Thursday, May 28, 2020

A Tale of Today


The search for wonderful books to read can be endless, but it's never been more fun or more critical than these days when so many of us are staying indoors and tired of watching television. It's a good time to pick up a new book or find a new author, and the best thing about living in this time is that our choices are endless. We can now get books right off the internet, and not only books to read to but enjoy through listening  on audio.  My guest today is bringing us a taste of the international sort. He comes from the other side of the globe. Stephen B. King is an author from Australia (not to be confused with that other guy from Maine) . His new book is a tale made for these days when we are all practically living our lives online.  

 Stephen, tell us about your newest book. 

Thanks for inviting me on the chat about my latest audio book release, Domin8, a psychological thriller/police procedural/whodunit, narrated by the incredibly gifted Geoffrey Boyes. Getting Domin8 from its first draft four years ago, to audio now has been a journey and a half and a total labor of love, in equal proportion to angst.

 I love the storyline, it is edgy, and gives the reader/listener a protagonist who while being a likable man, has a less than likeable lifestyle. He is selfish and hedonistic; not thinking beyond his own needs and wants with catastrophic consequences. Can he survive the ordeal, and find redemption? Should he even be entitled to the chance to? One by one, his lovers are murdered and he is the prime suspect. He has to face his family for his choices, and live with the guilt of the consequences of his selfishness.

I left Perth, Western Australia to go East and find fame and fortune in the music business as a long-haired rock guitarist many moons ago. I wrote poems and music, and my band used to open for some pretty big groups in my wild days. I gave it all up for love and got married (as you do when the right one comes along). Then, real life took over, children came along and I threatened to write a book for so many years my long-suffering wife eventually pushed me into it by buying me a laptop and said: "No more excuses, do it." And so began this amazing journey. 

I sometimes think she regrets that decision as I have now published ten books and am deep into writing books eleven and twelve.

What do you like about audio books? 




As a listener I am drawn to audio books primarily because of time constraints. I work long hours managing a Kia Dealership, and have a long commute. The radio stations bore me; too much bad news and repetitive songs, and the ads? Don’t get me started.

I also passionately believe authors MUST read books, not to copy ideas, but to be reminded how good writing can transport the reader to another time and place; help them forget their daily woes. That said any free time I get I want to write, not read, so audio fit’s beautifully into my lifestyle. I love a good narrator too, though I don’t think I’ve ever heard a terrible one. For sure some are better than others, they seem to care for the story, or maybe that’s just my overactive imagination.

Do you listen to them?

I get through around three a month. I sometimes listen to fellow authors in my group with The Wild Rose Press, and always review (I know how important they are) but my prime taste in in psychological thrillers. Currently Im wading through every book Michael Robotham has ever written, and I will be near suicidal when I get to the last one. In particular the Joseph O’Loughlin series, OMG I wish I could write that well. I wrote to him recently, he is a fellow Australian, through his website, and told him how much I enjoyed his work, but hated him too for leaving me dangling. I said never have I felt so in awe of an author’s ability to make me smile, fear, worry, fret and damn near cry for a fictional character. I didn’t think he would reply, or if he did it would be a form response from his assistant. But within twenty-four hours he wrote back personally. I treasure that email because it reminds me, that while I am not in the same league, if I ever get to be, to stay humble and remember a personal reply to someone who loved my work enough to write to me, is important.

What are the challenges of writing with audio in mind?

This is an interesting question due to a debate I had with my editor over thought tags. When your character has a direct thought, the author is to use italics to show the reader, it is a thought, not dialogue. Because it’s in italics, Melanie assures me there is no need to put: He/she/Dave thought because it was self evident. But, because I listen to so many audio books, it is painfully obvious to me; it isn’t always clear to the listener if it’s a thought or spoken line. She agreed, so we reached a compromise, I had to cut half of them LOL. Other than that, Im not aware of any real challenges, the story should dictate all in my opinion.

Does it change the way you write your story.

Not for me, no. My passion is to tell a story about ordinary people facing extraordinary situations – sometimes dire. I write primarily for my enjoyment, and I am a ‘panster’ which means I don’t plan anything, just let the story take me where it wants to go. I don’t plan endings, or think about what format it will be in, I just get lost in the tale. I want to draw the reader/listener in to my world, get then to care for the characters then take them on a roller-coaster ride.

Does it change how you structure your stories now that you know it's a possibility?

I am very fortunate. Not only to be with a caring publisher who has wonderful editors, marketing and cover designers, but to have forged a bond with a narrator. Geoffrey Boyes, is an Australian, who has lived in America for many years, who is a similar age to me. Six books ago, for my first audio, Thirty-Three Days he auditioned. Back then, there were quite a few narrators who were willing to do a royalty share arrangement and we had four apply. Geoff was the stand out and got the gig. I will never forget the first time I listened to him perform my book. OMG I got goosebumps, and still do. I can only imagine how good it must be to write a book and have it turned into a film, but that wouldn’t be as wonderful (I don’t think) as listening to my book in audio. The difference as I see it is that a film would have a scriptwriter and director, turning the story into their vision. A narrator is performing the words as written.

Geoff and I have become staunch friends, and he wants to do all of my books – he loves them and can’t wait for the next one. He frequently emails and asks me how far away the next one is. So, all my future books will go to audio, and I have an amazing narrator willing to preform them, like I sad I am very lucky and he does an amazing job because he loves the story.

As an aside, Geoff flew from the US a few months back to here in Perth, Western Australia for a visit. He wanted to see some of the places I wrote about, in particular the Karingily Caves in Glimpse, The Beautiful Deaths, based on the real life caves near Bussleton,,and a place where I wrote about some murders called Lake Monger. He agreed with me, if ever there was a place name that deserved some gruesome murders it was Lake Monger. A very pretty place on the outskirts of our fair capital city, Perth I featured in Glimpse, Memoir of a Serial Killer.



My editor Mel, loved this story and helped over a period of more than a year turn it from its first outing as a self published work to the story it always promised to be, and I love her for sticking with me. Here is the blurb:



After his wife loses interest in him, fifty-year-old Dave Barndon turns to the dark side of the Internet and sex chat rooms. There he finds willing partners who are happy to fulfill his needs with no strings attached. But they aren't the only ones looking to play. When a woman he had an affair with is murdered he becomes the prime suspect. He thinks his alibi is solid until a second woman is murdered, and then a third. He fights for his freedom and redemption while the body count rises. He must figure out who is framing him and why before the killer strikes again.



Here is an excerpt:



A constable opened the door and informed me my lawyer was waiting. I had pulled myself together by then, found some determination and I wanted to fight. No more tears, I determined. I had replaced grief with rage to somehow get even with the killer and protect my kids; I couldn’t do that from inside prison. I had no idea of the time as they had taken my watch from me. I was led to a room where Tom sat. He stood to his feet as I entered.


“Thanks for coming, Tom. I appreciate it very much. I didn’t know who else to turn to.”

He shook my hand shaking his head and said, “Dave, I’m so sorry to hear about your wife. This is nonsense; I’m convinced of that, but I’m not a criminal lawyer; I’m corporate, as you know. I can help today and see what they have on you and depending on how that goes, I know someone I can recommend. Now, sit down; we have about forty minutes before your interview. I’ve told them they have to wait until we have spoken. Tell me what the hell has happened.”


He placed a recorder on the desk and turned it on, to save taking notes I supposed, and I told him every sordid detail of what I had been doing.


“Dave, why didn’t you contact me after the first murder when the police spoke to you?”


“Because I was innocent, and once I told them everything, they seemed to believe me. Apparently, the timing was wrong. There was no way I could have done it, and gotten to the casino to meet my brother, without a drop of blood on me.”


“And after the second homicide, why not call me then?” He tapped the end of his biro on the table, and I sensed a touch of annoyance.


“Same story; the pen incriminated me, but it disappeared earlier in the day. A guy called in at work 
while I wasn’t there on the pretense of leaving a note on my desk, and I’m sure he stole it. Therefore, he must be the murderer. I convinced the cops it couldn’t possibly have been me. They called Dianne to confirm what time I arrived home, and again there was not enough time for me to have done it and get home without being covered in blood. I couldn’t have beaten both victims to death without being splattered with it; it was messy and gory, apparently. Yet I was home in twenty minutes or so, and clean.”


“Hmmm, you do realize the police tell lies, don’t you? They may well have evidence they have not disclosed to you leading them to think you are guilty, even though they appear to believe you.”


“Tom, there is nothing, because I didn’t do it. You’ve known me twelve years. Do you think I could have murdered three women in six days, including my wife of twenty-six years? Is it not more plausible someone has it in for me and has set me up? What I can’t understand is why? I have no idea.”


“Please understand it doesn’t matter what I think. Of course, I think you’re innocent, but that’s not the point. It only matters what they think they can prove. There are three things they look at: they are means, motive and opportunity.”


 As you can see, Dave is in a lot of trouble……



Well, thanks for having me chat about my audio book life. I would urge every author to go down this route. Trust me; you too will feel those goosebumps when you hear your work performed.

How can readers get in touch with you and get your book?

www.stephen-b-king.com
twitter: @stephenBKing1
Facebook: @stephenbkingauthor

https://www.thewildrosepress.com/books/domin8

Thank you, Stephen, for being my guest today.  Any comments or questions for Stephen?

Friday, May 22, 2020

A Friendly Escape

Are you reading more books these days? Or listening to more of them?  Yes, we're stuck inside or outside pretty much left on our own. But that doesn't mean life has to be boring. For many people (like me)it has meant the opportunity to catch up on one of my favorite things --reading. Not only can I catch up on all my favorite authors, but all that time means I can also look for new authors to enjoy.

This week my guest in My Writing Corner has a book that sounds like it's perfect for those days when
you're looking for excitement.  My guest is Cyndie Zahner and her latest book has recently been released.

Cyndie "CJ" Zahner says she is a digital-book hoarder, lover of can't-put-down books, wife, mother, grandmother, author, and Mensa wannabe. That last trait might explain the inspiration for her first novel, The Suicide Gene. Her second and third books, Dream Wide Awake and Project Dream, were inspired during long runs on Presque Isle State Park in the town she grew up in, Erie, Pennsylvania. 

For her fourth novel, Cyndie jumped genres, hopping from psychological thrillers to women’s humor.  Her new book Friends Who Move Couches has been described as  a laugh-out-loud yet insightful “Almost a Memoir” novel inspired by her life. It touches upon family struggles, friendship wars, quieting your inner critic, and surviving rejection.   

While Cyndie now lives in Wendell, North Carolina, she spends summer and fall in Erie. Before becoming a novelist, she worked as a grant and freelance writer. Her articles varied from business to women’s health to the paranormal.

In 2015, she began looking at life differently when her brother and his wife were diagnosed with dementia and early-onset Alzheimer’s. At that time, her husband pulled her aside and said, “Quit your job. You’re a writer.” After twenty years of service, Zahner picked up her purse at work one day and quietly walked away.

Now, she rises before dawn, writes, runs, and smiles much. A hard worker and story lover, she’s determined to read, write, and run happily ever after.

Let's take a look at that latest book, Friends who Move Couches:

Nikki Grey's idea of living dangerously is not wearing a seatbelt, yet calamity always seems to find her.

Married to a workaholic, mothering three rebellious kids, and feuding with neighborhood friends, Nikki forgets her problems one afternoon by smoking marijuana. That blunder ignites a lifelong yet dormant medical condition, and she loses her driver’s license. Suddenly stranded in her home, she’s forced to stare out the window at women who have ostracized her.

Her true friends encourage her to concentrate on her health, but Nikki is her own nemesis. She embarks on a scheme to win back neighborhood friends and plunges into efforts that only end in muddying her reputation. She becomes the butt of neighborhood jokes.

Foolishly, her ache to mend her broken relationships escalates.
Not until her two-timing husband asks her a question that catapults her frivolous suburban life into a tailspin is she forced to stop reaching for others and stand on her own.

        Now Nikki must decide who to keep in her life and who to kick to the curb.


 Want more?  Let's get an excerpt:


…The adorable smirk on his face widens, and I look away. I set a ball on the right tee—I’m right-handed—and stand back to take a stance, intentionally ignoring him.

My first two or three or twenty shots go nowhere. Eight times I miss the ball completely. My inability is embarrassing. The eighty-year-old lady beside me is knocking the names off the balls from her rubber square of the driving range, embarrassing me further. At least her direction faltered. She couldn’t hit a ball down the middle to save her life. She was slicing? Splicing? I’m not sure of the correct term, but she had a wonder ball. You wondered where it was going.

Once, when I am about to swing, she hollers over to me, “Honey, you’re tense. Relax a little.”

At this, the smiling pro agrees. “You are tense.”

He steps up behind me like they do in the movies. He leans close and sets his arms and hands over the top of mine. His chest rubbing against my back and shoulders is disconcerting and yet nice at the same time. While he blah blahs on, I think, gee, this is what it’s like to spend time in another man’s arms. Even if he is gay, it feels fine.

In twenty years, no one has been that close to me other than Mark and one homeless guy who roamed the streets downtown where I worked before the kids were born. Before my stretched, child-bearing hips began knocking lamps off end tables.

The homeless guy’s name was Winky. He had one eye.

I still had it going on back then.

So the smell of Blake the Pro’s cologne as he breathes down the back of my neck seems up-front and personal. A little too sexy for an old married mom. I don’t hear a word he says. At the end of his little speech, he manipulates my fingers into an extremely uncomfortable position on the grip of the club, and all I can remember of any instruction before I swing is that the little old lady told me to relax.

I relax, swing the club, and it sails through the air—the club, not the ball. That’s still perfectly perched on the tee.

Humility overpowers me, and I burst forward out of my little rubber stall and run for the club. The last thing I hear before the eighty-year-old lady’s ball makes a line drive to my temple is Blake the Pro yelling, “Don’t go after your club.”

I regain consciousness and refuse the ambulance. Blake the Pro says he’ll give me a ride home, but once we are riding in the car, he admits he lied. He’s taking me to the hospital. Anger and delirium overpower me. I try to get out of the car at every red light, but I keep rolling down the window instead of opening the door.

Once we arrive at the emergency room, he does all the talking. He strolls into the room with me as if some of this was his fault.

I don’t dare to admit I am a hopeless born loser.

We make glib chat in the sterile silver and white room while we wait for the doctor. I encourage him to go home several times, but he says he’ll wait for Mark. Finally, an hour later, the door opens and in walks—you got it—Doctor Death.

“Well, hello again, Ms. Grey.”

I look at Blake the Pro. The twinkle in his eye has re-sparked. Is he laughing inside?

“Do this often?” Blake the Pro’s teeth are so straight and white that it strikes me. I may have found the perfect match for Evy.

Mark walks in and Blake the Pro apologizes but, oddly, stays. Maybe the look on Mark’s face as he traipses through the door arouses Blake’s curiosity.

Furious, irate, and enraged with me, Mark wanders off on a teeth-gritting tirade, ranting about some lunch opportunity with a client being rushed.

Embarrassedly, I counter, “Do you think I got hit in the head just to ruin your lunch?”

“You’re always getting yourself into these fixes,” he grumbles.

My mind whirls. I can’t respond calmly. It’s hard concentrating with Blake the Pro and Doctor Death listening. I become enraged. I progress to screaming.

“I’m not doing these things on purpose!”

Then, Doctor Death enters my ring of fire.

“You passed out,” he doesn’t yell, but his tone closes in on disgust. “I’m adding the time to your license suspension.”

No, no, no. That will take me past Christmas.

“I took a blow to the head,” I yell.

“Nikki, lower your voice,” Mark chides.

“Doesn’t matter.” Doctor Death is heartless. “You lost consciousness.”

I pick up a tall metal IV holder off the floor. Mark tries to pry it from my fingers, but this time my grip is firm. I step toward Doctor Death.

“How about you run for the door, I swing this with all my might and knock you on your ass. Let’s see if you lose consciousness.”

Clearly, I have more than just friend problems.



If you would like to read on, here's where to buy your copy

Amazon:             https://bit.ly/CZFriends
FREE on Kindle Unlimited

If you would like to get in touch with Cyndie, here is her contact information:

Website:             www.cjzahner.com  www.cyndiezahner.com

Blog:                    https://cyndiezahner.com/blog/


Twitter:              https://twitter.com/TweetyZ

Facebook:          http://bit.ly/FBcjzahner

LinkedIn:            https://www.linkedin.com/in/cyndiezahner/

Goodreads:       http://bit.ly/gProjectDream

BookBub:           http://bit.ly/BBProjectDream

Book Gorilla:      http://bit.ly/CJZahnerBookGorilla

Book Circle Online interview:                    http://bit.ly/CJZinterview

Beyond Reality Radio 9/11 Interview:      http://bit.ly/BRRCJZinterview



Thank you, Cyndie, for being my guest! Any comments or questions for Cyndie?

Friday, May 15, 2020

Stirring up Trouble

Tales of mystery and intrigue have captured me for almost as long as I have been reading--starting with Nancy Drew way back in my childhood.  Even when I read romance or fantasy, I love a good mystery as well to keep the plot boiling.


 Today in My Writing Corner I'm pleased to feature a writer whose work I have been thoroughly enjoying for the past few years, Karen Whalen.  If you want a writer who's constantly cooking up trouble, Karen's mystery series fills the bill. Pull right up to the table for her dinner club stories.   

Welcome Karen! Have you always wanted to write fiction? 
Like most writers, I always wanted to write fiction. However, I started with a journalism major and wrote nonfiction for many years before starting my first novel.

What are the challenges of being a writer?
 For me, finding just the right word or phrase for conveying what I’m trying to say (see, I didn’t describe that very well). The story ideas come easy for me, but not always the execution.

Tell us about your road to publication. 

 I wrote a column for a trade magazine for many years. During this time I found myself drawn to cozy mysteries for their comforting tone and entertaining protagonists. An idea came to me for a cozy mystery revolving around a dinner club (of which I was a member), so I wrote every Saturday and early mornings before work. The result was my first in the Dinner Club Mystery series, Everything Bundt the Truth. When that was published, I quit my day job to write full time.

How do you come up with your characters?
 My characters are based loosely on people I know or have known in the past (and even people I would like to know). The characters are often composites and always fictional.

How do you come up with your plots? 
First I imagine the victim, then the killer, means, motive, and opportunity. I write from there.

You're starting a new series. Tell us about it. What made you write it? 
I’m starting a new series with a younger protagonist, an all-girl type, into shoes and clothes, who is also at a crossroads in her life, needing to move on from her job and find a new career. She inherits a tow truck from the father she never knew. She decides to take on this business, even though she’s never driven a truck before, not even a pickup. Of course, a dead body is discovered in the vehicle of her very first tow! When the news hits, her business stalls. Now, she must toughen up her image as the cute tow truck driver in high-heels and find the real murderer or she’ll end up parked in jail.

What advice do you have for beginning writers? 
Take as many writing classes as you can, join writing groups and make some writer friends, read books on the craft, and carve out time in your schedule to write. Each of those things is crucial.

Anything else you would like to add?
 Like everyone else, I’m looking forward to medical personnel catching their breath, businesses reopening, and friends getting together once again. People were made to live in community. Social distancing, while essential and necessary during COVID, will someday come to an end. We need to grieve together for those lost and show our appreciation for those who worked so hard fighting the pandemic. So this is what I’d like to add: Thank you for doing your part.

Thank you, Karen for introducing us to your Dinner Club mystery series
If you would like to reach Karen or find out more about her books, here are the links:

http://www.karencwhalen.com/
http://thewildrosepress.com

Any quetions or comments for Karen?

Friday, May 8, 2020

You're Not Alone


For a good many writers, the idea of having some “alone” time to be able to write is a luxury.  Right now, so many of us are having that opportunity as we sit at home, unable to go out, or choosing to stay inside. The thought of being free to have the time to write seems like a luxury to many. But others are finding that the thought  of those empty pages on the writing program are not exactly what we thought it was going to be. Writing is a lonely process for the most part and sooner or later we discover we actually want to either bounce our ideas off someone else, or tell someone else what we’re doing or share our work. Yes, some people want their writing private, but if you’re writing fiction for sale, you’re going to want to share it, sooner or later! 


And what about the writing process itself? Much as we value the alone hours, sometimes we get a wild new idea and just want to be able to share it or get an opinion. We want someone who might be able to stimulate our stories,  help us move our stories forward, or look at our stories in a different way. Sometimes we want to try out a passage or a conversation with another writer or , or take our work to a critique group for a variety of opinions and ideas. Another opinion can help us see our work in a new way. After all  if we’re writing for the popular market, we’re going to want to sell our work sooner or later. Writing for sale means writing for others.


Where do we find those other writers  these days when we may be stuck inside? Naturally most of the social process these days must be done online but that doesn’t have to limit your choices of working with other writers.  Writing groups have always been a source of pleasure and instruction for me. From critique groups to learning opportunities to social chats, to actually writing together in anthologies, I’ve found that working with other writers is a great way to not only improve my work but learn new ways of looking at the overall process.  How do you find these other groups, especially right now when a group gathering may not work?


 Look for groups in your area that offer an online presence as well as in-person meetings. That might be different these days, but look into what is out there for writers in your area. National and international online writing groups can also provide a good way to connect with other writers in your genre or in many different locations.  For the past few years I have worked with Savvy Authors, an online group of writers from around the world.  Groups like Savvy have authors in all genres and also teach writing classes or offer special programs.



 Take part in an anthology. Look for opportunities where you can work with a group of other authors on a anthology of either short stories or novellas.  Often the anthology will have an overriding theme or idea that you need to write to, but it can be a great opportunity to get your work published and with a group of other writers who have their own followings.  My first published work was in an anthology of older heroines finding romance. It was fun to write and we all ended up with a publishing credit.  Since then I have participated in two others – in one our unifying force was a travelling cat and in the other we all had to write a story based on a letter. 



Teach classes to writing groups if you’re published or have a background in the writing process.  Beginning writers love to learn and connect with other writers. Over the years I have managed to develop relationships with various beginning and published authors from around the US and as far away as South Africa and Japan.


Work with a co-author. Prefer a smaller presence? Try writing with a co-author or a couple of co-authors.  For the past 12 years I have worked off and on with Sue Viders.  We have published five books on writing together and are currently finishing up another that should be published within the next couple of months.  Sue and I began as critique partners and discovered we both enjoyed working with other writers and teaching classes so we’ve presented at conferences and at local writing groups as well. 


We had so much fun talking about writing and our own fiction books, we decided we were going to co-author a fiction work together and we are in the process of doing that now.  Look for our amateur sleuths solving a murder in the next few months!  I’ll also be writing a blog on the joys and troubles of writing with a  co-author in future blogs.   


Work with a critique group.  Writing with a co-author can be fun but so can working with a critique group. These days there are not only in-person meetings, but you can find critique groups online as well.  Critiquing can be valuable because you get a number of opinions on your story before you send it to readers. These  helpful writers can show you when your story is headed in the wrong direction or point out simple problem areas.


The writing  world doesn’t have to be different for you as a writer. We’re still needing to be in front of our computers or sitting down with a notebook to write. These days can be lonely and worrisome but it’s also a good time to escape to your own world and visit with your characters in different places YOU get to build and YOU get to control.  Any time that gets too confining look for these other ways to reconnect.  We are all in this together!

Friday, May 1, 2020

A Hero's Journey- A Heroine's Rescue

Audio books became my constant companion more than 20 years ago when I worked in Los Angeles and made the drive to Las Vegas nearly every weekend where I still owed a home. I loved listening to  great stories as I drove across the desert every Friday night and back on Sunday. In some ways it was like the way I also learned to love books and reading -- as I listened to an elementary teacher read us stories almost every afternoon. Ever since those long drives, I have never been without an audio book or two whenever I get into my car, even if it's only a drive to downtown Denver. I've also used them whenever I go for a walk. That's why I love to find new audio books and constantly look for them. Today's guest in My Writing Corner has a new audio book out and it's going to be next on my listening list.  My guest today is author Kathy Otten.

Kathy lives in the rolling farmland of Western New York.  Her novels and short stories are filled with wounded heroes and feisty heroines. Her Civil War novel, A Place in Your Heart was a Northwest Houston RWA Lone Star winner, and her historical western Lost Hearts, a Utah/Salt Lake RWA Hearts of the West finalist. 

Kathy teaches fiction writing at a local adult education center and presents workshops on-line as well as at conferences and author events. She is available for free-lance developmental and content editing. Her current projects include a World War I short story and a western historical romance novel. When she’s not writing, Kathy can be found walking her German Shepherd, Henry, through the woods and fields near her home.

Her newest book is out on audio-- After the Dark,  is a good story for these troubled times.



 Months in the trenches of France have left Liam Gallagher wondering why he has survived when better men did not. His guilt intensifies when he returns home only to come down with the deadly Spanish Influenza sweeping the country. Once again Liam lives when thousands do not.

Now the only bright spot in his monotonous life is the time he spends each day walking with Rosalie Moretti. Their talks give him hope for the future, a future which might include this vibrant, loving woman. Until one dark, catastrophic afternoon, when Liam realizes the reason his life was spared has come down to minutes and his ability to perform one selfless act.



Let's get an excerpt

The warmth of Rosalie’s palm pressed against his free hand. Heat rushed to his cheeks, and between their palms, his skin dampened. He laced his fingers with hers. With the pad of his thumb, he traced the top of her hand. Her skin was so smooth. Were all women this soft, or had he just never noticed?

She tugged him forward, and loath to release his hold, he followed her up the steps.

He cast one quick glance over his shoulder toward the city livery and blacksmith shop. He should return to his beat, walk around the tank, and chase away the lads and lasses who’d come with their pails to collect the constantly dripping molasses.

But when he looked back at Rosalie, a secretive smile teased the edges of her full lips, as though she were aware of her own seductive power over him. And like a green lad, fresh off the boat, he allowed her to lead him inside.

Want to read more? Here are the buy links: 


Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00WDIJ6EI
Audio:  https://www.amazon.com/After-the-Dark/dp/B07ZHSQP15
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/after-the-dark-kathy-otten/1121906881?ean=2940151531078&cm_mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-Vj3kxGRfbmI-_-10:1&r=1

If you would like to get in touch with Kathy or learn more about her books,  here are the contact links:

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/kathyotten
FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/kathyottenauthor
Website: www.kathyotten.com

Contact: kathy@kathyotten.com

Thank you, Kathy, for being my guest today. Any questions or comments for Kathy?

Friday, April 24, 2020

Escape to the Wild West

With Spring in the air, we're looking for new books to read that take us outside to visit different new worlds and get away into great stories.  My guest today in My Writing Corner, Karen Hulene Bartell,  has just such a tale to do that. 



Author of the Trans-Pecos, Sacred Emblem, Sacred Journey, and Sacred Messenger series, Karen is a best-selling author, motivational keynote speaker, wife, and all-around pilgrim of life.

She writes multicultural, offbeat love stories that lift the spirit. Born to rolling-stone parents who moved annually, Bartell found her earliest playmates as fictional friends in books. Paperbacks became her portable pals. Ghost stories kept her up at night—reading feverishly. The paranormal was her passion. Westerns spurred her to write (pun intended). Wanderlust inherent, Karen enjoyed traveling, although loathed changing schools. Novels offered an imaginative escape. An only child, she began writing her first novel at the age of nine, learning the joy of creating her own happy endings. Professor emeritus of the University of Texas at Austin, Karen resides in the Hill Country with her husband Peter and her “mews”—three rescued cats and a rescued *Cat*ahoula Leopard dog.




Have you always wanted to write fiction? 
I think I have always wanted to write fiction. My escape, as a child, was into books. My parents moved quite often – eight times when I was eight years old. Depending on where we moved, I was either a city-slicker or a country-bumpkin. Reading was my only getaway, and writing became a an even better flight of fantasy.

What are the challenges of being a writer? Marketing and money are my two bugaboos. I love writing – losing myself in writing – but I’m not fond of the necessary marketing or the small rewards for the hours I invest.


Tell us about your road to publication.
I broke into publication through cookbooks. Before the age of computers and Internets, people relied on cookbooks, and I found them a lucrative start to a career in fiction writing.
 

How do you come up with your characters?
Mostly, they evolve. First, I think of the action. Then a character comes to mind. Sometimes, I search photos online, looking for the characters I picture in my mind. Then I refer to those photos to remind me of the color of their eyes or some other physical traits.


How do you come up with your plots?
I like to brainstorm with friends. I call it “Playing Dolls,” where we imagine where the characters go and what they do next.


Tell us about your latest book, The Wild Rose Pass.  What made you write it?
The idea for Wild Rose Pass started with West Texas’ amazing geography. Sixteen years
ago, my husband and I spent Christmas week hiking in Big Bend National Park. You’ve seen the area on maps—the southernmost tip of Texas that borders the Rio Grande and dips into Mexico.


Driving home, we missed the turnoff and followed TX-118 north. Snow-covered and glinting against the frosty blue January sky, a remote jumble of mountain peaks and ranges beckoned as they rose above the desert floor. I was enchanted.


A hasty glance at the map told us these were the Davis Mountains. As we approached, vertical basalt columns rose like thousands of giant fingers reaching for the sky. The palisades, buttes, and bluffs towered above both sides of Wild Rose Pass with a raw, majestic beauty, and I breathed a contented sigh, sensing a homecoming.


Then, when I learned a friend’s great-great-grandfather had not only worked for Fort Davis’ cavalry as an Indian scout in the 1870s and 1880s but had been captured as a child and raised by Comanches, an idea took root. The outcome of that budding thought bloomed into my latest historical novel: Wild Rose Pass, Book I of the Trans-Pecos Series.

What advice do you have for beginning writers?
 Write every day. Keep the storyline fresh. Then, even while you sleep, your mind will work out the plot and characterizations.


How about  a blurb:
Cadence McShane, free-spirited nonconformist, yearns to escape the rigid code, clothes, and sidesaddles of 1880s military society in Fort Davis, Texas. She finds the daring new lieutenant exhilarating, but as the daughter of the commanding officer, she is expected to keep with family tradition and marry West Point graduate James West.

Orphaned, Comanche-raised, and always the outsider looking in, Ben Williams yearns to belong. Cadence embodies everything he craves, but as a battlefield-commissioned officer with the Buffalo Soldiers instead of a West Point graduate, he is neither accepted into military society nor considered marriageable.

Can two people of different worlds, drawn together by conflicting needs, flout society and forge a life together on the frontier?

Want more?  Let's get an excerpt:

     Reining his horse between catclaw and prickly-pear cactus, Ben Williams squinted at the late summer sun’s low angle. Though still midafternoon, shadows lengthened in the mountains. He clicked his tongue, urging his mare up the incline. “Show a little enthusiasm, Althea. If we’re not in Fort Davis by sunset, we’ll be bedding down with scorpions and rattlesnakes.”
     As his detachment’s horses clambered up Wild Rose Pass, the only gap through west Texas’ rugged Davis Mountains, Ben kept alert for loose rocks or hidden roots, anything that might trip his mount. A thick layer of fallen leaves created a pastiche of color shrouding the trail from view. He glanced up at the lithe cottonwood trees lining the route, their limbs dancing in the breeze. More amber and persimmon leaves loosened, fell, and settled near the Indian pictographs on their tree trunks. When he saw the red- and yellow-ochre drawings, he smiled, recalling the canyon’s name—Painted Comanche Camp.
     “How far to Fort Davis, lieutenant?” called McCurry, one of his recruits.
      “Three hours.” If we keep a steady pace.
      Without warning, the soldier’s horse whinnied. Spooking, it reared on its hind legs, threw its rider, and galloped off.  

      As he sat up, the man groaned, caught his breath, and stared into the eyes of a coiled rattler, poised to strike. “What the…?”
     Flicking its tongue, hissing, tail rattling, the pit viper was inches from the man’s face.
     A sheen of sweat appeared above the man’s lip. “Lieutenant—”

If you want more and would like to read on, here are the buy links:

Amazon Paperback
Barnes & Noble NOOK Book
Barnes & Noble Paperback

If you would like to connect with Karen:
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Thank you, Karen,  for being my guest! Any comments or questions for Karen?