I’m pleased to welcome Esther Chilton to my blog today with her new release which is currently on pre-order – the release date is Saturday 27th June, 2020.
I’ve met Esther on many occasions at the Bloggers Bash in London. She’s a lovely lady and it’s a lovely treat to have her feature on my blog today.
Fed up with rejection after rejection? Not sure how to target the right market, or what to write about?
Writers Bureau tutor, editor and freelance writer, Esther Chilton takes you through the necessary steps to gain publication whether you’re just starting out or have been writing for a while.
Topics include writing:
You’ll find information on market research, how to set your work out and send it, as well as lots of useful tips, examples and writing exercises to give you ideas and build on your writing skills with the aim of publishing your work.
A Helping Hand for Writers
Here an extract from the book – it’s from the Sizzling Story Ideas chapter, which features lots of prompts and writing exercises. Location A tranquil beach with a blazing riot of a sunset and the gentle lapping of waves into shore is the perfect setting for a romance story, but more mundane locations can also generate a compelling story idea. How about your local market? You may be poking and prodding at the apples when you see a child out of the corner of your eye. In your story, the child could steal an apple from the stall. Perhaps the child has run away from a terrible homelife or maybe he/she is doing it as a dare to look good in front of a group of friends. Another possibility is a bully, lurking in wait, ready to taunt the child if he/she doesn’t carry out the act. One option is to tell the story through the child’s eyes. This always stands out and adds an extra element of emotion. So, as well as thinking up locations for your stories, take note of what’s around you. Inspiration often strikes where and when you least expect it. Writing exercise Want some more? The following are just a few locations to stimulate places for an entertaining and compelling story. The story threads suggested here may bring others to mind. Write down your ideas: An old house that’s been boarded up for a long time. Walking past one evening, your character notices there’s a light on. Who is in there? A ghost? A squatter? An axe-murderer? A group of teenagers? A supermarket. A woman starts screaming. What’s wrong with her? What/who has she seen? Or is she mentally ill? There’s a crash from outside. What’s going on? An accident? An attack? A bedroom. Has someone died in the bedroom? Now? Or years before? Perhaps the bedroom has a secret door into another world, or it’s just a hiding place for secrets. Some woods. A person may be killed, or become lost in the woods. Or maybe something happened there years before – something supernatural and unexplained. It could be happening all over again. Alternatively, two dog walkers meet in the woods and love blossoms. A school reunion. Could feuds have festered over the years? Will first loves be there and once more rekindled? Is there someone there who shouldn’t be?
Esther has regularly written for writing magazines such as Writers’ Forum and Writing Magazine. She has also had her work featured in a diverse range of magazines and newspapers, including The Guardian, Best of British, Your Cat, Prima, My Weekly and The People’s Friend, to name a few.
Winner of Writing Magazine, Writers’ News, The Global Short Story and several other writing competitions and awards, Esther has also judged writing competitions. For over ten years, Esther has been a tutor for The Writers Bureau and after requests from students, she put together a collection of her stories – The Siege. Esther’s latest book of short stories, A Walk In the Woods is out now.
Esther has been working on her first non-fiction book to help writers get published –Publication Guaranteed (Well, Almost!). It’s the first in her A Helping Hand For Writers series and is available as an e-book. A paperback will follow shortly. In addition to tutoring, Esther works as a freelance copyeditor offering an editing, guidance and advice service for authors and writers. She has edited novels, non-fiction books, articles and short stories. You can find out more about it here: https://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com/editing-proofreading-and-advice-service/ If you’d like Esther’s help, or would like to know more about what she can do for you, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org Links:
Welcome to Claire Fluff Llewellyn, she is sharing news about her new book.
A collection of rhymes for troubling times; reaching out to the weary with a virtual hug!
From poems about sleep to murderous sheep! It’s an eclectic mix of sincerity, sentiment, satire and silliness, served up as three “facets of life”: LIFE, LOVE, LAUGHTER. Share in the joy & sorrow, or re-live your own! Puzzle at the twisted, dark humour of drunken Santas & Hollywood Hookers!
Life’s a roller-coaster of ups & downs, smiles & frowns. Won’t you take a ride in rhyme?
Also, I’m running a competition for verified ebook purchasers to win a signed print copy of the book. In the poem titled: JUST LIKE THE MOVIES: The Twisted Tale of a Hollywood Hooker, I used 36 movie quotes. To enter send proof of purchase plus all correct movie quotes with the movie title to: email@example.com
Details of my first book: LOVE is a KILLER:
Love is a Killer is a compilation of poems and songs on the subject of LOVE; more specifically: HEARTBREAK.But WAIT!…
This is no ordinary collection of sorrowful musings: split into four parts, this book explores the dark depths of not only the fragile human heart, but also the twisted mind of love-crazed killers and love-sick monsters.
Born in Worcester, England, Claire Llewellyn first took an interest in poetry at an early age through primary school readings of Roald Dahl. She also developed a penchant for music, and the horror genre. Her schooling required her to write crea$vely in all formats and she soon acquired an affinity for it, constantly writing rhymes and short stories.
In her late teens, she pursued her musical interests and formed a band, ‘Stir Crazy’, performing classic rock covers and original material. She headed the band as lead vocalist and lyricist. When they disbanded, she bounced around musical groups and added the nickname “Fluff” as part of her persona in a new theatrical rock band venture that never came to fruition. However, it was her musical pursuits that lead her to move to Illinois in 2004.
As new opportuni$es arose, she became embroiled in a different kind of stage performance as an assistant to a Gothic illusionist. This adventure exposed her to the world of independent horror film making. She branched out into acting and ultimately formed her own small production company, ‘Bloody Brit Productions’, through which she directs her own screenplays.
Whilst fond of traditional rhyming verse, which she mostly ascribes to, maturity has afforded her the confidence to experiment a li7le. Poetry, and writing in general, has helped her through some tough times, allowing her to express difficult emotions, and even showcase that cheeky British humour.
She mostly publishes dark, and some$mes humorous, poetry that is both fictional and nonfictional under her own imprint: Bloody Brit Press.
Today, it is my great pleasure to welcome author of family drama and mystery genres, book reviewer, and enthusiastic supporter of the writing community James J. Cudney to my blog.
Jay is sharing some fascinating insights into his writing life. And Jay’s books are on promo during May! (So whatever you do don’t miss out on the offer links towards the end of the interview.)
In my interviewer mode I sometimes like to call myself MJ… So, donning my MJ superpowers… Lol. Let us begin.
MJ:I’d love it if you could tell me a little about yourself and your writing journey.
Jay: Writing has always been part of my life, but it went on the backburner after graduating from college. I’d jot a few lines down here and there… everyone at work would send me their documents to proof or fix. Friends would ask for advice on how to summarize a situation or meeting. Then I worked for 15 years in a complex corporate and technology role. I had no time to write, but when I left in 2016, I decided to explore my passion again. Three years later, I have eight books. I seriously don’t know how it happened… I mean I do… but really… it feels like someone else lived this life and now that I’m back in a corporate technology role, figuring out how to balance both of these versions of me at the same time is almost impossible. The one thing I do know: I am thrilled to be a part of the literary book world, and I will never leave it again!
MJ: I’d love to find out more about you. Where are you from? What anecdotes would you like to share? What makes you tick?
Jay: I was born in Fort Myers, Florida in the USA. Various ancestors immigrated to the US between 1750 and 1900 from Germany, England, Ireland, and Scotland. Three of thirty-two branches seem to have arrived before 1750 but I cannot be certain when. The last person to emigrate was in 1910, so we’ve been here for a very long time. They mostly settled in the PA-NY region, and my immediate family all grew up on Long Island, the suburbs of New York City and not too far from the Hamptons. Although I lived a 45-minute drive or train ride from NYC, I only visited a handful of times before I turned twenty-one years old. My parents weren’t big fans of the city, and as an only-child, I didn’t get out very much. It’s amusing that I now live here, and my parents visit at least one Sunday a month for brunch and to wander around a new neighborhood with me. I also like to learn about new cultures and visit different parts of the world. I’ve been to Europe, Asia, and South America. I’ve been to Canada and Mexico numerous times, and 35 / 50 states. I would love to get to Africa and Australia this decade. I much prefer colder weather, so I’m even open to a trip to Antarctica and the Arctic Circle.
MJ: Some ‘marketing experts’ advise that you should have one photo of yourself on all of your social media. I notice you have several, and one with a very fetching bow tie. What are your thoughts on this? (I tend to think it is nice to have more than one photo as it gives an indication of aspects of the author’s personality.)
Jay: I agree with you 100%. When I think of a single picture, I think of fake advertising. It’s a specific pose to reach a specific audience. I have one professional picture which was taken on my last day at a prior job, so I could use it on LinkedIn for future networking. I like having different looks so my personality shines through. I love the bow tie photo – it’s from a wedding I went to in Florida three years ago… for… the narrator I mentioned earlier! Thank you for the compliment. That’s pretty much my natural everyday look… okay, joking… it’s definitely not the normal me, but I do like to have a bit of fun in my photos.
MJ: Yes, why not and we both like avatars! Here’s yours!
MJ: I’ve never been to New York, or to the USA. Sigh. As we are confined to our homes during this time it would be lovely if you describe your favourite view from your home? Or a favourite place you enjoy going to.
Jay: Quarantine is definitely an experience we shall not forget. I don’t mind it much because I’m a homebody, but I do miss getting out to see friends or eating at restaurants. I’m lucky in that I have a large one-bedroom apartment in a safe and quiet part of the city. It also has a seven-hundred-square-foot terrace and I’m on the top floor, so I can see great horizons and look upon parts of the East River. I have flowerboxes and large trees on the terrace, including a small arbor and several bushes, as well as a dining area and a lounging area.
When I feel trapped, I can step onto the terrace and experience a bit of nature and the sounds of the city. Sometimes it’s too windy, but it’s usable from March thru November, as long as the temperature stays above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. I spent a good part of this morning assembling a raised flower bed to grow vegetables this summer. Tonight, we’ll eat outside. It’s a bit of a magical place.
MJ: How delightful. I love your colour scheme and how nature joins you on your terrace.
MJ: You read and review so many books. I’m in awe. Do you believe that all authors should read extensively/review? How important do you think it is for an author to read in multiple genres?
Jay: I am a lucky guy, and I am grateful for all that I have been given. I live with my partner, but we do not have children. We have a rambunctious two-year-old shiba inu dog named Baxter.
Other than those two, and my job, and visiting family and friends, my time is pretty much my own. I am able to prioritize non-work hours to focus on writing, reading, and blogging. Up until three years ago, I didn’t have a blog nor had I written a book, so my reading choices came from book series I’d come to enjoy and finding new books at the store. Suddenly, when my blog took off and I published my debut novel, my reading choices skyrocketed. I was getting books from publishers for free, subscribing to NetGalley, and meeting bunches of indie authors who wanted to share book reviews. I made it a priority to get to know them, as it helped my own book marketing skills and I built a network of amazing people around the world. Now, I feel guilty because I’ve met so many wonderful authors yet I cannot find the time to read all their books. I split my reading in half now. Fifty percent comes from series or authors I enjoy reading, and the remaining half comes from indie authors I’ve met or new authors I occasionally try to help when time permits. I do think authors should read in all genres they write in, plus a few others to learn how to blur the lines. It’s hard to review when I’m writing or editing, so I need to balance those pieces. It’s important for authors to know their limits and not spread themselves too thin. It’s also important to make connections and help others just as we’ve been helped in the past.
MJ: We’re on the same page. I’ve had so much help in this writing journey so I love to pay it forward by helping other authors too. It is all about community. I love your dog – so cute!
MJ:How do you manage your time? I believe you returned to full-time work recently. I also work full-time (but for now I am on furlough.) Generally, I find it difficult to find the time to do what I want… But, you seem to smash it, what’s your secret?
Jay: Thank you – that means a lot. I do pride myself of multi-tasking and achieving a lot in a brief amount of time. I’m super-organized and keep an Excel document with a list of tasks and a list of posts planned for my blog going out for 3 months. I have several ‘open’ spots for when something new comes up, but it contains all my marketing plans for my own books, all my blog segments, and all the books I plan to read. I fill in once a week with something new that comes up… that way, when someone asks if I can share a post on them, I sometimes can make it work. I also know when I am tapped out and can’t do anything else, given my schedule.
I get up 2 hours before I start work so that I can spend 90 minutes clearing my email and social media accounts. I want to start work with confidence that I’m not already behind. I run through it again at night, balance cooking, the gym, and errands, and then I make time to read for an hour or so before bed. I keep to a routine, and I ask myself every morning – what are my priorities today? Nothing changes them, short of an emergency or better method of accomplishing a task… I’m dedicated to keeping this running smoothly, and when I need the downtime, I take it. That’s the only real advice I have in this realm, but it works for me.
The new job after three years has been difficult to adapt to. I lost ten hours a day, which basically equates to reading 2 books per week and writing 10 chapters per week. So… I knocked my Goodreads Reading Challenge down from 208 to 104 this year, and I will publish only 2 books instead of 3, as originally planned. I’m sorry about the work situation for you. I hope things change quickly… it’s a little scary what the future could bring, but maybe it will turn around faster than we expect.
MJ: Yes, it is scary. I hope the turn around is faster Jay. Thank you so much for your kind words. Luckily, I’m at that stage in my life when writing full-time is my end goal. Perhaps that goal post might be brought nearer than I originally expected.
MJ: What are your favourite authors and books. What have they taught you?
Jay: I’m a big fan of Agatha Christie, Ken Follett, Kate Morton, Edgar Allan Poe, and Henry James. Although I’m not nearly as talented, I’m probably a combination of all five of these amazing authors. They’ve taught me how to balance the detail and depth of a character with letting readers have their own imagination. Often a review will say I’ve added too much to the picture, but I think there’s always room for creativity, and what I project might be different from what the reader perceives.
MJ: How did you find your recent video interview experience with Valentina?
Valentina is so easy to work with, and I actually relaxed more than I expected. Two years ago, I was on a radio show, and I spoke too quickly and softly. I was better this time, but I still felt like I could be more personable and outgoing than I come across. I recommend all authors do something like this, then learn how you’re perceived. It helps you create your image and figure out how to interact with others in a way that makes you shine. You should give it a try, then we can learn more about you too. 😊
MJ: Oh, how terrifying! I am considering starting a Youtube channel but will need to get some practice in before I dare to chat with Valentina.
MJ:If you could introduce me to one of your favourite characters what would they say to me.
Jay: Help! He’s making me do things I never thought I’d do. Please, I’ll pay you to stop him from controlling my actions. (Ah, there’s my humor coming out…)
MJ: Love it! Every book needs at least one funny character.
MJ:Finish and edit this sentence to reflect you, the day to day Jay: Each day one of my socks goes missing… (This happens to me all the time!)
Hmm… did the washer or dryer eat them? Each day one of my socks goes missing… Baxter has an unhealthy fetish for fabric, and he is vicious about socks. If there’s ever a sock that falls from the drawer or the laundry basket, he steals it. Aggressively, then he growls when I try to take it back. It’s nuts. He’s the sweetest dog until socks are involved. I find half eaten socks all over the apartment. I’ve threatened to make him pay for the replacements out of his dog food allowance.
MJ: Now I know who the culprit is. Baxter has been teleporting here to eat our socks too. Naughty doggy!
MJ:How do you decide on the titles for your books.
The titles in the Braxton Campus Mysteries are a play on words. The 1st and the 2nd word mean one thing together, and then 2nd and the 3rd mean something entirely different. Take the latest: Frozen Stiff Drink. Frozen Stiff means you’ve got a dead body. Stiff Drink means you need something to relax. Not only are those the two themes to the book, but it’s a clue to the murder weapon in this mystery. It’s the same setup for the first five in the series too, except Academic Curveball is only two words. Here’s where I messed up… I honestly thought curveball was two words, so the title was Academic Curve Ball, meaning Academic Curve and Curve Ball… the book was about grades being changed on the baseball team, so it was a cool title… then a beta reader pointed out that it was one word. I was heartbroken for days and thought of different titles… couldn’t work it out!
MJ:Giveaways of books, got any tips?
Jay: Rafflecopter has some free options. I like doing random comment winners on a blog post. Ultimately, people want free stuff, so you have to do them… but then shipping can be expensive for physical books. I usually focus on audiobooks or Kindle editions. I participated in the Goodreads giveaways when they were free, but when they went to over $100, I didn’t see the value in getting your money back, so I stopped doing those. Instagram has become very popular for them.
MJ: How do your family and friends respond to your writing career? Are they supportive?
Jay: They are supportive. My mom and a few other relatives read all the books. Some haven’t said anything, and occasionally… it bugs me. I’d happily give them to them for free, but I don’t like pushing my work on others either. Friends have surprised me. Some haven’t offered to help in any way, shape, or form. Others who weren’t that close have been super supportive. I think it just comes down to those who like books read them, those who aren’t readers ignore it! I am totally okay with it because everyone has their own online stores or products and services. I can’t or haven’t done tons to help them either… it’s impossible to keep up, and with friends, you always know they’d be there if you really needed them to be. For the most part, they all think it’s cool. I hardly ever bring it up around others tho, as I feel weird about it. It’s not a secret, but I tend not to discuss my writing career with friends and family unless they ask me questions.
MJ: Do you plot a little, or a lot? Or not at all?
Jay: 100% start with a plot and detailed outline that notes 2 or 3 scenes and the key things to happen in them. But it might only say something like “Kellan goes to the diner and overhears a conversation that provides him a clue about the time of the murder. Involves Character A and this location.” As I’m writing the beginning of the scene, I decide who else should appear in it from the supporting cast, so that I can share side stories and keep the feel of a wonderful small community. I try to include 3 or 4 of these in each book so I can have a larger series in development over time.
MJ:What do you think of social media? Any tips for managing the time suck that it is.
Jay: I absolutely hate it. But it’s absolutely necessary. Routine is best. I have one for all sites I’m on. I follow it in the morning and again when I’m done with work. If I let myself go on again before bed, it’s more casual and I’ll just randomly check for tags or people that I’m curious about. It’s important to limit your time, otherwise you’re going down the rabbit hole. Two hours max a day for me, and then I force myself to switch to genealogy, Spades, or random Wikipedia reads.
MJ: Tell us about your audio book journey. How did you set about transferring your writing so it could be listened to in audio form. Are you a keen audio book fan?
Jay: This one is interesting. I do not like audiobooks. I am a quick reader, and I often read a book in less time than the average reader. This is only because I’ve read over a thousand books this decade, so it’s just become the norm to me. Listening to an audiobook is generally 4 times as long for me. I don’t have that amount of time, plus I like to imagine my own voices for the characters. So… big reveal… shocking, I know, but I don’t actually listen to audiobooks. I also get distracted too easily. If I have headphones or earbuds, I can walk around the apartment. I find myself making coffee and cleaning something, then 10 minutes have gone by and I tuned out of the book! So… I can’t listen to one. I’ve listened to most of mine, because that’s the right thing to do. My publisher handles the selection process, and then the narrator will reach out to me for any tips. I’ve never picked my own narrator… too bad, a good friend of mine is a narrator and I would’ve loved to give him the book! But I’m glad for those who have been selected, and they all bring something extra to the story and the setting.
MJ: It’s great to see that you have your books translated into other languages. How did you arrange this, was it a complex process?
Jay: Oh! This is another one my publisher handled. They told me they were beginning the process, and I had to provide some guidance. A month later, I saw the ad for a book I wrote in Spanish, and I didn’t even know it was done. Shocked, I say! So… I wish I could help there, but I wasn’t directly involved. I’ve now got 5 in different languages, so I’m eagerly figuring out to market them and learning German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish so I can share new types of posts. I’m someone fluent in Spanish, but only in conversation, not in book marketing!
MJ: Have you got any pearls of wisdom for a new writer?
Jay: Know your goals. If you want fame, money, influence, etc. If you just write because you want to write and have no plan or thought about where to go, you won’t (in 99% of the cases) be successful. Be sure to have a 6-month, 1-year, 2-year plan so you can pace yourself and see modest wins in the beginning. Adjust and adapt. Re-baseline. Always think about the future needs and plans.
MJ: Would you ever consider doing a Tik Tok video? Or do you prefer not to.
Jay: Umm… I’ve heard of it. I’ve seen a few. I’m so inundated with everything I have to do now, I can’t take on anything new! LOL I supposed I should learn it at some point tho, right?
MJ: I’m tempted, but… it might embarrass my kids. Not that that would stop me!
MJ: Share a funny story to cheer us all up in Lockdown.
Jay: I wear glasses and contacts. Before quarantine, I wore contacts to work every day. Now that I’m home all the time, I tend to wear my glasses. I try not to wear contacts much now unless I have an important work meeting and need to go on video chat. When I’m walking Baxter in my mask, and it’s a glasses day, they fog up. I’ve almost stepped into traffic, bumped into signs, and had to stop in the middle a sidewalk simply to be able to see and not fall down. It’s embarrassing, and I now put a tissue at the top of the mask. Someone once stopped on the street, about six feet away, and said, “Are you okay, do you need me to call an ambulance?” I must’ve looked like such a fool just staring into space waiting for my glasses to clear up. I mumbled something like “all good, just waiting for my spectacles to defog, ma’am.” As the person walked by making an odd noise, he said, “Actually, I’m a sir.” Lord, I shouldn’t ever talk to people. I’m a mess.
MJ: Lol. That happens to me all the time! No, not being called Ma’am or Sir, my glasses fogging up!
Jay’s books are on promo during May. This week its his debut 2017 novel Watching Glass Shatter, Download the Kindle format here as it’s only .99 from 5/17 thru 5/21.
Frozen Stiff Drink: Death at Danby Landing, the 6th book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, will be available as a .99 Kindle download. via Amazon.
The 3rd book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries series Flower Power Trip is on sale for only .99 cents from 5/20 thru 5/24. You can download it to your Kindle here
The 4th book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, Mistaken Identity Crisis, is available for only .99 as a Kindle download from May 21st thru 25th. If you haven’t experienced this mystery and family drama, get it now via Amazon.
Not only were many of the books in the Braxton Campus Mysteries discounted to .99 this week, but the 5th book, Haunted House Ghost, is also available as a Kindle download for only .99 from 5/29 thru 6/2. To take advantage of this discount, visit Amazon via this link..
Father Figure is a .99 Kindle download from 5/23 thru 5/27 – help yourselves! Thank you so much for your support in sharing, downloading, reading, and reviewing. I appreciate it! You should pick it up before the virtual book club coming up soon… check it out @ Download @ http://mybook.to/FatherFigure for only .99 this week.
James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education,Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media and entertainment industries.
Throughout those years, I wrote some short stories, poems and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career in technology and business that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I refocused some of my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing and publishing.
I write in the family drama and mystery genres. My first two books are Watching Glass Shatter (2017) and Father Figure (2018). Both are contemporary fiction and focus on the dynamics between parents and children and between siblings. I’m currently writing the sequel to Watching Glass Shatter. I also have a light mystery series called the Braxton Campus Mysteries. There are six books currently available in multiple formats: Kindle, physical print, large print paperback, and audiobook. Some are also translated into foreign languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German. The books are Academic Curveball, Broken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, Haunted House Ghost, and Frozen Stiff Drink.
Welcome to Richard Dee, my first guest on my new feature – isolation for writers, creatives, artists and book bloggers. How do writers, creatives, artists and bookish souls cope with isolation? Is their capacity to cope different from the rest of the population? It’s an interesting question and one that fascinates me.
How is author, baker, ex-seafarer Richard Dee coping with this enforced isolation?
Here is his answer…
Some thoughts on what I’m beginning to
think of as the new normal.
I’m Richard Dee, I write Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures, as well as chronicling the exploits of Andorra Pett, reluctant amateur detective. Thank you so much, Marjorie, for inviting me to guest on your website today.
At last, I’ve found that some of the skills I learned are coming in useful.
Isolation itself is not a problem, as an author I tend to live in other worlds anyway.
When I’m writing, the ones in my head are as vivid to me as the one out of the window. There are several I go to on a regular basis, home to amateur detectives, space adventurers and quasi-Victorian society. Not only that, but there is also always the chance that I might find a new one to explore.
It used to be a bit of a nuisance, a bone of contention with other family members. Now I find that it helps.
Not only that, as an ex-mariner, I was always used to isolation, chugging across the Atlantic at eight knots to save fuel on a big ship with a small crew teaches you a few things about yourself.
There are things to worry about, all my daughters work in the NHS, on the front line, one in ITU, with a consultant physician for a husband, one is a midwife dealing with emergency admissions and the other is still training. They, along with everyone else who is putting themselves at risk to keep us fed and provided with light, power, empty bins and food to eat deserve our thanks and respect.
Things like getting food, getting exercise, keeping in touch with family and friends: things we all took for granted just a few weeks ago are now more important.
I watch the T.V. and wonder if we will ever live that kind of life, with all the socialising and outdoor action, again.
I’m glad that I have hobbies, things to do on a rainy day. Reading, cooking and gardening.
I thought that I would have so much more time to do things. But any task expands to fill the time allotted to it, so there is no more time than there was.
Not that we were always out and about; there were jobs that had been put off because I thought they would take too long. Once I got started, I found that they were quickly done.
Meanwhile, I continue to write and publish. In fact, I’ve just had my Andorra Pett cosy crime series re-imaged, with all new covers by the tremendously talented Gill Trewick. They’re all available in both eBook (to buy and on Kindle Unlimited) and paperback at the following links:
I’d love to see you over at my website, richarddeescifi.co.uk. Head over there to see what I get up to, click the FREE STUFF tab or the My Novels and Short Stories tab to get all the details about my work and pick up a free short story. Why not join my newsletter and get a free short story, The Orbital Livestock Company, unavailable anywhere else.
I am SO EXCITED to be hosting my good friend the lovely, generous, amazing Ritu Bhathal on my blog today as part of her blog tour for her new release – Marriage Unarranged – which I had the pleasure to beta read. I can recommend 100% – in fact I loved it so much I read it twice!
So without further ado, let me introduce Ritu to you…
Hello there, Marje, and Hi! to all your readers too! I am so honoured to be visiting your blog in order to promote my new book, Marriage Unarranged, just released yesterday, actually!
Now, the book centres around my main character, Aashi, and her journey after finding out her fiancé has been cheating on her. A key character in the story is her best friend, Kiran, and Aashi would really like to share some background about her and Kiran, and their relationship, with you.
Aashi’s view of Kiran
Hello again! It’s Aashi here. I think I really need to introduce you to my best friend, Kiran. I loved being the only girl in my family, when I was younger. My two brothers and my dad, especially, doted on me. They still do, to be honest. But as I hit the teenage years, I began to yearn for a sister. Sure, I had lots of cousins, but it wasn’t the same. All that changed when I started college. That’s when I met Kiran. I was so nervous, being in this huge place, not knowing many of the other students, and when I sat down in my Economics lecture, I had no idea that my neighbour would become such a big part of my life. Kiran had been to a different school, coming from another part of Birmingham, but fate sat us together that first day and, well, you could say, she’s been by my side, in every way, ever since.
She was the loud to my quiet; the outspoken to my shy. And she was also in need of a sister. You think I have it bad with my two bodyguard brothers? Think of poor Kiran with three!
We just bonded. Two Sikh girls, from similar families, with the same sense of humour and interests; Bollywood films and bhangra music. And the same rules of living to adhere by.
No going out
I think my parents were relieved when they found out that we were going to the same university, in Nottingham. It was hard enough getting my mum to agree to me living out, so the thought of us both there, together, was a bit of balm on her worry. We went out to clubs and gigs for the first time there. It was all a bit crazy. I hated being
approached by guys, but Kiran was there, with her one liner retorts, to send them packing. That’s not to say we didn’t like any of them. But it just wasn’t the done thing. We just wanted to dance with our friends and have a laugh. Personally, I was so glad my parents let me come to university, the last thing I wanted to do was take any steps to disappoint them and going out with a boy would have been one of them.
The night I met Ravi. Kiran was there with me. We’d graduated and were at a party. I guess my parents had mellowed a little since I’d been to university, allowing me out in the evening.
You should have seen her, eagle eyes trained on him as he talked to me, not leaving my side, asking him all sorts of questions. I guess, like a sister, making sure he was a good guy. After all, I’d never really been out with anyone before. She’s always been there for me. The first one I call up to make decisions, to share good news with, to cry to if I’m down. And she has been awesome all through my wedding preparations. I’m just glad I won’t be moving far away, so she can still be near me, my sister, forever.
And an extract from the novel, where we first meet Kiran.
Kiran caught the bus to Stratford Road. She had no idea what the problem was. If Aashi’s previous behaviour regarding the wedding was anything to go by, she’d probably seen some fantastic jewellery and wanted Kiran’s opinion. Or maybe it was something to do with the bridal makeup. With Aashi, who knew…
Aashi had met Ravi the summer they graduated. Kiran wasn’t interested in marriage. Not yet. She’d been happy when Aashi got engaged because she knew how important it was to her friend. Ravi was a bit of a lad, always out with his boys on Broad Street at the weekends, dressed up as if he was on the pull, smelling like he’d bathed in the aftershave du jour, though he seemed to have calmed down once he’d got ‘hooked’.
Kiran saw Aashi notice her through her rear-view mirror and hurried up slightly. It was 11:30 am. Her friend had been waiting for about half an hour for her. Knocking on the passenger window, Kiran waved a gloved hand at Aashi. It was still cold, and the heating on the bus was terrible. As the door opened, she stamped her feet to get a bit of feeling into them. Once she was sitting in the car, Kiran peeled off her gloves and exclaimed, “It’s bloody freezing out there, this had better be good!”
When she turned to look at her mate, she noticed the blotchy eyes. They weren’t the eyes Kiran was generally greeted with. Aashi’s large, almond-shaped eyes were usually ringed perfectly with black kohl liner, the only makeup she wore, other than a slick of lip gloss. Then she saw the pile of discarded tissues, smeared with what must be black kohl, on the floor of the car. Aashi’s waist-length hair, usually left open, flowing like a sheet of silk, was hastily tied back with a grotty, grey scrunchie.
“Aashi, babe, what’s the matter? Don’t tell me. He doesn’t want to go to St Lucia or the Maldives. Hey, mate, come on, there’s no point in getting into a state like this. Come here.” Kiran pulled Aashi into a big bear hug. She’d always been the stronger of the two and was used to Aashi getting emotional over little things. As she held her friend, she realised the sobs were getting louder and not quietening down, at all.
“Aashi, please tell me what’s wrong, I can’t help you if I don’t know why you’re crying.”
Accompanied by a lot of sobbing and hiccupping, Kiran coaxed the events of the morning out of her friend.
It all started ended with that box…
Aashi’s life was all set.
Or so she thought.
Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.
But then Aashi found the empty condom box…
Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.
Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.
And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…
Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origin. This colourful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her. From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at school and locally encouraged her to continue writing.
As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes. A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!
Ritu also writes a blog, www.butismileanyway.com, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which was awarded first place in the Best Overall Blog Category at the 2017 Annual Bloggers Bash Awards, and Best Book Blog in 2019.Ritu is happily married and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the fur baby Sonu Singh.
In part one Kate is confused and overwhelmed about her parents’ divorce. Her teacher gives the class an assignment to research and write about a historical event, person or place in Riverdale. Kate chooses the Franklin Manor where she lives with her Mom. Her classmate Rose finds information about a fire that left Kate’s Gran an orphan. Kate sets this information aside until she has completed her assignment. As Kate continues her research, she finds her Great Aunt Rebecca’s journal. She stumbles across a link between the Franklin’s and her family. What is that link? How does it affect Kate?
In part two Kate and her mom spend the summer at her Gran’s farm. Kate helps her Mom sort through the items hoarded over the years. She finds old journals written by her Great, Great Grandmother. Old treasures turn up in unexpected locations. A rift has developed between Kate and her dad. She doesn’t accept that he has a girlfriend who he intends to marry. Will Kate find all the family secrets? Will she resolve her issues with her dad?
Marjorie was imaginative since early childhood. She grew up on a farm, before television, where there was lots of scope for imagination. Marjorie did art and writing assignments in school. After she had married and moved to Alberta Marjorie took art and writing classes, some by correspondence. Marjorie joined an art club and took part in their shows. At that time she started to have strange dreams. In these dreams, she held a book with blank pages and no cover. In other dreams, there was a series of books with no covers. Marjorie told one of the art group members about the dreams. That artist had learned to interpret dreams. She told Marjorie she was supposed to write the stories and draw the pictures for the covers. Shortly after that Tiny in Gramma Mouse Tells a Story was born. It wasn’t long before the idea for Bess’s Magical Garden surfaced.
Marjorie’s favorite author has always been L.M. Montgomery. In some ways, she felt akin to Anne the main character in the Anne books.
Marjorie has since written and self-published Gramma Mouse Tells a Story, Bess’s Magical Garden and the sequel The Mystery of the Hidden Cabin. She now resides in Strathmore Alberta. Her books are sold at local craft sales every fall and Christmas as well as on Amazon. She has also written numerous stories. Some can be found on her website.
A big welcome to my next Ghostly Writer from Plaisted Publishing House – Lynn Mullican.
Why did you decide to write? It’s just something I have always done and enjoyed. It’s in my blood.
What do your family and friends think of your writing life? Most of my family and friends are excited for me. They know it’s something I have always enjoyed, so I have a lot of support behind me.
Tell us a bit about your current writing projects. I’m currently working on many projects, one of which I feel is way overdue, my religious horror novel The Shadow of Evil. I’m also working on the fourth book in the paranormal Bad Elements series, Rise of the Underground. I have also started a spinoff of the Bad Elements series, Immortal Blessings. I have several short horror stories in the works, The Awakening III, Raven’s Hill III, and a few others.
Do you have a muse? Yes, this muse lives in my dreams.
What do you think of collaborations? Are you a member of any groups for authors that you would recommend? If you have the right mix of authors, you can get some good collaborations. The Ghostly Writes/Rites anthologies seem to gather a great mix of authors who work great together. I’m in several groups, some of which I would recommend. My suggestion for authors is to determine why you want to join some groups and then start looking for them on your social media account. What might work for me might not work for another author.
Have you any unusual hobbies? Please tell us about them… Hmm, I don’t know if it’s unusual but I enjoy archery and I’ve started working on some Halloween DIY projects, a couple of which have turned out pretty good so far. I’m still working on them, though.
Do you have a favourite word, phrase or quote? I think Marilyn Manson said it best, “What doesn’t kill you is going to leave a scar.”
Finish this sentence: For me writing is… my life.
Where do you live and with whom if you don’t mind saying… I live in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A. with my husband, Pat, my adult daughter, Cassie, and our two cats, Murray and Wilbur.
Do you believe in ghosts?Do you have a favourite supernatural being? Yes, I believe in ghosts. My favorites would probably be ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and witches. I don’t have just one favorite supernatural being.
Bad Elements: Crystal Dragon
“Live and breathe your darkest fears!”
Bad Elements: Crystal Dragon – Synopsis
Crystal Bouchard awakens imprisoned in an underground cell with no recollection of how she got there and with no memory of her prior existence. Held against her will, her captors threaten to kill her son unless she fights to the death in the underground fighting circuit. Nicknamed “The Dragon,” she spends the next several years among werewolves and vampires.
Bad Elements: Crystal Dragon – Excerpt
After the commentator announced Kara, the crowd chanted her name. Kara entered the arena. I had to admit, I stood in awe of the woman. She was at least a foot taller than me and exceptionally muscular. I looked like a midget compared to her. Her hair was straight, black, and shoulder length. She looked like she might have been on steroids.
I would have to get the upper hand early in the fight, then go low and take her down. As Kara and I faced off, our fans screamed.
Kara threw the first punch which I was able to dodge. I sidestepped her and caught her in the rib.
She groaned and doubled over.
I moved in, grabbed her by her hair and brought my knee up into her face.
That was when she wrapped her arms around me, and tried to take me to the ground.
Instead, I ran into the wall behind me. An uppercut rocked my head back, banging it against the wall. I groaned. I took a shot to the stomach before I was able to get her off of me.
While we fought, the fans slammed each other against the bars. The commentator made the announcement for the fight to stop. We glanced up at him.
Recognizing it was for the fans to stop, we returned to our business. I rushed her, going low for the legs, and slammed her into the barrier. Even though she struck the concrete wall, she was still able to elbow me in the middle of the back.
I yelped in pain. The riot started above us again. A corpse struck the bars. The snarls and growls escalated, catching our attention as they echoed throughout the arena. Kara and I glanced at each other and then at the chaos above. The bars had been bent.
Kara stood near the barrier, trying to focus in on the crowd. Blood poured out from the bars, drenching her from head to toe. She stared at me, wide-eyed, as if she knew the inevitable. My mouth fell open. Fear set deep inside me, and from this point on everything seemed to happen in slow motion.
Kara stood frozen in place. The bars moaned beneath the massive weight, continuing to bend in multiple areas behind the steel barrier. Fearful that the bars were going to split wide open, I took a couple of steps back, ready to run.
The bars exploded throughout the arena. I threw myself to the ground and covered my head. Steel echoed off of concrete walls, rebounding around me. Two of the bars struck me in the legs. They were heavy, but not heavy enough to seriously injure me.
I glanced behind me at Kara, who had fallen to the ground with a male corpse atop her. It had been torn to shreds. I gasped in horror. Blood soaked the dirt surrounding her and the body.
She barely managed to get the man off of her and stand up when several fans jumped into the arena. I pulled myself up, watching them circle Kara. Covered in blood and guts, she gave me the look which I recognized as defeat.
She was defenseless against the lot of them.
I took one step toward them and then halted in terror. She was shredded within seconds. They devoured her, some still feeding off of her while she fell to the ground. More fans followed the others into the pit, coming towards me. Their lips curled back, revealing their elongated fangs.
I backed up, recognizing the difference between their fangs and Wayne’s. At first, I thought they were werewolves too, but their flesh was white and their eyes darker.
Then I made the connection: they were vampires.
I turned and ran straight for the open concrete door behind me, my heart pounding in my chest. I never ran so fast in my life.
Wayne stood just on the inside of the gate and yelled at me to hurry. There was no sign of Alex. My guess was that he had booked it, for he was mortal like me. He needed time advantage.
Something grazed my back. I screamed. The tiny hairs on my neck stood up. I was no match for these creatures. They were closing in on me. Wayne lurched forward and pulled me to safety behind the wall, gate and door.
Some of the vampires got stuck in the small room that barricaded the corridor from the main arena. This didn’t stop them, though. They tore through the door, blowing it apart. Pieces of it flew in all directions, striking us and the walls. We ran down the corridor.
Vampires shrieked behind us, followed by unhinged metal and something heavy rebounding against the wall. Wayne and I had already passed the commentator and were coming up fast behind Alex.
The commentator screamed. I presumed the heavy object had been the door to his small office. Blood sprayed the wall next to me.
Wayne let go of me and pressed me onward, before transforming into his alternate form.
Two of the vampires jumped him while he was still in mid-transformation. He slammed them into the walls.
I screamed. He received several bites before he fully transformed. His massive body took up most of the corridor, blocking us from all of the vampires except one. I ran through the door to our right, after Alex. The one vampire who was now amongst us jumped Alex just on the other side of the door.
Alex swung the door shut and fought back. He was thrown to the ground, the vampire atop him. I jumped on the vampire’s back, wrapping my arm around its neck. The door broke into pieces around us. Wayne stormed in, still in wolf form, and bared his teeth. The creature threw me off of its back. I struck the wall behind me, my head rebounding off of it. The vampire glared at me. I thought for sure I was dead.
Wayne ran full stride at the vampire. His claws echoed off the concrete floor and drove him into a wall. Alex jumped to his feet, threw open another door, and pushed me into the dark room. Screams and other noises which I associated with being mauled escalated in the room behind us.
As we ran into the room, Alex flipped on the light switch. Wayne mutated into his human form and ran into the room after us. He slammed the door shut, separating us from the vampires.
During the course of searching for her son, she slowly begins to recollect her prior existence before her imprisonment, pushing her deeper within the fighting circuit.
Bad Elements series: Crystal Dragon, Blood for Blood & The Hybrid Unleashed – FAQ’s
Crystal Bouchard AKA “The Dragon” is an amnesiac victim, a martial artist, a prisoner in an immortal world. She is a fighter and a survivor, a lover and a killer. Crystal is a determined mother on a mission to find and protect her family. She is stubborn, headstrong, intelligent, and beautiful. Crystal has unwitting sarcasm to aid and jeopardize her situation no matter what position she’s been put in.
Robert Bouchard is a law enforcement officer with secrets of his own. He is driven to find his mother who has been missing for several years. He’s a young, married man with a “special” wife and three half-bred werewolf children.
Tristan Ayers is a “unique” individual with extraordinary talents and abilities. He’s a special agent investigating unethical practices within the vampire and werewolf communities. One of his current missions is a role as protector. He is rugged looking with handsome features and has multi-faceted characteristics.
Jace Templeton is a strong, powerful and rogue vampire with unethical practices and habits. He is always looking for a new project and relies on his associates for mundane tasks. He is very intelligent, cunning and forceful. He is very passionate about his new venture.
Setting – time period and locations:
The book spans approximately a five-year timeframe from mid-2007 to about 2012. Some of the locations include the forests of Payson, Flagstaff, Munds Park and Prescott, Arizona. Some of the small towns and bars are located in Payson and Flagstaff, Arizona.
A huge welcome to my guest – huge supporter of fellow authors C S Boyack.
Here’s Craig with his pint at hand! I’m amused by the Get Frosted card to the right of the photo… An author’s eye can’t help but notice these intriging details.
It’s wonderful to welcome Craig to my blog – I have been a guest featured on Lisa Burton Radio at his lovely blog home two times. He has an awesome blog which features the lovely robot interviewer Lisa. He is an imaginative and entertaining supporter of indie writers.
His latest book Voyage of The Lanternfish sounds very intriguing. So Craig, sup up that drink and spill the beans on your latest book.
Thanks for the invite, Marje. You’re always welcome back at my site too. I’m here today to talk about my newest book, Voyage of the Lanternfish.
Lanternfish is a pirate fantasy. It differs from classic fantasy, because gunpowder is involved. There are pistols, muskets, and cannon to go along with the magic and monsters.
Monsters are going to be the topic here today. No fantasy worth its salt should exist without monsters, and Voyage of the Lanternfish is no exception. This one is full of sea monsters and land monsters too.
One of the things I tried to avoid is a whole-bunch of what’s been done before. There is no Kraken or giant squid in this story.
There is a gigantic jellyfish, though. We’re talking big enough to get the ship stuck for weeks. This is a serious problem when you only have so much fresh water and limited food items onboard.
This thing is known as a whale trawler, and combs the surface of the ocean, letting its poisonous tentacles drag up whatever it can find; usually whales.
So far so good, but what happens when you get stuck ahead of a storm front? The storm produces a water spout and deadly tentacles are pulled from the sea and flung across your decks. Now you’re starting to get the picture.
There is a dragon here too, but he’s a small one. Think of a dragon that’s modeled after a hermit crab. He commandeers a shell, a big conch shell, and carries it with him. His breath turns animals to salt, and the tide washes them away. Someone pointed out that it’s almost biblical, and I like that.
You’ll also come across the moving reef. This one is a fish, but he’s a whopper. You know how some whales wind up growing barnacles on their skin? Take that concept and ramp it up to ten. This guy is so big he grows an entire coral reef on his back. I’m not going to share too much about him, but he isn’t entirely peaceful in the story.
One of the land creatures is called Old Hogar by the locals. He is terrorizing a coastal village. My pirates come across him, but he does not appear on the page. The tale is relayed by the root monsters. (Note: The root monsters get their own blog post.) This comes at a time in the book where readers have been trained to understand their stories. I kind of like how it turned out.
There are other monsters who don’t appear on the page. One of them is like a gigantic two legged crocodile. You might think of her as a dinosaur, and you wouldn’t be too far off. She even has a bit of a sad backstory.
Another one who is just alluded to is the dragon turtle. You might be wondering why I would even include these, but they play into the world building. This is a vast world. It’s been here since before my pirates, and will be here afterward. There are dangerous places in this world, even if the pirates aren’t exploring them all.
There are lesser creatures here too. In Asia there are cormorant fishermen. These people leash up a cormorant, tie a string around his throat to restrict his ability to swallow, and let the bird go fishing. They take his fish away for themselves. Now eventually they have to let the birds eat too. After all, they are how the fisherman makes his living and must be taken care of.
I used this idea, only I turned the cormorants into reptiles. They’re like large iguanas, only they have heads like pelicans.
There are tiny glow in the dark bats, and birds who look like a cluster of bananas when they roost. I even added something like an anteater, only he combs the beaches looking for snails.
If you’re into monsters and expansive worlds, you might want to give Voyage of the Lanternfish a try.
An honorable man is mistaken for his disreputable father. Now he’s pushed into a political scheme to start a war that will spread across multiple kingdoms. James Cuttler’s fiancé is being held captive to ensure he goes through with the plan.
He soon decides his skills are at sea and procures a ship to wage war upon those who disrupted his simple life. He can’t do it alone, so he recruits a band of cutthroats to help him. But first, they need guns and munitions to outfit the ship properly. Deception and trickery will only get them so far. Eventually, they’re going to have to engage the enemy.
James’ goals aren’t necessarily the same as his crew. It’s a delicate balancing act to collect enough loot to keep his crew happy, while guiding them back to rescue the girl.
Voyage of the Lanternfish is filled with adventure, magic, and monsters. Lots of monsters. Hoist the colors and come along for the ride.
I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.
I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.
I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.
I’m a huge fan of the unusual so Craig’s latest novel has definitely piqued my interest.
It’s been fun finding out more about Craig and his writing.
And… I am still curious about that Get Frosted card. Is it the name of your local drinking haunt? Hope you visit again real soon Craig, but before you do, make sure you tell me about that card. Or I am bound to make something up!
By the way I’m always on the look out for new authors to invite to an Author Spotlight or Q and A my blog. So do get in touch if you’d like to tell me all about your writing life… The drinks are on me!
A huge welcome to my dear friend, fellow author Marcia Meara…
It’s lovely to be here with you today, Marje, and I thank you for inviting me over. I’m really excited to share a little about The Emissary 2: To Love Somebody with you and your readers.
To Love Somebody is the middle book of The Emissary Trilogy, and like Book 1, it was a lot of fun to write. This little series of novellas is my first foray into what I call Urban Fantasy Lite, and it features a ginormous, white-winged archangel named Azrael. Popular books today often involve romances between heavenly beings and beautiful women here on earth, but this angel keeps his robe on at all times. In fact, Azrael can get downright snippy when questioned about such dubious affairs, and believe me, making the archangel angry is never a good idea.
I hope the blurb and short excerpt below will tempt some of your followers to check out these novellas. Both Book 1 and Book 2 of the trilogy are quick, easy reads, which are definitely not meant to be taken as serious religious dogma. Rather, they are merely excursions into a bit of “what-if-ery,” with a few nuggets of universal truths scattered throughout.
Note: I do need to point out that this middle book of the Emissary Trilogy is not a stand-alone novella. With that in mind, Book 1, The Emissary, can be downloaded HERE.
Jake and Dodger, the first (and so far, only) Emissaries to the Angels, are on the road again.
They’re looking for mortals about to take a wrong turn. You know the ones—the kid thinking about stealing from a corner market or the man planning to lie about a coworker and destroy her career. Yeah, them. People on the brink of making a mistake that could send them down that wrong road and jeopardize their mortal souls.
Of course, there are rules by which the emissaries must play, and the archangel Azrael stands ready to enforce them. First and foremost, a person’s free will must never be compromised. Emissaries are allowed to use only the smallest of mental nudges. Thankfully, a whispered suggestion here or images of a better course of action there is usually all it takes. The potential mugger walks on by. The thief drops the wallet back into the unattended purse. But whether the results are obvious or not, Jake and Dodger are fully committed to making a positive difference, even as they struggle with issues of their own.
Will Dodger get over losing his chance to learn what true love is all about? Will Jake survive the grueling angelic equivalent of Boot Camp? Will Azrael ever finish the Official Emissarial Guidebook—including the chapter titled Do Not Even Think About It?
One thing’s for sure—Jake’s and Dodger’s strengths are growing daily, as they help more and more people make better choices. But is the price for so much power higher than they’re willing to pay?
(Jake and Dodger)
“You know, there’s a lot more to Florida than just sand and waves. I’m thinking we’re overdue for a change of scenery. Maybe when we finish our loop through Key West, we could head to the center of the state again.”
Dodger stared at the floor a long minute before answering. “That didn’t work out so well last time.”
“That doesn’t mean it won’t ever work out again, does it?”
“Come on now, Dodge. There are people living in non-coastal areas who could use our help, too, you know.” The memory of a lost young man from the little town of Riverbend came to mind, and he hoped yet again that all was well with him, then focused on Dodger once more. “We shouldn’t ignore them, in spite of what happened in Clewiston. If we can’t ever return to places where we weren’t able to save someone, we might end up someday with nowhere left to go.”
Reluctantly, Dodger nodded. “Okay. I get that. But we don’t have to go back to that exact spot yet, do we?”
“Definitely not. I’m considering a couple of places more scenic.”
“Scenic? You mean there are places away from the ocean where I can still enjoy girls in bikinis?”
“Probably, since Florida has plenty of lakes, rivers, and swimming pools. But I was thinking more along the lines of wildlife.”
Dodger cocked his head. “Yeah? I didn’t think emissaries were allowed to have any kind of wild life at all.”
“One word, kid. Wildlife.”
“Oooh,” Dodger drawled, eyes twinkling. “You mean like lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my!”
“More like birds, and alligators, and snakes.”
The boy grimaced. “I was afraid you were gonna say that.”
Jake had to give Dodger his due, though–he accepted the new plans with very little grumbling. After they’d spent a few productive days in Key West, they said goodbye to the emerald waters of the Gulf, and hello to the darker beauty of places with names like Big Cypress Preserve, Corkscrew Swamp, and the Fakahatchee Strand.
And if the boy wondered whether they’d really find themselves needed in these relatively quiet, remote places, he soon found out Trouble never does a head count before showing up to cause misery.
Marcia Meara lives in central Florida, just north of Orlando, with her husband of over thirty years, four big cats, and two small dachshunds. When not writing or blogging, she spends her time gardening, and enjoying the surprising amount of wildlife that manages to make a home in her suburban yard. At the age of five, Marcia declared she wanted to be an author, and is ecstatic that at age 69, she finally began pursuing that dream. Her belief in the redemptive power of love is a unifying factor in both of her popular series and her poetry. Today, she’s still going strong, and plans to keep on writing until she falls face down on the keyboard, which she figures would be a pretty good way to go!
Marcia has published six novels, one novella, and one book of poetry to date, all of which are available on Amazon:
It’s been such a pleasure having you visiting my blog Marcia. You are such a lovely, friendly lady who I admire so much and your new book sounds fascinating. Love that excerpt! Wishing you much happiness and continued success. xxx
I’m thrilled to welcome Geoff Le Pard to my blog home today. Anyone who writes about family gets my undivided attention. There’s nothing like family!
His new book Apprenticed To My Mother was released on Tuesday 12th June.
He’s written a lovely moving anecdote about his dear departed mother, Barbara’s funeral and her brother Ted especially for this Author Spotlight.
When I came to write my memoir of the period between my father’s death and my mother’s, I started by focusing on the two funerals. My father’s was the first where I played any significant role, and mostly I wanted to make sure whatever happened, it met Mum’s approval. With Mum’s, since my brother and I were now orphaned I felt freer to let it reflect how I imagined it could be the best recognition and, in my judgement, celebration of a life well lived. My brother was fully onside – both of us wanted humour and warmth; as happy a day as we could make it.
The funeral was to take place at the Hinton Woodland Burial Ground where Mum and Dad had neighbouring plots – it was Mum’s idea that when she was buried an oak tree would be planted between the two graves which they could both compost over the forthcoming years. Always a gardener, Mum. One of the rules of funerals at Hinton is that an official must be in charge – a member of some organised religion or a celebrant. To my (small) frustration my hopes of MCing the whole thing had to be compromised. That said the lovely lady who officiated understood what we wanted and played the minimum role required by the authorities, letting us decide how to run the day.
At the centre would be humour – Mum had no truck with some of the pessimism, gloom, ‘in my day’ bollocks that seems to inhabit people as they age. She always wanted people relaxed and smiling, which was why her kitchen and her food were at the centre of most family events.
Now, you can’t make funerals a joke-fest. It’s not an audition for budding stand-ups and I’m as adept as any at bringing in a few thoughtful passages to counterpoint the wit. Ditto my brother.
What I hadn’t factored in was my uncle, my mother’s nearest sibling. They doted on each other throughout their lives and so when Ted asked to say a few words, there was no question but to say yes.
Ted Francis is a naturally funny man. When he ran a pub, he had an annual medical. The doctor told him – smoker and drinker as he was – he needed more fresh air and exercise. Ted nodded. He merely moved the shove ha’penny board from the middle of the pub, to the back door, propped it open and sat honing his sliding skills while puffing away into the beer garden.
In 1938 my grandfather became so ill that my grandmother needed to find work to keep the family. My mother was 12. She left school where she was doing well – top in maths, close to it in history – and cared for her dying father and her two younger brothers, aged 6 and not many. That lasted through the period when her father died in 1940 until Ted and then Les went to boarding school. Shortly after, in 1943 she went to work herself, in County Hall before joining the ATS.
Ted was old enough to remember those difficult dark days as the clouds of war and personal crisis gathered. He recounted stories of the hardships of that time and how, throughout it all when his mother, my grandmother was struggling to cope, there was this optimistic, calming presence – a girl still, barely a teenager – just getting on with things.
Well, that blew the ‘let’s have a few laughs’ plan. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. I still tear up remembering how my darling uncle forced himself through his tears to eulogise his dearest older sister. She was and remained his role model, someone who didn’t give into self-pity or despair; someone for whom duty – filial, family – were the cornerstones of their existence.
We gave Mum a rich and varied departure but nothing holds a candle to my uncle’s words. They set the scene; they gave me, a son who thought he’d come to understand his mother through the period of my apprenticeship, a different, deeper, richer context.
Part of me wishes I’d recorded Ted’s words but then again another part is glad I didn’t. It’s the tone, not the actual words that stay with me.
It’s not where you come from that matters, so said someone very clever, but where you’re going to. Maybe, but once in a while, understanding the journey helps deepen the way in which we view the future and ensures that important lessons are not forgotten.
Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry, short fiction and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls. He also cooks with passion if not precision.
My Father and Other Liars is a thriller set in the near future and takes its heroes, Maurice and Lori-Ann on a helter-skelter chase across continents.
Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story. Set in 1976 the hero Harry Spittle is home from university for the holidays. He has three goals: to keep away from his family, earn money and hopefully have sex. Inevitably his summer turns out to be very different to that anticipated.
Life in a Grain of Sand is a 30 story anthology covering many genres: fantasy, romance, humour, thriller, espionage, conspiracy theories, MG and indeed something for everyone. All the stories were written during Nano 2015
Buster & Moo is about two couples and the dog whose ownership passes from one to the other. When the couples meet, via the dog, the previously hidden cracks in their relationships surface and events begin to spiral out of control. If the relationships are to survive there is room for only one hero but who will that be?
Apprenticed To My Mother describes the period after my father died when I thought I was to play the role of dutiful son, while Mum wanted a new, improved version of her husband – a sort of Desmond 2.0. We both had a lot to learn in those five years, with a lot of laughs and a few tears as we went.
Well it has been so nice to have Geoff over today, quite the prolific author… I have a bit of catching up to do!
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