UPDATE: Still Here, and Still Crazy After All These Years!

Yep, in spite of the fact that I’ve not left my house in over 8 weeks, nor seen the face of a single friend, nor been able to do much writing thanks to COVID-Brain, I am definitely feeling lucky. I’m still HERE! As of today, at least, I still get another chance to do it all better! And that, my friends, is a daily miracle we often forget, and honestly, one I’m surprised to find myself enjoying: the miracle of life in all its guises. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. WOOOO and also HOOOO!! 

To bring you up to date, I am no longer having any symptoms of this dreaded, miserably wretched, murderous virus we’re all sick of hearing about. I do have a greatly reduced energy level, but I’ve even seen some improvement in that area, too. I know the fatigue-related stuff can go on for an extended period, but I’ve learned how to go on, myself, right alongside it. In other words, it might slow me down, but it’s not going to stop me. 

I do plan to return to blogging (and visiting the blogs of my friends) by October 1. I’m giving myself the rest of this month without any firm commitments as to the blog or my current WIP, just keeping the posting and writing flexible and simple for now. But come October 1, I want to get back to my regularly scheduled programming, as they say.

I will be putting out a call for those who’d like to take part in #GuestDayTuesdays to share promotions, new releases, and various other topics. I’ll be continuing with my new #GrannySays series, and will start back sharing weekly roundup posts from Story Empire and Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord. I’m not going to continue with #FirstLineFriday for now, though that might return in the future. But I do want to run some special “events” now and then, such as #ExcerptWeek, and a few new things I’m going to fit in here and there.

I’m very much looking forward to resuming these features and adding some new ones, and to finishing my current WIP, Riverbend #4, Working title A Need to Burn, and just may share some excerpts from that, along the way.

And finally, I’d like to thank all of you for your support and encouragement over the last weeks. Our blogging and writing community is the absolute BEST, and I appreciate each and every one of you! 

Stay tuned, my friends, and remember, “Life Finds a Way.” (Recognize that? Hmmm. Maybe a new series for this blog: “Who Said It?” That could be fun!)

Now go forth and live YOUR life! And be sure to stay Safe and Well! (It’s much more enjoyable that way.)

#GuestDayTuesday – Blood & Silver by Vali Benson

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Today, please help me welcome debut author Vali Benson to The Write Stuff. Vali is going to talk a bit about Research and Inspiration, so grab your favorite cuppa and settle down. I think you’ll find this as interesting as I did. 

*****

Research and Inspiration:
Insights from a Debut Novelist

Hello,

My name is Vali Benson and I have been a writer all my life. I can also now call myself a published author. It was always a dream to publish my own work. I still can’t believe it, but it’s now a dream come true. Ever since I can remember, I have had a book in my hand. As a lifelong reader, I often thought, “I could do better than that”. So, I decided to finally do something about it. People have asked me to explain the writing process, but I can’t. I don’t think there is a right way or wrong way to write a book. But I do know what works for me.

The first step is to come up with an idea. It must be something that interests you, or that you feel strongly about. If you don’t care what you are writing about, nobody else will either. Once when I had severe writers block, a great teacher told me, “Write about what’s in your own backyard”. I took my teacher’s advice and turned in an award-winning essay. That was the inspiration in writing my book; a young adult historical fiction novel called Blood and Silver. The story takes place in Tombstone, Arizona. For thirty years, I have lived in Tucson, Arizona. Tombstone is only forty-five minutes down the road, practically backyard distance.          

 Tombstone is one of the most revered towns of the old west. It is the site of the notorious “gun fight at the O.K. Corral” but for residents of Southern Arizona, it is just another local landmark. However, people come from all over the world to see it, so I became increasingly curious about the tiny, dusty tourist spot. Today it is a town of thirteen-hundred people but in 1884, Tombstone was a roaring metropolis and was the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco.  I’m sure it was a spectacular scene and grand time. The activity and splendor must have been all encompassing and I could not get it out of my head. I knew I wanted to make this infamous place the subject of my novel but first I had to learn my subject.   

                History is the world’s greatest teacher. It also creates a perfect launch point for a writer’s imagination.  Historical fiction is my genre of choice because it combines the majesty of an author’s imagination with the beauty of the past. Any writer of historical fiction is obligated to do copious amounts of research. They should feel obligated anyway. Research will be the heart of your story, the building blocks of your narrative. It is also essential to any quality piece of historical fiction. If research is done correctly, it should be a rewarding but grueling process.

        One needs to scavenge unusual places, not just the top three Google hits. Try not to settle for strictly names and dates. If you invest in the research phase, it will pay off significantly down the road. Dig beyond the numbers and you just might uncover something someone had overlooked or never found before. I love sourcing museums, libraries, newspaper archives, and even historical homes. Don’t rely on your computer only. Everyone can get that information. Not only is it not original, but it is also not interesting. One tip that I would like to emphasize to a burgeoning writer of historical fiction is to seek out the primary sources whenever possible. If you can work from the original source, it falls on you to interpret the story. This allows you to not have to depend on someone else’s version of the truth.

Blood and Silver tells the tale of a young girl who finds herself in trouble and alone in 1880 in Tombstone. My heroine uses her wits and charm to carve out a new life for herself and her sick mother. I had a premise but was immediately confronted with a classic problem of the historical fiction author; my inspiration had little to do with my subject. The little town that I was familiar with had about 1,300 residents. The town that I was writing about, Tombstone, AZ in 1880, had a bustling population of 15,000 with over 100 saloons and every sort of vice imaginable. The locations were the same, but the places were very different. In the course of my research, my story emerged.

As I began to delve deeper into the true story of Tombstone, I uncovered unexpected angles. The most prominent of which was the effect of the Chinese population. The result of this research led me to a real person whom I could never had made up, a woman named “China Mary”. This woman lived in Tombstone from 1879 – 1906 and essentially ran the town. In addition to operating a gambling hall behind her general store, she was also the only source for opium, laudanum, and Chinese prostitutes, all of which were in high demand. After I discovered the real-life splendor of China Mary, I made her one of my central characters and twisted my fictional story around her actual exploits. None of that could have been possible without an extensive research period.

The actual “writing” was the easy part. Putting compelling sentences together was not my problem. The difficulty arose when I needed to create a vibrant world for my characters that was not only captivating but also historically precise. Researching my topic well enough so that I could accurately write about it was my biggest challenge. I drowned myself in the era and when I felt I had enough of a foundation to build my historical setting, I applied my plot and inserted my characters.

When is your story finished? It is finished when you think it is. Before you begin, you will know where you will end up. If you don’t, don’t start. This is why research is so important; because if I can understand the period in which my characters live, I will shape their circumstances and attitudes into the narrative.  With Blood and Silver, because I had taken the time to ensure that every aspect of my world would be historically accurate, the attitudes and tones of my characters occurred organically. I simply placed my fictional characters into actual settings and let them take me where they wanted to go.   

Blood and Silver is my debut novel. It was released in April of 2020. I was inspired by an award-winning essay I wrote in grade school. Last month, Blood and Silver won First Place the 2021 San Francisco Book Festival, in two separate categories. Last week, the book won First Place at the New York Festival of Books.  Both are a true honor, and proof that it is never too late. I may have waited awhile to pursue my dreams, but now they are coming true. If you want to be a writer, then BE a writer!

Thanks for reading and happy writing!

Buy Blood & Silver HERE

BLURB:
Category: YA Historical Fiction

What is a twelve year old girl to do when she finds herself in the silver boom town of Tombstone, Arizona, in 1880, and her only home is a brothel and her only parent is a drug-addicted mother? If she is Carissa Beaumont, she outsmarts the evil madam and figures a way out.

After tricking the madam, Miss Lucille, into summoning a doctor for her mother, Lisette, she discovers that Miss Lucille has been drugging her. She and the kind doctor make a plan to try to save Lisette by dosing her down on the drug.

Doctor Henderson tells Carissa that the only source for the drug is a Chinese immigrant named China Mary, who lives in Hoptown, at the other end of Tombstone. Carissa has no choice but to go to the powerful woman for help. Many say that China Mary is the one who really controls Tombstone.

China Mary admires Carissa’s brave spirit, and uses her influence to get her a job at the new Grand Hotel, which will free Carissa from her many duties at Miss Lucille’s. She will work along with Mary’s twelve year old niece, Mai-Lin. The two girls become fast friends.

Then, disaster strikes, and the two girls must work together to stay alive.

With a host of colorful characters and meticulous attention to period detail, Blood and Silver is a story of the best and worst of human nature, the passion for survival and the beauty of true friendship.

Author Vali Benson

Vali grew up in the Midwest. She now lives in Tucson with her husband, two sons and grandchildren.

After graduating from the University of Illinois, Vali started and sold two successful businesses before she decided to pursue her real passion of writing. She published several articles in a variety of periodicals, including History Magazine before she decided to try her hand at fiction.

In April of 2020, Vali published her first novel, Blood and Silver. That same month, she was also made a member of the Western Writers of America.

*****

Buy Blood and Silver Here:
Amazon
Goodreads
Barnes & Noble
BookBub

Find Vali on Social Media Here:
Website
Twitter  @BensonVali
Facebook

#GuestDayTuesday – The Shadows We Breathe #Anthology – #SarahBrentyn

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NOTE: This post was actually supposed to run NEXT Tuesday, and somehow, I messed up the date, hence the missing link some of you will have noticed. I apologize to Sarah (who may or may not be around to visit today) and to you guys, too. This is the first time in all my blogging years I’ve done this, I think, and I do hope it will be the last! Blame it on COVID madness here at our house. Please enjoy the post, anyway, and I promise to share the link when Sarah has it, in another post!! *slinking away in embarrassment now*
****

Today, I’m very happy to welcome author and friend Sarah Brentyn back to share her latest project/release. The Shadows We Breathe is an anthology Sarah compiled and edited, featuring her own work along with that of several other terrific writers. I know you’ll love learning more about this collection, so without further ado, take it away, Sarah!

~~~

Kiwi, Junior Mint, Raisin?

Anthologies are a delightful mix of chocolates. You’ve got caramel, crisped rice crunch, fruit-filled, nougat, and nuts. But they’re all still chocolate. An assortment is great but you wouldn’t want to open your box of Cadbury and find a sea salt caramel, a chunk of pizza, a piece of sushi, and a bit of broccoli. Or maybe you would. I don’t know. But most people probably would not.

So, in this way, you want variety but, also, consistency to make sure your box of treats doesn’t surprise you in a bad way. You’ve got to choose a palate.

I’m a huge fan of obsessed with The Good Place. (If you haven’t seen this yet, go watch it. You’re welcome.) Anyway, one of the characters, Chidi, had a panic attack at a make-your-own-sundae bar. His whole thing is that he’s indecisive but, in fairness to him…well, I’ll let the quote speak for itself:

“There were too many toppings. And very early in the process you had to commit to a chocolate palate or a fruit palate and if you couldn’t decide, you wound up with kiwi, junior mint, raisin, and it just ruins everyone’s night.”

Right on, Chidi. Right on.

While I wanted this anthology to have a mixture of stories, I also wanted it to have a uniform feel, with all the pieces working together to provide a smooth experience for readers.

I told my friend, when I first began, creating an anthology was much like choosing a color scheme. When redecorating your kitchen or bedroom, you might want lots of colors. That’s great. Go for it. Paint a rainbow, my friend. Get that red, purple, and blue in there. But make sure they’re all similar in tone and finish. You don’t want pastel pink in matte, neon green in gloss, and muted yellow in eggshell. Honestly, and this is just my opinion, that would be hideous. I don’t think I could sleep or eat surrounded by that colorful mish-mash of clown puke. Keep it all neon, if that’s your jam, or pastels or whatever.

So that’s what I did. Or tried to do. The theme is relationships, the tone is dark, emotional, poignant. I compiled the stories and worked with contributors to make sure they loved their work and that it fit well with the other pieces. I am genuinely grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such wonderful, talented authors. 

Each one of these authors brings her own style and voice to the anthology, which is lovely (and kind of the whole point), but there is (hopefully) a uniformity that keeps the flow of reading pleasant. Like cruising in a sailboat on a sunny day instead of paddling in a dinghy during a hurricane. I am so proud of this collection. I adore everything about it. The title, the cover, and, of course, the writing. I hope you love it as much as I do.

The Shadows We Breathe

BLURB:

WE ARE ALL PART SHADOW

Life promises joy and sorrow. Alongside the light, there will always be traces of darkness. It is the nature of being human.

In this anthology of short fiction, we explore relationships—how they sculpt us, hurt us, help us, and reveal our deepest desires.

Eight artists, whose words paint worlds, bring you stories of heartache, loss, hope, and forgiveness. They unveil the intimacy and complexity of relationships.

Whether family, friend, or lover, connections to others can hold us up or break us down.

Within these pages, beautiful words are spun into tales threaded with darkness.

Explore the shadows we breathe. 

THE SHADOWS WE BREATHE COMING SOON!

CONTRIBUTORS:

Georgia Bell is the author of Unbound, a young adult paranormal romance about love, fear, and immortality. She was raised on a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy and began writing the stories she wanted to read over a decade ago.

Author Page | Twitter

Maria Carvalho is a multi-genre writer whose short stories have appeared in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies, including Under the Full Moon’s Light and Cabinet of Curiosities (both by Owl Hollow Press).

Author Page | Twitter

Reena Dobson began pursuing her creative writing with a vengeance when she realised the world was never going to stop and give her time to write. She now writes at the edges, in sunshine and under cover of darkness.

Author Page | Twitter

Ali Isaac is a writer and blogger living in Co. Cavan, Ireland.

In 2020, she was awarded a writing mentorship by Words Ireland and the Arts Council of Ireland, working under the guidance of author, Sara Baume. Her writing has been published in The Stinging Fly, Sonder, and Paper Lanterns.

Author Page | Twitter

D. Wallace Peach, best-selling fantasy author, started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked.

Author Page | Twitter

Allie Potts lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband, two children, and spoiled dog.

When not finding ways to squeeze in 72 hours into a 24 day, Allie consumes and creates science fiction, fantasy, post-apocalyptic quests, cozy mysteries, and contemporary fiction.

Author Page | Twitter

Mary Smith, author and poet, is based in Scotland. Her memoir Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women focusses on her work in Afghanistan, which also provides the setting for her novel No More Mulberries.

Author Page | Twitter

Author Sarah Brentyn

Sarah Brentyn is an introvert who believes anything can be made better with soy sauce and wasabi.

She loves words and has been writing stories since she was nine years old. She talks to trees and apologizes to inanimate objects when she bumps into them.

When she’s not writing, you can find her strolling through cemeteries or searching for fairies.

She hopes to build a vacation home in Narnia someday. In the meantime, she lives with her family and a rainbow-colored, wooden cat who is secretly a Guardian.

Books: Hinting at Shadows | On the Edge of a Raindrop

Website: Sarah Brentyn

Blog: Lemon Shark | Lemon Shark Reef

Twitter

Instagram

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#GuestDayTuesday – Summer Magic by … ME!

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This could be considered cheating, I suppose, but since I had no one scheduled as a guest today, I decided to feature myself. I started writing poetry as a child of five, believe it or not, and I’ve never lost my love for it. The second book I published, right after Wake-Robin Ridge, was Summer Magic, my little “chapbook” of poetry, and I’d like to tell you a bit about it, if you’ll indulge me.

BLURB:

Summer Magic: Poems of Life & Love is a collection of contemporary poetry about exactly that–life and love. The first part of the book features poems about the magic a young boy discovers while camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The second part of the book has a sampling of poetry about love, life and death, autumn, and dreams coming true.

~~~

While I truly loved writing the poems featuring my WRR hero, Mac, as a young boy enjoying his summers in my favorite place in the world–the North Carolina mountains–there are several poems in the second part of the book that really came from my heart, too. Today,  I’m going to share the longest of those, a poem that has a bit of an autobiographical nature to it. Hope you enjoy it!

ON THE RIVER

Crystal green flows beneath me,
Leafy arches rise above,
Dip, glide.
Dip, glide.
Slide.

Duckweed parts as I float by.
I wonder where they went,
Those ducks?
Gone overnight, it seems.
Another parting, another loss,
And I slide by,
Under all that green.
Dip, glide.
Dip, glide.

Just there, in deepest shade,
Sleeping emeralds cling.
Tree frogs rest in their
Smooth, damp skins
Waiting for the silver moon.
They’ll open their eyes for the silver moon.
Sleeping now,
As I pass by.
Dip, glide.
Dip, glide.

With arms raised to that same moon,
I once danced along the shore,
Young and wild and full of joy.
Moving to music
That stirred my soul,
And washed in that pale light,
I danced.
Years ago, in that pale, pale light.
I remember it all,
And so much more,
As I slide by.
Dip, glide.
Dip, glide.

A scaled ribbon of vivid lime
Scribbles across my bow,
Curving by in his own silent slide.
I smile at Dickinson’s “narrow fellow”
Tasting the air with his tongue of flame.
I feel no “zero at the bone” for him,
For I have known far worse than he,
And survived.
With a nod of my head,
I pass him, too.
And on I go.
Dip, glide.
Dip, glide.

Time and time and time goes by,
And still, green fronds protect me from above,
Green water lifts me from below,
Carrying me ceaselessly on my way.
Slower, now that Youth is gone,
Yet, sometimes a froth of foam and spray
Reminds me of those early days,
When all the water rushed clear and cold,
And teemed with Promise so bright
You could almost catch it in your hands.
That bubbling spring where it all began,
Now lies so far behind.
Far behind, and long ago,
While I move on.
Dip, glide.
Dip, glide.

Always forward,
One stroke at a time,
The only path from Here to There.
One stroke following another,
And I, all the while,
Still cherish the trees above,
The water below.
I wonder as a turn grows near,
What adventures wait beyond the bend?
Will they make my heart beat fast again?
How many shimmering curves lie before me yet?
How long does my river flow?
Dip, glide.
Dip, glide.
Dip, glide.
Slide.

~~~

Buy Summer Magic HERE

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MYSTERY, SUSPENSE,
AND THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT

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Marcia Meara lives in central Florida, just north of Orlando, with her husband of over thirty years and four big cats.

When not writing or blogging, she spends her time gardening, and enjoying the surprising amount of wildlife that manages to make a home in her suburban yard. She enjoys nature. Really, really enjoys it. All of it! Well, almost all of it, anyway. From birds, to furry critters, to her very favorites, snakes. The exception would be spiders, which she truly loathes, convinced that anything with eight hairy legs is surely up to no good. She does not, however, kill spiders anymore, since she knows they have their place in the world. Besides, her husband now handles her Arachnid Catch and Release Program, and she’s good with that.

Spiders aside, the one thing Marcia would like to tell each of her readers is that it’s never too late to make your dreams come true. If, at the age of 69, she could write and publish a book (and thus fulfill 64 years of longing to do that very thing), you can make your own dreams a reality, too. Go for it! What have you got to lose?

marciameara16@gmail.com
Twitter: @marciameara

BIBLIOGRAPHY OF MARCIA’S BOOKS

Marcia’s Amazon Author Page

Wake-Robin Ridge Book 1
A Boy Named Rabbit: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 2
Harbinger: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 3
The Light: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 4

Swamp Ghosts: A Riverbend Novel
Finding Hunter: Riverbend Book 2
That Darkest Place: Riverbend Book 3

The Emissary: A Riverbend Spinoff Novella
The Emissary 2: To Love Somebody 
The Emissary 3: Love Hurts

Summer Magic: Poems of Life & Love

#GuestDayTuesday – #CoverReveal – #SarahBrentyn

I have a special surprise for you folks today! My friend, Sarah Brentyn, has not one but two beautifully redesigned  and elegant covers to share with you! But I’ll let her tell you the full story of how they came to be. And here she is:

~~~

I Don’t Know How Art Works

To me, art is magic. And I mean that literally. Obviously, figuratively, too, since all creative endeavors are magical. But it’s…I don’t know…weird. I just don’t get it.

Having these covers made was a long process. I asked many, numerous, countless, repetitive, stupid questions along the way. It wasn’t pretty. Like “How do you get the picture from your notebook to the computer screen?” And “What do you mean?” And, “How is that going to turn from a…line thingy…into a shaded flower?” And “What do you mean?” And “How are you going to make that lighter without making the other part darker?” And “What do you mean?” Fortunately, the artist I worked with is a saint with a great deal of patience. (Or, just as likely, sent kind inquiries and tolerant responses while screaming obscenities I couldn’t hear. Yeah. That’s super possible.)

I’m going to give you the sanitized version of how this all went down. (Believe me, this is for your own good.)

I didn’t know what I wanted.

Or, rather, I knew exactly what I wanted but had no idea how to express it. I don’t speak art.

So, when I tried to explain the idea, it sounded like Dr. Seuss on a bad day:

“I’d love to have a fringlehop around the juglifine. A circle ‘round the difentoot with wiscott and some bine.”

She asked if I could show her what I meant. That went well. It was like a two-year-old shoving a crayon scribble at you and expectantly waiting for applause for the amoeba-shaped blob that is obviously a cat.

After that, came more, ridiculous, relentless questions. Like “Can you move the thing over to where the other thing is?” And “What do you mean?” And “How about if that thing is closer to the other thing?” And “What do you mean?”

There was also a great deal of, “I don’t know how art works.” It became my mantra.

When the artwork was done, we needed to distress it. The images were too clean and pretty for my dark writing. Did I want the background distressed or the image itself? And what type of distressing? That, my friends, is another story.

For now, enjoy the beautiful artwork by the talented (and ever-patient) Loni Townsend. I hope you like the fresh, new look for my books!

~~~

Artist Loni Townsend: Wife. Mother. Ninja. Squirrel.

Website | Instagram

Shoutout to the lovely Allie Potts for getting these covers into print-ready form so I could have my precious paperbacks (and for creating beautiful 3D images). 

~~~

And … tada! Here are Sarah’s freshly redesigned covers for your viewing pleasure. Personally, I think they are gorgeous! Elegant and refined, and positively stunning. I suspect most of you will agree.

Now I ask you, was I right? I love both of these covers so much, I’d buy them just to put on easels on my bookshelves. But an even better reason would be because the writing is so very good. It’s a Win-Win! Check out these Blurbs!

Hinting At Shadows BLURB:

No One Escapes Life Unscathed

Delve into the deeper reaches of the human condition and the darkness that lives there.
A girl haunted by her sister’s drowning.
A boy desperate for his father’s affection.
A woman forced to make a devastating decision.
A man trapped by his obsessions.

Experience tales of love, loss, murder, and madness through this collection of flash and micro fiction. Take a peek behind the smile of a stranger. Get a glimpse inside the heart of a friend. Scratch the surface and discover what is hidden beneath.

These stories will open your mind, tug at your thoughts, and allow you to explore the possibility that, even in the brightest moments, something is Hinting at Shadows.

Buy Hinting at Shadows HERE
(It’s now on SALE for just $.99!)

On the Edge of a Raindrop BLURB:

When You’re on the Edge, It’s Easy to Fall

These are stories of lives on the edge.
A girl tortured by the world within her.
A boy powerless to escape his home.
A mother doomed to live with her greatest mistake.
A man lost in a maze of grief.

Each raindrop provides a microscopic mirror of ourselves and those around us. But we can’t always trust what we see. The distorted images disorient the mind, altering our view of reality.

This second collection of flash and micro fiction explores the depths of the human condition and the fragile surface of our perceptions. Dive into these tales of darkness and discover what life is like On the Edge of a Raindrop.


Buy On the Edge of a Raindrop HERE

~~~

Author Sarah Brentyn

I wrote my first story when I was nine years old and never looked back. My work has appeared both in print and online in lit mags, newsletters, websites, newspapers, and anthologies. I have a master’s degree in writing and have taught all ages, from Kindergarteners to adults. When other girls dreamt of being a ballerina, I dreamt of scribbling my thoughts in a notebook and turning them into a book. I bleed ink.

You can Reach Sarah on Social Media here:

Website: Sarah Brentyn

Blog: Lemon Shark | Lemon Shark Reef

Twitter

Instagram

Pinterest

#GuestDayTuesday – I Am Mayhem by Sue Coletta

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Today, please give a warm welcome to author Sue Coletta who is here to talk about her latest release, I Am Mayhem. Sue is even going to share an excerpt with us, which I know you’ll find as exciting as I did. So, without further ado, I’m turning the floor over to her. Take it away, Sue!

***

Thanks for having me back on The Write Stuff, Marcia!

I haven’t been sharing excerpts of I AM MAYHEM during my blog tour because the story twists and turns so much it’s tough not to give away spoilers. On my site I created a video reading of a fun scene (dark humor). This time, I’ll share a sneak peek of one of the many nemeses Shawnee Daniels must battle in this story. Enjoy!

Rather than enter through the front door, I clicked my flashlight app and hustled around the side of the house, into the backyard. Halfway to the deck, a twig snapped to my left, and I whirled toward the tree line.

Icy tingles shimmied down my spine. “Mister Mayhem?” Though I couldn’t find him in the pre-dawn darkness, my voice still cracked, pitched. “Please let me explain before you—” Mid-sentence, my mouth gaped open.

Into my light beam stepped the same enormous dog I’d encountered weeks ago. On hind legs, he towered over me. Piercing yellow eyes narrowed to thin slits as it cocked its head, spit dripping off razor-sharp canines, a low rumble growling in its throat. Frozen in place, our gazes locked. His wolf-like stare held me hostage, his overpowering presence weakening my resolve.

A yenaldlooshi—better known to the world as a skinwalker—stood within striking distance. Gigantic, distorted, uncharacteristically canine, its ear-splitting screech fissured cracks across my skull. I couldn’t move. As much as I longed to resist, its spell rooted my boots to the grass, my muscles limp, my mind fuzzy.

Without provocation, the beast lunged toward me, its fangs on full display. Hot breath blew back my bangs, poison huffed in my face. Blinded, my fingers clawed at my eyes, and I folded in half, bent at the waist, choking, coughing, spitting, trying everything to clear the powdery grit off my tongue.

Nadine’s high-pitched shrill shattered the silence.

In a flash, I straightened. Through the haze I could barely make out her silhouette in the porch light’s glow. I choked out, “Help,” and staggered toward the deck stairs. The backyard whirled faster than a carnival ride, and I fell face-first on the grass.

“Shawnee!” Nadine’s footsteps pounded down the stairs. She reached for me, but I flashed a flat palm.

“Don’t touch me. I’m covered in poison.”

“Oh-my-God, you must’ve hit your head. Okay.” Her frantic tone eased. “Time for a quick trip to the emergency room.” She squatted, ready to sling my arm over her shoulder to help me up.

“No, Nay.” I rolled on to my back and angled the cell phone toward my face. “Look.”

“Whoa.” Her finely waxed eyebrows V’d, an intense stare as though I’d sprouted a unicorn horn. “What is that stuff?” She leaned closer. “Looks like some sorta gray powder. It’s all over your face, neck, and chest y’know.”

“Thank you, Nancy Drew. I’m aware.” I shooed her away, not unlike the way one might stave off a hungry mosquito. “Stand back. This shit’s lethal.”

“Alrighty then.” As I crawled to my feet, Nadine took a half-step backward. “How pray tell, did you get covered in poison?”

“Why? You never believe a word I say anyway.”

“Try me.”

Hands stuffed in my front pockets, I sloughed off a half-shrug. “What the hell? Got nothin’ to lose at this point. You want the truth? Fine. An evil dog—wolf?—whatever the hell it is, just huffed the shit in my face.”

“A what?”

“See? Told ya, you wouldn’t believe me.”

She quailed back, full lashes fluttering like butterfly wings. But not without reason. Even I could barely grasp the words rolling off my tongue.

“Lemme see if I’ve got this straight.” Her lips smoothed, almost as rigid as her spine. “Crows deliver body parts, and dogs—or wolves—carry around vials of poison. And to top it off, both species are out to get you. Nobody else. Just you.”

“Why do I even waste my breath? You only see what you wanna see.” I slogged toward the stairs, muttering, “And she wonders why I don’t tell her squat.” With one hand on the railing, I turned back. “There are things in this world that defy reason, defy comprehension, but that doesn’t make them any less real.” Oy. Now I’m quoting Mr. Mayhem. “For someone who devours multiple books per week, one might think you’d have an open mind.”

“Y’know what?” She pushed past me, her slippers pounding each tread of the stairs, and tossed “I’m done listening to your lies” over her shoulder.

The moment Nadine slipped through the sliders, two crows rocketed toward me from a nearby tree, screeching at decibels unfit for human ears. Their talons each held the end of a rope, an identifiable object dangling between them. As I raised my cell phone’s flashlight, my eyes widened in disbelief. Are those—?

***

And…you’ll have to read the book to find out what Poe and Edgar delivered. LOL Sorry! #notsorry 😉

As bloody, severed body parts show up on her doorstep, Shawnee Daniels must stop the serial killer who wants her dead before she becomes the next victim.

But can she solve his cryptic clues before it’s too late? Or will she be the next to die a slow, agonizing death?

With crows stalking her every move, Shawnee can barely function. Things worsen when body parts show up on her doorstep. An unstoppable serial killer wants her dead. Mr. Mayhem threatens to murder everyone she loves, sending Shawnee a piece at a time.

As Mr. Mayhem sits in judgement, his cryptic clues must be solved before the final gavel drops. The game rules are simple—win the unwinnable or submit to a slow, agonizing death.

When Shawnee tries to fight back, she discovers her very existence is based on lies. But the full impact of the truth might become the headstone on Shawnee’s grave.

Released today! Since I AM MAYHEM starts where SILENT MAYHEM leaves off, my publisher put both books on sale for 99c. Ends soon.

Author Sue Coletta Photo
Author Sue Coletta

Sue Coletta is an award-winning crime writer and an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. Feedspot and Expertido.org named her Murder Blog as one of the “Best 100 Crime Blogs on the Net” (Murder Blog sits at #5). Sue also blogs at the Kill Zone, a multi-award-winning writing blog. 

Sue lives in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and writers two psychological thriller series (Tirgearr Publishing) and true crime (Rowman & Littlefield Group). And recently, she appeared on an Emmy award-winning true crime show. Learn more about Sue and her books at: https://suecoletta.com 

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Amazon
Goodreads
Tirgearr Publishing
Globe Pequot(Rowman & Littlefield)

~~~~~

Thanks again for being here with us today, Sue, and best of luck with I Am Mayhem! Hope it sells millions for ya! 🙂

~~~~~

(All images above were either created by me, used with permission,
or obtained from 
Pixabay.) 

#GuestDayTuesday – Artist Nicki Forde

Hi, Everybody! Today, I’m going to introduce you to one of my best friends, artist Nicki Forde. I’ve known Nicki for years, and though we began our friendship as gardening buddies, it has transcended far beyond labels of any kind. Simply put, Nicki is one of the nicest, most talented, and truly generous souls I’ve ever met! 

Years ago, Nicki told me I needed to start blogging as a way to express myself, so I did, and nearly 20 years later, I’m still going. She also told me I should start writing books, and I did. Whether I’ll hit twenty years doing that is doubtful, but I can still count on her for encouragement and steadfast support. And best of all, when Nicki was still a graphic designer, she began creating my book covers, which I LOVE. Happily, even though she’s moved on from graphic design to some wonderfully beautiful and often whimsical art of her own, she says she’ll always find time for my books. How lucky am I?  

 

I’ve asked Nicki here today to tell you a bit about herself, and to share some of her fantastic art with you. Yes, she takes orders and does commission work.  Here is a painting she did for me of our late dachshund buddies, Maks & Potter. More below on how you can reach Nicki to commission portraits of your own pets and much more. Now, without further ado, please welcome a very special guest to The Write Stuff. Take it away, Nicki!

~~~

Thanks for having me, Marcia.  Hi, everybody!

I’m a Native Floridian from Okeechobee with a lifelong desire to create. I began drawing as a toddler, doodling horses and eating crayons. My mom said I must have been impressed with the Budweiser Clydesdales when I saw them walking up and down our street by the train tracks in Fort Lauderdale. I’m not sure where those horses were headed, and I have only the faintest memory, but it was my good luck they needed a break from their journey right then. I can say, I’ve never been the same since.

 

Moving to Okeechobee only fueled my love of horses since it was cowboy country, and there was a horse on every corner. I knew where each horse was within a walkable distance from my home. I’d jump fences, crawl through barbed wire, dodge angry bulls … all to reach a horse peacefully grazing in a pasture. I trespassed, and had no shame. I braided manes, added flowers to tails, and petted and loved on each horse that would let me. When I wasn’t trespassing to pet horses, I was home drawing them.

 I went on to study Commercial Art at International Fine Arts College in Miami. From there I began a 25-year career as a graphic artist. My days of doodling horses were over, and instead I found myself working insanely long days meeting media deadlines and unrealistic expectations. In 2014 I discovered the love of my life, and with this sweet man, I found myself thriving. I was inspired to paint illustrations for our wedding invitations and reply cards, and after that I made time to paint a few more until I had enough to open an Etsy shop with the idea of making wedding invitations based on my paintings. I joined the local art center and started exhibiting in festivals, art markets and local competitions. 

The more art I made and shared, the more commissions I began receiving. I quickly discovered fine art commissions are far more rewarding than graphic design work, so I began pruning my graphics customers until I found my core group. This group happens to be all women-owned or managed businesses, where  they value the work and experience I provide and respect basic boundaries. Initially it wasn’t easy to fire my clients because our societal constructs tell us we should strive more, work harder, display our stress induced, sleep-deprived high blood pressure as a badge of honor. But I was truly tired and decided to follow my heart. 

I’m happy to say, the majority of my time is now spent making art and running my fine art business from the  studio in our historic downtown Leesburg home. It’s work that fills my soul. I have a wonderful problem of not having enough time to add new art to my Etsy shop because of the commission work that comes in, such as pet or people portraits, murals, and hand painted furniture. Right now I’m finishing up a 20”x20” painting of a large mouth bass as a birthday gift for my customer’s husband. Also in the works is a 3’ round table that I’m painting luna moths and fireflies on. Next up are 3 old saws that a customer wants paintings on. My style is somewhat loose and intuitive, and it’s evolving. It’s always surprising to me when I finish a painting because I just never really know what the final result’s going to be. It’s a joyful process that’s taught me to trust in my ability and in my inner voice. 

Goals for my art business this year are to create several series of paintings to submit to licensing agents so my art can be applied to fine art prints and home decor and be sold in stores like Hobby Lobby, Target, or Home Goods. I’d also like to get my art in a few more galleries and have a space at Queen of Hearts Antiques in Buford, Georgia to fill with hand-painted vintage furniture and original paintings. For my Etsy shop, I plan on adding small original paintings on wood panels or chunky canvas. The few times I’ve been able to add original pieces to date, they’ve sold  right away.

Horses remain, to this day, my favorite subject to paint. They hold a special magic for me, and when I paint them, I feel a connection to something divine. So follow me on instagram (@nickiforde) or check out my website: www.drawingonmyheart.com to see new horse art, among other subjects, as I complete them. If you would like a commissioned painting from me, you can reach me through my website, Instagram message or Facebook Messenger.

 

 

“My mission as an artist is to create a positive impact by making art that uplifts, and my mission as a human is to live with joy and compassion. “

 

 

 

~~~

Thanks so much for sharing with us, Nicki, and I want to take a moment to let folks know that very soon, Nicki and author Melanie Wagner will be publishing a brand new children’s book. I’ve seen the proof copy, and it is adorable! As soon as is Wailin’ and the Chicks is available on Amazon, Melanie will be visiting us to talk about their collaboration on this project. And you’ll get a sneak preview of some of Nicki’s fine illustrations, too. Here’s a little taste to whet your appetite.

In the meantime, you can contact Nicki at the links below to commission a painting of your own, to order things like boxed greeting cards and prints, or just to let her know you’re a fan of her work. She’d love to hear from you!

Drawing on My Heart Website:    www.drawingonmyheart.com
Etsy Shop: www.etsy.com/shop/DrawingOnMyHeart
Instagram: www.instagram.com/nickiforde

Facebook: www.facebook.com/DrawingOnMyHeart

#GuestDayTuesday – Eternal Road The final stop by John W. Howell

I am so pleased to have Samantha Tourneau and James Wainwright, the principal characters in John W. Howell’s Paranormal Suspense novel Eternal Road – The final stop on my blog today. Their interview will be kicking off what I plan to be a return to #GuestDayTuesday, a regular feature that I hope to run every other Tuesday. More on that another time, but for now, let’s welcome Sam and James to The Write Stuff. Before we begin, let me tell you folks that Eternal Road – the final stop can be found here. Now, take it away, Sam and James!


“Thank you, Marcia. James and I are pleased to be with you today.”

 

“Yes, Marcia. Sam said it beautifully. It is a pleasure to be here.”

 

“When John told us we’d be visiting you, it was almost painful to have to wait for this day.”

 

ME: “Thank you, James and Sam. Let’s jump into the first question. How did it feel to play dead people in John’s novel?

 

“Wow, that’s a good one. Let me take a crack at how I felt. You okay with that, James?”

 

“Certainly.”

 

“Okay. It might be interesting for those who haven’t read the book to know that my character was abducted at seven years old and murdered. I needed to play someone who had been dead for quite a while since the story timeline is seventeen years later. All this time, my character got used to being dead and, in fact, used the time to study almost everything there was to study. I would say playing someone that smart was rewarding, even if dead. James?”

 

“It took me a while to get into the swing of things. I had been killed in an accident and didn’t even remember it. I did feel a little sorry for the character because he was driving across the country to start the first job. I think playing a person in that condition was a little sad at first but became rather normal after a while.”

 

ME: While you were playing your parts, did any individual moment pop out as a memory you would cherish?

 

“Sam, let me take this one first since I believe I know the moment you would mention.”

 

“Go for it.”

 

“There is a scene in the book where James is a Captain in the army and is making a landing on Omaha Beach during World War Two. He is placed in the scene by Lucifer and has no experience leading men and especially men, in combat. By the men’s reaction to the guy whose place he took, it was obvious he was not well-liked. James does a terrific job leading his troops ashore. He is then held in high esteem by the tough sergeant. The look on the sergeant’s face when thanking the captain for saving them is priceless. Sam?”

 

“My memory is the scene where I visit my mom. I had been missing for seventeen years, and I wanted her to know that I was all right. She had a hard time accepting the fact that I was no longer alive and that right then would be the last time we would be able to hold each other. It still brings tears to my eyes thinking about it.”

 

ME: I can imagine that would be heartbreaking, Sam. Sounds like a powerful scene. Since you mentioned him, James, my next question relates to Lucifer. Very seldom do we read books where there is a contemporary devil. What was he like?”

 

“OMG. He was unlike anyone we had met before. When he wanted something, he was handsome and carried himself as if he was an aristocrat. He was very knowledgeable about the current world and knew exactly what he wanted from both of us.”

 

“In addition to what Sam said, he was ruthless and evil as we have all believed over the years. We only saw his true appearance once, but that was enough to know we never wanted to see him again.”

 

ME: “Sounds terrifying. What did he want? Yes, James.”

 

“He was after my soul. He knew he couldn’t convince Sam to jump ship. After all, she had spent a good amount of time in paradise. I was a newbie, and I think he thought I was someone he could corrupt. If I had turned, that would have been a victory for him over God.”

 

“He tried to put James in the middle of a situation where his choice was to save mankind or his soul.”

 

ME: Now, that sounds like a no-win situation. I have to assume it worked out. You two did a bunch of time traveling in this book. What was the most exciting place and time you visited?

 

“James, you can go first.


“No, that’s okay. You go ahead.”

 

“Okay. My favorite place was when we ended up at the Alamo just days before the big battle. It was exciting to see the mission as it originally stood. Anticipation filled the air with everyone getting ready for the attack by the Mexican soldiers. It was there we got a message from one of Lucifer’s agents to give him a call. Your turn James.”

 

“Thanks. I think Marcia’s readers would like to know that Lucifer’s phone number is 666 and his assistant’s name is Ms. Harpy.”

 

“Yeah, don’t remind me of that hateful woman.”

 

“My favorite place was in the future. The year was 3539, and we visited a spot that was where Las Vegas used to be. We thought we had traveled to a different planet but were amazed to learn we were still on Earth. I thought the whole idea that artificial intelligence had eliminated humankind was fascinating.”

 

ME: Humankind gone? That must have been a shock. One last question. What do you think the book’s message is or, if not a message, the central theme? Yes, James?”

 

“Some different messages play out in the story, but in my mind, the central theme is more important. There is a distinct conflict between good and evil that would lead one to believe that Eternal Road is a religious novel. However, if it were publicized that way, many readers would be disappointed since sexual and human-like situations in the book might cause the very religious a little discomfort as they would be expecting an absence of those things. It is more accurate to label the central theme of the book as spiritualism. The core belief is the spirit of humankind does not die with the body but is allowed to grow and develop until fully actualized and in the creator’s presence. This concept embraces the idea of eternal life but takes it a few steps further. Sam, you have any thoughts?”

 

“Yes, I do. While the spirit is allowed to grow and develop, there may be opportunities to revisit Earth to help others transition to the eternal side. The key to all of this is the spirit can make choices on how their Eternal life will look.”

 

ME: Well, all this is fascinating, and we could probably talk for hours, but the old word count is getting to that point that we should let it go for another day. It has been a pleasure having you two here today. Whoops, one last thing. Is John working on a sequel?”

 

“It has been a pleasure being with you, Marcia. Thanks for having us. John is working on a sequel, and he has Sam and I out on the Eternal Road looking for a soul and a guide that went missing. It seems no one knows what happened, but figure Lucifer is up to something.”

 

ME: “Sounds like it might be fun! And thanks so much for being my guests today.”

 

Buy Eternal Road The final stop HERE


Author John W. Powell

After an extensive business career, John is an award-winning author who began writing full time in 2012. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. He has written five other books that are on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Lakeway, Texas, with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.


Contact John on Social Media here:

 

Blog Fiction Favorites, http://johnwhowell.com/

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

Twitter –https://www.twitter.com/HowellWave

Authors db –http://www.authorsdb.com/authors-directory/6604-john-w-howell

LinkedIn –http://www.linkedin.com/pub/john-w-howell/48/b59/462/ 

Goodreads –https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell

Amazon Author’s page –https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

 

 

#GuestDayTuesday – Subject A36 by Teri Polen

Today, please help me welcome our special guest, author Teri Polen, featuring her latest book, Subject A36. I’ve read this one, Folks, I can tell you it is terrific. It’s Young Adult written so that we “OLD” adults can enjoy it, too, and I did, every minute of it! In fact, I’m eagerly awaiting the next in the series. So, without further ado, let’s let Teri share some fun information about herself and her work. Teri, the floor is yours!


Thanks, Marcia!

If you’re a regular visitor at my blog, you know that every October for the past several years I’ve hosted Bad Moon Rising, which features thirty-one indie authors of horror, paranormal, and supernatural (or really any genre that falls under that umbrella).  Other than the book info, there’s also a short interview with both fun and writing-related questions.  While brainstorming ideas for this guest post, it occurred to me that I’ve never answered any of my own writing-related questions from October 2020, so I decided this was my chance.  I guess it’s me interviewing me.

If you had to give up snacks or drinks during writing sessions, which would be more difficult?

Definitely drinks.  I don’t snack while writing, but I’ll always have either a Diet Coke or water beside me.  If I’m writing at night, you’ll find a glass of red wine.  Sometimes I sneak in a hit of chocolate before I start—dark chocolate Hershey Kisses or Reese’s Thins.

Do you write to music?

Yes!  I usually have a playlist for each book.  Music inspires me and helps me visualize the scene as it plays out.  Sometimes lyrics give me ideas.  When I wrote The Gemini Connection, the twin brother main characters had different musical preferences.  Evan wanted my favorite genres—hard/alternate rock, but Simon demanded classical, a type I don’t mind, but it’s not something you’ll find in my music library.  Those boys were polar opposites, but I sure miss them. 

What was the hardest scene to write in your featured book?

It’s hard to describe without giving away spoilers, but I’ll try.  My MC, Asher, lost his family at a young age, but is now part of a found family.  There’s a scene where he experiences devastating pain that just ripped me apart.  It took me several days to write it, and I still wonder if I got it right.  The intensity was hard to convey.

I’m thrilled to say that Subject A36 was voted one of the 50 Best Indie Books of 2020 on Readfree.ly.com!  With the quarantine and silent characters plus recovering from COVID, the sequel has been a long time coming, but I promise I’m working on it.  Hope you enjoy the A36 excerpt below.  It’s from Asher’s point of view when he was eight years old. 

EXCERPT:

“Asher!”  Mom gripped the porch railing and called for me.  Her voice cracked and was laced with tears.  Dad vaulted over the porch railing, landed solidly on the grass, and frantically scanned our expansive yard. 

My stomach clenched.  Something was very wrong.  “Over here!”

Dad’s gaze locked on mine.  “Code Exodus!  Now, Asher.  Run!”

Was this another drill?  We’d practiced twice a week, the times always unexpected, without fail for as long as I could remember.  Drills were a regular part of our life, like eating, sleeping, and homework.  Protocol was pounded into our brains.  There could be no hesitation. 

But this felt different.  Dad’s expression was tight and urgent.  Tears streamed down Mom’s face, and I knew.  This was no drill.  It was real this time.  We’d been found.  Code Tribe—we leave together.  Code Exodus—we leave without our parents. 

Code Exodus rules.    

Grab the backpack.

Leave immediately. 

Don’t stop for anything or anyone.

Run to the Wallaces.

When my sisters could no longer keep up, hide them and keep running.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

If genetic engineering could guarantee you and your family perfect health and unparalleled beauty, would you pay top dollar for it? Would you kill for it?

Residents of the Colony would. And do.

Only the Insurgents can stop them.

Seventeen-year-old Asher Solomon is a premier operative with the Insurgents. He and his team have rescued countless hostages, saving them from painful deaths in Colony labs as desirable genetic traits are stripped from their bodies.

He’s also suffered more losses than anyone should have to.

Then Asher gets intel that might give his people the upper hand. The Colony is searching for Subject A36. If the Insurgents determine the subject’s identity first, they might be able to turn the tide of the war.

Asher and his team embark on their riskiest mission ever, and the stakes have never been higher. But even if he survives the physical dangers, the devastating secrets he uncovers might destroy him. 

Buy Subject A36 HERE


Teri Polen, Author

Teri Polen reads and watches horror, sci-fi, and fantasy.  The Walking Dead, Harry Potter, and anything Marvel-related are likely to cause fangirl delirium.  She lives in Bowling Green, KY with her husband, sons, and black cat.  Her first novel, Sarah, a YA horror/thriller, was a horror finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.  Visit her online HERE

Contact Links:

Website
Facebook
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BookBub  

#GuestDayTuesday – Ghostly Interference by Jan Sikes

 

Hi, Everybody! Today, I’d like you to help me welcome our special guest, Jan Sikes. Jan is sharing her latest release, Ghostly Interference, and I know this one is going to appeal to a lot of folks, myself included! (Just look at this great cover!)

So, without further ado, let’s get to it! Take it away, Jan!

~~~

Hi, Marcia! Thank you SO much for allowing me to borrow your blog platform to talk about my new book!

It is not unusual for authors to use some form of Astrology in their stories. In Ghostly Interference, Jag Peters had been raised by a mother who incorporated all sorts of metaphysical knowledge into his upbringing, Astrology being one of those things.

Jag is a Libra. That sun sign fit his character perfectly. Rena Jett is a Taurus.

At one point, Jag is compelled to try to track down any living relatives that Rena might have. She craves family and it has always just been her and her brother, Sam. Now that he is gone, she is completely alone.

But how can Jag get the information he needs from her? At the suggestion of his mother, he decides to use astrology as an ice-breaker and to learn more about Rena.

EXCERPT:

“Let’s play a game. When were you born?”

She shot him a look of panic. “Why do you want to know?”

“It’s how we play the game. I want to know you better.”

“I was born May 1, 1979.”

“I knew it! You’re a Taurus. I woulda’ bet money on it.”

“Is that bad?” Rena sucked on her bottom lip

“Oh goodness no. Taurus people are born under the sign of the bull. Most often they are stubborn, determined, practical and down to earth, but have an eye for beauty. And they are brave.” He kneaded the arch of her foot. “And you are the bravest warrior woman I’ve ever met.”

“Hmmm, I like that phrase. And I love what you are doing to my feet.”

He continued. “I was born right here in Cedar Springs. Where were you born?”

“My birth certificate says I was born in Austin. I don’t remember anything except being in foster homes.”

“What was your mother’s name?”

She narrowed her eyes. “I don’t see as that has anything to do with us getting to know each other.”

“Call it curiosity. My mother’s name is Charlotte Grace Peters.”

“Marjorie Irene Jett is the name on my birth certificate.” She spat out the words like a bitter pill.

Jag rubbed her ankle and moved up her leg. “It’s okay, Rena. I was just curious, that’s all. Any other siblings besides Sam?”

“Not that I know of. It’s always been just me and Sam. I don’t think I like this game. Your turn.”

“Okay. One more question and then I’ll take a turn. What do you want to do with your life? I know your ambition isn’t to work at Meg’s diner forever. What does Rena Jett want?”

She paused a long minute. “I used to talk with Sam about what we’d be when we grew up. He said when he finished his tour in the military, he wanted to go to school and be a child psychologist. I think about it a lot. I never had his ambition, but I would like to do something to help kids stuck in situations like we were.”

“There are all sorts of things you could do. You could be a caseworker, but I can’t see you having the patience to put up with the bureaucracy.”

“That’s for damned sure. I’ve seen too much of the bullshit that goes on to ever play that game. I think I’d like to be a police woman.”

Jag let out a whistle. “That’s perfect for you, Rena. You’d make a great police woman and you could ride one of their Harleys.”

She grinned. “It’s just a thought. Your turn to play this game.” 

He grinned. “Okay. I was born October 8, 1975, and that makes me a Libra.”

“And what are Libras like?” She took a sip of her wine.

“Libras are usually kind.”

Rena nodded. “What else?”

“We like peace and harmony and will walk a mile around a fight. We love all things of beauty and have a hard time saying no sometimes.”

“Those all fit you.”

“I’ve lived in Cedar Springs all my life, except when I went away to college. My father’s name was Arthur.” He reached for his wine and took a sip.

***

Using tools like astrology is also a great way for the author to reveal more character depth to the reader without telling or doing a big info dump that the reader finds boring.

I’m a Leo. I was born on August 21st, the cusp of Leo/Virgo, and have some qualities from both signs. How about you? What is your sun sign? Have you ever used astrology in character development or in your storyline?

BOOK BLURB:

Jag Peters has one goal in his quiet comfortable life—to keep his karma slate wiped clean. A near-miss crash with a candy apple red Harley threatens to upend his safe world. He tracks down the rider to apologize properly. Slipping into a seedy biker bar, he discovers the rider isn’t a “he”, it’s a “she”, a dark-haired beauty.

Rena Jett is a troubled soul, who lives in a rough world. She wants no part of Jag’s apology, but even while she pushes him away, she is attracted to him. When he claims to see a ghost—her brother—can she trust him? And could her brother’s final gift, a magical rune stone with the symbol for “happily ever after” have the power to heal her wounds and allow opposites to find common ground—perhaps even love?


BOOK TRAILER LINK:
https://youtu.be/NHaLVSe_flI


Buy Ghostly Interference  Here:

AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/Ghostly-Interference-White-Rune-Sikes-ebook/dp/B08KW1KFMW/

BARNES & NOBLE: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ghostly-interference-jan-sikes/1137871003?

Jan Sikes is an award-winning Texas author who has been called a wordsmith by her peers. She openly admits that she never set out in life to be an author. But she had a story to tell. Not just any story, but a true story that rivals any fiction creation. You simply can’t make this stuff up. It all happened. She chose to create fictitious characters to tell the story through, and they bring the intricately woven tale to life in an entertaining way. She released a series of music CDs to accompany the four biographical fiction books and then published a book of poetry and art to complete the story circle.

And now that the story is told, this author can’t find a way to put down the pen. She continues to write fiction and has published many short stories with a series of novels waiting in the wings. She is a member of The Author’s Marketing Guild, Writer’s League of Texas, RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB (RRBC), RAVE WRITER’S INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHOR (RWISA), and sits on the RWISA Executive Council.

JAN SIKES
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

http://www.jansikes.com
https://jansikesblog.com/
https://www.twitter.com/jansikes3
http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJanSikesBooks
http://www.pinterest.com/jks0851/
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00CS9K8D (Author Page)
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7095856.Jan_Sik