Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween! A little treat with Adams and Eve by Elle Druskin

Today is Halloween and it's time for a little fun.  Author Elle Druskin has written several stories set in the fictional town of Liberty Heights, NJ.  The characters in the Liberty Heights series are quirky, a tad zany, and totally lovable.  To celebrate Halloween, Elle composed the short story, Adams and Eve.

Penny, thanks so much for having me here. Happily, I know you are as addicted to reading the Liberty Heights books as I am addicted to writing them.

AUTHOR: Elle Druskin
BOOK TITLE: Adams and Eve A Liberty Heights Halloween Short Story
GENRE: Humor, series, romantic humor

When and why did you begin writing? 
I think I’ve always been attracted to writing. I was blessed to have a wonderful teacher in high school (a pretty long time ago) who taught me so much. Oddly enough, or maybe not, the lessons weren’t in the classroom in the formal sense. I was editor of my yearbook (an award winning book, thanks to this teacher) and my best friend was the editor of the newspaper. This particular teacher, the late Cecilia Whitehouse, was truly special. She’d been a journalist, and when we knew her, she taught English and journalism and served as moderator for the school publications which meant she spent every day after school with us working on them. She taught us how to write, break down text, write headlines and captions—you name it. No wonder she became an award winning teacher.  She also was a wonderful listener to various teenage woes and helped us all write our college entry essays. No surprise we adored her and called her Ma with great affection.

I believe strongly that first and foremost, I am storyteller. If you don’t have a great story, all the writing skill in the world won’t be sufficient. On the other hand, poor writing cannot fix a great story. They go together.

What inspired you to write your first book?
I wrote my first book To Catch A Cop mostly to figure out how to write a book. I’d written and published a substantial number of academic articles, book chapters, etc. That’s a different style of writing but nevertheless, still writing. I was interested in fiction so I wrote the book on the basis that nobody would ever see it so it didn’t matter a great deal what I wrote. Nobody was going to see it, remember?

It went through quite a few re-writes before I dared show the thing to anyone. The teacher I mentioned previously read it for me. Her opinion counted more than anything. Luckily, she loved it although she said there were a few dangling participles—should she fix those for me? Yes indeedy. 

By then I was ready to get more feedback although I still didn’t know what I would do with this book that was only meant for practice and fun. Jane Beckenham, who is a successful romance writer and friend, thought it was an unusual romance. The teacher thought it was a mystery. A third reader who must remain nameless is a very successful writer of thrillers. He thought it was a thriller. I honestly didn’t know what I wrote at that point. Did it matter? What mattered was a good story, fun characters and engaging a reader. They all thought it should be published so imagine my surprise when To Catch A Cop was published and nominated as Best Romantic Comedy of 2010. It didn’t win, but not bad for the book that was only meant for practice. The book is available as an e-book and should be out in print soon.

Does criticism or positive feedback change how or what you do in your writing?
 Of course. It does and it should. As long as it’s constructive. For the most part, I’m busy writing my Liberty Heights series. I love working on those books! I didn’t intend to write a series, I originally wrote Animal Crackers (Book 1) as a stand alone book but as I was writing, more ideas for stories that involved people in that mythical, slightly (okay, more than slightly) eccentric New Jersey town, kept popping into my head. I love catching up with characters from previous stories. They’re like old friends who appear in each new book in the series. Liberty Heights might not be a real place, but it seems real to me. It’s wonderful to know that readers fall in love with Liberty Heights. It’s a healthy kind of addiction.  BTW, as I write this, Animal Crackers is on special at Amazon for only 99 cents. That won’t last so it’s a good time to grab it and take a trip to Liberty Heights.

I’m reasonably confident writing those books but I still use beta readers. They are also devoted to Liberty Heights and love finding out what the heck is going on now in that wacky town in each new book. I do ask them to read critically and provide any feedback they feel is helpful about characters, story, tension, construction. Inevitably, they make the story better so I find that highly beneficial.

Any advice for a new writer just starting out?
 Read a lot. Don’t give up reading because you want to write. That’s the best advice anyone can give an aspiring writer. Reading should be a pleasure but it can also teach how to engage a reader. Why did you have to turn that page? How to build tension and twist it. How to create characters that readers care about. How to write believable dialogue. Read everything and start writing. Don’t give up. Take constructive feedback. Keep reading and writing.  As a side note, I read anything and everything and on average read about 4 books a week depending on the type of book.

What are your current projects?
 I’ve just finished two Liberty Heights short stories that are holiday themed. I actually wrote Pranksgiving which is a Liberty Heights Thanksgiving story first. In short, someone in Liberty Heights kidnapped (or is that birdnapped? ) Jerome, the celebrity turkey, famous for his television commercials. Why? Is someone holding Jerome for ransom? Cutting down on holiday dinner costs? I really had fun with this book. It captures all the lunacy of Liberty Heights in the nicest way possible. It’s also a PG book and suitable for Young Adult readers and shorter than a full length novel.

It seemed natural to also write a Halloween themed short book too. Adams and Eve, A Liberty Heights Halloween will be out for this Halloween, 2013. Briefly, ditzy LouAnn Freedbush who first made her appearance in Book 4, Light My Fire, is throwing a Halloween party. “Come as an Adams” says the invitation. Nobody in town can figure out why LouAnn came up with this theme. Everyone’s busy trying to find a suitable costume as a famous person named Adams.

Of course, this is Liberty Heights so there are a few gatecrashers including LouAnn’s sister BettyAnn who is a recent graduate of witch college and member of Registered Witches of America. BettyAnn’s finally snagged a boyfriend who more than resembles Frankenstein. He’s downright creepy looking although kind of sweet. He’s practicing to be a vampire. One little problem; he faints at the sight of blood. Then there’s another gatecrasher who plans to murder LouAnn but like I said, this is Liberty Heights, and things definitely don’t go to plan. I really had fun with this story too. 

Finally, I’m working on a new Liberty Heights book. Tentative title is Wait Watchers.  I kind of like that it refers not only to a woman who gained and lost a fair amount of weight, but also, people waiting too long or maybe waiting just long enough for the right one to come along. I thought that was neat.

What do you plan for the future?
I hope new ideas for Liberty Heights books will keep coming. I’d also like to do a few stand alone romance or mystery books and it’s been suggested I might try writing a Liberty Heights full length novel aimed at Young Adults. I guess I will think about these ideas and let them percolate for a while. Thinking and letting scenes and stories take form over time works for me.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
You can find me in all these places. I don’t always keep up to date on my website as much as I would like but I’m a lot better with Twitter and Facebook.
My website and blog with book excerpts, reviews, news, free bookmarks and recipes.
I also hang out at Books and Writers Community, a great place for writers and readers. It’s free, it’s fun and everything you can possibly imagine is discussed. You’ll see some famous names there including Diana Gabaldon and Joanna Bourne. Right now, we’re having lots of fun discussing casting for the upcoming mini-series of Diana’s Outlander book. We’re all looking forward to that.

At Barnes and Noble for Nook:
Any other news you’d like to share?

What gave you the idea for this particular book?

As I said, I had just finished a Thanksgiving themed short story in the Liberty Heights series and Halloween seemed a natural. LouAnn is more than a little ditzy. She owns Wayne, a beagle who is psychic. (Or psychotic, depending on your point of view). LouAnn’s sister BettyAnn finally graduated witch college and she’s snagged a boyfriend who’s practicing to be a vampire. His only problem is that he faints the second he sees blood. It all fit in so well with Halloween kinds of events, the story took on a life force of its own. It’s a given that anything to do with a Freedbush is more than a little off center but they’re fun.

Is this story written for adults or children? Why did you target this audience?

Most of my Liberty Heights books are meant for adults. All the books are fictional although I do get a kick out of readers who ask for driving directions to Liberty Heights thinking the place must be real.  I’ve often thought I should include a map of the town because I know exactly where all the shops are, where everyone lives and the important places in the town.

The Liberty Heights books often contain sexual references but the two short stories including Adams and Eve don’t. In that respect, they’re different which doesn’t detract from the fun. It also means they are appropriate for Young Adult readers and shorter than the full length novels.

Do you believe in ghosts?  Why or why not?

Well, why not? Not everything is logical and deductive. In a way, it’s kind of nice to believe that when someone dies, they’re not completely gone from your life. They’re nearby, still caring about you. It might be wishful thinking, but I don’t see anything harmful about that.

Does your main character believe in ghosts?  Why or why not?

LouAnn definitely believes in ghosts. She’s so ditzy and sweet, she’d have nothing to fear. On the contrary, she would likely say, Freedbushes are well known for their hospitality. Any ghost is welcome in my house.

I haven’t written a Liberty Heights book with a ghost but I’m thinking about it and wondering which resident of the past might be back in town and why. It’s giving me plenty to think about so thanks for generating that idea!


What is your favorite:

Pasta. Always pasta. I’m a sucker for it. I can’t eat it often because I blow up like a balloon but I love it. Italy was heaven!

Where do you write?
Usually in my living room on a laptop. I get up and walk around a lot and think but this seems to be the place where I work best.

I’m still enjoying Ballroom and Latin Dancing. It’s terrific fun and always something new to learn. It’s a challenge and I think anyone can learn to dance. I know I’ve benefited socially, but also developed much better posture, balance and musicality so it’s terrific. There’s a rumor that one of the pros from Dancing With The Stars is coming to our studio later this year to give a special lesson. Well, sign me up for that! Isn’t that going to be great fun!

TV show?
I admit it. I do watch Dancing With The Stars because I love the choreography and watching as the contestants really evolve into dancers. I’m addicted to The Big Bang Theory. Never miss it. I think it’s a fabulous show. Wonderfully written and beautifully acted. Sharp, witty, and always engaging. Never dumbed down to the audience. Bazinga!

Serendipity. No idea why. Maybe because it’s a word I don’t get to use very much but I do love it when things are serendipitous.


Calvin’s index finger tapped his forehead. Brains. Something LouAnn was more than a little short on. All he had to do was get rid of her. Permanently. Collect the inheritance as her grieving husband and head back to the good life, Renata, and the Copacabana. He started the ignition and paused.
            That damned beagle. Wayne was devoted to LouAnn who claimed the dog was psychic, more than sufficient proof she was a total lunatic. Yet, in California, celebrities flocked to Wayne for readings. More nutcases.
            Wayne could be a problem. For starters, he loathed Calvin. No matter how many times Calvin shoved the dog in the car when LouAnn wasn’t looking and threw him out miles away, Wayne had the instincts of Lassie. Like a magnet pulling him back to LouAnn, Wayne always returned home. Footsore, hungry, and worst of all, furious and snarling at Calvin.
            Darned dog. Better not show his face in Liberty Heights until he did some reconnaissance on his wife and that pesky dog. All he had to do was lie low, case the town, and find a foolproof way to kill LouAnn.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

SS Hampton, Sr., An Incident on MSR Tampa

AUTHOR:                        SS Hampton, Sr.
GENRE:                        War/Supernatural(?)
PUBLISHER:                        Musa Publishing


Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I am a part-time writer, and a full-time college student studying for an Associates in photography. My real interest, however, is archaeology. If all goes well, I will graduate in the spring of 2014. Unfortunately, I do not organize my writing time. I write when the mood strikes me—usually in the evening and I will write until midnight, or if it is on the weekend, I will write until much later.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
Go to college, study, watch DVD movies, and listen to music. Because I live in Las Vegas, sometimes I will go to a casino and gamble a few dollars and have a couple of beers. I never gamble more than $5.00 because I dislike losing money, and Vegas was built on the money of losers. I also have dinner with a couple of friends or join a couple of friends for a couple of drinks.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?
I had writer’s block once. That was in the summer of 2012 and it lasted for six months. It was not so much getting through it as writing numerous guest blog posts and updating my FaceBook page. One day I finally started writing a few words; then the next day a few more words. I knew that what I wrote was not being creative so much as simply writing to get the feel of writing going again. After a week or so the desire, even the need, to write, was back. Then I returned to what I forced myself to write and really edited so that the writing would resemble something like creative writing.

Any advice for a new writer just starting out?
Yes. When a new writer is serious about writing, draft a marketing plan first. Plan on writing guest blog posts and blog interviews. Once the manuscript has been accepted, create a 250-300 word excerpt from the Work In Progress (WIP) so that word gets out early. Establish a FaceBook author page; create author pages on US, UK, and Canada. Look at sites like GoodReads where you can establish a presence. Many publishers (or at least the three publishers I publish through) have author loops—join the loops and learn from the other authors, both new and experienced. But no matter what, do not forget to write every day. And remember, social media, though useful, can eat up a lot of your writing time too.

What are your current projects?
I am currently editing a short story about World War II German soldiers on the Russian Front, with a healthy dose of the supernatural/unknown included. To me, war and the supernatural go hand in hand. Then, I will be writing a fantasy that takes place in ancient Sumeria. After that, I will return to editing a novella of World War II German soldiers in North Africa with—you guessed it—a healthy dose of the supernatural/unknown included. Like I stated, war and the supernatural/unknown go hand in hand.

What is your experience working or being around the paranormal?
I have only had one experience that literally made the hair on my head and the back of my neck rise. I was working late one night in a photo lab here in Vegas. Because color printing paper is so sensitive, there is one stretch of a hallway leading to the print processing room—with numerous side rooms—that is totally dark. I was going down the hallway with an exposed print and just as I passed a particular room I felt a sudden chill in my back and the hair on my head and the back of my neck stood straight up. I put the paper in the machine, went into the well-lit area of the lab, and once the print came out, I returned to the darkened hallway, turned the lights on, and then went to the room at the end of the hallway and shut all of the equipment down. Though the job was due first thing the next morning, I went home. The next morning I told my boss why the job was not done; he looked at me, called the customer, and said it would be late. No one laughed at my experience, because everyone else in the photo lab always believed there was something ghostly in that particular hallway. Mostly anything they saw, when the lights were on, was from the corners of their eyes—a fleeting shadow, because when they looked, they saw nothing. They just felt that sometimes they were not alone in that hallway.

What gave you the idea for this particular book?
Technology is advancing at such a rapid pace, especially military technology, that what we cannot see with our eyes is being revealed through computer software and scientific hardware. So what if a certain item of military technology, opened, a doorway to something we normally could not see? Plus, I heard Soldiers talking once—my battalion had a SECFOR mission, escorting logistics convoys into and throughout Iraq—about a stretch of the Supply Route and surrounding terrain that had a haunted look to it. They said that area would fit right into a horror movie.

Is this a work of fiction or non-fiction? Why did you choose to write it this way?
Fiction, of course. I do not know of any real incidents of the type I describe.

Is this story written for adults or children? Why did you target this audience?
This story is written for adults, especially as I do not know how to write for children. I know that adults will understand this story far better than a child could.

Do you believe in ghosts?  Why or why not?
I cannot say “yes” or “no.” Other than the experience in the photo lab, I have never encountered anything unusual. I do believe that we do not know everything about this universe, this world, therefore anything is possible. I would like to believe in ghosts because that would truly indicate there is something—perhaps another reality—beyond death.

Have you ever encountered a ghost or paranormal event? Please describe it.
No. If I ever encountered or experienced such an identifiable event, my first reaction—after total surprise—would be to try and rationalize, or explain it.

What kind of research did you do for this type of book?
The general military aspect I was familiar with due to my service in the military and my deployment to Iraq (northern Kuwait) in 2006-2007. The rest was a lot of time spent reading about certain military technologies, computer software, astronomy, electromagnetic wavelengths, etc. It was all very interesting, but then became fun once I figured out how to tie it all together into a believable story—I hope.


What is your favorite:

Winter! After living in southern Nevada since 2001, including mobilization and serving in southern California, and Iraq, I’ve had enough of hot weather. In Vegas there’s only two seasons—summer and a sometimes cold winter. Anything in between only lasts a few days. I want to feel winter again, see snow, sleet and ice, and light a warm fire in a fireplace. Someday I’ll make it back to the Rocky Mountains.

Christmas! Christmas morning, watching the faces of the kids/grandkids and listening them to laugh and talk as they unwrap their presents—when there’s money to buy presents (some of us still haven’t recovered from the recession, you know).

And, thank you for having me here today.

“An Incident on MSR Tampa.” MUSA Publishing, March 2012.
ISBN: 978-1-61937-246-7

BLURB: Halloween Night, 2006 – a resupply convoy commanded by the Air Force and escorted by Army gun trucks, is leaving Kuwait for Baghdad. The lonely desert highway north is MSR Tampa, a bloody highway along which for years the convoys suffered insurgent attacks. And on MSR Tampa there is a particular wooded bend that no one speak of, though many know of its haunted reputation, a reputation given new life by a gun truck crew testing a new generation of enhanced night vision goggles…

EXCERPT: …It wasn’t long after the safety briefing that the crews mounted their gun trucks. Purple Dog led the way out of the CMC, past the camp, past a small civilian parking lot and a mosque with a tall graceful minaret, and across the highway. They paused at the border control point while Cordova presented all of the required customs documentation for the convoy. Border control was manned by Iraqi Police that no one trusted.
            A hot night wind moaned across the desert. They sat behind closed ballistic windows, shrouded within engine heat, and the claustrophobic grip of the hot IBA.
            Harland stared out the narrow, dusty window at the large closed gates in front of him. The gates were made of heavy wood beams with diagonal cross-beams overlaid with layers of darkly gleaming razor wire. Strangely, the razor wire was all on the inside of the gate, facing the moonlit desert ahead of them. A shudder went through him as he realized each gate was decorated by the large bleached skull of a ram. The empty eye sockets above the pointed, splintered snouts stared at him; large ridged horns curled backward from the skull before flaring outward in another curl into deadly tips. Like a mythical doorway that was built to keep people out, or keep something in, the gates spanned the dusty, rutted road that led to the dimly lit village of Safwan up ahead.
            “Damn, Sarge,” Bonner said over the intercom. “I love these Cyclops. The night almost looks like day. And…more.”
            “More?” Harland answered and looked up through the opening in the roof of the gun truck. Bonner, with the ENG/NVG lowered to his face, looked like an alien with a deadly snout. Where his flesh was visible, it looked ghostly white. Every time he moved there seemed to be a faint, colored ripple in the air.
            “Yeah,” he chuckled and looked down at Harland. The eyepiece in the center of the ENG/NVGs glinted. “I don’t know. It’s hard to describe. It’s like you’re so damned white, your face, and I see colored ripples all around you like, like, when you throw a rock in a pond.”
            Harland grunted. He remembered the faint ripples when he had tried Cyclops back in Boston. Matherson had said there were minor software problems with Cassandra that would soon be fixed.
            Puffs of sparkling windblown dust tumbled toward them through the thin desert brush.
            “Hell of a time to go out on a mission,” Bonner said. “It’s Halloween night.”
            “No shit,” Stewart replied.
            “Feels damned spooky,” Bonner said. “Feels like the headless horseman is gonna come riding out of the night any second now. These Cyclops don’t help any, either.”
            Harland chuckled.
            “Hey, Sarge, you believe in ghosts?” Stewart asked.
            Moonlit dust washed over them, and the sand scratched against the ballistic window and the metal skin of the gun truck like skeletal claws on a blackboard.
            Harland grunted. “Anything’s possible. I think.”
            “People say there’s ghosts where people die violent deaths,” Bonner said. “A lot of battlefields are supposed to be haunted. People see things there.”
            Harland watched the swirling dust blowing across the desert and thought of the many bright, smoky explosions of IEDs, burning trucks, and shattered bodies, along MSR Tampa. He thought of the violent IED that had clawed at his own gun truck as if hungrily seeking him out.
            He shuddered as he stared at the silent, sightless horned skulls that trembled in the desert wind. He had a sudden deep and primeval feeling that the gates were built to keep something in…


SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, a published photographer and photojournalist, and a member of the Military Writers Society of America. He retired on 1 July 2013 from the Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class; he previously served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. Second-career goals include becoming a painter and studying for a degree in photography and anthropology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology. After 12 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters. As of December 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Hampton officially became a homeless Iraq War veteran.

Melange Books

Musa Publishing

MuseItUp Publishing Author Page UK Author Page

Goodreads Author Page

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Christina Weigand, Palace of the Three Crosses

AUTHOR: Christina Weigand
BOOK TITLE: Palace of the Three Crosses: Book Two
GENRE: YA Christian Fantasy
PUBLISHER: MuseItUp Publishing

Please tell us about yourself.
Christina Weigand’s a writer, wife, and mother of three grown children and a middle school daughter. She is also Nana to three granddaughters. She lives with her husband and youngest daughter in Pennsylvania, returning there after a short sabbatical in Washington. Currently, she’s working on fantasy novels and inspirational writing. Through her writing, she strives to share the Word of God and help people young and old to realize the love and mercy He has for everyone.

When she’s not writing, she’s active in her local Church as a lector, Bible Study, or with the church theater group, volunteering at her daughter’s school helping the children develop a love for reading and writing. Jesus fills her home with love as she shares Him through her writing. 

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I guess you would say a full-time writer. I don’t work outside the home, but I do have a twelve year old and I volunteer at her school as well as being a taxi and doing all the mother things. My writing is fit around the family schedule most of the time. November is the only month that my writing will move higher on the priority list although it never completely displaces the family.

What are your current projects? What do you plan for the future?
For the present I am still working on edits for the trilogy. I have a few starts sitting on my computer and I’m waiting for the characters to start making noise and wanting their story told.  Some of my dragons are on earth and travel through the history of Christianity helping the new Christians defend their faith. I have about five stories started at different times in the history and am anxious to finish one of them. Tomas is also making some noise to have his story told. So I definitely have a few projects to choose from. It’s just figuring out who is making the loudest and the most noise.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
Twitter: @CAWeigand

Any other news you’d like to share?
The suspenseful conclusion to the Palace of the Twelve Pillars trilogy, Sanctuary of the Nine Dragons will be released in February 2014. The twins, their wives and a new generation will join the dragons to save Ramajadin from the evil Sidramah.

Is this story written for adults or children? Why did you target this audience?
Young adults. The books are geared to young people because they are at a point in their lives where they are having to make choices. I wanted to show them that there are alternatives as well as consequences for the choices they make. And to hopefully supply them with the tools to make the choices.

Do you believe in ghosts?  Why or why not?
Well based on the fact that I included them in my books, I guess I do. I like to think that God has provided me with helpers to guide me down the right path.
Does your main character believe in ghosts?  Why or why not?
I never really thought about it, but I guess they do since when they encounter ghosts they are not frightened. The ghosts serve to offer advice and show support for a character who is struggling with something.

Have you ever encountered a ghost or paranormal event? Please describe it.
Unfortunately no. I would have loved to be visited by a friendly ghost.

Are your ghosts friendly, angry, hurtful, helpful, known or unknown to your
main character? Why did you choose this type of ghost?
My ghosts are the friendly type and known to the character they are relating too. They offer advice, sometimes cryptic to the characters. There are a few places in the book where the character wouldn’t listen to anyone but a ghost.

What kind of research did you do for this type of book?
Names of people and places for one. Then medieval life in Ireland and Germany. And some historical facts as to the development of technology as well as some magic so I could create spells.

Which characters were the hardest to develop: living or dead?  Why?
Probably the twins Brandan and Joachim. Brandan because he is the bad boy and I’m not. I had to plumb the depths of his soul to see how he would operate.


What is your favorite:

Food? Chocolate
Season? Fall or Spring
Holiday?  Christmas and Easter


Derdrom walked forward leading Lilia in chains. 

“We could have been one happy family, but now, I have to kill the two of you along with Lilia. You brats have put me in disfavor with Sidramah, and the only way to regain his favor is to get rid of all three of you. I had hoped to spare at least one, but alas, that is now impossible. The only question is…who’s first? The time has come for a decision.”

Brandan stood beside Joachim, his face working with barely controlled rage. Brandan lunged toward Waldrom.

Waldrom sensed the presence of magic and glanced behind him. Rupert and Lukan stood behind him. He grabbed Lilia and pulled her close, placing his short sword at her throat. “I suggest you stop, or I will cut her throat,” he warned Brandan. To emphasize his point, he pressed the sword against her skin puncturing her flesh.

Brandan, with sword drawn, took another step.

“I wouldn’t do that, unless you want your mother's corpse on your hands.”

Brandan advanced, as Waldrom muttered a spell to compel the king to keep moving and cut a little deeper drawing blood. He felt Lilia quivering in his arms.

A woman stepped out of the chapel, carrying a sword covered in blood. “Brandan, what are you doing? There’s a battle being fought. Why are you out here and not inside helping me?”

Waldrom glanced at the new arrival. He did not recognize her and turned his attention back to Brandan, who was still advancing. “Well, I see you’ve gone and made yourself right at home. You even found a strumpet to help warm the place up. I should have known you wouldn’t waste any time. Sorry to break up this little party, but it’s still my kingdom. I would greatly appreciate if you would all leave. But, since you won’t go, I’ll have to remove you myself. Where were we? I was deciding which of you to kill. I see, though, a few have been added to the numbers. All the more fun for me. Although it may be a little more painful for you, but that doesn’t matter. Should Lilia remain my first choice?”

* * * *

Magda grabbed Brandan's arm. She recognized Waldrom and had as much against him as Brandan and her father. “Wait, Brandan, I will deal with this.”

She moved toward Waldrom, but a voice in her head cautioned her. “Don’t reveal yourself. This is not our battle. Walk away. Let Waldrom do what he will.” She glanced around. Whose voice did she hear? It sounded like Melvane, but he was nowhere in sight. Upon further consideration, she realized this wasn’t her battle. She had every reason to want Waldrom out of the way, and if she let him get rid of these humans and the Kningrad, then she could deal with him at my leisure.

The voice spoke again. “That is right, let Waldrom do what he may, and then we will take care of him.”

Magda dropped her sword arm. “Brandan I don’t know what’s going on here, but I don’t want any part of it.” She turned and walked back into the chapel. “Hurry up and finish out here. I’ve taken care of those in the chapel so we can begin the joining once you’ve ended things. we’ve a joining to conclude. I’ll be waiting.” She slammed the door behind her. Waldrom’s voice followed her into the echoing chamber of the chapel.

Waldrom laughed. “Brandan, I would say you haven’t made a very good choice. You should be grateful I am going to end your life so you don’t have to put up with her much longer. Now where was I?”

* * * *

Joachim wanted to run to Lilia, but his head whirled. Stars floated in front of his eyes, their motion making him sick with dizziness. He stepped up to stand beside Brandan. “Waldrom, I’m afraid you’re mistaken. First, you are seriously outnumbered. Second, what makes you think you can use Mother to blackmail us? Such childishness, using a woman to negotiate, instead of dealing on a man-to-man level. Let her go, and we will discuss your surrender. I don’t want to kill you.”

Brandan pushed Joachim aside. “You may not, brother, but I do. He will stop at nothing to destroy me, and I can’t let that happen.”

A group of Brandan's personal guard came charging down the hall. Waldrom pushed the sword point a little further into Lilia's throat. “I see you boys still don’t agree on anything. I suggest you stop the group of soldiers from attacking me. Rupert, I know you’re back there, trying to form a spell to stop me. That wouldn’t be a good idea either.”

The tableau unfolded before Joachim's eyes. Waldrom, in the center of the circle holding Lilia with a short sword slicing her throat and Brandan, his long sword drawn, advancing on Waldrom. Rupert and Lukan stood motionless behind Waldrom. Lukan had his sword drawn. Conflicting voices rang in Joa's head. “Kill them all. You don’t need them.” Other voices calling, “Joachim save them. They need you.”

Lukan yelled, “Sire, watch out behind you.”

Joachim started and turned as a Mantion rushed at him. He pulled his short sword from his scabbard and stood before the coming onslaught. As the attacker reached him, he swung his weapon cutting and angering the Mantion. The foe sliced at Joachim's knees with his knife, leaving a gash in his thigh. When Joachim doubled over in pain, the Mantion leapt on his back and pummeled the king. Suddenly, the weight of the attacker lifted from his back. Joachim fearfully turned his head, expecting to see the Mantion standing over him ready to deliver the kill stroke.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Janet K. Brown, Victoria and the Ghost, plus #giveaway

Janet would like to giveaway a copy of Victoria and the Ghost to go to the winner of a drawing that includes everyone who comments on the post. Be sure to include contact info in your comment.

AUTHOR: Janet K. Brown
BOOK TITLE: Victoria and the Ghost
GENRE: Inspirational Paranormal YA
PUBLISHER: 4RV Publishing

Please tell us about yourself.

     Janet K. Brown lives in Wichita Falls, Texas with her husband, Charles. She began writing while her three daughters were kids but did not study the craft or submit her work until she retired in October, 2005. Writing became a second career.
     4RV Publishing released Janet’s debut novel, an inspirational young adult, Victoria and the Ghost, July, 2012. She studies her three grandchildren for help with teen expressions and actions. A sequel is in the works.
     Pen-L Publishing released Janet’s non-fiction book, Divine Dining Dec. 6, 2012. It’s a 365 devotion book Guide You to Healthier Weight and Abundant Wellness.
     She and her husband love to travel with their RV, visit with family, and work in their church.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

Full time except when I have fun with my sweetie or go spoil my grandkids. I write most morning except Sunday, and some in the afternoon depending on deadlines.

When and why did you begin writing?

From junior high to retirement, I could never stop writing. Characters talk in my head and keep me awake

What inspired you to write your first book?

My first book lived in my dreams while I was growing up. It’s what is now called New Adult genre. One of these days, I might pull it out of a drawer and put it on the computer and try to sell it. I wrote it before computers. Yes, I’m that old.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?

Is there such a thing?

What are your thoughts about promotion?

I hate it, but it’s a necessary evil. I feel like a braggart telling how great I am.

I keep up a website and blog every Saturday on it. I keep a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Goodreads, but I’ve never been tech savvy and don’t plan on starting. I do book signings, speeches, anything I can think of to do. I’ve spoken in my area a lot about the setting for Victoria and the Ghost, since the cemetery is a real place.

Does criticism or positive feedback change how or what you do in your writing?

Criticism about punctuation or grammar errors bothers me. I try even harder when I’m told I speak with a teen voice. Imagine that.

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?

I knew nothing about the ghost town of Clara, Texas, but the research made the place live for me. Writing the book helped me understand my granddaughter better.

Any advice for a new writer just starting out?

Take courses, meet other authors, and do creative exercises, but other than that, write every day. Give yourself permission to write junk, but write.

Every time you get a rejection, send out two more stories.

Who is your publisher, and how did you connect with them?

4RV Publishing. I went to Oklahoma Writers Federated Intl conference for the first time in 2011. There, I met Vivian Zabel, owner, publisher of 4RV. I pitched Victoria and the Ghost to her. She asked to see the full manuscript, and I sent it and received a contract a couple months later. The rest is history. Thank you, Vivian, Harry Gilleland,  Aidana Willowraven, and my line editor that I only know as KC for making it happen.

What are your current projects?

I wrote and submitted the sequel to Victoria and the Ghost. 4RV Publishing has indicated an interest in it, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that.. Right now, I’m writing a woman’s fiction about a woman with a food addiction, hoping this will compliment my non-fiction book, Divine Dining.

What do you plan for the future?

My mind pops faster than I can work. I’m contracted to write thirteen teen stories for Union Gospel Press, so that’s a work in progress. I’m shopping my inspirational adult romance. Who knows? These ghost stories may turn into being three books. Besides that, it’s promote and sell the books I have.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?


Twitter: @janetkbrowntx

What gave you the idea for this particular book?

When we moved from Dallas aread to the North Texas plains, we visited the area northwest of our town where I found a real ghost town, Clara, Texas. About that same time, my granddaughter (who just happens to be named Victoria) was going through the teen-crazies and didn’t like anything her mother did.

As my mind is apt to do, I thought, what if  a teenager felt rejected by her mother and was pushed outside her comfort zone without any friends Could the ghost legend surrounding Clara Cemetery of a sad man, who lost his soul mate, all his money, and finally his health bring comfort and direction to a sad teenager in contemporary times?

Read Victoria and the Ghost  to find out.

Is this a work of fiction or non-fiction? Why did you choose to write it this way?

Fiction. Simply, because I love fiction and read it most often. Besides, I think that appeals more to teenagers.

Do you believe in ghosts?  Why or why not?

I don’t believe in séances, witches, or trying to communicate with the dead. What I do believe in is the Almighty God of the Bible invented the supernatural (as we humans think of ghosts). We can’t understand angels, invisible beings, or any of the mysteries of the universe God created.

On the other hand, if God sees a young woman like Victoria who needs and asks for His help, He can use any means. Even a ghost.

I post about “Are ghosts real.” Find it in the archives on Weds., April 4, 2012 on my site:

Does your main character believe in ghosts?  Why or why not?

Not in the beginning. Her Christian upbringing tells her that’s of the devil, and her dad would have a fit if he knew about her and the ghost.

Are your ghosts friendly, angry, hurtful, helpful, known or unknown to your
main character? Why did you choose this type of ghost?

The ghost is scary to the main character, but sparks interest, too. The well-kept cemetery in the middle of nowhere draws her curiosity, gives her peace, and leads her to her first real friend in the country. He happens to be a good-looking cowboy.

What kind of research did you do for this type of book?

I made three trips to the Clara Cemetery. I read everything I could find. I talked with several people who still go to the church there. The ghost town is left with only a church, a rectory, and a cemetery. I also interviewed the historian for the nearby town of Burkburnett, Texas.

Are experiences based on someone you know or events in your own life? (Has anyone ever realized it?)

My granddaughter says it’s her story, but it really isn’t. I did get ideas though from some of the things she was going through at the time.

During high school, she moved from a large Dallas school where her graduating class alone would’ve been 1200 to a small town east of Dallas where her graduating class was 101. Her comment, like Victoria in the book, is “it’s a hick school.”

Which characters were the hardest to develop: living or dead?  Why?

Her first friend, Shelley, because I was faced with showing contrasting traits. Though she befriended Victoria, her flaws of gossip, impatience, and betrayal caused me to walk a thin line between not too nice, not too awful.

By the way, my sequel is all about mean girl Shelley (country born and bred) who is forced to move to the big city of Dallas.


What is your favorite food?

Reese’s candy and cream-filled donuts. Why else do you think I gained so much weight. I lost 95 lbs & have kept it off 18 years now by not eating candy and donuts, my trigger foods.

What’s your favorite quote?

“A man is about as happy as he decides to be.” Abraham Lincoln

Victoria and the Ghost

By Janet K. Brown

    At fifteen, Victoria, a city girl, loses her mother’s love and copes with country isolation, no friends and no one who cares, until she meets a ghost.

Back of Book Blurb

     When her mother leaves the family to become a Dallas trophy wife, Victoria’s dad moves her and her sister to a North Texas farm to herd cattle and raise chickens. Refusing to believe this is more than a temporary set-back, Victoria tries to make new friends which isn’t an easy task. The first one stabs her in the back with gossip and a sharp tongue. Meanwhile, her new stepsister takes Victoria’s place in her mother’s heart. Rejection and anger stalk Victoria like a rattlesnake in the cemetery. Good thing she makes friends with a ghost and through him, a good-looking teenaged cowboy.