumphs over evil—it may take years, but in the end, good comes through. In those novels, it’s essential that the plot and character development be strong enough to carry the story, without hot spots to smooth over the rough places. My Crimson books have a lot that in them too, but they are grittier, earthier, and somewhat darker.

How many titles do you have to your credit? Give us your top three nearest and dearest. 

I’ve written and published 14 novels on my own since I started writing in the fall of 2012. In addition to that I have four shorts, one of which is a new Christmas story with Solstice called Her Christmas Hero, coming out on November 30, 2015. I also have 2 pieces I co-wrote, Grand Slam a baseball novella is no longer available because my writing partner has decided not to republish it, and a full length novel, to which my writing partner has given me the rights, which edited, revised, and retitled will be released independently sometime next year.

Picking the top three is difficult. Fire Angel will always have a special place in my heart because it’s the very first one I published. The Price of Honor is special because I based part of it on a romanticized view of my family history. The third is an 18 way tie. It’s like children. How does a mother pick her favorite?

Are you a method writer?

No. I’m a “fly by the seat of your pants” writer. I don’t have plot graphs or outlines, character sheets, motivation sheets. When I start writing each day, I have no idea what’s going to end up on the page. After 33 years as a teacher, a high school English teacher most of it, you’d think I would, but when I try to use an outline, it just doesn’t work.

Your thoughts on series writing? Do you use timeline packages like Scrivener to stay organized?

I’ve written what could be called four different types of series books. The first, Holiday Magic and The Perfect Choice, are written concurrently. While a lot of the content in each book is different, there are a number of similar scenes that occur in both books, but you read them from a different twin’s POV. Keeping the characters true to themselves in each book was a challenge.

The second series, the Harvester series, which I’m writing for Crimson, presented a different challenge. The romance in each book is different, but the main plot, finding and stopping the Prophet/Harvester and preventing his evil plans to destroy the country is the same. The characters from book one appear in both books two and three as do new characters, and keeping everybody in line, making the necessary references to the previous books for those who may not remember or for those who haven’t read the book without boring and turning off those who did, wasn’t always the easiest thing to do.

My space opera is the fourth type of series, and in this one, existing characters will grow and evolve as the plot does.

Do I use timelines? Sort of—scribbled pieces of paper to make sure I allow enough time to pass between scenes and keep events in order—but they get written down as they arise. How do I keep it all organized? Magic! That’s my answer, and I’m sticking to it.

What’s next?

Currently, I’m working on The White Iris, the final book in the Harvester series. When that’s done. I have another Christmas story to finish, a YA I promised my granddaughter, a fantasy about angels I want to edit, and a whole slew of plots yet to be written. I don’t know how much time God will give me to write, but I don’t want to waste a single moment of it.

Last words?

People ask me if I’m making money writing. Am I? Yeah. I think it works out to something like .002 cents per hour. I don’t write for the money. I write because the stories are screaming to get out and be heard. Do I wish I’d started writing sooner? Hell yes, but the reality is I wouldn’t have been able to do it any sooner. The technology wasn’t ready and neither was I. Maybe someday, I’ll write that bestseller and actually make some money, but for now, I’m happy that people who read my work enjoy it.

The White LilyThe Harvester is out there … watching, waiting, biding his time.

FBI cult specialist Lilith Munroe lives in dread that one day the man who tortured her when a case went bad will find her again. So leaving her sanctuary in Quantico to join the Harvester Task Force in Boston is her version of hell. But the Harvester is kidnapping babies, and Lilith’s profiling skills may mean the difference between life and death for the most innocent in society.

Australian millionaire and former member of the New Horizon commune Jacob Andrews returns to the United States searching for his sister. Instead of the happy reunion he expects, he discovers she is dead and his twin brother may be responsible. He agrees to lend his law enforcement skills to help find his former cult leader before the man can implement his plan to kill millions.

Now uneasy partners, Jacob and Lilith must learn to trust each other even as they fight their growing attraction. But when Lilith’s greatest fears materialize, will Jacob be able to set aside his anger and save the woman he loves?

Sensuality Level: Sensual

 

Buy Links

Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/White-Lily-Susanne-Matthews-ebook/dp/B015P79XZ0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1443387932&sr=8-1&keywords=The+White+Lily+Susanne+Matthews

 

B&N:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-white-lily-susanne-matthews/1122682664?ean=9781440591228

 

KOBO:

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/the-white-lily

 

 

Excerpt from The White Lily:

It was her own fault that she was in this predicament. She’d been so close to completing her assignment, but she’d made a rookie mistake, one that would end in her death and condemn who knew how many young girls to this sick lifestyle.

After weeks of kowtowing to just about everyone living in the compound, she’d finally been allowed into the “holiest of holies” the large building specifically designed to house Rivers’s mates. She’d barely recognized Kelly, now heavily pregnant. Grossed out at the thought of Rivers rutting with girls as young as fourteen, Lilith jumped the gun, approached the girl, and identified herself as a family friend sent to rescue her. Sadly, brainwashed into believing she carried God’s grandchild, Kelly had betrayed her to the man who called himself the son of God.

Before Lilith could call in and report, two men stormed into her room, tore the place apart, and found the cell phone hidden under her mattress. They’d dragged her to this hellhole for re-education and introduced her to the monster. The Spanish Inquisition could’ve learned a trick or two from this guy, but she’d clung to her cover story in spite of the torture.

Licking her swollen lips with what little saliva she could produce, the sharp pain from the tooth she’d lost for joking about a crown of thorns, reminded her that she hadn’t gone down without a fight. In spite of everything those bastards had done to her, she hadn’t broken, and there was still a chance her team would get to her in time.

Her head tipped forward, allowing her chin to brush against her grandmother’s locket. Ironically, while they’d ripped away her clothes, the good luck piece still hung around her neck, its pendant hiding a miniaturized GPS placed there by the FBI technician before she’d entered the compound.

Her legs trembled and threatened to give way again. One mistake. One stupid mistake, but there might still be a chance for good to come from it. When she didn’t report in at her scheduled time, her team would storm the compound. Kelly and the other women and children would be rescued, and Rivers and his sick cronies would pay for their crimes—crimes that would include multiple cases of statutory rape and the murder of two federal agents.

Lacking the necessary strength to raise her head from her chest, unable to stem the tears coursing down her dirty cheeks, she took another agonizing breath and sought the sanctuary inside her head, the safe place she’d created years ago when her heart had been broken, the refuge she’d escaped into during the worst of the torture.

Gunshots echoed through the stuffy basement, rousing her, pulling her out of the daydream and bringing with it all the pain she’d suppressed. Her arms ached; the open wounds from the lashes, cuts, abrasions, and burns stung. Her body was on fire, a seething mass of agony.

Familiar voices shouted her name, but she couldn’t answer. She sighed. It wouldn’t be long now. The secret panel opened, revealing her dungeon. Part of her was humiliated at having her colleagues see her this way; another part didn’t care. It was over.

“What the hell have they done to her? Is she alive?”

Fingers on her throat checked for her pulse, and she fought to open her eyes. Pain from the brightness of the LED flashlight tore through her head, forcing a groan from her parched throat.

“For God’s sake, get her down and get the paramedics in here. Hang in there, Lilith.”

“Did you get them? Did you get them all?” she asked, her voice a mere whisper, but before he could answer, the blackness swallowed her once more.

About the author:

portfolioPic-20150722Susanne Matthews was born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. She’s always been an avid reader of all types of books, but with a penchant for happily ever after romances. In her imagination, she travelled to foreign lands, past and present, and soared into the future. A retired educator, Susanne spends her time writing and creating adventures for her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.

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

Amazon author page    and    Goodreads author page