#GuestDayTuesday – The Prince’s Heir by Deborah Jay

Today, please welcome back a long-time friend and fellow author, Deborah Jay. Deborah writes some absolutely terrific epic fantasy, and today is a Red Letter day in her Five Kingdom Series. But I should let her tell you all about that, so … take it away, Debby!


RELEASE DAY

It’s here at last!

Today sees the culmination of a dream turned reality with the release of the final instalment in The Five Kingdoms series.

I set out to write a trilogy, but my characters had other ideas, and THE PRINCE’S HEIR is the concluding novel of what became a quartet.

                          

BLURB

King Marten’s reign balances on a blade’s edge. Chel’s Casket, symbol of his right to rule, is missing. Can master spies, Rustam and Risada, recover it before someone notices its absence and challenges Marten’s sovereignty? Or is there a more sinister motive behind the disappearance of the casket—a relic that could be used to raise the demon god, Charin.

As a series of natural disasters besets the kingdoms, evidence points towards interference by the meddlesome deity, and the terrifying prospect of war between its two opposing aspects.

When Marten’s beloved wife, Betha, and their infant daughter vanish, Marten faces a stark choice: save his family, or try to save his kingdom from a conflict that threatens all humanity.


Here’s a brief taster:

A loud ‘pop’ interrupted them, and the barbarous figure of a gemeye materialised in the middle of the office’s open floorspace. It took a moment for Rustam to recognise Cat beneath the dirt and blood. Her usually straight brown hair was tangled and matted with leaves, the silver stripe proclaiming the goddess’s favour barely discernible beneath the muck. Dark circles shadowed sunken eyes, and great, bloody scores raked one bare thigh beneath her gem-laden girdle. Her posture twisted to one side, as though she protected an injury, and Rustam barely made it to her side before she staggered towards the nearest chair. He caught her elbow and eased her down.

“What happened?”

Cat blinked up at him and his breath caught at the depth of hopelessness reflected in her unique, brown-marbled eyes. Her chest rose and fell quickly, drawing his gaze to the heavy collar of Cat’s Eye gemstones, each one a perfect match with her eye colour, as were those set in the broad girdle around her waist.

She clutched his arm. “We need your help, Rusty.”

Buy The Prince’s Heir HERE


The Five Kingdoms Series

The series tagline – Think James Bond meets Lord of the Rings – came about from my frustration with the Bond writers, who never allowed the character to develop. Thus, Rustam Chalice was born – a shallow, womanising, spy who would have everything he believed in challenged and turned upside down, forcing him to change and adapt. My love of Lord of the Rings helped me choose fantasy as my genre, and boy, am I happy that I did. You can throw so much more at your cast than you can in a contemporary setting!

So, for those of you who haven’t yet taken the plunge, to celebrate the release of the final book in the set, Book #1, THE PRINCE’S MAN, is on sale for a limited time at just 99c – go grab yourself the starter book of a series about which people are saying:

“Randomly browsing thru newer ebooks and came across this gem. Was delightfully surprised after reading the description “Think James Bond meets Lord of the Rings” which intrigued me to no end, to find that this was exactly how I perceived the book.”
R Lewis

“Reminiscent of Game of Thrones, this delightful fantasy will hold your attention from beginning to end.”
Rhoda D’Ettore

“Jay paints a vivid world, that we are treated to in this dangerous adventure that tests our heroes to every limit. Including having them question everything they had ever taken for granted.”
Miss K Marsden

“Firstly let me say, if you have enjoyed books by Tolkien, Christopher Paolini, or Robin Hobb – you will absolutely enjoy this book.”
Rachel Braithwaite

Buy The Prince’s Man HERE 


Author Deborah Jay

Deborah Jay writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy featuring complex, quirky characters and multi-layered plots – just what she likes to read.

Fortunate enough to live near Loch Ness in the majestic, mystery-filled Scottish Highlands with her partner and a pack of rescue dogs, she can often be found lurking in secluded glens and forests, researching locations for her books.

She has a dream day job riding, training and judging competition dressage horses and riders, and also writes books and magazine features on the subject under her professional name of Debby Lush.

A lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy, she started writing her first novel aged eight, and has never stopped. Her first published novel is epic fantasy, THE PRINCE’S MAN, first in the Five Kingdoms series, and winner of a UK Arts Council award. #2, THE PRINCE’S SON and #3, THE PRINCE’S PROTEGE are both available with the newly released concluding book in the quartet, THE PRINCE’S HEIR.

Her first urban fantasy, DESPRITE MEASURES, about a Scottish water sprite, is the opening novel of the CALEDONIAN SPRITE SERIES. The companion short story, SPRITE NIGHT is available FREE on most ebook retailers.

Newsletter sign up and FREE short story HERE
Deborah’s Amazon Author Page

Reach Deborah on Social Media here:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#GuestDayTuesday – Scarred Resilience by Suzanne Cottrell

Today, I am welcoming my new online friend and kindred spirit, Suzanne Cottrell, who shares my love of gardening, wildlife, and the North Carolina mountains.  Please help me make her feel right at home as she tells you about her latest release. Suzanne, take it away!

~~~00~~~

Thanks for having me today, Marcia. 

Scarred Resilience is a collection of poems that will resonate with readers as they pause and reflect on their lives. All people deal with different challenges such as loss, medical condition, heartbreak, aging, bullying, abuse, or stress throughout the course of their lives. They can succumb and fall victim to a challenge, or they can choose to overcome it. They may bear emotional and/or physical scars. Most likely, they will empower themselves by gaining new knowledge, skill, confidence, and/or strength. A key message of Scarred Resilience is that individuals, despite their scars, can move forward.

Many of the poems like “Nature’s Solace,” “Enlightened Silence,” “Transformation,” and “Silent Stroll” address aspects of self-awareness. As a survivor of breast cancer and a lumpectomy, I chose to include “Altered Silhouette” and “Yet, We Laughed,” signifying that a change in one’s personal appearance does not alter one’s inner beauty. Accepting, adapting, and laughing can help one heal. “Sole Mate,” “Aged,” and “Waning Time” instill the notion that one should live life to its fullest.

REVIEWS

Suzanne Cottrell’s poems create verbal jewels inspired by the natural world. These poems offer a healing movement-of-spirit, reminding us of why we fell in love with poetry in the first place.
Marilyn Kallet
, Knoxville Poet Laureate and author of How Our Bodies Learned, poems from Black Widow Press

Suzanne Cottrell’s poems, a synthesis of visual details, combine with her all-seeing eye for nuance and change. Her collection speaks of a life spent in the sciences where things are viewed through a microscope, often distilled as in a vintage snapshot that illustrates competition for resources, quick change in circumstances or the eternal struggle to survive. Her poem, “Transformation,” provides a clinical description of biological statistics and specimens. But, in “Silent Stroll,” the poet reveals the inner life of feelings and search for clarity. The poems are a delicate balance between micro-views and personal internal longings.
Lynda McKinney Lambert, Author of Star Signs: New & Selected Poems

An emotional spark subtly ignites from deep within Suzanne Cottrell’s measured words and counted lines. Gently, yet distinctly, the reader becomes aware of the joy, understanding and love for life and nature her words convey.
Maxine Reynolds Chauvaux, Co-founder of the Granville Writers’ Group and Creative Life-Long Learning Workshop Facilitator

Suzanne Cottrell’s third poetry chapbook chronicles life’s difficulties wrapping painful memory with the beauty of nature and offering the possibility to “pass through the darkness into the light to follow your dreams.” Her poems express resilience, finding strength in laughter during darker moments. In her poem, “Aged,” the narrator asks the question — “Have all their pages been written?” I hope for those who love poetry, the answer for Ms. Cottrell would be, “Oh, no. There’s so much more to come.”
Anne Anthony, Author and Editor, Flash Fiction for Flash


Buy Scarred Resilience on Amazon HERE
And on Kelsay Books HERE

Author Suzanne Cottrell

Suzanne Cottrell, a buckeye by birth, lives with her husband in rural Piedmont North Carolina. An outdoor enthusiast and retired history and special ed. teacher, her interests include reading, writing, knitting, hiking, Tai Chi, yoga, and Pilates. She enjoys researching history and culture and loves nature and its sensory stimuli. She particularly likes to write and experiment with poetry and flash fiction, as well as working on collaborative projects, especially with her daughter.

Her work has appeared in numerous online and print journals and anthologies, such as the Best Emerging Poets Series, The Avocet, Poetry Quarterly, Plum Tree Tavern, Parks and Points, The Pangolin Review, Burningword Literary Journal, Three Line Poetry, Inwood Indiana Press anthologies, Personal Story Publishing Project anthologies, Proverse Hong Kong Poetry Prize Mingled Voices anthologies, Nailpolish Stories, Quail Bell Magazine, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and Flash Fiction Magazine. She is the author of three poetry chapbooks: Gifts of the Seasons, Autumn and Winter; Gifts of the Seasons, Spring and Summer; and Scarred Resilience, published by Kelsay Books. She was the recipient of the 2017 Rebecca Lard Award for Poetry Quarterly (Prolific Press).

You can find Suzanne on social media here:
Website
LinkedIn
Email: cottrell_suzanne@yahoo.com

 

#GuestDayTuesday – Tinsel and Tea Cakes by Jill Piscitello

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing Jill Piscitello for her first (but hopefully not her last) visit to The Write Stuff. Please help me welcome Jill as she shares her latest book with you. Your turn now,  Jill–take it away!

~~~00~~~

Hello everyone!  Many thanks to Marcia for hosting me as a guest author today.  I now have a new favorite place to visit for Monday memes!

My new release, Tinsel and Tea Cakes, is a sweet, holiday novella.  The story offers a second chance romance, a mini mystery, and a touch of the past with an unforgettable Victorian themed Christmas wedding.  I had so much fun getting to know my characters that saying good-bye was harder than expected.  Cue visions of a sequel swirling through my mind.  Imagine my delight when my editor encouraged a follow up.

But there’s a problem.  Most romances wrap up the endings of main characters in pretty packages tied with a bow.  I struggled with deciding whether to find a new story arc for Scarlett or to focus on a supporting character.  I’ve seen authors go in both directions.  Which is the path best taken?

After much consideration, I’ve decided to write a full-length novel centered around a staff member from The Timeless Manor.  This will allow my reigning heroine and hero to pop in now and again with bite sized updates.  I’m excited to see where this new book takes me but would love to hear perspectives on sequels from other authors and readers.

BLURB:

Hair stylist Scarlett Kerrigan lost her job and her apartment. To alleviate a touch of self-pity, she succumbs to her stepmom’s pressure to attend a wedding in the New Hampshire White Mountains. Unfortunately, she runs into the vacation fling who promised the moon but disappeared without an explanation. Months have passed, but she is not ready to forgive and forget.

After a chaotic year, executive Wes Harley settles into his family’s event venue, The Timeless Manor. His carefully structured world is shaken to its core when Scarlett arrives for the Victorian Christmas wedding weekend. The feelings he never quite erased flood to the surface.

When secrets are revealed, will a magical chateau and a sprinkle of tinsel be enough to charm Scarlett?

Buy Tinsel and Tea Cakes HERE:
Amazon           Nook

~~~00~~~

Author Jill Piscitello

Jill Piscitello is a teacher, author, and an avid fan of multiple literary genres. Although she divides her reading hours among several books at a time, a lighthearted story offering an escape from the real world can always be found on her nightstand.

A native of New England, Jill lives with her family and three well-loved cats. When not planning lessons or reading and writing, she can be found spending time with her family, trying out new restaurants, traveling, and going on light hikes.

Visit Jill on Social Media here:
Website ~ Twitter  ~ Facebook
Instagram

Visit Jill’s Amazon Author Page here.

 

BONUS #GuestDayTuesday – #NewRelease – #Things Old and Forgotten by #MaeClair

Today is a BONUS #GuestDayTuesday, folks, and I’m so happy to have my good friend, Mae Clair, here today to tell us about her brand new release, Things Old and Forgotten.  I can’t wait to read this one, and know you’re gonna feel the same way, so let’s get right to it. Mae, take it away!

*****

Hi, Marcia! Thanks for hosting me today and allowing me to share my newest release with your readers. Things Old and Forgotten is a collection of short fiction that includes stories in several genres—magical realism, fantasy, speculative, even two that touch on mild horror.

But not all the tales are mystical or eerie. Miss Lily Makes a Wish is a light-hearted piece about a genteel southern lady who gets the better of a powerful order of genies. I had a lot of fun with this one.

In the excerpt below, Miss Lily is visited by Kaliq, a genie. He arrives to grant her the three wishes he’s promised for freeing him from captivity.

EXCERPT

Miss Lily smiled politely when Kaliq appeared the next day in a mushrooming puff of green.

He folded an arm over his waist and performed a courtly bow. Such a gentleman! “Have you chosen your three wishes, Miss Lily?”

She nibbled her lip as she studied the rear lawn from her porch spring. Sad state of affairs, her yard. The bushes needed to be trimmed, and the flowerbeds sprouted with an overabundance of weeds. Not just a few, but whole parties of the pesky things. Betty Nelbrecker would point out the shortcomings the next time she visited.

The place is starting to look run down, don’t you think, Miss Lily?

A pox on the old biddy.

It was hard for a single woman to get by on her own, especially when the years were creeping up and finances were tight. The house was getting old, the only bright spot the rear porch with its rickety wooden swing, white wicker furniture, and pots of geraniums. Sipping a tall glass of lemonade, she fingered the handle of her flyswatter. The mosquitos weren’t nearly as bothersome tonight.

“It’s fearful hot, don’t you think?” She used a dog-eared copy of International Living to fan herself. She’d spent the afternoon reading up on Naples, fantasizing about a coastal home within walking distance of cafes and museums. “Daddy used to say it was just like the Devil himself spit on the Mississippi River and boiled the water. A cool breeze would be nice, but just my house, mind. It wouldn’t be right if I chose for other folks. Betty Nelbrecker likes it hot.”

Kaliq blinked. “Pardon?”

“I’d like a cool breeze, please.”

She wondered if it was possible for a genie to look dumbfounded. This one certainly did.

“Miss Lily, is that a wish?”

Thwack!

She nailed the mosquito in midair before it could land on her polka dot sundress. “Bothersome pests! Yes, Kaliq, that is a wish.”

He scratched his chin. “It’s not in my place to question, Miss Lily, but you do understand you’d be using one of your three wishes.”

“I do.”

“And you still wish to proceed?”

“I do.”

The genie sighed. Raising his hands, he spoke a few words in a language she didn’t understand. The tattoos on his forearms flared to life in a spectrum of sunset colors before fading to antique gold. A cool breeze frolicked through the open porch, blissful and refreshing as a dip in Peddler’s Pond.

She closed her eyes. “Ah, that’s nice.”

*****

BLURB

A man keeping King Arthur’s dream of Camelot alive.
A Robin Hood battling in a drastically different Sherwood.
A young man facing eternity in the desert.
A genteel southern lady besting a powerful order of genies.
A woman meeting her father decades after his death.

These are but a few of the intriguing tales waiting to be discovered in Things Old and Forgotten. Prepare to be transported to realms of folklore and legend, where magic and wonder linger around every corner, and fantastic possibilities are limited only by imagination.

Buy Things Old and Forgotten in the U.S. HERE
And in the U.K. HERE
*****

Thanks again for hosting me today, Marcia. In honor of my love for autumn—a fantastic time to curl up with a book—Things Old and Forgotten will be on sale for .99c through October 31st.

*****

And thank you again for being here, Mae. Congratulations on this new book, and I can’t wait to read it.  May I also say that the cover is absolutely stunning! One of the prettiest I’ve seen, and very eye-catching, too! Already downloaded my copy, folks, and I highly recommend you grab yours too while it’s still available at this terrific price!

Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:

AmazonBookBubNewsletter Sign-Up
Website | BlogTwitterGoodreadsAll Social Media

 

#I’m BACK! #Update #BlogFeatures

Okay, okay. I know I look NOTHING like Gene Wilder, but he’s a personal favorite of mine and I couldn’t resist his saucy expression! 😀 Besides, the message works! I am officially back from my adventure in the Land of Breakthrough COVID. (Not an adventure I’d wish on anybody else, and boy am I grateful every day that we’d gotten both of our shots before this hit us.) I’m also grateful to have come through it all not too much the worse for wear. Still low energy, so I try not to push too hard, but mostly all symptoms are gone, even those dreadful narcoleptic-like fatigue episodes.

The important thing is, I survived,  and I feel well enough to tackle getting most of my regular blog features back up and running  once more, though it’s possible, I may need to step back now and then if I find I’m getting overwhelmed. Hopefully that won’t happen, or at least, not often.  With that in mind,  here’s what you can look for coming up on The Write Stuff, usually on a bi-weekly basis:

  1. Every other Monday: #MondayMeme (usually writing related)
  2. Every other Tuesday: #GuestDayTuesday (I’m ready to start scheduling )
  3. Every other Wednesday: #TenThingsYouMayNotKnowAboutMe guests
  4.  Every other Thursday: #ThorsDaySmiles
  5. Every other Friday: #Granny Says

I have the weeks set up so that Monday, Wednesday, & Friday posts run one week, and Tuesday and Thursday posts, the next week. That gives me a couple of empty days each week for miscellaneous posts that I want to share and some extra guest posts now and then. Weekends are also open for whatever comes along, and a couple of times a year, I’m planning to run #ExcerptWeek, wherein you’ll be invited to share an excerpt from one of your books as one more way to promote them.

I have the #TenThings Wednesday spots filled every other week up to December, but if you’d like to be scheduled after Wed, Nov 24, just email me, and I’ll get you set up.

#GuestDayTuesday, where you can post anything you want about your books and writing (from promos to new releases to cover reveals, and more),  is wide open, starting now. Tuesday, Oct 12 is the only Tuesday I have already scheduled at this point, so feel free to contact me if you’d like to take part. (Otherwise, you might be seeing a lot of ME as my own guest. 😁 )

And I think that pretty much covers what’s coming up, but if you have any questions, all of the instructions and lists of what I’d need for you to send me are listed above (right beneath the blog header) under “General Blog Rules and Various Feature Instructions.” If you can’t find the information you’re looking for there, feel free to email me, and I’ll help as best I can.

Thanks so much to each of you for your support, healing wishes and prayers, and patience as I dealt with this situation. I am truly looking forward to catching up with all of my favorite blogs once again. And I can’t begin to tell you how much our writing and blogging community has meant to me during the eight-plus weeks I was quarantined! Probably would have lost my mind without the online friendships I’ve made.

All that being said,
IT’S GREAT TO BE BACK!

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

#GuestDayTuesday Banner

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

#GuestDayTuesday Banner

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

Pinterest

#GuestDayTuesday – Summer Magic by … ME!

#GuestDayTuesday Banner

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

IMG_5272 smaller

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