Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Setting the Halloween Mood, a creepy excerpt from A Legacy of Lies.

Stephenia H. McGee
Just in time for Halloween, Stephenia H. McGee kindly shares a creepy excerpt from her book A Legacy of Lies. It will get us in the right spirit!

I have to admit I haven't read the book myself yet, even though it's on my TBR list, so I looked up a review from my author friend Patty Froese.

She says, "This book has it all: a nice quick plot, a massive castle, cowboys, a dark mystery, a cold seductress and a story that leaves you thinking about it long after you've finished the book." Sounds pretty good!

Excerpt from A Legacy of Lies

It was cold.

Too cold.

The eerie silence of a moonless, starless night engulfed him.

Jim shivered. It had been high noon only a few minutes ago. Had he fallen asleep? He didn't remember being tired. He shook his head and tried to focus his groggy mind. He peered around cautiously. Where was his horse?

A rustling sound in the bushes startled him. His eyes darted to investigate.


No, wait. There it was again. Off to the left. His eyes strained, searching for the slightest movement or shape. Something. Anything.


He felt like a kid afraid of the dark.

Get a hold of yourself, man.

Fingers of fear teased along the back of his neck. The hairs stood on end. He shivered. Where was that horse?

"Ciervo!" His voice sounded weak even to his own ears. He tried again. Now he was completely hoarse.

Swallowing the panic rising from the pit of his stomach, he took a cautious step forward. He heard stirring in the woods behind him. Squirrels? He listened intently.

The noise came again. No. Definitely not a squirrel. Something was pacing in the woods. Deliberate. Stalking. Jim's mouth went dry.

Mountain lion.

His heart raced and he looked desperately around, scanning the darkness. Blackness blanketed the meadow. Jim hoped Ciervo hadn't wandered too far. He started to walk. Slowly. Calculating. He couldn't tell in what direction he moved.

His cell! He could use it as a light source. Jim's hand brushed at his hip. It wasn't there. He frowned. It always stayed on his belt. He never left the ranch without it.

Jim's eyes strained, but he could barely make out his surroundings. The farther he walked, the darker it got. His breathing came in quick, rapid intakes.

A shrill sound broke the silence. His heart leaped.


Where was he? Was the mountain lion after him?

Hoof beats. Thank goodness.

They were pounding quicker than his rapidly drumming heart. A shadow appeared about thirty feet in front of him.

It wasn't his beloved horse. It looked like something galloping up from Hell.

The horrid creature ran wildly toward him. The cold air caused the hot breath to billow from its nostrils like a smoking dragon.

The monster's eyes looked like no earthly thing he had ever seen. The bulging orbs had a luminescent shine that came from deep behind the pupils. In the pitch black they glowed like a ghostly beacon.

The horse-shaped beast lowered his head. The creature was preparing to slam into him. Jim threw himself out of its path and landed sharply on his hip. His right thigh slammed into a large, extruded boulder. Fire shot down his leg. Ignoring the pain, he jumped to his feet, eyes probing the darkness for the crazed brute. The ghostly version of Ciervo had vanished.

Despite the cold, he began to sweat. Jim felt eyes boring into him. Someone or something watched him. He was exposed. Unprepared. His heart hammered in his chest. His body refused to move.

Another sound. Different. It wasn't rustling limbs or bushes, and it certainly wasn't the horse's wild hoof beats. It was quiet, like a soft whisper. Crying? No, calling out for something.

He strained to catch the garbled words. The voice grew louder. More urgent. Still he couldn't make out the woeful tone. Then, as if his brain finished translating some cryptic code, the word became clear.


Again. Louder this time. "James... James..." The voice rose and fell in the darkness. Its eerie sound slithered into his ears.

"Hello?" His voice echoed hoarsely. He held onto a feeble hope the voice came from someone nearby lost in the dark along with him. No one here knew him by that name. He stood holding his breath, listening.

Suddenly, a freight train of frigid air knocked him backward. Terrified, he dared not to move. The voice came again.

"You must help. Soon it will be too late--"

An insidious roar erupted around him. Hot, musty breath bathed Jim's face. He struggled backward. He couldn't quite make out the figure standing over him. The silhouette was enormous. Its shoulders spanned at least four feet. An odd-shaped head swayed from side-to-side.

It growled.

Paralyzed with fear, Jim lay helpless. The creature rose to stand upright. Seven. Eight feet tall. Jim gasped for air. His feet tore into the soft ground, trying to gain footing. Desperately trying to get away. The creature came crashing toward him.

A Life Built on a Legacy – A Legacy Built on Lies

Sarah Sanders was always the reasonable sort, until she kissed a cowboy against her better judgment. Feeling strangely drawn to this mysterious ranch hand with a dark past, she finds herself swept up in an adventure that will force her to question everything she believes.

Jim Anderson’s cowboy gig is going pretty well. Except for one thing – he thinks he's going insane. Night terrors, hallucinations, and now a girl he has no business falling for. It’s better to keep his distance. But when Sarah is nearly killed, he will risk it all to save her.

When tragedy brings him back to the home he tried to escape, Jim will have to face the truth behind his strange circumstances and hope that Sarah will believe him. Digging up the answers to questions long buried, does he have the strength to face the dark family secrets that threaten to destroy them both?

Buy the book at Desert Breeze Publishing or on Amazon. It is also available at

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Welcome Patty Froese!

Today I have a treat for you: a guest blog by my favourite blogger and a wonderful author: Patty Froese!

I don't rest well. Not intentionally, at least. I can rest just fine when I have a pile of work to do and I'd rather just make cookies or watch Netflix, but when I have all my work done and desperately need to rest before starting my next project, I'm terrible at it.

I'm supposed to be resting now.  After pushing through a large pile of work, it's in my best interest to rest up before I start on a new book, but somehow having universal permission to rest takes the sweetness out of it. Stolen rest is just better.

There is always a danger to me resting. I do things I shouldn't. I dye my hair, for example. At this very moment, I find myself itching to dye it, even though I swore I'd grow the last fateful dye job out.  It isn't that I really want to dye it as much as I want something to do. Something creative, and if my own head has to be my canvas, so be it.

The other day, I chopped up my wedding dress. With scissors. In my defense, I wasn't resting then, but I was in one of my more creative moods. Creativity combined with no direct writing project doesn't always bode well for me. In the case of my wedding dress, I think it turned out! In the case of my hair... let's just say it will grow out.

I've been accused of being a workaholic. To those people, I say, you've never watched me waste time when I'm supposed to be working on Chapter Twelve! Chapter Twelve is the witching chapter where your fabulous new novel doesn't feel new anymore, and the end is too far away to spur you on. It's the place where my motor sputters and dies and I'm left watching Netflix, mixing up homemade bathroom cleaners and pondering new ways to be cheap instead of getting proper work done.

At Chapter Twelve, I sometimes dye my hair, or more fatalistically, cut it.

In my book, Perfect on Paper, I write about a novelist. She's a bit like me--incomplete unless she's got a project to work on... and she's fresh out of ideas!

If you like romance, come find me at my blog where I blog daily about the writing life and the things that happen when I'm venting my creativity. I'm also on Pinterest and Facebook. Come by and say hi! Who says writing has to be solitary?

Interview with Shirley Connolly

Like historical romance? I have only read a few myself, but I do think today's guest might change that. 

Shirley Connolly, coffee loving author who writes from the heart.

Welcome, Shirley! Please tell us your latest news! 

Finishing up my 2nd book in the Decisions Series. It’s called More Than a Ruby and it will be out in October.

Hope many of you got to enjoy Book 1 SAY GOODBYE TO YESTERDAY and another of my earlier books, FLAME FROM WITHIN.

It’s all in the family, so it’s great to now see what is happening to my Jordan ladies and in my earlier books, from the Jordan men.

If you were to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Since I’m still working on it, it is changing in front of me EVERYDAY! :-)

Who is your favorite author, and what really strikes you about their work?

I have several. Love Francine Rivers and her precise writing in Redeeming Love and the detail work she created in her Mark of the Lion  trilogy a while back.

Love reading Tamera Alexander’s books.

On the secular side, I really have fun reading Julia Quinn and Loretta Chase is an excellent writer too. I also enjoy Susan Wiggs’ historical work.

Mostly, I just get a hold of any Historical Romance I can find, and devour them one by one.

Is there a single book or author that made you want to write?

Kathleen E Woodiwiss when she started doing historical romance decades ago. It was her first book The Flame and the Flower which grabbed me. Then her Ashes in the Wind which excited me about writing about the War between the South and what gave me the inspiration for my Flame from Within book.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Probably from my dad, who wrote short story mysteries and suspense during the 2nd World War. I was about eight years old when the interest grabbed my heart. It never left.

How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books?

My husband doesn’t read my books but he gets to hear about them. All my kids read them though.

My sisters read them but since they are inspirational, I’m not sure if my sisters enjoy them as much as they might a secular story. You just never know. I try to make my stories apply to EVERYONE like writers did in the past (Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Victoria Holt) All their books had an element of inspiration in them but met the needs of all at the same time.

You can add those to my favorite authors although they are from the past.

Do you have a favorite object pertinent to your writing? (Pen, coffee cup, pet, blanket, chair…?


Haha, I can relate to that one. What do you love about your latest book?

If you are talking about Say Goodbye to Yesterday, which has been out for a bit, I love that the story, though written for the 1870s was very true to life and spoke about taboo things that were happening back then but were seldom spoke of openly. I made sure there was a message to be drawn from what my characters went through. I think I was able to do that.

What is your favorite review of your book?

The one that can be found at Romance Studio and also from Reviews by Molly (who does reviews for The Romance Reader as well)

They were both a real blessing to me.

Also one that came in from Delia Latham, another author. She really saw the message of the book and wrote of it in a way that hit the nail on the head.

Most of these reviews and others can be found right in Amazon with my book.

Tell us about your all-time favorite character (of your creating.) Is he/she modeled after a real person?

I have no favorites, not yet. But they all delve just a little bit into the true character of someone in my past or possibly present. I stay careful, though, not to go too far with that.

What type of scene do you enjoy writing the most?

I mostly enjoy writing dialogue to make my characters come alive. How they spoke back in the 1800s is so different from today. I love to draw emphasis to that I think.

How does it feel when you write? 

Sometimes frustrating, but most of the time very fulfilling to me. It is part of me. Except for the love of my family, my husband, and God, and my friendships with my pets and my chickens, and my greenhouse, and redesigning my rooms (all these things so much a part of me), writing is me. It will always be me. And I will do it until I no longer have hands and a pen and a keyboard to do it with.

What’s your favorite place you’ve visited?  Do you have a “must see” destination on your bucket list?

Loved seeing Ireland.

Loved going to Washington, DC and seeing history come alive.

Loved living in New York and working at West Point, United States Military Academy.

I just love it all over.

Anything else you want to share?

Just a hearty thank you, Maria, for the interview.

Hoping you’ll get a chance to read my books. I think people get to know me best when they read my stories.

If you have already read my other books and my devotional series, be watching for More Than a Ruby.

Thank you so much for coming over, Shirley! I loved learning more about you, and I'll keep my eyes open for More than a Ruby. :-)

Check out Shirley's website: 
Read Shirley's blog: 

Hear me babble - blog radio!

Considering I suffer from a slight fear of phones, finishing a phone interview is a big deal for me. LOL! With a house filled with dogs, there are also some practical problems. I mean, a landline wouldn't really help me get better sound - you'd just hear them barking at the mailman better...

I ended up promoting my car to mobile office and phone booth. It worked well in the sense that it's pretty quiet in there, but it became warm quickly. I was done just in time. As I hung up, a truck filled with landscapers came to work on the median - there's a pretty planted thingy in the middle of the road outside my house - and right now I can barely hear myself think.

Anyway, Hear me at 2012 writers Alive! I talk about my books, about Desert Breeze Publishing and the wonderful editors they have, and about Ewenity Farms Border Collie Haven.

While you're there, you can also check out the interview with lovely Christy Elkins!

Monday, October 29, 2012

My ongoing blog tour.

I haven't blogged these past few days. Partly because I'm engulfed in the re-write of the Embarkment novellas, and partly because I'm on a blog tour. After a few stops it's hard to find new things to say. It's fun though, and I like the tours through Bewitching Book Tours because they take me to places and new people I'd never find on my own. If you want to check out the stops this far, I've been here:

  • October 22, Guest Blog at Day Dreaming Book Reviews
  • October 23, Guest blog with Melissa Stevens
  • October 24, Guest blog at Avril's blog
  • October 24, Spotlight at Books Amour
  • October 25, Guest blog with Paranormal Romantic Suspense
  • October 26, Spotlight at Reginamayross's Blog
  • October 27, Interview at the Creatively Green Write at Home Mom
  • October 29, Interview at Sugarbeat's Books

  • Upcoming stops are:

  • October 31, Interview with Michelle @ Mom with a Kindle
  • November 1, Guest Blog at Lisa's World of Books
  • November 2, Promo at SmartMouthTexan
  • November 2, Spotlight at
  • November 5, Guest Blog with Sarah Ballance
  • November 5, Review of Undercover by Storm Goddess Book Reviews

  • If you ever want to have an author - not just me - as a guest on your blog, just ask. Most of us are delighted to visit.

    Today is an exciting day, by the way. I'm recording a podcast interview, and I'm a little nervous. Recording interviews on the phone is not a good idea when one suffers from fear of phones, LOL. (Long story, I'll tell that some other time.) I guess it's good to take on tasks outside one's comfort zone, and this will be one of them. I'll get back with info on where the interview is posted, so you can hear my random babble.

    For other news, I have something from Stephenia H. McGee scheduled for Halloween. Come back on Wednesday and read a spooky excerpt from her book. =)

    Wednesday, October 24, 2012

    Time for a re-write!

    I've been wanting to do it, and now I've begun. Begun what? Exercising? No, but it's on my list. ;-) I have learned so much from the wonderful editors at Desert Breeze Publishing, and yearned to apply it on my older, self-published books. Last night, I started a complete re-write of Brand New World.

    I wanted to start with something easy, something I can get through and be able to pat myself on the back. "You did good, Maria." The Embarkment novellas seemed appropriate, because they're short, and in dire need of a re-write. I intend to make a second edition of all of them, probably with fresh covers as well, to symbolize the inner change. Right now, my optimistic thought is, "This shouldn't take all that long." We'll see how it turns out in reality...

    The new version of Brand New World will start along the lines of:

    The world was a bank of fog that came and went like waves on the sea, interrupted occasionally by the blackness of night, or maybe death. My confused mind couldn’t determine which. At times the fog was thinner, and revealed a world so surreal it must be feverish dreams or visions in a coma. Soon, these brief images appeared real, and life as it had been resembled a dream.

    Chapter 1

    When consciousness returned it came painfully and I gasped for air, overwhelmed by a flood of impressions. There were memories that must surely be dreams, dreams appearing much too real, and sounds and smells I didn't recognize.

    A light came from above, much too bright for my eyes, and I squinted, trying to make out anything besides abstract shapes. My body was too heavy, and moving my head completely impossible.

    "Look who's awake. Welcome back."

    The female voice sounded vaguely familiar, but I couldn't place it, and I couldn't see her.

    As my eyes adjusted, I saw bright cones hanging from the ceiling. The walls were slightly curved, and the shapes of shadows from objects outside my view much too tall and distorted. Was I in a hospital? Maybe I'd been in an accident. The thought was logical, and much more appealing than the alternatives.

    Another voice spoke. “Doctor Ima to the Captain, our time traveller is conscious.”

    That comment didn't make any sense at all. I hadn't been on a boat, so why would there be a Captain? Time-traveller? Maybe I was still unconscious after all, trapped in a weird dream.

    I groaned, “I guess I’m not dead after all.”

    What a dumb comment. Why would I say such a thing? I had no reason to think I was dead, did I?

    The voice sparkled with held back laughter. “No, you most certainly aren’t dead anymore.”

    Sunday, October 21, 2012

    Everybody together now, let's say, "Weeeeeee!"

    This weekend is the Florida Writer's Conference, with a banquet for the Royal Palm Awards. I wanted to go to the conference, but for a number of reasons it just didn't work out. For a while I thought I'd be able to pop over to Orlando and at least go to the banquet, but my car started to act up, and I got vivid images of being stranded by the side of the road in the middle of the night. With a to-do list long as my leg and a nearly empty bank account, it just wasn't meant to be.

    As I ran around all day yesterday, trying to get at least most of my must-do list ticked off, I forgot all about it. That is, until I got a message on Facebook, saying, "Congratulations! Not only did you win First Place in the Florida Writers Association Royal Palm Awards for your screenplay, you also won the Dahris Clair Award for best new writing!" 

    I bounced and yelped, "Mikey, pause the movie, you've gotta see this!" 

    I knew I was a finalist, but I didn't think I'd win anything. Not in a million years! Seriously, I'm Swedish, I learned English in school. When I grew up I had a patch on my jacket saying, "Have a Nice Day." I asked my mom how to say it, and she sounded it out in a very Swedish way. I went around saying something like "Hawe a nieese daawy" for about a year.

    Anyway, in the off chance I'd win, I asked George Mindling from the Sarasota chapter of FWA to pick up my award for me. Just in case. I'm so happy I did, and that fate prevented me from going myself: I can imagine an overwhelmed version of me stuttering, forgetting English, probably crying too. I'm pretty good at speaking to large groups of people, but last night I almost forgot how to talk sitting at home in the sofa! (I'll go next year. I need to start going to the chapter meetings too.)

    George sent me photos of the awards. This is the most handsome golden dude I've ever seen!

    Waking up today felt like Christmas Morning. Yesterday, I woke up as a double-working student with a to-do list big enough to cover the kitchen table. Today, I woke up as an award winning screenwriter. Life is good!

    Thursday, October 18, 2012

    Review: Animal Instincts by Tami Dee and Lynette Endicott

    Last night I read a book by two of my Desert Breeze Publishing colleagues; Tami Dee and Lynette Endicott. I think it's really cool how they're able to collaborate with their writing.

    The book is a sweet romance - the name Animal Instincts refers to actual pets - with a dab of magic woven into the story. Here is my review:

    Animal Instincts is the first novel in the Time after Time saga, following a line of cursed women as they struggle to find happiness. This book is set in 1977, and tells the tale of Allison, a veterinarian in the little town of Medicine Springs, Missouri.

    Allison's life is perfectly reasonable until a normal morning takes a twist for the unpleasant when an old friend, Meredith, bangs on her door, in tears over a man's betrayal. To make things better, Meredith wants to kill Allison's cat. The day grows even stranger as a newcomer to town comes running into the clinic, carrying a large dog acutely ill from a bee sting. Once events are set in motion there's no stopping destiny, and Allison soon finds herself in the middle of myth, epic love, and mortal danger.

    I enjoyed the book, especially the parts with the cat and the dog. When it comes to the love story I kept forgetting the book was set in the 70's and not in present time, and thought, "Oh come on, just do it already and get it out of your system."

    Tami Dee and Lynette Endicott work very well together, and it's impossible to figure out who wrote what. The characters are believable, the book is a pleasant read, and I loved the portions with magical objects, ancient documents, and the wonderful prophetess. I would absolutely recommend it.


    The first book in a new series - Time After Time - is a collaborative effort. Authors Lynette Endicott and Tami Dee are working together and anticipate a series of six books. Each woman is taking the lead on half of the books.

    The first to be published is Animal Instinct, set in the 1970s. Allison Green is a veterinarian and the descendent of a line of women who bear the Heartmark, a heart-shaped birthmark that identifies them as the target for Mildreth, an evil time-traveling enemy. Sean Barnett is the new detective in town. An evil from the past threatens to destroy the love developing between Allison and Sean. Will ancestral memories hold the key to freedom, or overwhelm them with fear? Will Sean be the man to help her break free of the ancient enemy who has traveled through time in order to cheat her of love?  

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012

    Oopsie, I didn't think that through!

    I mentioned yesterday I'm going on tour with Undercover. It starts next week, so I really need to get typing on the guest blogs. It's a funny thing; on my own blog I can talk at great length about anything that pops into my head, but when guest blogging I like to be a little more serious and ambitious. My own blog is like my corner of the sofa; comfortable. I don't need to dress up to go there.

    Anyway, I looked around at the webpages hosting me, and thought, "Hmmmm..." Most of them are pages with steamy erotic content. I had some pretty hot scenes in Undercover, but we cut most of them out in editing together with the gruesome murders. Even if these things were still in the book, I wouldn't be anywhere near the skills of authors who specialize in writing erotica. Don't get me wrong - I don't mind - I just don't know what I could possibly say that will appeal to these readers. I don't want to bore anyone.

    Talking to fellow author and good friend Christy Elkins gave me an idea. I'll start off with sharing one of the deleted scenes, and see if the visitors seem to like it. =)

    When I named the book, I sort of thought of spies working under cover, not of things happening under covers... LOL!

    Tuesday, October 16, 2012

    Going on tour with Undercover!

    It's time to go on tour. I haven't given Undercover the attention it deserves, but thanks to Bewitching Book Tours, that is about to change. Roxanne who books the tours is absolutely wonderful. They have really good pricing, and are super-helpful.

    There will be guest blogs, interviews, and even a review. Right now I have no clue what to blog about, but I'm sure something will come to mind once I start typing. I hope... LOL!

    This is my plan for October and early November:

  • October 22, Guest Blog at Day Dreaming Book Reviews
  • October 23, Guest Blog with Melissa Stevens
  • October 24, Guest blog at Avril's Blog
  • October 24, Guest at Books Amour
  • October 25, Guest Blog at Paranormal Romantic Suspense
  • October 26, Promo at Reginamayross's Blog
  • October 29, Interview at Sugarbeat's Books
  • October 31, Interview with Michelle @ Mom with a Kindle
  • November 1, Guest Blog at Lisa's World of Books
  • November 2, Promo at SmartMouthTexan
  • November 5, Guest Blog with Sarah Ballance
  • November 5, Review of Undercover by Storm Goddess Book Reviews
  • TBD, Guest at

  • You can check out the upcoming tour stops and read older interviews and blogs on this page.

    If you would like to host me, or maybe read and review one of my books, leave me a comment. =)

    Monday, October 15, 2012

    Be positive! =)

    I bet you've heard the old saying, "What goes around comes around." I am a firm believer in this. I think everyone, at least to a certain extent, creates their own reality through thoughts and behaviour. My faith says everything you send out comes back to you threefold. You don't have to believe that, but bear with me here.  :-)

    Some people have a negative disposition. They always find something to complain about, and the entire world is against them. If something goes their way, they think it'll never last. They might even play out scenarios of why it will go wrong until it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If something goes badly, it's just the way their whole life has been. (Anything good is quickly forgotten.) Alternately, they think they're absolutely brilliant, everyone else are idiots working against them, and should be complained over at great length. I think everyone knows someone like this, and try to avoid them. No one wants to be around people who just complain and bring everyone else down.

    Time for a disclaimer: I'm not talking about people who are clinically depressed and might need medication and professional assistance to find balance. Seriously though, I know people who answer a friendly, "Have a great day," with a long explanation of why it will be the worst day ever. If I say, "Have a great day," the next day again, it repeats all over. In my opinion, the correct answer is along the lines of, "Thank you, you too."

    The positive change must come from within. No one can do it for someone else. Sadly, the people on the negative side tend to wait for someone else to fix everything for them, and make them happy.

    Other people always seem to find a smile, and have a generally positive outlook. They give off positive energy and bring others up, and people like to be around them. When something goes well, they're generally grateful, and when something goes bad, they have the ability to cope and solve problems. If they need help, friends and family are quick to lend a hand, because they're so nice.

    I'm stereotyping now, of course. Most people fall somewhere between the edges of positive and negative. Still, give it a thought, and figure out where on the spectrum you want to be. Once a person begins, smiling and thinking positive thoughts grows into a habit. When you start, you might have to make yourself think, "This will be a wonderful day," but after a while the thought comes on its own.

    Don't get me wrong - everyone needs to vent from time to time, but there's a difference between discussing something and whining endlessly. If people ignore you and start screening your calls, you've probably crossed the border to whining. Also, ask yourself what your complaining will do to the person you're talking to. If someone says, "Good morning," and you answer, "No, it's horrible," you might be ruining someone else's day besides your own.

    Friday, October 12, 2012

    Lost in space - excerpt from Kidnapped

    It's Friday and I don't have anything particularly intelligent to say, so... Here's an excerpt from Kidnapped! 

    Patricia followed Travis through the corridor, down a bend she hadn't seen before, and stopped and stared as they entered a gigantic mess hall. Their steps echoed between the walls, and the mere size and emptiness of the room made it eerie.

    She stayed closer to him than she would have thought she wanted. He was still scary, but he was also somewhat familiar, and she no longer assumed he would immediately kill her. That might not be true when it came to whatever murderous robots, ghosts, or aliens might be lurking in the shadows in a room so vast she couldn't even see the end.

    Travis veered off towards a long row of cabinets, opened one, and tossed something resembling an energy bar to her. She fumbled with it but managed to catch it, and he shook his head at her clumsiness as he headed for a chair. Patricia followed, and took a seat opposite him, trying to break through the thick foil separating her from the first meal she'd seen for what might be days.

    "This is what you call food? Wow, this won't make you fat."

    He shrugged slightly. "Food is fuel for a biological machine. It contains everything you need."

    She took a tentative bite of it and grimaced at the lack of taste, but kept on eating. "Why are you alone here?"

    She didn't expect him to answer, but he did. "I'm the only one required for this mission."

    Patricia couldn't stop herself, and her voice dripped with sarcasm. "Oh yes, kidnapping girls from distant planets. Must be hard work."

    "It could be worse; you could be dead. You still can be." His voice didn't betray any emotion at all, and she couldn't figure out if his words were a threat or not.

    She ignored his steady gaze on her and munched her food until it was all gone. After folding the wrapper up neatly there didn't seem to be anything more to do, and she blurted out, "Can I ask you something?"

    He shrugged. She wanted to find out about his face, but that seemed too forward, so instead she asked, "Why do you wear one glove?"

    Travis quirked an eyebrow, and replied, amused, "All this technology, all these possibilities, and you want to know why I wear one glove?"

    When put like that, it did seem kind of shallow. "Well, I guess I could ask you how to fly the ship, how to get home, who the rebels are, where you're really taking me, or what'll happen to me, but I doubt it'll do me any good, so yeah, why do you wear one glove?"

    He sighed, and she wondered why his face no longer frightened her. "Fair enough I guess."

    He pulled it off, and she oohed softly as she saw an intricate construction of metal rods, hydraulic tubes and multicolored electrical wires. He said flatly, "I wear the glove because I don't like this."

    Flexing the fingers he continued, "It's strong, and it shoots people, so I never have to worry about losing my gun, but I still don't like it."

    Meeting his eyes, she thought this was probably more than he'd confessed even to himself before. "What happened?"

    It wasn't the most tactful question, but it jumped out of her mouth before she even thought about it. She didn't expect him to answer, and he looked surprised too as he said, "My commanding officer cut my arm off as a punishment for not obeying. It was rather messy, but still she did it herself, with an electric knife."

    He met her eyes and continued in a detached voice, "There are better artificial limbs out there, but she likes me to have this one. It's supposed to remind me there's a price for disobedience."

    Patricia felt a knot of sympathy in her stomach. It would probably be wise to let the subject rest, but she ignored common sense and let compassion paired with curiosity get the better of her. "Does it hurt?"

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012

    The dangers of home-made cannons...

    When I came home from work this fine afternoon, Mikey met me outside, fiddling with a little piece of wood. I said, "Hey, I brought dinner. Wha'cha doin'?"

    He seemed really into this project, whatever it was. "Building a cannon. I need a little rock or something..."

    The piece of wood had a hole in it, and on the other side, something stuck out. It kinda looked like a twig, and my mind was fixed on dinner, so I didn't think much of it. I headed into the carport towards the door.

    "There we go. Are you ready?"

    Saying 'yes' would probably expedite the project. "Sure."

    In retrospect, "No" would have been a more prudent answer. He put a cigarette lighter towards the twig that, of course, wasn't a twig at all, but the fuse of a fire cracker. A split second later, a boom emphasized by the carport rang in my ears, and my chest stung from being struck by a large piece of wood. I didn't even have to try to sound accusing. "You shot me!"

    Over from the neighbour's, a woman hollered, "Oh my God, what are they doing? I think he shot her."

    Mikey said, "Oops, guess the firecracker was stronger than the wood," and I almost folded over laughing as we hurried inside.

    Most people probably haven't been shot with a part of a home made wood cannon... This will be fun to tease him with for ages. XD

    Monday, October 8, 2012

    It's just a book =)

    Books and reviews are funny things. Maybe not always ha-ha-ha funny, but still. =) I know many authors who live and die (hopefully not literally, lol) with their reviews, and if someone says something bad about the book they're heartbroken. Here's the thing though: we're all different.

    I don't like all food. I wouldn't even be able to swallow some courses that might seem heavenly to other people. (Seeing photos of bacon on Facebook makes me queasy.) I don't like all clothes, hairstyles, cars, or colours. I don't like all kinds of music, and I don't like every book I read. (Heck, I don't even like every book I write LOL!)

    There's this one highly praised series of novels I've tried to read several times. In my eyes, the ideas are interesting, but poorly executed. The author jumps between past and present tense all over the place, sometimes shifting in the middle of a sentence, and to make it even better, it's written in first person, which I kinda don't like. Everyone else says, "This is awesome," and I can't get past the first few pages. It just doesn't click for me. I want to like it, it's a scifi/fantasy/romance thing and I ought to love it, but I just... hate it. LOL! Knowing this, I can't expect everyone in the world to love my books.

    Sometimes, a "bad" review can teach you things about yourself, your books, and your writing style. Other times, a bad review just means that a person doesn't like the material, for whatever reason. It's okay. Authors put a lot of themselves into their books and this makes it difficult to distance oneself from readers and their opinions, but honestly, readers are entitled not to like everything they see.

    This subject popped into my head today because I got an e-mail from an online friend, saying, "I just finished reading Undercover. Hope you don't hate me when you see the review." It made me chuckle, and all the doggies looked up, clearly wondering if their mommy finally went mad, sitting in the sofa, laughing to herself.

    Undercover is a great example, and it's the book I've written I'm most ambiguous about myself. I love the characters, but I generally want storylines to be happier than this one. If someone else wrote it and I read it, I would love it. Now it makes me wonder what dark things really lurk in my subconscious. Readers seem equally divided. Some love it, others hate it with a passion. One review on Goodreads gives it five stars, and says, "Instead of trying to establish a firm line between the subjective notions of 'good' and 'bad' Hammarblad conveyed a situation in which the lines were blurred. If the riveting plot isn't enough, the philosophical stimulation should be." When I read that the first time, I thought, "Yay, this person really got me." 

    Another review on Goodreads gives it one star, and says, "I was extremely glad I didn't sit through the whole thing. Sorry, I read far, far past my tolerance." I'm sorry for that reader; she might have expected something completely different, and she's disappointed.

    Moral of the story? I dunno. Just thinking out loud, I suppose. =)

    Thursday, October 4, 2012

    Interview with Stephen C. Ormsby

    Today is quite a treat; for the first time, I have the pleasure to introduce an author from Australia on the blog. I'm relieved to see someone spell the way I do... colour, labour... A Warm Welcome to Stephen Ormsby!

    Stephen C. Ormsby, writer from Down Under!

    Stephen, welcome here. Please tell us your latest news!

    I’ve published my first novel called Long Lost Song and the last month has flown by with publicizing that, as well as organizing a series of author interviews (I now have more than 50).  In fact, this Sunday (26 August) I am doing my official book launch at Stockyard Gallery in Gippsland with a special guest Jack Dann.

    Ooopsie, I was a little slow with putting this up. Apologies! 
     If you were to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

    Another edit of the book!  I am sure there is mistakes in it, but having the book released makes up for that.

    Who is your favorite author, and what really strikes you about their work?

    Yeah, this rotten question.  I have so many authors that I read, but I can never work out who I read like.  Some of my favourites are Tad Williams, Joe R Lansdale, Neal Stephenson and Kevin J Anderson, but I feel as though I do not write similarly to any of them.

    What strikes me about them all is they have style in spades.  Each one of them embraces me and does not let go – even after the book has finished.  Their books linger for me, which I have always believed is the mark of a great author.  Something I aspire to in my own fashion.

    Is there a single book or author that made you want to write?

    Ouch, that’s tough.  Probably Dune by Frank Herbert and the first Shannara series by Terry Brooks.  But I have always read books, rifling through Mum’s books at an early age.  I could not be stopped and even read Colin Wilson at an almost too young an age.  Each and every moment I have some form of book in my hand – either a real book, a kindle or my phone.  Each one makes me want to write.

    Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

    I remember writing a script for a Claymation piece, which was very derivative of LOTR and Shannara.  I still have the story some thirty years later.  I have been writing ever since, but it is only with my second wife (and her massive support) that I have the belief to actually publish.

    How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books?

    The family I married into is rather strange anyway!  Oh, and I’m not insulting them – they revel in their strangeness.  This helps, as it allows me to be a lot more open.  Since meeting Marieke, I have released a book, written plays, owned a business and shop, and soon I’ll be a teddy bear for a local theatre company.  Nothing I would have expected in my life five years ago, and it makes me thankful.

    Marieke is involved in every way.  I write the words but she helps me envisage it with her photos, her extensions on my thoughts and by running my new ideas by her.  We thrash them out really well.  My rock and my muse is my wife.

    Do you have a favorite object pertinent to your writing? (Pen, coffee cup, pet, blanket, chair…?

    Not a thing really.  It’s routine.  I love having a routine.  It’s starts with the normal kid run, then a coffee with Marieke.  Start the usual activities – social media or cleaning up blog interviews – then by 10(ish), hit the keyboard.  I write until I get hungry, eat and get back to writing with an aim of finishing at 3, but lately I have been setting my goal at 1000 words a day and achieving it rather easily (in a couple of hours or so – that’s in second draft even).

    I love my coffee cup (I have a special one!) and my fountain pen.

    What do you love about your latest book?

    That it’s finished!  Oh, and that people can buy it.  It was a two year labour of love for me (and my wife).

    Can you tell us something behind-the-scenes about this book that the readers would love to hear - something not easily found on your website?

    It was a fifteen year old idea for me that centred around Robert Johnson, a 1930’s blues musician but also an enigma in that he only recorded 30 songs and is remembered for it.  Marieke inspired the ending for the book.

    What is your favorite review of your book?

    The first one where I got four stars for Long Lost Song.

    Do your fictional characters develop on their own, or do you have their lives planned out in advance?

    The idea for the story comes to me with a minor premise of character, then they run loose!  Some stay with me until I can write them out, but they will not tell me their story.  Confusing.  Apart from that, I have a huge backlog of stories going off.  Each one takes up room building themselves into something.

    Do you base any of your characters personalities off people you know, and if so, do you tell them?

    Ricky Jensen was based on Robert Johnson.  I didn’t even bother really hiding it!  Michael Decker was not based on anybody but turned into a variation of me.  I don’t think I told me until Marieke pointed it out to me.

    How does it feel when you write?

    I love sitting there, not thinking, but watching my fingers go hell for leather.  That is the most amazing feeling.  Having to think of the story does not feel right to me.  The characters let me know allowing me to be a portal for their stories.

    I hear the ambulances already.  Did somebody say psychopath?

    Hahaha! What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in writing?

    Continuing to write whilst married to my first wife.  It was about other things for her ie me climbing the corporate ladder, the big house etc and it really strangled that side of me.  I have always felt that Long Lost Song would never have been happened if I have stayed there.

    I have three books that I wrote during that marriage – all of which were never read by her.  Now that I have published, I plan to go back to them now that I have people around me who think I can actually write.

    I'm happy you pushed on with your writing. Of all the wonderful pieces you’ve written, which is your favorite?

    So far, I have release one novel (Long Lost Song), and three shorts.  They are The Gift, Scientist and All Good Socks go to Heaven.  Each and every one of them is special to me in different ways.  I have a special place in my heart for the old scientist though.  He goes through so much but still have a happy ending (of sorts).

    What’s your favorite place you’ve visited?  Do you have a “must see” destination on your bucket list?

    I loved Paris and Bangkok, but would love to take my wife overseas generally.  That and a book tour to America for the whole family.  You’ve have to get on to that one for me, Maria.  Get me on the best sellers list and we’ll be seeing you soon.

    I'll see what I can do. It would be cool to have you here! 
    Is there something funny about you people don’t know?

    Let me just ask the wife first.  I go off on little verbal tangents where I channel some of the weirdest people.  Recently my wife recorded me doing my own radio play where I turned into Edna the witch that wanted to eat the short and curlies of marching fish.  Very strange for a few minutes.  There is still a recording of this somewhere and I can’t believe it was me.

    Too funny! Anything else you want to share?

    I live in Australia


    A virus is decimating America today and Michael Decker is the culprit. Or is he?

    Is it the work of a curse recorded into a song by 1930's blues musician Ricky Jensen?

    Long Lost Song tells the story of Ricky and Michael as they battle their personal and real demons while the world reaches end times of biblical proportions.

    One question remains. How do you stop a devil of a song made to break a crossroads deal?
    Buy the book on Amazon
    Stephen has more stories available, see them all on his Amazon Author Page.

    See more of Stephen:

    Monday, October 1, 2012

    Review: Story Time by Linell Jeppsen

    Story Time is a post-apocalyptic epic, following several groups of humans as they try to survive the end of the world. Whatever you can imagine happening to this poor planet happens, and then some. Jeppsen shows remarkable insight in human psychology - when everything falls apart, the greatest threats still come from other people. The book is intriguing, suspenseful, and well written.

    It took me a few chapters to get to know the characters properly. Once I figured out who is who, and when and where everything takes place, they came to life, and I HAD to see what would happen to them. I put the book down several times thinking I needed to go do other things, but made up excuses to keep reading.

    The plot is extremely ambitious, and there are many events I would have loved to learn more about. Story Time triggered my imagination, and that's a good thing.

    If you're looking for an adventure with an otherworldly twist, this might be a book for you. I enjoyed it greatly, and I'm off to go look for more books by Linell Jeppsen.

    In the not too distant future a young woman bears witness to the end of her world. Earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions rock the planet, reducing cities to smoking rubble, burying entire islands and coastlines beneath cataclysmic waves.

    Religious fervor and human evil erupt and entwine, becoming a maelstrom of madness in the days after, bringing with it the horror of apocalyptic war.

    As a population in the depths of despair struggles to overcome insurmountable odds, can a single glimmer of hope flare into a beacon for the survivors?

    This is her tale…the world is ours…and now, it’s STORY TIME.

    Reading right now: Story Time by Linell Jeppsen

    I bought "Story Time" a while ago after talking to Linell Jeppsen on an Amazon discussion board. Since then, it has napped in my Kindle. I've had a bad conscience for not even looking at it, but the time wasn't right. I started reading it the other night, and I've read about half.

    Story Time is a post-apocalyptic epic. Anything that could possibly happen to Earth happens. The book has rather short chapters which skip between a number of main characters, and it took me a little while to get into who is who, and where and when they are. I need some time to establish rapport with characters, and I would have liked to follow each a little longer at a time, at least in the beginning of the book, but that is my personal preference.

    Some parts are written in first person, as one of the characters actually tell her story, and other parts in third person. That could be really weird, but since the "I" parts are actually told by the character to an audience, it works.

    I mentioned how anything that could possibly happen to Earth happens. If you can imagine a natural disaster, it's in the book. On top of that, aliens arrive. Not just one kind of aliens, but three, and I have to admit I zoned out for a bit when they were introduced. I write science fiction, and love the very idea of aliens, but for a little while, it was just too much to be believable. Jeppsen has a good explanation for their appearance, and they are vital for the story line, but I still had a "Really?" moment when they were introduced. A couple of chapters later I got over it. :-)

    If you're looking for some good entertainment, Story Time is definitely worth looking into.

    In the not too distant future a young woman bears witness to the end of her world. Earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions rock the planet, reducing cities to smoking rubble, burying entire islands and coastlines beneath cataclysmic waves.

    Religious fervor and human evil erupt and entwine, becoming a maelstrom of madness in the days after, bringing with it the horror of apocalyptic war.

    As a population in the depths of despair struggles to overcome insurmountable odds, can a single glimmer of hope flare into a beacon for the survivors?

    This is her tale…the world is ours…and now, it’s STORY TIME.

    Story Time is available as e-book or paperback Click here to see it on Amazon.

    The Universe - or is it Fate - is fickle.

    If someone had told me yesterday that an asteroid would collide with Earth, that we'd have a flood of Biblical proportions, or that a so...