Around The Globe With Dane Cobain

AmsterdamOn a hot Friday morning, I pick up this week’s featured author and transport to Amsterdam. In minutes, we’re sitting at an outside bar watching a houseboat churn it’s way up the Amstel River. Peaceful, serene. I think a fabulous place for an interview.

1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

My name’s Dane Cobain and I’m a British poet and author. I live in a town, rather than a city, but I like to think that my diverse interests and endless energy keep people interested. I put on a lot of events, release a lot of books, and just generally stay busy in the local creative scene.

Author Photo2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

I’m not a very visual person. Even though I know my way around Photoshop and release videos every now and then, I’m much more comfortable when I’m working with words, and I can’t draw to save my life.

3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as an oil magnate?

Self-expression, I suppose. Writing helps me to make sense of the world around me, and it’s also a little bit like a drug – once you start writing, you get hooked, and it’s difficult to make yourself stop. Personally, I have no desire to – I’m a functioning word addict and I’m not going to change unless somebody makes me.

4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

That’s a tough question to answer. Off the top of my head, I’m going to say Oscar Wilde – I’m reading a book called Table Talk at the moment, which is a collection of the short stories that he used to tell to guests at dinner parties. People used to say that his eyes lit up and that he dominated the room, and some guests even used to weep after he spoke. I’d like to see what all of the fuss was about.

Dane Cobain - No Rest for the Wicked5. If I were stranded on a deserted island or suffering from a four hour layover at the airport, why would your book be great company?

It’s small enough to not take up much space in your luggage, comfortable to hold and fun to read, with short chapters that keep you whizzing through the pages until the end.

6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people, or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.

I suppose it depends on a book-by-book basis, because I write all sorts of stuff and it doesn’t necessarily need the same type of research. When it comes to developing plots and characters, I usually have a vague outline in my head and then I just sort of let it simmer when I’m in bed. If the idea is good enough, I remember it when I’m more awake and start to flesh it out, writing it down in my notebook. I create character profiles of every major character, as well as a breakdown of what happens from chapter to chapter. I usually carry out additional research – mostly online – as and when it’s needed for a specific scene.

My writing schedule is pretty sporadic – I always have so many projects on the go that I just write when I can, although I’m always working on something. After I finish the first draft, I give it another couple of passes by myself and then send it off to my editor, Pam Harris. Pam has a good eye for plot and detail, and so she provides a couple of rounds of amends, starting with rewrites and plot development and finishing up on copy edits and layout tweaks.

DC_eyeslighthouses03_cover (1)7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”

Start by planning it out. A lot of people want to just jump right in and start writing, but planning it out will help in two ways – you’ll have a roadmap in place to get you from the start to the end, and it’s also a good endurance test. If you get bored of the planning stage, you’re not going to have the willpower that you need to write the thing, to edit it and to get it out into readers’ hands.

8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

I’m not sure that I have one! I suppose it would just be to hustle – to work as hard as you can as often as you can. Being a writer doesn’t put you in competition with other writers – you’re up against yourself, and you want to be the best writer that you can be. Forget about the others.

Former.ly_Cover_for_Kindle9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

I don’t think I could stop writing even if I wanted to. I counted it up the other day and realized that I’m working on five books at the same time at the moment, although they’re all in different stages:

  • Social Paranoia (non-fiction): An upcoming book about how social networking sites make you paranoid and what you can do to combat that, due for release on August 22nd 2016.

  • Come On Up to the House (horror): A combined horror novella and screenplay which is due to go into editing shortly for a release towards the end of the year.

  • Subject Verb Object (anthology): 21 indie authors contributing to a themed anthology. I’m currently writing my own piece for it and editing the contributions from the other authors.

  • Driven (detective novel): The first book in a series of detective novels. It’s my main writing project at the moment, up to around 15,000 words.

  • Oceanus (experimental poetry): A long-form experimental poem about the Titanic, based upon the Wikipedia page about the disaster that was live exactly 100 years to the second after the great ship went down.

10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

I’m in all of the usual places – Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc. – as well as at Say hi – I don’t bite!

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Game Day

game day fansLiving here in Des Moines, I am able to attend many events. Jazz concerts, comedy shows, and sports. We have the Des Moines Buccaneers and Iowa Wild hockey teams, Iowa Energy basketball, and Iowa Cubs baseball. I’ve attended all but the Bucs. I would like to point out a few things about the games, the arenas, and the other fans.

I thought about discussing just baseball, but realized the points I make, might be relevant to all.

  1. Watch the game. This is the biggest area of amazement. Okay, you’ve paid anywhere from $14.00 on up per ticket. For some, especially families, that’s goanna cost. This does not include the food and souvenirs should you want any. Sorry to use the same word twice so soon, but I’m amazed at how many people are NOT watching the game for which they paid to see. I understand letting the little ones blow off some steam on the play equipment (at the baseball stadium), but at any given time, there are scores of people walking around in the vending area, outside the arena.

At one basketball game I saw: a birthday party group who showed up late in the first quarter. About ten kids in all. Two adults went for food and didn’t get seated until almost halftime. Then in the middle of the third quarter, everybody stood and left. I assume they went to the birthday party area, but did anybody watch the game? I mean, even with discounts, that’s an expensive birthday.

I come to watch the game. Sure, I may get up for food or to answer the call of nature, but I’m there to see some competition, not wander around. Do that before the game. If I want to play, I could save myself the money and just go outside at home.

  1. Speaking of children… I’m not a parent, so I may be off the mark a bit, but what harm is it in keeping the children in line, disciplined, and courteous?

A few weeks ago a friend and I attended a Cubs game. I had won general admission tickets. We sat a couple seats from the end of a row. During the first part of the game, we had to listen to three loudmouth children who had no supervision. They moved but were replaced by a family with three children 5 years old and younger. For the remainder of our stay, they proceeded to kick and bump our chairs, edge out into the stair/walk way impeding traffic, and yelling. Now, I don’t mind a bit of yelling at a ballgame. I mean, you’re outside, the game is going great, you’re cheering on your team. However, cheering for your team, does not mean screaming into the ears of the people in front of you.

Oh, and the father kept spilling beer on my friend’s purse. She told me later that the next day, it failed the Breathalyzer.

I’m sorry, but these places (and this goes for any county/state fair) are not for babies. First off, they can’t enjoy the game. Second, they’re babies. They need constant attention and don’t understand the thousands of people around them and why there is so much noise. There are these people called babysitters. Hire one of them.

I think this section also applies to the adults who act like children. Loud, discourteous to those around them. I remember a time I attended a bull fight in Mexico (okay, this doesn’t qualify as a sport in any sense of the word and won’t go to another one. I thought the event cruel and stupid and kept hoping the bull would win). While trying to find some enjoyment out of the event, I had to endure two drunk New Yorkers who kept shouting “Ole!” every minute or two. Sheesh, give me a break.

  1. Seating. Okay, I understand that arenas and stadiums want to cram as many people in as possible. Money. But could it hurt to make the seats a bit more comfortable? As in a little bigger? With a tad more leg room? When I attended the Cubs game on the 4th of July, I bought a ticket the day of the game and wound up in a last row seat in one of grandstand sections. Now, there really isn’t a bad seat at this park. Well, maybe if you’re in the right field end seats or up at the tables with the beer tables. But, hey, if you’re up there, you’re not really caring about the game, right? You’ve found an outside bar with a game that’s live in front of you instead of on the big screen.

No, I didn’t mind the location, I just hadn’t realized that the last row was built for people who aren’t 6’2”. I tolerated two innings crammed in there with my legs tucked under the seat, people on either side of me (including one guy on my left who kept telling his wife the stats of the players as they came to the plate, as if she couldn’t read the scoreboard herself). Then I moved. I had to pee and I thought if I couldn’t find another seat within the grandstand area (heaven forbid you should try to sit in another area that has empty seats) I’d stand. The couple to my right also decided they weren’t going to stay, either. Surprisingly, we all found seats lower down in the same section.

I’ll always remember the time some friends and I attended a pro wrestling event in Cedar Rapids. There were about nine of us and just as the event began I felt something drip on my shoulder. I thought it was somebody throwing food. I realized it was some icky substance dripping from the ceiling. I mentioned it to a staff worker and after a short wait, we were all moved…to a VIP section with free drinks and t-shirts. I think the coolest part, though, was near the end of the evening, one of the top wrestlers made an appearance right behind us (the storyline was he was haunting the bad guys by showing up in different parts of whatever arena they happened to be in.) I thought we did all right with those seats.

Anyway, let’s have fun out there at the game. Watch out for those around you. Be aware of your surroundings. I hope you chose a good seat.

Play ball!

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Student Courtesy

courtesy for studentEvery month, I change the theme for class. At the end of each month, students are required to write a one page essay on that particular theme. Here are some essays on Courtesy.


Courtesy is a polite remark, polite behavior, a polite action of a person with good manners and consideration of others. A polite speech and action and also civility and respect.

Say polite things when we meet. Someone with consideration and cooperation.


I use courtesy at home. I use courtesy at school. I use courtesy at taekwondo. I use courtesy at grandma’s. I use courtesy at dad’s. I use courtesy at Stef’s. I use courtesy at Sherly’s. I use courtesy everyday. I use courtesy everywhere. I use courtesy all the time.


When I am at school, courtesy is not messing with the other kids and leaving them along. It is listening to the teachers and helpers to what they want to tell us.

At home, courtesy is picking up after supper and putting the dishes in the dishwasher. Helping my little brother get things that are too tall for him is another good courtesy thing I do at home. ‘

When I am at school, I help take kids to the office when they get sick which I think is very courteous.

I like it when people show me courtesy, it makes me feel good.

I like to teach my classmates and friends new games which I think is courteous to teach someone something new.

I do not like it when kids in my class do not show good courtesy, it is disruptive and hard to pay attention to the lesson.

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Around The Globe With Miriam Pia

Blog PicThis morning I pick up this week’s guest author and ask her where she’d like to go.

“Lothlorien,” she says.

“Well, considering that’s in Middle Earth, I don’t know.”

“How about the one in Indiana?”

When we arrive she says, “But I really like Rivendel.”

“Um, again, elves, Rings, Precious…”

“I like London, too.”

Off we go but before I can start the interview she says, “I’ve always enjoyed the Capital Hill section of Seattle?”

Upon arrival I want to grab a drink but she starts in about a nice cabin in the woods and  how, really her happy place is actually inside her soul, from being financially set, and experiencing exquisite intimacy…

I think we should get on with interview.


1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

No answer.

2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

I thought I might get a job in forestry – whether it would have meant I would have been one of the lady’s in nature centers giving tours to children or working in an office or going on hikes to measure a mineral in the rings of a tree – and taking samples from trees without killing them, for a living.

3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as rock star?

I tried writing a novel once while I was in college. Um, what happened was that it worked and then I edited the first draft. It entered my mind after I had written a decent novel and been published in the school magazine and my grades were good in my undergraduate English classes that maybe I could make some money with published novels. I continued to educate for and to search for a decent day job.

4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

JK Rowling and Neil Gaiman if they will let us eat at a fancy restaurant and get mine and let my son come along and get his.

Both are fairly close to my age and come across like pleasant English people I wouldn’t mind knowing.

I think it’s great that they have been able to earn a living using their vivid imaginations and wonder how much or how little they have written ‘what they wanted to write’.

I feel they would be delightful conversation.

Duh, but I should have said JLichtenberg because she has given me permission to call her my mentor and earned enough money to put her children through college selling copies of stories about a world she made up.

5. If I were stranded on a deserted island or suffering from a four hour layover at the airport, why would your book(s) be great company?

I think that if you were stranded on an island you might find the book precious at peculiar times. I worry that the book as something to read might only be good when everything else is going quite well for you on the desert island but you are bored. In truth, I think that most of the rest of the time the book would serve you better as a pillow and I fear you might need to use some of it for the kindling to make a fire or to wipe your ass due to the absence of toilet paper….but don’t get me wrong, if after you were rescued you told reporters: “That lady’s book saved my life!” even if it is because you were able to start a fire with it, I would be glad my book helped you so much.

I think that if you are just dealing with having a lay over in an airport you might find the energy of the story line to be soothing and deliciously exciting all at the same time – just as it is to have good music or a good film during flights.

6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people, or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.

Often, the first time I just try something. It is very organic. Some stories seem to naturally develop from me more easily. I can do it either way: just make something up and then go back and stick in research and fuss around with it and edit out massive amounts and then add necessary missing information into it and all of that. I have also ghostwritten and did do a novel as well as some nonfiction books so I can go from someone else’s idea, do a bunch of research (within limits caused by budgets) and write and edit along. I will always edit the work again later but I can do it that way to.

7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”

“Just do it.” One of the most important philosophy lessons I ever learned was also one of the very first – halfway can lead to nowhere.

Alternatively, if that is not the kind of problem you have, then just read what a bunch of other writers have done. If you have mentors or friends or anyone who tends to control you then ask that person what to do and do that.

8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

I studied philosophy for years, before and after learning loads from practicing Christianity. I also played with pagans and watched 2000 hours of ‘dharma’ videos. I don’t feel I can concisely answer your question.

9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

I am marketing some short fiction, and intend to get a science fiction novel released this year.

Those who search for it should be able to find something: some of it may be like the philosophical articles for a general audience or nonfiction encouragement for new mothers but it could be a fiction novel or another internal corporate blog post for a corporate writing client on ‘God and the chief executives know what’. When they hire me and tell me I’ll write it up.

10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

Right now, the best thing to do is just Google my name.

coverThe Double Life of Tutweiler Buckhead

Miriam Pia

Genre: urban fiction, magical realism, crime fiction, mystery

Publisher: SBPRA

Date of Publication: 2015

ISBN: 978-1628572254

Number of pages:300

Word Count: 95,000

Book Description:

Frustrated by the audacity of local villains, the sheriff of Marion County turns to the mayor. Urban fiction set in a real city, The Double Life of Tutweiler Buckhead takes some of the charm of vigilante comic book heroism and mixes it with the nitty gritty of contemporary crime fiction.

A band of champions searches for the missing pieces in the evil plot of a local drug kingpin in The Double Life of Tutweiler Buckhead: An Adventure in Indianapolis.

Ideal for those who love events of the outside world and the workings of the mind – characters’ actions and thoughts are portrayed in this contemporary novel – with just a touch of magic.

authorAbout the Author:

Miriam Pia has been writing for decades, including over ten years as a professional. Most of her work was done without a byline and as a ghostwriter. This is the author’s first published novel.

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Scattered Seeds

Scattered Seeds Banner 851 x 315As I write this, I’m seated with others in a waiting room while my car undergoes inspection. There’s a whiff of coffee in the air. Car salesmen come and go, bringing with them jangling keys and fluttering paperwork. A TV high on the wall blasts a morning news show. The host announces, “We’re learning more about the shooter in the worst mass shooting in US history.” All faces in the room turn upward, their mouths drawn into tight lines, their eyes betraying their disbelief and sorrow. Only an elderly woman looks away. I suppose she’s earned her indifference. She’s been down this road before, having not only lived through 9/11, but also Pearl Harbor and several wars.

The presidential candidates are talking now. They’re at each other’s throats. I tune them out and check my Facebook page, where more conflict awaits me. Everyone seems to be arguing these days, even old friends. I find a discussion so heated I begin to think about grilling a burger on my laptop.

With so much negativity in the world, it can be hard to see the good. It’s still there—isn’t it?—behind that lead blanket of bad?

I don’t know. I think it must be.

Yesterday, I decided to write in my car, so I parked in a vacant lot. A man pulled in beside me and opened his door. Twenty-five years ago, I would not have panicked and wound up my windows before he could part his lips to ask for directions. I grieve the loss of that innocence and trust. I long for the world I once knew, a world where a woman could talk to a man without worry, a world where Amish children could safely attend school, a world where scarce news meant networks filled slack days with recipes and gardening tips.

At times, the state of our world overwhelms me. When it becomes too great to stomach and I’ve exhausted myself in prayer, I run to the one place I still find solace: a book. Within a few paragraphs I know by an author’s voice whether or not I can trust her. If she appears to be in control, I plunge headfirst into the world she created for me, confident the journey will ultimately end well. Someone’s problems will have a satisfying end, and that makes me happy.

At the beginning of my current release, SCATTERED SEEDS, it is evident my characters have lost everything but each other. Things go from bad to worse for them when they board a ship bound for America. They manage to survive the voyage in a filthy brig full of the sick and desperate, only to reach Philadelphia just as war breaks out with the French. Both of my characters lose their sweethearts. Both nearly starve. To top it off, a shadowy character from their past sets up a trap to lure them in from the frontier so he can steal the only valuable thing left to them.

I’ve created a hell of a shit storm for my characters, one not unlike the world we live in. But here’s the difference: I’m in control of my fictional worlds, and I promise you no matter how much you fret for my characters, I will solve their problems and give you peace.

Reading helps us escape, but we can’t spend all day reading books, can we? At some point, we must address the serious issues we face today. But I think it’s okay to take the occasional break from the barrage of hatred and chaos and hide in a book. Next time you’re overwhelmed, crack one open. Let an author escort you into her world, one that will take you on a journey and bring you home content and restored.

Scattered Seeds coverScattered Seeds

Julie Doherty

Genre: Historical fiction, elements of romance

Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing

Date of Publication: April 27, 2016

ISBN: 1-68291-050-4

ASIN: B01E056H1Q

Number of pages: 339

Word Count: 100,000

Cover Artist: Fiona Jayde

Book Description:

In 18th century Ireland, drought forces Edward and Henry McConnell to assume false names and escape to America with the one valuable thing they still own–their ancestor’s gold torc.

Edward must leave love behind. Henry finds it in the foul belly of The Charming Hannah, only to lose it when an elusive trader purchases his sweetheart’s indenture.

With nothing but their broken hearts, a lame ox, and a torc they cannot sell without invoking a centuries-old curse, they head for the backcountry, where all hope rests upon getting their seed in the ground. Under constant threat of Indian attack, they endure crushing toil and hardship. By summer, they have wheat for their reward, and unexpected news of Henry’s lost love. They emerge from the wilderness and follow her trail to Philadelphia, unaware her cruel new master awaits them there, his heart set on obtaining the priceless torc they protect.

DohertyAbout the Author:

Julie Doherty expected to follow in her artist-father’s footsteps, but words, not oils, became her medium. Her novels have been called “romance with teeth” and “a sublime mix of history and suspense.”

Her marriage to a Glasgow-born Irishman means frequent visits to the Celtic countries, where she studies the culture that liberally flavors her stories. When not writing, she enjoys cooking over an open fire at her cabin, gardening, and hiking the ridges and valleys of rural Pennsylvania, where she lives just a short distance from the farm carved out of the wilderness by her 18th century “Scotch-Irish” ancestors.

She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Central Pennsylvania Romance Writers, Perry County Council of the Arts, and Clan Donald USA.






Tour giveaway

$30 Amazon gift card

5 free Kindle copies of SCATTERED SEEDS

Direct link to giveaway

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Friendship“True friendship is like sound health; the value of it is seldom known until it be lost.”
– Charles Caleb Colton

I often think of the friends I’ve made throughout the years. Those in high school, some of whom I see either annually or every five years. Those in college, most of those I’ve never seen since graduation. Those in the workplace, through my association in the American Taekwondo Association, through my writers’ group meetings. I could never name all of them but I’d like to highlight a few:

Clark, Jennifer, Paul, Marvin, and the girl who lived next door: 1987. Keystone, SD. I spent a summer working at a burger/chicken place attached to the Ruby House Cafe. Clark was my cook mate. Jenny was his girlfriend. Paul worked inside the restaurant. Marvin was my supervisor. Somewhere, I still have a placard the girl who lived next door to my bunkhouse placed on my car the day I left to go home. We all had some good times and I wish I still was in contact with them.

Allan Allsup: A guy who had the first room on the left when you stepped into the 3rd floor west hall of the Iowa Wesleyan men’s dorm. He re-introduced me to backgammon. We talked music and philosophy and I’m 0-21 against him in ping-pong. Some of his life was troubled and I’ve kept my eye out for his name ever since he left to go experience what the world brought to him. Allan, I’d love to sit and talk with you some more if you’re ever in the area.

Gary Petersen, Dave Stone, Roy, and that girl who wore the miniskirts: First real job out of college (not including the month I worked at the Amoco shop.) WKEI/WJRE in Kewanee, Illinois. I was there less than two years, and when I worked the morning shift on the FM side, oh, the fun we had. Gary was the AM board operator. Dave was the newsman. The receptionist/office worker who wore the tantalizing clothing didn’t stay around long enough. The fun Dave, Gary, and I trying to make each other laugh on the air. Sportscasts, splitting up the holiday schedule. Roy and I tormenting that one guy (all in good fun, but no, we probably should not have done that. I don’t think it had any lasting effects) on the late shifts. I honored Gary a bit by giving my heroine his surname.

Becky and Jim (don’t call me James) Gaskill: She was a coworker for a time at the Oskaloosa Herald. He worked in CAD. The dart games. The card games. The dinners. The one time we all went to dinner with some of his coworkers and I got as drunk as I’ve ever been and will never be again. (Sorry about the waste basket and the knit pillow.) I saw them earlier this year when they came through on a family vacation. Everybody’s a little older, but nothing’s changed, and that’s just great.

Yvette: No, that’s not her real name, although for a time I thought it was. She was an assistant when I attended a photography course in Iowa City one week before my senior year in high school. I met her four years later when I was doing my internship at a Quad Cities radio station. She lived in the metro area and the one day I stopped by I was ‘conned’ into helping her move.

Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention a bunch of other people (sorry if I omitted your name but not by choice. I’m just brainstorming here and am bound to leave out a few): the entire class of ’84 Danville High (that’s Danville, Iowa, folks); Kim, Roger, all family (yeah, the pesky in-laws, too), Angi, Mike, Karen, everybody in any writers’ group of which I’ve been a member, Peter (Chicago!), all the ATA instructors/students at all of the camps/business meetings/tournaments; Robert (you hug-able friend), Mary, Rod, Kim (with a different last name), Mrs. Rieke (sorry, can’t get used to calling you Mary, even after all these years), Matt, Nik, Crystal, Kurt (You think I wouldn’t mention you four? Think again!), Dan, that guy I played tennis with at 1 a.m. in Keystone, those wonderful people at the AME church in Kewanee, the pre-press folks at Sutherland Printing, the other Boatheads on third floor west at Wesleyan…

…and all the rest.

Cultivate your friendships because they will make memories to last a lifetime.

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Things You Need To Know

worth_dying_for851x315Back from the forest and I barely get settled when there’s a knock at the door. Wary, I answer and this woman says, “Do you know about my book? Let me tell you about my book.”

“Uh, I don’t even know what I’m having for breakfast since I’m out of milk.”

“Let me tell you about my book. You need to know.”

And before I can utter another word, she brushes past me and sits at the computer.

So, here’s what you need to know. First, I really must stop answering the door on Fridays. Second, well, here are some things about my guest author’s book:

An Introduction to Jesse Sullivan

Kory M. Shrum here. I’m the author of the Dying for a Living dark (but humorous!) fantasy series. Five books are currently on digital shelves everywhere. But before you dive in, I thought it might be a good idea to give a brief introduction to the popular series which recently hit Amazon’s bestseller’s list and has about 100,000 copies in circulation.

5 Things You Need to Know about Jesse Sullivan

1) Jesse dies for a living. In this series, Jesse Sullivan has NRD, a neurological disorder that allows her to die, but wake up, resurrected by her brain. America and the rest of the world took advantage of this by setting up a death-replacement industry, which sounds like exactly what it is. Necronites (people with NRD) can die so others don’t have to. The first couple of books are centered on Jesse’s unusual job as a larger, more sinister plot emerges.

2) She speaks sarcasm fluently. The number one compliment I receive about the series is Jesse’s snark. People love it! Okay, it’s really hard not to love someone with so much spunk. A reader of the series can definitely expect that the darkest moments of the narrative (and there will be quite a few) would be lightened with Jesse’s humor. She knows her situation is horrible and she decides to approach it with a gallows sense of humor. I think the story is all the better for it.

3) Jesse loves her people, and they love her. Despite her sarcastic approach to conversation, it’s absolutely clear that Jesse loves her friends—and a certain pug named Winston. She’s got her super smart best friend and sidekick Ally Gallagher. A gifted psychic guardian with the ability to draw the future, Gloria Jackson. An almost-as-snarky half-sister Maisie. A diva extraordinaire with her own superpowers and Armani boots, Rachel Wright. And a tech savvy 007 Gideon. One of the best parts of this series are the relationships between these people, and how they defend each other against the bad guy.

*Spoiler ALERT! (If you haven’t read the first book, Dying for a Living, which is free on Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo and elsewhere. Did I mention the 200+ 5-star reviews?)

4) Jesse’s books have drama up the wazoo. The primary bad guy of series is Jesse’s father who now goes by the name Timothy Caldwell. And he isn’t the doting type. He’s a genocidal maniac responsible for the death of a great many Necronites (people with NRD, like Jesse and Maisie). Jesse is going to have to face him and kill him eventually, and in Worth Dying For, she gets her chance.

5) This is a story about redemption. And loyalty. Even when I started the first book, I knew that Jesse’s story was a story about forgiving oneself. Jesse had a really rough start and she came out of those situations with a lot of pain. It’s going to take her a lot of time (7 books to be exact), to learn how to believe in her own power and strength and to truly let go of everything that’s happened. Part of her healing—hell, most of her healing, comes from the loving and loyal people that surround her.

5a) I’m aiming for a happy ending. Now that 5 of the 7 books have been released, fans are getting nervous about the ending! I can’t blame them! So am I! You wouldn’t think I want Jesse to have a happy ending by reading the first five books. Jesse has had a rough road and none of her victories came easy. Some might even say I’ve tormented her. But I believe (idealist here), that people who are willing to face their own demons, deserve a happy ending. So I’m working hard to give Jesse hers.

What’s “One Thing We Needs To Know” about your favorite series?

Worth dying coverWorth Dying For

Dying for a Living Series

Book Five

Kory M. Shrum

Genre: Supernatural Suspense, Paranormal Thriller

Publisher: Timberlane Press

Date of Publication: May 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0692705322


Number of pages: Print, 435

Word Count: 83K

Cover Artist: John K. Addis

Book Description:

A supernatural suspense novel about a snarky anti-heroine and her motley crew trying to stop the unstoppable. The fifth novel in the popular Dying for a Living series, Worth Dying For picks up two months after the events of Dying Light.

The gang is in New York and much to Jesse’s surprise, they are all still alive. Jesse, Ally, Rachel, Gideon and Maisie have managed to stay off of Caldwell’s radar for months. But when your enemy can control minds and teleport, there isn’t a safe place in the world where you can hide. They have a plan for stopping his genocidal reign, but it will require a 2500-mile road trip to Cochise, Arizona, the abandoned military base where it all began.

Shrum’s writing is smart, imaginative, and insanely addictive! I have begun to think of her books as my Kory Krack. I beg of you to pick them up. You will NOT regret it! ~ Darynda Jones, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Charley Davidson series

This book and author are now among my favorites! Wow! I might be a little partial to this story because I love morbid comedy, urban fantasy, and a good mystery. I’m also a big fan of original ideas, since they’re so rare anymore. But this one has it all! ~ Angela Roquet, author of the Lana Harvey Reapers Inc. series

Shrum is a master at blending a breezy narrative with genuine weight to story and characters. Hysterical, moving, and fascinating all at once. ~ John K. Addis, author of The Eaton


So what’ll it be?” I ask her. “Water? Juice? I don’t think we actually have Gatorade, but I can walk down to the store.”

Water’s fine.” Ally falls back against cushions and grins up at me. A light pink blush spreads over her cheeks. She finger-combs her hair. “My hair is so pretty. I love my hair.”

I snort. “I love your hair too.”

What else about me is cute?” she asks.

Everything.” I fluff the pillow for her and search the room for a blanket. I yank a red velvety throw off the back of a chair as Gideon slips out of the bedroom and passes me on his way to the mini fridge. He grabs one of the wrapped water glasses from the bar above.

Grab us one too.” I have zero problems assigning tasks to other people. Sometimes I wonder if it was a mistake going into death-replacing. Sure, I was a great death replacement agent, and dying for other people is cool, but I’m really good at bossing people around.

It’s like a calling.

Gideon fills two water glasses with some fancy bottled water from the fridge and hands me a glass. I don’t dare remind him that Ally vowed not to drink this water yesterday. She ranted about the effect of plastic on the environment for ten whole minutes. I could’ve reminded her that the planet is about to explode anyway, but that meant Gideon would’ve won the argument and I’m Team Ally all the way.

I put the glass of water in her hand. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her. “Here you go. Drink up.”

She waves her water around. “I just feel so good, you know?”

I smile. “I can tell.”

She runs a hand through her hair. “It’s a new year. A new beginning. And we have a great plan for kicking Caldwell’s butt.”

We do.”

And you’re so cute and you kissed me.”

With arched eyebrows, Gideon closes the bedroom door behind him. Thankfully, the sound of the television comes on, affording us some privacy.

I sink down onto the sofa beside her. “I’ll do it again if you want me too. I’ll kiss you a million times.”

She bites her lip and I’m about to lose it. I lean forward to kiss her but she starts talking again, so I hang there mid-smooch, lips puckered.

Life is so good right now. No one is stabbing us, burying us alive, beating us up, or kidnapping the dog,” she goes on, her voice echoing inside her water glass. Her face pinches. “That means we are probably about to die.”

I press my lips together and sigh. “Don’t say that. You’ll jinx us.”

It’s difficult getting her to sit up, but I manage it. I want her to drink this water. I tilt the glass toward her lips, encouraging her.

This is good,” she says and frowns at the water. “Is this tap water?”


Because I’m not drinking that $15 water Gideon bought.”

It’s tap,” I say again. “You’re just too drunk to taste it.”

Ally shrugs and finishes the glass. Then she hands me her empty glass.

You want more?”

No,” she grins. “I want something else.”

We’ve got chips, but that’s about it. And Rachel can’t close a bag to save her life, so they’re probably stale.”

She shakes her head, grinning.

Then I realize what she’s saying.

Oh.” I smile. “Okay.”

She crawls over the pillow between us and pulls herself into my lap. She straddles me, wrapping her arms around my neck. She kisses me once on the cheek, probably a missed target rather than a sweet gesture, and then manages to get my mouth the second time.

She pulls back. “God, is it you or is it really hot in here?”

We’re still wearing our coats.”

She laughs and looks down at herself. “Oh. Right.”

I reach up behind her and pull her jacket off. “Better?”

She snuggles up to me. “You’re still hot.”

Thanks for noticing.”

Let me help you take your coat off.”

Okay.” I let her attempt to pull off the jacket, but it’s not really going anywhere and she accidentally pulls my hair twice. So I help her get my jacket off and throw it over the arm of the sofa. One of the throw pillows falls to the floor with a poof.

Ally doesn’t stop there. She slips her hands under my shirt, giving me a curious look. “Is this okay?”

I try to find the voice to tell her it’s more than okay. She would have been naked an hour ago in the grubby bathroom of some bar if she wasn’t such a germaphobe.

She is so beautiful. Her eyes are bright, reflecting the lamplight. Her face is flushed from the alcohol, her smile lazy. Her eyes half-closed. My heart pounds in my chest, thudding against my ribs so hard it hurts.

What’s wrong?” A frown creases her face and I think she can hear my heart throbbing. “Don’t you think I’m pretty?”

Don’t be stupid.”

I reach up and pull her down into my arms. I kiss her, even more deeply than I did on the balcony. I slip my hand under her shirt and unsnap her bra with one twist of my fingers.

She gasps in my mouth and the sound of it makes my whole body shudder.

Lay down,” I command.

She laughs, surprised, but her voice goes all deep and breathy. “Yes, sir.”

I climb on top of her, positioning myself between her legs. I kiss her neck and she squirms, bucking her hips up against mine.

Do you love me?” she asks.

More than anyone.”

Are you sure?”

I cover her mouth with mine. “Please stop talking.” I pull back. “Unless you want me to stop.”

No, no.” She grabs the front of my hoodie, twisting it up in her fists and pulls me down on top of her.

ShrumAbout the Author:

Kory M. Shrum lives in Michigan with her partner Kim and her ferocious guard pug Josephine. She is very fond of naps and foods made of sugar, which is, as you can imagine, a deadly combination. But she tries to compensate for her extreme physical laziness with her overactive imagination. She’s an active member of SFWA, HWA, and the Four Horsemen of the Bookocalypse, where she’s known as Conquest. She’s the author of five contemporary (and somewhat dark) fantasy novels in the Dying for a Living series: Dying for a Living, Dying by the Hour, Dying for Her: A Companion Novel, Dying Light, and Worth Dying For.

Dying for a Living has over 190 5-star reviews and is a free ebook.

When not writing, she can be found teaching, traveling, and wearing a gi. She’s very likely to tempt you to an ominous tarot or palm reading–anything spooky-foo to pass the time until Guardians of the Galaxy or Sherlock return. She’s not-so-secretly dying for the next season to begin.

Tour giveaway

1 grand prize: A prize pack of signed books 1-5 in Dying for a Living series as well as swag and treats. (US Only)

3 free audiobooks

1 ebook bundle of books 1-5 Dying for a Living books and $25 giftcard

Direct link

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Around The Globe With Colleen Myers

fall-in-the-forest-11539It’s spring but  my first featured author this week wants to walk in the the woods when the leaves are turning. What? No, no, enjoy the summer, the warm weather, the sun, the green, the –

Yeah, I know. I never win. So, I set the time controls and we jump forward several months and we’re off into the deep woods.

Just know that I’m going back to June 10 when we’re through with the interview.

Can't Forget Banner 851 x 315

  1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

    Well I don’t know about the most fascinating but I’m pretty cool. I am a real life doctor, veteran and mother making my way in the world. I just recently restarted writing and am loving it.

  1. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

    I am an introvert. If given the choice of a huge party vs small intimate gathering with friends, I will always pick the smaller venue.

  1. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as rock star?

    For one, I can’t sing. Trust me when I say you do not even want me to try. In all seriousness though, I have always been a dreamer, Real life is stressful enough so I loved envisioning new worlds and realities and I love a HEA.

4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

Ilona Andrews. That is by far my favorite writing team currently living. Or Jane Austen if we are talking dead authors lol.

5. If I were stranded on a deserted island or suffering from a four hour layover at the airport, why would your book(s) be great company?

When I am in an airport or a public place I only like rereading books that I have read before. So any of my favorite series. If I read a book I haven’t read, my flight could be called and I would not even notice.

6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people, or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.

I always draft in scrivener. I tend to outline every chapter and scene in the comments and make my series bible first. Then I will start writing. I get to about 50,000 usually on a first draft and make sur plot is intact, then I change to word for edits. I do about 5-10 edits over time myself and do 2-3 beta readers and 1 editor I love for copywriting.

7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin.

Your process may not work for me. Any advice?” Just start writing. Some people are pantsers and as they write the idea becomes clearer

8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

Never give up, never surrender. One this was from an awesome movie and two, nobody ever got nothing after working hard.

9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

No, I have four series I am currently working on. The first book written in all of them. Eventually will get the third and fourth out, but right now focusing on the Solum series, Must Remember, Can’t Forget and Distant Memory. I also have a Contemporary romance that will be out soon called Whole Again, Each Other’s Only and Burning Bright.

10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

Check out my website or my blog. I love to stay in touch!

Cant forget coverCan’t Forget

Solum Series

Book Two

Colleen S. Myers

Genre: Science Fiction Romance

Publisher: Champagne Books

Date of Publication: June 6th, 2016

Number of pages: 253

Word Count: 82,000

Cover Artist: Elaine Smith

Book Description:

Is it better to be safe or loved?

Four months have passed since the E’mani destroyed the Earth and scooped up the remains. Elizabeth “Beta” Camden was one of those taken. With the help of their enemies, the Fost, she escapes and confronts her prior captors successfully. Though she knows she should remain vigilant toward the E’mani, she follows her heart instead and falls in love with Marin, the sexy Fost warrior..

She should have trusted her first instinct.

This time the E’mani don’t come in force–they slip in silently. And any hope Beta had of a peaceful life is lost. She leaves in the dead of night to find the E’mani stronghold and end them once and for all. But love is a tricky bitch. It takes a threat to Marin’s safety to make Beta realize, if she can’t forget her past, she won’t have a future.

Must Remember – Solum Series Book One On Sale for .99 June 1-July 1

Chapter One

The snowball hit the back of my head dead-on. Bam.

I stumbled forward from the force of the blow. The flakes created a halo of white powder around my head in the cool, crisp air then settled all over my face and neck.

What the…oh no he didn’t. A growl rose in my throat. I turned to confront my foe. I creased my eyebrows and I glared at him, mean-like.

With a smug expression on his face, Marin stared back, tossing another snowball between his hands.

Elizabeth, you appeared distracted. I wanted to help.” His voice was smooth, deep like aged rum, and echoed in the unique way of his people, the Fost, almost like he was being dubbed. The sound got me every time causing me to shiver, or maybe it was the snow dripping down my back.

That was helping?” My ass.

Yes, you were about to walk into a tree,” he said dryly, dropping his ammunition.

I whipped around. Sure enough, a tree loomed in front of me. Dark-gray bark, feathery fronds interspersed with lethal spikes, blue moss climbing its trunk. Yep, that was a tree. Well for here anyway, not like on Earth.

I glanced back at Marin, who stood so trustingly under the boughs of another nearby tree laden with snow. A smile tugged at the corner of my mouth. See, I could help too. He looked hot, literally and figuratively.

Okay, thanks.”

With a thought, my power twisted deep inside, and I sent out a burst of air through the branches. They shuddered in response and unloaded their cold, wet contents on Marin’s head with nary a sound.

The snow dusted his brows, his cheeks, and obscured the single streak of dark green that coursed down the left side of his mahogany hair and framed his face. A single flake melted on his lips.

Our gazes met and held. His light brown eyes had a slit pupil that dilated then contracted as he focused on me. I used to find it…disconcerting, but it was just him, along with his long limbs, sharp features, and elaborate tattoos called jatua. All small differences but strange enough to have unsettled me in the past. Now it was so damn unfair how sexy I found him, alien race and all.

Marin raised an eyebrow and licked at his bottom lip, watching me watch him. My gaze followed the path of his tongue.

Heat spread through me as I imagined myself tasting those lips. I tucked a strand of red hair behind my ear. My breath slipped out in a sigh.

He smiled wide. “Lands, I love how you look at me.”

Stop.” I blushed, twirling back and starting down the path we’d been walking before he ambushed me.

How much farther?” I asked when he caught up and bumped into my side.

We are close,” Marin replied. He was so busy shaking the snow out of his hair, he didn’t see my smile.

Are we there yet?”


Ha, so literal. “Are we there yet?”

His hands stopped and his brow crinkled. He looked so confused I had to laugh. Then I tripped flat on my face in my clunky snowshoes and it was Marin’s turn to snicker. He picked me up and settled me against him, my face tucked into his shoulder.

You all right there?” His words whispered past my ear.

I’m fine.” My voice came out a lot breathier than I intended. Damn it.

The corner of his lips curled up. He traced the side of my face. Tingles trailed along my skin. I put my fingers over his and stood on tiptoe in invitation. Marin obliged and brushed his mouth along mine. Our lips clung for the briefest of seconds before he shoved snow down the back of my coat.

I shrieked, dancing backward. Cold, cold, cold.

Marin bolted down the path, much more sure in his steps than I.

The jerk. He was lucky he got out of range, or I would have gotten payback.

I fiddled with my jacket to get the rest of the snow out, shuddering at the feeling of wet fabric sticking to my back.

God, I hated winter. The first snow, I marveled like everyone else. Oh, so pretty. The world sparkled underneath the coating of white. Then the freeze set in, the biting wind, the forced isolation. And did I mention the cold? Give me spring or summer any day.

We were traveling to the mines outside the city of Groos. The miners had reached a type of rock they’d never seen before. It was dense and coarse. They couldn’t blast through it, and their efforts were destabilizing the tunnels. They tried to dig around it, but so far they’d had no luck. Nobody knew how thick the vein was or how far it reached. They wanted me to try magical means to remove it. Fat lot of good that would do.

When I caught up to Marin, I gave him the evil eye.

Marin grinned. “What?”

I flipped him the bird.

He grabbed my middle finger, “What does that mean? You do it all the time.”


His brows wrinkled again. “Woman.”

Man. And don’t talk to me. You put snow down my back.”

Marin laughed. “Sorry.”

My ass, you are not the least bit sorry.”

Wait, what does your bottom have to do with this?”

I blinked. Ha, I forgot sometimes that certain expressions didn’t translate. “Nothing.”

He growled and kissed my knuckle before dropping my hand. “I hate when you say that.”

I know, thus, why I do it.” I grinned and stepped ahead of him with a wiggle in my step.

He swatted me on the ass as I passed. While I acted angry outside, inside I loved when he played. He only ever did it when no one could see him. He was Clan Chief after all, even though he was only five years older than me at twenty-five. The position left him little time for fun and his own sense of responsibility precluded it.

A few minutes later and we reached our destination. A box canyon opened up in front of us, filled with barren trees and snow. At the far end of the canyon, a cave entrance loomed, braced by wood. A single railroad track led out of the opening to the left and a snow-laden press stood to the side, up against the high stone walls.

Con waited outside the entrance, his red and green Mohawk vivid against the backdrop of white. His stout form and kind face emphasized his resemblance to a Santa, A badass one. No fluffy red suit for him.

Marin inclined his head, straight to business. “Show us this rock.”

With a flourish, Con gestured ahead, and we entered the mines with cautious steps. Just past the entrance, the light from the two suns outside faded and darkness fell. I slowed and Marin’s hand brushed my lower back.

Let your eyes adjust for a moment,” Con muttered from behind us.

As I stood there, the walls started to glow. Streaks of aqua phosphorescence lit the pathway ahead.

What is this?” I asked in wonder, moving in a circle.

Theris, a weed. It grows in the caves. When you break its shell, it glows.” Con held out a small stick almost like an aloe branch that he snapped before our eyes, and a thin, clear liquid trickled out. “The glow lasts almost a week. We carry some on us at all times. Come, follow me.”

Con led the way down the cramped passageway. Gravel and ice crunched underfoot. The smell of dust filled the stale air. My breath steamed. Damn it. I shivered and rubbed my arms through the jacket. Marin ran his hand down my spine.

It took about five minutes of hiking to reach the antechamber. When we got there, Con stared at me with a hopeful expression.

Okay, you want me to, you know.” I made woo-woo gestures at the wall.

Yes,” Con replied.

Four months ago, I’d escaped from an E’mani spaceship and ended up here on Solum. The Fost, Marin’s people and the sworn enemies of the E’mani, took me in and hid me from their foes, but the E’mani didn’t give up easily. In one of their attempts to draw me out of hiding, they set bombs at these mines. Several people had been trapped inside. I’d used my magic to move the rock—how I got magic, I still don’t know—and created a new entrance. Now they wanted me to do it again. No pressure, right?

I reached out and touched the wall. The dark surface crumbled under my fingertips. All throughout the flaky stone, a silver metal streaked. Not dust or ore. This was metal, hard and thick. No wonder they couldn’t get through it.

With a deep breath, I closed my eyes. The power sprang eagerly to my summons. Heat spread outward from my core and my palm tingled where it touched the rock. The chill from being deep in the cave during winter faded.. A pulse vibrated in the air around me, pulling me deeper. I concentrated on that sound, letting it center me. My heartbeat synchronized to the sensation.

One. My skin grew tight. I let my breath rush out in a slow exhale.

Two. The stone warmed underneath my fingertips.

Three. The ground shook in response to the power rushing to my call. I kept my hands square on the wall.

Four. My hair stood on end, strength rushing through me, filling me until the force of the earth beneath my hand made me feel stretched like taffy. My mind screamed from the pressure and I squeezed my eyes shut. I needed to hold it as long as I could. My body shuddered until every pore sweat and my body strained from the contact, pushed to its limits and beyond. And then I shoved all the power out with my mind into the rock.

Please move. Please.

A beat.

Nothing happened.

Anything, Beta?” Con asked right next to my ear.

I jumped.

Nope,” I squeaked out, trying to bring my pulse under control, oddly empty.

Keep trying,” Marin said and touched the rock to my left. Con did the same on my other side. We all focused this time, but unlike the time we freed the miners, there was no movement. The metal seemed inert. Its light gray color contrasted starkly with the dark-brown stone.

My shoulders slumped. “Nothing. I’m sorry.”

And this means we cannot mine the ferok, doesn’t it?” Marin asked, rubbing his forehead.

Correct, it covers the veins,” Con said.

My fists clenched. The Fost had found another metal–ferok. It was pliable and could be imbued with magic. With it, they could shatter the technological defenses of the E’mani. That was a good thing, but the metal kept us from it. And we had so little of the ferok to begin with. This was not happy news.

Land’s sake, why can it never be easy?” Marin echoed my thoughts.

Marin slapped Con on the back. “We will search the library for more information. You continue to try to mine this rock. See what you can do.”

Con nodded in agreement as Marin gathered me up and we trudged out of the caves. Silence reigned for the next half hour.

Stop worrying,” Marin said.

I’m not worrying.”

I can practically hear the thoughts racing through your head.”

I am not worrying.” I enunciated slowly, my steps deliberate

Yes, you are.”

Well, fine, I can’t help it. I can’t stop thinking about the E’mani. Without the ferok, we only have our magic and we need more. And there’s this feeling of dread,” I splayed my hand across my chest, “right here, and it’s getting stronger. The E’mani are out there. I know it. I’m not sure why they haven’t attacked us yet, but they will. We need a weapon.”

The E’mani wouldn’t have forgotten about me or the Fost. I didn’t hold out hope that they’d forgotten about the men they’d lost in their attempts to recapture me either.

The land protects us,” Marin replied.

A snort escaped me. “Magic vs. machine. That didn’t work out so well for you guys the last time.”

Marin tossed me a chiding look. “We survived, did we not? That is what matters. And we have lived as we are meant.”

God, his words made my teeth itch. “You can’t think the E’mani aren’t planning retaliation. They are not a forgiving race.”

I’d know having been their prisoner and all. And the more I thought about the E’mani, the more hatred stirred inside me. I loathed those pale freaks. They’d destroyed my world, in their never-ending quest to “make things better.” Then they brought me here. I didn’t remember much of my time with them, not yet. But I recalled enough to despise them. They were not kind masters.

White eyes stared at me through amber glass, E’mani eyes.

Hello, Elizabeth,” Xade crooned. Light flashed off the razor sharp edge of the scalpel in his hands. “Time for more samples.”

Marin’s words snapped me out of my memories with a jolt. “We all know the E’mani are coming. But the winter has been harsh, more so than usual. And before they came after you, it had been ages since the last time we saw them. They left this world long ago to recoup their losses after the war. They left even while we were still fighting and maintain only a small presence out in Industry.”

My jaw set. “Good. Industry is where I need to go. I need to find one of their labs.”

Marin sighed. “We have talked about this, Elizabeth. First, you have no idea where to find a lab. And second, you have no idea what you need to do if you did find it.”

I remember some of what they taught me. And being in the labs, where they kept me, will help me remember even more. I scared them, Marin. Me. When I confronted them—”

It might not have been you. It might have been all the lightning you were throwing around, or the blade Zanth wielded,” he argued.

I grit my teeth until my jaw hurt. Damn him. Why wasn’t he listening? Tears blurred the path in front of me.

It was me; I could tell. I know something that can hurt them, I can feel it. The E’mani were frightened enough of me that they came in force to capture or kill me and it has to do with the labs. I know there is something I’m meant to do, and soon. If not, something bad is going to happen.” Chills shivered down my spine. I heard the faint echo of screams—men’s and women’s—from long ago. They had a plan for us, just like they had for Earth. How could I stop it? “Marin?”


If I asked you to, would you leave with me, today, and travel to Industry?”

Marin blinked. “Today? No, we need to plan these things, you know that, Elizabeth. To go now would be stupid.”

I stomped forward on the trail. “Of course it would be. How silly of me. You’re right.”

Elizabeth, please.” Marin caught up and put his arm around my shoulder. “We will go to Industry soon. I promise.”

Yeah, yeah, you keep saying that.” I let my head fall against his shoulder. Arguing with Marin never seemed to end how I wanted it to. No use being pissy about it now. And he was right, which was even worse. To go during winter would be foolish, but still…

A few minutes passed. The snow crackled beneath our feet. It was cold enough, I’d long since lost feeling in my toes.

The entrance to the city of Groos came into view. There was a large chiseled gate built into the natural arch that fronted the valley. They built the gatehouse into the valley walls itself and tunneled above the gate, giving the guards a clear sight line of anyone approaching.

Bas-relief scenes covered the arch’s surface blending with the rock face. One scene depicted a Fost couple embracing in a corner their arms wrapped around one another. In the other corner was a Coreck, a catlike creature that stood on two legs, with a long tongue. Yet another showed a battle. Men fought with swords and spaceships flew overhead. The pictures were so vivid, they seemed to flow across the rock, lifelike and real. My fingers itched to touch the stone. Every time I saw it, I was struck by how natural it appeared. It fit.

Unlike me.

About the Author:

Colleen Myers was raised in a large family in the outskirts of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she grew up on Harlequin teen romances and stories from her mother’s work as a paramedic. She was her high school salutatorian and attended Allegheny College on the Presidential Scholarship.

After college, Colleen spent a year in service in the Americorp giving back to the community at a local Pittsburgh Women Infants and Children Clinic (WICC) before attending Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine on a military scholarship.

Upon completing medical school, Colleen attended residency at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland during 9/11. She earned three meritous service awards from the military along with outstanding unit awards. After serving seven yearsof active duty, she promptly landed a position at the VA to provide fellow veterans with optimum medical care. Still an avid fan of romances into adulthood, her love of the genre inspired her to hone her craft as a writer, focusing on contemporary romance and science fiction. Her background in medicine and the military provide an inspiring layer of creative realism to her stories and characters.

Her first book, Must Remember, the first of the Solum series, is being published by Champagne Press. The sequel, Can’t Forget is the recipient of the 2015 RWA New England Readers Award.

Colleen currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her son, and spends her spare time writing novels.



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Tour Giveaway

$25 gift card and ecopy of Must Remember

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Around The Globe With Shannon O’Leary

Farm-dam-in-West-Gippsland-2On this beautiful Friday morning, I hop in the transporter to pick up this week’s featured guest. Where to? The farm in a beautiful valley up in the hills. I chose the opening picture not because it’s on the author’s farm but because that’s where she receives water. (Okay, don’t tell anybody, but the picture is actually of a dam in West Grippsland. Where is this place? look it up.) Anyway, the setting is perfect for inspiration and music and writing.

On with the interview:

1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

Shannon O’Leary is my pen name and I am a very private person. I have five beautiful adult children and a wonderful partner. I love art, music, and of course books. I have worked in the film and TV industries and love to teach creative arts to children. I don’t know if I am fascinating but people’s life stories, history, natural beauty, and wildlife certainly fascinate me.

2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

That despite my being a survivor I am still fragile and sometimes find things difficult. I keep going, though, and with the help of my creative brain and education I always try to look at life’s different perspectives.

3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as a mountain climber?

I was a child that read continually and hid in libraries. I loved learning and I could lose myself in the written word and music. It became my passion and opened the way to a beautiful and creative life.

Front Cover4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

This is a hard one! I am not the best at dinner parties…I get too nervous. Maybe I could be a fly on the wall when the authors are at dinner then I could observe them as they really are? I’d like to see what the Brontes were like (wow what was their family dynamic?). I’d also love Bill Bryson’s work, Charles Dickens, and Shakespeare.

5. If I were stranded on a deserted island or suffering from a four-hour layover at the airport, why would your book be great company?

It is pretty gruesome so I would probably wake you up. I hope it doesn’t give you nightmares.

6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people, or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites.

I write from the heart. It just pours out of me. When I tackle a project I write what I think and feel. I guess it is kind of like a big cake with random ingredients. I write about real events so I know where my story is going so I can write about different aspects at different times. After this I piece the bits together in chronological order. I re-read it and throw bits out that don’t work and re-write, add in bits I’ve missed etc. and tackle the more challenging aspects of the book.

7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”

Just write from the heart and be true to yourself.

My advice probably won’t work for you because I am a bit of a workaholic and keep writing while the furnace is driving me (consumed by the work) then I finish when the metaphorical fire goes out.

8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

Be respectful and truthful to all living things and move forwards towards a brighter future as you never know what’s around the corner!

Back Cover9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

I will never stop writing as I have been writing songs, poetry, music, and books all my life. At present, I am writing two books. One is the continuation of my story and the other is a historical novel.

10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?



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Around The Globe With John Uttley

wisteriaUsually, I try to describe where authors take me for the interviews. This time…well, I think I’ll let him tell it himself:

All my happy places are based on reality. They include the wing stand at Burnden Park in 1953, Old Trafford Cricket Ground late in the evening in 1971 for the Gillette Semi Final and the graveyard at Heptonstall church where my ancestors were buried in the 18th and 19th century. But today, we’re in my garden, sitting on comfortable chairs with blossom to be seen in all directions, the lawn freshly mowed (what a day for a daydream!), the dog meandering into the arboretum under the cascading wisteria and a blackbird trilling “pleased to meet you” to everyone within earshot.

Where's Sailor Jack Banner 851 x 315

1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city.

I won’t admit to living in a city even if it’s only 12 miles from here into Central London. One of my characters says when his Grandson is about to join the Urban Saints : “We can’t have him belonging to anything urban.” I might be in the top 500 interesting people in these whereabouts, if that many live here.

2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

If my thought dreams could be seen, they’d probably put my head in a guillotine.” Bob Dylan, It’s Alright Ma.

3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as rock star?

I have been a few incarnations in my life, but rock star wasn’t one of them, much as I love the stuff. I was asked to mime in the Wolf Cub concert as a kid, because I put the others off. I perhaps could have been a professional footballer, and definitely a nuclear physicist or a clergyman, but the economics of my life propelled me into business as a first career.

4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

I’ll pick them for their authorial skills rather than their table manners. In every case, I’d want to compare their view of life rather more than discuss their writing tecnnique. I’ll name seven, six of whom will have to be brought back from the dead: Tolstoy, Graham Greene, Iris Murdoch, Saul Bellow, Anthony Burgess, Malcolm Bradbury and Ian McEwan. I’ll start with Graham Greene, introduced to me as a late teenager by a girlfriend I was trying to impress who was reading The End of the Affair at her convent school. I came to love the Catholic guilt of Greeneland, although I was and remain an Anglican and innocent. Then back to Tolstoy. I did read War and Peace to show off a bit (not in the original Russian), but at a confusing point in my early twenties I read Resurrection which was a powerful testimony to the inner peace of a redemption. Iris Murdoch’s complex novels with a philosophical background became must-reads, The Sea, The Sea being my favourite despite winning the Booker Prize. Saul Bellow’s conversational style of writing and understanding of the male psyche make him a stand-out for me, with Henderson the Rain King perhaps my favourite, although I loved Herzog too. Then I started to lighten up a bit. Anthony Burgess’s rumbustious style with Inside Mr Enderby made me laugh out loud, taking me back to my younger days when J P Donleavy and Joseph Heller had done the same. Malcolm Bradbury and David Lodge were very different authors, though both worked brilliantly with the campus novel. Lodge gave me belly-laughs and I’d have loved to have met his character Robyn Penrose. But I’ve listed Malcolm Bradbury for the brilliantly wicked satire that The History Man constitutes. There’s a chapter in my novel where the affluent yet intelligent engineer goes to an academic party and faces similar behaviour. Finally I come to an author younger than myself, Ian McEwan, who is far more serious and earnest in his writings. Saturday is perhaps my favourite but all his books are worth waiting for, as are those of William Boyd and Sebastian Faulks. The McEwan I like least is Atonement, where nothing is atoned, speaking to me the post-modern dilemma in finding meaning. I guess that’s why Tolstoy’s Resurrection is put at the top.

5. If I were stranded on a deserted island or suffering from a four hour layover at the airport, why would your book(s) be great company?

You’d just about finish it at the airport, so once you got on the plane you could watch the In-Flight entertainment. I’d hope you’d feel uplifted and still retain the will to live. That could be helpful after the crash landing on the desert island, and if not I’m sure you could find a use for the paper.

6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people, or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.

I start with plot, which does change somewhat as I write but the basic framework is retained. I try to get an early fix on the characters, although they reveal themselves to me and hopefully the reader as the story develops. I mainly write of places I know, with only one location, Vancouver, in my book unvisited. Google is invaluable, not least for checking my own memory. I try to write in the morning once I’ve returned from an hour’s walk with the dog, where I have my best ideas, quickly hand-written on to a bit of paper on return, before I’ve forgotten them. I had three major rewrites.

7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”

Once you have the outline of the plot, decide who the narrator is and just start. It’s amazing how far you’ll get.

8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

Your identity is the story you tell yourself about your life. So you must be honest and put everything in. Otherwise, you’ll not trust yourself.

9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

I intend to write another novel next year, giving this year up for promoting this novel, and for my sciatica to improve.

10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

Website Facebook John Uttley Twitter @JohnRUttley

book coverWhere’s Sailor Jack?

John Uttley

Publication Date: April 28, 2016

Publisher: Matador

ISBN: 9781785891724


Number of pages: 324

Book Description:

A family saga that takes in three generations of two families and all the struggles, tribulations and fireworks that you would expect as well as plenty you wouldn’t. Where’s Sailor Jack is the story of Bob Swarbrick’s journey from Northern-grammar-school-boy to business magnate through the break up of his marriage, the arrival of a new lover and an unhurried, consistent search for meaning in his life.

Bob and Richard are grammar school boys ‘done good’. Starting life in similar working class homes they have progressively climbed the ladder until they are able to both sit comfortably as champions of industry, and look back on their achievements and failures with the keen Northern wit that never left them, even after years of exile life in the south.

As they reflect on their lives, loves and business decisions both try to find an explanation to fit their lives: Bob seeks purpose, Richard meaning. While soul-searching, the reader is witness to an exemplary part of British history – from their childhoods in post war Northern England to the boom years in a prospering South (before survivors guilt starts to bite in their latter years and they wonder just how their opportunities would have worked out if they were born a few decades later).

The book covers and takes a unique look at romance, religion, business sense and social mobility but does so with wry tongue in its cheek whilst looking for a laugh, not a deep and meaningful conversation.


Chapter One

On a Sunday soon after his move north-west, Bob was flying high on Virgin, to LAX, as everyone but he knew Los Angeles airport was called. His last long-haul flight had been on Atomic Futures’ business in the bulkhead with British Airways. At over six foot and heavily built, he could make good use of the leg room. In an unflattering lavatory mirror, he saw receding, greying hair and many wrinkles above a jaw line a boxer could break a fist on. He’d never quite understood how his rugged looks had charmed the several-to-many women along the way. The seating arrangement in Virgin’s best seats made the cabin look like a beauty salon, but he’d played safe and eschewed the offer of an on-board facial. The Journey Information on the monitor told him there was about an hour of the flight to go, confirmed by something looking like the Grand Canyon out of the window, though it looked bleak enough to have been the surface of another planet.

He was trying not to sleep on the way out, nor to go to bed until at least ten o’clock Pacific Standard Time. He’d flicked between the films on the in-flight entertainment system, and found nothing he’d wanted. He’d then settled down to listen to some music, first Elvis, then Ray Charles and finally Abba, who’d bounced along merrily at first until a cold sweat told him that he was the loser standing small alongside seventies woman. He switched Agnetha off to pick up the book he’d brought, Ian McEwan’s Saturday, which he immediately put down again. His eyes were tired.

He reclined the chair to be alone with his musings on his return to Lancashire. Blackpool was making a good fist of doing itself up, despite New Labour lousing up the Las Vegas style casino scheme, not that he’d ever really wanted it. In the evenings, the place was alive with young ladies joyfully, sometimes even decorously, celebrating their hen nights with like-minded friends. The folk who lived in St Chad’s hadn’t changed that much. The young people at church had the same freshness that he’d once had, full of their multimedia world and excited about their opportunities, though the ladder had been pulled up since his day, leaving cows from the Fylde fields with more chance of going through the eye of a needle than any ordinary kid entering the kingdom of riches he’d inherited. Lancashire wasn’t at the centre of things the way it had been back then, with Blackpool the Mecca for comedians, Liverpool the capital of music, the mighty Granada television like a second BBC, and the Manchester Guardian thinking about what the world would do tomorrow. He saw The Guardian moving to London as an even bigger betrayal than John Lennon’s sleep-in.

The summer of 1963 with Freewheelin’ on his turntable and the Mersey sound on every radio was forever to remain his Archimedean point. Martin Luther King was dreaming his dream accompanied vibrato by Joan Baez and civil rights were coming. Bras weren’t being burnt though. Much later Jane challenged him with why not. He’d answered that women’s liberation hadn’t come out of nowhere. She’d generously agreed that it was only fair for apes like him to have had their day in the sun before the real business got done.

He’d had a vacation job in Stanley Park and that had given him an affinity with the old codgers from the Great War who came for the brass band concerts. Though they were sitting in God’s waiting room, they were cheerful, talking for hours about space travel and the like but not of course about their health problems or the trenches. He thought of his never-liberated Grannie who died at the start of the pivotal year. She’d make him green jelly with bananas whenever he went round as a kid and had knitted most of the jumpers he was still wearing through university after her death. His sister had in her kitchen the old milking stool from Grannie’s farm-girl days, with more than a thousand years of history stored in its battered wood. Like the religion his ancestors had shared, its purpose had been endorsed by the long passage of time. To lose either would be to lose his soul. He didn’t want to live so long that his memory of Grannie dimmed.

He was off to LA to discuss the possibility of him chairing a solar technology company, The Northern Solstice Inc., looking to be floated on AIM, the small companies’ part of the London Stock Exchange. He’d created a portfolio of non-executive chairmanships since his nuclear demise; nice work if you can get it, he’d say. He’d had surprising success given that he was temperamentally stuck somewhere between public and private sector. On one venture, he’d helped rescue a telecoms company after the dotcom bubble burst, which he’d then sold to a trade buyer, a conglomerate chaired by Sir Charles, for a huge profit, a month before the market fell again. He’d found that the private sector was about living on your wits rather than on solid ground.

He hadn’t much knowledge of solar economics or if it was such a good environmental thing. He hoped that this opportunity could provide some atonement for his past environmental sins. As a nuclear man, he’d never been a denier of the greenhouse effect. He knew how expensive nuclear had been but could see no better option despite his lingering doubts on waste disposal, weapons proliferation and operational balls-up issues. He was as antagonistic towards wind power as most power engineers and ornithologists were.

The invitation to LA had come from a woman he’d got to know at Black and Robertshaw, an accounting firm working out of Bristol whose corporate finance arm had handled the telecoms sale. They were advising on the Northern Solstice flotation, acting as Nomad – shorthand for nominated adviser. Wendy Ballinger was already in LA and he was to meet her the next day with the acting Chairman and the CEO.

In the arrivals hall, the driver arranged by Virgin was holding up his name. All upper class passengers could have a limo for up to an hour’s journey. Anaheim was in the band. He was stopping at the Stonehaven there, near to the Northern Solstice factory in Yorba Linda as well as close to Disney. Wendy was upmarket and uptown, staying at the Westin. His mobile beeped a message as he reached his room. Wendy wanted a word. He was desperate for the lavatory, but couldn’t prevent himself from ringing her first. As he waited for her to answer, her face appeared in front of him on the screen in his brain (not on his phone, that was an early, basic model), almost elegant, with a distinguished nose. Her blonde hair looked natural enough but did owe something to a bottle. He found her both friendly and competent, a pleasure to do business with. She was a while answering and his internal camera panned slowly downwards. In her early forties, married without children to an older man, her bosom was worthy of the name; her long legs went all the way to her not insubstantial bum. And she was intelligent. He should have thought of that first.

She had bad news, disclosed in pure, gentle, Gloucestershire tones that could have belonged to a sixth former. She’d been at a pre-meeting with the acting Chairman, a guy called Peter Forster, along with the CEO, Emil Fares. Forster was a hard-nosed South African who owned Forster Capital, the largest shareholder. He’d told Wendy that they didn’t want her to handle the listing as Black and Robertshaw had no market strength.

Bob wanted to ask if that meant he’d wasted his time coming out, and if somebody would be reimbursing his expenses, but realised he’d better sympathise first. She didn’t need that, believing that her firm, although not a strong broking house, had done a pretty good job. “No first division broker would handle such a small transaction,” she asserted. “And there’s so little time before the date they want to float that they’d like to take a look at you. They’ll also want to know if you’ve any other ideas as to who else could act as Nomad.”

I’d have no idea. I wouldn’t want the job now anyway,” he said, honestly enough as Wendy was a big part of the attraction.

That’s up to you, but I’d be grateful for my reputation if you could hear them out. Perhaps Divinity might do it. They’re pitching hard into renewables.”

Bob became more interested. “Fancy that. An old friend of mine from my nuclear days, Richard Shackleton, told me over a round of golf that he’d just joined Divinity Partners. He said it was about time the Godhead had some new blood. Do you know him?”

Wendy did know Richard, who she called a terrific bloke. “Hey, thee, me and him could make a great team if they’d have us,” Bob reckoned. “Can’t we get him to do the broking and you to be the Nomad?” Wendy doubted Forster would agree to that idea but was happy for Bob to try it on.

Bob was already looking forward to Richard joining them and started to tell Wendy about his daft ideas. “Like me, he doesn’t think metaphysics should be a dry study of what can and can’t be said, but a licence to think insanely. According to him, we can’t actually change anything physical and all events rigidly follow the laws of nature. But we are free to make whatever we want of what happens. I remember a flotation meeting with loads of advisers. We took time out to discuss Schrödinger’s cat, as you do. Richard…”

As you and Richard do, you mean. Tell me about that some other time,” she interrupted. “George Coulson, the CFO, will be in the hotel lobby at nine o’clock to collect you. We’re meeting in Emil’s office at nine thirty.”

Having at last managed to have a pee, he unpacked his case, lining up one shirt and tie, his suit, a pair of socks and shoes for the morning. He put pyjamas on the pillow, soap bag and razor in the bathroom, Saturday and the alarm clock by his bed, before he had had a quick shower, drenching the bathroom floor. At a quarter past nine PST, twenty two hours since leaving his London flat, he went to bed.

He quickly went to sleep, only to wake with a start at about two o’clock, gasping for breath. The heavy quilt was over his head. He pulled the quilt halfway down the bed and managed to sleep again. An hour later he woke again. This time he turned the air conditioning off. Sleep wouldn’t come. He tried to read for a while, propped up against the pillows. In the big mirror on the opposite wall, he caught sight of his gaunt face drained of colour. With a shock, he realised he was looking at his Dad, Jack Swarbrick, laid out at the funeral parlour. That Swarbrick big conk was a matter of pride.

Of course it wasn’t his Dad, but the embodiment of hard-wired genetics. Wendy’s face, and much prettier conk, had frozen on his internal screen. He slept through till 6.30am with her in view.

UttleyAbout the Author:

John Uttley was born in Lancashire just as the war was ending. Grammar school educated there, he read Physics at Oxford before embarking on a long career with the CEGB and National Grid Group. He was Finance Director at the time of the miners’ strike, the Sizewell Inquiry and privatisation, receiving an OBE in 1991. Shortly afterwards, he suffered his fifteen minutes of fame when he publicly gave a dividend to charity in the middle of the fat cat furore. More recently, he has taken an external London degree in Divinity while acting as chairman of numerous smaller companies, both UK and US based. This is his first novel. He is married to Janet, living just north of London with three grown children and dog.

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