Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Story

Today, I have a guest author, Mysti Parker's, Christmas story to get you in the Christmas spirit. Just four days away.


The Carpenter's Wife
by Mysti Parker
     Her screams jarred the peaceful night. A donkey brayed. From the rafters overhead, startled doves flew away in a burst of annoyed coos and wing beats. The young woman was no stranger to childbirth, having assisted her own mother on many such occasions in their village. But here they had no one to call upon for help. The thought occurred to her that she might die, that the stunning proclamation had been a dream, that their little family was no more important than any other.
     Her husband knelt in front of her, holding her knees apart. He didn’t flinch at her cries, nor did he look her in the eye. Only a brief crease in his brow indicated any concern on his part.
     She treasured that one gesture, listening to his monotone instructions, straining to hear the slightest hint of his love. “Push. Good. Now breathe.”
     The contraction eased. She allowed her head to fall back on the rolled-up horse blanket he’d provided when the pains began. The months had crept along until this night. She thought about the quiet dinners they shared back home. About all the times when he caught her staring at him while he focused on his bread and lentils. Their stagnant marriage teetered on this one event.
     She had known all along the doubt remained, but she was so grateful for this man who had taken her in despite everything. He worked tirelessly until his hands blistered and bled. His furniture was highly regarded, yet he never boasted. She admired the pride he took in his creations, and she loved to watch him work. Wood surrendered to his skilled touch. Chisels and saws were like an extension of his limbs. She wanted nothing more than to be the wife he deserved, yet the desire to pick up a doll or chase her younger siblings down the dusty streets still pulled at her heart. And, of course, people still whispered.
     Another pain. Then another. Wave after wave. Sweat poured from her brow. The surroundings blurred with every excruciating squeeze. She felt the baby leaving the warmth of her womb, coming closer to the chilly night. Would he be all right? What if something she did while he was in her womb caused him to be stillborn or crippled?
     “Push! I see the head. It’s almost over.”
     His voice was louder, his eyes wider, sparkling with more excitement than she’d ever seen before. She focused on his face, on the promises of God, and pushed with all her might.
     The child came in a sudden whoosh, leaving her weeping with relief and a feeling of emptiness. Her husband caught the baby in the softest bit of cloth he could find, supplied by the innkeeper, perhaps out of guilt for their lowly accommodations.
     “It’s a boy!”
     “Is he all right?”
     The baby cried, easing her fears. Her husband nodded. “Yes, he’s beautiful, like his mother.”

     She smiled through her tears at the joy in his voice and his beaming smile. He cut the cord and swaddled him as gently as if he were his own child. Then, he handed the tiny infant to her. She took him in her arms, astonished at how insignificant the boy felt within his wrappings. Red, wrinkly, and bald, he didn’t look like anyone that could save the world. Yet, as her husband wiped tears and nestled close to her side for a better look at their son, she knew that this tiny babe had already resurrected Joseph’s heart. The rest was up to God. 
****
This story was published in the anthology Christmas Lites. All proceeds go to the NCADV (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence). Grab your copy on Amazon Kindle for just $3.99. Also, be sure to pick up Christmas Lites II and Christmas Lites III. They make great gifts!!!
Buy it HERE!
Buy it HERE!
Buy it HERE!




Friday, October 25, 2013

Evi Routoula and London Tube

Today, my guest is Evi Routoula, author of London Tube. If you like what you read, leave a comment below and check out her book.

Tell us a little about yourself?  
I was born in Athens on 1968. Ever since I could remember myself, I wanted to become a lawyer. I managed to do that and I have been working as a barrister since 1997. Besides law, l love literature, theatre, cinema and travelling.

What made you want to become a writer?
 I have always been writing, journals, thoughts, short stories. Writing has always been for me the best way to express myself.

Could you tell us a bit about your collection?
It is a collection of short stories, each one of them having to do with one London tube station. In some stories the station plays a significant part, in others its importance in the plot is indirect. The stories have to do with different passengers and how their use of the London Tube may or may not affect their lives.

Why the London underground? Why intrigues you about it?
Ever since I visited London for the first time in my adult life, I got fascinated by London Tube, not only because it is the oldest underground rail network in the world but also because of its spidery construction, of its stations, of the little dark tunnels. Toying with the idea of how many people use it daily and how it might affect their lives was always an appealing thought of mine. That is why I decided to write this book.

Since you’re from Greece, what is your connection to London?
My very first trip to London was with my parents at the age of 10. I deeply fell in love with this city, and I kept coming back especially when I grew up. I ended up coming to London at least three times per year, watching theatrical plays, meeting friends and touring around this city that I like so much. The past year I have been living in London permanently.

What gave you the inspiration for your collection?
The London Tube and its passengers. The fact that so many different people with their own stories, troubles, worries commute everyday by using the narrow dark tunnels underneath London’s magnificent buildings.

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
Of course, my characters have elements from people I know, but they are all fictional. None of them is based on a certain real person. They just all have tidbits from people I know. The only real character is Elisabeth I in the Cutty Sark story together with the rest of the historic personalities that are mentioned there. And the ghost of Black Nun who is mentioned in the story of Bank. These of course are not my characters I just use them in my stories.

Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?
I cannot really distinguish any, but I must say I like Elisabeth I a lot, simply because of her ability to maintain the fragile political games of her time intact and do her will at the same time. A truly remarkable historic personality.

Who are your favorite authors? What do you admire about them?
I admire many authors, and I am sure that I will forget names but I am trying here to mention just a few of them. Jack London, Jack Kerouac, Charles Dickens, Isabelle Allende, Jennifer Lash, Jonathan Coe, Jeffrey Eugenides. Among Greeks I like Karagatsis, Costas Tahtsis, Costas Kyriazis, Maria Lambaridou Pothou. And of course Nikos Kazantzakis. Each one of them has given me a lot of things to think about and all of them are wonderful writers.

What is your favorite writing tip or quote?
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”
Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Tell us a little about your plans for the future.  Do you have any other stories or books in the works?
I am planning to write a historic novel about the Byzantine era. It needs a lot of work and research, but I am enjoying it a lot. I also plan to write more London Tube stories. There are still too many London Tube stations for me to explore!

Where can we find you online? (please cut and paste links):

London Tube:

Seven different stations take part into seven different stories. Seven stations that play a significant role to the lives of different passengers. A trip from the beginning of London tube till nowadays.










Excerpt:

I.ALDWYCH

Mary Chapman rummaged  nervously  the pockets of her camel-haired coat, looking for her small leather purse. She took out a twenty pound bank note and gave it to the tall thin girl. Mary gave her a shy, sideway look. The girl was trying to count Mary’s change while at the same time she was giving Mary the flower bouquet she had chosen. It was a small bouquet of yellow and pink flowers. Mary was not sure how the flowers were called; gardening had never been her strong point. For her, flowers were  just tokens. Tokens of friendship, love, passion, mourning. They were reminders of anniversaries, celebrations and premiers. This bouquet was beautiful, small and modest. She held it with one hand while she received the two pound coin from the flower-girl. She stuffed the coin hastily into her purse and she gave another quick look at the flower-girl. She was not British. This was obvious from her pronunciation and her general appearance. Another immigrant searching for a better life in a foreign country. There were so many of them nowadays. They were coming from all over the world, chased by poverty, by political situations far beyond their fault. They were constantly arriving in search of a better future. They were staying in rooms in north and west London with monthly or weekly rent. They were sharing the kitchen and bathroom with three or more tenants: students, provincials, other immigrants. They were undertaking any job that they could find: waiting, cooking, shop assisting. If they did not cause any trouble and if they were lucky enough they could remain  for the rest of their lives here in this foreign part of the world, they would marry, have children and always keep on sending money to those unlucky ones that remained behind.  Mary looked at the girl again, she smiled, thanked her and she left. In her mind she wished her “good luck” with the life she chose.

Charring Cross tube station was full of people who were hastily walking in all directions. Mary kept holding the bouquet tenderly in her arms, she got out of the station and started walking along Strand. It was early afternoon and the traffic was heavy. At the opposite side of the street some tourists were posing for photographs in their effort to gather memories.  Mary glared at them absent - mindly and a thought crossed her mind; maybe this was the most important thing in this life, to gather memories. Time is passing so fast, nothing is left behind. Time has a magic way of killing everything. Besides, this was the reason for her being here this afternoon. Because of her memories. Mary was not a London resident anymore. She abounded the capital thirty years ago. She had chosen the provincial tranquility of Luton. She was married to a peaceful man. Together they had chosen a small two-store house near the Luton airport. It was a convenient nice house with a small back yard. For Mary and her husband that was the best solution.  The cost of living was cheaper in the countryside and the quality of life much better. They did not have any children, but  they lived in harmony together, the years were passing by peacefully, a rather calm happiness. Mary had two dogs, two beautiful labradors and every afternoon just before dusk she was enjoying staying in her garden in the company of her dogs. Mary and her husband rarely visited London, just a couple of times per year. They only went there to see a theatrical play or to buy something that they could not find in Luton.

Mary kept on walking along Strand while thinking that this day trip was more of a pilgrimage to her childhood. A pilgrimage to honor her long deceased mother . A pilgrimage to a tube station that did not exist anymore.

She was sitting comfortably at her living room in her little house in Luton and she was watching the news on T.V. She couldn’t even remember which channel, channel 4 or BBC, it didn’t really matter! It was then that she heard for the first time that the Aldwich tube station of Piccadilly line was going to close down for good. She froze in her seat, looking aimlessly at the T.V. screen without really listening. It was much later that she realized that she was actually crying. When her husband got home, he found her sitting there with an empty look on her face, holding a glass of whiskey.  Then, that evening in that living room, with the light of the  t.v. screen barely visible in the darkness, Mary let herself travel back fifty years, when she was a little girl and she told her husband the whole story.

Months passed since that night, but Mary kept feeling restless, she could not find again her usual calm monotony. She was doing her house work, she was feeding and playing with her dogs, she was making love to her husband, she was going to shop the things she always used to, but something had changed. Something had marked her.

And suddenly, without any previous thought or planning, while she was squashing an orange, or was it while she was filling the dogs’ bowls with water, the idea to visit London just popped into her mind, to go there again. The tube station had been closed for four months, since 3rd October 1994. It was a date she would never forget.  She had it marked with a fountain pen on the calendar that hang on her kitchen wall. But the place was still there, Strand was still there, Surrey street was still there. This could not change. And she could go there and see the area. It would be a homage to her childhood memories.

So, one cold day of March, she found herself at Charring Cross station, picking a bouquet of flowers and now, her feet were getting her closer and closer to the place where once Aldwich station used to be.

Mary had never shown any interest in history, events, both local and international  were happening without having any meaning for her. She had a simple way of thinking, it was very difficult for her to combine causes and results in her mind. She could never understand how or why a simple parliamentary rule had the power to cause hundreds of deaths in a far away unknown land! But she knew one thing well and that was the history of Aldwich station.

At the point where Surrey street intersects with Strand, Mary turned right. She was at the centre of the biggest European capital, the streets were swarming with people and still no one even thought just for a second, to leave a bouquet of flowers on the cold pavement slabs, in front of the building that once hosted the Aldwich tube station, that afternoon.

She stood there looking at the emptiness, because she could not see anything. In this impressive red bricked building, once, many years before Mary’s birth, many years before Mary’s mother’s birth, there used to be the Royal Theatre of Strand. How many performances much have been held in there. How many actors must have been tested, how many of them must have experienced triumphs and agonies. How many dazzling and successful premiers must have taken place. How many Kings and princess must have enjoyed, comfortably seated in their royal box, lines by Shakespeare and Moliere.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Urban Fantasy and Brian Wamsley

This my fourth installment in my series about Urban Fantasy, an anthology of great stories published by KY Story. Today, I'm featuring Brian Wamsley, author of "Deadland Patrol." The anthology is available on Amazon and Createspace. If you enjoy the excerpt of Brian's story, be sure to comment and check out the whole anthology.


AUTHOR INTERVIEW

What made you want to become a writer?

I’m not sure I wanted to at first, but I was in a dark place, and I figured at the time that was my only real shot I had at a dream. When I found out how hard and unpredictable it was as a profession, I kind of liked it because if someone pushes you, you push back. It gave me an envelope to push against. If you only think small, you can hardly expect to get big.

Why Urban Fantasy? What about this genre appeals to you?

I read an anthology from the 1960s, The Fantastic Universe Omnibus. The stories were very surprising. It was the thing that scared me a little, too. Who knows how or where we will end up as a people? Urban Fantasy I guess allows us to feel hope for our species. That’s what I like most about it. You get to have hope in a future.

Could you tell us a bit about your story?

My story is about a street racing accident in the future, but I wanted it to have an element of the human condition. I wanted to show a measure of humanity surviving among people in a sterile, engineered world with controlled environments and behavior. American spirit too. We love fast cars, and our nostalgia for them is self-feeding.

What gave you the inspiration for your story?

My Dad and my uncles. They liked fast cars, and I don’t imagine genetics can water that down much; it seems to show up like a dominant trait. lol

Do you believe an apocalyptic scenario such as the one in your story is likely? Why or why not?

Possible I would say, and also likely because of the nostalgia Americans have for cars, a competitive nature and the love of going fast and competition gambling. It’s an exercise of our liberties.

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

I think most characters are composites drawn from all the people we know or know of and our own experience. Imagination takes care of the polish and experiences ties it together.    

Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?

Probably the boy moonshiner in a Leprechaun story I wrote. I like him because he reminds me of how I would probably be if that character were me.           

If you’ve read the other stories in the collection, which is your favorite and why?

Of course I have to say my own because it’s true, and if you aren’t a fan of your own work, it may be hard to get other people on board. It’s gotta be good enough to be proud of.

What’s your connection to the South?

I was born and raised in West Virginia, but I have lived and worked in Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Virginia and North Carolina at different times in my life.

Who is your favorite Urban Fantasy character from another author’s work? Who do you particularly like him/her?

Rush drummer Neil Peart and Kevin J Anderson wrote Clockwork Angels, a novel based on the album. I like Owen in the story because he has ambition and is not satisfied. He is a reacher and embodies the human spirit and pursuit of freedom.
  
What is your favorite writing tip or quote?

My favorite tip is “writing is rewriting,” and Elmore Leonard says something like “…if it sounds like writing…rewrite it…”

What else have you published?

I have another story published by KYPress; it was in the Peripheral Sex issue. “A Jealous Haint”

Tell us a little about your plans for the future.  Do you have any other stories or books in the works?

I am still working on short stories.  I’m still into that for right now. I do want to do novels again though because it will be better and more familiar now. Guess I got it backwards. Short stories then the novels.



Deadland Patrol

A prowler hovered over the street with its light bars strobing; whirling red then blue. It turned and drifted over an old parking lot where two gas burners were crashed. The gullwing door opened and an officer stepped out onto the pavement.
She was tall, draped in black, had dark sunglasses. Pants tucked into boots. She looked up and down the street but at four-thirty in the morning, in this run down part of the Old City, there was no one to be seen. There were only a few houses that looked lived in.
She opened her tap pad, and walked like a soldier up the street, capturing photos of the evidence. Two sets of tire marks swept through an intersection, the glitter of plastic, polymer and glass on old pavement followed a twisted-helix slide pattern that twirled across the parking lot of a self-serve convenience station and ended at the tires of a Camaro and a Mustang. Both had slid into a brick and stone porch of an old house that had burned down.
Little damage to the porch, severe damage to the Camaro; it was bleeding fluids from all-over. The Mustang didn’t look so bad. It sat with the driver’s door open and one of the tires flat. The Camaro, between it and the porch, took all of the crunch. The officer scanned the VIN numbers through the front windshield and stared at the screen. It beeped and she looked up from the pad to see an old man was making his way over from across the street.
“Happy New Year’s, officer,” an old man said, hobbling closer with a cane, “Big wreck. They slid into that old foundation there. Must not have been hurt too bad, though. Both of ‘em got out and took off. I know. I saw the whole thing.”
The officer looked at her pad, tapped the screen and said, “I will have to take a statement from you. Please remain nearby.”
“I’m on my way over to get my morning coffee at the self-serve. I’ll come right back and give you a statement. You can see I got this cane so wherever I am goin, I’m not gonna be going very fast.”
He laughed, the officer didn’t. But her expression relaxed.
“Happy New Year,” she said, “Go ahead, I’ll make arrangements for a drone transport to come and remove this evidence, then I’ll take your statement. Looks like I need a HazMat cleanup too.
”The old man made his way to the touch screen the size of a door and began to touch out his order. Then he walked with his cane over to another window and returned to the prowler with two cups of coffee, handed the officer one.
“Thank you sir, please have a seat in the prowler” she said, the second gullwing door opened and the old man declined.
“Oh better not, once I get down in there you might have to help me get back out.”
“Very well,” she said.
“You get anything on those burners over there?”
“No. I got nothing on either of these burners, couldn’t scan any prints either.”
“Hmmmm,” the old man said, “I think they had gloves on.”
“I want you to tell me happened in your own words. I’m going to be recording so continue only if you acknowledge. Remember,” she said, “recording.”
“I do acknowledge.”
“Good, Continue please. I understand you saw the wreck and the drivers running away after. That correct?”
“Mmmm. Well, not exactly.”

Friday, September 13, 2013

Urban Fantasy and Rebecca Daff

This my third installment in my series about Urban Fantasy, an anthology of great stories published by KY Story. Today, I'm featuring Rebecca Daff, author of "Virtually Living." The anthology is available on Amazon and Createspace. If you enjoy the excerpt of Rebecca's story, be sure to comment and check out the whole anthology.



AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Tell us a little about yourself? 

I grew up in a small town in Kentucky, and I attended Catholic school with my four siblings. But it wasn’t until my first year of public school that I engaged in writing fiction. I don’t know how I ever lived without it!

What made you want to become a writer? 

I did some creative writing for the first time in my sixth grade English class. The act of creating my own characters and worlds felt so natural. It was then that I knew I wanted to write stories for a living.

Why Urban Fantasy? What about this genre appeals to you? 

Fantasy, in general, appeals to me. I love writing about subject matter far outside the norm—the extreme “what if”s."

Could you tell us a bit about your story? 

“Virtually Living” is about a woman obsessed with a life-simulation game. She completely immerses herself in a fictional world, thereby failing to connect to the real one. She gets away with her “absenteeism” until she gets sucked into her computer and is forced to actually live in the program. It’s up to her to find a way to escape or be caught up in a digital world forever. 

What gave you the inspiration for your story? 

Playing a popular life simulation game.

Do you believe the problem described in your story is applicable to today’s society? Why or why not? 

Most decidedly so. Most of us are so caught up in technology, we forget what it means to be truly present in our own lives.

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination? 

Some are caricatures of people I know. Others come from a remote corner of my brain.

Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why? 

The story is written in third person, limited to Doreen. So I’d say she’s my favorite because we experience the tale through her perspective.

What’s your connection to the South? 

I live in rural Kentucky.

What is your favorite writing tip or quote? 

“Show. Don’t tell.”

What else have you published? 

My short story, “Chunky Monkey,” is in KY Story’s Dysfunctional Family Anthology. It’s now available on Amazon.com.

Tell us a little about your plans for the future.  Do you have any other stories or books in the works? 

I will continue writing short fiction, but I have plans to write novels in the future.

Where can we find you online? 

Twitter: @RebeccaLDaff


Virtually Living

“I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby

That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.”—Sylvia Plath
                                                           

Doreen watched the computer screen as Viola ate forkfuls of green, steaming nachos. What to do next? There was that cute guy down the street, but would Viola go for him? Were their likes and dislikes compatible enough for them to get married and start a family? Doreen didn’t want her creation to be alone.
            “Today will be sunny with temperatures in the low to mid-80s.” Nate London, the local weatherman, grinned at her from the TV, slicing through her concentration. She grabbed the remote off the end table and muted him. His plastered smile never faltered, and he continued to mouth words like “great” and “sunshine” while jabbing at the cities behind him.
             Doreen closed her laptop and placed it on the stained cushion next to her. Her bones and joints popped when she stood, but it felt good when she reached her long arms over her head and stretched. Her fingertips almost brushed the small apartment’s ceiling. Readjusting her shirt to cover her slight paunch, she walked to the window to check out Nate’s hype. A thin film of grime covered the mini blinds, and she made a mental note to clean. She pried open a couple of slats with her fingers. What do you know? Nate was right. Outside were blue skies sprinkled with what he called “decorator clouds.”
            She wiped her fingers on her jeans, leaving a smudge, and paced the worn blue rug.
            I should do something today. People do things on Saturdays. Yard work. Visiting people. But Viola. She’s just about to meet someone who’ll change her life.
            She gave her computer one last look before walking to her bedroom to change. Viola would have to wait. For now.
***
Doreen Blevins stared at the screen. The University of Kentucky Wildcats were up 14-7 at the half, and while the commentators were projecting an early season win, she didn’t hold much hope. Her brother, Jacob, handed her a cold soda and sighed, plopping down on the other end of the couch.
            “So how’s work?” he asked.
            Tapping the can, she shrugged. “It’s work.”
            “Nothing new to report?”
            “I’m a cashier. I take money.”
            “Second half!” Jacob scooted to the edge of the couch, leaning forward, propping his elbows on his knees. “Come on Cats!”
            Doreen sat back and opened her soda, the pop and hiss melding with the crowd’s cheers. Jacob turned up the volume.
            “Get the chips,” he said.
            Once in the kitchen, Doreen opened the cupboard and discovered several bags of snacks. “What kind?” she yelled.
            “I don’t care,” Jacob yelled back. “Oh, come on!”
            There was some illegal contact on the field.
            The choices were overwhelming. Cheese-flavored. Sour cream and onion. Barbeque.
            “What kind do you want?”
            “Just pick one!”
            “Just tell me what kind to get!”
            “God! The sour cream and onion!”
            “Okay!” Doreen tossed him the bag and sat down.
            Jacob muted the TV. “Was it really that hard?” he asked, tearing open the packaging.
            “Am I just magically supposed to know what you want?”
            “No, but if someone tells you they don’t care, then you just pick something and let them deal with it.”
            “Whatever.”
            Jacob shook his head, rolling his eyes. “Yeah, whatever.” He sat back and clicked the remote. Whistles and cheers filled the air. Doreen’s thoughts once again returned to Viola’s frozen body awaiting her command.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

T. S. O'Neil and Tampa Star

Today, the guest on my blog is T.S. O'Neil, author of Tampa Star. Read about him and an excerpt from his book. As always, I love to hear your comments.

Tell us a little about yourself? 

I am 53 years young and originally from Newington, CT. I went to undergraduate school at Northeastern University in Boston and have an MBA from the University of Phoenix in Technology Management.  I spent a good amount of time in the military; first as an enlisted Marine in the Marine Reserve, then about ten years on active duty as an officer in the Military Police Corps of the U.S. Army, and I finished out my career in the Army Reserve.

During that time, I travelled a lot of the world, picked up Spanish, as the Army sent me to language school and managed to have a lot of fun and mostly managing to avoid combat.  While most sane people look at the being shot at as merely a life threatening situation, those in the military look at it as an opportunity for career advancement. 

As a careerist, I was an abject failure as I was always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Meaning wherever I happened to be, peace was breaking out like mad. 

I was supposed to jump into Omar Torrejo Airport with the Rangers during Operation Just Cause, but instead I went on to the MP Officer Advance Course. The invasion took place in December of 89, as I drove home to Connecticut for Christmas break members of my former unit parachuted into glory.  Later, as I sat in Panama enjoying the new era of peace and prosperity, Operation Desert Storm took place. My luck finally caught up with me, and I spent part of a tour in Iraq. Other than a couple of nights of rocket fire, the period in Iraq was relatively peaceful.  

I got out of the military and eventually gravitated to the IT Field.  I am currently an IT Architect for a healthcare company. I live in Seminole Florida with the love of my life, Suzanne, and we are getting married on Oct 4th of this year.

What made you want to become a writer?

I have a very active imagination and was always getting into trouble in grade school for day-dreaming. I think being a fiction writer is a great endeavor in that you get to invent your own reality and create a different world.

What genre do your works fall into? 

Thriller.

What about this genre appeals to you?  

I think it’s interesting to impart thrills and suspense into the plot and ensnare the reader in the action. My military background allows me to place believable technical and operational characteristics into the storyline that lends a certain level of credibility to the characters and story.

Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read? 

I published Tampa Star late last year, and it is my first book. It’s the story of a father and son that’s told in two parts. The first part of the book starts in the early seventies in the aftermath of the Viet Nam war. The father, Char, is a Seminole Indian and former Green Beret who is wounded by a dead guerrilla in the aftermath of a firefight. He is subsequently evacuated and discharged with a bum leg. 

Char moves to the Florida Gulf Coast, gets a job, meets a girl and life seems to be going his way, until he falls in with the wrong crowd and things spiral out of control from there.

The second part of the book picks up in two thousand and four when the son, a former Recon Marine Officer, is discharged and travels to Florida in search of his father.

The story has a host of villains you will love to hate, including a corrupt cop, a Mafia Capo and a Russian ex-CIA interrogator.

I think the story has a lot to offer as the characters are richly drawn and are believable. I takes place in and around Florida and is written in the “Florida Glare” style of authors like Elmore Leonard and Laurence Shames.  It’s got the same style of witty, realistic and somewhat caustic dialog that they are known to employ. 

What gives you inspiration for your book?

Elmore Leonard, may he rest in peace, taught me to believe that you can and should try to write the way people speak. People are funny and say lots of humorous things in all sorts of tense situations.  

I believe some of the funniest guys in history are Service Members; a catch all phrase for Soldier, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. I think it’s because they are often living in austere conditions and have lots of time on their hands. Someone once said that war is interminable boredom punctuated by moments of terror.  An active imagination is what keeps you in good spirits and help you fill the void or salve your fear.   I bet King Leonidas was an especially funny guy to be able to crack wise when confronted by hundreds of thousands of Persian Soldiers.  “Come get them,” is, if not the first bad ass line in history, probably the best known.

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

Inspiration for the character of Char Blackfox, the main protagonist in Tampa Star and Starfish Prime, came from various places.  Some of his character was based on a few of the old Vietnam era soldiers and Marines I met when I first entered the service back in 1977. 

Some parts of Char’s history came from a real life.  In the book, Tampa Star, Char was wounded by a dead guy in Vietnam. This actually happened to a Platoon Sergeant I knew in Korea in almost exactly the same fashion.

The Platoon Sergeant nearly lost a leg because he killed a VC guerrilla and then pulled the rifle away from the dead man while his just dead finger still enveloped the trigger.  He had to be reclassified as an MP because he was no longer fit enough to serve in the infantry. 

Char’s son Michael is more the new strain of service member; more cerebral, but still willing to kick ass and take names.  

Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why? 

I would say Char Blackfox is my favorite character because he is the first one I developed, and he is sort of an older version of me. Life has kicked Char around a lot, but he always comes back swinging. I made him a Seminole Indian in honor of the tribe and their place in Florida History. I heard about some battles fought here during the First and Second Seminole War and thought them to be great warriors.

What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?

That I didn’t become a rich, well known and bestselling author overnight. Seriously, though, the mount of marketing and promotion that you have to do to become a known commodity is daunting.  Writing the book appears to be the easy part.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you either growing up or as an adult?

Another great book is Tough Guys Don’t Dance by Norman Mailer.  It’s a book that I loved reading and a movie that was very entertaining, at least to me.  The protagonist, played by Ryan O’Neal, is watching his world crumble all around him; his wife leaves him, he can’t stop drinking and oh yeah, there’s two heads in a bag in the basement, and he is left trying to figure out how they got there. I would always watch the movie when my life was at a low point and it would allow me to say: “Well, at least I don’t have it as bad as that guy.”  

Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer?  If so, what do you do during the day? 

I got out of the military and eventually gravitated to the IT Field.  I am currently an IT Architect for a healthcare company.

What is your favorite writing tip or quote?

Elmore Leonard famously said; “try to write the stuff people want to read and leave the rest out.”

Tell us a little about your plans for the future.  Do you have any other books in the works?

Starfish Prime will be released early next year. I am about ninety percent done with Starfish Prime, the second book in the Blackfox Chronicles. This time, Michael Blackfox is pulled back into the Marine Corps. Since he has been out, a new Special Operations unit has been formed, and his skill set makes him uniquely qualified for their current mission. He is forced to join or watch his father be sent to jail for the crimes he committed in Tampa Star

Where can we find you online? 

Website: www.tsoneil.com
Twitter: @tselliot3


Book Blurb

Char Blackfox is a Seminole Indian and former Green Beret maimed by a dead guerilla in Viet Nam, Hell-bent on extracting revenge against the Aussie tycoon that wronged him.   He falls in with the wrong crowd; two small time Irish-American hoodlums, a corrupt cop and an exiled Rhode Island Mafia Capo. 
In 2004, a combat hardened Force Recon Marine is released from active duty and returns to Florida to find his estranged father, one of the original robbers still on the run from his former partners. 






Excerpt

Chapter 22 - Eidetic Eddie Doyle

Detective Doyle sat in his small windowless office surrounded by mementos from over thirty five years of police work, mostly as a homicide detective, and felt tired. He was 58 years old, and had been a policeman for over half his life.  He wanted to retire when he hit forty years on the job, if his bum ticker held out that long.

Pinellas County Sheriff Department needed good detectives and Eddie was one of the best.  They called him Eidetic Eddie, as he was known for his uncanny ability to remember little details about cases that frequently resulted in an arrest and conviction.

In 1985, Eddie investigated the death of a prostitute on Rt. 19 in Dunedin. A drugged out hooker had fallen in front of an eighteen wheeler and was killed; pretty straight forward actually—death by Mack truck. For all intents and purposes, the case should have been an open and shut case, and it would have been, if not for Eddie’s uncanny memory.

Eight years earlier, Eddie sat in on a roll call briefing concerning a pimp named “Smooth Earle” who carried an ivory cane with a handle made of a gold death head skull with red ruby eyes which was often used to motivate some of his girls to apply themselves harder.

A Medical Examiner had conducted a preliminary investigation of the prostitute’s corpse at the scene but didn’t notice anything strange at the time, until Eidetic Eddie pointed it out—among the many wounds on the woman’s horribly mangled body was a strange circular gash above her left eyebrow.  Upon closer examination, small gashes clearly denoted the eyes, nose and mouth of a skull. Better still—a small red ruby was deeply embedded in one of the wounds. 

An autopsy was ordered and it was determined that the blow above the eye had killed her and all the other injuries occurred postmortem. A subsequent search of Smooth Earl’s vehicle, a pimped out 1984 Ford LTD, turned up the cane with one missing ruby eye.  Earl copped a plea to avoid the death penalty and was sentenced to life at the Okaloosa Correctional Institution.

It was said that Eddie’s short marriage to another officer ended because Eddie’s computer like recitation of everything that had ever happened to him, and to her for that matter, drove her to distraction; No anniversary or birthday was ever forgotten and most arguments about “who said what” were essentially rendered moot as Eddie’s version was always the most accurate. 

In a phrase, Eddie made his wife totally “bat-shit crazy.”  She asked for a divorce and quickly moved in with a motorcycle cop said to have a Neanderthal level I.Q— he heard they were quite happy.  Since then, Eddie bought a boat and took up fishing in the gulf.

After he was diagnosed with a heart murmur, Eddie made movement towards retirement, but his longtime friend, Sam Waller, who also happened to be the Pinellas County Sheriff, asked him to take a less hectic position in Internal Affairs.  He had been there for the last three years and although the pace was calmer, he found investigating other cops to be disagreeable.


 The other cops seemed to feel the same way; overnight, Eddie went from local celebrity to pariah.  Still, the hours were good; once and a while he would get called out for an officer involved shooting, but it was mostly a nine to five existence, with weekends free.  Since he was representing the long arm of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department, he dressed in business casual, normally Khaki pants and an American Eagle Outfitters Polo Shirt—he had a different color for every day of the week. 

As a service revolver, Eddie wore an ancient stainless steel snub nose, Colt .38 left exposed on his belt.  The younger cops joked that Eddie would have better luck throwing the revolver at a suspect rather than shooting at them.

 The Sheriff himself asked Eddie to have a talk with Deputy Guy Handley regarding “being found handcuffed to a thug in a cheap motel in High Springs.”  The Sheriff, having a penchant for understatement, mentioned that the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident involving Handley seemed “a bit odd.”

Handley had been a problem child from the start, but they had never been able to prove anything against him.  Rumor had it that he collected protection money or other services from the numerous massage parlors and strip clubs located within the county.  But that was just a rumor and without substantiation, stayed that way.

 Handley was very careful to always have a reason for visiting a locale that might include checking to see that no minors were being served or that the maximum occupancy was being violated. He was always one step ahead of the regular Internal Affairs types. 

Eddie remembered Guy Handley.  How could he not? He remembered everyone he ever met, but Handley was an odd duck.  Eddie had been involved in a scuffle with a suspect that resulted in a dislocated collarbone and he was given he was given admin tasks to do until he healed up.  One of the more onerous tasks given him during light duty was the conduct of background investigations of new hires and Guy Handley was one of these.  Eddie quickly learned that Handley had been fired from the Tampa Police Force for excessive force a few years previously.

Still, that was a long time ago and the incident was not serious enough to warrant criminal charges.  Just some punk who got a beating during an arrest, “old style police work” that Eddie did not specifically approve of, but he was familiar with the emotions that caused it.  “Testosterone poisoning,” his wife used to say.

He gave Handley the benefit of the doubt and put a positive spin on the background investigation—Pinellas Sheriff Department needed deputies at the time.  Another thing that Eddie remembered about Guy Handley was that he was found trespassing on private property on Halloween Night in 1974. 

Even if he didn’t have an eidetic memory, he would have never forgotten that night.  An unexpected storm battered the coastline with record producing waves and was later found to be responsible for the sinking of a local cruise ship, the Princess of Tampa.  Eddie was a patrol deputy at the time and had responded to a report of a prowler at a waterfront mansion in Tierra Verde. 

Handley was found soaking wet and semi-clothed, his shirt having been stripped off him in the heavy surf.  He was also beaten up and bloody and claimed to have fallen off a party boat and been bashed on the rocks trying to make land.  Doyle and a partner gave him a ride to a local motel and that was the last official action taken in the case. 

Later that night, a fellow deputy apprehended an escaped bank robber by the name of James O’Brien, walking across the causeway and a large yacht was found washed ashore at Fort DeSoto.  What were the chances that any of these events were related to Guy Handley?  

The current incident was dialed in by a deputy up near Gainesville concerning Handley being found beat-up and handcuffed to a twenty-something tattooed hoodlum in a local motel.  Strange stuff, that.  Looks to the contrary notwithstanding, the thug was clean; no rap sheet, no wants or warrants—at least one tied to the last name he gave upon his arrest. 

So, the plot thickened.  He figured that Handley would “Lawyer Up” before any interview as that was the standard operating procedure employed by the Pinellas County's police union.  The rumor mill also claimed that Handley was an associate of Sally Boots as he had been seen on numerous occasions in a strip club Sally owned by an undercover narc that Eddie had known for years. 

Whatever Handley was doing near Ginnie Springs might have had something to do with the old gangster.  The association was deniable and he figured that he had little to gain by calling him in for an interview.  It would put Handley on notice that he was being watched, but little else.

The hood was spending time up in the Gainesville Jail thanks to an unregistered firearm found in his pocket.  There might be another way to approach this case, thought Eddie.  He might just take a trip to the Gainesville jail and stop by the Sherriff’s station near Ginnie Springs just for good measure.

Eddie looked at the information sheet supplied by the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Department. The suspect’s name was Vito Viticoltore. Eddie looked at the mug shot. The thug was wearing a “wife-beater” t-shirt, one without sleeves, sometimes called a muscle shirt.  He was heavily tattooed and looked like he spent a lot of time in the gym. 


Something about the thug’s last name struck him odd; “Hey, Falcon, what the fuck does Viticoltore mean?” He shouted into the squad bay.  Mike Falcon, a short stocky detective in the burglary division stuck his head into Eddie’s office.  “How the fuck would I know? I was born in Maryland!”

 “Come on, Cocksucker, I know your parents came right off the boat from Sicily” countered Doyle.

 “Jeez, Eddie, did you ever once forget one thing?”

“You know the answer to that, now answer my question!”

“I think it means Winemaker.  Are you happy now, douchebag?” 

“Yes, yes I am,” replied Eddie. 

The next morning Eddie left his houseboat before the sun was up and arrived at the Gainesville Jail just after breakfast.  He had stopped at a Burger King off the Interstate and bought a sausage, egg and cheese croissant and large coffee, and brushed the remnants off the sandwich off his Blue Polo shirt as he walked in the Gilchrest County Jail.  Eddie asked for the duty officer, identified himself and asked to meet with the suspect.  He was escorted into an interview room to see the suspect, who had been denied bail as he was considered a flight risk.

“What the fuck you want with me, pig?” Spat Vito Viticoltore through the interview screen. He was even more pleasant in person than Eddie had hoped.  The thug was dressed in a prisoner’s trademark orange jumpsuit and wore both hand and leg cuffs, chained together and locked to his chair which severely limited his movements.

They sparred verbally for a little, and Eddie got the distinct impression that the thug thought he held the upper hand.  “You got nothing but a misdemeanor gun charge on me and you know what? It’s not my gun. It belongs to that cop, Handley”. 

“Yeah, but what was it doing in your pocket, stud?” Countered Eddie. “Doesn’t matter, fuck-stick, as soon as my lawyer gets here, I will be out on bail.” Eddie knew that might probably be true, but in this case he had a hole card that he decided to show.  “Actually, I am not here to ask you about that, he countered, I am more interested in your last name.” “What the fuck do you want to know about my last name?”

“Well, the funny thing is that when we run the name;  Viticoltore, it comes back clean, so that either means you are  clean, which I severely doubt or that’s not your real name.“  The hood looked away inadvertently and then caught himself and stared at Eddie with cold, venom filled eyes. 

“I thought about the name and found out it means “Winemaker,” did you know that kid?”  The thug said nothing, so Eddie continued.  “So I thought about it and I did a search of the known associated database that the FBI runs; see we have read access to it, and I did a search on the term “winemakers”  and lo and behold, I came up with a Mustache Pete by the name Carlos “the Winemaker” Gambochinno. Sound familiar?” He is an old gangster, a made member of the Patriarca crime family, and a known associate of a local gangster by the name of Sally Boots; ever heard of him?” He asked the thug and then continued as if he already knew the answer.  

“It seems this scumbag had several children; one of them, a Vito Gambochinno, is currently wanted for armed robbery in the state of Massachusetts.  Here is a picture of him, said Eddie as he held the picture up for the thug to see. I think you will agree that he bears a sticking resemblance to you, right down to the tattoos.  So, I wouldn’t worry about making bail right now, but if you want to cooperate and start telling the truth about why you were handcuffed to Deputy Handley, I think we could work out a deal.” 

“It had something to do finding something valuable that had been hidden for a long time is all I was told.  Handley told me to work this guy over until he took us to his old man.” 

“And the guy’s father knew where the valuables were hidden?” Asked Eddie. 

“Yeah, but the cocksucker turned the table on us, came flying through door like the terminator or some shit,” the hood smiled tentatively.

“What was the guy’s name?”

“I didn’t ask—it was just a job to earn some coin while I was….”

“On the lam?” Eddie offered.

“On vacation,” corrected Vito.

“OK, Vito that will keep you from getting shipped up north for a while. How would you like to get transferred down to Pinellas County, we got lots of great Italian food down there?” 

“Sure, replied the hoodlum, this place thinks a baloney sandwich is a Grinder.”  

Friday, September 6, 2013

Urban Fantasy and Tera Fulbright

Next up from the anthology, Urban Fantasy, is Tera Fulbright, author of the story, "Fires within the Blank Page." The anthology is available on Amazon and Createspace. If you enjoy the excerpt of Tera's story, be sure to comment and check out the whole anthology.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Tell us a little about yourself? 

I’ve been a fan of SF/F since first reading CS Lewis in the 4th Grade. In addition to writing, I’m active in con-running, pirate re-enactment and RPG’s.

What made you want to become a writer? 

I honestly don’t know.  I’ve been writing since high school both fiction and non-fiction.  I’ve been playing D&D since high school and writing about the characters in several different games. Then, once I started meeting writers at cons, I realized it was something I could do and others might want to read.

Why Urban Fantasy? What about this genre appeals to you?  

I like the modern setting with magic.  I like mixing elements of high fantasy (elves and magic) with everyday human struggles.

Could you tell us a bit about your story? 

It’s the story of a runaway young girl who finds herself helped by a circle of witches.

Your story involves witches. Any particular reason you chose this type of supernatural creature? What fascinates you about witches?  

I’ve had several friends who were practicing Wiccans.  For me, Witches have always been about believing that there is more out in the universe than just what you can see and touch.

Do you believe witches could be real? Do you wish they could? 

I certainly believe Wiccans/Witches/NeoPagans/Insert-term-here are real.  But casting spells that mimic Harry Dresden…not so much.   Do I wish they could? Absolutely. 

What gave you the inspiration for your story?  

The first line came from a challenge given to me by a writing group.  The rest came out of my love for old used bookstores and a couple fun visits to New York. 

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?  

The adults are all real people. Kelsey is more imagination.

Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?  

Right now?  I’d have to say Morgan Collins. She’s the heroine in my urban fantasy WIP.  She’s a middle school teacher who finds she has a calling for magic and, of course, to save the world.

What’s your connection to the South?  

I moved to NC after high school to go to college and stayed. Then I married a southern boy.  J  I love living where I am - close to the beach and close to the mountains. 

Who are your favorite Urban Fantasy authors? What do you admire about them?  

Jim Butcher probably tops the list.  I love how he throws problem after problem on top of his characters until you think there is now way they are going to solve everything, but then he does.  I also love his characterization of some of the magical creatures.  I’m also a fan of Faith Hunter and Devon Monk. 

Who is your favorite Urban Fantasy character from another author’s work?
Who do you particularly like him/her?  

Oh, so many to choose from…I don’t know that I have a real favorite.  I tend to like characters though that are the love interest of the main character but who have a deeper purpose.  (Eric Northman, Zayvion Jones)

Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer?  If so, what do you do during the day? 

I do.  I work in Talent Management for the Center for Creative Resources.

What is your favorite writing tip or quote? 

Butt in Chair.  “BIC.”  I’m also kind of fond of …

"Q: So, why do you write these strong female characters?
Whedon: Because you're still asking me that question."

What else have you published? 

My first short story, "History in the Making," was published in the anthology Rum & Runestones in 2010. My second story, "Faith," was published in Michael Ventrella's Tales of Fortannis: A Bard's Eye View. In 2012, my third short story, "Anne Bonny's Child," was included in Spells and Swashbucklers, the follow-up to Rum & Runestones. Recently, I had a fourth story, "Knight's Gambit" published in Michael Ventrella's second Tales of Fortannis anthology, A Bard in the Hard.

Tell us a little about your plans for the future.  Do you have any other stories or books in the works? 

I currently have my first novel with an editor!  I have two other novel series in the beginning stages, and I’m always working on several other short stories. 

Where can we find you online? 
Twitter: @terafulbright

Excerpt from "Fires Within the Blank Page"

There wasn’t a flake of snow on the ground, but the city was dark and freezing.  Kelsey could feel her toes growing numb inside her inadequate sneakers as she walked briskly down the empty street.  I’m beginning to think this whole running away thing was a bad idea, she thought to herself, as she pulled her thin coat closer around her.  She hadn’t taken into account that at 16 she didn’t have a good way to make any money.  And she’d gone through everything in her piggy bank to buy the bus fare from small-town Asheboro, North Carolina to the big city of New York. 

Outside a used clothing store, she got a glimpse of herself in the window reflection.  She stopped.  It was no wonder that every store or restaurant she’d been in had taken one look at her – in her worn jeans and thin coat, with her heavy make-up to hide the bruises and the run of stiches down her right cheek - and said they weren’t hiring.  The streets were beginning to empty of passerby’s and Kelsey looked furtively around. She continued to walk.

As she passed by an old bookstore, it began to sleet. The rain turned sleet came down so heavily that she was quickly soaked through.  Cursing silently to herself, she hesitated outside the bookstore window.  Looking inside at the rows and rows of books, she made the sudden decision to enter.  She had always loved books.  They were the only constant safe place in her life. So, even if they weren’t hiring, maybe she could at least get warm and dry before returning to the shelter. 

A bell rang as she opened the door and stepped into the store.  A middle-aged redhead poked her head around the corner of a bookcase, a stack of books towering in her hands.

“Welcome to The Four Corners.  Can I help you, dearie?” the woman asked in a faded Irish accent.

Kelsey shook her head.  I’ll warm up first before I ask about a job, she thought to herself.

“Okay, feel free to look around.  There is coffee, tea and hot chocolate along the back wall if you need something to warm you up. I’ve got some fresh scones comin’ out in a bit.”

Kelsey nodded her thanks as she moved slowly toward the back wall.  Hands shaking with cold, she poured some coffee into a paper cup and took a sip.  The coffee was so hot, it scalded her tongue but the pain didn’t bother her – it was nice to be warm.  Still cradling the coffee in both hands, she began to wander the aisles.