MARK ILES ROARS WITH BOOK 3 IN SCIFI SERIES ‘DARKENING STARS’

Blog favorite Mark Iles is back with a new release ROAR OF LIONS that’s currently ranking in the top 10 on Amazon in several categories. As you would expect, he has a lot to say about that!

Hello, Mark.

Congrats on the new release. Is it true that you’re already at work on something new?

A bit. I’m a firm believer in not giving away your story, as when you do so the train of thought tends to drain away with the words. I will say that the new book is a mixture of science fiction, fantasy and horror – done in a new way for me. I like to think about what really scares people, why, and how to put that into a tale.

 

Let’s talk DARKENING STARS

To what extent do you think your own military experiences influenced the series?

To be honest, a surprising amount. For instance, the bit where my character shoves her rifle towards a non-commissioned officer’s mouth and pulls the trigger. I was attached to the commandos for a while back in the early 80’s, and was training with them on Dartmoor one dark and snowy night. I was asleep, totally exhausted when, simulating an attack, this guy who’d been picking on me threw a thunder flash in my direction, quite deliberately I’m sure. Damned thing went off right next to my head. I leapt up, cocked my rifle, thrust it towards his face and before I realised what I’d done pulled the trigger. All I’ll say it went off exceptionally close. It pure reflex believe me and luckily my magazine was full of blanks.

That was a long time ago and luckily the guy concerned took it remarkedly well. He even bought me a pint the next time we were ashore but he never picked on me again. You don’t forget stuff like that and it makes kinda interesting reading. Guess you’d get in all sorts of trouble for that sort of thing now.

 

Armchair enthusiasts spend a lot of time musing over first contact with aliens. Personally, I think they’re already here and have been for eons. What do you think would happen if contact was made?

I think first contact with an alien species is open to misinterpretation on so many levels. I was told once that one of the first English people to talk to Bedouins was shown a sheep’s eyeball to show it was freshly killed. Thinking it was some kind of ritual or honour the chap ate it. Consequently, for many years we believed it was tradition while they thought it was something we did. Whether it’s true or not, it still gives an indication of how things can so easily be misconstrued.

In J. Michael Straczynski’s marvellous Babylon 5, the Minbari approach humans for the first time with their gun ports open as a sign of respect. The humans took it as a sign they were preparing to fire and engaged them, and so the first war began.

In answer to your question the answer is yes, first contact has the potential for disaster.

ROAR OF LIONS is the third book in the series. Is a fourth coming up next? 

I would like to return to Selena’s journey, and have left openings for such. But in ‘Roar of Lions’ her story comes full circle. Due to illness it took me a long time to write, and I now have another project demanding to be written – one I’m truly excited about. The new book has already been started and there are so many avenues to explore. As Bilbo Baggins might say, I’m going on an adventure…

ROAR OF LIONS IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE AS A FREE DOWNLOAD THROUGH NOVEMBER 3

GET IT HERE

SELENA DILLON IS BACK AND HER CRACK TEAM OF COMMANDOS ARE BEHIND HER

ROAR OF LIONS_eBook_optThe ForeRunners have destroyed one of Capulet’s cities, and the joint Lenar-Human search teams are needed to root out the enemy. But when the empathic Lenars refuse to work without Selena Dillon and her team of commandos, they soon find themselves back on Capulet in an uneasy alliance with the planetary administration and in a race against time to stop the enemy from destroying other cities.

Throughout the galaxy billions are dying as the war spreads. Despite her fear that the alien Manta and their allies will turn against them, Selena needs to truly unite the Alliance of Worlds and find a way to destroy the ForeRunners before it’s too late.

Selena knows there’s no more running, and that sooner or later there will be a final reckoning between herself and the queen. But even if they survive that long she needs to discover who will stand with her, and who against her, in this final confrontation with the tyrannical monarch.

 

Excerpt

Collecting Singh and Shadow, Selena found Baron waiting for them when they arrived. To her surprise, he was wearing the uniform of the Royal Bodyguard.

“Nice to meet you at last, Commander,” Baron said, saluting as he led the way. “A shame it’s under such circumstances. Like many here, I’ve followed your exploits. Tell me, is it true you once fed an enemy their own pets and didn’t tell them until they’d finished their meal?”

Selena gave him the once over. “No, but it’s an idea. Why, do you have any pets?”

He gave a half smile. “Ah, we’re far from enemies Commander, despite my uniform. I want this killer caught as much as you do. And no, I don’t have any pets, thankfully.”

Baron was a tall but slim man, his gray hair crewcut with a large balding area on his crown. He looked wrinkled and haggard, tired beyond belief. Yet his green eyes were kind and his voice soft.

She eyed his uniform. “You’re a member of the Royal Bodyguard. How come the colonel put you forward for this?”

“I believe that Her Majesty thought it a good idea and had a word. I can advise on protocol and other such matters.”

Putting her distrust to one side, they followed him, and passed through the military cordon and under the high white-stone arch into an alleyway that was so narrow daylight struggled against the gloom. The rough concrete buildings around them were obviously some of the first made by the colonists when they arrived, their ancient machines churning out concrete from native material to quickly provide the housing and protective walls needed for the settlers.

Shadowy doorways beckoned, boxes were piled against the walls, amidst occasional pools of water. Cats and rodents slipped through the gloom while rubbish scampered over the flagstones, driven by the soft breeze tainted with the stench of refuse.

“You look familiar somehow,” Selena said to Baron, after a while. “Do we know each other?”

His bottle-green eyes remained on hers. “No, but I was born on this world so we could easily have bumped into one another. We may even have mutual friends. You never know. I pop up in all kinds of places and work all hours, but when working exclusively for the queen I mostly do nights. I like the way the moons dance.”

Selena froze as he uttered the last phrase, recognising it as a rebel recognition code. Knowing the others will have noticed the phrase was slightly out of place, she just gave a slight nod of acknowledgement. At that moment, they stopped at a doorway and her eyes slid over the blood splattered wall and passageway. “Can you tell me what happened?”

“A citizen came through here late last night and found them. They’ve been eviscerated—gutted if you will. There’s not a single organ remaining, not even their brains or eyes.”

“There was just their bodies?”

“Aye Ma’am. They’ve been taken to the morgue. We’ve never had anything like this before, I think we’re a bit out of our depth.”

 

FOR A COMPLETE LIST OF TITLES AND DESCRIPTIONS CLICK HERE 

Cull Cover

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Portrait optMark’s short stories have been published in Back Brain Recluse, Dream, New Moon, Haunts, Kalkion, Screaming Dreams, and the anthologies Write to Fight, Escape Velocity, Auguries and Monk Punk. With over forty years’ experience in the martial arts and a 9th Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo, he’s written features for the magazines Combat, Taekwondo & Korean Martial Arts, Fighters, Junk, Martial Arts Illustrated, profwritingacademy.com and calmzone.net. He also runs a writer’s group for the British Science Fiction Association, along with The Scribe for Veterans with the help of The Royal British Legion.

His first full length work ‘Kwak’s Competition Taekwondo’, was published in Hong Kong, while he was based there with the Royal Navy for three years in 1985. His debut novel ‘A Pride of Lions’, Book I in The Darkening Stars, was published byA Pride of Lions Solstice in September 2013. Book II, ‘The Cull of Lions’, was published a year later. ‘Roar of Lions’ is the third book in the series.

Solstice have also published four novellas: ‘A Connoisseur of the Bizarre’, ‘Sally Jane’, ‘Nightshade’ and ‘Santa Claws is Coming’ – along with the short story compilation ‘Falling From Grace & Others’.

 

Buy Links

A Pride of Lions: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pride-Lions-Darkening-Stars/dp/149425445X/

The Cull of Lions: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cull-Lions-Darkening-Stars/dp/162526089X/

Roar of Lions:

Falling from Grace & Others: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Falling-Grace-Others-Mark-Iles-ebook/dp/B00OYV3CHE/

 

Media Links

Amazon authors page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mark-Iles/e/B004YZBP3I/

 

 

 

 

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THANK YOU!

Thrilled to announce that my three day giveaway on Amazon.com and .ca was an amazing success. I made it to top 10 (Satire) for about two hours, but stayed in the top 20 for three days on .com. Further, I made it to #271 over all for Canada on .ca. That’s a lot of downloads. Now, if 1% actually reads and likes it, maybe, maybe, maybe they’ll buy the others? Who knows.
Anyway, I’d just like to thank everyone here for downloading the beastie/spreading the word to others. It really, really worked.
Round of applause. You deserve it.
—A.B.
Honorable mention to KateMarie Collins for setting it up, Kathi Sprayberry for doing all the things she does, and always Melissa Miller for founding a wonderful community. Solstice, more than just a publisher! TYSM.

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AMAZON BEST SELLER SHELL GAME FREE TODAY THRU SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 23

I’m blown away. Since its debut on Thursday as a Free Kindle ebook, Shell Game has hovered between 13th and 16th spot on the Best Seller list for Satire. Now before you start laughing over the Best Seller stuff, remember that it actually means thousands of books in the hands of new readers.

I’m honored and humbled.

The Free Giveaway continues thru to midnight EST Saturday, September 23rd, and is available through Amazon.com and .ca. The links are below.

Take a walk on the wild side. These cats and their humans will surprise you!

Love,

A.B.

 

BORED & HEADED FOR TROUBLE

SHELL GAME

They’ve got it coming

 

and

https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B075M1K43Z/ref=pe_386430_122413350_TE_DP

SHELL GAME blip ad FREE DAY

 

 

 

IMG_20170628_181213_editOn a sombre note, it is with great sadness that I announce the passing of Fr. Phillip, who died early this morning under the wheels of a cell phone using, sports car driving, and profoundly inattentive human. He suffered no pain. A kindly neighbor who knew him and my family notified us immediately, and thanks to their quick thinking, he was transferred into my care. I buried him in the back garden where he loved to play. I will miss this free-ranging kitty with the preacher’s signature collar. In the year we knew him, Phillip refused all attempts to lure him indoors, but enjoyed our company and early morning breakfast of kibble and cat milk every day at 5 a.m. sharp. We will miss his eccentricities, his moodiness and often hissy temper when dealing with Kobe and other visitor felines. He was a prince among ferals. Safe journey, little traveler.

–A.B. Funkhauser  09.22.17

GOING NOIR WITH SIMON MALTMAN

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

 

1.

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

 

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

 

2.

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

 

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

 

3.

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

 

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

 

4.

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

 

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

 

5.

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

 

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

 

6.

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

 

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

 

7.

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

 

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

 

8.

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

 

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

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

 

A BIT ABOUT…

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

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

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

 

Excerpt

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

 

Praise for Simon Maltman

 

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

Crime Book Junkie

“Praise Satan for Bangorian Simon Maltman.”

Irish News

“Long may he continue.”

Hotpress magazine

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

Writing.ie

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

Dr. David M. Clark

Director Departamento de Filoloxía Inglesa

Universidade da Coruña

 

About the Author

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

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

 

Links

facebook.com/simonmaltmancrimefiction

twitter.com/simonmaltman

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

 

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

–ABF

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

 

 

FUNERAL DIRECTOR AS WRITER

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

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

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

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

after.life poster 1

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

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

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

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

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant, I am

FUNKHAUSER SIGNATURE

 

LINKS

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

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

Website: www.abfunkhauser.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamfunkhauser

Facebook: www.facebook.com/heuerlostandfound

Branded: https://branded.me/abfunkhauser

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

Publisher: http://solsticepublishing.com/

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

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

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

FAQ’s: https://abfunkhauser.com/faqs/

 

 

 

 

TIME TRAVELING TRIPLETS, TELEKINESIS AND K.C. SPRAYBERRY

Multi genre author K.C. Sprayberry stops by the blog to discuss her latest YA, PARADISE LOST BOOK 2 THE ULTIMATE PARADOX, with a little help from her characters who compare her to ‘mom’. Welcome K.C. Talk to us about Paradox 2.

 

Book CoverParadox Lost Book 2: The Ultimate Paradox is about triplets (DJ, Matt, and Elisa) that are also time travelers. DJ and Matt are typical brothers, shutting out their sister, but not for the typical reasons. They sense that she’s not really supposed to be with them, so they’re giving her the cold shoulder.

While in most ways, these teens seem very typical, they also possess incredible talents. Not only are all three strong telekinetics, they also have other talents, such as spellcasting, healing, thought reading, telepathy, and a whole host of other skills. They’re about to finish their education when the story began in book 1, but that derailed quickly when it became clear that a legacy foretold two centuries ago is now about to come true.

DJ, the eldest of the trio, has to run for his life after being convicted of his dad’s murder. Only Dad is still alive, but seriously injured, in another time. Matt is a ghost, having been killed in a Rogue attack in Mexico, but he’s not the kind of guy that sits back and does nothing just because all the other ghosts tell him that’s what they do now. Elisa is a captive at Beaufort School for Visionary Studies and she’s not taking that sitting down. Her captors soon learn that she’s not someone they should ever mess with.

DJ, Matt, and Elisa try to go on their own path, thinking that is the best way to solve the problem. That only delays them in their quest, until all of them are reminded that together they’re a force to be reckoned with and then they have to get past a few stumbling blocks before they’re ready to combine forces.

 

Paradox Lost: The Ultimate Paradox releases January 15, 2016!

 

Welcome to book two of a series much like Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, and Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.

 

If you had the chance to read Paradox Lost: Their Path, you came to know DJ, Matt, and Elisa, and discover the path destiny has laid out for them. In Paradox Lost: The Ultimate Paradox, these triplets each have to make their way through a series of obstacles and prepare for a showdown with Rogues.

This new story brings out new information about the Sullivans and the destiny none of them was aware would be theirs to claim, along with several big surprises.

 

Book Blurb

 

The past changed the future …

                                    . . . the future must salvage the past.

 

Falsely accused of murdering his father, DJ faces a terrible penalty. That’s the least of his worries—Uncle Toby and his army of Rogues are bent on tearing history apart, and DJ and his allies have to stop them any way they can. But only a True Neutral can save their world, and The First, his family’s ancestor, is long dead. His brother Matt was killed by Toby’s actions, and his sister Elisa is fighting her own demons.

The past created by their uncle needs to be uncreated into what it was meant to be. And these three teenagers, triplets and direct descendants of The First, must learn to ally with each other to correct the errors made real in the past.

And the Gateways reveal themselves as something no one ever suspected….

 

Pre-order now!

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01AATE9UW

Author Bio

author photoBorn and raised in Southern California’s Los Angeles basin, K.C. Sprayberry spent years traveling the United States and Europe while in the Air Force before settling in northwest Georgia. A new empty nester with her husband of more than twenty years, she spends her days figuring out new ways to torment her characters and coming up with innovative tales from the South and beyond.

She’s a multi-genre author who comes up with ideas from the strangest sources. Some of her short stories have appeared in anthologies, others in magazines.

 

 

Website/Blog/Twitter links

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/KC-Sprayberry/331150236901202

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kcsowriter

 

Blog: http://outofcontrolcharacters.blogspot.com/

 

Website: www.kcsprayberry.com

 

CHARACTER INTERVIEWS

 

DJ Sullivan

  1. Introduce yourself to our readers. Where do you fit into the story? What should we know about you?

 

Lucas Till as DJ Sullivan croppedI’m Dennis James Sullivan XI. Call me DJ. Everybody does. I’m the oldest of triplets. We’re pretty astral with our powers. Not just telekinesis and telepathy but other stuff. My big thing is the ability to use brute force when I’m out helping my dad. That’s why Matt died instead of me. Kind of sucks. I could have… well, maybe I couldn’t have stopped those boulders. We’ll never really know that.

Anyway, lots of strange things have been happening to me. My uncle, Toby, wanted to have my powers bound but my posse helped me out of that tight spot and we’re now in hiding. That doesn’t sit well with me. Like Matt, I’m a take action kind of guy, but unlike him, I also need to think about stuff before I do it. And all of these powers are scaring me a lot. Like who doesn’t know about the True Neutral. I sure don’t want all that responsibility.

 

  1. What do you think about the author? Tell us everything. We want to know.

 

Nice lady. A lot like Mom. Matt will probably say that too. We think alike too much. This person understands us, lets us be ourselves. Love that. She’s even giving me time to think about Lexie, my girl. Well, she might be my girl, if everything works out all right.

 

  1. What are your feelings about this story?

 

It’s a good story. Real. What we face with Rogues right now. Rogues are Travelers who don’t like the rules and aren’t willing to follow them. They do what they want. The whole personal gain thing doesn’t seem to have caught up with them yet, but it will. See, we can’t do anything that will help us out of a tight spot, unless it’s to help humanity. That’s why I haven’t been able to go back to that place in Mexico, before Rogues attacked, and bring back my aunts and uncles… and Matt.

 

  1. How do you feel about being a character in this book?

 

Hey, don’t get me wrong. Sure I’m down about losing most of my family, but being in this book, letting the world learn about Travelers? Fantastic! We’ve been doing this for so long and it’s time ordinary humans learned about us. It’s totally cool going back in time, or even seeing the future—and I want to do that so bad one day. First, though, we need to clean up this Rogue problem.

 

  1. What do you see in your future? (No spoilers please!)

 

More of the same until we have all Rogues taken care of. But that’s cool. No problem there. See, Matt and I would have been in Repairs if this whole Rogue War thing hadn’t gotten in our way. Repairs is where Travelers go fix problems that have come up. We would have even got to work with TES (Traveler Enforcement Squad) to stop other Travelers from changing history. Now I’m not sure what I’ll do once we finish here. Sure would like to have a lot more adventures.

 

  1. Is there another Paradox Lost book in the future? Will you be part of it?

 

A few more. That’s what Matt and Elisa keep telling me. Sure hope they don’t include that whole True Neutral thing. I’d like to have a normal life for a while, as normal as Travelers can have.

 

  1. Say a movie producer comes knocking. What actor/actress would you want to play you and why?

 

Someone wants to make a movie about Travelers? Cool. Totally cool. Who would I want to play me? Let me think. There’s this guy. Just did a movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past a few years back. Lucas Till is his name. Yeah, he’d play me really well.

 

Matt Sullivan

  1. Introduce yourself to our readers. Where do you fit into the story? What should we know about you?

 

Stefano Masciolini as Matt SullivanYo, Matt here. Yeah. That’s right. The guy that died in the first book is coming on strong in this one. I get to tell my own story, and let me tell you, I’m not gonna hang around wherever the cosmos has stuck me and cry about being dead.

I’m the middle triplet, the one that is always on the go, always thinking up new pranks. Now, though, I’m the guy with a mission—to help my brother and sister kick some Rogue ass. First, though, I have to figure out how to get away from this prison without walls where I’m stuck, and that’s going to take quite a bit of work. Turns out that whole personal gain thing I’ve lived with all my life and didn’t think much about? Well, around here, it’s huge. You want to use someone for something, you run into this invisible wall that knocks you backward. Can’t get through it. But I’ll figure out how to get out. You can bet on that.

So, you want to know more about me, do you? I’m pretty much a what you see is what you get sort of guy. No sitting around discussing things in committee for me. Action—that’s where I’m at. Let someone else handle all the discussions. I’ll be out there teaching those Rogues a lesson they won’t ever forget.

 

  1. What do you think about the author? Tell us everything. We want to know.

Awesome lady. Kind of reminds me a lot of my mom. You know the type. Family first, kick the backside of anyone that hurts them. Herself last. She’s pretty cool the way she lets me take the lead instead of shoving me into a corner while Elisa and DJ get to have all the fun.

 

  1. What are your feelings about this story?

 

This story is intense. All our lives DJ and me (oh yeah, and Elisa) have had to live with this legend about the True Neutral. We’ve all heard over and over again how The First made this prophecy that someday, someone would get all the powers Travelers have. Crazy if you ask me. Some of those powers will be the direct opposite of others, but that’s the way it is. Anyway, like who wouldn’t want to be this person in total control? But not me. No way. I’m not a give orders kind of person, and besides, nobody would listen to me. But the story, especially the parts when I get to see my girl, Dixie, great.

 

  1. How do you feel about being a character in this book?

 

Love it. Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. People need to know what Travelers really can do, and why we can’t sometimes. They also need to know all about personal gain. That’s pretty important. It’s kind of like this—we can’t go save you from messing up your whole life because you’re about to be in more trouble than you thought possible. That was your choice. You have to pay that price.

 

It’s kind of like what happened to me when I begged to go with my dad in book 1. That wasn’t what I wanted, and I sure don’t like the consequences, but I figure I’ll somehow get used to this prison without bars. Maybe.

 

  1. What do you see in your future? (No spoilers please!)

 

Well… you mentioned no spoilers. Not much I can tell you except that there will be another book soon. Other than that, I’ll probably go back to that prison without walls, until it’s time to break free again.

 

  1. Is there another Paradox Lost book in the future? Will you be part of it?

 

Oh yeah. At least two. More if I can help it. I love the adventures, even as a ghost. Definitely going to make sure there are more books.

 

  1. Say a movie producer comes knocking. What actor/actress would you want to play you and why?

 

An actor playing me? Really? Definitely Stefano Masciolini. Dude might be Italian, but he looks exactly like me. And he’s into all the action and kicking major butt thing.

 

 

Elisa Sullivan

  1. Introduce yourself to our readers. Where do you fit into the story? What should we know about you?

 

Sophie Turner as Elisa SullivanMy name is Elisa Sullivan. I’m a Traveler. That means that I get to travel through time on these really great Gateways. And I can talk to them. Not many Travelers think Gateways are sentient, but they are.

I’m a triplet, the youngest one. Our family is part of this kind of scary but totally awesome legacy, where one of us is supposed to become the True Neutral. Only no one really knows when that will happen. And everything about Travelers, especially Sullivans, is connected to the 1906 Great Earthquake and Fires in San Francisco. There’s a huge world out there, but we can’t seem to get past the ‘original event’ and figure out that a lot of people need our help. Sure hope that happens soon, ‘cause I think I can find places where we can do a lot of good.

 

  1. What do you think about the author? Tell us everything. We want to know.

 

She’s great. I like how she makes me so strong, but also lets me be afraid. That’s real, how most girls will react in the situations I face. And she doesn’t make me into some wimpy crybaby. But that whole screaming thing? Yeah, I do need to learn how to tone that down. A lot. Got to hear myself as a little girl doing it. Wow! That really hurts the ears.

 

  1. What are your feelings about this story?

 

It’s a fabulous story, full of adventure and intrigue. My awful uncle doesn’t realize that I’m the one person he never can control. He tries, though. Has since I was a little girl, but I don’t like Toby one bit and I’ll never do anything he wants.

 

  1. How do you feel about being a character in this book?

 

I love it. Well, there are times when I’m not so sure, but mostly it’s a lot of fun. Can you imagine being able to hide from everyone on plain sight or sneaking around as a spirit and then going back to your body? And traveling through time, seeing all those great places. Riding in Gateways is a blast.

 

  1. What do you see in your future? (No spoilers please!)

 

Oh, a lot more adventure. My brothers—all Travelers—will learn that I won’t sit in the shadows any longer. I am as good as Matt and DJ, and I won’t let anyone stop me from being part of their adventures!

 

First, though, we have to get through the third book, and kick some major Rogue butt. I’m really thinking I need to deal with Miranda. She really pisses me off with that “wittle baby” thing she’s always doing. I’ll show her who is a baby. (pauses for a minute.) Or maybe not. Is that personal gain? Can I get in trouble for that?

 

  1. Is there another Paradox Lost book in the future? Will you be part of it?

 

Current plans are for at least one more Paradox Lost book, possibly two. Who knows what the future holds? This trio of young adults seem to like the action.

 

  1. Say a movie producer comes knocking. What actor/actress would you want to play you and why?

 

For Elisa? Sophie Turner from Game of Thrones. She’s an actress that has to overcome numerous obstacles. I can see her reveling in the role of Elisa, the child no one accepted, felt as if she shouldn’t have been there.

 

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/2dzY5Z0qOrY

 

Social Media Links:

 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/KC-Sprayberry/331150236901202

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kcsowriter

 

Blog: http://outofcontrolcharacters.blogspot.com/

 

Website: www.kcsprayberry.com

 

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5011219.K_C_Sprayberry

 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005DI1YOU

 

Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+KcSprayberry/posts

 

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/kcsprayberry/boards/

 

Manic Readers:

http://www.manicreaders.com/KCSprayberry/

 

AUTHORSdB:

http://authorsdb.com/authors-directory/5230-k-c-sprayberry

 

 

CRIME AND GONZO

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant,

 

I am A.B. Funkhauser

Member, Sisters in Crime, Toronto Chapter

Bailey's Undertaker

PRESENTING NATIONAL TREASURE AUTHOR SUSAN SOLOMON

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

 Q & A

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s next?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any last words?

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

The Magic of Murder

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

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

What people are saying

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

—Frederick Crook, author, Of Knight & Devil

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

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

Links Image

www.susanlynnsolomon.com

www.facebook.com/susanlynnsolomon

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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

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

Excerpt from The Magic of Murder

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

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

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

“What?” I said to her.

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

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

She snorted.

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

She tilted her head.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Me or the cat?” I said.

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

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

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

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

Roger laughed out loud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You okay?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I, uh, stopped by to, um…” he said.

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

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

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

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

“It’s from my mother,” I said.

“What is it?” Roger asked.

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

“So, open it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He pushed the box in front of me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What now?” Roger asked.

“I need something to slice the tape with.”

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

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

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

“What is it?” Roger asked.

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

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

Elvira sniffed the book and purred.

Quickly, I refolded the letter.

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

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

What? I already said I have a vivid imagination.

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

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

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

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

ABF

TEN AUTHORS, TEN DAYS: DAY SEVEN: SIMONE SALMON

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

Welcome, Simone!

 

CAMILLE AND THE BEARS OF BEISA-DRAFNEL

 

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

Sometimes unlearning the truth reveals centuries of lies. 

Sometimes the shadows in the periphery simplify complex realities. 

Sometimes love is an expansive concept riddled with explosive diversions. 

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

 

Q & A

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

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

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

Old black magic book with lights on pages

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

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

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

  1. Are you a Tolkein fan?

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

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

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

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

  1. What’s next?

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

  1. I love the cover. Who designed it?

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

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

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

  1. Happy endings: for or against?

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

Ed. Count on it!

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Links Image

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

Twitter: @miraclemindcoac

Blog: Origisims

Website: www.ssalmonauthor.com

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

Goodreads: Goodreads

 

Press

Review on Clatter and Clank – Fiction by BR Sanders

Spotlight on Alex McGilvery’s World

Feature on Tevis Shkodra – Dystopianauthor.com

Review by Merrill Chapman – Rule-set.com

Spotlight on Books and Blondes – John E. Guzzardo

Spotlight on Get In John’s Head

Spotlight on Tales of a Bookworm – Jaelyn Quisel

Feature on The Dark Geisha – Eden Royce

Spotlight on Gloria Weber’s Blog

Feature on The Mysterious Ink Spot – Rachel Stapleton

Interview with BR Sanders

 

Book Buy Link

getBook.at/ssalmon-drafnel

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

ABF

 

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

–Khalil Gibran

TOMORROW:

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

Karen jpeg

 

 

TEN AUTHORS, TEN DAYS: DAY FIVE: HOWARD GLEICHENHAUS

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

 

THE SUBTERFUGE CONSPIRACY

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

  1. Care to share a publishing anecdote?

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

 

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

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

 

  1. What’s next?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

After a short career in neuro-biochemical research at Rockland

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

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

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

 

AUTHOR’S PHOTO GALLERY

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

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

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

Cheers. ABF

 

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

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