The Clockmaker’s Tale

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Ian Williams and his science fiction story collection, The Clockmaker’s Tale.

Author’s description

In The Clockmaker’s Tale: and other stories, Ian Williams takes us to the near future and beyond. From a moon base where androids conduct experiments on human test subjects, to futuristic tours of the ocean depths that hide a terrible secret; from a society governed by harsh rule of law that is enforced by AI, to a humble clockmaker tempted by the promise of increased productivity through technological augmentation.

Covering issues such as environmental decay, the end of facts and proven truths, our growing waste problem, and humanity’s tendency to divide when we should come together, this collection of six science fiction stories relates as much to our time as it does to the many possible futures.

Planning for a Character’s Future

In my books I’ve always have one minor character who insists on playing a larger role in the story. So when authors visit my blog, I love to ask them if they’ve encountered such a character.

Ian Williams has encountered a couple of them, and one has even shaped his plans for future writing! He says …

Each of the six stories included in The Clockmaker’s Tale: and other stories was meticulously planned out in advance, so there really wasn’t room for characters to ‘misbehave’. I wanted to tell tight stories that had room only for what was required to share my views of current issues. That meant every character needed to stick to their roles and not deviate.

That is not to say that I haven’t been tempted to expand a character’s role. For example, in the story 10,000, many minor characters could tell their own stories in much greater detail. Each of these test subjects has lived through something quite horrific and getting their views on it would be interesting. Who knows, perhaps I will revisit a few of them in the future.

However, in previous projects, I have certainly encountered smaller characters that I have enjoyed writing so much that I just had to make their roles bigger. One of the most satisfying of which was a character from The Sentient Trilogy, called Phoenix. In book one she exploded onto the page with all the attitude in the world. She was fierce but also fragile.

I enjoyed writing the Phoenix character so much that not only did she become as important as the main protagonist, but she also became the main focus of book two. I felt that nagging sensation that this character had much more to say. So, I relented, and the trilogy was made better for it. She brought a much needed second view of events, one which came from an entirely different upbringing to that of the other characters in the story.

There is, however, another character that I feel that same nagging sensation over. In the story, Last Bus to Freedom, there is a character simply called Boy. In this story, Boy is secondary to the main protagonist, who the story follows. His role was as an apprentice to the much older Jason. Except, now that this story has been told, I still want more from him.

That is why I have made plans for his future. I would love to revisit Boy at a much later point in his life. I’d explore his time after the events of Last Bus to Freedom and find out what kind of man he has become. Did he learn all he could from the others or continue to make the same mistakes as before? And what of the war that rages in the story? Did it ever end?

So, I suppose you could say that Boy is refusing to remain a smaller character. He wants to be written about again because I want to write about him again. After all, that is the greatest of feelings for writers; that sensation of infinite stories and infinite people to fill them with. My only hope is that each of my characters gets to tell their story in the end. And I, for one, will look forward to writing them.

The Author’s Story

Ian Williams is a Science Fiction writer from the UK. He lives in a small town not far from London. Ian had a short career in the UK Court Service but was forced to quit that job when his medical condition worsened. Now, from the comfort of his wheelchair, he writes the stories he has always wanted to read. His writing spans lightyears of space, to near-future Earths; from small changes to society, to entirely new civilisations.

Find the Author

Author Website: HOME | Ian Williams Sci-Fi Author (ianwilliamsauthor.com)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ian-Williams-Author-Page-1552239548176515/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/iwilliams235

YouTube:  

 

Buy the Book

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B091FYYFBZ

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Returning to his briefcase, Alexander produced a card from an outside pocket. “Here,” he said, holding it between two of his fingers.

George took it and looked it over, now realising there was a sales pitch to follow. He’s better at this than I am, he had to admit. At the top of the textured card was the name of a company he was certain he knew but couldn’t quite place. “ACC?”

“Adaptive Cognition and Cybernetics. We specialise in cutting-edge, next-generation, technology. Our latest product was made for people just like you, who need more hours in a day than the good Lord provides.”

I left my work for this? George was less than impressed. “Thank you, but I…”

“Before you say no, how about I show you what I’m talking about?” Alexander picked up his briefcase and walked to the counter, where he placed it down and clicked open the catches. He kept his back turned until he was ready to present his product.

When he turned, George was immediately drawn forward, to inspect the object himself. He was fascinated by the curved design. It had a snowy-white casing, with delicately printed calligraphy underlined by a sweeping blue line, and a tiny, built-in, LED screen. It appeared as well-made as any of his clocks. Such a high degree of engineering, yet it remained a simple-looking thing.

“This,” Alexander said, not quite ready to hand over the device, “is our latest model. It’s called a Work Buddy.”

Thank you!

Ian Williams — we appreciate your sharing your book The Clockmaker’s Tale with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

Facets of the Past: No Dark Deed Goes Unpunished

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Monique Gliozzi and her supernatural thriller novel, Facets of the Past: No Dark Deed Goes Unpunished.

Author’s description

When Hank Gild is given the opportunity to take up his dream job, he accepts the offer with excitement. As a tour guide at the historical imperial castle on Lake Starnberg, Hank delights his guests with stories of the late Bavarian emperor-his antics, his precious artifacts and the mystery shrouding his death in 1886. But it seems that not all the castle’s visitors are of pure heart. Before long, Hank is forced down a path of greed, deception and danger with no way out. A once happy and simple life unexpectedly becomes a treacherous nightmare. Who can he trust? Can Hank save himself before learning the ultimate lesson?

You be the Judge

In my books I’ve always have one minor character who insists on playing a larger role in the story. So when authors visit this blog,  I love to ask them if there was such a character in their novel.

Monique Gliozzi gave it some thought and decided she had one but the reader needs to decide how big a role her intruder got. It’s an intriguing response and one I’ve never gotten before. Read on to see what I mean.

Historically in my previous novellas, I’ve always had a main protagonist and created the plot around them, weaving different characters into the story line. Facets of the Past is no different. The main players are Hank, our hero, Karl and his niece, the evil villains and masterminds behind the treacherous deed that Hank finds himself embroiled in. Early in the piece we meet Helena, an official of the museum (imperial palace) who helps Hank become accustomed to his responsibilities as a tour guide. Initially, I thought of leaving it at that, but something told me to create a little more of a role for her, which would bring more depth to Hank’s character. So after some soul searching, her persona became more involved with the plot while still remaining in the wings of the story’s suspense. You might be asking yourself, is there a little romance between the two? Well I will let you decide and be the judge of the path I chose for them.

The Author’s Story

Born in Dublin, Dr Monique Gliozzi, a graduate from the University of Western Australia medical school, has a keen interest in forensic sciences and psychiatry. She works as a psychiatrist in Perth, with ties to the UWA School of Psychiatry, where she has had a role as a senior clinical lecturer. Her love for teaching granted her a nomination for an Excellence in Teaching Award in 2016.

Monique also holds an interest in aviation. She trained at the Royal Aero Club of Western Australia, where she obtained a commercial pilot license. Following this, Monique completed her instructor rating and is now working on a casual basis as a senior flight instructor.

Monique rekindled her passion for writing starting with the fictional thriller Foresight, followed by Hunted and ghostly encounters in Vestige. Her latest book, Diversity, is a compilation of entertaining short stories of different genres.

Find the Author

WEBSITE  — https://moniquegliozzi.com/
BLOG — https://paranormalpsychiatrist.com/
FACEBOOK — https://www.facebook.com/moniquegliozziauthor
INSTAGRAM — https://www.instagram.com/monique.gliozzi/?hl=en
TWITTER — https://twitter.com/GliozziMonique

Buy the Book

AMAZON.COM — https://amazon.com/dp/0228848903
INDIGO CHAPTERS — https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/facets-of-the-past-no/9780228848929-item.html
BARNES & NOBLE — https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/facets-of-the-past-monique-gliozzi/1139129049
RAKUTEN KOBO — https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/facets-of-the-past
SMASHWORDS — https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1076824
APPLE BOOKS — https://books.apple.com/us/book/facets-of-the-past-no-dark-deed-goes-unpunished/id1561052315

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Sliding behind the tapestry immortalizing the king’s coronation, then positioning my flashlight to take full advantage of its beam, I went to work. The old lock cracked within seconds. The click echoing around the room appeared loud to my already adrenaline-laden senses. With a heart pounding like a jackhammer, I reached for the handle, savoring the feeling of cold brass against my clammy palm. The little secret door was finally ajar.

Anyone familiar with old doors would know that they never open quietly, their hinges invariably will creak. This one was no different. A rush of cold musty air rushed past me. Shining the torch, I could see that behind this partition was a short narrow corridor leading to a set of steps. Glancing at my watch, I noted there was still time before a second security sweep would be needed.

Tentatively, I walked into the unknown, first tackling the corridor and steep set of winding stairs to another locked door. As I prepared to pick its lock, images of an archaeological expedition crossed my mind – Tutankhamen. The oppressive musty air, steep dark tunnels and unlawful intrusion were some similarities taunting with my moral compass. I hoped that there were no microorganisms in this space causing a mysterious and deadly affliction or, worse, a curse.

Sweat built on my brow, the tools slipped from between my moist fingers, but eventually I opened the second door, revealing yet another very long tunnel. The ceiling was arched and low, suitable for anyone of shorter stature than my six-foot frame. As I walked bent over like the hunchback of Notre Dame, I calculated the approximate length of this tunnel to be eight hundred yards. Finally, reaching its end, another door beckoned to be unlocked. Putting my skill to good use, within seconds I found myself in a small underground room.

Shining the beam around the space, a sense of uncanny familiarity befell me. Then, at the far end of the antique wine cellar, I recognized a set of wooden steps. I was in the cellar of my cottage! Relieved at having completed this little adventure unscathed, I decided to retrace my steps back to the castle.

“I’ve been waiting for you, Hank!”

Startled, I spun around, my flashlight catching a dark hooded shape emerging from the shadows.

“Who are you? How do you know my name?” The harshness of my tone barely disguised my fear. The figure slowly stepped toward the middle of the room, his head bowed and face still concealed by the hood of what appeared to be a monk’s habit. He stood in silence.

“Who are you?” I demanded. Then, slowly lifting his head toward the light, revealing a sunken midface, sharply jutting jaw, a long beaked nose, and black penetrating eyes, the stranger answered, sending a chill down my spine.

“Call me the Handyman.”

Thank you!

Monique Gliozzi  — we appreciate your sharing your book Facets of the Past: No Dark Deed Goes Unpunished with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

The Lockdown Tales

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Alan Whelan and his contemporary fiction novel The Lockdown Tales

Author’s description

Seven women and three men leave the city to avoid a pandemic. They isolate together in a local farm, where they pass the time working, flirting, eating, drinking, making music and above all telling stories. It happened in Florence in 1351, during the Plague, and gave us Boccaccio’s Decameron.

 

Seven hundred years later, in Australia, it happens again. The stories are very different, but they’re still bawdy, satirical, funny and sometimes sad, and they celebrate human cleverness, love, courage and imagination.

 

“Alan Whelan brings us a clever, sensual and sometimes poignant collection of stories that would make Boccaccio proud”

– Tangea Tansley, author of A Question of Belonging

 

“An old frame for a sharp new snapshot of contemporary Australia”

– Leigh Swinbourne, author of Shadow in the Forest

Creating Characters

I tend to have minor characters who surprise me by insisting on a larger role in my story. I’m always curious as to whether other authors experience this, so I asked Alan Whelan if there was such a character in one of his stories. Here is his surprising and well thought out answer.

I once set out to see what would happen if I let my characters take the reins.

I was starting a historical novel, set in Victorian London. I put my cast in a drawing room together. Most of them were real historical figures, so they obviously had a life outside my book.

I had a direction I wanted to go in, but I let the characters say and do what they were likely to say and do.

So they made conversation, they drank tea and ate muffins, and one of the men started flirting with Ellen Terry, the actor. After I’d written twenty pages of this, I found that … nothing had happened. They were still lounging about in comfortable chairs in a nice drawing room, thanks, and in no mood to go out and have adventures.

So I saved some of the better lines of dialogue and started again. This time I made them get to work. They had things to do if I was to have a story, and I was going to make them work for their existence. I’d give them motives for their actions, but their actions are up to me.

After that experiment I decided that the “I just let the characters lead me” approach is not for me.

The question, for me, is who or what a character is. Like most writers, I expect, I create my people by making composites of two or three people I know, taking bits from each, and then I give them characteristics, experiences, attitudes, habits of speech and so on. So I tend to work out the plot and the characters at the same time.

I usually have an outline of the story I want to tell, and the people in the story have to be people who are likely to do the things that happen in the story. I make their actions as psychologically plausible as I can, and then they do what I say they do.  

Still, I’ve had minor characters turn into major characters, when I hadn’t expected that.

I might have a passing stranger insult the hero so he’s in a bad mood when he meets the heroine. Originally that person is a minor character, probably slightly comic, and I expected they’d only have that walk-on and get-off part.

Then it occurs to me that the story would be stronger if there’s a character hanging around the edge of the action, always saying the wrong thing and being clumsy: spilling drinks on people and generally getting in the way. It adds an extra thread in the story that makes the rope stronger. Also, you can show important things about your lead characters by showing how they react to this nuisance.

So that minor character acquires a more detailed description of his (let’s make it “his”) appearance. I’ll tell the reader what he wears and how he moves. His speech will become more idiosyncratic.

I’ll provide him with a reason for being grumpy and clumsy. Is it a new baby? Lack of sleep? Or illness, or a wound? Maybe he’s got Achilles tendon trouble so he has to hobble everywhere, which can be exhausting and it always hurts, just a little.

But that process isn’t exactly a matter of a minor character demanding more time. It’s more that as the writer I realise that the other characters need him to react to, and maybe the story structure needs him, and it opens the possibility of having a story element that is funny or sad, or both at once, which I like.

So it’s not so much that a character bursts onto the page (or computer screen) fully formed, demanding attention. Not in my writing, or not very often.

Sometimes, if I’m very drawn to a particular character after just one paragraph’s acquaintance, I start looking closer, and suspiciously: that’s one of the signs of a stock figure.

For me it’s more that as I decide to make more use of a small character, I give him or her more depth and weight so she or he can sustain that more prominent role.

Tasso said that the only beings that deserve the name of creators are his God and writers. He actually said “poets”, but let’s extend it to prose writers as well. Writers are our characters’ unknown gods. We make them the way they are, and we set them on their way, both the lead roles and the minor roles.

About the Author

Alan Whelan lives in the Blue Mountains of NSW, Australia. He’s been a political activist, mainly on homelessness, landlord-tenant issues and unemployment, and a public servant writing social policy for governments. He’s now a free-lance writer, editor and researcher.

His story, There Is, was short-listed for the Newcastle Short Story Award in June 2020, and appeared in their 2020 anthology. His story, Wilful Damage, won a Merit Prize in the TulipTree Publications (Colorado) September 2020 Short Story Competition, and appears in their anthology, Stories that Need to be Told. It was nominated by the publisher for the 2021 Pushcart Prize.

His book The Lockdown Tales, using Boccaccio’s Decameron framework to show people living with the Covid-19 lockdown, is now on sale in paperback and ebook.

His novels, Harris in Underland and Blood and Bone are soon to be sent to publishers. He is currently working on the sequel to The Lockdown Tales and will then complete the sequel to Harris in Underland.

Alan Whelan co-wrote the book, New Zealand Republic, and has had journalism and comment pieces published in The New Zealand Listener and every major New Zealand newspaper, plus The Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald.

He wrote two books for the NZ Government: Renting and You and How to Buy Your Own Home. His stories also appear in Stories of Hope, a 2020 anthology to raise funds for Australian bushfire victims, and other anthologies.

Find the Author

His website is alanwhelan.org.
He tweets as @alannwhelan.
His phone number is +61 433 159 663.
Enthusiastic acceptances and emphatic rejections, also thoughtful questions, are generally sent by email to alan@alanwhelan.org.

CONNECT WITH ALAN WHELAN
WEBSITE: https://alanwhelan.org/
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/alanNwhelan
ADD THE LOCKDOWN TALES TO YOUR GOODREADS SHELF
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56931387-the-lockdown-tales

Buy the Book

AMAZON.COM: https://amazon.com/dp/022884052X
AMAZON.CA: https://amazon.ca/dp/022884052X
AMAZON AUS: https://amazon.com.au/dp/022884052X
KINDLE: https://amazon.com/dp/B08SCQ132Q
BOOKSHOP: https://bookshop.org/books/the-lockdown-tales-disobedience-love-patience-and-other-stories-9780228840534/9780228840527
INDIGO CHAPTERS: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/the-lockdown-tales-disobedience-love/9780228840527-item.html
BARNES & NOBLE: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-lockdown-tales-alan-whelan/1138592053
BOOK DEPOSITORY: https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Lockdown-Tales-Alan-Whelan/9780228840527
KOBO: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-lockdown-tales
SMASHWORDS: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1063049
APPLE BOOKS: https://books.apple.com/us/book/lockdown-tales-disobedience-love-patience-other-stories/id1548072263

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

She drank, then coughed. I wanted to put my arm, or perhaps both arms, round her, but it seemed opportunistic. I should just be there, being supportive and putting no extra responsibilities on her.

I heard guitar notes from the house. It was less skilled than what we’d become used to, which meant that Bran was playing. I suspected that when we returned inside Grace and Danny would be gone. Danny’s room was the furthest room from Amelia’s. They’d be there.

Amelia sighed. She’d probably had the same thought. At last she said, “Actually, though, I’m still glad I’m here. This is a lovely place. And these are good people. If we have to be locked down, I can’t think of a better place to be.”

“Yeah. I have no idea what happens now. Yesterday I tuned into the news, for the first time in weeks. None of it’s good. I’m pretty pessimistic, to tell the truth. There’s a second wave. And maybe years to wait for a vaccine. Or even an effective treatment.”

Amelia nodded. “In Boccaccio his people went back to Florence after just 15 days. In reality, that would’ve been too soon. They’d still have been at risk. We might have to be here for months.”

“I’m not going anywhere. Nor’s this place. And I’m not tired of anyone yet.”

Amelia smiled. “Well, I’ll have to try not to be tiresome. I may be doing more work, I mean academic work, from now on.”

I nodded. “Sure. You can borrow my office. Anyway,” I inclined my head towards the house, “let’s face the music.”

We walked from the vast comfort of a sky that didn’t know us or care, to the warmth, where people did both.

Thank you!

Alan Whelan — we appreciate your sharing your book The Lockdown Tales with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

Magical Beasts Series

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Geoffrey Saign and his YA fantasy series Magical Beasts.

Author’s description

Samantha and Jake fight to save their poisoned parents, and instead find themselves in a battle to save the parallel magical world of KiraKu. The two teens discover they must defeat the Evil One—a diabolical master of deception—or their own world will fall too. Samantha must master the mysterious supernatural staff, WhipEye, and find out if she has what it takes to fulfill the prophecy of the true guardian. In a final battle, reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, the two teens will have to risk everything, or lose it all. For Fans of Fantastic Beasts, Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, The Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings.

~ Magical Beasts is now in development for a major motion picture. ~

Getting Surprised by your own Characters

In my books I usually have one minor character who insists on playing a larger role in the story. I’m always curious as to whether other authors experience this, so I asked Geoffrey Saign if he had any such characters in his Magical Beasts series. Well it turns out he had a lot of them! Read on for his interesting answer.

Yes!!! Vampire bat Queen Valera in Book 4, Guardian The Stand, the only book she’s in, is in 5 short scenes. Yet she is so fundamentally important to the story, to the main character, and to the fate of an entire world, that it cannot be overestimated. Plus she is super powerful, mysterious, and interesting! An immortal, she can kick butt, and has no patience for stupidity. But she empathizes with the hero of the series, Samantha (Sam) Green and doesn’t want her to die. When this character first appeared, I had a vague idea about her. Then I loved her immediately and needed to put her into three more scenes. I was so enthralled with her, she came into the climactic ending too.

The same thing occurred in the other books in the series, where a character began as rather mild and ended up as wildly important. In Book 3, Guardian The Sacrifice, the same thing occurred with the Beister, a maniacal killer with huge secrets in his past that directly affected the main character in a shocking way. In Book 2, Guardian The Quest, Drasine, the golden dragon had a significant role, was mysterious, and very powerful. And in Book 1, Guardian The Choice, Heshia, a minor character at first, again became wildly important for the main character, even though she was only in 4 scenes.

Heshia, Drasine, the Beister, and Queen Valera all had a major impact on the main character, the plot, and the ending. They all made my writing more exciting and fun to complete, and the stories richer.

About the Author

Geoffrey Saign’s love of wildlife led him to write the award-winning fantasy series, Magical Beasts. He often experiences the magic of nature and wildlife while hiking and swimming. He has a degree in biology and has assisted in field research on hummingbirds and humpback whales. Geoff loves to sail big boats, hike, and cook—and he infuses all of his writing with his passion for nature. As a swimmer he considers himself fortunate to live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota. See what he’s up to at https://geoffreysaign.net/magical-beasts

Find the Author & Learn More

Bookbub — https://www.bookbub.com/authors/geoffrey-saign
Goodreads—Magical Beasts Book 1—Guardian The Choice — https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50094484-guardian
Website — https://geoffreysaign.net/magical-beasts-fantasy-book-series/

Buy the Book

Book 1 is FREE April 12-18
Book 2 is 99c April 12-16

Kindle/KU/Paperback Series page — https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07ZR6VDJ8

Audible — https://www.audible.com/pd/Guardian-The-Choice-Audiobook/B081PVPNLN

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $30 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

From Guardian The Sacrifice, Book 3

She peers into my eyes. “What are you willing to do to save your friends? To save the love of your life?”

I slump. Desperation and hope fill my voice. “Anything. Everything.”

Her hands drop away from my face. “Kneel before me.”

I slump down on one knee and lower my head. The woman is power mad, like the crazy kraken Gorgon, and the Evil One. I bite my lip.

“I’m not like either of them,” she says tersely. “This is your test, not mine. Look at me when I speak to you.”

Unable to keep the anger out of my eyes, I lift my head and stare up at her. She reminds me of Tris, able to see what I’m thinking just by looking at me. “Why are you doing this? You’re the Black Dragon. A caretaker. Why are you hurting us?”

She ignores my questions. “You and your friends will bring the Beister to me. Agree to this or you’ll never see your friends again.”

When I think of Mom I have to fight back tears—I don’t want to give the Black Dragon any satisfaction. But I do wish I knew more of Mom’s life as an Original. “How do we find the Beister?”

“Answers are coming. For now, get out of my sight.” She grabs my arm and in one fast, twisting motion she tosses me out over the river.

Before I hit the water, I see her turn and walk off the bridge. I sink sluggishly as if in slow motion. My arms and legs won’t respond when I try to swim to the surface. I tell my limbs to move, but they won’t. Starved for air, I gulp water instead, my lungs choking on it. Sunlight sparkles on the surface above me, and then I’m descending into oblivion.

Thank you!

Geoffrey Saign — we appreciate your sharing your Magical Beasts Series with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

Looking for More?

This week I’m featuring two more YA fantasy books on my blogs. Check out The Virus of Beauty (post goes up Thursday 4/29) and my review of A Fairy’s Quest.

 

Where Your Treasure Is

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author M. C. Bunn and her historical romance novel, Where Your Treasure Is.

Author’s description

Feisty, independent heiress Winifred de la Coeur has never wanted to live according to someone else’s rules—but even she didn’t plan on falling in love with a bank robber.

Winifred is a wealthy, nontraditional beauty who bridles against the strict rules and conventions of Victorian London society. When she gets caught up in the chaos of a bungled bank robbery, she is thrust unwillingly into an encounter with Court Furor, a reluctant getaway driver and prizefighter.  In the bitter cold of a bleak London winter, sparks fly.

Winifred and Court are two misfits in their own circumscribed worlds—the fashionable beau monde with its rigorously upheld rules, and the gritty demimonde, where survival often means life-or-death choices.

Despite their conflicting backgrounds, they fall desperately in love while acknowledging the impossibility of remaining together. Returning to their own worlds, they try to make peace with their lives until a moment of unrestrained honesty and defiance threatens to topple the deceptions they have carefully constructed to protect each other.

A story of the overlapping entanglements of Victorian London’s social classes, the strength of family bonds and true friendship, and the power of love to heal a broken spirit.

Who Wants Well-behaved Characters?

In my books I usually have one minor character who insists on playing a larger role in the story. I’m always curious as to whether other authors experience this, so I asked M. C. Bunn if she had such a character in her novel, Where Your Treasure Is? (And if she didn’t, I wanted to know how she got the characters in her head to behave so well!)

It turns out her book is full of unexpected characters! Read on to learn the rest of her fascinating answer.

If our characters behaved, we wouldn’t have any stories!

Actually, during the first draft of Where Your Treasure Is, a host of characters completely blind-sided me. Though I never planned per se to write a romance that only focused on the lovers, I was unprepared for the world that opened up around them while I wrote their story. There are Winifred’s cousins, young and old, her Uncle Percival and his manservant Morrant, her staff in the town and country—and George Broughton-Caruthers, her handsome, devilish neighbor. Court is a gang member and horse racing enthusiast. His cronies are other prizefighters, cardsharps, gamblers, prostitutes, and circus folk.

The beginning of Winifred and Court’s story came to me in a flash, as did its end. What I had to find out was what happened in the middle. Every time I sat down to write, thinking that I was about to get back to my lovers, all these characters popped out, and the plot, with all its twists, followed them. What was really strange was how familiar they all were. Dorothy felt like that the entire time she was in Oz. Mentally chasing after these characters through London’s streets and around the Norfolk countryside, so did I.

Yet it was Beryl Stuart, Court’s half-sister, who added a richer, darker layer of complications to a plot that could otherwise have easily been summed up as “lonely rich girl meets poor bad boy” and “the course of true love never runs smoothly.” Because of their differences in social class, Winifred and Court were going to have a rough time of it, no matter what. There’s a dark current that flows out of Court’s world into Winifred’s long before their love story begins, though neither one of them is aware of it. Beryl and her friends bring a second love triangle into the plot, which leads to the next book in the series, Time’s Promise.

I’m also deeply fond of Court’s friend Sam Merton, a boy with a love of firecrackers, rip-roaring yarns, and penny dreadfuls, and Winifred’s memoir-writing uncle, the old adventurer Sir Percival and his manservant Morrant.

About the Author

C. Bunn is a writer of Victorian romance and historical romance novels, a singer (in the indie rock band Mister Felix), and a songwriter. She holds an English degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and a master’s in English from North Carolina State University.

“I’ve always loved writing. It’s a joy to do what makes me happy and to share it.

“My father was a great story-teller. He read to us at the dinner table and passed on his love of history. He’d haul me out of bed in the middle of the night if there was a great old movie on the late show, and family trips always included visits to historic sites. His father was born in 1888, and I have Granddaddy’s letters to his bride-to-be in my dresser. I’m working on the story of Daddy’s first ancestor in America. It’s set in Jamestown, 1690. My mother’s grandmother was placed in an orphanage after the Civil War because her father died on the way home, so I always felt that connection to and had a curiosity about the past. Both of my parents read to me before I could walk. Daddy gave me Dickens, Twain, and Stevenson. Mama put the dictionary in my hands and let me watch I, Claudius  and Shoulder to Shoulder when they first aired on Masterpiece Theatre. She told me I’d be a writer one day.”

Acting was another girlhood passion. “I wanted to play all the characters in the books I’d read, or in the stories I made up, like Dickens and Louisa May Alcott did. I also wanted to be an archaeologist because we knew one who worked on digs in Israel. There was never a time when I wasn’t making up a story, and it was always set ‘a long time ago.’ What I really wished for was the car in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, so I could fly back in time and see what it was actually like for women in Victorian and Edwardian England.”

When she’s not writing, she loves reading long old books. “I love Anthony Trollope’s series, and Anna Karenina. Of more recent vintage, I really enjoyed The Forsyte Saga and The Raj Quartet.”

Her idea of a well-appointed room includes multiple bookshelves, a full pot of coffee, and a place to lie down and read. To feed her soul, she takes a walk or makes music with friends. “I try to remember to look up at the sky and take some time each day to be thankful.”

She lives in North Carolina with her husband and their dog. Where Your Treasure Is is her first published novel.

Find the Author

Website https://www.mcbunn.com/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/mcbauthor/
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/mcbunnauthor/
Twitter https://twitter.com/MCBunn3
Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/bunn6220/

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Chapter 2. A Fool and His Money Are Soon Parted

Approaching the right turn that would take him to Swift Street and the Royal Empire Bank, Court Furor concentrated on traffic. Cold bit his cheeks and hunger gnawed his belly, but he ignored both through force of habit. The soles of his boots were thin and his gloves pointless…No point worrying about what the day would bring, never mind the next one…He was a man of no prospects and no property but preferred to think of it as freedom from responsibility…It was no secret he fancied himself a bit of a lad though he wasn’t overly tempted by long, romantic entanglements. An hour or two with a willing girl would suit…

He directed the horse to a slow walk, trying to secure a place in the queue for the curb. In the gleaming brougham beside him sat a woman, her face hidden under an enormous, bright green hat trimmed with black ostrich feathers. Her driver signaled, and Court tugged his reins…Though a thick veil covered her face, Court caught a glimpse of golden hair, coiled in heavy masses on her shoulders. The wind lifted the edge of her mantle, and he was briefly amazed by the brilliant green of her dress…She’d obviously never missed a meal in her life.

********

Suddenly Geoff and a woman appeared at the bottom of the stairs…Their progress was impeded by the woman’s wildly kicking little boots. Her struggles and the flashes of her bright green and purple silks made her look like an exotic bird thrashing in Geoff’s arms….

Geoff…thrust the woman at him…the woman struggled and kicked…and cried for help. Involuntarily, he clapped his hand over her mouth. She only screamed louder.

“Shut up, you fat sow!” Geoff swatted her across the temple….

The woman’s eyes rolled and she went limp.

Court howled in dismay and caught her… In his arms, she was a mountain of soft cashmere and folds of velvet. Her mantle fell open, and her scent hit him. Lilies and some dark, exotic spice. It was so unexpected and heavenly that the alley and the hackney disappeared. Even his panic was gone.

“…We can’t take ’er!”

Geoff clicked off the safety and waved the pistol under Court’s nose. When Court did not let go of the woman, he pointed the pistol at her head. “I ain’t arguin’! Drive!” He slammed the cab door…

His heart hammering, his head whirling, Court untied the horse, swung up onto the box, and grabbed the reins. As he turned the cab into the street behind the bank, yet another fire truck raced past. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! They were in for it now.

Thank you!

M. C. Bunn — we appreciate your sharing your book Where Your Treasure Is with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

Moscow Nights

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author R.W. Buxton and his urban fantasy/paranormal romance novel, Moscow Nights.

Author’s description

Erin is desperate to save Gerry from shadowy forces that would do anything to prevent him from fulfilling the prophecy. But when she arrives, he’s with another woman and the worst thing is it’s Tina, his former partner at the FBI.

Can she convince him the threat is real, and not just to him, but Mary his young daughter.

Halfway around the world ominous figures hiding in the night plan the unthinkable and Gerry is the only one that can stop them. The threat is genuine but will he believe her? Will he believe in the prophecy? 

Erin must face her own past, a past she thought was over. It opens old wounds that send her careening on a path of destruction. Can she overcome them in time to save Gerry or will she lose everything because of a deep-rooted hurt that can’t be healed?

Guest Post

I love to ask other fantasy authors how much vocabulary they created for the book of theirs which I’m featuring. Author R.W. Buxton surprised me with his answer of  “one word.” Read his interesting explanation of why.

This is an easy one… Just one. Day-walker, a person with vampiric powers that aren’t undead and can survive the sun. Although in this book I break the rule, I guess you’ll have to read it to find out how, and why.

In urban fantasy, in general, I don’t see the need for the creation of many new words. After all, it’s set in the world we are all familiar with. A world we can reach out and touch every day. Sure there are fantastical creatures like vampires, werewolves, or ghosts, but they don’t require that many new words. There is one exception to this, and that’s urban fantasy that involves the Fae. For me, these usually cross over into the realm of true fantasy novels. In this sub-genre I find there is a good deal of new vocabulary and of course new worlds, or should I say realms.

Not that the first draft of Capital Thirst, my first novel, didn’t have its fair share of new vocabulary. After I posted that draft to an author critique site, I received overwhelming feedback that it wasn’t necessary and confused the reader. It disheartened me. I worked hard to create that vocabulary to build a mystic vampire world. Not to mention it was my first novel, and I wanted everyone to love it.

After much thought, I decided these other authors were probably right. It wasn’t necessary, and I wanted the book to take place in the real world, albeit one with vampires. So I took it out.

There is clearly a time and place for creating new vocabulary. Science fiction or pure fantasy, for example. But in the end, it just wasn’t necessary for the type of writing I’m doing. Overall, it just confused things.

About the Author

I love a good paranormal read, something about the un-dead haunts the fringes of my mind. Mix in romance, love, loss, and you have a great story.

I voraciously read everything, fiction, and non-fiction but always find myself turning back to the darker stories. I’ve always wanted to write and the dream became a reality with Capital Thirst, and the remainder of the Erin Kingsly novels.

I spend most of my days designing and building websites, but my free time is devoted to my wife, family, and cats. Yes three grown children and three cats. Things can be hectic.

For fun you might find me driving winding roads with the top down or out photographing nature.

Find the Author

Website — RWBuxton.com
Facebook — R.W. Buxton – Home | Facebook
Twitter — RW Buxton Author (@rwBuxtonAuthor) | Twitter
Bookbub — https://www.bookbub.com/authors/r-w-buxton
Goodreads — https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19658320.R_W_Buxton
Goodreads — https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48481089-capital-thirst
Allauthor — https://allauthor.com/author/rwbuxton/

Buy the Book

NOTE: The book is on sale for $0.99.

Amazon — https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08KXG6CWS
Apple — https://books.apple.com/us/book/moscow-nights/id1527771232
BN — https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/moscow-nights-rw-buxton/1137483626
Kobo — https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/moscow-nights-7

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

The car roared into the small town. She turned down the main street and headed for the road out of town. Free from the town’s confines, the country road that led to the highway lay ahead of her. She floored the gas pedal. The scream of the engine thudded in her ears. She pushed in the clutch without letting off the gas and crammed the car into a higher gear. The tires chirped as the car surged forward. She calculated in her mind that the drive with traffic took an hour or a little less. She had to do it tonight in record time, less than thirty minutes. Trees blurred past the window. The ramp to the highway now loomed ahead of her. She pressed the brake and downshifted to take the turn. The car slid but held the road. On the highway she could let the car loose. She prayed she would make it in time.

Lights flickered past in a constant succession as she tore down the highway. She glanced at the speedometer. She was nearing 190 kilometers per hour. It wasn’t all the car could do, so she pushed harder. Her head swam with images of Gerry as he faced Dumitru alone. The possibilities of what might happen to Tina.

Thank you!

R.W. Buxton — we appreciate your sharing your book Moscow Nights with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

Once Upon A Princess Trio

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Deborah A. Bailey and her three fairy-tale inspired paranormal romance novellas entitled Once Upon A Princess Trio.

Author’s description

Formula for Fairy Tale Love:
1 adventurous Heroine + 1 tortured-but-noble Hero = Happily-Ever-After

For all the innate complications involved in finding the secret to blissful fairy-tale love with shape-shifters, three wise and discerning princesses trust their hearts instead of their eyes and fall in love with the unlikeliest of princes.

“Heart of Stone:” Leesa trespasses into a haunted palace, where she meets a gargoyle. Breaking the spell that cursed him may carry a price steeper than she’s able…or willing…to pay.

“Beauty & the Faun:” Kayla flees an arranged marriage and falls for a faun shifter instead. But how can she ignore her duty by refusing to marry a prince?

“Land of Dreams:” Cicely knows she possesses magical ability. Falling in love with the courageous, self-sacrificing Willem may be the key to her awakening…or may unleash forces that will separate them forever. (Sequel to Heart of Stone)

Box set includes books 1-3 of the Once Upon A Princess paranormal fairy-tale inspired romance novellas.

Using Fairy Tale Elements in the Once Upon A Princess Novellas

I asked author Deborah A. Bailey to tell us how much vocabulary she created for her fantasy worlds in this trio and I got back fascinating information about what guided the creation of her entire worlds. Enjoy her answer.

For my worldbuilding, I considered creating words for the worlds I was writing about. But as it turned out I only ended up creating one word, “Malida.” The reason I created it was because I wanted to use it during a conversation between the hero and heroine in Heart of Stone. Willem, the hero, uses that word to refer to the heroine’s grandmother. The grandmother is a former queen of the province where the story is set. In the aftermath of a war, the heroine, Leesa, and her grandmother are (as far as they know) the only remaining members of the royal family.

When Willem asks Leesa about her grandmother he calls her Malida, which is also a term of endearment. It means “great mother.” For Willem to know that name, he would have to have known more about the family than he’s admitting.

Though I didn’t focus on creating the words and language for those worlds, Since they’re based on fairy tales, I made sure to include certain elements. For instance, I included princesses,  magic, and fantasy creatures. In Heart of Stone Willem is a gargoyle who is under a magical curse. He lives in a deserted palace and he has access to enchantments that were left there by the former inhabitant.

In Beauty and the Faun, the heroine ends up escaping into the Great Forest and it becomes a refuge. Forests are often used fairy tales as places filled with magic and mystery. Satyrs, forest nymphs, centaurs and fauns are among the inhabitants of the Great Forest. Each group has their own culture and behavior that they’re known for. The heroine finds these creatures when she enters the forest, and they show that this is an entirely different world than the one outside.

In Land of Dreams the Great Forest is also included, along with fauns and water nymphs. I added additional magical characters, such as elementals, shifters, and river deities. There’s also a character called the Night Queen who presides over the elementals. While I would’ve loved to have created other words (and languages) for the stories, I made sure to include many fantasy elements and fairy tale touches to set the mood.

About the Author

Deborah A Bailey’s Science Fiction & Paranormal Romance novels include suspense, a bit of mystery and a lot of romantic heat. Her books include the Hathor Legacy science fiction romance series and the Family Pride and Once Upon A Princess shapeshifter paranormal romance series.

Her short stories have won awards from the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference and have been published in US1 Magazine and the Sun and are included in, Electric Dreams: Seven Futuristic Tales. She’s the author of non-fiction books, and articles for various online publications.

Visit her site https://dbaileycoach.com/brightbooks for more information and subscribe to the newsletter here: https://eepurl.com/bokGdX so you’ll be the first to find out about giveaways, book launches and sneak peeks.

Find the Author

Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/AuthorDeborahB
Twitter — https://www.twitter.com/AuthorDeborahB
Pinterest — https://www.pinterest.com/debstyle3
FaceBook — https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDeborahAB/
Amazon Author Page — https://amazon.com/author/deborahannbailey
Bookbub —  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/deborah-a-bailey

Buy the Book

Buy link (universal book link): https://books2read.com/u/4Dg5xA
Personal Sales page: https://payhip.com/brightbooks

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $40 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Heart of Stone:

Leesa headed up the stairs and stopped at the 2nd floor landing. Eduardo and Erokan’s rooms had been on this floor. Dust was everywhere, but otherwise the furnishings were just as they’d been left. Varmont’s bedroom, private study and library were on the 3rd floor. Most likely he would’ve hidden some of his valuables there. She went upstairs to check. The doors to the Duke’s room, study and library were open. But the fourth door was closed. The treasure room, perhaps?

She opened the door and stepped inside. Strangely, this room wasn’t as dusty as the others. The air was heavy with perfume. Across from the door was a folding screen decorated with blue and yellow flowers. Behind it she could make out the base of a claw-foot tub.

To her surprise, the entire room had a feminine feeling, from the huge bed covered with blush pink coverlets and plush furs to the gold-trimmed white furniture. Even the jewel-encrusted skylight above her had its own beauty, reflecting colorful sprinkles of light over the pale stone walls.

A white cabinet with glass doors caught her attention. The shelves held glass bottles of different shapes and sizes. Some had liquids inside, others were empty. What were these? Perfumes? Or maybe potions.

The Duke used magic. Maybe this was where he’d kept his enchantments. Would they be worth anything? Possibly. But just as Leesa reached out to open the cabinet, the door slammed behind her.

Startled, she spun around. She was alone. Who had closed it? Leesa ran to the door and gripped the handle, expecting the door to open as easily as it had when she’d come in. But it didn’t. She pulled and banged on it, but it wouldn’t budge.

She was locked in.

Thank you!

Deborah A. Bailey — we appreciate your sharing Once Upon A Princess Trio with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

What They Want Us To Know

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Shawndra Mcwhorter and her non-fiction inspirational book What They Want Us To Know: Messages of Hope, Meaning and Unity From the Animal Kingdom.

Author’s description

Have you ever wondered what animals would tell us if they could? This book will give you that chance to find out! By being able to receive downloaded messages from wild and domestic animals, Shawndra translates their messages for us. These animals have shared powerful messages of unity, connection and purpose, and steps that each of us are able to take to deepen the connection, find more meaning in our lives, and become the humans that the animals know we can be. You’ll hear messages from 12 different animals on what they want us to know in order to live a more profoundly amazing life. You’ll be given the opportunity to learn ways to be more compassionate, tolerant and heart-centered, to the animals and to each other.

A Guest Post on Balancing Life, Writing and Work

Even though the idea of this book came to me (was given to me?) in 2004, it took until May of 2020 to begin writing it. I really believe that I had to do a lot of healing work on myself in order to be able to ‘meet’ the animals on their level in the higher realms and translate their messages. I can look back now and see so clearly that I was not as open and ready to hear them then, as I am now. I’ve gone through major healing and evolution in the past several years, and it really feels as if one reason was to be able to be fully present and hear these animals clearly and with an open heart.

So while I was working full-time for the State of Washington, I had a side gig as a Reiki Healer. It wasn’t until May of 2020 that I finally found my way into a writing program. Once I found the right program, the right coach, the right publishing opportunity, the book poured out of me. I was still working both my jobs but it was finally the right time. I was able to submit the manuscript to my publisher three months after I started writing and it’s been a whirlwind since. I still work full-time so when I have to have calls with my publisher, social media manager, web site developer or work on my book promotion I make sure to pack my laptop, lunch and hunker down during any breaks during the day. A lot of this work is done at night. I space out my promotional calendar though over months vs days and weeks just knowing I don’t have the time and space for much more than that.

About the Author

Shawndra McWhorter has been an animal communicator since 2000, and is also an Usui and KarunaⓇ Reiki Master, working with humans and animals. Shawndra has helped more than 500 animals and their humans with her communication and healing skills. Shawndra is a past president of Washington State Animal Response Team (WASART), and also serves on the Board of Directors with Kindred Souls Foundation, both 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations dedicated to helping animals. Shawndra began her disaster animal rescue work in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, where she deployed outside of New Orleans, LA to help rescue and care for the animals left behind. She has deployed to Chile, Peru, and to several states in the US volunteering helping animals recover from disasters. Shawndra also volunteered with Wolf Haven International in Tenino, WA for nearly eight years, and is still active in supporting their mission. She is the owner of Sanskrit Healing, using her skills to help humans, animals and the environment find balance. Shawndra has spent most of her life helping others and won an Emmy for a documentary that she directed and edited on illegal aliens in Southern California. Her approach is to educate and help others make mindful, ethical choices based on facts and data. Shawndra currently lives in Washington State with her dog Norman, who survived the EF5 tornado that hit Moore, OK in 2013.

Find the Author

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Shawndra-Mcwhorter-Author-106688011143920
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shawndramcwhorter/
Shawndra Mcwhorter – https://shawndramcwhorter.com/

Buy the Book

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/What-They-Want-Us-Know-ebook/dp/B08PJ28NWQ/ref=sr_1_1
Goodreads.com:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56422248-what-they-want-us-to-know
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/what-they-want-us-to-know-shawndra-mcwhorter/1138596437

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Chapter Nine Norman the Dog

NORMAN IS THE DOG WHO currently shares my life with me, and as you can see, he is adorable! In 2013, an EF5 tornado hit the vicinity of Moore, Oklahoma, causing two billion dollars of damage, including the major destruction of two schools and more than three hundred homes. It also killed twenty-four people. After the disaster, I volunteered with American Humane to help care for the animal survivors in an emergency shelter. I flew out there and was working with the feral cats and cats with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). A few days after I had arrived, they brought in the last of the “tornado dogs” from the Moore Animal Shelter and put them in a quarantine area. The other volunteers working with the dogs spent all day cleaning crates and walking the dogs. Since I certainly wasn’t taking the cats for walks and feral cats wanted nothing to do with any of us, I had extra time, so I offered to help care for these quarantined dogs.

Thank you!

Shawndra Mcwhorter — we appreciate your sharing your book What They Want Us To Know: Messages of Hope, Meaning and Unity From the Animal Kingdom with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

Oh Good Now This

Today it is my pleasure to welcome Susan Merson and her women’s literary fiction novel, Oh Good Now This.

Author’s description

Starting over is hard enough but when ghosts decide to hitch a ride into the future—things can get complicated.

Widowed Vivi leaves California for a new start back east landing in a college town near her old friend Vikram, now the local ‘spiritual’ leader and disappointing lover. But the two have old business which leads them to uncovering the ghosts they conjured long before and the ones that are haunting them now.  Vivi reclaims her life, — with the help of a couple different dimensions– saying hi to the ghosts who choose to hang around, and growing a new garden and a new life.

We need eerie music for this!

I am fascinated by characters that undergo a major transformation in a story, so I often ask an author if there is such a metamorphosis in the novel I’m featuring. I asked Susan Merson this, and you’ll see her interesting response below. But here’s the thing.

Sometimes, instead, I ask a different questions and it usually goes like this. “In my books I’ve always had one minor character who insisted on playing a larger role in the story. I’m curious: was there such a character in your novel?”

Guess what? Author Merson answered that questions also, and I didn’t even ask it. Cool, huh? Read on …

I like to think of my new book OH GOOD NOW THIS  as a second time around, coming of age story. I am fascinated by how people survive and live their lives fully, especially after loss and the plain old battles of living day to day.

Amanda is a woman in her 60’s who ends up living near Vivi, my protagonist, on a country road, hidden behind tall pine trees. She craves light and strips the house of all its possessions, heaves her clothes into the dumpster, white washes the walls, and scrapes the floors til they shine. Through the large window in her living room she can see the moon and puts her white mattress and white duvet directly in the path of its glow. She can not bear the weight of any memory, any lover, any remnant of what was and lives a reclusive, solo life until she welcomes a young man into her home. He is visiting the local college for a seminar and she needs the money from his room rental.

And she falls in love with him. His easy loping style, his curiosity, his tease of pleasure at her company. Just his presence in the house inspires her to return to the root of who she was as a young woman and she spends her days painting pine cones and making soup, pretending she does not care when or if he returns.

Of course, he leaves, returning to his own life, but freezing Amanda in this new beginning as a person who sees the world deeply, through an artist’s eye once again. And the love she bears for this man-boy, releases the hold her body had on its poisons. Renewed, refreshed, no blockages to hold them back, the old poisons find their way into her body, creating illness when she was just reclaiming life.

Amanda’s death informs the lives of my other characters in this world. The journey she makes from cynical, rejected trophy wife, to full and faulty artist—this unfolding—surprises everyone. And inspires them, as well.

Amanda was a surprise to me when I was writing the book. She showed up when Vivi needed to see how the choices we make in our own lives can affect us, can make our choice for life or death very real. Vivi insists that life is worth the struggle even though she has seen how giving in to poison can loosen our grips and let hope recede. Amanda shoves Vivi toward choosing life at an important juncture in the story and I am grateful she showed up to let me introduce her.

About the Author

Susan Merson began her career as an actress on and off Broadway, in television and film. Co-founding the LA Writers Bloc in 1985 with award winning writer Jane Anderson, she has mentored writers through the Bloc and through her private and university classes in Playwriting, Life Stories, Writing as a Spiritual Practice, Tarot for Writers and the popular VOICING Series.

Her short fiction has been featured in The Jew in America, Nice Jewish Girls (Penguin), The Worcester Review, the Chicken Soup series and several other online platforms.  As a playwright, her award-winning plays have been performed internationally, including her 8 solo plays featured and used as example in YOUR NAME HERE: An Actor Writers Guide to Solo Performance. (Amazon). Long form fiction available on Amazon is her award-winning blog, WHEN THEY GO AND YOU DO NOT and her first novel DREAMING IN DAYLIGHT.  OH GOOD NOW THIS, her newest novel launches 12/1/21.

She is a tarot reader and counselor, a maker of quilts, clothing and whimsy.  Susan is a humble mother and a proud resident of New York City.

Find the Author

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/susanmersonauthor
WEBSITE: http://www.susanmerson.com

The author has also done a series of five videos regarding the use of Tarot for writers (for more information, visit her website):

TAROT FOR WRITERS #1:  INTRODUCTION
An introduction to using your own intuitive powers to tap into the resonance of Tarot images, packed with archetypes and symbols, to jumpstart inspiration for your artistic projects.
**CORRECTION: The Raziel Tarot Deck is designed by artist Robert Place with commentary by Rachel Pollack. https://youtu.be/LGONsfOayJg

TAROT FOR WRITERS #2: LANDSCAPE
Explore the landscape of story. Entering the world of the card offers visceral clues to the landscape of your writing. https://youtu.be/Mwq9x-I9oQE

TAROT FOR WRITERS #3: CHARACTER
A brief exploration of character and how to find their first basic journey. Look deeply at the character clues in the cards and throw three cards to begin their adventure. https://youtu.be/CuovTNQ5ztk

TAROT FOR WRITERS #4:  WHAT STORY SHOULD I WRITE TODAY
On pulling cards to intuitively discover the story, the genre, the themes and the major turning points of a new story. https://youtu.be/eHm0mVSNaPo

TAROT FOR WRITERS/ #5 TIMELINES AND DEEPER DIVE INTO RELATIONSHIPS
Timelines and going deeper into relationships with pro and antagonists. The more cards you draw the more information you can gather. https://youtu.be/EClPq0e-H70

Buy the Book

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/…/oh-good-now…/1138532579
Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1546617489
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Good-Now-This-Susan…/dp/B08RCXVNTX/

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

They have settled into their chairs and Tara is tossing some cards, shuffling them and getting a feel. She flips over three cards.

“Oh, my dear. Some bleak times, past, yes?”

Vivi is startled by this pronouncement. “Well, it’s been a time of change, I’d say.”

“Change?” says Tara. “You betcha. This Tower card is about the whole thing coming crashing down. But it’s in the past position. See here? This is the present,” she shows Vivi the 7 of cups. It’s a picture of a man taking a look at a whole gallery of possibilities. “Look at him”, Tara says. “He’s got lots of things to choose from.”

“Well, that sounds good,” says Vivi tentatively.

“Not bad. Don’t get over infatuated with the possibilities. And the last one… here. The Hermit. Yep.”

“What’s that mean?”

“Oh it’s fine. Just a time to go inside and let things percolate. Inner wisdom and all that. Not a bad sentence!” Tara laughs again. “Now. Anything specific on your mind?” Tara continues to flip cards. “So,” she says. “Who is this guy? This King keeps showing up. King of Cups? He fell out of the deck twice while I was shuffling. “Who is this guy who won’t leave you alone?”

Vivi is mystified. “How did you…?’

“Oh, it’s not magic. The cards just know, that’s all. They pick up what you bring. Who is this guy?”

On a personal note:

I learned to read Tarot Cards at 17 years old, in the first creative writing class I ever took. My English teacher was way ahead of her time!  I agree with Susan Merson that Tarot readings are wonderful for many things, including providing inspiration for an author.

Thank you!

Susan Merson  — we appreciate your sharing your book Oh Good Now This with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

A Summer Wedding at Cross Creek Inn

Today it is my pleasure to welcome Cheryl Holt  and her Contemporary Women’s Fiction novel A Summer Wedding at Cross Creek.

Author’s description

From New York Times bestselling author, Cheryl Holt, comes a sparkling, fast-paced novel about the complexity of family—and all the ways they can drive us crazy.

The lavish Layton-Benjamin wedding promises to be an event to remember, and the groom’s wealthy parents have spared no expense to impress their guests by hosting it at the exclusive Cross Creek Inn, a private mountain retreat tucked away in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. But the bride and groom are from completely different backgrounds, and they’ve only known each other for a few months, so it’s been a ‘hurry-up’ engagement that has everyone worried.

 When the groom arrives late and tempers start to flare, it’s clear the wedding is a minefield that has to be carefully navigated. As parents and friends begin taking bets over whether the happy couple will make it to the altar, secrets are revealed, new loves emerge, and true happiness is finally found.

Book your visit to the Cross Creek Inn! A witty, fun summertime story about family, friendship, and finding out what matters most—that only Cheryl Holt could tell.

From a Caterpillar into a Butterfly

When I got the chance to ask author Cheryl Holt anything, I wanted to know more about her characters and specifically about the ones that make a transition from a caterpillar into a butterfly.

Holt is a very experienced author, and I appreciate her guest post because it also includes her take on when a character shouldn’t show growth.

Read on for her fascinating response.

I have been writing novels for twenty-five years now, so I’ve gotten really good at making sure there’s a good character arc for nearly all of my characters.  I like to have all of their issues resolved at the end so, for example, if a character is unhappy and lonely at the beginning of a novel, she will wind up happy and together with someone at the end.

That said, I’m also renowned for writing characters who are driven and determined to achieve a goal, and those people usually don’t change during the story.  They are typically my villains, but I’m hailed as the “International Queen of Villains”, which means I write some of the best (worst) villains in American fiction.  One of the reasons they’re so fun and infuriating is that they don’t ever alter their behavior.  If my villain is seeking revenge at the beginning of the novel, he’ll still be fussy and stewing at the end—even though he’s been thwarted.  He will never relent, and the book wraps up with him trying to figure out how to restart his plot in a more successful way.  That sort of maddening focus is one of the things that makes a good villain.

In my new novel, A Summer Wedding at Cross Creek Inn, I would have to say that the character who makes the biggest transition in the story is the bride’s sister, Rachel.  In the beginning of the book, Rachel is grouchy, testy, and in a permanent bad mood.  She is the sibling who’s always had a chip on her shoulder, who’s always felt as if the other siblings got a bigger slice of life than she did.  She’s permanently convinced that everyone is luckier and happier than she is—even though she could change her life whenever she’s ready.

She’s her sister’s maid-of-honor, but she’s so unhappy it seems like she might deliberately sabotage the wedding in petty, juvenile ways.  But by the end, she turns out to be a champion to her sister, and in the process, she manages to completely change her life and head off in a new direction.

I think she’s fun, and when her life turns around, readers will be cheering for her.

About the Author

CHERYL HOLT is a New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon “Top 100” bestselling author who has published over fifty novels.

She’s also a lawyer and mom, and at age forty, with two babies at home, she started a new career as a commercial fiction writer.  She’d hoped to be a suspense novelist, but couldn’t sell any of her manuscripts, so she ended up taking a detour into romance where she was stunned to discover that she has a knack for writing some of the world’s greatest love stories.

Her books have been released to wide acclaim, and she has won or been nominated for many national awards.  She is considered to be one of the masters of the romance genre.  For many years, she was hailed as “The Queen of Erotic Romance”, and she’s also revered as “The International Queen of Villains.”  She is particularly proud to have been named “Best Storyteller of the Year” by the trade magazine Romantic Times BOOK Reviews.

She lives and writes in Hollywood, California, and she loves to hear from fans.

Find the Author

Visit her website at http://www.cherylholt.com.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/officialcherylholt/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/theCherylHolt
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/36853.Cheryl_Holt

Buy the Book

Amazon Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08QNMMNJW

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding autographed print copies of the book (US ONLY) to 10 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Sharon…

The view out the window of her suite was spectacular, and Sharon was trying to enjoy it.  She was surrounded by thick, verdant woods, and off in the distance, stark mountain peaks rose, seemingly to the stratosphere.  Even though it was mid-July, they were dotted with snow.

She’d never been what might be described as a mountain person.  Being a typical Californian, one who’d been born and raised in Los Angeles, she’d had her auras read and her chakras aligned and her pores opened.  She was a water person, and she lived on the beach in Malibu where she could stare out at the ocean.

Still though, the Colorado scenery was beautiful, and she had to remember that it was and focus on that fact.  It was awfully quiet though, and the silence would take some getting used to.  In Malibu, with its lone highway that was constantly clogged with cars, there was always a hum of traffic.  It was a regular drone that never ended.

She wondered if the serenity and isolation might gradually drive her crazy, but then, she was staying in Colorado for four short days.  She could endure any torment for four days.  Couldn’t she?

On Sunday morning, after Eric and Jennifer departed on their honeymoon, she would head back to California, and the appalling weekend would be over.

As the mother of the groom, she should have been more excited, but she couldn’t muster the necessary enthusiasm.  Initially, she’d decided she wouldn’t attend, but friends had nagged until she’d changed her mind.  So…here she was, but she wasn’t glad about it, and she had to alter her mood, bury her misgivings, and forge on with a positive attitude.

Thank you!

Cheryl Holt — we appreciate your sharing your book A Summer Wedding at Cross Creek with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.