Friday, July 26, 2013

The King’s Ransom by Devorah Fox, an excerpt

Yesterday we met Devorah Fox, author of The Lost King and The King's Ransom. Today read a sample from her work. If you like the work, be sure to comment and buy the book.

About The Lost King

When all you have owned, everyone you have loved, and everything you have done are gone, who are you? In Book One of The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam, King Bewilliam awakens one morning not in his castle but in a cow pasture. He has been inexplicably transformed from a beloved and respected ruler, husband, father, and dragon slayer of renown to a homeless vagabond. What mysterious spell so cruelly reversed his fortune? Who cast it and why? In his quest to uncover and break the curse that plagues him and regain his kingdom he journeys to strange lands where he finds adventure, danger, romance...and himself.

About The King’s Ransom

Book Two of "The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam" finds Robin, the hero of The Lost King, at sea both literally and figuratively. At first directionless and purposeless, he determines to reunite with his sons and with them restore his shattered kingdom but Fate has different plans for the lost king. Driven far from his home in the Chalklands, Robin pits his will against a dragon, a fortress's duplicitous and deadly guards, high winds on the open water, and a horrifying sea monster only to meet his most formidable opponent.

The King's Ransom, excerpt

The clammy dungeon smelled of mold, rotted wood, and yes, of despair and death. Its dirt floor was damp and cool under Robin’s butt but not as cold as his heart. Lit only by whatever light filtered through a barred opening high above at ground level, the room was dim but his mood was darker. His death was certain. Without anything like a trial or even an inquiry, he had been taken for a sorcerer when he feared magic as much as did the guards.

Did they know who they had in their dungeon? He was a head of state, Bewilliam, King of Bell Castle, ruler of the Chalklands, and their treatment of him was a capital offense. Were it not for exhaustion Robin’s anger could have burst into flame. When he got out of here—

Robin looked about. How would he get out of here? There appeared to be no way to leave except to die. The only question was how soon would he die and by what means? How did they deal with witches and sorcerers in this realm? Drowning? Burning?

Or did they mean to leave him here to die slowly of thirst or hunger? He hadn’t eaten or drunk since last evening. He noted that his stomach ached and his mouth was drier than dust but the pain he felt most acutely was heartache. Poor Meeyoo! What would become of her? Was she still within the city’s walls or had she escaped to the wood beyond? She knew no more about her new surroundings than he did. Would she find food and water? Robin reminded himself that she was a good huntress and reassured himself she would not starve. But what about shelter? Would she find a safe place to hide? And hide she must because now Robin was more certain than ever that this domain was bewitched. Why else would the guards be so quick to assume that he was a sorcerer and that Meeyoo was his familiar? Meeyoo was canny but could she defend herself against magic?

Robin shivered although the temperature of the underground room was actually a comfortable respite from the heat of the outdoors.

And what of Thief? Robin hoped that the horse would find his way back to the last creek that they had found. Would Thief know to nibble on those sage-colored bushes? And what then? Would some journeyer or peasant find Thief and take care of him, an old horse? Robin didn’t want think about the alternative.

He propped his elbows on his knees and buried his face in his hands.

He could do nothing for either animal except feel guilty about its predicament. It was his fault that they were in peril. Had he not taken it into his head that he could reclaim his kingdom, he would not have accepted this dragon-slaying mission. Eian of Sweet Water was mistaken. It was wrong of Robin to have tried. He had failed and would die for his presumption, and two innocent lives would be lost.

Meeyoo and Thief trusted him. It was his responsibility to rescue them. Figuring out how to do that was a much more interesting line of thought than pondering his fate.

He studied his prison. Could he chip and tunnel through the masonry walls? With what? He had nary a tool at hand. The guards had taken his knife, and sword, his purse with the money that had been advanced him to kill the dragon. No doubt they had his pack too. Robin wondered what they would make of the ermine pelts buried in the bottom.

Without even a cup or spoon, how could he hope to make even the slightest dent in the bricked walls, especially as he had only one truly free hand with which to work? The other hand was shackled to a chain hanging from a ring bolted to the wall.

The cell had two openings. One was the heavy locked door. The other was the barred window a couple of feet over his head for which he was grateful even if he couldn’t reach it. The iron bars were set not in a frame but directly into the wall. Even if he could free himself, somehow reach the window, and remove the bars, the opening was too small. He would not be able to fit through it.

Before he could even attempt any escape he would have to free himself from the shackle. Why the guards had bothered to chain him to the wall was a mystery. Were he truly a sorcerer, chains and locks would not defeat him. But he was merely a human. Chains and locks were formidable impediments.

Robin studied the heavy iron padlock that kept the shackle fastened on his wrist. Now that, that had possibilities. Robin smiled. He knew a little something about locks. As a young prince curious about the working of things, he had spent a rainy afternoon with the castle’s locksmith. It had seemed to young Robin that locks were long on intimidating looks but not all that daunting as security devices. He was confident that he could pick the one that held his shackle fast, if he had the right tool.

Or any tool. Would that he had his purse. Maybe he could employ his steel as a tool. Even his belt would have been helpful. He might have been able to use the prong, but the guard had taken his belt as well. There was nothing in the room or on his person that would be of any use. His clothes were all made of soft fabric; nothing stiff or sturdy enough from which to fashion a pick. The instrument had to be rigid but it didn’t have to be very big. Something the size of his little finger would do.

His little finger. In the twilight he regarded his hands. If he could get down to the bone, the bone of his little finger might work. The prospect of pain and dismemberment did not discourage him. Animals escaped traps by gnawing off limbs and they survived. He probably wouldn’t even feel the pain, Robin thought. He was already numb with despair about the fate that was likely to befall Meeyoo and Thief if he didn’t find them.

He poked his little finger into the lock’s keyhole. Indeed, absent of flesh the finger bone would be the right size.

Robin slipped his finger into his mouth, tasted salt and dirt. He pressed his teeth against the finger and felt pressure but not pain. He clenched his jaw tighter. His finger throbbed and stung. He bit down harder but before he could break the skin, his finger’s weight on the back of his tongue made him gag. He took his finger out and rubbed it, thinking this was proving more difficult than he had expected. He didn’t want to bite off the finger, he wanted to skin it. Were his teeth sharp enough?

His desperate ruminations were interrupted by the sound of a voice.

“Me. You.”

The hair on the back of Robin’s neck rose. He lifted his head and looked around. The gray light cast shadows on the walls and floor but he saw no one and nothing else in the room. Yet he distinctly heard someone speak.

“Me. You,” came the voice again. An unusual voice, not quite human yet the words were clear, unmistakable.

Robin shook his head. He must be hallucinating. The hunger, thirst, shock of his arrest, and fear of imminent and painful death must have loosened his mind. All this talk of sorcerers and familiars had planted ideas in his head. Still, he was certain he had heard someone speak.

Robin’s mouth twitched in a small smile. “Me, you,” had been his cat’s first utterances. Then but a tiny kitten, she had camped out one night in his boot. From then on she stayed near him by day in his quarters, sleeping on his chest at night. When he made to go and leave her behind, she told him that she was going with him. 

“Me. You,” she had said in no uncertain terms.

Robin heard it again. He looked up. A movement at the window caught his eye. Silhouetted in the fading light he saw a familiar shape against the bars.

“Oh, Meeyoo!” Robin replied. His heart swelled in his chest. “How did you find me? Are you all right?”
“Me, you! Me, you!” came her excited reply.

Robin took the first deep breath he had breathed since first being approached by the guard. “Oh, my faithful friend, I am indeed in a sorry predicament and I have yet to find a way out.”

Aloud, Robin reviewed the escape strategies that he had entertained and rejected. “I think they mean to leave me to starve and wither away from thirst . . .” He stopped in mid-complaint. “I’m going to keep trying, Meeyoo, I haven’t given up. I will fight with all the fight that I have left in me. Meanwhile you need to look out for yourself. The people in this fortress are not friendly to cats. You must get yourself outside these walls. Escape. Go find Thief. The two of you, make your way back to Sea Gate Fortress. You were welcome there.”

At the window, Robin heard Meeyoo purr followed by a rustling. The shape of the cat vanished from view.
Robin’s heart sank in dismay. He had sincerely meant that Meeyoo should go, save herself, only not so soon. He would have liked to have her company until he could see and hear no more.

He slipped into a torpor until a rustling overhead startled him alert. Again he saw Meeyoo’s dark shape against the bars. He wondered if it was a dream or if it was an image conjured by wishful thinking, but then the form moved. Meeyoo poked her head between the bars.

“No! Meeyoo, stay out of here,” he cried. “Run away!”

An object fell from her mouth, hit the floor, and bounced halfway to the door. He made out a shape the size of a sparrow. A dead bird. Tears stung Robin’s eyes. Meeyoo had done it again, had heard of his need for food and had answered his plea. This time he thought that he just might be desperate enough to eat.

He stretched out his hand toward the bird but could not reach it for the chain. He felt his head and shoulders slump and sighed, even this last relief denied him.

No, wait, there might be a way. He stretched out on the floor to the full extent of his arm, torso, and legs. With the toe of his boot, he scooped the bird and dragged it within reach.

Robin sat upright and studied the tiny prize. He tugged at the sparrow’s feathers but they would not loosen. He recalled with dismay the time that he had spent satisfying his youthful curiosity in Bell Castle’s kitchen. Kitchen maids had dunked fowl in boiling water to loosen the feathers before plucking.

He had seen Meeyoo devour a bird more than once. She ate every part, feathers, feet, beak, and all. He tried to do the same and bit into the bird’s side but ended up with only a mouthful of down for his efforts.
He looked up at the windows where Meeyoo lay against the bars. “Thank you, Meeyoo. I’ll . . . eat this later,” he said. Perhaps later after the kill was not so fresh the feathers would loosen and he could get to the meat. He laid the bird beside him.

The dead sparrow made a dark spot against the gray earthen floor, its eyes dull as coal, its bony feet slightly curled.

Bony feet. Bones. Robin took up the sparrow again and studied the feet and legs. The scaly legs were about the size of the bones of his little finger, the tiny talons curved with sharp tips.

Bird in his right hand, he cradled the padlock in his left, and poked the bird’s talon into the keyhole. It appeared that with some modification, the bird’s feet and legs had potential as a lock pick. He bent back the smaller toe. The leg made a straight handle while the front and back talons made hooked picks. No serious burglar would ever attempt a hurried break-in with such a clumsy tool but Robin thought he might have the advantage of time. Since his incarceration, not a single guard had come near the cell. Sorcerers apparently didn’t merit even token human kindness, or perhaps the guards were simply too afraid to render it.

Robin set to work in the dark, relying on his senses of sound and touch. With deliberation he wiggled the improvised pick slowly, feeling his way through the lock, moving tiny unseen wards aside to their unlocked position. He made several false starts. His improvised tools proved to be frustratingly flexible and the ward kept slipping back onto place. Cursing he kept wiggling the tool until he found just the right size and configuration of bone and claw to keep the repositioned wards in place while he tackled the next.
At last he moved the final ward and slid the bolt that clamped the shackle in the lock’s body. The lock opened and he removed the shackle from his wrist.

“Oh, Meeyoo, we did it!” he cried.

From her perch at the window, Meeyoo let out a congratulatory cry.

Now to tackle the iron lock that secured the door. Robin crawled across the room, sat beside the door, and studied the keyhole, outlined by illumination in the corridor. Would that the guard had left the key in the lock. Robin might have found a way to jostle it loose, snag it with a bird-bone hook, and slide it under the door, but no, the keyhole was empty. The lock was large and Robin suspected it was much more complex than the one he had just sprung. His examination was interrupted by a metal-on-metal sound on the other side. The keyhole went dark. Someone had inserted a key into the keyhole and turned the lock.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Sincerest Form of Flattery, a guest post by Devorah Fox

Today my guest is author, Devorah Fox. She writes about Fan Fiction. Tomorrow come back for an excerpt from her work.

The Sincerest Form of Flattery, a guest post by Devorah Fox

“Fan fiction” is a term that describes stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work rather than by the original creator. Fan fiction is rarely commissioned or authorized by the original work's owner, creator or publisher. Writers of fan faction assume that their work will be read by other fans of the work that inspired the creativity and so readers of the fan fiction are expected to have some familiarity with the characters, setting, plot, etc. of the original work on which the fan fiction is based.

Fan fiction isn’t a new phenomenon. According to Wikipedia, the Bronte sisters wrote fan fiction, as did readers of Alice in Wonderland and Sherlock Holmes. Fan fiction has been very popular in the sci-fi genre, and it really got a boost in response to Star Trek. The Internet gave rise to an increase in fan fiction. One statistic states that fan fiction comprises one third of all content about books on the Web. There are fanzines and conventions and Internet sites like for publishing, sharing  and reviewing fan fiction.

Though it seems innocent enough, fan fiction has given rise to controversy. Some argue that it’s plagiarism while other claim that fan fiction, or at least the nonprofit variety, falls under the fair use doctrine. Lucasfilms Ltd. has taken action to control the use of Star Wars characters in fan fiction while J. K. Rowling has given the nod to writers of fan fiction based on her characters. A new effort launched by in May, 2013, is designed to give a forum to fanfiction writers while guarding the intellectual property rights of the original works’ creators. Kindle Worlds allows fan fiction stories of certain licensed media properties to be sold in the Kindle Store provided the writing meets certain conditions. The fan fiction writers and the creators of the licensed work are both compensated, as is of course amazon.

The issue of fan faction recently came up in a Facebook group to which I belong and the general consensus seemed to be resentment. I suppose if someone were making a mint from fiction based on my characters I’d feel differently but for now I cherish the fan fiction that’s been inspired by The Lost King and The King’s Ransom. For one, I find the mere fact that my writing spurred that initiative in someone else to be validating. Isn’t awakening creativity in someone else about the highest compliment an artist can be paid?

I’ve also learned a lot from the fanfic written about King Bewilliam and his world. It’s like someone held a mirror to my character, turned it at an angle and showed me a different side. I have in turn been inspired by the added dimensions that I see the character can have, the different paths that he can take. Because fanfic writers have their unique style, my character has had a chance to play in different arenas.

A fan of my novels who is a sand sculptor created his interpretation of King Bewilliam’s Bell Castle. Is a sand castle fan “fiction,” plagiarism, fair use or something else entirely? Whatever it is, I find it complimentary. Not only that, in my writing I have imagined what buildings are on the castle grounds and describe the rooms’ interiors but haven’t given much consideration to the buildings’ exteriors. Frankly, I’m eager to see what they look like.

So is fan fiction, like imitation, the sincerest form of flattery or is it theft?

About Devorah Fox
Winner of four National Novel Writing Month marathons, Devorah Fox has written for television, radio, magazines, newspapers, and the Internet. Publisher and editor of the BUMPERTOBUMPER® books for commercial motor vehicle drivers, she is also developer of the Easy CDL apps for the iPhone and iPad. She has written test preparation guides for Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. and edited books for Techni-Com, a Canadian publisher, as well as several novels. Born in Brooklyn, New York, she has lived in Port Aransas, Texas, since 2005. Secretary of the Rockport Writers Group, Fox writes the "Dee-Scoveries" blog at and column of the same name for The Island Moon newspaper. She wrote her first novel in the third grade and has written several more since. The Lost King, a literary fantasy, is her first published work of fiction and its sequel, The King’s Ransom, is her most recent.

Twitter: @devorah_fox

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lyrical Muse, Cover reveal

Welcome to the cover reveal for the upcoming release LYRICAL MUSE a collection of stories that reflects life's rhythms through the tales of everyday people. Please take a look below!




Music Heals the Spirit as the Words Give Life.’

Lyrical-Muse (5)

Lyrical Muse Anthology Publisher: Michelle Cornwell-Jordan (3CM Media)

Lyrical Muse is a collection of stories that reflects life's rhythms through everyday people. Each story is an example of the best and the worst of the Human soul. Every life lived has its own melody, and within these pages, the reader is taken on a journey to the blackest depths of a daughter's murderous soul to the prickly minefield of a jealous woman's heart and so much more. So enter of your own free will and allow our whimsical Muse to lead you on an odyssey which just might help redefine your own reality.

Set to release
August 05th, 2013
The cover was created by the amazing Joy Stroube
Dreamscape Covers
Thanks to the Beta Reader Who Rocks! Author Emma Meade


ronda caudill bio pic


I was born and raised in Virginia. Writing has always been a passion of mine. I earned Ph.D. in Education from Capella University. The two writers who inspired me the most are Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. My discovery of Mr. Poe when I was eleven years old opened up an entirely new world to me. It is a world that I have shared with my daughters. I am blessed with a wonderful husband and two beautiful daughters who both inspire me and support me. I am thankful to them for their love, encouragement, and support (and many new ideas).

jamie white

Jamie White

JamieBMusings is a music addict, book lover, pet servant & NaNoWriMo survivor. When she's not busy writing posts for Culture Shock, she's taking pictures for her new obsession (That Photo Blog) and spending time with her husband and pets. Her first book, The Life and Times of No One in Particular, was released in May 2012.

CP Bialois

C.P. Bialois

CP Bialois completed his first full-length novel, Call of Poseidon, in 2007. Armed with a finished product, Bialois began working on another book, The Sword and the Flame: The Forging, unsure of what he would ultimately be doing with either. As with many others in the later part of the first decade of the 2000’s, he found himself out of work and looking into new options. Over the next two years, he would spend most days at the library, completing an additional half-dozen works. With five books currently out, Bialois is planning for the release of many more and enjoying the feedback he receives. The up-and-coming author takes inspiration from favorites such as Steven King, Tom Clancy and Sue Grafton. His love of history, fantasy and old monster movies has also served as a muse.

M-Jordan-headshot2-300x257 ME

Michelle Cornwell-Jordan

Michelle Cornwell-Jordan is a New Adult/Young Adult-Paranormal Author. Her titles include a YA Novella series Night School Vampire Hunter Trilogy and upcoming novel Chrysalis. She is also the producer of the online radio segment IndieReview Behind The Scenes, where she and her co-host Jamie B Musings interviews Indie Authors and Musicians. Michelle has been married for 18 years and has a 15 year old daughter. A book lover, her favorite genre has always been paranormal adventures. Another love is writing. Michelle has been writing about as long as she has been a bibliophile! Losing herself in a fantasy world that she is creating on paper is how she loves spending her spare time. Oh, and one final secret about Michelle is that she believes that she also has a secret power, but if she told, she would have to zap ya!!

Big Hug and Much Gratitude to the very awesome hosts of today’s cover reveal!
Listed in no particular order
Lyrical Muse Hosts
Sheryl Steines: Eden Baylee: Cherie Reich: Shay West: Alex Laybourne: Sharon C. Williams: Mysti Parker: Evan Bollinger: Kerry Taylor: Xuanire Javed: Jamie Marchant: Teshelle Combs: Blakely Chorpenning: Marianne Spitzer: Susan Finlay:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Prologue from The Soul Stone

I don't have any interview this week, so I decided to post the prologue to The Soul Stone, my soon-to-be-finished sequel to The Goddess's Choice. I'd love to hear your comments.

            As she braided Awena’s hair, Mother Venetia shivered. Their undyed wool robes were not warm enough for the freezing dungeon.
“I’m so cold, Mother!” Awena cried.
            “I know, child.” Venetia rubbed the young novice’s arms to warm her. She and Awena were two of hundreds locked up due to Father Shylah’s edict. How the Lundian high priest had got the king to ban and imprison female members of the clergy, Venetia couldn’t imagine. Perhaps the rumors were right, and the king had lost his mind.
            It was so cold she could see her breath, but Venetia shivered for another reason. Tonight was the night of the new moon, the night all priestesses throughout Korth would perform the ritual to keep the Ancient Evil contained behind the shield of Armunn’s soul. Since her village of Balley Beg was closest to the source of that evil, Mother Venetia’s role in the ritual had always been pivotal. This would be the third month in a row she’d been unable to play her part, and because of the mass imprisonment of Korthian priestesses, she was hardly the only one absent. Prophesies spoke of a day when Armunn’s shield would fail. She feared the weakened ritual might well lead to such a time.
             She abruptly stopped braiding as she felt warm tingling through the soles of her shoes.
            Awena grabbed Mother Venetia’s arm. “What is it, Mother?”
            “It’s Mother Bensaggyrt. She’s sending a call through the earth for all of us to gather.”
            “Why would she do that? That will only make it easier for the Royal Guard to arrest more of us!”
            Mother Venetia shook her head. “I don’t know, child.” But she could think of only one reason. Had the ancient prophesies come true and evil been loosed to ravage Korthlundia again?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Horse Country, Excerpt

Yesterday, we met author Christine Meunier. Today read an excerpt from her novel, Horse Country. If you like what you read, please comment and buy the book.

Book blurb:

Christine Meunier has lived a life breathing, dreaming and working with horses in the thoroughbred industry in Australia and has also travelled overseas to work in the industry.  Horse Country takes her own personal experiences woven into a story about four young women studying and working in the horse industry.

Follow Lise and Wes as they work their way around North East Victoria, Australia in the seasonal world of breeding thoroughbreds.  Horse Country follows the seasons of the thoroughbred industry and what the day to day of working on a stud could look like.

A few hours away, Maddie and Melanie are working hard in their parent’s metropolitan riding school, teaching others about horse riding and care of the horse.  From the nervous first time rider, to the child who wants to run fast and jump high, the young women shape lessons to suit the individual.

Horses offer a great opportunity to study, learn, work and develop an incredible career around the world.  Set in Australia, this novel shows that the land down under is indeed a Horse Country.Horse


"Watch this here filly.  I think she's just slightly over having had IV needles for the past three days," Declan warned, holding the young animal as Lise pulled the cap off the needle.

"Well, you'll just have to save me if anything goes wrong," she commented dryly, expertly putting her thumb to the equine's jugular groove, inserting the needle smoothly into the vein and pulling back with the syringe, noting with satisfaction the red liquid that coloured the small tube before administering the previously clear liquid.

Declan was slowly becoming impressed with Lise.  He’d seen a lot of her over the past week as any work that had required two; Trevor had made some poor excuse to not help but not so surprisingly, always seemed to know what Lise was up to and where she could be found to help.  Declan grinned as he realised the older man’s plan was working.  A figure came to stand in front of the box the pair were working in, his body blocking out the light as he peered in curiously.  Declan rolled his eyes at the sight of the older male's sudden interest as his gaze fell upon Lise.

"Well hello gorgeous!  Why doesn’t anyone tell me when we get a new worker?  I don't believe we've met.  I'm Tony.  And you are?" he questioned as she brushed past him out of the box.

"Uninterested," Lise commented dryly, never taking her gaze off the treatment chart she had picked up to fill in.

Still in the box with the sick yearling, Declan chuckled softly, amused at her bluntness.

"What have the others already told you about me?  It's all a pack of lies, I promise you," Tony commented, winking at her.

"So you being found hung over in Declan's bed wasn't really a mistake?  The girls swore it was," she stated sincerely.

"I… what?" he asked, suddenly confused.

Declan thrust his hand over his mouth, barely managing to contain the laughter that was now coming out in bursts.  This girl knew exactly how to treat males like Tony… and pick them it appeared, as he was sure she hadn't yet been warned about the sleazy stud hand.  The female staff hadn’t exactly taken a liking to Lise, something he found surprisingly appealing.

"Give it up Tony, she knows about us.  I guess everyone does," he commented as he exited the box, sighing dramatically to add emphasis to his statement.

Lise grinned as the young Irishman winked at her before strolling down the breezeway whistling YMCA.  Observing the whole display from the other end of the stables, Trevor shook his head, grinning wryly.
"I should have made that bet fifty bucks," he muttered, entering the next box with a full hay net.


The young woman sat down at the end of the day, her back resting against a stall door.  The second week in April marked the start of the school holidays which for her meant two weeks of work experience at an impressive looking racing property.  Her mother had dropped her off early that morning and now at the end of her first day, she was going back over things she’d seen and learnt while waiting for the same parent to come and pick her up.
She chewed on her pen thoughtfully as she opened up the small notebook she’d been carrying in her back pocket on her mother’s suggestion.  This way she could make notes while the day was fresh in her mind, making her diary report for school that much easier.

Day one...

The horses are kept on straw in boxes which is around 20 centimetres deep (not to be exact, or anything) and it’s even higher around the edges.  Supposedly, the higher walls are to stop the horses from getting cast.  That is, stuck in their box and unable to get up.  Making them sound pretty stupid animals, isn’t it?  But, I’ve been told that when a horse rolls it’s possible for them to get stuck, especially in the corner of a box and this extra height around the walls either keeps them away from the corners, or perhaps it gives them something to scramble up on?  I haven’t worked out which, yet.

Routine for the day – visit the horse boxes, search for horse poo (can you say “yay”?); remove the wet straw (read: empty the whole box); replace with new straw and in the afternoon do another poo hunt, removing this.
In between is the constant emptying of water buckets, cleaning out and refilling each one before replacing.  I believe this resulted in me having at least five impromptu showers and that was just in the morning.  Must fill buckets less…

After the poo and water madness, feeds are made up consisting of chaff and many other feedstuffs I don’t yet recognise… oh, and a good amount of hay that is supposed to go into hay racks well out of my reach.  Many a wash due to water buckets and then getting covered in bits of hay!  Think I got those two round the wrong way…
Currently occupying the stalls are thirteen horses, seven bays, four chestnuts and one gorgeous roan.  I wonder if they’d notice if I put her in the car and took her home?  Oh, and the coolest thing so far?  One of the chestnut horses is worth $250,000.  A quarter of a million dollars!  And they let me brush him and pick horse poo out of his feet.  The best, huh?

She paused from her writing with a smile, looking back down the breezeway of the stables.  Her grin widened as she heard the crunch of gravel under tyres.  Mum’s here!  Wait till I tell her about my day!  Calling out a goodbye to her boss she ran toward the car, flinging the door open with a grin, not even giving her mum a chance to ask about her day before she started relaying every little event.  Her mother listened with a smile, driving them both home.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Reading and Writing Horses, Guest Author Christine Meunier

Today my guest is author, Christine Meunier, who talks to us about working with horses.

Reading and Writing Horses

Today I have the great privilege of providing you with a guest post on my recently released novel Horse Country – A World of Horses.  A big push behind writing this novel was that many people seem to love the idea of pursuing a career with horses, but feel or get told that it isn’t viable.

Horse Country is written to show how much fun in can be to work in the horse industry – almost anywhere around the world – and how travel is an option, as well as the development of amazing contacts and the chance to learn to much about a great animal.  Horse Country aptly shows:

o   the seasons on a stud and associated work that can be expected for anyone working with horses for breeding
o   the equestrian world from an instructor’s point of view in a busy metropolitan riding school.
o   how a horse crazy teenager can pursue education with horses, resulting in a full time career

If you know of someone that is horse crazy and would love to learn more about them and working with them, perhaps you’d like to consider encouraging them with a copy of this book!

Horses are an incredible animal that you can never stop learning about.  They’re also one that will always require people to work with and look after them.  There are definitely job and career opportunities with horses, particularly in the racing and performance industries.

The joys of writing with regards to horses, is that it is always worth writing about what you know.  This has been a possibility for me, combining two things that I dearly love.

Author Biography:

Christine Meunier considers herself introduced to the wonderful world of horses at the late age of 13 when her parents agreed to lease a horse for her.  She started experiencing horses via books from a young age and continues to do so, but recognizes that horses cannot be learnt solely from books.

She has been studying horses from age 16, starting with the Certificate II in Horse Studies and is currently undertaking her Bachelor of Equine Science via distance education.

Christine has worked at numerous thoroughbred studs in Australia as well as overseas in Ireland for a breeding season.

She then gained experience in a couple of Melbourne based horse riding schools, instructing at a basic level before heading off overseas again, this time to South Africa to spend hours in the saddle of endurance and trail horses on the Wild Coast.

Particularly passionate about the world of breeding horses, she teaches equine studies focused on breeding, at a TAFE, Victoria, Australia.

She also writes a blog about equine education which you can view at

You can find her online at:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Indie Author Promo

READERS! A mixed genre bag of featured best books & eBooks from our finest Indie authors. Take a quick peek: 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Reading the Dead: The Sarah Milton Chronicles, excerpt and review

Yesterday, we met author, J.B. Cameron. Today, read my review and an excerpt from his work. If you like what you read, please comment and buy the book.


Reading The Dead - The Sarah Milton Chronicles is the first volume of a funny, thrilling, suspenseful paranormal detective series by author J.B. Cameron.

Growing up, Sarah Milton had three constants in her life – her passion for reading, her mother's love, and Anna Nigma, her irrepressible thirteen-year-old imaginary companion. Her only friend's sudden disappearance in the aftermath of her mother's unexplained murder shattered her world, leaving a void in her life that only justice for her parent's senseless death could fill.

Fifteen years later, Sarah – now a criminal profiler with the LAPD Violent Crimes Unit – finds herself hunting a very different breed of killer, a mysterious figure known only as "Raithe." Thwarted at every turn by a seemingly random string of murders, the detective finds inspiration from the unlikeliest of sources.

A fatal shooting unexpectedly reunites her with her imaginary friend, compelling her to doubt her very sanity. She soon discovers that the truth behind both Anna Nigma and the serial killer she's hunting is stranger than she ever imagined. Her investigation leads the reunited friends to the reality of a spectral world governed by ancient magic, where Sarah's innate ability to commune with the dead could prove to be the only means of stopping the latest slayer terrorizing the city of angels.

Follow Sarah and Anna as they take their first step on the path through the graveyard of their hidden past, a journey that will ultimately lead them to a showdown against a dark force with the power over life and death itself. Their way will be fraught with peril, take them to the brink of love and loss, immerse them in mystery and clarity, and perhaps even deliver them to the closure for which they both long. Protected against the coming storm by only faith and friendship, their uncertain future begins here...


What happens when you mix a practical, no-nonsense LAPD detective with her childhood, imaginary friend? Find out in this funny, well-paced paranormal thriller. Sarah Milton fears for her sanity, but she discovers Anna Nigma is more real than she at first thought. The plot is fast paced, and the characters kept you engaged.  Anna Nigma is especially appealing, well-written and believable as a perpetual 13-year-old, and the interaction between the two main characters will kept your laughing. The writing is professional and polished. I highly recommend this book to paranormal or crime story fans and give it 5 stars.


Doctor Sandra Frost, M.D. owned an office decorated in early Brazilian rainforest. There were so many potted plants filling up her space that the rush of fresh oxygen produced in the room was dizzying. The constant temperature and natural light from the large window behind her desk made the greenery thrive around her. The only time she would close the blinds was when she was in the middle of a session. She probably figured that the darkness was more calming. All it meant to me was that I wasn't able to use the view outside as a distraction. I settled for re-reading her wall full of diplomas.

Frost was an older woman in her fifties. She was almost schoolmarmish in her business-like clothing and bun hairdo. She spoke with a syrupy, soothing lilt. Talking to her was like having a conversation with your grandmother.

At least, that was the intention for which she strove. She was a police psychiatrist, which meant that her expertise consisted of getting the strongest, most driven and independent personalities to open up to her like the contents of an unlocked safe. I saw through her act the moment that I walked into the room. The way her sharp eyes scrutinized every facial twitch and nuance of body language, there was no doubt in my mind. This woman was a shark. I needed to be extremely careful around her.

"So is there anything troubling you, Sarah?" she inquired casually from her chair - a stern-looking, high backed seat that looked far more comfortable than the one reserved for me.

She manufactured a pleasant smile for me as she patiently awaited my response, her pen hovering inches above the memo pad on her lap. Her manner of addressing me - using my name instead of my rank - was intentionally casual. It was her way of developing a rapport with her patients by keeping the discussion on a personal level. However, the look she gave me made me feel like a child caught doing something wrong.
My eyes shifted to the space alongside her. Anna lurked behind her chair, spying over her shoulder at her notes. The girl had simply reappeared, despite what I thought would have been a crushing blow to our friendship, behaving as if everything that transpired in the elevator minutes before was just an act.

"Wow! This woman's penmanship is horrible!" she exclaimed. "I haven't seen writing this bad since the time we borrowed Tommy Babcock's notes in science class."

I blinked. "No," I answered the psychiatrist dourly.

"I see," she responded while jotting something down in her notes. "It would be all right if you were feeling conflicted right about now, you know. You've suffered a very traumatic experience. It's only natural if your emotions were getting the better of you. Have you experienced any strong feelings since the attack?"

"Is that an R?" Anna pondered.

"I'm... I'm just really happy to be alive right now," I offered, and even tried on a smile for good measure.

"Of course you are, dear. You're very fortunate." Frost wrote something else in her notes.

"She thinks you have danger insides," Anna revealed. "Seriously, who taught this woman to write?"

"I can tell that you're a very strong person. Would you say that control is important to you?" Frost continued her cross-examination.

I instinctively threw a look at Anna. She was too busy trying to make sense out of the psychiatrist's hen-scratches to notice. "I'd agree with that."

"So, as someone who likes to remain in control, how did finding yourself in a situation that was entirely out of your control make you feel?"

I shrugged. If there was a right answer to this question that would mean Frost clearing me for active duty right this instant, I wasn't seeing it. "I don't know," I murmured. "Scared, I guess."

"I see," she replied, taking a moment to observe me carefully with those icy blue eyes of hers. I was a mouse under the scrutiny of a hawk. "Perfectly understandable. It was a scary situation, wasn't it? Facing down two armed gunmen like that. Coming to terms with your own mortality. It must have been terrifying."

"Yeah," I agreed wearily. God, I want out of this room now.

"So what else?"

"What else what?"

Frost gave me another one of her carefully orchestrated smiles. I'm sure she meant it as a way to help relax her patients and put their minds at ease. All I saw was the expression a wolf might make upon spotting dinner.

"It's all right, dear. I can see how badly the experience has affected you, but you're safe now. You don't need to carry this burden alone. I'm here to help you get past your pain, but I need you to trust me. Can you do that for me?"


I shuddered. I think Hell just froze over. 

"Good. That's very good," she smiled and leaned back in her chair. Her smile looked genuine this time. In a way, it was actually a little creepier than her fake ones. "So, what else do you feel when you think about the events of that day? Tell me about your feelings towards the men who shot you."

"They're definitely off my Christmas card list," I joked.

Frost didn't react. She didn't smile, nor exhibit signs of exasperation at my flippancy. She simply continued to sit peacefully in her chair, observing me with her writing hand at the ready. I suppose mine must be a reaction that she experienced quite frequently, working as a police shrink.

My smile died down and I gave her the answer that she was obviously waiting for. "I'm angry with them, sure. They nearly killed me. I think I'm entitled."

"Go on." She wrote something else in her notes. Anna frowned at it and shrugged.

I nodded. "But I understand that they've already been captured, which is great news. It's a huge relief to know that they aren't still out there, hurting others."

"And what if they weren't apprehended? How would that make you feel?"

Careful, Sarah! I could see her pen getting ready to scribble something down in her little notepad. I was trekking through a minefield here. It was time for a change of course.

"Look, Doctor Frost," I started, leaning forward in my chair with my hands on my knees, "the truth is that I just spent the past two weeks on my back, reliving every moment of that horrible event over and over in my head. You're asking me about feelings that I've already worn to the nub from constant introspection. I've bled through the extent of my anger for my attackers, my terror at the prospect of dying under a mound of newsprint, even my grief and guilt over my inability to protect the storeowner from becoming a victim himself.
"I've analyzed the situation over and over in my head a million times while my body mended, and not once was I able to come up with a scenario that didn't end up in exactly the same way. It was the most frightening, awful experience of my life, only made worse by the fact that I could do nothing about it. As you said, it was out of my control."

That gave Frost some ammunition for her notes.

"We can discuss my feelings all day, but that won't make them genuine. The truth is that the only thing I have left is my relief that I'm still around to talk about it," I continued. "I feel like I've been given a second chance. This whole experience has just made me more determined than ever to go out there and catch the bad guys before they can do these sorts of things to anyone else."

Frost fell silent, considering my heartfelt plea. Anna and I both gaped at her.

"Sarah," she started in her calm, soothing voice, "in my capacity here, I've helped hundreds of officers just like you to overcome the rigors of their stressful jobs and any number of traumatic incidents in their lives. They've all gone on to become better police officers and better people, for having taken the time to deal with their issues. You want to know how many of them insisted at the beginning that there was nothing wrong with them and that they didn't need to be here?"

"I'm guessing probably all of them," I responded dejectedly.

"Correct. Now can you guess how often I took their word for it?"


"Correct again," she replied humorlessly. Then she added, "However, in your case, I might be inclined to make an exception."

I blinked at her in surprise. "What?"

"Yes!" Anna squealed.

"It's obvious to me that, despite your assertions to the contrary, you still have very strong emotions regarding the attack on your life. Your difficulty in talking to me about what happened is a clear indication of that fact," she said. "It's also clear to me that your fear isn't limited to just that single event. You've experienced some other trauma in your life that you're afraid to share with me, isn't that true?"

I forced myself to meet her eyes. I had trauma and issues pouring out my ears, but there was no way I would share that voluntarily. I remained silent.

She took my silence as affirmation and continued, "Just as you've managed to compartmentalize any troubling memories from your past, I suspect that you've already begun to lock away this latest trauma. Your achievements suggest to me that you are fully in control of your emotions and have been managing your psychological issues for some time now. Since childhood, I'd guess."

Damn. She's good.

Frost leaned forward in her seat. "It's important that you understand that you can only keep these things bottled up for so long, Sarah. Eventually, no amount of self-control is going to keep them in check. I want to help you to face your demons head-on. It's the only way that you'll ever find peace."

Doctor Frost stood and walked around her desk. After setting her pad down on the surface, she opened a large, thin book with a black cover. She scanned through her scheduled appointments until finding an opening that satisfied her. She marked something in the book and dropped the cover closed with finality.

"I'm going to provisionally reinstate you for active duty," she declared. "I believe that in the short term, returning to work will actually prove more beneficial to you than any other type of therapy."


"I want to see you back here on a regular basis," she said. "I've scheduled an appointment for you next week at this same time. We'll see how you're faring then and reassess your duty status accordingly."

"Next week?" My heart sank at the prospect of having to endure this torture on an on-going basis. How on earth was I going to keep Anna's presence a secret every week? I'm sure the eagle-eyed psychiatrist couldn't have missed my constant scrutiny of nothing but empty space. Frankly, I was a little amazed that I wasn't already in cuffs, until the men with the white coats arrived.

She patiently awaited my answer with the same placid expression that she wore throughout the entire session.

"Fine," I sighed. "Next week." At least that bought me a seven-day reprieve. Maybe I could come up with some way to deal with the whole Anna situation before then.

"Good," she smiled. "I'll see you then."

We stood and shook hands. Her keen eyes remained glued to my face the entire time. Unbelievable, I thought. Even now that our time was up, she was still trying to analyze me.

"And remember, Detective, if there's ever anything you want to talk about in the meantime - anything at all - my door is always open."

I nodded, and even produced a faux smile of my own. I think it was painfully obvious to both of us by this time that if I felt the need to open up to this woman that badly, I'd probably cut my own tongue out first.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Guest author, J.B. Cameron

Today, our guest is J.B. Cameron, author of Reading The Dead: The Sarah Milton Chronicles. Come back tomorrow for an excerpt from his work. 

Tell us a little about yourself?

Having spent my entire life in New Brunswick, Canada, I have a very limited perception of the world outside of the Atlantic Provinces. I'm not a huge fan of crowds, so I'm content with just watching bustling, big city life from the comfort of my living room, in a country where trees outnumber people by a vast majority. That's probably why my books read more like a TV show than anything. My personal reality largely formed in a cocoon fashioned by American television.

What made you want to become a writer?

The need to write, or do anything creative, has been a part of what makes me tick for as long as I can remember. I don't think there was ever a time in my life when I wasn't drawing something, programming a game or web page, or writing. I've always had this irrational urge to stay busy. It helps keep me balanced. Writing was one of my earliest passions. Being able to pursue it now in my free time is a little like returning to my roots.

Your book is a paranormal detective thriller. What about this genre appeals to you?

Good question. I've always been a huge fan of the work that writers like Joss Whedon and Tim Minear produced on the TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Though they based their characters in this wildly implausible paranormal fantasy world, they managed to imbue them with a wit and charm that almost made them feel like they could have been someone you knew from high school. That's the kind of chord that I'm hoping to strike with my own work. Though the world of LAPD Detective Sarah Milton is seemingly overrun with these uncontrollable elements of supernatural and mystical origin, underneath all of that, Reading The Dead is really just a tale of two friends rediscovering one another, after years of separation, and learning to overcome hardships to find a place in their lives for each other again. Of course, nothing in life is ever quite that simple. It's the dynamic of their characters that appealed to me when writing this story, more so than the paranormal aspect itself.

Do you believe in ghosts?

Sarah Milton and I do share a similar character trait, in that neither of us strongly believes in anything that we can't see with our own two eyes. However, as readers will come to discover throughout the evolution of the series, a growing faith (not to be confused with religious belief) will play a key role in Sarah's life. Maybe by the time I'm done writing the last book, my own faith will have progressed to the point where I can unequivocally answer "yes" to your question. I'm not there yet.

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

Reading The Dead - The Sarah Milton Chronicles is the tale of a bookish girl with an imaginary friend who stayed with her well into her teens. After the trauma of her mother's brutal murder and the disappearance of her only companion, Sarah forges a new life out of the ashes of her past, using her training in forensic psychology to earn herself a place with the LAPD's Violent Crimes Unit. Her story really begins fifteen years after the death of her mother, with the VCU team hot on the trail of a mysterious serial killer known only as "Raithe." After a shooting takes her beyond the veil of death, she awakens to discover that Anna Nigma, as she aptly named her irrepressible teenage friend so many years before, has now reinserted herself into her structured, sane existence. Amidst fears that she's losing her mind, Sarah eventually comes to realize that both Anna's presence and her current murder investigation are steeped in the paranormal, and that only her rekindled ability to see and speak with the dead can help to stop the city's most dangerous killer before he strikes again.

I'll leave it to the readers to decide if it's a must-read. It's a fun story, filled with some great characters, and it's only getting better as the series progresses. It's not going to change the world, but it will keep you happily entertained. That's the best I can do.

What gives you inspiration for your book?

Reading The Dead began as one of several screenplays I wrote in 2011, purely for fun. After moving on to short stories for a while, I decided that I wanted to try my hand at my first novel. Going back and rereading the screenplay, I found myself really enjoying the dynamic between the main characters, particularly in the scenes involving that wildly unpredictable spook, Anna. I wasn't sure how well it was going to play out, but I immediately knew from looking at it that I wanted to use the script as the basis for something more grand.

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

I can honestly say that I've never met anyone in my life who even comes close to either the tough, but introverted and damaged Sarah Milton, or the completely uncontrollable Anna Nigma. I think that's what makes them both so much fun for me to write. Their personalities aren't grounded in reality. They're both very much larger than life characters.

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

Anna Nigma. Absolutely. Her youthful innocence and naivety, combined with a worldly experience beyond her years and an almost pathological need to insert herself into the heart of trouble makes her a total joy to write. Being a ghost, she has no concept of consequence, since nothing can touch her. In many ways, she sees herself more as superhuman than supernatural.

The upcoming release of the second book in the series will coincide with a special companion book, featuring a pair of her standalone adventures. I'm presently working on the second tale now, featuring Anna squaring off against a couple of would-be robbers. The ghostly aspect of the Home Alone scenario makes for some hilarious moments. I think readers are going to have a blast seeing her strut her stuff without big sister Sarah to hold her back.

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

I guess that would be the arrival of my muse. For some strange reason, story ideas only seem to pop into my head as I'm lying in bed at night. This can often go on for days at a time, as my mind churns through the story, presenting me with snippets of fun dialogue and interesting scenes, until I at last sit down at my word processor and purge these concepts onto the page. I miss having a good night's sleep.

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

After reading J.R.R. Tolkien when I was just a boy, I found myself charged up about writing my own fantasy series. My parents bought me a second-hand manual typewriter, which I promptly hammered to death as I banged out chapter after chapter of my grand "epics". Back then, I think raw desire probably substituted for talent. Maybe that's still the case. All I know is that my love for inventing make-believe worlds is as strong now as it was back then.

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

I've spent the past two decades earning a comfortable life in Information Technology, in one capacity or another. Currently, I'm Director of IT for an online university, based out of Fredericton, New Brunswick.

What is your favorite writing tip or quote?

My favorite quote is still the first one that I came across when learning the in's and out's of Twitter as a marketing tool for my book: "I'm tired of the anonymity of being an unpublished author. I crave the anonymity of being self-published." It's probably the most apt statement of my time as an indie author that I've ever found.

There are such an overwhelming number of fantastic authors out there, and their ranks are only swelling more every day. Anyone looking to publish in this climate needs to find a reason beyond fame or fortune. If you're not writing because it makes you happy, you might never have peace of mind after you publish.

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

Book two of the series is in the editing stages now, and I'm gradually piecing together where I want to go with book three. As I mentioned earlier, a companion book will also be coming out, hopefully later in 2013 or early 2014.

Additionally, I have a half-completed Y/A paranormal detective comedy that I intend to revisit as time permits, entitled Rhetoric, Occult Detective. The series details the adventures of paranormal detective Rex Hetoric and his partner, Chester Ames, a former police Sergeant, turned "were-hedgehog." I hope to polish it to make it as absolutely insane as it sounds. Presently, I'm working on both a novel and a collection of short stories that I plan to chain together into an anthology "prequel."

I'm also entertaining an idea of writing a follow-up short story to a horror tale published last December on the Spinetingler's UK website, entitled "Madhattan". I might build the stories into a novella for a subsequent release as well.

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