Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cover Art Revealed!


Release: This December from MuseItUp Publishing

As a Dog Returneth: Part V, the Conclusion


With the slightest of smug sneers, Ackerman slipped into his dressing gown and poured himself a small sherry. As the lukewarm liquid trickled down his throat, he pocketed his bedside revolver.
"Blasted fools better not interfere," he said. One quick look around the room was now in order. The door to his flat was bolted. Check. The eastern window was open a crack. Check. All he had to do now was hide and wait.
With a chuckle he looked down at the dummy stuffed in his bed. If that didn't confuse his prey, then, well, perhaps he was finished. Ackerman toasted his nemesis and downed the last of the bottle.
As he blew out the lights, he heard a faint rustling noise coming from what he assumed was the window. This was it. Quietly as he could, Ackerman slipped between the wall and his bed.
The old window slid open with barely a creak, blowing in rain and cold air. There was a soft footfall on the window seat, then the creaking of floorboards.
Ackerman prepared his revolver.
Then someone laughed a laugh he had not been expecting to hear. It was a high laugh, much too high a laugh to belong to his man.
"Inspector Ackerman," said a familiar voice. "Please, don't get up."
"Betsy?" he asked. "But I thought… Surely it can't be—"
"Instead of drawing this out with much gloating, giving you the chance to escape, I might add—"
"It had to have been Vervain! He wouldn't touch the punch! Made the excuse that he couldn't drink alcohol. He was taking quinine for malaria, just as Miss Smithe was; that's how he knew about her. You can't be the X—"
A gunshot rang through the night, and feathers flew up in a cloud. Ackerman leapt from his hiding place and tackled the woman to the ground, wresting the pistol from her hands.
            "Tell me," he said between ragged breaths as he pinned her hands to her sides, "tell me how and why, and I might let you live to see the gallows. Are you truly the X Murderer?" He could feel her glowering at him in the darkness, felt her body wriggle as his nails dug into her wrists. "You blasted, vile creature. You cost me my career, my wife, my life!"
"How's that?" she demanded.
“Tell me why Miss Prewitt? Mr. Keefes? Mr. and Mrs. Miller? Why Miss Smithe? Why? I had a theory," he interrupted her. "I had a theory, and the Chief thought it was ludicrous. It's the reason I suspected Vervain."
"Let me go, you—"
"A religious fanatic, on the loose, trying to convert the 'lost souls,' condemning the wicked to their 'rightful' damnation."
Betsy tried to break in, "I don't know what you're—"
"It all fit," said Ackerman. "Every last one of the X Murderer's victims were into witchcraft; and I suppose Miss Smithe, God rest her poor soul, will be found to have had such ties. But what would have been your motive? It makes no sense. No sense at all."
They were quiet for a moment. Or, at least, Ackerman was. Betsy continued to whimper and writhe.
"Well," he said at long last, "I suppose that's for the judge and jury to discover. Of course, if you cooperate, I might convince the judge to show some leniency."
"The girls!" Betsy said at once. "It was me who told them to dress as they did. Or, rather, their maids. I'm good friends with both. I dropped a few hints, and they took them."
"Then you laced the punch with poison."
"Yes, yes. But I didn't commit no other murders! I swear it, on my honor."
"On the honor of a woman who just attempted to murder an aging man in his bed?" Ackerman shook his head. "Never mind that, yet. Tell me, it was you who attempted to frame Boyette?"
"Y—No. It wasn't! I swear it. I didn't think I'd get in no trouble for this. He told me I would be taken care of. I did this for him, for love, and now he is—"
Whatever he was, Ackerman didn't find out. A second gunshot rang through the night, this time piercing him in the back, above his heart.
He could just register Betsy screaming as he fell sideways off her. And as he slipped into unconsciousness, the face of Reverend Martin Vervain swam in front of his face.
#
"You were right," said King, looking down at his old friend. "It was Vervain all along. He came quietly, of course, once we stormed your house. He definitely wanted the credit this time." He patted Ackerman on the shoulder. "I'm sorry I didn't get there sooner, my friend. We were following the maid, my suspect, you understand. Who knew it was a diversion?" King gave a mirthless laugh. "You knew, probably. But he fooled us all, hiding under your bed like that. Really, you should have headed straight home and not for the pub. Blasted cockiness on your part, I'm afraid." He saluted the casket as it was closed and whispered, "Rest in peace, Eugene."

Monday, October 29, 2012

As a Dog Returneth: Part IV


"Unable to arrest?" scoffed Mrs. Dent, watching Ackerman's dim figure through the window. "Loophole in the law? What are people about these days, I ask. Honestly."  
It was nearing ten o'clock, and everyone had gathered his coat and gloves. No one seemed to want to be the first to leave.
"He seemed like such a kind, decent man," Reverend Vervain said. "I don't believe he could have done such atrocious things."
"I hate to let the man go free, but the law's the law," King said. He shook his head ruefully. "I would like one last word with him before he leaves." The inspector hurried out of the room, through the drafty hall and out the front door.
"Ackerman!" he called out. "I want a word with you."
The man turned, a smile playing across his face. "Yes, Inspector?"
When he was in closer proximity, King lowered his voice. "I don't like this, Eugene; I don't like this one bit. I know what you're about."
Ackerman grinned. "Of course you do. Very clever to pick up on my hints—especially the Africa one."
King scowled. "I'd like to know why exactly we're doing this."
"Don't you see that if our man thought he'd gotten away with it, framing our dear Mr. Boyette, he'd go on his merry way, and we might never hear from him again? No, he must be provoked."
"Are you mad? Taking away his credit like that? That makes our man desperate, more dangerous."
"More dangerous than ever," Ackerman agreed. He reached into his coat pocket and offered King a piece of candy. "Sweet?"
"No. Well, if we're going to do this, we'd better do it properly." He looked around, then led Ackerman to his carriage. "When do you think he'll come after you?"
"Oh, our man's a daring fellow, and rather impatient at that. He'll act almost immediately."
King looked around, half-expecting the villain to leap out at them from the bushes. "I'll send around some of my men straight away."
One hand on the carriage door, the other on King's shoulder, Ackerman said, "No. That's exactly what you mustn't do."
"What? You don't mean to wait for this monster alone? The last thing we need is another murder on our hands. Yours would be a particularly low blow."
Ackerman smiled wryly. "It's got to be me. It's got to be me alone. I've waited too long and worked to hard to catch this rotten scoundrel."
"If this is about credit, you're being foolish."
"Good night, King." Ackerman removed his hand from his old colleague, stepped into his carriage and called for the driver to walk on.
As the carriage disappeared out of sight, Inspector King walked back towards the house. Whether it had been a cat or the wind, he couldn't be sure; but there was a soft rustling in the bushes nearby.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

As a Dog Returneth: Part III


All the interviews seemed to blend into one, and they all ended with the same question, in varying forms: Have you recently been to Africa?
About one quarter of the group said yes, including Mrs. Dent, Reverend Vervain, a frog named Gerald Overs, Mr. Boyette and, according to Reverend Vervain, the deceased Miss Smithe.
No one but Mr. Boyette and Miss Blyde seemed to have motive. Everyone else would have had means of slipping something into the punch, the undoubted source of the poison. Poison was the coroner's immediate ruling upon seeing the body.
Mr. Ackerman followed Inspector King into the large parlor where the suspects sat.
"It could be any number of poisons," King muttered.
"No," said Ackerman quietly. "Not any." He reached into his pocket and produced the bottle he had rescued earlier. "Quinine. A fast-acting poison that yields the same symptoms Miss Smithe experienced before her heart failed: paleness, sweating, fainting and fits. It comes together quite nicely, actually."
"Where did you get that bottle?"
"What? This? This is table salt." He handed the bottle over to King and frowned. "The bottle might have once contained quinine; one can not be certain. I merely found it lying by the piano; an interesting clue."
"'Clue?'" King asked. "So, you're saying this 'quonine' stuff in the punch was the one and only murder weapon?"
"'Quinine.' And in answer to your question, 'no and yes.' It was meant to look like the punch has been poisoned, which, in some respects is true. I'm sure that three glasses or more of that stuff would kill any of us."
"But nobody's died so far besides Miss Smithe," said King through gritted teeth.
"Precisely. Which, I think is a very good clue." Ackerman smiled at everyone's bewildered face. "You are perhaps unaware that Miss Smithe was being treated for malaria?"
There were more mutterings and exchanges of glances.
"Quinine," he continued, "is a poison used to treat cases of malaria, a disease—"
"Yes, yes; I'm quite aware of what malaria is. So, she took a dose of quinine at home, came here, drank the punch—"
"Which was laced with quinine."
"Right, that. So you're saying she unwittingly overdosed?"
Ackerman clapped his hands together. "Bravo, Inspector, bravo."
Instead of looking pleased at the praise, Inspector King looked ready to explode. "But how does this fit in with your theory of the X Murders?"
"'X Murders'?" said Miss Blyde. "That's the second time that's been mentioned this evening."
Mrs. Dent gasped. "You don't know? Why, this very house was home to the first X Murder, ten years ago to this day!”
There was a collective shudder.
Looking delighted, Mrs. Dent continued. "He always left his mark somewhere, an X, you know. And there was no rhyme or reason to his killings. No mobile operetta… No, that's not the word, it's—"
Ackerman stepped in. "Oh, there was a modus operandi: He never did the same murder twice, or so he thought. Sometimes it was strangling, sometimes it was stabbing, and, in this case, it was poisoning—though, he has done poisoning before, just not this fast-acting. No, what ties all the murders together is the X mark—"
"But, why, we could be dealing with a copycat!" said Mrs. Dent, deflating slightly.
"—And the Gray threads."
King narrowed his eyes. "Gray threads?"
"Yes, Inspector, you will remember that small strands of gray thread were found on the scene of each crime?"
The inspector looked at him thoughtfully for a moment, and then said, "Yes. But that was never revealed to the public… until your blunder just now."
"Oh, I don't think it really matters any more. The murderer wore gray gloves. The murderer is standing in this very room. The murderer is…I, as a matter of fact."

Saturday, October 27, 2012

As a Dog Returneth: Part II


"I'm telling you, I'm innocent!" Erik Boyette traced a hand across his brow. "Why would I want to poison Kathryn Smithe?"

Inspector King crossed and uncrossed his legs, then scribbled something down on his notepad. "Why indeed? Grayson."

A reliable yet shabby-looking police sergeant stepped forward. "Yes, sir?"

"Fetch Miss Blyde, will you, please? Thank you. Now, Mr. Boyette, why did you wish to kill your fiancée?"

Boyette frowned. "Kill Ethne? Are you mad? It's Miss Smithe that's dead, isn't it?"

The inspector smiled and folded his fingers together. "Yes, it is Miss Smithe, God rest her soul. The point—" There was a knock on the door. "Come in, Grayson. The point, Mr. Boyette, is this: Miss Smithe pretended to be your betrothed, for goodness knows what petty reason. You believed her, slipped something into her punch and here we are. The question is 'why'?"

"Sir, I—"

"You had the opportunity: A crowded party, noise, distractions."

"I didn't do it! You must believe me, Inspector; I would never harm Ethne Blyde. I love her."

King nodded. "Love. Love can do funny things to a fellow." He turned to the door. "Ah, Grayson. I see you brought the girl." His eyes traveled to another gentleman who had also entered the room. "What's this?"

"Mr. African, sir," said Grayson.

"Ackerman, actually, sir," the man said.

Grayson rolled his eyes. "I'm sorry, sir; he said he wanted to help, and he was very persistent."

"Every Tom, Dick, and Harry thinks he can solve a murder." King waved them away with an inky hand. "Tell him to leave; I don't need some old fool getting in the way and muddling things up for me."

Mr. Ackerman gave a bow and said, "Sir, please do not think I'm an interfering busybody. You see, I was the chief inspector in charge of the original X Murder case."

The confusion on Miss Blyde and Mr. Boyette's faces was nothing to the surprise on Grayson's stubbly mug. King, however, grunted and pointed to the leather armchair opposite him. "Miss Blyde, you may have a seat there. Mr. Grayson, take Mr. Boyette into another room; I'll send for you both again when I'm ready. And… Ackerman, was it?"

"At your service," said Ackerman.

"We'll see. You may take the window seat. Now, Miss Blyde, tell me truthfully: Why were you and Miss Smithe dressed in an identical manner?"

Miss Blyde, now without wig and mask, took the seat offered her. "The truth? I don't know."

"You don't know what the truth is, my dear?" In an identical movement, King and Ackerman drew a notepad from their inner jacket pockets.

"No, no, I know what the truth is, and the truth is this: I don't know why she dressed like I did. We're good friends."

Inspector King looked at the pale-faced beauty, sitting tall and straight before him. One of her hands clutched to the armrest, while the other rested a pointed finger against her lower lip. King jotted down a few letters next to the woman's name, letters that would be gibberish to another. "Please, continue."

"Well, I told her what I was wearing tonight. She obviously copied me purposely."

"Do you know what possible motive she might have had?"

For a moment, Miss Blyde looked like she had no answer to the question, then burst out suddenly: "She's jealous. That's why she did it. Erik told me he thought that Kathryn was I when she came from the punch bowl."

"And where were you when Miss Smithe was getting punch?"

A blush came over her pale features, and she hemmed and hawed a little before answering. "I was powdering my nose. There's nothing odd about that, is there?"

Mr. Ackerman answered instead. "No, but didn't Mr. Boyette believe you to be at the punch bowl?"
Every trace of the blush disappeared from Miss Blyde's face. "How did you—?" She looked over at Mr. Ackerman for the first time since entering the room. "How dare you!" she spat. "How dare you accuse me of this nonsense."

Ackerman's eyes narrowed. "You have been caught in two lies tonight, madam. The truth would be refreshing."

"Two lies?" she parroted.

"Ackerman," said King in a tone of warning.

"Isn't it true that you and the late Miss Smithe were after the same man? That you weren't close friends at all?"

"I never!" she cried.

"Enough," King roared. "Mr. Ackerman, if you continue to interrupt me, I shall see you behind bars."

With a shrug, Mr. Ackerman lowered his notebook and said, "Very well, Inspector. I shall behave myself."

Inspector King turned back to Miss Blyde. "A thousand apologies, Madam. It shall not happen again."
"I should think not," she said.

"Might I ask one polite question?"

At this, the woman sat up more straightly in her chair and folded her hands in her lap. "Yes?"

"Where were you doing missions work in Africa?"

Miss Blyde crinkled her brow. "I've never been. Why?"

"Oh, you have a hint of a foreign accent in your voice. One often picks up that sort of thing when one visits different countries. I was merely curious, having traveled to South Africa recently myself."

Miss Blyde nodded stiffly, as if she did not approve of such travels.

Friday, October 26, 2012

As a Dog Returneth: Part I


            "As a dog returneth to its vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly." The words forced their way into Eugene Ackerman's mind as he strolled up the walk to Prewitt Manor. Time had hardly touched the place over the past ten years. The only thing that stood out to Ackerman as different was the stone marker over a patch of unkempt grass.
Could it be Mildred Prewitt's final resting place?
Ackerman tore his eyes from the sight and rang the doorbell two times in quick succession. Before anyone could answer, he slipped a domino mask over his eyes and removed the invitation from his pocket.
"You are cordially invited to attend the Lena Historical Society's first annual Halloween Masquerade Ball. Date: The thirty-first of October, 1899; Time: 5:00 PM; Place: Prewitt Manor on North Ridge. Please come dressed in attire appropriate to a masquerade."
Standing there, Ackerman wondered if he would have done better to come in full costume. Before he could change his mind and turn around, the door opened.
"Inspector Ackerman!" the maid cried.
Ackerman stared at her. "How did you know?"
"Your hair! It was always sticking up in funny places. You haven't changed a bit."
Betsy Miller had hardly changed either. She had the same dirty face and wrinkled half-apron; and she wore the same wide-eyed expression that she had ten years ago.
"Mr. Ackerman, actually," Ackerman said in what he hoped was a jovial voice.
The woman blinked. "Oh, so you've retired, then?" Before he could give an affirmative, she stood aside and said, "Don't let me keep you out in this cold, Inspector. Just let me take your coat and you can join the party." She helped Ackerman out of his coat and offered to take his gray gloves.
"I'll hold onto them, thank you," he said.
The maid shot him a quizzical look, but made no comment. "You're one of the first to arrive, I must say. Those that are already here are in the drawing room. You remember where that is."
Of course he did.
As he walked past the grand staircase and ducked through the entryway, he made quick mental notes of the changes that had occurred. The grand piano was no longer displayed in the middle of the floor, but was shoved off in a corner and covered with a dust cloth. Also, the crowd of masqueraders now populating the room replaced the swarm of mourners, reporters, investigators and suspects.
Three women stood grouped in the middle of the room. One was dressed in white and wore a silver mask with matching silver wings. Another wore a light green dress and a gold domino mask; what she was supposed to be escaped Ackerman. The third woman was dressed in the most shocking red. Red dress, red mask, red horns… Blood-red, he thought with a shudder and looked elsewhere.
Now there was a sight!
Two identically-dressed women stood in opposite corners of the room. Their deep blue gowns matched down to the gold thread and bunched up ruffles. The black masks were of the same feline curves and points. Their hair was the same. The only difference Ackerman could detect was in the women's attitudes. While the lady on the left spoke animatedly to a fat friar, whose hood had just slipped, the lady on the right stood rigid and quiet with a peacock one could only assume to be her beau.
Ackerman smiled. No one had given him more than a look.
As he ladled punch into a crystal glass, he heard the woman with the friar say, "—Stupid cow; it serves her right. She stole him right from under me!"
The friar puffed out his chest and shook his head. "Really, Miss Smithe; show some grace, and mind your language."
The girl drew her shawl more tightly around her shoulders. "Forgive me, Reverend. I forgot who I was talking to." Her eyes flitted to the punch bowl and then to her costume "twin." "Why don't you have a seat, and I'll fetch you some punch."
"A lovely gesture, Miss Smithe; but I'm afraid I shall not be indulging tonight. Drinking aggravates the ulcer, you know."
Not pausing to listen to the girl's subsequent fussing, Ackerman sat down several feet away on the window seat.
The women in the middle of the room now turned their attention to the instrument in the corner. Ackerman hoped they wouldn't pry and remove the cover, though he knew the bloodstains had been wiped clean.
     The grouping was too far away for him to make out what they were saying, but they all seemed absorbed. What a bunch of old biddies, Ackerman said to himself.
     He sipped his punch and let his gaze wander around the entire party. “Dull as tombs,” he thought. Drier than this punch, even. He thought of the flask in his hip pocket and sighed; he really oughtn't. Alcohol always gave him that strange prickly sensation in the back of his neck.
It was nearing five twenty when the doorbell rang, and a group of six women and three men were shown inside. There were several gasps followed by a whirlwind of whispers; they had spied the piano as well.
Ackerman spied something else: A stray medicine bottle near one of the piano legs. As he went to retrieve it, in respect for the homeowners, a gaggle of women swooped down upon the instrument. He pocketed the bottle and paused to listen.
"Is that it?" a witch asked an orange cat.
The cat nodded her blonde head and pointed a gloved hand. "Yes, but it was in the center of the room when they found her."
"Was she really—"
"Stuffed half inside?" a flamingo finished for her. "Yes, my dear; it's sad but true." The woman fluttered a fan and dabbed her brow. "I was there that afternoon, you know. What a sad way to go, strangled with a piano string in one's own home. Poor, dear Mildred."
            "You must be very brave to speak of this, Mrs. Dent."
So, that was Gillian Cartwright—wife of the now-deceased millionaire, Lucius Dent. She had been one of Ackerman's main suspects in the Prewitt murder. She had had the motive: Greed. Aunt Prewitt left her a hefty sum, though the estate itself had been left to her nephew, Philip Janson and his wife, Martha. The Jansons had been suspects at first but, along with Miss Cartwright, they had a solid alibi. And that was before the "X" symbols began showing up all over Lena and Amherst.
Ackerman moved away before he could be recognized.
The chattering had increased in volume, and more persons forced their way into the room, some heading for the punch bowl, and others searching out acquaintances.
"Inspector Ackerman," said a booming voice that caused half the room to stop and stare.
Mr. Ackerman winced. How'd he know it was I?
"Oh, right, Mr. Ackerman. Forgive me," said the friar, who now stood beside him. "You perhaps don't remember, but I'm Reverend Martin Vervain. I administered the Last Rites right here, in this room, ten years ago—to the day, come to think of it. Sad business, really sad business."
Inclining his head, Ackerman smiled and took a sip of punch.
"And I haven't noticed you in church since." The man shot him a stern look, then broke down in laughter. "It's all right; we all lose our faith at some point along the way. It's understandable in your case."
Ackerman raised both his eyebrows. "Is that so?"
Reverend Vervain gave a wry smile. "Well, what I mean to say is, the X Murderer has given you quite a bit of trouble."
"That he did. But no more. I am retired." Ackerman returned the smile and waved the matter away. "So, has the ministry been keeping you busy?"
"Busy? I should daresay it's been running me all over the place. I just returned from a missions trip to Africa with a group of volunteers. A few of them are at the party this evening, in fact."
"Still fighting for souls?"
"Oh, yes." The reverend rubbed his hands together and laughed. "The harvest is ripe for picking."
"Leave me alone!"
"Ethne, are you all right?" asked the gentleman dressed as a peacock. He pursued his partner across the room.
As the lady passed, Ackerman noted that she was rather pale in the face, and her blue gown was stained with perspiration marks.
"I'm not Ethne," she gasped, then dropped to the ground. She convulsed several times and was still.
"Out of the way!" Ackerman yelled. He pushed through the throng of people and dropped next to the girl.
"I don't understand," said the peacock, ripping his mask away. "She left for the punch bowl a few minutes ago, and came back looking like—"
"Quiet!" Ackerman listened for the girl's breathing and felt for a pulse; nothing. "Does anyone here know how to perform chest compressions?"
There was more murmuring.
"Never mind," he snapped. He pressed one hand over the other on the woman's chest and proceeded to apply and remove direct, hard pressure to the ribcage. For nearly five minutes he went on like this, until…
"I've just rung for the doctor," cried a middle-aged woman.
"You're too late," Ackerman panted, looking at his watch. It was five thirty-nine. "She's dead."
The silence was broken at once.
"Dead?"
"What?"
"How?"
Ackerman rose. "Do not touch the body," he roared at the dead woman's beau. "And do not leave this house. That goes for everyone."
"Erik? What's going on?" someone cried.
A woman wearing a blue gown and a feline-esque mask pushed her way through the crowd.
"Ethne?" said the beau, whose gaze flitted between the woman on the floor and the woman in the crowd.
Ackerman looked at the X scratched into the floor. He blinked. “Of course,” he thought. “Of course.”

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Author Interview: Meradeth Houston



Hello, peeps! Today I am interviewing Meradeth Houston, author of Colors Like Memories. Let's dive in, shall we?



Cover art: 


Me:  Welcome to the blog! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview. To start off, tell us a bit about your book.


Meradeth: A bit about the Colors Like Memories:

Julia has a secret: she killed the guy she loved. It was an accident—sort of. 

Julia is a Sary, the soul of a child who died before taking her first breath. Without this 'breath of life' she and others like her must help those on the verge of suicide. It's a job Julia used to enjoy, until the accident that claimed her boyfriend’s life—an accident she knows was her fault. If living with the guilt weren't enough, she's now assigned to help a girl dealing with the loss of her mother, something Julia's not exactly the best role model for. If she can't figure out a way to help her, Julia's going to lose her position in the Sary, something she swore to her boyfriend would never happen.


Me: Is this your debut work? 


Meradeth: This is my debut! However, my second book in the Sary books will be available next April! The title is currently The Chemistry of Fate.


Me: How long did this book take you, from draft one to ready to submit?


Meradeth: I honestly have lost track on how long it took, total! A very, very long time. The first draft practically wrote itself, but then revisions probably took the better part of a year, I think.


Me: As an author, who has influenced your work the most?


Meradeth: Lots of people have influenced me: authors like Madeline L'Engle especially. My critique partners, and beta's especially, have also had a huge impact on my writing. We all need our support when it comes to writing, and they have certainly been mine.


Me: Random question time: If your main character was marooned on a desert island, what three items would s/he wish to be stranded with and why?


Meradeth: If Julia was stuck on a desert island, hmm, well, she can fly so assuming for some reason she's stuck, she'd have her necklace from Derek, a good book, and probably something practical like a tarp or blanket.


Me: Here's my favorite question to ask authors: "Do you believe in the dreaded Writer's Block?" If so, how do YOU get past it?


Meradeth: I do believe people can get stuck while writing, or just burnt out. I've had it happen. For me, what I need to do is figure out which is which: am I tired and need a break, or am I just stuck? The former requires a break, the second, just getting my butt in the chair and writing something, anything, so the words are flowing again!


Me: Care to tell us anything about your current work-in-progress?


Meradeth: My WIP is the third Sary book, and incidentally, a re-write of the first book I ever wrote!


Me: And last but not least: Do you have any words of wisdom for new and aspiring authors?


Meradeth: I'd have to say: read, a lot. Write, a lot. And be sure to have fun with what you're doing--because if it's not fun, then why do it?

Thanks so much for hosting me today Beth! 

___

About the author: Meradeth’s never been a big fan of talking about herself, but if you really want to know, here are some random tidbits about her:

-She’s a Northern California girl. This generally means she talks too fast and use "like" a lot.
-When she’s not writing, she’s sequencing dead people’s DNA. For fun!
-She’s been writing since she was 11 years old. It's her hobby, her passion, and she’s so happy to get to share her work!
-If she could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is a little strange, because she’s terrified of heights.


Visit Meradeth on her website or her blog. Follow her on twitter, GoodReads, Shelfari, Facebook, and Pinterest.


You can purchase Colors Like Memories at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smash Words, or (preferably) MuseItUp Publishing. Watch the trailer or teaser trailer for Colors Like Memories.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Author Interview: Conda V. Douglas

Greetings! Today's interview features Conda V. Douglas, author of The Mall Fairies: Exile. Read on!

Cover art: 




Me: Welcome! Tell us a bit about your book. 

Conda: Swoop the fairy lives in the attic of a shopping mall and loves it. She’s terrified of Outside, where fairies can die. But when Swoop finds her best friend One Wing in the company of a human, she determines she’ll do anything to save him from being exiled Outside, a death sentence, or so she believes.

Me: Is this your debut work? 

Conda: This is my debut novel! But I was fortunate enough to sell two novels in 10 days to two different publishers last year. My other novel, a mystery, STARKE NAKED DEAD, was published three months after THE MALL FAIRIES: EXILE. You can find these titles as well as several of my short stories published in anthologies on my Amazon home page here: https://www.amazon.com/author/condadouglas


Me: How long did this book take you, from draft one to ready to submit?

Conda: THE MALL FAIRIES: EXILE took 10 months to completion. However, it took over a year before it was ready to send out, because I had to set the manuscript aside between each of my drafts. Otherwise, I'm liable to toss the whole book into the fire, if I look at it too soon after finishing a draft. That would be bad, as it is a fake gas fire, smoke all over the house.
Me: As an author, who has influenced your work the most? 

Conda: With this work, it has to be the wonderful author Terry Pratchett. He showed me the way, as a writer of adult (not erotica, just grown up) fiction that I could become a writer of YA and 'tween tales.
Me: Random question time: Your main character finds him or herself trapped in an elevator with their worst enemy. Describe the scene that ensues.

Conda: Ahem, I believe that scene is in my book. No spoilers here, but when my main character Swoop the fairy encounters her worst enemy, a human, in an elevator, you'd think it'd be all over for five inch tall Swoop, right? But remember, Swoop may be small, but unlike that nasty evil human—she can fly. In fact, she's the best flier in the fairy clan, hence her name, Swoop. Sure the human has size and strength to the nth degree, but Swoop has speed and agility. AND she's a small target. Who wins this battle? Read the book to find out!
Me: Here's my favorite question to ask authors: "Do you believe in the dreaded Writer's Block?" If so, how do YOU get past it?

Conda: Yes, unfortunately I do believe, too well, in Writer's Block. The most effective way I've discovered to crack that horrid block is by telling myself I won't work on what I'm blocked on. I insist that I stop working on it and start work on something else, anything else. And being a contrarian, i.e.  crazed author, as soon as I do that I start to think of what to write next. Block broken.

Me: Care to tell us anything about your current work-in-progress?

Conda: You betcha. Next up is the second in my Mall Fairies trilogy, THE MALL FAIRIES: WAR where fairy Swoop encounters trolls, pixies and good looking guys, oh my. And that's just the beginning of her new adventure.

Me: And last but not least: Do you have any words of wisdom for new and aspiring authors?

Conda: Two words: KEEP WRITING. No matter how difficult to find time to write, or how many rejections you gather, keep writing. As long as you write, you're a successful writer.


____




About Conda: I knew at age 10 that I was born to write. I grew up in a tiny mountain town in Idaho, in my folk’s funky art gallery, lots of juice for my writing. The inspiration for my Mall Fairy trilogy came from the swallows that live in the Boise Towne Square Mall. I've traveled the world and my own tiny office, writing all the while. When not rescuing fairies from humans, cats, and themselves, I work on the next title in the Mall Fairy trilogy.

Visit Conda at:  http://condascreativecenter.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Twitter Break-Down Break-Dance

What makes a person follow or un-follow you on Twitter? As someone who just followed a good thirty people on that social network, maybe you'd get something out of what I have to say:

PROFILE PIC
^That's the potential follower's/reader's first impression of you. Make it a good one. I'm not saying go have your hair and nails done and buy a whole new wardrobe. The picture's quality is more important. It's more about brightness/darkness and "focus" that get me drawn in. If you have a picture of you and a group of people crammed into that little square, chances are it's going to look like a tiny blur of nonsense. The ones that jumped out as me were close-ups of people, animals, or objects.

The picture should also match your brand, IMO. If you're a serious hardcore romance writer, then I don't know what to think when your pic is of Elmo. Sends a weird message to me.

BIOS
Bios (or biographies) are a bigger deal than some people might think. I liked the witty ones the most, but some were over-the-top. Be you.

Also, as a writer, I'm trying to look for people who write/review/read my genres. If your age group or genre are not in your bio, I might give you a pass.

CONTENT
When you're previewing a tweeter's account, you see maybe the last three tweets that they did. Since I'm too lazy to click into every single account and then go back, I judge the account's content by those three tweets. If I see a bunch of @ mentions, it's walking into the middle of a conversation, and I don't know what's going on. If there are only links and no description of those links, I assume you are a spammer. If it's all promotional (Buy my book at such and such a place! On sale! Buy NOW!), I yawn and move on.

FOLLOWERS/RANDOM
If you have a good following, I am more likely to think your links are safe to click on. Just a random aside.

What makes me un-follow?

1. Crude/dirty language
2. Rotten attitude towards others
3. TONS of links
4. TONS of buy my book
5. TONS of @'s

Surprisingly, hash tags are not a turn-off to me.

So, to break things down:

- Be yourself
- Choose clear pics
- Variety is good for tweeting
- Mind your last three tweets before you sign off
- Don't be obnoxious

Hope this helps somebody. Now, I'm off to check over my OWN Twitter account...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

And the Winner is...

Congratulations, Susanne Drazic: You have won the PDF copy of Girls Succeed by J.Q. Rose!

I believe I have your email address on file from your last win. I will be sending it to Ms. Rose, so that she can send you your prize.

Thanks for all who commented!

Cheers,
Beth

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Cheers!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Author Interview: J.Q. Rose


Today I have J.Q. Rose, author of Girls Succeed, on my blog. Ready? Here we go!




Length (page length): 52
Genre: Children’s non-fiction
Purchase link: 
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/241825


Me: Welcome to my blog! Tell us something about your book.
           
J.Q.: I was honored to interview fifteen fantastic women for the interactive e-book about their careers. We have a doctor, scientist, Olympic and Paralympics gold medalist athletes, teacher, professional clown, children’s book author, chef, technology expert, horticulturist, minister, semi-truck driver, social worker, and entrepreneurs. Not only do they share information about their careers, they also tell us what or who inspired them to choose this journey.

It is an interactive e-book because after each chapter there are links to information about the woman and/or her career. Readers can click on them if they are on the Internet to learn more about each person and her topic. As an example, Pati Pierucci is a horse trainer and teaches students how to compete in dressage competitions. I have a link to her and dressage sites as well as a video of the 2012 Olympics dressage competition.

Me: What inspired you to put this book together?

J.Q.: While working at a girls summer resident camp in Michigan, I enjoyed meeting and interacting with the campers and the counselors. I wondered in the new world of more career opportunities for women what choices would these smart, energetic girls make. What plans do they dream about for their future?.

Me: What do you hope middle-grade girls will get out of this book?

J.Q.: It is my hope this book will be a guide and inspire the girls to reach their goals.

Me: What, in your opinion, is the biggest challenge girls face in the career world today? How is it to be overcome?

J.Q: Self-confidence. Girls need to be surrounded with positive people and role models in order to let them interact with confident women and decide to be “just like them.”

Me: When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

J.Q.: When I was growing up girls could only be secretaries, teachers, and nurses. I wanted to be a veterinarian and a journalist. I am finally living my dream after all these years by writing for newspapers and finishing this project for girls.( I dropped becoming a vet because I couldn’t stand watching a kitty or puppy in pain.)

Me: Before you go, would you care to share a few words of wisdom for girls pursuing their dreams?

J.Q.: My guiding light for writing this book was the quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Me: Thanks so much for your time. I wish you the best with this book. I hope it inspires young girls everywhere!

J.Q.: Thanks, Beth, it’s so much fun to finally have the book out into the world and into the hands of readers.

____
About J.Q. Rose: After writing feature articles in magazines, newspapers, and online magazines for over fifteen years, J.Q. Rose entered the world of fiction writing with her first published novella, Sunshine Boulevard, released by Muse It Up Publishing in 2011. Using her skills as a freelance writer,. Janet published a book very close to her heart, a non-fiction book for middle grade girls, Girls Succeed: Stories Behind the Careers of Successful Women. Blogging, photography, The Pegs and Jokers board game and travel keep her out of trouble most of the time. Spending winters in Florida with her husband allows Janet the opportunity to enjoy the life of a snowbird. Summer finds her up north camping and hunting toads, frogs, and salamanders with her four grandsons and granddaughter.

Visit her at her website or blog

To learn more about Girls Succeed, go to:  http://girlssucceed.blogspot.com/

___

WIN A PDF COPY OF GIRLS SUCCEED!
Just comment on this blog post before 11:59 PM ET on October 12, 2012
in order to be entered in a random drawing.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

What is a book, but the ghost of another man's mind?


I came across this bit of writing from over a year ago. I thought it was somewhat witty...albeit weird. Judge for yourself:


     All of us, myself in particular, are terrified of saying something that will sound foolish, or worse, not astonish the entire room. I parody and paraphrase, parroting to put a finer point on it. I wish to be clever and all things witty and relevant, yet at the same time I want to fit in and be "normal." If I wrote half the things that passed through my extra ordinary brain, people would die of shock. Yes, I'd get my wish: it would astonish the entire room.
     I don't know what drove me to do it, other than pride, but I wrote something quite abominably astonishing the other day. There I'm editing again as I go, a dangerous pastime for the Muse. Anyhow, back to my foolish astoundment (those red lines do murder the soul, do they not?) or astonishment, to be quite redundant and unimaginative: I was writing in my chamber and thought to write all things scandalous. Says I, "If it's in my head, I might as well commit it to paper."
     And so I wrote. 
     I wrote all things vulgar and trivial. All things vile and perverse, I wrote them as well. Then, reading it to an assembly of my general acquaintance, I found that the prose, though not lacking in corruption, was in fact not corrupt in the ears of the beholders. Their astonishment? That is was not more vulgar, base, trivial, perverse and viler and that I thought it thus. But that is general opinion, is it not? I would not know. My opinion, apparently, is not general. I flatter myself to be a bit above and beneath my company all at once, a great feat only a great mind could undertake. I am above them, in that my moral standard must come to a higher pinnacle. I am lower in that of the same. Good and bad have become rather subjective in these direly dull days. Alliteration, how preposterous. Again with the red and green lines. Have some compassion on  my poor soul…and nerves, while you're at it. 
     Computer, whatever ghost you may be of another man's mind, I am freeing myself tonight. I am writing chain and thought of consciousness, unconsciously, I confess, to reason, for I think and edit in my mind even as I do not—well, as I BARELY do in physicality. Ridiculous, says I, I am channeling a fop and I am not even… Confused.

     What is a book, but the ghost of another man's mind? 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Author Interview: Karina Fabian

Today we have Karina, author of  Live and Let Fly, on the blog. Let's get goin'!


Cover art by: Lex Valentine


Me: Welcome to the blog! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview. To start off, tell us a bit about your book. 

Karina: How about if I show you?


Me: Is this your debut book?

Karina: Good heavens, no!  Live and Let Fly is the second in the DragonEye, PI series. In addition, I have several other books and series.  My latest book came out in September, I Left My Brains in San Francisco.  This is the second in the Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator series.  (Seems 2012 was a year of seconds!) 

Me: How long did this book take you, from draft one to ready to submit? 

Karina: Less than a year, which is average for me when I’m on a roll writing a book.

Me: As an author, who has influenced your work the most?

Karina: My husband, Rob.  He’s given me security, both financially and in his support of my work.  He’s my idea man, and the first person I turn to when I am stuck or have a question on something.  (The man is a genius.)  He’s also collaborated with me on stories, and co-edited three anthologies with me.

Me: Random question time: Your main character is locked inside a department store overnight and is unable to contact anyone for help. What does s/he do?

Karina: Vern would probably curse his fate, then decide he might as well have fun with it and set himself in a display somewhere where he can most startle the employees who come to open up.  Sister Grace would spend the evening in prayer.

Me: Here's my favorite question to ask authors: "Do you believe in the dreaded Writer's Block?" If so, how do YOU get past it?  

Karina: I don’t.  When I have “block,” it’s either that I’m feeling lazy or intimidated.  The only way to get past that is to sit down and write, giving myself permission to write tripe if I have to, but to get it written so I can make it great.

Me: Care to tell us anything about your current work-in-progress?

Karina: How about the next DragonEye, PI book, Gapman?  I have a lot of fun twisting clichés with the DragonEye books—after all, Faerie are all about cliché—that I am tacking superheroes next.

Ronnie Engleson is a mild-mannered entertainment reporter…until a very bad day on the set of the Faerie play, Captain Extraordinary!  He falls into a vat of magically created toxic waste, gets bitten by a radioactive pixie, then struck by lightning while crossing the Interdimenional Gap—is it any wonder he wakes up with superpowers? A naïve soul whose childhood affair with comic book heroes looks to be a lifelong commitment, he’s determined to use his powers for Truth, Justice, and Good.  Too bad he’s making such a mess of it.

Meanwhile, someone has come to Los Lagos intent on Deceit, Lawlessness, and Evil, as he works to ignite prejudice and resentment between Faerie and Mundane to start an interdimensional war.  Step One on the Diabolical To-Do list is get rid of Vern.  And as if finding a dragonslayer wasn’t enough on Vern’s mind, Sister Grace and Police Chief Capt. Santry have decided Vern should train up their latest superpowered resident.

Can an annoyed dragon and a stubborn superhero diffuse a multidimensional powderkeg when they can’t get along with each other?

Me: And last but not least: Do you have any words of wisdom for new and aspiring authors?

Karina: Write.  Learn the business.  Get critiques.   Edit.  Write some more.

Me: Thanks, Karina!

____
Karina Fabian: SFF + horror writer & award-winning fantasy humorist, enjoys getting dragons in over their heads. http://fabianspace.com

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

And the Randomly Drawn Winner is...

Susanne Drazic!

Congratulations to you, Susanne, you've won a copy of H.M. Prevost's book Desert Fire!

You will be receiving an email from H.M. herself soon, so keep checking your inbox!

Cheers,
Beth