RICHARD WALL ON MUSIC, MYTH AND THE CROSSROADS

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

1.

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

 

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

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

 

2.

You’ve got to be a musician. Right?

 

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

 

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

 

3.

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

 

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

 

4.

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

 

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

 

5.

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

 

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

 

Ed. – Clever!

 

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

 

6.

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

 

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

 

7.

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

 

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

 

Ed. – I’m on it.

 

8.

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

 

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

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

 

9.

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

 

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

 

Ed. – 🙂

 

10.

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

 

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

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

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

 

 11.

Any last words?

 

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

 

Ed. – Amen, brother.

 

Novels and Short Stories by Richard Wall

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

My Review of Fat Man Blues

Review Fat Man Blues

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

 

All titles available through the author’s Amazon author page

About the Author

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

LOOKING INTO THE UNEXPLAINED WITH DAVID MANNES

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

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

Welcome to the blog, David.

 

 

1.

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

 

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

 

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

 

2.

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

 

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

 

3.

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

 

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

 

4.

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

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

 

5.

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

 

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

           

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

 

6.

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

 

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

 

7.

What is the glue that holds society together currently?

 

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

 

 

8.

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

 

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

 

9.

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

 

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

 

10.

Any last words?

 

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

 

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

 

THE CANTOR’S SON

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

 

 

SCARLET VENGEANCE 

Released October 14, 2016

 

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

 

THE TUNGUSKA ENCOUNTER

Released September 30, 2016

 

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

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

 

About the Author

david-m-mannes_4847_100516

 

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

 

 

Links

 

Email: david_mannes@hotmail.com

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

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

FROM COMEDY TO MURDER, VERSATILE AUTHOR JACK B. STRANDBURG KEEPS ‘EM ROLLING

He began his writing career on a lark, penning a humorous tale of cowpokes with a taste for larceny. Little did he know that that work would be published years later with more to follow. Multi-genre author Jack B. Strandburg can celebrate: the muse is strong with more to come.

 

1.

Welcome to the blog, Jack. Tell me, how did you go from a pool sharking Western comedy a la Mel Brooks to a serial killer thriller?

 

I wrote the Western comedy in the mid 1980’s just for fun, with no thought or dream of ever publishing the work. Even when I wanted to become an author, I never dreamed this work was good enough to make the grade. It just happened to kick off my publishing career (if you can call it a career). I’ve always loved the mystery, suspense, and thriller genre, however, so once I decided to pursue my dream, I knew that genre would be the one of choice.

 

2.

Your current WIPs focus on investigations: one from the POV of an armed forces veteran; the other from someone inside the police force. How does this style of detective work compare? Does the veteran have more freedom than the cop, as in the case of a P.I.?

 

I don’t really focus too much on the “definition” of a P.I. vs. a cop vs. another protagonist, but you’re right in assuming the veteran will have more freedom. I’m more concerned with my protagonist making sure the antagonist gets the justice he or she deserves, even if the cop, P.I., or other have to bend the law a little.

 

3.

THE MONOGRAM KILLER has ‘history in the mystery.’ Can you give us a teaser?

 

Catherine chewed her lip before answering. “I didn’t recognize the name either, so I did some research. Herman Mudgett is the real name of Dr. Henry Holmes, allegedly the first documented serial killer in America. In the 1880s, he operated a hotel in Chicago. They called it The Murder Castle. It was a torture chamber. He confessed to twenty-seven murders but evidence suggested there were actually two-hundred or more. Some believed he was Jack the Ripper but that was never proven.”

 

4.

And of course, I’d love a look at HUSTLE HENRY. I keep thinking of A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST.

 

Twelve days later, Henry sat in a saloon in Flintrock, Texas sipping whiskey from a shot glass riddled with fingerprints. The barkeep claimed his towels were too soiled from wiping up beer and tobacco spit from the floor and counter to keep the glasses clean. Whatever. The saloon had seen better days. The legs on most of the chairs and tables were either cracked or broken, the walls bare, the piano hideously out of tune, and the stairs so rickety, the survival rate for getting to the upper floor was less than twenty percent. The odor of urine and vomit mixed with liquor hung in the air like a horse’s fart in high humidity. Flintrock, located two-hundred miles south of the Oklahoma-Texas border, would never rank high as an Old West tourist attraction.

 

5.

The Sahara sands paid you a recent visit. What is that like and have you dug out?

 

A few years ago I was diagnosed with allergies to dust mites and mold. Allergy shots have helped, but the dust dropped by the sandstorm flared my allergy symptoms. Unfortunately, I don’t get a runny nose, itchy eyes, or scratchy throat, my symptoms are lethargy followed by fatigue. At first I didn’t know the reason why my allergies flared up until I read about the sandstorm. People all over Southeastern Texas (apparently the storm’s destination) are flocking to doctors, many asking why they are getting symptoms they never experienced before. Those suffering with asthma and respiratory ailments are warned to stay indoors as much as possible. I guess I should consider myself somewhat fortunate I’m not more sick. The situation is improving, and I don’t have the symptoms as often, but still must fight through occasional suffering.

 

Ed. – You have my sympathies, sir. I’m currently surrounded by Ragweed!

 

6.

Any last words?

 

Anyone with creative talent and who wants to be a writer / author, keep on the lookout for sources of inspiration. They could come from anywhere. The idea for The Monogram Killer came when I was on the treadmill listening to “Hollywood Nights” by Bob Seger. The first two lines go, “She stood there bright as the sun on that California coast, He was a Midwestern boy on his own.” I had two characters, one wanting to meet the other, somehow it became a serial killer story with a paranormal twist. Go figure.

 

Ed. – I couldn’t agree more.

 

TITLES BY JACK B. STRANDBURG

Hustle Henry and the Cue-Ball Kid

Published by Solstice Publishing:

hustle_henry_and_the_cue-ball_kid_coverClarence Flannery was luckier than most men his age to discover his life’s ambition, particularly in the unpredictable years just following the Civil War. Born with an unmatched skill to play pool, he left his home in Kansas when he turned twenty-six and traveled throughout the Southwestern United States to make his mark as a legendary pool hustler, with every intention of amassing a fortune in the process.
Clarence needed help for both support and protection, and recruited James Skinner as his partner, along with nine other highly-skilled pool players to assist him in his quest.
Wanting to be included in the same sentence as Attila the Hun and Alexander the Great, Clarence changed his name to Hustle Henry, Skinner became the Cue-Ball Kid, and the eleven men would go down in history as The Hole-in-the-Table-Bunch, known far and wide for hustling wannabe pool sharks out of their life savings.
All goes to plan and life has a rosy and profitable outlook, but Henry and his men want more than what pool halls and saloons offer, so they decide to challenge the more affluent clientele on a riverboat.
Initially, the venture proves profitable, but the millionaire tycoon and owner of the fleet of riverboats, takes exception, and intends to bring down the Bunch and thrust Henry and The Kid into a life of destitution.
Taking along the Kid’s girlfriend, Penelope Henderson, the Kid and Henry flee to South America – where there will be a final showdown…
Hustle Henry and the Cue-Ball Kid is a fiction work of Western humor with an interesting and amusing cast of characters.

 

 

Reviews

 

“I have to give accolades to the author for being unique — I never would have thought of writing a historical western about a pool hustler, of all things! In my opinion the book is one that you can’t take too seriously — it’s meant to be fun and light hearted and the writer accomplishes just that. I think guys would get a kick out of this one.”

“Loved the character and the format! Very happy with the writing, an easy and very fun read! Hoping this author will work on another!”

“Very Easy reading. The story line kept me wanting to know what was next in the story. I highly recommend reading this book.”

 

 

The Monogram Killer

Published by Solstice Publishing

the_monogram_killer_coverWhen Julia Ballard meets Kelly Nichols, she believed he was the man of her dreams. Julia’s best friend has doubts, and her investigation into Nichols’s life encourages her suspicions. Despite Jessica’s warnings, Julia is convinced he is sincere and cares for her. Nichols is hiding secrets from a legacy he cannot escape, and Julia is the key to a sinister plan. When two homicide detectives combine forces to search for a serial killer, it becomes a race to see who accomplishes their goal first.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reviews

 

“Excellent story, well told. Jack leads you on an emotional roller coaster ride by the heroine and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Quick read and before you knew it, the mystery was solved. Great character development, wonderful and professionally descriptive prose and several twists and turns kept me tuned in. Need more like this!!”

“Surprise ending. Like the history behind the mystery.”

“A romance – a mystery – a surprise. Before I knew it I was at the end. A good read for all.”

 

 

Works in Progress

 

A Matter of Honor (short story) – Luke Coleman returns from the armed forces and learns the truth about the deaths of his father and brother, both police officers.

 

A Head in the Game (novel) – Chicago Homicide Inspector Aaron Randall faces his toughest case while dealing with doubts about his career and the potential of a romantic relationship. Jared Prescott, a Heisman Trophy winner and Vice President of a large and respected pharmaceutical company, is found murdered at a seedy motel. The investigation uncovers more suspects than normal, with motives ranging from jealousy to revenge to extortion. When the body of his close friend and number one informant is found stabbed to death in a deserted alley, and a woman claiming to be present at the time of Prescott’s murder is gunned down in front of him, and a woman who worked for the same company is found murdered in her home, Randall knows he is dealing with a conspiracy. Randall is hamstrung during the investigation by pressure from the commissioner down the chain of command because the president of the pharmaceutical company, anxious for resolution to Jared Prescott’s murder, is a close friend with a Senator whose sights are set on the Oval Office.

 

 

About the Author

 

jack_website_picJack Strandburg was born and raised in Cleveland Ohio.  He is a degreed professional with a background in Accounting and Information Technology and recently retired after more than 33 years working for a Fortune 500 company.  He has been writing since his teenage years.

He self-published an inspirational titled An Appointment With God: One Ordinary Man’s an_appointment_with_god_coverJourney to Faith Through Prayer, by Trafford Publishing.

His first published novel by Solstice Publishing is Hustle Henry and the Cue-Ball Kid, a parody of the movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

His third work, a novella titled The Monogram Killer, published by Solstice Publishing, was released in May, 2016.

He is currently working on a short story titled A Matter of Honor, revising his first mystery novel, A Head in the Game, writing journals for an upcoming inspirational non-fiction book; and completed 70% of a first draft for a second mystery novel titled War Zone.

He is an editor and proofreader for Solstice Publishing.

Jack currently lives with his wife and two grown children, in Sugar Land, Texas. He has three grandchildren.

 

 

Links

 

An Appointment With God

 

Hustle Henry and the Cue-Ball Kid

 

The Monogram Killer

 

 

Thank you for joining us, Jack. We look forward to your WIP’s. Write on!

 

TOMORROW: Author and poet A.F. Stewart shares HORROR HAIKU and the art of a line.

RAEGYN PERRY AND A PAS DE DEUX FOR THE AGES

big-book-imageTorrential rain spikes. A scream pierces the dark night. Greye Fields has immersed herself in her literary work, with no desire to chase the inevitable sting of rejection she knows too well. She won’t allow herself the time or the desire to pursue love. Until she meets him. Connor Donovan is perfectly content with his bachelor status. Life is good, teaching middle school English, and being the favorite uncle. He wants for nothing. Until he meets her. Shattered glass. A wash of blood. Is it a nightmare or a memory? Can Connor and Greye overcome the obstacles to the love of all time, or is tragedy doomed to be repeated? What if love found the right people in the wrong time?

Eleven months after the release of LAVENDER FIELDS, Solstice author Raegyn Perry returns to the blog with a clutch of five star reviews AND an exciting WIP on the way. FIELDS is the beginning, CYPRESS GROVES is the continuum with characters old and new. Welcome back, Raegyn.

1.

Lavender Fields won an award. Tell us about that.

 

readers-favorite-awardIt was a FIVE STAR review actually from Reader’s Favorite. RF is a great online site that connects authors and readers. We all know any exposure is key to getting more readers. Having someone enjoy the story, and give it 5 *’s is like the icing, sprinkles and cute decoration on the adorable, moist and delicious cupcake!

 

2.

Critical praise has been stellar. One reviewer, in particular, referred to a scene so unique that nothing else like it shows up in literature. You can’t leave me hanging here, friend. Can you give us a clue???

 

It is a pivotal scene! All I can say is, it is actually part of a bigger revelation in the second and third books!

 

3.

You’ve been kind enough to suggest a dream cast for Lavender Fields, the movie. I love, love, love, Zoe Saldana. She commands a room with a glance. Can you give us a sketch about her Lavender Fields character?

 

I love Zoe too! She would be perfect as Greye Fields, a well-to-do executive at the Literacy Foundation in Boston. She is a writer and admitted daydreamer. She knows love hurts, and would just as soon avoid it. An unexpected encounter with a handsome man has Greye rethinking her life plan. Just when it seems things couldn’t be more perfect, they go terribly awry. She learns that sometimes memories can be signs of history being tragically repeated, or of an amazing second chance at love.

dream-cast-banner

 

4.

You have romance, mystery, and paranormal elements in book one of the series and book two is on the way. Tell us about your WIP and what we can expect from your amazing cast of characters.

 

cypress-groveCypress Groves will take the paranormal aspect in a different, darker direction. Single mom Angela Donovan left Boston to come back home to Roy, WA to start her life over. Tragedy befalls one of their own, and the timing is suspect with a stranger coming to town to solve the community’s financial woes. There is also a new sheriff in town. (always wanted to say that!). Is the small town as safe as it once was? What is the likelihood of the stranger, who also came from Boston, is a coincidence? Is Angela in danger for her life or for her heart? There are cameos from some Lavender Fields characters, as well as some fun, interesting (and dangerous) ones.

 

5.

Reincarnation figures prominently in your storyline(s). It is a tantalizing idea, especially when we enter into the notion that memories can be passed from generation to generation. Have you ever experienced moments of déjà vu? Do you have a strong affiliation with another part of the world where you have never been before in this life?

 

17284329I did quite a bit of research when I decided to go with a reincarnation theme. My characters in Lavender Fields have connections with Ireland, but myself, I have a strong connection for some reason with France. I haven’t fully traced any roots/ancestry there, but I remember when I went to Paris once, I felt like I could have moved there and been just fine. In my home, I have a lot of Paris themed décor’ all over!  I’m even on Duolingo brushing up my Parlant Français!

 

6.

Your biography says you’re a binge watcher. Spill! What are you currently engrossed in?

 

Oh, I can binge-watch like nobody’s business! I’m currently engrossed in a fun show from New Zealand called ‘The Almighty Johnson’s’-about four brothers who are the human incarnation of the Norse Gods. My all time favorite binge watch is still hands down, ‘Chuck’. I can go on- Outlander, Limitless…

 

7.

Any last words?

 

Thanks for having me on A.B.! You’re one of my favorite “Solstice Siblings!” Hugz!

 

Solstice Publishing

 

Well, thank you, darlin’! I’m really looking forward to CYPRESS GROVES.

 

Let’s check out the trailer for LAVENDER FIELDS. The star looks familiar! NOTE: Raegyn is an actor, too!

 

About Raegyn

 
download-1Raegyn (pronounced Reagan) Perry is thrilled to share her debut novel, Lavender Fields, with readers. This is the first book in the Eternal Journey Series. It asks the question,

‘What if love found the right people, at the wrong time?’

With the inspiration coming from a true family story, and having found the uninhibited time to write, a story of unequaled love and desperate circumstances was born.

When not writing, Raegyn is perfectly content curled up with a good book, TV binge watching, or on a fun travel adventure. Also, anyone who knows her knows she loves to dance (a lot!) wherever and whenever possible! How would she describe Lavender Fields?


big-book-image“It’s a paranormal romance that centers around reincarnation; so it’s basically two romances! The story is funny, sexy, dark, and raw while being twisted, mysterious, and still somehow romantic.”

Raegyn believes readers can connect with her lovers, Connor and Greye, on a few levels. It has the elements of the classic love story: boy meets & gets girl, but it also tackles some real and uncomfortable issues, while introducing characters that anyone can relate to, root for, or despise altogether! Then, throw some odd clues with a helping of paranormal in, and you have a unique take on a timeless aspect of romance. The author hopes so anyway!

For a love even time can’t deny…

After Raegyn completes the Eternal Journey Series, she hopes to begin work on another series, which readers can actually catch a glimpse of first within the pages of Lavender Fields.

The beautiful Pacific Northwest state of Washington has been home since 2001. She has one grown son whom she adores. Raegyn is currently working on the second book in the series, Cypress Groves, and as a playwright, she’s currently investigating options to get her full length stage play, Daisy Juice produced in the area.

 

 

 

Excerpt 

 Excerpt from Lavender Fields 

The Dream

 

Screams of outrage and pain crashed against the howling wind. Breaking glass followed while a crimson ooze covered the wet ground.

A lingering scent carried on the breeze was swallowed by the night. The orange glow on the horizon turned an ominous dark and the sky rumbled with agitation.

Each time the dream came to her, it was as vivid and profound as before. Through the fog of this dream appeared a hazy universal image. The small, obscure wooden marker at the top of the hill marked a long-forgotten resting place.

 

Greye had dozed off on the park bench and the haunting dream had come upon her again, as it had so many times in years past. She was never able to understand the nightmare, and it unsettled her still, as an adult. Set in a faraway place and time, there was always something more just beneath the surface… hinting at an unknown that should somehow be familiar.

Greye couldn’t have known the role this recurring dream would play in her future.

***

 

Greye looked down to begin writing again when a searing pain shot straight up her leg. She froze in shocked confusion. She grabbed her knee as her eyes blurred with tears. Then she noticed the bright green Frisbee that had smashed into her right kneecap.

The kids were now otherwise occupied, their voices softer and further in the distance. The man was approaching with the Lab in stride. Greye could sense he had stopped in front of her. She heard an anxious and strong, deep voice.

“Oh God, I’m so sorry. Are you OK? I’m so sorry.”

Clutching her throbbing knee with one hand, and wiping her eyes with the other, Greye looked up into his cobalt blues, which were still cringed looking at where his errant disk had landed. Managing to conceal an unexpected sigh, she replied, “I’m fine, I think. Just wasn’t expecting it.”

 

She watched as he drew a hand through his dark, short hair. It was a nervous habit she figured. She also noticed the tousled, shiny waves that threatened to end in curls if his hair got much longer.

***

Connor caught an intriguing scent on the wind he thought he remembered, but couldn’t quite place. “My apologies really. I didn’t expect it to catch that much air.”

As if feeling guilty by association, the golden Lab came and rested its big head on her uninjured leg. When Connor saw the smile she gave his best friend, a warm feeling began to blossom in his chest.

 

Scratching the dog’s ears, she offered, “It’s OK, I’ll live. May never walk right, but I’ll live.”

The casual smirk she quickly added had Connor feeling the stricken pallor of his face blush with heat.

 

“Well, it has to be said, there has been considerable advancement in knee replacement these days. Though I do hope it doesn’t come to that.”

Greye let a soft laugh escape and she countered with, “I don’t think it will. I’m tough. I’ll forego the surgery, and wear this limp with pride.” She gently massaged her red and puffy knee.

 

This time Connor had to laugh. He really liked this pretty woman with the quick and easy comebacks. She appeared to be of mixed race, most likely black and white, with her flawless honey colored complexion. It was those expressive green eyes he found he could get easily lost in. He strongly resisted the urge to touch her soft chin length brown hair, which he noticed, was lit with auburn highlights as it fell in loose waves around a diamond shaped face. He noticed a scar than ran just under her jaw line. Her slender body looked to be in pretty good shape as well.

 

With a cocky grin, and a small bow he said, “A battle wound then I most humbly take credit for. Then he added, “I couldn’t help but notice your perfume. It’s really … nice.”

“Thank you. It’s just hand lotion; honey and—”

“Lavender,” he finished. That’s her scent.

She replied, “It’s honey and lavender, yes.”

 

LINKS AND PRAISE

Lavender Fields (Book 1 of the Eternal Journey Series)

Cypress Groves (Book 2 of the Eternal Journey Series) -WIP

FB Author page:      http://facebook.com/authorRaegynPerry

Twitter:                http://twitter.com/RaegynP

Website:              http://raegynperry.com

Blogsite:               http://raegynperry.wordpress.com

Affiliations:        PNWA (Pacific NW Writers Association) Romance Writers of America

Publisher:            Solstice Publishing/Summer Solstice

Email:                    raegynperrywrites@gmail.com

 

Find out why readers are laughing, crying, and fanning themselves over Lavender Fields! Maybe it’s the humor, heart and hotness within its pages!

 

 readers-favorite-award

***** “Raegyn Perry has a unique talent for transporting her readers beyond the here and now. I found that I was incredibly involved in the love story of Greye and Connor.”

– Angela Beck-Kalnins for Readers’ Favorite

 

***** (5 Stars)

Lavender Fields is a multilayered story that captures the reader’s attention. My first criteria for a good book is do I care about the characters. Greye and Connor have the protagonist likability factors. As their love story unfolds we are given glimpses into an underlying drama. Just a hint of foreshadowing and coincidence that move the story along beautifully. One particular scene is so unique that I have never experienced it in literature (and no, I am not describing it because that would spoil the impact of it.)
I enthusiastically recommend this book and am looking forward to the next installment in the trilogy.
Great work, Raegyn Perry!

~Linda R.

***** (5 Stars)

I loved this story! Lavender Fields is a mixture of mystery, romance and intrigue. It is at times, thought provoking and I could feel the emotions that Miss Perry was spilling over the pages of this heart wrenching love story. The correlation of the past and present comes to together to solve a mystery that pulls the reader in and then tips them over with the reveal. I can’t wait for the sequel!

-Vicki-Ann Bush (Author of Room 629, Fulfillment)

 

Available in eBook and Paperback formats

 

Solstice Publishing: http://solsticepublishing.com/lavender-fields/

Amazon:   http://www.amazon.com/Lavender-Fields-Eternal-Journey-Book-ebook/dp/B015NC4D8E

Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lavender-fields-raegyn-perry/1122711459?ean=9781625262790

Bookgoodies:    http://bookgoodies.com/a/B015NC4D8E

 

 

TOMORROW: KATEMARIE COLLINS AND THE CAVEATS ASSOCIATED WITH INHERITED WEALTH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PARANORMAL CRIME WRITER DAZZLES WITH MULTI-ERA ANTHOLOGY

witchee pooFresh off the Carnival of Parahorror in Buffalo, N.Y., author Susan Lynn Solomon couldn’t fly higher. Not only did she sell a ton of books, but she got to road test her brand new Turbo Charged 5.0 liter RT racing broom. Okay…some of this is not true — the broom blew a spark plug and wouldn’t fly — and Susan, with her dry sense of humor, would be the first to NOT point this out. Likewise her character Emlyn Goode who is a modern day witch coming to terms with her newly inherited power.

 

It was my great pleasure to read and review THE MAGIC OF MURDER and BELLA VITA in 2016. Now it is my additional pleasure to spotlight an amazing new anthology as well as the author that sparkles behind it. Ready, Susan?

 

 

1.

Your anthology VOICES IN MY HEAD covers so many different eras. From whence comes the historian, sociologist, and sage, and how long did it take you to complete the collection?

 

How long did it take to complete the collection of “Voices In My Head Stories…? Hmm. Leave it to you, my friend, to ask the hardest question first. At my very advanced age, it’s hard to remember back that far. Fact is, dear heart, these days it’s hard to remember what I ate for lunch yesterday. Maybe if I spread out my tarot cards… Sorry, got lost for a second in the research I’ve done for the next Emlyn Goode Murder Mystery.

 

Okay, I wrote the first draft of “Mystery of the Carousel” about 12 years ago. A friend asked me to do a story for the museum in what used to be Herschell’s Carousels and Amusements Factory.  I’d been playing with the story on and off since then—just couldn’t seem to get it right. Then, last year I figuratively pulled it out of my drawer while searching for my notes on another story. After reading the first page, I recalled an article on PTSD I’d recently read in the newspaper. “Oh,” I said to my bedroom wall (my bedroom is where I do my writing), “is THAT what this story is about?” Working late into the night, two days later the story was finished.

 

Ah, and “Witches Gumbo”. About 10 years ago I was trying to write a romance for a short story competition. Short? Right. The competition limited the word count to 3,000, but the story kept growing and growing until it slid into the novella stage. It was about a woman—a descendent of a Louisiana bayou witch—who’d been hurt and was afraid to love again. She was using her distant relative’s writings to get past her fear. Not terribly original, but hey, I was reading Nicholas Spark’s books at the time. Anyhow, I brought the story to my writer’s group one evening. After I received comments on it, Trudy Crusella, who was moderating our group at the time, told me that while the writing was good, she was more interested in the back story set in my mythical Bayou Lafit. Happily, I listened to her. A lot of research into witchcraft, the nature of bayous and the use of language by people who lived there at the time, and I had a story. I can’t begin to thank Trudy enough. Seven years ago (and a lot of rewriting later) “Witches Gumbo” became my first published story.

 

As to why these stories take on their historical settings… I have no idea. The places and people—what they do and say… I suspect those characters jabber away in my head all night, because when I wake up, they’re sitting near my computer, yelling at me to listen to them.

 

AND THIS JUST IN…

mandm-126x150-126x150

 

2.

In his assessment of you as writer Gary Earl Ross touts you as a “devilishly clever tour guide who puts us in touch with the ‘rhythm of our lives’.” Did you know you were doing that?

 

Aw, Gary’s just being kind to a frail old woman… And me, Devilish? Why, A.B., who could think such a thing… cackle cackle. All I’m doing is telling fantastic lies… What? Aren’t we authors just professional liars?

 

Okay, okay. I’ve been around a while, gone places and done things—for some of which my mother would have beaten me with a spoon. Once upon a time I was a campus radical, then a music business attorney, and then I spent some years as a contributing editor and page designer for an art magazine. What underlies my stories, whether realistic or more fantastic, is what I’ve seen. And heard. People I’ve met, and the fixes they, like I, have gotten into. You might want to again read “Kaddish”, the last story in Voices In My Head” to see what I mean. “Kaddish” is blushingly close to autobiographical, and tells more about me than I usually let on.

 

So, in essence, the journey I want to lead a reader on is actually… my life. Of course, I’m never sure if I’m motivated to warn people about sinkholes in the road, or to teach them how to cause those sinkholes.

 

3.

We’ve been friends for only a short time, but I know from our delightful conversations that you find it challenging to say anything in under 500 words. (She said it first *laughs*) Would you say that writing VOICES was more challenging than your longer pieces?

 

This is too true. People have noticed I even have trouble saying good morning in less than 500 words. Fortunately, I wasn’t limited to a word count in “Voices In My Head”. Well, in all but one of the nine stories, that is. That story is “Second Hand”, which was initially written for a flash fiction journal that had an 800 word limit. 800 words! Aaargh!

 

The story was easy enough to write—different names, but the characters are my sister, Robin, and I. And the story is true… uh, more or less. See, I’d just finished researching witchcraft for “Witches Gumbo”, and I’d decided that the material I’d read made sense. I mean, witches are caretakers of the earth, and they know the herbs to mix and chants to sing to make things come out as they desire. Also, they get to worship a beautiful goddess instead of an old man who wants to smite you (and there are a lot of things for which I could’ve been smited). Need I say it? I decided I would become a Wicca, and practice witchcraft. I went out and bought colored candles, and a double bladed knife with runes carved in the handle (I had the herbs I’d need in my spice cabinet). That summer I visited Robin in Florida, and while driving around one day we passed a second hand store that had a cauldron in the window. This was the last tool I needed. When Robin asked why we had to stop at that shop, I made the mistake of telling her. That’s when she grabbed me by the collar, pulled me back into her car, and explained in words I’d understand why I was the last person on earth who should know how to do such things.

 

So, writing the story. My first draft was about 1,200 words. I spent two days cutting and moving sentences, and finally got it down to 817. After another day, it was 809 words, and no matter what I did, I just wouldn’t get any shorter. Damn! As I recall, I sat in my room, screaming at my computer, and threatening to beat it with a spiked heel if it didn’t get rid of those last 9 words. Right then I swore a mighty oath I’d never again try to write a piece of flash fiction.

 

4.

Identity is a feature of your work. What comes after we figure everything out?

 

A better question, A.B., is what happens after I figure everything out. I think the world is safe, though. I doubt I ever will.

 

But, good catch there, my friend. Much of what I write IS about trying to understand who I am, and what it is I’m meant to do. I don’t have an answer to that, so I keep searching. And my search keeps leading me to more stories… or, at least, more voices jabbering in my head.

 

5.

You visited the Carnival of the Parahorror recently. How’d that go?

 

Ah, the Buffalo Central Station. What can I say that the Ghost Hunters program hasn’t already said? To paraphrase the old song: Ghosts to the left of me, demons to the right, and here I am, right in the middle…

 

This is an incredible venue. Marble floors and walls, high ceiling, and crowds of people as much into the paranormal as I. I loved meeting other writers, and talking to everyone about my work—even sold a few copies of my books. What could be a better way to spend a long weekend…?

 

I just hope a ghost hasn’t followed me home—I already live with a ghost, and she gets rather jealous.

 

6.

And you also released Bella Vita on the heels of Magic of Murder. Tell us about those and when, if ever, did you sleep?

 

Sleep? What’s that? Who can sleep with all these characters constantly yammering at me, and demanding I tell the world about them?

 

Bella Vita CoverAnd yes, my latest release is “Bella Vita”. I didn’t set out to write this as the follow-up to “The Magic of Murder”, though. In fact, I was more than half done with “Dead Again”, the novel that was supposed to be the follow-up. At the same time, I was working on a short story called “Smoker’s Lament”. Yes, I’m a smoker, and yes, the story is about some havoc I almost caused. I won’t say more about it, because it will be published in an online journal this fall, and it’ll be more fun if people read it then.

 

Anyway, in the middle of this, my publisher, Solstice Publishing, put out a call for short stories focused on the summer solstice. To my ears, this sounded like a dare—something I’ve never been smart enough to turn down. Besides, the narrator in “The Magic of Murder” is an author who’d just learned she’s directly descended from a woman whom the Salem witch trial judges decided should dangle from a tree limb. Since I was heavily into murder mysteries at the time I wrote this novel, I decided it would be fun to annoy my narrator by dangling a murder in front of her.

 

To accomplish this, I gave her a neighbor and dear friend who was a Niagara Falls police detective. Then, I killed the detective’s partner. So, when Detective Frey’s partner was discovered in a frozen alley with eight bullets in his chest, he swore vengeance. But Detective Chief Woodward had forbidden him or anyone else on the detective squad to work the case. Emlyn Goode, my narrator, knew Roger would disobey his boss, which would cost him his job and his freedom. Because she cared for him more than she’d admit, she needed to stop him. Desperate, she could think of but one way.

 

41ZsodZxIJL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Emlyn had recently learned she’s a direct descendent of a woman hanged as a witch in 1692. She had a book filled with arcane recipes and chants passed down through her family. Possessed of, or perhaps by a vivid imagination, she intended to use these to solve Jimmy’s murder before Roger took revenge on the killer. But she was new to this “witch thing,” and needed help from her friend Rebecca Nurse, whose ancestor also took a short drop from a Salem tree. Also in the mix was a rather hefty albino cat (Elvira detests being called fat). Rebecca was not much better at deciphering the ancient directions, and while the women and the cat stumbled over spell after spell, the number of possible killers grew.

 

Then, to keep people at the edge of their seats, I set it up so the women had to quickly come up with a workable spell, because, when Chief Woodward’s wife was shot and a bottle bomb burst through Emlyn’s window, it became clear she would be next on the killer’s list.

 

So, “Bella Vita”. Since the history of the summer solstice all the way back to the ancient Greeks, Romans, and certainly the Druids, is filled with the practice of magic, and with the characters in “The Magic of Murder” already talking to me, it was as if Solstice Publishing called out, “Susan. Susan! Wake up and kill somebody else!” I mean, how could I refuse?

 

In this short story (well, short for me), a car burns in the parking lot behind Bella Vita Hair Salon. The corpse in the front seat has a short sword pushed into his ribs. Beneath the car is a cast-iron cauldron filled with flowers. This seems to be a sacrificial rite Rebecca Nurse had been teaching Emlyn Goode. But is it? The corpse has been identified as George Malone, and earlier on this summer solstice day, he and his wife had severe argument. Could it be that Angela Malone murdered her husband? Prodded by Elvira, the overly-large albino cat that wants the case solved so she can get some sleep, to Rebecca’s dismay Emlyn again dips into her ancient relatives Book of Shadows to find the answer before her friend and neighbor, Detective Roger Fry, can.

 

Both stories have received 5-Star reviews, and people tell me that once they start reading, they can’t stop. This makes me smile, because I can’t stop writing about these characters.

 

Oh, and by the way, the Bella Vita Salon is where I have my hair done, and the women who run the salon are front and center in the story. Fortunately, they like what I wrote, so I’m still allowed to go there.

 

7.

And Emlyn Goode is making a comeback?

 

Absolutely. I mentioned earlier that I was in the middle of the next Emlyn Goode story when I wrote “Bella Vita”. This new story, which I call “Dead Again” is finished—five drafts finished. The story is about— No, let’s wait until it comes out. Right now I’ll only say that Gary Earl Ross, who was kind enough to edit it for me thinks this novel is better than the first.

 

And now that “Dead Again” is in its final stages, I’ve begun work on the next in the Emlyn Goode Murder Mystery series. This one will be titled “Writing Is Murder”—well, it is, isn’t it?

 

8.

Any last words, dear mistress?

 

Oy, this sounds like a call for my obit. Well, then I write because I must—can’t think of anything I’d rather do. The people I create have become friends… well, most of them, and I can only hope those who read their stories like them as much as I.

 

Thanks, doll. Let’s dive in to VOICES IN MY HEAD.

 

Voices In My Head CoverIn The Magic of Murder, Susan Lynn Solomon let readers laugh at the antics of an albino cat and a witch. Now, in nine short tales she takes a serious look at relationships and their impact on characters who confront their pasts.

A young soldier returns, changed by his war. A young British girl faces the people of her town after parental abuse. An older man who as a teenager fled his hometown, returns when his childhood girlfriend begs a favor. A radical of the ’70s leaves the cemetery after her mother’s funeral, searching for where her life will lead.

In these stories and five others, Solomon explores the persistence of memory and the promise of hope.

 

 

Praise

 

Susan Lynn Solomon is a writer’s writer.

Suzy, as she is known to her friends, is a person driven by an inescapable need to tell stories. She can no more give up imagining characters and circumstances than she can give up air or food. She writes at a furious rate, producing novels and stories that captivate and delight. Her imagination is what sustains her, and we, her readers, are the better for her obsession.

Like all gifted writers, Susan is a universalist, unburdened by the curse of being able to tell only one kind of story. She gets an idea, then decides upon the best way to discharge that idea, the best characters, the best settings, and the best narrative voice to attain maximum effect. If reading is a way to slip into other times and places and faces from the relative comfort of an armchair, she is a devilishly clever tour guide who can take you to surprising places and surprising connections. In the nine tales in this book, she dazzles us with journeys into the unexpected and its impact on people we feel we already know.

War? In Mystery of the Carousel, she explores the link between a veteran of the Great War and the carousel on which, as a child, he imagined great battles. Incest? Where better to explore its devastations than early 19th Century England in Maggie’s End? Magic? Witches Gumbo takes us to Bayou LaFit and a powerful comeuppance. Mystery? Try The Holmes Society for a new take on amateur sleuthing. Death? Kaddish shows the unavoidable bond between death and identity.

In these and the other stories that comprise the voices in her head, Susan Lynn Solomon opens our minds, and the rhythm of our lives, to the voices in her heart. Enjoy.

 

Gary Earl Ross

Professor Emeritus, University at Buffalo

Author of Nickel City Blues and The Mark of Cain

 

Excerpt:

The 9th life in Crisis: Kaddish

 

Pellets of snow stung my cheeks. I bent into the January wind, and reached for my brother’s arm. He glanced at me from the corner of his eye. For a moment I thought he might brush my hand from his sleeve.

“It was nice,” I said.

Linda, his wife of three years, leaned across him. “What was?”

“What the Rabbi said about Mom.” My chest tingled as I recalled the eulogy. “The only time she made her family cry was when she died—that was nice, wasn’t it, Robby?”

“Robert,” my brother corrected me in a voice as stiff as his shoulders. He stroked his moustache, then flicked snowflakes from his black hair, so flecked with gray it belied his age. Next month he would be forty-three.

“It was nice,” Linda said. She pulled her knit hat so low over her ears she nearly knocked the glasses from her small nose.

“I suppose,” Robert said. “But, he didn’t know her.” He drew his coat tight around his broad frame. “For a few bucks, he probably says the same thing about everyone.”

“I wish Phil were here,” I said. “He knew Mom.” Rabbi Bentley and his wife, Deborah, were old friends.

Robert shrugged. Who officiated at our mother’s funeral made little difference to him. It wasn’t that he didn’t love Mom—he and Linda had cared for her, seen to her every need during the nine months cancer gnawed at her lungs. But, for my brother, this rite—anything to do with religion—was merely to be endured.

“At least the guy kept it short.” He shook my hand from his arm, and wound his scarf around his neck.

Linda frowned at him. “Did you remember to ask the rabbi to come over and lead the prayer tonight?”

“Did you?” I said.

His eyes straight ahead, Robert’s lips tightened. It was as though I’d accused him of a breach of etiquette.

We were walking along the narrow road cutting through the heart of the old cemetery. To the left and right paths bent off, curled around a city of mausoleums, and ran through arches erected by burial societies named for the shtetls—the villages in Eastern Europe—in which our grandparents had been born. Beyond the arches were tall headstones which in the spring would be adorned by neat flower beds.

At the end of the road we passed through an iron gate, and into the chapel’s parking lot. I waved goodbye to my two surviving aunts and the cousins who’d braved the snow, and dropped my eyes when I received no more than half-hearted nods in return. This was the price of being the family outcast.

With a sigh, I pulled a set of keys from my purse. As I unlocked the door of my car, I called to my brother, “Is there anything we need? I can stop at the market on the way.”

We would sit shiva at Robert’s house, and I suspected he might not have bought enough food and drink for the relatives and friends who would stop by in the next seven days to share memories of our mother. Hosting this ritual wasn’t my brother’s choice: our father had passed away two years ago, so the obligation for shiva and gathering with a minion of nine other men to say Kaddish—the Jewish prayer for the dead—was wrapped as tight as the scarf around his neck. He was the only son.

“We’ve got plenty,” Linda said.

“And people always bring food,” Robert added, then muttered, “As if I can’t afford to feed them.”

Linda smacked his arm.

“Okay, then,” I said, “I’ll just stop at home to get what I baked.”

They didn’t hear me. My brother’s car was already exiting the lot.

 

***

The large colonial house in Roslyn Heights was by no means a mansion. Still, it announced to passersby a successful man dwelt within. My brother had become what my parents wished for their children. I, on the other hand, had been unable to do something as simple as make a marriage work.

What might have been a full stadium parking lot greeted me when I turned onto Robert’s street. Even his circular drive was jammed. A quick glance informed me my eight-year-old Saturn wouldn’t fit into the only small space, so I parked around the corner. Balancing two trays of noodle pudding—when I was a child, Mom had taught me Grandma’s kugel recipe—and fighting a wind that tried to rip off my coat, I made my way down the block. When I opened the front door, it seemed as though I’d walked into a cocktail party.

I saw no torn lapels, no covered mirrors or crates to sit on. I heard no soft-spoken remembrances of a woman’s life well-lived. Instead, laughter pealed from the large square living room, dining room, down the hall and up the stairs. Bottles clinked on glasses. Someone was playing the piano. My brother had made this an Irish wake.

Robert circled the corner from his den. He’d changed from his suit into a tan corduroy jacket, jeans, and oxblood penny loafers. His cheeks were red—they would get that way after only two drinks. He glanced at the trays in my hand. He glanced at my old wool overcoat. Speaking to the glass of tequila in his hand, he said, “Glad you could make it, big sister.” He didn’t reach out to take the trays I held.

Had I the desire, or at the moment the strength to point out his ill manners, he would have claimed he was being ironic. My brother had difficulty differentiating irony from sarcasm. He hadn’t always been this way. It’s just that he had little tolerance for failure, and a failure was how he viewed me since my divorce.

Mom had also thought me a failure—with good reason, I supposed. “You and Ron can work it out,” she’d told me the day I showed up at her house, suitcase in hand. “Your father and I always worked things out,” she’d told me each time I visited her at Robert’s house during her illness. Tied to a marriage which had gone sour, I had an affair, and moved out. The judge gave my ex custody of our daughter. Mom was again terribly disappointed in me, embarrassed in front of her friends. It had never been different: I’d been a hippy in college, a rebel, a nomadic wild-child disappearing who knew where, sleeping with who knew whom, and getting arrested in Birmingham and in Chicago. “No wonder you can’t get along with your husband,” she’d told me.

I’d lost my temper then. “Guess people are right when they talk about the apple and the tree,” I’d snapped. “After all, you named me for Dad’s great-aunt, and she got burned by the Tsar’s army for causing trouble.”

Unlike my brother, I recognized sarcasm when it bounced out of my mouth. I’d heard Mom crying when I stormed out my brother’s house a few weeks before she died. Though he never said it, I’m sure Robert blamed me for our mother’s death—he believed I was the reason she refused treatment which might extend her life by maybe a year.

Nights I sat alone in my apartment, I blamed me, too.

 

 

 

About the Author

 

Susan Lynn Solomon PhotoFormerly a Manhattan entertainment attorney and a contributing editor to the quarterly art magazine SunStorm Fine Art, 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 since 2009 many of 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), Ginger Man, The Memory Tree, Elvira, Going Home, Yesterday’s Wings, and Sabbath (nominated for 2013 Best of the Net by the editor of Prick of the Spindle).

Her latest short stories are Reunion, about an individual who must face family after undergoing a transgender operation, appeared in a recent issue of Flash Fiction Press, Captive Soul, which was included in Solstice Publishing’s Halloween anthology, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, Volume 1, and Niagara Falling, about a man returning to his hometown, which was written for the Solstice Publishing anthology, Adventures in Love.

Susan Lynn Solomon’s Solstice Publishing novel, The Magic of Murder, is available at Amazon.com, and Bella Vita, a short story written for Solstice Publishing’s Summer solstice anthology, continued the adventures for the characters from this novel.

Now, a collection of her short stories, Voices In My Head, has been published by Solstice and is available in both Kindle and paperback editions on Amazon.

 

Links:

 

https://youtu.be/_58_goH7sU0

http://www.susanlynnsolomon.com

https://www.amazon.com/Voices-Head-Susan-Lynn-Solomon-ebook/dp/B01FURPIZE/ref=sr_1_1?s=dig ital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1463655784&sr=1-1&keywords=voices+in+my+head+susan+l ynn+solomon

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01FURPIZE

http://www.facebook.com/susanlynnsolomon

https://www.linkedin.com/in/susan-solomon-8183b129

 

Thank you, Susan, for your enthusiasm and artistry. You are my Wicca ‘go to’ person!

— ABF

 

 

HAPPY LABOR DAY WEEKEND ONE AND ALL! The Blog returns Tuesday, September 6th with special guest Raymond Chilensky, whose topical F.I.R.E. Team Alpha series will surprise and scare while making you think…

 

 

 

 

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/

 

 

 

 

SOLSTICE AUTHOR VANAYSSA SOMERS WEIGHS IN ON THE BOY SCOUT

 

VANAYSSA SOMERSTHE BOY SCOUT by Vanayssa Somers

BUY THIS BOOK: http://amzn.to/1PWvuOg

Published: February 12, 2016

Published by Summer Solstice Publishing

The Magic Will Find You!

           

My desire to write was driven by the transformative power of Story. As a child, I loved books about characters who did the right thing and overcame great odds. I was fired with the hunger to experience transformation in my own life and inspire others.

Born in a Yukon winter, I moved to beautiful British Columbia as a toddler and grew up in the deep forests of Vancouver Island. Over the years I trained as a Registered Nurse, earned a B.A. in Sociology from University of Victoria, worked as a Reiki Master, Psychic and NLP counselor. I was blessed to mother a beautiful daughter who, unfortunately, passed away in her twenties. Through that loss I discovered a gold mine of new depth in myself and in life itself, as she returned to visit me and open a new awareness of life after death. The greatest gift of all is life itself.

Over the years I have sought to help and inspire others through my work as a nurse, as the owner/operator of a seaside spa in the U.K., as counselor and psychic.  A graduate of The Monroe Institute and a follower of Bruce Moen’s books and website, I work in soul retrieval and connection with my family in the Afterlife. I believe romantic love to be one of life’s highest experiences. Writing romance is my joy.

VANAYSSA AUTHOR

To contact Vanayssa Somers, click on this link: www.paranormalfantasyromance.com/contact

 

BLURB

A massive shipping container stands open and waiting on the dock of a huge port city, in almost any country. A truck drives up and a load of human beings, in this case, youngsters, are off loaded and packed inside the crate. A crane lifts the container. It takes its place among dozens of other gigantic shipping containers, all locked together on board a freighter.

A week or two later, the container is lifted once more and deposited on another dock, thousands of miles from home. At some point, the kidnappers unlock the crate and those souls who have survived the ocean journey are gathered up and taken somewhere to be sold.

Sold as slaves for either sex, or hard labor, or both. For the remainder of their lives.

Behind them, their country; their birthrights; their families; their rights to education, freedom of speech, equality, all the things we take for granted.

Shocking enough when it takes place on the other side of the world.

More so, when it takes place in America, and the youngsters being kidnapped are American children.

Melchior, King of Fairies, and Theresa, a young American woman are passionately in love, soon to be wed. But a new purpose takes hold of these two magical Wizards as they discover the hazards young people face, unknowingly, every time they step outside their home.

In any country on earth.

Even ours.

 

Amazon reviews for Vanayssa Somers Books:

…one of the best supernatural romance books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Following Theresa, through the span of many years was both interesting and intriguing, never once slowing down. The transition from past to present was seamless. It flowed with the grace of a well trained ballerina gliding across the stage and air with one toe keeping it all in balance. The story is the most interesting of concepts and the romance filled my heart and drew me in. I would recommend this story for anyone who loves the mix of supernatural and love, or to anyone who just loves love. Well done Miss Somers, this story and your writing is a true treasure.

***************************

…I loved this book! I couldn’t put it down. Vanayssa Somers made the story and the characters come to life in a way that few authors are able to do. She did her research well on the pagan practices and the horrible time of burning ‘witches’ and any one that dared to be ‘different’ This book has everything from shape shifters to wizards to fairies & more. Truly mesmerizing to the reader with believable characters and places.

 

CHAPTER NINETEEN from The Boy Scout

by Vanayssa Somers

 

Bad Medicine

 

While Theresa engaged Callaway’s shamanic alter ego far away in his ancient Chinese hiding place, 21st century police were setting out to raid his current hideaway. And bring an end to the longest crime spree in human history.

It was 1530 hours on the police clock, a hot summer sun high in the sky.

In the lush forests outside of Summerford, near the border between New Hampshire and Maine, nine vehicles thundered up the graveled road and long driveway toward Callahan’s home.

Avalon’s covert team, subcontracted to Interpol, had been able to bring expanded information to McEwan about Callahan/Tenga. His history, his global organization, his fetish for children. The military intelligence section of Melchior’s elite staff had no problem gathering this data. A lot of it had been gathered already, from centuries of battling the wicked shaman’s efforts to destroy Fairyland. It was there, available, in their Special Ops security files.

Consultation with the U.S., European and Asian headquarters of Interpol, together with intel provided by the covert team from Avalon, had produced a full, massive dossier on Bradley Callahan. Philanthropist, Honorary Boy Scout, Inspirational Speaker.

Arch-criminal, kidnapper, human trafficker, drug boss, rapist, murderer. Killer of small children.

The full extent of Callahan’s crimes was still not fully compiled. A team of experienced staff were busy twenty-four hours a day, raking through every ounce of evidence from every part of the world, fitting the pieces together like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle.

His activities were so widely established, and covered so many criminal categories, as to be unbelievable. How could one human being create and manage such a vast rulership of evil?

As one of the top officers of Europol, the European organization independent of, but parallel to, Interpol, had said, it almost felt as though Callahan were not human, but some other kind of creature. Something unheard of in the annals of crime.

The estate was surrounded by forested acreage with wide views of mountains and ocean. Its privacy was underlined by a seven foot tall ironwork fence and gate at the final approach to the house itself.

A disembodied voice echoed from an intercom in the gate, demanding to know their identity and purpose.

The first vehicle, its markings indicating the presence of U.S. law enforcement, pulled to a stop at the gate. A grim-faced officer leaned out his window, requesting admission. He identified himself as an officer with Summerford’s Police Special Reaction Team.

The housekeeper/general assistant on the other end of the intercom went silent for about a full minute as eight more vehicles growled their way up behind the first one.

Then, just before the driver of the first vehicle put his foot to the floor to smash his way through the gate, an answer came.

“Mr. Callahan is not home at this time. We have standing orders never to admit anyone while he is absent from the property, ever, no matter who they are. However, I have sent him a message to tell him you are at the gate and require admission. He may reply shortly.”

The housekeeper/assistant had, in fact, telepathed to Tenga, far in another Age and place. Interrupting the Boss’s plans for his special prisoner trapped in an Energy Web, under an ancient sun looking down upon a volcanic planet.

“Fine. There are nine police investigation vehicles here, and we are coming in. We are fully armored and carrying battle-trained personnel. If you prefer, we can break down the gate. Or, you can open the gate and preserve this very nice entryway for future use. It’s up to you.”

Moments later the gate swung open, admitting the cavalcade of ominous looking armored vans and trucks. Two of the trucks each carried in back ten police officers in full riot gear complete with assault-style semi-automatic rifles.

The other trucks were transporting a full squad of uniformed officers carrying long guns.

At the front of the house an armored truck pulled to a halt. It was a Cadillac Gage Peacekeeper II, built for urban police special actions.

Innocent bystanders and witnesses could be placed behind it, sheltering them from a firestorm of bullets if it came to that.

Within minutes, law enforcement descended in full, irresistible power on the home base of Bradley Callahan, Arch Criminal.

In a steady stream, police boots thumped into the entryway, up the stairs, through the house, into the basement, looking not only for the obvious but for the hidden, the covert, the subversive.

Experts among the teams began to probe corners, window frames, behind pictures, closet shelving, anyplace a hidden compartment or room might await their ferocious, unrelenting onslaught.

Like a mighty ancient army entering a walled city with merciless swords drawn, set to draw blood, the officers carried their long shields, their rifles, their full battle equipment and protective gear.

Nothing in this entire estate, its length and breadth, in the house or on the grounds or in the forest surrounding the estate, would escape their precise and exhaustive examination.

One voice shouted, “I’ve got something!”

The lead investigator, Terry Kincaid, the only member of the raid not equipped with rifles or riot gear, shambled calmly over to his officer.

Kincaid was a veteran of the force, had seen just about everything crime and human madness could throw at law enforcement.

But the dossier on this guy defied belief. He had even wondered if someone was exaggerating when he’d spent the entire previous night sitting up in his study steaming his way through a mountain of paper and computer files.

He stood at the side of one of his best officers, a guy who was known as the go-to person for finding hidden stuff. Monty had a gift. He could sense when something was there, when someone had spent real time figuring out how to cache something away.

But this was outstanding. He’d found a hidden latch, in a closet, disguised as part of the molding, and pressed it. Bingo. The wall had slid smoothly aside, revealing what was almost, basically, another, smaller, house.

Terry stood gazing at the scene before him, at what looked amazingly like a Thaan – a sacred space. Something he’d learned about in a rare trip to the far north, the farthest reaches of Alaska. It was part of shamanic ritual, a place where all the shaman’s stuff was kept, where he carried out chanting and vibratory exercises which, it was said, could open hidden worlds and give a shaman the ability to even change shape and appearance. Not all medicine men everywhere in the world called their sacred space a Thaan – but that was what it was, no matter where on the planet rooms like this were found.

He and his wife had been travelling tourists, and both had an interest in ancient pagan practices. They’d explored aboriginal practices in Australia and Eurasia. Whenever a holiday beckoned, Marta Kincaid made sure it was an educational trip.

The history of North America’s aboriginal peoples was one of Marta’s specialties. She was a professional expert witness, acting on behalf of the Native population when legal need arose. The opportunity to explore further and deeper than anything she’d ever stumbled across had made her persuasive in arguing that her husband should accompany her. Go with her to those far northern reaches and learn about ancient medicine man practices.

You never know, she’d said, when this stuff might come in handy. You get all sorts in our big cities, and you should grab this chance to learn.

So he’d gone with her. Like she’d said. You never know.

And right now, he knew he’d be taking her out for a very special dinner quite soon.

It was an Aladdin’s cave of…stuff.

Shaman’s stuff.

So. This Callahan…maybe had a hidden side. Something no one had suspected.

Maybe he was up to his eyes in this cultish activity. No, not cultish. Way deeper, more extensive, more ancient, than any cult.

Shamanism was a part of human development from the most ancient times, in all parts of the globe.

We’d left it behind, supposedly. But Kincaid knew well, from his private reading, that quantum physics was beginning to open doors onto atomic secrets that were confusingly similar to the old shamanic dreamworld skills.

He felt goosebumps form all over his body as he stood methodically taking note of the items hanging on walls, standing on cabinet shelves, lying carefully stacked on the floor against walls, systematically arranged on large and small tables.

And then he noticed a glass cabinet with items that reminded him of something much more prosaic. Something he actually had experience of in previous crimes. Something quite common in the hiding places of the most dangerous killers. Crazed killers.

If only he was wrong. But the moment his eyes fell on the cabinet, he knew.

It was a collection. This Callahan was the worst kind of criminal – he killed and collected mementoes of his victims.

A Collector.

Above the cabinet, a corkboard. With photos. He moved closer. Children. Beautiful little children, wide eyes staring at the camera in confusion and fear.

He sighed deeply, feeling the mix of despair and finality, a familiar feeling, something he’d come to recognize as the beginning of the solution.

In here, in these rooms, behind the sliding wall, was the evidence that would convict Callahan more than any testimony of any witness.

Stepping across the room, he donned a pair of plastic gloves and carefully slid the glass cabinet door open. Using a pair of tweezers, he picked up the first small item on the lower shelf. A tiny mitten, blue, a common kind of mitten any mother places lovingly on the small hand of a beloved child.

He replaced the mitten and took a look at the other pieces in the heartbreak collection. Every piece was something obviously belonging to a small child.

Although there was no evidence yet of bodies, he knew there would be bodies. Somewhere.

Beneath all the exotic, unusual aspects of this madman, there lay the mind of a common killer. The need to keep souvenirs of each victim. So often, the nail in the killer’s coffin. Irrefutable evidence of murder.

He felt himself going pale with stress. So this would be one of those cases. The worst kind. Haunting his retirement years, keeping him awake, making him bolt upright in bed at two in the morning, sweat pouring off his forehead.

Whatever ancient pagan parts there were to this man, this monster, in the end they all came down to the commonplace. A man who took what he wanted, without regard for anything or anyone.

A common psychopath. Dressed in more ritualistic, unusual garb, perhaps, but common in the basic facts.

He turned to the officers directly behind him, and gave orders.

“Get the forensic team in here, now. There will be bodies, probably many. Children, by the look of things.”

One of his officers, carefully stepping around with the plastic booties they were all wearing, said to him, “Sir, look at this.”

He pointed toward a post-it note, pinned to a corkboard on one wall.

It read, in perfect penmanship, “Get someone to move the bodies at the west fence.”

“Shit,” Kincaid said.

The young officer swallowed hard, took off his hat, smoothed his hair, wiped his forehead, looked at the floor. His lips trembled briefly, just slightly. Then the hat went back on, the head went up, and the sharp, probing eyes began to search the room again.

Members of the forensic team had been downstairs, carefully going through a whole library of what was probably going to be major evidence. He heard footsteps enter the room, and two of its members stood beside him, gazing around in awe.

Now, Kincaid pointed to the post-it note on the corkboard, and to the collection of souvenirs on the cupboard shelves.

The District Attorney commented, “There’s enough here to keep everyone busy for a long time, and we had better get some team members over from another area, there’s just too much for our outfit. We’re a pretty small city. What do you think?” She’d come along due to the high profile of this suspect and the wide assortment of offences he appeared to have committed.

He agreed, and she went off to make some calls and confer with her team downstairs.  They needed help. Particularly because every single piece of evidence had to be handled meticulously and documented in detail. And there were hundreds of pieces of evidence, in all likelihood. Anyone making a mistake in this crime scene – for that was what this house was beginning to look like – would suffer for it.

Children, many of them, probably, had lost their lives here, in this house. Mistakes would be unacceptable.

Terry walked around, taking mental note of every item. He wished he could take pictures for his own use, so he could show Marta. But absolute professionalism was required in this nest of terror.

He recognized many items they’d learned of on that trip, and then from extensive reading they’d both done after returning home. Reading and internet research, videos of topics which ninety-nine percent of people knew nothing about.

There, on that table, was a Shila Dhunga, a clear quartz crystal which represented the celestial mountain. A mountain which connected the shaman to three different worlds – the upper, middle and lower.

By accessing these three worlds through the quartz crystal, the medicine man, supposedly healer, could See the spirits causing sickness in a tribe member.

It worked through the aesiric trance. Necessary to be an effective healer. Or whatever this particular shaman was. Not, perhaps, a healer.

There on the table was a shaligram – a black fossil ammonite, representing the cycles of birth and annihilation.

An aura duster. A fetish pot, interesting. Each shaman made a different kind of collection of items for this. On the wall, a medicine shield, a prayer stick. Here and there, a strange sight, a pile of animal skins. Pieces of leather. Bones, of what origin he could not say offhand. But they would find out. A shudder passed over his back.

He wandered further into the rooms. Feathers, vines, leaves, twigs. Rattles, larger ones, small ones.

On one wall, a collection of some very fine drums. Beautiful art work on some of them. Skins stretched across the frames perfectly, expert craftsmanship. He wondered if Callahan made his own drums. He wondered what animal the skins came from, shut out nightmare imagination.

Or maybe Callahan was not the shaman, himself. Maybe someone in his outfit was the medicine man. At this point, they couldn’t take anything for granted.

There was a healer’s staff. Altar decorations. An altar. A magical wand, used to project black or white energy to someone or something else.

And there. One of the most vital of ancient shamanic tools, a talking stick.

While this kind of stick was used in a healing group, like AA, to help someone take their turn at speaking, it also had other uses.

It represented the world tree, its leaves, branches, trunk and roots. It represented the three worlds again, the upper, middle and lower.

This was essential helper to the shaman as he travelled through time and space, searching for the spirits causing illness, searching for animal totems, this was a tool synonymous with shamanism.

He felt a yearning to remove the talking stick from the wall, where it lay lengthwise, carefully arranged on hide-covered nails, to feel it in his hands, smell it, handle it.

Ignoring his need to reach out and touch it, Kincaid leaned over, hands behind his back, and examined the ornate carving, not only there for beauty and to give visual information of ancient history, but for the more exotic purpose of symbolism.

For these tools were not just outward show, or meant to induce trance in someone seeking a medicine healer’s help.

These tools could be used to carry out shape-changing, travel into the depths of the earth and to the far reaches of the universe. Apparently. So the videos had said.

He’d wondered about that. You just never knew. Married to the kind of woman he was married to, he’d learned to have an open mind.

These tools were used to achieve states and experiences that quantum physicists were only now, at this end of the historical dialectic, beginning to identify as being humanly possible.

They expressed an ancient hominid acquaintance with the deepest, farthest reaches of the subconscious, almost unknown to the white man. Or woman.

He really had to stop thinking and speaking in terms of male presence all the time. There were now plenty of female shamans in the world. Some, quite famous. Using the internet to find clients, as all these practitioners did. Making far more money than Kincaid and his sort could hope to ever see as they plodded through the muck. Through the detritus of criminal madness which peopled their daily work life. Nothing exotic about the worlds he and his officers travelled in. No, sir.

When it came down to it, Callahan was common muck. When you stripped all this mind-blowing stuff aside.

He was just another killer. Just another rapist.

There was a cell waiting with Callahan’s name on it. Possibly, it would have to be a very special cell. Perhaps, lead-lined. Unless, at last, the finality of true death awaited him. At the hands of a jury.

And where, exactly, would they find a jury of Callahan’s peers?  The idea was laughable.

But shape-shifting and time travel were not necessary parts of jury selection. The presence of a healthy conscience and normal intelligence were the things that mattered there.

And Kincaid was going to put him there. In the hands of a jury. Oh yes. He teetered back on his heels, his hands quiet behind his back, head lifted as he gazed around one last time. Lips compressed, eyes wide.

Next step. Get out there and catch this son of a bitch. Put him away for life, or, if he had his way, put him into the Chair.

But first, they had to find the bodies.

The little bodies.

Like any decent human being, he felt tears start up behind his eyes. But he was used to this.

He could handle himself. No tears.

Not here in front of his officers, anyway.

And he marveled at his wife’s intuition. Marty. An amazing woman. She’d known, somehow.

Some day, he’d need to know all about shamanism.

Who would ever have guessed?

Kincaid could not know that this particular shaman was huddled in a parallel universe, invisible, but very much present in the room, watching in impotent, growing rage as the officers went through his sacred sanctuary inch by inch, exploring, taking notes, peering, judging, gathering evidence by the minute, evidence that would destroy Callahan’s painstakingly-structured life.

His entire world-wide network, all his contacts. In his computer, the speeches he had written, speeches people paid him top dollar to listen to. And the children, the little ones he had loved so much.

The police! They could never understand.

And his magic. His sacred tools. What did these fools know of magic carpets, magic chants and spells? What did they know of travel through time, of shape shifting?

He would show them a thing or two. But he would have to be careful about how he handled this. He could not be shot. If he were killed by a police bullet, he’d be dead. Like anybody else. Simple as that. No matter what animal he was shaped like.

He moved out of his safe place in limbo and took a stance in the woods facing the house. He eyed up the armored Cadillac Gage, the Peacekeeper II.

Perfect.

He hoped one of the intruders carried a camera. Because what they were about to see, they would never see again.  Experts would perhaps call this “a mass hypnotic trance” experience. Except they wouldn’t be able to, because he was going to destroy the house and everyone in it. The house and all the evidence against him. He’d crush the computers, smash the hard drives. Grind any evidence against him into the earth.

He knew where the evidence was.

And he’d have to go after the officers heading out to find and dig up the bodies. Without that cursed post-it note he’d left pinned to the corkboard, they would have had no idea about the bodies.

He’d have to kill, destroy, every single police officer on his property. Every one.

But he savored the moment. It was delicious. The world would be left in horror, speculating.

Maybe he could even make an insurance claim for the damage he would do to the house itself.

Grinning from ear to ear, excited beyond measure, Tenga prepared himself.

The only one who would instantly know what had happened here, would be Melchior, King of Avalon.

He wondered suddenly, where Melchior was. The question took up residence in the back of his mind. He knew the Special Ops team had joined up with Interpol to investigate himself, the one-of-a-kind outlaw, Callahan.

So why wasn’t Melchior and his little team of “covert operators” here, with the police? It bothered him more than it should, and he remembered the thought that had passed through the prisoner’s mind, Theresa’s mind, about Melchior being there in the Mesozoic…but that was impossible. The woman was probably just hysterical. Like most women.

Right now he had to give the Summerford Police Force a thrill they would not forget. Just before he killed them all.

Muttering a spell, he threw back his head and uttered a chant.

One young officer, trailing behind his colleagues with shovels, all heading for the west fence, heard a strange shout in the woods and paused. He peered toward the trees.

“What was that?” he asked aloud. The others stopped, frowned, looked back at him.

“Come on, Talbot, there’s a job to do here. What do you mean, what was what?”

At that moment, the forest facing the ironwork fence began to move, to wave back and forth. The group froze, their shovels over their shoulders, faces turned as one toward the woods.

“What the hell? What’s making the trees move like that?” asked the one who’d urged Talbot to hurry up.

The sentence was barely out of his mouth when a nightmare roar sounded and they stood in shock. An unbelievable sight met their eyes.

A dinosaur, as massive as a two storey building began to lumber out of the woods toward them. It paused, lifted its terrifying head armed with rows of sharp teeth, turned to look right at them, and began to move deliberately toward the group.

As one, the men screamed, yelled for help, threw their shovels aside, and fled toward the house. Other officers, hearing the racket, came out and stood staring.

One of them yelled into the house, “Everybody run. Hide. There’s a goddamn dinosaur out here. T Rex. It’s coming right for us.”

No sooner had the men slammed the door shut – as though that would help –than the sound of tearing, crunching metal echoed around the property.

The armored van, built to withstand automatic machine gun fire, lay with its roof crushed down to the ground, bent beyond repair, a gigantic foot resting on what was left of the truck’s body. The animal stood at least thirty feet tall, its own armored plates far superior to any armored vehicle when combined with the killing power of the giant predator.

The windows were filled with human faces, expressing a combination of fear, horror, and excitement.

“Max,” one of them yelled through the house to the forensic photographer, “get in here. This is the picture of the century. You’re missing it…”

His voice faded as they all turned and fled toward the back of the house, and Kincaid came out of the hidden den to see what the uproar was about.

He was just in time to see the entire front of the house begin to shake and come apart, the window frames falling inward, the door falling flat on the floor, and a massive green leg intruding through the wall.

The creature was coming inside, was going to destroy the entire structure of the home. The entire crime scene. There would be nothing left to convict Callahan with. That was the only thing Kincaid could think as he stood his ground.

Max materialized beside him, camera flashing and popping. Then Max grabbed Kincaid’s coat and yelled, “Get out of here, Detective. Run. Shit, what’s wrong with you, man? Run!”

But Kincaid looked around, frantically trying to think how to stop the beast. This house was all they had to follow Callahan’s own path of destruction around the globe. If the beast came fully inside, tore the roof off the house, which it clearly intended to…

Then it gave a mighty shove forward, another huge leg thumped onto the floorboards and suddenly the dinosaur was right there, in front of him, right in the house, the roof crashing in, boards falling everywhere, glass splintering.

And the whole earth seemed to be shaking, as in an earthquake. The house shook, the ground shook.

The beast thundered toward Kincaid, who astonished even himself by standing his ground. Moved into shooting stance with arms outstretched. He lifted his weapon toward the T Rex’s head. And suddenly, the game changed.

A stand of century-old virgin timber at the front entrance, a half dozen 80-foot Douglas fir trees which had formed a source of pleasure and shade for those who lived there, began to teeter and fall forward, tumbling in majestic collapse over what remained of the roof of the house, and with a never-to-be-forgotten rumble, gave up the ghost. Kincaid fled to the back door with the remainder of his men, watching over his shoulder as a small forest fell on the beast, no doubt crushing it under a gargantuan weight of board feet.

Then Kincaid stopped, whirled around, his eyes bugging out in disbelief once more.

The T Rex was no more. Not dead. Not lying stretched out across the remains of the front entryway.

No.

The great predator had vanished.

He called the men to come back. Ordered them to pull themselves together and get back in there. Or else.

“It was a bunch of trees falling, the animal has disappeared,” he hollered to them.

Cautiously, taking courage from the new silence in the house, a couple of his officers returned, expecting a scene of total carnage.

Yes, the front of the house was in carnage. But there was no sign of the towering beast.

There was no body. The mighty tail, which had apparently dragged and swished across the fir trees, pulling them down, had disappeared along with the rest of the beast.

what remained of the roof of the house, and with a never-to-be-forgotten rumble, gave up the ghost. Kincaid fled to the back door with the remainder of his men, watching over his shoulder as a small forest fell on the beast, no doubt crushing it under a gargantuan weight of board feet.

Then Kincaid stopped, whirled around, his eyes bugging out in disbelief once more.

The T Rex was no more. Not dead. Not lying stretched out across the remains of the front entryway.

No.

The great predator had vanished.

He called the men to come back. Ordered them to pull themselves together and get back in there. Or else.

“It was a bunch of trees falling, the animal has disappeared,” he hollered to them.

Cautiously, taking courage from the new silence in the house, a couple of his officers returned, expecting a scene of total carnage.

Yes, the front of the house was in carnage. But there was no sign of the towering beast.

There was no body. The mighty tail, which had apparently dragged and swished across the fir trees, pulling them down, had disappeared along with the rest of the beast.

 

what remained of the roof of the house, and with a never-to-be-forgotten rumble, gave up the ghost. Kincaid fled to the back door with the remainder of his men, watching over his shoulder as a small forest fell on the beast, no doubt crushing it under a gargantuan weight of board feet.

Then Kincaid stopped, whirled around, his eyes bugging out in disbelief once more.

The T Rex was no more. Not dead. Not lying stretched out across the remains of the front entryway.

No.

The great predator had vanished.

He called the men to come back. Ordered them to pull themselves together and get back in there. Or else.

“It was a bunch of trees falling, the animal has disappeared,” he hollered to them.

Cautiously, taking courage from the new silence in the house, a couple of his officers returned, expecting a scene of total carnage.

Yes, the front of the house was in carnage. But there was no sign of the towering beast.

There was no body. The mighty tail, which had apparently dragged and swished across the fir trees, pulling them down, had disappeared along with the rest of the beast.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS TO VANAYSSA SOMERS’ BOOKS:

 

Twitter 

Facebook

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Amazon Author Page

 

 

 

 

 

MEET DEBUT AUTHOR KAREN MILLIE-JAMES

 

KAREN MILLIE-JAMES grew up in north-west London and now lives in the Buckinghamshire countryside with her husband, daughter and their three dogs.  Karen founded her international business consultancy practice in 1993 and is widely recognised as an expert in the corporate field, sitting on many boards of directors around the globe in an advisory capacity.

THE SHADOWS BEHIND HER SMILE is Karen’s first novel.

The sequel, Where in the Dark, which continues the story of Cydney Granger,

will be available worldwide later in 2016.

Find out more at www. karenmilliejames.com

 

Blurb

41zejsiXpiL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_As soon as corporate forensic specialist, Cydney Granger, hears the crunch of tyres on her driveway, she knows they’ve come to report her husband is dead. After all, Captain Steve Granger had barely left for Afghanistan when she’d had the first of those terrible premonitions.

Although Cydney is a psychic medium, she’s disturbed by her inability to connect with Steve. But when she’s contacted by recently deceased Ray Gordon, he agrees to help her, on one condition – can she put a stop to his brother’s greed and corruption and ensure Ray’s family get the inheritance they deserve?

Sean O’Connell, Steve’s former sergeant, had promised he would always protect Cydney and the children in the event of Steve’s death. However, during Cydney’s investigations into the scrupulous activities of two high-powered businessmen, and when George Edwards appears on the scene intent on pursuing her, Sean finds himself out of his depth.

From the heart of Cydney’s corporate world in London to the ruins of war-torn Damascus, men will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. Faced with secrets, fraud, attempted murder, and blackmail, can Cydney come out of this unscathed? And, after four years, is she ready to let Steve go?

A brilliant plot that combines the heat of the business world with the secrecy of the Special Forces.

In a genre of its own encompassing crime and mystery, this unique thriller is impossible to put down.

 

 

 

A LITTLE Q & A

 

IMG_1833If this were a Twitter pitch party, you would squeeze your tag line into a 140 characters. Would you like to try?

Transported from the boardroom to war-torn Damascus, the suspense erupts with a background of romance and a hint of the paranormal

 

Who are your main characters?

Cydney Granger – a strong, self-assured businesswoman with a hidden side.

Sean O’Connell – ex Special Forces who always gets to the truth

George Edwards – lawyer with a background he never wants to reveal

Rupert Van der Hausen – South African industrialist, whose fortune continues growing despite the circumstances

Steve Granger – Captain in the Special Forces.  A born leader of men. Killed on a secret mission – but his body was never found.

Craig Benton and Robert Crossley – accumulated their wealth through insider dealing and corruption

Ray Gordon  – in spirit, desperate to stop his brother, Charles, from defrauding his wife.

 

Tell me about the title. Are there any hidden subtexts we should know about?

Cydney has everything to the outside world but her feelings are kept firmly under wraps and nobody is allowed in especially as a result of her father dying in her childhood, and losing her husband, Steve.  Can she release those shadows and learn to love again with George.

 

How many books do you have planned?

The sequel, Where in The Dark, will be released towards the end of 2016.  There will possibly be a third book in the series.  I doubt I can let Cydney go now.

 

Tell me about your home base. Country or city?

I now live in the Buckinghamshire countryside in a cottage built in the 1890’s which has been extended and modernised.  We love the outdoor life with our three dogs.

 

Are you a fan of self-promotion? What is your weapon of choice? (I love Twitter)

I love the interaction and groups on Facebook.  I am still learning about Twitter but the social media scene helps you meet so many new people.

 

If eyes are the windows to the soul, the telly is the window to writing prompts. What are you watching on the telly these days?

I love period dramas and have just finished watching War and Peace.

 

Share your method with us.

I have no actual method.  I sit down and the story flows.  After a few chapters I read through, maybe change things around, then carry on writing.  I think through the characterisation and how the various people would react to circumstances, normally in the early hours of the morning when I can’t sleep, or when I’m driving.  Sometimes I would think of an amazing sentence or description and have to write it down to use when the occasion arises.

 

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

Believe it or not, I read.  I always have done from an early age, especially the classics.  I go to the theatre and love musicals.  I dance, particularly Ceroc and jive, and play tennis or table tennis.

 

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Sherbet strawberries!

 

What are you doing right now this minute?

Watching Would I Lie to You on TV.  So funny and makes me laugh out loud.

 

What’s next?

Continue my writing.  Possible radio and TV interviews promoting my background in business, which are in the pipeline.

 

 

Excerpt

As Ray left her, albeit reluctantly, his body melting out of the taxi, Cydney’s skin returned to normal. She was now alone and the thoughts of the man faded to be replaced by the nose-to-tail traffic as the taxi driver turned south off the Marylebone Road and into Park Crescent, a beautiful area of London with elegant stuccoed terraced houses forming a semi-circle, which linked to Regents Park opposite. As they moved between the two halves of the crescent, Cydney looked into the private garden and saw between the railings the seven feet high statue of Queen Victoria’s father, Prince Edward, wearing his field marshall uniform. Driving through brought pictures to her mind of old English gentry and41zejsiXpiL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_ peers of the realm visiting in their private carriages.

Turning her attention to the day ahead, Cydney took the opportunity to read through her papers once again. It was important nothing should go wrong and that the client maintained his faith in her. However, thoughts of Ray wouldn’t leave her. She took out her mobile and dialled her assistant.

“Granger Associates – Jennifer Vere-Nicholson speaking.”

Cydney never tired of hearing the sound of the phone answered so professionally by the staff of her own company. Jenny was her right-hand woman and had started work the day she and Steve had established the company. She had built up her own client base and always explained that she was learning from the master. Her father had been knighted several years ago for his contribution to industry and Cydney liked the fact she had such a good pedigree. Jenny was in her mid-twenties and had joined the company straight from university where she’d read law and criminology, deciding she didn’t want to go into law itself but work in commerce. Cydney had taught her the business world she’d come to know and love and now she completely relied on her; she was worth her weight in gold. With no time for small talk she got straight to the point.

“I’m on the way to the meeting but I want you to do a complete check on a company for me called Rayshel Plastics. Get Richard to help you. I want everything by the time I come into the office tomorrow morning.”

“Not much notice then…”

“This is important – full report, records, accounts, criminal stuff.”

Cydney rang off. She knew they could trust Richard. Even though retired from CID he still had an ‘in’ to the powers that be. Now she could sit back and relax a bit whilst they did their work.

 

THE SHADOWS BEHIND HER SMILE is Karen’s first novel. Where in the Dark, which continues the story of Cydney Granger, will be available worldwide later in 2016.

Links – Multi-Media:

Find out more about Karen at:

Website: www.karenmilliejames.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KMillieJames

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Karen-Millie-James-1672621729620381/

Linkedin: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/karen-millie-james-098a911

 

Buy Links:

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shadows-Behind-Her-Smile-ebook/dp/B01BQ9OY3C

USA: http://www.amazon.com/Shadows-Behind-Her-Smile-ebook/dp/B01BQ9OY3C

www.kingoftheroadpublishing.com

 

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 THREE: SHYLA WOLFF

Blogger, tour promoter, cover designer and purveyor of paranormal romance fantasy Shyla Wolff joinsTiny wolves BLOG FUNKHAUSER today. Welcome her aboard as she shares her methods, aspirations, and an excerpt from her latest SHADOWED HORIZONS. Hello Shyla!

  

  1. I was walking in the woods over Labor Day Weekend and found some amazing wolf tracks. I Q & Afollowed for a little bit before realizing that it would be very rude on my part to barge in on the wolf’s den! Do you like the woods?

 

As a hick from the stix – Yep, I absolutely love being in the woods. Can’t say I love the ticks much, but you have to take the sour with the sweet.  My three shepherds and I spend a good deal of time playing/training there, S & R, one furbaby is a therapy dog, the others…not so much. Lol. There’s an innate peace and calm found in the woods I can’t replicate anywhere else.

  1. We’ve enjoyed many discussions as writers and friends. Would you classify yourself as a spiritual person…whatever that might mean?

Not per se. Without excavating personal convictions, I’d say that we’re all a part of something awe inspiring, the whole being greater than the sum of the parts, and that there are forces at work which we’ve yet to understand. I believe in honoring those with compassion, integrity, and motivation.

  1. You have a great blog. Tell the readers what it’s about and maybe share some links to favorite posts?

Thank You. At this point I’m still new to blogging and have much to learn. I’ve been hosting a lot of book tours/ giveaways and drawing a ton of hits to the page. Everyone loves a giveaway.

Now – I’m starting to branch out and do interviews and relevant blog posts. Relevant to writers and readers.

I’ve found it absolutely fascinating to converse with other writers – there’s a wealth of information, not to mention friendships waiting to develop, if you just reach out.

Also – I’m beginning to design book covers and headers for fb, blogs, etc. Below is a sample of what I’m working on now. They will show up on my  blog very soon.

Anath banner

My favorite posts would be to books I’ve read (and would love to have time to read more). Like you, A. B. Funkhauser, I can think of two others whose works have fascinated as well as entertained.  I know there are many more fantastic authors out there, but darned if I can find the time to read their works.

Heuer Lost And Found entertains throughout. I love a sharp wit.

http://shylawolff.blogspot.com/2015/05/heuer-lost-and-found-by-b-funkhauser_14.html

Charley Daveler also has a fascinating talent and I’d read her work even though it’s not usually my genre.

http://shylawolff.blogspot.com/2015/08/interview-with-charley-daveler.html

Carnal Beginnings – Everyone loves when an underdog can turn the tables and emerge victorious.  The sequel  – Carnal Innocence will release on Sept. 15, 2015.

http://shylawolff.blogspot.com/2015/08/carnal-beginnings-by-reily-garrett.html

  1. What are you working on right now, this minute?

I’m working on a romantic paranormal fantasy, set in the Amazon jungle. I love to step outside my comfort zone and bring new things to life for readers.

Deep in the rainforest, it is said there is a mythical creature called Kurupira who protects all within his realm from those who would rape and destroy the land. From this, I branched out and had a ball developing the story line.  It should be released sometime in October, 2015. Below is the cover art.

tIAGO for interview

  1. Do you like contests? Ever submitted? Tell us what that feels like?

I’ve never entered a contest, but it’s time I started.

  1. This thing you do called writing. What’s it all about? A gift? A torture? A path to follow?

 It’s a compulsion, pure and simple. I love it.

  1. Got a publishing anecdote? Share, please…lol

I find this the most hilarious thing that’s ever happened to me. A year ago, I’d been working on a novel during the prior six months. A private editor told me I’d never get it published. This person also told me to get over my squeamishness of writing romantic scenes.

Being the obstinate person I am, I wrote what I thought was a scorcher.  While I was waiting on edits for my first book, I submitted the scorcher to a publishing house. It was accepted within 48 hours. Furthermore, it won TOP Pick at The Romance Reviews… I think I laughed for a week.

And the book I was told would never be published? It along with 2 sequels have also been published.

Don’t ever let someone tell you  “You can’t”.

  1. Do you have a muse?

 No. Just tons and tons of ideas that won’t leave me alone until I write them down.

  1. What do you read when you aren’t writing?   

Through my blogging/reviewing, I’ve found quite a few fascinating authors. I love reading those works that are convoluted but yet easily understood.  Now that I have so little time, I don’t get to read near as much.  I’m an avid reader of Dean Koontz.

Other than that – S & R training  stuff for working with my dogs.  One is a therapy dog.  They are my life, my support and my inspiration. I include dogs in each of my books as integral characters.

  1. Guilty pleasure: person, place or thing???leyna snow

Spending too much time with my dogs…

Thanks for the update on your blog and design work. Now let’s tuck into your newest:

SHADOWED HORIZONS

Shadow HorizonsLove is a flame we embrace with open arms.

Kiera, adopted from the streets by her psychic brethren, is fated to protect Carlin, an electronics genius. Passion flares after extracting him from death’s clutches, drawing her into a world of espionage, romance, psychic stalkers and an extraordinary destiny.

Kyley’s years of abuse at Roth’s hands have yet to crush her spirit. In order to prevent him from creating chaos and anarchy, she must escape his psychotic hold and acquire the support of other paranormals.

Taylor is a strong telekinetic craving to set Kyley free, replacing her memories of torture and fear with hope and passion.

Two groups of warriors, their unique skills unknown to mankind, live and fight in the shadows with courage and honor, to preserve our way of life. Their incredible stories are a spirit-stirring journey that speaks to the dreams we all share.

 

ExcerptCarlin strode beside his bodyguard through the dimly lit parking garage fidgeting with his keys. “Adam, this does not make it to my top five favorite places to visit.”

A rat skittered across the floor in the shadows, and he imagined it turning a gimlet-eyed stare on its intruders. Filth, gas, and pizza from a nearby restaurant thickened the air, reminiscent of the alley apartment he occupied during college. Small pools of dingy light challenged macabre shadows for dominance—and lost. Clashing of the bleak rays and murky silhouettes added an ominous, prophetic feeling he couldn’t shake. Water stains mingled with the shadows to create fleeting two dimensional monsters. Carlin was not a fan of Rorschach. Crap, I haven’t been spooked like this in years.

Adam shrugged. “Sir, as your bodyguard, I admit this isn’t my idea of a secure location either, but it is the closest enclosed parking available to meet with your client. The open street leaves you too vulnerable. As much as you cherish your privacy, I’m surprised you agreed to help at all.”

“He’s a college buddy, needed help with a simple, high-tech security task. Seems twenty-first century technology left him in the dust.”

“Next time, why don’t you at least suggest meeting during the daytime?” Adam’s narrowed eyes and tilted head as if listening to a far-off sound—usually spelled trouble.

Next time, remind me a proctologist’s exam would be more enjoyable, okay?” Sweat beaded his forehead despite the cool December breeze drifting over the graffiti-covered knee wall.

“Yeah, I’m feeling it too. Let’s get the hell out of here.”

Carlin’s skidding on a badly patched piece of concrete prompted his bodyguard to scan the area around them. Dirt and crumbles skittered, their audio report echoed off the walls.

“Watch your step, sir, we don’t need to broadcast our location.” Adam murmured as he reached out to steady him.

“You know…” Carlin muttered, “Folks generally think of me as a good analytical and concrete thinker. Perhaps whatever higher power gifted me with intuitive abilities for logistics and computers decided on a mental tariff—common sense.”

“My sixth sense says trouble’s GPS has already locked on. Stay close.”

The gentle slide of Adam’s gun from its shoulder rig compelled Carlin to suck in the cool night air, searing his lungs.

“Sir, instincts are the best survival tool we have. They’re rarely wrong. Better safe than sorry.”

Sharp chirps split the silence, Carlin’s cell threw his heart rate into overdrive. Hair on his nape prickled as he fumbled in his pocket. With an all-thumbs equivalent, he extracted the nuisance and hit ignore.

Massive pillars supported the five-story concrete structure. Rounding one to his left, his foot stalled mid-step when Adam snatched him sideways. The colossal thug he almost plowed into blended into the shadows.

“Jesus!” The man personified hulkish features with abject malice in his gaze. The split-second observation brought Carlin a rush of adrenaline. “You’re huge!” Brown hair pulled back in a ponytail swept his shoulder giving the look of a mob enforcer. A bulge of pitted, tanned skin separated a straight line of bushy eyebrows. Dark eyes appeared to hold a terrible knowledge and gave his hard stare a cold calculating look.

The brute’s gaze raked Carlin’s body head to toe. Chipped yellow teeth appeared as his thin lips pulled back in a wide grin. “Time to meet your maker, prodigy.” He mimicked Carlin’s sidestep in a lightning-fast move and knocked Adam’s gun from his right hand. Its ricocheting underneath a nearby Toyota produced multiple tin-like clinks.

Time seemed to fracture. Adam’s left arm shoved Carlin to the side. His assailant took wily advantage in that flash of time. He watched his bodyguard go down hard from his attacker’s leg sweep.

One blink and a dagger appeared in the thug’s hand. Its arc and swift speed toward his belly made it little more than a glimmer in the weak light. His neurons couldn’t fire fast enough to follow its passage. Two feet stood between Carlin and a trip to his maker, complements of this walking nightmare.

 

BIOGRAPHY

Life teaches us many lessons. One of the most important ones Shyla’s learned is to take the time to enjoy family and friends. Our circumstances change on a daily basis. However small the differences may seem, they add up over time. Through a lifetime of various trials and tribulations, she’s discovered the enjoyment of sharing her stories with those that would relish participating in the journey of extraordinary people through their everyday lives.

After years of employment in various fields including medical, law enforcement, and private investigations, Shyla’s experiences inspired the stories she brings to life. From the horrific to the awe-inspiring, life’s lessons affect us all, regardless of the virtual walls we build or the blinders we don.

The way we incorporate these into our daily life helps determine our character and how we affect those around us. A simple and small kindness can go a very long way and have a profound effect on others.

 

LINKS

https://www.facebook.com/shyla.wolff

http://shylawolff.blogspot.com/

https://twitter.com/wolff_shyla

http://shylawolff.com/

Amazon buy link

http://www.amazon.com/Shadowed-Horizons-Anath-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00RC7QOIQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1422718443&sr=1-1&keywords=Shadowed+Horizons

Link to Shadowed Origins

Shadowed Origins big pichttp://www.amazon.com/Shadowed-Origins-Anath-Book-2-ebook/dp/B00SKL3O1S/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1422718469&sr=1-1&keywords=Shadowed+Origins

Link to Shadowed Passage

http://www.amazon.com/Shadowed-Passage-Anath-Book-3-shadowedpassage72ebook/dp/B00XFRFAXM

 

 

Thank you Shyla for stopping by. Wishing you every success with SHADOWED HORIZONS as well as all projects current and future.

ABF

 

TOMORROW:

Short story maven Gloria Weber talks speculative fiction and the “What if” that can change worlds. Tune in!

GloriaWeber