Today’s Featured Author – Haris Orkin

Please welcome author Haris Orkin to my blog. His debut novel, You Only Live Once, a comic thriller, was released in March 2018. It is a contemporary take on Don Quixote as a mental patient believes he’s a James Bond-like super spy. This new release already has 19 5-star reviews!

Book Blurb

James Flynn is an expert shot, a black belt in karate, fluent in four languages and irresistible to women. He’s also a heavily medicated patient in a Los Angeles psychiatric hospital. Flynn believes his locked ward is the headquarters of Her Majesty’s Secret Service and that he is a secret agent with a license to kill.

When the hospital is acquired by a new HMO, Flynn is convinced that the Secret Service has been infiltrated by the enemy. He escapes to save the day, and in the process, Flynn kidnaps a young Hispanic orderly named Sancho.

This crazy day trip turns into a very real adventure when Flynn is mistaken for an actual secret agent. Paranoid delusions have suddenly become reality, and now it’s up to a mental patient and a terrified orderly to bring down an insecure, evil genius bent on world domination.

About the Author

You Only Live Once is the debut novel by Haris Orkin, who has had successful careers as an ad writer, screenwriter, playwright, game writer, narrative director and voice director. He received a BA from Beloit College and an MFA in Creative Writing from USC. His produced screenplays include Save the Dog (Disney Sunday Night movie) and A Saintly Switch (directed by Peter Bogdanovich, starring Vivica A. Fox and David Alan Grier). Haris has also written scripts for Universal, Columbia, 20th Century Fox and Paramount. His play, Dada was produced at The American Stage, The Nebraska Rep, and the La Jolla Playhouse. His Nobody Lives Forever was performed at The John Harmon Theater and The Player’s Club in New York City. In 2005, Haris broke into the world of game narrative with the script for Dungeons and Dragons: Dragonshard, and he has written eight games since. Red Alert 3 (2008) earned Haris a Writer’s Guild Award nomination for best video game script while Mafia 3 (2017) garnered him a BAFTA Award nomination. Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood (2009) was released to strong sales and excellent reviews.  Dead Island (2011) and Dying Light (2015) were the top selling titles for their years.

You can purchase You Only Live Once on Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author – C.C. Aune

Today I welcome author C.C. Aune to my blog. Her debut novel, The Ill-Kept Oath, came out last September.

Excerpt

Josephine went to bed that night certain her bout with trances had passed—it had been days since her last wandering—and awakened to find herself standing in the dark at the edge of the Heywood. Mildly vertiginous, she threw her arms wide and discovered a pistol in each hand. How this was possible, she couldn’t guess; she had not seen them since Edward confiscated them a fortnight ago.

She cast a glance downward and found herself clad in the oversized jacket, boots, and breeches from her mother’s trunk. The shako perched cock-eyed atop her loose tumble of hair.

“Blast it, not again!

Voices rang in the distance. A twig snapped nearby, followed by animal-like snufflings. Stifling a whimper, Josephine wondered what she should do. Run? Back away slowly?

Her eyes flicked to the pistols. Small comfort, since they weren’t loaded.

Anyway, I haven’t the foggiest notion how to shoot the dratted things.

She raised her useless weapons and trained them on the woods. Another twig snapped—louder. Closer. She inched backward, heart racing, preparing to bolt for the house.

In an explosion of claws and unholy shrieks, a muscular beast plunged from the thicket. It skidded and wheeled on her, spitting and snarling. Josephine stood transfixed, staring in horror at the hellish figure. A blast of musk assaulted her senses, rousing her as swiftly as a sharp dose of salts. With a throaty cry, she squeezed the trigger of one pistol. The weapon discharged, belching fire and smoke. The beast stumbled, screaming, then regained its footing. Somehow she had shot it square in its left eye. The best cast about with its remaining orb, seeking revenge.

“Oh, help,” she whispered.

The beast’s roving eye fixed on the source of its pain. Through a fog of pure terror, Josephine perceived an intake of breath and gathering of muscles. It took a step toward her, nostrils twitching as it drew in her scent. Puttylike lips lifted, revealing its teeth, which were yellow and countless and lethally sharp. A long rope of saliva dangled from its mouth. Josephine watched, fascinated, as the mucus stretched downward, reached the point of release, and dropped to the ground with an audible plop.

She was so mesmerized by the repulsive details of the creature that she failed to notice it had crept nearer. Now she blinked and swallowed and found herself staring up at its chest. The thing sniffed her over, as if to assess her edibility. Its blown eye socket gaped dark and grisly; rivulets of ocular fluid had already begun to harden on its pelt. The odor it gave off—rotting flesh and old, rancid lard—staggered the senses.

Josephine comprehended that she was an instant from death.

The instinct to survive took over. Quick as lightning, she palmed the other pistol. Pressing the muzzle point-blank to the beast’s chest, she fired again.

Her weapon’s report rang out across the field, followed by a pause and a moan and a reassuring thump. Dogs barked, shouts grew nearer, footsteps pounded through the woods. Josephine bent over the corpse, trying to make sense of its alien features. In the faint starlight, she could see very little, but it was enough. This creature was unlike any animal in her knowledge. If she had no previously heard the soldiers’ musings about trolls, she would never have been able to identify the truth: this was a being of supernatural origins.

Someone’s hands closed over hers, and a voice said, low and firm, “I don’t think you want to be found here, my lady, especially like this.” It was Quimby. “May I have these?” he asked. Josephine nodded and gave the pistols up gladly. He tucked them into a pack, then undid his cloak and threw it over her shoulders.

Josephine was vaguely aware of the lieutenant fastening his cloak at her throat, and afterward bending to examine her face. “Are you hurt?” he murmured. She shook her head.

I killed something. I nearly died. Oh God, I nearly died! It took every ounce of her willpower not to stagger against him and shed relieved tears.

“I’m taking you home,” he said, nudging her away from the corpse. He hailed an approaching soldier. “I’ve dispatched the creature. Have the men burn it and scatter the remains. Oh—and will a crown help you forget who else was here?”

“Aye, sir!” The soldier caught the shining coin as it sailed through the air. His eyes flicked to Josephine before looking away.

Lieutenant Quimby resumed his pressure against the small of her back, propelling her toward Greenbank’s old mill and over the race. As they circled the pond, he said, “Well, then. Tell me how it is you came to kill my quarry in the middle of the night.”

Frightened and shocked as she was, Josephine thought he had some nerve. She snipped, “I’d rather not say. Besides, gentlemen don’t take credit for others’ achievements.”

Quimby chuckled. “Ladies don’t gad about in breeches firing guns. You ought to thank me, you know. You might make it back to bed before anyone realizes you’re gone.”

Josephine hadn’t time to be furious at his cheek. He had marched her up the lawn, and they were close to the house.

Quimby pointed toward a dark side-entry. “Here you are, madam. Good night.”

All of a sudden, the door burst open and Edward staggered out, shrugging a coat over his rumpled nightshirt and cradling a musket in one elbow. He spied them and goggled like one who has lost his mind. “Bloody hell!” he cried, lurching forward.

Quimby threw up an arm. “It’s not what you think! The men and I were conducting an exercise and inadvertently flushed our quarry into the path of Lady Weston.”

“I heard shots—”

“The beast was killed. No harm has been done.”

“No harm!” Edward turned on Josephine, his eyes ablaze with fury and concern. “Why in God’s name are you abroad late at night?”

Normally, she would have stood up for herself, but in this instance, Josephine had no ready retort. Shaking her head, she stepped backward into the officer’s sheltering stance.

Lieutenant Quimby interposed. “That very point, sir, I have already impressed. I’m sure Lady Weston is duly contrite.”

How could she be, for her actions had not entirely been willful? Regardless, Josephine murmured, “Thank you, Lieutenant. It shan’t happen again.” She brushed past the two men and darted inside. Upstairs, she changed clothes, hid Quimby’s cloak, and lay down on the bed. Visions of the slavering, one-eyed beast kept jolting her awake. There was no use trying to sleep, so she lit a candle and staggered to her desk.

“Oh help!” she scrawled.

Maybe now Prudence would finally believe her.

Book Blurb

Two cousins. A dark family secret. A looming rebellion.

In Regency England, a mysterious inheritance draws Prudence Fairfeather and Lady Josephine Weston out of candlelit ballrooms and into the shadows of insurrection.

A newcomer to London society, Prudence longs for the enchantment of love and instead finds real magic in her late mother’s ring. But power brings peril, and strange mishaps culminate in an assassin’s bullet. Ensnared by the web of a malevolent socialite, Prudence forsakes romance to fight for her freedom.

Josephine fears an eternity of confined country life until rampaging trolls, a gang of drunken vigilantes, and a flirtatious officer bring her all the adventure she craves. Compelled by birthright to take up arms, she embraces her newfound, unladylike abilities to shield her loved ones from harm.

As danger drives a wedge through their friendship, Josephine and Prudence must face their magical legacy and the enemy who will kill to control them.

About the Author

CC Aune’s ramblings have led her through 49 states—nine of which she has called home—plus a fair number of countries. She has been a journalist and a contributor for the companion book to PBS’s 2000 series In Search of Our Ancestors. Currently, she directs the blog One Year of Letters, which explores the internal landscape of writers. The Ill-Kept Oath is her debut novel.

You can find out more about C.C. on her blog or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

You can purchase The Ill-Kept Oath on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

#NewRelease – A TIME TO BE by Rosemary Hillyard

Please welcome author Rosemary Hillyard to my site. She released her debut novel, A Time to Be, in July. Check out a short excerpt of her historical romance after this author interview.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in south London, the second of six children, when London was a very different place to the city it is today. I have travelled a lot, visiting 24 countries when I was a journalist, and have lived in Surrey, Wales and the Midlands. Today I live in a small village in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, with a partner who was born here. I am not sure where I would call home now: I think it might be a place inside me…

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I was seven when I first announced to my family that I was going to be a writer. At school I was put up on a chair to make up stories to keep the other children quiet, and I wrote stories for magazines which won prizes – exciting for a little girl! I discovered that I was a descendant of Charles Dickens, which whetted my appetite further. My father was a great reader and collected the full set of Dickens’ books, which were passed on to me.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I suppose I did as a child, but I soon learned that it would be a precarious way to earn a living, and I was encouraged to look for a “proper job”. I joined a local newspaper as a trainee journalist and was soon too busy to think about writing for pleasure. It has taken me 60 years to publish my first book!

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

I haven’t consciously written about me or my experiences, but I am sure that everything we experience as we go through life affects our personalities and outlook. I cannot abide dull routine, for example, and Elizabeth, the book’s central character, craves excitement, too!

Please tell us about your current release. What inspired you to write this book?

My father died from cancer an hour after his 58th birthday. His death affected me greatly. It made me realise that life can be short and I was one of the next generation in line. I started writing about his illness as therapy, and then the plot for “A Time To Be” began making itself felt.

How did you come up with the title?

A passage from Ecclesiastes kept nagging at me – a passage which Pete Seeger used as the basis for a song: there is a season for everything. “A time to be born and a time to die, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance”. As my writing progressed I played through these phrases in my head, moving from one choice to another as I learned to work through and accept my father’s death. “A Time To Be” symbolised acceptance and a state of being for my story’s characters.

What kind of research did you do for this book? Did you base any of your characters on real people?

As I wanted to include real characters – politicians and suffragettes – in my story, I needed to be sure that their personalities, appearances and real events were accurate to the last detail. So I spent many hours checking and cross-referencing so that fact and fiction fused seamlessly together.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

The lovemaking chapter. I knew there needed to be one to make the storyline realistic, but I didn’t want it to be smutty or tacky. I wasn’t aiming for another “Fifty Shades of Grey”! Neither did I want it to be coy or so euphemistic that it would make the reader cringe. So it took quite a few drafts to produce a chapter which I hope achieves its aim without upsetting anyone.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

If I could travel back in time, I would like to meet Charles Dickens and discuss how he put his stories together.  We both wrote for newspapers. He believed in doing what he could to help his fellow man, and I am donating royalties from my books to charities, so we should have something in common. Perhaps I could make that meeting possible in a sequel to “A Time To Be”?!

A modern writer I would like to meet is Jodi Picoult, who writes very readable books with tough storylines which make me think.

 Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I sang “Verdi’s Requiem” for Princess Alexandra in the Royal Albert Hall – with several hundred others, I hasten to add!

Excerpt – Chapter 3

‘Are you sure it’s wise to go out so soon?’ John watched his wife anxiously as she buttoned her coat and tidied her hair in front of the hall mirror.

‘John, dear, I need some fresh air and so does Elizabeth. I’ve had lots of rest in the last three weeks, and the doctors wouldn’t have let us come home if they hadn’t been sure we were both fine. Please stop worrying. I won’t stay out long, but I want to take Elizabeth to the church to offer a prayer of thanks for her safe delivery.’

John hugged Maria and planted a kiss on her forehead.

‘Okay, you win. I know it’s no use arguing with you when you’ve made up your mind. But keep on the move, won’t you? Although it’s brighter today, there’s still quite a cold wind, and I’d hate either of my girls to catch a chill!’

Maria pushed the pram proudly along the street towards St Benedict’s. It wasn’t the nearest church to their home – that was the modern, yellow-brick St John the Baptist round the corner – but Maria preferred the more traditional services at St Benedict’s, even though it meant a walk of half a mile or so. The people there were so friendly, too, and she was looking forward to taking Elizabeth with her. The vicar welcomed children, no matter how young, and she was sure he would be delighted to arrange the baby’s baptism.

Today, she’d be even more glad to reach the church. John had been right – the wind was cold – and she walked briskly, barely glancing at the front gardens of the houses she passed, not stopping as she usually did to admire a fine shrub or border.

As she turned thankfully under the lychgate at the entrance to the churchyard, and started pushing the pram along the stone-flagged path between the gravestones, she caught a snatch of organ music and realised that she wouldn’t have the church to herself.

Still, if it was old Mr Johnson practising for next Sunday’s services, he wouldn’t mind at all if she wandered round the church, running her fingers over the beautiful carved wooden choirstalls and reading the marble tablets set high in the walls. She liked to sit quietly in her favourite pew, imagining what the people commemorated in those tablets looked like and the kind of lives they led. What must it have been like to have lived in those long-ago days?

But, as she pushed open the heavy dark oak door and manoeuvred the pram, with some difficulty, down the broad stone step just inside, she realised that Mr Johnson wasn’t practising: a funeral service was in progress. An oak coffin topped with a wreath of evergreens and white chrysanthemums lay on a stand before the altar, and in the front two pews stood a small, sombrely-dressed group of people, singing the final verse of ‘Abide with me’.

Maria hesitated, feeling like an intruder. But it was too cold to wait outside, and she didn’t want to walk home without offering her thanks to God for the baby, so she parked the pram at the back of the church and slipped into the last pew as the vicar climbed the steps of the pulpit to begin his address.

‘Let us give thanks for the life of Edward Oscar Dinsdale…’

Maria started. Where had she heard that name before?

‘…A very brave man, a man who risked his life in trying to save others…’ the vicar was continuing. And suddenly Maria remembered where she had seen that name; on the white marble tablet next to the special memorial window in the side chapel. A whole family of Dinsdales was listed on that marble, all killed in a terrible fire at the beginning of the century.

She bowed her head in respect as the coffin passed her, then glanced up to be faced with the most startlingly vivid pair of violet-blue eyes she had ever seen. Their owner wasn’t a young woman – about 70, Maria judged – but she was still upright, slender and elegant in a neat grey suit and tiny black hat with a discreet feather curled along one side, topping a small heart-shaped face with silver hair brushed smoothly underneath.

The woman smiled at her and Maria, realising that she had been staring, flushed as she smiled back apologetically.

She waited until the group of mourners had left the church, then knelt to offer her prayer of thanks for the safe delivery of Elizabeth.

After a few minutes, she rose, checked to see that the baby was still sleeping soundly, then made her way to the side chapel. She was right – there, on the white marble tablet next to the memorial window, were listed the members of the Dinsdale family who had lost their lives in a fire which had destroyed their home in June 1908.

Book Blurb

a-time-to-beAs John Carter anxiously awaits the arrival of his first-born, in another ward of the hospital old Edward Dinsdale’s life is slipping away. Fate brings these two families and lives together when John’s wife, Maria, takes new-born Elizabeth to church to thank God for her safe arrival.

As Elizabeth grows, she has an inexplicable pull towards a bygone era and loves everything from the clothes to their lifestyle. So when she takes a bang on the head and time travels back to 1908, she feels as though she has come home.

She stumbles into the world of Edward Dinsdale and is taken under his wing at the beautiful Highwood Hall. Relationships and friendships grow quickly, and it seems that Elizabeth is quite content living in a time when life was much simpler. But her husband, Ben, is waiting for her.

Will Elizabeth ever return to her husband and family? What secrets will she uncover while amongst the Dinsdale family?

Filled with excitement, tragedy, love and loss, A Time to Be is historical / romantic fiction at its best and a must-read for all ages. Set partly in the era of the suffragettes and partly in the modern day, this is an atmospheric and cinematic read full of thought-provoking twists and turns that capture both eras perfectly.

About the Author

Rosemary Hillyard’s earliest memories are of wanting to be a writer. As Charles Dickens was an ancestor, perhaps the desire was in her genes!

She won a few prizes for stories as a child, but adults told Rosemary she needed to earn a living and should keep story writing as a hobby. So she trained as a journalist on her local paper in south London and stuck to factual writing for 25 years. She qualified as an industrial editor, producing staff publications for major companies such as Barclays Bank, Avis, MetalBox, Coca-Cola Schweppes and the Royal Institute of Marketing.

In her 40s she trained as a financial adviser, and ran a successful business as an independent mortgage consultant for ten years.

Her father’s death from cancer at only 58 was the catalyst which started Rosemary writing again imaginatively. ‘Suddenly I was aware how short life can be. The death of a parent also makes you realise you are next in line.’

The germ of an idea for historical, romantic fiction with a twist in the tale started to take shape. And at last ‘A Time To Be’ is seeing the light of day.

You can contact Rosemary through her e-mail.

You can purchase A Time to Be on Amazon and Amazon UK (ebook)/Amazon UK (paperback).

Today’s Featured Author – Karen Levy

Today, I welcome author Karen Levy to my blog. Her debut novel, My Father’s Garden, a memoir, was released in 2013.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am an Israeli-American writer who loves a well-told story, whether it’s in print or on the screen. My first book, My Father’s Gardens, was published in 2013 and I have enjoyed sharing it in various venues ever since.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Jerusalem, Israel and after many years of traveling between my two countries (I am a dual-citizen), I realized that you can call more than one place home. Yet the more Americanized I become, the more comfortable I am in the United States.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always loved language and the almost magical power it has to transform and inspire. I didn’t know what I wanted to write until I needed to figure out who I was and where I belonged, and writing has always helped me find order in chaos. Writing about my two worlds did just that. I also know what it is like not to have the power of words since English is not my first language. So finding my voice was crucial for me.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

This first book, My Father’s Gardens, is a memoir, so everything I share in it is personal. I don’t know how to express myself in any way other than by being completely open and honest about my experiences. Audiences deserve, and hopefully appreciate authenticity. Of course this makes writing fiction a bit tricky, since I tend to bring myself into the picture more than I intended originally.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I have started my next book and once again, it takes place on two shores, starting in the United States and traveling to the Middle-East. The protagonist finds herself wondering about her purpose in life now that her children are older and need her less and less. While in this dark mood she finds herself thinking about her past and about one particular friend she has not thought about since the uprising that tore them apart. The friend is Arab while the protagonist is Israeli. She will eventually discover that those closest to her have kept a secret for years, a discovery that will cause her to question who it is we can trust in a world full of betrayal.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

I spend part of my time teaching English at Sacramento State University, trying to convince students that language is a powerful tool that can help them navigate the world. When I’m not grading student essays I read my favorite authors for inspiration and keep plugging away at my own manuscript. I should, but don’t have a schedule for my own writing. When I get an idea, I sit down and write.

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

The best thing is succeeding in taking those great ideas you think you have and effectively capturing them in words that impact readers. I love when someone has read my book and tells me that they could relate, or that it moved them. Of course, not everyone was pleased with what I shared. My own mother has not spoken to me since the memoir’s publication. The worst part about writing is self-doubt. Writing a full length novel is a daunting task and since I am so used to writing non-fiction, I question my decision to attempt fiction quite frequently.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

One of my favorite authors is Julia Alvarez, a Dominican-American writer whose lyrical language and story-telling abilities astound me. I wrote to her years ago, just to thank her for the incredible books she has created, and surprisingly, she wrote back. I would love to continue our “conversation” in person, so I could learn more about this art of writing. The other writer I enjoy is Ann Patchett. She also weaves intricate stories that feel so real. I would love to learn from her as well.

Book Blurb

Levy_Cover_Blurb_TopMy Father’s Gardens is the story of a young girl who comes of age in two languages, and on two shores, between warring parents and rules that change depending on the landscape and the proximity of her mother. Struggling to find her voice and her place in the world as a result of her frequent travels between her native Israel and the United States, she feels that she must choose a place to call home. As her scenery alternates between warm Mediterranean and snow capped mountains, loud-mouthed Israelis and polite Americans, so do her loyalties: Is she more Israeli or American? How will she know when she has arrived? And while she chooses she is slowly transplanting bits of her father’s gardens on foreign soil.

About the Author 

DSC00594Karen Levy is an Israeli-American writer whose memoir, My Father’s Gardens, candidly shares her search for belonging and her coming of age between the shores of two worlds. Her work appears in journals such as, Welter, So To Speak, The Blue Moon, The Meadow, Davis Life Magazine, Jet Setter Magazine, among others.  My Father’s Gardens was a 2014 Pushcart Prize nominee.

You can follow Karen on Facebook or Twitter.

You can purchase My Father’s Gardens on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

Today’s Featured Author – Terry Ibele

Today, I welcome Terry Ibele to my blog. He is working on his debut young-adult, fantasy novel, The Moon King, which will come out in 2016.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Terry Ibele and I’m an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction. I picked up writing a few years ago and I’ve since sold a few pieces of flash fiction and short stories. I plan to kick off my writing career with the release of my young adult fantasy novel, The Moon King.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I sort of fell into writing by accident. I’ve always been a storyteller, just not a writer. In high-school (over 10 years ago now), I thought I found my calling when I picked up the art of stop motion animation. I amassed quite a cult following in the world of stop motion, and so planned out a film project that ended up being over my head. I quickly gave up my project, but wrote down the plot for my project in a few sentences. Over the years I kept adding to it until 3 years ago I decided to write it into a novel. Since then, I’ve been writing nearly every day. Short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and of course my novel.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

All of it! I have quite the quirky personality, with a fantastical imagination, and so try to incorporate it into everything I write. I enjoy writing exceedingly dull or overly exaggerated characters, nothing in between.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

When I started writing, I was a Market Analyst for the largest vitamin company in Canada. I recently switched up my career and now I’m in Digital Marketing with a small software company. It’s tough to find time to write, but I make time for it. I write mostly during the evenings and weekends, and sometimes I wake up an hour before work to write. It’s all about persistence and finding internal motivation.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

I have so many stories in my head that are all trying to escape that I can’t not write! If I go too long without writing, I get pretty anxious. I don’t know what to do with myself.

Please tell us about your upcoming release.

The Moon King has not been released yet. I plan on a 2016 release, but that depends still on a number of factors. The story is of a boy named, Lome, who learns that he was adopted. On his journey to find out who he is, he discovers that his mother’s pendant can stop time. It turns out he’s not the only one who knows of this and suddenly his peaceful, innocent world changes. He becomes mixed up in quite a number of events and realizes that he has the power to change everything. There are also quite a few fantastical elements including an ancient civilization on the moon, an immortal king, and a spreading decay that makes anyone it touches go insane.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I’ve researched a lot of things: From how fast and far a horse can run in a day. How long one can be knocked out without permanent brain damage. How to properly hold a bow and arrow. Which herbs will heal a cut. My book isn’t based on any real history, so my research mostly revolves around the correct use of things.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

My favourite character is named, Sir Osmiwise Akin Seenoi the Seventh, Representative and Councilman of the Guild of Trades. He’s a ridiculously fat man who’s a big cry baby. I like him the most because he’s so fun to write. Everyone else that’s read my book has found the main character’s goat, Momma E, their favourite. Some of my author friends are even writing a goat version of Momma E into their novels as tribute, which I think is a bit funny. I’d love it if Momma E became a reoccurring character in novels everywhere.

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

I write at my desk, in my living room, in my Toronto apartment. My favourite time to write is at night with the lights off. I don’t like any distractions.

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

My favourite snack to eat while writing is an empty stomach. When I write, the whole world around me fades away and I focus on nothing but writing for hours on end. I’ll suddenly “wake up” and realize that I’ve just spent half the day furiously typing away without even having breakfast or lunch.

What book are you reading right now?

I’m reading quite a few actually. Some on the subway. Some at home. Some at work. These are the ones I’m currently working on: Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy, Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler, Decisive by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, and Jackal’s Gambit by C. A. Ardon. I never have less than one book going at a time! I just finished some Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams.

Book Blurb

Twenty Stories cover artGreat for new or young authors looking for motivation to ramp up their writing and get their creative juices flowing. This compilation of twenty free-writes comes with a challenge to write yourself for twenty days to get you out of your writing rut.

It’s simple – just follow three easy steps to completely refresh your writing mind-set (well, one step is the real challenge!). Plus, you’ll read twenty thought-provoking, funny, and downright bizarre short stories!

Twenty Days of Writing is a wonderful light read, perfect while waiting in transit, sipping tea, or hang gliding off a mountain.

Fun note: The cover art of Twenty Days of Writing is a picture of all my novel drafts.

About the Author

TerryTerry Ibele is from Ontario, Canada where he lives off a steady diet of frolicking in the woods, being stuck in transit, and pizza. He loves writing brisk, quirky stories and is currently working on a fantasy novel.

You can follow Terry on Twitter or check out his blog.

You can purchase Twenty Days of Writing on Amazon (Canada) and Amazon (US).

Today’s Featured Author – MF Moskwik

Please welcome author MF Moskwik to my blog. MF’s debut novel, Heart Break, was released in June and is the first in the Isabel Swift series.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a writer and scientist. I love dogs! I’ve got two of them-an eleven year old cockapoo and a nine year old beagle. My favorite word, now, is probably proboscis, which refers to a long nose, but that changes daily. I was born in New Jersey but raised in Texas, near the Gulf Coast, which means that when I miss home, I miss the beach, I miss hot, torrential summer rain storms, and I miss the melting pot of delicious Cajun, Latin, Asian, Caribbean, and Barbecue foods that make up the cultural dinner table of that region. Mmm! Good times!

Do you have an all time favorite book? 

The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley. It’s about a princess who discovers her own power to become a slayer of dragons who is then tasked with saving her kingdom from the sorcerer who murdered her mother.  Her best friend is a beloved, aged, injured horse, Talat, that she rehabilitates and uses as her dragon-slaying steed. AND she’s in a love triangle with a prince who is her childhood best friend and a magician who teachers her to use her powers.  Seriously, that book fires on all cylinders, and probably the reason I love books.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

Robin McKinley (see above). Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird.  If I could go back in time, then I would also meet Kurt Vonnegut and Maurice Sendak. Why? Because I love their books-and I’d just want to thank them.

Please tell us about your current release.

Heart Break is a mystery-technothriller about a police officer, Isabel Swift, assigned to solve a burglary case involving equipment from a local university with a new partner, Mark Jameson. Learning to work with a new person is always an adjustment, but Isabel and Mark have different approaches to the work, and, as we learn, both are dealing with recent loss of a work partner or life partner. It’s a potent mix of opposite personalities and raw emotions, but, for me, as a writer, watching them discover how to work together and lean on one another to get through the case and through their grief was a joy.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

That’s a good question! I wish I had certain traits of the characters. I wish I had Izzy’s swagger! She’s a good cop-she’s young and still needs to gain the experience she needs to become a detective, but she’s got a mouth and a lot of confidence-and I wish I had that same effortless faith in myself that she does.

This book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

The next book in the series is called Devil’s Breath! For the biologists or biology curious, it’s got a neuroscience centered plot, a secret affair, and betrayal. I’m aiming for a December/January release, and the first pages of it will be released soon on my blog and on the Heart Break website, so definitely check back soon!

Book Blurb

Heart BreakIsabel Swift is a savvy, down-to-earth, female police officer who protects the citizens of Westchester County and wants to become a detective. From a broken home, her brothers and sisters in blue are her family, and she is shaken by the recent, unexpected death of her mentor, Ben Carter, from what everyone thinks was a heart attack. On her first day back from leave, she is paired with an arrogant forensic data scientist, Mark Jameson, who is more interested in analyzing data than solving the crime of stolen technology to which they are assigned.

When their investigation uncovers an unexpected link between the theft and her mentor’s death, Swift and Jameson have only 48 hours to whittle down a countywide list of suspects, track down the stolen technology, and solve the mystery of Ben Carter’s death. Can Isabel overcome her grief and her differences with her new partner to solve the case and earn her detective’s badge?

About the Author

MF Moskwik is a writer, scientist, and cynophilist, living with two mischievous dogs in the Inland Northwest.

You can find out more about MK on her blog.

You can purchase Heart Break on Amazon.

Today’s Featured Author: Dete Meserve

Today I welcome Dete Meserve to my blog. Please enjoy this excerpt of her debut novel Good Sam.

Book Excerpt

A deafening boom startled me awake the next morning. I shot straight up in bed, instantly alert, trying to identify the source. The last time I’d heard a mammoth sound like that, a meth lab had exploded in a Hollywood apartment building six blocks away. I’d been the first reporter on the scene that night, the first to break the story at the top of our eleven o’clock newscast. Would it be too much to hope for another meth-lab explosion?

A flash of light pierced the darkness. Then I heard the drumming sound of rain pelting the roof. I groaned and burrowed under the covers.

I hate it when it rains in Los Angeles. I don’t own a real raincoat or boots, and I never can remember where I put any of the three umbrellas I own. And no one looks good in the rain, especially TV reporters in station-issued storm gear that adds twenty pounds.

On the plus side, rain brought with it a whole slew of great story possibilities. Mudslides in the mountains and canyons. Flooding in the water-control channels. Hubcap-deep water. Car collisions. Stalled traffic on the freeways. Power outages. Stories that got plenty of airtime.

I tried to convince myself that the extra airtime would make up for my being ripped from the Good Sam story, but it wasn’t working. I was still smarting from the offense and considered making my case directly to Bonnie Ungar. But so far everyone who had gone into her office to complain about anything came out unemployed. Okay, maybe she wasn’t actually that trigger-happy, but I figured I’d wait a bit, allow Susan Andrews to disappoint them too, then make my case.

I hurried through a two-minute shower, threw on some wrinkle-resistant pants, grabbed the station-issued rain jacket and matching blue umbrella, and hurried out the door. Los Angeles is utter chaos when it rains. The streets turn into a real-life version of bumper cars where vehicles skid, spin, and slam into each other the minute the rain hits the pavement. Some pundits have theorized that because it rains so infrequently, oil and grime collect on the freeways, making them unusually slick. I suspect the real reason is that Los Angeles drivers spend so much time in their cars driving under blue skies and sunshine that we don’t think of driving as an activity that requires attention, skill, and, yes, caution.

My commute to the station took fifteen minutes longer than usual, but I was grateful that I had arrived without getting stuck in standstill traffic or caught in a fender bender.

“We got team coverage today, folks,” David Dyal said, rushing into the assignment meeting. “Weather Service says this storm is going to dump three inches in the next twenty-four hours. I need three of you on Storm Watch. Charles, Orange County. Ted, you cover inland and the Valley.” He motioned to me with his Dr Pepper can. “Kate, you’ve got Malibu and the beach communities.”

I smiled. Even the possibility of a mudslide in any of the beach communities was a guarantee of airtime. Lots of it. And not just in Los Angeles. Network news. Viewers around the country can’t get enough of watching nature in all its unpredictable glory putting multimillion-dollar homes in harm’s way.

There were no reports yet of mudslides or accidents in Malibu, but Josh and I headed that way so we’d be there if any news broke. Not that I was wishing tragedy upon anyone, but I did hope something newsworthy would happen to make the trip worthwhile. Otherwise I’d have to do a dreaded “reaction story,” which would require standing in the downpour and interviewing drivers about how the rain was ruining their commute.

We hadn’t been on the road very long before David’s voice crackled over the two-way radio. “A boy has fallen in the river in Malibu Canyon. How fast can you get there?”

“Be there in five,” Josh answered.

My throat constricted. “Is the fire department on the scene?”

“They are, but they can’t get to him,” David said. “Chopper Eleven is on its way. Feed it live when you get there.”

I couldn’t move. Although adrenaline sped through my veins, I had a bad feeling about this story.

 

Stan McCort, the reporter in Chopper Eleven, had a bird’s-eye view of the canyon. “Looks like the fire department’s got the canyon blocked off,” he said. “You won’t be able to get a clear shot.”

“What about the turnout on Mountain Pass? Can I get a shot from there?” Josh called out.

“Yeah, if you can find it in this downpour.”

Josh knew exactly where it was. I’m pretty sure he had a photographic memory of just about every square mile of Los Angeles County. The narrow mountain roads were slick with rain, but he drove with confidence, smoothly navigating the sharp curves and avoiding the rocks and debris that had tumbled onto the road. Then he screeched to a halt, sliding three feet before we pulled to a stop at a narrow turnout.

“The boy’s moving downstream in your direction,” Stan shouted over the radio.

With practiced calm, Josh jumped out of the van to raise the antenna that would beam our signal back to the station. I put on the earpiece that would connect me to Stan and the control room at the station, zipped up my station-issued storm gear, and opened the door. A strong wet gust yanked it out of my hand, drenching me from head to toe in chilly rain.

“The fire department has deployed multiple units along the stream but hasn’t been able to intercept the boy,” Stan said. “He’s moving fast. Wearing a white T-shirt, Kate.”

I peered over the rim of the canyon into the swirling waters four hundred feet below and felt my head spin. I backed away and leaned against the side of the van.

“You all right?” Josh shouted, hoisting the camera on his shoulder and aiming it into the canyon.

I signaled him with a thumbs-up. But I wasn’t okay. The memories stabbed at me like splinters of glass. I tasted the nausea in my throat and tried to catch my breath. I was drowning again, but this time in slow motion. My body, leaden and heavy, sunk into the milky depths. I felt the bone-chilling cold of the water, the scrape of the rocks and debris against my skin, the searing pain in my lungs as I was dragged deep into the turbid darkness.

“Coming to you live in four minutes, Kate,” Craig from the control room said in my earpiece.

“Okay,” I replied, surprised at the steadiness of my voice.

“Stan and Josh,” Craig continued. “The rain is making it a little fuzzy but we’ve got picture from both of you. We’re recording and will roll the footage hot when we come to Kate live in four.”

From around the bend, a fire department helicopter buzzed downstream carrying a man suspended from a cable about forty feet below the helicopter. I wasn’t sure what they were doing until I saw a white flash in the water.

The boy.

The helicopter chased the boy downstream, matching his speed. The rescuer on the wire grabbed for him, but the current was strong and pulled the boy away. The helicopter attempted a second pass, but when the rescuer reached for the boy this time, the child went under. The helicopter lifted up, pulling the rescuer thirty feet into the air, and hovered.

“The Malibu Tunnel is about five hundred yards downstream,” Stan shouted. “If they don’t get him before then, he’s in for a very bumpy ride.”

Suddenly the rescuer detached himself from the rope and plunged thirty feet into the rushing whitewater below. He swam around the rocks and eddies, quickly covering the territory where the boy was last seen, then dove underneath. Seconds ticked by. Every nerve in my body was on edge. With each passing moment, the chances of this boy surviving were slipping away.

“Anyone see the rescuer?” Josh asked, his camera trained on the rushing water.

I scanned the rugged terrain with my binoculars, but all I could see was the water rushing over the rocks and chaparral, and the helicopter hovering above the swollen stream. After a while the rescuer had been gone so long that I’d lost track of where he’d last been.

“Can’t see anything from here,” Stan said, his voice solemn.

The sky darkened and the rain began to blow sideways. I scanned the water again, praying for my eyes to glimpse anything that might suggest the rescuer and the boy were alive.

“Looks like the rescuer’s down,” Stan said. “They’re calling for backup.”

It was a good thing we weren’t on the air live because the situation had taken an abrupt, somber turn that can be difficult to report on live. Words fail you in moments like these. Even though I’d reported on many failed rescues, it’s never easy telling the tragic story of lost lives, especially young ones.

Suddenly the rescuer popped straight out of the water, his arms wrapped firmly around the boy. I loosened my death grip on the handle of my umbrella. As I watched the helicopter swoop over them, tears warmed my eyes. A mixture of exhilaration and awe swept over me. This was why I covered the Bummer Beat—for the moment when a life is saved, a crisis is averted, and good triumphs.

“The boy’s not moving,” Stan said in a hushed whisper.

I’d been too optimistic. I peered through my binoculars and held my breath, afraid of what I might see. The boy, no more than seven years old, didn’t move as the rescuer placed a strap around his chest and clipped the strap to the cable.

With the rescuer and boy still attached to the line below, the helicopter took off up the canyon. In my binoculars, I saw the rescuer, hanging a hundred feet above the water, perform CPR on the boy’s limp body. I struggled not to cry, but tears burned at the corners of my eyes.

The helicopter ascended up the steep canyon, clearing treetops and rock outcroppings, with the rescuer and boy spinning below. That’s when I saw the set of high-tension wires draped from rim to rim across the canyon about five hundred feet from the ground. Like a silent enemy, they threatened to snag the rescuer and the boy, dangling like a tetherball below the helicopter.

The helicopter inched closer and closer to the wires. In the thick gray air and fog, I wondered whether the pilot could see the thin lines. Then the helicopter pitched upward several hundred feet, pulling the rescuer and the boy with it, deftly clearing the wires.

“Damn,” Josh said with a choke in his voice.

“Kate,” Craig said through my earpiece, “coming to you in sixty. Ready?”

“Ready.” The sound of my voice, calm and assured, surprised me again.

“He’s got a pulse,” Craig said. “We’ve got Urban Search and Rescue on the line. They say the boy’s got a pulse again.”

There was an excited whoop in my earpiece that sounded like it came from Stan. Josh rushed over, slapped a microphone into my hand and trained his camera on me. I ran my fingers through my hair in a futile attempt to correct the mess the rain had made, then adjusted my earpiece, listening for the “breaking news” intro and waiting for my cue from the anchor, Mark Edwards.

“Live in Malibu Canyon, Channel Eleven’s Kate Bradley is on the scene of the dramatic rescue of a young boy,” Mark announced.

I don’t remember exactly what I said after that. All I know was that the words came out effortlessly. While the station rolled the dramatic footage, I stepped away from reciting the facts and told viewers about the awe all of us on the Channel Eleven crew felt as this heroic firefighter plunged in the rushing water to rescue the young boy, about the rescuer’s unwavering courage and determination to find the boy even as the storm worsened and his own life was at risk, and about the daring maneuver and swift action that defied the odds and brought the young boy to safety.

 Book Blurb

GoodSamBookCoverWhat would you do if you found a bag containing $100,000 on your doorstep one morning?

After years covering murders, disasters and tragedy for Los Angeles TV news, Kate Bradley knows that violence and cruelty are everywhere and that good is hard to find. When she is assigned the story about ten people who have each found $100,000 in cash on their front porch, Kate is intrigued by the anonymous Good Samaritan, dubbed Good Sam, who is behind it all.

As interest in the free money sweeps across the country, Kate finds that the elusive Good Sam and her exclusive interview with him thrust her into the national spotlight. Even as his message captivates viewers and wins ratings, Kate suspects he may not be all he claims to be and that the real Good Sam is still out there.

Searching for answers, Kate unravels the powerful and unexpected reason behind the mysterious cash gifts, the true identity of Good Sam becomes the biggest surprise story of her career, turning her personal and professional life upside down.

About the Author

Dete MeserveGood Sam is Meserve’s debut novel. When she’s not writing, Dete serves as president of Wind Dancer Films, a film development, finance and production company based in Los Angeles and New York. The company has created such television hits as “Roseanne” and “Home Improvement” along with George Lopez’ latest series, “Saint George” on FX. In addition, the company has developed and produced successful features such as What Women Want, the award-winning comedy Bernie starring Jack Black and Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey, among many other films. Meserve is also actively developing two animated television series, “Jet Propulsion” with Craig Bartlett (creator of “Hey Arnold”) and Antoinette Portis’ award-winning book, “Not a Box.” Dete lives in Los Angeles with her husband, three children and a cat that rules them all.

You can find out more about Dete on her website.

Good Sam is available for purchase on Amazon.