Chapters – VIII

C08No-one told us there would be fish in the water. The children were scared.”

Unless there were piranhas in the pool, where do you live where no fish are in the water? Sheesh!

***

At the time of this writing, I’m one week removed from an accident that shook me up worse than I thought one would.

Now, I’ve had a few accidents in my years. I rear-ended a car while delivering pizza which screwed up my car’s steering and lost me my job. I also regretted that accident, not because of the ticket or the lost job, but because I really liked my first car. A 1975 Fiat Box (no, that wasn’t the actually model name, but it was basically a boxy car). The car used to cool itself by turning on the fan when I shut off the engine. Confounded a few people.

I’ve backed into a fire hydrant. I hit a deer when I owned my Daytona. That time wasn’t too bad. I tell people my psychic powers came into play because just after I thought the stretch of road I was on would be bad for meeting a deer, the animal came out of the ditch. Damaged my right headlight, but not much else.

I’ve pulled out from a parking place and hit a van. Minor damage was done to my car and nothing to his.

This latest deer accident was the worst in which I’ve been involved. I looked to my right and when I looked back a young doe was already in front of the car. There was no chance of slowing or avoiding it. No, the animal didn’t survive and I think that’s what shocked me the most. Not that I damaged my car or that I might have to call for assistance to get home, but that I’d killed a deer.

I’ve run over a fox, one or two squirrels and a family of raccoons and each of those affected me. I know mankind has intruded upon where animals have reigned and it’s inevitable that we’re going to encounter them with our autos. Sue me, I’m sensitive. I don’t have to like it.

So I pulled over and yes, I’ll admit it, I cried for a bit. Then I assessed the damage to the car, retrieved pieces of the car from the road and checked on the curled up corpse of the deer in the ditch. I told it I was sorry and drove home.

The next evening my friend wondered if I was feeling okay to drive to writers group. I was. I was fine the previous evening. I’d been fine to drive after my other accidents. I try to stay more focused but that’s natural.

Fears. I’ve had some close encounters at times. One evening I drove to announce a basketball game and the roads were slick with ice. I rounded a corner and the front wheel drive of the company car started to pull me off. Mere feet before I would have gone over an embankment into a creek, I recovered. My stomach didn’t return to it’s normal anatomical position for awhile. But driving home, I was okay.

I’ve flown a few times in my life and I’m fine with flying. However, there is one moment when the heart speeds up for a moment or two. I’m always leery of when the plane lands. Part of my mind doesn’t think it’ll be smooth. So much weight coming down on those tires and how much stress and pressure must the landing gear endure.

Fears. We all have them. Share some of yours.

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A Place To Rest “At The Crossroad”

memorialThis Friday, before my dentist’s appointment and helping a friend move (thanks for waiting for me to help move the big furniture..yes, that was sarcasm), I was sitting trying to think of a topic for this week’s blog. Then, there’s a knock at the door. My cat dashed off to the bedroom to hide (that’s just his nature). When I opened the door, a woman stood there.

“Hi, I’m Amy Bennett, and I’m an author.”

I looked at her hands and all she’s carrying is a sheet or three of paper. “No doughnuts?”

She looks at me, then at my stomach which has grown a bit since my new job, and raises her eyebrows.

“Well, then,” I said, “what do you have?”

She smiled, stepped inside and, like so many authors before, sat down at the computer and started typing.  When she was finished, she smiled again, and left.

“Next time bring dougtnuts,” I called after her, but I don’t think she heard me. Sigh!

——————-

When I set out to write my Black Horse Campground mystery series—having decided to set it in the semi-rural areas of south-central New Mexico—I naturally undertook to add as much local flavor to the setting as I could. While I’ll use a future post to talk about “flavor” in a more pleasant way, today I’ll talk about an element that I introduced into “At the Crossroad” that is quite common in the area around my home and fictional Bonney County as well.

“Descanso” is the local term for a roadside memorial. While they are by no means exclusive to New Mexico or the Southwest, the term used here means, literally, “rest”. In former times, especially in rural Hispanic communities, the funeral procession (which was usually on foot) would stop at intervals on the way to the grave site in order to give those carrying the coffin a break from their heavy burden. A cross was placed at the location where the procession rested to commemorate the event. Nowadays, crosses or other memorial markers are placed where a person met the end of their earthly life, usually by automobile accident, even if the victim died at a hospital or someplace else. Often these markers are decorated with artificial flowers and religious items and it’s not unusual for the loved ones of the deceased to continue to decorate and keep up the site through an extended period of time, even years.

In New Mexico, there is no law protecting a “descanso” from being removed should the highway department find it necessary to do construction or road work, but Department of Transportation crews will usually avoid altering them or else will place them as close to the original spot as possible once the work is completed as a courtesy.

In “At the Crossroad”, a “descanso” in the opening scene sets the mood for the rest of the story. Later on in the story, three wooden crosses turn out to have far more grisly stories than a tragic car accident….

“At the Crossroad:

A Black Horse Campground Mystery”

Trouble often comes in threes. It’s no different at the Black Horse Campground.

On his first day as detective with the Bonney Police Department, J.D. Wilder finds three cold case files on his desk—three women who have disappeared over a fifteen year period at five year intervals. It seems that no one has ever taken the cases seriously… or even properly investigated them.

Then J.D. receives a visit from two former colleagues who inform him that he’s about to receive another visitor; a woman from his past who is in trouble and needs his help. Again. The timing couldn’t be worse, since he’s finally about to ask Corrie on a date, but then Corrie also has a visitor from her past show up… someone who’s hoping for a second chance with her. In the meantime, Sheriff Rick Sutton has his hands full dodging his ex-wife, Meghan, who insists on discussing personal business with him… business that has to do with digging up a painful past.

When three bodies are discovered that prove the missing women were murdered, J.D.’s investigation reveals that all of their visitors have some connection to the victims. But which one of them killed three women… and is prepared to kill again?

When trouble comes to Bonney County, Corrie, Rick, and J.D. band together to protect each other and their community. But can they solve the mystery before the murderer strikes again?

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Author Bio

Amy Bennett’s debut mystery novel, “End of the Road”, started as a National Novel Writing Month project in 2009. It went on to win the 2012 Dark Oak Mystery Contest and launched the Black Horse Campground mystery series, followed by “No Lifeguard on Duty” and “No Vacancy”, which have both been awarded the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval. “At the Cross Road” is the fourth book in the series.

When not sitting at the laptop actively writing, she works full-time at Walmart of Alamogordo (not too far down the road from fictional Bonney County) as a cake decorator and part-time at Noisy Water Winery in Ruidoso (where you can find some of the best wines in the state of New Mexico, including Jo Mamma’s White!) She lives with her husband and son in a small town halfway between Alamogordo and Ruidoso. Visit her website at www.amymbennettbooks.com and The Back Deck Blog at http://amymbennettbooks.blogspot.com

FC At the Crossroad

Excerpt from Chapter 14

J.D. returned to the Black Horse more wide awake than he had been in days. Amato’s words rang in his ears, while a voice in his head warned him that if he didn’t get some rest, he was going to be completely useless when the time came to have his wits about him and his energy. Still, a night spent in mostly inactivity wasn’t going to allow him to rest. He went into his cabin and changed into his running clothes. He needed to release some tension and energy if he was going to rest at all.

He slipped out of the cabin, casting a glance toward the campground store. It was almost six thirty a.m. and Corrie’s apartment light was on but the store’s lights were still out. He had missed the Friday night fish fry dinner, but he hoped to be back once she was open and be able to talk to her more. And get a decent breakfast.

He started out, following the path he’d taken a couple days earlier. The cool morning air was amazingly refreshing, helping clear his mind while invigorating and relaxing him at the same time. His breathing eased as his strides became more purposeful. He was near a breakthrough in the cold cases. He could feel it. Officer Amato had information that could help reveal the truth about what happened to the three women. After that… he’d have to wait and see.

He rounded the curve where he had seen the small cemetery the last time he had run this path and he slowed to a stop. He had pushed it to the back of his mind and had all but forgotten about it until this moment. Now was as good a time as any to pay his respects. His run had already accomplished its purpose. He knew he’d be able to sleep when he got to his cabin and he’d probably stroll back to the campground after this. He allowed himself a grin as he left the path, picking his way through the tall grass and brush to where the grave sites were.

Unlike most small cemeteries he’d encountered, there was no fence surrounding this one. In fact, there were only three wooden markers, crosses, all of them uniform but in different stages of weathering. He stopped when he got close enough to make out the lettering and suddenly the breath rushed out of him, leaving him feeling weak and dizzy with shock.

The first marker, the most faded, bore the name Carla Sandoval. The second, Rosalie Edwards. The third, the one with the least amount of weathering and the least faded lettering, read Benita Rojas.

Beside the one for Benita Rojas was an open grave. A plain wooden cross lay nearby. Both looked recent. Only a few days recent.

J.D. stumbled back, afraid that his eyes were playing tricks. He fumbled for his cell phone and let out an expletive when he realized he’d left it in his cabin when he changed his clothes. He reached the path and took off at a dead run back to the Black Horse Campground.

He’d been right; there had been more to the disappearances than what was common knowledge.

He hated it when he was right.

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Around The Globe With Jill S. Behe

Maggie Mercer Mystery Series Banner 851 x 315Waimea BayWhere else would I want  to go on a cold winter morning? Today my author directs me to Waimea Bay in Oahu. Hawaii, baby! Watching the waves roll in, enjoying the warmth, the cold drinks, the sun, the sand, the water. What else could make this day perfect.

Ah, what else, an interview.

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

I am Jill S. Behe, divorced mother of three grown sons, a grandmother, a writer, an author. I wouldn’t call myself fascinating, but I am unique, and that uniqueness makes me fascinating.

I left my hometown in 1978, enlisted in the Army, and proceeded to have a long adventure. Thirty-odd years later, I moved back to PA. The me I am today was honed over those years I was gone. (Most of the residents here have never left the area, ever. So for me to leave, and then come back … that right there makes me different.) And the phrase ‘You can never go home again’ is true. I could return, but the town, the memories, the people are not/will never be, the same as when I left. Life happened, to everyone. I’ve had more life experiences, have seen more states, countries, and oceans than I would have had I stayed.

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

Well, I already revealed I was an Army veteran. Maybe that my first to sons were born in Hawaii?

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

Oh, I had aspirations of becoming an oceanographer, a paramedic (I think they’re called EMT’s now), and a private eye. Ultimately, I began jotting down stories about people with those careers, and found that I could be all of them, without having to go to college.

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

That’s a hard one. Nora Roberts, Agatha Christie; too many to choose from. Just to be in the same space, to rub elbows with them. I’d want to know how they felt when their first book was published and they held it their hands, saw their name on the cover. How did their family and friends react? Were they treated any differently? I’d just like to have a normal conversation with them about anything and everything.

 003(135)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?

Mossy Creek and Freezer Burn are fast fun reads that drop you into the heart of a small town with some murder and mayhem going on. Becoming friends with the title character, Maggie Mercer.

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’m not sure I have a process, other than I get a vision, or a scene, and start writing. Once or twice I’ve written an outline, but for the most part, I find them too confining. (Yes, as the creator of whatever universe I’m working in, I have absolute control over what happens). Still I’d rather ‘wing it’. I do internet searches for some subjects. Other times I call local shops, police departments, veterinarians, etc.

My characters develop with more exposure. By that I mean, the more of the story I write, the more their personalities and idiosyncrasies emerge. They evolve and become more real to me as the story goes along, and in that respect I can be more accurate in my portrayal of them.

I have no specific writing schedule, as of this interview at least. I do try to write every day, some for longer periods than others. Writing is like exercise. The more you write (exercise the brain) the better the prose that flows out of the mind and onto the page, and also prevents the creative juices from drying up.

003(133)-27. “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?”

Write what intrigues you. Write what you like to read. I’ve heard those same phrases over and over, but they would be the advice I’d give. Does it grab your attention? If so, great. Expand what’s there. If you need to create a timeline, or outline to keep track of things, go for it.

If not, why not? What would it take for that idea to come to life, to mature and grow into a brilliant story?

In each case above, let the story tell itself. Don’t try to hold it back, or turn a corner it doesn’t want to turn. Write it all, until it’s done. Then go back and perform major surgery. If it doesn’t move the story, cut it. Be ruthless, but don’t over improve it.

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?

Profitez de votre journée. Enjoy your day. Every day is special, unique, amazing. We’ve never experienced today before. We can only live in the moments we’re given. We should be grateful for everyone we get to have. Tomorrow is yet to come. We can’t worry about something we have no control over. And yesterday can’t be changed. So, enjoy today. Enjoy YOUR day.

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

No, I’m not going to stop writing. Currently, the third book in the Maggie Mercer Mystery trilogy (Dog Days) is taking up all my time. It’s due for release sometime the middle of 2016. Once that’s out of the way, I have a few unfinished stories to put the final touches on, and a finished novel that could use a good editing.

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

My Website: https://therebelwriter.wordpress.com

I also have an author page on Facebook: Jill S. Behe, Author

The firsthttps://therebelwriter.wordpress.com

Tour giveaway: (2) $25 amazon gift cards

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Spotlight on Jeanne C. Stein

Anna and the Vampire Prince Banner 851 x 315

AnnaandtheVampirePrince_1400X2100-72dpi (1)Anna and the Vampire Prince

The Anna Strong Vampire Chronicles

Book Ten

Jeanne C. Stein

Genre: Paranormal

Publisher: ARe Books

Date of Publication: January 1, 2016

Word Count: 17,000

Cover Artist: Erin Dameron Hill

Book Description:

Saving her family means saving the world.

Vampire Anna Strong should be enjoying life with her new husband, Frey, but she’s too devastated by the loss of her mother to focus on much else. That is, until her niece’s best friend is kidnapped, and Anna leaps into action.

Angry citizens blame the recent rash of kidnappings on France’s immigrant population and threaten retribution that could upset the economy of the entire nation. If Anna is going to save the girl and her family vineyard, she’ll need the help of one of the oldest vampires in existence—her good friend Vlad.

Vlad and Anna set out to solve the kidnappings and save Southern France, but they soon discover the stakes are higher than they imagined. If they fail, it could be the end of the world as they know it.

About the Author:

Jeanne C. Stein is the award winning, national bestselling author of the Urban Fantasy series The Anna Strong Vampire Chronicles. Anna Strong was named one of Paranormal Fantasy’s Top ten Ass-Kicking Heroines by Barnes and Nobles’s reviewer, Paul Goat Allen in 2013. Jeanne also has numerous short story credits, including the novella Blood Debt from the New York Times bestselling anthology Hexed and, most recently, The Wolf’s Paw in the bestselling anthology, Nightmares Unhinged.

Jeanne lives in Denver, CO and is active in Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (where she was honored by winning the Writer of the Year award in 2008 and was nominated again in 2011.) Her newest venture, The Fallen Siren Series, is paranormal romance written in collaboration with Samantha Sommersby under the pseudonym S. J. Harper. The first book in that series, Cursed, debuted in 2013. A prequel novella,Captured, is available free and the second book in the series, Reckoning, was released October 7, 2014. Novella 2.5, Forsaken, is available at all online stores.

For more information on other books by Jeanne, visit her official website: www.fallensiren.com

FB: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000177556968

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JeanneCStein

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/329391.Jeanne_C_Stein

Tour giveaway


3 winners- each will receive 1 copy of Forsaken by SJ Harper in eBook format + 1 eBook- reader’s choice in the ARe Wicked series.

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Around The Globe With S. K. Geagory

Daemon Madness Banner 851 x 315

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First up this morning, I’m off to New York City. The city that never sleeps. The Big Apple. If you can make it here…and all that. The Yankees, Mets, Rangers, Giants, Islanders, and Liberty herself.

My featured author and are sitting at a quiet restaurant in Time Square enjoying some drinks, chatting and enjoying the New York life. Look there’s a mugging going on across the street…

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

My name is Sam, I am a writer, journalist and blogger. I don’t know if I’m the most fascinating person in my city but I don’t think we have a lot of writers here.

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

People always think I am very quiet and I do tend to people watch, but my family would tell you that I am a very loud and talk too much.

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

I read a lot growing up and I liked the idea of coming up with stories of my own. Plus I get stage fright so I couldn’t be a rock star.

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

Kelley Armstrong, Stephen King and R. L. Stine. I love Kelley’s characters and would love to learn more about them. I think Stephen King would make a very interesting dinner guest and I grew up on Goosebumps books, so I would like to meet R. L. Stine.

Madness Cover (1)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 it has some strong characters, a lot of action and some unusual demons creating havoc.

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.

All over the place. I tend to procrastinate a lot then spend hours writing all at once. I do research on the internet to get an idea of place mostly. I like to come up with backstories for my characters, even if I never use them. If I know how they grew up and what has happened to them then it is easier to predict how they would react to a situation.

I write straight then edit later. I make notes to keep myself right.

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?”

Get it written. Then leave it alone for a while before going back to it. Edit it to the best of your ability, then get a professional editor or beta reader to look at it. Be prepared for criticism.

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 like the saying – Aut Viam Inveniam Aut Faciam. I will either find a way or make one. I believe anything is possible and if you aren’t offered opportunities then create them.

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

I am working on some short stories and the next Daemon book – Daemon Battle.

author10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

I’m on twitter sam_skgregory and through my website – http://www.storyteller-skgregory.weebly.com

Tour giveaway

3 Daemon Madness keyrings

4 Metal bookmarks in two designs – King and Duke – the family names. 2 of each being given away.

The chance to have your name in the next Daemon book – Daemon Battle

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Around The Globe With Christopher Pike

36386_santa_barbara_butterfly_beachWith my third author this morning, I was really excited. I was going to meet Christopher Pike. You know, Pike, the guy from that TV show. Or maybe the actor who played him in the latest movie. But when I opened the transporter doors to meet him…here’s this boring guy who wants to go to the beach in Santa Barbara and sit on a park bench. No, I’m serious. Boring. Lest you think I’m being cruel, he’ll tell you himself.

Actually, the day is warm, the water is relaxing, there are the Santa Barbara islands in the distance, and boring or not, Pike is a cool guy. The author, I mean. I don’t know about the actor.

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

I’m a writer. I’m mostly known for YA novels but I’ve written a few adult books. My real name is Kevin McFadden but I write under the pseudonym Christopher Pike. I chose the pen name on the spur of the moment with my first book, Slumber Party, was published. I thought Slumber Party would be a nothing book but it became a bestseller. So I was stuck with the name, which I didn’t mind at the time. My middle name is Christopher and I went by that name in elementary school and junior high because there were several Kevins in the school, and one of them was a girl. The pseudonym does come from a character on Star Trek but at the time maybe one in a thousand people knew that. But recently, when Star Trek got rebooted by that JJ Abrams fellow, he made Captain Christopher Pike a famous guy and then people thought it was weird I’d chosen Christopher Pike as my pen name.

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

I’m boring. My girlfriend of fifteen years, Abir, assures me this is the case. Nevertheless, the majority of people who read my books or follow my posts on Facebook all think I’m fascinating, very witty. But I go out of my way to never meet these people because I fear they’ll discover what my girlfriend knows to be true. But I do occasionally wonder if my girlfriend isn’t simply jealous of me.

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

I wanted to be a rock star. Every teenager in the world wants to be a rock star. They can deny it but if they do they’re lying. In high school, I tried desperately to learn to play the guitar. I was born with exceptionally large hands. My fingers are long and sleek and slender. I probably would have made an incredible surgeon. But I had trouble learning to play the guitar, even though my older brother, Mike, tried to help me. But then one day Mike turned his back on me and played two different chords. He asked if I could tell one from the other. I said, “No. They sound the same to me.” It was then Mike told me I was tone deaf and could never be a musician.

So I became a writer.

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

I grew up reading tons of sci-fi. To me, the greatest writer in the world was Arthur C. Clarke. I read Childhood’s End and The City and the Stars a thousand times. I also loved Isaac Asimov. He’d written a lot more books and had great ideas. But Clarke was my god — I wished I could have met him. However, when I got famous as a YA novelist in the eighties and nineties I published a sci-fi novel called The Season of Passage. It has an intense cult following. Clarke apparently read of my admiration for him and wrote me a letter saying he’d read the book and complimented me that it was a wonderful read. But then he added, “Your vision of Mars is absolute rubbish.”

cover5. 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?

Because most of my books start with a bang and never let up. They kick ass. They’d keep you entertained. But me personally, I’d probably bore you.

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.

When I was younger I used to outline my books in detail before I’d sit to write. I wanted to know everything that was going to happen ahead of time. I also didn’t want to waste hundreds of hours writing chapters I might never use. Then I’d write a draft, all the way to the end. Rewrite it, touch it with the help of my editor, Marjorie Hanlon, and publish it. I wrote four YA’s books a year for years. But nowadays YA books are longer and I have to write them much more carefully. However, I no longer outline. With Strange Girl, my new novel, I just let the story take me where it wanted to go. I’ve discovered it’s more fun to write that way.

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

If you don’t think my process will work for you, then why are you asking me? What I would do is not worry so much and just start writing your book. Really, no one can tell you how to write. At best they can only point you in the right direction. I’m pointing you toward your computer. Just get to work and ask me about your book when it’s finished. Then I might have something to say.

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

My philosophy on life is that I’ll never figure it out. When I was twenty I was sure I understood exactly how the universe worked. At thirty I had dropped all the opinions I’d had at twenty, but now I was confident about what I knew. At forty I realized everything I thought I knew at thirty was garbage. At fifty I finally admitted I knew nothing. Right now I’m stuck in the, “I know nothing” phase. I think I’ll be here for the duration.

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

I’ll never stop writing. The only time I’m truly happy is when I’m writing, or walking, or talking to my girlfriend, who thinks I’m boring. As far as what’s next for me, that’s a secret. Seriously, my next book is so amazing I don’t want to give even a hint what it’s about. Someone will try to steal it. It’s better than Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Twilight, and maybe Fifty Shades of Grey, although I have to admit that was the most brilliant book written in the last hundred years.

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

I post on Facebook pretty regularly, on a Christopher Pike fan page someone I never met started. The people on the site are pretty cool. No one insults each other or calls each other awful names like they do on the rest of the Internet. My fans are amazing, really, I never seem to bore them.

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Around The Globe With Jack Getze

grill-800x600Another Friday, another interview…wait, I’ve been hijacked…or is it author-jacked…

Ignoring our wide-angle view of Banderas Bay with its blue sea and distant white sand beaches, my interviewer stared with wide eyes as I worked like a lumberjack on my perfectly grilled carnitas. The lunch special at Puerto Vallarta’s hillside restaurant included beans, rice and tortillas in addition to the pulled, crispy pork, and bottles of dark Dos Equis and a seven-man mariachi band accompanied the interview. Watching me consume the sounds, sights and a delicious lunch, I worried Around the Globe would be too shocked to ask me questions. I shouldn’t have been concerned.

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

I am a southern Californian transplanted unwillingly to New Jersey thirty years ago and everybody in town knows I want to go home. They call me the Frito Bandito and throw taco wrappers on my lawn.

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

I’ve been married to my wife Barbara for thirty-six years, but she’s my third. I married my high school sweetheart at twenty years old, which turned into a big mistake, and then I married again on the rebound. Yikes! It’s been tough, with many financial responsibilities, but I learned a lot about relationships. Practice makes perfect? Or maybe the third time is the charm.

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

Reading books was big in my house, even at the dinner table, plus I always loved stories — listening, reading, watching, making them up. After one Getze-spun tale concerning aliens, elephants and my homework, a fourth-grade teacher said I should be in the movie or novel-writing business.

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

I have been a big fan of Elmore Leonard for twenty-five years. I’ve read everything he’s ever written and am in the process or re-doing his whole list of several dozen novels. He’s a marvelous storyteller, and a writer who knows what his readers want. But since he’s dead, I guess I’d like to have dinner with his son Peter. He’s a writer, to, and he could at least tell me stories about his dad.

big shoes cover5. 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?

Great question, and I do think my book would be a good fit in those circumstances. When you’re all alone and suffering, you need to LAUGH. You need a crazy character doing weird things to keep your mind off the disasters around you. Of course not everyone thinks my books are funny, but when the connection is made, what’s better than laughter to sooth the soul?

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.

Well, let’s take this one step at a time. I can’t start my first draft until I really know the character doing most of the talking. I practice, get to know him or her, then let the story rip. Character is everything. I have a small outline in front of me – a couple of chapters into the future, but usually not the whole story. I keep my browser open so I can Google when questions pop up. And I keep my dictionary open, too, for new words when old ones seem to be taking over. I write best early in the morning and do at least three rewrites. I typically don’t even know what the story is until I finish the first draft, so two and three are guaranteed.

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?”

Pretend you’re talking to your best friend at the kitchen table and tell the story (you could tape yourself if you’re afraid to write) in a way to keep them interested. You know who they are — you know what interests them. Tell your friend, not a stranger. You’ll think strangers need to know too much background, while your friend already knows you. There is nothing to work with or on until you have a manuscript, so write one — get something on paper to work with. Yes that first version will be crap. Yes, it will need several rewrites. So what. It’s a start, a manuscript that can be revised and made wonderful.

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?

Don’t worry. Be happy. It’s all over in a blink. That’s what I try to do, anyway, but so many difficulties show up in life it’s hard to keep a good outlook. You have to battle, I think. Especially as you get older. Don’t let them see you cry.

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

No way can I stop. It’s what I am, an observer. An artist painting pictures on the cave wall. I wanted to be a great general and lead the world to peace forever, but — to quote a very famous movie — a man has to know his limitations. I’m working on two projects right now, a fifth Austin Carr mystery and a true story about an angel. The angel story is too strange, unlike anything I’ve ever written, but it keeps flapping wings at me.

headshot10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

My blog is a great place to learn about Jack Getze and his character, Austin Carr:

http://austincarrscrimediary.blogspot.com

And so is my Amazon author page:

http://www.amazon.com/Jack-Getze/e/B002VG51LE/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

And you can friend me on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/jack.getze

Categories: Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Around The Globe With Christine Church

mansinoFirst up this morning, I meet my featured author in her Gothic Victorian mansion. Outside, is the barn, with her horse Kobeejo frolicking with other horses who are boarded here (because this is the best place around). Even when not in direct sight, security cameras keep track of Kobeejo.

Sound interesting so far? Wait until we get into the interview…

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

I am a woman who was born a long time ago with a mental disability that has destroyed all the dreams in her life, and is now trying to play catch-up, fighting to be one of the best fiction writers of all time, a #1 NYTimes best seller, while working at a horse barn all day, writing all night, and auditioning for “Survivor” twice a year.

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

That I worked as a stripper for 2 years back in the early ‘90’s… I seem very reserved, but I had a nice body once and I didn’t mind showing it off for money!!

3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as rock star? I DID want to be a rock star (or marry one). But I have always, no matter what else I did, written!! I have written since I was 9 years old (maybe earlier). My full story is on my web site at http://www.christinechurch.net/about-the-author.html. Be careful, though, it’s a little sad!

4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why? Anne Rice, and her son, Christopher. Anne was my inspiration in the beginner. I still feel her writing is the best. She and Christine Feehan and Diana Gabaldon all taught me what to do correctly when writing. Others… many other… taught me what not to do!

cover5. 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 actually just had someone read my book at the airport, but, as a novella, it only took her an hour to read and she was upset it ended! It’s definitely a book you can get lost in and want to know what happens next. I am A.D.D. and a perfectionist, and I get bored easily, so when I am writing, if I get bored, I fix it!! So, if it doesn’t bore me, it shouldn’t bore anyone. Plus, it’s different… one of those “ground breaking” books that has the potential to change the genre. I’ve heard all this from readers and in reviews. It’s interesting, unique and unexpected. Just when you think you know what will happen, it won’t be what you expect.

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.

It really depends on the book. Sands of Time started as a couple of letters between the main character and her father that were inserted into a different book I wrote over 20 years ago. I decided to tear that book apart and give every character their own book, let them tell their own stories, but add in characters from past books, so there will be one main theme throughout, but each character’s book will be its own story. Researching used to be more difficult (I write a lot of historical paranormal) when there was no internet, no Google. I still use reference books often, but use Google daily. Most books are written as notes as I think of things, then handwritten in a notebook, then eventually onto the computer. Past books have been rewritten 10+ times. But as each book goes on, I need to revise less so I do less rewrites (more like 5 or 6)

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?”

No one has a good process for beginning. I say just start. It’s not stone, it can easily be changed. Times now are not like when I started writing with pen and paper then typewriters where you couldn’t easily change things. I still notice I’m in the habit of wanting everything perfect from the start, which comes from the past and not easily able to revise. Nowadays, with computers, it’s so easy to just change your words, the best thing is to blank your mind and just write!

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 kind of take on Nero’s philosophy. ”Novels are fun to write, not read.” Or “When I want to read a book, I write one.” I am not a big fiction reader anymore. I do still read the occasional novella or a novel if it looks amazingly good or catches me just right on the first page. I go against the advice of all others who say writers must be devout readers.

I read a LOT of novels when I was honing my fiction writing skills, learning, studying from the “masters” in my genre. But, today, it’s hard to find a really well written book that grasps you and won’t let go. I do still use the bad ones to keep me in check on what not to do. And refresh my own skills by going back to the “masters.”

I do still read– but generally research books for my novels. And magazines on technology and science, as well as archaeology and history. I like to read my own books after they are published. Sometimes I forgot a certain part in it and I find new things I’d forgotten I wrote. I guess that is the only advantage to a bad memory. LOL

author9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

I would never stop writing as long as I can! The ideas just keep coming. I have at least 30 novels in my head that want out!! I was born a writer, I will die as one, too. Right now I am narrating the audiobook of Sands of Time. And I am working on a Compendium to the book. After that, I plan to have the second installment in the Fate of the True Vampires series published in the spring. I am also working on a time travel romance, and I am pitching a Fantasy romance around to traditional publishers and agents now.

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

www.sandstimebook.weebly.com

http://www.authorchristinechurch.com/

www.twitter.com/christinechurch

https://www.facebook.com/SandsofTimeBookOne/

http://www.bookdepository.com/Sands-of-Time-Christine-Church/9781518815232

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27501925-sands-of-time?ac=1&from_search=1

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=17645422631&searchurl=ref%3Dimprad64613%26afn_sr%3Dimpact%26isbn%3D1518815235%26clickid%3D2zmVZ32EZxjmREnwOXzTezgLUkXVaPwEsVTAwE0

http://www.alibris.com/booksearch?keyword=1518815235&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_source=GwEz7vxblVU&utm_campaign=10&siteID=GwEz7vxblVU-u6SeVr7UXsr1exFbPBU1ww

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Christine_Church_Sands_of_Time?id=EQDyCgAAQBAJ

http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781518815232

AMAZON : http://goo.gl/4MK9Gj

BN: http://goo.gl/9Hn6LW

Amazon UK: http://goo.gl/18zLud

Amazon Canada: http://goo.gl/vHi0Bc

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Frustration & Exasperation

Desperate BusinessmanI know, I know, I missed last Friday’s blog. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, it was Christmas and I was away from the computer. Second, I might have written the blog earlier in the week and scheduled a post, but I was busy being frustrated and exasperated with a certain company. So, this week, I think I’d like to write out my frustrations in part to exorcise them and in a part to warn those who may have a future problem.

I thought about keeping the name of the company anonymous, but I’ve ranted about it on Facebook. So, this is a warning to all U.S. Cellular fans and employees: I am about to trash your company.

I am under my mother’s account and back in September we upgraded plans so that I could get a Smart phone. Specifically, a Galaxy S5. I wanted one so I could be an Uber driver, which side job has been fun and brought in a few extra dollars.

A couple weeks ago I was out driving and the GPS system was talking to me, then it sputtered and died. I restarted the phone and it worked for a couple hours then went silent again.

The next Monday, I went into a U.S. Cellular store to see if they could help. It was determined that the secondary speaker (the one that plays ring tones when there is a call, plays music, etc.) went bad.

USC has two options in the cases where the phone is defective. 1. Turn it in to them and they will send it to Samsung for repair. It was under warranty so no problem. The problem with this option is the wait time with no phone to use. Anywhere from 2-11 weeks (depending on which agent I spoke to). Sorry, I have a business other than Uber for which I need a phone.

2. The other option is something called Advanced Exchange. Let me give you the details. USC would send me another phone and all I had to do was pay $35 in shipping.

Here’s my problem with this option: My phone was just over three months out of the box and it went defective all on its own. I didn’t drop it, I didn’t dunk it water. It went bad by itself. Now, if I had a defective toaster from any store, that store would not A). have me send in the toaster to the manufacturer for repair, nor would it B). charge me shipping for a new toaster. They would give me a new toaster from the shelf, no charge.

Not USC. I’m already paying for the phone through the contract and they want me to pay extra for another phone? (Hint, there’s some foreshadowing in what I did NOT say in the last sentence.) They tried to claim their phones cost $700 and to give me a new phone would cost them money. Lie! If that was the case, they’re losing money with every new customer through the door because their plans say the phones cost X, but they’ll only charge x (a hefty discount down to what I think is the actual cost).

Two days later I went to the store where I purchased the original phone, argued with the agent, who called the dreaded ‘customer service representative’ who, reluctantly, dropped the cost to $20. I still was not happy. It’s a new phone, why should have to pay a dime for a replacement? Well, up the chain it went until some ‘supervisor of tech services’ was to call me within 48 hours. One guess whether that person called.

Back to the store on Friday to argue some more with my last resort option being I’d leave the company and go with someone else. Finally, finally, through more back and forth, I was going to be given another phone at no charge. Another phone. NOT a new phone which I didn’t find out until the following week. They couldn’t just exchange the phone for one they had on their shelves in the back because I was going to get a ‘Samsung certified, tested, pre-owned phone’. That, by the way, is double talk for a used phone.

UPS (another company that is on my S-list for worst companies to deal with) delayed my shipment two days, but I finally received the phone on Christmas Eve day. I went to the nearest store to get the information transferred. However, I received a used phone, but no battery or SIM card. Had to use the ones from the old phone (and they wanted $35 for this?). The agent in the store could not even open the box in which the phone came. She didn’t understand the annotations to the account, could not open the little battery cover, and while she managed to get information transferred, didn’t know how to Blue Tooth the ring tones over. Some twit she talked to said it would take three hours when I knew it took two minutes.

Down to another store where the guy transferred the ring tones. Then to another store on the 26th for help to reinstall some apps and clean the old phone of personal info. (Let’s switch batteries back and forth. What fun!) At this store, I find out that USC, in October, a month after we signed up for the plan, had lowered the price of the plan, but didn’t tell us. I think USC owes my mother $30.

Now, in conclusion, I think this whole situation has been absolutely ridiculous, illogical, and completely unprofessional on USC’s part. Yes, I yelled at the CSRs, but I was not going to back down for what I felt was right. I think their advertising is false (when it comes to coverage). I think their policies are horrible. They’ve proven to me that they are nothing grubby greedy profiteers who really don’t want to make things easier for their customers.

I may be wrong, I don’t think that is the correct way to run a business.

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Around The Globe With Keeley Smith

Floor Mattress 01So, I’m sitting around the apartment this afternoon and I receive a phone call (which I’m lucky I saw the phone screen light up, because the main speaker is broken) and it’s this week’s featured author wondering where I am, that I’ve missed the interview.

After profusely apologizing, I jump in the transporter and arrive at her home.

“Where would you like to go?” I ask. “Anywhere in the world.”
“Sorry,” she answers. “We’re in the process of moving. Can we just sit here?”

“On the floor? On a mattress?”

She shrugs.

Okay. So, I’m comfortable and she has her laptop and we’re ready to go.

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

My name is Keeley (Irish name, but I don’t live there! LOL) I suppose I could be fascinating for my name! LOL

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

I want a Harry Potter tattoo… oh wait… I also want my tongue piercing. I’m not sure my family would approve of either LOL.

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

Firstly, I’m not a rock star because I can’t sing… Although I do try in the shower…and the car…and at home. Basically anywhere unless it’s in public. I never sing in public, unless the music is very loud and it drowns my terrible voice out. I’ve always loved writing so I thought why not let someone else enjoy them. For me writing is all about others enjoying it, I don’t even want to become rich from it, I just love it.

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

Nora Roberts would be the first on my list. Whatever she writes is amazing. Harlan Coben because his books are thrilling and I’ve met him three times, he has the best dry humor ever! Lindsey Kelk because her books are brilliant and she is also a Yorkshire author!

Hope at Christmas Cover5. If I were stranded on a deserted island or suffering from a four hour layover at the airport, why would your books be great company?

Well, I’m just going to put it out there, there is sex in my books… if you like that, you’re sorted… if not…well, it’s entertaining, what happens to my main character is so funny. She’s a walking disaster and the things that happen to her are hilarious!

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.

The two main characters come first and then I spread them out, creating friends, lifestyles, where they live etc. Once that is done I then loosely plot each chapter so I have an idea where I want it to go (the characters often take me in another direction!) It also helps to stop the pesky writers block. Once the chapters are plotted, I write and then every 10 chapters or so I go back to the beginning and read what I’ve got, write more or flesh it out until I reach the end. Once I have the whole book there. I print it, go through, change things and then put it on my Kobo and pretending I’m a reader. Then it’s off to Beta readers etc.

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?”

Everyone who has a story idea, or even a character, has an idea of a conflict or something huge happening to their character. Start with that one chapter first. Write it, get it down. Read over it and then you can flesh it out, spreading the chapters on both sides. Before you know it, you have a novel!

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?

If you don’t write it, someone else will so stop looking through Facebook (insert any web search whilst procrastinating) and get typing!

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

The second book in the Serendipity Series and also a new YA book about Pixies. Both should be released next year!

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

My website – www.keeleysmithauthor.com or my facebook page www.facebook.com/Keeley.Smith.Fan

Hope at Christmas

Serendipity Series

Book 1

Keeley Smith

Genre: Romance/Chick-Lit

Publisher: Feedaread

Date of Publication: 18th December 2015

Number of pages: 300

Word Count: 78,000

Book Description:

With only 25 days left until Christmas day, Hope makes the rash decision to quit her job. After a weekend wallowing in self pity, she takes this new opportunity to finally get the job she’s always wanted…only she doesn’t know what she wants to do… She doesn’t think her life can get any worse.

Until she throws coffee on a stranger.

Having finally told his parents that he planned to never follow his father’s footsteps in business, Daniel’s morning didn’t start out that well either.

Until a woman throws coffee on him.

This chance meeting sets off a chain of events. A wedding. Downton Abbey. The roaring 20’s…and a drunk, sexually frustrated cousin. Neither of them are prepared for this connection, but when does romance ever run a smooth course? With secrets and exes throwing road blocks their way, will it all become too much and end their blossoming romance before it’s even begun?

About the Author:

Keeley Smith is the author of Young Adult series, The Pendle Hill Series and The Soul Keeper Trilogy.

When she’s not writing, she’s reading, eating (chocolate, usually), spending time with her husband and gorgeous dog and colouring- because a genius created colouring books for adults!

She lives in the UK, but would prefer to live somewhere less likely to experience all four seasons in one day.

www.keelesmithauthor.com

www.Facebook.com/KeeleySmithFan

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Keeley1986

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6552662.Keeley_Smith

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