Interview With Author Michael Murphy: Goodbye Emily

I welcome author Michael Murphy once again on my blog to discuss his latest release, Goodbye Emily.

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1. So Michael, tell me about your book, Goodbye Emily.

Goodbye Emily is a fun and funny look back at Woodstock even though the novel deals with loss and learning to live again. Three men decide to relive their trip to Woodstock in 1969. One final roadtrip. One last chance to say, Goodbye Emily.

Author Alisha Paige nailed it, calling Goodbye Emily, “a road trip full of adventure, love, laughter, fun, superstar appearances and heart-felt healing.

2. What inspired you to write this book?

A few years ago, a woman I’d worked with for more than ten years got cancer. Her health forced her to retire. One her last day we were chatting and she told me about attending Woodstock and how it impacted her life. Although I was ashamed I had not gotten close enough to realize she’d attended this special event, I began to think of Woodstock and the aging Woodstock Nation. The book is dedicated to my former co-worker, Louise Castro.

3. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

From an early age I enjoyed reading. For me it was a logical step toward writing. I first started in journalism and majored in it in collage, but writing and I drifted apart until my forties. I began a long delayed novel which was published in 2007. Now I’m a full-time writer and part time urban chicken rancher in Arizona. Goodbye Emily is my eighth novel.

4. What advice do you have for unpublished and emerging novelists?

Be patient. My biggest mistake as a writer was thinking my work was finished because I’d typed The End at the bottom of my manuscript. The thing I’ve learned the most about writing is rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Like wine, manuscripts get better with age.

5. Do you think it is absolutely paramount for a writer to promote his/her book before querying agents and publishers?

As noted above, I’d advise writers to focus on polishing their manuscripts before getting it to the right agent or publisher. I’ve found that because my first few novels were published by a small publisher, larger publishers are now reluctant to consider my work, so be patient. I was lucky with Goodbye Emily. Koehler Books has been great to work with.

Marketing and promotion, especially establishing one’s literary brand is crucial. I’ve done this more and more with each book, establishing a Woodstock blog, http://blog.mjmurphy.com where one can read about most of the great performances. And in addition to my personal website, www.mjmurphy.com, I also have a Goodbye Emily website www.mjmurphy.com where people can read the latest reviews of the novel.

6. What’s next for Michael as a writer; what future projects are you working on?

Goodbye Emily is so good I actually thought I’d never progress beyond it as a writer, but I fell in love again with  the characters in my next novel, The Yankee Club. With this novel, I return to my mystery/suspense roots, this time set in 1934 New York. I get to use the word dame a lot. It’s a funny look at noir fiction and the first in a series. While waiting for The Yankee Club to be placed with the right publisher, I’m working on the second in the series called All That Glitters.

7. Where can readers find your book?

Goodbye Emily is available at most major bookstores and through all the online major sites.

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Goodbye-Emily-Michael-Murphy/dp/1938467213/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1356800165&sr=1-1&keywords=Goodbye+Emily

Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/goodbye-emily-michael-murphy/1111959889?ean=9781938467219

I also encourage all my readers to hop on over to Boomer Cafe and read the first chapter of Goodbye Emily.

 

 

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Beginning of Forever by Terri Rochenski: Promo Post

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Beginning of Forever is actually a story written by Terri Rochenski that has been published in an book titled, Christmas Magic (Still Moments Publishing, 4 December 2012).

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Synopsis:

When Wayne Edwards moves to town, Lillian Davis experiences stirrings she thought were long dead. Guilt ridden over betraying her deceased husband and the feelings Wayne inspires, Lillian reluctantly lets him in. Secrets of the past – an old promise emerges, but will it threaten their forever?

Short Excerpt:

I rubbed my fussing son’s back and stumbled down the hall to grab the phone. “Hello?”
“Mrs. Douglas?”
A glance at the clock and my stomach clenched. Ronnie was an hour late for our Christmas Eve dinner. “Y-yes?”
“There’s been an accident.”
Through Steven’s heightened cries and the ringing in my ears I heard my husband’s name and Anna Jacques hospital.
This isn’t real. I need to wake up.
“Mrs. Douglas?”
I swayed and slumped to my knees on the linoleum floor, struggling to keep Steven in my grasp.
The floor is cold. I’m not dreaming.

About Terri:

Terri started writing stories in the 8th grade, when a little gnome whispered in her brain. Gundi’s Great Adventure never hit the best seller list, but it started a long love affair with storytelling. Today she enjoys an escape to Middle Earth during the rare ‘me’ moments her two young daughters allow.

Where to Find Terri and her Book:

Facebook
Goodreads
My Blog
My Website
Twitter
Google +

Purchase Your Copy of Christmas Magic:

Amazon

Smashwords

Still Moments Publishing

 

 

 

Late Bloomer: An Excerpt from Melissa Wray

This is Thursday, not Monday, Wednesday or Friday, the days I normally post on this blog. But since I haven’t posted anything in a while, I’m going to post. And I promised Melissa I would host her once again on my blog.

Melissa Wray is the author of Destiny Road, a coming-of-age YA novel, that I read and reviewed a few months ago. She is currently writing another YA novel, titled Late Bloomer. The excerpt that I’m sharing with you today has been received an Honorable Mention in the Gold Coast Writers’ Festival. I can totally see why because, after reading it, I want to read more.

Here is the excerpt from Late Bloomer.

It’s only Monday and I have already burnt the toast for breakfast, tripped over the cat on the way out the front door and managed to get the bus driver off side for forgetting my bus pass. Great start to the week Kit! I flush the toilet and hook my schoolbag over my shoulder. I wash my hands but avoid the reflection in the mirror. It’s the same that it’s always been, just zit free today. I still look like I’m ten not fourteen. Mum says we all develop at different rates and not to rush it. I don’t want to rush it, but it would be nice to at least get bumps on my chest in this lifetime.

The warning bell rings as I emerge into the corridor. I jostle past the other students to collect my books from the locker. I slam it shut and squeeze past the couple shoving their tongues down each other’s throat. You would think this is the last time they will see each other. Ever. It’s only two hours until the first break and they can drool all over one another again. I walk along the corridor and ignore the sniggers circulating around me. My paranoia must be joining me early today. I make it to the classroom and enter just before the final bell rings. All the seats are filled, with only the one on the far side remaining. I cross quickly and again a ripple of gasps and snorts follow. I look behind me and they immediately cease. I plonk onto the chair and get my books out.

‘All right everybody, settle down,’ Mr. Hampson says.

The noise quietens and he begins talking about the math work we were supposed to finish over the weekend. I peek sideways at the rest of the class. As I do, a flurry of eyes looks away from me. I try to ignore the unsettled feeling seeping into my nerves. Instead I focus on the textbook in front of me. I flip to the page Mr. Hampson is talking about. Before long I can feel eyes staring at me again. I want to look around and make sure I’m imaging things. But I can’t bring myself to turn my head, in case I’m wrong.

Whack! Something hits me in the back and I turn around. The entire class is looking at me. I notice a scrunched up ball of paper has dropped on to my seat.

‘Nice look,’ Shane sneers from behind me.

I scowl at him and pick up the ball of paper. Like that weirdo can talk with his oily black hair sticking up all over the place. I try to un-scrunch the wad of paper quietly. I flatten it against the table to read.

‘Miss. Mornington?’

I look up to find Mr. Hampson standing right beside me. My heartbeat quickens and I know this is not good. Mr. Hampson does not take to disruptions kindly.

‘Care to read out your secret note?’

My lip twitches as I try to avoid his death gaze.

‘Make sure you use a loud voice,’ he encourages, sarcasm dripping off.

I haven’t read the note yet so I cross my fingers it’s something innocent.

‘Sh … short skirts are b … back,’ I whisper

‘Sorry I didn’t quite hear that.’

Mr Hampson has moved to the front of the room.

I clear my throat. ‘Short skirts are back.’

An eruption of laughter echoes around the room. Mr. Hampson’s cheeks blow out like a puffer fish. He stomps across to my desk and swipes up the note. His eyes scan across it. He glares at me because he knows I’ve spoken the truth. I don’t know why he’s mad at me. I didn’t write the stupid thing. I don’t even understand what it means.

‘Who wrote this?’ he asks, swirling on the class.

One by one the snickers stop. No-one owns up to the ridiculous note.

‘Miss. Mornington?’

I shrug my shoulders. I’m just as confused as he is.

‘Well maybe an hour in the time out room will help.’

My jaw drops open. He can’t be serious. I didn’t do anything.

‘Now Miss. Mornington.’ He drops the note and points toward the door.

I look around the room but this time nobody meets my eyes. I push the chair out and shove my books and pencil case into my school bag. I stand up and as soon as I do a fresh chorus of laughter erupts. I take no notice and stomp out of the room. The trails of laughter follow me and I ignore the repeated calls back from Mr. Hampson.

I make it to the time out room and enter to find it empty, except for the teacher and one other. My best friend Burra is splayed back in the chair. He spends a lot of time in here. Surprise spreads across his face when he sees me. But quickly he ducks his head before the teacher catches him.

‘Mr. Hampson,’ I explain to the supervising teacher.

She nods and records it in the creased notebook. It’s full of all the other naughty boys and girls in the school. I don’t have as many offences as Burra but there are a few with my name attached. I’m not naughty as such, but things just seem to go against me sometimes. I pull my textbook out of the bag and start working. After about ten minutes the teacher stands.

‘Right you two. I am going to trust that you will behave whilst I go and get something from my desk.’

She gives us the stare that is supposed to frighten us into submission. We both nod and watch her leave. Once she’s gone Burra strolls over to my desk and sits on it.

‘Well this is a new sight.’

I roll my eyes. ‘Not from where I’m sitting.’

He doubles over in mock laughter.

‘Seriously Kit, how did you get in here?’

‘I didn’t even do anything. Some idiot threw this note at me and Mr. Hampson went off his tree.’

I retrieve the note from my bag and pass it to Burra. He reads over it and raises an eyebrow. I snatch if off him and stand up to throw it in the bin.

‘Oh Kit, short skirts are back,’ he says with a smirk.

I stare at him with a screwed up face. I pat my hand down my school dress and that’s when my blood runs cold. I rewind through the morning so far. Leaving the toilet, the sniggers along the corridor and the snorts in the classroom, the stupid note that got me sent here. It all makes sense.

‘ARGH!’ I pluck my dress out from my knickers.

I pat the material down repeatedly until I’m sure there is nothing stuck where it shouldn’t be.

‘Nice underwear by the way,’ says Burra.

‘Shut up!’ I punch him in the arm.

‘No seriously, polka dots are definitely your style.’

I shove him off the table. ‘Not helping Burra.’

I cover my face with my hands. I can feel the heat radiating from my cheeks. I drop into my chair.

‘This is so embarrassing. The whole school must have seen my backside hanging out my undies.’

‘You’re such a drama queen. I doubt the whole school …’

Burra’s voice trails off as he looks at me with a toothy grin.

‘What! You doubt the whole school what?’

‘I doubt the whole school saw you, unless someone got it on their phone. Then they sure will.’

The blood rushes from my face. ‘I think I’m going to be sick.’

I push the chair back and lay my head on the desk. I try to take in deep breaths but it’s not helping.

‘Kit I’m kidding! It’s not like your dress has been hooked up all day. It was just before school.’

I peek up at Burra. ‘Do you really think that?’

‘Sure, besides you’ve been sitting on your butt most of the time.’

‘Yeah, I only walked to my first class and then here.’ I nod, trying to reassure myself.

‘That’s right,’ Burra encourages. ‘It was only a few guys from your class.’

I nod and think about it. There’s not much difference between underwear and bather bottoms. I can live with a handful of classmates seeing my polka dot hipsters.

‘You’re right, there was only a few.’ I shrug my shoulders. ‘No biggie.’

‘That’s the girl,’ he pats my back. ‘Besides, what’s the chance of it ending up on YouTube?’

‘Nooooo!’

Have you enjoyed reading this? Leave a comment or a ‘Like’.

You can also find out more about Melissa Wray and her work on the following sites:

http://www.melissawray.blogspot.com.au

http://www.morrispublishingaustralia.com/melissa-wray—author.html

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6465945.Melissa_Wray

http://www.facebook.com/melissa.wray.733

Meslissa can be reached at melissawray@hotmail.com.au.

Michael Fedison, Author of The Eye-Dancers

This is a promo post from Michael Fedison’s new release, The Eye-Dancers. I connected with Michael via blog following – we’re following each other’s blogs – and have read a little bit of The Eye-Dancers. I have to say, I really like his writing style; he knows how to create suspense to keep the readers engaged.

Here I share with you the first chapter of The Eye-Dancers.

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Peering out his bedroom window, his eyes flattened into squinting slits, Mitchell Brant saw her.

“No,” he said.  “It can’t be her.  It can’t be.”

But it was.  She had come again.

He looked away, at the night-shadows on the floor, at the sheets jumbled and strewn on his bed. Maybe she wasn’t really out there. Maybe it was just an illusion, some odd distortion of the light.

He looked out the window.

She was still there.

He felt the fine hairs at the nape of his neck stand up.  Gooseflesh, cold against the stifling humidity filtering in through the open window, speckled his forearms.

The girl was standing under the streetlamp, looking straight in at him—the same way she had last night and the night before. She was just a child, probably no more than seven years old—his sister’s age.  What was she doing out in the street, alone, well past midnight?  Was she a runaway?  And why had she come three nights in a row?

He tried to look away again, but he couldn’t. It was as though the girl had cast a spell over him. “What’s with you?” he said to himself.  “Just go back to sleep.”  Instead, he stood up.  She had raised her right arm above her head, waving at him frantically.

“Help me.”  The voice filtered in through the window.  “Why don’t you . . .?”  The girl’s voice.  And yet, there was something different about it, something off.  It sounded hollow, as if it had originated from a dark place, a secret place, cold like the grave.

The grave.  Maybe that was the answer.  Maybe that’s where she had come from.

“No.”  Her voice rose, more insistent now.  “Don’t be so silly.”

He reached for the window.  He wasn’t going to let her fool him.  He’d just finished the sixth grade last week, and he wanted the chance to live long enough to begin seventh grade in the fall. Communicating with ghosts was great when kept within the safe confines of horror stories or movies.  But not here.  Not on his quiet small-town street.  Not in real life.

He grabbed the window sash, pushed down. Instantly, he was transported to his front lawn!  How had that happened?  The girl, still standing in the light, gestured even more vigorously now that Mitchell was outside with her.  He knew she had worked some sort of magician’s trick on him.

“Who are you?”  He looked down at his feet and saw they were moving—in the direction of the street, the light, the girl.  He tried to stop them, but it was as if they had a will of their own.

As he neared her, he was able to get a better look at the girl.  She had the bluest, deepest eyes he had ever seen. They were mesmerizing.

She also had an airy quality to her.  The light from the streetlamp filtered through her, as though she were only partly there, only a small portion of her flesh and blood.

I was right, he thought.  She is a ghost.

“Stop it!” she said.  “Stop calling me that.”

He reached the sidewalk, nearly face-to-face with her.  He closed his eyes, but they stung, so he opened them and looked up, at the streetlamp. A small gathering of luna moths aimlessly fluttered about, landing on the bulb, then jumping off, occasionally flying into each other, as if drunk from the light and the oppressive humidity.

“Help me!”  The girl’s voice, so near yet so ethereal, caused Mitchell to lose his balance. He fell, landed on the pavement, scraping his knee.  A trickle of blood snaked down his shin.  “Come with me,” the girl said, and offered a hand.  But he knew better.  Once she grabbed him, she would never let him go.  She would lead him through the darkened streets, past the statue of the white, marble lion that marked the center of town, and on to the Bedford Cemetery, where she’d force him to serve her for all eternity in the form of some tortured, wandering spirit.

The girl’s hand brushed against his, a faint whisper against his skin, and then the sensation was gone.

“Come with me,” she said again.  “Please.”  He told himself not to look into her eyes, but he did.  He couldn’t resist.  It was like looking into two blue pools of sky-water.  Somehow, he was sure that if he looked into those eyes long enough, hard enough, he would see where the universe ended, and began.

He stood up, wanting desperately to turn around and flee back into the house.  But he wasn’t able to.  Her eyes wouldn’t let him.  The night air, muggy, close, felt like a dull weight intent on forcing him back down to his knees.

The girl said, “Yes, that’s the way.  Keep looking into my eyes!  That’s the way I can take you with me.”

He tried to look away, but couldn’t.  He just continued to stare at her blue, blue eyes. He stared until her eyes seemed to expand, the shape of them lengthening, widening.  He stared until the blue in her irises dilated and spun, slowly at first, but gradually picking up speed, spinning round and round, faster, faster.

He screamed then—the loudest, longest scream of his life.  He would wake up his parents, his sister, the neighbors.  Maybe they could reach him in time to save him.  Maybe they could—

Suddenly, he was back in his bed, thrashing and kicking and yelling, “Let me go, let me go!”  It took a moment for him to gather his wits.

It had been a dream, a nightmare.  That was all.

He sat up.  Was that all?  What would he see if he dared to look out his window? Would the ghost girl still be there? Not wanting to, but needing to know the truth, Mitchell glanced outside.

No one.  Only the mosquitoes and the spiders and the night birds, creatures that he couldn’t see but knew were out there.  But at least they were a part of the natural world.  They belonged.  The ghost girl didn’t.

He hopped out of bed, too wired to lie still. But as soon as his feet touched the floor, he grimaced.  There was a stinging pain in his left knee.  Groping his way through the dark room, he reached for the lamp atop his dresser and flicked it on.

His knee was bleeding.  A small strip of skin had been scraped off, and the blood, though drying, was still trickling down his shin.  How could he have scraped his knee in bed?

Then he remembered.  He had done it in his dream.  He’d fallen in the street when the ghost girl had reached for him.  But if it had only been a dream, why was his knee bleeding now?

He limped to the bathroom, where he washed the wound and then bandaged it.  He reminded himself not to wear shorts in the morning.  On top of everything else, he didn’t need Mom asking questions.

He had no answers, anyway.  He had no idea what happened.  Had he dreamed of the girl in the street—tonight, and last night, and the night before that?  Or had she really been there?  He tried to think it through.  It had seemed like a dream.  But since when did people scrape their knees in a dream?  Had he been sleepwalking?  He’d never known himself to sleepwalk, but how could he know, if he was sleeping while he did it?

“C’mon,”he said, staring at his reflection in the bathroom mirror.  It was a tired-looking reflection, with the last hints of fright still manifest in the eyes.  “Don’t be stupid.  It was just a nightmare, that’s all.”

But as he walked into the kitchen, turned on the tap, and slurped the water as it streamed out, he knew that the truth was very likely more complex, and more troubling.

He turned off the faucet, wondering why water always tasted so much better straight out of the tap.  He tried to think about that, ponder it, anything to get his mind off the ghost girl.  But it didn’t work.  How could he forget her?

“Cut it out, Mitchell,” he said.  “Just quit it.”

He needed to get back to sleep.  When he was little, if he’d had a bad day, his mom used to tell him that everything looked better, and happier, in the morning.  He hoped she was right.

But when he returned to his room, sleep still seemed a long way off.  His bed, with the disheveled sheets and sweat-drenched pillows, didn’t look very restful.  He needed something to calm him.  He opened the lower drawer of his dresser.  Piles of old comic books, bagged in protective Mylar sleeves, greeted him like devoted friends.  He picked up the top comic, a worn copy of Fantastic Four no. 99, and sniffed it through the sleeve.  He loved the smell of old comic books.  It was musty, but in a special way, like the smell of his grandfather’s attic littered with knickknacks and family mementoes.  A treasure-house smell.  He had asked his sister to sniff some of his comics once, but she thought they reeked.  Well, what did she know?  She was just a little kid.

He took the comic out of its sleeve and read it, even though he knew the issue by heart.  But it did the trick.  He got lost in the story, savoring the artwork, the dialogue, the sheer fantasy of the plot.  When he put the comic book away thirty minutes later, he felt ready for bed.

He climbed in, wondering if he should glance out the window again, to see if the girl was out there.

“She isn’t,” he said, but he didn’t look.

He lay there, his mind racing, and it seemed to him that he wouldn’t get to sleep.  He did, eventually, but it was a restless sleep, as he thrashed throughout the night.  When he woke up, a few short hours later, he was quite sure he had dreamed again, though about what he couldn’t remember.

“Didn’t expect to see you up so soon.  Thought I’d need to wake you up once breakfast was ready,” his mom said, eyeing him.

Mitchell knew that look well.  It was the one that made him feel like a Martian, or a Venusian, who had crash-landed onto Earth.  Come to think of it, a lot of things made him feel that way.

“I . . . didn’t sleep so great,” he said.  You could say that again.

“Hmm, bad dreams, honey?”  His mom was by the stove, cracking eggs open, and she had a mound of cubed potatoes all set to go into the frying pan.  Mitchell’s stomach did a quick somersault.  He usually loved potatoes and eggs.  But after last night, the thought of the grease made him feel like vomiting.

“Well . . .”  He considered letting it all out.  He wanted to tell her about the ghost girl, the way she’d tried to put him in a trance by making him gaze into her blue, spinning eyes, and that it had been the strangest dream he’d ever had.  He had the cut on his knee to prove it.

“Hey, what’s up, Mitchell?”

He turned around.  Stephanie.

“Uh, well …”

“Really?  Sounds great!”

He hated the way he fumbled for words even with his own family.  Talking had never come easily for him.  He didn’t exactly stutter.  He just talked . . . funny.  His words were often garbled, and a quick-talker like his kid sister had a distinct advantage over him.

By the stove, Mitchell heard the sizzle of potatoes as Mom dumped them into the pan.  His stomach did another series of flips.

“So you were saying?”  It was Mom again, one eye on the frying pan, one eye on Mitchell.

“Saying what, Mom?”

“That you didn’t sleep so great,” she said. “Why not?  You’re not coming down with something, are you?”

Here it was again.  His chance to tell her about the dreams he’d been having.  But, as much as he was itching to, he knew it wouldn’t accomplish anything.  It would just cause frustration—for his mom and himself.

“I’m okay, Mom,” he said.  “It was just one of those nights, y’know?  Um, where’s Dad?”

The air in the room suddenly felt fifty degrees cooler, despite the heat from the stovetop.  Mom frowned.

“Your father decided to go in to work this morning. Overtime.  Never mind that it’s the weekend.”  She flipped the potatoes with a spatula.  “He’ll probably be gone all day.”  Mitchell heard the annoyance in her voice.  It was sharp, like a freshly honed blade.  And it made him sad that his father wasn’t home.  He didn’t see him as often as he liked.  Three months ago, he had been promoted to office manager at a payroll company in Rochester, and the long hours combined with the thirty-mile commute definitely restricted his availability.  But maybe it was for the best.  Lately, when Mom and Dad were together, the tension was palpable—thick, like toxic fog—and it filtered through the entire house.  It was impossible to escape.  Even when he retreated to his room, or the basement, he felt the tension permeating the walls, as if in search of him.  He hated it, but didn’t know what he could do to help. He just knew that Mom smiled less these days.  And Dad, when not at work, often spent his time puttering outside or in the garage, fixing things that weren’t broken.

Mom flipped more potatoes, slamming them back into the pan harder than she needed to.  Stephanie, seated at the breakfast table, fiddled with an empty glass, pretending not to care.  But Mitchell saw right through her act.  She cared, as much as he did.  And probably felt just as helpless, too.

He knew he should change the subject.  He felt foolish for asking about Dad in the first place.  Besides, maybe he could check on something, without giving himself away.

“Hey, have either of you noticed anyone outside at night lately?”  Blunt, and about as graceful as a pulled muscle, but at least it served its purpose.

From the stove, his mother gave him the are-you-from-Venus-or-Mars look again.

“Have we seen anyone outside at night?  You mean, like the bogeyman?”  Stephanie smirked, put the glass back down on the tabletop, and hugged herself.  “Ooh, so scary, Mitchell!”

“Shut up, Stephanie.”

“Mitchell, don’t talk to your sister that way,” Mom said, glaring at him.  She muttered something to herself, then slowly exhaled, fiddling with the potatoes. “Who have you seen outside?”

Mitchell swallowed.  Should he tell them?  He had just wanted to test the waters, not corner himself.  Obviously they hadn’t noticed anything.  Of course not, you idiot.  It was just a dream!  How could anyone else see your own dream?

“No one, Mom.  I was just wondering, that’s all.”

Mom tilted her head, still looking annoyed (at him? at Dad?), but said nothing more about it.  He hoped she didn’t think he was just telling another lie. . . .

Lying had always come so easily, so naturally to him. When he told a story—embellishing the details as he went—he felt so good. The attention felt good.  It was the one way he could find an audience willing to listen.  Usually, the guys at school just ignored him or laughed at him, called him names like mush-mouth or trout-face because of the way his lips would sometimes pucker up like a fish when he stumbled over his words.

So he made things up.  Just last month, he had told a group of guys in gym class that he’d once run the mile in four and a half minutes.

“Get real, Brant,” one of them shot back. “You couldn’t run a four-and-half-minute half mile.”

Mitchell had protested, the way he always did. But it wasn’t just a lie he was defending.  He was sticking up for himself, for what he aspired to be.  Couldn’t anyone understand that?  The guys at school sure didn’t seem to, and forget about the girls. He could barely string two words together when he was around girls, especially the ones he liked.

He had cheated on tests before, too, despite being a solid B student.  There were times when a B just wasn’t good enough.  Times when he wanted the highest score in the class.  Like during a spelling quiz last March, when he had stuck a 3” by 5” index card, containing all the words he suspected would be on the quiz, inside his left shirtsleeve.  It was child’s play taking a well-timed peek at his concealed word list whenever he needed to, and when he scored a perfect 100 on the quiz, no one suspected that he’d cheated.  His mom had even hung the quiz on the refrigerator for a week.

There were consequences, of course.  He didn’t always get away with cheating when he tried it—he’d been nailed in class four times over the past couple of years.  And he’d been caught in a lie hundreds of times. Not even Mom or Dad believed his stories anymore.  And his sister had long since been wise to him.

But he had to tell somebody about the ghost girl.

Joe Marma.  His best friend.  His only good friend, really.  Joe probably wouldn’t believe what he had to say, either, but there was only one way to find out.

When breakfast was ready, he picked at it, then asked if he could be excused.  This caused his mother to ask him, again, if he was sure he was all right.

“Mm-hmm,”he said.  “I’m just not hungry this morning.”

“Can I have what he didn’t eat?” Stephanie wanted to know.

In his bedroom, Mitchell reached for his cell phone and crafted a text message, trying to describe, in one hundred and fifty characters, what he dreamed—or saw—the last three nights.  It was a hopeless task.

He deleted the message.  “Not like that.”

So he keyed in a new message, two sentences, quick and to the point:  Joe, can u come over? Need 2 tell u something!

He sent the text, and as it zipped through cyberspace, he took a moment to close his eyes.  But instead of darkness, he saw the ghost girl, standing before him, beckoning with her index finger.  He opened his eyes, half-expecting her to be there, right in his room.  This was weird.  Creepy.

Like a nightmare sprouting wings and flying, taking hold of his mind.  Coming to life.

****

Be sure to check out The Eye-Dancers on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble (Nook), Smashwords and purchase a copy. You can also learn more about Michael Fedison at, www.eyedancers.wordpress.com.

Interview With Andrew Toy, Author of The Man in The Box

About a month ago, I discovered Andrew Toy when he followed ‘Deanna’s Writing’. I checked out his blog and, not only was I impressed with his blog, I discovered he’s also an author. So, I extended an invite to interview Andrew on his new release, The Man in The Box, which was just released today.

1. Tell me about your book, The Man in The Box.

On the surface, The Man in the Box is a suspense/adventure novel. It’s the story of a man who becomes addicted to this box that is a portal to a dangerous and terrifying jungle island filled with dinosaurs, creepy-crawlies large and small, demon ghosts, and all sorts of things that the typical paper pusher only fantasizes about being pitted against. This man, Robbie, becomes addicted to going back to this box every time something in his life doesn’t go his way, whether he gets into an argument with his wife, he’s unable to pay the doctor bills, or his teenage daughter starts shunning him. So at the heart of the story lies this man who feels trapped by a monotonous anti-climatic life who then makes the selfish decision to leave his family without a husband and father, in order to pursue his own private adventures and aspirations. But, to be honest, that’s just the beginning. There are many, many twists and turns in this book that so far, have left many people finishing it in just one night! For any skeptics, I like to sum it up this way: Think average family man trapped in Jurassic Park on Skull Island and finds himself in a sort of Hunger Games.

 2. What inspired you to write this book?

I wanted to push the boundaries of suspense. I’m not much of an action/adventure type of guy, because I don’t think much of the suspense is really all that gripping, to be quite honest. Writing this book kept me on the edge of my seat, and I even laid awake many nights wondering how I was going to get Robbie or his family, out of certain situations. The book took three years to write (and rewrite, and rewrite, and rewrite), and over the course of that time, I realized I was writing about myself and my own tendencies to keep secrets and pursue my own selfish ambitions at the cost of my family. So it became a very personal book to me, and I’m sure many men (and women) will relate to the main character’s struggles concerning what’s right and what’s wrong. I’ve even been told that there is much of a Lord of the Rings vibe in here, pertaining to the battle raging within.

3. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

In some way or another, yes. I would say storyteller would be a more correct term. Charles Dickens and Ian McEwan are writers because they have a way with words that I just haven’t been able to grasp yet. But ever since I was young I wanted to tell stories. I remember being a little kid and locking myself up in my room on weekends and recording myself telling stories on my little red tape recorder, complete with sound effects and music. As I got older I started telling stories through cartoons and comics. Then in high school you couldn’t fit a paperclip between me and my video camera, and all my friends knew that if they were going to hang out with me, I would have my camera and some sort of script or story idea and we’d film movies that sometimes lasted for weeks. But now, I am perfectly content to sit at the computer and pound away at the keys always searching for that next untold story.

4. What advice do you have for unpublished and emerging novelists?

Edit, rewrite, promote. I hate giving that advice because I was always given that advice and I thought it was so elementary. Then after over 300 rejections I decided to listen to that advice. First, always be editing. Pay for it if you have to – your time is valuable! (I edit for a very competitive fee, by the way, so don’t hesitate to contact me.) While you’re editing, don’t be afraid to add scenes, switch things around, eliminate “cool” ideas that, even if you just have a slight gut feeling that it doesn’t fit… take it out! Always go with your gut instinct. I don’t know how many times I showed my wife a new scene, basically seeking approval for what I honestly didn’t think worked anyway. Save yourself and your spouse the agony and just toss it if you have the slightest inkling that it doesn’t work. And thirdly, promote your book, even as you’re writing it. I used to be very “modest” when it came to writing. I wouldn’t tell anyone I was writing a book because I thought I was being humble. If you’re like that, think of it this way: You cannot self-promote humility. But, you can self-promote your skills and choose to be humble about it. Tell everyone you’re writing a book. They’ll hold you accountable to it, and they’ll be the first to read it when it’s done.

5. What’s next for Andrew as a writer; what future projects are you working on?

I am really excited about some of my upcoming projects! I’ve got a whole list of them saved on my computer. My next book should be coming out next year, and it’s a bit different from The Man in the Box. The tone is more laid-back and it’s more dramatic. It’s called I Am the Lion, and it’s about a widowed father and his daughter, unable to connect after his wife’s death. Because he’s bipolar, her living situation with him becomes a risk for her. But the daughter’s fourth grade teacher steps in and begins to pull them together, helping them face their loss as a family. The next one (should I reveal it?) is more to the tune of The Man in the Box. But instead of dinosaurs and jungle animals, this one involves visitors from above (and I’m not talking about angels). It will be a very unique and fun look at a very familiar concept.

6. Where can readers find your book?

You can go to Blackwyrm.com. It will also be available on Amazon (paperback and Kindle) and Barnes and Noble. And please, I ask that after you read it, be sure to write a review on Amazon and goodreads.com to help spread the word.

You can also find Andrew and his book on Goodreads.

 

 

 

Coming Soon: Crusades and Crusaders The Blog

On Monday, October 29th, my new blog, Crusades and Crusaders will officially be launched.

What, you’re probably asking, is this blog going to be all about?

Here is an outline:

The crusades were one of the most significant and, in a way, transformative events in Medieval Europe. Yet, they were incredibly violent. From the time Pope Urban II preached the crusade, in late November of 1095, until the fall of Acre in 1291, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children made the perilous journey east to aid in the liberation of Jerusalem–the Holy Land–from the Muslims. Pilgrims, knights, men-at-arms, priests, bishops and Lords suffered intense heat, cold, starvation and died as a result. Many more died at the hands of Turkish raiders.

Why, one must ask, did these people venture into unknown territory, knowing all too well the danger that lay ahead? The answer is simple: they believed that their efforts to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims would earn them eternal salvation as promised by Pope Urban himself.

****

The crusades paved the way for advancement of Western Civilization on two fronts: they unified the warrior elite who, prior to 1095, spilt each other’s blood over land disputes, and they opened up a lucrative trading route between Western Europe and the Near East. Europeans–then known as Franks and/or Normans–had access to new military technology, spices and literature that was immersed in the study of science, astrology and mathematics. Such literature was written and observed by Arab Theologians and Philosophers.

On the other hand, the crusades created tension and hatred between the Christian world and that of the Muslims, which still persists to this very day.

****

I am going to chronicle the crusades, from the late eleventh century until the late thirteenth century. I will even elaborate on post-thirteenth century crusades; crusades that were launched against the Muslims in Spain and in the Baltic.

This blog is meant for high school and college students; anyone who loves Medieval History and wants information on the go. I will also write short vignettes–up to 2,000 words in length–that follows fictional and non-fictional people who lived at that time, and participated in the crusades (My friends gave me this idea).

In the non-fiction component, I will draw my knowledge from the books that I have read and will list all secondary sources at the bottom of each post, as well in the “Sources Used/Recommended Reading” page. I won’t ever quote from a secondary source (unless it’s listed in the public domain, or if it’s an article posted online), but I will quote from a primary document. Aside from that, I am going to rely strictly on my own knowledge of this subject matter, using my own, unique writing style.

You can visit the blog here: http://crusadesandcrusaders.wordpress.com. You’ll see that this blog has no content on it. Over the weekend, I’ll be working on it, and on Monday, my very first post will be published: This post.

 

Destiny Road by Melissa Wray: My Review

Destiny Road is about a sixteen year old girl Jessica, who is building up to making a most important decision. One that will affect the rest of her life. It is a story of decision, growth and acceptance.

Jessica is sixteen when she meets Bill for the first time. Six months later she is moved away by her mother, to begin a new life, away from what she knows. Away from the man she is just realising she might have wanted in her life all along, her biological father. So begins Jessica’s journey of living with the choices made by herself and those around her.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

My Review:

This was a really great book. Very emotional and true to life. Jessica is torn when she makes the decision to leave her mother, who she’s lived with all her life, to live with Bill, the father Jessica barely knows. She believes that she has betrayed her mother, yet is constantly plagued with the question all children in this kind of environment ask: Why did Bill leave my mother? Wray does such a wonderful job of portraying these emotions.

Jessica eventually does get an answer to this question and all the pieces fit the puzzle. Along her own journey to healing, Jessica meets a boy, Luke. As they get to know each other, Jessica discovers a side to Luke that will make her own problems seem minute.

There were a few times, when reading this novel, a scene ended abruptly and a new one started. For example, after her first visit with Bill, Jessica goes to a bonfire party with her friends, Dempsey and Claire. Chapter 11 ends with Claire letting off steam after getting into an argument with her boyfriend. This is one example of a scene that could have been flushed out more to include the argument for more tension building.

Also, before Jessica moves in with Bill, she makes a friend: Mandy. Mandy and her become close, but then the moment, Jessica moves in with Bill, Mandy disappears. Although these kind of things happen in reality, it would have been nice to have Jessica keep in touch with Mandy, given how close their friendship developed in the first half of the story.

Great story, though. I look forward to reading more novels by Melissa Wray.

To learn more about Melissa Wray and her novel, Destiny Road, visit her blog at http://www.melissawray.blogspot.com.au/
her author page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Destiny-Road-By-Melissa-Wray/407031252661034
You can purchase your copy of Destiny Road on Amazon.com, and on Barnes and Noble.

Tormented by Jessica Thompson

A short excerpt

…The sun had just finished setting when she heard someone behind her, “It’s about-,” she began as she turned her head around. “OH!” she yelped in surprise. She jumped to her feet.

A Youngling stood in front of her. His greasy black hair was pulled away from his face in a tight band. It made his eyes bulge out. He wore all black except for a white beater under his black trench coat. She scrunched her nose in disgust. He was probably the least attractive one of them she had ever seen. “Don’t move,” his scratchy voice forced. He charged exposing his white teeth. Ducking she flipped him over her. Cursing he faced her again, “I said don’t move,” he hissed urgently this time.

“Sorry but I don’t take orders from the lot of you,” she bit back forcing a smile at him. His pale skin grew taught across his face with frustration. Taking a deep breath he could smell her fear for David and the creature that attacked him, misunderstood it. His face contorted with pleasure believing her fear was for him. Once again he ran towards her, jumping angrily, aiming for her neck. Rolling her eyes she sidestepped him, allowing him to hit the ground with a thud.

Pulling out her gun again, she kicked him over, slammed a foot down on his chest, and pointed it at him. “Why did you cross into the city?” she demanded. He began to laugh. “ANSWER ME!” she ordered cocking her gun.

“I don’t take orders from you either,” he laughed wickedly. It was then that she felt it. The same power she had felt the other day. She knew it was too late but she spun anyway. What happened next seemed to go in slow motion. “The difference is dearie I’m not stupid enough to come alone,” he taunted.

He was enormous compared to her. The powerful cloaked vampire kicked the gun from her hand with little effort. She tried to do a round house kick, but he grabbed her leg then threw her into an alley wall. Pain shot through her as she fell to the ground.

“Stay down,” he called out calmly yet forceful, “I would hate to ruin that pretty face of yours,” he mocked. She could feel the force of his words, her body wanting to obey. She shook off the desire and pushed herself up. “Intriguing,” he stated sounding humored.

She threw herself at him. They both managed to dodge some of the other’s blows. He fared a lot better than her. His demeanor changed from laughter, to shock, and then finishing with anger during their struggle. She had fought her fair share of difficult battles in the 4 years since she had graduated from the academy, but this was different. He was different. Faster. Stronger. “Who are you,” she gasped surprised. His shadowed smile made him appear even more menacing.

“Someone who is honestly impressed, if I do say so myself,” he replied dodging another one of her blows. She could feel the warmth of her blood begin to glide down from her brow. He hesitated just for a moment at its scent. She knew she was growing weak. Taking the last advantage she could while he was distracted she kicked him as hard as she could in his abdomen. He flew to the other side of the alley hitting the far wall. His hood finally fell from his head.

She smiled to herself as he bent over slightly. A dent was now creased in the wall from where his body had hit. Spitting out some of his own blood he eyed her proudly. It was then that she realized that they were in the exact same position. Her body was so exhausted it couldn’t support her any longer. “You are quite good, probably one of the best I have had the pleasure of fighting with in a long while,” he laughed still holding her gaze. In a flash she was pinned against the wall behind her. He held both of her wrists captive above her head with one of his hands, a thigh holding her off the ground. His body was pressed inch for inch against hers. “Not good enough though,” he finished eyeing her curiously. Realization hit Angelina and she gasped, he had beaten her. That had never happened before. “OH YES!” the creepy vampire that had first attacked her squealed. They both turned their heads to look at him surprised by his outburst, “Bite her!” Angelina snapped her gaze to the one that held her captive. While he was still glaring at Creepy she saw the color of his eyes from the glare of a street light. Red.

“You’re a myth,” she shrieked in distress.

His gaze returned to hers amused, “Really? A myth, you’re not the first woman to say that to me.” He tilted his head slightly in thought, “Or maybe she said I look like I could be a man from mythology either way, do I feel like a myth?”

“No,” she managed to say. “You are no man either,” she continued with disgust. She eyed what little of him that she could, taking in his wide shoulders and muscular arms. Judging by the way he felt against her, he was just as muscular all over, completely masculine. Even his face, from what little she could see in the shadows of the alleyway, seem to radiate masculinity, from his short hair to his square jaw that had a day’s worth of growth on it.

He laughed off her comment, “Though I can see why she said that about you,” she thought to herself. “Why thank you,” he whispered.

Her mouth dropped, “You…can hear…my thoughts?” she stammered. Her heart started to race with shock and fear.

“It’s hard not to when you project them so loudly from your mouth,” he breathed out quietly. With his free hand that up until now had been braced against the building, he turned her head sideways exposing her neck. Bowing his head towards her throat he closed his eyes. A devious smile crossed his lips as he inhaled deeply. “You do smell delicious,” he practically purred. “I have always enjoyed a good Ultorum every now and then. It’s been so long,” he rubbed his nose against her throat. She struggled in vain to release herself from his grasp. “But your eyes,” he pause turning her head back to meet his gaze. She stopped struggling to lean as far from him as she could, “Are so different,” he continued analyzing her. With nothing else she could do she glared at him. “You are unlike anything I have ever seen before.”“Gee thanks,” she bit back sarcastically tired of everyone noticing how different she really was. “It’s a compliment,” he returned unfazed, “and I have been around for plenty of years you should treat it as such.”

This time she laughed, “A compliment coming from the likes of you, yeah right!” His face turned to pure anger. She leaned towards him slightly, “Well come on,” she urged. “Aren’t you going to eat your well-deserved dinner?”

He raised a brow, “So eager to please are we?” He leaned next to her ear. She could feel him graze his teeth against her shoulder then slowly he trailed them up her neck. “Want me to feed on you so when your other friends that will come for him,” he nodded slightly over to David, “they’ll find me with you.” He pulled back slightly tilting his head listening. “Don’t worry I’m not that stupid.” In a flash she was standing alone in the alley, both the First and Creepy gone.

To find out more about Tormented, visit Jessica’s blog at http://www.jannnovels.blogspot.ca/p/tormented.html

Magazines of the Month

I’ve decided that, for the month of September/October, I’m going to nominate SoUneque Magazine and Conversations Magazine the magazines of the month!

Owned by Tamara Rollins, SoUneque Magazine lives up to it’s name. This magazine contains features and interviews by new and up-coming artists: writers and musicians, and it isn’t formatted in the usual magazine size. This magazine is produced in booklet format. How do I know this? I had an article published in the July Issue and had an author interview in September–this month.

To purchase a copy or submit and article/interview or request for interview, you can email Tamara Rollins at trollins101@yahoo.com or visit her website at http://www.tamararollins.com/. Rollins is also an author herself and has her books listed on her website.

Conversations Magazine is owned by Cyrus Webb, president of Conversations Book Club and host of Conversations LIVE Radio. This magazine features interviews, book excerpts, book reviews and articles from contributing writers (based on a monthly theme). The great thing about Conversations Magazine, is that you can subscribe to receive 12 copies for a reasonable price. Or you could read it online. Webb also interviews authors and recording artists on his show, and showcases their work on his website. He is open to new artists as well, so if you’re an author or recording artist, you can contact him at http://conversationsmag.blogspot.ca/.