Thursday, December 23, 2010

Authorsday: Larion Wills

1. What was the name of the first novel you wrote? Did you try to publish it?

I don’t think I ever named it, and no, I never tried to publish it. I did re-read it about a year ago, and it was awful. It won’t go to any publisher until it gets a major re-write, and I do mean major.

2. What do you know now that you are published that you didn’t know pre-published that you wish you had known?

Hundreds of things. I didn’t know about loops, I didn’t know about blogs, I didn’t even know about ebooks. That’s how unprepared I was when I started 5 years ago.

3. Why did you pick the publisher that ultimately published your first book?

Actually my first publisher was found more by accident than plan. I was searching the net for agents to submit to, stuck into that ‘if you don’t have an agent, publishers don’t want to read you’ that I’d read, thinking that would be easier. I didn’t know about independent publishers, either, or that they were willing to take an unpublished author. An ad in a side bar caught my attention. I thought why not, clicked on it, read their submission preference page and thought, “I’ve got one that just fits that.” That was Swimming Kangaroo Books, sadly, no longer accepting submissions. Not only did I find a publisher willing to read work from an unpublished author, I found a friend and teacher in Dindy Robinson, the owner. We did 11 books together, an experience I’ll always be grateful for.

4. How did you pick the genres you write in?

I don’t pick them; they pick me without any kind of rhyme or reason. I might finish a science fiction and go straight to another western or contemporary. It’s just whatever strikes me at the time enough to grow into another story.

5. What do you consider your strengths in terms of your writing?

Characterization, I think. I live with those people. I know them better sometimes than even themselves. I know their history from the time they were born, what makes them act and react the way they do, what they look for in life. Of course, not all of that gets into the pages, but I have it all in my head to make them come alive with words.

6. What do you consider your weakness and what strategies do you use to overcome it?

Composition, where to put those silly little commas, things like that, along with what’s new in accepted style, what’s old, what does this particular publisher prefer. I edit, and edit, and use word grammar check, and edit, and listen to my editors and edit some more.

7. What other time period besides your own would you like to experience?

From the civil war to the turn of the century. I’m sure I’d get tired of it rather quickly, being spoiled by all our modern conveniences, but that time period fascinates me.

8. If you could ask your readers one question, what would it be?

Did you like it? If they said no, then of course, I’d have to ask why?

9. What’s your favorite quote?

You have nothing to fear, but fear itself.

10. Tell us about your current release and if you have more coming up for us to watch for.

I’ll start with the last part of that one. At this time I have four releases coming in 2011 and 2012, through Museitup Publishing, two westerns and two contemporaries. You can keep up with what they are and when they’ll be out on my website, My latest release is through XOXO Publishing, The Eternal Search, a science fiction romance. It begins sometime in our future. Here’s a blurb to tickle your interest and buy link if I have:

In sending him from the future to a burnt out wasteland, they meant to kill him, in a cruel and sadistic way. Their calculations were off. Garth landed in a mountain forest only a few feet from Judith, a woman who only existed and wished for death even before the war had killed billions. She had one emotion left, curiosity. Wanting to know who he was, where he came from, and how, she took him home. With Garth she learned to live again. When they came and took him back, they learned that revenge for an eternal knew no time limits.

Author Bio: Larriane Wills also writes as Larion Wills in multi-genres from science fiction to historical, sweet romances to hot, paranormal and not. Though born in Oklahoma she feels native to the state she was raised in and has settled in the high desert mountains of Arizona where she continues to present us with a wide variety of stories in a collection of strong characters and unique plots. She invites you to visit her at her website, to see what she has to offer or email her at even if it’s only to say hi. She also welcomes you to visit her facebook page: and her blog:

Monday, December 20, 2010

ExcerpTuesday: E.F. Watkins

ONE BLOOD Excerpt:

A powerful force pulled the energy out of her. Kat knew she must be losing blood, but even that couldn’t be enough to explain this terrible sensation of life draining from her body. She could feel Sharpay’s hunger and intense pleasure as he fed upon her, drawing out something he needed, something that went beyond any mere physical substance.

At the back of her mind, Kat knew she should try to fight back, but both her body and her will seemed paralyzed. Her heart pounded faster, desperate to make up the loss of blood. She started to slip down into a dark vortex, the room swirling around her. She knew she would have collapsed to the floor, if not for the iron arm holding her.

At the same time, her belly stirred with another sensation—half sexual, half suicidal—to surrender and let him have as much of her as he needed.

It seemed an hour before she felt Sharpay, with difficulty, tear himself away. Released from his grip, she tottered and saw stars. He pulled up one of the straight-backed dining chairs and sat her in it.

He left her briefly. Slumped, head spinning, she heard him rummaging in her cabinets. He came back with a juice glass half-filled with a pale gold, acrid-smelling liquid.

“Drink this.”

Kat obeyed. The brandy seared her throat until she coughed, but then she drank some more. In a minute, warmth began to seep back into her depleted veins.

Bent over her, Sharpay pressed a finger against the spot he had bitten. At first Kat thought he was staunching the wound, but then realized he was taking her pulse.

“Much better,” he murmured, in a clinical tone.

She glanced up at him. No trace of blood showed on his lips, and as she watched, the sharpness of his canine teeth reverted to normal. The red light also left his eyes. His face had recovered a healthier color and his hair had darkened again, with silver only at the temples.

He spoke now in a cold, crisp tone. “After I leave, eat some of the dinner you’ve prepared and go to bed. You’ll have the weekend to recover. If you have to cancel any activities, make up a plausible excuse. You will come to my house again Monday night. Do you understand?”

Still dazed as a sleepwalker, Kat could only nod.

He gave her a last, tight smile. “You’ll be fine. You have an excellent constitution and a strong will to live. Just what I would expect from a Van Braam!”

Blurb:A vampire travels to Princeton University to hunt down and romance a brilliant and beautiful archaeologist, the last living descendant of his arch-enemy. She fights his control, though, and resolves to destroy him. After centuries of preying on humanity, has he finally met his match—in more ways than one?

BIO: E. F. Watkins specializes in paranormal thrillers and mysteries. Her novel DANCE WITH THE DRAGON won the 2004 EPPIE in Horror, and her s-f thriller BLACK FLOWERS was a 2006 EPPIE finalist in Action/Thriller. She also has published the romantic mystery RIDE A DANCING HORSE and the paranormal thrillers PARAGON, DANU‘S CHILDREN and ONE BLOOD.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

After this week

After this week, the blog is going on hiatus for two weeks. Whew.
I need a break and to get ready for 2011.
If anyone is interested in guest blogging, contact me at chrisreddingauthor at yahoo dot com.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Authorsday: Jennifer Wylie

Book Blurb: Jump (short story)

If you were told to jump off of a bridge would you? Perhaps it would depend on who was doing the asking. Our heroine has spunk and a sense of humor, however suffers from an extreme case of inappropriate clothing. When things take a turn from dangerous to worse what will she do when fantasy becomes reality? Warning: May include hot leather clad men, singing and demons.

1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

In my head, I've always been a writer. I started writing back in public school and have wrote on and off since then. Now a published author, that was an occasional dream. It wasn't until a few years ago I actually decided to give it a try and see what happened. I'm glad I did (and slightly irritated with myself I waited so long!)

2. How did you pick the genre you write in?

I grew up reading fantasy and science fiction from a very early age. I had barely reached my teens before my mother had me reading Pern books. So far I don't think I have the technical savvy to write sci-fi, so all of my stories are some type of fantasy.

3. Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?

Plot? That word sounds familiar... :) I don't write things out, or do story boards. I will imagine scenes in my head, like a movie, until they are perfect, and then write them down. Occasionally near the end of a book I will jot down a sentence or two of notes, mostly to make sure I don't forget to tie up lose ends.

4. What was the name of the first novel you wrote? Did you try to publish it?

I had written a few books back in high school. I don't remember their names, if they even had any. They all died in horrible computer crashes. (I'd cry again, but they were probably very bad anyways) My first book I finished and didn't die a terrible death is called Sweet Light. It is being published by Echelon Press and due out in 2011.

5. What do you know now that you are published that you didn’t know pre-published that you wish you knew?

So many things! How to write a proper query letter, that you don't have to have an agent to find a publisher. A big one is how much I have learned in regards to editing. Also do your research! The Internet can tell you pretty much anything if you look. Don't just jump in, learn everything you can first!

6. How many rejections have you received?

Before I signed on with Echelon and had been querying agents I lost count of my rejections over the year and half I was sending them out. Certainly over 50, perhaps even 100. I didn't let it get me down. Obviously I query wasn't good enough (so I kept rewriting). The problem is getting someone interested enough to want to read more, hard to do in so few words!

7. Why did you pick the publisher that ultimately published your work?

I had read about Echelon Press online and found them interesting. I started following them on Twitter and had some nice tweets with Karen there and also in a comments section on another's blog. I checked out the publishers website, and also the books they'd published so far and thought they would be a great publisher for me. I have been very pleased with everything!

8. What do you consider your strengths in terms of your writing?

I am a very emotional person, and that really comes out in my writing. You will feel for my characters, which I think is the way it should be. :) Oh, and I also like to add in twists. Everyone loves a good twist! (or five)

9. What do you consider your weakness and what strategies do you use to overcome it?

I have had a number of technical issues with my writing. The last number of months I have been working really hard on learning all my proper punctuation and grammar use. I guess I should have paid more attention in English class in school. :)

10. What are you working on now?

I have a second short story, The Forgotten Echo, coming out March 1st, and my novel Sweet Light later in 2011 so will be doing edits for them. I also just finished a YA book, Broken Aro, I'll be submitting soon. I've also finished the sequel to Sweet Light and am editing it prior to submission and I'm working on the sequel to Broken Aro.

You are welcome to make up your own questions if you like also. Anything you think will illuminate what you want your readers to know.

Author Bio:

Jennifer Wylie was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. In a cosmic twist of fate she dislikes the snow and cold.

Thanks to her mother she acquired a love of books at an early age and began writing in public school. She constantly has stories floating around in her head, and finds it amazing most people don’t. Jennifer writes various forms of fantasy, both novels and short stories. Sweet light is her debut novel to be published in 2011.

Jennifer resides in rural Ontario, Canada with her husband, two boys, Australian shepherd a flock of birds and a disagreeable amount of wildlife.

In case you need:

My website:

My blog:

Book available for sale link:




Monday, December 13, 2010

ExcerpTuesday: Cara Marsi

Cara Marsi is a former corporate drone and cubicle dweller with a romantic soul. She craves books with happy endings and loves to write about strong heroes and feisty heroines. She loves to put her characters in dangerous situations and see how they’ll get out. Cara has recently gone over to the dark side with her romantic suspense, Murder, Mi Amore, set in Rome, Italy, and involving murder, jewel thieves and terrorists. And she’s gone even darker with her paranormal romance, Cursed Mates.

She credits her love of romance to the old Thirties and Forties romantic comedies she watched on late night TV growing up. Cara is published in traditional romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and has published numerous short romance stories in national magzines. Cara and her husband enjoy traveling and she loves to write about the places they've visited. They share their house with a fat black cat named Killer.

Dominic sprang up and flew at the mugger, knocking him to the ground. The two men grappled, rolling together on the cobbled street. Lexie, her heart thumping wildly, looked for an opening to bean the mugger again, to give Dominic a better chance at overcoming him.

“Stop it! Stop it! Leave him alone!” The mugger ended up on top, and she whaled away with her bag, getting in any shot she could.

Shouts and the slap of running feet vibrated through the alley. The mugger swore, jumped up, and raced away, a few men giving chase. Several others helped Dominic to stand, yelling in excited voices, and gesturing toward where their attacker had disappeared.

Dominic winced in pain. Lexie looked down at his ripped, blood-soaked pant leg. “Dominic, you’ve got to get to the hospital. You’re bleeding.”

“I’m okay,” he said. “It is nothing.” Brushing dirt off his jacket, he turned to the men and said something in rapid Italian. With nods, they strode away.

Breathing heavily, Lexie disagreed. “You’re not okay. We’ll get a cab and take you to the hospital.”

He cupped her shoulders. “I’ve been through worse. I’m fine. Are you okay? Did he hurt you?”

“No. I’m…” The full impact of what had happened hit her. The adrenaline that had given her strength suddenly dissipated and she began to tremble. “I’m not okay.”

“Lexie.” Dominic moved forward to take her into his arms. She held on for dear life, needing his strength. He rubbed his hand along her back. “It’s okay, Lexie. We’re both okay. You’re safe with me.”

She clung to him. It wasn’t her imagination. Strange things were happening. She had nothing anyone could want. She didn’t know who to trust. Dominic said she was safe with him. But was she really?

Lexie Cortese is in Rome to forget. The last thing she expects is to meet a sexy Interpol agent who suspects her of being part of a terrorist plot involving a stolen diamond. Suddenly thrust into a world of murders, muggings, and kidnappings, Lexie doesn’t know what to think—or who to believe.

Dominic Brioni’s assignment is simple. Befriend the American and bring her to justice. Only Lexie seems like the most unlikely terrorist Dominic has ever met. Sweet, determined, and direct, she faces life with courage and fire, a fire that sparks his protective instincts and a longing for something more—something he allowed himself to hope for only once before.

But that woman betrayed him, and his boss isn’t about to let him forget it. With his career on the line and Lexie in danger, will Dominic learn to trust his heart before they both get killed?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Here is where I am going to be this month.

Incendiary will be out in all electronic formats December 15.
December 10
December 14
December 16
December 17
December 22

Stop by. There will be prizes!
And one lucky commenter will even win a free pdf of Incendiary, but I'm not telling you which blog I'll give it away at.

Monday, December 6, 2010

ExcerpTuesday: Shobhan Bantwal



There was something odd about it, despite its plain and inconsequential appearance. Vinita gazed at the mystery envelope for a long moment, weighed it in the palm of her hand. Her instincts were prickling. It went beyond mere feminine intuition.

She didn’t receive any letters from her family in India anymore. Cheap long-distance telephone rates and email had put an end to that somewhat antiquated form of communication.

The smudged postal seal on the envelope read Mumbai—one of India’s largest and most populous cities—a place Vinita was very familiar with. It didn’t look like the occasional wedding invitation or the quarterly statements from the bank.

There was no return address, but it was sent to her attention—neatly hand-printed. She slit it open and eased out the contents—a single sheet of white ruled paper. Her hands shook a little. She wasn’t sure if it was anticipation or anxiety. Or both.

The message was brief—a few lines penned in blue ink. She scanned it quickly, trying to ignore the tingle crawling up her spine like a venomous spider. The subject matter was bizarre. The writer’s name was missing.

Only minutes ago it had looked like any ordinary Saturday morning—a day to recoup after five hectic days of poring over spreadsheets, memos, and databases till her eyeballs ached.

Her husband was on a business trip to Detroit, and wasn’t due to return until the following week, so she had the weekend to herself. She’d planned to indulge herself.

Working late the previous evening had prevented her from looking at the mail right away. Now, as she sat on the bed and checked the mail, she wondered if the weekend of self-indulgence she’d been looking forward to was already beginning to wilt and curl at the edges.

Who could have sent her the odd message? Perhaps there were clues she had missed the first time.

My dear Mrs. Patil,

I am writing to tell you about your son. He is suffering from myeloid leukemia. Many years ago, I had made a promise never to reveal anything about him, but this is a serious matter. A bone marrow transplant is his only hope. My conscience will not allow me to let a young man die without having a chance to try every possible treatment. Your brother may be able to give you all the details.

I leave the matter in your hands.


A well-wisher

Something about the message was disturbing.

Was it possible the letter was erroneously mailed to her? But what if it wasn’t a mistake and she was indeed the intended recipient?

Was this someone’s idea of a sick joke? But everything about the letter spelled serious intent.

This was no hoax ...


Shobhan Bantwal calls her writing "Bollywood in a Book," commercial fiction about India, women’s issues & socio-political topics, with romantic & cultural elements. Her articles & stories have appeared in The Writer, Romantic Times, India Abroad, Little India, Desi Journal, New Woman & India Currents. Her short fiction has won honors/awards in contests by Writer's Digest, New York Stories & New Woman magazines. Her debut book, THE DOWRY BRIDE, won the 2008 Golden Leaf Award.

Visit her website: or her Facebook page


What happens when a woman who's realized her dreams wakes up one morning to a shocking truth? Vinita Patil opens a mysterious letter from India that instantly turns her comfortable life upside down. It tells her an impossible story: she has a grown son in India, a child she was told was stillborn 30 years ago. Now his life may depend on her...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Authorsday: Wendy Ely

I always feel weird when writing a post for another person’s blog. I’m grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity to blog but don’t know what the readers expect. I worry that I won’t get any comments since a lot of people don’t like change and here comes another author posting something totally random. But often I get to meet a variety of new people. Being a guest blogger opens up the opportunity for new connections I didn’t already have. This is one of the many joys of being an author. I get to meet so many different types of people. Who would’ve thought and eighteen year old guy would read Jesse’s Brother (my first novel) and send me fan mail? I certainly didn’t but loved getting to know him.

So setting up a blog tour was the first thing I did in my preparations of my new release. So, dear readers, take a peek at the Confessions excerpt and let’s chat on here for a bit. Or you can send me an email (

Excerpt from Confessions:

Jordan sat down on the couch and patted the floor in front of him. “Sit down. Let me get those knots out.”

She took a few steps in his direction, stopping out of his reach, afraid to let him touch her. If he touched her, then she’d fall madly in love with him all over again. That couldn’t happen.

She watched as he leaned forward far enough to grab her by the hand. He pulled her to him.

“Are you sure you want to?”

“Yes,” he said. He guided her down to the floor between his legs. Before leaning back, she slipped her t-shirt off, revealing the navy tank top. His strong hands slid over her skin and she sunk back against him. She’d forgotten how strong he was, how needy she felt when he touched her. As if by magic, her body slowly began to relax underneath his touch. He kneaded her skin with the palms of his hands. The more he touched her, the more she felt at ease. She leaned forward a bit, making his legs embrace the rest of her body. His hands trailed down the length of her back toward the top of her jeans. A small moan escaped her lips. If only he would go lower.

“Feel good?” The words floated through the air like music from a past dream.

“Mm hm.”

He rubbed the small of her back, his hands working every muscle imaginable. “Remember when I would rub your feet each night after work?”

“The best part of the whole day.” His hands. His voice. He had cast a spell over her.

“I loved those times with you, Chels.”

Butterflies swarmed in her stomach, breaking up her intoxicated sensation. Chels? He used to call her that when they were teenagers. He was the only person who’d ever had a pet name for her.

“Me, too,” she mumbled.

“That’s what has gotten me through until now. Those memories of us from before you disappeared.” His hands stilled, but she could feel their heat against her.

Damn it! Tears welled in her eyes. He couldn’t see them, she wouldn’t allow him to. She scooted away him his touch, far enough away so she could stand up on her own without using his assistance.

“I’m sorry, Jordan. We shouldn’t be doing this.”

“What are you talking about, Chelsea?” He tried to grab her by the hand again but this time she walked away from him. She went over to the windows, dried her eyes and then turned around.

“I told you everything, so now I should go.” She walked past him toward the stairs.

“No, you won’t.” The words were ice cold. It seemed like his massage had been some sort of dream.

She froze. “What do you mean, I won’t?”

“Let’s get something clear. Okay?”

She slowly turned around. She had never heard this tone from Jordan in the whole time she had known him. It scared her.


He stood up from the couch and walked over to her. His hands jammed into his jean pockets. “There’s a choice to be made here,” he said. “You either stay here to help me locate my daughter or I contact the authorities.”


If you’d like to read more, you can find Confessions at

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Recipe Wednesday: Anna K. Lanier

This will be the last Recipe Wednesday. I will probably come up with something else to do. In the meantime, welcome Anna K. Lanier.

Hi, Chris. Thanks for having me today. In my novella A GIFT BEYOND ALL MEASURE, Tessa Jones is a cook for a ranch. In one scene she’s going to bake a cake. The cake doesn’t actually get baked because of an emergency and the hero is none too happy that she’s left his house with the oven on. However, I decided that if she were to have baked the cake, Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake is what it would have been. This recipe is one of 27 recipes I’ve included in a FREE pdf companion cookbook for A GIFT BEYOND ALL MEASURE. The cookbook will be available for downloading on my website, December 8-31, 2010.

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake



1 (18.25 oz) plain devil's food cake mix

or devil's food cake mix with pudding

1 (21-oz) can cherry pie filling

2 large eggs

1 tsp. pure almond extract


1 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup whole milk

1 cup (6-oz pkg) semisweet chocolate chips


Place a rack in the center o the oven and preheat 350 degrees. Lightly mist a 9x13-in baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Place the cake mix, cherry pie filling, eggs and almond extract in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop mixer and scrape down the sides of bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down as needed. The batter should look thick and well blended.

Pour batter into the prepared pan, smoothing top with rubber spatula. Place pan in oven. Bake until the cake springs back when lightly pressed with your fingers and just starts to pull away from pan (30-35 minutes).

For the glaze, place the sugar, butter and milk in small saucepan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil, about 10 minutes. Boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute.

Remove the pan from heat and stir in chocolate chips. When the chips have melted and the glaze is smooth, pour it over the warm cake so that it covers the entire surface. The glaze will be thin, but will firm up as it cools. Cool cake 20 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.

Serves 20.

ExcerpTuesday: Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Excerpt – “Emberling” by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, from the anthology, Dragon’s Lure, Dark Quest Books

In the morning twilight, the ember oaks still glowed the faint red of banked coals where the sap ran close to the surface. Sleepy and confused, six-year-old Camirel clutched the pouch newly hung about her neck as she followed Papi and Mam through the forest. All around them a pack of embrils, giant dragon-like lizards that lived in their valley, kept pace, houghing and growling in agitation.

“I don’t want to go with Ro’fo,” Cami muttered. Her voice trembled and she fought against the frown tugging at her face. She was frightened and she did not understand. Today was her birthday. They were to have breakfast in the garden. Mam and Papi were to tell her stories all morning long. Instead they hurried through the forest. She stopped and stared up at her parents. “Please, I don’t want to leave.” Tears brimmed in eyes the color of coal ash but did not fall. She could not keep her lip from quivering.

Papi stopped, but did not turn. Instead he stood with his legs braced and a thicket scythe clutched in both hands as if he were ready to clear saplings. His shoulders shook. Mam spun around and knelt before Cami, face red and swollen and her eyes bright, but dry. “You must, my little emberling…you must. Brother Rolfo is waiting for you so you must hurry…the brethren do not wait well.”

“But why?”

Mam worried her lip and her gaze darted among the trees and back. “Camirel, I need you to trust me, I need you to go for a while so I’ll know you’re safe.”

Cami lost her battle with the frown. “I’m safe here. The dragon will keep us safe.”

Her father tensed but did not turn.

“You know there are no more dragons.” Mam’s words were both bitter and sorrowful.

“Then you’ll keep me safe with your magic.”

Her mother groaned and Papi glanced over his shoulder, looking fiercer than even the embrils. “We have no time for this, Bayel…Listen to your mother, child, now.”

Mam shushed him and took Cami’s hands, unfolding them from the pouch. “It is like our secret paintings,” she said, her face gone pale, her voice strained, “the way we hide special things in the picture so only certain people can find them…do you understand?”

Cami liked painting with Mam, but she still did not understand and shook her head, her frown deepening. One tear escaped down her cheek.

“We must hide you, daughter. You are one of the special things. Draigbyr is not secret anymore, so now you go to Mabet, where only the right people may find you.”

Book Blurb

Here There Be Dragons!

What is the deal with virgins?

Why would a dragon want to swallow the moon?

Is a bed of treasure really to be desired?

At long last, a collection that delves into the lore on what lures a dragon. We bring you nineteen tempting tales of draconic wonder—along with the lyrics to two classic and much-beloved songs—certain to broaden your understanding of these legendary creatures that have fascinated mankind throughout time and across cultures.

Trek across a dragon’s dream space in C.E. Murphy’s Perchance to Dream…Take wing in Misty Massey’s Flying Away Home…and the burning question in Vonnie Winslow Crist’s Weathermaker…got milk? Everything you wanted to know about dragons, but no one has survived to ask…

With stories by John Grant, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Patrick Thomas, James Chambers, Misty Massey, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Mike Penncavage, C.E. Murphy, Hildy Silverman, Bernie Mojzes, Randy Farran, C.J. Henderson, Claire Stephens McMurray, Robert E. Waters, D.C. Wilson, Jean Marie Ward,

Keith R.A. DeCandido, Anna Yardney, Jeffrey Lyman, James Daniel Ross, and David B. Coe, this is a tome you are sure to treasure!


Award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for over fifteen years. Her works include the urban fantasies, Yesterday's Dreams, Tomorrow's Memories, and The Halfling’s Court: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale. She has edited the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, and No Longer Dreams, and has contributed to numerous other anthologies and collections, including Dark Furies, Breach the Hull, So It Begins, Space Pirates, Barbarians at the Jumpgate, and New Blood.

She is a member of The Garden State Horror Writers, the New Jersey Authors Network, and Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres.

Danielle lives somewhere in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail, mother-in-law Teresa, and three extremely spoiled cats. She can be found on LiveJournal (damcphail, badassfaeries, darkquestbooks), Facebook (Danielle Ackley-McPhail), and Twitter (DMcPhail). To learn more about her work, visit or

Sunday, November 28, 2010


This is my cover for my December 15 release, Incendiary. I'm pretty happy about it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Authorsday: Suzanne Tyrpak

1.What drew you to the subject of Vestal Virgin?

About seven years ago (before my divorce, when I had some expendable income) I traveled to Rome with a group of writers. I fell in love with Italy, Rome in particular. A travel book I read contained a short blurb about vestal virgins; it mentioned they were sworn to thirty years of chastity and, if that vow were broken, they would be entombed alive. That got me going! Plus, on a tour of the Coliseum, a guide pointed out the seats designated to the vestal virgins—the six priestess of Vesta were educated, and therefore powerful, at a time when most women weren’t even taught to read.

2. Did you encounter any obstacles in researching the book?

I traveled to Rome twice, and on my second trip I hired a scholar who specialized in the year I’m writing about, A.D. 63-64, to give me a tour of the Forum. One of the most useful books I found was History of the Vestal Virgins of Rome, published in 1934 by T. Cato Worsfold. I also wrote to Colleen McCullough, and she was kind enough to write back. She gave me the name of an out-of-print book that I’ve used a lot, Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic, by H.H. Scullard. I have shelves of books about Roman history and Paul of Tarsus—hardly anything is written about vestal virgins—but that gives me quite a bit of leeway. After all, I’m writing fiction.

3. How many rejections have you received?

I have a file folder full of them. I used to keep them nailed to the wall, but that got too depressing. Once, I attended a conference for historical writers and (without looking at my manuscript or listening to my pitch) a well-known agent told me, “No one wants to hear about Rome.” I thought that was odd, since H.B.O. was running their Rome series at the time. Maybe she didn’t have cable.

4. Why did you pick the publisher who ultimately published your book?

Oh, well…that would be me! Vestal Virgin will be published mid-December on Kindle and Barnes & Noble. Why self-publish? Aside from the fact that I’m a bit of a control-freak: I’ve had two agents and have had a couple of traditional publishers interested in Vestal Virgin. A few years ago, I decided to do a rewrite, but I was going through a divorce and got off-track. Recently, my good friend, Blake Crouch, suggested I try ePublishing, and I put out a short collection of short stories, Dating My Vibrator (and other true fiction). It’s been selling well, so I’ve decided to publish a novel.

5. What was the best writing advice someone gave you?

That’s easy, Terry Brooks:

Write, Write, Write; Read, Read, Read; Write, Write, Write—Repeat.

6. If you have a day job, what is it/

For years, I worked in radio—sold and wrote advertising. About ten years ago I made a change so I could focus on my writing. Now I do freelance P.R. for a local science museum and I work in Customer Service at an airline, which allows me to fly for free or cheap—and passengers provide lots of character studies.

7. What’s your favorite food?

I love to cook, especially when I have someone appreciative to cook for (which, I’m happy to say, I do). My favorite dishes are Mediterranean. I love melding flavors, using fresh ingredients, and making food from scratch. I cook Italian (natch), Greek, Egyptian, East Indian—and I tend to like spicy foods. I often feature food in my writing.

8. Where would you like to travel?

Sign me up for Italy any time. I’ve been to Egypt and Greece, doing research for my novels. I visited India a couple of years ago and stayed in an ashram. I would like to travel through Eastern Europe, now that it’s opened up. I hear Berlin is great, and I’ve been meaning to get to Prague. Nearly got to Ireland this year, but put that on hold—I love to travel, and I’d go most anywhere.

9. What would you like to learn that you haven’t?

I’ve been taking Tango lessons on and off, (oh yeah, add Argentina to my list of destinations) and I would like to have time to really practice and get good. I love that dance; it’s soooo sexy. I’m into Tantra, and I’d love to explore that more with a partner. (You asked!) And…this is big: I’d like to be able to format my own books for ePublishing. That may have to wait for another lifetime—geek is Greek to me.

10. What authors do you admire?

Any author who completes a book. It’s a big deal to finish a book. Otherwise, I love the classics. I’ve read all of Shakespeare twice and studied ancient Greek theater in college. I love to read about everyday life at other times. Favorites include: Jane Austen, Henry James, Edith Wharton. Especially love D.H. Lawrence. I read a lot of suspense and thrillers. Ruth Rendell is a favorite, Tess Gerritsen, Blake Crouch, Richard Harris, Elizabeth George. And I read lots and lots of psychology books—guess I’m trying to figure it all out. Right now my Kindle is loaded with indie authors, and now that my book is finished, I plan to read them.

Thanks for asking, Chris!

Bio: Suzanne Tyrpak has published short stories in Arts Perspective Magazine, the Mota 9: Addiction anthology, CrimeSpree Magazine, and the anthology Pronto! Writings from Rome (along with notable authors including: Dorothy Allison, Elizabeth Engstrom, Terry Brooks and John Saul). Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers awarded her first prize in the Colorado Gold Writing Contest, and Maui Writers awarded her third prize in the Rupert Hughes writing competition. Dating My Vibrator (and other true fiction), a collection of nine short stories about dating, divorce and desperation (all that good stuff) is available on Kindle for .99 cents. J.A. Konrath says the stories are, “Pure comedic brilliance.” Red Adept says, “the writing style was terrific.”

Description of Vestal Virgin (to be published mid-December on Kindle and Barnes & Noble)

Tess Gerritsen says, “Her writing is pure magic.”

Elissa Rubria Honoria is a Vestal Virgin--priestess of the sacred flame, a visionary, and one of the most powerful women in the Roman Empire. But when the emperor, Nero, brutally executes her brother, Elissa's world begins to crumble. Vestals are sacrosanct, sworn to chastity on penalty of death, but Nero holds himself above the laws of men and calls himself a god. He pursues Elissa, engaging her in a deadly game of wits and sexuality. Or is Elissa really the pursuer? Determined to seek to revenge, she stumbles on dark secrets and affiliates herself with a strange religious sect call Christians, jeopardizing her life and the future of the Roman Empire.

Monday, November 22, 2010

ExcerpTuesday: Cris Anson

Landscaper Giselle Sheridan is too busy to take up the Cougar Challenge during planting season. But when she walks into CPA Conlan Trowbridge’s office, tax questions are forgotten and her growl comes roaring out. Oh yeah, they’re both ready for some hot and heavy sex. Her long-time foreman also has designs on her, in more ways than one. When Giselle faces some hard decisions, will she ultimately be able to keep the heat?

Excerpt from ADDING HEAT

Copyright © 2010 by Cris Anson

Could he be any more goody-goody than thinking a bicycle ride was an appropriate first date?

The dimple in his smile as he waved hello didn’t catch her interest this time. She was angry that she’d been hoodwinked. No, that wasn’t fair. It was her own fault she’d misunderstood.

But oh lord, when he walked to the back of the truck, her eyes popped at the finest, tightest, roundest ass she’d ever seen. Come to think of it, his thighs were more muscular than she’d imagined when she’d seen him in loose-fitting dress pants at the Senior Center.

And his belly. It was concave under the spandex. His clothes looked painted on, and every step showed the flex and flow of his muscles. Not an ounce of fat. Anywhere. She could just imagine the type of woman he probably dated. No way was she in anywhere near the shape of those twenty- and thirty-somethings with hard bodies and unlined skin who rode in biking marathons.

He looked like one of her employees, young and buff and…

“You might get a little warm and sweaty in those jeans,” Con said as he rolled out one of the bikes and leaned it against the porch railing. “And you might want to wear sneakers.”

Was this guy really a nerd? Or was this his way of trying to impress her?

Okay, she’d show him. Without a word Giselle marched back upstairs and a few minutes later walked back out wearing a brand-new outfit she’d bought for wintertime exercise at a health club she never got around to joining—tight, mid-thigh, spandex workout shorts and sports bra that lifted her ample breasts and maximized her cleavage. The get-up showed a fair amount of skin between garments and she was gratified that his mouth actually dropped open as he rolled the second bike to a stop.

“Is this better?” she cooed. And smiled at the instant bulge his molded shorts couldn’t hide.

Instead of turning to hide his erection, as she’d expected a goody-goody to do, his eyes shot lightning bolts and he strode purposefully toward her.

“I’ve wanted to do this since the moment I laid eyes on you,” he murmured as he cradled her head between his palms. His mouth touched hers and all hell broke loose inside her.


Cris Anson feels you’re never too old to enjoy romance. She loves writing older woman-younger man stories. That’s why she jumped at the chance to join the Cougar Challenge authors and wrote ADDING HEAT. She has also written five erotic romance novels and several shorter works for Ellora’s Cave, as well as two romantic suspense novels for their Cerridwen Press imprint. You can find Cris at these locations:

Tempt the Cougar blog



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Authorsday: J. R. Lindermuth

J. R. Lindermuth lives and writes in central Pennsylvania . A retired newspaper editor/writer, he is now librarian of his county historical society where he assists patrons with genealogy and research. He is the author of eight novels, including four in the Sticks Hetrick mystery series, and has published articles and stories in a variety of magazines, both print and on line. He recently signed a contract with Oak Tree Press for a novel in their new Western line. He is the father of two children and has four grandsons.

When an out-of-state reporter is found murdered in the restroom of a disreputable bar the tendency to violence spirals in the rural Pennsylvania community of Swatara Creek, and the investigative trail keeps bringing Dan ‘Sticks’ Hetrick and his team back to the family of a wealthy doctor who has come back to his hometown in retirement.

See reviews and excerpt at

Q. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
A. I think the desire was always there. I remember making up stories as I played with toy soldiers as a boy and coming up with scenarios for cowboy and Indian games with friends. My grandfather was a story teller and my Dad had a good library. I think both further stimulated my imagination.

Q. How long have you been writing?
A. I’m not sure just when I began committing my stories to paper. I recently found an old school notebook which contained some early (embarrassingly bad) examples. I know my output expanded greatly after my parents gave me a typewriter in high school. I began sending stories to magazines and actually got encouragement from a few kind editors. But it would be much later until anything was accepted.

Q. How did you pick the genre you write in?
A. My genres are mystery and historical fiction, both generated by my early taste in reading. I grew up reading the tales of Poe, the adventure stories of Robert Louis Stevenson and Jack London and the mysteries of Conan Doyle and John Dickson Carr. Though I now read a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction, my favorites remain mysteries and thrillers.

Q. Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?
A. I’m definitely a pantser. I generally know where I’m going with a story, but if I have too-defined a road map I’ll get bored before I get there. My outlines are so brief no one else could follow them—usually just a scattering of words as reminders and to keep me focused.

Q. What was the name of the first novel you wrote? Did you try to publish it?
A. My first completed novel was The Spartans, a sort of Cain and Abel tale set during the French and Indian War in Pennsylvania . Fortunately, it was rejected by every publisher to whom I submitted. But elements of that novel—much changed and moved to a later period in history—made it into Schlussel’s Woman, my first published novel.

Q. What was the best writing advice someone gave you?
A. I’ve said this elsewhere, but I still believe it. Early on I wanted to be an artist. I wrote Thomas Hart Benton and asked his advice. He replied with one word: Paint. I believe the same applies to writing. We learn best by doing.

Q. What place that you haven’t visited would you like to go?
A. There are many, though Africa would top the list. Why? To see the place where man began. To see the great herds before they are completely exterminated. To see the places where some of my heroes walked.

Q. What other time period besides your own would you like to experience?
A. With a generous supply of today’s antibiotics, the Renaissance period, especially in Italy and England . Can you imagine a more interesting period in history than this when man was shaking off the fetters of superstition and questioning everything?

Q. What do you do when you are not writing?
A. I like spending time with family, reading, drawing, walking—especially in the woods and mountains around my home, listening to music, watching good movies.

Q. What would you like to learn to do that you haven’t?
A. Play some musical instrument, though I doubt I can do it. I love all kinds of music—from classics to the blues, from folk to early rock. Unfortunately, I can’t even play the radio without getting static.

Being Someone Else (July 2010), Whiskey Creek Press
Watch The Hour (April 2009), Whiskey Creek Press

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Authorsday: John Grant

How long have you been writing?
Since the early 1980s. I began my career in the late 1960s in book publishing, becoming an editor/editorial director before eventually being "downsized" from a company that was far from London – i.e., far from where, to an even greater extent than now, UK publishing was all happening. I had a small child, and thus no wish to move back to the big city. The options open to me were (a) writing and (b) freelance editing, both of them pretty precarious occupations, so I decided to try doing both and see which one turned out best. In the event, both strands of my new career took off simultaneously, and I never quite had the nerve to drop one or the other. The result was a couple of decades of gross overwork.

More recently, since I moved here to the States, the freelance-editorial aspect of my life has dropped off considerably – I don't have the bits of paper that US editorial managers like – but I've picked up a lot more ghosting work. Also, until a few years ago I was, even though based here, commissioning the books for the UK fantasy-art imprint Paper Tiger and being a general US stringer for that company.

How did you pick the genre you write in?

I don't know that any longer I write in such a thing as a genre – and certainly I don't write in just a single genre. I used to think of myself as a fantasy/sf writer (at least, when I wasn't writing nonfiction, which represents some two-thirds of my output), but I'm not so sure that's true any longer. Some of my stories definitely do still fall into standard categories, sort of – for example, my story "Memoryville Blues", which Pete Crowther and Nick Gevers recently bought for The Anthology Formerly Known As Postscripts, could easily be thought of as horror or urban fantasy – but a lot of other pieces tend to be a bit more confusing, especially when I'm playing with what people regard as genre tropes. My most recent novel, Leaving Fortusa, seems to have created exactly this confusion: it's kind of a series of linked cameos on dystopian/If This Goes On themes, which are normally thought of as being in the province of sf, but . . . well, as a friend put, I really threw everything in. The result really belongs to no genre at all – in my opinion it's a mainstream novel in the sense that, say, John Barth's novels are mainstream. Some of the reviewers got this. It was quite amusing watching others fail to do so. Then again, my Ed McBain homage The City in These Pages, while in essence a cosmological fantasy taking the form of a police procedural, got a very favorable review in one of the crime/mystery venues. My story "The Life Business", which appeared in the recent Gerard Brennan/Mike Stone-edited anthology Requiems for the Departed, is a psychological thriller, yet at least one of the crime-fiction reviewers has read it as a fantasy. And so on.

A quite different example would be "The Lonely Hunter", a novella that's coming out next year. Although this reads (I hope!) as if it were a fantasy and maybe also as a literary murder mystery, in the event it's really a mainstream story about writing, about imagination, and about wish-fulfillment/self-delusion. I love it to pieces! As it's coming from PS Publishing, who're more normally associated with dark fantasy and the like, it'll be interesting to see what readers make of it.

It's maybe no surprising that these days I'm reading a lot more translated fiction than I used to. Many of the authors working outside the anglophone cultures are far less worried about this whole genre business than we are. Where, for example, would you classify something like Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind? At the moment I'm reading The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez; the US publishers have tried to present it as a quirky murder mystery (and, to judge by the review quotes, many of the reviewers have tried to jam it into that mental category too), but that seems to me to miss its point(s).

What was the name of the first novel you wrote? Did you try to publish it?

The first novel I started writing was when I was about seven. It was called The Ghost of Horror Mansion, and I was maybe a dozen handwritten pages into it – representing some 15 whole chapters, you understand – when it all began to seem too much like hard work. My first full novel I wrote in my teens, and sadly the title is now lost to me. I do remember it was all angsty and acned and "clever", and that about 95% of the way through it dawned on me that this was all godawful. I finished it for the sake of being able to say I'd finished it, but I never looked at it again and somewhere along the line it found the landfill of its dreams.

My first actual published novel was The Dark Door Opens, which was the first in a series of 12 I wrote as a companion series to Joe Dever's Lone Wolf game books. I'd published a bunch of nonfiction books by then, of course, but at most a handful of stories, so when I was commissioned to write these novels it was a bit of a jump in at the deep end. At the time I never thought that, 25 years later, those books would still be around. As it is, Joe and I are expecting their latest reissue – from DarkQuest – sometime soon. (They were due to start reappearing this past spring, but there've been delays.)

What do you know now that you are published that you didn’t know pre-published that you wish you knew?

How difficult it is to make a living doing this.

How many rejections have you received?

About a billion, I should think – and that's even before you start counting the ones I got in my teens, when I was busily beavering away writing short sf stories that mercifully never saw the light of day. As soon as I finished one – and that was quite often, because 2000 words was in those days a major epic as far as I was concerned – I'd send it off to the magazine New Worlds, whose staff were inordinately kind and encouraging in their rejection letters. I used to keep a collection of those letters, from Mike Moorcock et al., in a hardback binder, which unfortunately I lost over the years: I'm sure it'd have been of interest to some scholar somewhere to see quite how generous these good people were with their time. Anyway, back from New Worlds the stories would eventually come, and so off I'd send them at once to the other Brit spec-fic mag that was running at the time, Science Fantasy (later Impulse and SF Impulse). This meant that to my collection of kindly rejection letters I could now add similar ones from the likes of Keith Roberts!

There were giants in those days, I tell you, and most of them rejected a few stories of mine at some stage or another along the way . . .

What other time period besides your own would you like to experience?

I used to really, really, wish I could visit the wonderful hi-tech future we all thought was coming down the line – flying cars! 3D television! starships! jetpacks! inexhaustible sex robots! What was there not to love? Nowadays, alas, I don't think we have a future.

What is the one thing your heroes would do that you wouldn’t?

My heroes and heroines do all kinds of stuff that I wouldn't. When I'm writing a piece of fiction, one of the first things that happens – sometimes it's the first, even before the story idea occurs to me – is that the focal character pops into my mind. There's then a period when I'm trying to get into that character's head, find out what makes them tick – become that character, in a sense . . . which can be a bit frightening for those around me, depending on the character! (Obviously the setup's not quite that simple, because most stories will have more than one focal character, but this is the gist of it.) I think it's because of this way of progressing that I most often write in the first person.

Later, when I'm writing the story, really it's a case of my following that character to see what s/he does – and often these are things I'd never dream of doing myself. For example, I'm a very convinced pacifist, yet some of my characters can be pretty violent. To stick with the obvious, there are different romantic/sexual attractions too, especially when my focal characters are female or, as in one story, male but gay. I suppose one of the big attractions of writing fiction is to find out what it would be like if you were a completely different person.

Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?

A bit of a mixture, really. As I say, it's usually a matter of my characters taking me along for the ride, so my fiction can go some pretty unexpected places – unexpected to me, at least. That said, I generally have a fairly clear idea of the end of the story before I begin writing, so it's not an entirely unguided process. I think, though, that if it ever became a matter of just following a preconstructed skeleton – a sort of paint-by-numbers exercise – I'd do something else instead. Even when I was writing those old Lone Wolf novels, where necessarily a good deal of plot had been worked out in advance, I was still allowed to introduce fairly centrally a few loose-cannon characters so that I never quite knew how I was going to match up the fiction to the pre-existing plot.

One of the more minor of those characters was a parody S&S barbarian warrior called Thog the Mighty. By a very complicated process, he gave his name to the Thog's Masterclass feature of Dave Langford's newszine Ansible.

What are you working on at the moment?

I'm due to deliver by the end of the year a nonfiction book called Denying Science, which Prometheus will publish next fall. It's proving to be an immense labor, for the very good reason that science denialism has been reaching a kind of crescendo in the past few years, with the USA at the forefront. People don't like the fact that science says we've got to change our ways in a hurry or climate change is basically going to put an end to our civilization PDQ, so, rather than take constructive action, they convince themselves there must be something wrong with the science – just like there had to be something wrong with the science that told us smoking causes lung cancer and heart disease. It's all very kindergarten. Of course, climate change isn't the only field in which people are busily denying science: we have the anti-vaxers rejecting the science that demonstrates conclusively there's no connection between vaccination and autism; there are the people who'll swear blind AIDS is exclusively a "gay plague" and anyway a manmade virus; there are the creationists and the IDiots, as ever busily denying the science of evolution; and so on and on and on. You even get state governors, for purely political reasons, denying scientific evidence in order not to pardon wrongfully convicted prisoners, as happened – disgustingly – in the Cameron Todd Willingham case a few years back. And then there's . . .

In what I laughingly describe as my spare time, I've just finished doing an extended essay on time-travel literature for a scholarly book on sf subgenres that Keith Brooke's putting together for publication next fall by Palgrave-Macmillan, The Sub-Genres of Science Fiction: Strange Divisions and Alien Territories, and I've been asked to do all the art entries for the massive new online third edition of the Clute/Nicholls (now Clute/Nicholls/Langford) The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, for whose second edition I was dogsbody editor 'way back when. I'm making notes for a book on failed predictions of the end of the world and a big encyclopedia of film noir; trying to finish a short story; and spurring my agent on to sell a "for children of all ages" bedtime book called The Velociraptor who Came for Christmas, fabulously illustrated by Chris Baker.

You've won two Hugos, a World Fantasy Award, a Locus Award and a bunch of others. Any recent developments on the awards front?

Under my real name, Paul Barnett, I ran the fantasy-artbook imprint Paper Tiger for a while, and for this work I was lucky enough to earn a Chesley Award and a nomination for the World Fantasy Award. I suppose I should add that just recently the title of my 2008 novel The Dragons of Manhattan won the Meager Puddle of Limelight Award – an annual piece of fun organized by writer Jon Gibbs.

Actually, I say The Dragons of Manhattan came out in 2008, but that's really just the year of its book publication. I originally wrote the novel as an online serial for the (alas, now deceased) international journalism site BlueEar. I had to produce a new piece of text, short or long, for them three times a week until the book was done, and so devising a structure for the novel that could accommodate those times when I was up to my eyes in other things proved something of a challenge. Then, once the book was finished, it was bought as a three-part serial – novella-sized parts – for the fiction magazine Argosy, which sadly folded after just one episode. And then finally came the printed book.

But I digress . . .

Author Bio:

John Grant is author of some 60 books, including novels like The World, The Far-Enough Window and most recently The Dragons of Manhattan and Leaving Fortusa. His Dragonhenge, illustrated by Bob Eggleton, was shortlisted for a Hugo in 2003. His first collection, Take No Prisoners, appeared in 2004. His anthology New Writings in the Fantastic was shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award. In nonfiction, he has coedited with John Clute The Encyclopedia of Fantasy and written all three editions of The Encyclopedia of Walt Disney’s Animated Characters. Among recent nonfictions are Discarded Science, Corrupted Science and Bogus Science. His website is at

Book Blurb: since Dragons has just won Jon's award ...

The supposed leaders of a nation remarkably like today's America hope the populace never discovers who’s really in charge – ancient shapeshifting dragons that regard our species' survival as an item somewhere near the bottom of the agenda.

Sacked editor Norris Gonfalcon and femme fatale Jasmine Frimhalt investigate the apocalyptic schemes of the most powerful of all the dragons, Buster Maltravis, pillar of Wall Street. Aided by a depressive arms fetishist with fundamentalist convictions, an investigative journalist with Attitude, a self-styled “panhandler’s panhandler” and a pair of implausible virgins (as bait), Norris and Jasmine head for an inevitable showdown upon whose outcome depends . . . something.

Monday, November 8, 2010

ExcerpTuesday: B. A. Binns

B. A. Binns is the pseudonym of Barbara Binns who writes to attract and inspire old and young alike with stories of “real boys growing into real men…and the people who love them.” PULL is her debut young adult novel, told from the POV of its seventeen-year-old protagonist, David. David struggles with the loss of his mother, responsibility for his younger sisters, and a deepening attraction to the forbidden: Yolanda Dare, better known as “The Dare.” Yolanda belongs to the school’s bad boy, a young man who threatens both David and his younger sister.

Please visit the author on line at


No girl has ever made me feel like holding her in my arms and making her smile and--

And nothing. This is The Dare. Malik’s girl. And I can’t let myself feel what I’m feeling.

She takes a long slow deep breath and looks like a scrub that’s just missed the game-winning free throw as she turns toward the door. “I need to get inside and mix,” she tells me.

I take her arm and guide her back into the kitchen. Thank God it’s empty again. Some slow song is playing and soft music flows through the room. Instead of letting her go, I say, “Dance with me.”

Her breath catches. She stands motionless, like she’s waiting for an echo.

So I try again. “Dance with me.”

The coat drops to the floor and she moves into my arms and it feels--right. Usually I dance with taller girls, girls who rest their head on my shoulder or kiss my neck while we slow dance. Usually there’s no head against my chest, right where my heart beats. And usually I don’t feel this tightness in my body. Not just the boner. Yeah, that’s getting painful and needy, but there’s something else going on. I want more. Even though going after more of her could destroy what I have right now.

I pull Yolanda tighter, and breathe in the scent of her hair. My heart pounds like a pile driver when she looks up at me. Her lips are so close, full and red. If I just bend a little more…

She suddenly stiffens. Her eyes flare when she pulls herself from my arms and steps back.

I feel like part of me’s missing. Like I have only the tiniest part of what I need. How could this happen? She’s all wrong for me. She’s Malik’s Dare.

I thrust my hands in my pockets to keep them from shaking.

This time when Yolanda heads for the door to the dining room, I let her leave.

My father’s voice streams through my head. No real man lets a woman tear him down.

My teeth clench and in my mind I scream, Shut up. But his words remain and I know I can’t be a real man. Not and let myself be torn this way. I don’t know how it happened. But I’d do anything, give anything, to keep Yolanda Dare with me.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Authorsday: Leslie Wheeler

My guest today is Leslie Wheeler.  See what she has to say.

Q: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?A: I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since I was in elementary school. Before that, I toyed with the idea of becoming a ballerina, but gave up because I was just too clumsy. Writing, on the other hand, is something that has always come easily to me, and that I enjoy doing.

Q: How did you pick the genre you write in?

A: I picked the mystery genre because I felt I needed the discipline involved in writing a mystery. The first novel I ever wrote was an 800-page historical novel that was long on incident but short on plot. As a result the book didn’t hold together very well, and I was never able to find a publisher. This experience made me realize I should try a genre where there’s a distinct beginning, middle and end, and where the writer must plant clues and build to a climax. Having this kind of framework has helped keep me more or less on course during for the long haul of a novel.

Q: Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?

A. At the risk of contradicting what I’ve just said about my need for discipline, I admit I’m more of a seat-of-the-pants writer. I start with a general idea of the story’s beginning and end. I also decide who the hero, the victim, and the villain will be—in that order. But beyond that, I don’t have a clear sense of how my story’s going to play out, scene by scene, chapter by chapter. Nor do I know who all the other characters will be. As Joan Didion once said, “I write to find out what I’m thinking.” I’m the same way, and this is what makes fiction writing fun for me. I love it when a character simply appears on the page, or something happens that I didn’t expect. I enjoy being surprised, just as I hope my readers will be surprised. That’s the upside of what I call the “discovery process.” The downside is that when a character or scene comes to me toward the end of the book, I have to backfill.

Q: What drew you to the subject of MURDER AT SPOUTERS POINT?

A: The first book in my series, MURDER AT PLIMOTH PLANTATION, deals with the dark side of Pilgrim history, particularly the Pilgrims’ relations with the Native peoples. These relations turned out to be much more complicated and conflicted than the stories I’d learned in school about helpful Squanto and the happy Thanksgiving feast the Pilgrims enjoyed with the Indians. In MURDER AT SPOUTERS POINT, I continue to explore this theme of the often troubled relations between the white settlers and Native peoples. This time, I focus on the Mashantucket Pequots of Connecticut (called the Dottagucks in the novel), a tribe that was all but exterminated in the seventeenth century, but managed to achieve remarkable success some 300 years later with the establishment of the Foxwoods casino complex.

Q: What’s your writing schedule?

A: I try to get started as early in the morning as possible, because this is when I do my best work. Why? Because I’ve just woken up and am still close to the dream world of my unconscious. My mind is also relatively free of the worries and concerns of the day ahead, so I’m better able to engage with my characters. I’ll work for a couple of hours, then take a break. Or if I’m really on a roll, I’ll work most of the day until my brain feels like it’s stuffed with cotton, my body is twisted in knots, and I know it’s time to get some fresh air and exercise.

Q: Who is your greatest cheerleader?

A. My biggest fan is my son. My first mystery novel was published when he was in fifth grade, and he sometimes accompanied me when I did weekend events. He also made a point of taking the book along on a weekend retreat sponsored by our church and displaying it prominently. Later, when he was a bit older, he started going on research trips with me—to a reenactment of the Gettysburg Battle for the second book, and to Mystic Seaport, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum, Foxwoods, and the Mashantucket Pequot-sponsored powwow, Schmetizum, for the current book. For his first book report in eighth grade, he chose to write about my novel, MURDER AT GETTYBURG. Needless to say, he gave it a glowing review. He tells everyone, including me, what a wonderful writer I am, and often asks how my writing’s going. He loves it when I share my ideas for the new book I’ve started.

Q: What’s your favorite food?

A. My favorite food is the artichoke. In part, this has to do with the fact that I grew up in California where artichokes are plentiful and inexpensive. It may also have something to do with the amount of the mayonnaise I consume. But a big reason is the eating experience itself, which is somewhat like reading a mystery. You start with the tough outer leaves (opening chapters, usually involving a murder), move on to the delicate inner ones (the investigation), and finally you reach the choke (the climax). Once that difficult, prickly part has been taken care of, you reach the succulent heart (conclusion), your reward for all the hard work of peeling away the various layers.

Q: Where do you write?

A: I do most of my writing in my third-story study, a former attic that has been converted into one large room. I think of it as my eyrie, because it has floor-to-ceiling windows that face south and look out onto a yard with a large maple tree. Beyond the yard is a quiet side street of older houses that look like they belong to an earlier century. The room has wall-to-wall carpeting, which blocks out the sound from below, and when I close the door, I feel I’m in my own private world. After years of being an “itinerant” writer, moving from room to room, as the demands of the household dictated, I’m grateful to have this “room of my own.”

Q: What was the hardest scene of MURDER AT SPOUTERS POINT to write?

A: The hardest scene–or rather scenes–were the climatic ones, which take place on a sailboat in the midst of a storm. In these scenes, my heroine, Miranda, and her friend not only have to deal with the storm, but with two villainous characters. I find action scenes in general difficult to write, but these scenes were especially difficult because they include several important revelations in the form of dialogue or internal monologue. So I had to figure out ways for bits of dialogue to occur while a lot of other things were going on—in other words, find relatively quiet spaces for my characters to talk in the midst of a howling storm.

Q: What was your favorite scene to write?

A: My favorite scene to write was a phone conversation between my main character, Miranda, and her love interest, Nate. In this conversation, both characters have things they don’t want the other to know: Nate, that he fell asleep behind the wheel and was nearly killed; Miranda that she got whacked on the head pursuing a homeless woman Nate has told her to leave alone. Because they know each other well, each picks up on the fact that the other is hiding something, and gets the other to ’fess up. After a brief and humorous exchange about their respective war wounds, Nate repeats his advice to leave homeless woman alone. “Are you telling me what to do?” Miranda quips. “It’s good advice,” he says. “Mine wasn’t?” she counters. I liked writing this back-and-forth, because while it’s about serious matters, it also has its light-hearted moments, and shows the genuine affection these two characters have for each other despite their very real differences.

Author Bio: An award-winning author of books about American history and biographies, Leslie Wheeler now writes the Miranda Lewis “living history” mystery series. Titles include: MURDER AT PLIMOTH PLANTATION, MURDER AT GETTYSBURG, and most recently, MURDER AT SPOUTERS POINT. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, serving as Speakers Bureau coordinator for the New England chapter. She has also begun a new career as a contributing editor of Level Best Books, which publishes annual anthologies of short crime fiction by New England authors. Leslie divides her time between Cambridge, Massachusetts and the Berkshires.

Book Blurb: In MURDER AT SPOUTERS POINT, the grisly murder of a yachtsman, allegedly by a local Indian, rocks a seacoast town. It also severely tests the loyalties of a white woman, Miranda Lewis, and her Native lover, because the victim is the fiancé of Miranda’s good friend, and the prime suspect is a close friend of her lover’s. Miranda’s quest for the truth not only puts her at odds with Nate and her own friends, but plunges her deep into the victim’s past—a web of secrets, lies and betrayals—and ultimately to a life-and-death struggle with a crazed killer.

Monday, November 1, 2010

ExcerpTuesday: Phillip Thomas Duck

Temptation plus opportunity equals trouble…

How well do you trust your partner?

“Fidelity anthropologist”, sexy decoy to most, Victoria Frost will discover the answers you seek…

The night it all begins to change for Victoria Frost is no different than usual. She spends it seducing another woman’s husband. Handsome, charming, intelligent, any woman would be attracted to Benjamin Kingston. Victoria eases up beside him and lingers there like too much perfume. And that quickly, for him, his wife is forgotten. The ensuing conversation is an erotically-charged game of cat and mouse. Where will it lead? In EXCUSE ME, MISS hurtling events and richly drawn characters collide in a sexy story of betrayal, the desire for loyalty, and the consequences of unfaithfulness. One woman’s determination to uncover the truth for badly broken wives instead unleashes a host of personal dilemmas, and in the end the truths she discovers are mostly about herself.

Excerpt from “Excuse Me, Miss”

THE NIGHT IT ALL began to change for me was no different than most. I spent it in the usual fashion, seducing another woman’s husband. The seduction took place at LOOK, an art gallery in Jersey City, New Jersey. Close enough to New York to carry some of the same sounds and smells, but a touch less frenetic. The art gallery immediately drew me in with brick walls painted chocolate, gypsum plaster walls painted a light cream, and a hint of cinnamon and vanilla in the air. Muted lighting, low key. I almost didn’t feel the usual pangs of guilt for what I was about to do.


I spotted Beverly Marie Kingston’s husband by a painting that took up most of a cream-colored wall. Age forty-five, but he looked a decade younger, the benefits of three days each week at an LA Fitness. He was cloaked in black slacks and an attention-seeking lime green shirt. Expensive leather shoes, Piaget timepiece, a diamond-encrusted platinum bracelet on his right wrist. He sipped at a glass of ginger ale, my favorite soft drink as it turns out, letting his shirt sleeve snake up his arm with each sip so all of the attractive ladies in attendance could catch the gleam of his jewelry and put two and two together: wealthy and content spending that wealth on a variety of gaudy and unnecessary items. What many women foolishly considered a good catch.

I headed his way.

When I eased into his personal space he glanced at me briefly but casually went back to admiring the art. There’d been a slight hitch in the gesture, though, and so I knew he was in play. I lingered there beside him, like too much perfume, before moving on. But even after I’d stepped away I wasn’t completely gone from his imagination. His mind was fixated, I’m certain, on the beautiful stranger in the form-fitting, red dress and three-inch heels. That quickly I’d become the muse in all of his fantasies. That quickly I had his nose wide open. I had experience with his type, so I knew this as fact.

I found my way to an admittedly eye-catching sculpture and stopped there contemplating

love at first sight. As I expected, Beverly Marie’s husband sidled up next to me a moment later

with his lies carefully thought out.

Author Bio:

Phillip Thomas Duck has written several traditionally published adult and YA novels. “Excuse Me, Miss” is his first foray into the self publishing ebook world. He resides in New Jersey with his daughter.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Authorsday: Steve Symes

Today my guest is Steve Symes.

Steven Symes has written dozens of articles on a variety of paranormal phenomena, including hauntings. Steven grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico and attended college in Arizona and Utah. He currently works as a full time writer of both fiction and non-fiction. Steven currently lives in Salt Lake City with his wife, children and dog. Steven is busily working on his next novel due in 2011.

1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I have told stories since I first began talking, literally. I know all kids tell “stories” but I told big, complex stories. For example, once when I was about three years old I told my mom how I would have rewritten Star Wars: A New Hope. She was dumbfounded since my plot flowed well. She didn’t write it down at the time and kicks herself for not doing so. In any case, I wanted to direct movies until I hit the fourth grade. I had just finished reading the Chronicles of Narnia, among many other books, and decided I really wanted to write books.

2. How long have you been writing?

Technically I have been writing stories since I learned to write. I used to write stories for my grade school classes just for the fun of it. I have a huge store of old stories I have never really shared with anyone, or with only a few people. I have only been sharing my fiction writing with the general public since January of 2010 and so far I really enjoy the experience.

3. How did you pick the genre you write in?

I have always had a taste for the paranormal. At the age of six I was absolutely convinced a group of werewolves lived in my bathroom. In my teen years I wrote stories about vampires and samurais and the like. My imagination for the paranormal really caught fire in college when I took a couple of folklore classes and my awareness was greatly enlarged.

4. Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I am a habitual planner and strategist – just ask my wife what it is like to play strategy games with me. I usually spend a couple of months just prewriting and plotting for a novel. Despite that fact, once I am sitting in front of the computer it is me and the characters. I have had my carefully detailed plots completely altered by characters or by a gut feeling while I am writing, and so I go with it.

5. What drew you to the subject of Shadow House?

Haunted houses have always been interesting to me, having had some experiences of my own and having known quite a few other people who have lived in them. I live in an older house that was built in the 1940s and found all kinds of weird things in it. I admit at that time I was watching one too many horror movies and I said to myself “I can write a book about a haunted house that’s better than these movies!” and so Shadow House was born.

6. Tell me one thing about yourself that very few people know?

I actually enjoy a fair amount of “chick flicks.” I always protest when my wife wants to watch them, but some of them are actually pretty good. I just saw The Proposal with Sandra Bullock a few weeks ago and was pleasantly surprised. Some of my all-time favorite movies are Clueless (what a perfect adaptation of Emma!) and Legally Blonde. I am sure a lot of people would never guess I like those types of movies, but I do.

7. What’s your favorite thing about your book?

Overall I really like how I ratchet up the tension throughout Shadow House. More specifically, the preparation for and writing of the séance scene was a lot of fun, if not a little freaky. Come to think of it, when I was writing at night, I would constantly be looking over my shoulder since the book was creeping me out in parts.

8. What do you do when you are not writing?

Taking my dog Marshall on walks or runs, playing with my kids, hanging out with my wife, enjoying the beautiful outdoors in Utah, playing video games, watching old X-Files episodes or listening to music (I have a huge collection). I also do some art work on the side, and keep saying I am going to put some pieces up for sale, but so far I haven’t actually taken the time to find any buyers.

9. What would you like to learn to do that you haven’t?

I have had a strange fascination with playing the bass guitar ever since I was a teenager. I really love music that has a heavy or funky bass rift to it and really admire bass guitarists. I have no idea where I would fit in time to learn, and so my desire continues unrealized.

10. Where do you write?

Everywhere but the shower, literally. I always carry a little notebook with me just in case genius flashes into my mind, which it regularly does.

Scott Bennett leaves behind a successful career as a New York City attorney and a marriage ended by violence for the promise of a new life in rural North Carolina. Scott buys his dream house – an old Victorian – not realizing why it has sat vacant for years. Things for Scott seem to be looking up when he meets a younger woman, Rachel, and a spark of romance ignites. Everything changes when Scott discovers a locked box and a matching key on his property. Against the advice of an old friend turned healer, Scott opens the box and awakens an old evil. Scott is forced to lean on a decaying web of support as he is relentlessly assaulted by the unseen. Questioning his own sanity, Scott fights hopelessly for his life and very soul.