20 Questions With...

20 Questions with…T. Haven Morse

She wears so many hats that I don’t even know where to begin.

But I guess that explains her poetry since it too has a million different perspectives.  I suppose it’s because T. Haven Morse perfected the craft of performance before she delved into the art of the written word.

When she’s not enjoying time on her ranch with her husband and children, she’s the girl Friday for Spider Road Press.

I’m so glad to have her on my side, so without further adieu may I introduce you to T. Haven Morse.

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Twenty Questions With…T. Haven Morse

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours?

 

When I was eight, I took a small, thin book from my grandmother’s shelf: “Angel Unaware” by Dale Evans Rogers. The tale is written in first person, from the point of view of Dale’s sick daughter. Robin talks to God, sharing the story of her brief time on Earth. That was the first time a book brought me to tears. As Maya Angelou says—make them feel and they will remember. I’ve never forgotten.

 

  1. How old where you when you started writing?

 

In 1987, at the age of eleven, I published my first article for the Jones Gazette (our family newsletter). Titled “Grandparents Coming,” the piece was short but informative. My first paid gig was to write a script for a Six Flags Astroworld show in my early twenties. However, I didn’t actually go “pro” until my late thirties.

 

  1. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with.

 

  1. Paulo Coelho—although we might need a translator
  2. Elizabeth Gilbert—she’s a writing idol of mine
  3. Maya Angelou—though we’d require a medium
  4. Holly Lyn Walrath—she’s local and we have lunch every Tuesday, so she’d be an easy one to arrange and I love talking writing-shop with her

 

  1. What would you eat?

 

Would it matter? No, but for the sake of this questionnaire and my longtime vegetarianism, let’s say veggie sushi and tempura with Boston Cream Pie for dessert (it’s my favorite).

 

  1. How do you plot out your work?

 

Each piece is different. Sometimes the story or poem just spills out like an uncontrollable gush of words, characters, and plot. Other times I actually outline the story with a set beginning, middle, end, theme, twists, and beats. However, even with those more structured creations, I always stay flexible for the unknown, alert to unexpected yet ever-present input from the characters or my muse.

 

  1. Do you write in the morning or evening?

 

Every day is my life is different. On certain days, I write first thing in the morning—before the sun is up. Other days, the writing happens in a hammock at high noon. And some days, words meet page after dinner or dark.

 

  1. Is there music on?

 

Almost always. Either the Hans Zimmer channel on Pandora or the DirectTV Movie Soundtrack channels usually. I’m not a fan of lyrics when I write but love emotion-filled music.

 

  1. What inspired your last story?

 

For the first time, I’m actually working with a Story Guide on a fantasy yarn based on a true experience in my life. My guide is the Amazing Alysia Seymour and the story is a metaphorical novelette about my daughter’s birth and the heart-wrenching trials of spending a week in the NICU. Leyna, my counterpart, deals with some nasty demons—inside and outside—as well as meets some extraordinary spirit guides along the way. It’s, by far, the most cathartic and honest work I’ve ever written.

 

  1. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them.

 

  1. “By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept” by Paulo Coelho
  2. “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert
  3. “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio

 

  1. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well?

 

There are many! Currently on TV, I’m loving “The Alchemist” and “The Good Doctor.” In films, one of my favorites that I can’t believe wasn’t a book first is “The Age of Adeline.” I’m pretty much a fan of any screenplay by Darren Aronofsky (my first love of his work was “The Fountain”—still a regular go-to film for me) and Guillermo Del Torro. As for music, having work with Houston Grand Opera for six seasons, I’m a huge opera fan—especially of Iain Bell’s work. He’s incredible, as a writer and a human being.

 

  1. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece?

 

I have a number of pieces in progress at the moment, and at all times. Cressida, my romantic fantasy lead for book one of the Feathers of the Phoenix series, would be played by India Eisley or an undiscovered talent with dark-hair and green-eyes. Leyna, fantasy protag in my based-on-true-life novelette, would be played well by Natalie Dormer from Games of Thrones/Hunger Games. Finding the lead for my historical fantasy WIP, “Tales of Tuttleman” might be tougher—Tuttleman is a two hundred year old talking pug. Not sure how we’d manage that one on screen!?! If animation or not, Paul Bettany would do his voice. No question!

 

  1. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write?

 

“Cressida”, book one of a romantic fantasy, has been the hardest because she and I started together before I had a clue what I was doing. She went from hardcore romance (verging on erotica) to straight fantasy and has now pendulumed back to somewhere in the middle. But once we’ve figured out the right balance of sexy and fantastical, she’ll be amazing—as will her offspring in the Feathers of the Phoenix series.

 

  1. Which was the easiest?

 

My first poetry collection published, “Flooded By”, simply poured out in about 45 days. That collection is way more muse than me. The persona poet in me took over and ran for the finish line, dragging me behind.

 

  1. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it?

 

I just finished a flash piece called “More Than a Pigg” for a contest. With the exception of one beta reader, everyone else who has read her, has absolutely loved the story. They were engrossed, sad to see the end, and were still reeling days later. Hopefully, she’ll win the contest and be published later this year. If not, I will definitely shop her around more. People need to hear this story.

 

  1. What are you working on now?

 

Lots of things! See above. 🙂 In a nutshell, book one of a romantic fantasy series, a free-standing fantasy novelette based on a true event in my life, a novella about a two hundred year old talking pug (think Forrest Gump meets Frank from Men in Black), and a series of chapbooks based on writing prompts called “Splintered Musings.” No, I don’t sleep. And when I do, I dream in epic storylines!?!

 

  1. What story do you have to write before you die?

 

All of them. I will write until my last day, I have no doubt. My muse is faithful and will guide me to the stories I need to share.

 

  1. What’s your best fan story?

 

One of the poems in “Flooded By” is a glimpse into the love between a ghost-woman named Melody and a Catholic priest. It’s pure and complicated and lovely. I’ve had many readers, including some esteemed writer colleagues, tell me how much they love that poem. I love it too.

 

  1. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style?

 

This is hard for a multi-genre writer like me, whose style is all over the place. But let’s go with this one from “The Tales of Tuttleman”:

 

“Although we were about the same age when we first met, I matured much faster than he did and achieved an adult perspective while he was still foundering with pimples and discovering what to do with his Wee Willy Winky.”

 

  1. Have you ever based characters off of real people?

 

Sure. In one of my current works-in-progress, there are three fantastical bird-women that are based loosely on my great-grandmothers (the three I knew). I’ve loved spending time with them while writing the story.

 

  1. Who’s your favorite character?

 

Wow! That’s a wide-open question!?! In my own work, I have a serious writer-crush on Tuttleman—the two hundred year old talking pug—right now. He’s funny and charming and British with a wealth of knowledge and life-experience. Plus, he’s introduced me to Mary Shelley, Jack the Ripper, Nina Simone, Nelson Mandela, and a number of other famous and infamous people from history.

 

As for characters that aren’t mine, I absolutely love Odd Thomas—created by Dean Koontz. He’s young but wise, funny but poignant, and laidback but polite. A well-rounded twenty-something who sees ghosts and helps solve murder mysteries. What’s not to like?

 

 

 

You can find out more about the author on their blog “The Bountiful Balcony Buzz” (https://www.bountifulbalconybooks.com/blog) and purchase their work from the Bountiful Balcony Bookstore (https://www.bountifulbalconybooks.com/bookstore) and Amazon.

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20 Questions With...

20 Questions with…Andrea Barbosa

I can’t say that I’ve met anyone ‘famous’ per se, but I have met a silver medal winning poet, which is as close as I might ever get.

And that’s totally okay with me.

Andrea Barbosa is a throughly talented author and I’m so very proud to have my own work included alongside hers.  We’ve even entered many of the same contests and the only way I’m able to accept the loss of first place, is because she won it.

 

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Jennifer Leeper, Andrea Barbosa, and Melissa Algood (me) accepting our awards for the Spider Road Press Flash Fiction Contest 2016

It’s  not only amazing that Andrea is award-winning poet and author; but English is her second language, and yet she strings together prose that is pure magic.  The Brazilian born, high powered business woman never lets anything get in the way of her beloved son; not even her fictional characters.  Every time I see her she tells me about the latest in his life, and is always an internal part of his life.

So yeah, she’s a great mom too.

I’m so happy to bring author Andrea Barbosa to you, and to have her answer my 20 questions.

 

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Twenty Questions With…Andrea Barbosa

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours? I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a child, so it’s hard to remember what book exactly incited that desire within me, for I loved all fairy tales. One tale that I particularly recall is Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and the Rose.
  2. How old were you when you started writing? 12, 13, maybe earlier.
  3. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with. Shakespeare, Hemingway, Henry Miller, Anais Nin. Of course, they’re all dead but it would be a fantastic gathering.
  4. What would you eat? Anything vegetarian.
  5. How do you plot out your work? The characters take control and I plot as we go, usually.
  6. Do you write in the morning or evening? Evening.
  7. Is there music on? It depends. I like the silence but sometimes I need the music for inspiration for a particular scene or for a particular mood.
  8. What inspired your last story? My love for Greece and Greek history.
  9. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them. The Colossus of Maroussi (Henry Miller), The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco), The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde).
  10. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well? One movie that comes to mind as being well written is Arrival, as it conveyed a poignant story.
  11. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece? To be Nikos, my Greek character in Olympian Passion, I always look at British model David Gandy. But since Gandy’s not an actor and wouldn’t have a Greek accent that Nikos needs to have, I’d choose Greek actor Apostolis Totsikas.
  12. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write? The romance novels are the hardest to write because I find the steamy scenes hard to describe.
  13. Which was the easiest? Poems are the easiest pieces that I write.
  14. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it? The romance novels usually. In the second novel in the Olympian Love trilogy, Olympian Heartbreak, I did a lot of research about Greece. Several readers wrote to me praising the way I described the country, one even daring to say she felt that Greece was like it’s own character in the book, that I did such a good job that she felt she was in Greece while reading the book.
  15. What are you working on now? The final and last book in the Olympian Love trilogy.
  16. What story do you have to write before you die? Haven’t thought about that… ideas come and go but the one I had to write was my psychological thriller Massive Black Hole and I’m glad I was able to have it published.
  17. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style? Since I write poetry, short stories, fiction, and romance novels, it’s hard to find a particular sentence for my style. So I’m giving you a verse that I really like from one of my poems: “and the images vanish like soft clouds up high, transforming the colors of my rainbow into the dark loneliness of my night.”
  18. Have you ever based characters off of real people? Not entirely but I believe there’s a little bit of people I know in every character.
  19. Who’s your favorite character? From the ones I’ve written, Nikos, the protagonist of the Olympian Love trilogy. I love writing him. He’s complex, enigmatic, a little mysterious, and of course, extremely handsome, a typical alpha male, and a Greek archaeologist.

 

Thank you!

 

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Chantell Renee, a wonderful reader, Myself, and Andrea Barbosa

You can find out more about the author on their blog http://massiveblackholenovel.blogspot.com/ , and purchase their work from Amazon. Andrya Bailey (romance): https://www.amazon.com/Andrya-Bailey/e/B01667R2D8.

Andrea Barbosa (fiction, short stories, poetry): https://www.amazon.com/Andrea-Barbosa/e/B00DGXPK6W

 

 

 

Mad Girl's Publishing, short stories, upcoming releases

A sneak peak of ‘Hair Raising Tales of Villainous Confessions’

After a ton of hard work (not only by me and Chantell Renee but 4 other indie authors) the newest anthology from the Hair Raising Tales series, and the first collection from Mad Girl’s publishing is now available for pre-order!

‘Hair Raising Tales of Villainous Confessions’ is out NOW and is perfect for the reader that you love, or even the horror reader within.

Inside you’ll be enraptured by thirteen stories from six indie authors that make you think beyond the fairy tale image of ‘evil’.

Tales ranging from murderous children to a mother’s never ending love, ‘Hair Raising Tales of Villainous Confessions’ will make you think of the wicked in a whole new light.

This collections includes words from award-winning authors like Jae Mazer, and emerging writers like Kyle D. Garrett.

To get a taste of what you’re in for I’ve posted the beginning of one of my pieces ‘The Orchard’ which is (at least right now) the darkest story I’ve ever written.  Please be aware the story contains MATURE CONTENT!

The Orchard ©

By Melissa Algood (2016)

“I got her.”

“Bullshit.”  A metallic click, a hiss, then I put the can of rock gut to my lips.

“I can show you.”  A plume of smoke followed his words.

“Show me what?”

“I kept her so you could see.”

“You think I’m some kinda freak?”

For a second his eyes glazed over before he answered.  “You think I’m a freak?”

“Nah, man.”  More beer oozed down my throat.  “I mean, I know you’ve been talking about it.  But talking ain’t doing.”

“I told you.  I got her.”

“Fine.”  I threw the empty can into the trash can.  “Show me.”

All the roads in our town were dirt; not a stoplight to speak of.  Everyone who lived out here knew where they were without street signs, which was good considering we only had a handful of those.  Jerry and I had lived together for a couple of years.  He’d never brought a girl home, as far as I could remember, but he paid his half of all the bills on time.  Up until now, I didn’t mind hearing him talk about the women in town-one in particular-but I never thought that he’d really do anything about it.

“It was late, you know after the ball game, so she was out.  I got into the back window.  It was open just like you said…”

My jaw clenched. “I never said anything to you, Jerry.”

His hands were still on ten and two when he turned to me.  “Don’t you remember, Noah?  Back when we were looking at the yearbook a few months ago?”

Jerry’s words bounced around the inside of the Silverado.  “Shut the fuck up with that.”  The memory of the both of us drunk enough to admit our deepest desires, but sober enough to make a plan, boiled in my stomach.  “Don’t ever talk about that night again.  You got it?”

“Yeah.”

“Say it.”

“Say what?”

“Jerry, you’re so fucking stupid.  Just keep your damn mouth shut.”

 

The out-of-towners who came to see the leaves change could never tell the difference between one tree and another, but I was born here so each piece of greenery was its own landmark.  I could smell the crisp apples in the air long before Jerry made the turn into the orchard.  The acres that spanned before us were more than a food source; teenagers used it as a locale for parties.  The first time I came out to the orchard was in fifth grade when the word around school was that the Buckhill brothers were going to rage on each other over the head cheerleader of our town’s only high school.  I could still feel the rush when one brother knocked out the other’s front teeth.  Iron still lingered in the air, although this time I knew that Jerry was the cause.

 

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You can read this story along with a few never before seen stories like Last Look, Circus Freak, After The Fire, and a post apocalyptic flash fiction piece Underground Railroad in the upcoming collection ‘Everyone Dies: Collected Works of a Morbid Author’.

Look for the first collection of short fiction of Melissa Algood brought to you from Mad Girl’s Publishing out 2019.

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20 Questions With...

20 Questions with…Kyle D Garrett

 

Although I’ve never met him in person, I’m sure Kyle D Garrett real.

Or at least I’m sure that his alternate persona is real because he’s narrated my  award winning story ‘Hair Dying’ (avaliable on You Tube)  as well as ‘The Silencer’ a fan favorite of mine and ‘Going Home’ from the multi-talented D. Marie Prokop (all of which are available in ‘Hair Raising Tales of Horror’ ) on his podcast The Dark Narrative(subscribe on iTunes).

Anyway he’s cool and has way too much going on to be completely fictional.  Kyle hails from California and somehow manages to do all that narrating, writes some pretty terrifying stories, all while being an awesome dad and husband.

He might not have any titles under his belt currently, but Mad Girl’s Publishing will have the pleasure of publishing his piece ‘A Madman’s Manifesto’ in the upcoming anthology ‘Hair Raising Tales of Villainous Confessions’ (stay tuned for release dates).

Kyle is sure to have a promising career in the writing world and it has been really cool to be any part of that.  So until you can get you hands on a copy of ‘Hair Raising Tales of Villainous Confessions’ the answers to his 20 questions will keep you going.

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Twenty Questions With…Kyle D Garrett

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours? It’s hard to say since I started writing at such a young age, but I do remember loving the Fudge books by Judy Blume as well as the Encyclopedia Brown books– those definitely ignited my love for stories
  2. How old where you when you started writing? Around 6 or 7– I wrote stories about my stuffed animals hehe
  3. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with. Stephen King (of course), Ted Dekker, and (were they still living) Frank Herbert and Ray Bradbury
  4. What would you eat? Probably burger and fries or steak and potato
  5. How do you plot out your work? What’s that? Haha, I have a bad habit of just picturing my story in my head completely then trying to write it. It can make for some challenging sessions especially when your typing can’t keep up with your thoughts.
  6. Do you write in the morning or evening? In the evening.
  7. Is there music on? Sometimes. I listen to some dark ambient piano by a very talented pianist named Nicolas Gasparini, known as myuu on YouTube.
  8. What inspired your last story? The one I’m currently writing was the question of what a woman would do to be a mother if she was desperate enough (She can’t have her own children). It goes into some delightfully dark territory.
  9. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them. Desperation by Stephen King, Thr3e by Ted Dekker, and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
  10. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well? I believe a lot of the Marvel movies have been well done, as well as the shows on Netflix. I watch a lot of the superhero shows hehe. As far as albums I’m pretty nostalgic and tend to listen to older stuff like Metallica– Load and Reload are two of my favorite albums that I thought were really well done, and I will always love Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park.
  11. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece? I honestly think an unknown would be more fun than a well known actor/actress.
  12. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write? All of them lol. I am notoriously scatterbrained and have a hard time staying focused, so each piece can be pretty challenging.
  13. Which was the easiest? Refer to the last question, haha.
  14. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it? I have yet to write that kind of piece.
  15. What are you working on now? Two short stories, and a slew of voice narration projects (I also do voice narration on YouTube).
  16. What story do you have to write before you die? A fantasy series I’ve been working on since high school. My wife calls it my life’s work.
  17. What’s your best fan story? My old high school history teacher coming all the way down from Oregon to SoCal to attend the launch party of my first novel. I cried.
  18. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style? Still working on that sentence hehe.
  19. Have you ever based characters off of real people? Almost all the time.
  20. Who’s your favorite character? I love Paul Atreides from Dune– his tortured conflict of whether or not to accept his destiny definitely kept me drawn in.

 

 

You can find out more about the author on  Kyle D Garrett’s blog

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novel, pictures, Signing Events

Comicpalooza Part 1

As usual I had the best time at Comicpalooza, and not just because I met Felicia Day (that will be another blog post all together) but because I got to see old friends, dress up, and meet new readers.

I love meeting readers and I hope that they love reading my work as much as I loved creating it-be sure to leave a review on Amazon, and THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH for supporting local/indie authors.

I also had the pleasure of picking up some reading material for myself including D.L. Young’s newest book ‘Indigo Dark Republic Book Two’  ‘Chrysalis and Clan’ by Jae Mazer (who I had the pleasure of sharing a table along with Chantell Renee and Jessica Raney) and ‘Soul Chambers’ by Paul Vader and Dominic Dames.

IMG_0969IMG_0947It was the most wonderful time of the year when I had the chance to go to Comicpalooza-I look forward to seeing you next year (I’m going to join a panel which I’ll talk more about later) until then here are some more pics of the amazing cosplay at Houston Comicpalooza 2017

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20 Questions With..., pictures, short stories

20 Questions with Jas T. Ward

Maybe I’ve said it before, but I’m a real big fan of Jas T. Ward.  She is known for her romance but I love her shorter pieces.  A collection called ‘Bits and Pieces: Tales and Sonnets’ is by far my favorite, although Ward admits that some of the stories are ‘rejects’ I find them illuminating.

Ward has had literally and figuratively every punch thrown at her, and yet she comes back strong in her writing.  Her characters share her resilience, lust for life, and are truly unforgettable.  She has over eight titles available for you guys to check out, as well as a coloring book that lets you tap into your own artistic abilities.

Jas is a dear friend, and I’m proud to be one of her stalkers.  Now it’s time for you to hear from her….

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20 Questions with Jas T. Ward

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours? You may find this odd, but it was the children’s book The Velveteen Rabbit. Something about it pulls me in today. It has a low word count actually, but the emotions behind the words. Amazing. I wanted to do that. I wanted to put emotions behind the words, draw a picture without having to be artistic, and have people feel. With words.
  2. How old where you when you started writing? I wrote my first story when I was about 8 years old. Pictures and everything. I spent days gluing those notebook paper pages together. It was not a work of art. LOL. But I’ve always written and I don’t see that changing. Sure, the audience may change and the scope, but no. I’ll probably write my goodbye on my death bed.
  3. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with. Well, I’ve already met you and would love to have eats with you again. But four I haven’t met to share the meal. Hmmm… Amy Tan, Ken Follett, Penelope Reid and Colleen Hoover.
  4. What would you eat? Has to be a Chinese food with huge trays of food made for the masses. I think you can tell a lot about what choices creative people when it comes to a selection of food. For me? Sushi, dumplings and coconut shrimp. Oh, and spring rolls. 🙂
  5. How do you plot out your work? I don’t. I have tried to use all the tactics – outline, story boarding. But none of it worked. Or it just went unused. The only two things I do is know my beginning and my ending. Then, the challenge is to make them meet up with what ever flows in the middle. Otherwise, I just start writing without a clue how that’s going to happen.
  6. Do you write in the morning or evening? I am inconsistent as all get-out. Some days it’s one and other days it’s the other. I think it has to do with my brain just goes on overdrive without warning. It’s a curse and a blessing so I’m not complaining.
  7. Is there music on? Not usually. I do have a movie or TV playing as white noise for the side of my nature that balks at having to write. But every now and then there is a soundtrack needed and when there is, it’s usually Linkin Park.
  8. What inspired your last story? That’s a complicated question to answer. My upcoming book releasing 06/13 – Soul Bound: The Warrior was inspired by real life events of my own. Some dark tragedy and loss. I still can’t really talk about it personally, but I was able to tap into it to write this fictional story. I see that as progress and it actually brought about some closure. Though I’m not really sure I’ll ever completely have that. But it’s nice to know I can go there… if only a little bit.
  9. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them. Oh wow, that’s a toughie… hmm. Any of the Pillars of the Earth books by Ken Follett. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan and The Dark Tower by Stephen King.
  10. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well? I was just having this conversation with a author friend of mine. I don’t know if you or any of your followers remember a show called ‘The Red Shoe Diaries’, but that show was amazing in how it told a different story every week from the view of one man reflecting on love. Another one that I think is incredibly well written and produced is ‘The Story of Us’. Also, the limited series ‘Big Little Lies’ was AMAZING. It needs every award there is for acting, directing and story. Movies? I love big budget movies. Deadpool was genius. Different, a thrill ride, dark elements and sex. It remembered me of my books. 😀
  11. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece? My reader club had this discussion. They all saw a younger Gerard Butler when discussing Jace Camden from Soul Bound. Brooding and intense with a soul you wanted to know, but it wasn’t going to be easy.
  12. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write? Soul Bound, without a doubt. It was just so personal. And there’s some scenes in the book that are not fiction. They happened. I’ll leave it up to the readers to decide which.
  13. Which was the easiest? Partly because his foundation had already been solidified in the first books of the series but also because he was just so much fun to step into the skin of. I had a lot of fun writing that book even though it was a paranormal, thriler book. Jess Bailey is something else.
  14. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it? Madness, pretty much. The main character, Reno is so flawed. But he’s so good natured with a big heart. And mental special – he has a split personality and a much darker side. And he’s driven from forces beyond his control, literally and figuratively. I think the people that have gotten to know me, know I’m the same in a lot of ways.
  15. What are you working on now? Now that Soul Bound is at the formatting stage, I’m working on another ‘Romance – The Ward Way’ titled – ‘A Little Pill Called Love’. Which means it’s quirky, fun, has some love and intimacy but some series twists in it, but also takes on social issues in a background way. The reader goes in and realizes they learned something or found something in themselves without it being preached or lectured about within the pages. The characters took them there without even realizing it. This book will deal with severe bi-polar disorder and love.unnamed-2
  16. What story do you have to write before you die? My own. And considering how slow it is getting it out and on paper, I better live a LONG time. But I think I’m getting closer to being able to it. Soul Bound proved I could go there. I just hope it continues.
  17. What’s your best fan story? Ah, I have so many. The readers are amazing and how they have come to love the characters, many who have actual, interacting profiles on social media thanks to people who wanted to fan-fic/role play them, they love them even more. But I made the mistake of killing off Reno. And meant for it to be for good. Bad idea… They went ballistic! They sent me hate mail and inboxes of anger. They went on my wall and posted the meanest memes. Some they even created of “Bring Our Candyman Back!” And others threatened to boycott me and my books. Heck, there was a petition started with thousands of signatures. I was FLOORED. But, due to that love the Shadow-Keepers series was born and I am so grateful for that. I think that’s when I realized that not only are the voices of our characters rattling in our heads real to us in a way, they are also the same for our readers. It’s something we should always keep in mind. We want our readers to believe the escape we’re giving them—and the people that live there.
  18. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style? .. that’s a hard one and I would probably spend days in all my books to find the very best one. I think, if I have to have one sentence it would be – Don’t judge me or the world I’m showing you until the ride is over. Then, you’ll understand. If not, sorry, no refunds. 🙂
  19. Have you ever based characters off of real people? Not yet. But when I write my real story? Oh yeah, They’re in there.
  20. Who’s your favorite character? Easy and the fans would revolt if I didn’t say it – Reno Sundown. I love that character so much. My inner child given life. As a hot badass doesn’t hurt.

 

You can find out more about the author on their Facebook Author Page-Jas T Ward and purchase their work from Amazon.

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Contests, Flash Fiction, pictures, Signing Events

We can’t do it alone (women writers unite)

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As Women’s History Month is upon us I couldn’t help but think of all the women who’ve helped me through my writing career.

I’ll highlight some of them, but this by no means includes all of the powerful women that I’ve come across since I’ve joined the writing community.  They know who they are, even if I do carelessly forget to mention them, they will forever be a part of my life, and I’ll forever be grateful for you.

I’ll begin with ‘the dream team’ as we often call ourselves which includes Andrea BarbosaChantell Renee, and myself.  We’re all award winning authors, and have sometimes placed in the same contest thus giving us another opportunity to be together.  Throughout the years we’ve worked on anthologies together including ‘Hair Raising Tales of Horror’ that Chantell and I published together.

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Next of course would be Fern Brady who’s not only my publisher Inklings Publishing, sometime writing partner, but a dear friend.  Without her my debut romantic thriller Blood On The Potomac wouldn’t exist.  She helped shape me into the writer that has a fan page.

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Next is the amazingly talented Patricia Flaherty Pagan who founded Spider Road Press which has published work from all the before mentioned authors.  She’s a fantastic author in her own right, highly intelligent, and a highly dedicated mom.  Patty is not just a strong female writer, she’s a life goal achiever.

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Finally I’d like to highlight, Rebecca Nolan, an author I was a fan of before we worked together on my upcoming YA novel ‘Everything That Counts’.  She’s been an amazing mentor to me and has given me the drive to work harder than I ever have before.

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Thank you to all the female authors I know and love including Gay YellenPamela Fagan HutchinsCourtney Summers, and Taylor Stevens (only two of which I’ve had the pleasure of actually meeting.

Women everywhere need to stand together-that’s the only way we’ll make it in the end-if we support each other.  Let’s work on making this world better for the women of the future.

Don’t miss a chance to read these amazing women’s work-simply click on their name to check out some stories that will stay with you long after you put the book down.

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20 Questions With..., Uncategorized

20 Q’s with Judy Penz Sheluk

Most of the time I’m jaded, at the very least internally jaded (thank God for kitten videos).  I feel as if we life in a society in which we don’t look out for each other.  Women specifically.  Thankfully this woman proves me wrong.

Judy Penz Sheluk has a weekly blog on Monday’s in which she spotlights a new or emerging author’s release.  She also has ‘author talks’ in which our peers share their experiences in the hopes that we’ll learn from them.

If you’re looking for a mystery look no further than one of the many titles from Judy Penz Sheluk including ‘The Hanged Man’s Noose’ which made her an International Amazon Best Selling Author.

 

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And now Judy Pens Sheluk answers my 20 Questions…

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours?

There are two: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I read it when I was very young (about grade 4…resulted in me getting “accelerated to grade 6—thankfully schools don’t do that any longer) and thought…WOW, that’s how you paint a picture with words. Around the same time, I read the much-more age appropriate Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery (author of the Anne of Green Gables series). Emily was an aspiring journalist/writer in a time when women didn’t think of such things.

 

  1. How old where you when you started writing?

I’ve always written “in my head,” meaning as a kid I would walk to school and keep a story going in my head, and just keep adding to it every day. I thought everyone did that! Professionally, since 2003, which is when I left my day job as a Sales & Marketing Coordinator to become a freelance journalist. I started writing my first novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose on Christmas Eve 2011, but I’d had a hundred or more magazine articles and a handful of short stories published by then.

 

  1. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with.

John Sandford, the absolute king of pacing. Stephen King, because, well…he’s Stephen King! Sue Grafton: I love her Kinsey Millhone series and have read every novel, A to X, plus her collection of short stories. Tana French, an Irish mystery writer who is just brilliant. I thought about inviting Truman Capote, but he’d get all sulky if it wasn’t all about him, and it couldn’t be, could it? Not with that cast of writers.

 

  1. What would you eat?

Pizza. My favorite food. It’s good for breakfast (cold), lunch or dinner. And everyone can get whatever toppings they’d want. I’d go straight cheese, no toppings.

 

  1. How do you plot out your work?

Plot out? What’s that? Seriously…I’m a complete panster. I come up with a basic premise, and then “what if” my way to the end.

 

  1. Do you write in the morning or evening?

Mornings are best, but I do jot down notes on paper in the evening or whenever the ideas come to me (I even have an LED pen that lights up so I don’t have to turn the bedside lamp on…). But, I still have a couple of editing day jobs, so sometimes the deadlines for those take precedence over my writing preferred time. But I do try to write every day.

  1. Is there music on?

If I’m writing the answers to this, yes. Either Country or Classic Rock or 80’s/90’s type “oldies” depending on my mood. But if I’m writing fiction, it has to be talk radio. Maybe it’s a holdover from when I worked in a noisy office and snuck writing time in whenever I could without getting caught!

 

  1. What inspired your last story?

I was in my lawyer’s office with my husband. We were there to update our wills, and he’d been delayed in court. I thought…what if I was hear to inherit …what if there were conditions to that inheritance…what if…and Skeletons was born.

 

  1. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Need any more titles???? I have lots of book envy!

 

  1. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well?

TV

American Crime, a network series, is very clever, though I preferred Season 1 to Season 2.

Breaking Bad. Better Call Saul. What can I say? Vince Gilligan. Can I invite him for pizza too? Please?

The Gilmore Girls. I’ve seen every episode a dozen times. Love Lauren Graham.

Parenthood. Never got the recognition it deserved. Did I mention that I love Lauren Graham? But the entire ensemble cast was terrific, and the writing was beautifully layered.

Movies

Too many to mention, though I recently saw Brooklyn and really enjoyed it. My all-time favorite is Primal Fear. Brilliant.

Albums

Anything by Blue Rodeo or Jim Cuddy. Listen to the words to Bulletproof. Listen to Cuddy (who is also the lead singer in Blue Rodeo) and tell me you didn’t shed a tear.

 

  1. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece?

Whatever actor Hollywood says would be a good fit works for me! But when I think of Callie Barnstable from Skeletons, I think of someone like Jennifer Lawrence. Strong, but with a mix of naïve and jaded. Alexis Bledel would make a great Emily Garland (from The Hanged Man’s Noose).

 

  1. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write?

I find short stories incredibly difficult to write. You’d think they’d be easier than a novel, but not for me. I started “Saturday with Bronwyn,” which is in The Whole She-Bang-3 (Sisters in Crime Toronto, Nov. 2016), about five years ago. After many stops and starts, I finally got it to gel. The fact that She-Bang was blind judged gave me hope…maybe some of my other stops and starts have a chance, too.

 

  1. Which was the easiest?

Another short story, “Live Free or Die.” It was “inspired” by an event (or should I say a man) that happened to me when I was 21. When I finally sat down to write that story, the words just flowed.

 

  1. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it?

I’m hoping they get all of my stories…I actually don’t hear from a lot of readers. But Skeletons in the Attic seems to really resonate with folks. That said, some wish the ending were “tidier.” I deliberately left loose ends, not because I wanted to leave them for a sequel, but because life has loose ends.

 

  1. What are you working on now?

The sequel to The Hanged Man’s Noose. The sequel to Skeletons in the Attic. A short story…I’m usually working on more than one thing at a time. That way, if I get distracted or bored, I have another project to go to. It beats color-separating my paper clips or other diversionary tactics.

 

  1. What story do you have to write before you die?

My mom died recently, and in her belongings were her and my father’s immigration papers from Nottingham, England to Canada. They came separately, arrived at different ports (Halifax and Quebec City), and married in Toronto. I want to write their love story. I’m not a romance writer, but I feel that Anneliese and Anton have a story to tell. I wish my mom had told me more…my dad died of cancer when I was quite young…but maybe it’s better this way.

 

  1. What’s your best fan story?

I met a couple of women at Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh. They had met Louise Penny when she was starting out. They told me they thought I’d be the next Louise Penny. A girl can dream…

 

  1. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style?

Authenticity matters. (Arabella Carpenter, The Hanged Man’s Noose)

 

  1. Have you ever based characters off of real people?

Every character has elements of people I have known and/or observed, but there are always detours along the way. I’m a people-watcher…if you have a habit of pulling your earlobe when you’re nervous, that might get folded into a story one day. If you take the meringue off your lemon meringue pie and eat it last, that might make it in. I’m always looking for believable quirks.

 

  1. Who’s your favorite character?

Arabella Carpenter. She’s the sidekick in Noose, and has a small role in Skeletons. She’s the protagonist in the sequel to Noose that I’m working on now. She’s feisty, flawed, passionate, and loves cognac, chardonnay and cookies. She’s probably the most like me of any of my characters. But I also really like Callie Barnstable in Skeletons. Honestly, it’s hard to pick a favorite.

 

 

You can find out more about the author on her blog http://www.judypenzsheluk.com and purchase her work from all the usual suspects, including Amazon: http://getbook.at/SkeletonsintheAttic. You can also find Judy on Facebook (https/www.facebook.com/JudyPenzSheluk) and Twitter (@JudyPenzSheluk).

 

 

 

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An Amazon International Bestselling Author, Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose (Barking Rain Press), was published in July 2015. Skeletons in the Attic (Imajin Books), the first book in her Marketville Mystery Series, was published in August 2016. Judy’s short crime fiction appears in World Enough and Crime, The Whole She-Bang 2, The Whole She-Bang 3, Flash and Bang and Live Free or Tri. Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers and the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

 

 

 

Everything That Counts, novel, pictures

A treat from ‘The Bakery Assistant’

A few days ago a friend came into the salon (I’m a hairstylist in ‘real’ life) and we were both discussing our works in progress.

I’ve been spending a lot of time with the latest undertaking ‘Wintergull Lane‘ which I’ve been pecking away at for NaNoWritMo (you can check out my progress here).  But she reminded me of another piece which I call my albatross.  ‘The Bakery Assistant’ is the story of the tragically broken Claire Fischer who is doomed to be a perpetual teenager until she meets someone that shows her that living life is worth it.  That’s the elevator pitch, but in actuality I’m projecting there to be a book two, ‘The Fighter’, which will conclude Claire Fischer’s story as far as I can tell…

Either way now that I’m doing the finishing touches for ‘Everything That Counts’ (take a peek at the novel here) so ‘The Bakery Assistant‘ will be on deck.  Until then here’s a morsel from chapter two of

 

        After I pulled the fresh loaves and rolls from the ovens, and passed them off to the day shift, we trekked three blocks to a corner diner that had been a destination appreciated by locals who loved ‘kitsch’. The waitress set a glossy menu in front of me, and Aaron. The booth only had room for two, but apparently not for two people that each hovered around six feet tall. As we situated ourselves like acrobats in the booth his knee hit mine.

“Sorry,” Aaron mumbled.

“It’s okay.”

His lone dimple winked at me. “Are you blushing?”

“No!”

He chuckled. “Well if you weren’t before then you are now.”

I concentrated on the paisley pattern on the bench Aaron sat on in the hopes it would cause the blood to evacuate from my cheeks.

“I’m starving,” he flipped open the picture laden menu.

“I thought it was just coffee.”

“You don’t mind do you? I’ll pay for you if you want.”

I shook my head and pressed my hands into my lap. “I’d prefer to pay for myself.”

“Okay.” His curly black hair, strong Roman God-like features including a jaw carved from marble, and delicious looking lips hid behind the menu again. I tilted my head down, reading the options, but continued to hold my posture as if I were attending a luncheon for beauty queens.   Before I could get past the first page of artery clogging items, Aaron sighed, and set his menu back down. “So what do I have to do to take you out on a real date, Claire?”

Apparently I didn’t need to eat anything before my heart stopped pumping blood.

“I’m serious.” He leaned back into the booth upholstered in retro paisley fabrics. The dozen booths were either bright orange, or avocado green, and each had a jukebox that you could feed and hear your song of choice. He’d picked ‘I Fall to Pieces’ the second we sat down, but it had only begun to play now. It made me wonder how long he’d planned this dinner.

“Should I get formal stationery, and mail you my official wish to take you on a date?” He took off his flannel lined, corduroy jacket, squeezed it between him and the rust colored wall the booth bench was anchored to. Then he folded his hands together underneath his chin.

Instead of answering I stared at the edge of a rosebush tattooed from mid-forearm to above the elbow. I couldn’t see his shoulder through his t-shirt, but I assumed it was decorated in the same pattern of permanent ink. Each red petal was outlined in black, while each individual rose was the size of the coffee cup in front of me that the waitress filled before she hurried to the next table. I knew there had to be a story behind the blossoming flowers bound together with dark green vines and thorns that adorned his perfectly tanned olive skin, but it didn’t feel right to ask. He dressed like a hipster with dark jeans, a gray shirt with the word ‘RIOT’ printed in bold black along his chest. A knit beanie that matched the ebony color of his hair so perfectly it was hard to tell where the material began and his curls ended.

Aaron tilted his head to the side. “Maybe you could give me your father’s number and I can ask him?”

“That would be difficult.” I hadn’t realized I’d spoken until the words had already escaped my mouth.

He leaned forward, and furrowed his brow. “Why?”

I don’t know why I told him the truth, considering only Edie and Mario knew exactly what happened. For the remainder of the meal it was as if I watched us interact from above, or in a movie. But there wasn’t an actress willing to play the most boring woman in D.C., and Dylan O’Brien refused to take the part of her love interest because he was too homely to impersonate Aaron. Thankfully I didn’t go into explicit detail during my out of body experience when I confessed.

“My father’s dead.”

 

From ‘The Bakery Assistant’ by Melissa Algood 

20 Questions With..., Uncategorized

20 Q’s with Jennifer Leeper

     Many authors surround me; although each of us does have different personalities (I mean we do hear voices but we’re completely normal people-swear it). I’m often surprised by how close we become after only meeting in person for a brief time.
     Jennifer Leeper is one of those authors. Both of us were privileged enough to be awarded for our pieces by Spider Road Press for their 2016 Flash Fiction Contest
     Our pieces might have been different, but I could see the glow coming through her as she spoke to me at the ceremony. It’s always amazing to see passion in another author’s eyes, the only thing better is seeing that look in a reader’s eyes.
     Her novella, along with my flash fiction piece ‘Thomas’, will be released in mid November in the collection Approaching Footsteps from Spider Road Press. The collection will also feature pieces by other award winning authors like Andrea Barbosa and Holly Walrath be sure to check out the latest from http://spiderroadpress.com

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20 Questions With…Jennifer Leeper

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours?Wow, that’s a hard question to answer because I admire so many writers and so many authors have influenced my writing career, but I’ll narrow it down to Jack London for this interview. London was a constant seeker in his life and his art and I think this perpetual curiosity really shaped his writing. As an outdoor adventure junkie, I relate to him as a person, but as a writer still struggling to find my place in the literary universe, he is a strong touchstone for me.
  2. How old where you when you started writing? I started writing poetry around the age of 11 or 12. Fiction writing came later in high school.
  3. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with. Sinclair Lewis, Ernest Hemingway, Tony Hillerman, and, of course, Jack London.
  4. What would you eat? In honor of Hemingway, we would drink Mojitos. For London, I would request Hawaiian Salad. Hemingway was a big fisherman, so maybe some trout to go with the salad and for Lewis, a Chocolate Water Cake.
  5. How do you plot out your work? Very roughly in my head and then I flesh it out on the page.
  6. Do you write in the morning or evening? I’m definitely a night owl so after dark seems to be my most productive time.
  7. Is there music on? No music, but definitely television. It’s my go-to source for white noise.
  8. What inspired your last story? A lot of my stories are born in my imagination and my last one was no different, but typically some experience subconsciously originates these stories, and much of the time I can see these experiences threaded through my pieces once they are finished. I adopted my son, and my last short story focused on adoption and my protagonist finding his “whole self” by finding his biological brother.
  9. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them. Elmer Gantry, The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and East of Eden
  10. What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well? TV shows: Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Wire, Gilmore Girls, Parenthood, Felicity, Justified Movies: The Godfather, The Best Years of Our Lives, Dances with Wolves, The Revenant, The Deer Hunter, It Happened One Night; Taxi Driver Albums: Keane: Under the Iron Sea; Johnny Cash: At Folsom Prison; Kris Kristofferson: The Silver-Tongued Devil and I
  11. Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece? Graham Greene
  12. Which of your pieces was the hardest to write? It’s always the one I’m currently writing. 😉
  13. Which was the easiest? The last one I finished. As a writer, it seems like everything looks easier in the rear view.
  14. Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it? It’s funny because for me this is kind of a trick question as my readers always seems to have a different take on my works than I do. I’m still hoping for that “get” from a reader. 😉
  15. What are you working on now? I’m developing a crime/mystery novel that takes place on and off a Tohono O’odham reservation in southern Arizona.
  16. What story do you have to write before you die? I know a lot of writers shy away from writing about friends and family for fear of controversy, but I’ve always written about the foreign and exotic as it relates to my life, so for once I’d love to write about what and who I know intimately.
  17. What’s your best fan story? Probably my first longer work of fiction, Padre: The Narrowing Path. It seems to be the piece that engages fans the most.
  18. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style? This is more than one sentence, but for me as a writer, it’s one fluid thought that happens to be separated by punctuation, so here goes: He shook his head as he walked back toward the cave entrance. Maybe he wouldn’t let anyone else touch the body. It wouldn’t be right. He had killed the boy. He was a beat-up, old sicario, but he would move the body and bury the young man as he had always handled his bodies himself. (From The Reiger File)
  19. Have you ever based characters off of real people? Probably all of my characters are shaded with a degree of reality of the family and friends in my life, but in particular, I based a minor character in Padre: The Narrowing Path on a Catholic priest I know.
  20. Who’s your favorite character? That’s It’s like choosing a favorite among your children or pets. I’m really enjoying writing and getting to know Frank Acuna, the reservation detective’s character in The Poison of War, my in-progress project.

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You can find out more about the author on their website at  __Jennifer Leeper’s website on Twitter  purchase her work from Amazon, Barking Rain Press and coming on 11/18 to Spider Road Press.