Around The Globe With John Wills

burnham-har-orOn this first Friday in December, I pick up this week’s featured author and hope we’re going someplace warm. Florida. The Yucatan. Arizona.

“Nope, put on some sweats, we’re going for a run,” he says.

“Uh, okay. Where are we going to run.”

“Along Lake Michigan near Burnham Harbor.”

“Chicago? In December? Listen, I hear New Orleans is just about perfect. We could run along the riverwalk by the Mississippi, eat soft shelled crab…” I sigh, because I know I’m going to be jogging in Chicago.

At least I’m able to get in a great interview…

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

I’m hardly the MOST fascinating person, since I live in Fredericksburg, VA, an historic Civil War town resting on the banks of the Rappahannock River. Over the years, George Washington and other luminaries have called this city home. Presently, many VIPs call Fred (as it’s known locally) home. And while I’ve lived an interesting life—to wit, former military, Chicago police officer, and FBI agent, it doesn’t elevate me to the level of most fascinating.

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

I was nearly killed in a shooting on Friday the 13th.

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

For one, the Arctic is much too cold for me. Becoming a writer was an extension of my experiences in law enforcement. I had so many stories floating around in my mind that it seemed natural to put them to paper. I don’t write LE stories exclusively, however, it seems the police always have a part in the stories I write—including short stories and poetry.

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

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Their experiences with Christ are the basis for mankind’s faith, hope, and love.

the-storm-front-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?

My latest offering, The Storm, is a compelling read that features a woman who is struck by lightning while out for a run. Although not critically injured, it does cause her to lose her memory, including that of her husband, relatives, and friends. Little does she realize that before the incident she was about to make a major decision regarding her ten year marriage.

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 a panster (I write by the seat of my pants). While I do write a synopsis of my intended story, as well as a beginning list of my protagonist(s) and antagonist, I more fully develop the story and add additional characters as needed. I use both real venues and imaginary ones. Rarely do I have to Google locations since I have been to 45 states in our nation.

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?”

If someone came to me with that question, my advice is to start writing. When you continue to procrastinate, the task becomes exponentially more arduous and daunting, leaving you to throw your hands up in the air and abandon the project. Put words on paper, and the story will likely unfold in front of you.

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?

Ideas are the stepping-stone to happiness and success—but only if you take the next step. Some ideas are brilliant; other ideas lack merit. However, if you fail to follow through you will never know which is which.

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

I stay busy with writing book reviews for the New York Journal of Books, and video scripts for The William McLain Foundation, honoring fallen first responders and military. I also write short stories and poetry, some of which have been published in anthologies. I’m also a freelance writer and photographer.

jw-bw-author-headshot10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

People can go to my website: https://jwillsbooks.com/ and my Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/John-M.-Wills/e/B002LFSYIW

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Spotlight on Paul Barrett

the-malaise-falchion-banner-851-x-315Malaise Falchion

Paul Barrett

Science Fiction

November 15, 2016

coverDisgraced during the Demon War, Dwarf investigator Snazdaggin Kundarik (Spade to his friends) wants nothing more than a desk to sleep on, a bottle of grog to drink, and the occasional easy case for quick pay.

Then a mysterious female Elf from the posh side of town shows up and offers him exoneration for his past sins and lots of gold. All he has to do is follow her brother and report his activities. Simple, right?

He should have known better. The simple job soon spirals out of control. Spade finds himself sucked into intrigue, powerful magic, and the hunt for a weapon powerful enough to end the world. Ill-prepared, Spade forges on with the aid of his hapless sidekick and a reluctant female warrior.

Will he survive long enough to save the world and get his grog?

About the Author:

authorPaul has lived a varied life full of excitement and adventure. Not really, but it sounds good as an opening line.

Paul’s multiple careers have included: rock and roll roadie, children’s theater stage manager, television camera operator, mortgage banker, and support specialist for Microsoft Excel.

This eclectic mix prepared him to go into his true love: motion picture production. He has produced two motion pictures and two documentaries: His film Night Feeders released on DVD in 2007, and Cold Storage was released by Lionsgate in 2010

Amidst all this, Paul has worked on his writing, starting with his first short story, about Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, at age 8. Paul has written and produced numerous commercial and industrial video scripts in his tenure with his forcreative agency, Indievision. He has two published short stories (As You Sow and Double Cross) and one self-published novel (Godchild). He lives with his filmmaker/graphic artist partner and their three cats.

https://twitter.com/producerpaul

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14343920.Paul_Barrett

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What Inspires Andrew Joyce

inspirationMy name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Stephen has been kind enough to allow me a little space on his blog to talk about my latest, Yellow Hair.

Yellow Hair documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and outrage depicted actually took place—from the first to the last. The historical figures that play a role in my story were real people and I used their real names. I conjured up my protagonist only to weave together the various events conveyed in my fact-based tale of fiction. Yellow Hair is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century. It is American history.

The inspiration for the book came to me when I was reading a short article and it made reference to the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862. It also mentioned that the outcome involved the largest mass execution in the history of the United States. That piqued my interest.

When I started my research into the incident, one thing led to another and before I knew it, I was documenting the entire history of the Sioux, who are also known as the Dakota, vis-à-vis the relationship between them and the United States.

Because the book exists only because I read the phrase, “the largest mass execution in the history of the United States,” I’ll tell you a little about that. What follows is an extremely abbreviated version of events.

The Dakota signed their first treaty with the United States in 1805 when they sold a small portion of their land to the Americans for the purpose of building forts. It was right after the Louisiana Purchase and President Jefferson wanted a presence in the West. At the time, “the West” was anything on the western side of the Mississippi River.

In the treaty of 1805, the Dakota sold 100,000 acres to the Americans. The agreed-upon price was $2.00 per acre. But when the treaty came up before the Senate for ratification, the amount was changed to two cents per acre. That was to be a precursor for all future treaties with the Americans. There were subsequent treaties in 1815, 1825, 1832, 1837, and 1851, and basically the same thing happened with all those treaties.

1yellowhair-800-cover-reveal-and-promotionalIn 1837, the Americans wanted an additional five million acres of Dakota land. Knowing it would be a hard sell after the way they failed to live up to the letter or spirit of the previous treaties, the government brought twenty-six Dakota chiefs to Washington to show them the might and majesty that was The United States of America.

The government proposed paying one million dollars for the acreage in installments over a twenty-year period. Part of the payment was to be in the form of farm equipment, medicine, and livestock. Intimidated, the Indians signed the treaty and went home. The United States immediately laid claim to the lands—the first payment did not arrive for a year.

The significance of the 1837 treaty lies in the fact that it was the first time “traders” were allowed to lay claim to the Indians’ payments without any proof that money was owed . . . and without consulting the Indians. Monies were subtracted from the imbursements and paid directly to the traders.

By 1851, the Americans wanted to purchase all of the Dakota’s remaining lands—twenty-five million acres. The Sioux did not want to sell, but were forced to do so with threats that the army could be sent in to take the land from them at the point of a gun if they refused the American’s offer.

If we sell our land, where will we live?” asked the Dakota chief.

We will set aside land for the Dakota only. It is called a reservation and it will be along both banks of the Minnesota River, twenty miles wide, ten on each side and seventy miles long. It will be yours until the grasses no longer grow,” answered the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

The Dakota were offered six cents an acre for land that was worth at least a dollar an acre. The payment would be stretched out over a twenty year period and was to be made in the form of gold coins. One year later, in 1852, the Americans took half the reservation, the seventy miles on the north side of the river. The Dakota were now reduced from a nation of fierce, independent people to a people dependent on hand-outs from the ones who stole not only their land, but also their dignity.

The Dakota were forced to buy their food from the traders who ran trading posts at the Indian Agency the U.S. Government had set up on the reservation. All year long the Dakota would charge what they needed. When the yearly payment for their land arrived, the traders would take what they said was owed them. Subsequently, there was very little gold left for the Dakota.

By 1862, the Dakota were starving. That year’s payment was months late in arriving because of the Civil War. The traders were afraid that because of the war there would be no payment that year and cut off the Dakota’s credit. The Indian Agent had the power to force the traders to release some of the food stocks, but refused when asked to do so by the Dakota.

After they had eaten their ponies and dogs, and their babies cried out in the night from hunger, the Dakota went to war against the United States of America.

They attacked the agency first and liberated the food stock from the warehouse, killing many white people who lived there. Then bands of braves set out to loot the farms in the surrounding countryside.

Many whites were killed in the ensuing weeks. However, not all of the Dakota went to war. Many stayed on the reservation and did not pick up arms against their white neighbors. Some saved the lives of white settlers. Still, over 700 hundred whites lost their lives before the rebellion was put down.

When the dust settled, all of the Dakota—including women and children, and those people who had saved settlers’ lives—were made prisoners of war.

Three hundred and ninety-six men were singled out to stand trial before a military commission. They were each tried separately in trials that lasted only minutes. In the end, three hundred and three men were sentenced to death.

Even though he was occupied with the war, President Lincoln got involved. He reviewed all three hundred and three cases and pardoned all but thirty-eight of the prisoners.

On a gray and overcast December morning in 1862, the scaffold stood high. Thirty-eight nooses hung from its crossbeams. The mechanism for springing the thirty-eight trap doors had been tested and retested until it worked perfectly. At exactly noon, a signal was given, a lever pulled, and the largest mass execution to ever take place in the United States of America became part of our history.

_______________________________

andrew-llAndrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and fifty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, YELLOW HAIR. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, MICK REILLY.

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Spotlight on Melissa Kate

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coverLove in the Fast Lane

Melissa Kate

Contemporary Romance

Fiery Seas Publishing, LLC

November 8, 2016

Book Description:

Racecar driver, Nathan Wolf, is primed to win his first championship. A thriving career and sexy holiday fling have Nathan riding the high life. But the past haunts him and could ruin it all.

After six long years, Brielle Woods has finally put the past behind her. Or so she thought, until she bumps into the hotshot who that turned her world upside down and left her…to raise their son…alone.

Can they overcome baggage from their past and give into the passion that still burns between them? Or will they lose the chance at true happiness and the family they both long for?

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/U_c6W44QtZE

Fiery Seas Publishing

kateAbout the Author:

Melissa Kate is a new author who lives in a small town along the coast in sunny South Africa. She writes for the pleasure of living in a new story and all the quirks and crazies that go with each character. A true romantic at heart, she loves the moment of falling in love. Her pet Beagle and maniacal lovebird keep her company while writing and often inspire senseless moments in her stories.

When she’s not furiously typing away on her laptop, Melissa can be found cooking or baking up a storm. Even she has to admit, she’s a pretty awesome chef. She has a small addiction with shoes which she attributes to her petite stature or as she likes to call it “Short girl problems”.

She balances her day job and conjuring up new romantic tales with a local personal blog with arb ramblings about her life in Durban. She’s been writing for years now, any bits that she can and she can’t wait to share that with you!

http://www.melissakatebooks.com/

https://twitter.com/MelissaKate_1

https://www.facebook.com/melissakatebooks

Giveaway 5 ecopies of Love in the Fast Lane

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Around The Globe With Kourtney Heintz

san-diego-torrey-pines-state-beachI pick up my second featured author and she wants to go to San Diego.

“Great,” I say. “The zoo. I’ve never been to the SD zoo.”

“Nope,” she says, “the beach.”

“Not the zoo? You know, elephants, seals, giraffes…”

“You’ll love this beach.”

So soon, we’re on Torrey Pines Beach, walking the shore. Wait, I won’t describe the scene. I’ll let her do it.

Gold, tan, and black sand glinted beneath the cliffs at Torrey Pines. The water stretched out for miles, shifting in color from sandstone to green fluorite to Navajo turquoise. A line of milky quartz cut across the sea before it settled to a dark blue topaz and met the edge of the afternoon sky.

(I borrowed that from a scene in The Six Train to Wisconsin).

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

I’m a fiction writer. A creator. A promoter. A businessperson. A dog lover. Chinese speaker and writer. Someone who loves to observe and capture people and places in their hidden moments.

Probably my tendency to not reveal myself all at once. I’ll be very quietly observing and then come out with a killer line that gets everyone laughing. No one in my family knew I could dance until I hit the dance floor at a wedding.

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

Despite having a master’s degree and working on Wall Street for a decade, I have trouble telling left from right. I’ve heard all the tips. None of them work. That “L” thing—yeah, they both look like “L” to me, so that’s not helpful. When I took my driver’s test, I had to put a pen mark on my left hand so I could see which was left.

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

I love being alone with the worlds I create in my mind. I think part of it is being an only child. I learned to entertain myself and I rarely felt lonely. I feel more comfortable by myself that surrounded by people, so rock star is definitely out for me.

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

I love meeting people one on one. I’d want to have a long conversation where we discussed our inspiration, how we wrote, why we wrote what we wrote, and have that amazing give and take you get with a fellow author.

As for the author, I’d probably pick Richelle Mead. I love her character development and plotting. I’d ask her about her process. Her writing is so smooth. I’d love to pick her brain about how she gets her writing there.

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?

It’s fast paced and mixes genres, so you never know what is coming next. But don’t take my word for it.

“Family secrets, paranormal suspense, and romance collide in Heintz’s fascinatingly original tale. A compelling read that will keep you guessing and haunt you long after the last page is turned.”

-Gretchen Archer, USA Today Bestselling author of the Davis Way Crime Capers

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 storystorm. It’s very similar to brainstorming except I’m dreaming up the story ideas. I create the characters, the plot, the setting and the central conflict inside my mind. I play with it like a Choose Your own Adventure Book. I watch how it will all unfold and follow a thread to its logical conclusion. If I don’t like how something turns out, I go back and try something else. I usually spend a couple weeks doing this. Then I write a 3-5 page outline so I know the beginning, middle, and end of the story.

I research as needed. It’s too easy to get caught up in research and never write things. For this series, I have friends in Butternut that I email to ask questions. I also visited Butternut a few times to take pictures and get a feel for the place.

When I am drafting, I aim for 2000 words a day 5 days a week. I like to draft fast and get it done. Then I usually do a round of revisions on that first draft. I try to give myself a total of 3 months to get that all done. I put it aside for a few months before I do a second draft revision and send that to beta readers. I use their comments to get to draft 3 and then it goes to my editor for three rounds of editing (developmental, line, and copy edits).

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 the words on the page however that happens for you. If you like to plan, write an outline or a synopsis. If you hate planning, sit down and type. The method doesn’t matter, the end result does.

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?

“Hold on to your dreams tomorrow knows where and when.” It’s from an anime I love—Magic Knights of Rayearth. It got me through a very dark period with a spine injury and the ups and downs of this industry.

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

Never!

I have the sequel to my YA time travel mystery series, The Unbelievables, in editorial revisions right now. It will be out in summer 2017. I have a new YA trilogy, I’m shopping around. And I’ve got 25 pages drafted of a paranormal lovestory that I’m dying to get back to!

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

http://kourtneyheintz.com

http://kourtneyheintz.wordpress.com

http://www.facebook.com/kourtneyheintzwriter

____________________________________________

coverHighway Thirteen to Manhattan

The Six Train to Wisconsin Series

Book Two

Kourtney Heintz

Genre: Paranormal and Suspense

Publisher: Aurea Blue Press

Date of Publication: 11/1/2016

ISBN: 978-0989132688

ASIN: TBA

Number of pages: 420

Word Count: 94,000

Cover Artist: Creative Paramita

Book Description:

His secrets almost killed her. Her secrets may destroy them both.

Kai is recovering from a near-death experience when she realizes something isn’t right. Her body is healing, but her mind no longer feels quite like her own. Her telepathic powers are changing, too. She can’t trust herself. The darkness growing inside of her pushes her to use her telepathy as a weapon.

Oliver clings to the hope that he can save their marriage, even though he was the one who put her life in jeopardy. As his wife slips further and further away from him, he becomes increasingly obsessed with bringing the man who ruined his life to justice.

The sequel to The Six Train to Wisconsin is a genre-defying tale of love and consequences. Once again, award-winning author Kourtney Heintz seamlessly weaves suspense and paranormal intrigue into a real-world setting, creating characters rich in emotional and psychological complexity.

CHAPTER 1

Kai

Like most daughters, I loved my parents, but right now, I wanted them anywhere but here. Hospitals are always hard, but my parents managed to make it harder. My head was already pounding from all the thoughts and emotions coming at me. Not just from the patients and their families and the doctors and the nurses, but also from my mother and father. Instead of shielding their thoughts and trying to make it better for me, they let their emotions crash into me.

My mind wasn’t strong enough for all this. Neither was my body. Tubes eviscerated my right hand. A giant bruise blossomed beside the newest IV line. A cast wrapped around my left wrist. My broken pinky finger had been set and taped to my ring finger. The back of my head was held together with stitches. Beneath the blanket, my body was covered in bruises.

I didn’t feel any physical pain because of the medications the doctors pumped into me. They said I needed it to recover, but it made my body feel like it wasn’t mine. And the steady drip of opiates didn’t just steal my physical pain; it left me unable to form the psychic shield I needed to protect myself from the misery swirling around me.

Mom sat in the chair closest to my bed. She wore one of her flowing peasant blouses and faded jeans. Her hair was pulled back in a messy bun, and light brown strands slipped loose to hang around her face. The corners of her hazel eyes were pinched with worry.

Her hand hovered over my arm, unsure where to touch me—if she should touch me. Finally, she laid her hand gently on my thigh. “You just need to rest here for a few more days.”

She was wrong. I needed to get out of here. Away from all these thoughts as soon as possible. “I want to go home.”

Mom shook her head. “You need to let the doctors help you.” Like they did last time.

Her thoughts slammed into my brain. She thought hospitalization was the solution to everything.

Please. Look at what’s happened to you. You can’t go home until you’re better,” she said. I can’t lose you. I won’t let that happen.

I didn’t know how to reassure her. Yes, I’d almost died, but being here was hurting me more than it was healing me. I swallowed all the words I wanted to say and hoped for Caleb to come back soon. My brother would know how to talk to Mom, how to make her understand.

The doctor came in to check on me and Mom’s agonizing fear rose up. Don’t let her have brain damage.

Dad patted Mom’s shoulder. He looked like an older, surfer version of Caleb. Both were tall and muscular with curly blond hair. Dad’s hair was a darker blond streaked with platinum from decades in the sun and salt water. His eyes were greener than Caleb’s, but like Caleb’s, they were rimmed with purple bruises. When Dad smiled, sun lines radiated from his eyes and cut across his cheeks. But I hadn’t seen them since he’d arrived at my bedside. Instead, waves of exhaustion rolled off him and rippled over me, right before I heard his thoughts. I can’t go through this again, watching you slip away.

My younger sister Naomi lounged in the chair in the corner as far from me as she could get. She had Mom’s light brown hair and thin frame and Dad’s green eyes and height. She looked nothing like me and only distantly related to Caleb. Her long legs looped over the armrest as she flipped through a magazine. Thanks for ruining Christmas break. I’d rather be anywhere but here.

I felt the same way.

At least Oliver was gone for the moment. Mom had convinced him to go home, take a shower, maybe even sleep. I couldn’t bear his guilt; it was so thick it choked me.

Oliver. My husband. God. I’d never loved and hated someone so much at the same time. I still couldn’t believe he’d called my parents. He knew how bad they were at handling me. How could he have thought that having my family here would be good for me?

Bitterness frosted my thoughts. I was in a hospital, bruised and battered. I’d almost died. That’s what Caleb had said. He was the only one willing to tell me the truth. Oliver had said it was bad, but he wouldn’t say how bad. He couldn’t bear to admit what happened to me.

authorAbout the Author:

Kourtney Heintz writes award-winning cross genre fiction that melds paranormal, suspense, and literary into an unforgettable love story. For her characters, love is a journey never a destination. Her debut novel, The Six Train to Wisconsin, has been on the Amazon Bestseller lists for Psychic Mysteries and Paranormal and Urban Fantasy.

Kourtney resides in Connecticut with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, and three quirky golden retrievers. Years of working on Wall Street provided the perfect backdrop for her imagination to run amuck at night, imagining a world where out-of-control telepathy and buried secrets collide. As K.C. Tansley, she writes bestselling YA time travel murder mysteries.

She has been featured in the Republican American, on WTNH’s CT Style, and Everything Internet on the radio. She has a B.S. in Business Administration from Georgetown University with a double major in finance and international business and a minor in Chinese. She received a Master of Pacific International Affairs from the University of California, San Diego.

You can find out more about Kourtney and her books at: http://kourtneyheintz.com

http://kourtneyheintz.wordpress.com

http://twitter.com/kourhei

http://www.facebook.com/kourtneyheintzwriter/

http://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomkourtney_heintz

Tour Giveaway

5 signed copies shipping to anywhere in the world

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Mr. Brown’s Mailbag

mailbagA triple shot of authors today. The first one knock on my door and when I answer, rushes in and dumps a mailbag full of letters in the middle of my floor. Immediately, my cat comes out to start sniffing around. I’m amazed because: A). who writes actual paper letters anymore? and B). Who’s going to clean up this mess?

“I was hoping to use your computer to answer some of these fan letters,” he says.

“Uh,” I stammer, “Who’s going to clean up this mess?”

Unfortunately, questions to authors don’t get answered the way I like.

“Okay,” I say and point to the laptop, “have at it.”

feast-of-chaos-banner-851-x-315

Villains, anime and the truth about cat-whispering

I’ve had a lot of questions from readers since I committed to being a writer, and I haven’t taken the time to answer each and every one of them. Today, I’ll attempt to make some progress toward that goal. For the privacy’s sake, I’ll condense the names of the inquirers to their first initial only—and I’ll remove any part of the question that might indicate an identity, too. Let’s get to it then!

I love the Feasts series, but some of the characters are really despicable! Are they based off any people you know, or know of, in real life? —M

Good question, M. Well, seeing as how we’re all influenced by our environment, I’m sure that at some point, somewhere, I’ve met a ruthless woman—or two—like Gloriatrix, or I’ve seen a man with the striking charisma of the Wolf. However, these characters aren’t based off anyone in particular. The only exception to this would be Alastair, who’s a cross between Cary Elwes’ character from the Princess Bride, Captain Jack Sparrow, and a Shakespearean antihero.

I love the Princess Bride (both book and film) and its influence—romantic, comedic, dramatic—had a tremendous impact on my young imagination. That movie, as well as all the bizarre, aerialist, shrieking anime antics that my friends and I watched in my teens (the secret to why I love action scenes so much!).

mailbag-pictureSome of the scenes in the book are really beautiful, and some are really horrific. How can you write from one extreme to the other? Don’t you find it hard to write the awful stuff? —K

Part of the writer’s toolkit, is the ability to distance yourself from your surroundings and perceptions, and to, ideally, form something based not solely on your own judgments–rather, something that challenges your beliefs or that is outside your realm of experience. I feel we’re strong enough to discuss and create any material, or face any trial, so long as our heart is in the right place.

That’s just a fancy way of saying I think I’m very good at make-believe and I try to challenge myself by writing situations and characters outside of my personal comfort zone. Did I enjoy writing about Augustus; the pedophile, megalomaniac, all around terrible person? Objectively, I wasn’t thinking too much about him at the time, I was immersed in the narrative, and certainly more focused upon Macha—her welfare and courage was the real meat of that arc, not the perverse predilections of a madman. Now upon rereading the material, I had the same reactions as many of you toward Augustus: revulsion and condemnation.

That’s the point, though: don’t skirt around issues of evil, crime and darkness any more than you would devalue the virtues of love, comradery and hope by treading lightly with your words. The most horrible events happen all around us, daily, in tandem with life’s beautiful events. We shouldn’t only pay attention to what we want to see, to what keeps us comfortable: that’s a myopic, vegetative existence, and it leads to silos, stupidity and bigotry. Occasionally, we need to be scared and horrified. That’s part of being human.

For more of my thoughts on Evil and its portrayal, check out these posts:

Portraying Evil

Anatomy of a Villain

And thanks for the great question, K!

What is the one thing you wished you’d never done in your career? —D

Hmm…I like to look at mistakes as stepping-stones, however, if I could take one thing back (and this is sage-advice for new authors): I wouldn’t invest any kind of money in an advertising campaign until I had more books under my belt. We didn’t spend a lot of money on the small campaign I did at the end of 2014, though no one knew who theF I was, or they thought I was Rihanna’s ex and were surely disappointed when they followed me on Twitter.

From a practical, business standpoint, it’s like advertising when you only have one product in your store. Wait until your merchandise is fuller and then start shilling. Build a presence and personality that people know, first, and you may not even need to spend a dime on marketing. But that takes time, and we’re not always patient. Being a writer is a waiting game, though, whether you go it alone, with small press, or with Simon & Schuster pondering your latest manuscript. Don’t expect breakthrough or lasting success in a day—that kind of charmed luck would be better spent on repeatedly playing the lottery.

You say you’re a cat whisperer; what does that mean? —J

Person who talks to cats.” I wish there was a less spinsterish way to say it, but there you go.

I’m closing up the mailbag for today. In case you weren’t aware of how to contact me, you can send me any questions or comments via the Contact Form.

I’ll answer your questions in a somewhat timely fashion. (I’m much chattier on my FB page.) I look forward to hearing from you.

All my love,

C

_____________________________________

coverFeast of Chaos

Four Feasts till Darkness

Book Three

Christian A. Brown

Genre: Dark Fantasy/ Literary/ Romance

Publisher: Forsythia Press

Date of Publication: September 23rd, 2016
ISBN: 978-0994014429

ASIN: B01M1ESQ3Y

Number of pages: 698

Word Count: 250K

Cover Artist: Dane at Ebookcoverlaunch

Book Description:

Menos has been destroyed. No corner of the realm of Geadhain is safe from the Black Queen’s hunger. Zionae—or the Great Dreamer, as she has been called in ancient tongues—has a thirst that cannot be quenched until all of Geadhain burns and bleeds. She preys on the minds of weak men and exploits human folly for an unhuman end. She cannot be defeated in her current state, but the answer to her downfall may lie in the land of her past.

It is with this aim that a Daughter of Fate, Morigan, and her brave and true companions venture to the mysterious Pandemonia, the land of chaos itself. Ancient secrets and even older power lurk in its swamps and deserts. Life itself becomes uncertain, but the Hunters of Fate have no choice: Pandemonia must give up its secrets if they want to find the Black Queen’s weakness.

Elsewhere in the realm, alliances form and break. Dead men rise and heroes fall. Eod prepares for war. In hiding, Lila, the bearer of its destruction, will be given a chance to atone and answer for her sins. Will her actions save Eod, or has she damned it with her crimes?

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/rURqUni_lco

Amazon

Excerpt:

Heathsholme was quaint—Central Geadhain’s darling, as the locals proclaimed. Looking down upon it, passengers on skycarriages were often struck by the fact that the realm possessed the look of a joyfully made quilt. Red-leafed orchards, yellow fields of flax and corn, patches of blue brocade that were swimming pools and watering holes…all threaded with brown branching roads. Sweet winds blew down from the North year-round, bearing only cool and refreshing properties until winter rose to claim the throne of seasons. When the North wind came, it froze Heathsholme’s pools into skating circles and decorated the large trees with grand chandeliers of ice. In the depths of that season, the staunch apple trees finally died. Their fruits fell to the ground and were collected. Their blossoms broke from their branches and filled the air like flocks of migrating winter birds. During this season, families came from the West, South, and East to visit Heathsholme and enjoy great outdoor festivals of food, music, mulled cider, and wine—for which the region was also famed.

Partly on account of the season’s coolness, these celebrations happened around great bonfires. At night, when the happily drunk howled at the moon, a primal spirit took hold, and effigies of nameless spirits were burned in the pyres. No one could remember why or how the Vallistheim tradition had been born, only that it was a remnant of the customs once imposed by Taroch. The ancient warlord had been fascinated by the Northmen’s rites, and had introduced many of them to Central Geadhain. Vallistheim—the winter festival—was believed to bring bounty and luck in the New Year. Over time, polite society had done away with many of the less pleasant sacrificial details to make the ritual friendlier to outsiders. Now only one cow from each of the barns and byres that rose on rings in the hilled highlands around the heart of the township was cooked in a great feast, without having been ritually slaughtered first.

In the uncultivated grasses past the city proper and its farmlands, a dedicated explorer could find the remains of crumbled churches that had been built to honor the now vanished religion of Taroch’s fancies. Runes that the sages had translated into such names as Freyallah, Odric, and Helhayr were found chiseled in the mossy arches of these grounds. These sites of an ancient religion were thought by modern minds to be haunted or perhaps protected by the ancient spirits or warriors mentioned in the stones. It was the sort of refuge where a monster, fearful of being seen, could find sanctuary.

authorAbout the Author:

Bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Feast of Fates, Christian A. Brown received a Kirkus star in 2014 for the first novel in his genre-changing Four Feasts Till Darkness series. He has appeared on Newstalk 1010, AM640, Daytime Rogers, and Get Bold Today with LeGrande Green. He actively writes a blog about his mother’s journey with cancer and on gender issues in the media. A lover of the weird and wonderful, Brown considers himself an eccentric with a talent for cat-whispering.

www.christianadrianbrown.com
https://twitter.com/authorchrisab

https://www.instagram.com/authorchristianadrianbrown/

https://www.facebook.com/ChristianAdrianBrown

feast-seriesTour giveaway

1 signed paperback copy of Feast of Chaos

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50

50This was written on my birthday, one month ago.

So, today I turned 50.

And it sucks.

No, wait, let me explain. I know what some of you may say. Yes, I have my life, my health, my great job, some good friends, my taekwondo club, and my family. I’m thankful for all of that. I even have a published book an am working to have more.

Yet…

I don’t know quite how to explain it but ‘I was hoping for more’ comes close. I guess I look at my parents for an example. They were married a few years out of high school, Dad went into the Air Force, and eight years after they married, they adopted me. A few years later, they brought my sister home. Dad and mom both worked at good jobs and improved. Both got better jobs and we moved. We were never ‘rich’ but we made out all right. My sister and received pets and Christmas presents and schooling and proper discipline. (All right, I might have earned more than my fair share, but probably deserved it, too.)

I remember draping black streamers over the kitchen and dining room for Dad’s 50th. Amusing at the time. Had I been able to look ahead at what I would do.

Maybe ‘I was hoping for more’ comes into play. I had a decent job out of college but was screwed out of a good position, so I quit. Who knows how long I might have stayed had I been able to keep that morning shift at the radio station.

When I moved to Oskaloosa and started at the radio station there, I soon discovered sales was not my cup of tea. These were the days before high tech computers and Samsung phones, where I used a daytimer to keep my appointments. If that was ever misplaced, I was anxious.

Soon, they gave me a choice, either accept a cutback or resign. I ended up on unemployment until I found a job at a publishing company but wasn’t able to get into the graphic design field that was just emerging. After a couple years I took a job at a trucking company where I manage to screw up most everything I touched. That didn’t last but eight months.

A year at a motel before I was hired on at the newspaper as a graphic designer, which I loved. Almost three years later I screwed up and was fired. I paid dearly for that screw up for the next 16 years working at four motels.

I’ve been at Gannett for just over a year and love it and will work hard to succeed.

Maybe ‘I was hoping for more’ comes into play in this area: My parents have been married for almost 58 years. My sister is married.

I’ve had three girlfriends. Yep. Three. In recent posts, I’ve mentioned the number of attractive women at my workplace. The unfortunate thing is, most of them are darn near young enough to be my daughters. The particular woman I alluded to in those posts is older than those others, but as of this writing, I haven’t had to guts to ask her out, yet.

Maybe that’s part of what sucks. Nobody to share my birthday with. Sure, I received loads of Happy Birthday wishes from Facebook friends and spent ten minutes thanking all of them. I received a bunch at work. But I still came home alone, went for a jog, and will now go to bed with my cat.

I was hoping to have more books published by now. But my first publisher closed and my second publisher is recovering from health problems and I’m still trying to attract another.

I was hoping I’d be living in a better apartment or house by now instead of a crappy small falling apart apartment with ‘interesting’ neighbors.

I’ve thought about this birthday for awhile and it was coming no matter what. I couldn’t change it.

Sorry, this day has been kind of a bummer and I know things will get better. Right now I see a continual walk downward with those pretty girls and 20 and 30 something good times behind me.

Good night, and thanks for the birthday wishes. They were appreciated.

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Around The Globe With Stefanie Stolinsky

bedroomOn this cool Friday November morning I use the transporter to pick up this week’s featured author at her home. Instead of traveling to some far off exotic location for the interview, she wants to stay at home.

“Great,” I say, thinking we’ll sit out on the porch or in the kitchen, drink orange juice and munch on blueberry muffins.

“Follow me,” she says and leads me to-

“Uh, ma’am, this is your bedroom,” I say as watch her prop three pillows behind her back and lean against the wall.

“Yes, this is one of my favorite places to write.”

“Your bedroom.”

“Yes, is there a problem?”

No, of course not. She wants an interview in her bedroom, fine. I start in, keeping one eye outside the door in case her husband shows up wondering why some strange guy is in the bedroom with his wife… Oh boy!

hot-shot-banner-851-x-315

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

Ho ho, I am definitely NOT the most fascinating person in my city, but I am interesting in that I was a working actress who then morphed into a Ph.D. in clinical and forensic psychology before finally settling into the career I should have pursued to begin with (with the psych doctorate I have right now, of course) writing. I think all those careers added to the writing and certainly made me more curious, happy and complete as a writer.

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

I’m a nervous wreck. I always have been. I kid around that I’m one valium below par, but the truth is, I worry about everything. Time demands don’t make me nervous and nothing “real” makes me nervous—but considering the future and what I’m doing with my life and whether I’m accomplishing important work, that keeps me up at night.

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

Ha, again. I sing like a crow so rock star-ing was not in the stars. I used to play the piano, badly and when I was ten my father decided I should play the violin. He practiced with me and I’m seriously surprised we weren’t kicked out of our flat. Writing was actually something I had a flare for and I loved telling stories and engaging people.

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

I would have loved to have dinner with anyone of a bevy of playwrites including most of the 1950s. I loved the old real-live television writers, too.

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 would hope my books made you laugh, chortle, enjoy and look forward to the story’s ending. I would hope they would encourage you to let go of stress, anxiety and anything else that would be stopping you from your trip or while on your island. Like I always say, my protagonists scrunch up a Kleenex and throw it in the air and let it land where it may—that’s the kind of “who-gives-a-shit” attitude I’m hoping you’ll feel, so that what isn’t so important won’t be made more important or fearful than it really is.

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 of that is so individual. With HOT SHOT, it took me two years and why I just don’t know. It’s a gambling story, so I did go to Vegas (ah, poor me) and spent two days at the Rio Hotel which is off the strip but is the center of the World Series of Poker, and talked to everyone who would talk to me, went behind the scenes, sat at one of the tables in that HHHHHUUUUUGE arena where too many tables to count sit under hot overhead lights with lots of cables and wires and who knows what. It’s quite an experience and I know that the people I see at the final table when I watch the tournament on television, took a long and hard time to get there. They played a lot of poker.

As far as plotting and characters, I always start with a character, his/her background, way of being in the world, sense of being and then throw them into some untenable situation and watch how they might get out of it. I always outline. I find that if I do, I’ll see the inciting incident and it’s ramifications so much better than just panstering. My schedule is: I go to the gym in the morning, then come home and eat lunch with my husband and write for the rest of the afternoon. I do research on the computer and Google, but I like to talk to people involved in my story, too.

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?”

Sure. Just start writing that first sentence. Another sentence will follow and another and pretty soon your story will come to you. You never go to it anyway, it always comes to you. The unconscious you know.

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?

Do the best you can with your talents, don’t compare yourself to anyone else, and just keep truckin.’ I wish I could follow my own advice.

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

No, I’ll never stop writing. If I couldn’t type my stories, I’d dictate them into a cassette. I have a three-book series called The COUNTERFEIT series about a would-be actress, Lily Handy, who uses her talents as an actress to solve horrendous crimes the big boys can’t even break the ice on. But she’s totally unaware that she’s done that. Her profiling is so weird, but complete, the crime solves itself.

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

First and foremost, my publisher, FierySeasPublishing.com and Amazon, B & N, and Kindle. The book is on sale right now, but I’ll definitely have giveaways, too. Oh, and my own website is http://www.sastolinsky.com


hot-shot-coverHot Shot

S.A. Stolinsky

Suspense

November 1, 2016

Book Description:

Payback is a powerful thing…

Actor and bartender, Tyler West experiences a sudden streak of luck — winning poker games. Determined to change his life, he enters the World Series of Poker. His life is suddenly turned upside down when the Russian mafia fronts him 1.5 million dollars to play at the tables. And then…he loses…

Now on the ride of his life, deceit and deception are his key to uncovering the truth. He must recoup the money, but will it come at a price? Can he stay alive long enough or will his time run out?

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/cc3b8xb7sl8

stolinksyAbout the Author:

Stefanie Stolinsky, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist and forensic psychologist with a private practice in Beverly Hills, California. She specializes in trauma, adults sexually, physically and emotionally abused as children, and PTSD. She is an international speaker and has taught training seminars in overcoming the aftereffects of child abuse. She has also taught licensing examinations to candidates for both marriage, family and child counseling and for the psychology licenses.

She began her career as an actress in motion pictures, television and stage and created a unique therapy combining acting exercises with psychodynamic psychotherapy to help survivors of all kinds of trauma overcome the aftereffects of abuse. The first edition of “ACT IT OUT” was a top seller for over nine years. A second edition of the popular book was launched in April of this year and is available on Praeclarus Press, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

She is also the author of several award-winning short stories including her newest short story anthology, DATE NIGHT, and numerous comedy mystery. Dr. Stolinsky lives with her husband in Los Angeles.

https://www.facebook.com/stefanie.stolinsky

https://twitter.com/sastolinsky

Rafflecopter Giveaway for 5 ecopies Hot Shot by S.A. Stolinsky

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Communication Skills – 10

Woman listening gossip

LISTEN…REALLY LISTEN

This last point is something with which many of us have a problem.

How many times have you forgotten a person’s name almost immediately after being introduced? How many are so eager to tell our story/opinion that we don’t wait until the other person is finished?

Previous posts – #5, #6, #9, all depend on listening. Actual listening. Not just hearing.

I’m guilty, too, of the above, and try to improve the next time.

How would listening give me a better chance at getting a positive result on the question of dinner with my lady on Friday night? Or of even being able to ask the question in the first place.

I’m a bit stumped on this one.

Maybe listening to talk around the work place whenever her name is mentioned to gain me more information about her. Maybe a subtle question about her if the circumstance warrants it.

Maybe listening to my inner voice for the right moment. Maybe NOT paying attention to the one that tells me I’m a fool. Maybe listening to my heart that tells me to take a risk and go for it. It’s a yes or no question so there’s a toss of the coin odds. Maybe NOT paying heed to the imp in the shadows trying to talk me out of it.

So, there they are. Ten points for better social interaction. I’ve related them to a personal issue and I’ll bet there are issues where some of these might benefit you, or at least to help smooth over a couple rough spots.

Any further suggestions are appreciated. I’ll listen to them.

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Communication Skills – 9

Empathy

EMPATHY

Reviewing last week’s post at the point where I mentioned my creative answer to a rejection. The part about her switching to a yes because of my sincere heart.

This sincerity fits with this week’s topic. How many times have you told a story or explained a situation and the other person’s expression is blank or else tosses off a token sympathy statement?

Sympathy and empathy have different meanings. If you’re sympathetic, you feel sorry that another person experienced a bad time. Empathy means you’re sharing that emotion. You might feel closer to the person because you’ve experienced something similar. Or by sharing or having that emotion, you might be able to better help the other person.

In social situations, empathy can be shown by showing that similar experience with a short story of your own. Maybe a gesture or a hand on the shoulder and some sincere words. Avoid trite phrases, but offer to assist it the situation calls for it.

What about asking my coworker for a date? Again, a bit of the above might be used on the first date. I would need to be involved with with her words, really listen (discussed next time), tailoring my responses and watch what words I used.

Backing up to the asking, I think the sincerity of my offer is key, the emotions I put into my words. No, I don’t mean begging for an evening of dinner and dancing (yes, I do now how to dance), but something a bit more solid than, “Hey! You. Me. Dinner. Friday night. What do you say?” Brief and specific as discussed in a previous post, but hardly the real feeling exhibited.

I don’t think the sincerity will be the problem. Exhibited confidence, yes. Confidence in voice and stature is needed. Avoiding the desperation attitude can be overcome by strong confidence.

If that is shown, then empathy and the sincerity will be there.

Any suggestions?

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