Archive for March, 2015

An Interview with Kyla Phillips

Welcome, Kyla!

Author pic

Thanks so much for this opportunity. I’m so grateful for a chance to be on your blog!

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

I am from Northeast Ohio, born and raised. I am a self-professed geek. I love animals and airplanes. My current novel is Agent of Light an Urban Fantasy and first in the Council of Light series .  Bounty-hunter Vayne Andrews lives with a fallen angel, an exhibitionist Jinni, and a shape-shifting puma; yet the outside world is crazier still. Vayne’s team finds themselves facing not only a psychotic enemy but their own weaknesses.

 

What genre(s) do you write in?

I write SciFi/Fantasy.  While my current novel is Urban Fantasy I have a SciFi novel in the works.  I like to switch off to keep my ideas fresh instead of just running through the same tropes of the genre.

 

What sets you apart from other authors in your genre?

I think my unique background sets me apart. I am as well versed on novels over twice my age as I am with the latest and greatest.  Also I have lived my life as the minority, the only woman in an engineering class, the only black woman in a writing group, one of the few poor kids at a private school.  I know how to write that oddly diverse character, the odd man out. My storyline might sound close to similar ones in that genre but the perspective is miles away from the tired old repeat player.

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Never give up and at the same time never put all your hope into one project.  If one doesn’t work start a new one and try again.

 

What are your three favorite books?

Narrowing down my favorite books to three choices is hard but I would have to say, Three Musketeers, Ender’s Game, and Have Spacesuit, Will Travel

 

What are you currently reading?

The Princess Bride

 

Is there a theme/message underlying your book(s) that you hope comes across?

There are two themes: The truth will come out no matter how dark or dirty it may be; and being vulnerable does not mean you’re weak.

 

How do you keep sane as a writer?

Writing is what’s keeping me sane. It’s the rest of my life that drives me crazy.

 

Have you had to make sacrifices for your writing, and if so, what are they?

I had to sacrifice getting a solid eight hours of sleep many nights.  Of course a big chunk of my pride had to go (not that it’s missed) in order to make my novel the best it could be. Also having to sacrifice a night out with friends for a night in hunched over a computer screen. Still I consider them all well worth it.

 

What obstacles, if any, have you encountered in being a writer?

Finding the time to write is the first obstacle.  I work two jobs and take care of a relative with health problems. Writing time is a precious commodity. Dealing with rejection is number two. I put so much of myself into every piece I write it is hard not to feel personally rejected when my work is.

 

What do you like best/least about writing?

For me writing is cathartic. No matter what happens in my life if I can get twenty minutes to write I can readjust and refresh myself.  On the other hand I hate editing. I find it very hard to turn a critical eye on my work.  That’s why I adore editors because they are lifesavers.

 

What did you learn from writing your book?

I learned persistence is a necessity not a luxury . I also learned it is often best to let a story tell you how it should be instead of trying to force it into the mold you want it in. I spent a lot of time rewriting because I was too stubborn to listen.

 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

The minute I wrote something over fifty thousand words.

 

Would you rather have one giant bestseller or a long string of moderate sellers?

A string of moderate sellers.  I have so many stories to tell. I want to share them all, not rest on one really good one.

 

What is the hardest thing about writing a series?

For me the hardest thing about writing a series is finding that balance between staying true to the elements that drew people in the first time and bringing something fresh to the game.

 

Please share your social media links with us, including where the book(s) may be purchased:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KylaPhillips.Author

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Agent-Light-Council-Kyla-Phillips-ebook/dp/B00UEXVHMI/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1427340098&sr=8-4&keywords=agent+of+light

Muse It Up:  https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/coming-soon/agent-of-light-detail

 

Thank you, Kyla! Please keep us posted on your latest developments.

agentoflight

Summary

Vayne is a light elemental and bounty hunter for the supernatural world.  Her partners—Giovanni, a capricious fallen angel; and Donovan, a shape shifter with anger control issues—work with her during their rehabilitation. During the coldest winter Cincinnati has ever seen, the threesome run into a case where temporary and violent insanity strikes powerful elementals seemingly at random. Vayne soon finds herself the victim instead of the hunter, and working on the wrong side of the conflict.  How can Don and Gio pull her back from the brink? How will she reveal the perpetrator and bring him before the chopping block?

 

Excerpt

Vayne frowned.

A twenty-minute death race down Cincinnati’s busiest inner-city highway doing eighty and her crew still arrived late at the fugitive’s last known location—an hour behind the action. Stepping out of the car, Vayne’s dark brown hair whipped around her face in a bitterly cold gust of wind. Pulling her gray wool coat tighter around her narrow shoulders, she tried to stave off the bitter air.

I hate the cold.

I hate winter.

Worst of all, I hate being late.

Local cops already had the Circle K gas station cordoned off. Vayne’s relationship with the police was complicated. She worked hard to build a reputation of being fair, honest, and cooperative; however, her reputation could only do so much to smooth things over when telling territorial cops to take a backseat. Showing up last to a crime scene didn’t make things any easier.

Protocol required a Council of Light agent to take the lead upon arriving on a scene involving elementals. The cops doing all the grunt work usually didn’t appreciate an outsider stepping in. As the present agent, Vayne knew the minute she gave them any sign of weakness, of not being up to the job, they would pounce.

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Posted by Matthew Peters - March 31, 2015 at 5:39 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: , ,

An Interview with Nan Reinhardt

Welcome, Nan!

Nan Reinhardt smaller sized

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

I’m Nan Reinhardt and I’m a romance author. I write stories featuring older characters—heroines who are over 40. I’ve just released the third book in my WOMEN OF WILLOW BAY series—THE SUMMER OF SECOND CHANCES.

 

What sets you apart from other authors in your genre?

Most romance novels feature characters who are in their twenties and thirties, but I write about older women. There is a definite lack of great romance novels out there that have older characters and I believe there’s an entire demographic being ignored. Most women my age want to read about our peers—women with experience and wisdom who’ve lived a lot of life. I get so tired of rolling my eyes when I read novels with young characters. I just want to shout at the characters, “Just tell the truth! Or “Can’t you just talk and work this out?”

 

Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

I am self-published.

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Just write—seriously, get the story down. You can edit all you want when you’re done, but just get in there and do it. Let your characters go and write!

 

If you could have a conversation with one person living or dead who would it be?

Wow, that’s a tough one. It’s hard to choose, but I’d love to talk to Gertrude Stein. She was a fascinating character living in times that I’m really intrigued by… and besides, it would mean I could go to Paris. 😉

 

What are you currently reading?

Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD

 

Is there a theme/message underlying your book(s) that you hope comes across?

If there’s a message besides romance is fun, it’s probably that romance isn’t just for the young. Love never ages.

 

How do you keep sane as a writer?

Why are you assuming that I’m sane? Is any writer truly sane when we have all these damn voices in our heads? 😉 Seriously, I write to keep sane, I think. When I’m writing, all the fantasy stuff gets to happen and then reality becomes a little easier to handle, although I actually have a pretty nice reality, too.

 

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would it be called?

SNAP OUT OF IT–I worry so much about stuff that I have no control over because I think I can fix everything for people I care about. I need to relax, let life do its own thing, and stop believing I’m responsible for other people’s happiness. I need to snap out of it.

 

What did you learn from writing your book?

I learned a lot doing the research for my books, but I don’t think that’s what you’re talking about, is it? I did learn that I can tell a whole story with a beginning, a middle, and an end—I really can do this thing. I learned that I’m not a big fan of writing super-hot sex scenes and in this last book, I discovered it was okay to let my readers use their imaginations about that.

 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Sadly, when my first book was published. I say ‘sadly’ because truly, to me a writer is someone who writes, not someone who publishes. Maybe the distinction for me is between writer and author. I’ve always been a writer—ever since I could hold a pencil and form words, but I’ve only been an author since 2012.

 

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

There are a couple for me. Definitely Lani Diane Rich, who is my editor and a brilliant storyteller and my fellow romance writer, Liz Flaherty, who tells gorgeous stories and has been an invaluable source of critique for my stories.

 

Would you rather read a book that is poorly written but has an excellent story, or read one with weak content, but is well written?

Another tough question—I wish I could say I’d go for the excellent story and let the poor writing go, but honestly, I’m too much of an editor to do that. If a book is poorly written, I start editing it in my head, get frustrated that anyone would put their book out there that way, and then I have to let it go or I’ll go crazy. Bad writing just doesn’t work for me.

 

Do you think a writer should write every day?

Intellectually, I think that’s probably a good idea, but honestly, I don’t. I write when my muse speaks to me (which frankly, is pretty much every day). Maybe I’m just not disciplined enough to sit down and make myself write every day, I don’t know. But writing is what I do for fun and when it turns into work, I want to go knit or swim or ride my bike or do something fun with my husband or my friends.

 

What five words would you use to describe yourself?

Kind, intellectually curious (does that count as one word or two?), funny, compassionate, and beautiful. (Okay, so confession—the beautiful description is a goal—one day, I really want to believe that about myself.)

 

If you could marry a fictional character, who would it be?

Well, frankly, any one of my own heroes—I love them all, although at the moment, I’ve seriously got a crush on Henry Dugan—the hero of THE SUMMER OF SECOND CHANCES. He’s such a loveable geek.

 

Please share your social media links with us, including where the book(s) may be purchased:

Website: www.nanreinhardt.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authornanreinhardt

Twitter: @NanReinhardt

 

Links to all my books are on my website, but here are the Amazon and Barnes & Noble links for the newest one, The Summer of Second Chances

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Summer-Second-Chances-Women-Willow-ebook/dp/B00UPJUGS2

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1121426413?ean=2940151373814

 

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Summary:

It’s never too late to start over

When Sophie Russo inherits two lakeside cottages in Willow Bay, Michigan, she thinks she can start over with a peaceful, quiet summer.

Boy, is she wrong.

First, there’s Henry Dugan, the nerdy genius behind the GeekSpeak publishing empire, who has rented Sophie’s second cottage so he can write his novel. The instant attraction catches them both off guard. He’s fresh off a brutal divorce, and Sophie’s still grieving her beloved Papa Leo, so this is no time to start a relationship, but a casual summer fling might be an option…

Then Sophie’s long-lost mother barrels onto the scene and opens up a long-buried mystery involving Depression-era mobsters and a missing cache of gold coins worth millions that some present-day hoodlums would like to get their hands on.

Suddenly, Sophie’s quiet summer becomes a dangerous dance with her grandfather’s dark past. With Henry at her side–and in her bed–Sophie needs to find a way to make peace with the past and look toward the future… assuming she lives that long.

 

Excerpt:

“There!” Sophie Russo brushed her hands on the butt of her jeans and gazed around the living room of the Sandpiper, her guest cottage on the shore of Lake Michigan. The place fairly sparkled—all ready for the new summer renter, her colleague and friend, Henry Dugan, right down to a lovely spot on the screened porch, where he would be able to set up his laptop and work in the breeze off the lake. She and Henry had been working together for years and he was setting aside his publishing empire to write a novel. If he couldn’t get some serious writing done here this summer, it wasn’t going to happen at all.

They’d never met in person, but Henry published the famous GeekSpeak books and as his freelance editor, Sophie had worked on nearly all his computer how-tos over the last ten years. She enjoyed his chatty, familiar voice, and wondered if his fiction had the same easy quality. She hoped he’d let her read the novel. He’d never mentioned using her as his fiction editor, but it made sense. She knew his writing style and they already had a good working relationship. He hadn’t even told her what genre the novel was, but she assumed it was guy-type fiction, political suspense, crime drama, or maybe a mystery….

The mantle clock chimed eleven as she hung fresh towels on the rack in the bathroom and then began making the bed. With the windows open slightly, the crisp May breeze had aired the coverlets nicely, and she smoothed Papa Leo’s favorite log cabin quilt over the clean sheets. She’d never thought about it before, but with the tall pines and spectacular lake views, this cottage was the ideal place for a writer.

A loud noise at the back door nearly sent her sprawling across the bed. Whatever was back there was way bigger than a skunk or raccoon. Apparently, she’d forgotten to lock the door when she left earlier. Great. A break-in and it was only May third! Of course, Beach Road was practically deserted. She’d been the first to open up this season. None of the other summer folks had even arrived yet.

Hands fisted at her sides, she peered into the hall, assessing whether she could get to something she could use to defend herself before the prowler stepped inside. What that would be eluded her completely. Maybe the oar hanging above the fireplace or a badminton racket from the closet in the second bedroom or the hairdryer here on the dresser? All good options except that heavy footsteps sounded in the utility porch and the kitchen suddenly flooded with light.

Would a thief switch on the brightest light in the place, knowing she was right next door? Maybe a dumb one who didn’t bring a flashlight…

Oh, screw it.

Sophie grabbed the hairdryer and brandishing it like a pistol, jumped into the hall with a loud shout. She recognized the intruder immediately. His graying hair was longish, soft, and slightly tousled. Small rectangular wire-rimmed glasses gave him a rather intellectual air. He’d grown a goatee since the last publicity photo, but it was unquestionably Henry Dugan gazing around the cottage before his eyes lit on her.

He had a canvas messenger bag slung over one shoulder, a large duffel in one hand, and a guitar and a brown paper bag that emanated the heavenly scent of onions and fries in the other. Obviously, he’d found Swenson’s, the only fast food place in Willow Bay open after ten p.m.

Her heart pounded and her mouth was dry with residual fear, or maybe it was simply dismay that he’d caught her with her wild hair streaming down her back, no makeup, and clad in pink polka dot pajamas. Shouting and waving a hairdryer at him probably didn’t help either. She couldn’t tell. Whatever, one of them needed to speak. In what was probably a futile attempt to regain her dignity, she set the hairdryer on the table, stopped a few feet away from him, and gave him a tentative smile. “Hello, Henry.”

 

 

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Posted by Matthew Peters - March 27, 2015 at 4:43 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: , ,

An Interview with C. L. Schneider

Welcome, Cynthia!

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Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

My first published novel, The Crown of Stones: Magic-Price, was released in December 2013. Magic-Price is the first book in a trilogy that follows the trials of Ian Troy, a man born with an addiction to magic. The second installment, Magic-Scars, was released this past December. While I’m promoting the first two books, I’m currently working on the third. I plan to release the final installment of Ian’s story at the end of the year.

As a child, I was an early and avid reader. My love for books fed straight into my love of writing. I dabbled in poems and stories from the time I could hold a pencil. When I was sixteen I started my first full length novel. I put my writing aside many times, over many years, but I always picked it back up. The pull was too strong to ignore for long. Then, one day, I couldn’t ignore it at all. Yet, being a wife and a stay at home mom, I had to fight for every minute and squeeze the writing in whenever I could. It was frustrating to have these stories building in me and only be able to release them in small increments. On the upside, I learned how to move in and out of the story very quickly.

Once my boys were in school full time, I was able to devote myself fully. It was something I had dreamed about my entire life. That was when The Crown of Stones really started coming together.

I’m not the fastest of writers.  All my stories are born in a notebook where I scribble in manic incomplete sentences in an attempt to capture the flood of ideas in my head. I do extensive character work, and I tend to need more perfection in a draft than I probably should. My favorite part of writing is the revising. The sculpting and tweaking, the shifting of lines to make sure the puzzle fits together just so. I love massaging the paragraphs until they flow like a song from one to the next. Aside from writing, I adore a good thunderstorm and the sound of my children laughing. I have a thing for zombies and basically anything strange, supernatural, and fantastical. If you told me I could live in a medieval post-apocalyptic world, existing on coffee, chocolate, and wine, I’d zip up my boots, grab my sword, and start packing.

 

What genres do you write in?

I write mostly epic fantasy, but also urban fantasy and post-apocalyptic. My writing is adult and generally on the dark side. I don’t do sparkles and rainbows, or happily ever after. I write flawed characters that drive my story by the choices and the mistakes they make.

 

What sets you apart from other authors in your genre?

I think what sets me apart from other authors is that I write mainly in first person.  I buck the current trend of writing with a huge cast of characters and multiple POVs, and instead focus on bringing the reader as deep as I can into one mind. It isn’t necessarily an intentional choice, but rather what comes naturally. By writing as my characters, I see the story through their eyes. I live their struggles and joys, and channel that into my stories. My hope is that if I feel it, the reader will too. I also don’t beat myself up over word count. Whether it’s long, short, or in between, I believe in telling a tale until it’s done.

 

Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

I’m self-published.  I did try to go the traditional route for a while. I sent out my query letters and waited by the mailbox with my fingers and toes crossed. It really is an excruciating experience, but I was fortunate enough to have a couple of really good bites that kept me going for a while. One agent in particular took enough of an interest that his rejection of my manuscript actually inspired me. After my initial disappointment waned, I realized everything he said was right. I went back to the drawing board and started revising. That was a turning point for me. I dived into every book I could find, learning all I could to make myself better. At that time, I had no interest in self-publishing.  I fully intended to send out another round of queries when I was ready. I only looked into what Amazon had to offer after a well-meaning friend wouldn’t stop bugging me about it. She loved her Kindle and kept insisting I publish Crown of Stones as an ebook. She believed in my story and kept pumping me full of statistics about the rising popularity of digital, self-published books. Her argument was that if I attracted some attention, a traditional publisher might come calling. I didn’t dispute any of that. But an ebook was the last thing I wanted. I needed a physical book in my hands. It was what I’d dreamed about since I was sixteen.

When I finally relented and looked into publishing through Amazon, I found CreateSpace staring me in the face. I discovered I could have the physical book I always wanted, and the ebook to satisfy a growing market. Most importantly, I didn’t have to wallpaper my office with rejection letters for the next ten years to get it. Becoming a self-published author was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. It was also one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

 

What are your three favorite books?

If you’re forcing me to pick three, I’d have to say the three books that influenced me most in my life. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Rusalka by C. J. Cherryh.

I read Gone with the Wind in middle school. It was the first truly epic book I ever read and it made a huge impression. It also became my favorite movie. As a coincidence, the’ L’ in my name was my mom’s tribute to Vivian Leigh, who played Scarlet O’Hara.

I address the Mists of Avalon in a later question, so I’ll skip over that here.

As far as Rusalka goes, I can’t really explain that one. It’s far from the best book I’ve ever read. It’s not even the author’s best work. It’s actually one of her earlier books that hasn’t gotten a lot of love. But I’ve read Rusalka at least six times, and the rest of the books in the trilogy, several times each. There was an indefinable quality about that story and those characters that clung to me (in that particular time in my life); enough that it kept drawing me back. It’s been a while since I’ve read the whole thing through. But I keep it in my office. Sometimes I pick it up and leaf through it, soaking up the memories and the emotions. Sometimes I just look at the cover.

 

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading several books, but there is one in particular I feel compelled to mention.  It’s an indie steampunk entitled Borrowed Time, co-written by Clifton Stringfield and J. R. Swiger.  I’m almost to the end. My review will be up soon, and I don’t want to spoil anything. But I will tell you that it is a gem. Borrowed Time is an absolutely wonderful read that deserves some real attention. The characters are a delight and every single one, even the ones you think at first are simply bit players, are woven into the plot. Page after page, I was fascinated by the intricate construction. There is not an ounce of fluff or wasted dialogue. The world is huge and vivid and the story evolves into such an epic tale that very quickly the genre becomes unimportant. It’s quite long, but that only impresses me more that something this grand could be co-written so seamlessly.  It’s been such a great adventure to read. I’m looking forward to it continuing in the next book.

 

What makes good writing?

Personally, I believe what makes good writing is anything that makes me feel.  Whether I love or hate the characters, if they prompt a strong reaction in me, if I can connect with them on an emotional level, the writer has done his/her job.  The same can be reflected in the world they live in. It can be horrid or beautiful, but if it’s vivid and compelling, living in my mind long after I’ve closed the book—that’s good writing.

 

Is there a theme/message underlying your book(s) that you hope comes across?

I didn’t set out to write Crown of Stones with a message. I think as the story evolved, there were underlying themes that developed on their own. One I believe that ripples throughout the story is the notion that heroes are made not born, and they’re often made under terrible circumstances. But it’s not those circumstances, or tragedies, that define them. It’s not the pain they endure.  It’s how one emerges from the pain that determines whether they become a hero or not. The other recurring theme is that home is not a place. It’s not a city or a building. It’s the people that love and care for you. It’s the emotions they inspire and the comfort their presence brings you, wherever it is you lay your head down at night.

 

How do you keep sane as a writer?

Are writers sane? I think the jury is still out on that one.  In fact, I’m okay being a little insane. Maybe that’s where the stories come from. What I have trouble with is the doubt. On the days that I can’t focus, when I revise the same paragraph twenty times, and I wonder what I’m doing and why anyone would read anything I write, I wallow in it for a bit. Then I reach out. I have a tremendous support group.  I tease my friends about their therapy by text message, but it’s the truth. Their belief in me, their ability to slap some sense into me with a single text, wipe away my insecurities with a laugh or a cup of coffee—that’s as close to sanity as I get.

 

Has reading a book ever changed your life? If yes, which one and how?

My life was changed by a book in high school. At the time, I’d been heavy into historical fiction, post-apocalyptic, gothic horror, and science fiction. My brother was the fantasy fan. We would often have discussions on books and movies, and between his avid recommendations and my love for all things medieval, my interest was piqued. Not long after one of our discussions, he bought me my first epic fantasy novel, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mist of Avalon. And I fell in love. I’d already been writing for some time, but that book spoke to me. It narrowed my focus and I knew: this is what I want to write.

 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

In my mind I think I’ve always been a writer. I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life for as long as I can remember. I didn’t consider myself an author, though, for many years after.  Not until I held The Crown of Stones in my hands. It was a distinction I saw very clearly at the time, but those lines have since become blurred.  Writers, authors; it doesn’t matter what we call ourselves. We all have a need to paint with words. That’s what’s important, not the label.

 

Would you rather have one giant bestseller or a long string of moderate sellers?

I would much rather have a string of moderate sellers. I didn’t enter into this to make it big or strike it rich. That’s the pot at the end of the rainbow, but it’s not reality, and it’s not what drives me. I want to share my stories. I want them out in the world. They weren’t doing anyone any good sitting in a box in my closet, least of all me. I wouldn’t sneeze at a giant bestseller, but a string of moderate sellers would reach far more people. That’s what’s important to me.

 

Do you think a writer should write every day?

Absolutely, a writer should write every day. Unfortunately, that’s something I discovered the hard way.

As I said before, there was a long stretch where I was writing only sporadically. I was still reading like a fiend, though, and over time I developed a love-hate relationship with the bookstore. It was one of my absolute favorite places to be. Yet, more than anything I wanted to see one of my books on the shelf. What really kicked into action my need to make that happen was the day I pulled out that first book I wrote in high school. It was a gigantic post-apocalyptic story. I started reading it just for fun. Then I realized something. Even with my years of infrequent writing, I had gotten better. Not just a little better, a lot. My recent stories were nothing like that first book.

Right then, I decided to see what would happen if I wrote every single day. I tried not to fret over word count. I didn’t hold myself to writing pages upon pages. Sometimes a paragraph was all I could manage. The point was to put words on paper every day. Doing so made a tremendous difference, not only in my writing, but in my confidence and my drive.

Writing every day is a must. It doesn’t matter if you throw it out tomorrow.  Just write.

 

Please share your social media links with us, including where the book(s) may be purchased:

Thanks so much for coming by, Cynthia!

 

COVER Crown of Stones Magic Price

Prologue

 

Bodies pressed in on me on all sides. More were piled up beneath my feet. The grass, gorged with assorted fluids and trampled remains, squished under my boots as I carved open my opponent’s chest, pushed him aside, and moved onto the next.

There was always a next. The Langorians were a swarm…an inexhaustible, savage, mindless swarm. And we had no choice but to become like them to survive. To become animals, going at each other, mechanically pushing against the tide, battering whatever stood in our way with whatever we had; clubs, axes, swords, knives—our bruised, bleeding bare hands. Fighting for days, months, years, striving to hold out against an enemy that knew nothing of mercy, an enemy stronger, and far more brutal than us, we’d become something less than we were.

And we were still losing.

I grabbed the Queen’s arm and steered her out of the fray. “We can’t take much more of this.” Needing to be heard, I drew her closer. “We should pull back.”

“Pull back?” Queen Aylagar Arcana yanked herself free. She gave me a wild, defiant look. Full of passion and reckless resolve, it made her exotic features come alive. “My order stands. We press on, Troy. As always.”

I shook my head. “Our numbers are dwindling too fast. We can’t win this.”

“We can and we will.” Aylagar raised a hand. She touched my face and the sound of metal clashing and men screaming seemed to fade away. Brushing back the blood-splattered white strands that had come loose from my braid, she ran a finger down the strong line of my jaw. “Trust me, Love. The Langorians will not have Rella.”

“How can you still believe that?”

“Because I must. Because I have faith.”

“Ayla…” I stopped myself. Then I started again. “I saw the messenger arrive from Kabri. I know he carried orders from the King. You can’t keep ignoring them.”

“I can. And I will.” She dropped her hand and backed up. “My husband is a fool. I don’t care how many messengers he dispatches from his throne, he is not out here. The blood of these men bathes my skin, not his. This is my war, Troy. Mine!” she cried. “We fight. We die. We go on until we prevail—by my command. I will not surrender. That is the way of it. That is the only way.”

My throat went dry at the fire in her. The way she stood, outlined by the backdrop of chaos, flanked by the crackling flames that consumed our camp, with sweat beading on her dark skin and battle-lust glazing her stare, I wanted to pull her into my arms. I wanted to go back to this morning, on the furs of her tent, when Aylagar’s flawless, ebony skin was on me. Where status and race didn’t matter and death felt far away. Mostly, I wanted to believe her, as I had so many times, that every battle brought us closer to victory. That persistence was our greatest strength and it would carry us through.

But this was it. King Draken of Langor was throwing everything he had at us, making one final push to wipe us all out. To once and for all, lay claim to the land his forefathers had sought, and failed, to conquer. Surrendering was unacceptable; she was right in that. Yet, Aylagar had lost her way. Somewhere along the line, the outcome had stopped mattering to her as much as the fight, and my affection, my awe of her, had blinded me for far too long.

“Give me the order,” I demanded. “Let me shift the odds.”

Her dismissal was quick. “No.”

“We can’t keep going like this, sword for sword, day after day, until there’s none of us left. Let me cast hell down on these black-hearted bastards.”

“I have given you my answer. And it is no different than the last hundred times.”

I moved closer. “You know what I can do. My magic can give us an advantage the Langorians can’t match. We can stop this fucking, never-ending war, Ayla. We can stop it together, with steel and magic. If you’ll just—”

“You are Shinree,” she hissed. “Your kind are meant to do as they are told. Yet, after six years in the ranks you still push for something that I will never bend to.”

“Then you’re as big a fool as the King.”

Her hand that, only a moment ago, had caressed me, struck my face. “My husband forced your service in this army upon us both. And from day one, when you stood in my tent, a young man, eager to please, drooling with the urge to cast, I made it plain that this conflict would not be solved with magic. It’s dishonorable. I don’t trust it. I forbid it. Now, you are my best soldier. I have given you free reign in my bed, but not out here. Not in battle. Ever. Is that clear?”

Staring at her, my heart went cold. “I don’t think I can do this anymore. Fighting as half a man. Ashamed of what I am because you say it’s wrong. I’m not just a soldier.” I held up the sword in my hand. I called to the stones embedded in the leather-wrapped handle and they began to glow. Their vibrations pressed in through my skin, down into my veins, and the uncertainty washed away. “I’m a Shinree soldier.”

“Put that magic away,” she scolded. “Do you want to kill us all?”

“I can control it.”

“Can you?” Her eyes were harsh. “Can you promise that when your spell steals the strength it needs to be born, that it won’t steal from one of my men? That it won’t steal from me? Your magic is a disease, Ian. Your need for it, your addiction, clouds your judgment. It threatens us all and undermines my orders.”

“Your orders,” I roared, “contradict my duty to keep Rella safe. I’ve tried to pretend they didn’t. I’ve tried to be what you wanted. But I can’t. I’m Shinree, Ayla. I am magic. And if you don’t untie my hands, we will all die here today.”

Stunned, Aylagar looked at me. For a moment there was a rare vulnerability in her eyes, a kind of resigned sadness. Then she raised her sword, turned, and re-joined the battle. She left me standing alone on the rim of the conflict, watching with a crushing sense of finality as the men I’d fought beside for years, were being slaughtered.

I can save them, I thought, though they wouldn’t do the same for me. A magic user, granted exemption from the slavery that kept my kind in check; I was tolerated at best. But lately, I’d seen it in their eyes, next to the pain, the hunger and exhaustion. They no longer hated me because I might use magic and bring them harm. They hated me for not using it, for continuing to let them die.

Frustration pushed a scream from my lungs. A pang of rage and resentment sped through me, so sharp, that I pulled my second sword, pushed into the mayhem and started swinging. I sliced through bodies, one after the other, trying to lose myself in the rhythm. I pressed forward, deeper into the madness; wrath blazing in my white eyes as I strived for an answer to the conflict that burned inside me.

My magic knew nothing of sides. My spells fed without discrimination. They were selfish, heartless. They didn’t care who was right or wrong, who was strong or weak. To create themselves, they would drain friend as easily as foe.

In the villages they called me a champion, but I wasn’t. I was a weapon.

Somehow, I’d forgotten that.

 

 

 

 

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Posted by Matthew Peters - March 24, 2015 at 4:51 am

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“The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous”

the-last-drop_21083566The April issue of The Atlantic features an article by Gabrielle Glaser, entitled “The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous.” Click here for the article.

As the article makes clear, The 12-step program “dominates treatment in the United States” despite the fact that “researchers have debunked central tenets of AA doctrine and found dozens of other treatments more effective.”

Among Glaser’s claims:

“Nowhere in the field of medicine is treatment [for addiction] less grounded in modern science. A 2012 report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University compared the current state of addiction medicine to general medicine in the early 1900s, when quacks worked alongside graduates of leading medical schools.”

–“In 2006, the Cochrane Collaboration, a health-care research group, reviewed studies going back to the 1960s and found that ‘no experimental studies unequivocally demonstrated the effectiveness of AA or [12-step] approaches for reducing alcohol dependence or problems.’”

–“AA truisms have so infiltrated our culture that many people believe heavy drinkers cannot recover before they ‘hit bottom.’ Researchers I’ve talked with say that’s akin to offering antidepressants only to those who have attempted suicide, or prescribing insulin only after a patient has lapsed into a diabetic coma.

–“Less than 1 percent of people treated for alcohol problems in the United States are prescribed…drug[s] shown to help control drinking,” drugs like naltrexone or acamprosate.

Despite the ineffectiveness of 12-step approaches, of the more than 13,000 rehab facilities in the U.S., 70-80% of them hew to the 12 steps.

–“There is no mandatory national certification exam for addiction counselors. The 2012 Columbia University report on addiction medicine found that only six states required alcohol- and substance-abuse counselors to have at least a bachelor’s degree and that one state, Vermont, required a master’s degree. Fourteen states had no license requirements whatsoever—not even a GED or an introductory training course was necessary—and yet counselors are often called on by the judicial system and medical boards to give expert opinions on their clients’ prospects for recovery.”

What all of this points to, in my opinion, is an undervaluing of the scientific approach to the treatment of addiction. While alcoholism is considered a disease its treatment is often left in the hands of non-professionals. This situation needs to change. People need to demand better treatment options just like they did with breast cancer, HIV and mental illness. One can only hope that the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of coverage to include alcohol- and substance-abuse treatment will prompt a serious reconsideration of the efficacy of treatment options.

I’d like to use the article as a springboard for discussion. However, only respectful comments will be entertained.

Thank you,

Matthew

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Posted by Matthew Peters - March 22, 2015 at 9:46 am

Categories: Addiction   Tags: , , ,

Practical Advice for Beginning Fiction Writers

morning-workWhenever I’m asked to give writing advice, I do so with caution, because not everything that might be said always applies.

With this caveat in mind, I offer the following guidelines for the new fiction writer.

First, read broadly—fiction, nonfiction, science, politics, etc. And read as much good literature as you can, especially the classics, in all its forms: prose, poetry, plays, essays, etc.

Second, write often. While some say you should write every day, I urge you to write as often as possible. Writing is like most things: the more you do it, the better you get. But allowing the creative batteries to recharge is essential.

Third, on days you write, strive for a sensible word count. Avoid setting unrealizable goals, thereby setting up false expectations. I shoot for 500 words. That’s two pages a day, ten pages a week (taking weekends—or any other two days—off). This may not sound like a lot, but in a year, I have 480 pages, a good-sized novel.

Fourth, when you write, think in terms of scenes, like in a movie, as opposed to chapters or sections. Not only will this give you a place to start, it will help you “show” more than “tell.”

Fifth, don’t be a perfectionist when writing the first draft. Unlike other professions (e.g., neurosurgery), writers don’t have to get it right the first time. We have the luxury of being able to revise our product as much as we wish. Let this insight free you up. Try to approach writing like you would a school science project: with a mixture of curiosity and awe, and hopefully some enthusiasm and joy.

Sixth, join or start a writing group. The point here is to make sure you get input from people besides your parents and/or significant other. But be wary of taking too much feedback, especially too early on—too many writers can spoil the plot (among other things).

Finally, don’t be too eager to submit to an agent/publisher, or to self-publish. Make sure your work is as free from errors (e.g., typos, factual, grammatical) as possible. If you can afford it, hire a content editor and a copy editor. Bottom line: don’t submit anything until it represents your best effort. I think you’ll be surprised how much this will set you apart from other writers.

I hope this helps. And, as always, keep writing.

 

*This post first appeared March 6, 2015 on Archaeolibrarian

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Posted by Matthew Peters - March 19, 2015 at 5:10 am

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An interview with Jenny Elliott

Welcome, Jenny!

Official Author Photo 2015

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

My name is Jenny Elliott and Macmillan published my debut YA paranormal romance novel, Save Me, under its new crowd-sourced imprint, Swoon Reads, on January 6, 2015.

 

What sets you apart from other authors in your genre?

I especially love to write horror and thrillers, but unlike most writers in those genres, I like to add a hefty dose of romance, along with paranormal/supernatural/spiritual elements.

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Never give up! I quit writing fiction for fifteen years after mistaking lack of response from readers for distaste for my writing. Thankfully, the story of my writing life is now a happy one.

 

Who is your favorite author and why?

For YA, I’d have to say Lois Duncan. She is the main inspiration for my stories, as she included supernatural elements I’m also using, such as witchcraft and astral projection. Duncan’s YA from the 80’s seemed geared toward a tad younger audience than today’s YA crowd, though. I plan to include a healthy dose of moderately hot romance in my books.

 

If you could have a conversation with one person living or dead who would it be?

Jesus Christ. He’d be able to clear up a lot of questions, I’m sure, and I trust that he’d do so in a loving way…

 

What are you currently reading?

Non-fiction: Birth 2012 and Beyond: Humanity’s Great Shift to the Age of Conscious Evolution… by Barbara Marx Hubbard

Fiction/Classic: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Fiction/Horror: Horns by Joe Hill

Fiction/YA: The Raft by S.A. Bodeen

 

What makes good writing?

If an author’s voice resonates with me and is unique and authentic, I’ll devour anything they write.

 

Is there a theme/message underlying your book(s) that you hope comes across?

I think providing an avenue for entertainment and escape is noble enough, but I also like to stick with a theme of goodness and love overcoming all obstacles. I also include various paranormal/supernatural and spiritual elements in my stories for readers to ponder.

 

How do you keep sane as a writer?

I actually began writing fiction again after a fifteen year hiatus to avoid what I perceived as impending insanity due to overwhelming life circumstances. I’d also add music and social media surfing to my sanity maintenance list.

 

Has reading a book ever changed your life? If yes, which one and how?

I recently went through a spiritual awakening, and in the beginning of my journey, a guru/kalyana mitra of mine suggested I read The Impersonal Life by Joseph Benner. It’s a book that largely influenced Elvis Presley. It similarly had a huge impact on me, on my view of life, and of God. I’m sure I’ll re-read it many times.

 

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would it be called?

Hopefully something like, The Girl That Could and Showed Others They Could Too

 

Have you had to make sacrifices for your writing, and if so, what are they?

I won’t let many people in my house these days, I’ve shirked housekeeping and de-cluttering so horribly. I’ll need to hire help soon, though it’ll have to be someone who can also help with the kids, who’ve had to eat a lot more a la carte than they’d prefer.

 

What obstacles, if any, have you encountered in being a writer?

There have been no shortage of obstacles, beginning with what I deem “the dreaded silence” from readers, to over 100 agent rejections, to post-partum hormones, all of which led to depression. The key for me was persistence.

 

What do you like best/least about writing?

I love escaping and creating through writing. I least like writing under the pressure of a deadline.

 

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?

I learned more than I could say here about craft and networking through all the revisions I’ve completed. But overall, I’d say that I’ve learned that it’s best to write for myself. If I love something I’ve written, even after having read it countless times, I’m confident a good number of other people will also love it.

 

What are your greatest goals as a writer?

My greatest goals as a writer are to entertain, to educate, and to offer inspiration, hope, and guidance to both readers and writers.

 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I started to write what I hoped would be a novel-length work in the fourth grade. I kept at it for a good while, too. Then I became a voracious reader, knowing that, after I truly learned how, someday I’d want to write novels of my own.

 

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Published author, Barbara Rogan, is my real-life mentor. She’s also a writing teacher, and a good one. I feel blessed to have found her, and that she took me under her wing. As for my dream mentor, like many probably would, I’d choose Stephen King. His writing advice, especially in his book, On Writing, is priceless. And he walks the talk, obviously…

 

Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

Don’t be shy to reach out to published authors—at least not to me. While I don’t have enough time for critiques and such right now, I’m always willing to answer questions about my stories, writing, or anything, really. We’re all here to help one another…

 

Would you rather have one giant bestseller or a long string of moderate sellers?

That’s a tough one to answer. I’d like for each of my books to be just as good, if not better, than the rest. But the idea of one big breakout novel is awfully appealing…

 

Would you rather read a book that is poorly written but has an excellent story, or read one with weak content, but is well written?

I’d definitely prefer an excellent story that was poorly written. In fact, I’m not on the same page as many writers/instructors who criticize the writing in some bestselling novels. If so many people are reading, there has to be something compelling about the writing. And, to me, compelling writing is good writing…

 

Do you think a writer should write every day?

I think this is the worst rule. What horrible pressure. I write something every day, but it could be as simple as a to-do list. I tend to write fiction in bunches, unless I’m working on the 1,600 to 2,000 words I hope to get each day. But that never happens on a daily basis. So far, I’m getting the job done as far as book-writing goes. I just don’t think writers should follow any rules other than those that work for them.

 

What five words would you use to describe yourself?

For the first three words, a friend recently shared several traits of those who fall under my astrological sign, Pisces: dreamy, psychic, and compassionate. I hope it would also be applicable to add loving and loyal to that list.

 

Please share your social media links with us, including where the book(s) may be purchased:

https://www.facebook.com/jenny.elliott.165

https://twitter.com/jennykelliott

https://www.pinterest.com/jennykelliott/

https://plus.google.com/u/0/112873116528986780624/posts

http://www.amazon.com/Save-Me-Jenny-Elliott-ebook/dp/B00IQOFT8U/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-4&qid=1426449202

 

Thank you so much for coming by, Jenny!

 

SaveMe_cover_for_sitejpg Final Swoon Reads

 

Description

Something strange is going on in the tiny coastal town of Liberty, Oregon. Cara has never seen a whale swim close enough for her to touch it—let alone knock her into the freezing water. Fortunately, cute newcomer David is there to save her, and the rescue leads to a bond deeper than Cara ever imagined.

So when she learns David’s interning as a teacher at her school, Cara is devastated. She turns to her best friend for support, but Rachel has changed. She’s suddenly into witchcraft & is becoming dangerously obsessed with her new boyfriend.

Cara has lost her best friend, discovered her soul mate is off limits, and has attracted the attention of a stalker. But she’s not completely alone. Her mysterious, gorgeous new friend Garren is there to support her. But is Garren possibly too perfect?

 

Excerpt

Cara pulled out of her parking spot and felt a sickening thud against her car’s rear bumper. She yelped and slammed on the brakes. Her head flew forward, then whipped back. Her fingernails dug into the vinyl on the steering wheel and a heavy weight sank to the bottom of her stomach. Her heart stopped, then took off at a gallop.

In the rearview mirror, she saw the face of a teenage boy, about her age. She had no idea where he’d come from. Twisting around, she got a better view of the guy through the back window. Sky-blue eyes stared back at her.

She thanked God he was standing. Her trembling hand fumbled with the gearshift until she managed to put the car in park. She left the motor running, stepped out, and drew in a strained breath of seaweed-scented air.

Inching over to the stranger, she saw that—by some miracle—he stood straight, apparently unaffected by the impact of her Honda Civic.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, shaking inside and out. “Should I call 9-1-1? Are you hurt?” Her cheeks flamed.

“No, you just tapped me,” he said, his voice deep and melodic. “I’m fine.”

 

 

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Posted by Matthew Peters - March 17, 2015 at 5:09 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: , , ,

An interview with Marina Julia Neary

Welcome Marina, it’s a pleasure to have you on my blog.

Neary

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

After writing two Neo-Victorian novels and three novels dealing with Anglo-Irish relations, I wrote an autobiographical piece set in Central Europe in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster.  The title is Saved by the Bang: a Nuclear Comedy.

 

What genre(s) do you write in? 

Historical fiction, with a focus on Anglo-Irish relations.  I also write dark contemporary satire.

 

What sets you apart from other authors in your genre?

There aren’t many Russian authors writing about Anglo-Irish politics.  I have a multi-ethnic perspective.

 

Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

I work with several small publishers.

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Don’t submit work that is not polished and submission-ready.  You will get rejected right away, and that will dampen your spirits.

 

What are your three favorite books?

This is a cruel question. It’s like asking to single out three friends, while declining the rest.

 

Who is your favorite author and why?

See above. I can drop a few names from the European pantheon: Victor Hugo, Nicholas Gogol, Alexander Dumas, Thomas Hardy.

 

If you could have a conversation with one person living or dead who would it be?

Any historical figure from the Irish nationalistic movement. I’d like to know if they approved of my depiction of them in my novels.

 

What are you currently reading?

Sinful Folk.

 

What makes good writing?

Authenticity.  When you write to express, not impress.

 

Is there a theme/message underlying your book(s) that you hope comes across?

Yes.  The duality of the human soul.  The same person can be capable of tremendous generosity/self-sacrifice and pettiness.

 

How do you keep sane as a writer?

Sanity is overrated.  I’ve long since reconciled with my insanity.

 

If you could be any character in literature, who would you choose to be?

Esmeralda from Notre-Dame de Paris. I actually played her on stage. If it was up to me, I would’ve made some different choices and changed the outcome of the novel.

 

Has reading a book ever changed your life? If yes, which one and how?

Every book changes your life, no matter how subtly or dramatically.  Some books impact you like a hurricane.  Some transform you slowly and inconspicuously, like a slow-acting vitamin.

 

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would it be called?

Don’t try this at home.

 

Have you had to make sacrifices for your writing, and if so, what are they?

I am not a particularly social person anyway, so no, I haven’t made any sacrifices in that department.

 

What obstacles, if any, have you encountered in being a writer?

It’s depressing to walk into a book store and see all those bloody books and not that many people buying them.

 

What do you like best/least about writing?

Is this a real question?  What do you like about breathing? You need to breathe to stay alive. But sometimes the air around you is polluted and smelly.  But you can’t hold your breath forever.

 

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?

Writing a book is like parenting a child.  What works with one, may not work with his/her siblings.

 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I started daydreaming during algebra, scribbling dialogues in my notebook.

 

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Umberto Eco. I think that jolly Italian could teach me a few things.

 

Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

Try to disengage from your American mentality and don’t view European history through the prism of modern American values.

 

Would you rather have one giant bestseller or a long string of moderate sellers?

Definitely a long string of moderate sellers. I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket or be known as a one-hit wonder.

 

Would you rather read a book that is poorly written but has an excellent story, or read one with weak content, but is well written?

You tell me.  Would you rather date an ugly girl who was well-dressed, or a pretty girl that was badly dressed?

 

What is the hardest thing about writing a series?

Worry about if each book can stand on its own.

 

Do you think a writer should write every day?

Not at all.  What counts is the end result. Some books take weeks to write, others take years to write.  If you are not inspired on a particular day, you shouldn’t put out 500 words of mediocre fluff just to be able to say, “I’ve fulfilled my daily quota.”

 

What five words would you use to describe yourself?

Offensive, sarcastic, abrasive, Republican, cat lady.

 

Tell us something about yourself that few people know.

I’m a former model.

 

If you could marry a fictional character, who would it be?

Gringoire from Notre-Dame de Paris.

 

Please share your social media links with us, including where the book(s) may be purchased: 

Blog: http://ctcommie.blogspot.com/

FB personal: https://www.facebook.com/marina.j.neary

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Saved-Bang-Marina-Julia-Neary-ebook/dp/B00S06I97W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424123293&sr=8-1&keywords=saved+by+the+bang

 

Thank you, Marina. I wish you all the best with your writing. Please keep us posted on the latest developments.

 

 

Cover

 

Blurb:

Welcome to 1980s Belarus, where Polish denim is the currency, “kike” is a pedestrian endearment, and second trimester abortion can be procured for a box of chocolates. Antonia Olenski, PhD, a catty half-Jewish pianist and leading cock tease of the Gomel Music Academy, wavers between her flamboyant composer husband Joseph and a chivalrous tenor Nicholas. The Chernobyl disaster breaks up the love triangle, forcing Antonia into evacuation in the cumbersome company of her ugly eight-year old daughter Maryana. After a summer of cruising through Crimean sanatoriums and flirting with Afghan veterans, Antonia starts pining for the intrigues and scandals of the Academy. When the queen of cats finally returns home, she finds that another woman is wearing her crown. In the afterglow of nuclear fallout, artistic, ethnic and sexual rivalries emerge. How far will Antonia go to reclaim her throne?

 

Excerpt:

Chapter One

Midday Hookups in the Coat Room

Regional Music Academy, Gomel, Belarus – April 25, 1986

If Vladimir Ivanych had any hair left, he would be pulling it out right about now. With the spring showcase less than a month away, the rehearsal was not going well at all. The star tenor and the female accompanist were too busy playing footsy under the grand piano. After twenty-some years of grooming and herding musicians, Vladimir Ivanych knew better than to expect discretion in the workplace. But these two were really butchering the piece! And it was a marvelous piece, really, a gypsy-themed romance to the lyrics of Pushkin, and it suited them perfectly. When Nicholas and Antonia were on stage together, the audience wept, and the shabby walls of the auditorium crumbled away. It was just the two of them, betrothed in music.

Alas, that day they were just not on top of their game, and they could not have picked a worse time to slack off. The chairman of the vocal department of the Moscow Conservatory was coming to the showcase. It was a chance for Vladimir Ivanych to prove to that snooty pig-faced Muscovite that Belarusian musicians were no chopped liver. It was critical that he put the best of the best in the limelight. He had exactly four minutes to make an impression. Those would be arguably the most important four minutes of his career. And now his two golden children, to whom he had entrusted his reputation, were goofing off in the most vulgar way.

“By God, woman, have you forgotten how to sight-read?” he roared at the accompanist. “If I were hearing you for the first time, I’d think you were drunk.”

Antonia Olenski, age thirty-two, five-foot three, one hundred pounds, blood pressure one hundred over sixty, boasted a modest yet noble lineage. Her maternal great-grandfather, a member of untitled Russian gentry, had been named a distinguished citizen for his efforts to contain a cholera outbreak in Kolomna. After the Bolshevik revolution, he was forced to relinquish his czar-bestowed honors and denounce his Orthodox faith. Antonia’s paternal ancestors were German Jews who had fled eastward to escape the holocaust, morose aesthetes, as proficient with watercolors as they were with interest rates. There was nothing blaringly Semitic in Antonia’s features except for the slight curvature of the dorsum and the sultry shape of the eyelids. Not that she looked distinctly Slavic either. She was a transcendent creature without a nationality, more feline than human. She did not speak—she meowed, hissed, purred and growled. Her hair was bobbed, frosted and teased to look like the mane on a Siberian tabby. Nicholas Nichenko was wild about her. And who could resist this taciturn kitten? In the world of crude, large-boned Belarusian women with ruddy faces and deep bosomy voices, she was a rare gem of fragility, haughtiness and subtle sarcasm. The director’s reprimand stirred most fervent protective sentiments in Nicholas.

“Vladimir Ivanych,” he implored, “don’t be cross with Antonia.”

“Why shouldn’t I be cross with her? She’s falling a good measure behind. Her fingers are tripping over each other.”

“It’s not that she’s playing too slowly. It’s me singing too fast. I had too much coffee this morning. That’s why we sound off sync.”

Vladimir Ivanych threw the score across the rehearsal room. “Get out, both of you! Good God, you’ll drive me into an early grave.”

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Posted by Matthew Peters - March 10, 2015 at 5:49 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: ,

Reading at Scuppernong Books

Last night, I had the distinct honor of reading at Scuppernong Books with two wonderful authors, Steve Lindahl and Ray Morrison.

Steve read from his books Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions, while Ray read a new piece, and a story called “Spring Planting” from his collection In a World of Small Truths. I read a chapter from Conversations Among Ruins.

Despite the cold and the threat of adverse weather, we had a good turnout. We are grateful to those who came, to Brian Lampkin for having us, and for Bethany Chafin at WFDD, who was kind enough to interview us and to help spread the word about our books and the event. Click here to listen to the radio interview we did.

I certainly hope I have the pleasure of reading with Steve and Ray again at some point in the very near future.

Here are some pictures.

IMG_6693IMG_6695IMG_6694IMG_6696IMG_20150305_193751828IMG_20150305_194642639IMG_20150305_195740364

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Posted by Matthew Peters - March 6, 2015 at 11:38 am

Categories: Writing   Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

My Virtual Blah Tour

thumbs-down-smiley_17-528015514I’m more than halfway through my virtual book tour (VBT) of The Brothers’ Keepers arranged by Goddess Fish Promotions.

I am very disappointed with my experiences thus far, and I wanted to take a minute and share them with you.

The tour is scheduled for at least twenty stops. In the thirteen stops I’ve had, there have been no less than four problems.

First, on the day I was scheduled to post on Mad Hoydenish, the blog did not get the post up until nearly noon. It is supposed to be up by 4:00 a.m. Needless to say, I missed all of my morning readers.

Second, I had an interview posted on Black Heart Magazine. But the site didn’t moderate the comments until two days later, so I missed the chance to interact with people who took the time to leave a message.

Third, Paranormal Romance and Authors that Rock was scheduled to post a review of my book today, but it’s after noon and there is no book review.

Finally, and this is my favorite, a blog called My Devotional Thoughts was scheduled to post a book review two days ago, on Monday, March 2. Here is the quote from the person responsible for doing the review, which is pasted where the review should be:

 

 “My review is very soon coming. I forgot there were only 28 days in February (and where I am working–they forgot too), so I am a day behind. I plan for it to be up by tomorrow at the latest.”

 

As of today, March 4, there is still no review.

I sent Goddess Fish an e-mail about these matters this morning around 6:30. As Phil Collins sang there’s been, “No reply at all, no reply at all…”

You can draw your own conclusion from my experiences. Mine is: be careful what you pay for, because you might not even get that.

All the best,

Matt

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Posted by Matthew Peters - March 4, 2015 at 1:07 pm

Categories: General Thoughts   Tags: , , , ,

An interview with Neal Davies

Welcome, Neal!

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are currently working on or promoting.

I live in Queensland Australia, I’m 60 years of age and had 2 dreams in life: one was to become a counselor, and the other to become a published author. Circumstances had it that I left school at the age of 14 and stacked bricks for a living, but I never let go of my dreams. I worked my way up the ladder at the brick company and then went back to school to become a counselor in my 40’s. I became a published author in my 50’s. I am about to release a new book titled Sebastian Cork: Forget Me Not. It’s about a renowned psychologist (Sebastian Cork) who by chance becomes a consultant to the police when his client’s brother is found murdered. I am  halfway through its sequel and already have thoughts for a third.

 

What genre(s) do you write in?

I used to write self-help books, but turned my hand to fiction. My first book was an adventure novel for teens and family and now I am focused on murder mysteries.

 

Do you have an agent and/or publisher, or are you self-published?

I am with Storyworks publishing, and although my publisher wants my new book, like many other published authors, I am looking to turn away from the conventional and self-publishing my next novel.

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Don’t give up, don’t think about the money, put your heart and soul into your writing, and don’t ever think writing is easy–it’s not, but on completion it’s one of the most satisfying things you will ever do.

 

If you could have a conversation with one person living or dead who would it be?

If we are talking about authors, it would be Arthur Conan Doyle, or otherwise my mother, who had taught me so much as a young boy.

 

Is there a theme/message underlying your book(s) that you hope comes across?

My new book Sebastian Cork: Forget Me Not hasn’t hit the shelves yet, but I want people to appreciate and have empathy for others and I hope that comes across in my books.

 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I was 8 and knew I had to (not wanted to).

 

Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

Yes. Let your authors know what you like and don’t like about their books; be positive in your criticism and I hope you get as much out of my book as I did writing it.

 

Would you rather have one giant bestseller or a long string of moderate sellers?

I’d love to have a best seller, but that isn’t why I write. If I can bring some enjoyment to my readers and a break from some of the harsh realities of life, I’m happy.

 

Would you rather read a book that is poorly written but has an excellent story, or read one with weak content, but is well written?

To me books are like conversations, they all have pluses and minuses. It’s what we get out of them that’s important.

 

Do you think a writer should write every day?

No, not for the sake of writing. It’s not like a job that you go to because you have to. It’s a passion and should be treated as such.

 

What five words would you use to describe yourself?

Caring, yet determined; empathic, but not a fool , passionate believer of dreams, and humorous.

 

Tell us something about yourself that few people know.

I suffer from PTSD.

 

To connect with Neal visit his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/willa.way.3?fref=ts

 

Thank you, Neal. I wish you all the best with your writing. Please keep us posted on the latest developments.

 

forget me not cover 2

 

SEBASTIAN CORK: FORGET ME NOT

Chapter 1

 

Sebastian is in the bedroom and has just finished putting on his tuxedo jacket when his slender, brunette wife walks in from the adjoining bathroom, where she has been working on her makeup.

“Sebastian!” she barks, like a mother chastising her child; even though he towers over her.

“What’s up with you tonight? You’re normally the first to be ready and always hurrying me along.” He continues to fidget with his jacket and is seemingly deep in thought.

Now annoyed, she calls his name again, Sebastian!” only this time her voice roars through his head like an express train through a station.

“What is it woman? Can’t a man get dressed in peace?” he retorts, as her words jolt him from his trance.

Cynthia glides over to him with her bare feet kicking the hem of her black evening gown and begins straightening his bow tie.

“What’s going on? You’ve been irritable for days now, and when you’re not jumping down someone’s throat, you spend the rest of your time walking around like you’re under some kind of hypnotic spell!”

His chin hits his chest as he looks down at his beautiful wife brushing and fidgeting with his jacket. He can’t help but inhale her aromatic perfume that she only wears on special occasions. Sebastian is a tall figure of a man, with salt and pepper wavy hair and just a little overweight. They are a debonair couple, who met in university. She was studying law and he was studying psychology. It was almost like they were drawn to each other from the first year and their commonality was extraordinary. Neither had siblings, both were from farming families and the two of them had been presented with scholarships to attend the best university in the country, due to their exceptional academic abilities.

 

 

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Posted by Matthew Peters - March 3, 2015 at 5:09 am

Categories: Author Interviews   Tags: ,

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