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

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

1.

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

 

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

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

 

2.

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


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

 

3.

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


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

 

4.

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

 

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

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

 

5.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

6.

What are you working on now?

 

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

 

7.

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

 

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

 

Superior Species Book 2 Finding Karen

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

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

 

TERRIFYING AND COMPELLING

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

GET IT HERE

 

 

About the Author

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

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

 

Other Books by K.A. Meng

 

Superior Species

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

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

 

GET IT HERE

 

 

 

Superior Species Book 0.5 Vampires Didn’t Exist

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

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

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

 

GET IT HERE

 

A Town of Murderers 1 The First Scheme

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

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

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

 

GET IT HERE

 

Links

Website: www.kamengauthor.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KAMengAuthor

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

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

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

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

 

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MURDER MOST FOUL AT MOM’S HOUSE

Blog fave Maighread MacKay returns with her sophomore paranormal novel, this time with a BIG difference. This time, she wades into the murder mystery genre with a cast of characters you will love. Maighread has always wanted to write a who dunnit, her blood-thirstiness heralding from ancient roots. If you don’t believe me, check her DNA! Her take on the after world is refreshing, as is her ghost protagonist’s unique approach to crime solving.

Congrats, m’lady, on the new book. Welcome back!

 

1.

Your new book, MURDER AT MOTHER’S, features an observant ghost with plenty to say. How did you get to her story?

 

I’ve wanted to write a murder/mystery for ages as I am a huge fan of the genre. Awhile ago, I needed to write a short story about sharks circling their prey, and I came up with MAM. It was only about 1500 words to start with, but when I got thinking about it, I thought, wow, I can make this into so much more… and it took off from there.

 

2.

MURDER is dark and humorous in the English tradition. What spirit guide directed your hand?

 

Ha ha. Probably the spirit of my ancestors. I did the Ancestry DNA and found out that I’m 58% Great Britain and 25% Ireland, so the English tradition is pretty well ingrained in me.

 

3.

You told me while you were penning it that the characters hijacked you and changed the ending. Without giving spoilers, can you tell us what that was like?

 

That was a weird experience. Throughout the whole process, and in the original short story, I had one killer in mind and at the very last minute, while I’m writing the ending, another person let me know they were the killer and it made sense. I could feel the madness and the reason why they were driven to commit the murder so I wrote it that way. It’s very strange how the characters take on a life of their own. The same thing happened in Stone Cottage. I had the characters going one way when, all of a sudden, the story turned around on me. I just go with the flow and let the characters speak for themselves.

 

4.

STONE COTTAGE, your previous work, is also a paranormal mystery. What inspired you to explore the afterlife?

 

I have always been in awe of the vastness and complexity of our universe. This enthusiasm has led me to study a variety of viewpoints from different scholars and scientists. We humans are so limited in our understanding of who we are and why we’re here. The genre I write is termed Visionary Fiction, which is defined as “Besides telling a good story, VF enlightens and encourages readers to expand their awareness of greater possibilities. It helps them see the world in a new light and recognize dimensions of reality they commonly ignore.” The ideas presented are by no means meant to be a definitive answer to any question about life, death and what happens next. They are presented to give the reader a starting point for their own exploration.

 

5.

Do you believe in it?

 

Yes, I do believe in an afterlife although to me, it’s all life. Only the body dies. We continue, just in a different form of energy.

 

6.

What are you working on now?

Stone Cottage gives a tiny glimpse of how reincarnation, past life regression and a love that goes across time and space could play out in a life. Murder at Mother’s illustrates what could happen to a soul immediately after death, the consequences of its actions while in the body and the energy that connects us all.  My new novel has a working title of “Inn Time” and explores a young woman’s journey through parallel dimensions and what she learns from her experiences. I am excited about the new science of Quantum and String Theory and, although I don’t even begin to understand it, the possibilities they open to understanding our existence and the universe in a whole new light. Such fun.

 

 

CATCHING A KILLER FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE

Murder_at_Mothers_Cover_for_KindleA killer lurks at the Bancroft estate and the Matriarch, Martha Bancroft is murdered. Royally pissed, she hangs around to see what happened. When she doesn’t go immediately to the light, a member of her soul group shows up from the other side. Gladys is adamant Martha needs to come with her, but Martha has no intention of going anywhere until she helps Detective Ian “Mac” MacKellar and Coroner Dr. Cecilia “Cissy” Walsh find the murderer.  Gladys joins Martha and the two set out on their quest.

 

GET IT HERE

 

 

5 STAR REVIEWS FOR MURDER AT MOTHER’S 

 

I hope that Author MacKay had fun writing this story, because I know I had a marvelous time reading her latest book. – J.C. Henry, Author

 

This is a wonderful light weave of mystery, family drama, metaphysical and psychic threads …with a dark strand of greed added to the tapestry. I loved it. – R. Davies

 

This book has good pace, excellent characterisation and enough twists and turns to keep you interested. There’s humour too. – Becca from Amazon.co.UK

 

Excerpt

 

The fire was the first incident which caught Martha’s attention. One of the ranch hands needed a rope from the tack room and arrived in time to smell smoke and dampen the blaze. A few weeks later, Jared discovered a fence bordering the back forty was down. He repaired it before any of the horses escaped. She shivered as she thought about the danger they’d be in wandering around the forest at night. Both episodes could have been accidents.

Today, dressed in her favorite jeans and boots, Martha strode down the hill to the horses. As she walked, her cane stirred the dry ground with small circular puffs of sand. Her heart and pace were more accelerated than usual as she thought about her beloved mare. Her first baby. Wonder how she’ll take to being a mother. Jared said the delivery went well, but I’ll feel better once I’ve seen her for myself. As she approached the barn door she heard a call. “Grandma, look out.” Forceful hands grabbed her in a firm grip. Her cane went flying. Her hair lifted as something whizzed past her ear and caused a burning sensation where it grazed her arm. She clutched the arms which held her and looked up into the shocked eyes of her grandson.
 

Other Books by Maighread MacKay

 

STONE COTTAGE

book coverIf you could plan your life before you were born, what could that life look like? Rebecca Wainwright, successful, polished EVP tumbles into depression and panic attacks after a traumatic incident. Seeking a respite from the well meaning, but smothering care of her family and friends, she stumbles onto an old stone cottage where she feels like she has come home. After purchasing the home, she discovers it already has an occupant. Annie McBride has been trapped in her home for over 150 years. What do these two women mean to each other? Why meet now? A story of how love bridges the years and can heal even the saddest of hearts.

GET IT HERE

 

 

5 STAR REVIEWS FOR STONE COTTAGE

The reader gets to know how the events finally affected the characters’ lives and how they are dealing with a new reality. A lot of books omit this important piece and the future of the story is simply left up to the reader’s imagination. – Edna Marie

 

 I enjoyed the stories of the main characters, and found this book to be an entrancing read. – A Happy Reader

That the author weaves two parallel plots in different historical frames seamlessly is a joy for this reader. – A.B. Funkhauser, Author of Shell Game

 

Excerpt

The cacophony of the moaning wind and lashing rain concealed any sound of a horse’s hoofs.  She could see nothing, except the murky fog.  No light.  No Will.  Where are you?  Her anxiety escalated to new heights.  Her baby girl was asleep upstairs, but she seemed to have been sleeping for a long time. Was Maddy sick?  Victoria knew there was something important about the baby that she had to explain to Will, but she couldn’t quite remember what it was.  She needed her husband to come home to take her in his arms and tell her everything would be all right. Panic, like a bird’s wings trapped by the cage of her ribs, fluttered in her chest.  She leaned her head against the cold glass and clenched her fists. Taking deep breaths to try and calm herself, she flattened her hands on the window.

“He’s fine,” she said.  “I know it.  Oh, Will, where are you?  I need you so much.  Please, please come home.  Everything will be all right once you get here.”

Tears coursed down her cheeks. The old dog, sensing her unease, leaned into her leg and began to whine. Absentmindedly, she reached down to stroke his head.  She would just wait.  Wait for as long as it took for Will to come home.

Wait…wait…wait, her mind chanted to the ticking clock in the hall.

Tick…tock…tick…tock…tick…

 

About the Author

AuthorGhosts, spirits and things that go bump in the night. Ancient mysteries and the riddles of our vast universe. Questions – lots of fascinating questions about the reality of our cosmos. Are there other dimensions or planes of existence? Are they inhabited? Do parallel universes ever converge? Angels, Spirit Guides. Are they real? Can we communicate with them? What about other entities such as the Fae, Unicorns, or Dragons? Could they exist? What happens when we die? Has the soul that inhabits our body been here before? Why would we come back? What about animals? What happens to them when they die?

These questions have led me on a journey of investigating Christian Mysticism, Yogic Spirituality, Native Theology, Wicca, Celtic Shamanism, Quantum Physics, the Realm of the Fae and many other related topics.

Using my experiences to draw on, I weave tales of Visionary Fiction for both children and adults. Whether nine or ninety, I hope readers will join me in exploring alternate paradigms about life and the after-life experience.

 

Links

 

Website: http://mhefferman.ca/author/my-blog/

Amazon Author Central:  amazon.com/author/maighreadmackay

FB: https://www.facebook.com/maighreadmackay

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaighreadMackay

 

KAREN MILLIE-JAMES THRILLS WITH NEW RELEASE ‘WHERE IN THE DARK’

Thriller writer Karen Millie-James is back with her latest Cydney Granger release. WHERE IN THE DARK is the second in the series. This time, protagonist Cydney goes after Nazi plunder and the shadowy figures that conspire to conceal and profit from it.

 

1.

Congratulations on your latest release WHERE IN THE DARK. Can you tease us with an elevator pitch?

 

The book starts with two holocaust survivors each receiving in the post a bearer bond for $1m each, completely out of the blue.  They have no idea why or from where but it strikes fear in their hearts because they have been keeping a secret since 1945.  On the other side of the Atlantic, in West Virginia, an escaped Nazi officer called Albert Whiteman, formerly Adolf Weissmuller, heads the family bank into which he married. His son is Governor and about to run in the primaries for president.  However, the bank is founded on gold looted by Weissmuller from the Jewish people of Europe.  Now he starts to feel remorse, or is he just afraid of dying and what awaits him? Cydney Granger is called upon to investigate and what she discovers is a web of deceit and lies which could ultimately bring down the entire banking system.

 

2.

Nazi loot features prominently in the news—a buried train, heated litigation—and more contentiously, the moral tension between treasure hunters versus familial claimants seeking social justice. What personally drew you to this issue and what side do your characters favor?

 

My father came out of Germany with the kindertransport in 1939.  From the end of the war until 1962 he spent his time seeking recompense for what his family had lost and finally he received the paltry sum of £1300 approximately.  For the last twenty years my family and I have been engaged with the courts of Frankfurt and Munich to discover what happened to all my grandparents’ assets and again, seek suitable recompense.  This has also involved the courts in New York and it will probably never happen because the courts have done everything in their power to delay matters and not make a judgment.

 

My two holocaust survivors seek no recompense for what they lost. They have no interest because they came to England to make a new life and want no involvement with Germany, nor do they wish to talk about what went on; it is enough that they went through the trauma and survived.  However, they are forced to face their demons, and specifically Weissmuller.

 

Yes, the question of discovering Nazi loot is in the news but these treasure hunters have no desire to recompense the people who lost everything, nor do they desire to repatriate the art, gold, diamonds and other treasures.  Their goal is to find the monies and become rich.  Again, the same desires as the Nazis which was to take what they believed was rightfully theirs from the Jewish people who were amongst the richest in the country and held the highest positions – doctors, bankers, lawyers, professors, musicians.  If they were doing this for altruistic reasons, I would applaud them, but this is blood money and should be left alone.

 

3.

DARK’s protagonist Cydney Granger is a corporate forensic investigator. Does her expertise in any way herald from your work background, or was she born from tough, dedicated research?

 

I have an international corporate consultancy which specialises in advising companies and individuals around the world how to run their businesses, and I sit on the boards of many companies in an advisory capacity.  Cydney is a fictitious character but some of the aspects of her work and mine run parallel, which is why I find her and the work she does easy to write about.  The research aspect did not encompass her, but purely the world around her and specifically, in Where In The Dark, focused around the banking world and how the gold moved from Germany and other occupied countries via Switzerland and possibly to many countries’ federal reserves.

 

4.

Cydney’s investigation is furthered with help from “beyond the grave.” Is there a paranormal element to DARK, or is Cydney’s ‘help’ the result of hard-nosed evidence gathering?

 

There is a paranormal aspect to Cydney’s investigations because she has a special gift; she can talk to people who have passed into the spirit world.  This assists her in her investigations and how amazing would that be to understand and know what the person sitting opposite you in a meeting is thinking, even to the point of wanting to commit murder.  This gift has helped her specifically in her quest for the truth in relation to the two survivors because she is drawn back into their time as children, going in the trains to Lodz Ghetto, then in the concentration camps and finally to their journey to England.  This makes her life much easier. However, she is forced to relive what they went through and this is one of the hardest things she has ever had to face.  Obviously, some of her research is purely down to fact-finding and looking through records also, something we all have to do.

 

5.

The impacts of Nazi Germany continue to be felt. How does DARK deal with history’s long shadow, and what can readers take away with them after the book is closed?

 

I think ultimately Where In The Dark is a positive story of survival against the toughest odds and bears truth to the adage that it is amazing what a human-being can suffer at the hands of another and still come out the other side with strength.  I wanted to ensure that this was the message and I did that by using Adolf Weissmuller, exploring his clearly psychopathic mind and wanting him to feel remorse for his crimes against humanity.  In some ways I gave him a voice, but this was purely to demonstrate his evil and lack of empathy against the people he had murdered.  My conclusions were that he was never going to feel sorry, but ultimately he was scared of dying and the fate that awaited him.

 

Whilst there are survivors of the atrocities of the Holocaust still alive, the entire impact of what happened in Germany during the war, will continue to be kept alive, as it should be, to ensure that such things never happen again.  Unfortunately, countries do not learn from their mistakes and atrocities are happening all over the world against innocent people.

 

A MYSTERY OUT OF THE PAST…

WITD_Visuals 8.inddTwo envelopes. Two holocaust survivors. Two anonymous bearer bonds each worth one million pounds. Corporate forensic investigator, Cydney Granger, with help from beyond the grave, enters a world previously unknown to her to unravel the truth behind a web of secrets, lies, corruption, blackmail and hidden Nazi loot as new horrors of the Third Reich come to light.

Still struggling to come to terms with the apparent death of her husband, Captain Steve Granger, five years’ earlier Cydney puts her personal feelings to one side and is determined to bring to justice

an escaped Nazi criminal, Adolf Weissmuller, living under the assumed name of Albert Whiteman, whose son is about to run for the US presidency. Can Albert ever make amends for his crimes against

humanity, or are some actions beyond forgiveness …?

Will Cydney, along with her trusted and tough protector, former sergeant, Sean O’Connell, also uncover the truth surrounding her husband?

The consequences of Cydney’s investigations, stretching back before WWII, are far reaching with the potential to bring down a banking dynasty as she faces insurmountable odds from which there is only one final solution.

The dramatic follow-up to The Shadows Behind Her Smile, a compelling debut which takes the reader from the heart of Cydney’s corporate world to the ruins of war-torn Damascus and where men will stop at nothing to achieve their goals.

 

EXCERPT

 

PROLOGUE

2005

 

It was the shock. As he fell, the pain ripped across his heart and he felt the familiar vice-like tightening of his chest as the muscles attempted to respond to the restricted blood flow, his arteries already hardened and narrowed. An overwhelming sense of anxiety enveloped him.  Harold reached into his inside jacket pocket and grabbed the pump spray he kept with him at all times containing the medicine he now urgently needed to relieve his symptoms. He opened his mouth and pressed the bottom of the pump firmly and placed a couple of squirts under his tongue; he had always hated the taste. The relief was immediate and as the pain eased he felt the onset of the pounding headache the spray always gave him.  Slowly, he managed to pull himself up into a sitting position so he could examine the cause of his attack.

The knowledge that in his hands he held a bearer bond certificate for one million dollars made Harold’s hand tremble to such an extent that he dropped the bond and the envelope in which it had arrived and saw it flutter and disappear under one of the Queen Anne chairs in his living room. It was with some considerable effort that he stretched out his arm and rescued the document with the tip of his middle finger, despite the arthritis that also beleaguered him.  He straightened up and mopped his brow with the back of his hand to remove the sweat that had accumulated, unsure if it was the shock that had brought it on, or the strain at his age that it had taken to retrieve it.

Still sitting on the floor, nervous to stand in case the pain returned, he examined the document in more detail, turned it over to check both sides and wiped away the film of dust from its fall. It was printed on thick cream quarto size parchment with a picture of Abraham Lincoln on the front in dark grey, and a red inscribed serial number to the right-hand side. The words ‘Bearer Bond to the Value of One Million Dollars’ were centred in large black letters. An utter sense of dread filled his entire being. It made no sense, unless …

Eventually, Harold got to his feet and waited for his world to stop spiralling down in front of him. He felt nothing but doom. The eyes of his parents and sisters framed within the sepia photo on his desk, taken before everything had overturned their lives, stared back at him, almost willing him to remember.  As if he were capable of ever forgetting.

His fingers shook as he ran them along the gold trim edges of the bond and stroked the red seal and ribbon at the bottom.  Further review of the envelope, including peering inside it in case there was a letter, revealed nothing further to assist him, not even after he had turned it upside down and shaken it to double check.  It bore an airmail sticker and US postage stamp, and his name and address were typed on it, however, there were no clues as to who had sent it or why it had been sent to him.  It certainly appeared genuine but the question that came to mind was whether someone was playing a joke on him.  The bond was drawn on an American bank, the name of which meant nothing.

Not only did he feel completely bewildered, but absolutely frightened. He really needed to sit again before he passed out.  He had no idea what to do so he called the person he always turned to when he had a problem. The phone was answered immediately.

“Alfie, it’s me. Harold. I have to see you.”

“I have to see you, too.”

“What?”

“You got the same envelope.”  It wasn’t a question, simply a statement, spoken in the same quiet tone that Harold was accustomed to hearing.

“That’s impossible.  How could you have got a million dollars, too?  Where did it come from?”

“You’d better come over to me.  Is the notebook in a safe place?”

“Of course it is. It’s not something I would ever lose, though heaven knows I’ve thought about destroying it so many times.”

“It’s all we have, Harold.  It’s our security.”

“Do you think it could be …?” He paused for a moment, gathering his thoughts. “Has he found us, despite all we’ve done?”

“I don’t know.  I’ve phoned Rupert.  We need his advice now.”

“We never told him, you know that.  We’ve held this secret for so long.  Can we trust him?”

“What choice do we have, my friend?”

 

GET IT HERE

 

CONTACT INFO

_92A7765 Retouched_optPR – Karen is represented by Midas PR in London

For further information on Karen Millie-James, The Shadows Behind Her Smile, Where In The Dark, or King of the Road Publishing, please contact info@kingoftheroadpublishing.co.uk or call 020 8236 8507

 

Karen Mille-James Website: www.karenmilliejames.com Twitter: @KMillieJames Facebook: www.facebook.com/karenmilliejames 

 

Thank you so much for joining us today, Karen. Best of luck with the release! — A.B.

 

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AUTHOR! AUTHOR! THE JOYS AND CHALLENGES OF EDITING

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

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

Voila!

1.

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

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

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

2.

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

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

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

3.

What are some of the challenging aspects of editing?

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

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

4.

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

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

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

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

5.

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

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

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

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

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

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

6.

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

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

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

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

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

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

7.

What is something that you stay away from while editing?

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

 

 

 

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

8.

How many passes do you take through the manuscript?

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

 

 

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

9.

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

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

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

10.

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

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

 

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

11.

What are a few editing resources that you use?

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

 

 

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

Lexi’s Awesome Editing Resource List*

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

Jerry Jenkins (21 things Checklist)

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

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

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

Grammar Girl (Editing Checklist)

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

Mike Nappa (4 steps to Edit Book)

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

25 Tips for Tightening your Copy

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

10 Simple Ways To Edit Your Books

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

KM Edits (Not for Blog)

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

12.

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

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

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

13.

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

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

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

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

14.

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

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

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

15.

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

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

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

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

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

16.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

And Lexi?

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Order of Moonlight

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

 

See the Trailer

 

Get it Here:  

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

Coming Soon

Private Lessons

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

Our Secret

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

Wildfire Poetry Collection

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

 

Some Like It Hot (Bonus Story In Wildfire)

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

 

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

17.

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

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

Keep laughing. Keep smiling. Keep writing.

xo

About the Authors

A.B. Funkhauser

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

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

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

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

Lexi Miles

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

Contact:

Lexi’s Links

Website: www.leximilesauthor.com

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

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bVg6xj

Email: leximiles.author@gmail.com

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

Twitter: www.twitter.com/leximilesbooks

Facebook: www.facebook.com/LexiMilesAuthor

 

A.B.’s Links

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

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

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

Website: www.abfunkhauser.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamfunkhauser

Facebook: www.facebook.com/heuerlostandfound

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

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

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

Publisher: http://solsticepublishing.com/

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

FAQ’s: https://abfunkhauser.com/faqs/

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

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

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