Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy. 

One of my favorite writers has passed away.

Maeve Binchy made everyday life more fascinating than

Vampires, werewolves and zombies

Interstellar travel

Regency dukes

Lost civilizations

Ménages à trois

Secret societies

Aliens

Cannibalistic but intellectual mass murderers

Wizards, warriors and witches

Elves, dwarves and dragons.

That’s a lot for one writer to do

In a single lifetime.

Real is better.

Thanks.

By S.J. Driscoll

Lizards, tea and pantslessness

Nothing extraordinary. Top o’ the world and bottom of a pit, as usual. It’s all movin’ along.

Let’s see, did anything interesting happen? A large lizard with a gray and tan diamond-patterned back now lives in the garden. I found him while watering. He tried to convince me he was a piece of rotted wood that got stuck in one of the tomato plants. Didn’t work.

He’s a much larger version of the lizards that live in my plastic garden box. I store some old newspapers in it and the lizards made themselves speckly gray to match the type.

They’re all welcome to stay since they’re carnivorous, not herbivorous. Something else carnivorous was sighted here a while ago: another mountain lion. Stay in the fenced garden, little lizards, and eat bugs.

I now hear Prudence MacLeod reiterating: “Gods, Sally, you have such an interesting life!” Continue reading

Da Voidick

On Monday I didn’t read. Instead, I carried around a clipboard and wrote longhand a bit at a time. On Tuesday and Wednesday I wrote like “work” and read during the in-between times of my job and meals.

The verdict? Two days with reading and with writing done during a specific period: about 250 words a day. One day without reading and with writing fit in here and there without any special effort: 650 words. That couldn’t be clearer. Continue reading

Killing Audrey II—again

Yesterday @DeidreKnight of The Knight Agency, literary agent and romance writer, held a Q&A session for Austin RWA. She was inspirational—at least I found her so. She approaches the business of running her agency in a way that’s both very creative and very directed. That’s what’s so inspirational.

Creative as well as directed… that’s what we all want to be, isn’t it?

So my question to myself this Sunday is whether I can be more creative and more directed. That’s why this time I’m assessing my goals in a different way. How do the goals affect each other? Am I letting my priorities have priority? Seems like I’m doing okay… but am I still approaching what I want to do in a self-defeating way? Continue reading

Mostly tooth

Yes, these last couple of days have been about a tooth. Nothing like visiting the dentist for a regular checkup and being told you need a crown. Immediately. So I got one. That was yesterday.

Not that this was unexpected. And my dentist is excellent. But having even an excellent dentist hammering away in your jaw for an hour could ruin your day, or your next couple of days. And that adrenaline rush that comes with the local anesthesia? I crash every time.

Lucky for me my goals were set up a couple of weeks ago. They’re just about habits by now, and I sure needed my new habits. No stressing about what to do next—I just look at the list. Continue reading

Magic how new habits take hold

1) My eyes now start to close as 10 p.m. approaches. Stayed awake in bed until 11:30 last night, though, playing with the new electronic toy. Made me remember reading LITTLE WOMEN by moonlight when I was little, while the rest of my family slept. Gorgeous weather and I’m not getting out as much as I’d like, but my office windows open onto our huge live oak so it almost counts as being outside. Still keeping up the garden and doing a few minutes on the elliptical, just not yesterday. Seems like I can do every other day. [Real goal: Health: sleep (lights out at 10:30 p.m.), move (get up from desk every hour, spend at least 20 minutes outside morning or evening, gardening, walking or looking at forest).

2) Worked about 24 hours in the last two days to make the monthly issue deadline while fitting in other work odds and ends. Surprisingly, that left little to do toward it this morning, though I thought I’d be jammed. Happy! Now to get a head start on the Continue reading

Goals

Adjustment and discovery as I begin to work my goals.

Since one of my underlying goals is to become more aware of time but wearing a watch is too galling when I type all day, I spent some time (too much!) looking on line for a device that would chime softly every hour without constant resetting. Ended up ordering an iPod Touch because some apps look like they may help with goals and time management. If not, back it goes.

1) Sleep started off with a major fail. I went to bed at 10:30 on day 1. Spent an hour staring into the dark, got up, read until 2:30 and was up at 5:30. But last night I slept 9 hours. This must be evened out. Got outside for 15 minutes this morning to check and water garden, which should really be listed as a “fun” goal. It’s snake boot time! And there was an 8-inch centipede in the kitchen this morning, which my husband kindly took care of. Continue reading

Crossing the chasm from here to there

My initial 17 fantasy goals are now realigned into what I believe can get done during the next 80 days. The original fantasy goals are in italics behind the achievable goals.

1) Health: sleep (lights out at 10:30 p.m.), move (get up from desk every hour, spend at least 20 minutes outside morning or evening, gardening, walking or looking at forest). [17) Take better care of my health—for instance, get up from my desk, spend time outside, go to bed before midnight (fail!).]

2) Work only 8 a.m.-5 p.m., 1 hour for lunch, no evening or weekend work. [1) Maintain the quality of my science editing and other job obligations while meeting my deadlines and not stressing out.]

3) Write 250 words/day on my current novel, Continue reading

Two for Wednesday: Fiction by Clark and Singh

Bri Clark: Scent of a WitchMaeve da Paer has lived her life free from the Board of Witchery, protected by powerful clan magic—and by a lie. In desperation, she casts her most powerful spell, one that will end the pain before it begins on All Hallows’ Eve…. Immortal tracker Fionn Hughes is on a mission to restore his honor. But, following the scent of gardenias and honeysuckle, he discovers Maeve, the last Scent Witch. Will Fionn be strong enough to stop Maeve when he finds she plans to cancel her own existence?

From Astraea Press      Kindle US

Bri Clark grew up in the South and learned street smarts while caring for her brother in a broken home. She moved on to a series of bad choices. As a teen, her wake-up call came from a judge who gave her the choice of shaping up or going to jail. Bri ended up co-owning a successful construction business but lost everything in the real estate crash. Now she writes, blogs and shares her Southern culture in Boise, where she’s known as the Belle of Boise for her Southern accent, bold demeanor and hospitable nature.

***

Robert and Elise are strangers who meet at a bar. After one unique conversation, they find that they’re at a similar crossroads in their marriages. The decision they make that night will change their lives forever.

Kindle US   Amazon UK

Hardit Singh was born and raised in Southwest England. He rediscovered his love for reading at university, which sparked his desire to write. The author of crime fiction, Hardit believes that the most important aspect of a book is character. Often this is ultimately what the reader thinks about after closing a book. Mere words can create inspiration and empower an individual. The power that stories harness is what compels him to write.

One for Wednesday: Silk Road by Colin Falconer

Colin Falconer: Silk Road1260 AD: Christian Knight Templar Josseran Sarrazini is a man divided in his soul. Haunted by a shameful past, he hopes to find redemption in a dangerous crusade: a journey from Palestine to Xanadu to form a crucial allegiance against the Saracens at the legendary court of Kubilai Khan–the seat of the Mongol Empire.

Instead he finds solace in a warrior-princess from a heathen tribe. Beautiful and ferocious, Khutelun is a Tartar, a nomadic rider of the Mongolian steppe. Although their union is impossible, she finds in Josseran what she cannot find in one of her own.

Parched by desert winds, pursued by Saracen hordes and tormented by a passion he cannot control, Josseran must abandon Khutelun if he is to complete his journey and save his soul. Worse, he must travel with William, a Dominican friar of fearsome zeal who longs for matyrdom, but whose life Josseran is sworn to protect. Worse yet, he will arrive in Xanadu just as the greatest empire in human history plunges into civil war.

Winding through the plains of Palestine and over the high mountains of the Hindu Kush, from the empty wastes of the Taklimakan desert to the golden palaces of China, SILK ROAD weaves a spellbinding story of sin, desire, conflict and human frailty onto the vast tapestry of the medieval orient.

Falconer’s novels are “based on dedicated research and a profound knowledge of his subject, stories of passion and human frailty drawn on a vast canvas, about the perennial nature of love and the human spirit.” The Australian

ISBN 9780857891082

Published by Atlantic Books   Corvus Books   Amazon.co.uk   Waterstones

Falconer’s novels for Kindle US and UK   Falconer’s novels on Amazon US

Born in the north of London, Colin Falconer moved to Australia in his twenties. He drove cabs and played guitar in dark bars and rough pubs before joining an advertising agency. He then worked as a television and radio scriptwriter, and as a freelance journalist. Since 1990, he has been a full-time novelist. His work has been translated into seventeen languages.

Excerpt from “Dancing in the Middle,” A Short Story by Jansen Schmidt

Welcome to an excerpt from a short story by Jansen Schmidt, “Dancing in the Middle,” which won an Honorable Mention in the Writing on Walls III contest and publication in Storyteller Magazine.

***

Dancing in the Middle

Rosa Gonzales, a ballerina with a secret, is unwittingly involved in a Mexican drug smuggling ring. DEA Agent Damon Whiteside discovers her secret while trying to extricate her from danger. 

“Did you see the new guy in Amy’s class?” Audra adjusted her long lean body to get a better view into the opposite studio.

“Yeah,” I shifted slightly to see across the hall. Smiling, I turned away, embarrassed to be caught checking him out. Taller than usual, with coal black hair and sapphire eyes, Damon was a looker, no doubt about that. “He’s a hunk, that’s for sure.” I moved to the ballet barre and began a series of plies and stretches, all the while covertly watching him in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors.

Audra finished her yogurt and dropped the empty container into the trash. “Well, I’ll let you admire the view while you warm up.” She strolled to the door, pausing briefly in the hallway to observe the ballroom class in Amy’s studio. “Amy’s so lucky,” she said to no one in particular.

After my morning classes, I clocked out for lunch and left for the bus station to pick up the box I knew would be waiting there for me, a routine that Lupe and I had established almost two years ago. I retrieved the box, replaced the lock on the familiar blue locker, and headed back to my car. I only had a few minutes left to grab a bite to eat before my next class. As I neared my car I saw Damon standing near the driver’s side door.

Surprised, I said, “Well, hello there.”

Damon winced. “Rosa Gonzales,” his voice cracked, “you’re under arrest.” He held out his badge and a set of handcuffs. “I’ll need that box as evidence.”

I laughed. “What? You’re arresting me?’ But when his expression remained grim, I realized he wasn’t joking. “Who are you?”

“I’m an agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency.” He paused, watching me intently.

“We’re working with an international agency to find a drug smuggling operation out of Mexico. Know anything about that?”

“What?” I asked, taking a step backwards to put some space between us. Another person had approached me from behind, blocking my retreat. I turned around and a behemoth of a man with a shaved head and numerous tattoos took the package out of my hands. At the same time Damon grabbed my arms and brought them behind my back, clicking the handcuffs shut. “This way,” he said, tugging me gently toward a waiting car.

“What are you doing? I can’t go with you.” I whirled around to face him but his grip remained firm. Panic set in as I realized I was in a great deal of trouble.

Damon said with calm authority, “You’re under arrest for possession of illegal drugs, intent to sell drugs, drug trafficking and–”

“Drug trafficking? Are you crazy? This is a mistake!” I shrieked. “Look, I have a class in about fifteen minutes. People will wonder where I’m at. I can’t just not show up.”

“That’s exactly what’s going to happen, Princess.” The giant tattooed man was tearing into the box of homemade toys from my sister.

Damon recited my Miranda rights as he helped me into the back seat. He sat next to me and the behemoth got behind the wheel. I looked at Damon. “What have I done? I don’t understand what’s going on?”

“Like Detective Whiteside said, Princess, possession of drugs, drug trafficking, intent to sell illegal drugs, etc. etc.” The behemoth obviously possessed no mercy.

“I don’t have any drugs. You’ve got the wrong person.”

“Rosa,” Damon said softly, “how much do you know about your sister and her husband?”

“What’s my sister got to do with this?” I asked.

“What’s my sister got to do with this,” the driver mimicked. “Always the same ole spiel.”

“Cool it, Stone,” Damon warned. He looked directly at me. “We know what’s in the box, Rosa, and we know it’s from your sister. What we don’t know is where it’s going. You can make this easier on yourself if you cooperate.”

“Cooperate with what?” I asked.

Damon reached into the front seat and pulled one of my sister’s cloth dolls from the box.

Ripping the head off, he pulled out a plastic baggie filled with a milky powdery substance.

“Like I said,” he paused, showing me the evidence, “We know what’s in the box.”

I gasped. “I had no idea that was in there. I . . . I don’t know what’s going on. Aren’t I entitled to a phone call?”

***

Jansen SchmidtJansen Schmidt started writing theater reviews for local community playhouses about twelve years ago. A previous theater owner, she spent many years involved in all aspects of community theater but her most enjoyable aspect of the theater was and remains being on stage.  An amateur thespian, pianist, singer and dancer, she has performed in many productions in the last twenty years, including A Few Good Men, Much Ado About Nothing, Annie Get Your Gun, Nunsense and Nunsense II, and her first production, a musical melodrama entitled Tumbleweeds.

To purchase Writing on Walls III, go to The Storyteller online store or send a check or money order for $12.95 plus $3.00 shipping/handling to Writing on Walls III, The Storyteller Magazine, 2441 Washington Rd., Maynard, AR 72444. For each additional 1 to 2 books, please add $2.50 for shipping/handling. For international orders the cost is 14.95 per book plus $5.00 for shipping/handling. All international payments must be in U.S. funds.

Thanks, Jansen!

Two for Wednesday: Novels by Street/Street and James

Alicia Street/Roy Street: AphrodisiacAn ancient secret perfume that can make you irresistible. A suicide note that just ain’t right. A killer called the Monster. Two women running for their lives. And a smoking hot boxer who cares…. Brooklyn sex therapist Saylor Oz and her sidekick Benita Morales, a financial analyst/female boxer, are BFFs who race through dangerous situations bickering, bantering, bungling and sometimes blaming, but always forgiving. Set primarily along the streets of a Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood, Saylor Oz RomCom Mysteries are wacky, sexy, gritty crime adventures.

Winner of a Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense

Amazon   B&N Nook   Smashwords

Alicia Street and Roy Street spent many gypsy years living and working in New York City and Philadelphia, Alicia as a dancer, choreographer and teacher, and Roy in theater, visual arts and standup comedy. Romance Junkies called them “a husband and wife writing team that has managed to capture the best in both men’s and women’s fiction.”

***

Nash was bound to Sienna by a blood connection and a deep desire. An Enforcer for the Supranormal community, he protected her from those who coveted her future Angelic abilities–but can he forgive the woman whose faults had devastated his world? Sienna, betrayed by her family, seeks solace in the arms of her reluctant protector Nash, a demon hybrid with a secret of his own. Can she come to terms with her destiny after finding she could be as dangerous as those Nash protected her from?

Pink Petal Books   Available from Amazon for Christmas

Married romance author and Entangled Publishing intern Xandra James has always wanted to write romance books. Even when she was sneaking peaks at the hot bits, too young to fully appreciate them, she dreamt of writing her own. Now, older and wiser, she’s got the opportunity to project her slightly dark and wacky British sense of humour onto others, whilst still writing the hot bits–bonus!


Two for Wednesday: Novels by James and Kobras

Kristy K. James: The Daddy PactJess Bentley’s husband is murdered the night they return from their honeymoon. Soon she discovers that she is pregnant, and married to the murderer’s brother to protect the baby from her vengeful father-in-law.

Available on Smashwords and Amazon

Kristy K. James‘ first goal in life was to work in law enforcement, until the night she called the police to check out a scary noise in her yard. Realizing that she might someday have to check out scary noises in other dark yards if she continued on that path, she turned to her other favorite love… writing. Since then, her days have been filled with being a mom and reluctant zookeeper (7 pets), creating stories and looking for trouble in her kitchen.

***

There’s nothing like finding a letter on your breakfast table informing you that you have a teenage son you knew nothing about. That’s what happens to international rock star Jon Stone. Jon drops everything to find the boy–and the boy’s mother, the girl he loved so many years ago. She left Jon when his rock ‘n’ roll life became too much for her to bear. Seeing her is like falling in love all over again. Everything seems perfect–until someone sets out to destroy their idyllic life.

Published by Buddapus Ink   Preorder on Amazon   Publication date Jan. 12, 2012

Mariam Kobras is the author of the soon-to-be published book The Distant Shore, a contemporary romance with a twist of suspense. Born in Frankfurt, Germany, she lives in Hamburg with her husband and two sons. After studying American Literature and Archeology at Giessen University, she spent several months in Toronto, Canada. Mariam has worked as an English tutor, served as a lay Judge in Juvenile Court and managed the rookie Hamburg Blue Devils American football team. Most recently, she founded the Theater Project at a local Hamburg high school, where she wrote and staged plays. The success of this venture gave her the courage to try her hand at a novel. Mariam is currently writing the second book in The Stone Trilogy

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.

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.