SAY WHAT? BEST SELLING AUTHOR CRYSSA BAZOS GRILLS FUNKHAUSER ON SHELL GAME

I’ve known A.B. Funkhauser for many years, and to say that she’s as gonzo as her characters is to get it wrong. Sure, she gravitates to larger than life characters on the page and in the public eye, but she appreciates the contemplative too. Claiming to be an “introverted extrovert” she relies on her characters to do all the heavy lifting, to do the things she’d never dream of doing in real life. Her latest work, SHELL GAME, is no exception. Here, characters stay behind closed doors, preferring to spy on one another through windows under cover of night. Interaction appears limited, but is it really? When they aren’t questioning themselves and the motivations of others, they take cues from a black cat that may or may not have real supernatural abilities. Everything is subjective, including what the omniscient narrator chooses to share when and where.

A.B., let’s talk about SHELL GAME, shall we?

 

 

Cryssa Bazos:

Since your publishing date was announced, you’ve been all over social media. Do you love it, or hate it?

 

A. B. Funkhauser:

I hear writers talking about promotions a lot; how it sparks their creative juices, how it saps their energy, how it calls them out and maybe forces them to be more “in your face” than they would normally like to be. And I agree. But promotion goes hand in glove with writing ‘The Book,’ and so it’s a must. There’s a great deal of competition in the writing world. There’s a lot of competition in anything that’s worthwhile. For me, chatting up SHELL GAME is equal parts excitement and self-interest; exciting for me because I’ve completed another project successfully and delivered it to market; self-interest because who else will know about it if I don’t say so?

 

C.B.:

I also notice you tagging yourself as a multi-genre author. What’s up with that? You turning in your gonzo badge?

 

A.B.:

No! Never. But the characters ultimately set the tone, and the people of SHELL GAME are conniving, dastardly, sympathetic and very often contrite. They can’t help it, really. That’s why they need the cats. My hero Carlos is renowned for his quiet, stolid ability to be where he needs to be, affecting certain outcomes because of it. He’s quite brilliant.

Poonam 2 w Cover for Twitter

At the same time, this piece tilts more in the direction of satire and social commentary in the sense that while the humans are behaving outside of the usual boundaries assigned western society, there is still a moral conscience at play that makes them question their actions. This makes them a little less mendacious than the characters in SCOOTER NATION, for example. They are still capable of doing harm, but this time they feel really bad about it.

 

C.B.:

Where did that come from?

 

A.B.:

An event in real time, actually. I hadn’t intended to write a cat book and I’ve gone on about that on this blog and others. I wanted to tuck into the prequel to HEUER LOST AND FOUND, which currently sits at a tantalizing 89,000 words with no end in sight. (I did figure out the ending half way through SHELL GAME, and if I can pull it off it will be quite diabolical.) But like the opening paragraphs of SHELL GAME, I did receive a snarky letter from Animal Control that specifically mentioned the street I live on. I wasn’t the only person on the street to get it—it was a blind drop—but I did take it very personally. The cat I share with a neighbor had brought so much joy into my life and the lives of my family that the faceless person(s) behind the letter threatening his freedom and my pocketbook just infuriated me. The $5,000 fine for not keeping the kitty inside was either a deterrent or tax grab—popular where I live—and the intrusion could only be answered through a ragin’ fiction that sees the cats win for a change. Of course, I can see both sides to the argument for keeping cats indoors in urban areas, and I’m happy to report that my shared kitty spends far more time indoors. But that’s owing to his age and the natural order of things, not from some crummy letter from a human in an office.

 

C.B.:

And SHELL GAME, like SCOOTER NATION, features characters from many different ethnicities. Is this your response to the current debate on cultural appropriation?

 

A.B.:

Ha! That’s a minefield and I’m not stepping into it until I have all the information. From the gonzo side of the street, my read of the issue is that writers should keep to their own pasture so as to be authentic. If that’s true, then all I can really write about are past middle-aged straight white human females and that would be a shame. It would be boring for me to write, and boring for anyone else to read.

Bronagh Character Reveal

But, research, foreknowledge, personal history and cumulative story-telling must play a big part in any writing project if the characters are to ring true and shine. To know what we’re on about—that’s our job—and that’s pretty much all I can say about this topic until I learn more.

 

C.B.:

So, what’s SHELL GAME about?

 

A.B.:

Oh, that. Lol. Well, I always say that I don’t really know for sure until some reviews come in and I get a few interviews under my belt. The best I can say right now is that it’s about a cat, a community, unwanted change, and the mechanisms employed to cope with this change that result in positive and negative resolutions. Change, I believe, cannot be stopped, but it can be messed with, and with these characters you will see activities that are silly AND life threatening. That’s the gonzo element. But there’s a love element to it as well. And of course, the cats are at the center of things, calling the plays, controlling things, just like they’ve done for millennia.

Mr know it all

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Twitter https://twitter.com/iamfunkhauser

Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/heuerlostandfound

And this website

 

 

BUY LINK AND FREE DAYS:

SHELL GAME COVER 1As a ‘thank you’ to everyone who ever  believed in my crazy plan to quit work and write full time, I’m offering SHELL GAME for FREE for the first three days of it’s release. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! ❤

A. B.

GET IT HERE

IMG_20160411_121457About the Author

Toronto born author A.B. Funkhauser is a funeral director, classic car nut and wildlife enthusiast living in Ontario, Canada. Like most funeral directors, she is governed by a strong sense of altruism fueled by the belief that life chooses us, not we it.

Her debut novel Heuer Lost and Found, released in April 2015, examines the day to day workings of a funeral home and the people who staff it. Winner of the Preditors & Editors Reader’s Poll for Best Horror 2015, and the New Apple EBook Award 2016 for Horror, Heuer Lost and Found is the first installment in Funkhauser’s Unapologetic Lives series. Her sophomore effort, Scooter Nation, released March 11, 2016 through Solstice Publishing. Winner of the New Apple Ebook Award 2016 for Humor, and Winner Best Humor Summer Indie Book Awards 2016, Scooter picks up where Heuer left off, this time with the lens on the funeral home as it falls into the hands of a woeful sybarite.

A devotee of the gonzo style pioneered by the late Hunter S. Thompson, Funkhauser attempts to shine a light on difficult subjects by aid of humorous storytelling. “In gonzo, characters operate without filters, which means they say and do the kinds of things we cannot in an ordered society. Results are often comic, but, hopefully, instructive.”

Funkhauser is currently working on THE HEUER EFFECT, the prequel to HEUER LOST AND FOUND.

 

About the Interviewer

fullsizeoutput_d9Cryssa Bazos is a member of the Romantic Novelist Association, the Historical Novel Society, the Writers’ Community of Durham Region and the Battle of Worcester Society. Her articles and short stories have been featured in various publications, both in Canada and the UK. She is a co-editor and contributor of the English Historical Fiction Authors site and blogs as the 17th Century Enthusiast. Her debut novel, Traitor’s Knot, placed 3rd in Romance for the Ages in 2016 (Ancient/Medieval/Renaissance).

 

Traitors Knot Cover“A thrilling historical adventure expertly told.” – Carol McGrath, bestselling author of The Handfasted Wife

England 1650: Civil War has given way to an uneasy peace in the year since Parliament executed King Charles I.

Royalist officer James Hart refuses to accept the tyranny of the new government, and to raise funds for the restoration of the king’s son, he takes to the road as a highwayman.

Elizabeth Seton has long been shunned for being a traitor’s daughter. In the midst of theamazon best seller new order, she risks her life by sheltering fugitives from Parliament in a garrison town. But her attempts to rebuild her life are threatened, first by her own sense of injustice, then by falling in love with the dashing Hart.

The lovers’ loyalty is tested through war, defeat and separation. James must fight his way back to the woman he loves, while Elizabeth will do anything to save him, even if it means sacrificing herself.

Traitor’s Knot is a sweeping tale of love and conflicted loyalties set against the turmoil of the English Civil War.

GET IT HERE

 

Cryssa’s Links

Amazon Author Page

Twitter

Website

 

UP NEXT:

 

FUNKHAUSER AND THE OMNISCIENT VOICE

 

FREE DAYS! SHELL GAME AVAILABLE NOW

 

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CREATURE WRANGLER K. A. MENG TACKLES FANGS & MISSING PERSONS

Not every vampire or werewolf you meet will set your heart aflutter. K. A. Meng knows this. In the fantastic world she helms, they can be mendacious and menacing. Or are they misunderstood? FINDING KAREN, the second installment in her Superior Species series sheds some light. Welcome K. A.

1.

Your fascination with paranormal mystery took off when you saw your first ghost. Can you tell the readers a bit about that experience? 

 

My dad was a huge influence on anything strange for me. He enjoyed watching sci fi or paranormal shows. I liked to hangout with him and I started to enjoy them too. What really made me dive into paranormal was seeing a ghost.

My sister and I were troublemakers growing up. We are fourteen months apart so our parents got the whole twin terror without having twins. We were messing around in our bedroom, jumping on the top bed of the bunk with our friends. One of them sat down on the edge and I was tried too so I sat down next to her to rest for a moment. We glanced to the side of us and saw an older man standing there. He gave us a stern look, the one adults know how to give when a child is doing something wrong. The man was a ghost. He wasn’t there the next second. We looked at each other to confirm what we say was real. When I saw it on her face, I ran screaming out of the room. She followed behind me, doing the same thing. All but one of our friends followed us to see what freaked us out. The one who stayed behind ended up bouncing off the bed and cracking her head open on radiator.

 

2.

Are you a medium? Have you ever been to one?


I am not a medium. I have been to see Theresa Chaputo and I would go again. It was a great experience.

 

3.

Let’s talk about supernatural creatures. I agree that vampires and werewolves aren’t ideal dates, yet your characters come into contact with them. What is the nature of those relationships?


My main character in Superior Species is Ivory Ames. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with the supernatural creatures once she finds out they exist. They scare her, even though she is attracted to them. The problem for this is that they want her and no one knows why. She does tolerate the gargoyle though. He isn’t as bad as the other guys in her life.

 

4.

Your murder mystery A TOWN OF MURDERERS takes a different direction—the monsters are all human. Are human villains more vile than their fantastical paranormal counterparts?

 

I think that human are worse monsters than their paranormal counterparts. Humans have the capacity to hurt others. We also have the capacity to do the right thing. I hope most people will do a lot more of the second then the first.I can’t read or see the images of acts of cruelty.

In A Town of Murderers, I want the readers to think who are the real monsters. Sometimes the villain isn’t who you think.

 

5.

You’ve worked on a few anthologies as well. Tell us what they’re about and how does a collaborative effort compare to a solitary project?

 

I’ve done several anthologies with my publisher, Solstice Publishing. I want to do a lot more.

The first one is a mystery called, Plots & Schemes Vol 1, published on May 3, 2017. You can find the paperback here: getBook.at/PS1. This features 8 short stories. Mine is The First Scheme, the first book in A Town of Murderers series. This is where I first dreamed up my little town and loved it so much I decided to make it into a series.

The second anthology had to have something to do with the Summer Solstice called, That Summer Day Vol 1, published on June 20, 2017 (the day of the summer solstice). The cover was taken on the summer solstice too. You can find the paperback here: getBook.at/TSD. This features 8 short stories also. Mine is Vampires Didn’t Exist, the prequel to my Superior Species series. I won’t say to much about this one. *winks*

The third one I was lucky to be a part of is a fantasy, Realms of Fantastic Stories Vol 2, published on August 16, 2017. You can find it here: getBook.at/RFS2. This features 7 short stories. Mine is Destination Bermuda. I hope this will be another short story series that follows Alexandra Porter and her adventures into the paranormal.

Project 9 Vol 3 was just released on September 15, 2017. You can find it here: getBook.at/P93. This features 6 sci fi short stories. Mine is Life Subscription, my first stand alone where everyone has to pay monthly to live or they die.

The big difference between doing a solitary project and a collaborative effort is with more people, you have help promoting. I do get a lot of help from my publisher. When you are one you own, its just you and your publisher. They have a lot of other authors to help out too. I promote daily and hoping in a few years to establish myself in the writing world. This month is the anniversary of the first book that was published.

 

6.

What are you working on now?

 

I am working on A Town of Murderers 2 The Second Plan. I am so happy to share it with you. It should be in the editing process soon. I can’t give you a release date yet.

 

7.

Thanks, K. A. Today, you’re promoting the follow up to SUPERIOR SPECIES. Can you introduce it for us?

 

Headshot2.jpgAfter I wrote the first book in the series Superior Species I had to write the second Superior Species Book 2 Finding Karen. This one focused on what Ivory Ames learned about her new town of Los Roshano. I finally got to share my thought that created this series. A lot of “romance fueled” stories have the main character dating the vampire, zombie, or werewolf as their thing and I do like those stories, but I wouldn’t date either of them no matter how good-looking they are. They can kill you. I was ready to begin my second book with this thought. Of course, Los Roshano always throws in a curve ball and it did just that from the first sentence. Poor Ivory.

 

Superior Species Book 2 Finding Karen

Ivory Ames has learned the truth about Los Roshano, New Mexico and the university she attends there, but it isn’t what she expected. Monsters exist. They’ve been running the town in secret to fill their ranks. She vows to keep her friends and herself safe from their evil clutches.

As soon as Ivory makes her pledge, her best friend is missing. The race to find Karen Bakke is on before she is killed or worse.

 

TERRIFYING AND COMPELLING

Superior Species 2-001.jpgI turned on the lights to my dorm room. My whole world shattered. Karen Bakke’s bed was stripped clean. I threw open her closet doors and checked her dresser, but everything she owned was gone.

“Damnit,” I cursed. Tears filled my eyes. I swayed, unable to stand anymore and sank to the thin purple carpet, resting my back against a white wall on her side. I had survived the horror from this morning to find my best friend missing; no, I bet she was taken.

The Models, her kidnappers, were monsters−real ones. They ate the things which went bump in the night. They ran the town of Los Roshano in secret where I attended the university.

Anger surged through me and my body overheated. Gripping my hands at my side, I wanted to strangle any Model with the little energy I had left. Karen would be either turned or mated. I didn’t know which one was worse.

My roommate wasn’t an orphan. The Models wouldn’t take her because their own rules were against it, one of them had informed me. I wasn’t sure if I should believe her words. Taking someone who didn’t have family made sense, though. If no one was searching for them, they were easier to steal, but Karen had a mother. The realization led me to a new question. Since she wasn’t here, where was she?

 

 

GET IT HERE

 

 

About the Author

K. A. Meng lives in North Dakota, in the same town she grew up. Her love for the paranormal started at a young age when she saw her first ghost.

Today, she spends her time writing paranormal romance, fantasy, sci fi, horror and everything in between. When life drags her away from it, she hangs out with her son and friends, goes to movies, watches TV, plays board games, walks her dogs, and reads books. She is actively involved in a writing group and wishes to some day visit Disney World.

 

Other Books by K.A. Meng

 

Superior Species

superior species-001.jpgIvory Ames has caught the attention of four gorgeous guys. At Los Roshano University this isn’t normal, even when all the upperclassmen have perfect physiques, flawless complexions, and hypnotic looks. That’s not even the weirdest part. The town has a strict sunset curfew because of wild animals attacking.

To keep her friends and herself safe, Ivory must figure out the truth behind the town’s mysteries before it’s too late.

 

GET IT HERE

 

 

 

Superior Species Book 0.5 Vampires Didn’t Exist

Vampires didn't exist-001.jpgFun in the sun turns into a nightmare after a murder.

On her first vacation ever, Ivory Ames awakens in the middle of the night to find her best friend missing. She searches the campground and finds Maria lying dead on the beach.

With more questions than answers and the police being uncooperative, Ivory decides to find the truth herself. She enlists the help of Maria’s other best friend, Harmony Lundy. As Harmony and Ivory search for clues, they learn that someone or something is stalking the campers.

 

GET IT HERE

 

A Town of Murderers 1 The First Scheme

The First Scheme-001.jpgOne murder, one plan, two possible outcomes.

The sound of a gunshot pulls Joann Fields from a peaceful sleep into a living nightmare. Her husband David is bleeding from a bullet lodged in his chest. She tries to save him, but she passes out instead.

Joann barely regains consciousness before two detectives arrest her for the murder. She turns to the only man who can help her, reporter Mike Carroll.  With the evidence piling-up against her, can Mike save her from prison or is she part of some elaborate conspiracy?

 

GET IT HERE

 

Links

Website: www.kamengauthor.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KAMengAuthor

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+KAMeng

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kamengauthor/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31651336-k-a-meng

 

FOLLOW THE TOUR

SOMEONE NEW: WRITER BRI VOLINZ STEPS BOLDLY FORWARD

This post is not about me, but I cannot help but share a vital fact: I tried to write many times, many years ago, and could not. I chalked it up to youth and a lack of complaint-worthy and celebratory experiences to deconstruct. There was no use to it. Whatever it was that drove the youthful writer, I did not have it.

Which is why it’s a joy to meet someone in the ‘before thirty category’ laying down thoughts, scenes and stories with an ease I didn’t find until much, much later.

IMG_20151111_143637.jpgBri Volinz and I met by chance through a cat. That’s right, a cat. He appeared one day about three years ago at my back door looking suave and charming with appealing eyes that quickly won me over. My children, of course, wanted to keep him, but I knew he belonged to another. (The bell he wore around his neck was the clue.)

He visited us most days over the summer, and in that time, we named him Carlos (‘Clara’ was first, until we picked him up and turned him over and then — well. lol)

It took more than a few weeks to put together that “Carlos” was actually “Kobe” and that he belonged to Brianna, who lived six doors up from us. Since the day she and I met, we committed to co-parenting this very special cat, while fostering a mutual appreciation of all things writerly.  Not only did our cat tease a new novel out of me (#3), but he ignited — I believe —  a spark in my writer friend that only a true muse can facilitate.

But I’ll let the writer speak for herself.

She is a member of the Writer’s Community of Durham Region and speaks volumes through her keyboard. Though her tastes seem to lean toward shock horror, I believe she is capable of just about anything.

Meet a new writer with a fresh perspective. Hello, Bri!

 

1.

You’re a writer…

bri6Am I? Thank you for the reminder ha ha. I suppose I am a writer, or playing at being one at least. It’s the only passion I’ve ever pursued, and writing really is a labour of love for me, emphasis on the labour. It’s exhausting! It’s like going to the gym: pushing yourself to go is the hardest part, but the payoff from the workout is always worth it. And with writing, I can drink a beer and don’t have to wear pants while I work, which I can’t do at the gym. Trust me.

Ed. — I forgot to mention that she’s a comic too. lol

 

2.

I love that story you wrote about the dating game. What draws you to shock horror?

I actually wrote that one with shock value in mind because I thought it would help me win a contest. (It didn’t). I prefer subtle horror, stuff that’s quiet and lingers. I like horror that lives with you in the back of your mind long after the initial scare.

 

3.

Any sleepless nights because of it?

Unfortunately, no. Nothing I’ve come up with scares me enough, which is too badKobe 1 because I love nightmares. The only thing that keeps me awake at night is my anxiety, which is something I want to explore more in my writing. I’ve got a couple fetus stories (not stories about a fetus, but stories in the early development stages, just to clarify) about my fears blown up, but nothing concrete.

 

4.

Tell the readers how we met.

Through a mutual cat. When Kobe moved in with my parents he expanded his territory and had little care for peoples’ personal property. I remember you saying how one day he came to your door and marched himself up to your bedroom where he slept for hours like he owned the place. Over the years, Kobe’s constant back and forth between our houses brought us together; we’ve been co-parenting ever since.

 

5.

The arrangement with Kobe is, in my view, very modern and insightful. Do you think he knew all along that we’d make him a star?

Absolutely. I think he sought us out. Cats have much better sight than us humans and I think that goes for their foresight too. I bet he pissed off the neighbours on purpose so that letter from the city would reach you and inspire Shell Game.

Ed. — We were ready to pack him off to author Rachael Stapleton’s country abode. That’s how worried we were about losing him to THE MAN. :O

 

6.

Which brings me to that fab FOREWARD you wrote for the book. It’s beautiful. Have you ever tried literary fiction?

No, but I want to go there. I recently finished Karen Russell’s collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove and realized that’s the kind of writing I want to be making. Where the stories are strange, but each word is deliberately chosen and every other sentence makes you stop and say “Wow!” I don’t want to lose the horror element, because it’s what interests me, and I think there’s quite a bit of movement within the genre. But careful crafting is just as important. I want to coexist in both worlds.

Ed. — Then you just have to meet horror poet A. F. Stewart. She boggles!

 

7.

May I reprint the foreward here? (Dying to share!)

Please! I’ll take all the free exposure I can get!

 

Foreword by Bri Volinz

 

I’ve always been a “cat person.” Their aloof, self-sufficient nature matches my own, and I enjoy a good meow. As a child, I would spend hours spooning the family cat in some quiet corner of the house, whispering secrets and insecurities into his twitching ear, as if he were a best friend or a diary. Skin to fur, heart to heart. We had other pets, but it was the cat I sought out for this ritual: something in his jewel eyes told me he was really listening.

My mother once told me that on Christmas Eve the cats could speak. Though I never witnessed these conversations, I did not doubt their reality; the cats were capable of magic because they were cats. It seemed silly not to believe.

My belief was strengthened when I met Kobe. Even as I wrote these words he appeared11125391_496245340522473_5644758440502187682_o (1).jpg at the kitchen door, as if summoned by my thoughts of him. We started as roommates in a windowless basement apartment, where Kobe focused his energy on squeezing into holes in the drywall or escaping out the side door between the legs of the pizza man. Without a word, he was sending me a message: Let me go.

We moved Kobe into the suburbs, to my family home. There, his territory grew like the muscles beneath his fur, and he transformed from house cat to panther, watching over the sleeping streets and feasting on the season’s rabbits. The neighbours quickly got to know him, and he needed no collar to bare his identity (mostly because there wasn’t a collar he couldn’t slip). A graceful, savvy creature with a mind as sharp as his claws and a love for human attention made him the talk of the neighbourhood. Our own local celebrity, if you will.

Kobe 5Kobe met A.B. before I did, though her home is closer than our mailbox. A writer who, at the time, did not consider herself a cat lover, she fell hard for the feline (tall, dark, and handsome works for cats too). Kobe changed both of our lives, inspiring Funkhauser’s writing, and gifting me a mentor and dear friend.

 

Kobe haunts our neighbourhood like a friendly ghost, lingering long enough to be11057719_545573888922951_730878223886852973_o missed. He shows up when he is least expected, but most needed, providing comfort in the touch of his fur and a silence that says: Lay it all on me. At times Kobe is stingy with his affection, but he is just guarding his truth, keeping we humans guessing. We must remember that a cat’s trust has to be earned, like a blue ribbon to be pinned on the wall.

Shell Game was born because of a cat. The muscular, onyx beast who is undeniably something more. He will keep you waiting longer than the guy who hasn’t called, but love you for all of his nine lives. Kobe, or “Carlos the Wonder Cat ,” as you’ll come to know him, is as unique and complex as any human character you’ll read. He is the magic. He is our friend.

 

Bri Volinz

June 27, 2017

Pickering, Ontario

Canada

 

Ed. — Wow! TYSM. 😀

 

8.

What are you working on right now?

I have a few projects on the go, which is my downfall. I jump off so many different ideasbri1 and rarely have the focus to finish anything. One story I’m playing with revolves around two sisters, autism, guilt, and a closet monster. I’m also working out the logistics for a small webcomic about a slime princess and her wannabe Prince Charming, all done in MS Paint. I’m eager to see if either project reaches an ending.

 

9.

Have I forgotten anything?

Hmmm let’s see. I’ve got an online portfolio in the works, but until it’s up, I’m most active on Instagram @brivolinz. It’s the only social media platform I can competently use.

 

Also I have to thank you A.B. (and Kobe) for letting me tag along on this fantastic adventure. I couldn’t ask for better mentors or friends.

My pleasure, Bri. One thing I’ve learned from the writing journey is that writerly folk are generous. We talk, promote and share our stuff. Good things come from this.

Write on, darlin’ !

 

10.

Bri brought along a sample from one of her WIPs. As usual, it is mysterious, clothed with that creepy foreboding she’s so good at.

 

Excerpt from an unnamed wip

 

When the third child within ten miles of town disappeared, your mother insisted the summer be spent indoors. Not behind her doors, maybe, but someone’s.

“Mrs. Atwater is old, she’ll appreciate the help.”

“You mean Mrs. Gnatwater,” you mumble heading down the walk; everybody knows her place is crawling.

You rake your hand across the chipped tawny siding of Number 18, and when you depress the doorbell your finger is CheeZee orange and leaves a neon fingerprint. At your feet, a slop of coffee grounds shimmers, only to be scalped by the metal door frame as it swings open. A slime trail the colour of blackberries smiles up at you from the bungalow’s porch.

“Watch the ants,” says Mrs. Atwater’s voice.

Inside the place is swollen with piles, like a mouth full of sores.

Mounds of clothing stalagmite the floorboards. An overgrown mass of dish towels has split open, and from its core slinks a mildewey stench. Smudgy limbs of naked baby dolls climb up from behind a couch, just segments of body parts visible, like those pictures of aborted foetuses they make everyone look at in Science B.

“Where do I start?” Dust tints your face grey. A gob of chewed gum grows like fungus from the under lip of the kitchen counter, some of the fleshy wads still slick with spit.

Mrs. Atwater cricks her shoulders into a shrug and disappears behind a mountain range of bedding.

Alone, you let the sacred Eenie Meenie Miney Mo guide you to a cluster of shoes near the pantry, where you spend the next hour picking through crusted laces and light-up heels.

You pretend not to recognize the names from the milk cartons scrawled in faded marker on three of the soles.

Ed. – Yikes!

 

Thanks for stopping by, Bri, and good luck in all your writing endeavors. Keep us up-to-date!

–ABF

 

Help a young writer grow her following. Find Bri Volinz here!

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AUTHOR! AUTHOR! THE JOYS AND CHALLENGES OF EDITING

My third novel is ‘done,’ but not really, because after I typed “THE END,” I went right back to the beginning and started editing. Was that the right thing to do, or should I have waited a week or two? Cooled off? Got some distance? I put the question to my friend, the writing genius and all-around great person Lexi Miles. Lexi knows of what she speaks. She writes, she blogs, she promotes, all with an energy that I wish she’d bottle and sell.

Lexi not only weighed in on matters of editing, but she inspired an idea: Why not do a Q & A double-header? Two writers. Two edits. Plenty of questions…and selfies too!

Voila!

1.

When you sit down to edit, how do you begin your process?

green shirt elfLexi Miles: The first thing that I do is to make sure that I am editing in a space that is free of distractions. My preference is for it to be quiet when I settle in to edit. After that, like a beta reader, I just read through it looking for the big issues. I try to find anything that jumps out at me: errors (ex: spelling, etc.), holes in plotting, loose ends, my personal favorite all names are correct (Giggles. I have swapped a few characters a time or two.), and all other major issues. In the first sweep, I also look for points that may need clarification and enhance points to strengthen the outcome of events in later chapters.

2017A.B. Funkhauser: My mind must be absolutely clear, which means I can’t have anything out there that’s been left undone. So, if the lawn needs raking, I rake it. If the kids need a hand with a big study project, I’m there. When all’s done, it’s me and the book, and that’s the way it pretty much is until it’s done! 😀

2.

What is one of the most rewarding and joyful aspects of editing?

bagelAB: My writing gets better with each outing, and that comes from doing, doing, doing. That’s what I see in the editing. There are fewer missteps and errors, and when I do find something, it’s glaring. No second-guessing because I’ve been there before. Best of all, I’m getting a better handle on the fixes. It took three books, but I can finally ‘see’ the problems fast and, even faster, get them fixed because I know how. That’s satisfaction in editing.

hair up white tank carLM: One aspect that I find to be the most rewarding is that I have a chance to sit down and read what I have written. I love being able to enjoy it as a reader.

3.

What are some of the challenging aspects of editing?

head rocked upstairsLM: It can be tedious. In addition to that, between us, I am someone that likes to deliver a high standard of excellence in anything that I do. So, one of the hardest realities for me to accept is that no matter how many times or how many eyes are upon the novel there are going to be a few things that slip through. It is just the process of publishing a novel.

bimmerAB: First and foremost, you have got to be well-rested when tackling this. If three great days are followed by an hour or two of sheer grind, then something’s up. It usually means my attitude is skewed either because I’m tired or my mind is wrapped up in something else. When the grind hits, I walk away for a few hours or days and then go back with fresh eyes. Makes a huge difference.

4.

Have you over-edited a part of your novel and it turned into a disaster? If so, how did you go about fixing it?

CampNaNoWriMo2016AB: Ha! See above. In the beginning, yes. This was mostly because I didn’t know how to spot an indulgence, and when I did, didn’t have the heart to ‘kill my darling.’ This improved thanks to the hashtag games on Twitter. There’s nothing more exhilarating than taking an overwrought beauty, chopping it down to 140 characters, and then finding that it’s…BETTER!

But now as then, I always save the full MS at the end of each day as insurance. That way, nothing’s lost and anything can be restored.

impish smile insideLM: (Laughs) Oh yes. I have done this. Unfortunately, the first time that I did it I completely messed it up. I ended up hating that part so much that I removed it and had to try my best to rewrite the original from memory. It was such a heartbreaking experience. The process taught me a few new tricks. So what I have learned is to edit on a copy of the book and not the original. That way, if I tinker too much with a certain part, I can copy that section from the original and begin again. Adding to that, I limit the size of my edit. I will not write more than a certain amount of words. I find this minimization restricts me from altering the original idea beyond what I loved about it as well as makes me construct my words in a way in which I have to make my words concise, powerful, and count. It helps me to keep focused and continue to drive the story forward at a great pace.

5.

Can you please share what techniques you find helpful to identify or catch issues in your work? (ex: know favorite words that get overused, favorite words to misspell or misuse, other issues that you’ve spotted that you now look for, any helpful tips that are you go-to, etc.)

looking over sunglassesLM: For me, there are several things. The first, I know my overused words or favorite to misuse. I look for them. The second, I use a checklist similar to the helpful links included at the end. Another, I read out loud. It helps me to catch things that I might miss in my head. And finally, the best tips that I can offer you is to make notes about what past editors/betas have caught and always look for new editing tips resources that can help you.

CanadaAB: Scene for scene, I will read each one aloud after an edit session to listen for the clunkers that can so easily be missed in quiet reading. Then I move on to the next. The next day, I go back and reread the previous day’s work before beginning new sections. I always find more to trim!

Reading aloud also helps me identify my favorite repeaters: ‘at once’ ‘surely not’ ‘outrageous’. When I hear them, I make a note of them and then do a universal search at the end to prune them out.

My very first manuscript years ago had over 200 cuss words. Lol. I was able to cut them to 5 very essential oaths. I was proud of that!

Dropped words are a constant. “Do you have cat?” instead of “Do you have a cat?” I’m always on the lookout for dropped words. Hyphens and em/en dashes are also a bane. I either over-use them, or don’t use them enough. I’m working on this too. Lol.

6.

In what ways have you improved your editing? (Time efficiency, Using Deadlines, Sticking to Specific Steps, Checklist, Betas, other, etc.)

cat christmasAB: Beta readers are crucial, but to help them out, I work very hard to deliver the cleanest possible draft I can. I also parse out assignments so that no one is overwhelmed. Some betas look for the aforementioned dropped words, repeaters and spelling, while others check for continuity, credulity and pacing.

I’ve also learned that editing, like novel writing, cannot be done in a week. It’s a slow, lengthy process if you want to get it right. I’ve worked hard to make a friend of it. Atmosphere, background music and regular breaks help, along with very understanding family members that don’t mind pizza three times a week. lol

pole paint .jpgLM: I stick to specific steps on my sweeps (editing passes) and follow them in order. To give you more insight as to what I am referring to, I start edits as I am writing the novel. I edit at the end of each chapter. Then on the first read through of the full length written novel, I don’t attempt to edit the numerous issues all at once. I address the sizable/noticeable issues then progress to the more intricate or detailed issues. Following that, I move to my next steps to address grammar, pace, dropped [missing] words, punctuation variation, vocabulary enhancement, and so on.

I also use a loose deadline process (to account for creativity and details in editing) for editing chapters to help my time efficiency. If not, I may never put a book out. (Giggles.) I found that I work great with deadlines; accordingly, they keep me focused.

In addition to those elements, Betas [for clarification and several other critical elements of editing] and Checklist have improved my editing in spades!

7.

What is something that you stay away from while editing?

tight shot grayLM: Although I use deadlines, I do not rush. I STAY AWAY FROM RUSHING and take my time. Like a painter, a chef, or any other creative soul, take the time to create a work of art.

 

 

 

12747980_583865931760413_6710413406243198729_o (1)AB: My other novels! I’ll read the news before I go back to something already done. It would confuse me.

8.

How many passes do you take through the manuscript?

At the beachAB: Usually three passes and then another two after the betas weigh in.

 

 

pole paintLM: Honestly, as many as it takes. I usually find that number to be about four times through (not including my daily end of chapter edits as I write).

9.

When is the best time for you personally to do edits? (by chapter, start of day, completed manuscript, all of the above, other, etc.)

ponytail pinkLM: [While writing] I perform edits at the start of each day as a great help to get back into the groove. [Once the book is written] I do my editing at the top of my day or in a moment where it is quiet with minimal interruptions. As far as frequency, I do edits at all points of the novel construction process. As I progress, the focus of the editing will evolve as needed. I think it is critical to do edits at the end of each chapter, an in-depth scrubbing at the completion of the fully written manuscript, and any other edits that the book requires to make it polished and sparkle with life! Again, I edit at all points so that the book, at the completion, is the book I sat down to write!

doggie doggieAB: I prefer the morning, although multiple competing schedules don’t always allow for this. I treat editing the way I do my writing: if I work at it a little bit each day, I’ll get it done…and I do!

10.

When editing, do you edit for a set amount of time, set daily chapter goals, or do you go until you are tired, etc.?

EAR CUFFAB: I leave it to my moods, though I have certain deadlines in mind. There is usually a contest deadline lurking ahead that drives me to finish. I also like to have the book ready for publication in advance of NaNoWriMo so that I’m free and clear to begin the next novel.

 

rustic house backdropLM: I set a certain amount of time daily, and I also have a daily chapter goal. I set both of those so that I am completely fresh when I am editing. If I finish the daily chapter or the allotted time passes, I will call it. I do not go over the time I have blocked out in my schedule to avoid missing anything.

11.

What are a few editing resources that you use?

smiling pinkLM: I like to utilize a checklist, editing programs, Beta Readers, Professional Editors, thesauruses, grammar websites, Google, grammar reference texts/books, Youtube, my dusty college educated brain (Giggles), blogs, other Authors, and the list continues. (That is code for see below for more resources.)

 

 

Fall ColorsAB: I constantly refer to the rules of punctuation, which remain fixed in spite of conventional use changes. e.g. the ‘war’ on the semi-colon. The more I blog, the more I ‘unlearn’ the rules, so when it comes time to dig into a 60, 70 or 80K manuscript, I study up. Always, I ask: Oxford comma, or not?

Lexi’s Awesome Editing Resource List*

*We are not affiliated with these sites in any way. The links are helpful for editing.

Jerry Jenkins (21 things Checklist)

http://www.jerryjenkins.com/self-editing/

Creative Penn (Editing Questions Answered by Professional Editor/Author Jen Blood)

http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2014/08/11/editing-writing-craft-tips/

Grammar Girl (Editing Checklist)

http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/grammar-girls-editing-checklist

Mike Nappa (4 steps to Edit Book)

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/how-to-edit-your-book-in-4-steps

25 Tips for Tightening your Copy

http://thewritelife.com/edit-your-copy

10 Simple Ways To Edit Your Books

https://thewritelife.com/self-editing-basics

KM Edits (Not for Blog)

http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/how-i-self-edit-my-novels-15-steps-from/#

12.

A lot of us jump into edits ‘boots first’ right after typing ‘THE END.’ What are the advantages/disadvantages of moving fast?

fat man bluesAB: The advantage for me is that I’m super keen. The pistons are firing and I know exactly where all the characters are and what motivates them. This makes inconsistencies a lot easier to spot. The disadvantage is that I’m too close to the work, and so I’m more apt to miss dropped words, and issues of clarity. Stepping away from ‘THE END’ strips a lot of that away. Distance really draws out what could be clearer or what scenes really don’t need to be there at all.

tight shot grayLM: The advantage to jumping right back in is that the story is in the forefront of your mind. The disadvantage is that your eyes aren’t so fresh and you tend to miss issues/mistakes that you will most likely catch when you have stepped away from a project. That is code for I tend to favor NOT jumping right back in. My golden rule is to step away from the full-length written novel for a bare minimum of two weeks before I return to it for the first full book edit pass. That way I can see it fresh as if I am reading it for the first time.

13.

The publishing world is evolving as never before. Do you agree/disagree with the current trend toward ‘sensitivity’ editing in the modern age?

upstairs sunglassesLM: First let me say some people are vile. And you have to write them accordingly. There is no sensitive way around that. If the story’s essence is rooted in that fact, has a purpose for writing a character a certain way, or a mirroring element is there to strengthen the storytelling. That is the story that must be told.

Now, having said that, as far as my writing in general, I tend to write with a certain level of ‘sensitivity’ anyway with respect for people being people. I don’t buy into people being different. Long before I studied the discipline of Cultural Anthropology[Human Behavioral Studies], I felt, which was confirmed by my studies, that we are all the same at our core. What I am saying is, my writing is written in a way so that anyone can sit down, read the books, and with minimal effort be able to see themselves or elements of themselves inside of the story. The hope is that anyone can connect to it. So, I agree with sensitivity editing because it is writing a story free of stereotyping. To me, that is an enjoyable read. Unlike some may argue, I don’t think it dilutes a story, but quite the opposite. I think that it enriches it and tells a better story. It is a story that is closer to life. As a romance writer, I am not a fan of the girl looking for someone to rescue them. Rather, I write from the unique perspective in the romance genre of a girl looking to share a new chapter of her life with the love of her life as they face realistic challenges. Also, I don’t write a man that can’t access his emotions. Those stories, in my opinion, also are the pits [weak writing]. Unless of course, there is a quality backstory there and there is a purpose [not an overused idea]. I think not writing with the crutches of false ideas gives an author the chance to step up their writing and enhance what they write with depth/substance that everyone can say huh, that’s an important challenge I am facing, and am benefiting as I read this material. I think it forces new dimensions and robust layering. You don’t fall back on comfortable elements of the past but are called to create new dimensions in a written work. You are forced to dive a bit deeper and to peel back the layers of emotion that the other method of storytelling glosses over or allows the reader to remain at a safe distance. That is limitless and something thrilling for the mind to savor, chew on, digest, and evolve to a new level of awareness. I love that!

finishing heuerAB: I think it depends on genre, non-fiction in particular. In non-fiction, as in journalism, balance is critical to accuracy. Information is conveyed in a manner that should allow readers to debate and then draw their own conclusions. Whereas in fiction, art, character and mood are apt to take the front seat to big-time tells and balance. Villains are villains because they are nasty. They say and do things outside of what the reader finds acceptable in law and culture, which is precisely the point. The insensitivity and cruelty we see in certain characters drive the action driving the protagonist to the big fix (if a ‘happy ending’ is what you’re going for). I don’t see how sensitivity editing would make it better.

14.

Which brings us to the subject of self-censorship. ‎ To what degree is editing for the market beneficial?

first bookAB: There are so many guidelines out there geared to writing success. Whether these guidelines lead to ‘self-censorship’ or are an invaluable metric to publishing success is between writers and their agents/publishers. I like to think that the moment I start tempering my words is also the moment where I need to take a break. I write fiction and I write morally challenged characters, so I have to take care not to make them too nice. 😀

yellow sunglasses smileLM: I think that as long as the true essence of the story is not altered then editing for the market is extremely beneficial. I feel this way because due to the editing the work falls into a clearer defined market. As a result, a larger number of people will have access to as well as have an opportunity to connect with the book’s material. Without that mild/targeted editing, readers might not have had the chance to meet up with the story.

15.

Self-publishing can cut out entire layers including ‘professional’ editing. Does this lend to greater artistic freedom, or heart-wrenching do-overs after the first run?

hair up white tank carLM: I have taken part in both styles of publishing. Despite my style of publishing, I ALWAYS utilize a professional editor as well as a professional editing program. I do not self-edit alone; however, over time I have learned from personal as well as other professionally conversational/documented resources outside of myself, even with the most skilled eyes professionally editing your book every book will have the occasional typo. As a writer, as I stated previously, you have to understand that some typos never get caught. Even the most experienced, well-known, or traditionally published authors release new editions with modified content. So, to answer the question above, any time you have to make a detailed alteration to a written work it can be heart-wrenching as well as tedious. That’s my way of saying it is not fun no matter what style of publishing.

Now to address the portion of the question about creative freedom when Indie Publishing versus Traditionally Publishing. I’d have to say for the most part it is close to the same, but in some ways, it is more restrictive to traditionally publish. I will briefly elaborate. There are some cases when you may want to write something that you have experienced within your life, but a publisher may deem it too harsh of a depiction, and the content may be too intense for the publisher’s audience. Another example of a restriction of freedom with a publisher may be a descriptive word while voicing something within a conversation. In very specific cases, saying that someone whispered something versus whimpered would shift the book from mainstream romance to erotic. Sometimes that can diminish the intensity of a moment.

Closing out what I am saying here is, to maintain your creative voice while working with an editor or publishing house it is important to find the right one. I am fortunate on both fronts my editors and publisher respects my voice, and they give me the final say. I feel the story you get when picking up my novel is the one I wanted to tell or at least very close to it.

floridaAB: Self-publishing, like the writing journey, is not necessarily something done in a vacuum. As writers, we have access to all kinds of writing services staffed by accredited professionals who can make our books better. The decision to use these services are personal ones governed by many things; craft uncertainty and budget are two. I’m lucky in that I belong to a highly-accomplished writing group that strives to excel. I’ve learned a great deal from them while keeping the creative drive alive. I think I try new things on in writing to see how they’ll react. Their critiques, 9 times out of 10, have proven correct.

16.

Speaking of editing, which books have your attention at the moment and when will you be sharing them with everyone? Care to give us a peek at the covers (or at the most recent book you have released)?

Cat MommyAB:  I’m hoping to get SHELL GAME out there in the next couple of months or so (depending on how the editing goes!). I’m really excited about this one in that it’s a departure from the first two novels. Rather than anchor the piece in a funeral home, I decided to take it outside into a fictionalized neighborhood that isn’t everything that it appears to be. As the title implies, everyone concerned plays a kind of SHELL GAME with neighbors, colleagues and even family members.

The thing I love most about this one is that the main protagonist is a tabby cat with a lot of insight. By being present, he makes things happen for good and for ill. There is still plenty of gonzo and revenge of the type readers have come to expect from HEUER LOST AND FOUND and SCOOTER NATION, but there are more insights, bigger laughs with a dollop of darkness on the side. i.e. One of the central questions is: What is that sausage really made of? 😉

A cat’s-eye view of the human soap opera

coverCarlos the Wonder Cat lives free, traveling from house to house in a quiet suburban neighborhood. Known by everyone, his idyllic existence is threatened when a snarky letter from animal control threatens to punish kitty owners who fail to keep their pets indoors. The $5,000 fine / loss of kitty to THE MAN is draconian and mean, but before Team Carlos can take steps, he is kidnapped by a feline fetishist sex cult obsessed with the films of eccentric Pilsen Güdderammerüng. Stakes are high. Even if Carlos escapes their clutches, can he ever go home?

https://abfunkhauser.com/wip-shell-game/

 

And Lexi?

impish smile insideLM: There are three that are in the forefront.

The first is WILDFIRE (coming May 2017), hybrid poetry collection with a short bonus romance accompaniment SOME LIKE IT HOT. SOME LIKE IT HOT is a firehouse romance about an unexpected night of events for Bella and Lt. Xander Garten that changes everything.

The second is a romance about a psychiatrist, Lila, who goes on vacation in Vegas and runs into a sexy familiar face, Clark, she really should not become romantically involved with entitled OUR SECRET (coming Summer 2017).

And finally, PRIVATE LESSONS (coming Summer 2017). A romance-suspense about a recently divorced professional woman, Ryan, who gets much-needed lessons in self-defense and love from her alarmingly sexy private instructor Jimmy.

My most recent release is The Order of Moonlight. A vampire love story about a young woman, Clair, and a mysterious stranger G that invites her to a masquerade ball as well as into his magical world. Is Clair ready for all she will learn about his world?

 

The Order of Moonlight

cover Order of the Moonlight - CopyClair De Lune a young woman, who works at a small town café in the middle of nowhere, likes to live her life off of the radar.  One afternoon that all changes when a wildly handsome mysterious suit wearing gentleman walks into her café.  Intrigued to know more about the gorgeous enigmatic stranger, when he extends an invite to the masquerade ball later that night, she decides to meet him.  Soon Clair finds that there just might be more to him than meets the human eye.  Is Clair ready to step into his magical world of passion?

 

See the Trailer

 

Get it Here:  

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MXH3QDL )

Coming Soon

Private Lessons

aweb privatelessons - CopyRyan DeVain, a travel agent, gets tricked into taking much needed self-defense classes by her best friend Piper.  She is apprehensive, even given the looming threat of her past, until she meets the ultra-sexy brown haired instructor Jimmy Jalin.  Will there be sexy benefits included with his training?

Our Secret

cover our secret - CopyLila, a psychiatrist, hops on a plane to Vegas with her recently divorced best friend. They have a fun girls’ night out, but when Lila retires to her room she can’t sleep. Instead she has the same haunting thoughts that keep her up every night. Knowing that sleep is not going to happen that night, she goes out on a walk to clear her head. While out, she encounters the every so sexy Clark who just so happens to be off-limits because he’s a client of hers. Will she be able to deny what she feels for him or will they keep Vegas their little secret?

Wildfire Poetry Collection

cover wildfire - CopyLove in many ways is a wildfire that goes nuts within the heart. The poetry within this romantic collection gets the pulse racing and the heart fluttering. If you are in love, have been in love, or dream to be in love this sweet and sexy collection is for you. Fall in love with Wildfire and you’ll be happy that you did!

 

Some Like It Hot (Bonus Story In Wildfire)

Bella, a computer tech, just so happens to love that Fire House 34 is one of her assignments. It has everything to do with the fact that she gets to see the ever so sexy Lt. Xander Garten daily. But what’s not to like about him; he’s a tall, muscular, and madly heroic firefighter. No wonder Bella has developed an attraction to him. One day after work, Bella’s roommate Janine convinces her to go out for a much needed girls’ night. When Bella’s evening takes a turn for the worst, will a chance meeting with Xander heat things up between them and end up making it the best night of her life?

 

Ed. – Wow! You’ve got a busy summer ahead! Congrats!!!! ❤

17.

Writing the book is a great achievement. Editing it well, even more so. Do you agree?

looking over sunglassesLM: I am going to keep this answer simple, YES!

 

 

 

 

funky meAB: Yes, yes, and yes. Here’s my golden rule:

DON’T RUSH IT! You spend months or years putting something together that has meaning. Rushing the edits doesn’t serve it. Read it, say it, LISTEN to it. Spelling and grammar usage are as important as continuity, credulity and pacing. Get it right and you’ll love it forever. Your readers will too!

 

Thank you for stopping in to share a moment with A.B. Funkhauser and Lexi Miles. We hope that you enjoyed what we had to share. Feel free to drop a friendly comment below with your thoughts and other editing tips that have helped you.

Keep laughing. Keep smiling. Keep writing.

xo

About the Authors

A.B. Funkhauser

author 2017Toronto born author A.B. Funkhauser is a funeral director, classic car nut and wildlife enthusiast living in Ontario, Canada. Like most funeral directors, she is governed by a strong sense of altruism fueled by the belief that life chooses us, not we it.

Her debut novel Heuer Lost and Found, released in April 2015, examines the day to day workings of a funeral home and the people who staff it. Winner of the Preditors & Editors Reader’s Poll for Best Horror 2015, and the New Apple EBook Award 2016 for Horror, Heuer Lost and Found is the first installment in Funkhauser’s Unapologetic Lives series. Her sophomore effort, Scooter Nation, released March 11, 2016 through Solstice Publishing. Winner of the New Apple Ebook Award 2016 for Humor, and Winner Best Humor Summer Indie Book Awards 2016, Metamorph Publishing, Scooter picks up where Heuer left off, this time with the lens on the funeral home as it falls into the hands of a woeful sybarite.

A devotee of the gonzo style pioneered by the late Hunter S. Thompson, Funkhauser attempts to shine a light on difficult subjects by aid of humorous storytelling. “In gonzo, characters operate without filters which means they say and do the kinds of things we cannot in an ordered society. Results are often comic but, hopefully, instructive.”

Funkhauser is currently editing SHELL GAME, a psycho-social cat dramady with death and laughs.

Lexi Miles

author pic black and whiteLexi is currently living in California, has one sister named Cat, and is a proud pup mom of 2 mischievous Yorkies. Tropical warm spots and out of the way ranches are Lexi’s favorite escapes. Lexi loves to giggle. She’s a huge fan of positivity, and she is delighted when she can help someone else smile. Lexi loves a good Netflix binge. She also enjoys music (all genres), baseball, bubble baths, cooking, and long walks on the treadmill (aka working out). As far as writing, she fell in love with it from when she was a kid, and she still finds that she falls more in love with it every day. Lexi is growing a cult following for both her poetry and romance novels and believes that love—all forms—is the most precious gift that we are given in life. She is thrilled to pen romance, and all of that comes with it on paper! To find out more about Lexi, please go to www.LexiMilesAuthor.com!

Contact:

Lexi’s Links

Website: www.leximilesauthor.com

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lexi-Miles/e/B0196OSLBU

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bVg6xj

Email: leximiles.author@gmail.com

Lexi Rom Readers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1746560782284851

Twitter: www.twitter.com/leximilesbooks

Facebook: www.facebook.com/LexiMilesAuthor

 

A.B.’s Links

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

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

Walmart:  http://www.walmart.com/ip/Scooter-Nation/53281677

Website: www.abfunkhauser.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamfunkhauser

Facebook: www.facebook.com/heuerlostandfound

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/funkhausera/

YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0Ztg_M3NvIJV4hDzyXdf9g

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

Publisher: http://solsticepublishing.com/

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

FAQ’s: https://abfunkhauser.com/faqs/

HOPE THOMPSON ON HER DEBUT NOVEL & THE NOIR THAT DRIVES HER

Don’t you just love those moments when you hear written work read aloud by the authors themselves and everything just clicks? It happened to me not long ago at Noir at the Bar–Toronto, where a funky group of criminally-minded writers and readers gathered over snacks and drinkies to hear the latest from artists north and south of the border.

Imagine my joy at finding a Toronto-based novelist, filmmaker and playwright–that’s P-L-A-Y-W-R-I-G-H-T–at a nearby table prepping a selection from her debut novel. Poised, polished, personable, Hope Thompson calmed my fear of performing for the first time in front of this august group and then went on to WOW! me with HER words…

…and her resume.

This woman’s done a lot.

And she’s super cool too.

HELLO, Hope!

 

 

1.

I have the greatest respect for live performance. As a playwright, do you physically walk-through your scenes as you compose, or do you leave that to the actors to work out?

 

Yes, there is nothing like a live performance, which is one of the reasons I love working 5_Stiff1.jpgin theatre so much. To answer your question, I don’t so much “walk through” the scenes as “talk through” them—and that makes it a bit awkward to write in public because I need to say the lines out loud and in the voice of the character—and with all their gestures. My strategy is that if I can act out the scene and it feels right to me then it hopefully will work for the actors, too.

 

2.

You have written a number of plays, eight of which have been produced for the stage. To what extent were you a part of the collaborative effort? Care to share an anecdote?

 

1_lovecrimes-21.jpgIn a lot of my theatrical experience, I’ve been producing as well as writing, and because of that, I’ve been a part of everything—from casting, to hiring crew, running props around—even onstage in the darkness helping with the set pieces between scenes. But yes, I like to be as much a part of the production as possible. Some playwrights do not attend rehearsals but I like to be there to watch the play come alive, to follow the director’s work with the actors and to talk out issues that arise, changes to the text, etc., that come up during rehearsal. In my last production in Toronto, I got sick and couldn’t attend any more than the first few rehearsals. I had the feeling the cast and director were actually happier without me there; they could make their own line changes. But if I’m allowed to be, I like to be a part of the entire process. Hearing your own words come alive on stage is such a rare and thrilling experience that I don’t like to miss anything. I even attend every performance.

 

3.

For Torontonians, it is virtually impossible not to know about Buddies in Bad Times. For our international readers, can you describe the theatre, its history, and successes?

 

Fear and desire poster.png

Sure! Buddies in Bad Times Theatre is North America’s—and quite possibly the world’s—oldest and largest queer theatre. Sky Gilbert was one of the founders back in 1978 and in the role of Artistic Director, he was the driving force behind the theatre for its first 18 years. In terms of successes, so many of Canada’s greatest theatrical talents have gotten their start there—from Ann Marie MacDonald, Gavin Crawford, Diane Flacks to Daniel MacIvor, Kawa Ada and Brad Fraser, just to name a few. Buddies is also home to the Rhubarb Festival of New Work, which was where my first play, GREEN, was produced. And by the way, “rhubarb”, refers to the word actors say, silently, when they are on stage but in the background—and pretending to have a conversation.

 

4.

And you write for the screen too. Was this an organic segue from live performance?

 

It was actually the other way around. I started writing short film scripts and directing and producing them. When I was living in Pittsburgh for a few years, I wrote a short film script and sent it to a friend in Toronto to get her thoughts on it. She decided it would make a better play than film as all the action took place in one room. This was GREEN – a parlour room comedy with a criminal twist. She was also working at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and suggested I enter the script into the Rhubarb festival. A few months later, the play was produced. That was back in 2004. I loved the experience and my writing career took a turn towards theatre from that point forward.

 

5.

You’ve lived and worked in a few of places. What stokes your creative drive? Is it physical space?

 

In terms of physical space, I write mostly in libraries and at the Toronto Writers Centre. It can be hard to carve out time to work but I have a pretty good schedule right now. Once I am in the chair and writing I can get lost in it. And that’s when the creative drive is really firing. Another thing to stoke it is deadlines. They really help!

 

6.

Playwrite? Or playwright? I must know.

 

I believe it’s playwright, and that’s the spelling I prefer. It feels essential and hardworking, like millwright.

Ed. – Makes sense to me! 😀

 

7.

Tell me about The Blonde, your queer noir WIP?

 

6 reliant.pngThe Blonde is a queer crime story set in 1984 Toronto and it introduces lesbian private detective, Sidney Lake. This is her first murder case and the victim is a beautiful blonde who Sid just happens to be in love with. In this novel I am trying to invoke both a Chandleresque and pulpy noir quality to the story.

 

8.

Do blondes get killed more than brunettes? Why / Why not?

 

Well, they have more fun. Maybe there’s a price? There’s something very retro about calling someone a “blonde” and I wanted Lake, my heroine, to be able to do that, hence the pulpy feel.

Ed. – I think I’ll leave the peroxide bottle in the cupboard. lol.

 

9.

Your noir inspirations go way back to the ‘40s and ‘50s. Can you describe these for our readers and explain how you make them fresh for the time we live in.

 

I would define noir as urban despair. The main character is often on a lonely journey 2_stills-24_PhotoCredit_D-Haweand struggling against forces that seem fated against him or her. Noir stories are usually set at night and include long shadows that metaphorically function like the fingers of fate reaching for the hero, or bars of shadow cast by a venetian blind that suggest the bars of a prison, trapping the hero. Another key ingredient is a femme fatale character—a woman that the male hero is drawn to but who will ultimately cause his demise. Some classic noir films are Double Indemnity, The Big Sleep and even Blade Runner. Cornell Woolrich is one of my favourite writers. I’m a little obsessed with him and am writing a feature theatrical script based on a night in his life. He is considered the father of noir.

 

10.

Have I forgotten anything?

 

The Blonde will be published… soon! Please check back to www.hopethompson.net for details. I’ll have details about the Woolrich play’s development there as well. Thanks!

Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us, Hope. Good luck with the book and the new play. Visit again, soon!

— AB

 

About the Author

 

Hope is a Canadian playwright, filmmaker and crime writer. She is obsessed with mystery, film noir, camp and comedy and has written and directed several award-winning short films (It Happened In The Stacks, Switch) and one-act plays (She Walks The Line, Stiff, Trapped!)  in these genres. Her film, Switch, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and her recent play, Trapped! is being published this year in a Playwrights Canada Press anthology. Hope is currently at work on her first novel, The Blonde and a new theatre project. www.hopethompson.net

 

Links

 

WEB: http://www.hopethompson.net/

TWITTER: @HopeThompson70

BUDDIES http://buddiesinbadtimes.com/

MARINA BLACK: BIKERS, BADASSES & A LITTLE ROMANCE

It’s my great pleasure to welcome #GuessWrite winner for March 2017 Marina Black. Marina is a practicing registered nurse and multi-published romance author with a taste for bikers and happy endings. Now seeking representation, she is currently pitching her work on today’s #pitmad pitch party on Twitter. Join me in wishing her luck!

 

1.

Welcome, Marina. Your work designation suggests medical thrillers, yet you write badass bikers. Tell us how you got there.

Thanks for having me! I often get this question and the answer is two-fold. When I’m not 51pogTvnjZL._UY250_at work, I like to keep my thoughts separate from my occupation. On a daily basis I deal with the critically ill, distraught, and dying. Coming home, I write romance to escape and as a coping mechanism. It’s a really great way to unwind! The second reason I prefer not to focus my writing on medicine is: as a nurse, if you didn’t chart it, it didn’t happen. I find myself compelled to write in gritty detail of each and every assessment my patient—character—might encounter. I have a very lovely beta reader who reads everything and tells me when I’ve gone too far into detail. Trust me, it’s quite often!

Ed. – The temptation to share specialty knowledge is huge. I get where you’re coming from. 😀

 

2.

So you write romantic thrillers?

51z-VpfYWxL._UY250_I write contemporary romances. It just so happens that I also enjoy the suspense elements sprinkled in with my romance; it gives my novels some extra pizazz! My Badass Bikers series and upcoming novel Bargaining for Blood have a mystery, dramatic storyline that runs parallel to the romance. For Unintentionally Yours, there is no mystery or suspense involved—unless you’re wondering if they will or won’t live happily ever after!

 

 

3.

I noted recently that a lot of modern ‘romances’ end badly. What, in your opinion, accounts for tragic endings? Is this a trend in romance writing?

Tragedy in romance is all well and good, however this is not something you’ll find in my 51uS9RwPAJL._UY250_work. I see enough heartbreak, violence and bloodshed in my day-to-day life—I’m not looking for that when I’m reading or writing! Certainly ‘happily ever after’ eventually will come to an end for one reason or another, but you won’t find it in my work. I’m a big fan of the ‘happily ever after’.

Ed. – It’s nice when things work out!

 

4.

Your current protagonist (from the new novel BARGAINING FOR BLOOD) Adeline is charged with rescuing the one she loves, yet she makes an interesting compact that reminds me of 1,001 Nights. Do you like to blend the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ in your characters, or do you prefer to keep them behind their own lines?

I love to strike the balance between good and evil in all of my characters for sure. Each and every one of us has a ‘line’ and I like my characters to flirt with it on the regular! Adeline in particular learns a lot about herself in BARGAINING FOR BLOOD and, as the story progresses, begins to see that things are not always black and white.

 

5.

What feeds a series? As the writer, do you find this exhausting, exhilarating or just plain psychotic? (last part said tongue-in-cheek! lol)

Characters are the drivers for me. In DEALING WITH THE DEVIL, I introduced four distinct 51PCLDICpLL._UY250_Motorcycle Clubs and a set of characters. After the book came out and people were reading I kept getting readers asking me about Cecelia and Danny and if their story was next. So, as an author I started thinking about them and that’s when SINNING WITH LOS SANTOS came into play.

 

6.

What are you watching on T.V. right now?

I’m a huge DC junkie so the entire Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow lineup is my jam. The 100 is absolutely fantastic—and my drug of choice. I’ve also been greatly enjoying Superstore—my guilty pleasure show!

 

7.

Have I forgotten anything?

BARGAINING FOR BLOOD is coming soon! I’m also seeking representation, and that’s very exciting. Here’s an excerpt from CHAPTER ONE:

 

Bargaining for Blood COMING SOON

 

“Ms. McGinnis?” Malcolm Savage lurked in the shadows like a panther stalking his prey. Adeline straightened her spine, coppery hair spilling from its bun and framing her cherubic face. Her steely eyes were wet and her cheeks were flushed; she stormed past him like a vengeful angel and his palms itched with the need to touch her. “Adeline,” he growled, more sharply this time, and she stilled.

“How did you get in here?” she demanded. “Mr. Savage—”

Malcolm,” he corrected, narrowing inky black eyes at her. Their gazes caught and held, the electricity palpable in the air as he grasped her arm. “You and I are well enough acquainted by now, wouldn’t you say?”

Her body seemed to contract and she wrenched away from him like a caged animal, snarling and sneering. “Get away from me!”

If he was perturbed by her outburst, it didn’t show on his face. “I’m not here to hurt you, if that’s your fear. Frankly, I’m not even angry. Color me impressed.” She was wound tight enough to snap and he didn’t blame her. Adeline had always clung to her moral values; turning down the lucrative lifestyle he offered took guts. He may not have understood it on a fundamental level but he certainly respected the hell out of her gumption. For her to go and do something like this…it was out of character and out of desperation.

“We need to talk. We can do it quietly amongst ourselves…or we can do it at the police station. What would you prefer?”

 

Other Books by Marina Black

41GtbqG7cLL._UY250_Losing Charlotte left a deep chasm within Bellamy Blake. It was the kind of hole that could only be filled by Clarke Griffin. This story chronicles the soul-binding love of two people who are destined to be lovers and leaders, despite the odds.

 

 

 

 

51pogTvnjZL._UY250_Lucy was born to ride. Three generations of Harding men have pledged their loyalties—and their lives—to the Devil’s Own Motorcycle Club. The club is her legacy, its blood runs in her veins, and she’ll be damned if she lets them exclude her. Lucy Harding will stop at nothing to take her place among the Devils and prove her worth once and for all.

 

 

 

51PCLDICpLL._UY250_Cecelia Santos was born for greater things. As a brilliant electrical engineer and a member of Los Santos Motorcycle Club, she’s always been regarded as a force to be reckoned with…but that doesn’t mean she’s had it easy in life. Cece has always been a fighter and now that she’s home after being kidnapped by a rival gang, she’s harder and tougher than ever. When a new threat rears its ugly head in her hometown of La Verdad, she vows to crush it all by herself. She doesn’t need help…especially not from the redheaded menace she’s trying to deny her feelings for.

Daniel Harding knows all too well how difficult Cecelia can be. He’s not only seen her as a warrior on the battlefield but as a woman warm in his bed. Although she’s made it clear he doesn’t stand a chance, he can’t back down. Los Santos are outclassed, outmanned, and outgunned; if they fall prey to Los Lobos, it won’t just be Cece’s family that’s in danger. For the good of everyone he loves, he has to make sacrifices…even if it means stepping on a few toes.

Tensions run high, blood runs hot, and the stakes get higher…will they be able to protect La Verdad or will they be damned for good?

 

41QDCieq24L._UY250_The battle for control rages deep within the heart of New Orleans. While Hayley seeks to comprehend what it finally means to have a family, Niklaus must fight a thousand years of darkness to find a shred of humanity. The bond of blood runs deep…family, love, loyalty. All will be tested as two unlikely lovers come together. Will they find happiness or destroy one another?

 

 

 

51z-VpfYWxL._UY250_When Mona Gallo finds herself accidentally pregnant, the life she worked so hard to build begins crumbling around her. Although she’s determined to raise the baby on her own, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to her sexy boss despite his rakish ways. Maybe it’s just hormones but Mona can’t seem to help herself when it comes to Reno. She should know better, of course. She’s been a stripper for half her life and seen first hand how letting down her guard only leads to heartache.

Vincent “Reno” O’Keefe’s life is falling apart. He lives three thousand miles away from his family, dates all the wrong women, is a terrible Catholic, and his fortieth birthday is around the corner. Now, his little sister has announced her engagement and he can’t bear to go to the wedding alone. Asking Mona seems like the perfect solution. She’s newly single, gorgeous, and in desperate need of a vacation.

Mona is eager to see Boston and enjoy one last trip before the baby comes. She can hide a pregnancy for a week, right?

Besides, what’s the worst that could happen…?

 

518KHIkIpKL._UY250_The treatise between the Grounders and the Sky People is a tenuous one. Danger lurks around every corner and war is imminent. Against all odds, Murphy befriends a young orphan and catches the eye of the Commander. For the good of their people, sacrifices must be made…the choice was almost too easy.

 

 

 

 

51uS9RwPAJL._UY250_Harper’s life hangs in the balance as she rests in the depths of Mount Weather. Past, present, and future collide as Harper fights against the experiments the Mountain Men are doing on her. The only thing she’s sure of is that there’s only one sick, broken man who can save her…Harper has no choice but to put her faith in Cage Wallace.

 

 

 

51K+piwqNNL._UY250_The road to perdition is fraught with violence, anger and heartache. The way back to redemption is twice as bad. John Murphy lost his way in the world long ago. He vowed to numb the pain with bloody revenge. But she was the only one who wasn’t there to watch him hang for a crime he didn’t commit. Hurting her was never an option…

 

 

 

All Titles Available Through the Author’s Amazon Page

https://www.amazon.com/Marina-Black/e/B00W4C05E8

About the Author

Marina BlackMarina Black was born in the state of Connecticut. She is a busy registered nurse who works at a bustling inner city hospital. By night (and the occasional weekend), she is a prolific writer who has penned many short stories and works of fiction over the years. Dealing with the Devil (August 2015) was her debut original novel and Book 1 of the Badass Bikers series. Unintentionally Yours (November 2015) is a fan favorite! Sinning with Los Santos: Book 2 of the Badass Bikers series is on sale now! For author updates, follow Ms. Marina Black on Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter!

 

Amazon.com: Marina Black: Books, Biography, Blog

Twitter: @MarinaBlack99

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

 

#GUESSWRITE WINNER TANYA CHRIS TALKS RELATIONSHIPS & FORGIVENESS WITH HER NEW M/M COMING-OF-AGE ROMANCE

Welcome to the blog, Tanya!

1.

Tell us about you.

fred-the-catI live in the northeastern United States with my boyfriend and my cat. I’m going to allow my boyfriend his privacy, but the cat’s name is Fred. Here’s a picture of him dressed up for Christmas. You can see how much he enjoyed that. Fred’s favorite things are pats and food. If you aren’t feeding him, you should be patting him, and if you aren’t patting him, you’re useless and must die.

Oh, you said tell you about me. My favorite things are chocolate and good reviews. Don’t make me kill you.

Ed.- You got me at hello 😉

 

2.

Optimist or pessimist?

Optimism and pessimism are different filters through which we try to predict the future. I’ve given up on trying to predict the future. Whatever will be, will be, and it’ll be all right, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now. So, that sounds somewhat optimistic.

 

3.

You have a lot of themes at play in WHEN IT ALL FALLS DOWN. Without giving spoilers, what underlying message do you hope to convey through the work?

The primary theme in When It All Falls Down is that relationships (people) are all that matter but that in order to make our relationships work, we have to be forgiving of each other.

 

4.

Are we better off as a society today? What, in your opinion, is the biggest lesson learned from our past?

We really are. I know it doesn’t feel that way in the US right now, but progress has never been linear. The overall trend, if you look at the history of civilization, has always been towards a more inclusive rendering of “liberty and justice for all” and I don’t think anyone can stop that upward trend for long, even if they manage to set back the clock temporarily.

 

5.

Growing up is tough. Growing old, maybe tougher. What does the raging success of the 50 Shades series say about adult readership?  Are they missing the point?

I haven’t read 50 Shades, so I can’t render an opinion on the series itself, but it’s an example of the billionaire trope which is enjoying popularity right now. Women today are required to be very strong, very adult, and so the temptation is there to escape into a world where someone (a man, for those who are heterosexual) takes over the adulting. That doesn’t mean those women want to abdicate control in real life, but at the end of a day of juggling work, family, and cultural expectations, they’re tired and sometimes overwhelmed and they deserve whatever fantasy brings them relief and joy.

 

6.

The definitions of family and gender are changing. Is it legislative or evolutionary?

I don’t think the compositions of family or gender are changing, just our ability to recognize the legitimacy of those various compositions thanks to social evolution. Legislation then slowly catches up to understanding.

 

7.

What are you working on now?

My next release will be Aftercare, which is a M/M BDSM romance. It features a Muslim immigrant (a very urbane, but somewhat, reluctant Dom) and the attorney who’s handling his brother’s murder case. I’ll be releasing that hopefully in April if I can get the editing finished! In the meantime, I’m writing a dystopia like everyone else in the US.

 

8.

Any last words?

I just want to put in a plug for the #guesswrite competition on Twitter. Any writer who’s trying to break in to self-publishing can definitely benefit from this prize package. I’m grateful to all the people who came before me, like the hosts of #guesswrite, for their guidance and example. I’ve made friends through Twitter and through NaNoWriMo who’ve critiqued my manuscripts, shared their lessons-learned, and been a source of inspiration and motivation. Remember: relationships are everything.

Ed. – Amen, sista!

 

When It All Falls Down

by Tanya Chris
Published by Tanya Chris Publishing (self-published)

M/M contemporary, coming-of-age romance, 64K words

Available 2/2/17 from Amazon in paperback and on Kindle. Eligible for Kindle Unlimited.

http://mybook.to/WIAFD

 

Blurb:

wiafd-cover-75dpiMaybe Charlie should have waited until he graduated high school before coming out, because since that revelation there’s been a growing distance between him and his friends. Charlie’s tough, though. He doesn’t mind eating lunch alone or watching his former gang interact with their new best buddy. What he does mind is seeing Drew Lavoitt suffer the same fate.

Drew didn’t come out. As far as he, or anyone else knows, he’s straight. What Drew did is accidentally hit and kill a little girl. Now the boy who was voted Most Popular, and who Charlie has maybe had a crush on since eighth grade, faces financial ruin, expulsion, and the fear that if he’s not everything, he’s not enough.

Popularity, wealth, acclaim—these things are easily lost. In each other’s arms, Drew and Charlie find something that can’t be taken from them. Together the two build a foundation on which they can re-create their lives.

 

Excerpt:

“Drew, I’m not your boyfriend.”

“At school, you said yes.”

“I can be your boyfriend at school, if that makes it easier for you to be at school, but I’m not your real boyfriend. Are you really expecting me to be … faithful to you?”

“I came out to my parents for you.”

“I don’t understand that part either. I don’t understand any of this.”

“What’s so hard to understand, Charlie? I want to be your boyfriend. Not just at school. All the time. But if you don’t want me—”

“Come on,” I said, cutting him off, “don’t start the drama up. You’ve got to know how much I want you.”

“Then we don’t have a problem.” He snuggled deeper into my side until he was rubbing his cheek along mine, our faces pressed right up together. Drew might not have a problem, but I did. My problem was that I wanted to turn my face into his and kiss him—not a quick brush of lips like what he’d given me in the hallway yesterday but the real thing. And then I decided, fuck it. I’d show him that being my boyfriend wasn’t what he wanted.

He was startled when I did it—when I brought my hand up to cup the back of his head and hold him still so I could really get my mouth against his, my tongue between those softly parted lips. Like he hadn’t been expecting it, like he hadn’t known that this was what happened when you rubbed your almost-too-skinny boy body up against a gay guy. He gasped, which opened him further up to me, and his body got stiff where it had been pliant, and I thought you see? and then that thought vanished beneath a whole bunch of oh my God because once he got past that initial shock, he kissed me back.

Praise for When It All Falls Down

“Read this faster than I’ve read anything in ages. Bittersweet, and strangely addictive.”

“Lately, books have seemed almost boring…and then I read this one.”

“Drew and Charlie are instantly shippable, love these boys to pieces.”

 

About the Author

tanyachrisTanya writes in a variety of romantic and erotic genres, being an avid follower of many of these genres herself. Some of her favorites are M/M romance, MFM threesomes, and BDSM with male submissives.

Tanya lives in New England with her boyfriend and her cat and has participated in many of the activities about which she writes, but not all of them. It’s left to the reader to decide which are which.

http://www.tanyachris.com
Twitter: @tanyachrs
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tanyachrispublishing/ Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15067939.Tanya_Chris

 

Thanks for dropping by, Tanya. See you around the Twitterverse! — A.B.

 

LOOKING INTO THE UNEXPLAINED WITH DAVID MANNES

Hello from beautiful Bonville, Ontario! Like so many writers this time of year, I’m neck deep in a brand new work for NaNoWriMo 2016. For those not in the know, NaNo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Believe it or not, a 50K manuscript can be hashed out in a month if a writer dedicates about 1,600 new words to the page every day. But I digress…

The blog needs to be fed, and so it is my great pleasure to welcome multi-talented author David Mannes. Spiritual and curious, David plumbs a fascination with the paranormal while exploring relationships at their most personal. With TWO releases out this year, his energy and creativity is an inspiration to us all.

Welcome to the blog, David.

 

 

1.

As a Cantor-Educator you are a spiritual man who is also interested in the paranormal and the unexplained. How do you reconcile dogma with secular interests?

 

Judaism’s belief about what happens after you die is a gray spectrum with an evolution of beliefs over the millennium looking at biblical and Talmudic views. We do believe that the soul is eternal. But I certainly don’t believe in demons, possessed souls, or Satan- at least in terms of the Christian view, which has its origins with Egyptian, Greek, and Roman theology. In Judaism Satan-pronounced Sah-tahn in Hebrew- or the Accuser, is sort of like a prosecuting attorney.  (Satan is mentioned briefly by a couple of the prophets and predominantly in the book of Job (an allegory piece of literature about faith).  However,  I did live briefly in a haunted house for awhile in my teens. (See May, 1976 issue of Fate Magazine-‘The Spite House’) and I have friends who are psychic. I tend to keep an open mind as to what happens to our spirit after death and in terms of Jewish belief.

 

Re: the unexplained or extraterrestrial: In Jewish tradition God created and destroyed many worlds before creating this one, and then God continues to create.  God is a creative force. It’s what God does. Also, it’s pretty egotistical of us to think we’re the only intelligent life form in the universe, and really, looking at our world and the history of humankind, there’s got to be something out there smarter than us.  The universe is billions or trillions of years old.Humankind is still in it’s relative infancy.  We may have become more sophisticated, but we haven’t matured much.  We don’t know everything.  The world and the universe will continue to surprise us.

 

2.

Is that how you became involved in the arts? Or did the arts come first?

 

I was always interested in fine art (especially cartooning) and writing. I majored in Art initially in High school and my first year of college, then switched it to a minor and majored in English. I’ve been writing since upper elementary school and got a lot of encouragement from teachers and in creative writing classes. I’ve always had an overactive imagination. I knew I wanted to be a writer since fifth grade.

 

3.

Your character Jeff Reimer in THE CANTOR’S SON reminisces about the year of his Bar Mitzvah, which took place in the 1960s. I’ve been listening to a lot of Beatles lately and find it very reassuring. What is it about the 60’s that keeps us coming back?

 

We are the baby boomer generation. We had great music, great causes and its generational influence is still present. While The Cantor’s Son has a Jewish slant, it also speaks to baby boomers and any kid whose father was clergy.  I think it was a great era to grow up in, despite all the war and social problems.

 

4.

Jeff “comes home” after forty-six years. What is his take on ‘home’ in the year 2016 CE?

The book is about Jeff’s journey not only as a young adult but as an adult. Getting older gives us a different perspective on life and what’s important. There’s a lot of people (adults) that are still figuring it out.  Overall change happens. Growth happens. Life is a continual journey and Jeff is entering a new stage but experience has given him a new outlook too, one that I think the character is happy with.

 

5.

You have also authored THE REPTILIAN ENCOUNTER and SCARLET JUSTICE. Do these works support common themes, or are other agendas at work?

 

scarlet vengeance-001.jpgWell Scarlet Justice started out as a screenplay that I was going to produce with a couple of buddies, but there was a recession on in the early 90’s and we couldn’t find interest or financing so I did a novelization of it. I grew up watching old B westerns and the Clint Eastwood and John Wayne movies. While doing research for the Writing-on-Stone documentary I read a lot about the early years of the Mounted Police and it  gave me a lot of story ideas that I’ve incorporated in this series. The second book, Scarlet Vengeance will be out this fall, and I’m working on a third book in the series.

           

The Reptilian Encounter is actually the third part of a trilogy (I published the first two volumes independently on Amazon kindle) but it’s also a spin-off for a continuing series. I’ve been interested in UFOs since I was a kid. I use to read Frank Edward’s column in the newspaper and have been doing reading and research on UFO’s for probably about 50 years.  As well, having grown up in the 60’s, The Man from U.N.C.L.E was one of my favorite shows, as was X-Files in the ’90’s. Both influenced tunguska-cover-2the creation of my character Damien Wynter.  According to some of my research, after the Roswell crash of 1947 President Truman set up Majestic 12, a group of military, industrial, and private organizations and individuals who investigate and obtain alien technology, and understand extraterrestrials, but at the same time keeping it secret to prevent public panic. My novels are based on actual or alleged incidents but with fictional license and conclusions.  The series is sort of a Man from U.N.C.L.E meets the X-Files. The second book, The Tunguska Encounter is coming out this fall.   I’m hoping this series takes off and I think it’d be great to see The Reptillian Encounter made into a movie.

 

6.

And you have also worked in film as a producer/director and scriptwriter. How do these experiences compare to writing in solitude, if you, indeed, write in solitude?

 

Definitely there are parts of media production that are creatively collaborative; but both involve storytelling. I think visually no matter what the media. I always have. The difference for me is in the pacing. Working in media is a very intense and frantic pace a lot of the time, given budgets, deadlines, etc. Writing is more relaxed. The only deadline we have (other than from our illustrious publisher during the editing phase) is one that we set.  There are times I enjoy being in my ‘Batcave’ with music in the background and letting the story take me in new places.  Solitude is essential when writing. I find myself quite comfortable when I’m in ‘the zone’.

 

7.

What is the glue that holds society together currently?

 

Relationships and common goals. To have a society means that there has to be rules that everyone agrees to and abides by. That’s the main purpose of the Ten Commandments (though in Judaism according to the rabbis, there’s 613).  It’s the minimal rules to have a safe and just society.

 

 

8.

Many of us imagine life before the digital age. Others of us have lived it. Which category do you fall into? Can you share a pre Instagram anecdote with the readers? (Mine involves chasing my younger brother with a manual egg beater *lol*)

 

I definitely lived life before the digital age and was very thankful when computers came out. Made writing a lot easier..lol.  I remember as a kid we’d play army.  Our next door neighbors were an older couple.  They had a retaining wall on one side of their property.  We kids used to go around through another yard and take a running leap off the retaining wall and do a tuck and roll to pretend we were parachuting.  The problem was the cement walk that separated the wall and the grass. You had to jump far enough so you didn’t splat on the walk.  We didn’t understand liability issues, but the old guy was always chasing us away when he caught us doing that.

 

9.

What words of wisdom would you impart to our first extraterrestrials when they arrive?

 

Don’t judge us by the stupidity you see. We are worthy and capable of better. We are also tenacious and unpredictable. Don’t piss us off.

 

10.

Any last words?

 

Follow your dreams. You only live once. Appreciate the people in your life because that’s the most important.

 

Thanks, David. Now let’s check out the novels…

 

THE CANTOR’S SON

the-cantors-son-cover-conceptRabbi-Cantor Jeff Reimer returns to River City, Iowa after forty-six years, as spiritual leader of Temple Beth Shalom. As Jeff connects with the congregation on a variety of issues, he also connects with his past.  It leads him to reminisce about the year of his Bar Mitzvah, and the pivotal events and personal relationships that have led him back to River City again, and that makes Jeff the man he has become. This is a humorous coming-of-age story set in the turbulent 1960’s where Jeff fights off the stigma of being a clergyman’s son, contends with Junior High shop classes, stumbles through B’nai Mitzvah party dances and a semi-reluctant romance with April Blackman.

 

 

SCARLET VENGEANCE 

Released October 14, 2016

 

scarlet-vengeance-001Ride with Northwest Mounted Police Constable Alfred Kingsley and  ex-gunfighter turned scout Charlie Buck in two new adventures: Scarlet Vengeance–  Hatred is a powerful motivator. When rancher Amos Pike spots ex- runaway slave and black rancher, Elijah Samuels, a man he blames for his family’s downfall, Pike plots a merciless revenge to take away everything Samuel’s holds dear. But he doesn’t count on NWMP Constable Alfred Kingsley and Charlie Buck, who head out on the trail to track the kidnappers and murderers down.   In the second novella, Scarlet Gold, Kingsley and Buck, while on their way escorting a prisoner to Fort Benton, aid the U.S. cavalry and Marshal Ben Tucker track down a ruthless band of gold thieves in Montana.

 

THE TUNGUSKA ENCOUNTER

Released September 30, 2016

 

tunguska-cover-2The cold war is back on but with a twist…a remnant, a computer chip, exists from a  UFO that exploded over Russia in 1908. Now Damien Wynter, special agent for the clandestine Majic-12, is on a race to get it before  SETKA, his Russian counterparts.  From the canals of Venice to old city of Dubrovnik, to the pyramids of Bosnia, Wynter and  Michelle Martin run a gauntlet of anarchy, destruction and death in an all out battle to obtain technology that could be the greatest boon to humankind or launch its destruction in THE TUNGUSKA ENCOUNTER!

The Majic-12 series explores the clandestine side of UFOs and the covert organizations that investigate them.  This is an espionage-action-adventure sci-fi series that takes place in present day.

 

About the Author

david-m-mannes_4847_100516

 

David M. Mannes is a Cantor-Educator and a member of the American Conference of Cantors. He has served congregations in the United States and Canada.  He is also a former educational film producer/director and scriptwriter. He was nominated in 1990 for best non-dramatic script in the Alberta Motion Picture Industry Association (A.M.P.I.A.) awards  for “Writing-on-Stone” that he wrote and produced for Alberta Parks. David is the author of  The Cantor’s Son, The Reptilian Encounter (Damien  Wynter –Majic-12 series), Scarlet Justice (Constable Alfred Kingsley and Charlie Buck series), among others. He has had a long time interest in history, as well as UFOs, paranormal and unexplained phenomena. David is a member of the Writer’s Guild of Alberta and the International Thrillers Writers.  David Mannes is married and lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

 

 

Links

 

Email: david_mannes@hotmail.com

Webpage: http://davidmannes.wix.com/david-mannes

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/David-M.-Mannes/e/B004RQNWNA

FORCE OF NATURE: LEXI MILES

 

author-pic-black-and-whiteAuthor Lexi Miles sparkles with an infectious laugh and unbinding enthusiasm that’s equally matched by her growing list of titles. Blogger, interviewer, noveller and hashtag host, her presence is everywhere. It’s an honor to have her here today. Welcome, Lexi!

 

 

1.

It is commonly held that being happy is hard work, yet your upbeat personality and hilarious *giggles* shine through every tweet. How do you maintain your positivity?

 

Thanks so much for the warm compliment.  I guess the simple answer is by focusing on the positive and being thankful for all the precious moments and gifts of life.  No small thing is wasted on me.  (giggles)

 

2.

Your communications training undoubtedly assists you in getting your message out. What advice can you give novices in negotiating the labyrinth that is social media?

 

Sometimes social media—all the choices—can be overwhelming, so my best advice is to start with the one you do most often and then add more as you go.  If you are trying to get the word out about your books then search your genre and get involved.  What is nice is that it is okay to ask questions, to look at what grabs your attention to make sure that you are hitting the mark, do research, and above all else have FUN as you do it.  The fun is so very important because that’s what attracts people to who and what you alone and uniquely can offer.  The key here is to have a presence somewhere, that is your voice, so that people know what you have going on, have an idea of what reading your books will be like, and, one of the best parts, they have a way to get to know you personally. 

 

3.

Twitter #hashtag games. That’s how we met! Care to comment on the trend and what it could mean for writers, those starting out in particular.

 

Yes, you are right A.B. that is how we met!  And it has been a fun friendship ever since!  (giggles) 

Having said that, I would love to chat about the #hastag games.  These events are so much fun to be a part of and personally, they are one of the highlights of my week.  So much so that I even co-host one every Tuesday with author Chloe Quinn called #FOODPARTY (please feel free to pop over to twitter for more details and to hang out with us and have fun). 

Before I go further, you might be asking what are #hashtag games?  To those who are unfamiliar, it is a writer event where authors are invited to share their work in accordance to the theme selected by the various hosts. 

One that I would definitely suggest for new writers to take part in is #Thurds on Thursdays simply because it awesome, A.B. hosts it, and it is unlike any other event.  Why?  If the book is published it can also be a part of the game (unlike most that include WIP, works in progress, only) and that is great exposure.  Ultimately what I am getting at here is it is like an international book convention on a weekly basis.

 

Ed-Thanks, Lexi. I love hosting #Thurds, and like you, #hashtag games are an integral part of my day. Promotions + friendship + fun. It’s a win, win!

 

In my opinion, for writers (especially newbies), all of the events are incredible to be a part of because they are one of the nicest ways to get to know people in the writer community, to find new readers, to find new reviewers, and for readers (which I also am) to find a new book to add to your collection on a weekly basis.  Another thing that I love is that you get instant feedback on your work and that is all-around fun!

 

4.

In your biography you credited your LIFE experiences for helping you develop as an author.  Tell us specifically what that means to you.

 

What I mean by that is that living life in general has taught me so many things as a person and therefore professionally as an author.  And each of those experiences means so much to me because ultimately they have made me who I am “exactly” today.  The good, the bad, and the I know better and will not do that again. Ha!

 

Ed.- Ha! I can relate!

 

5.

Name someone who inspires you.

 

I am inspired not by one person alone, but by anyone that goes after what they want with all that they have.  I am inspired by those who love whole-heartedly and are kind to others.  I am inspired by those who don’t see something as limiting but limitless.  Those are the people that inspire me!

 

6.

Your new romance, TOO MUCH TROUBLE, is coming out soon. Care to share the deets and maybe tease us with an excerpt?

 

Sure, just this once.  (giggles)  Just kidding, I’d love to do that!

 

I wrote this one because I was (and am still) a huge fan of the TV show “The Mentalist.”  The idea came to me because I just thought, how fun would it be to write about a heroine whose brother was a smooth talking scoundrel like that and she was the one to always bail him out.  Here’s the blurb.  

 

aweb-toomuchtrouble-copySela’s scam artist brother has gotten himself in trouble again.  As usual she is left to clean up his mess.  After a mediation, the only thing that she can do is to work off his debt by agreeing to be legal counsel on call for the family he scammed.  Very reluctantly, since the guy she will be working directly for is as infuriating as he is sexy, she agrees to do it to make the whole thing go away.  But this time has her brother’s serial nature of mistakes finally paid off for her in all the right ways?

 

 

 

 

7.

As a California native, is it even possible to live in a cooler climate? (I’m dusting off my winter boots right now.)

 

(Giggling) In my opinion, no, I love my home.  California is a fun place to be.  The weather is amazing and the options here of things to do is vast.  In any given direction it’s amusement parks, trips to museums, a chance to escape to the Sierra mountains (beautiful during wintery snow season or when warm and green), ranches, Japanese or Rose gardens, musicals, or lovely beaches.  I am in heaven.  But as awesome as it is here, I do love the snow (rarely have gotten up to the Sierra’s recently).  So, please promise, when the time comes, to build me a snowman, make a snow angel, and toss around a few snowballs. (giggles)

 

Ed.- You got a deal. I’ll send pics!

 

8.

What is one thing that you are looking forward to?

 

In the upcoming months I am going to be sharing a few new titles, making a few appearances, and the thing that has me doing cartwheels are the new book trailers that are on the way soon!

 

Ed. – Be sure and send those trailers our way.

 

9.

How can someone contact you, buy your books, and do you have a newsletter?

 

You can contact me via my twitter www.twitter.com/leximilesbooks, or through my contact page on my website www.LexiMilesAuthor.com/contact.

You can get my books via my Amazon author page www.amazon.com/author/leximiles.

And yes, I have a newsletter for my VIP readers/friends and you can follow it and my other info and book clubs here: www.LexiMilesAuthor.com/follow-lexi.

 

10.

Have I forgotten anything?

 

I think what you asked covered it.  Such a nice, fresh, and wide scope.  Thank you A.B. again for taking time out to do this!  I really appreciate it.

Hugs,

Lexi

 

Any time, doll. Let’s check out Lexi’s vast list of titles…

 

 

lexi banner.png

 

Coming Soon

 

cover-dangerous-listing-copyDangerous Listings: A realtor named Piper rents out a listing and stumbles into a dangerous situation.  She soon finds herself hold up with the ever sexy and mysterious Marko, and she’s not complaining.  Is danger just the thing they need to kick off their sexy romance? (Vol 0.5 in the Sensual Protection series, proceeds Private Lessons)

 

 

 

 

 

 

aweb-privatelessons-copyPrivate Lessons: Dorian “Ryan” DeVain, a travel agent, gets tricked into taking much needed self-defense classes by her best friend Piper.  She is apprehensive, even given the looming threat of her past, until she meets the ultra-sexy brown haired instructor Jimmy Jalin.  Will there be sexy benefits included with his training? (Vol 1 of the Sensual Protection series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

aweb-convinceme-copyConvince Me: Josephine Summers, a feisty red headed chef has just been blacklisted for declining her boss’ romantic advances.  Determined for a fresh start Jo has a chance meeting with the dreamy lawyer with the penetrating blue eyes, Roger, who convinces her to become his live in chef.  After that things really heat up.  Is Jo going find it difficult to keep things strictly professional? (Vol 1 of Seductive Recipes Series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

aweb-mixmatched-copyMix Matched: Maxi is a bartender at a bar that the mega-hot Wolf Crane owns.  Wolf, off the clock, is known for giving romantic help to others so they find their romantic match.  She gets the idea to have Wolf use his skills to help her until she can get him to realize that she is his perfect match.  Can she sway him to see her daydream for them? (Vol 1 of the Happy Hour Series) (NANOWRIMO Nov 2015)

 

 

 

 

 

 

cover-click-for-more-copyClick For More: Ariel Bowie, is in her late twenties and is a successful career focused clothing boutique chain owner.  Ariel has been receiving a lot of pressure from the hens, ladies in her family, to wed—and to do it fast—because wedding is expected for the ladies in the Bowie family.  With Ariel’s baby sister’s nuptials approaching, during a late night of rom-com watching, Ariel decides it is time to take action and list herself with the wed quick website Click for More.  She comes across the oh-so-gorgeous dark haired businessman Cort Abbot, who too has his own reasons to wed, and soon she finds herself married to this sexy stranger and loving every minute of it.  But some people aren’t as happy as she is about her new marriage.  Will they cause problems in paradise, or will the couple find that some things are meant to last?

 

Out September 2016

 

 

cover-foodparty-copy#FoodParty: Cookbook that features recipes from the various romance novels.  (Co-author Lexi Miles and Chloe Quinn)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out Now

 

custom-fit-print-displayCustom Fit: Sunni is one of the most sought after style consultants and is totally put off when her boss Zelina calls her into her office, as if Sunni is a newbie cub, and gives her an emergency assignment.  Sunni’s protest comes to a halt when she realizes that she just got the assignment of a lifetime: dressing the ultra-sexy singer/actor Striker Clint for the entire holiday season.  The only rule, to avoid termination, no romantic involvement with the client.  But Striker is not just any client, Sunni has had it bad for him since she laid eyes on him in one of his earlier films.  Are some rules made to be broken?

 

 

 

cover-focused-on-love-pic-copyFocused On Love: A collection of emotionally stirring poems that are all about love: falling in love, passion, losing love, forever love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

smiling-lexiWhat People will take away from anything I write: Love is worth it.  All of the stories, that are coming soon or that are out, show challenges that couples face and how they evolve as individuals and couples because of them.  I think that love makes us the best versions of ourselves.  You know, the most courageous people that we can be because we know that we are loved and accepted deeply.  In my opinion, romantic love, centers us and makes everything about life more vibrant and beautiful.  Love, in many ways, is like that spice of a secret recipe in cooking that makes life taste better!

 

Journey to Publishing

When I was younger, the writing bug bit me when I did a writing project in elementary school where we got the assignment to create our own fresh stories in the vein of the different genres that we were studying: fairytales, tall tales, magic, and the others.  I had always been creative—really creative—imagination running wild as I played with my Barbies, stuffed bears, and My Little Ponies.  So, when it hit me that I not only got a chance to create and act out those ideas, but to also write them down to share the fun, over and over, anytime they were read, with others I was hooked!  And to this day, I have continued to share them—and have not looked back.

 

Over the past several years I have actively been working on a number of romance books that are all just about at fruition and ready to be shared with avid romance readers or what I like to call rommies.  Although they are all romance there is a broad scope from suspense romance to everyday life contemporary romance.  My stories deal with intense subjects that cause the characters to peel back and share layers of themselves: the fire-hot passion of a couple, overcoming a challenge, learning some strength from examination, and always end with a HEA (happily ever after).  Those are my favorite kind of books; naturally I write those tender, cute, and wild rides.
aseries-flavors-of-lexiI write in a variety of flavors and call them the 4 flavors of Lexi.  The scope is Sweet (mild romance with some heat), Fire (very sensual and sexy), Alarm (erotic), and Magic (romance with a bit of supernatural flare).

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author

 

Lexi Miles was born in northern California and has lived in various places in California and Nevada (Las Vegas and Reno).  Tropical warm spots and out of the way ranches are Lexi’s favorite escapes. She has one sister, Cat. Presently she resides in California and is a proud pup mom of two mischievous Yorkies.  They are handfuls and most definitely light up her life!

 

Cultivation of Lexi’s writing is attributed to a lot of reading, variety of writing contests, her college studies in communication, and her association and mentoring from professors, published authors, and editors.  In addition, she credits the tool of LIFE in general as one of the key factors in the development of her writing. Lexi personally edited and consulted for various published novels as well.

 

Lexi embraces who she is and is a huge fan of positivity; accordingly, she loves to giggle and make others smile as often as she can.  Lexi, has a deep interest in personal growth and is always open to learning new things that challenge her.  On her off-time, she adores the chance to binge watch/read a good romance, mystery, suspense, or life stories in general.  Whenever possible, Lexi tries to help others achieve their goals in life.  Lexi strongly believes that life is an incredible gift and is to be enjoyed!

 

Lexi fell in LOVE with writing—head over heels in love—from the time that she could first hold a pen and she just never stopped falling.  Lexi loves writing romance; she believes there is something extraordinary about the magic of love shared by a couple.  Lexi is thrilled to pen that beauty of love on paper!

 

Fun Activities: Netflix binges, bubble baths, listen to music, (I am a singer), love Renaissance Fairs, adore the superhero genre, love taking my dogs for walks, working out, and adore cooking.  One of my most favorite activities to do is bowling.  I like to go bowling by myself and brainstorm book ideas as well as clear my head.  I love pretty fragrances from Bath and Body Works and Vicki’s Secret!

 

Recent Random Activities: made chocolate chip brownies, grocery shopped, and revisited an old vision board of mine

 

Fun Facts: prefer lemonade or iced tea to any soda and I love to write at night

 

Most Excited About: My books are now offered in both ebook and print

 

Main Objective for Interview: to have people get to know me better, to have a bump up in readers, bump in newsletter follows so that I can connect more with readers, bump in reviews, for people to be acquainted with my author central page, and people talking about the books.

 

Links

Amazon: www.amazon.com/author/leximiles

Website: www.LexiMilesAuthor.com

Email: LexiMiles.Author@gmail.com

Novel Info: www.LexiMilesAuthor.com/novels

Follow Newsletter: www.LexiMilesAuthor.com/follow-lexi

Lexi’s Rom Readers https://www.facebook.com/groups/1746560782284851/

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

 

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