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Thursday, June 1, 2017

It's re-launch day for Medieval Irish novelette A KISS AT VESPERS!


In the year 1008, a British woman named Asta stows away on a ship to Ireland, never guessing how her faith and love will be challenged.

I'm very happy to announce that my historical romance novelette, A Kiss at Vespers, is again available in all ebook formats, and with a spiffy new cover. And at the permanently crazy-low price of 99 cents!

Researching seafaring, Vikings, and monastic life of 11th century Ireland was all kinds of fun, so it was important to me to get this book back out into the world. This is a sweet romance and (I'm told) a fun and quick read.

A Kiss at Vespers is now presented as Volume 1 in the Ireland's Medieval Heart Novelettes series. And you know what that means...I'd better get writing!

Buy it wherever ebooks are sold, including:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Kobo
Scribd

A Kiss at Vespers
by Anne E. Johnson
Ireland's Medieval Heart Novelettes, Vol. 1


In 1008 AD, Dublin is just a small town, newly opened to trade now that Viking violence there has died down. A young woman named Asta runs away from her boring life in Britain on one of her father’s trading vessels bound for Dublin, hoping that she and the sailor she loves can find a new life together. But when shipwreck takes him from her, her whole world changes. She is helped up the rocky shores of eastern Ireland by handsome and enigmatic Brother Martinus, who takes her to the Monastery of St. Luran’s to recover. Despite his vows of silence and chastity, Brother Martinus is entranced by the beautiful maiden who seems delivered to him by Providence. Their unexpected relationship causes both of them to rethink their concepts of faith and love.



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Susan P. Baker on using her law experience for the suspense novel UNAWARE


Any one of us can end up the victim of a crime. Today's guest, Susan P. Baker, took inspiration from her experiences as a lawyer for her novel Unaware. If this essay is any indication, get ready for some major suspense!

*   *   *

Unaware in Real Life

by Susan P. Baker

UNAWARE is loosely based a case I handled when I first started practicing law. At the time, I was married to my first husband. We were the parents of two young daughters. My husband traveled a lot on the job, which was necessary but could be annoying when I was trying to get a law practice off the ground and parent the children at the same time. We did not have an au pair, couldn’t afford one. My father had been an attorney but was on the bench when I won my law license.

One night, when my husband was out of town, I went to a meeting and was out too late. The girls were old enough to stay by themselves. I stopped off at the grocery store on the way home and noticed when I was almost to my house that a car had been following me. When I pulled into my driveway, the car stopped and parked in front of the house opposite mine. I immediately backed out and drove away, hoping to lead the person away from my children. We didn’t have cell phones back then. I drove a short distance to my sister’s house, jumped out, and ran inside. 

My brother- in-law drove to my house to check things out while my sister and I called the police. When they found no one there, I went home, having become aware of how easy it would be for someone to hide around my house, what with the hedge next to the front door. I pulled into the garage, put the door down, ran inside to check on the girls who were okay, and got the butcher knife out of the drawer and put it under my pillow. We didn’t have any guns. I had a hard time sleeping that night. The following day I bought a .38 revolver.

At that time, I was building my family law practice as well as practicing criminal defense law. I shared an office with two of my father’s former law partners. They were much older and often gave me advice. One of them had the messiest office I’d ever seen, but he had a brilliant mind and could cite law that I’d never even heard of.

In one of my cases, a beautiful, young woman with long, blond hair came to see me about her situation. She hadn’t been married to her husband very long but was ready to get out because he’d become violent almost as soon as they’d said “I do.” He worked on the wharves and had a very sharp cotton knife that he threatened her with when she spoke of leaving him. He was a few years older than she was and fairly good looking. His father was a big-wig in the longshoreman’s union and had bailed him out of trouble many times. 

Susan P. Baker
I took the case against the advice of the other lawyers because she didn’t have much money and had been turned down by other lawyers who were afraid. It wasn’t long before she told me that her husband threatened to kill her and me. We tried our best to settle the case amicably. The man’s father even came to see me in my office. He knew my father. He said he’d make his son settle the case, pay the money he needed to pay, and he even gave me a pendant of a gold leaf. Anyway, clearly the inspiration for UNAWARE came from my law practice.

UNAWARE

What you don’t know CAN hurt you.

Frustrated with the two controlling men in her life, Dena Barlow Armstrong has outlined a rosy future for herself and her children, independent of them. Her husband, Zack, constantly pushes her to turn over her inheritance to him and, when she doesn’t, he punishes her with his indifference. Her law partner and cousin, Lucas, controls her money and the types of cases she accepts.

Just as Dena begins to achieve her goal of independence, someone emerges with very different plans for her. Unaware of the danger she faces, Dena lives each day as a wife, mother, and attorney. Then one day, when her husband is out of town, the stranger lurks in her garage, waiting until she and the children go to bed…

This standalone novel is Susan P. Baker’s sixth mystery/suspense novel.

*   *   *

Learn more about Susan P. Baker on her website.

Purchase Unaware on Amazon.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Angelique Conger on motherhood in her novel EVE: FIRST MATRIARCH


Appropriately for Mother's Day, my guest is Angelique Conger, who explores the concept of motherhood in its most ancient form in her novel Eve: First Matriarch.

*   *   *

Deciding to Write Eve
By Angelique Conger

My first child was due in December of 1974. Being “large with child” my thoughts turned to other women whose children were important at that time of the year. I naturally thought of Mary, the Mother of Christ and her delivery of that sacred child. Then, I began to think of our first mother, Eve.
So little is known of her. There are but a few sentences regarding her in Genesis and over the centuries she has been villainized. I began to wonder about her, especially as I carried my first child, I wondered about the birth of her first child.

I would have a clean hospital bed and doctors and nurses who had helped mothers give birth many times. Who was there to help and support Eve? Were there angels? Was it Adam? If so, how did Adam get the knowledge he needed to help her safely give birth to their first child?

I wondered. I thought. I questioned. I gave birth to that son and four more children. Each child brought my thoughts back to Mother Eve. How did she manage?

In college, I took a class in creative writing and attempted to tell the story of this important Mother—and failed. I tried to tell it from the outside looking in. I got nowhere with the story. Later, I tried again, and failed once more. I believed I could not write her story, could not discover the answer to my questions.

Then, three years ago, my sister challenged me to participate in National Novel Writing Month. “Sure,” I said, “but what story will I tell?”

It came to me to try once more to learn the story of Eve. I changed the perspective, writing from her point of view, thinking as she would think, and the story flowed. I learned all the answers I sought, and more. I learned about being the only woman with the only man on earth, their struggles, their difficulties in discovering and inventing. I learned much more than was finally included in my book, because I had to focus. That focus became the focus of my earlier questions. How did Eve handle becoming a mother, and from whom did she receive help?

Angelique Conger
I hope you will enjoy my discoveries in Eve, First Matriarch, and in the following books about the wives of the other patriarchs.



Eve: First Matriarch

Eve is a mother to us all. Here is her story of longing, anguish, and hope…

Eve wants nothing more than to fulfill God’s two commandments: live in absolute obedience and replenish the earth with her children. But the power of the Destroyer is strong, and when she’s told she has a chance to fulfill the second commandment by breaking the first… she takes it.

Expelled from a garden paradise into a wild, dangerous world, Eve learns that her failure to obey will someday cause her to die. With a limited time to teach Jehovah’s commandments to her children, she’s devastated when the Destroyer starts to lead them astray. Can Eve overcome evil to teach her children obedience and happiness?

Eve: First Matriarch is a reimagined story of the biblical figure of Even. If you like rich historical fiction, feminine perspectives, and illuminating stories of motherhood, then you’ll love Angelique Conger’s debut novel.



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Learn more about Angelique Conger on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.
You can purchase Eve: First Matriarch on Amazon.



Thursday, May 4, 2017

Lucinda E. Clarke on Writing an African Adventure as Her Own Boss

Our well-traveled guest talks about how retirement led to the freedom to create a character close to her heart. Please welcome Lucinda E. Clarke, author of Amie: An African Adventure.

*   *   *

Stories of My Own Choosing
by Lucinda E. Clarke

After thirty plus years writing for other people who knew what they wanted, and my eager compliance (despite the propaganda) which allowed me to bank the cheque and support two children, one husband and a St Bernard with a voracious appetite; when I retired I became my own boss. Finally I could write what I wanted.

Enter Amie Fish, the shy, quiet, rather spoiled, newly-married first world girl living close to family in the London suburbs.

It was time to drag her out of her comfort zone and send her to Africa. I gave her a while to settle in, make friends and discover the beauty and majesty of the Dark Continent.

Then the first crisis arises as she’s coerced into filming, first propaganda for the government, and then the results of atrocities that signal the coming civil war. When the hostilities break out in the capital she gets caught up in the fighting and lands in prison. From then on it’s a struggle to survive.

I’ve drawn on my extensive experience of Africa in all three of the Amie novels. I was so fortunate to go where few tourists or residents ever go, from witchdoctor’s huts to chief’s kraals, to meeting royalty, presidents and peasants. I was often the only European for miles around as I worked deep rural with my filming crew.

As Amie lurches from one crisis to another throughout the series she learns to toughen up. All the rules, morals and mores she learned as a child do not apply to Africa. She sees a totally different mindset, a new set of guidelines she’d never imagined. She makes friends, is betrayed by others, loses everything and begins a new life. She is forced to work for those
Lucinda E. Clarke
who will kill her if she does not obey. She changes from meek housewife to trained killer, someone who no longer officially exists, facing dangers she would never have envisaged.

Yet despite everything, the country and the peoples take a hold on her and won’t let go. She’s in love with her adopted continent, mentally she’s trapped and realises that ‘while you may leave Africa, Africa will never leave you.’

My biggest inspiration for writing the series is to share the truth about the real Africa, to share with people the raw, savage reality besides the warm, friendly people and open the readers’ eyes to a very different world.

*   *   *

Learn more about Lucinda E. Clarke on her website.
Sign up for her newsletter here.
You can purchase Amie: An African Adventure on Amazon.



Monday, May 1, 2017

New Cover Reveal: A KISS AT VESPERS medieval Irish romance


If you feel like you've heard the title of this novelette before, you're right. A KISS AT VESPERS was originally published in 2013, but now I'm re-releasing it. And there's nothing like a shiny new cover to make folks notice.

And so, it is my pleasure to share with you...




Isn't it lovely? There's a baby goat!! Sweet and romantic, just like the story. Want to read the book? You don't have to wait long. The e-book will be available on June 1, 2017.

To be notified when A KISS AT VESPERS becomes available,

A KISS AT VESPERS

In 1008 AD, Dublin is just a small town, newly opened to trade now that Viking violence there has died down. A young woman named Asta runs away from her boring life in Britain on one of her father’s trading vessels bound for Dublin, hoping that she and the sailor she loves can find a new life together. But when shipwreck takes him from her, her whole world changes. She is helped up the rocky shores of eastern Ireland by handsome and enigmatic Brother Martinus, who takes her to the Monastery of St. Luran’s to recover. Despite his vows of silence and chastity, Brother Martinus is entranced by the beautiful maiden who seems delivered to him by Providence. Their unexpected relationship causes both of them to rethink their concepts of faith and love.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

VIOLENCE IN VEGAS - A Kindle World Novella by Julie C. Gilbert


We do try to be cutting-edge here at Jester Harley's. To that end, I am pleased to welcome our first fanfiction-writing guest. Take it away, Julie C. Gilbert!

*   *   *

Writing Crime Fiction for the Lei Crime Kindle World
by Julie C. Gilbert


Hi, Thanks for having me, Anne.

Today, I’d like to tell you about my book, Violence in Vegas – a Lei Crime Kindle Worlds Novella. It features FBI Special Agent Marcella Scott, who is not a character I came up with. That said, I have a weakness for writing FBI agents. This is true in my Heartfelt Cases series (Christian Mystery) as well as most of my Kindle Worlds stories, six of which are Lei Crime and one that’s in the Sydney Rye Kindle World.


Aside - What is Kindle Worlds?

Kindle Worlds is Amazon’s idea of officially licensing fanfiction. Basically, you find a world you like and write a story with one of the characters created by the original author. Then, you split the royalties with the author of that world.


Back on Track – Violence in Vegas

Julie C. Gilbert
I’d originally set out to write about many different characters in the Lei Crime Series, so I started the Defining Moments Series. However, Defining Moments II turned into Shadow Council #1 because I fell in love with writing Marcella Scott. She was just a ton of fun with her love of fancy shoes, her lovable partner, and her need to dodge her mother’s matchmaking efforts.

The Shadow Council series grew to 4 books which had her pitted against bank robbers, corrupt politicians, and crazy people from her past. I thought the poor lady needed a vacation. She wound up in Vegas to help a friend with an unofficial sabotage case. Since trouble follows her like a magnet, she ran into mayhem, of course.

Thanks for stopping by and listening.

Official Description for Violence in Vegas:

Sin City holds some dark secrets …

But Marcella Scott’s in town to help Angela Melkin-Pierce with a small case of sabotage. Somebody’s been slashing guests’ tires and ransacking rooms at The Grand Game Hotel. With the guest list including the Reno Birdwatcher’s Society and the Paradise Quilting Club, the suspect list is very thin. The only intriguing option is Gatton Technologies, headed by eccentric billionaire, Jeffrey Gatton. When he decides to host a masquerade party at the hotel, Marcella goes undercover.

The air of elegance quickly turns to terror when masked men kidnap Gatton and Angela.

Marcella’s going to need all of her wits—and a borrowed handgun or two—if she wants to survive the violence in Vegas.

*   *   *
Grab your copy of Violence in Vegas today, or start at the beginning of Marcella’s adventures (Shadow Council #1: Money Makes it Deadlier). When you finish with that, Rescue in Reno should be ready for you.

You can visit Julie C. Wilson on her Website and learn how to get a free scifi or mystery book. You can also find her on Facebook.






Thursday, March 30, 2017

John McRandle on his unusual picture book for grownups, THE AWFULBET


There's little in life I admire more than weirdness and originality, preferably both in the same work. And so, it's my great pleasure to introduce you to the oddest picture book you're likely to see today, The Awfulbet, written and illustrated by John McRandle.

*   *   *

The Tale of The Awfulbet
by John McRandle

The Awfulbet: A Bracing Compendium of Disease & Effluvia For Grownups is an ABC book with a collection of 26 letters who endure a wide range of amusing afflictions. From Acne to Zombification, and all infirmities in between, each letter has been given an alliterative assortment of awfulness. For example, meet ‘B, who is Beset by Bunions, Baldness and Boils’, or ‘R, who is Ripe with Ringworm, Rosacea and Rabies’—the characters of the book possess a certain comical charm that will appeal to kids and grownups alike.


This is my first book, and my first foray into the world of self-publishing. Starting as a germ of an idea two years ago, the project came to me in a late-night burst of creativity. The writing was the fastest part, with the droll diseases flowing from my pen. But the illustration took a lot of time, as each letter’s illness had to be anthropomorphized and personalized to build the character. I suppose the genesis for The Awfulbet can be traced back to my youth reading Mad magazine and collecting Topps’ Wacky Packages, which fueled my interest in the sort of subversive humor that kids love. Some of my largest influences are Dr. Seuss, Edward Gorey, and Roald Dahl, as they play a huge role in my literary and artistic interests—and my love for darker and more disturbing work.

As a young person I was fascinated by the creatures you would find when turning over rocks, or the strange old things you'd find packed in the attic or basement that had been discarded by their owners but still had stories to tell. Growing up as the child of a German historian and an audiology professor, I always had an interest in language and science. We had a large library filled with art, natural history, and science books, and linguistic humor and wordplay were always popular in our house. What I hope to do with The Awfulbet is make something curiously creepy and grossly entertaining that appeals to the 13-year-old rock flipper and attic explorer in all of us.

BLURB:

The Awfulbet: A Bracing Compendium of Disease & Effluvia For Grownups chronicles the sad state of affairs in which these endearingly ill letters find themselves. From Acne to Zombification, there is no end to the problems these troubled souls will endure.

This contagious interpretation of an alphabet book springs from the fevered mind of John McRandle, a New York-based illustrator and musician. Night after night, he toiled until the wee hours, delving into the lives of these 26 little creatures. Now, the fruits of his labor can be yours!

*   *   *
Learn more about The Awfulbet on the book's website.
You can purchase The Awfulbet from the Blurb bookstore


See more of John McRandle's work on Tumblr and follow him on Instagram as @jdmcrandle

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Author Suenammi Richards on choosing Taos as a location for her new book


I haven't visited Taos in years, but after reading this essay from today's guest, Suenammi Richards, I think I may need to book a trip there soon...

*   *   *

Picking Locations with Heart

By Suenammi Richards

There was a swirl of thought placed into the development of my characters for my latest book. Even more so into the location where this great and magical love should grow wings and take flight. During the research side of writing my latest book, So a Psychic and a Rocket Scientist Walk into a Bar, I decided to set the locale as Taos, New Mexico. Taos is an interesting artistic hub bub of modern and indigenous art. Taos went very hippie in the '70s and thankfully, never quite recovered from it. This legacy of art, peace and free love leads us to one of Taos’ most prolific and well-known visual artists. This artist is mentioned briefly in my book. He is Ted Egri. My female protagonist has a piece of his. He represents a blending of indigenous art and regional legacy. 

Taos has a very prolific culture of art. This art is a mix of indigenous stylings and contemporary takes on historical folklore and canon. The art ranges from pottery from very early indigenous tribes to modern digital media. While my characters did not delve into the visual arts scene, it would be remiss to not point out that visual art is Taos’ most valued cultural contribution.

Even though I write, my first artistic love is visual art. Years ago I studied some of the contributions from this area. I was impressed and moved by the cultural history and authenticity of Taos’ artistic scene. So when I wanted to really immerse characters in a place where magic could be believed, I dedicated this location to the cause.

Author Suenammi Richards
I also desired to point out the importance of indigenous voices. Art as it exists and lives is much like writing in the idea that it is a living tangible expression of the most poignant aspects of the human soul. As artists it is important to recognize our roots and how they have influenced where we are as a species. What our artistic futures can hold. In the shards of a dish that is thousands of years old we can see the parts that carried us and made us. There is the need for community, sustenance and care. A bowl is a symbol of how we should preserve and treat our art. We carry the best of it. We carry as much as we can. Not only for ourselves but to share with others.


So a Psychic and a Rocket Scientist Walk into a Bar

Clair wasn’t sure what she should expect when she literally ran into Sergei and promptly passed out. There had always been whispers about Clair and her family. No one knew quite what they were but it was a history and a birthright Clair had deftly avoided for almost all of her life. This new occurrence puts Clair on the cusp of what was always fated to be her calling. With someone’s life at stake she knew she finally had to literally choose between life and death. 
*   *   *
You can learn more about Suenammi Richards on her blog and by following her on Twitter.

You can purchase So a Psychic and a Rocket Scientist Walk into a Bar on Amazon.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Learn about Christina Hoag's dark, gritty gang novel, SKIN OF TATTOOS


As a fiction-writer with one foot in the world of journalism, I am especially interested in this guest post by Christina Hoag. But hers is a type of hardline reportage much different from my own experience. For Skin of Tattoos, she found inspiration in an element of society that most of us hope to avoid. But we're thrilled to read about it! Welcome, Christina.

*   *   *
What inspired me to write Skin of Tattoos
by Christina Hoag

Skin of Tattoos is set in the gritty underbelly of Los Angeles’ gangland, the darker side of the palm-studded, movie-star lifestyle that L.A. is known for the world over. Why, readers have asked me on more than one occasion, did you write about gangs?

In 2000, I was sent on a magazine assignment to El Salvador for story about gang members deported from Los Angeles to their birth country, which they identified with, but really didn’t know because they had left, fleeing the 1980s civil war, when they were infants and small children. Some of them barely spoke Spanish.

Growing up in L.A., they had joined gangs to protect themselves against long-entrenched Mexican-American gangs who didn’t welcome outsiders. But because the Salvadorans weren’t U.S. citizens, they later were vulnerable to deportation when the government started cracking down on immigrants with criminal records. The stories of the young men I interviewed, who were basically stuck between worlds, struck me as an unusual outcome of both a civil war and an immigrant experience. I tucked it away in my mind as a great premise for a story, and a couple years later, I wrote an outline for a novel and stuck it in a drawer.

In 2008, I became a reporter for the Associated Press in Los Angeles and ended up covering gang issues. I dusted off that old outline and started writing, although I stopped and started many times, not confident that I could pull it off. I got a lot of encouragement in writing classes I took, however, and eventually finished it.

I then ended up collaborating on a nonfiction book with a former Black Panther who had formed a programme to turn former gang members into community peacekeepers with the aim of stopping the cycle of retribution that drives gang violence. That book, “Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence,” is now being used in several universities as a textbook for courses that involve urban communities and policy.

Author Christina Hoag
After many rewrites and even more rejections, Skin of Tattoos landed a publisher and was published in 2016—sixteen years after I did those initial interviews in El Salvador. It was a long journey, indeed, but I learned valuable lessons: Write about something you’re passionate about so you don’t lose interest along the way and success is a lot about perseverance.


SKIN OF TATTOOS

Los Angeles homeboy Magdaleno is paroled from prison after serving time on a gun possession frameup by a rival, Rico, who takes over as gang shotcaller in Mags’s absence. Mags promises himself and his Salvadoran immigrant family a fresh start, but he can’t find either the decent job or the respect he craves from his parents and his firefighter brother, who look at him as a disappointment. Moreover, Rico, under pressure to earn money to free the Cyco Lokos’ jailed top leader and eager to exert his authority over his rival-turned-underling, isn’t about to let Mags get out of his reach. Ultimately, Mags’s desire for revenge and respect pushes him to make a decision that ensnares him in a world seeded with deceit and betrayal, where the only escape from rules that carry a heavy price for transgression is sacrifice of everything – and everyone - he loves.

*   *   *

Learn more about Christina Hoag on Facebook and Twitter.

Skin of Tattoos is available in ebook and paperback from Amazon


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Webrid rides again...space picnics and fuzzy spies in RED SPAWN DELIVERY, out now! #funny #scifi


It's launch day for RED SPAWN DELIVERY, third installment of the Webrid Chronicles!

Time to go planet-hopping with a giant, hairy Yeril again as Webrid gets forced into another misadventure.











How can a picnic go so wrong?

Ganpril Webrid's grandfather always told him not to use his cart unless he was getting paid for it. But this huge, hairy carter on the planet Bexilla let a friend talk him into carting beers and grub to a picnic with her old college roommate. 

Worst mistake he ever made. Before he can even burp up his first sandwich, the ol' roomie stretches out her ten shiny legs, and out pop a hundred spawn. And before Webrid can settle his churning stomach, fifty of those spawn have been kidnapped.

Like it or not, Webrid finds himself on another planet-hopping adventure with snarky, brainy pals Zatell and Stravin and a host of wacky aliens. This time, Webrid's cart turns into an interplanetary playpen--or it will, if he can only find those blasted spawn.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Historical Fiction Author Jennifer C. Wilson Knows How to Use NaNoWriMo to Her Advantage


I know a lot of you participate in NaNoWriMo. Even if you've never heard of the National Novel Writing Month challenge, you'll be interested in the post by today's guest. Jennifer C. Wilson has figured out how to make a month of relentless fiction-writing work for her, and her latest novel, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London, is proof.

*   *   *

A New Novel, Thanks to NaNoWriMo
by Jennifer C. Wilson

In March 2015, I was in Leicester Cathedral, attending the service of compline for my debut novel’s leading man. Rewarded for my early arrival with a front-row seat, I watched his coffin arrive, be carried with solemn ceremony through the doors, and placed on the waiting stand.

There cannot be many writers who get to attend part of their lead character’s funeral, and even fewer historical fiction writers who can claim the same. But there I was. Of course, at that stage, my debut novel was simply a file on my hard-drive, waiting to be worked on, but from the moment I received the pristine white envelope, with the ‘RIII’ emblem on the reverse, I knew I had to get it sorted. Returning that evening to my hotel (by tradition, on the site of the inn Richard III stayed at prior to Bosworth), I opened my notebook and began making plans.

The plotline was thanks to a Writing Magazine poetry competition, to feature ghosts. I started thinking that the spirits of Richard III and Anne Boleyn would have a lot in common if they happened to meet, and the more I thought about it, the most logical place for both to be was the Tower of London. I was lucky enough to visit the Tower twice within six months, in freezing blizzards and glorious sunshine, and gradually ideas began to crystallise. The original poem was awful; I never entered it. But the general arc seemed to flow, and finding a quiet spot on my second visit, the poem became an outline for a novel.

By the time NaNoWriMo arrived, I was ready.

I’ve used NaNoWriMo three times to finish a first draft; I love the manic joy of just sitting down and getting the words out. No self-editing, no re-reading, just onwards to a conclusion that’s never been the one I expected. But there it was: fifty thousand words. It felt almost like cheating, with no need to worry about anachronisms or sixteenth century women using twenty-first century slang, but there was still plenty of fact-checking needed – burial locations, ages, and ensuring people could have met if I’d said they had. This all came later of course, once the bulk of the plot was down, with plenty of time and space for finesse.

For me, NaNoWriMo is the best way to get that first draft ‘out’, and I’m already planning for November 2017. After all, you cannot edit what you haven’t written, however inspired you might be.
Author Jennifer C. Wilson
Two months after compline, my novel was submitted; six months later, it was published. 

NaNoWriMo and a funeral are an odd combination, but hey, with writing, it’s never worth arguing with what appears to work! Although, unless we start looking for more monarchs, I doubt lightning will strike twice…

Kindred Spirits: Tower of London – Blurb
A King, three Queens, a handful of nobles and a host of former courtiers…

In the Tower of London, the dead outnumber the living, with the likes of Tudor Queens Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard rubbing shoulders with one man who has made his way back from his place of death at Bosworth Field to discover the truth about the disappearance of his famous nephews.

Amidst the chaos of daily life, with political and personal tensions running high, Richard III takes control, as each ghostly resident looks for their own peace in the former palace – where privacy was always a limited luxury.

With so many characters haunting the Tower of London, will they all find the calm they crave?


*   *   * 
Learn more about Jennifer C. Wilson on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.
You can purchase Kindred Spirits: Tower of London here.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Like #funny #scifi? Win RED SPAWN DELIVERY at Goodreads Giveaway!


What more need I say? Candlemark & Gleam is giving away three copies of the third book in the Webrid Chronicles series, RED SPAWN DELIVERY.

Webrid’s grandfather always told him not to use his cart unless he was getting paid for it. But this huge, hairy carter on the planet Bexilla let a friend talk him into carting beers and grub to a picnic with her old college roommate.

Worst mistake he ever made. Before he can even burp up his first sandwich, the ol’ roomie stretches out her ten shiny legs, and out pop a hundred spawn. And before Webrid can settle his churning stomach, fifty of those spawn have been kidnapped.

Like it or not, Webrid finds himself on another planet-hopping adventure with snarky, brainy pals Zatell and Stravin and a host of wacky aliens. This time, Webrid’s cart is a playpen -- or it will be, if he can only find those blasted spawn.


Enter the giveaway by clicking here! Closes Feb. 28, 2017.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Author Jennifer Bohnhoff Talks about Mistaken Identities in Middle Grade Fiction


My guest today is Jennifer Bohnhoff, the author of several works of middle grade historical fiction. Her next book, Valverde, is set in New Mexico during the Civil War and will be published this spring. 

*   *   *

Mistaken Identities in Middle Grade Fiction

by Jennifer Bohnhoff


Most middle school readers wonder if they were adopted. Some actually revel in it: who are these people, and why can’t they understand me? Clearly my own people are elsewhere. Middle grade readers are going through so many emotional, physical and psychological changes that it’s not surprising that they are drawn to books about other children who don’t know who they are. Here are a few suggested books with this theme.

Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist is the classic novel of mistaken identity. Originally published in monthly installments between 1837 and 1839, it tells the story of an orphan born in a workhouse in 1830s England. Oliver leaves the workhouse when he is nine years old and apprenticed to an undertaker, but runs away and finds himself in the company of a troop of pickpockets. Through a series of interwoven circumstances, the kind that only Dickens could have created, Oliver’s identity is eventually revealed, and the orphan boy goes from rags to riches and takes his rightful place in the kind of generous and loving family that every middle school child wishes he had. 

Jennifer Bohnhoff
Jip, His Story, written in 1996 by the Newbery-winning American novelist Katherine Paterson, focuses on another orphan, this time a 12-year-old. Set on a poor farm in Vermont during the 1850s, it tells the story of a baby who supposedly fell of a cart and was never retrieved. He is called Jip because his dark skin color made people believe he was a gypsy. Despite the hard work and difficult conditions, Jip gets along well with the other workers on the farm, many of whom are mentally ill, and he enjoys working with the farm animals. But when a man shows up and begins asking questions about Jip’s background, it becomes clear that Jip is no gypsy, and his real identity puts him in grave danger.

The main character of my historical novel Code: Elephants on the Moon may not be an orphan, but she still doesn’t know who she is. Eponine Lambaol thinks she is the only red head in a town filled with brown-haired people because she is Breton living in a tiny village in Normandy, France. It is spring of 1944 and there are many things that Eponine doesn’t understand. Where is her father? Who is the mysterious cousin who has come to live with her and her mother? When Eponine finds her mother and cousin listening to strange announcements on a forbidden radio, she realizes that nothing she’s believed about herself is true.

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Learn more about Jennifer Bohnhoff on her website.
You can purchase Code: Elephants on the Moon on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online retailers.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

J.L. Newton on the importance of environment in her novel OINK


We do love a touch of satire on Jester Harley's Manuscript Page, so it's a pleasure to have J.L. Newton with us today. The target of her humorous novel, Oink: A Food for Thought Mystery, is the world of universities. She wrote a very interesting piece for us about how the environment in your novel's setting can be far more than a backdrop.


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Making Environment a Character in Your Fiction
by Judith Newton

In writing Oink, a humorous send up of the university for its increasing devotion to self-interest, competition, and profit, I also wanted to emphasize the importance of values that are less about profit and more about the common good. I planned to do this, in part, through my characterization of Emily Addams’s campus community. It is comprised of faculty in women’s and ethnic studies who have come together to support each other and to resist having their programs defunded by an increasingly corporate-minded administration.

I wanted to do more, however, to engage the reader in positive feelings about community, and so I decided to suggest the interconnectedness of human and natural life in the very texture of the novel. To feel oneself in relation to the world of nature and to value the smallest forms of life are  precursors to valuing human community as well.

I decided that elements which appear as background—animals, plants, the weather, the seasons—could subtly enforce a feeling of interrelation. There are many animals in the novel, for example, both domesticated and wild, which just appear as the characters are carrying on their lives. As Emily drives to meet with the biologist Tess Ryan, who she hopes will have important information, “a single red-tailed hawk flapped twice, launching itself into air. The sight of a hawk’s glide always brought me to life, making me feel as if I too were capable of soaring.” Many of the characters also look like animals. The Chair of the English Department has a hound dog face which “seemed to sag into his tweed jacket.” The Vice Provost, with her long nose, resembles a hummingbird, and the greedy Peter Elliott, victim of the poisoning, is compared to a pig by another character—although the actual pigs in the novel are far more charming than he.

I named streets after animals or native California plants—Wild Deer Lane, Coyote Court, and Badger Crossing, Poppy Lane, Ceanothus Drive—and  I made the weather heighten people’s moods. Emily feels oppressed by the ninety-six degree heat as she realizes that, with the poisoning of Peter, something sinister has entered into the atmosphere at Arbor State. Later, she gets lost in a tule fog at night, making her feel even more depressed about her inability to discover the culprit.

J.L. Newton (photo: Eliot Khuner)
In all of this, I wanted to be accurate. I studied the birds and animals of northern California, and I worked with a weather calendar from October 1999, when the novel is set, to capture how the weather really operated that month in that year. Knowing what hummingbirds really do inhabit northern California made me feel the kind of attention to and connection with nature that I wanted to instill in my reader.

I also set the novel at a time of year that would convey a message. Oink begins on October 11, 1999, in the midst of harvest and Indian Summer, and ends on November 1, El Dia de Los Muertos, which marks the coming of winter, the dying of leaves, and the diminishment of the sun, reminding characters of their own mortality. El Dia also celebrates those who have died, asserts the continuation of life, and demonstrates the power of communities to fortify their members against the forces of darkness and despair.  In the context of conditions such as these— conditions in which we all live—Oink poses an implicit question: do we spend our lives in an individualist pursuit of profit, or do we work toward more communal ways of being?

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Learn more about J.L. Newton on her website.

You can purchase Oink: A Food for Thought Mystery on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online retailers.



Thursday, January 12, 2017

Enter the SPACE SURFERS 1st Birthday Giveaway! #YA #scifi #spaceopera


I can't believe it's been a year since Graika and Lerris Rhellog started their adventure to find their Human roots on the planet Soranen. I'm delighted that SPACE SURFERS was published by Alban Lake; nearly 20 of my short stories have appeared their various magazines, but this was my first book for them.

SCROLL DOWN FOR GIVEAWAY FORM

Space Surfers blurb:

Teenage siblings Lerris and Graika of the planet Soranen want to go into outer space, an act forbidden by their people, the Sor. The Sor, it is believed, are the descendants of the Ellarisor and the Humans, now both extinct on Soranen. When Lerris surfs above the clouds in his minijet, he spots a vessel owned by Lorfallin, a chemical magnate. The ship is spraying a green mist that, it turns out, causes a disease which affects those with Human ancestry, including the siblings’ father.

Thus begins a journey to find pure descendants of the Ellarisor, whose blood might provide an antidote to the green mist. Along the way, Lerris and Graika learn the truth about their ancestry, and some truths about life. This prepares them for the final battle---against the Tust, who have engaged Lorfallin to destroy all trace of Human life. If they win, outer space may be open to them. But if they lose...


Would you like to win a print copy of Space Surfers? You must have a mailing address in the U.S. (international postage is soooo expensive!). I'd love to share Graika and Lerris' world with you.

Please share this contest with your friends. Entries open until Wednesday, February 8 at 11:59 pm Eastern. I'll announce the winners here the next day.

  SPACE SURFERS 1st Birthday Giveaway

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Lisa Marie Latino's novel TEN YEARS LATER is a beacon of hope for millennial women


I am pleased to welcome Lisa Marie Latino, whose novel Ten Years Later offers the story of a woman who discovers her strength and adaptability.

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Life as Inspiration: Writing Ten Years Later
by Lisa Marie Latino

Ten Years Later is about a girl that most people, especially millennials who are trying to find their niche in the “real world,” can relate to.

We first meet Carla D’Agostino while she’s in the throes of a major quarter-life crisis. To add fuel to the fire, she realizes her ten-year high school reunion is fast approaching, and her frustration multiplies when she starts comparing herself to her “more successful” peers. Ten Years Later follows Carla throughout her year-long journey of “perfection” for the big night, and we see the highs and lows of what that entails.

I went through various periods of self doubt in the years after college.  I, too, was single, still living at my parents’ home, and went through some very trying times that all entrepreneurs do while forming their own businesses.  As I opened up to others about my frustrations I realized that nearly everyone, no matter their circumstance, was dealing with the same insecurities. That theme-- visions of what one thinks life SHOULD be versus reality-- really inspired me, and since I've always wanted to write a book anyway, I channeled that angst into writing Ten Years Later.

A lot of readers assume Carla and I are the same person because we share a similar background and common interests; we're both New Jersey-based sports fans that are of Italian descent. Obviously, I drew on a lot of my life's experience in shaping a relatable fictional character, but Carla has her own set of unique circumstances that represent the plight of driven millennials everywhere trying to claim their stake in the world.


Author Lisa Marie Latino
The book was originally written for millennial women in their 20's and early 30's who are struggling to find their way; I wanted Ten Years Later to be their beacon of hope and motivate them to accomplish their heart's desires. But as I’m getting to know my readers, I’m realizing that they come from all walks of life. High schoolers to middle-aged men have read and loved the book because any one of its given themes has resonated with them. To write a book that can touch a wide variety of people is very fulfilling. 


Read the blurb for Ten Years Later:

Carla D'Agostino is not your typical heroine. Stuck in a seemingly dead-end job, single, and still living with her overbearing Italian-American parents, Carla is thrown for a loop when she realizes her ten-year high school reunion is fast approaching. True love, a career as a sports radio talk show host, the perfect body--every dream remains frustratingly out of reach no matter how Carla strives and schemes. Out of reach, that is, until unexpected events lead her right back to where she started, and Carla discovers that all she ever wanted was right in front of her the whole time. "Ten Years Later" is a witty, unpredictable tale of one ordinary young woman's race for the top as she throws caution to the wind and decides to go for her dreams.

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Learn more about Lisa Marie Latino on her website or follow her on Instagram as @LisaMarieLatino.

Ten Years Later is available in paperback and as an ebook.