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Archive for September, 2019

Title: DREAD PIRATE ARCANIST
Author: Shami Stovall
Publisher: Capital Station Books
Pages: #437
Genre: YA Fantasy

BOOK BLURB:

While protecting the newborn griffins on the Isle of Landin, Volke Savan and his adopted sister, Illia, run afoul of the Dread Pirate Calisto, the same cutthroat who carved out Illia’s right eye. As a master manticore arcanist, Calisto’s strength and brutality are unrivaled. When Illia suggests they bring him to justice, Volke wonders if they’ll have what it takes to fight the corsairs on the high seas.

A fast-paced flintlock fantasy for those who enjoy How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, Unsouled (Cradle Series) by Will Wight, and Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan.

Praise for the Frith Chronicles!

Perfect for those who enjoy the Codex Alera series, the Homas Wildus series, and the Harry Potter series. Stovall is quickly becoming a name I look for.”

Seattle Book Review

An addictive series. Shami Stovall has produced a mesmerizing story of magic, intrigue, and true adventure.”

ManyBooks

Absolutely brilliant.”

Archaeolibrarian

Now continue the Frith Chronicles with the second book, Dread Pirate Arcanist!

Amazon —-> https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WK2H37L

 

CHAPTER ONE

A CELEBRATION OF GRIFFINS

Today the griffins of West Landin would choose who to bond with. The city officials gathered before the dawn, prepping for the evening celebrations. I watched from afar, on a rocky cliff that overlooked half the isle, the pre-morning winds disheveling my inky black hair. I had never visited the Isle of Landin before now, but I had heard amazing tales of their fearsome griffins since I was old enough to remember stories.

My pulse quickened with anticipation. For fifteen years I had imaged bonding with a mystical creature and becoming an arcanist. Eight months ago it had become a reality, but it hadn’t yet sunk into my heart and gut. Giddiness twisted my insides with each new breath.

While the citizens of West Landin would have to prove themselves to the griffins in a Trial of Worth, I had already been tested and found worthy.

I turned to the shadows next to me, well aware that my mystical creature—my eldrin—lurked in the darkness.

“Luthair,” I said. “Do you know much about griffins?”

“They are stubborn beasts,” he replied from the void of my shadow, his voice more sinister than his true demeanor. “And griffin arcanists are strong, courageous, and skilled at combat.”

“Amazing.”

As a knightmare, Luthair lived among the darkness, merging with it like salt in water. He didn’t need to materialize to speak, and he could slink along next to me without anyone knowing. While some would consider that creepy or unsettling, I enjoyed his presence and trusted him in all things.

I returned my attention to the sprawling city. Unlike the Isle of Ruma, where I grew up, West Landin housed thousands of people, had a massive port, and had constructed a seaside fortress to deter pirates. Their cobblestone roads, twice as wide as home, snaked beyond the city limits to a valley filled with sheep, goats, and horses.

When the sun rose, the oranges and reds of dawn cascaded over the island, washing it in a familiar glow. The Isle of Ruma had wonderful dawns, just like this one. The nostalgia overwhelmed me for a moment, so powerful it almost hurt.

I missed my adoptive father, Gravekeeper William.

The days spent as his apprentice seemed torturous at first, since I had never wanted to be become a gravedigger, but now I understood how much he had influenced my life. He had been the best father I ever could’ve hoped for. I last saw him after I bonded with Luthair, a short time after my fifteenth birthday.

“Volke?”

“Yes?” I replied, recognizing Illia’s voice straight away. I didn’t even need to turn around. I knew she would walk over to speak with me.

Sure enough, she ambled to the edge of the rocky cliff, one hand on the brim of her sailing cap. Then she offered me a smile.

“Are you out here daydreaming?”

“No.” I slipped my hands into my pockets. “I wanted to spot some of the griffin cubs. I’ve never seen one in person before.”

Illia sarcastically lifted an eyebrow. “You weren’t thinking about the Isle of Ruma?”

“W-well, I might have thought about it for a moment.”

“Yeah. I know.” She stared down at West Landin, her one eye unfocused. “I’ve been doing the same thing.”

The wind played with her hair, revealing the twisted knife scars on the right side of her face. Her sailing cap kept everything in place, so I didn’t catch sight of the old wound for long, but I knew it was there.

I still remembered the first night that Gravekeeper William had brought her home. She had been five years old, and the injury hadn’t yet healed. The pirate fiend who had taken her eye had cut in deep, damaging the socket. She had to rest in bed for weeks, her skin pale and dappled with sweat.

Illia glanced over. “Volke?” She frowned. “What’s wrong? You’re not thinking about home anymore, are you?”

“It’s nothing,” I said as I stared at my boots. Illia didn’t like having attention brought to her scars, and I didn’t want to upset her.

“You can’t hide things from me.” Then she smacked my shoulder and half smiled. “You’ll tell me sooner or later.”

Instead of arguing, I nodded and allowed the conversation to end. The morning sun warmed the isle, and the breeze brought ocean mists. I could’ve stayed on the rock cliff with Illia for the entire day, enjoying the atmosphere.

A small ferret-like creature—a rizzel—bounded up toward us, hopping along like only weasels could. His snow-white fur shone in the morning light, and his silver stripes had a metallic sparkle.

“Illia!” he cried out as he scampered over to her feet. “Why would you leave me?”

In a flash of sparkles and sorcery, the rizzel disappeared and then popped into existence on Illia’s shoulder. She stroked his head as he curled around the back of her neck, hiding in her wavy brown hair.

“What is it, Nicholin?” she asked.

“Master Zelfree wants us all to gather near the edge of the woods.”

“Right now?”

“He said before dawn, but it took me forever to find you.” He arched his back and squeaked. “I can’t believe you left me! I’m your eldrin! Arcanists don’t leave their eldrin—it’s unheard of!”

Illia chuckled, but gave no explanation.

All arcanists had a mark on their forehead—a seven-pointed star etched straight into their skin. Illia’s, while faint, had the image of a rizzel intertwined with the star, symbolizing her connection with Nicholin. When I touched my own forehead, I could feel the cracked arcanist star just below my hairline. Unlike Illia, my star had a sword and cape, representing my bond with a knightmare.

“Did you see any griffins?” Illia asked.

I had almost forgotten the reason I perched myself on the cliff. I shook my head. “No. I can’t see their aerie from here, and the bonding ceremony doesn’t start until dusk, so I’m sure they’re still resting.”

“Do you want to wait until you see one? I bet they’ll wander around town before the Trials of Worth begin. We can always tell Master Zelfree that Nicholin got lost or something. It won’t be a big deal.”

“I wouldn’t want to lie. Honesty. Without it, we cannot learn the truth about ourselves.” I said the last bit with dramatic emphasis.

Illia groaned. “Please, Volke. For me. Stop quoting that damn staircase.”

“You know I like the lessons from the Pillar. I think they’re good rules to live by.”

Nicholin crossed his little ferret arms. “You’re wrong. They’re lame.”

“What?” I balked. Then I turned to the darkness. “Luthair, back me up. They’re good, right?”

“Indeed,” he said, his gruff voice echoing from my shadow.

“See? Luthair agrees with me. They’re definitely awesome.”

Nicholin and Illia exchanged knowing glances and huffed in sarcastic exasperation. If it were anyone else, maybe I would be bothered by the mocking, but I knew Illia didn’t mean it. She gave me hard time, just like when we were kids. With all the nostalgia in my veins, I welcomed the teasing.

“I guess we have to find Master Zelfree,” Illia said. “C’mon. Let’s go.”

We walked away from the cliffside, seagulls serenading the dawn with a symphony of caws. The rocks created a natural path, making the trek down an easy one. Illia kept close to me—closer than usual—and I wondered if she was awash in sentimentality as well.

Today would be easy. As members of the Frith Guild, we had been called to the Isle of Landin to protect those attending the griffin bonding ceremony. Until the celebrations began, however, we didn’t have much to do. Perhaps Illia and I could convince Master Zelfree to allow me to reminisce in town.

“I’m glad we became arcanists together,” Illia said. “That’s how I always imagined it when we were younger.”

“Yeah. Me too.”

She smiled and took in a breath, as if she might continue the conversation, but the words never came. We got all the way to the edge of the trees before she turned her attention back to me. She met my gaze with her one eye. I think she wanted me to say something. Maybe about our past? I didn’t know, and the longer she stared, the more disappointed she looked.

Illia lifted a hand and covered the scars over her damaged eye socket.

“Uh,” I began.

Illia waited.

Nicholin perked up, his ears erect. “Hm? What’s that?”

My breath caught in my throat. What did Illia want me to say?

Thankfully, Master Zelfree emerged from the woods, saving me from the awkward moment. He sauntered over, bags under his eyes, his black coat and pants wrinkled from long hours of work. He ran a hand through his black, shoulder-length hair. His fingers caught in a few places, betraying the fact he hadn’t brushed it in a while.

If I didn’t know he was a master arcanist from the Frith Guild, I would’ve assumed he was a hungover drunkard who stumbled away from the festivities.

“Master Zelfree,” Illia said, her eyebrow high.

Unlike me and Illia, Zelfree had a strange arcanist mark—his star had nothing intertwined with it. His eldrin, Traces, was the shape-changing mimic, after all. The bangles on his left wrist were most likely her. That was how she had hid herself in the past.

“You two finally decided to show up, huh?” Zelfree said. “You’re late for the exercise.”

“What exercise?” I asked.

“Don’t worry. It’s something simple.”

Zelfree’s shirt—black, like the rest of what he wore—was open enough to expose his bare chest and guild pendant, a silver symbol that marked him as a master arcanist. My bronze pendant told the world I was an apprentice, but I wasn’t ashamed of my low status. I loved my pendant with every ounce of my being.

“You all have been through a lot,” Zelfree muttered. “And your training as arcanists has been erratic. For the next couple of months, everything will be simple. We’ll take it slow while I assess your abilities, and then we’ll work our way to more challenging assignments.”

“I thought we didn’t have to do anything until dusk?” Illia asked.

“We don’t have to do anything official until dusk.” Zelfree pulled a flask from inside his coat and unscrewed the top. “But I want you all to practice your magic in the meantime. I split the other apprentices into pairs and sent them on their way.”

Nicholin bounced on Illia’s shoulder. “On their way? Where?”

“I hid apples around the daisy woods and I want you to collect them using your magic and your magic alone.”

“What? That’s kids stuff! My arcanist and I can handle anything. We took on Gregory Ruma’s leviathan. We stared into the jaws of death and survived!”

“As an arcanist of the Frith Guild, you won’t always be fighting giant leviathans in the waves of the ocean.” Zelfree cocked half a smile. “Sometimes we’ll be asked to find missing mystical creatures or locate hidden caches. Since none of those things involve traumatizing duels to the death, I figured this would be a relaxing exercise to practice your basic magic.”

“They’re hidden throughout the entire wooded area?” I asked.  The daisy woods covered a few acres of the island. The task felt daunting, even if it didn’t involve combat.

Zelfree shrugged. “Apples aren’t native to the islands. They’re bright red, and I’ve placed them in precarious spots. It shouldn’t take the six of you long to find them all.” He took a swig from his flask. “Whichever team comes back with the most apples will get to spend time with the griffins before the ceremony.”

My chest tightened. “Really?”

“And the pair who finds the least amount will have to wipe down the deck of our ship.”

Illia and I both groaned. No one wanted ship cleaning duty, especially since the sailors would get a good laugh at our predicament. Arcanists stood at the top of social hierarchy, and seeing one swab a deck was a novelty—like watching a crown prince take out the garbage, or a knight commander cleaning all the training weapons. We’d be mocked for the entire journey home.

“Interacting with the griffin cubs sounds amazing,” Illia said.

Zelfree nodded. “The mayor of West Landin asked the Frith Guild to protect the new arcanists until they reached the mainland. We’ll be sailing with them all the way there.”

“Protecting them from what, exactly?” she asked. “You never told us why they wanted the Frith Guild.”

“Pirates are in the area.”

The statement killed all mirth in the conversation. Illia grazed her fingers over the scars on her face. I had seen her react that way a million times before, every time someone mentioned nearby pirates.

The last thing I wanted was to deal with sea thieves and cutthroats.

“Any questions?” Zelfree asked. He swirled his flask as he spoke, and I couldn’t help but take note of it.

I pointed. “I thought you said you were cutting back on the drink.”

He downed the rest of his “breakfast” and walked past us. “Don’t worry. I’ve limited myself to a single serving. Soon I won’t need it to wake up.”

Normally I was the tallest person in any group—six feet—but when Zelfree went by, he straightened his posture, standing an inch or so higher. I never noticed before, probably because he slouched most times. It surprised me.

“Okay,” I muttered. “I suppose we’ll get started with the apple hunt then.”

“Treat this like an urgent mission. The apples are baby mystical creatures. Recover them quickly and efficiently.”

My thoughts didn’t dwell on his statements long. The idea that I could see the griffins up close—before the ceremony!—excited me more than anything else. We had to find enough apples. It would make for a perfect day, and an amazing tale to write to William about.

Illia took my elbow and pulled me toward the trees, a smile on her face.

The slender daisy trees grew sixty to ninety feet into the air, and in dense clusters. Their wide canopies caught the humid breeze and rustled with excitement. The white trunks, striped with brown, would make it easy to spot something crimson.

I kept my gaze up, hoping to catch a glisten of fruit among the branches.

“I’m going to make sure you see those griffins,” Illia said as she let go of my arm.

“Me?” I asked. “But aren’t you excited too?”

“Of course.” She smiled, more to herself than to me. “When I was younger, griffins were my favorite mystical creature. I used to daydream that one would hear I escaped from pirates, and that it would think I was so courageous it had to fly to our island just to bond with me.”

Nicholin swished his tail. “I don’t know if I should feel jealous or sad that I’m not a griffin.”

“No, no, no,” Illia said as she hugged Nicholin close. “That was me as a little girl. Now I know I wouldn’t want to be bonded with anyone but you.”

He made an odd purring noise, like he wasn’t built for it, but still attempted regardless. “That’s right! We’re meant to be together.”

Still—I had heard the excitement in her voice. If Illia wanted to meet a griffin, I would make sure that happened.

Somehow.

Thirty feet into the daisy tree woods and I spotted a rodent hole. While Illia went off to check some shrubbery, I knelt on the dirt and examined the burrow. I had dug enough graves to recognize when soil had been freshly tossed, so it was clear to me the entrance had been tampered with by human hands. Would Zelfree hide an apple here, of all places? I thought he had said they would be clearly visible. Best to check, regardless.

“What’re you doing?”

The snide voice snapped me out of my concentration. I glanced up and all excitement curdled in my system. Zaxis Ren. He stood with his arms crossed and his green eyes narrowed in a condescending stare.

“I’m searching for apples,” I said.

“In the dirt? Like an animal?”

I got to my feet and brushed the soil off the knees of my trousers. “Sounds like someone hasn’t had breakfast.”

“Heh. You think you’re so funny.”

Zaxis confused me more than anyone else. We had known each other our whole lives, and while it had been antagonistic when we were young, I thought we had worked past that during our time in the Frith Guild. Still, he fluctuated back and forth on whether we were being cordial.

Today wasn’t one of those days, it seemed.

His phoenix, Forsythe, glided through the trees on scarlet wings edged with gold. Occasional dustings of soot rained down from his body as he moved, and he swirled around us once before elegantly landed on the ground next to Zaxis. Phoenixes had the bodies of herons, with long necks and delicate frames, but their majestic tails appeared similar to a peacock, with vibrant designs and curved feathers.

Zaxis’s arcanist mark had a phoenix laced between the seven points of his star. I admired it for a moment, remembering the Trials of Worth of our home isle. I had wanted to bond with a phoenix more than anything back then.

Forsythe’s gold eyes stared at me for a moment. “Good morning.” His voice was imbued with a regal cadence.

“Morning,” I replied.

Zaxis huffed and then motioned to a cloth sack of apples sitting behind him. “Forsythe, don’t bother talking to this biscuit. We have a game to win.”

From what I could see, Zaxis had already gathered four apples, all glistening red, almost the same dark shade as his hair.

“I’m not stopping you,” I said, motioning to the woods. “You can leave and keep searching if you—”

Illia stood from the nearby shrub, an apple in hand. “Volke, look. I already found one!”

“Oh, Illia,” Zaxis said as he brushed off his coat. “I didn’t see you.” He straightened his posture. “Beautiful island, right?”

She acknowledged him with a quick nod and then smiled at me. “I think we should hurry. If there was an apple here, I think the others might not be searching as thoroughly as they should be.”

“Okay,” I said.

Before I could return to searching the rodent hole, Forsythe investigated the burrow with his long neck and beak, rooting through the fresh soil. He grabbed the stem of a hidden apple and plucked it from the dirt. He set it at Zaxis’s feet and fluffed his feathers, revealing the bright glow of his fiery body underneath.

“I found one, my arcanist. Aren’t you proud?”

Zaxis flashed me a smirk as he stroked his phoenix’s head. “Oh, yeah. Good job.”

I gritted my teeth, half-irritated at myself and half-irritated at Zaxis. I should’ve ignored him and focused on my searching. Then I would’ve had another apple for mine and Illia’s collection.

Illia walked over and took me by the elbow. “C’mon. What’re you waiting for?”

“This is nice weather we’re having,” Zaxis said to her, smiling wider than usual. “Pleasant and cool without too much wind.”

“Uh-huh,” she muttered. She tugged my arm. “Volke?”

I nodded. “Right.”

I shot Zaxis a look before walking off, amused by his failed attempts at engaging Illia. Did he really think the weather would interest her? He wasn’t as suave as he thought, though I did feel sorry for him. Not many people tried to strike up a conversation with Illia. For both their sakes, I wish he had done better.

Once we had left Zaxis’s presence, I turned my attention to the shadows. “Luthair, help us look for the apples.”

“By your command, my arcanist.”

 

About the Author

Shami Stovall grew up in California’s central valley with a single mother and little brother. Despite no one in her family earning a degree higher than a GED, she put herself through college (earning a BA in History), and then continued on to law school where she obtained her Juris Doctorate.

As a child, Stovall’s favorite novel was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. The adventure on a deserted island opened her mind to ideas and realities she had never given thought before—and it was at that moment Stovall realized story telling (specifically fiction) became her passion. Anything that told a story, be it a movie, book, video game or comic, she had to experience. Now, as a professor and author, Stovall wants to add her voice to the myriad of stories in the world and she hopes you enjoy.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

Website: https://sastovallauthor.com/

Blog: https://sastovallauthor.com/blog/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GameOverStation

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SAStovall/

 

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Sometimes in life you’re faced with a difficult decision.  You have to stop and ask yourself, “How much am I willing to compromise to get what I want?  What is my dream worth to me?”

Many years ago B.C. (Before Computers), I was eighteen and my goal in life was to have a book published.  At the time, self-publishing was very expensive and the product didn’t look very good, so from the beginning, I wanted to be traditionally published.  For all you young folks out there, that meant typing your novel on a typewriter, correcting mistakes with Wite-Out or Correcto-Tape, very messy and time-consuming techniques, finding a box the right size, mailing it to New York, and waiting months for a rejection slip. This went on for years until something magical happened: personal computers and the internet.

Woo hoo!  Now I could cut and paste and delete with ease. Now I had my own printer instead of having to haul three hundred pages down to the copy shop. Now I could email queries and sample chapters, save tons of money on postage, and be rejected in no time, at all!  Then a real miracle happened.  After twenty years of sending manuscripts out and getting them back, I got an agent. Okay, this was it!  My future was assured!

Just one slight problem.

My agent said she could sell my book if I changed my hero to a woman.  My Grace Street series featured a private investigator named David Randall.  His best friend is a psychic named Camden.  He loves a young woman named Kary.  Way too many relationship probems to solve if David becomes Denise.

So I tried another angle. I wrote a book with a female PI, ex-beauty queen Madeline “Mac” Maclin and her con man boyfriend, Jerry Fairweather, and set this book in a small fictional town much like my town of Mt. Airy, NC.  I called it A Case of Imagination.  Okay, now we’re good to go, I thought.

My agent didn’t like it.

I’d waited twenty years for a breakthrough.  I finally had an agent.  She was telling me what I could do to get published, and I couldn’t do it.  I’d spent those twenty years creating characters I loved, and I had thirteen manuscripts all finished.  If I changed Randall, I had to change his entire world.  My entire world.

I couldn’t do it.

The hardest phone call I’ve ever had to make was the one I made to my agent. Many years later, I found Poisoned Pen Press.  They didn’t require an agent.  Ironically, the first book they published was A Case of Imagination, but since then, they’ve published four more of Madeline’s adventures and six of the Grace Street mysteries with everyone’s original gender intact.

I started my quest when I was eighteen.  I received my first book contract when I was fifty-five.  It took longer than I’d hoped to be an overnight success, but I learned a lot about myself in the process.  I’m grateful I didn’t have to compromise on my dream.

Over the Edge cover

About the book: Mel Worthington wasn’t sure what he’d find when he went over the edge into Fairyland.  There he was amazed to discover his mother was revered as a goddess known as the Diamond Queen.  Mel has a rightful claim to the throne, but his fierce bodyguard assigned to guide him tin this world has a claim of her own.

Riley Evensong knows it’s her destiny to rule Eldenfair and is suspicious of the human who’s been asked over by the reigning king to help solve a technical problem.  A strange social media fad called Flitter has all the young fae enchanted and is causing havoc.

Riley must put aside her resentment of Mel and Mel must comes to terms with his emerging magic so together they can save Fairy Tales from becoming warped beyond recognition.

Oh, and there’s talking animal sidekick, of course.

DSC_0131

Jane Tesh, a retired media specialist, lives in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, Andy Griffith’s hometown, the real Mayberry.  She is the author of the Madeline Maclin mysteries and the Grace Street Series. Her mysteries are set in fictional North Carolina towns and are on the light side with humor, romance, and a touch of the paranormal. They are published by Poisoned Pen Press. She is also the author of four fantasy novels, Butterfly Waltz, A Small Holiday, The Monsters of Spiders’ Rest, and Over the Edge, published by Silver Leaf Books.  When she isn’t writing, Jane enjoys playing the piano and conducting the orchestra for productions at the Andy Griffith Playhouse.

Link to author’s website or blog: www.janetesh.com

Link to excerpt: www.janetesh.wordpress.com

Link to purchase page: https://www.amazon.com/Over-Edge-Jane-Tesh/dp/1609752252/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=over+the+edge+jane+tesh&qid=1568404846&s=books&sr=1-1

Link to book trailer: https://youtu.be/SaNhpbljhF0 

 

 

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ROSEMARY AND LARRY MILD, cheerful partners in crime, coauthor mystery, suspense, and fantasy fiction. Their popular Hawaii novels, Cry Ohana and its sequel Honolulu Heat, vibrate with island color, local customs, and exquisite scenery. Also by the Milds: The Paco and Molly Murder Mysteries: Locks and Cream Cheese, Hot Grudge Sunday, and Boston Scream Pie. And the Dan and Rivka Sherman Mysteries: Death Goes Postal, Death Takes A Mistress, and Death Steals A Holy Book. Plus Unto the Third Generation, A Novella of the Future, and three collections of wickedly entertaining mystery stories—Murder, Fantasy, and Weird Tales; The Misadventures of Slim O. Wittz, Soft-Boiled Detective; and Copper and Goldie, 13 Tails of Mystery and Suspense in Hawai‘i. 

mild5ROSEMARY, a graduate of Smith College and former assistant editor of Harper’s, also delves into her own nonfiction life. She published two memoirs: Love! Laugh! Panic! Life With My Mother and the acclaimed Miriam’s World—and Mine, for the beloved daughter they lost in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. On her lighter side, Rosemary also writes award-winning humorous essays, such as failing the test to get on Jeopardy; and working for a giant free-spending corporation on a sudden budget: “No new pencil unless you turn in the old stub.”

LARRY, who was only called Lawrence when he’d done something wrong, graduated from American University in Information Systems Management. In 2019 he published his autobiography, No Place To Be But Here: My Life and Times, which traces his thirty-eight-year professional engineering career from its beginning as an electronics technician in the U.S. Navy, to a field engineer riding Navy ships, to a digital systems/instrument designer for major Government contractors in the signal analysis field, to where he rose to the most senior level of principal engineer when he retired in 1993.

Making use of his past creativity and problem-solving abilities, Larry naturally drifted into the realm of mystery writing, where he also claims to be more devious than his partner in crime and best love, Rosemary. So he conjures up their plots and writes the first drafts, leaving Rosemary to breathe life into their characters and sizzle into their scenes. A perfect marriage of their talents.

THE MILDS are active members of Sisters in Crime where Larry is a Mister in Crime; Mystery Writers of America; and Hawaii Fiction Writers. In 2013 they waved goodbye to Severna Park, Maryland and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where they cherish quality time with their daughters and grandchildren. When Honolulu hosted Left Coast Crime in 2017, Rosemary and Larry were the program co-chairs for “Honolulu Havoc.”

Over a dozen worldwide trips to Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Great Britain, France, Italy, Israel, Egypt, and more have wormed their way into their amazing stories. In their limited spare time, they are active members of the Honolulu Jewish Film Festival committee, where Larry is the statistician and recordkeeper for their film ratings.

Website: http://www.magicile.com

INTERVIEW:

Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Copper and Goldie, 13 Tails of Mystery and Suspense in Hawaii. To begin with, can you give us a brief summary of what the stories are about and what compelled you to write them?  

ROSEMARY and LARRY: Copper and Goldie is a collection of 13 fun-filled stories, each one a complete little mystery. Homicide detective Sam Nahoe takes a bullet in his spine in the line of duty. Disabled, his career with the Honolulu Police Department shattered, what now? Jobless, divorced, and lonely, he becomes a Checker Cab driver and adopts a golden retriever with a touch of Doberman as his partner. Somehow trouble always finds them. Sam and Goldie take on the criminal side of Honolulu: bank robbers, kidnappers, vengeful wives, even killers. Hobbling on two canes, Cane and Able, he orders Goldie to chase the baddies. Snitch/card-sharp Sophie asks him: “You still walkin’ wit’ dem giant chopsticks?”

Cover ARt

What triggered the stories? Larry invents all our plots and dreamed up Copper and Goldie several years ago. We published nine of the stories individually in Mysterical-E, an online quarterly mystery magazine. He also found a perfect outlet for our love of golden retrievers. In Locks and Cream Cheese, the golden retriever Shana helps foil a thug. But dogs, cats, and birds find their way into many of our books. In Cry Ohana, a stray Black Lab becomes homeless Kekoa’s only friend. Lord Byron in Death Goes Postal is a brave kitty who sleeps in the poetry stacks and helps nail a killer. In Boston Scream Pie, Detective Paco teaches his macaws to talk.

What do you think makes a good (traditional “cozy” mystery)? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

ROSEMARY: One, an inventive, well-paced, plot full of conflict. A crime has been committed; or the threat of a crime hangs over the characters. Or, there is no hint of a threat, and then a happy scene suddenly erupts into mayhem. Two, characters who are three-dimensional—way beyond their façade, deep into their minds and hearts. Even the villains must be flesh and blood. Three, An amateur sleuth like a Miss Marple or Jessica Fletcher; or a private investigator; or a detective/policeman/inspector solves the crime(s). But solves it by way of a convoluted path that keeps the reader guessing. And always with the author keeping his/her promise to the reader. No unsubstantiated off-the-wall conclusions. So we’ve narrowed the three elements down for you. In truth, we could go on and on in rapturous detail. So fasten your seatbelts, we’ve got mysteries for you.

How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

ROSEMARY: Larry insists he’s more devious than I am, so he makes up all our plots and writes the first draft. Often I find a tantalizing scene told low-key or second-hand. I really love turning it into real-time drama and dialogue.

LARRY: I work from a ten- to fifteen-page statement of work, so I know where I’m going in general. The central plot develops from the characters, their situations and reactions. Subplots may pop up at any time. Rosemary has her say in pushing and pulling the growing plot too.

Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

ROSEMARY: Larry has an image in his mind of who the protagonist is; he might make notes on it. In Copper and Goldie, Larry gave Sam his own chronic back trouble; he also walks with two canes and calls them Cane and Able. Often I’ll pick out photographs  in magazines or newspapers that match my concept of some of our characters.

LARRY: Sam and I are simpatico. It goes along with the idea that there is something of the author in every character.    

In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

ROSEMARY: Larry and I work hard to give all our characters realism and credibility. For Hot Grudge Sunday, I found a photo of a former Congressman looking down from a balcony in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. He had the perfect commanding demeanor for our antagonist, a mercurial corporation president. It was a start.

LARRY: Antagonists and villains are created from their motives. What is it that they want most and how far are they willing to go to get it? The psychology, subterfuge, skills, preparations, opportunities, and execution take you to the next layer. Our goal: getting the reader into the characters’ minds.    

How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

ROSEMARY: If you’re dozing off writing a scene, delete it! Your readers will do the same. Using The Da Vinci Code as an example, end each chapter with a cliff-hanger—meaning a sense of danger or a seemingly hopeless dilemma.

LARRY: Conflict and resolution! Action! Conflict and resolution! Action! And more of the same. Well, almost.

Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

ROSEMARY: We love drawing on our own experiences for our settings. In Copper and Goldie you’ll hang out at Sam’s favorite eating places and parks, which are ours too. In Murder, Fantasy, and Weird Tales, we placed a story in a Cambodian jungle, where an American helicopter pilot and local boatman struggle for possession of a stolen sapphire. In that very setting, we witnessed the massive fig tree roots wrapped around decaying temples.

LARRY: Our short stories are set in at least a dozen countries. There’s nothing like first-hand experience. Our photographs are great tools in recalling those experiences.

Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

ROSEMARY:  Larry knows the general theme when he conjures up each plot. Together we hammer out the details. The theme (or more than one) and outcome evolves in each book. Sometimes the characters lead the way to a surprising conclusion.

Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

ROSEMARY: First step: Disgorge (yes, disgorge!) your story. Write the first draft without obsessing over each word and paragraph. Get the whole story out. Then edit. Think about it, mull over it.  When you’re rewriting true craft begins. Did I use an adverb like “he said angrily” when I should have said, “He slammed his fist on the table.” Show, don’t tell. The Maryland Writers Association newsletter once had a cartoon showing a speaker before an audience of writers. On the wall behind him was a large sign: “Adverbs and Adjectives Anonymous.”

LARRY: The art lies in your creativity—the realism, the settings, the conflicts, and the characters who must endure them. The craft comes in how you manage that art—allowing and drawing the reader to see that art. Sure, editing can both destroy and make a story. If the writer(s) and editor(s) work toward the same goals as Rosemary and I do, then a carefully crafted editing job will do wonders for any writing. 

What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

ROSEMARY: If “successful” means making lots of money, that “success” doesn’t include us. If we had to live on our earnings from our writing we’d be on welfare! But secretly, we’re proud to admit we don’t need ATMs. Our true success comes from this:  One, a fan of our books coming up to us in our booth at a fair or festival and wanting our newest one. Two, a daughter saying her mother has read all our books and needs to buy her the new one for her birthday. Three, seeing our books in print on shelves. They’re our legacy. On the most practical side, the digital revolution—Print on Demand—means our books will never go out of print.

A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. Thoughts?

ROSEMARY: You better believe it. It’s “Work work work work work” as Mel Brooks manically said in one of his crazy films. But we love it. The work keeps us going.

LARRY: So is it a labor of love or is it just lovely work and we do it?

Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

ROSEMARY: Umpteen resources are available. The wittiest, sharpest advice comes from Elmore Leonard (Get Shorty) in Writers on Writing. He lists ten rules in his essay “Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points, and Especially Hooptedoodle.” Join a writers’ critique group. Take writing classes at a community college or university. Join writers’ organizations such as Sisters in Crime. Subscribe to The Writer, Writer’s Digest, etc. (they’re also online). Keep a notebook with you so you can jot down ideas, observations, dialogue you hear at the grocery store or during an argument between your parents. First and foremost, just start writing. Try not to get bogged down by advice; there’s no end to it out there. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

ROSEMARY AND LARRY: The golden rule of writing is get something down on paper. So what are you waiting for? Start writing. Read in your genre of interest and learn from it. And for happy escapes, read our books!

 

 

 

 

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Pattie Palmer-Baker is a recognized award-winning artist and poet. Her artwork has been exhibited in galleries throughout the Pacific Northwest. Locally and nationally she has won numerous awards for her art and poetry.

An accomplished poet, Pattie had been nominated for the Pushcart Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in many journals including Calyx, Voicecatcher, Military Experience the Arts, Minerva Rising and Phantom Drift. In 2017 she earned first prize in the Write to Publish contest, and in 2019 she won first, second, and the Bivona prize in the Ageless Poetry contest.  She has served as the poetry co-editor for VoiceCatcher: a journal of women’s voices and visions.

Del Sol Press awarded MALL first prize for the most promising first novel in 2017.

Pattie lives in Portland, Oregon with her beloved husband and rescued dachshund.

Her website is www.pattiepalmerbaker.com/.

You can follow her at Facebook at https://tinyurl.com/yykrz36e.

About the Book:

A Novel by Pattie Palmer-Baker Winner of the Del Sol Most Promising Novel, 2017

MALL is a sparkling alternate world where everyone is beautiful, employed with enough income to consume and to experience a myriad of pleasures including drugs, gambling, theater, holographic adventures. No poverty and little or no crime. A lot of sex.

But what about the Mall Code? And what happens when Sara, a 21st century woman, accidentally finds her way into this alien yet familiar world? Nona, a MALL mental health practitioner treats Sara upon her arrival and goes against the Code to help her acclimate. Sara seems to be just what she needs, an antidote to Nona’s secret and growing boredom.

At first Sara desperately wants to get home, and, as she seeks a way out as well as answers about her new reality, Nona begins to see MALL in a new light. Is abundant gratification enough?

Things aren’t all beauty and pleasure. Sara experiences dancing in a dangerous orgiastic dance club on a lower level. She attends a gambling session where people bet on living more years when their “number’s up” and a “passing ceremony,” where Mallites are supposedly resurrected into a new life.

Junkers, outsiders lurking on the fringes of MALL, have been fighting Mall Management’s control by creating increasingly dangerous disturbances. For years they have struggled to discover an exit, based on rumors of those who made it Outside and were never heard from again. Through them Sara and Nona meet someone who might help them escape. They both must make the choice that will change their lives forever.

Who will risk leaving and who will decide to stay?

MALL by Pattie Palmer-Baker was recently published by Del Sol Press and winner of the Del Sol Press Most Promising Book, 2017.

ISBN: 978-0-9998425-5-3.

PRAISE:

What a suspenseful journey Mall was—a real “page-turner”-  imaginative with firm command of psychological expression and dialogue! Pattie Palmer-Baker captures some of the sexual contradictions, insecurities, and darker motivations of her female characters, and the complex relationships between women. The “surface” allusions to sex and violence throughout the story line work well with the superficial world she describes. Sex all the time—and yet, really, not much explicit writing about actual sexual encounters—the same for violence. This tension of content and form works well for me. What gives pleasure? What gives pain? The many hallways and mirrored rooms give the setting a creepy fun-house effect and increase the sense of a closed world and claustrophobic doom. Her descriptions of the Mallites’ physical appearances and their individual choice of costume in this strange place is creative—a breath of lightness in this frank examination of our quandary about the meaning of freedom in an existential existence. What is real? I was “on the run” with Sara for the entire read! And what a turn at the end!

— Cathy Cain, Portland poet and artist

ORDER YOUR COPY AT AMAZON

Would you call yourself a born writer?

No, although I wrote poetry when I was a child. However, I have always had a vivid imagination. I made up stories all through my childhood and sometimes still do. It wasn’t hard to come up with the idea of an alternative world.

What was your inspiration for MALL?

Years ago, a city planner friend and I were talking about different ways to organize cities. He mentioned grouping residences close to malls. And it came to me. What would it be like if people lived inside malls? The more I thought about it, the more complicated this alternative world became. Too unwieldly to keep straight in mind, I decided to write my ideas. And before I knew it my writing took on the form of a novel.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

MALL is the only novel I have written. I explore all kinds of themes in my poetry. I do tend to write a lot about my mother and father; in fact, I have recently finished a chapbook of poems examining the effects of my father’s alcoholism on my mother and myself. In Mall I wanted raise some questions. What is the effect of rampant consumerism? Would a place offering endless and diverse amusement attract you even if you had to give up close relationships? Are deep attachments worth the pain involved? Do we really know what we want and why?

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

Twenty years! Well, not really because I spent great swathes of time away from MALL to work on my artwork and poetry.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

No, not really unless I have a deadline. I write a little after coffee in the morning and then a little after a walk, sometimes in the evening before dinner. I write in spurts. I admit anxiety causes me to avoid writing, especially something new. I really have trouble getting the first words on paper. I do enjoy revising, often wondering how I wrote the first draft. Where did it come from? I think I and many other writers have to be in a kind of altered state to write, especially fiction and poetry.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

The final revision. I had a demanding, no nonsense editor, but did she ever know her stuff! Sometimes I felt like giving up.

What do you love most about being an author?

This is my first time as an ‘author.’ It’s hard to believe I actually wrote a novel and had it published. I sort of like talking about it. What I love and sort of hate about writing poetry is how much each and every word matters.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

I never thought about publishing until a couple of friends read a draft and encouraged me to try. I don’t think I was very serious about the process.  I submitted to a few small presses and a few contests. Winning the Del Sol Prize for Most Promising First Novel, 2017 absolutely shocked me.

Where can we find you on the web?

www.pattiepalmerbaker.com

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Title: VIEWS FROM THE COCKPIT: THE JOURNEY OF A SON

Author: Ross Victory

Publisher: Independent

Pages: 268

Genre: Memoir

BOOK BLURB:

Views from the Cockpit: The Journey of a Son by Ross Victory is a memoir born from pain. Intimate journal entries morph into a phenomenal dialogue of tender father-son memories, loss, strength and turbulence in a young boy’s life on his journey into manhood. When the author discovers that his father is terminally ill and a victim of elder abuse, he embarks on a journey of reflection and discovery which soars and nosedives, chapter by chapter. Decorated in airplane analogies, with writing you can feel, Views from the Cockpit serves as a catalyst for readers to take perspective of their lives from the highest point. Views is a narrative that provides emotional assurance that readers’ unique experiences of pain, love and loss cannot be recreated or erased, but can be processed in order to not lose sight of their life journeys.

★★★★★ORDER YOUR COPY★★★★★

Amazonhttps://tinyurl.com/yxoywnx9

 Barnes & Noblehttps://tinyurl.com/y2ydegrg

Book Excerpt:

Dried diarrhea and urine were splotched across the carpet of the bedroom floor. Sections of bed sheets were stained in indistinguishable yellow marks and unknown fluids. The final stages of his disease were in full bloom. Bowls of half-eaten split pea soup, days-old Cream of Wheat, and withered apple cores lay abandoned throughout the room. A crusty, half-full, portable urinal with traces of blood crowded his side table. The room was stale and reeked of body odors. This is how I found him—in a crime scene of filth and neglect.

He had been living for nearly six months in a home nestled in the hills of Northern California. He rented

two rooms in the home of an Iranian used-car salesman. Serene views of San Francisco Bay illuminated the backyard patio every night. The home was encircled in blooming shrub roses, in shades of yellows and ruby reds, with an overgrown tomato garden along the property border. A giant oak tree and three dusty used cars greeted visitors as they approached the large double doors. The double doors unveiled a living room with a cream-colored chaise lounge and matching love seat. Oversized Persian paintings leaned graciously against the white-washed walls. A tangerine sunset sparkled o the bay and beamed through the pane glass doors of the lavish, unused living room. The smell of Persian spices and beef kebab filled the home. Mysterious gray soup bubbled in the kitchen next to large bags of rice, plates of Chinese pan-fried pancakes, and frozen bags of what appeared to be thawing chunks of flesh-colored meat.

I walked down a narrow, dimly lit hallway that connected his room to the living room and bathroom. Shoes and blankets tumbled peacefully in the dryer. A ray of light flickered from underneath the bathroom door.

“Dad?”

About the Author

Ross Victory is an American Marketing professional, travel enthusiast, and author of the new memoir, Views from the Cockpit: The Journey of a Son. He spent his early years collecting pens, notepads and interviewing himself in a tape recorder. With an acute awareness for his young age, he was eager to point out hypocrisies and character inconsistencies in children and adults through English assignments. He delighted in provoking a reaction from his English teachers with writing that seemed to wink and smile.

He enjoys writing non-fiction and fiction projects–stories of captivating, complex characters expressed in all their dimensions usually on a path to self-discovery through suffering. After the loss of his father, Ross has married his love for writing to create a compelling memoir to inspire the world. Ross received his B.S. in Business Administration & Marketing Management.

Website: http://www.rossvictory.com

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/rossvictoryofficial

Facebook: www.facebook.com/rossvictoryofficial/

 

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