Category Archives: Guest Posts

Guest Fiction: Summer and Sunshine by Sharon Chidra Jonah

Everyday she breathes. Everyday she smiles. Everyday she laughs.
It was pretty normal to everyone; no one saw anything wrong. They thought she was overly chirpy. They thought she was the full definition of rainbows and sunshine. Summer itself, just like her name.

But no one saw the darkness and pain that she was quietly slipping into, like it was her safe haven, like it was where she really belonged.

Her nickname was Sunshine. It wasn’t an insult but what they thought she should be, instead of a mere human whose existence will cease to exist someday. The irony.

No one knew what she was hiding until that night. I heard crying, and I followed it to the back of the bar.  Who will be here this late at night? I asked myself, and that’s when I saw her. Her strawberry-blonde hair covered her face, but I knew it was her. Then she looked up and my breathing hitched. Never have I seen eyes as red rimmed as hers, and it struck something in me. I wanted to help her, comfort her, be the reason to bring that smile in her face again.

But, the next morning, she was all smiles again. I remembered her helping an old lady to use the computer, and a whole lot of other people after that. A sweet child, they said. She’s full of happiness, they said. Such an amazing soul, they said. They judged too quickly. Just like I did.

But for the first time, I saw the secrets and pain that were hidden deep in her eyes. I thought she was okay, but I’ve never been more wrong.

She kept that façade for a long time. The smiles, the laughter, the kindness, the everything. She kept them all. Until she stopped them all, together with everything that made her, her. Until her lips turned a deep blue. Until she could no longer say her last words. Until her skin turned pale and her blood ran cold. Until she could no longer do the one thing, she so desperately wanted to.

Breathe.

Until Summer and Sunshine was just a name, not the overly-kind strawberry blonde girl who seemed to live by her name.

Again, the irony.

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Sharon Chidra Jonah

Sharon Chidra Jonah is a teenage African girl from the Eastern part of Nigeria. Though she isn’t a published author yet, Sharon has always taken a liking to blogging and writing. At a very young age, she began to write and decided to start her own blog where she writes all her thoughts.  Sharon is working on her very first novel, which is currently on the web. Sharon loves reading, writing, and listening to music, and one day she hopes to build something bigger with what she loves doing. You can see more of Sharon Chidra Jonah’s work on Wattpad with the name “Dark Blood.” You can check out her blog www.geekysharon.blogspot.com, where she blogs about anything and  everything.

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Guest Post: 4 Things to Consider When Designing Your Characters by Marielle Ann Suy

by Marielle Ann Suy

One of the most common challenges fiction authors face is creating “believable” characters. Take note, I said believable. Designing a character is different from designing a realistic character.

You may already be aware that your character needs life. You might have been searching the internet or reading books endlessly on how to make your characters feel alive. But it’s not enough.

Thankfully, I’m here to share with you the same technique I use to create realistic characters.

Artist drawing pencil portrait close-up

 

  • The Personality

Every human has a personality.

I usually start with knowing their “type.” Are they strong and tough? Are they shy and timid? Are they preppy and fashionable?

The key question here is what are they like?

If you, by some miracle, get the chance to meet this character, what would they tell you? How will they act? Are they initiating active conversations? Do they gossip? Do they talk endlessly? Do they annoy you?

By meeting them, you learn more about them. Not just how they look, but how they act. The more you know them, the better you can craft them.

Here’s an example:

Coal Lockwood is a character from Disappeared (Quesnium). He is a medieval farmer who lives with his childhood friend, Christina Evangeline. Since he’s a farmer, he’s got ragged clothes and a pale skin from all that sunlight. He’s also quite muscular (farming requires a lot of effort) for his age.

Since he was exposed to the hard life of farmers, he’s very down-to-earth. Well, down-to-quesnium, in this case. He knows how to prioritize their needs. Say, there’s no more food in the kitchen and thankfully, he was provided with bread. What he’ll do first is break it into portions. He’ll give one, maybe two, to Christina, eat half of one portion and then store the rest. Afterwards, he’ll find ways to get more food for them.

  • The Goal

Creating your character’s goal is actually easier than you think. The goal is what your character wants.

It could be as simple as being accepted by their parents to as grand as saving the world before bedtime.

The point is that your character must want something. Otherwise, there’s no story.

Here’s an example about Coal:

Coal is a simple man. With his social status, his only goal was to survive the day and the next and the next. He’s devoted to farming. During harvest season, he stores some for himself and Christina, the others for sale. He uses the coins for various needs, like seeds for the farm, food for the livestock, and for future repairs.

The better you can visualize their goal, the better they will move towards that direction.

  • The Motivation

Motivation, in its simplest of terminology, is what inspires your character to reach their goal.

Every human has a motivation, whether or not they realize it. Say, your character wants to graduate. Their motivation is their family. Perhaps, they want to give their family a better life – a better future. That’s why they want to graduate. They want to work soon to be able to support their family.

  • The Humanity

Flaws don’t make us weak, only human.

Everyone has flaws. There’s no such thing as a perfect human (unless he’s a cyborg). Making a human with superhuman strengths and no weaknesses is close to impossible. Even Superman has a weakness.

Whether it’s an object, a hidden trauma, or a person, each character must have a weakness. At the same time, they must also have strengths. Try to balance these when assigning traits to your character.

For example, if your setting is a palace in the sky, your character may be afraid of heights, but they may also have keen senses. In a thriller, action, or adventure story, keen senses are necessary.

And there they are. Those are the 4 things you should consider when designing your characters. Happy writing!

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suyA lover of fairytales and the mystical, Marielle Ann Suy is a storyteller and author. She has published two short stories. Both stories are about the sun’s disappearance, hence entitled “Disappeared.” “Disappeared (Earth)” is about a solar eclipse and how it affects the world. “Disappeared (Quesnium)” is about the sun’s disappearance and how it affects lowly farmers. A novel based on the same characters and the same premise is on its way. Stay tuned in via social media or by subscribing to her newsletter.

Social Media Links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MariellesQuesnium/

Twitter – @suy_marielle

Blog – https://quesnium.wixsite.com/talesofworlds

 

Disappeared (Earth) Book Links:

Apple Books – http://bit.ly/DiniBooks

Barnes and Noble – http://bit.ly/DinNook

Kobo – http://bit.ly/2DinKobo

Scribd – http://bit.ly/DinScribd

Smashwords – http://bit.ly/2DinSmashwords

 

Get Your Free Copy of Disappeared (Quesnium): http://bit.ly/QuesniumFREE  

 

 

Interested in having your work featured here?  Contact me.

 

 

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4 Self-Publishing Essentials That No Author Can Publish Without

by Rosie Wylor-Owen

Self-publishing gives authors exciting degrees of freedom over their work. We can choose how long our books can be, what to put on the covers and *squeal* how much to charge for them. When we’re bound to publishing contracts, these important elements are left in the hands of editors and graphic designers who haven’t nurtured your manuscript the way you have. Despite this, in the hands of a publisher, all the costs of producing our book babies are covered. Self-publishing freedom is not without its expense.

Indie authors aren’t known for their riches, so sometimes we might feel tempted to cut corners. While we can take steps to be frugal, there are some things we just can’t sacrifice for the sake of cost. Before you self-publish your book, take a look at the self-publishing essentials you can’t publish without:

Editing

As indie authors, we tend to have a great network of author friends who are ready to beta-read our manuscripts for some cold, hard feedback. Ouch, right? While this is hugely helpful in creating a polished manuscript, beta-readers just can’t replace real editing by a seasoned professional. Without proper editing, you could quite easily publish an error-riddled book to your adoring fans.

No matter how many times you pore over your manuscript, something – nay, a lot of things – are going to slip under your radar. Editors may cost a pretty penny but the polished manuscript you receive from them is priceless. Even if you have to save a dollar at a time, hire the darn editor.

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A Professional Book Cover

First impressions matter more than we like to think they do, and that could not be truer than of books. The front covers of our novels are the first things our readers see and are the first excuse to say “no” to our books. You might be quite artistic, but the chances of creating a fantastic book cover without some real graphic design experience are slimmer than an intern’s paycheque.

Your book title plastered across a free stock photo in sans-serif isn’t going to wow readers who have probably seen one hundred better covers that day already. Investing in a good book cover is arguably even smarter than hiring an editor, because the cover is what gets your readers to the first page. Forget about Canva and Pixabay, and start researching some good graphic designers. Your manuscript deserves the best.

Reading

This question has bounced around Facebook writing groups since time immemorial. Does a writer have to read to be a good writer? The answer is yes. Is it possible for a musician to compose good music without listening to any first? Only if they have superpowers.

Some writers insist that their writing is often complimented and they never read. Here’s the thing: a good writer isn’t just someone who can write at an acceptable level and gets themselves a few hearty congratulations from Aunt Beatrice and Uncle Tom. A good writer is a writer who is constantly improving, and there’s no better way to do that than to read regularly and write regularly. The best dishes come from the chefs who do their homework.

Networking

This writing deal really does test us, sometimes. Writing is, by and large, an introvert’s profession. We like holing up in our studies and creating in peace and quiet; no people, and lots of coffee. Bliss. So networking isn’t at the top of our to-do lists, but if we want to get our books under the noses of our ideal readers, we need a helping hand (or several).

The good news is, since the marvelous invention of social media, we don’t have to meet anyone face to face. Don’t tell me that’s not ideal.

Authors need each other to help host their book launches, to share their giveaways and to recommend their books. Without a solid backing, indie authors struggle much more to get their work noticed. Go and say “hi” in a few writing groups, and write a thank-you e-mail to your favourite indie author. You might just find friendships worth keeping.

Whether you enjoy socialising or not, we need allies on our journey; a journey we can all make together.

Whether we like it or not there are some things that we can’t do without. Books, friends, and the dastardly red pen, among other things. If you want your writing career to be a successful one, try out these ideas and see if you can take the next step towards that bestseller list.

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Rosie Wylor-Owen was born in Worcester, England at the height of baggy jeans and boy-band popularity. Her work has been featured in the literary magazines The Fiction Pool, Anti-Heroin Chic and Ariel Chart, and the Manawaker Studios Podcast. Her short story “Arm-in-Army with Alchemy” was accepted for publication by Otter Libris for inclusion in the anthology “Magical Crime Scene Investigation.” In February 2018 she won third place in the Fiction Writer’s Global flash fiction contest for her story “In Exchange for Your Sins.”

http://www.rosiewylor-owen.com

http://www.welcometothesecretlibrary.com (blog)

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/rosiewylorowenauthor/
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/rosiewylorowenbooksquad/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/rosiewylorowen/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bates_rosie

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rouli91/

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Filed under Guest Posts, On Writing, Self-Publishing

Guest Book Review: The Fire King by Amber Jaeger

by Whitney Morgan

This five-star read was on FIRE!

For almost an entire year this book popped up on my recommended page on Amazon, and when I finally downloaded it, I couldn’t put it down.

I really enjoyed The Cold King and I always get nervous when reading other books by authors who have written one of my favorites. This was definitely worth it! This re-telling of Snow White was epic. It will be very hard to beat, in my opinion.

 fire king

The Fire King was a perfect combination of witty, smart and heart wrenching. I loved all of the characters but the relationship between King Lian and Princess Katiyana was absolutely priceless.

“Well, I can see that where ever you have been hiding, dressing and acting like a lady have not been the highest priority.”

 keeping

Katiyana was a perfect heroine. While there were times she was immature and complained about little things, she was fierce and she didn’t need a man to save her or set her free.

“I am not some simpering consort that is going to hang off your arm.”

She didn’t care to challenge the king or his highest-ranking officer.

“You are a grown man, not a child. Stop acting like one. If there is a problem, just find a way to fix it and move on. Your temper tantrums are exhausting and unnecessary.”

When she saw something wrong, she acted on it.

“What was that, coward?” Katiyana taunted. “I could not hear you from all the way over there. It sounded as though you were upset someone raised their voice and hand to your king, but surely that cannot be it if you are willing to allow him to do the same to a defenseless girl.” 

I will admit that it took her a while to realize it rested on her shoulders alone to save her people. When she stepped into her role and accepted her duty she became stronger and better. She became a queen that was going to protect and serve her people.

snow white

I loved that the “apple” scene was different and the same at the same time. Instead of going with the traditional “girl bites apple without knowing, girl goes into sleeping curse, girl is saved by man,” it was actually really awesome. And there were two different scenes, so it was cool.

Not only did Katiyana challenge Lian, Lian also challenged her.

“You act like a country bumpkin, not a princess.”

“And you act like an angry bear, not a king!”

There were times the hostility between them grew and they resorted to hurting each other.

“Your lack of manners and ability to hold your tongue is appalling, as is your refusal to act and dress like a lady. When you are not aggravating me, you are up in the roof of all places, daydreaming. I cannot imagine a man wanting to tie himself to a woman like that.”

The fact that the king had to tell her to bathe was absolutely hilarious. (I’m telling you, I could not get enough of their banter and relationship. It was hysterical.)

A simple bath had her out of sorts.

“I am never going to be able to do this,” Katiyana whispered to herself as she dejectedly walked towards the bathing room. 

She refused to call Lian her king but before she knew it, he had gained her trust and respect, much to her shock she started seeing him in a new light.

“How is our king spoken about?”

 If you like re-tellings, fairy tales, Snow White, men that act like bears, strong heroines, women that do not need a man’s help or all of the above… Read this. It was beautiful, funny and amazing!

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, you can find it here.

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Image uploaded from iOS-2

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to write. It’s been a part of who I am since I was a child scribbling away in my notebooks about characters and love and poetry and songs and ideas. I bleed stories and lyrics rather than blood. 

Well, I grew up and went through a bunch of life. I became a wife at eighteen-years-old and a mom three years later. I’ve gone through difficult losses and amazing blessings, but one thing remained the same over the years; I wanted to write. So, eventually, I did! 

If I’m not reading, then I’m writing and if I’m not writing, well, you guessed it, I’m probably reading. 

I daydream all the time. If I look like I’m staring off into space, it’s because I’m seeing a world that isn’t really there. I’m letting characters tell me about themselves.  Humor, passion, and romance is the braid that is my story-telling. I   cannot have one without the other two.  I may be approaching twenty-seven, but I’m beyond obsessed with the YA genre. Romance, Fantasy, and anything in between! 

If you aren’t a fan of fairytale retellings, but love romance and mystery, you can check out my novel ‘Finding Home in Redemption’ on Amazon! I have the first three, unedited, chapters on my personal blog, as well as a sneak preview of the prologue and first chapter of the book I have coming out this July! While they are part of the same series, you do not have to read book one to understand book two. (Although there are secrets that are revealed about book one, it’s not critical to read them in order.)

Are you interested in reading and reviewing an ebook for free? I’m looking for ARC readers who would like to receive an ebook copy of ‘Redeeming the Darkness’ in exchange for an honest review. If this sounds like something you’d like to do, feel free to contact me by email at: whitneymmorganbooks@gmail.com

Chapter one of Finding Home in Redemption:

https://www.whitneymorganbooks.com/single-post/2017/07/06/Want-to-read-chapter-one-of-Finding-Home-in-Redemption

Prologue and chapter one of Redeeming the Darkness:

https://www.whitneymorganbooks.com/single-post/2018/05/31/Redeeming-the-Darkness-Prologue-Chapter-One

For information about Redeeming the Darkness, Look here:

https://www.whitneymorganbooks.com/redeeming-the-darkness

For information about Finding Home in Redemption, Look here:

https://www.whitneymorganbooks.com/coming-soon

For all kinds of other information about books I have coming out in the future, check out my website at, www.whitneymorganbooks.com

You can also follow me on Facebook or Instagram @whitmorganbooks

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Guest Post: Where Do Those Characters in the Books Come From? by Jerold Last

by Jerold Last

As we try to create the imaginary worlds of our books, to be believable we have to rely on reality for inspiration.  I use the places I’ve lived in and visited in South America as settings in my South American Mystery novels.  These novels have to be populated with people, both the central characters like my detectives Roger Bowman and Suzanne Foster, and all of the rest of the people they will meet as they investigate the murder or murders.  We quickly encounter a problem of how to make these other characters into distinct individuals rather than just 20 stereotypes named Pedro or Jose.  To solve this problem I generally use real people I’ve met in South America as models for fictional characters in these books.  The process begins by visualizing someone I actually met for a physical description, and/or by taking part of their personas to start building the fictional characters.  To demonstrate this process, let’s follow the path from reality to book pages of several suspects in the murders being investigated in three of my novels.

 First up is Bernardo Colletti, the head of the Uruguayan Nazi Party in The Ambivalent Corpse, and a suspect in the murder.  He has strong roots in reality.  I first visited Montevideo in 1982 as a Fulbright Professor teaching courses in toxicology and protein biochemistry during the waning days of a right-wing military dictatorship.  One of my hosts was married to a physician who worked in the Emergency Room (think of George Clooney’s role in ER) of the major hospital in Montevideo, who also turned out to be the head of the Uruguayan Nazi Party.  Despite his politics, he was a charming and well-educated (Uruguay and Chicago, USA) physician with whom I was expected to interact professionally and socially while I was there.  To create Bernardo’s character in the book, I merely aged his role model from 1982 to 2011 and grafted the real Nazi’s looks and personality onto the fictional one.  Despite the obvious reasons one should not like a virulent fascist, I tried to portray Bernardo as I recalled the real person: extremely charming and intelligent in social settings where he chose not to emphasize the more odious of his political views.  But, I have to admit, I enjoyed finally killing him off in The Body In The Bed.

Next up is another character (actually a couple) from The Ambivalent Corpse, Gerardo and Andrea, who act as hosts for Suzanne at the University de la Republica and become good friends of our heroes as the story evolves.  The couple is modeled after my two best friends and scientific colleagues in Montevideo. They are, in fact, named after their two children.  Now there’s a switch, naming the parents after their children.  You can get a real sense of power when you write fiction!  The scene at the Feria (open air market) in the park described in the book is based on the actual Saturday morning Feria in the park across the street from the apartment we rented when we lived in Montevideo.  Andrea’s research with algal toxins she describes at dinner in the book is pretty close to what the real “Andrea and Gerardo” do in Montevideo, and formed a large part of the basis for our collaborative research and teaching.  

In The Surreal Killer, Suzanne and Roger are taken for a flight over Northern Chile’s vast Atacama Desert in a small two-engine plane by two of their suspects, Pedro and Romero.  Along the way, Pedro gives both of them lessons in how to fly the plane.  Pedro’s character is a composite based upon a couple of real scientists I’ve known very well.  One of them is a North American, originally from New Jersey, who actually taught me how to fly a single-engine Cessna many years ago while we were both research scientists at The National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.  The other, more extroverted, half of Pedro’s character is based upon Manuel E., a Chilean scientist who hosted me during several visits to Santiago as we tried to build a collaborative program at The University of Chile similar to those we had already developed in Montevideo and Salta, Argentina. 

Finally, the Kaufman sisters, Gretchen and Barbara, make their debut as murder suspects in The Origin of Murder, as fellow passengers on a cruise of the Galapagos Islands with Roger and Suzanne.  They return to the series again to play substantial roles in Unbearably Deadly and Abra Cadaver.  We met the sisters’ counterparts in real life as, you may have guessed, passengers on the cruise ship we took for our real vacation in the Galapagos Islands.  One of the sisters taught school in the San Francisco Bay area, the other lived with her and worked for a publisher in the city.  We spent several dinners together on board the ship discussing life for single women in San Francisco, our common love of dogs, and whatever other topics came to mind, and tended to hang together as we visited the islands.  We also met for dinner in the Bay Area a few times after we returned to California, but that was a long drive and the friendship petered out.  I grafted their physical descriptions and personalities onto the fictional sisters in the novel as the list of characters emerged.  They were promoted to recurring character status in Unbearably Deadly.  I like how they can interact with Roger and Suzanne to keep the plot moving along without having to steal the limelight from our main characters.  I suspect we’ll continue to see them occasionally as the series continues.

            In this brief blog entry I’ve tried to describe how a small part of the creative process works for fiction authors.  Our life experiences are the source and our books and their characters are the product.  If you’d like to meet Bernardo, Andrea, and Gerardo, they can be found hanging out in The Ambivalent Corpse.  You can meet Pedro, Romero, and their Beechcraft Baron airplane in The Surreal Killer.  The Kaufman sisters appear in The Origin of Murder, Unbearably Deadly, and Abra Cadaver.  Finally, Bernardo Colletti also appears (very briefly) in the novella The Body in the Bed.

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JL Photo

Jerold Last is a Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of California’s Medical School at Davis, near Sacramento in Northern California.  Jerry, a two-time winner of The Indie Book of the Day Award, writes “tweener” mystery books (tough and occasionally violent mystery stories that follow the cozy conventions of no graphic sex and no cussing), all published as e-books on Amazon Kindle with six also published as paperback versions, that are fast moving and entertain the reader.  Several of the books introduce the readers to South America, a region where he has lived and worked that is a long way from home for most English speakers.  He and his wife Elaine lived previously in Salta, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay.  Jerry selects the most interesting Latin American locations he found for Roger and Suzanne to visit while solving miscellaneous murders.  Montevideo, Salta, Machu Picchu, Cuba, the Galapagos Islands, and Iguazu Falls are also characters in these books, and the novels portray these places as vivid and real.  Jerry and Elaine breed prize-winning German shorthaired pointer dogs; Elaine also provides technical advice for Jerry’s dog-related novels like The Deadly Dog Show, Hunter Down, and Abra Cadaver, as well as editing for all of the books.

Interested in having your guest post featured here?  Contact me.

 

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Guest Post: Writing a Humorous Murder Mystery by Robin Donovan

by Robin Donovan

Editing is always critical, no matter what you write. Editing a humorous murder mystery is considerably more critical than a non-humorous fictional murder because you can easily lose the empathy of your reader if the humor goes too far or becomes too macabre. Even if the victim was a vile person, there is still a line over which the protagonist dare not step. On the other hand, if you’re not into cozy mysteries, becoming too macabre may be your goal. Long live Stephen King!

The humorous murder mystery has to maintain something of a pathos throughout, while highlighting humorous components whenever possible. And there had better be enough tasteful humorous components or you will lose your audience to boredom.

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While my protagonist in Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch? can’t pretend to be sorry her horrible former colleague has been murdered, she does take the time to comment on her feelings of sadness for the widower and the now motherless child. In other parts of the story, through another character, we are informed that the clownishly large feet of the murdered woman were almost too big to fit in her coffin. Were these elements juxtaposed too closely and not timed perfectly, it might highlight the humor in a negative or cruel light, leaving a bad taste in the mouth of the reader.

That sounds like an extremely delicate balance – and it is. But hitting that sweet spot, that perfect balance of humor and compassion, can be so rewarding.

When I first started writing cozy mysteries, I took my cue for humor from the extremely successful Janet Evanovich. She typically employs about 6 different comedic incidents in every book. That’s harder than it sounds. Not to mention that a humorous undertone must work right alongside pathos when murder is involved, so the author must carefully interweave these elements with masterful timing.

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The husband of Is It Still has to make a somber decision to give up the woman he loves, his mistress, as it is in the best interest of his young son after his wife’s tragic death. At the same time, said mistress is having a laughable public meltdown as she decides that the dead woman’s mother is responsible for her being dumped. With these scenes, I hope to elicit respect for a man who is able to make a difficult decision to sacrifice his own needs for those of his son, and conversely, amusement over a woman who takes a completely self-centered viewpoint of a tragic event that does not directly involve her. If my timing misses, this whole scenario is likely to fall flatter than a pancake. But if it works, I will succeed in taking your emotions way down and then back up all the way to laughter. That’s a very heady feeling for an author.

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BookdeliverydayRobin Leemann Donovan is the author of the blog, Menologues, a humorous yet informative look at the trials and tribulations of menopause by someone who’s been there. Menologues has been republished on two commercial sites: Vibrant Nation and Alltop, and has won regional honors for social media at the AMA Pinnacles and PRSA Paper Anvil awards. Her first book in the Donna Leigh Mystery series: Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch? won an AMA Pinnacle award. Her second book: I Didn’t Kill Her, But That May Have Been Shortsighted, was released in November, 2015. And her third book: I Don’t Know Why They Killed Him He Wasn’t Really That Annoying, came out early last year.

Donovan was born and raised in New Jersey but lived and worked in Connecticut for a number of years before moving to Nebraska in 1999. Starting her career as a high school English teacher, Donovan moved into advertising in the early 80’s and became a VP Media Director working on brands like Duracell, Stanley Tools, IBM, Visa and Merck Pharmaceutical. In 1999 she accepted a job offer from Bozell, an Omaha based ad agency. In late 2001, she and three colleagues purchased Bozell from its New York-based parent company, where she is currently the president.

She has served on the boards of the Omaha Children’s Museum, the Omaha YWCA, and she was chairman of the Alzheimer’s of the Midlands board for two years, serving a total of six years on the board. She is currently the membership director for Kick for the Cure, an organization that raises funds for breast cancer through soccer tournaments.

Donovan lives with her husband and three bulldogs; Roxi, Frank and Sadie (Sweet Pea).

Be sure to visit Donna’s website and Facebook page.  Check out her book trailer, book page, books for sale on Amazon.

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Interested in having your work featured here?  Contact me.

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Guest Post: Silently Watching by Coral McCallum, Part 1

Pulling the laces tight on his well-worn running shoes, he glanced out of the patio doors at the reddening sky. Another beautiful summer evening for a long training run. With a nod to his wife, who was curled up on the opposite couch engrossed in a trashy TV soap opera, he slipped out of the front door, closing it quietly behind him so as not to disturb their sleeping children. Nestling his earphones into place, he pressed play on his iPod and set off down the hill at a leisurely pace. No sense in heading off too fast too soon since he had his sights set on at least twelve miles. As the hill began to level off he had a choice – go straight through more houses or take the right fork down a narrow single track road. The sight of a group of kids playing football in the middle of the road ahead made the decision an easy one and he turned off to his right into the immediate shade of the overhanging trees and into a cloud of midgies.

In front of him an elderly woman was walking an equally elderly looking terrier. He regularly ran passed them on his evening training runs and knew the dog wouldn’t give him a second glance, unlike the dog at the house next to the church. It would dearly love to sink its teeth into his tattooed calf! The old woman gave him a smile and a nod as he loped passed her towards the cemetery. Surrounded by crumbling dry stone walls, the village’s crowded cemetery lay a few yards further down the road to his left. At the first sight of the walls, he picked up his pace. Something about that short stretch of road sent icy chills to his very core, despite the warmth of the summer evening.

On the aged stone steps opposite the graveyard, the fallen angel sat hidden by the long evening shadows. She had heard his footsteps the moment he turned down the narrow road and had slipped out from the cool sanctuary of the ruined mausoleum that lay forgotten far back in the trees, to watch for him. For weeks she had observed him as he ran up and down the hill. It was the rich metallic scent of his blood mingled with sweat that had first attracted her. Resisting was becoming more of a challenge each time he was within her range. Once she had followed him as he ran down through the village and along the coast road towards the next town. Soundlessly she had flown just above the tree line until his route had reached the lighthouse. With no trees to shelter her and the risk that the lighthouse’s lamp would expose her, she had reluctantly flown home, tasting his scent in air as she retraced her path.

Tonight the air was perfectly still, no wind to rustle the leaves, and his musk was strong. It had been three days since she had last fed and the mere sight of the ripe veins pulsing in his neck as he ran passed her was almost too much. Licking her lips, she slipped further back into the shadows, deciding to wait for his return journey. She was patient; she could wait….for now.

Two hours later in the last dusky light of the day, he turned off the main street to run back up the hill, safe in the knowledge that a hot shower and a clean bed were waiting at the top. His muscles were screaming at him as he dug deep into the last of his reserves and powered his way passed the church. Loud rock music filled his head, keeping his mind from lingering on the hot pain that had crept into his right foot. Another blister was not what he needed.

The turn off to the single track cemetery road was just up ahead. If he took it the route was shorter but steeper; if he took the longer route he had to make it safely passed that nippy dog. Short and steep won. He turned off and was level with the gates of the cemetery when he spotted the old woman’s little dog sitting at the side of the road. There was no sign of its mistress. He paused to rub its ears, glancing round trying to spot the old woman in the fading light. A rustling from behind the walls of the cemetery suggested to him, in his tired state, that she may be on the far side paying her respects to a long gone loved one. Without a backward glance he picked up his pace once more and headed home.

In the graveyard the angel stood up, spreading her magnificent black purple tinged wings out behind her. Carefully she dabbed at her mouth with her long pale fingers, removing the last traces of blood from her full red lips. She had resisted the temptation of him for now. At her feet lay the drained corpse of the old woman, eyes vacantly staring up into the night sky.

Find Part 2 here.

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From author Coral McCallum:

I live on the West Coast of Scotland and am married with two student age children and am the human slave of four cats. I still work full time for a retail bank as a manager and write in my spare time. It’s my escape and my “me time.”

I’ve been writing stories/poems for a long as I can remember but only sat down to attempt to write my first novel 5 years ago. I write my first drafts long hand then use typing them up as my first re-draft.  My biggest fear as a writer is letting people read what I write so I started my blog at the tale end of 2013 to try to help me overcome that crippling fear. I set myself the challenge to post one “blog” a week for every week of 2014. I managed it and have been posting once a week ever since. I am still very nervous hitting “publish” on each blog though! I use my blog as a playground to try out short fiction pieces or to introduce characters that I am thinking of adding to my books. I’ve interviewed some of my characters to give insight into the books too. The blog is a good medium to connect with readers and give them an update on “book baby” progress.
Currently I am typing/editing/proofreading Book Baby 4 with the aim of publishing it in September. It is a standalone spin off from the Silver Lake series and features the band that appear as a “support act” for Silver Lake called After Life.  I’ve also included a few cameo appearances from other characters in the Silver Lake series so my readers will meet a few “old friends” in the pages.
Silently Watching as a short fiction series has been ongoing for 4 years. I let my dark angel out to play a couple of times a year and hope to add another installment at the end of the summer. I try to tie them into Pagan festivals.
So apart from working full time, writing and blogging, I love my rock music and run two social media fanpages supporting Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge. I also write a music blog on occasion covering gig reviews and album releases –  The 525 to Glasgow. I use my own photos in my concert reviews and am a keen amateur photographer.
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Interested in having your work featured on this blog?  Contact me.

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