20 Questions with Author John Howell

Photo by Tim Burdick

Today we sit down with author and blogger John Howell. He is also my hero of sorts becoming a full-time writer after many years in business. This is something I am working toward in the next ten years or so.

Please enjoy this very interesting 20 questions session with accomplished author and blogger, John W. Howell.


Q1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I guess the first real desire to be a write hit me in college. I remember my friends and I trying to decide what we really wanted to do. I wrote a few poems and short stories and thought that this would be a great way to make a living. Unfortunately, the practical world rose its ugly head, and I sold my soul to Procter and Gamble.

Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?

I write one-thousand words a day, every day. So I can turn out a novel in ninety-seven days. Of course,, that is first draft. From start to publish takes me no less than seven months.

Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I used to do family stuff in the morning and then start writing after lunch. I found that all too often the afternoons were taken up with other things as well. My wife and I agreed on a schedule of one thousand words first and then I’m available for anything else. We have been doing this for two years now, and it works well.

Q4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I’m not sure it is interesting, but I write with music. I discovered I Heart Radio about a year ago, and I programmed in my favorite genres. Every morning I pick a genre and write while the music plays. I used to write to Queen CD’s exclusively but then when I found variety I couldn’t help myself.

Q5) How are your books published? (traditional, indie, etc.)

My first book My GRL is traditionally published, and I’m still under contract. The second and subsequent books are self-published. I simply could not abide the restrictions of the traditional route. Of course, it is a very small publisher, and if they had paid a huge advance, maybe I would have been happier.

Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?

The ideas generally come to me while I’m doing something like walking the dog or taking a shower. The idea for my first book came to me while I was standing on the flight deck of the Aircraft Carrier Lexington. I was touring the boat since my dad was a naval aviator during World War II and I wanted to walk where he did. The story popped into my head and never left. Four years later I wrote the book.

Q7) If you don’t mind sharing, when did you write your first book and how old were you?

I wrote my first full-length book at age fifty-nine. I wrote it while I was working on nights and weekends. It is a 120,000-word thriller which is in manuscript form and being used to hold open the laundry room door. Yes, it is that bad.

Q8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I don’t seem to have a lot of time these days. In addition to my novel writing, I also have a daily blog. When I’m not writing, I take a daily walk on the beach with my wife and two Boxer dogs. I love to cook and watch movies. We do record some television shows we like and watch an hour a day.

Q9) What is your favorite book?

Wow, that is like asking which child is a favorite. Let me answer this way. The first book that I read which had an effect on me in terms of the writing was Neville Shute’s “On the Beach.” It was the first time I experienced a story that was destined to have a sad ending. I was fascinated with how the author portrayed the characters in light of the fact that they had no future. I think this was the book that got me really interested in writing.

Q10) What do your family and friends think of your writing?

My friends all read my books and tell me they enjoy them. None of them have posted a review nor asked for a signed copy. I suppose they figure I’ll be around and no need going to any formalities. They will remark now and then about the stories and do ask when the next one is going to be ready. My immediate family are very supportive. My extended family may or may not know I write. If they do, they don’t say much.

Q11) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

I think the thing that surprised me the most was how the characters can pretty much take over the direction of the story. I used to hear about this phenomenon and pretty much scoffed at the idea. I now know I was a fool, and it actually happens.

Q12) What do you hate most about the writing process?

Hate is a strong word. I prefer to use despise. I despise the marketing aspect. I spend an inordinate amount of time with marketing efforts and feel I don’t get a degree of payback that would be proportional to the effort. I don’t mind working my butt off I just wish I had more to show for it. I envy those who can afford to have a professional run the selling of their book.

Q13) How many books have you written?

Which is your favorite? Counting my door stop, I have written five. My favorite is my last titled Circumstance of Childhood. It is in draft form and will be published in 2017. It’s a story about a successful guy who is a victim of fraud and potentially loses everything until a friend of his helps clear his name. The fun part is the friend is dead, and I totally enjoyed writing such an offbeat thriller.

Q14) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers? If so, what are they?

The only suggestion I can offer is to write. Practice tends to make perfect. The other thing I would say is for any writer is to finish what you are working on before showing your work to anyone. You can always take suggestions and correct the MS after it is finished. When a writers show work that is not complete, they are risking critical comment that could cause them to give up.

Q15) Do you get feedback from your readers much? How and what kinds of things do they say?

Yes, I receive comments since I put my email in the back of each book. Most say they love the story and the protagonist. There are a few who offer story ideas which I always appreciate. I get maybe a couple of comments a month.

Q16) What is your preferred reading audience?

I prefer thriller readers. I have had a number of readers who don’t like thrillers but say they enjoyed the story since the protagonist is a different kind of hero.

Q17) What do you think makes a good story?

A good story to me is one that engages the reader in the situation and elicits a strong emotional reaction throughout the course of events. I also believe a good story leaves the reader with a sense of caring about the outcome and the fact that the story is over.

Q18) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I grew up in Detroit Michigan, and I wanted to be an automotive designer. I pursued this desire right up to high school and then discovered my skills as an artist were somewhat lacking. I drew a number of car designs and unfortunately they were consistently awful.

Q19) Where can we find your books?

They are available in paper and eBook versions from Amazon.

Q20) Will you give us an excerpt from one of your favorite works? Yes here is an excerpt from His Revenge.


The water rushes over my head. I’m sinking and don’t know why. With my breath held, I have trouble stopping the air from escaping since the pressure drives the air up and out. I try to keep my mouth closed, but the water pressure pushes the air out more and more. Will I pass out? In the distance, the light is dim. To rise to the surface in time might not be possible─I need to breathe right now. Toward ending the pain in my chest, my rambling mind rationalizes taking a deep breath—even knowing it will end my life. In conflict with the irrational thought of ending it, my body won’t let me suck in the water, as it fights to retain the little bit of oxygen left to fuel my brain.

The despair is nearly overwhelming, and my mind considers other ways to battle the feeling. What more could I have done with my life? The pressure becomes more intense, and I’m about to lose it all, and I decide I’ve lived the way I wanted and have no regrets. I close my eyes and hear only the roar of the sea. I’m so tired. Exhausted. Sleep will fix everything, and I want to give in.


John’s Books

Click on the cover images to view them on Amazon

My GRL_johnwhowell - Copy

His Revenge front final

About John W. Howell

John’s main interests are reading and writing. He turned to writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive career in business. John writes fictional short stories and novels as well
as a blog at http://www.johnwhowell.com.

His first novel, My GRL is available on Amazon and wherever e-books are sold. His Second His Revenge is available on Amazon. The third Our Justice will be released in July of 2016.

John lives on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of south Texas with his wife and spoiled rescue pets.

He can be reached at:

his e-mail johnhowell.wave@gmail.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241

Twitter at @HowellWave

 

20 Questions with Author Charles Yallowitz

P12-372ddToday’s featured author is Charles Yallowitz. Charles is a very active blogger and, like me, a native New Yorker who found himself in Florida. Unlike me, however, Charles moved back to New York. He is going to be on the hot seat today to answer my set of 20 questions which will help us learn more about him and his work. Please enjoy today’s edition of 20 Questions.


Q1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always liked telling stories, but being a career author came about in 10th grade.  I had read ‘The Books of Lost Swords by Fred Saberhagen’ and it made me want to create a fantasy world to share.  The rest rolled from there as I used my free time to write down various characters, monsters, and smaller stories to use for English courses.

Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?

I would say getting through the first draft takes about 2-3 months.  This includes the character designing and outlines I do beforehand.  Editing takes another 1-2 months depending on if I get some help or not.  The reason for the short time is because I spent 10 years blurbing and outlining every idea that came into my head.  So I have about 32 book/series ideas already on paper.  I look over them every few weeks to keep them fresh and jot down any notes that come to mind.

Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I’m actually the stay-at-home parent, which means my schedule changes every day.  Some days have plenty of writing time while others are filled with errands and cleaning.  My son is 6 and high functioning autistic, so him being home tends to put everything up in the air.

Q4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I write in Present Tense Third Person, which is not a common style.  This works to my use of action and dialogue to paint the world instead of flashbacks and narrative info dumps. It was by accident too.  In high school, I used to switch tenses all the time and a teacher told me to simply pick one.  I went with present tense and nobody told me this was odd until I published my first book on Amazon in 2013.

Q5) How are your books published? (traditional, indie, etc.)

All of my books are independently published on Amazon.  Though my first book, Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero, is currently free on Amazon and Smashwords.

Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?

A lot of my early fantasy ideas came from Dungeons & Dragons games that I played in high school and college.  The current series is the big college game and I used others to test out potential characters.  A lot of the post-college ideas simply popped into my head when I was reading, watching TV, watching a movie, playing a videogame, or daydreaming.  For example, Crossing Bedlam came to me when I was biking and it started simply as the female lead needing to get across the country.  The rest flowed afterwards.

Q7) If you don’t mind sharing, when did you write your first book and how old were you?

Here is the embarrassing part. I wrote a book before Legends of Windemere when I was 15 and published before graduating college.  I went through a Print-On-Demand Publisher and sold nothing.  It’s still available too.  Called Immortal Wars: The Summoning and really shows how much I’ve changed.

Q8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

That’s usually when I’m sleeping.  Seriously, I’m usually doing stuff with my son if I’m not working on a writing project.  Figure he’ll only want to spend time with me for so long, so I should enjoy the early years.

Q9) What is your favorite book?

Honestly, I don’t have one.  There are so many that I like and it’s hard to pick one above the others.  Yeah, it’s a cop out, but I just spent several minutes staring at my library and getting nowhere.

Q10) What do your family and friends think of your writing?

Hard to tell at times.  Many are supportive, especially the friends I’ve made during my journey as an author.  Those who knew me before this stage of my life are difficult to read.  I get the feeling that some of them still consider this a hobby and are waiting for me to grow up and get a ‘real job’.  I’m the dreamer of the family, so I don’t think everyone understands what I’m doing.

Q11) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

That characters don’t always do what I expect.  Once I get into the actual writing, the outline doesn’t always go as planned.  Scenes are added, dropped, merged, and rewritten nearly every morning.  The reason is because I see the characters as one way, but I might miss a quirk that emerges when the scene is in progress.

Q12) What do you hate most about the writing process?

This is where I’m supposed to say editing, right?  That does get tedious, but the part I hate is when I finish I project.  I always feel lost and confused for a few days.

Q13) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I have 14 works published with 9 of them being part of Legends of Windemere.  Most of my fantasy series is written up to at least first draft too.  My favorite is Prodigy of Rainbow Tower because I got to introduce Nyx and have the characters travel around Windemere.  This allowed me to flex my world creating muscles more than the first book.

Q14) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers? If so, what are they?

The biggest suggestion I can give to other authors for improving is to have fun with what you’re doing.  If you enjoy the story then that will come through to the reader.  Once you’re not having any fun, your writing will suffer and lack a spark.

Q15) Do you get feedback from your readers much? How and what kinds of things do they say?

I get some feedback, but not as much these days.  Early on, I had a lot of people telling me how to make my series more like Game of Thrones.  Others request specific characters to get their own books or more spotlight time.  It is amazing how many people will contact an author and ask for the stories to get changed.  That was something I didn’t expect.

Q16) What is your preferred reading audience?

I never really figured that out.  My goal is to draw a reader into my world and give them a brief escape from anything that is stressing them.  Not sure the tired and stressed count as a target audience.  I’d say YA, but the books get rather dark later on and once you go YA, people get hypercritical of anything you write.

Q17) What do you think makes a good story?

Personally, I think deep and relatable characters make a good story.  The world and plot are important, but the characters are who bring things to life.  A vivid world of magic is rather useless if you only have cardboard figures existing in it.  Most importantly, characters have to grow even if it’s in a ‘wrong’ direction or they get knocked down once or twice.  If you end a story and your hero is the same as they were at the beginning then, at least I think, something went wrong.

Q18) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to be a zoologist because I loved animals.  Most of the little books I made back then were animal fact books.  This dream lasted a while until I figured out that blood could be involved and I really don’t like blood.

Q19) Where can we find your books?

All of my books are on Amazon, so here is my author page that lists them:

http://www.amazon.com/Charles-E-Yallowitz/e/B00AX1MSQA/

Q20) Will you give us an excerpt from one of your favorite works?

This is a brief excerpt from my upcoming release Legends of Windemere: Tribe of the Snow Tiger:


Holding her breath, Sari slowly moves off Delvin and stands with her entire body locked in place. The warrior puts his shield on his forearm and sheathes his blade before taking a seat on the rear bench. With the waterfall behind him, he takes in the view of the bush-fringed lagoon and the distant river that may lead them to safety. There are only three other boats on the water, the prisoners struggling to remain still. One group has managed to remove their bells, the metal orbs in the steady hands of the riders. Delvin wonders if they should do the same, but freezes when the shimmering silence spell fades away. Feeling exposed and vulnerable, a wave of fear washes over him until he sees that the water around the boat remains calm. The gentle motions caused by the waterfall and the creatures beneath the surface are deflected by a circle of magical serenity.

Delvin is about to speak when a colorful bird bursts from the canopy and flies high over the lagoon. The young animal sings to the rest of the flock, which is sitting in the trees on the other shore. Sari squeezes her eyes shut as she feels the churning movements of the hungry predators lurking beneath them. With the echoing bellow that Delvin heard soon after waking up, one of the Judges erupts from the lagoon. The serpentine body is at least twenty feet long and thicker than an old oak tree. It is covered in dark blue scales that ooze a gray slime, which helps it blend into the constantly roiling water. Squirming tentacles hang from the neck and blindly slap at the empty air, their suction cups opening and closing like gasping mouths. A blossom-like head opens to reveal several teeth-lined jaws and a telescoping tongue that ends in a hooked barb. The bird barely avoids being eaten as it darts higher at the last moment and hides in the canopy.

A gurgling hiss rolls from the creature as it crashes back into the water, the wave rocking one of the remaining boats. The bells ring and the four prisoners immediately dive out of the vessel, which is destroyed by another Judge. Two of the panicking people are devoured after swimming to each other, the attacking beast catching them on its way down. One of the other prisoners floats on his back while his companion desperately flails before going under. The drowning man returns clinging to the head of a Judge that tears him apart with its tentacles and stuffs every morsel into its maw. At the mercy of the current and unable to move, the survivor can only drift until he begins to sink. Refusing to make a noise, the man lets himself disappear beneath the surface and silently drowns among the blind predators.

 


About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn’t working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. ‘Legends of Windemere’ is his first series, but it certainly won’t be his last.

Book Links:

wattpad beginning

Legends of Windemere #1: Beginning of a Hero

legendsofwindemerethemercenaryprince_charleseyallowitzLegends of Windemere #9: The Mercenary Prince

CrossingBedlam_CharlesEYallowitzCrossing Bedlam

Author Page for Other Books

Author Talk – Jennifer Friess

Author Jennifer FriessToday we sit down with author and blogger Jennifer Friess to hear about her work and inspiration.


DM: What is the title and genre of the book you want to tell us about?

JF: My new release is Be Careful What You Wish For, Book 3 in the New Adult Contemporary Romance series The Riley Sisters.

DM: Can you summarize your book in one sentence?

JF: Miley Riley thinks she can make her dreams come true in Hollywood, but in only three short weeks she finds her face all over the entertainment channel hourly for all the wrong reasons.

DM: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

JF: Adults who like to read Young Adult, but want something a little steamier.

DM: How did you come up with the title?

JF: I tried to make all the titles in my series sound like proverbs (past titles include The Wind Could Blow a Bug and When You Least Expect It). “Miley wanted to be seen by millions of eyes and for everyone to know her name. As if wished to a genie from a magic lamp, her wish had come one hundred percent true, with unforeseen consequences.”

BCWYWF_medDM: Tell me about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image?

JF: All my covers were created by Cheeklycovers.com. Carrie is great to work with. I wanted each cover to show the personality of the girl and the feeling of the location where the book takes place. Since this one features a trip by the twin sisters to Hollywood, I wanted a background that looks like Los Angeles. And Miley is a bit of a fashionista.

DM: Who is your biggest writing influence?

JF: I loved the Twilight books. Reading Stephenie Meyer’s books made me realize that people would actually pay for the kind of writing I liked to create.

DM: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

JF: I have two. I love the Tucker brothers Josh and Wade. I had to put at least one scene with them in every book. They would be so fun to hang out with, but they could also get you in trouble. And the graffiti on the town water tower is always from them.

DM: How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

JF: I didn’t like writing for Miley to start with. Some of her traits aren’t very likeable and she is an unreliable narrator. But as I got to know her, I found we had a lot of things in common.

DM: If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

JF: I wish I would have put in more “small town” moments that readers from other areas might not see every day, such as two cars stopping and blocking the road to talk to each other and catch up. And the little league baseball team crowded on to the picnic tables post-game at the ice cream shop.

DM: Can you give us a fun fact  your book?

JF: The fictional small farm town of Oakley, Alabama is loosely based on Blissfield, Michigan, the small farm town where I grew up.

Jane’s younger sisters Miley and Kiley were never meant to have their own books. I wouldn’t have given them such silly names if I had planned it. But they wanted to tell me their stories too.

DM: What other books are similar to your own?  What makes them alike?

JF: I think Abbi Glines’ books are similar to mine. We both have books that are New Adult Contemporary Romance and take place in Alabama.

DM: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

JF: Most of those could probably be found on my blog. I write about that kind of goofy stuff over there regularly.

How can we find out more about you and your books?

Website: http://ImNotStalkingYou.com

Twitter:  www.twitter.com/jenf2

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/imnotstalkingyou2

Amazon Author Page:  www.amazon.com/author/jenniferfriess/

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/11851059.Jennifer_Friess

Author Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/7YhHr

DM: What can we expect from you in the future?

JF: I am putting the Riley sisters to rest, at least for a little while. I am working on three new stories right now. They all have a similar theme, but are not a series. Only one of them is a romance.

DM: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

JF: If you don’t have any money, follow my Facebook page, like and share my posts, read and share my blog posts.

If you do have money, buy my book, read it, review it, recommend it to your friends.

DM: Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?

JF: Be persistent. When you think your story is done, sit it off to the side; come back a month or two later. Keep revising until no part of it bothers you because it isn’t up to your standards. Be proud of what you have accomplished. Practice your autograph (because it is fun!).

DM: Can you give us an excerpt from your book?

JF: Sure.


MILEY

“Just take a deep breath. We have it all under control.”

“HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT?! This is MY WEDDING, NOT YOURS! There is no cake, no groom, and it is going to rain on my outdoor reception,” the young bride collapsed in tears into Miley’s arms.

“Vanessa, you have to stop this. You will ruin your makeup. We have sent a car to go fetch the groom. He wants to be here, but his car broke down. It is the ones that don’t want to be married that are the hardest to resolve. And twenty years from now, all you will see in the pictures are your makeup and the groom. So, you see, your job is to stop crying. Let us take care of the rest,” Miley reassured her.

“But the rain—,” the bride insisted.

“I once attended a wedding that got hit by a tornado, and it all turned out OK. We have tents being erected as we speak.”

“Tents? In the yard?” The bride dashed to the bedroom window to confirm the news. Now she began to cry again; this time with tears of joy.

Little did the bride know that Miley had actually ordered the tents a week ago, based on the extended weekly forecast. The outdoor reception would certainly need them. The uncertain part was that until the bride’s father actually saw the impending storm clouds blossoming in the sky for himself, he wouldn’t agree to pay the added cost.

“What did I say was your only job today?” Miley reminded her.

“To not cry,” Vanessa the bride squeaked, smiling now at Miley. The bride stared up at Miley, her big brown eyes reflecting her helplessness like a cow at the county fair. After a year of planning, Vanessa was finally going to put her trust in Miley to successfully complete the task she was hired to do.

“That’s right. I am going to send your bridesmaids in here to keep you cal—company. I have to go tie-up a few last-minute details.”

“Were you really at a wedding that survived a tornado?”

“Yes. A few buildings in town were destroyed, but no one died. A lovely time was had by all,” she replied flippantly. Miley didn’t mention that she had only been fifteen years old and a guest at said event.

With that, Miley quickly excused herself from the room. She selected a number from the contact list on her cell phone. A voice quickly responded from the other end of the call through the earpiece in her ear.

“Is the five-tier vanilla with vanilla buttercream on its way?” An affirmative response came from the other end.

“Did you have time to add some red flowers?” Another yes.

“Thanks. You are a lifesaver. You always come through for me with backup cakes.” Miley had an in with a baker who kept a stash of frozen cakes and an employee on-call at all times. Cake disasters were not common, but were always enough to send an already anxious bride over the edge. Usually a few accents in the wedding colors could be added to an all-white cake. And no one pays attention to the flavor when it is being smashed in their face. She pushed a button and silenced the phone as she hit the bottom of the stairs.

After finding the bridesmaids at the back door smoking pot, she sent them up to be with Vanessa. While Miley did not blatantly suggest it, she hoped they would share their stash with the keyed up bride.

Miley made sure the wedding guests had begun to file into the downstairs of the house. She had personally never been in a house where the dining and living spaces could be opened up large enough to hold so many people. Even more would be arriving for the reception. That was saying something, as she had been in many lavish homes in her career of party planning.

“Just as long as the groom arrives,” Miley thought to herself. She pushed through a side door and cut across the impeccable lawn, taking a shortcut over to the reception tents. But she wasn’t quick enough.

“Miss Riley!” someone shouted from behind her. She held up her tablet to block her face and shield her from the shouter. She assumed it was probably the father of the bride. She knew her action was rude, but if he really wanted everything to go off without a hitch, he would let her check on the essentials. Miley had learned a long time ago from her mentor and business partner Jenny Jones, “Take care of the essentials, and the details will fall into place.” All the hardest challenges always happened before the ceremony began.

Miley’s light pink dress that came just above the knee flowed behind her as she hurried down the sidewalk, her high heels clicking all the way. She was glad she had chosen a sleeveless dress and worn her hair up. The humidity had been near one hundred percent all morning. She knew the impending storm would cool off the southern evening some, but never enough.

“I bet you are ready for vacation,” Travis yelled across the tables to Miley. She made a beeline over to him.

Travis Masen was a caterer that Miley used regularly when she was doing jobs close to home, such as in Huntington or Oakley. He was a great caterer. He made great food. He was very reliable. And he was Miley’s best friend.

Miley knew that after the cost of food, the delivery truck, advertising, and paying his employees, Travis didn’t make a ton of money from catering. But he was a bachelor who knew how to pinch a penny. And he drove a motorcycle, so that didn’t take much gas. Anything for the business was a potential tax write-off. He did make enough that he didn’t have to work any other jobs for anyone else.

He hoped to one day get a store front. Not only would he be able to have access to industrial kitchen equipment that he did not have now, but he could also serve some of his specialties in a café-type atmosphere to customers off the street.

Travis used to be a skateboarder. It was still evident in his long shaggy blond hair and the baggy clothes he wore on his days off. Miley always thought of him as a “skate rat,” but she couldn’t remember if that was a derogatory term or not, so she only used it in her head. He probably would still be hanging with that crowd, not doing much of anything with his life, if he had not found his love of cooking.

Travis was mostly self-taught. Miley asked him once if that meant he just sat around and watched a lot of the Food Channel. He scoffed at Miley. He tried to explain how cooking had to be experienced by the five senses. He claimed you couldn’t know how to prepare food until you felt the textures with your hands. He told her you couldn’t smell onions sautéing through a television screen. He was right; at least until next year, when the Smell-O-Vision 5000 hits stores. She didn’t really understand what he was getting at. But she did always enjoy eating the results.

Occasionally, he could still be seen riding his skateboard through the park on a cool evening at twilight. Miley didn’t understand the hobby. When she was driving and saw an assemblage of youth hanging out skateboarding, she turned up her nose at them. Just a waste of time. No value to it.

But when she saw Travis on his board, she never thought those things. It was the one time he truly looked free; even more so than when he was cooking. Miley suspected that is how he probably started skateboarding—to have freedom from his mother’s watchful eyes, to control when he came and went. Miley saw that board as the gateway drug to his motorcycle. He wanted to be sure he could go anywhere he wanted to—alone, without his mother following. Miley had ridden on his motorcycle with him a few times. But she missed her radio. And air conditioning.

“This job might kill me before I make it to the airport,” Miley told him, a little too loudly. She looked around to make sure no one from the wedding party had heard. It was very poor customer service to bitch about your client while still at their residence. But this had been a brutal plan from day one. The event fell on a day when Jenny was unable to assist. It also fell the day before Miley’s vacation, which was enough to almost break her. Almost.

“So, you are really leaving me for sunny Los Angeles?” Travis cocked his head to the side in that way he always did, his sandy blond hair shifting to hang in his eyes. He rolled another aluminum food warmer, what he always referred to as a “hot box,” over near the table it would be unloaded onto. Travis moved heavy containers of food and often helped move furniture for events, but he never seemed to develop any more muscle tone. He was skinny, but not tall enough to be lanky. He was a year older than Miley.

“Hells, yes,” Miley said emphatically.

“You know I hate it when you use that expression.” Travis gave her a sour look.

“Two whole weeks. I can’t remember the last time I took a real vacation. It is going to be so fun hanging out with my sister Kiley.”

“Don’t spend all your time stalking the stars. We don’t want another incident like last time,” he stated.

“What? There was no incident when we waited in the parking lot of the sports arena until GC came out. There was the bodyguard nazi, but we outwaited her lies that the band would never come out.”

“No, I’m talking about when you went to Rod Hadley’s home and sat in his driveway for three hours until you saw him come out of the house with his gun,” Travis reminded her.

“Oh, ya, well. There was that. But he never filed any formal charges… that I know of,” she shook her head, recalling the experience again. “That totally scared me off of rock gods for good.”

“You just remember to come back home again, capeesh?” Travis stated pointedly. Travis knew better than anyone how a trip to Hollywood for Miley was like a trip to the liquor store for an alcoholic.

Miley dreamed bigger. She felt she was destined for more than merely some office job like her mother had toiled away at. Her dreams had always resided in the entertainment industry, although she had no specific talents of her own to exploit. But that is what was so great about living in the age of reality TV. Anyone could be discovered at any time. Maybe right now an executive wanted a reality show about an Alabama party planner!

“Oh, you’ll just have to wait and see.” Miley smiled at him, then headed back into the house to start the ceremony as the first raindrops started to fall. She could see the groom through the French doors that overlooked the garden. He was fussing with his hair and then his vest, flustered from having arrived so late.

This would be another success to add to her physical portfolio and her mental ego boost.

*   *   *

As the event was winding down, Miley headed out to find Travis to tell him to pick up her mail while she was gone. If he had already left, she supposed she could text him. Or mention it on their bedtime call, which had become routine between the two of them.

Miley soon lost her train of thought when she saw an attractive man sans shirt loading the catering truck. Miley thought she knew all the employees who worked for Travis, but this guy must be new. It was still warm and muggy after the rain. As she approached, she could see the moisture from the air clinging to the well-defined muscles in his back that moved as he worked. He turned so that she was able to see his nice chest and abdomen, but a box still blocked his face. Holding the box made his biceps bulge under the strain. She felt her whole body flush with the warmth of attraction. He was so yummy Miley wanted to lick him. Or bite him. Or both.

“Ooo, who is that hunk?” Miley asked a server named Tanya.

“Who?” she asked, perplexed. “I only see Travis over there. You know Travis.”

As the man in question turned and put down the box, Miley could plainly see who it had been. Duh, of course Miley knew Travis.

“Oh, he must have walked away. Thanks, though,” Miley quickly covered.

Making goo-goo eyes at Travis? What was she thinking? She really needed to get laid again soon before her indiscriminate lusting really got out of control.


About Jennifer Friess 

Jennifer Friess is an author, blogger, and editor who lives in Lenawee County, Michigan, with her husband, son, and dog. She loves entertainment trivia. She doesn’t match her socks. She is a picky eater and likes it that way. Jennifer is the author of The Riley Sisters series, available now in paperback or on your favorite device.

 

Author Talk – Craig Boyack

CraigToday we sit down with author and blogger Craig Boyack to talk about his latest work, his influences, and writing in general. Please enjoy this interview with this talented author.

 


DM: What is the title and genre of the book you want to tell us about?

CB: Thanks, Don. I’m here to tell everyone about The Playground. I’m calling it a paranormal adventure with science fiction sprinkles on top.

DM: Can you summarize your book in one sentence?

CB: No, ha ha. Let’s try this: A social network geared toward children is brainwashing them into a private army.

DM: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

CB: This book has some adult themes, so it isn’t for the kids. After that, it’s for those who enjoy a thrill ride in speculative fiction.

DM: How did you come up with the title?

CB: The network is called The Playground Network. It seemed like the most natural title for the book.

coverDM: Tell me about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

CB: I always come up with my own concept. This story is written from three interwoven points of view. There is something on the cover to represent all three characters. It’s dark and threatening, and a pair of eyes on the cover is always a good thing. My artist this time is Sean Harrington, who has his own graphic novels.

DM: What are your biggest writing influences (another author, another book, a movie, etc.)

CB: I like to have a good time whether I’m reading, watching a movie, or program. I try to deliver that in my stories. I’ll fall back on Conan Doyle, but also folks like Michael Crichton. I enjoy films like the Pirates of the Caribbean series, anything super hero related, and Jurassic Park.

DM: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

CB: One of the point of view characters is Clovis. He is my first attempt at an anti-hero, and he’s so over-the-top I just loved him. He has his own character arc, and was a ton of fun to write.

DM: How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

CB: I have to go with Tommy Fazio. He’s the man behind The Playground Network, and is just so creepy. He turns to occult methods to accelerate his plans, and abuses children for his own advancement. He almost looks at our kids like something to be harvested and consumed.

DM: If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

CB: This is a tough question,  and I’ll bet all your guests struggle with it. There is a special car in the story. I struggled with wrecking it, or letting it come through unscathed. I still wonder if I made the right choice, but I’m not going to spoil it for readers either.

DM: Can you give us a fun fact about your book?

CB: I’m trying something new to me in this book. There are three individual stories involved that weave together to tell a bigger story. I think it works well, but readers are the ultimate judge of such things.

DM: What other books are similar to your own?  What makes them alike?

CB: That’s hard to come up with, because there have been many with a megalomaniac, a chase for the maguffin, and paranormal adventures. I’ll note that it has similarities to the movie Pulp Fiction, and the graphic novel and movie Sin City.

DM: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

CB: I have a sourdough starter that’s approaching 30 years old. My wife and I like camping, and looking for wild foods like blueberries and morels. I even like to catch the occasional fish.

DM: How can we find out more about you and your books?

CB: Here are my social media contacts, and I love to talk to visitors:

Follow my blog: http://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com

Check out my novels here: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00ILXBXUY

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Virgilante

On Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9841203.C_S_Boyack

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

DM: What can we expect from you in the future?

CB: I’m working on another novel called The Yak Guy Project. I’ll probably come up with a real title as I finish it, but you never know. It’s about an entitled youth that wakes up in an alternate world, with everything stripped away from him. He will need to do things for himself if he’s going to survive. I’m using the Fool’s Journey from the tarot cards as the basis of the story structure. It’s a fun experiment.

I also write short form fiction. When I get a dozen or so good ones I’ll release another book of short stories. These are speculative in nature, and run from science fiction to paranormal, and the occasional fantasy.

DM: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

CB: I think reviews are the most important thing. Amazon puts a lot of credit in how many reviews a book has. They increase exposure for those with enough reviews. It doesn’t take much, pick a star value, add a few words and you’re finished. It doesn’t have to be like a book report from grade school. Tell other readers what you liked. Maybe one liked the Binky Thief, another one liked the dog in the story. These count just as much as someone who typed out three pages.

Goodreads is another good option. The simple act of adding it as something you’d like to read gives the book exposure.

DM: Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?

CB: I add a personal challenge to every novel. Sometimes it’s simple like first person point of view. Sometimes it’s more complicated, like my use of the Fool’s Journey. These challenges have made me a better author.

I think it’s important to actually get to market too. I’m the personality type who looks for perfection that doesn’t exist. Getting over that was a real growth mark for me. I can look at each project and see improvement. Readers might not notice, but I can and it gives me confidence to try new things.

DM: Can you give us an excerpt from your book to intrigue and tantalize us?

CB: I’ll try to keep it short, because I don’t want your interview to go on too long. A little bit of setup is required. Clovis, my anti-hero just returned from meeting with Wanda. She works in public records, but Clovis wants a bit more detail than that. He’s interrupted by his neighbor, who goes by Chip.


A hard banging came at the door. Only Chip knocks like that. He answered the door in his boxers, “What do you want, Chip?”

The tiny Asian man said, “What’s with dog? He set out here and shiver all morning. Whine like big baby too. Oooooo, Oooooo. Dog freezing to death, so I take him my place.”

“Did you eat him?”

“No, asshole. My family not eat dogs. Dog eats everything in sight. Cold noodles, garbage, drinks from toilet.”

“He’s not my dog. Sounds like your ancestors blessed you with a pet.”

The dog pushed past Chip and jumped on the couch. He thumped his tail excitedly at seeing Clovis.

“Not your dog, huh? He’s just like you, no manners. Licks his own butt.”

“Come on in and shut the door. Want a beer?”

“Of course.”

“What’s the odds on the Rams game this weekend?”

“Not good, fourteen points.”

“Give me ten on the Rams anyway.” He grabbed his wallet from the pants on the floor and handed over the money.” Chip closed the refrigerator, and handed him one of his own beers.

Clovis found the frozen dinners in his bag and offered them to Chip. “This ought to cover what he ate.”

“No. That’s all crap. Feed it to stupid dog.”

“I need you to watch him one night next week too. I have a date.” He pushed the boxes at Chip. “You can feed these to him. The kids will love him.”

“No. He tries to hump kids.”

“How about you watch him over here then? There’s beer in the fridge and a basketball game on TV.”

“Basketball is stupid sport.”

“You can rent a porn movie then. My treat.”

“Okay, but might need two movies.”

Clovis opened his beer and sat on the couch. “Knock yourself out. What do you know about Asian Dawn?”

Chip waved his hands back and forth. “They tough characters. Big business, all illegal. It’s how we came here. Get in shipping box in Singapore, get out along the river before the boat docks. Daughters happy now. Go to school too.”

“How do I tell who’s who on the streets?”

“Hard to do. They like invisible tattoos. Need special light to see. They brand themselves though. Look at back of hand for cigarette burns in a pattern.”

“What kind of pattern?”

“All different. Sometimes straight line, sometimes Southern Cross, sometimes triangle. Don’t know what it all means. They very secret people. Dress clean cut. No saggy butt pants, no flashy colors.”

“But they’re all Chinamen like you?”

“No. Upper class all Asian, different kinds, but all Asian. Regular workers could be anyone.” He pulled back his sleeves. “See no burns.”

“So you’re above all that.”

“Run clean sports book. No gangs.”

“Know any of them?”

“Only one in Singapore. We paid, got in box, that’s it.”

“Thanks, Chip. Take another beer with you when you leave.”

“You never date. You with fat Wanda again?”

“You caught me. I’m thinking of taking a new job and she might know something.”

“Fat Wanda. Ha ha ha ha ha.”

“Don’t rub it in.”

“You be careful. Don’t break hip. Ha ha ha ha.”

Clovis waved his hand at Chip and headed for the shower.


Thank you, Don, for inviting me to your blog. The Playground is available . Your readers can get a copy here http://a-fwd.com/asin=B01D6EF6RI

About Craig Boyack:

I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.

I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Author Talk – Steve Boseley

Steve face BW

Today we sit down with author Steve Bosely to talk about his work and his inspiration. Please enjoy.


DM: What is the title and genre of the book you want to tell us about?

SB: My novella, my first book, is Die, Blossom, Bloom.  It crosses over more than one genre, but broadly speaking, it fits into suburban horror, with elements of thriller / mystery.

DM: Can you summarize your book in one sentence?

SB: Die, Blossom, Bloom is a story of grief, guilt, and suspicion in the sleepy village of Haverly.

DM: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

SB: Anyone that enjoys horror that doesn’t have vampires or werewolves!  Seriously though, anyone that has ever tackled an impossible situation and watched things get out of control should find something in there to relate to.

People should read it because, despite being horror, it’s also an emotional tale of one man’s grief and what can happen when a situation spirals out of control.

DM: How did you come up with the title?

It went through several names until a group of my readers settled on Die, Blossom, Bloom.  It makes more sense when you read it.

DBB SmashwordsDM: Tell me about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image?

SB: I wanted a stark image for this novella, something open with lots of white space, so I took some suggestions and put the cover together myself.  I’ve got some college fine arts and graphic design students on the case for my next book, so I may come back to DBB in the future for a redesign of this one!

DM: What are your biggest writing influences (another author, another book, a movie, etc.)

SB: It might be an obvious answer, but as a horror writer I’ve been influenced by Stephen King’s work, particularly his Dark Tower series.  I’ve also been reading a lot of HP Lovecraft and still find something new each time.

DM: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

SB: Ted Harris would be my fave.  He digs his garden while wearing a shirt and tie.  Gotta respect that!

DM: How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

SB: Easy one to pick: Geraldine Butler-Thompson is a thoroughly unlikeable woman.  Her sense of her position in the village hierarchy makes me mad thinking about it now.

DM: If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

SB: I think I would want to play more on the mystery element.

DM: Can you give us a fun fact  your novella?

SB: The setting for the story, the village of Haverly, appears in several other stories I have written.

DM: What other books are similar to your own?  What makes them alike?

SB: I would say it is a cross between John Connolly’s Nocturnes and Michael Connelly’s crime works.

DM: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

SB: Singing along to 1980’s pop music whilst cleaning up in the kitchen.

DM: How can we find out more about you and your books?

SB: website: www.authorsteveboseley.com  – get in touch!

Email: authorsteveboseley@gmail.com

Twitter: @steveboseley

DM: What can we expect from you in the future?

SB: I already have my second and third books lined up.  Next up, later this year is A Sinister Six.  It’s a collection of six horror and dark fiction stories.  It includes some of my work that has previously appeared in online horror webzines.

This will also be released as an audiobook, voiced by Charles Hyner (@charles_hyner)

DM: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

SB: Share the book details with your networks.  Buy a copy (if you can still grab it on pre order, you can get hold of a story in the upcoming A Sinister Six early plus benefit from a reduced price) and if you enjoy it, leave a review!

DM: Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?

SB: Write regularly.  Hone your craft.  Look professional even if you’re not.  Learn about marketing your book and yourself as a brand.  Write because you love it.

DM: Can you give us an excerpt from your book ?

SB: Sure.


He moved to the window.  The rain was still falling, heavier than earlier.  There were a few people out, but not many.  His attention was drawn to the raised patch of earth in the garden.  There was something there that he could not see clearly without his glasses.  He pulled them out of his breast pocket and slipped them on.  He blinked twice to make sure he was seeing what he thought he was seeing.  When he was certain, he ran to the front door, ripped it open, and ran into his garden.  He threw himself down on the grass, shielding his eyes from the rain.  There were two fingers protruding from the earth where the rain had washed it away.  Ted couldn’t be sure, but he thought an animal of some kind had found the fingers as well; there were what looked like claw marks in the soil and bite marks on the fingers.

He rose up from his kneeling position and looked around.  There was no one in sight, so he piled more earth on the fingers and rushed back inside.  Leaving it for another night may be tempting fate so grabbing the roll of plastic bags, he ran back into the garden.  Using his hands, he dug up the pieces of his wife.  They were slick with rain and mud, making them difficult to grasp.  More than once, he dropped one of the pieces, causing him to let out a startled yell.  Each time he did, he rose up on his knees, like a meerkat surveying the prairie, and peered over his garden wall into the street.  A combination of the rain and the hour had driven everyone away, and when satisfied, he gathered up the dropped piece and finished the bagging.


About Steve Bosely

Steve is a freelance writer, living in Nottingham, UK.

His dark fiction and horror short stories have appeared in several online webzines, and the anthologies The Asylum Within and Dead but Dreaming Halloween Edition. Most recently, Steve was a guest author for the short story collection Deathly Musings.

Steve enjoys writing horror that makes you stop and think: Could that happen to me? Although from time to time, the odd demon can creep in!

 

 

Back Story – When do you use it? How much should you use? Is it necessary?

Here is an oldie but goodie that I thought I would re-post with some updates:


My blog this week expands on a concept that appeared as a tip in an earlier blog. That tip focused on removing writing that was unnecessary. When I completed my first book, I tried to make sure that all of my characters were fully developed. I created biographies for each of them using templates that I found on the Internet. These templates included sections for physical attributes, motivations, character traits, family background and other biographical details.

In my Frank Rozzani Detective Series, the main character has events in his back story that motivate who he is in the present time. These events pushed him into his career as a private detective and forced him to relocate. My first draft of the book had two full chapters devoted to Frank’s back story. I thought that readers would want all of this rich detail about his former life in Syracuse, NY along with his family history and the tragic events that brought him to the present day in the story. I incorporated this as a flashback. I was excited about it and sent it off to my editor.

When I received my editor’s comments, she slashed nearly all of the flashback chapters from the book. She said that it was all unnecessary and that I should be more stingy with the back story and spread it out throughout this book and the ones that would follow. It was a blow to my ego at first, but in hindsight, she was absolutely right.

After this eureka moment, I started looking at the way other writers used back story in their work. Some of them, like John D. MacDonald and Elmore Leonard use back story very sparingly and only reveal details when they are relevant to the current story. Others like Dean Koontz and, in some instances, Stephen King, use back story to develop their characters into living and breathing people full of complexity. I wanted to land somewhere in the middle and I think, with my first book, and to a greater degree, my second book, I have succeeded somewhat.

Have I mastered the use of back story? Absolutely not. I don’t think, as writers, we ever truly perfect any aspect of our writing. I thought, however, that I would post some tips that I use and that might help you as you look for balance in sharing character background information in your work.

flashback

1) Use the flash back technique sparingly: Unless you are writing a book about time travel, you can really confuse your reader by jumping back and forth in your book. If your reader starts to wonder where and when the story is taking place, you might lose them. If you must use flash back, consider doing it in short doses, such as in a character’s dream. If you have to devote a chapter to it, be certain that the details are relevant to the story.

conversation

2) Consider giving past information as part of a conversation: This technique might involve a character telling their story to another character as part of a conversation. You want to avoid long monologues by your main character. You should try to make the reveal of the back story more of an interactive scene between the characters.

background

3) Incorporate portions of background details as a summary: Many authors use this technique to indicate what has happened in the past. They will reveal details in the character’s background with single sentences.  Here is an example:

“As an attorney, John vigorously went after cigarette manufacturers. He wanted nothing more than to be victorious in cases against them while securing high punitive damages for his clients. This passion was fueled by the deaths of both of his parents from lung cancer.”

believe4) Make the back story believable and realistic: As an author, you should think out the main points of your main characters’  back story. Don’t invent events just to suit your story. The back story should be grounded in some type of reality. You can’t have your character defeat their enemy with a complex form of martial arts if studying the techniques do not make sense in the characters background. Maybe he or she was in special forces or spent time in Asia.

need-to-know-gif

5) Create a situation where the information needs to be known: In my first book, Frankly Speaking, the main character is single and is being pursued by a beautiful, successful woman. Despite her obvious hints, he resists her. When things finally come to a head, he reveals the details of his wife’s murder to her and explains his reluctance to get into a new relationship. This is a case where the reader was aware of some of the details, but other characters were not.

I hope that these tips about back story were helpful to you. I learn more about the different methods to reveal character background details as I read more and apply the techniques that I’ve learned to my own writing. Those things that motivate your characters might be the things that keep your readers interested, especially if you have multiple works that feature the same cast of characters.

 

Author Talk – Ann Morris

Web photo 08.2015Today we sit down with children’s author Ann Morris to talk about her work and her inspiration. Please enjoy.


DM: What is the title and genre of the book you want to tell us about?

AM: Everything Is Different”/”Todo es distinto” are the English and Spanish versions of the same story. They are picture books for children of any age.

DM: Can you summarize your book in one sentence?

AM: No, but I’ll do my best.

Brett and his dad visit England briefly; many observations and questions ensue; Brett learns that different is not the same as wrong.

DM: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

AM: Children of any age (5-9), children reading to them and parents or adults reading to them. Language learners are also part of my intended readers.

DM: How did you come up with the title?

AM: I was visiting the United Kingdom, in England specifically, and people were commenting on things they noticed that were different. Immediately I knew it would be a perfect children’s story. Children’s notice things that are different, but they are much more adaptable to new ideas than adults. With a constantly changing world, it is important for children to learn that there is more than one way to do things “right”.

DM: Tell me about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image?

AM: Melissa Wright is my illustrator for this book. She is a cousin of mine that I have never met, but she has entertaining details included in her illustrations.

DM: What are your biggest writing influences?

AM: My junior high English teachers were fantastic and left a deep impression on my love of the language. Growing up, my dad was very observant and constantly drawing our attention to a pretty landscape or sunset. My mother loved to write and gave me tips as I progressed. She never did a project for me but was always cheering from the side lines. My junior high geography teacher was important in pointing out that we should look at what we have in common with people that are different from us.

DM: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

AM: They are both equally important. Brett is the young boy who is constantly noticing “different” things and worrying that something will happen. His dad patiently addresses his concerns and explains why they are that way and that they work fine in this location.   

DM: If you could change ONE thing about your book, what would it be?  Why?

AM: I don’t know that I could change anything. The story is based on things I actually saw, places I visited, and Brett is based on my nephew, true to form including speech patterns.

DM: Can you give us a fun fact about your book

AM: My tax advisor wouldn’t allow me to deduct trip expenses on my tax return! I’ve learned since that I could have. Grrrr.

I loved the trip and relive it every time I read the story. I want to return to the Midlands in England!

DM: What other books are similar to your own?  What makes them alike?

AM: My books are all based on true experiences. They are my way of telling a story, teaching a lesson, and trying to impress the importance of healthy adult/child relationships.

DM: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

I am equally bilingual in English and Spanish (spoken and written) and love languages and cultures. I am always learning. A former High School Spanish teacher, I was always working to reach the students personally as well as academically. They know if a teacher cares about them or not.

I was a musician starting with piano in elementary school through adulthood. I’ve had leadership positions and feel it is important to include co-workers in decision-making. Everyone is important.

I love to bird watch, flower garden, and work on geneology. I write poetry and love to take photographs. My piano technician says I have a “sensitive” ear. It’s all related somehow. People and the world are inter-related, it is important for us to notice and be conscious of other people as well as Mother Earth, and it is important for us to seek harmony.

About Ann Morris

Ann (Ana for Spanish books) Morris has a deep interest in education.  She knows that children have vivid imaginations and an insatiable love of learning.  Morris developed an interest in writing children’s stories with the intention of recording memorable experiences with young family members sprinkled with memories of her own youth.

As a teacher and as a community worker, Morris has collaborated with and served people from many cultures new to our country, including our Latino friends. She speaks and writes Spanish as well as English.  Her hopes are to encourage children and parents learning to read their native language, as well as to motivate language learners.  She includes a positive adult role model, a curious child and a unique learning experience in each story.

Ann (Ana) Morris is the author of

 

Author Talk – Richard Abbott

richardabbott

Today we sit down and talk with author Richard Abbott about himself and his fascinating book.


DM: What is the title and genre of the book you want to tell us about?

RA: The title is Far from the Spaceports, the genre is Science Fiction

DM: Can you summarize your book in one sentence?

RA: A human-AI partnership tackles hi-tech financial crime among the asteroids.

DM: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

RA: It’s near-future science-fiction, so should appeal to people who like to speculate what the next hundred years or so might bring. I’ve had good feedback from people who know about today’s IT and finance industries, and can see how this sort of situation could easily come about as and when we expand into settlements elsewhere in the solar system. It’s not so much an action book as an exploration of how crime might be committed and tackled in such a situation.

DM: How did you come up with the title?

RA: The book title is also the title of a song which features in the book. I’ll talk a bit more about this in the ‘fun fact’ section below.

Kindle-Cover-basic-starfieldDM: Tell me about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

RA: The cover was designed by Ian Grainger (http://www.iangrainger.co.uk/) after a lot of conversation and ideas going to and fro between us. I wanted a picture which would suggest the story’s main location in the asteroid belt. We also tried to include something that would indicate the AI part of the story but nothing worked well, so we stuck to the natural world.

DM: What are your biggest writing influences?

RA: Ursula LeGuin was the science fiction writer who – years ago now – introduced me to the idea that the genre could be thoughtful and provocative. Much later I discovered Harry Harrison and his laconic style, along with a whole wealth of other science fiction writers. I tend to prefer those whose vision of the future is optimistic rather than pessimistic.

DM: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

RA: That’s a difficult question! Probably Slate, the female AI half of the partnership. Why is she my favourite? Well, I could go all psychological and say that she represents part of my own anima, but I suppose it’s more likely I can easily imagine the enormous help she would be in my day job. And the more I wrote about her, the more her emerging personality grew on me.

DM: How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

RA: A young man called Dafyd, who is a minor character in this book. He’s basically spoiled and idle, and I can’t think of many reasons to like him.

DM: If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

RA: It’s very geeky, but at one point I made an assertion that something would not be possible in the low gravity of one of the moons of Mars. Later on I rechecked it and found that it would work after all. It’s something to write my way out of in the sequel, I guess.

DM: Now, as you mentioned, can you give us a fun fact or a few about your book?

RA: The song of the title is put into the mouths of a (fictitious) music group called The Descenters. However, the original ‘Far from the Spaceports’ song originated as part of a family holiday contest many years ago. At the time – and this dates the event quite nicely – there was a computer came called Descent which was very addictive. Sadly it s unplayable on a modern machine, but the book is, in part, a commemoration of that.

DM: What other books are similar to your own?  What makes them alike?

RA: I must admit, I don’t really know of any. People have written about high-tech crime before, but normally in an Earth-based setting. I don’t know of anyone writing about it in the solar system at large. The idea of being an investigator appears a lot n science fiction, but often people jump past the solar system stage and go straight for a plot set more widely among the stars. If other people are writing about this kind of stuff, I’d love to read them.

DM: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

RA: Well, I like walking in Britain’s National Parks, but that is not really very unique. I started writing historical fiction, set in the ancient near east in the Late Bronze Age, and intend to keep both genres going in parallel. But right now the science fiction definitely has centre stage. For a day job I really do work in financial IT, so there’s a good deal of authenticity in the technobabble. However, I don’t get to travel into space and don’t identify myself with Mitnash, the central human character of the book.

DM: How can we find out more about you and your books?

RA: I maintain a web site at http://www.kephrath.com/ and regularly blog at http://richardabbott.datascenesdev.com/blog/. Both of these places combine my interest in history and historical fiction along with science and science fiction. Or follow me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/richard.abbott.777) or Google+ (https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RichardAbbott).

DM:What can we expect from you in the future?

RA: There is a sequel in progress, with working title By Default. All being well I hope that will be released in the second half of this year. That involves the main characters Mitnash and Slate having to do some investigative work on Mars and its moon Phobos, as well as back among the asteroids.

As well as that, I intend to keep the historical fiction series going for a little longer, with a seafaring plot linked to the tin trade.

DM: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

RA: If you like the book, tell others about it! Reviews on blog sites, Amazon, Goodreads and so on are all extremely valuable to authors. It doesn’t matter if the review is short or long – all authors value the interest and feedback more than the actual words.

DM: Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?

RA: First and foremost, persevere in writing what you want to, and work hard to get the technical presentation right as well as the creative ideas. If a major publishing house isn’t interested then in today’s world there are lots of other options – small publishing hoses, often dealing with niche areas, or of course self-publishing which is now easier than it has ever been in the past.

Can you give us an excerpt from your book?

No problem. This is from a little over half-way, in a musical interlude featuring The Descenters.


There was a sudden roar of appreciation from the main room, and at the same moment Slate buzzed me. Show time. As I went back via the bar, five musicians paraded in and took up their positions. The Descenters had arrived. Slate whispered to me the names of each, and their instruments of choice, and would have gone on to give complete biographies and skills matrices if I had let her.

They kicked off with a few warm-up numbers, mostly taken from one of their earlier concepts, Fraggle. These were basically all instrumental show-off pieces, with the lead singer joining in once the other threads of sound were well under way. His voice was every bit as high-pitched in the flesh as in recording, and I couldn’t see any obvious bio-enhancements. Nor could Slate, so maybe it was authentic. At any rate the scent, peripheral tracking and subliminal shots made for a considerably more rounded experience than what I had listened to on the Harbour Porpoise.

After nearly an hour they were done with that, and enjoyed the wild applause and cheers of the audience. The hostesses circulated with drinks again. I was, I insist, entirely sober still, and well able to conduct with Slate a detailed analysis of the main guitarist. She was able to swap effortlessly between several stringed instruments, including a beautifully atmospheric steel-string slide rigged up on a trestle. She also teased odd harmonics out of the strings far more often than anyone else I had seen.

Before long they came back for the main set, Blow the Reactor and Home to Bed. The earlier funky instrumental melodies were swapped for soaring lyrical numbers – by this time I had no idea what the words meant, but they certainly sounded inspiring. The Descenters had a habit of launching into a weird melange of musical experiment, verging on pure noise, which suddenly resolved into heart-plucking beauty when you least expected it. Then lyricism exploded into a series of straight dance tracks as the evening built to a climax.

I had never seen low gravity dance, and the closest thing I could think of was old vids of punk pogo moves. But where the most enthusiastic punk rocker on planet Earth could never get above their own knee height, here on Bryher the vaulted cavern was full from top to bottom with wild excitement.

Far from the spaceports

        and the friendly taverns,

there are deep dark caves

        and looming caverns.

There’s gold and platinum,

        copper and lead,

and a whole lot of robots

        that want you dead!

I watched the Scilly Isles at play, convinced that whether sober or drunk, my planet-shackled sense of gravity and space would never let me dance like that. The whole room shook as the crowd joined in the refrain.


About Richard Abbott:

Richard Abbott writes fiction set in two very different places. First, there is historical fiction set in the Middle East at the end of the Bronze Age, around 1200BC. The second area is science fiction, set in a near-future solar system exploring issues of high-tech crime and human-machine relationships.

His first science fiction book, Far from the Spaceports, introduces Mitnash Thakur and his virtual partner Slate as they investigate financial crime in the asteroid belt.

His first book, In a Milk and Honeyed Land, explores events in the Egyptian province of Canaan. It follows the life, loves, and struggles of a priest in the small hill town of Kephrath.

A follow-up novel entitled Scenes from a Life begins in Egypt. It follows the journey of a scribe as he travels to discover his origins. down the Nile from Luxor and finally out into Canaan.

A third book, The Flame Before Us, is set in the middle of calamity. New settlers are arriving from the north, sacking cities and disrupting the established ways of life as they come. This story follows several different groups each trying to adjust to the new situation.

Author readings from both In a Milk and Honeyed Land and Scenes from a Life are available online as YouTube videos.

The short story The Man in the Cistern is set in the same location as In a Milk and Honeyed Land, but around ten years later.

The short story The Lady of the Lions is set in the same location but around one hundred and fifty years earlier.

Triumphal Accounts in Hebrew and Egyptian is the ebook version of his PhD thesis which, for those who want the technical details, supplies academic underpinning for some of the ideas and plot themes followed up in fiction.

Richard lives in London, England and works professionally in IT quality assurance.

When not writing words or computer code, he enjoys spending time with family, walking, and wildlife, ideally combining all three pursuits in the English Lake District.

 

Author Talk – Armand Rosamilia

WH2Today we sit down and talk with author Armand Rosamilia. Armand is a fellow northeast native who, like me, opted to move to Florida. He is going to share a little bit about himself and his latest work.


DM: What is the title and genre of the book you want to tell us about?

AR: Green River Blend is a supernatural thriller

DM: Can you summarize your book in one sentence?

AR: My elevator pitch:  When Horror and Coffee collide

DM: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

AR: Fans of horror and supernatural novels. Some readers have commented it reads like a Bentley Little tale, which is a definite compliment to me. Fans of my other work will also read my voice in this one, even if you’ve previously only read my Dying Days zombie fiction or the Flagler Beach Fiction Series, which is contemporary fiction akin to beach reads.

DM: How did you come up with the title?

AR: The story begins in the Pacific Northwest near the Green River but it is also a nod and a wink to the Green River Killer, setting the tone for the book. When I had the hazy concept for the book, knowing it would have something to do about a special coffee, Green River Blend was the first thing that came to mind for a book title and the coffee itself.

GreenRiverBlend

DM: Tell me about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

AR: The cover was done by Dane at ebooklaunch. My publisher, Devil Dog Press, worked with the concept I had for the cover art and ran with it. I think it fits perfectly with the novel and I’m quite proud of the way it came out.

DM: What are your biggest writing influences (another author, another book, a movie, etc.)

AR: Dean Koontz got me started on this journey. As a 12 year old I started reading all of his work and wanted to write myself. I think, as a writer, everything around you begins to influence you. Any conversation, any person walking by, pretty much anything you see or read or hear adds to the mix. As you become a better writer you can better filter in what you need to create your own stories and unique voice.

DM: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

AR: I love them all! But if I had to choose it would be Kenny, a shoe salesman in a dead-end job who wants to become an author. It is definitely partially based on my own experiences. I sold shoes for many years before becoming a retail manager and hated every minute of it. My dream was always to become a full-time author, which I successfully did about six years ago. I can still look back and see what my life was almost like, and in some thoughts and actions it mirrors the struggle Kenny goes through.

DM: How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

AR: I love all of my characters I write, of course! Some of them are really bad people and deserve their fate. I think the man who runs the coffee shop and moves into the quiet little town and creates so much havoc isn’t appealing because of the things he does, but he’s still an interesting character to follow along.

DM: If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

AR: As an author there’s always something you want to change. It is never truly finished. I could rewrite every sentence a dozen times. It comes to a point where you have to let it go and let someone else read it and move on to the next project. I’d like to think my work is perfect… because if I don’t it will keep me up at night.

DM: Can you give us a fun fact about your book?

AR: The original idea for this book has been with me for many, many years. In fact, I started an original and lousy first few chapters about 20 years ago when I was still living in New Jersey and had only been to Florida once in my life years ago. I knew that was where it would be set, though. When I finally got back to the story after working on quite a few others it just clicked. Hammond Beach in the book is a very loose Flagler Beach, an actual place where I set a seven-book contemporary fiction series.

DM: What other books are similar to your own?  What makes them alike?

AR: Readers have told me it reads like a Bentley Little book, which is a major compliment. I have some darker spots in it and I’m not afraid to have sex and over the top violence at times to make the reader wince. It doesn’t overwhelm the story, which is important, and probably why people compare the book favorably to Little.

DM: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

AR: I can put 87 plain M&M’s in my mouth at once. Yes, unfortunately this is a real fact. I once ate 37 White Castle cheeseburgers in a night and I wasn’t even drinking. So, to answer your question… no.

DM: How can we find out more about you and your books?

AR: My website is http://armandrosamilia.com but I’m most active on my Author page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorArmandRosamilia/ and of course you can find me on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Armand-Rosamilia/e/B004S48J6G/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

DM: What can we expect from you in the future?

AR: Many more books. I am currently working on the sequel to Green River Blend and there will be a third book to wrap up the trilogy. My crime thriller, Dirty Deeds, will be getting a sequel this year as well as quite a few other new books from me in 2016.

DM: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

AR: Spread the word. Let friends and fellow readers know about a good book. Reviews are so key for an author, too. Take a few minutes to leave a review and help authors continue to live their dreams.

DM: Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?

AR: Patience. Think of everything you do long-term. If you’re thinking you’ll be an overnight sensation and sell a million books on day one of your debut book, you might want to come back down to reality a bit. Not saying it can’t happen but plan for it not to and try to grow it. If it does… congratulations, you beat the odds.

DM: Can you give us an excerpt from your book?

Sure. Here is an excerpt from Green River Blend:


Randy Garvin was thirty-nine years old, fit for his age and a workaholic, putting in long hours at his gas station. He was a devoted husband to his high-school sweetheart, Jean. Quick with a joke and a lending hand, everyone in Hammond Beach knew Randy. Some knew him from his All-State high school football and baseball career, where he set a dozen school records that still stood over twenty years later. Others knew him as the church-going neighbor who had once saved a drowning little boy during Hurricane Andrew, risking his own life to help another.

No one knew the dark secrets that lurked in his head lately.

A new Mustang convertible with the top down pulled next to pump one, three high school girls he knew wearing matching red two-piece bikinis.

Randy remembered when his Jean used to wear revealing clothing like that but never to the beach and never in public. Times had surely changed. He was still a young man but felt really old around kids these days. He supposed never having one of his own made you forget what it was like.

“Morning, Josephine,” Randy said as he approached her car. He wiped his hands on his yellow ‘Randy’s Gas & Garage’ T-shirt. “Heading to the beach?”

“Yes, taking a break from school. It’s too nice out here,” Josephine laughed, smiling at her two friends in the backseat of her convertible. “You should close up and come with us.”

“I’m sure the wife would like that, me and a car filled with high school gals,” Randy said. “I came out when I saw this beautiful automobile. Where did you get it?”

Josephine smiled. “It’s an early graduation present from my daddy.”

“How is your daddy? We played football together, you know.”

“He told me that once. He’s doing well; he just got remarried and lives in Miami with his new wife.”

“I think we went to school with her,” Jenna Meyer chimed in from the backseat. “She might even be younger than us.”

Josephine shot her friend a dirty look.

Jenna put her hands in the air and frowned. “I’m just saying… you say it all the time, anyway.”

“I can say it. She’s my gold-digging new step-mom.” Josephine turned back to Randy and smiled. “I’m sure the fourth wife will be nice, too. And he’ll buy her fake boobs as well.”

Randy laughed. “Knowing your daddy… tell him I said hi.” Randy ran his hand on the door of the Mustang. “Tell your mom I said hi, too. I went to school with her as well.”

“Will do. Bye.”

Randy watched as the convertible pulled away into traffic. Randy had fixed up a Mustang during senior year and cruised Main Street with it. Those were the days. Jean used to take the rides up and down the coast on A1A, stopping in St. Augustine for lunch or Jupiter to see his Aunt Rosemary. They were just a couple of kids with no worries in the world and Randy with a football scholarship to the University of Miami.

When his knee had blown out during the Thanksgiving Day game that year, Randy had accepted it as the will of God. Instead of college, he had married Jean and purchased the gas station from the retiring Mister Clem, with the help of his father’s checkbook.

Twenty years later and he still loved coming to work and dealing with the locals as well as the Spring Breakers on their way south to Daytona Beach.

The Mustang disappeared going east toward the Atlantic Ocean and Randy sighed. It was a beautiful day to let your cares fade away. He wondered if Jean wanted to take a ride, maybe up to St. Augustine for dinner like old times.

He’d close up early today and surprise his wife at home, maybe go down to the florist and buy her some roses. Randy had shut down the gas station an hour or two early each night this week but he didn’t care about the business anymore. His mind was on other things, ideas he couldn’t get out of his head.

The old Pennsoil clock on the wall behind the counter wasn’t his friend right now. Randy wanted to get out of there, go get another cup of delicious coffee from the new place at the other end of Main Street and get home. Tonight he’d take a break from his disturbing thoughts and spend time with his wife, who he loved more than anything in this world.

Randy wondered if the girls were already at the beach, meeting their friends and sneaking a beer or two, making out under the shadow of the pier and enjoying life. He also wondered what noises Josephine would make as he gutted her slowly.

About Armand Rosamilia:

Armand Rosamilia is a New Jersey boy currently living in sunny Florida, where he writes when he’s not sleeping. He’s happily married to a woman who helps his career and is supportive, which is all he ever wanted in life…

He’s written over 150 stories that are currently available, including horror, zombies, contemporary fiction, thrillers and more. His goal is to write a good story and not worry about genre labels.

He runs two very successful podcasts on Project iRadio, too…

Arm Cast: Dead Sexy Horror Podcast – interviewing fellow authors as well as filmmakers, musicians, etc.

Arm N Toof’s Dead Time Podcast – with co-host Mark Tufo, the duo interview authors and filmmakers and anyone else they feel like talking to

He also loves to talk in third person… because he’s really that cool. He’s a proud Active member of HWA as well.

You can find him at http://armandrosamilia.com for not only his latest releases but interviews and guest posts with other authors he likes!

and e-mail him to talk about zombies, baseball and Metal:

armandrosamilia@gmail.com

 

 

 

Author Talk – Judith Barrow

judith barrow2

Today we sit down with British author and blogger Judith Barrow. She is going to share her work with us and tell us a bit about herself, her inspiration, and the concluding book of her trilogy. Please enjoy.


DM: What is the title and genre of the book you want to tell us about?

JB: Living in the Shadows is the third and last of the trilogy. It’s a family saga that crosses over into history and crime genres.

DM: Can you summarize your book a short sentence?

JB: It’s the 1960s, and this generation has to deal with the past actions of their parents; they have no idea what dangers they face from a common enemy.

DM: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

JB: It’s a women’s fiction (although men have read it as well!)

Why they should read it? Well, it’s the last of the trilogy and the secrets that have haunted the Howarth family since the Second World War finally come to the surface.  It’s a dangerous revelation, brought about by one coincidence, and brings together the numerous storylines that are threaded throughout the first two books towards the final conclusion. Throw in all that the 1960s meant to society and I think it’s a good read.  Living in the Shadows has been described as a “hard-to-put-down-till-over book”.

DM: How did you come up with the title?

JB: I decided on the title because it’s how I feel the next generation lives and deals with the secrets that will make their lives implode. And I wanted the title to reflect the other titles of the trilogy.

book cover

DM: Tell me about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image?

JB: As they have throughout the trilogy, my publishers gave me two images, background scenes and photographs of people from each era. With Living in the Shadows there is just one figure, a young woman who typifies the sixties with her hairstyle and clothes.  I also wanted to keep the sepia effect that the others have.

DM: What are your biggest writing influences?

JB: I’ve always written; I couldn’t help it. Influences? Hmm; as a child, and I suppose like many others, I wanted to write like Enid Blyton. When I was older I adored all the Catherine Cookson books. Nowadays I’m inspired by any author who writes a great story.

DM: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

JB: My protagonist, Mary Howarth, who has been the central character throughout the trilogy.  She lives within the shadows of her family’s expectations of her – a pattern that rules her life. Most of all she lives within the shadow of her own loyalties. I believe we all live within the confines of our own pattern of the shadows that rule our lives – our expectations and those of other people. But ultimately she goes her own way

DM: How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

JB: That has to be Frank Shuttleworth. He epitomises all I dislike about a person; he’s a bully, he manipulates those around him, he’s sly and he’s violent. Writing the parts of the story that involved him was difficult for various reasons. But he is what he is

DM: If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

JB: That’s difficult; I need some time to think about that. Hmm, okay… a bit ‘tongue in cheek’ here; I’d like more reviews on it. Because that would mean I’d learn from a larger cross-section of readers and know where to strengthen my writing … and where I’m getting it right. Other than that, I’ve done my best to write a decent story and, after numerous edits, I think I wouldn’t know what to change.

DM: Can you give us a fun fact about your book?

JB: Fun fact? Well, not sure it’s fun but I once had an agent who decided to send my work to a commercial editor who changed the whole manuscript so it read as a chicklit.  Not my style or genre at all. The agent and I soon parted company.

Oh, and once, giving  a talk about the first book of the trilogy, Pattern of Shadows, and the research I did on the first German POW camp which is the main setting of the book, I was told by a member of the audience that her family used to send parcels to an ex POW in Germany whom they’d befriended. In 1951 he wrote to say he didn’t like the sweets they included– please don’t send any more. As this was before sweet rationing finished they were puzzled and asked him to describe them. Turned out he’d been eating Oxo cubes.

DM: What other books are similar to your own?  What makes them alike?

JB: Family sagas are always about families who have passions, live through difficult times and go through shifting fortunes.

DM: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

JB: Hmm. Well I paint when I can and am rather good at seascapes if I say so myself. And I tutor creative writing and I’ve helped quite a few people get published one way or another.  And I have an old collection of every Dickens’ building that is in his books that I can’t bear to part with. The number of times I’ve taken them to car boot sales… and not put them out for sale!

DM: How can we find out more about you and your books?

JB: This is me:

wwwjudithbarrow.com

wwwjudithbarrow.co.uk

https://twitter.com/barrow_judith

judith.barrow.3@facebook.com

http://www.pinterest.com/judithbarrow/

judithbarrowblog.com/

And my books:

book1Pattern of Shadows:

http://amzn.to/1onvi4R

http://amzn.to/1WBN3bP

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/pattern-of-shadows

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1Riznh1

 

book2Changing Patterns:

http://amzn.to/21rNd6u

http://amzn.to/1U1TRSd

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/changing-patterns

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1U1XmYD

 book cover

 Living in the Shadows:

http://amzn.to/1PWBLiV

http://amzn.to/22grYXn

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/living-in-the-shadows-1

Barnes &Noble: http://bit.ly/1pHmeIh

Or from:  http://www.honno.co.uk/

DM: What can we expect from you in the future?

JB: I’m writing the prequel to the trilogy, which is the story of the protagonist, Mary Howarth’s, parents, Bill and Winifred. Working title Foreshadowing.

DM: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

JB: Review… please … just review. Especially on Amazon and Goodreads. Thank you, very grateful.

DM; Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?

JB: Write, edit, edit, edit. Send out to as many agents and publishers who take on or publish writers who write in the same genre as you. And remember, it’s all subjective. If one person doesn’t like your work, someone else will.

DM: Can you give us an excerpt from your book to intrigue and tantalize us?

JB: Glad to:


The man who filled the doorway was short but stocky; his thinning curly hair a mixture of grey and ginger. Wearing slacks and an open-necked shirt to show off a heavy gold sovereign chain around his neck, he had an astrakhan coat slung over his shoulders.  He was what Linda’s dad, in his old-fashioned way, would call a bit of a spiv.

‘I’m sorry, no visitors at this time of the day.’ Linda dried her hands and dropped the used towel in the bin under the basin.

‘I’ve paid for a private room, she’s my wife, and I’ll visit when I want.’ He didn’t look at Linda; his eyes fixed on the woman in the bed who was ineffectually jiggling the now screaming baby.

Linda flushed at the abrupt rudeness. ‘I’m sorry, but no. Your wife needs some privacy and anyway the rules are the same for everyone. Visiting time is —’

‘When I say it is.’ Still he didn’t turn towards her, but his ruddy cheeks reddened even more.

It was the anxiety on Harriet Worth’s face that made Linda step between the man and the bed. She was the same height as him and met his glare. But there was something about him that caused her throat to tighten. She stared at the scar on his cheek, shaped like a half-moon, at his nose, crooked from an old break and she sucked in a shocked breath, suddenly aware that she was on her own in a room with a man that, for some unknown reason, she was afraid of.

‘You’re in my way.’ Narrowing his eyes, he gripped her arm, his fingers pinching.

‘George, please… Nurse?’ Harriet’s voice shook as she raised her voice above the crying. ‘I’m sorry. Just this once?’

Linda took another jagged breath, held it, let it go, forced herself to sound calm. ‘Okay. But that baby needs feeding. I’ll be back in five minutes.’ The man released his grasp when she stepped to one side.

Holding on to the bedrail he bent towards his wife. The baby quietened as though listening. ‘Don’t apologise for me, do you hear? Never apologise for me.’

‘I’m sorry, George.’

‘Think on then.’

The threat stopped Linda at the door. She looked back at Harriet, who fixed her gaze on her and gave a small shake of her head. Walking stiffly from the room, Linda willed her legs not to give way under her. Sweat prickled her hairline; she thought she would vomit at any moment. She mustn’t be seen in this state; there was no way she wanted to, or even could, explain the unwelcome and strange terrors that seeing the man bullying his wife had dredged up.  Diving into a nearby linen room she slid down against the closed door to the floor. Pulling up her knees, she rested her head on them and closed her eyes, willing herself to calm down. When she opened them it was pitch black inside the cramped room. With a small cry she struggled to her feet and fumbled for the switch. The light was momentarily blinding but relief coursed through her.

She’d always been afraid of the dark.


About Judith Barrow

Judith Barrow,originally from Saddleworth, near Oldham,has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for thirty four years.

She has BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University and a MA in Creative Writing with Trinity College, Carmarthen.

She has had short stories, plays, reviews and articles, published throughout the British Isles and has won several poetry competitions. She has completed three children’s books.
She is also a Creative Writing tutor.