Thursday, September 30, 2010

Welcome, C.K. Volnek

Thank you so much for being here, C.K. Volnek


1: what genre do you write?

Thank you for having me. I write mostly MG, Tween and YA. My middle son hated to read and it challenged me to come up with stories that could entertain, encourage and inspire my readers.

2: How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was in my teens. But my dream of writing novels was put on hold for many years while I raised my family. There just weren’t enough hours in the day, or enough energy in my body, to crank out my novels. But I wrote newsletters, articles and short stories all along, even getting a story picked up for Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul.

3: What do you like the most and least about writing?

I love to tell stories. Always have. I remember being the designated story teller around the camp fire when I was young. I love to take my characters and make them come to life, watching them go after their dreams and persevere even though obstacles try to stop them.

What I like least, is my internal editor. She seems to raise her head at times she shouldn’t causing quite a ruckus between her and my muse. She also likes to inflict the seeds of doubt at times when I can be very vulnerable, my own worst enemy.

4: What do you for fun and relaxation when not writing?

I’m lucky to have a lot a hobbies. Mostly I like to spend time with my family. I also love to travel, especially hiking in the mountains. I like to draw and paint, play with my flower garden, make jewelry, take my Papillons (all 4 at once) for long walks, and relax with a good movie like Pride and Prejudice.

5: Which authors do you like to read?

I really like the voices of Jane Yolen, Deb Calleti and Edward Bloor. But I admit, I also love the stables of Anna Sewell and Jane Austin.

6: What’s the one thing you’d most like people to know about you?

I’m nobody really special. Just an average person. Wife, mom, employee...but I have a passion for writing and with hard work and keeping my dream alive, I’m excited to accept my first two contracts. If I can do it, anyone can, if they want it bad enough to work for it.

7: Tell me about your current novel, where I can find it?

I have two novels coming out with MuseItUp Publishing. Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island will be released in September, 2011 and The Secret of the Stones will be shortly thereafter. Both are tween novels. Please check out my author page at http://museituppublishing.com/musepub/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=128&Itemid=82

8: Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?

Two elements stand out to me when one is first writing. 1. Believe in Yourself and 2. Never give up!

1. It’s so easy to doubt yourself, believing that you cannot compete with the likes of J.K. Rawlings or Stephen King. But don’t believe it. Your story is important and if you don’t write it, no one else will!

2. It’s also easy to just give in and go on to do something else, especially at the first hint of criticism. But if you give up, you’ll never know how your story could have touched the people it was meant to touch, maybe being the lifesaver of just one person...

9: Do you base your characters on real-life people?

I do take bit and pieces of real people. The MC of ‘The Secret of the Stones’, Alex Ramsey, is based quite a bit on my middle son, down to the ‘middle child syndrome’ my character reacts with.

10: How did you come up with the idea for this book?

I have an overactive imagination. Seems I read anything and my muse automatically asks... ‘what if...’ That’s how ‘The Secret of the Stones’ came about. I was reading a short story about Merlin and Vivienne. My muse reflected on the movie The Sword and Stone and how Merlin changed him and Arthur into squirrels and fish. My muse automatically wondered what would happen if a boy today had that same power. It’s a rather humorous tale and one I delighted in writing as most of my stories or on the more serious side.

11: What are you currently working on?

I am currently working two books... ‘The Secret of the Wood’, the sequel to ‘The Secret of the Stones’, where Alex will continue his magical adventure. And I am also working on a YA titled ‘The Three O’Clock Hour’. It is a fiction story based on the school bus tragedy of my home town.

12. Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?

Hmmm... I’m a Christian. I love my family and hate it when we’re apart. I love dogs and horses, traveling, hiking in the mountains and strolling on the beaches. I love pasta and tulips, gardening and making jewelry. I am a night owl which works out great for my muse since my hubby is an early bird.

13. Where can we find you? Website? Blog?

I would love to hear from readers and writers alike.

My e-mail is ckvolnek@yahoo.com

Website: http://www.ckvolnek.com/

Blog: http://www.ckvolnek.com/blog.html

Thanks for having me. Have a wonderful day!


Unedited excerpt of Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island

A hurricane has hit Roanoke Island earlier than expected, catching twelve year-old Jack Dahlgren at home...alone. Thinking he’s heard his dad calling for help from the boat dock, Jack heads out into the storm. But his dad isn’t back from town. The only thing out in the storm is a giant tan and black Mastiff. Wanting to get the dog to safety, Jack follows him up the bluff next to their beach house, the very bluff his little sister had fallen off of, the bluff he’d been forbidden to go up.

And the rest of the chapter...

Jack’s stomach knotted as he reached the top of the bluff. The massive white oak stood like a sentry, its dead, leafless branches reaching so high they seemed to spear the dark clouds. It groaned as the winds battered its gnarled branches, twisting and turning as though possessed.

The storm was getting stronger.

Jack stopped and wiped at the rain on his face as he scanned the bluff. Where was that dog?

A sharp bark from the shadows on the other side of the tree made him jerk. He blinked, staring into the blurred shrubs, their branches whipping back and forth like swords.

But as if he were an apparition, the dog was gone, melted away. Jack pushed his wet hair out of his eyes and looked again. He searched the bushes and vines; checked the slope that led down the back to the forest. There was no sign of the Mastiff.

The wind pressed hard against Jack’s chest, forcing him to step back. Soggy leaves slithered into the mud with a sucking noise under the weight of his foot. He tipped unsteadily; tripping over the oak’s crooked roots and fell against the rickety fence on the edge of the bluff. A weathered rail jerked up and down in the wind, jumping at Jack like an angry animal. He pushed himself upright again, his eyes widening as he stared at the missing section of fence to his right. This was where Kimmy fell.

The normally shallow water below the cliff exploded as black water beat at the narrow strip of rocky beach. He stared south, toward the long point of the island. Frothy whitecaps topped the enormous waves making them look like giant rabid sea-monsters. The coast line blurred into a haze of grays.

Rain whipped sideways across the bluff, stinging Jack’s cheeks and ears. The wind whirled around him like giant arms, tossing him back and forth, shoving him toward the tree; to where the water pooled into a bowl-shaped gap between the roots, swirling and churning like a witch’s brew.

His feet slid in the mud, gripping at the tree, but the smooth trunk offered no hold. The wet soil slipped beneath him and tossed him into the whirling mire.

He thrashed about, struggling to get out of the pool. But the slimy sludge only pulled harder. It sucked at his legs and arms. It filled his ears and coated his hair. It swirled him around and around, inching closer and closer to the void in the fence, toward the edge of the bluff, until the river of mud slithered over the edge … carrying him with it.






Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Welcome, Kay Dee Royal

Thank you so much for being here, Kay Dee Royal.
1: What genre do you write?

My new found passion is writing paranormal erotica romance, although under a different name I’ve written three Young Adult fantasy novels that remain work in progress.


2: How long have you been writing?

Since I could write the alphabet, but my serious writing began about six years ago.


3: What do you like the most and least about writing?

I love the moment an idea takes shape. The brainstorming process is a fun part, writing it all down is next, and editing is just as fun.

I think the least fun would be marketing my work. There’s a certain excitement in meeting people online, but it feels humbling to promote myself and my work. There are so many awesome authors out there.


4: What do you do for fun and relaxation when not writing?

Family time, fishing or golfing with my husband, or a nice wilderness hike are all fun, relaxing, and recharging. Of course, there’s always reading a good book to take me away from stresses in my life - nothing like living vicariously through a strong, intelligent heroine.

5: Which authors do you like to read?

I’m still establishing my favorites and look forward to the many choices I’ll find through Muse It Up Publishing and Muse It Hot! when they open their e-store on October 1, 2010. Until then I’m currently reading: Elisabeth Naughton, Kelly Armstrong, Christine Feehan, Susan Sizemore, Gena Showalter, Lora Leigh, Angel Knight, Emma Holly, and Nalini Singh, to name a few (smile). I read a lot!


6: What’s the one thing you’d most like people to know about you?

Tough question, especially since I’m an introvert. Hmmm…maybe it’s that I’m always humbled (I’m using this word again) when I read a great novel. It pushes me to improve and strengthen my own writing. I hold great admiration for authors who’ve found publishing success.
I’ve come to realize the true meaning of patience and perseverance through my personal writing experience.


7: Tell me about your current novel, where I can find it?

Muse It Hot Publishing will be releasing my novel, Big Girls Don’t Cry Wolf, on March 1, 2010. My author web page is: http://museithotpublishing.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=74&Itemid=82
Or go to www.museithotpublishing.com and find my book or author page there.

Here’s a Blurb about my book:

During a raging storm, Brea and her family get swept off the road when their car plunges off the Tagerson Bridge. Her adoptive parents and Brea survive, but her twin sister is never found.

Brea takes over the family resort business, focusing her life on making it a success.

Everything becomes complicated when a hunky wolf in human form, Grey Dalton, and his twin brother walk into the resort for a relaxing vacation.

A rogue werewolf abducts Brea and danger permeates the situation. Brea’s world collides with theirs and who, if anyone, rescues her?


8: Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?

NEVER STOP WRITING! Patience and perseverance (as I’ve mentioned previously) pays off in the end. Write, write, write, read, and write some more.


9: Do you base your characters on real-life people?

Yes, my characters are a blend of real-life people, plus maybe a bit from characters I’ve read or seen on television. I think there’s a piece of me in all of them as well, even if it’s a buried piece.


10: How did you come up with the idea for this book?

My writing idea began when I saw an online writing contest calling for an intelligent, confident, plus-sized woman, who is comfortable in her body. I loved that idea and Brea, my character, did too. Much of my scene came from a combination of rustic areas where I’ve vacationed. It worked perfect for a paranormal romance.

11: What are you currently working on?

A fifty-five-year-old woman (widower of two years), lives in a rustic location and owns property, which she turns into an animal preserve. There’s a virile forester who enters her life, and yes he’s a shifter (were-wolf). Danger and sparks pursue.

Still work in progress, but I’m having fun with this one.

12: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?

Maybe that I worked hard on my writing for years and when I finally joined a critique group, my writing strengthened. The best thing I ever did was bare my soul to fellow writers. It devastated me at first – I mean really, I thought every word I wrote was golden. Even with a couple of stabs and cuts I survived and stuck it out with even more determination. My critique groups have changed since the beginning. It’s important to find one that fits the genre you write and the members fit you as well. I would never give my current group up. They are valued, appreciated, and necessary.


13: Where can we find you?

I just created a blog and would love to have you visit: www.kaydeeroyal.blogspot.com

Otherwise, please visit Muse It Hot Publishing, http://www.museithotpublishing.com/


Unedited Excerpt from Big Girls Don’t Cry Wolf




Brea’s belly warmed and rolled into a major flip flop. Everything faded around her with the exception of the man in front of her. His eyes looked like gray slate in the strong sunlight, and he’d caught her staring. Those slates locked on to her, sending a bolt of electric sparks weaving through her insides. Her whole body tingled in a way she’d never experienced before.

“Damn it Blake, watch that thing,” his deep voice rumbled through the store.

His attention wavered, the connection shattered. Brea sucked in air like she’d just broke surface from a deep dive into a watery abyss. She physically took a step back to look at him, the energy in the air still heavy with the static strings that moments earlier connected them.

His fingers combed through the front of his hair, pulling it backward, but the dark curls bounced back over his brow, wild, unruly.

Brea couldn’t quite see behind Slate Eyes to know with whom he spoke, maybe a child. His bold language seemed a bit much for the likes of a child. He approached the counter where Brea stood. She swore the temperature rose about twenty degrees, even though a shiver spiked down her spine raising goose bumps over her skin.




Roseanne, thank you for having me as a guest on your blog. I would love to have you on mine soon. Blessings all, Kay Dee Royal

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Welcome, Marsha Moore

Thanks, Roseanne, for inviting me to be here today. Since this month is all about Muse Publishing and getting to know its authors, I thought I’d invite you and your readers into my home to see where I spend lots of time writing.

I’m pleased to have a room to myself, an extra bedroom converted into an office space, I don’t have to share with anyone. In there are my laptop and desktop computers, and reference books about magic, alchemy, ghosts, demons, witches. I like to write late at night and my tiny dragon figurines keep me company. On the floor is a woolen Indian rug, part of my Indian art collection. I never worry if Indian d├ęcor mixes with fantasy dragons. This is a room for my inspiration.

When I take a break from writing, I use a separate desk for doing my watercolor paintings. Both desks are ages old, the painting desk an authentic Mission style from the turn of the century. They belonged to my dad, who is no longer with us and I miss much. Using his furniture brings me close to him.



As my writing time has increased, I’ve found one of the biggest hardships is giving up time outside. I often take notepads and write longhand at local beaches, easy to do year round here in Tampa. Last week, we finished a summer-long remodeling project in our backyard, expanding the patio area. It’s enclosed in a lanai to keep hungry Florida bugs away. After surviving plenty of sand, dirt, and cement dust for a couple months, we have finished with a nice floor of pavers leading from our family room. Finally, I have a comfortable place to sit at the patio table with my netbook and write outside, thinking about my characters while staring at the lagoon behind us. The hammock gives a nice spot to lounge and brainstorm plot twists. We have put in a hot tub, which I haven’t yet managed as a writing aide – the warm water seems to sap my strength. But, it does serve as a great reward after meeting a good day’s word count. I’m having no trouble getting comfortable writing outside in our new lanai.

I always like to see where other writers spend hours gaining their creative ideas. A writer’s workspace seems to have an energy unique to that writer. It’s been fun sharing where I like to create.

To learn more about me, my writing, and my upcoming Muse release, Tears on a Tranquil Lake, please visit my website at http://www.marshaamoore.com/

Here’s an excerpt of my coming book, Tears on a Tranquil Lake, Chapter Ten:


The Black Hawk made port and its crew secured her to a dock. In every direction I looked were pirate ships.

Sam sidled up to me. “Feast yer eyes, lass. There be every type of privateer vessel here today.” He pointed them out, one by one. “Next to us be a square-rigger, massive enough to store plenty of booty . . . over there be a nimble sloop fitted with its dress canvases . . . and there, a two-masted brigantine workhorse . . . and farther back, a fleet of schooners with shallow drafts to make swift course in shoal waters.”

“Amazing! And all fly the skull and crossbones flag,” I said.

“That be the Jolly Roger, the buccaneer mark displayed aside their own war pennants, like ours be a black hawk set on a red field.”

What a sight, seeing dozens of fine sailing vessels docked or anchored in the tropical cove.

With the gangplank finally lowered and secured all hands anxiously waited for the captain to come on deck to dismiss them. Although only a few moments passed, the men grumbled.

Black Sam shot them a long, fierce glare before Raphael appeared.

The captain grinned from ear-to-ear, his booming voice full of excitement, “Aye, ye scallywags, the Hawk sets sail again midday tomorrow. Be here or be left behind. Now get yourselves ashore.”

They all scampered onto the dock like mice, yelling and laughing in anticipation of merriment and adventure.

Raphael proudly extended me his arm. “Ciel, you look lovely. Let me now show you the wonders of Tortuga.”

Along the promenade that followed the shore I struggled to match his gait. I was impeded by my less than agile tail flipper, and glad for his arm.

He sensed my dependence upon him and beamed, in high spirits. Smiling to familiar faces, he tipped his three-cornered black hat, its billowing white plume waving in the breeze. He looked dashing, outfitted in a purple waistcoat and gold brocade jacket. Slim black trousers and knee-high dress boots with shiny silver buckles accentuated his trim physique.

I smiled at him, pleased to be on his arm for reasons more than for physical support.

Everywhere I looked strode the most bizarre beings and unusually dressed people imaginable. At the sides of the promenade, men swallowed blades of any cutlass, dagger, or sword passing buccaneers might volunteer. In amazement I paused to try and discover their secrets, while Raphael pulled me along by the arm with my head turning back over my shoulder, mystified.

Scantily clad women preformed miraculous contortions, happily accepting gifts of doubloons tucked into any edges of their skimpy clothing or body orifices the seafarers wished to leave tips within. Their spines seemed boneless and I wondered if they were truly human.

Many merfolk, both male and female, accompanied pirates, while others sauntered alone or mingled in groups of their own kind. The mermaids all looked so beautiful, wearing lavish golden jewelry and their hair gleamed in the sunlight. I felt rather plain in comparison with only sea baubles for adornments.

The pirate captains and their staff all dressed in an eccentric array of finery. They lent a festive atmosphere, in their bright colors, fancy hats, and tall boots. Garb from around the world proudly boasted, of their travels in the Caribbean, as well as remote destinations of the Far East and Africa.

Amongst the mariners I caught a glimpse of one extremely odd creature strolling past who made me gasp. I could not help but stare. I knew not whether the being was male or female. I could see human legs, covered with pants and shoes, but also the upper body of a seal. I whispered to Black Sam beside me, “What is that sea creature?’

Noticing my bewilderment, he chuckled. “One of the bizarre wonders of the abyss. Pure magic. That be a common sight only on the land of this isle. He's a selkie who's not donned all his sealskin.” He pointed to draw my attention, which was unnecessary, since my eyes were already fixed to the sealman. “See that brown mass danglin' down behind him? That be the rest of it. Left out his legs, likely, so he can walk.”

“I envy him. I wish I could pull my scaly skin back to find some feet to walk upon.”

Raphael was smiling and listening to our conversation. “Don’t forget I can solve that problem for you, Ciel,” he whispered in my ear.

I sensed pressure to make my decision conveyed in his tone, and a wave of panic swept over me, taking my attention from the selkie.

The captain tightened his grasp upon my arm and looked imploringly into my eyes for that answer.

My pulse raced, unable to grant him the choice I knew he expected, yet also unable to leave his world behind for the sea.






Monday, September 27, 2010

Welcome, Krista D. Ball

So, Roseanne asked me to talk about all of the things that make me human. I'm not certain that I am human. Ever since the aliens took me, I've never felt quite the same, you know? Off somehow. But, let's try out this interview of hers on the slim chance that I'm still one of you.

Favourite thing: Newfie Screech. Whispering Oh, apparently I can't list alcohol as a favourite thing. Roseanne doesn't want me to perpetuate the stereotype of authors being drunkards. So, um, I've got nothing. I have lots of things that I like: a brightly-decorated pottery serving tray, these beige socks that are so comfy, a feather my eldest step-son gave me, a painting my youngest step-son gave me. I usually don't grow attached to objects so, once gone, it's gone.

Hobbies: Killing zombies. Whispering No, I'm not talking about killing people. Geez, that would be illegal. I'm talking zombies. Whispering. What? Zombies are not people, too. What on earth have you been reading? All right, all right. I'll list something normal. I like gardening with native Albertan plants.
List of my books: Oo! Oo! I can talk about this. I have several short stories available, but I'd like to mention two right now. First, is my light-hearted werewolf story, The Amazing Transformation of Wicca Dog. Robert is bitten by his werewolf nephew. But he's not worried. Werewolves are actually real. Unfortunately for Robert, mischievous Pan is trotting around, looking for something to do. You can read a sample and purchase the story here http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/19781

On October 1, my First Nations story, Harvest Moon, will be released through MuseItUp Publishing http://museituppublishing.com/musepub/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=25&Itemid=28
 Check out my trailer! link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiSOvLTqD6Q&feature=channel




Here's an excerpt from Harvest Moon’s Chapter 1:

Cross-legged, Dancing Cat sat pounding the sun-dried Saskatoon berries between two hand-sized rocks. The stone, her hands, and her buckskin dress all bore the tell-tale signs of berry duty. Streaks of red dye, impossible to clean, striped her clothing and tanned skin. She tried pushing her hair off her cheeks, only to have the sticky residue coating her fingers glue the dark strands in place.
The black flies swarmed and buzzed, ready to feast.
She worked in silence as part of the greater circle of twenty women, who chatted as they worked. Dancing Cat had no reason to join in. They only spoke to her to criticize or belittle, never for companionship. The band no longer even called her by name.
Her attention faded away from her work. She stared past the women to catch a glimpse of Eagle Eyes, her brother, mounting his horse. He was only six years older than her and already leading hunting parties, while she sat, docile and obedient, making powdered berries. His gaze caught hers, full of warning. She looked away with the heaviness of her situation pressing against her chest. Dancing Cat pounded her berries harder, trying to crush her own aching loneliness.

You can find Harvest Moon at : http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore
or purchase it at:
http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage-ask.tpl&product_id=22&category_id=2&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1

Feel free to check out my website at http://www.kristadball.com/ for free stories and my appearances (both online and in person). To listen to my weekly rants, check out my blog at www.kristadball.com/blog. Occasionally, I'm funny.
Occasionally.





Sunday, September 26, 2010

Welcome, Ginger Simpson

Career Choices


Most of you who know me, only know me as Ginger Simpson, the author. I doubt many of you realize that I drove a school bus for five years and many brain cells ago. I thought I might share some of what I learned with you. Every experience in our lives impacts us in some way, and I think driving a bus gave me some insight and inspiration for my upcoming young adult release, Shortcomings.

Driving bus seemed like the perfect job for a working mom…morning rounds, a kindergarten pick-up at noon, and then afternoon rounds. In between I dashed home, cleaned house, grocery shopped, ran errands then returned to the transportation yard to finish up for the day. I actually got to spend time with my son who was only two at the time. But I discovered later how clueless I was.

The bummer part was learning. All the seasoned drivers had the big, fancy crown diesels with dual wheels in the back…the ones that held ninety-one screaming children. The new people had to drive the old conventional ones…the ones with power steering in only one direction, and holes in the seats. I guess I should also mention the one with the spring that fell off the accelerator and stuck full throttle. Luckily I was alone at the time so no one saw me panic. Did you know that even if the engine is running full boar you can still stop by using the brakes, you don’t have to run off into a ditch?
When you’re a newbie, you have to be a substitute for others when they’re out. Boy that was fun. You found out who had rules and who didn’t. Somehow I always got stuck driving for the same driver…the one who evidently wore ear plugs and blinders. We drivers had just been instructed by the Highway Patrol to make sure we pulled as far to the right as possible when we stopped to cross children. Of course, you have to put on your flashing reds and take your little stop sign and walk the little dears across the street. The high school kids really love that!

The first time I subbed for good ol’ twenty-one, I had no idea what I had gotten into. On the first stop, I pulled just as far over as I could, turned on the lights and opened the door. I got up to lead the departees out the door. Ever stood dominos in a line and pushed the rear one forward? Well, to make a long story shorter, everyone was in a hurry. The back of the bus was in the front long before I stopped. So, add in the domino effect, and I went out the door, but not of my own accord.

I probably would have been hurt much more, if I hadn’t pulled close enough to the right, thus allowing me to fall into an irrigation ditch where the water cushioned my landing. I seem to have a thing for ditches. Thank goodness, I had traffic backed in both directions so I didn’t have to share my embarrassing moment alone. So, no one can say I didn’t do the hard knocks to earn my own bus.

Most of the kids are all right. The good thing is they are only on your bus just long enough for you to want to kill them then they get off. You have a cool-down period between pick-ups, so you can get ready for the next bunch. I think bus driving was the impetus behind the hand gun laws.

You learn a lot driving a bus. Things like, they hold off giving inoculations until right before they board the bus for home. Ever had twenty screamers in the vehicle while you drive? I have. When one kid pukes, it can cause a chain reaction. Gag and the world gags with you.

And high school students will try to smoke just to see if they can getaway with it. At least until I stopped the bus and walked to the back with the fire extinguisher. “Would you like me to put that out or would you like to do it?” It worked. No smoking on my bus, buster!

Oh, and let’s not forget the perks of field trips. I got to drive the HS Marching Band to Disneyland for three consecutive years. I can’t explain why I did it for the second two, but I imagined having a romp roaring time in the park with the kids on the first one. WRONG. The drivers didn’t get to go in. They had an all-night coffee and donut stand where most of the old men that drove tour buses gathered to play poker, but unless your school “kicked down” for a room, you got to sleep in the bus. Imagine trying to sleep on a school bus seat. Now imagine it with “It’s a Small World” playing continuously the entire night. I hate that song now!

Sometimes, your own bus had to be serviced and you were forced to revert back to one of the old conventionals. I had a favorite…number eight! Number seven only had power steering in one direction and sometimes not even that, and six just was too dang ugly. Number eight was the only automatic transmission bus we had. On the morning of my appointed service day, I came in and fueled up number eight and got “her” ready. We had a routine: come in early, wash the windshield, gas it up, sweep it out, check out the lights, let it warm up, and go in the lounge and have coffee while you waited.

The busses were parked in a single line in the middle of a big yard, thus allowing you to drive out of your slot, turn left and go behind the line to the gas pump. Number eight was second from the very end, closest to the exit gate, with the fuel pump being at the other end. In order to get back into line after I fueled, I really had to crank hard to make it.

So, now my bus is ready, warming up, and I’m in for coffee and war stories till my pick-up time. In about five minutes, someone stuck their head in the door and asked who was driving number eight.

“Me, I’ve already fueled it and checked it out.” I possessively announced.

Imagine my surprise when she told me that it was just going out the gate. I was ticked. How dare someone take the bus I’d already checked out? I ran outside prepared to do battle. Someone was about to get a piece of my mind. Taking someone else’s ride that’s road ready is not bus etiquette.

Much to my dismay what I saw was my supervisor chasing a driverless bus through the gate. Now, if I hadn’t already believed in God, this would have cinched his existence for me. I forgot to take the bus out of drive—not used to an automatic—and since I had cranked the wheels so hard to get back into line, they were turned just enough to avoid disaster. When the motor warmed up and overrode the parking break, number eight crept out of line, made a perfect left-hand turn, and went right out the gate. Now mind you, it did this while clearing the busses on both sides AND getting through the gate all on its own. Luckily, the furrows in the field across the street eventually stopped it. You ask why I think God intervened? Because, directly in front of where number eight was parked were six brand new driver’s ed cars. So, yes there is a God, and he does drive a school bus.

I’m going to be sharing more stories like these on my own blog, so please drop by http://mizging.blogspot.com and become a regular at Dishin’ It Out. You can find my books listed there, and on my website, http://www.gingersimpson.com



Saturday, September 25, 2010

Welcome, Frank Scully

Thank you so much for being here, Frank
Thank you for inviting me, Roseanne.

1: So, Frank, what genre do you write?
I write mystery/suspense/thrillers. The mantra is write what you know and love and that is what I love to read. Also, as a lawyer, I have some experience to draw on as well.
2: How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing in one form or another all of my career which has spanned now 40 years. Most of that was non-fiction work related matter. I started writing fiction with an eye to publication 20 years ago. Back when computers were just coming on the scene and before the internet. I started on a dedicated word processor which was little more than a glorified typewriter with some memory. It had always been my dream to write novels and finally my wife got tired of my dreaming and forced me to start actually doing something.

3: What do you like the most and least about writing?
The part I like the most about writing is when the story takes an unexpected and unplanned twist and you have to follow that. Imagination takes over and creativity flows. The movie is running in my head and the hard part is to keep up with it and get it down on paper. The part that I like the least is when you realize that something you spent a lot of time writing isn’t working and the story is going nowhere and you have to go back and start over.


4: What do you for fun and relaxation when not writing?
I read a lot. Writers need to read. Not only in the genre they write but in many other genres. When I am not reading I am working in the garden in season or playing poker. Poker is as frustrating as life. You can do everything right and still lose while someone does everything wrong and still gets lucky and wins.


5: Which authors do you like to read?
My favorites are authors such as Martin Cruz Smith, Michael Connelly, James Lee Burke and John Sanford. Len Deighton is one of my favorite authors for his ability to keep a plot going through so many books while keeping the story and the characters fresh and exciting. Truly masterful. I read so many different authors it is impossible to list them here. It would be easier to simply say take a look at the top 100 mystery authors on Amazon.

6: What’s the one thing you’d most like people to know about you?
I really want to have my readers be entertained. All else is secondary.


7: Tell me about your current novel, where I can find it?
Resurrection Garden is a story set in 1904 on the North Dakota prairie. Settlement of this part of the west had only really gotten started in the 1880’s. New settlers were still arriving in 1904 to homestead land.
Jake Turner, a scarred veteran of the charge up San Juan Hill, has been a lone drifter through much of the settling of the west. Opportunity was growing out of the newly turned sod of the North Dakota prairie in 1904 when he stopped to take a part time job as a Deputy Sheriff, expecting to move on again when the dark parts of his past catch up to him.
An investigation into a murder of a man hated by everyone has threads that lead to his best friend, Isaac. Jake is ambushed and almost killed, but is nursed back to health by Isaac. While Jake follows the clues into a labyrinth of hatred, sordid crimes and missing money he becomes attached to an eight year old orphaned boy named Andy and falls in love with Isaac’s sister, Alice. After being alone for so long with no hope or care for what tomorrow might bring, Jake finds it difficult to accept these new emotional attachments.
Jake believes in Justice, but before he had only his own life on the line. When Andy is kidnapped and almost killed, Jake knows the killers will do anything to stop him. In order to protect Alice and Andy, he must break their hearts and leave them and North Dakota behind.

Jake knows he’ll be back. So do the killers. Trap and counter trap are laid. Jake knows there will be graves. He just doesn’t know who will be in them
It will be available from Muse It Publishing at http://www.museitpublishing.com/ on January 1, 2011 and at a variety of other vendors.

8: Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Write and then write some more. You can’t get good at it until you do it and practice it everyday. As you refine your craft you will develop your style and voice. Write because you enjoy it. Don’t write to make money.

9: Do you base your characters on real-life people?
There are elements of real people in all of my characters but none are based completely on any one person, living or dead. The characters in my books are their own unique individuals.


10: How did you come up with the idea for this book?
I live in North Dakota and during one particularly bad blizzard the germ of an idea came to me about a book set in North Dakota during the early days. It took almost 3 years before I fleshed it out and started writing. And, of course, a blizzard plays a part in the story.


11: What are you currently working on?
I currently have 5 books under contract with Muse It Up and hope to submit another soon for 6. I have a seventh in work. It is a novel set in current time whose main character was one of the Vietnam boat people. A mixed blood American Vietnamese who goes on to be a lawyer and former CIA employee who gets involved in a missing persons case that has him traveling to Bangalore, India, Moscow, and a variety of other places as he follows leads and stays ahead of a kill squad.

Excerpt from Resurrection Garden


The Sheriff joined me in my contemplation of the body. It wasn’t pretty. Thor had never been handsome, and the ravages of being frozen under the snow for the winter and having birds and other animals picking away at the skin as the snow thawed and exposed the body made what was left of him downright disgusting.

One thing was evident though. He didn’t die easy. Freezing to death is relatively painless. Wander out in the cold, get lost, fall asleep, and don’t wake up. That wasn’t what happened to Thor.

“What do you think? Shotgun, maybe?” the sheriff asked.

“At least,” I answered. The hole in his chest was big enough to put a fist through. “But why? He musta been dead already when he was shot.”

“Yeah, first someone beat him to a bloody pulp then gutted him and slashed his throat. And then shot him. Ain’t that what you said, Doc.”

“Looks that way to me,” Doc answered. “Can’t tell you much more until he thaws out all the way.”

“Somebody wanted him deader than dead.” The sheriff shook his head.

“Takes some hate to do all that,” Doc commented. “Got any suspects?”

Doc and the Sheriff both turned to face me.

I let out a deep sigh. “I suppose you want me to find out what happened to him.”

“Seems as how you should. After all, you found him, and you’re my deputy up there,” the Sheriff answered.

I stared at Thor and wondered when I would be able to sit down.

Doc came up behind us and commented, “Jake, you might ought to get some new britches or something. You’re hanging out your back end. Probably scare the ladies and kids if you went out in public like that.”

I reached around and felt bare skin crisscrossed with stitches. “Damn, just got these new this Christmas.”

“I’m sure one of the widow ladies you’ve been helping out will be happy to lend you some spare pants.” Doc grinned. “And I’m sure these new scars will get you lots of sympathy and special care.”

“Speaking of widows,” the Sheriff interjected. “You’ll need to tell Mrs. Thorsgaard we found her husband.”

And that’s when the real pain started.







Thursday, September 23, 2010

Welcome, Debra K Dunlap

Thank you so much for being here, Debra.
Thank you for having me, Roseanne!
1: what genre do you write?
My newly released novel is YA (Young Adult), as is the novel I recently completed. However, I did have a flash fiction story published by Apollo’s Lyre last year.


2: How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first novel at the age of twelve using a toy typewriter. After that masterpiece (haha), I continued to dream up stories and plots, but did not put anything into fixed form until a few years ago when I began writing Fallon O’Reilly.



3: What do you like the most and least about writing?
Because I don’t outline my books, my favorite part of writing is finding out what happens to my characters as the story progresses! My least favorite part-I don’t have one, other than the fact that I have to stop writing to go to work and bed.



4: What do you for fun and relaxation when not writing?
Read, of course! I also love spending time with my family and my three dogs. Recently, I purchased a fixer-upper house, which needs a great deal of work. Believe it or not, I love working on the house and can hardly wait to start working on the yard and garden.



5: Which authors do you like to read?
I read everything I come across, from Shakespeare to Asimov to Dick Francis. I especially love Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. The world she created is so believable and her characters so wonderfully real that for years I’ve had a crush on Master Robinton!



6: What’s the one thing you’d most like people to know about you?
I would like people to know that I have the most wonderful family imaginable! My father was my hero and my mother is one of the nicest people I know. My sisters and brothers are terrifically rowdy and funny and my children are the best!



7: Tell me about your current novel, where I can find it?
Fallon O’Reilly & the Ice Queen’s Lair is the first book in the Magic in the Americas series. Set in the Alaskan wilderness, the book tells the tale of a young girl’s first year of magical education. Together with her wheelchair-bound cousin and new friend from Wyoming, she seeks the source of a great evil in Alaska and fights to protect her school and friends.
Fallon is currently available at museituppublishing.com in various e-formats and available for Kindle at Amazon.com. MIU Publishing plans to release Fallon in print form in 2011.



8: Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Read, read, and read before you write. When your manuscript is complete, spend lots of time on the editing process.



9: Do you base your characters on real-life people?

None of my characters are based on real-life people, but several were inspired by real-life people.



10: How did you come up with the idea for this book?
Someone asked J.K. Rowling if she planned to put Americans or other nationalities in her books. She said...if anyone wants to write about American wizards they are of course free to write their own book! That made me wonder what differences we’d see in an American school of magic and I started plotting the book. Then, my oldest son referred to my living room, which I keep very cool in the hot Wyoming summers, as the ‘Ice Queen’s Lair.’ Instant title!



11: What are you currently working on?
I recently completed another YA novel unrelated to the Magic in the Americas series, which I am busily editing. The second Fallon O’Reilly book is also in progress.



12. Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?
Hmm, maybe that I’m happy to have found such a terrific publishing company. MuseItUp Publishing has a wonderful team spirit.



13. Where can we find you? Website? Blog?
You can find my blog at http://debrakdunlap.blogspot.com/ I have to admit that my blog has been woefully neglected, but I promise to update soon!



My website is a work in progress and located at http://debrakdunlap.com/ Be patient-it’s a bit slow to load.

The snow glittered in the moonlight as they trudged through the darkness toward the castle. Fallon was lost in thought about the beautiful mare that saved her life. She did not notice anything amiss until Madame Epona grabbed her arm and hissed, “Stand still for a moment. Quiet!”


They stood silently and Fallon heard it. Strange sounds emanated from the direction of the forest. A cold, clear voice radiated menace, even though the words were unintelligible in the distance.

Madame Epona whispered urgently. “Drop down and stay quiet. Perhaps they will pass without seeing us. If they spot us, I will signal you to run. Run as fast as you can to the entrance doors. I will be right behind you, but stop for nothing. Get inside the doors and go straight to the Headmistress for help.”

Madame Epona silently watched the forest, tucking herself behind a small boulder that furnished the only cover. Fallon’s heart pounded and ice scraped her cheek as she flattened herself on the frozen ground.

A guttural voice spoke and the cold voice responded. “Where? Are you sure?” Rolling her eyes to peek toward the forest without lifting her head, Fallon saw several of the creatures like the one that attacked them on the cliffs. A tall, pale woman wearing a mask and wrapped in white furs accompanied them. The pale woman turned to the furry creatures. “Borag says we’ve been spotted.” In a low, urgent voice, the woman commanded, “Quick! Capture them before they can alert the castle!”

Fallon felt a sharp jab in her ribs and heard Madame Epona hiss, “Now! Run!” Fallon ran. She ran as if her life depended on it and she suspected that it did. The deep snow clutched at her feet and tore at the hem of her cloak. Her breath came in great gasps and she paused to grab her cloak, lifting it up to free her feet. She risked a glance behind her and saw two of the creatures loping after her. Madame Epona stood, arms uplifted, facing the pale woman. Fallon saw a jet of white light strike Madame Epona and she realized that the pause to watch had wasted too much time. The creatures gained on her.She ran toward the castle. How could she hope to outrun those things? She knew how fast they ran. The creature on the cliff had nearly caught her and she had been riding Snaefaxi that day.From 300 yards, she squinted at someone moving near the front entrance to the castle. Please, please turn around. Can’t you see that Madame Epona needs help? She moaned as a sliver of light gleamed through a crack in the door and the unknown person slipped inside the castle.Fallon’s pace slowed as she struggled for breath. She heard the sound of the creature’s raspy breathing and a horrible, musky stench made her gag. Her foot snagged on a rock hidden beneath the snow and she fell.





Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Welcome, David J. Normoyle

Games of Thrones - a tribute.
Thanks for hosting me, Roseanne. I want to talk about my favourite book today.

It's Game of Thrones, the first book in the George R.R. Martin's Song of Fire
and Ice Series.

We enter a world with a host of breathtakingly original characters. Each one has
their own motivations, desires and flaws. Usually in books, you know that the
good guys will survive despite the dangerous situations they get themselves
into, but not here. No one is safe; anyone can die at any time. We don't even
know who the good guys are, and who the bad guys are. Everyone is a shade of
grey. Characters who you haven't figured out are good or bad do things which you
aren't sure are right or wrong.

Their world is a medieval one with fantasy elements. It's a large interesting
place, with kingdoms and fiefdoms, cities and mountains. The characters traverse
it: plotting, fighting, escaping, living, dying. It's an adult world, not
sanitised, with sex, cursing, war, incest, death. It's not easy to make the best
decision even for the most noble characters, as every choice has uncertain
ramifications. They have to throw the dice, with their lives and often thousands
of other lives on a knife edge.

Every chapters forms a short story with a distinct beginning, middle and end.

Generally the ending of every chapter is a new twist or surprise which leaves
you wanting more, only to find out that George R.R. Martin has taken you to a
new character who will face different challenges. As the book progresses the
characters' journeys weaves around each other, creating the a coherent story.

There are now four books released in the series and my only criticism is the
length of time the author is taking to produce the next one. In the meantime,
HBO are creating a mini-series based on the books with a host of great actors
including Sean Bean. It promises to be fantastic and is due out next year.

That series is my Everest as I embark on my writing career. It's fantastic to
have as an inspiration even if I never scale the heights.

My first novel Crimson Dream a Young Adult Fantasy, is released in February.

Check out my website: www.davidjnormoyle.com for further details or follow my
facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/David-J-Normoyle/157832707561908


BLURB

Centuries ago, Deren's people fled to a hidden valley deep in the mountains
chased by the Domain, whose powerful Seers could not find them.

Deren’s safe world disintegrates when his vision foretells his sister’s death by
a Domain soldier. Deren can't defend Bennie because of his asthmatic attacks, so
he trains her in archery and prepares his people for war against their ancient
foe.

As the invasion advances, Bennie's mastery of the bow leads her along unexpected
paths. Although she hates killing, she must make hard choices. Her loved ones
will die if she doesn't help them.

Will Bennie’s encounter with an enemy prince prove the key to survival? Can

Deren overcome his physical weaknesses and the doubts of his own father to lead
his people?
With fate and overwhelming force stacked against them, it seems their best
efforts will be in vain.

EXCERPT

Deren tried to get up to help Oso and Bennie and fell onto his back. He began to
gasp, his breath labouring through his lungs, fighting for every mouthful. He
took deep sucking drags of air, clutching his neck with his hands. His own lungs
were drowning him, refusing to breathe. He looked into the sky, thinking he
would die. Although it was only twilight, a ghostly moon peeked over the trees.
Whistling noises crept up and down his throat. He prayed to the Goddess of the
Moon. Yenara, help me. Please, don't let me die. Bennie needs me. Please.

A face swam across his vision. "Deren, are you okay?" the face asked. "Deren,
try to calm yourself."
The voice was laden with worry. A hand touched the side of his face. Warm drops
landed on his forehead. "Don't give up on me," the voice said in a fierce
whisper.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Welcome, Karen McGrath

Hi Roseanne. Thanks so much for inviting me to visit your blog today. I’ve been enjoying the posts about my colleagues at Muse.


Where to begin…? I was born in Rhode Island, the smallest state in the Union. My dad was in the Navy so we moved around a lot but ended back in RI and then moved around in state. I’m Finnish and English, although I grew up thinking I was Swedish because my grandparents spoke the language. I was a spiritual little kid and drove adults mad with my “emperor has no clothes” observations. Although my family warmed the pews on holidays only, I had a Damascus Road conversion in kindergarten and thought everyone did it.

I’m also an officer’s daughter. My dad was Third Mate in the Merchant Marines. He joined after an assignment as a radar gunner in Alaska during the Cold War. That was my first taste of war - I remember the stench of it quite clearly. I’ve smelled it a few times since, Vietnam, the Gulf War and of course, 9/11. Almost all of the men on my father’s side of my family are military, with the exception of one uncle.

One of my favorite childhood memories is our family reunion clambakes. We always had them on Cape Cod after the summer was over. We’d gather early in the day. A special crew was sent to the beach to dig a pit in the sand. They’d build a huge fire in the pit and let it die down to embers. On top of that they’d lay down boards and seaweed. Then they’d layer lobsters, clams and scallops I think and boards on top of that to keep the heat in and then cover that with sand. I wasn’t fond of seafood so I didn’t pay too much attention to what went in the pit. Me and my siblings and cousins were thrilled to watch the crew fix it up and ask them silly questions in the process. Someone always brought along barbeque chicken for the children, and I was always grateful.

After hours of running up and down the beach and into neighbor’s gardens and sheds, getting sweaty and very sandy, it was time to open the pit. We loved it. I think it was the thought of cooking in the sand that we liked the best, and that we could run riot all day out of range of our parents. I also remember the butter. The adults had great fun dredging steamed clams through bowls of butter and slurping them. We’d pour melted butter all over our corn on the cob, dripping it as we ate it. Of course we had watermelon seed spitting contests. I never won those. We got into more stuff than the adults ever knew, adoring our freedom. I think we would have run the length of the Cape Cod shoreline if our appetites didn’t keep us close to the clambake.

Shortly after dinner the night air moved in and the crew would build a bonfire. We’d pull out our sweatshirts from the car and find sticks to roast marshmallows on. We’d gulp as many sodas as we could before the chill got to us or we fell asleep in our parents laps. I’d always wake up at home in my bed with a crick in my neck from sleeping in the car but happy for the time outdoors and the shared adventures with my cousins.

I live in Boston now with my husband and two teens who are both homeschooled. My oldest daughter lives nearby, also homeschooled. She’s working full time, going to grad school and runs her own business. None of my children have been to a clambake yet, sadly. I’m an author and editor at MuseItUp Publishing, which I absolutely love. I write paranormal romance mysteries, YA and memoir.

I’m pleased to offer a one-day workshop on the 12th at the Muse Online Writer’s Conference if you’d like to stop in. It’s called “Sacrificing your Novel to the Editing Gods?” What editing is, why it’s necessary, pointers on things editors look for, help with opening paragraphs, synopsis, cover letters; the usual fare.

I enjoy connecting with others on the internet so please feel free to email and friend me.

Website: www.karenmcgrathauthor.com

Email: karenmcgrathauthor@gmail.com

Blog: http://karenmcgrathauthor.blogspot.com/

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jazzchildblue
Facebook: www.facebook.com/karenmcgrathauthor

MuseItUp Publishing author page: http://museituppublishing.com/musepub/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=90&Itemid=82


My novel is Primordial Sun, the Heart of the Amazon, MuseItUp Publishing April 2011

Attorney Kylie Watson returns to Brazil to mourn her missionary parents where she's swept into the Amazon's current with vivid nightmares, family secrets, church corruption and international espionage.

“Do you want the truth, or something you can live with?”

My short story is Love in the Time of Mortals, MuseItUp Publishing August 2011

Lucille Lamphere checks into her Caribbean hotel hideaway for her annual vacation memorial to her husband who drowned on their honeymoon. Except this year, fate has another surprise...

“Sometimes love slips through your fingers only to return like waves on the sea.”

My Christmas novella is The Vagabond Prince, MuseItUp Publishing, December 2011

Jude, a reclusive anti-romantic, has a chance encounter with a homeless man who changes her life and gives her a Christmas she’ll never forget.

“Christmas comes softly but leaves an imprint that lasts for a lifetime.”

My memoir story, An Invitation to Hope, just published this week from the Choice Publishing Group in Nevada in their Patchwork Path anthology Christmas Stocking. Please contact me if you’d like a signed copy.

http://www.amazon.com/Patchwork-Path-Tena-Beth-Thompson/dp/0981664377/ref=sr_1_1?s=gateway&ie=UTF8&qid=1284924572&sr=8-1



Unedited excerpt from Primordial Sun, the Heart of the Amazon:
Kylie grabbed her cell phone from her robe pocket. The terry felt warm and cozy but she shuddered from nerves as she dialed Sharra at her condo. Sharra’s sleepy voice droned on the other side of the city.

“Yeah, you ok?”

“Sharra.” Kylie whispered loudly wondering why she was whispering at all and why she didn’t call the police first. “Sharra, I nightmared again…and I hear noises in the back yard… again.”

“I’m there. Get Chris on the line. The police will be there soon, right?” Sharra said waking up quicker.

“No, I didn’t call the police. What if no one’s out there, they’ll think I’m crazy?”

“No Kylie, you think you’re crazy, that’s why you don’t call them. Honestly, if you call them and no one is out there, you’ll feel better knowing that. It’s their job. You hear a noise outside in the middle of the night, you call the cops. Got it? Simple. Now hang up and call them before I do. Ok, leggings, sandals, hoodie here, got the keys and getting in my baby Fiat. Motor running, be there in seconds. Now call them.”

“Sharra, you’re in the car, turn off your cell.” Kylie said and hung up. She dialed Chris.

“Chris, I nightmared, there’s someone in the back yard. Sharra’s on her way.” She whispered loudly into his answering machine. Chris would come immediately when he heard the message. In seconds her friends would be here and then what? They would check the backyard with brooms in hand to fight off offenders? How ridiculous. She decided she needed tranquilizers wondering if her prescription sleeping pills would qualify.

As she spoke to herself, she poured a glass of water and peeked out the window cautiously. Finding nothing, she tiptoed to the front of her small Victorian, past the dining room and the den and into the front foyer. Through the windows on either side of the large front door she saw the headlights of the police car and realized she had to look somewhat presentable. She slipped on her flats which she kept near the front door and pulled the ties on her ivory robe a little tighter. The bottom of her nightgown showed only at the hem. Not too revealing, she thought as she brushed her hair with her fingers and glanced in the side mirror above the bench. No, none of yesterday’s makeup had smeared across her face, as if there might be any after all her crying that night. The knock was light on the door and she pulled the curtain to the side just a bit. Yes, it was an officer. She let him in with his partner.

“Miss Watson? Kylie Watson? Please show us to the back, Miss Watson. Sharra Martinelli called to tell us you may be in danger. Do not turn on any lights.”

“Thank you for coming,” She whispered and walked them through the house to the kitchen and back door where she unlocked the deadbolt for them. Their flashlights were jammed in their pockets and their guns were drawn.

In danger…Kylie thought, grateful to have help now. She was in danger in her dream and didn’t know it. It seemed odd she might be in danger now. Isn’t that what danger is, obvious? If you are in danger it is evident, that’s how you know…right? Otherwise, you aren’t in danger, you’re in the dark…right? Something clicked into place in Kylie’s heart almost imperceptibly. She barely noticed it but her line of thought made sense, but made sense only to her for a very real reason. The moment escaped her as she saw the officers dart behind the garage.



Monday, September 20, 2010

Welcome, Larriane Wills/Larion Wills




Museitup, my new publisher, by Larriane Wills, aka Larion Wills, two names, one author, thousands of stories.

When I began publishing just over four years ago, I lucked into a publisher just as new as I was. We grew and learned together, they as publishers, me as an author and then an editor for them. When they were forced to close to submissions, I felt lost. I drifted for nearly a year after we received the news, telling my husband I hadn’t decided where to submit every time he asked what I was going to do. Where was I going to find another publisher, only that wasn’t the biggest concern I had. That are so many publishers out there, surely I wouldn’t have a problem finding another one who liked my stories, but…I was spoiled, okay? Where I had been I felt like one of a family, part of a unit, a real person, not an entity behind a title. If I had a question, it was answered, about anything. I felt like I had friends there, not just associates. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying all publishers treat you with indifference as a person, caring only about the product. I knew from various blogs and asking other authors that many publishers worked with the authors on a personal level. I searched their sites. None gave me the ‘that is where I might feel comfortable’ feeling.

As I write in multi-genre, many of those I looked at carried a limited amount of genres to represent, not including all of those I write in. I really wanted just one publisher to represent me in all I do. I’m far from the most organized person, and the least amount of places, preferences, and etc I have to keep track of the better for me. I had several ready for submission and still dragged my feet, and then a friend mentioned another new publisher, started by someone I knew. I’m not going to go into all of Lea’s qualifications in operating a publishing company. I’m sure that’s been done already many times in this series of blogs this month, and will be many times more.

I will say that sense of familiarity was something I’d been looking for. I’ve not been disappointed, not in the people I’ve come in contact, new and old (meaning I knew them before, not a reference to their ages) and even though Museitup is new, not even official launched, the amount of pre-opening preparations are impressive, enough so that I’ve submitted three manuscripts, all accepted, and plan on submitting more. Lea keeps us well informed with no questions on when or how my manuscript will be treated, and from the few times I’ve had some questions, I know how I will be treated, not like a stranger bothering the boss, but like a respected colleague and friend.

My first release with Museitup Publishing will be in the spring of 2011. White Savage is the fifth of my western romance series. In Nov the 6th of the series, Tarbet will be released. In between those, one of my contemporaries, Chase will hit the bookstore.

Here’s a sneak peek at White Savage for you, an unedited blurb and excerpt.

Rescued from the Apaches, everyone told McGee the boy had been too long with the Indians and could never learn to live as a white man again. Ten years after Johns steals the boy away, McGee is afraid they were right. Or had they mistaken an innocent man for Jimmy when they took him prisoner, calling him a rapist as well as a thief and murderer after he escaped from them? And what about then rancher’s wife they claimed Jimmy tried to rape and then kidnapped? What secrets did she hide?

Exerpt: Jimmy couldn’t write. The colonel come in to hand him paper and pencil to write the names of his folks down so’s they could let them know where he was. Jimmy threw the pencil down and turned his head away from them.

“Don’t matter none you cain’t write. Most out here cain’t,” McGee said, picking the pencil up for the colonel. “Cain’t my ownself.”

“Does he even understand English?” the colonel asked.

“Sure he does. Don’t ya, Jimmy?” Jimmy stared back at him. “Jimmy, he knows ya cain’t talk. Ya just nod yar head, so’s the colonel knows you understand.”

“He doesn’t,” the colonel declared when Jimmy didn’t respond. “He’s been with them too long, McGee. He’ll never adjust to being white again.”

“Ain’t so,” McGee argued.

“Look at his eyes, McGee. He resents you, and I’ve heard how he fights everything you try to do for him.”

“Ain’t ‘cause of that. It’s cause he’s hurting.”

“I don’t know what we’re going to do with him if no one claims him,” the colonel said, avoiding anymore argument.

“Ya don’t need ta worry yerself none. He’s going with me.”
http://www.larriane.com/ is my site link where you’ll find more on the upcoming releases through Museitup Publishing.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Welcome, Nick Giannaras

The real Nick…hmmm. I love Jesus and have been saved since 1997. I am a practicing chiropractor in Gastonia, NC and have been doing so for the last 14 years. I am a blessed physician, a blessed father, and a blessed husband…okay, so I’m blessed. Besides writing, I have numerous hobbies, including: tabletop wargaming, Civil War reenacting, outdoors (hunting/fishing), painting, and on occasion making music via my computer. I normally make high energy dance music (techno/trance/progressive house), but I have also dabbled into some orchestral pieces and a tad of jazz.


I enjoy helping folks when I can, and through my practice I have had some neat opportunities to reach out to others. With writing, I can also do it through the written word. I have a blog: nickgiannaras.wordpress.com that lists some things about my stories as well as an article or two on life. I haven’t entered much since I’ve been busy with getting my first novel edited. Go figure.

I love to make people laugh and can be quite silly, not only at home but at my office as well. I wish I can do more for people. But I understand that God is grooming me into a perfect weapon. One that will care, love, and do for others in numerous avenues, including Facebook, where I try and enter a positive message for readers. I just try to be obedient and do what I need to do whether folks like it or not, whether they understand or not. That’s just a little about me.

CHAPTER ONE


AN ODD FRIENDSHIP
Courtar clutched his precious leather-bound journal tightly to his chest with his right arm while emphasizing points with his left arm—as defiantly as an adolescent cleric could against an such argumentative crowd. A light rain had soaked the town for hours while Courtar spoke under gray skies. Some cast disbelieving smirks and rude chortles while others masked with angered expressions and irate jeers unsteadied Courtar’s position atop a small stack of crates serving as his podium next to a white washed dry goods store.

“You must listen to me. This stuff is real. I’ve researched it. For your own safety, for everyone’s future,” Courtar said.

Disturbed grumbles continued as curses were uttered back. Several groups of people began muttering within their own closed circles while Courtar gulped, his breathing shallowed, his palms moistened.

“And how do you know all this?” one man dressed in sawdust-covered clothes yelled. “Are you clairvoyant?” The comment drew laughter from the gathered crowd.

“Maybe he’s an all-seeing mage!” said a woman in a stained, brown plaid commoner’s dress and unkempt hair scattered in various directions.

Courtar drew a slow breath. “I’ve been researching this for months now. The truth I’ve found in more than one book reinforces what the prophecies say. If something is not done, we will all perish.”

“They say mages don’t bleed. Cut him and see,” said the first man again. More laughter rippled across the crowd.

Courtar’s eyes bulged. “I’m not a mage.”

“Why don’t you show us that book of yours,” said a short, hefty woman, pointing to Courtar’s journal. Others agreed with vocal outbursts, sending unpleasant glances toward his notebook. Courtar gripped the journal tighter.

“What’s in my book I already have shared with you.”

Several irate patrons began stepping toward Courtar with what he perceived were threatening gestures. He attempted to take a step back, yet he forgot where he stood; he was stuck. Out of the corner of his eye, Courtar spied movement. He turned his head in time to see a man in a red tattered sack coat, wielding a large knife. Courtar couldn’t tell if the blade’s browned stains were rust or dried blood. The man’s frightful grin exposed a large gap in his front teeth.

“I’m tired of ya speakin’ ‘bout all this prophecy junk. How’s ‘bout I cut ya a new smile, boy,” he said while slashing the air with his polished blade.

Courtar rubbed a nervous hand through his damp dirty-blonde frazzled hair. At least nobody could see the sweat running down his back and legs underneath his green homespun tunic and brown pants. For a moment, he was sure he saw his iron cross

hanging from a leather strap around his neck bounce with his heartbeat. “Sir, I mean no harm. You must understand, time is against us. The darkness will be here sooner than you think.”

Courtar paused on his own words. “Or is it already here?”

The man failed to stop as he took slow steps forward brandishing his knife while Courtar noticed several others moving toward him with clubs and clenched fists.

“Sovereign, I need your help,” Courtar whispered. He squeezed his eyes shut and waited.

The disgruntled citizens stood a jump away from the crate when a rumbling growl caught almost everyone’s attention from the back of the crowd. A disruptive murmur rippled through the mob from the back to the front as the mass stirred.

Courtar, his heart racing, looked up after opening his eyes to see a giant rift parting the crowd. Silence befell those gathered. At the pinnacle of the separation stood a burly armored Dwergen. A large scar cut diagonally from the Dwergen’s upper left eye to his lower right chin, revealing his malformed upper lip and nose. His beard, filled with golden rings and charm-like trinkets intertwined through the soft hair, covered his face well, allowing only his ruddy complexion and sharp nose to be exposed. His dark auburn beard and hair hung down in matching length several inches above his black leather belt. Regardless of his unique appearance, it did little to hide the lingering aroma of dirt and stale ale.

The Dwergen’s left hand tugged on his ornament laden beard as his slanted emerald eyes scanned the situation. Courtar could see the Dwergen’s white knuckled grip on the broad shaft of a heavy weapon resembling a cross between a battleaxe and a warhammer propped against his right shoulder, the metallic edges gleaming from the morning sunlight piercing through the surrounding forest.

Courtar could hear the surprised whispers of the crowd staring at the rare sight of this being. Clubs were put aside and clenched fists eased open. Courtar stood a bit straighter as the Dwergen tromped toward him, casting stern glares at the crowd as he passed before stopping in front of him. The Dwergen looked the cleric up and down with a grunt before turning toward the mob with a determined scowl.

“It’s best if you leave this lad alone. He speaks of religious teachin’s and is doin’ what his heart tells him is right.”

The man in the tattered red coat sneered at the Dwergen, his knife still clutched in his hand. “We don’t need hearin’ no junk about Sovereign and prophecies. And ya best scat if ya know what’s good for ya, ya tainted misbreed.”

“Shut yer mouth, Ergen,” said the short heavy woman through clenched teeth. “Can’t yer dumb eyes see that’s a Dwergen.”

“I don’t care a bit,” Ergen said. He brandished his knife and charged when the Dwergen spun around with the flat of his raxan blade and smacked Ergen on his shoulder, sending the ill-tempered patron flying into the side of the dry goods store with a crash. Ergen crumpled into the mud in a silent heap.

The Dwergen spun around with a snarl and his raxan in a two fisted grip, the gold trinkets glimmering in the morning sun. “Any other maggot feelin’ itchy?”

Courtar watched in amazement as the crowd backed away. The Dwergen looked over his shoulder at the cleric.

“Best if you leave with me, laddie. This town doesn’t seem to take to yer words very kindly.”

Courtar sighed as he stepped down off the crates. “Thank you.” He picked up his backpack lying in front of his makeshift stage, slung it over his shoulder, and hurried after the Dwergen, who already had a head start trudging down the muddy road.

With his journal in hand, he scooted up next to the Dwergen who trudged northward at a steady pace. “My thanks again, sir.”

The Dwergen cast an unemotional glance at the cleric. “Yer welcome.”

Courtar held out a damp hand. “I’m Courtar.”

The Dwergen reached around with his thick deeply etched left hand and grasped Courtar’s softer grip.

“Boren.”

“Y-you are a, a…”

“Dwergen,” Boren said, looking straight ahead.

“W-What are you doing out here?”

“Lookin’ fer somethin’.”

Several silent moments passed with only the cling-clang echo of bobbling equipment before Courtar looked to Boren. “Uhm, you didn’t say what you were looking for.”

The Dwergen kept facing forward, trudging along the wooded trail as the town faded behind a curtain of trees. “I know.”

“If you told me, I might be able to help you find it.”

“It’s a personal journey, laddie. Somethin’ of my family long lost since our war with the foulskin two eras gone.”

Courtar’s head wrinkled in thought. “You’re talking over three hundred years ago.”

“Aye. And I mean to find it, or die tryin’.”

“You seem quite determined to find this thing, huh?”

Boren looked askance at Courtar. “As determined and passionate as you are defendin’ yer belief on them prophecies.”

A sheepish grin stroked Courtar’s lips. “Oh, you heard me talking?”

“Aye, I did.” Boren stopped and faced Courtar with his hands propped on his hips. “And what is a young human cleric wanderin’ alone blabberin’ on prophecies to the point of almost gettin’ killed?”

Courtar turned and continued walking, leaving Boren standing alone. “It’s something I have to do.”

“Called? Did you receive a message from a raven or courier?” Boren asked as he hurried to catch up. “Or were you provoked?”

Courtar stopped and spun to face Boren, heat rising from underneath his tunic. “I did this on my own. They wouldn’t let me, wouldn’t believe me. They have never believed in me; always a slave. Do this, do that. Clean this, scribe these. Study, study, study.”

Boren stood with arms folded, his head cocked with a smirk.

Courtar sighed. “It’s hard to explain. In my studies back at Temple Sovereign in Aldor, I ran across writings on the prophecy in a secluded portion of the library. I ended up finding more material on the matter. Unfortunately, they barely touched on the subject. More like legend or fireside myth, or so I thought. This persistent burning deep in my gut kept pushing me to seek what I felt. And, well, two months later, here I am.”

“This trek yer on is personal as well as destiny,” Boren said. Courtar nodded. “So, you believe them prophecies to be true?”

“With all my heart. And you?”

“From what I’ve seen, I know thin’s are gettin’ worse. No matter. If darkness is ready to fall upon us, foulskin will be close behind. The way I see it, I’ll wait until they show their filthy heads, so I can have fun cleavin’ ’em off!” Boren said with bulging eyes, seemingly hungry to enter a bloody battle at a moment’s notice.

“Won’t it be kinda, messy?”

“And yer point is?”

Courtar grinned at his bearded companion and swatted his hand. “Nevermind.”



Saturday, September 18, 2010

Welcome, Anita Davison



I was born and brought up within easy reach of all those landmarks that epitomise London, The Tower, St Paul’s, Christopher Wren’s Churches, tiny cobbled streets that run behind the concrete and glass of the modern business district of the City. Enthralled from a young age, I imagined men in tall periwigs and frock coats carrying canes walking through those streets, and rows of Victorian carriages lined up outside Georgian terraces while ladies in elaborate hats and velvet cloaks walked arm-in-arm through the garden squares.

On school trips to historic houses, I was the kid who dawdled at the back waiting for the room to empty of chattering schoolchildren so I could visualize the people who once walked the halls and slept in the beds. I think my teachers thought me apathetic, but I loved those places and revisit them whenever I can.

I began reading historical fiction in my teens, mainly the works of Anya Seaton, Jean Plaidy and graduated to Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. Being a born scribbler, I was always writing stories, but mostly for myself. When I contemplated writing an actual book, my ambition was not publication – I assumed that was for far more talented people than me: until I joined a critique group. With their help and encouragement, I learned how to put my rambling prose into some sort of order and tell a story.

My first novel is about a family in 17th Century England caught up in the Western Rising of 1685, and its sequel, was published by a small press. I wanted to prove, mainly to myself, that I wasn’t a one-trick pony, or rather a one-era pony, and embarked on a Victorian Romance. My heroine, Isabel Hart, was very clear in my head, and as I brought other people onto the pages, they developed their own characters and took me off in different directions, demanding their own sub plots. This, I was told, is not the formula for a standard romance, but Lea Schizas at MuseItUp loved the whole story and understood the symbolism of the title, so ‘The Maze’ will be released in June 2011. My main fear of ‘The Maze’, is will the readers like it? Will I have any readers? Will someone write a review and say, “Who told this woman she can write?”

My website is http://www.anitadavison.com and I have a blog called The Disorganised Author [Link: http://thedisorganisedauthor.blogspot.com] A satire on all those dynamic authors who manage to run a home, care for four children under eight, raise funds for distressed donkeys, make their own bread and write a book a year. My method is far more chaotic!

I wasn’t looking for an e-publisher, and my agent is trying to bring my work to the attention of a mainstream publisher. However, Lea is someone I have known, virtually, for a while and when she announced her new company, the buzz it created was hard to ignore. Lea is a respected member of the writing community and her team approach makes the process of publishing such fun, I am glad I didn’t pass up the chance to be part of it.







The Maze Unedited Excerpt

Chapter 1

The long case clock in the entrance hall worked its way to chime the hour with a clunk and mechanical whine. At the bottom of the stairs, Isabel slid a hand over the newel post, large as a man’s head, patting the carved wood three times to banish evil spirits. A childhood ritual her siblings raced each other to perform first.

A fragrance of lavender overlaid with the tang of vinegar permeated the hall; a combination used by the servants to bring life to rooms that had lain empty since winter.

The green baize door swung wide to a murmur of raised voices from the basement that grew louder. Before a servant could emerge and see her, Isabel hurried across the chequered floor into the morning room and out through the casement door onto the terrace; the route to the outside with the quietest door.

Smoke-like mist rose from the meadows in a blue haze of early morning. Her feet skimmed the terrace and down the stone steps onto cropped, spongy grass that leached dampness into her thin soles. Sleepy fantails strutting the grass scattered, indignant, at her approach.

Tucked into a corner of the grounds, the maze sat, squat and menacing in geometric perfection. Two stone lions stood sentry on either side of an entrance which gaped - black, beckoning.

Isabel hesitated as the loamy earth and damp leaf smell propelled her back to the last time she had ventured here. On her sixth birthday, she became lost in a dark labyrinth of strange noises, and no matter how much her siblings teased, she had never come near it again.

In two weeks, Isabel would be twenty one; far too old to be frightened of a few hedges. Time to banish the monster forever. The post-dawn silence offered a perfect opportunity while everyone slept off their fatigue of the previous day’s journey from London. The lush green foliage looked anything but threatening now, and yet she still had to force herself over the threshold and onto the path.

On silent feet, Isabel crept to the end of the first corridor and turned left through a gap into another straight tunnel. Rounding a corner, the waxy leaves on an untrimmed hedge slapped her cheek. A shadow at the edge of her vision darted away, followed by a low scurrying of feet, or possibly wings. Startled, she ran clammy hands down the sides of her skirt and fought the urge to turn back.

The statue of a boy on a stone plinth changed her mind. Sightless eyes gazed straight ahead, the folds of his breeches buckled below the knee. He looked smaller than she remembered, his French horn in dimpled fingers, and hair a mass of short curls like thick worms carved in stone.

Reciting the route she had worked out a hundred times from her bedroom window, a burst of confidence sent her through the next gap into a small clearing where white colonial roses covered a wrought iron ornamental arch. The ivory blooms exuded a sweet, cloying fragrance which partly obscured the damp leaf and earth odour.

Their unexpected beauty stilled the moment and Isabel halted, entranced. Had she got this far on that long-ago birthday, how different the following years might have been. Years without the insidious fear of aloneness the maze engendered. Pondering this thought, a movement caught her eye.

Isabel turned her head and sucked in a breath.

The scene before her made no sense. She blinked and looked again.

Beyond the arch stood Isabel’s father. Tall and imposing in a charcoal grey tailcoat, his dark hair touched by silver wings at the temples, and his arms wrapped tightly around her mother’s nurse.

Amelia clung to him, her head tilted to receive his kiss. Her long, white fingers entwined in his hair messed the pristine order in a way he would never have tolerated in a hug from Isabel.

Pressed close, he held one broad hand spread across Amelia’s back, while with the other...

Isabel backed away, pressing against the hedge where sharp privet scratched the base of her neck. Like a small child caught in a misdemeanour, she waited, each second loaded with anticipation of her father’s voice raised to summon her back.

Apart from a low rustle and a murmur of wind, the maze remained still and silent.

Isabel ran. The statue of the boy flashed past and she hurtled through a gap in the hedge, pleading with the fates she had chosen the right path. Her heart pounded in rhythm with each step, the entrance loomed ahead, and dizzy from her erratic breathing, she burst between the hedges into bright sunlight.

Her skirt threatened to wrap around her ankles, but she reached the far side of the lawn without mishap. The arched wooden gate in the wall stood open and hurtling through, she shouldered it shut. The latch clicked loud in her ears and old wood cut into her upper arm through the fabric of her blouse.

A hand clutched to her chest as if to massage away the pain, her eyes snapped open and she gasped. That’s where his hand lay, on Amelia’s. . .

How could he?

A lump formed in her throat as furious tears welled.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Welcome, Cyrus Keith

Is It Still About Music?
I remember the autumn of 1974. I was 12 years old, fighting my troubled way into my teen years with my parents' divorce still echoing in my heart. I'd like to say I needed something to focus on to get my life back on an even keel, but I already had a passion, and that was reading. No, if anything I needed something to touch my soul on a different level, in a different place. Not necessarily a better place, just a different place.

I was visiting my mother one weekend, and my oldest brother had this record on the turntable in the living room. It was my first exposure to Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Up until then, my parents had filled my life with Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette, and Freddy Fender. The Kingston Trio, The Smothers Brothers, and Peter, Paul and Mary topped off my musical exposure.

But that day when the opening strains of "Roll On Down The Highway" leaped out from the stereo, a light turned on inside my head. CF Turner became an instant hero. I saw Blair Thornton strutting across the stage in a blue satin blouse, bell-bottoms, and platform shoes, ripping chords on a Gibson SG, and I wanted nothing more than to be there, too.

A friend of mine in school had this acoustic guitar, and a dream of his own. I wanted to play keyboards. He said he needed a bass player. To seal the deal, he played a concert album by Rush: "All The World's A Stage." I thought BTO was a mind-blower. I couldn't believe that these three men were making that much noise!

Thirty-six years later, I'm still a bass player. I've expanded into guitar, but my primary instrument is that same Hagstrom Swede bass I've had since 1981. I did a brief stint as bassist for a small-time band called Tokenn.

We never went any farther than the local pool hall. But we had fun. Sometimes there were four of us, and for a while there were five. But we were all bigger than the sum when we powered up the PA and the amps, and the drums started in. We played punk metal, and we did our best to keep it clean. It was "Light Metal." Actually, we coined a term for it: "Aluminum Alloy."

To me, words mean things. I guess that's overflow from being a writer. But when I listen to a song, I listen to the whole thing. I want that song to become a part of me. When I play a song, I play out a part of me. I want to play what I feel. Maybe I'm a snob. Maybe I'm just a snoot-bag. But what I want out of music is not a lecture about my lifestyle or my political choices. I don't need to hear about someone else's hormones or listen to them show off about how they can cuss fifty-three times in as many seconds, and I really don't care to hear about how many people they want to bust a cap in. I want a lyric that's more than vague, free-form verse. Is that too much to ask? I guess that limits what I can listen to, then doesn't it?

Now, I'm not going to sit here and judge anyone else for being happy with their favorite music. If you're happy, you're happy. And I can't blame musicians for writing what sells. But if music is art, it should have a purpose. Isn't art supposed to tell us, "There's something better?"

A song is supposed to say, "Come with me, I want to show you something." It takes you on a journey, it tells a story. Okay, it doesn't have to be all sunshine and rainbows. But if it doesn't end happy, at least it should end hopeful. Can we at least expect that? I mean, Rock and Roll has had sixty-five years to get it right. And for the most part, it's still wasting its time, like a teenager who hasn't outgrown its piss and vinegar.

I understand a need to appeal to, well, teenagers who haven't yet outgrown their piss and vinegar. But can we do better than what we're doing? Teens look to their musical heroes as role models. So let's take a look at some of these "role models," shall we?

1. Madonna: Made a name for herself by stripping down to a metal bustier on stage and humping her mike stand like a sex-crazed Jack Russell terrier. Inspired a clothing craze. For years, teen girls dressed like sluts. Teen pregnancy skyrocketed. Gee, awesome job, there, Miss Ciccione.

2. Britney Spears: Emotional train wreck. Barely dressed, humps and grinds along with the best(?) of them. Millions of teen and preteen girls now want to dress like sluts, and behave like them.

3. Kurt Cobaine: Bipolar depressive. Spaced himself out on dope, blew his brains out with a shotgun. Inspired countless papers on "Why Kurt Cobaine is my role model" high school papers. Okay, so you all want to get bipolar, dope yourselves up and blow your brains out with a shotgun?

4. Lady Gaga: Performance artist or singer? Hard to say. Harder yet to see if she can keep her clothes on for a whole performance. What else ya got, girlie? How about a smackerel of talent?

5. Miley Cyrus: All on the skin-tight, pre-age-of-consent-slut-mongering bandwagon.

Now, to give these people at least a breath of credit, they have all stated they don't see themselves as role models. Too bad. They are whether they want to be or not. Entertainers, they say. Okay, entertain. But whether you like or not, impressionable minds are looking up to you. Show a little bit of that leadership your fans are attributing to you. If you're going to be a musician, demonstrate musicianship. Do us all a favor and give your fans something positive to look forward to. Is that too much to ask? Or do you need lessons from bands such as Rush, Skillet, and Flyleaf? I'll even throw Evanescence in for good measure.

Can you at least give your fans an opportunity to use their brains?

Becoming NADIA Excerpt: (unedited)

Chapter 32

Jon swung the maul down hard, splitting another hunk of oak straight through. The pieces fell away to either side of the stump, and he grabbed another hunk off the pile. He'd been gathering and splitting wood all day, just to keep his hands busy and his mind occupied. That, and to stay as far as possible from ...it.

This was more than his mind could wrap around. Here she was, his best friend, and yet not even close. Alli was dead; there was no way around it, and then she walked back into his life without so much as a how-do-you-do and turned his world upside down all over again. It was bad enough when she was alive. On top of it all, there was so much that she didn't remember. Maybe that was a good thing. Maybe she wouldn't remember how he'd screwed everything up. But then again, she wasn't even a she; she was an it, something not even human, not a person, and it angered him to think about Alicia as less than who she was.

Donna came back with a package for Bunny, had lunch, and left, taking her paperwork and some fresh samples of Nadia's blood with her.

As the afternoon wore on, Jon's muscles announced that, whether he liked it or not, they were through splitting wood for the day. He thought about Uncle Mike's lounger, a cold cola, and a sandwich. And then he thought, It's in there. Do I really want to be in there? He wandered in circles in the yard for a full minute. This is ridiculous; it's my uncle's cabin. I belong here, she...it...doesn't. Just walk in there and own the place, already. He was getting one hellacious headache; he put a hand to his head and crossed the yard, leaning the maul against the woodpile as he passed.

Jon came through the door and flumped down in the lounger. He reclined it, sat silently, and closed his eyes.

A few minutes later, Nadia came in with a cola and sandwich, and set them on the end table next to the chair. Then she disappeared back into the kitchen without saying a word, leaving only the lingering bouquet of her perfume. She still smelled like Alli. Jon listened to her and Bunny whispering in the kitchen, unable to hear what was being said. He picked up the sandwich and lifted the top slice: Roast beef on rye, sliced thin and heated, stacked with pickle slices and Muenster cheese, the top slice spread with salad dressing. Jon's favorite. He cursed himself inwardly, and then set to on the sandwich.

As soon as he finished, Nadia came back with a chair from the kitchen. She set it on the floor in front of the lounger and sat facing Jon, looking into his face. He tried to look away, but felt stupid for even trying. So he just met her gaze.

Finally, she spoke: "We're both in this, Jon, whether we like it or not. I need to know what's going through your mind right now, because I don't think I can handle what I think you're thinking." Jon stayed silent, letting the ice melt in the half-empty glass of cola.

Nadia continued, "I'm trying to get a handle on this whole thing, too. The difference between you and me, though, is that you can walk away from it. I can't. I have to just suck it up and deal with not being human. I know what I am to me, and I can't help it. But what am I to you?"

Jon sighed and brought his glass to his lips. He looked into the glass as he spoke. "I don't know. You're certainly not what I thought you were."

"I'm not what you were hoping for, in other words? And what was that?"

"I don't know that, either."

"I don't buy that, Jon. Look at me." Jon looked up, his mind and face blank. "Who do you see?"

"I don't see anyone."

Nadia's face flushed, and she looked away. When she looked back into Jon's eyes, her lip was quivering. "Then why are we still here? Why are you here? Why am I here?"

"You're evidence," said Jon. "Donna said in order to capture Alicia's mind, it had to be destroyed while they recorded her personality. That means she must have been still alive when they got to her. Someone committed murder, and right now you're the only evidence I've got. You're the only marker on the trail."

"So I'm no one, just 'evidence'?" Nadia's voice hardened. Her hands clenched in her lap. "Exactly how are you going to fit me in your little Ziploc 'Exhibit A' bag, Agent Daniels? When this is over, are you going to lock me away in your little evidence closet back in DC? Am I that dead to you?"

"Well, you're not human, are you?" Jon said.

She said nothing in return. She just looked down at the floor, her lips pursed tightly.

Jon pressed on. "Well, are you? What exactly are you, Nadia? Someone's twisted science fair project? Some show-and-tell from Hell? Is Dr. Frankenstein even now throwing together a Nadia Mark II, using a dead woman's DNA and another dead woman's brain patterns? What do you want to bet there's a serial number tattooed on your left--"

Jon should have expected the slap, but even had he seen it coming, it was lightning-quick, and hard enough to sprout stars in his vision. When he recovered enough to see, Nadia's eyes still burned and the low growl was just fading from her throat. He sat back, shocked.

"Was that dead, Jon? For your information, sir, I am alive. I'm sitting here right now, in front of you, alive. Okay, I was made by someone else. Am I worth less because of it? As I recall, you didn't see the difference when you kissed me out there on the porch. You promised me then that this would be over, and I could be my own person, do you remember that?"

"That's before I knew--"

She cut him off, her voice rising in anger. "I'm not letting you off that easy, Jon Daniels! You think that a promise made to a non-human isn't binding? What if I was a dog? Do people make promises to their dogs? Or do I not even deserve that?"

"Quit! That's not--"

"Not what, Jon? Not the same? Let me ask you something else. Did it mean anything to you when you kissed me?"

"What?" he sputtered, "That's not fair!"

"You know what's not fair, Jon? Waking up in a hospital with no history, no memory. Getting lied to for over a year just to find you'd have been better off being someone's stupid little pet! Finding out what you are, but not why! Trying to be you, when everyone else around you is trying to make you be their someone else! Well, Jon, say good-bye to Alicia, because I'm going to be me, and to hell with her!"

"Don't you say that!" Jon shot to his feet, his hands balled into fists. "You have no right--"

"I have every right!" Nadia stood toe to toe with Jon, her hands balled into fists as she glared back up at him. "You've been comparing me to her ever since we met. What really makes me mad is, there's a part of me that is her. So right now am I me, or am I her? I could go nuts trying to sort it out. I don't care anymore."

Nadia's voice dropped, but she stood her ground, looking up into Jon's eyes. "And I can be okay with that, because now I understand why I don't remember before. I'm getting answers. They're not the answers I wanted, but they're answers."

Jon's hands relaxed. He looked away from Nadia for a few seconds before speaking. "You asked me something the other night. You asked me if--"

Nadia held her hand up, shushing him. "No. Don't tell me. I know." She took a deep breath before going on. "Did you know she cried, Jon? That night in Chicago, she cried in your arms, and you never asked why. It was because she was wishing she was someone else. You never knew how she felt, because she couldn't afford the consequences, and neither could you."

"Why--" began Jon, his voice breaking.

"Because she has to be gone, and you have to go on. Because if you can't treat me like a woman, maybe you could treat me like a person. Maybe even a friend." A tentative smile appeared on her lips. "God knows I could sure use a friend right now, because I'm scared absolutely witless of myself."

Bunny called from the kitchen. "Hey, guys, you might wanna get in here, like right now!"

Jon and Nadia looked at each other, up close for another moment before Jon said, "All right, Bunny. We're coming."

As they entered the kitchen, Bunny was all set up on his new desktop system and printer. His hands shook as he prepared the program. "Watch this." He explained as he cued up the file at the beginning of the clip. "Here's the file I copied from the computer at KBGX. It's the whole interview from Nigeria, four years ago."

Jon and Nadia pulled up chairs as the file began to play. Jon kept one eye on the video, and one on Nadia, watching her reactions. She muttered nervously as the video played: "Strange, I don't feel anything... I don't remember this at all. It doesn't trigger a rush or any memory at all... Is that really me?"

They watched the Nadia on the file conduct her interview with President Bello, exchanging laughs here and there, getting more serious in other spots. The video segment was unedited and so it contained parts where she looked into the camera and asked Steven to change angles, and parts when the President's aide served drinks. The entire file was about an hour long.

"This is where the YouTube file ends," announced Bunny, "any second now," but it continued for several more minutes. Now they were all in unmarked territory.

Jon saw the lighting shift as one of the set lights burned out in a flicker of flashes. Steven's voice behind the camera told her he needed to get another light from the truck. President Bello and Nadia continued to make small talk for a couple more minutes, and then something happened. Nadia froze in place. She seemed to grow pale, or was it some variant in the video file? President Bello touched her shoulder tentatively. Then the screen exploded in an white flash, and the video file ended.

Jon, Nadia and Bunny sat silently for some time. Jon finally spoke, in a weak voice, "What the hell did we just see?"

Bunny backed up the video about thirty seconds and let the video play until just before the end. Then he paused it and advanced one frame at a time. They watched Nadia slow down and grow still. All three were watching the screen for every detail. Jon picked out the first change. "There! See what's happening? That's not an aberration of the video file; her face is getting pale, like she's fainting." They watched closer as the transformation washed over her skin, leaving her clothes the same shades of pastel blue and black as before. But she was frozen in place.

Nadia saw the next event. "Wait, Bunny! Back it up again and go more slowly…there! Stop. What's that light reflecting off my eye? It's only in the right, that little flash. One more frame. No. That light's coming out of my eye; it's not reflected in it!" Five seconds later, they found out what killed the President of Nigeria, his aides and his senior minister, and destroyed half of the presidential palace in Lagos. Jon, Nadia and Bunny sat in stunned silence for the second time that evening.

This time it was Bunny who broke the shocked stillness. "Jonny-boy, you better quit gettin' her mad."