Two for Wednesday: Novels by Kelley and Schulte

Twelve-year-old AJ Zantony’s world is threatened by an ancient curse that releases wicked pirates who had been trapped for centuries in his Aunt Zsofia’s creepy mansion, Zala Manor.

The pirates–a vampire count, a pegleg skeleton and a zombie–have to find a lost treasure, unleash the restless dead from their graves and settle an old score by destroying the Zantony bloodline. AJ must stop them before midnight during Aunt Zsofia’s Halloween party or the streets of Craggy Cove will be crawling with zombies.

But AJ has a problem–he’s scared to death of monsters!

Available on Amazon in hard cover and Kindle editions

BBH McChiller is the pseudonym of Southern California writers Lynn Kelley, Kathryn Sant and Maria Toth.

***

While Olivia Martin observes life through her camera, the abyss gazes back at her. Mysterious men follow her, people close to her are dying and her dreams are no longer her own as she falls head over heels for a perfect stranger. A chance encounter leads to an obsession that could destroy everything she has ever known or loved.

Olivia’s about to find out there’s a lot she doesn’t know… and sometimes what you don’t know can kill you.

Available for Kindle on Amazon

Liz Schulte wanted to be a veterinarian, then a lawyer, then a criminal profiler. To keep from becoming Walter Mitty, Liz put pen to paper and began writing. As a scribe, she could be all of those things and so much more. Liz loves all things spooky, supernatural and snarky. Her favorite authors range from Edgar Allen Poe to Joseph Heller to Jane Austen to Jim Butcher and everything in between.

Rockaway, Far Away

The best thing in the world–one of them, anyway–is to feel sand beneath your bare toes when you walk on a sidewalk.

That’s what I thought when I was a kid visiting my cousins in Rockaway in Queens, New York.

They lived in a 2-story gray house tucked behind another house a block and a half from the water. The air smelled sharp, of brine from the ocean, and popcorn and hot dogs from the boardwalk.

You could walk down the block and go straight from concrete to the fine, warm sand of a Long Island beach. Turn left, and you’d be on the splintery boardwalk wood. I must’ve been small, because I could never see the top of the vendors’ carts, only the sides. I got only a glimpse of the pink cotton candy in white paper cones and the hot dogs impaled on spikes. The open doors of the arcades and other attractions were off limits.

I must’ve been very small.

When I told my parents we should move there, they laughed. They each came from the City–Mom from Brooklyn and Dad from the Bronx. To them, suburbia meant moving on up. To me, it meant deadly, deadly boredom.

At night, the pink and yellow boardwalk lights lit up the sky. I heard music against the background of the gentle surf.

Decades later, when I lived in Northern California, the feeling of Rockaway came back to me when I walked along the beach in Santa Cruz and entered the dark arcade with its flashing neon and ringing bells. It wasn’t a feeling of remembrance, though. Just a feeling of loss.

Why are children so powerless?

My cousins didn’t live in Rockaway too long. My older cousin went to live in Japan. My other cousin, an accomplished accordianist–we used to be so close–I’m not sure where he is. Somewhere playing his music, I hope.

My Rockaway is gone. All the little single-family houses were knocked down to build high-rise apartments. At least, that’s what I heard. I’m not going back.

As long as I don’t go back to find out, the sand will still be warm beneath my toes.

By S.J. Driscoll

9/11 Evacuation by Boat from Manhattan

Aside

Did you know there was a massive boatlift by individual boat owners to get people off Lower Manhattan after the attack on the Twin Towers?

I didn’t, either. See the brief documentary here:

Moving documentary of 9/11 evacuation by boat shows resilience of cities | SmartPlanet.

Life Is for Enjoying

Guest post by Coleen Patrick

The fragility and courage of young men–why are these qualities so heart-breaking to me? Is it because men are supposed to be stronger than women? Or is it more personal than that, since my son survived cancer when he was a teen?

When I first read Coleen’s post, I knew her brother’s face would remain in my memory for a long time. That’s why I’m honored to have this as my guest post for today. Thank you, Coleen.

November 1st was the start of National Novel Writing Month–NaNoWriMo.  This year I am participating and writing in honor of my brother.

I first heard about NaNoWriMo five years ago, and used the general principles to write my first middle grade story.  I’d been filling notebooks with stories for years, but I did it strictly for the fun of it.  Suddenly I wanted to do more and NaNo seemed like the perfect way to launch that spark.  So I started writing with more of a purpose.  The only person I told at the time (other than my husband) was my brother.  I remember him being fascinated by the idea of writing a thousand plus words a day.  He was a creative type–he drew, wrote, cooked (even went to culinary school), so he was the perfect person to understand the need to do a writing marathon in a month.

When I finished that first draft, I put it away to read it at a later date with fresh eyes.  Then, when the time came to go back to it, I decided I didn’t really want to write.  So I went out and got a job, leaving the story behind.

I was afraid.  Afraid to read the rough draft.  Afraid of what it would mean to move forward with my writing.  So I went about life and work without it.

And then a couple of months later, my brother died.

It was sudden–a brain aneurysm.  He was 31.

My brother was so funny.  He did the best Chewbacca impression ever.  He was also incredibly kind.  Maybe it’s the sharp finality of death that smooths away the rough edges of a life, but I truly can’t remember him ever being anything but nice to me.

But I think he was hard on himself.  He had unrealized dreams.  He had physical obstacles, like when he stopped working in restaurants because he couldn’t be on his feet for that many hours (he battled Type 1 diabetes starting from the age of 11).  But I think maybe some of his biggest struggles were more internal.  He got bogged down by dark moments, the kind that show up to shadow your plans and leave you filled with self-doubt and fear.

I know that fear.

I have one of my brother’s journals.  In it there’s the beginnings of a story, some sketches and some personal notes he wrote to himself.  One of those notes sticks with me:

“Write damn you! Write! Anything, something, Please!”

My first instinct is to feel sad at that personal plea to his self, but then I realize that goes against what he wrote.  Because he didn’t want to get stuck in those paralyzing fears.

In fact the first line in the journal he wrote is: “Life is for enjoying.”

I remember my aunt said at his funeral that she was sad because she couldn’t learn anything more from him and I get that because I would love to know what he would have thought of the LOST finale (our last conversation happened to be about the beginning episodes of season three and the oh so random subject of peanut butter).  I also am curious what his thoughts would be regarding Twitter, the Kindle or his take on the whole new world of publishing.  I would love to hear his opinion on all of this crazy writing stuff I’ve been pursuing. Plus I wonder if he too would be blogging, putting his writing and drawings out there. Tweeting.

But then again I know now, five years later, that I am still learning from him.

I am learning not to be afraid.  I am learning not to worry about regret.

And I am learning to enjoy my life, from random peanut butter moments to marathon writing months.

 What are you looking forward to?

This post first appeared here on October 24, 2011.

Thanks, Coleen!

Two for Wednesday: Novels by Crowther and Warren

Debt collector Matt Spears isn’t having a good day. He’s being framed by the cops over an alleged assault and has inexplicably found himself indebted to the blind but ruthless gangster, Vincent Barbour. When Barbour’s supposedly dead niece, Emma, surfaces in a graphic sexual video on a porn site, he asks Matt to find her in exchange for wiping the slate clean. Within a matter of hours, Matt is plunged into a world of sex, blackmail and murder. Trying to unravel the mysteries of a troubled young girl’s disappearance, he discovers the dark side of the porn industry, complicated family secrets, government corruption, sadistic gangsters, and narcissistic celebrities who all come together to find a girl who is simply … missing.

Novella also available

A Matt Spears Mystery/Amazon 5 stars

Barry Crowther makes his home in San Clemente, Southern California. Originally he’s from Manchester, England. He has had short stories published and this is his first novel on the eBook platform. He continues to work and write on the follow-up novel in the San Clemente sun with his three daughters, wife and chocolate Lab, Coney.

***

The queen is dead. The dragons are finally free. But was the cost too high? While the Council of Man and Beast struggles to gain control over a land fractured by war, a young woman wages her own struggle against the ghosts of her past.

Winds From the North is the sequel to Blood of the Dragon.

Samantha Warren is an indie fantasy and science fiction author who spends her days immersed in dragons, space ships, and vampires. Her best selling books are Blood of the Dragon (Book #1), a full-length epic fantasy novel, and her urban fantasy novella series, Jane. She is currently writing the sequel to Blood of the Dragon, along with an as-yet-unnamed science fiction novel.

Soap? Nope: Looks Like Indie Publishing to Me

Blanco, Texas: Market Day, Nov. 19, 2011

Farmers’ markets–those little local carnivals of fresh bread, brown eggs and dewy lettuce–are surging. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that the number of farmers’ markets in the U.S. jumped from more than 6,000 in 2010 to more than 7,000 in 2011. That’s a 17% increase.

A new business model is emerging. People are changing their identity from being primarily employees of others, and primarily consumers of the products that keep the international trade world afloat. They’re reshaping their economic soul to become creators of products.

Have you been to a farmer’s market lately? The variety and creativity of the products are amazing. Like the variety and creativity of the ebook market.

People are trading with each other. Taking matters into their own hands to reach customers directly. Not only setting up on the courthouse lawn, but using personal contacts and the Internet to make a living.

This is also just like what’s happening in publishing.

For example, here’s this “author’s” site:

Try to see it as your indie author’s blog home page or Amazon page. There’s the name. The logline. The URL. An overview of the “books.”

Maybe it’s interesting, so you check it out more closely.

Look at all those “same but different” soaps. This author writes a series.

What’s that on the left?

Two more series. Obviously romantica. Hmm, seems like one series is mini-romantica. YA? How nouveau. Do you think this author is spreading herself too thin?

Jehosophat! What’s she doing? Not just single title soaps and liquid soaps, she’s gone and written hand-dyed wool and silk as well! Not to mention the knitted caps.

For traditional marketing purposes, she’d have to get a second name. Maybe “Yarnmarked.” Do you think anyone would guess she’s the same writer?

It’s a good thing she’s got this indie market.

It’s a good thing for us all.

Thank you, Soapmarked.com!

By S.J. Driscoll

The Edge

Guest Post by Jennifer L. Oliver

I’m tired of walking along the edge. I want to jump in and see if it’s warm and comforting or if it’s cold and suffocating; if I’ll swim or if I’ll drown.

I’m tired of walking along the edge. Only seeing a glass surface, not knowing what’s below; seeing the mirror of myself warp with ripples running through.

I’m tired of walking along the edge. Having my bare feet scraped and scarred by the broken shells and glass; damage and residue left behind by those before me.

I’m tired of walking along the edge. I want to lie down and rest, feel peace and laugh. But I must stay guarded ever listening, watching, protecting myself from the possibilities.

I’m tired of walking along the edge. There should be flowers and trees, animals drinking, kids playing. But I have kept it all away, harboring here as if it was my own.

I’m tired of walking along the edge. Maybe its time for me to go.

This piece first appeared in Jennifer L. Oliver’s Blog, World Beneath the Evening Star, on May 14, 2011.

Thanks, Jenn!

Two for Wednesday: Novels by Anderson and Owen

DEATH. It’s the one experience everyone will share–except for Jak Hamelton. Three words whirl Jak to a garden paradise where a treacherous interaction ushers death and evil into the world. When a mysterious benefactor offers Jak the opportunity to bring the dead back to life and live forever, it sounds impossible But after Jak’s grandfather unexpectedly begins aging backwards, it appears the dream just might be reality.

Jak and the Scarlet Thread is the first of a series of young  adult/tween Biblical fantasy adventure books that will take readers through the entire Bible, starting with the tumultuous first nine chapters of Genesis.

Nathan J. Anderson is a writer, speaker, radio host, teacher and musician intent on teaching families the Bible in ways that grab their souls and set them on fire to know God. He graduated from Bethel Seminary with a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, and spent ten years pastoring in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in July 2010, he spends plenty of time thinking about this life and the next, and trying to live with one foot in both places.

Paperback/460 pages   Kindle Edition   ISBN-13: 978-1456477110, ISBN-10: 1456477110, LCCN: 2010919196, BISAC: Fiction/Christian/Fantasy

**

Kate is a singer/songwriter pursuing a relationship with computer game designer Phillip. After her grandfather’s sudden death from injuries sustained in a suspicious car crash, Kate is forced to choose whether to focus on Phillip and her music career, or move back to Brands Crossing and honor the promise she made to her grandfather to investigate the mystery surrounding his death.

Thicker Than Water is the first in a series of novels set in Brands Crossing, Texas, centering on a mystery that extends back to the young Texas Republic.

Sharon K Owen is working on the second book in the Brands Crossing Series. Her short stories and poetry appeared in Descant, Concho River Review, Iron Horse, American Literary Review, Trinity Writer’s Workshop newsletter and collections of Christmas stories. She teaches university classes in English literature, composition and communications, and on-line classes in creative writing. She lives in North Texas.

Available in paperback and Ebook editions at amazon.com and barnesndnoble.com

Burning the Script

Guest Post by Kana Tyler
“The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.” ~ Anna Quindlen

We used to operate within limited lives, my husband and I—limited by the ruts of our career paths, by our addictions, by former spouses, by people’s views of us, by the “scripts” we believed we had to follow…  We both started over three years ago, via the troublesome technique of first destroying everything with our addictions—we met in rehab (proof that God has a sense of humor!) and if our new life and our marriage have a theme, it would be the phrase, “Because we can.”  It’s a joyful ritual of ours, this oft-repeated answer to so many questions.

Why have I covered myself with stories-in-ink? Because I can. Why do we swing-dance fully dressed under the sprinklers in a state park, or put Spam on our pizza, or go fishing in the middle of a weekday, or stop to learn the life-story of a stranger in the produce section?  Because we can.  So please ask me why I would cut loose from the safety of a scheduled work-week and paycheck to WRITE.  Don’t ask because you don’t know the answer; ask because the answer itself is a celebration:  Because I can.

Here’s a question for you (not rhetorical—if you’re reading this, I’d actually be interested in your answer).  Please introduce yourself by completing the following sentence:   “I am a _____.”

And here’s why I’m interested—I’m wondering if most people would automatically fill that blank with a job title.  I’ve certainly done it.  “I’m a school administrator.”  “I’m a restaurant owner.”  But although both of those were things I DID, neither of those phrases express the things I AM.  Sometimes there’s an overlap –“teacher,” for example, describes both a natural inclination and a one-time profession of mine—and I suspect the most fulfilled folks are those with the most intersections between their “I-Am” and their “I-Do” descriptors.

A month ago I was sitting in the entrance booth of a state park, wearing my cute little ranger-hat and pondering how the incoming drivers would answer if I asked each of them fill in the “I-am” blank… So I grabbed my notebook and began to scribble what grew into a two-page list of words that I might use about myself.  “Writer” topped the list. (“List-maker” also made an appearance.)  My husband and I pow-wowed that evening and (because we can) concluded that if I wanted a job description that matched my “I-Am” list, if I wanted to write…  I should.

A month later, I’m writing for an Idaho travel magazine.  I’m picking up freelance jobs.  Last week I was writing about Scuba-diving destinations around the globe (I AM a Research Diver).  This week I’m writing 400-word blurbs about travel destinations for a car rental agency (I AM a Traveler).  They aren’t glamorous gigs, but I just cashed my first-ever paycheck for writing.  And because I’m at the keyboard, I’m also resuming my long-neglected practice of writing for myself.  I’m relishing a life in which I’m not limited to “safe” choices.   Our existence is spicier since we burned the script.

Plus, I love my new commute. 😉

This post first appeared here on September 23, 2011.

Two for Wednesday: Novels by Prudence MacLeod and Diane Capri

Calan MacLeod is a woman who has overcome every challenge she has faced. Now comes the hardest test of all, healing the wounds of her past. Can young Angela help her or is she going to be a further complication?

“You can’t help loving these characters and feeling their fears, hopes, dreams, and above all, love. It thrills me that this is just the first book in a series of five.” Reviewer: Justin Mitchell

Prudence MacLeod is a spiritual seeker, dog trainer, official Reiki Master and interior designer who has turned her hand to writing. “I have roamed far and wide for over sixty years in this realm, and I have seen much; some I wish I had not, and a great deal that I would love to see again. Some days I feel like Bilbo Baggins, for I have been there and come back again.”

Buy the book on Smashwords

**

When a famous plastic surgeon’s decomposed body surfaces in Tampa Bay with a bullet in its head, Federal Judge Willa Carson’s little sister is caught in a high-stakes game of greedy lawyers, blackmail and deceit. Carly Austin knew the victim too well. Does she know too much about the killer, too? Can Willa save Carly from herself and the murderous conspiracy? Or have they killed Carly, too? Judge Willa debuts in this fast-paced mystery filled with great characters, humor and suspense.

“Beneath this Judge’s robes is a riveting character – she’s quick, witty and stubborn. Willa Carson finds out the rich are different, and takes the reader on a roller coaster ride that leaves you wanting more!” Tampa Tribune

Diane Capri is a recovering lawyer. She’s a snowbird who divides her time between Florida and Michigan. An active member of Mystery Writers of America, Author’s Guild, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime, she loves to hear from readers and is hard at work on her next novel.

Buy the Book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Smashwords

Manchester and the Loneliness of the Long Distance Writer

Guest Post by Barry Crowther

My dad says if you can’t be smart or you can’t be funny then be brief. With that in mind I’m going to be brief, I know your time is important.

While on vacation recently I got to thinking ‘How did I get Here?’ I was on the beach in Santa Barbara. I’m pretty sure at various checkpoints in our lives we all do this.

Even if you’re laying on the couch eating WotSits riding out a massive hangover and wondering what made you get an Aston Villa tattoo.

Doesn’t matter. We all still check in from time to time.

My wife was reading a magazine and starts to tell me that if someone relocates more than five hundred and fifty miles from their hometown then the friends and family they leave behind experience the same trauma as abandonment, on some emotional level at least.

She pulls out the iPhone and presses some app.

“The distance between Los Angeles and Manchester England is five thousand three hundred and three miles.”

“That’s a long long way past the abandonment line.” I tell her.

And I was right. When I think about all we’ve left behind it saddens me. And though my lifestyle is amazing I still crave all things Manchester.

Manchester United are my team. And Manchester City are doing well (finally). I still have lots of friends and family who are City supporters. And Man U and Man C are two financially sound clubs, both are on the up and up. So while I was back in Manchester last Christmas I got a chance to experience a great match at FC United. Never been before but this was a team that’s trying to get up there. And it felt like Home, so very – Mancunian.

That’s why I decided to donate a portion of my book sales to the FC United Development fund and put this team up there with the others. I do this because I want ALL the teams from the North to do well. They might have to wait a while as I’ve only sent them a tenner so far (only kidding).

My hometown is my first love. Please don’t tell the wife … and while you’re at it don’t tell the dog either!
It could be that being so far away for such a long time that it’s the “idea” of Manchester I’ve come to love. I’m sure this is the same kind of emotional trauma my wife mentioned and takes place for anyone who leaves their hometown and doesn’t look back … for a while at least.

Maybe it’s just nostalgia? Baz Luhrmann in the video Suncreen said “Nostalgia is a way of fishing the past from the waste disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.”

The nostalgia I feel is different, it seems to keep Manchester in some kind of time capsule. As my kids are growing older and I hear the music they listen to I hear echoes of my dad within myself. He would be telling me that The Housemartins and The Smiths were ‘bloody crap’ while trying to force a 78rpm Frankie Laine album onto the spindle. All this is very familiar as I’m doing the same with Rhianna and Jay Z (not the Frankie Laine bit of course).
Or maybe it’s the things I enjoy…

Crap jokes, Warburtons Toastie Loaf, A pint of Boddingtons, Chips and gravy, Oasis, Town on a Saturday night, Rotters (maybe not), Regular Heinz baked beans, Greggs sausage rolls, Coronation Street, Peter Kay, Buses, Taxis (slight waft of spew), Local pubs, Take That (maybe not), Tiger Tiger, MEN Arena, The Lowry Hotel….

The list could go on.

Most of all I miss the people and the Northern attitude.

Just to think I gave all that up to live near the beach?! So How did I get here? I’m not entirely sure, I know it took more balls than brains, maybe that’s another Northern thing.

One thing I am sure about though is that even from this distance Home still looks pretty sexy to me.

**

For more Manchester mayhem with murder, gangsters and an array of crazy characters you might like Missing*. UK Readers Here | US Readers Here

If you fancy some Southern Californian fayre then try Nothing. UK Readers Here | US Readers Here

* A portion of all books sales goes to the FC United Development Fund.

**

This post originally appeared here on July 8, 2011.

Thank you, Barry!

Two for Wednesday: Books by Eve and Powell

Later Bloomers, Book One: 35 Folks Over Age 35 Who Found Their Passion and Purpose—the first of four volumes that will cover 140 inspiring individuals. It’ll soon be available on Kindle and Nook, but by joining Debra Eve’s mailing list you can get the PDF **free until Saturday, November 5, 2011** .

LaterBloomer.com seeks to provide late-blooming adults with inspiration to pursue their passions and talents through stories, biographies, book reviews and more. In particular, LaterBloomer.com focuses on those who’ve wearied of the corporate treadmill and crave a more creative, intellectual — artier, smartier – life.”

Late Bloomer Debra Eve left the corporate world to become an archaeologist at age 32. She learned sword fighting at 41 and became a martial arts instructor at 42. At 46, she found the love of her life and got married! Now she writes about fellow late bloomers while plotting her next grand adventure.

**

Lured to Ireland, Mae finds herself in a hidden world she never knew existed and falling head over heels for Beck, the man who tricked her into coming there. His deception is complicated by his feelings for the one person who holds the key to merging the ancient races that once ruled the ancient world. In this underground world of witches and vampires–half-breeds of aliens long gone–Mae learns about her parentage and powers. While Beck and Helen’s love for each other spans a millennium, some of the underworld creatures seek to destroy her. Will the knowledge of her existence cause a race war when the true power of her blood is discovered? Or will love become her ultimate downfall?

C.G. Powell has traveled everywhere–thanks to her innate curiosity about the world and the Navy. She has learned aviation electronics, CCNA networking, Gemology and how to get bloodstains out of the carpet (you never know when you might need that). Her latest, all-consuming endeavor is storytelling. When asked why, her response was “I live to challenge myself; I like to be pushed outside of my comfort zone and writing is one of those things that pushes my boundaries.” C.G. Powell lives in Virginia with her husband and children.

Amazon 4 1/2 stars   Createspace Paperback   Amazon Paperback   Smashwords   Barnes & Noble