Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Wings of Dragons (The Dragoon Saga) by Josh VanBrakle #Fantasy #MustRead #TBR

Amroth began again, but now a twinkle sparkled in his eye. “On my last mission, though, I finally figured out the way to atone for my mistakes toward you.”
Iren’s brow furrowed skeptically.
“I want to defeat the Quodivar, as you know. The mission I proposed at the feast can do that. However, I have two ulterior motives. First, by bringing you on this mission, I give you the chance to prove yourself to Lodia. If the Quodivar fall because of your aid, you may earn some respect among the people. Second, and far more important, it will give you a chance to avenge your parents.”
“Avenge them? How?”
Looking Iren dead in the eye, Amroth replied, “The night your parents died, the darkness prevented me from determining their killer’s identity. However, the sparks from the clashing weapons and my own battle experience taught me much of his fighting style. I have never forgotten it, for the image of your parents’ murders remains burned into my heart. How surprised I was, then, on my latest mission, when I fought no less than the leader of the Quodivar himself! When I clashed swords with him, I knew. His technique perfectly matches what I saw seventeen years ago. I can’t say for certain, but I suspect that the Quodivar leader killed your parents.”
Iren felt like Amroth had struck him with a hammer. The man who murdered his parents still lived! “Did you kill him?” Iren asked, torn between hope and fear at how Amroth might respond.
“Unfortunately, no. His strength overwhelmed me, and I barely escaped. But I believe you can defeat him. In fact, I believe you are the only person who can succeed where both your father and I failed.”
Iren hugged himself, slowly absorbing Amroth’s words and what the captain hoped Iren would accomplish. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t fight. He had never even held a weapon. After hearing Amroth’s tale, though, he already knew his answer. Firmly, he replied, “I’ll see you at the stables an hour before dawn.”
Amroth gave the slightest incline of his head, then rose and opened the door a crack, listening for any sign of movement. Satisfied no one was in the tower, the captain vanished down the steps.
As Iren sat on his bed, taking in the poor trappings of his life, a sense of direction he’d never experienced came to him. For seventeen years, no one had wanted him. He’d been unnecessary. Thanks to Amroth, all those feelings of doubt and insecurity fled before a new resolve. What did he want from life? For years he’d asked himself that question, never having an answer. Now, for the first time, he did.
From fantasy author Josh VanBrakle comes an epic new trilogy of friendship, betrayal, and explosive magic. Lefthanded teenager Iren Saitosan must uncover a forgotten history, confront monsters inspired by Japanese mythology, and master a serpentine dragon imprisoned inside a katana to stop a revenge one thousand years in the making.
Lodian culture declares lefthanded people dangerous and devil-spawned, and for Iren, the kingdom’s only known Left, that’s meant a life of social isolation. To pass the time and get a little attention, he plays pranks on the residents of Haldessa Castle. It’s harmless fun, until one of his stunts nearly kills Lodia’s charismatic heir to the throne. Now to avoid execution for his crime, Iren must join a covert team and assassinate a bandit lord. It’s a suicide mission, and Iren’s chances aren’t helped when he learns that his new katana contains a dragon’s spirit, one with a magic so powerful it can sink continents and transform Iren into a raging beast.
Adding to his problems, someone on Iren’s team is plotting treason. When a former ally launches a brutal plan to avenge the Lefts, Iren finds himself trapped between competing loyalties. He needs to figure out who – and how – to trust, and the fates of two nations depend on his choice.
“A fast-paced adventure…led by a compelling cast of characters. Josh VanBrakle keeps the mysteries going.” - ForeWord Reviews
Buy @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – YA epic fantasy
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Josh VanBrakle on Twitter

@Ted_Tayler's UNFINISHED BUSINESS #Thriller #BookClub #Fiction

After a brisk ten minute walk Colin was stood on the pavement opposite the Aberdeen Music Hall, the venue for the first gig on Maiden’s Hair’s mini tour of the United Kingdom. He gazed at the magnificent pillared façade of the former Assembly Rooms and reckoned it was an appropriate setting for its band members who were paying tribute to legends of the heavy metal music genre that he had always enjoyed.
He crossed the road and searched out the poster advertising that night’s performance. There were no surprises; every detail on the billboard was exactly as Colin had included in his laptop file. There were six group members, all Canadian born and bred. Although the original members of the real Iron Maiden were now in their mid fifties, these young men were in their early thirties, with toned muscular bodies and a full head of hair nestling on their shoulders. Each one was every inch the rock god that they were imitating from the original band as they looked out from the billboard dressed in their ubiquitous denim and leather uniform.
Gabriel Anderson the dark haired lead singer with a pilot’s cap under his arm; Vincent Gagnon, Jordan Campbell and Nick Williams who provided the three guitar identity of the legends they were paying homage to. Jordan’s twin brother John was eerily like Nicko, Maiden’s drummer and Brandon Taylor completed the line up on bass as he mimicked Steve Harris, Maiden’s founder member. Colin was mesmerised. He couldn’t wait to hear them play tonight; if only it could have been Iron Maiden themselves! Still, he had to admit that the playlist was everything it should be, all the early favourites and a few of the newer tracks as well.
Colin’s stomach was telling him he had missed breakfast. He checked around the sides and back of the imposing Music Hall building to make certain everything was where he thought and then he walked down Union Street to find somewhere to eat. When he was fed and watered he made his way the short distance to the public library, where he spent several hours whiling away the time until he had calculated that the Maiden’s Hair entourage would arrive, ready to prepare for tonight’s gig.
Around three o’clock in the afternoon, Colin wandered back in the drizzly rain and sure enough a large Mercedes truck was parked up by the stage doors of the Music Hall. There were two roadies and it was evident to Colin that they had only just started unloading gear from the back of the truck. A couple of young lads were fetching and carrying smaller items, such as boxes of microphones, metre upon metre of leads, microphone stands, plus all the paraphernalia a drum kit comprises, all enclosed in battered old covers. The heavy lifting and manoeuvring of amplifiers, speakers, PA systems and lighting rigs was best left to the professionals!
Colin approached the older roadie and asked ‘Frankie?’
‘Yes mate. What can I do you for?’ Frankie replied in an accent not from Montreal or Ottawa but straight from London’s East End.
‘The tour management sent me up to give you a hand. I’ve just got back from several years abroad and I need to get some time in driving on the left hand side of the road again! I guess the extra pair of hands will be useful setting up too?’ Colin said.
‘Brilliant!’ said Frankie ‘Billy’s inside with a couple of staff from this place and I’m just going to start offloading the heavy stuff. If you want to pitch in you’re more than welcome mate!’
Colin took hold of the speaker cabinet Frankie shoved towards him, hoisted it easily onto his chest and walked into the building. As he walked towards the stage he had a brief smile at the corner of his mouth. One phone call to a dim young girl in London at the tour management company’s offices and he had discovered the lead roadie’s name; it was like taking candy from a baby! Neither Frankie nor Billy was going to check up on him. They would be only too happy that there was an extra pair of hands around to help with all the grafting and driving that they had to do; when you’re pretty much on minimum wage why sweat it?
The next couple of hours were spent getting the kit onto the stage and setting it up. Colin had seen it done hundreds of times on a smaller scale in The Crown and had studied footage on ‘how to’ online, so he coped well enough on the stuff he was comfortable with and steered clear of anything that was foreign to him. He watched Frankie and Billy in action and made mental notes of the various steps he needed to go through on later gigs on the lighting rigs for instance, to stop anyone asking exactly where and what he was doing when he was overseas. Life on the road as a road manager is one helluva lot tougher than lounging about with a cocktail in your hand on the veranda of a luxury villa, but Colin was pretty fit for a guy in his early forties and he had his eyes on the main prize. Travelling with Maiden’s Hair and listening to them play virtually each night was a bonus. Each gig was taking him closer and closer to his first task; to avenge the death of his precious daughter.

The sequel to the award winning ‘The Final Straw’ sees Colin Bailey return to the UK after almost a decade abroad. With a new name and a new face he still has scores to settle. His meticulous planning takes him ingeniously across Scotland and the North of England ticking names off his list with the police completely baffled. 

DCI Phil Hounsell pitted his wits against Colin before and so he is sent to Durham where he teams up with super intelligent young DS Zara Wheeler; together they track their man to Manchester and then eventually south to Bath. 

The final scenes take place on the streets of the Roman city; Phil Hounsell’s family is threatened and in a dramatic conclusion reminiscent of Holmes and Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls, the two men struggle above the foaming waters of the historic Pulteney weir. 
Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – Thriller
Rating – PG-18
More details about the author
Connect with Ted Tayler on Facebook & Twitter

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Author Chat with #Christian Author Carlos Aranda @Losman1976 #SelfHelp #AmReading

Have you always enjoyed writing?
I used to like writing during my school days but I never thought that it would lead to the blessing of being an author or professional writer.
What motivates you to write?
What motivates me to write is my love of helping others  and making a difference in the world. It’s a great thing when you can leave your fingerprint or imprint on somebodies life for the better.
What writing are you most proud of?
The writing that I am most proud of is my first book “My conversations with God”
What are you most proud of in your personal life?
My children are my pride and joy. They were a big inspiration for me to continue my writing. They also where my biggest joy the first time they saw the actual book and for me to see the look on their face.
What books did you love growing up?
I loved the classics such as “Where the red fern grows”,” To kill a mocking bird”,” The box car kids”, and one of my kids favorites today “Tales of a fourth grade nothing.”
Who is your favorite author?
I have a few for sure, but if I have to choose one it would be Dr. Charles Stanley. His writing inspired me to want to write in the same manner.
What book genre of books do you adore?
I love books that are faith inspired, spiritual devotions, and other like the chicken soup for the soul series.
What book should everybody read at least once?
The book I feel everyone should read at least once is the bible, even though it may not be the popular opinion.
Is there any books you really don’t enjoy?
I am not a fan of my son’s knock, knock joke books. I think that I have now heard every knock, knock joke made by man.
What do you hope your obituary will say about you?
I hope that it says that through my life that I had helped many people through their storms, trials, and troubles by sharing his life.
This book is a biblical perspective on how God wants us to see and get through the trials that life brings our way. It is a book of conversations and things brought to our attention that we may not always see and how through scripture God wants us to get through them.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Christian Living
Rating – G
More details about the author
Connect with Carlos Aranda through Facebook & Twitter

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bryan Taylor on the Importance of Illustrations #Humor #Politics #Fiction

The Three Sisters began with two photos that a friend gave me of nuns.  After I created the first two “episodes” of the three sisters with these photos, I used an illustration for each episode that followed. For this reason, it is no mistake that illustrations are an integral part of The Three Sisters.
I think it is unfortunate that very few novels today are illustrated.  Since we assimilate visual information much more effectively than verbal information (“Picture’s worth a thousand words and all that,” as Victor Virga would say), there is no reason why novels shouldn’t be accompanied by illustrations.  Though most novels are abstract in their cover illustrations, not providing portraits of any of the protagonists, I decided to go against this trend and hire someone to provide illustrations of them both on the cover and within the text because I think this will help the reader to identify with the three sisters more strongly.
Illustrations have played an important role in novels in the past.  The Bible (in the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berryamong others) and most “classics” were illustrated by Gustave Doré and other engravers from the inception of the printed book until in the nineteenth century. Most children’s classics, such as Alice in Wonderland or The Wizard of Ozare still illustrated today, but why limit illustrations to children’s books? Moreover, many of the anti-Catholic books of the eighteen hundreds, such as Maria Monk or Why Priests Should Wed included illustrations of the horrific deeds the Catholics were accused of committing.
So, I decided, why not continue this tradition in my own book, including illustrations from the anti-Catholic books of the past and adding new illustrations which would comment on the events within the book? For that matter, why not include illustrations in all novels to make the book more appealing to the reader?
When I originally wrote The Three Sisters between 1980 and 1983, the only way I could do this was by including illustrations from other books which would be suggestive of what was going on in the novel.  Today, I can go beyond that.  Not only can I take illustrations from other books and use them in the novel, but I can also have someone create illustrations using Photoshop and other programs, but I can also hire someone to create original illustrations for the novel.  As digital books evolve over time, there is no reason not to add music, a short film, or other interactive features to the novel as well.
At the same time, one purpose of the illustrations is to intrigue someone who picks up the book at a bookstore (assuming these still exist in the future).  Why is there a Wanted Poster?  Virgin Mary Milk? What are three nuns doing on Abbey Road?  The goal is to make the browser curious without giving away the plot of the novel.  I had originally planned on using the painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware at one key point in the novel, but did not do so because this illustration might be a spoiler rather than raise curiosity.
Another big difference between today and thirty years ago is that you can have a website for your book, and use this to both promote the book and explain the motivations behind the book to interested readers.  Consequently, not only does this website provide background information on the book, but it also includes numerous illustrations on each web page and in some of the tales and travels relating to the three sisters as well.
For The Three Sisters, illustrations fall into three categories: (1) illustrations from other books or works of art, (2) illustrations put together using Photoshop, and (3) original paintings made especially for the book.
Back in 1983, all of the illustrations were taken from other books, but the ability to put up some of the ideas on the web site and the opportunity to use Photoshop and hire someone to create original illustrations changed this.  Several of the illustrations are from old anti-Catholic books, such as I confessed to the Mother Superior and had to kiss the floor, He finally acquiesced to my delitescent desires, Coito in the Confessional, and Free the Three!, which was photoshopped into a T-shirt.  There were also a couple photos, including those of Jan Van Eyck’s Annunciation and The Warren Commission.
Photoshop allowed us to put together the Wanted Poster and Tabloid mentioned in the novel.  I had created The Cynical Cenacle as a xeroxed work of Mama art back in college, and this work now graces each page of the website. Photoshop was also used for the Virgin Mary Milk and Spanish Inquisition Toy Set commercials during the Festivities.
Finally, we hired Brent Schreiber to create original paintings of the three sisters for the novel. He was great to work with and did an excellent job.  He illustrated the cover, and created three portraits of each of the three, which were incorporated into the Wanted Poster and Tabloid Cover.  I had originally conceived the Lady Justice as the standing Lady Justice with the sword and scales as standing up, but with a habit.  This didn’t really work, so I reconceived it as a more thoughtful, Vargas-like Lady Justice which Brent illustrated wonderfully.  Finally, he did the cover for The Three Sisters’ album which parodied Abbey Road.
Should I write another novel, I will also make illustrations an integral part of that novel.  I can only hope that other authors will no longer see the written novel and the graphic novel as dichotomous alternatives, but will see illustrations as being an integral part of any written novel.

Nuns just want to have fun! But when three former Catholic nuns have too much fun and get in trouble with the law, they become nuns on the run.
Driving back to Washington D.C. where they work at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Parts, the three sisters are arrested in Tennessee. After defeating the local deputy in strip poker, they escape from jail, and are pursued by the zealous Detective Schmuck Hole, who has personally offered a $10,000 reward for their capture on The 700 Club. Little do they know that when the three sisters visit the Washington Monument, their lives will change forever.
Set in 1979, The Three Sisters is a sacrilegious satire that skewers not only organized religion, but the government, the media, intellectuals, corporate greed and every other part of the establishment. Maybe not the greatest story ever told, but possibly the funniest.
Buy @ Amazon
Genre – Humor, Satire, Catholicism, Politics
Rating – R
More details about the author
Connect with Bryan Taylor on Facebook

Along The Watchtower by @DavidLitwack #Fiction #Fantasy #AmReading

The elevator dinged and the doors slid open. In less than a minute, I found myself in physical therapy. Like the rest of the hospital, the room was green-tile sterile, but someone had made an effort to cheer it up. Porcelain clowns lined the windowsill. Stuffed circus animals—lions and elephants and a family of monkeys—surrounded the rack that held the free weights. And a variety of fresh-cut flowers had been set in mugs in the cup holder for each exercise bicycle and treadmill. Later, I’d learn from Ralph that Becky kept them fresh, paying for them out of her own pocket. He said she’d deny it, but he’d seen her sneak in on more than one Monday morning with an armful. 

Fresh-cut flowers. Mom used to get them every Monday as well, to brighten up the gingerbread house. But after Dad died, she started leaving them too long, not replacing them until they’d decayed so badly they smelled. After Joey died, she stopped buying them altogether. 

The girl I met in the courtyard stood over a rolling aluminum table, organizing things I didn’t much like the look of. She was sufficiently absorbed that she didn’t notice us until Ralph called out.

“Afternoon, Becky. Brought you some fresh meat.”

She turned and grinned. “Always love a new victim.”

“Great. I’ll leave you two alone. Sounds like you need some privacy.”

After he left, she went back to finishing her preparations, making me wait. Finally, she came over and extended a hand.

“We already met, but let’s make it official. You’re Lt. Williams, but I can call you Freddie. I’m your worst nightmare, but you can call me Becky.”

I reached out and shook her hand. She didn’t seem scary.

“Ralph says you’re the best, that if anybody can bring me back, you can.”

“Ralph’s wrong. I’m just the guide. You’re going to do most of the work.”

“But are you the best?”

“Let’s say I haven’t lost one yet.”

“So I’ll be back on the basketball court in no time.”

Her grin vanished. She grabbed a chair, dragged it over and sat next to me.

“We’re going to be spending a lot of time together, Freddie, so we need to be straight with each other, right from the outset. My goal is to get you back to as normal a life as possible. If you work hard, I’ll have you out of that wheelchair and on crutches in a month. A month after that, maybe a cane. Beyond that, we’ll see. I make no promises other than to work as hard as you will.”

She stared at me. I stared back, captivated by my reflection in her gray-green eyes. She blinked first and went back to the rolling table.

. . . . . . .

She sat down again and undid the Velcro from my brace.
I winced. I hadn’t looked at my leg much since my peek the week before. The incision was less angry and the oozing had stopped. But what shocked me were the muscles. Where once I had bulges, now there were hollows. Not the leg of an athlete or soldier. Not the leg of a guy who might someday dunk. The leg of an invalid. Becky’s words rattled around in my brain. Crutches, then a cane. After that, we’ll see.

“It may not be pretty,” she said, as if she’d read my mind, “but it’s yours. Take a good look. Let it motivate you when you start making progress. And trust me, you will make progress.”
She squeezed some ointment from a tube onto her hands and rubbed them together.

“This will feel a little cold.”

She spread the ointment, swirling her fingertips over what had once been my quad. When she started the e-stim treatment, I felt the muscle spasm and contract involuntarily, a strange but not entirely unpleasant feeling. As she slid the wand around, humming along to its buzz, I noticed her touch more than the current.

She spoke out of nowhere. “I read the report. Says you have no family.”

I kept staring at her making figure-eights on my leg.

“Is that right?” she said.

I nodded.

“What happened?”

“I was born an orphan.”

She turned off the e-stim and looked up at me.

“Want to talk about it?”


“Ralph said you don’t talk much.”

“I talk when I want to. I don’t want to talk now.”

“Fine with me.” She resumed the treatment, hummed a few more bars, and then spoke without looking up. “Ralph was right about another thing.”

“What’s that?”

“You are a hard case.”

She was quiet after that, going about her job while I focused on the clowns at the windowsill. Every now and then, I’d sneak a look at her. A beautiful, happy optimist. But she’d never lived my life.
Crutches and a cane. After that, we’ll see. I was different from her—a realist. I knew what “we’ll see” meant. I’d need more than physical therapy to bring me back. I’d need a miracle.


Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy
Rating – PG
More details about the author and the book
Connect with David Litwack on Facebook & Twitter

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Birth of an Assassin by Rik Stone @Stone_Rik #Crime #Thriller #BookClub

Otto’s mind takes him back to finding his mother at the Serbsky Institute.
Inmates had jittered and made signs at him as he made his way through the corridors. “Please help me,” he heard from some and, “They have me here because of my political beliefs,” from others. They’d reached out to him as he passed, and his insides had quaked. With the stench of piss and shit everywhere, revulsion filled him. But he’d felt no compassion for these people. He hadn’t given a fuck about them. Only his mother mattered.
“This way,” the nurse had said. “She’s through here.”
He found her in a large open room. She sat on the only piece of furniture in it. The chair was pushed back against the wall and she rocked slightly, staring blankly into nothingness. Spittle leaked from her mouth and she was barely recognizable as the woman he loved. Her long, luxurious, oily-black hair had been shaven to the skin. Her teeth had somehow been removed and her formerly full face had caved in because of it. Like a corpse, she was yellowed and sunken. Only 47 years old and she looked twice that. He’d wished he hadn’t found her and cried bitterly – in front of those sadistic bastards that called themselves nurses.
More like prison guards. And in reality, that’s what they were. Soviet dissidents ended up in places like Serbsky, out of harm’s way. In mental hospitals where they could be abused and broken. Somewhere to extinguish credibility. He’d seen those inmates beaten, teeth punched or kicked from their faces. And if they still didn’t bow to the might of the people, enforced lobotomy wasn’t unheard of as a final step.
With desperation, he’d hoped his mother hadn’t suffered such cruelty.
And now, somehow, she’d made it through to 60. Why, oh why had she lasted this long? All those years, and still she rocked on that old wooden chair and stared at nothing. How could life be this cruel?
He remembered the first time he’d visited the asylum in full Spetsnaz uniform. After calling several of the nurses together, he said, “I know you all have military connections. On that basis, I won’t explain this uniform. Each of you has some sort of responsibility to my mother. The good news is you’re about to receive an extra income. The bad news: if you don’t look after my mother properly and see she gets the kind of care and nourishment she needs, I may have to call on my KGB colleagues. I hope we all understand what that could mean.”
Memories dissolved as he entered the large open room. On his instructions, her hair had been left to grow. But now it was too long and no one had shown it a comb. Still she rocked, gazing into nothingness with the expression of a lunatic on her face.
The burly warder turned to leave but Otto grabbed his arm. “We have an agreement. Next time I come here, I expect my mother to be presentable. Look at her, her hair hasn’t had attention for who knows how long. She needs a bath and a change of clothes. She looks like she’s just puked down them.”
“I err…,” the nurse spluttered with a voice too high for his size.
“Fuck you and your errs. Why do I pay you people so much? I’ll say this once. If I’m not satisfied with the way she looks next time I come, I’ll personally see to it that you have teeth to match hers. And each time after that, I’ll take you a step further down that road. Clear enough?”
“Yes, Captain. I’ll see to it myself.”
The nurse left and Otto looked at his mother. His heart brimmed. The only woman he’d ever loved – could ever love. He got down on his honkers, and took her hand. No sign of recognition, but at least she didn’t pull away.
“Hello, Mother, how are you today?”

Set against the backdrop of Soviet, post-war Russia, Birth of an Assassin follows the transformation of Jez Kornfeld from wide-eyed recruit to avenging outlaw. Amidst a murky underworld of flesh-trafficking, prostitution and institutionalized corruption, the elite Jewish soldier is thrown into a world where nothing is what it seems, nobody can be trusted, and everything can be violently torn from him.
Buy Now @ AmazonB&NKobo & Waterstones
Genre - Thriller, Crime, Suspense
Rating – R
More details about the author
Connect with Rik Stone on Facebook & Twitter

Friday, May 23, 2014

Shy Feet #Excerpt by Frances M. Thompson @BushBirdie #Travel #ShortStories #BookClub

He is half your age and one inch shorter than you. He stands behind you, smelling of shoe polish and washing detergent. He has dark eyes that burn through your lower back and into the pit of you.
The lift stops and the doors open. It’s your floor. You walk on to the grey carpet and don’t look back.
Inside your room you go through the usual motions. Lie suitcase on bed. Kick off shoes. Find hotel slippers and slide feet into them. Check mini bar for water and wine. Survey bathroom for stray hairs and signs of past guests. Push bath plug in and run hot water. Pour in bath oil, lots of bath oil. Check and adjust the water’s temperature. Walk into the bedroom and pull the curtains. Undress. Hang up suit. Deposit underwear and stockings in the laundry bag. Slip on complimentary dressing gown. Unpack tomorrow’s clothes. Open laptop and charge phone. Connect to the Internet. Scroll through emails and bookmark the urgent minority. Retrieve pink highlighter and notes for tomorrow’s meetings. Pour a glass of wine. Place ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door’s outside handle, close and turn lock. Take wine and notes into the bathroom. Let dressing gown drop to the floor.
You have one foot in the water, when there is a knock at the door.
Robed again, you tut your way to the door’s peephole. It is the man from the lift, the one with burning black eyes.
“Room service,” he says. He has an accent and carries nothing in his hands.
You unlock the door and open it, covering the knot of your dressing gown with one hand.
“I didn’t order room service,” you say.
“I know, Madam.” There is an unfamiliar vowel leaping off the end of the sentence. You quite like it. “Would you like some room service?”
You take a second, looking at him through pinched eyes.
“You looked a little hungry in the lift, so I thought I would ask,” he continues.
You smile now. Whatever this is, it’s already added a spark to your stay in this hotel, your third in as many weeks.
“How does one look hungry, exactly?” You challenge him.
“You can just tell when a woman is hungry. There is something about her.”
With his rolling words and unfaltering stare, you are very attracted to the young man who has the nerve to show up on your doorstep.
“Well, I am not hungry. Thank you.”
“Okay.” His smile stays broad and confident. “You’re welcome.”
He turns and walks away.
Back in the hot bubbly water, you ignore the notes and you sip your wine slowly. You stick your big toe in the hollow of the tap and think about where the hotel porter’s accent may be from.

“This collection of stories is like a blanket woven from 100% wanderlust under which you can hide as Frances M. Thompson tucks you in with her words and keeps you warm with her descriptions of characters you’ll love and places you can tell she knows by heart.” Gesa Neitzel,
Shy Feet: Short Stories Inspired by Travel is a collection of twelve quirky, charismatic and touching tales of travel.
The inquisitive Ruth tells the story of The Lost Children of Gatwick Airport and in Max’s Holiday we learn what a seven-year-old boy considers a “proper holiday” to be. In The Flowers Sleep Tonight, we meet Thomas and Carly, two solo travellers whose paths keep crossing… because that’s exactly what Thomas wants. A spontaneous plan to elope is revealed in The Runaways and Homes from Homes is about the lessons Patricia learns from the hotel bellboy she has a fling with. Oh, Henry is the story of how a dream holiday can mean two different things to two lovers and Katie’s Maps is an offbeat love letter to a vast collection of maps. Extracts from a travel journal tell one woman’s life story in All the Beaches are Made of Pebbles and find out what Australia and underpants have to do with Claudia wanting to leave her husband of forty years in The Road is Long.
From the unforgiving Australian Outback to the jagged beauty of the Amalfi Coast, along the pebbled beaches of Brighton & Hove and down the busy streets of late night Barcelona, this collection of short stories highlights how travel intersects and enriches all of our lives, often without us realising it…
“Shy Feet: Short Stories Inspired by Travel transports you to exotic locales without leaving your armchair and leaves you wanting more… Frances M. Thompson has a novel in her and I can’t wait to read it.” Nathalie Harris,
Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – Short Stories, Contemporary Fiction
Rating – PG13
More details about the author
Connect with Frances M Thompson on Facebook & Twitter

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

#Author Deborah Hawkins Shares Her Passion for Writing @DeborahHawk3 #AmReading #Romance

Image of Deborah Hawkins

What writing are you most proud of?
My first published novel, Dance For A Dead Princess.  It was not easy to weave  together a modern mystery-love story with a historical mystery-love story and have both be relevant to each other.  I was excited when I read  Diane Donovan’s review at the Midwest Book Review because she really understood what I was trying to do and made me feel great about my work!
(Link to book review)
(Link to book)
What are you most proud of in your personal life?
Creating a family.  I’m sort of an orphan, and I always wanted a family.  So I had to create one.  I’m also very proud of working to change my career at this point in life. It is not easy to practice law all day and write and promote fiction at night.  But I accept the challenge and keep working at it.  I want to be a fiction writer more than a lawyer, and I’m going to work to make that happen.
What books did you love growing up?
I loved Louisa May Alcott when I was in elementary school.  I read all of her books over and over, but  An Old Fashioned Girl was my favorite.  I’ve read it too many times to count.  Then, when I got a little older I discovered Mary Stewart.  Not only does she tell a marvelous story, her prose is beautiful.  I read her books countless times, too; but I particularly love Nine Coaches Waiting.    And of course, I love Jayne Eyre and everything Jane Austin wrote.  I read a lot of poetry in graduate school.  My major figure was W.B. Yeats, and I also read T.S. Eliot to distraction and Emily Dickinson.  I lived in Dublin for six months back in the 1970's while I was studying Yeats.  I learned a lot.
Who is your favorite author?
In addition to the ones named in the last question, I like Jody Picoult, Karen White, Anita Shreve, Rosamond Pilcher,  Scott Turow,  John Grisham, and Tom Clancy.  (Kind of an eclectic mix.)
What book genre do you adore?
Real romantic suspense - the ones that Mary Stewart wrote, where you have a complete mystery and a complete love story in the same book.  I think a love story should be about the development of the characters as they discover each other.  I’m not a fan of books where it’s just all sex.  That’s too shallow for my taste.  I want to get to know the people in the story, what they feel, and why they wind up together.
Is your family supportive?  Do your friends support you?
My children have been extremely supportive.   My daughter was my earliest reader  though all the versions of the book. My youngest computer genius child created my website and advised me about online marketing.  My second son has encouraged me to keep writing.  And my friends are just the best.  They support my internet marketing efforts and make me feel great when I see their “likes” on Facebook.  I count myself blessed to have such wonderful family and friends.
What else to you do to make money?
In my “day job” I am an appellate attorney.  I work at home in my living room writing briefs for the court of appeal.  When you lose in the trial court, you come see me.  I do a lot of court-appointed work which means I do a lot of criminal appeals.  It’s ironic because criminal law was not my favorite subject in law school.  I never meet these clients.  I just read what happened at their trials and write about it.
I only own one suit and I actually only have to go to court about once every three years to do oral argument.  Since telling people I am  a lawyer sounds really intimidating (and I am anything but intimidating), sometimes I just say I’m a legal writer.   That best describes my job, anyway.
I wanted to be a university professor and teach writing, but there were no jobs when I got out of graduate school.  So I went to law school.  Law is a great education for a woman on her own.  You can really take care of yourself if you have a law degree.  And now it gives me great story ideas.  So it has all worked out well.
What other jobs have you had in your life?
I taught writing at university before I went to law school, and I worked as a technical editor for scientists working on nuclear energy.   The training as an editor turned out to be invaluable.   I’m really good at editing, including my own work, and I enjoy that part of the process.   My scientist authors  used to request me as their editor because I can improve manuscripts without interfering with the authenticity of the author’s own voice.  I don’t think an editor should make the work the editor’s.  I think an editor’s job is to bring out the best in the writer.   I can do that, and I love doing it.  When I get through, the draft is bright and tight and clean but it still belongs to the author, not me.  The best editors get in and out and don’t leave themselves behind.
I also loved teaching writing in a non-critical way that helped my students gain confidence in themselves as writers.  Too much criticism shuts off the creative flow.  First you write.  Then you edit.  The two steps are separate.  I loved seeing my students gain confidence in themselves.
Do you plan to publish more books?
Absolutely, yes, yes, yes.  I have finished a second novel that needs editorial work. The working title is Ride Your Heart ‘Til It Breaks.  I am currently putting chapters of my third novel Dark Moon up on my blog,   I am thrilled to get new followers every week.  I’ve always been uncomfortable with being a lawyer.  It’s not the real me.  I like to laugh and play too much to fit the legal stereotype.  I’d rather crack jokes in court than argue the law. (Although I stick to the script and do my job, of course.)  I’m really a writer and an artist and a free spirit.   Now that my children are grown up, I have promised myself to devote the rest of my life to writing and publishing. (And becoming a better musician.)
What is hardest, getting published, writing or marketing?
I think marketing is challenging.  There is no one formula that works, and I realize I am often stabbing in the dark, trying to figure it out.    But I promised myself at the beginning to forgive my marketing mistakes because I’m just learning.  I was disappointed initially when people reacted to Dance for A Dead Princess as an exploitation of Princess Diana.  It isn’t.  I respect Diana too much to do that.
The book is actually the story of the fictional Carey family and how it manages to survive because Taylor Collins shows up and figures out Nicholas Carey.  They are people who’ve had horrendous pasts, and together they heal each other.  Diana is a background figure who helps to develop the character of Nicholas, my modern duke and captain of industry.   I loved Diana so much when she was around in the 1980's.  I took my first bar exam on the day of her wedding, and I got up in the wee hours of the morning to watch her get married before heading off to a full day of writing the exam.  And then her children were just barely older than mine, and I loved her because she loved being a mother the way I did.  And I also was inspired by the way she brought compassion to a job that can be stuffy and remote.  I put a lot of my feelings for Diana into my hero, Nicholas.  I can just imagine the two of them together, talking and comforting each other.
How often do you write?  And when do you write?
For my “day job” of writing appellate briefs, I write every day. Usually six hours spaced between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.  In between I have to run errands and look after my Golden Retrievers.
But the real fun begins at night.  After I spend an hour practicing clarinet, I pull out the laptop and start on my fiction writing.  I don’t use the laptop for anything else.  The “day job” gets done on the PC, so having different equipment helps me mark the transition from lawyer to writer/creative/artist.  I aim for writing fiction every day, but sometimes the well is dry and I have to wait for it to fill up.  When that happens, I read what I’ve written, go over my outlines, and wait for the moment when I know what happens next.  And that moment always comes.  I also think a lot about plot and pacing the story.  I want to keep the reader involved and guessing.  My favorite novels are the ones you can’t put down, and I aim to write those.
What is your favorite color?
What is your favorite place in the world?
London, Williamsburg, Virginia, Chicago (but not in winter), and New York (but not in winter), and San Diego (in winter)
What is your greatest strength as a writer?
Writing a novel the reader can’t put down.  Creating characters a reader cares about, and evoking a strong sense of place and atmosphere in the story.
How did you come up with the title?
Many years ago, I heard pianist Lorin Hollander play Ravel’s Pavane Pourune Infante Defunte.   Later I heard the orchestral version and thought the French horn solo was enough to break any heart.  It is one of the most ravishing melodies on earth. When Diana died, I wondered why no one thought to play the Pavane for her. It seems so perfect.   My hero Nicholas, the duke who wanted to be a concert pianist, sits up nights playing the Pavane for “all the lost princesses in his life.”  So it was the absolutely perfect title for the book.  I did “market research” at a party one evening and discovered Americans don’t know enough French or classical music to recognize Ravel or the piece’s title in French.  So I went with the English translation.
Do you have any advice for writers?
I’d say the same thing musicians say: practice, practice, practice.  That means write, write, write.  And edit.  I have been surprised to learn that the self-publishing community, of which I am a proud member, does not generally recognize the value of professional editing. I was lucky I could do my own, but if I hadn’t had that skill, I’d definitely have paid for it.  You must absolutely put your best foot forward and that means professional editing.  A beautiful story deserves a beautiful presentation.  Go the extra mile for your readers.  They are definitely worth your best!
What inspired you to write your first book?
I really identified with Princess Diana because we had children about the same age and loved motherhood.   I am an attorney and I do criminal appeals in my “day” job, so I read about murder constantly. (I know how that sounds.)   Because I was interested in Diana, I read about the tragedy in the Place d’Alama tunnel quite a bit.  I felt something wasn’t quite right with the accident stories, although I have never been a “conspiracy” sort of person.  One day I read that she received a threatening phone call in January 1997 foretelling her assassination.  She made a video tape naming the killer and gave it to someone in America for safekeeping.  It has never been found.  The fiction writer in me took over from there, and I created Nicholas Carey, Eighteenth Duke of Burnham, and Diana’s close friend who has dedicated himself to finding that tape.
In January 1997, Princess Diana received a phone call telling her she would be assassinated. She recorded the information on a secret video tape, naming her killer and gave it to a trusted friend in America for safekeeping. It has never been found.
Diana's close friend, Nicholas Carey, the 18th Duke of Burnham and second richest man in England, has vowed to find the tape and expose her killer. After years of searching, he discovers Diana gave the tape to British socialite Mari Cuniff, who died in New York under mysterious circumstances. He believes Wall Street attorney Taylor Collins, the executor of Mari's estate, has possession of it. He lures Taylor to England by promising to sell his ancestral home in Kent, Burnham Abbey, to one of her clients, a boarding school for American girls. Nicholas has dated actresses and models since the death of his wife, ten years earlier, and has no interest in falling in love again. But he is immediately and unexpectedly overwhelmed with feelings for Taylor at their first meeting.
Taylor, unaware that Diana's tape is in her long-time friend and client's estate and nursing her hurt over her broken engagement to a fellow attorney in her firm, brands Nicholas supremely spoiled and selfish. She is in a hurry to finish the sale of the Abbey and return to New York. But while working in the Abbey's library, Taylor uncovers the diary of Thomas Carey, a knight at the court of Henry VIII and the first Duke of Burnham.
As she reads Thomas' agonizing struggle to save the love of his life and the mother of his child from being forced to become Henry's mistress, she begins to see Nicholas in a new light as he battles to save his sixteen-year-old ward Lucy, who is desperately unhappy and addicted to cocaine. But just as Taylor's feelings for Nicholas become clear and at the moment she realizes she is in possession of Diana's voice from the grave, she learns that Nicholas may be Lucy's father and responsible for his wife's death at the Abbey at the time of Lucy's birth. When Nicholas is arrested for Lucy's murder and taken to Wandsworth Prison, Taylor sets out to learn the truth about Nicholas, his late wife, and the death of the Princess of Wales.
Dance for A Dead Princess is a the story of two great loves that created and preserved a family that has lasted for five hundred years.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Contemporary Romance,Mystery
Rating – G
More details about the author
Connect with Deborah Hawkins on Facebook 

Template by:

Free Blog Templates