Tuesday

Kindle Author Sponsor: Steven Novak

Book Title:

Forts: Fathers and Sons

Author:

Steven Novak

Kindle Price:

$2.99

Available from:

Amazon US
Amazon UK




Author Websites:

Forts
Novakillustration.com
Twitter
Facebook

Book Reviews:

“But there was something much more hidden between the covers of Forts: Fathers and Sons. Mixed in with this epic fantasy we find characters with realistic problems. It was more emotional than I expected. I wasn't expecting the story to touch on things like domestic abuse, but is does, and it does a wonderful job at it. Each character, even the non-human ones, had their own past and background story that they brought to the table. I really enjoyed getting to know each one of them. The universe that Novak has created is so large. There are surreal surprises around every corner, but that is just the norm for the Star Wars universe. The Forts universe works the same way. There is no way you could cover it all in one book. There is so much room for this story to go, and that makes me excited to continue on in this series.”
—Jami Slack, yaddict.blogspot.com

“I really didn't want this book to end. I want more. A lot more”
—Rae Reads, mesmeric-revelation.com

“I was delighted to read another book that could have limitless possibilities. Now, when I say this, I mean that the story could go anywhere and go on practically forever = limitless. Harry Potter is like this. Lord of the Rings is like this. Since the world of Forts (worlds) is so large, the story could go on in the book for hundreds, maybe thousands of years, introducing new characters and places.”
—Austin, readingtween.blogspot.com

“Fortunately, author Steven Novak skillfully spins his tale in a manner that allows the reader to understand and empathize with his protagonists and keeps the reader engaged in the narrative from the opening paragraph to the final lines. ”
—Steven Bergson, UJA Greater Toronto

“The fantasy world created by Steven Novak is alive, not only with malice and force, but also with human dignity and courage in the face of insurmountable odds. That's a pretty heady concoction, if you ask me. I mean, who doesn't love a good underdog story? And as underdogs go, the protagonists of the story are as good as they get: Kids in their early teens who have nearly had the nobility beaten out of them by their harsh circumstances. Novak does not paint his characters too thick, and that's a great thing. Even some of the villains are sympathetic, and your heart breaks for the situations. If a book can give you all that—a reason to believe in human nobility and hope, and all for less than $20.”
—MJ Heiser, author of Corona

“What a lovely mix of adventure, humor and heart. The children at that center of this story are easy to relate to and root for (even, sometimes, Donald). The new world introduced is filled with well-developed, interesting, and beautifully illustrated creatures. It's wonderfully layered with a pace that is both exciting and emotionally satisfying. I cannot wait to start the second one!”
—Nina Perez, author of The Twin Prophecies: Rebirth

“When reading Mr. Novak's book I was reminded of Stephen King's The Body and It (the early section, involving the child characters). That is as high a praise as I can give Fathers and Sons. A bonus for the reader: each chapter is headed by an original illustration by the author, featuring a scene from the chapter. I found this an ideal way to draw me further into the story. Each chapter, too, ends on a cliffhanger that, for most of the book, isn't resolved until three or four chapters later. The phrase page-turning was invented for such a story. Well done, Mr. Novak. Bring on book two: Liars and Thieves.
—James McShane, aardvarkian.com

Book Description:

For Tommy Jarvis, life has never been simple—quite the opposite, in fact. It is, however, about to become decidedly more difficult. Moments after stumbling through a doorway to another world, Tommy and his friends discover they are the key to ending a war in which the casualties are too great to count and their chances of survival are almost nonexistent.

An intensely personal piece that intertwines aspects of fantasy, science fiction and horror, Forts: Fathers and Sons is the first installment in an epic fantasy trilogy from author and illustrator, Steven Novak. The sequel, Liars and Thieves, is currently available as well and the finale of the series is due early in 2012.

Please support our sponsor:



Become a Kindle Author sponsor.

Kindle Author Interview: Joseph Garraty

Joseph Garraty, author of Voice, discusses his book, his journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Voice?

JOSEPH GARRATY: Voice is a dark fantasy/horror novel about a group of rock musicians with some unique and unfortunate problems. Johnny’s a lousy singer for a mediocre rock band, and he wants to be famous more than anything. Case is a hotshot guitarist with an enormous chip on her shoulder who happens to need a band. When she joins up with Johnny’s band, Ragman, the group gets a jolt of new life, and it soon becomes obvious that Johnny doesn’t have the chops to keep up. But somebody’s been watching Johnny. Somebody who can give him a voice to move millions—if he’s willing to make a deal.

But when you deal with the devil, you never get quite what you bargained for. . .

Voice is an attempt to put together a couple of my greatest passions—rock music, and horror fiction. I’ve spent over ten years playing electric guitar in college and local bands, and the personality interactions at the heart of any band fascinate me. A rock band is like a strange pseudo-family unit, complete with the family member who always needs to borrow money, the “mom” who tries to keep everyone organized, and the unique dysfunctional bits. I wanted to take that dynamic and turn it up to eleven by stress-testing it in the context of the classic deal with the devil (though that gets its own strange twist in this story). What if one of the guys in the band did that deal? What if he didn’t get exactly what he bargained for? How would his band “family” react when things started getting weird, and what effect would all their individual ambitions have on the group’s trajectory? What price would they be willing to pay to succeed? I started thinking about those things, and Voice was the result.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you create and maintain dramatic tension?

JOSEPH GARRATY: Dramatic tension comes about as a result of a fairly straightforward process for me. Start by developing realistic, three-dimensional characters. Make sure they each want something. Then make sure they have a hard time getting it. In the case of Voice, you’d think the members of the band would have the same agenda, but they don’t, in subtle and important ways, and exploring that as the cracks widened really created a lot of tension on its own. The supernatural elements around that basic tension amplify it considerably as the story progresses.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

JOSEPH GARRATY: That’s a great question, and a surprisingly tough one. I know some authors who write detailed descriptions and histories of their characters, and that works incredibly well for them. When I try that, though, I get a soulless dossier instead. I have to start with a few defining personality traits instead, and build a character around those traits. In Voice, for example, Case starts out as a prickly, talented young guitarist who thinks the world is out to get her and conducts most of her relationships according to a sort of scorched earth model. As the story progresses, Case’s interactions with the rest of the band combine with her desire to actually connect with people for a change, and a more fully-developed character emerges from there. That element of change over the course of a novel is crucial, and again, it comes from making sure a character wants something and has to work to get it. Johnny, of course, starts as an incarnation of the desire to be famous coupled with gigantic insecurity, but it’s the later developments—his regret, his concern that maybe he’s gone too far—that make him a real character and help us empathize with him.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

JOSEPH GARRATY: My ideal reader is somebody who loves both dark fantasy and music. Music lovers, I think, will especially enjoy a lot of the behind-the-scenes views of an up-and-coming local band. And I hope everyone will get at least a few shivers out of the macabre supernatural forces surrounding Johnny.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

JOSEPH GARRATY: That old saw (attributed to everybody under the sun, as near as I can tell) about how you have to write a million words of crap? Yeah, that’s pretty much all true. I started writing science fiction stories and novels in earnest about five years ago, and I put down a whole lotta words before moving away from sf. I still love the genre, and I’m sure I’ll come back to it, but for now, I find that dark contemporary fantasy affords me more opportunity to get cozy with my characters, which is really what I’m interested in right now. Voice is the first novel I’ve published, but I’ve got a very dark urban fantasy book in the works that I expect to release later this year.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

JOSEPH GARRATY: I probably oughta get one of those. Seriously, though, it’s a little haphazard. I generally start with an idea and turn that into a very coarse outline, then start writing like mad. About a quarter of the way through, I realize that the book has turned into something that the outline will no longer support, usually due to intransigent characters (“But Alice would never do that!”) and I revise the outline accordingly. At about half or two-thirds of the way through, I realize that has happened again, and I chuck the outline entirely and sprint to the finish. After the first draft, which is usually so rough I call it the first first draft, I go back and fix all the obvious plot holes, continuity issues, and other problems. Then I send the book to a couple of good friends to go over. After that, I fix the remaining issues and do the final polish.

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

JOSEPH GARRATY: Stephen King, of course. Nobody does character better. Charlie Huston, for plot and economy. His books tear along at an insane pace, and there isn’t a word wasted. They’re also very tight in terms of the elements fitting seamlessly together. Caitlin Kiernan, for her powerful imagery. Whenever I read her stuff, it challenges me to write more vividly. Charles Stross, for his ideas.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

JOSEPH GARRATY: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller. Yeah, it’s not horror—it’s not speculative fiction at all—but it’s a masterful blend of the absurd and the profound. Even when dealing with the heaviest of subjects, Heller never loses his sense of humor, and I think that’s an important, and essentially human, element. I try to keep that in mind in most of my writing.

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

JOSEPH GARRATY: This website! This is my first novel, and it was published at the end of May, so I’m just getting started at the promotion bit. Currently, I’m approaching lots of book bloggers who enjoy books like mine and maintaining an active presence on Twitter, Goodreads, and KindleBoards. As I learn more about this, I’m constantly humbled by other authors who have built platforms not only to share their own work but to help promote the work of others. That’s a great example for all of us, and I hope to do more of that in the future as well.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

JOSEPH GARRATY: I got hooked on ebooks not that long ago, due to having a lot of traveling in my schedule. When you have the choice between jamming half a dozen heavy, bulky books into your luggage or slipping in one slim ereader, it’s no contest. Because of that, and because ebooks are an increasingly large share of the fiction market, I think publishing on Kindle is not only a great way to get started, but a great way to build a career.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

JOSEPH GARRATY: Hire a copyeditor. That’s not exactly a Kindle-specific requirement, but all too often self-published authors neglect some of the polishing work that I feel has to be done in order to make a work professional and enjoyable. Just because it’s relatively easy to publish on Kindle does not mean you should throw up your first draft and call it good.

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joseph Garraty is an author of dark fantasy, horror, and science fiction. He has worked as a construction worker, rocket test engineer, environmental consultant, technical writer, and deadbeat musician. He lives in Dallas, Texas.

Visit his website and follow him on twitter.

Are you a Kindle author? Would you like to be interviewed for this blog? You can! See details on my Kindle Authors Wanted page.

Discover new writers! Subscribe to the FREE Kindle Author Newsletter.

Monday

Kindle Author Sponsor: Steven Novak

Book Title:

Forts: Fathers and Sons

Author:

Steven Novak

Kindle Price:

$2.99

Available from:

Amazon US
Amazon UK




Author Websites:

Forts
Novakillustration.com
Twitter
Facebook

Book Reviews:

“But there was something much more hidden between the covers of Forts: Fathers and Sons. Mixed in with this epic fantasy we find characters with realistic problems. It was more emotional than I expected. I wasn't expecting the story to touch on things like domestic abuse, but is does, and it does a wonderful job at it. Each character, even the non-human ones, had their own past and background story that they brought to the table. I really enjoyed getting to know each one of them. The universe that Novak has created is so large. There are surreal surprises around every corner, but that is just the norm for the Star Wars universe. The Forts universe works the same way. There is no way you could cover it all in one book. There is so much room for this story to go, and that makes me excited to continue on in this series.”
—Jami Slack, yaddict.blogspot.com

“I really didn't want this book to end. I want more. A lot more”
—Rae Reads, mesmeric-revelation.com

“I was delighted to read another book that could have limitless possibilities. Now, when I say this, I mean that the story could go anywhere and go on practically forever = limitless. Harry Potter is like this. Lord of the Rings is like this. Since the world of Forts (worlds) is so large, the story could go on in the book for hundreds, maybe thousands of years, introducing new characters and places.”
—Austin, readingtween.blogspot.com

“Fortunately, author Steven Novak skillfully spins his tale in a manner that allows the reader to understand and empathize with his protagonists and keeps the reader engaged in the narrative from the opening paragraph to the final lines. ”
—Steven Bergson, UJA Greater Toronto

“The fantasy world created by Steven Novak is alive, not only with malice and force, but also with human dignity and courage in the face of insurmountable odds. That's a pretty heady concoction, if you ask me. I mean, who doesn't love a good underdog story? And as underdogs go, the protagonists of the story are as good as they get: Kids in their early teens who have nearly had the nobility beaten out of them by their harsh circumstances. Novak does not paint his characters too thick, and that's a great thing. Even some of the villains are sympathetic, and your heart breaks for the situations. If a book can give you all that—a reason to believe in human nobility and hope, and all for less than $20.”
—MJ Heiser, author of Corona

“What a lovely mix of adventure, humor and heart. The children at that center of this story are easy to relate to and root for (even, sometimes, Donald). The new world introduced is filled with well-developed, interesting, and beautifully illustrated creatures. It's wonderfully layered with a pace that is both exciting and emotionally satisfying. I cannot wait to start the second one!”
—Nina Perez, author of The Twin Prophecies: Rebirth

“When reading Mr. Novak's book I was reminded of Stephen King's The Body and It (the early section, involving the child characters). That is as high a praise as I can give Fathers and Sons. A bonus for the reader: each chapter is headed by an original illustration by the author, featuring a scene from the chapter. I found this an ideal way to draw me further into the story. Each chapter, too, ends on a cliffhanger that, for most of the book, isn't resolved until three or four chapters later. The phrase page-turning was invented for such a story. Well done, Mr. Novak. Bring on book two: Liars and Thieves.
—James McShane, aardvarkian.com

Book Description:

For Tommy Jarvis, life has never been simple—quite the opposite, in fact. It is, however, about to become decidedly more difficult. Moments after stumbling through a doorway to another world, Tommy and his friends discover they are the key to ending a war in which the casualties are too great to count and their chances of survival are almost nonexistent.

An intensely personal piece that intertwines aspects of fantasy, science fiction and horror, Forts: Fathers and Sons is the first installment in an epic fantasy trilogy from author and illustrator, Steven Novak. The sequel, Liars and Thieves, is currently available as well and the finale of the series is due early in 2012.

Please support our sponsor:



Become a Kindle Author sponsor.

Kindle Author Interview: Dan Holloway

Dan Holloway, author of The Company of Fellows, discusses his book, his journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about The Company of Fellows?

DAN HOLLOWAY: Basically it's what a Hannibal Lecter novel would be like if it was set in Oxford university. I came to Oxford as a student in 1989 and never left. There's so much boiling away beneath the University's surface, but it struck me the novels set here like Morse and The Oxford Murders were very genteel, focusing on the traditions and formalities of the place and the intellectual side of Oxford folks. I love those books, but the truth is that people here have dark streaks and hidden lusts just as wide as anywhere else. I wanted to keep the tradition and the fine living, but use it as a backdrop for something much darker and more gothic, more in the Val McDermid or Minette Walters vein.

The specific idea of transposing the Lecter feel to Oxford (which I hope comes through in Sessha Batto's stunning cover) came when I was preparing for Mastermind back in 2006, for which my specialist subject was the Hannibal Lecter novels (it was great—I wrote rather cheekily to Heinnemann and they sent me a freebie of Hannibal Rising, which was just out).

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

DAN HOLLOWAY: I'm very visual. Which is odd because I rarely describe characters' appearance. I tend to see their foibles and tics, and those are what I write down. Unlike my more literary books, The Company of Fellows is written from several points of view. I got "into character" before starting writing by listening to the same CD each time I wrote the same character. Tommy had Skunk Anansie's Stoosh, Rosie had Rammstein's Mutter, Emily had Coldplay's Rush of Blood to the Head. If I never hear "Clocks" again it will be too soon.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

DAN HOLLOWAY: I don't. I think thinking about readers does both them and your characters a disservice. I write the story as it should be and hope someone will like it. If they do I'm generally amazed. Whenever I try to imagine who'd read my books I'm surprised by a message from someone utterly different so I stopped imagining—it's too narrow-minded. What I do love is nattering with readers on twitter.

Um maybe I should say the one quality a reader should have is not being too shockable (I read at Literary Death Match last year. Molly Parkin told me she loved the story—The Last Fluffer in La La Land, yes it is about exactly what it sounds like it's about—and one of the other judges told me she couldn't look me in the eye). But then again if someone kicked up a real fuss about one of my books maybe it'd be the making of me.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

DAN HOLLOWAY: About 25 miles each way on the bus. Literally. I write while I commute. And now that I have a skin with the cover of The Company of Fellows on my laptop, I can call it marketing as well.

I don't think there's anything unusual about my writing history. I wrote adventure stories from about 8 to 11, then I wrote morbidly self-indulgent gothic poetry and fantasy as a teenager, thought I was the next Kundera as a student, and finally settled down to write something that wasn't utter drivel in my early 30s. One thing that's never changed is that whatever piece from my past I look at, I always spent alot of time describing the food.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

DAN HOLLOWAY: 1000 words a day and plan 5 chapters ahead. As well as the bus, I write in cafes and, if the sun's shining, on the street. I'm happiest writing on a busy street, sitting on the pavement with my back resting on the wall and my headphones on.

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

DAN HOLLOWAY: Cody James, Penny Goring and Katelan Foisy. Each of them has changed my life in one way or another. They taught me to write what needs to be said not what you're told to say. They taught me the importance of truthfulness in writing. And they taught me that truth in writing has nothing to do with facts.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

DAN HOLLOWAY: N.P. by Banana Yoshimoto

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

DAN HOLLOWAY: I'm very lazy and having worked in luxury retail I'm very bad at hard selling. I use the fact that soft selling worked in that field to hang out online swapping recipes with people and call it marketing. I love twitter (http://twitter.com/agnieszkasshoes). I also love writing articles and reviews. I write for various writerly sites like the Self-publishing Review, Spectator Arts Blog, Pank, and Loudpoet. I write music reviews for The Indie Handbook and I've done interviews and guest posts places like Writers' Digest. I also run a column for other thriller writers on my thriller blog called How Long is a Piece of Rope, which is based on my love of doing offbeat interviews with people. And I have a regular social media and how to do live readings column for writers' mag Words With Jam (http://www.wordswithjam.co.uk)

I started a collective very early on—Year Zero Writers (http://yearzerowriters.wordpress.com)—where we post short stories and contentious articles. It's a showcase for uncategorisable contemporary fiction and poetry. We struck lucky very early by getting recommended by the indie mag Nylon, and have a healthy fairly following. Healthy enough to get mentioned from time to time when people talk about collectives.

I also started the multi-art project eight cuts gallery last year (http://eightcuts.com) which is part publisher of alternative fiction, part online multi-art hyperlink-curated gallery space (we've had two exhibitions so far), part soapbox for alternative arts (we run a prize for people trying to break down barriers in the arts in hoour of Chris Al-Aswad, the founder of Escape Into Life, who died last year).

Most of all though I do live shows. As a storyteller nothing can beat looking your audience in the eye and watching the reaction as you mess with their heads. I was very lucky to get in at the start of the rise of the literary event, so I've got to do events like Literary Death Match and Brighton Fringe's award-winning Grit Lit simply by asking, which has sort of snowballed. I'm also lucky to have a group of writers I met online who live close enough that we can offer venues a whole show. And doubly lucky that I have music connections, so we can throw in great bands. As a result we've got to have shows at places like Rough Trade and this summer we have a show that's playing at Oxfringe and Stoke Newington Literary Festival. There are also amazing venues in Oxford—I have a regular show at the Albio Beatnik and the O3 Gallery lets me put on tie-in shows with the eight cuts gallery exhibitions. Anyone who's never done a reading, do it. Most towns have an open mic night you can just pitch up at, and audiences are almost always warm and supportive.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

DAN HOLLOWAY: It's so flexible compared to places like Smashwords—you can tinker till you get it right. And there's such a good infrastructure for readers on the web—places like this, like Kindleboards and Daily Cheap Reads.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

DAN HOLLOWAY: 
1. Make your book the best it can be so any customers become repeat customers
2. Get a great cover
3. Write a pitch that's better than the book
4. Write more books. Quickly.
5. Don't ever be a plank online.

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

You can find out all about Dan's articles and other books at http://danholloway.wordpress.com and there are details of The New Libertines tour at http://eightcuts.com. When not working, writing or hanging out on twitter, Dan can usually be found cooking or listening to loud music in a dingy club. But he is most at home behind a microphone, or better still in front of a camera.

Follow him on twitter.

Are you a Kindle author? Would you like to be interviewed for this blog? You can! See details on my Kindle Authors Wanted page.

Discover new writers! Subscribe to the FREE Kindle Author Newsletter.

Sunday

Kindle Author Sponsor: Alison Bruce

Book Title:

Under a Texas Star

Author:

Alison Bruce

Kindle Price:

$3.99

Available from:

Amazon




Author Websites:

http://www.alisonbruce.ca
http://www.imajinbooks.com

Book Reviews:

"A delightful Western tale that blends engaging adventure with spirited romance. Reminds me of Louis L'Amour novels...Bruce is a terrific story-teller...a complete joy to read. She immerses readers into a smoking Western that is also a spunky romance and reminiscent of the Texas Rangers television series."
―Christina Francine, Midwest Book Review

"Filled with realistic dialog and a good attention to period detail, Bruce manages to create a believable story that captures our imagination. Well written with a compelling plot, Under a Texas Star brings a delightfully new and strong heroine to the literary world. Highly recommended."
―Wendy Thomas, Allbook Reviews

"Alison Bruce's western tale of intrigue, murder, and love is a page-turning, action-packed, made-of-awesome read. Under a Texas Star belongs on every reader's keeper shelf―it already has a place on mine! Love, love, loved it!"
―Michele Bardsley, national bestselling author of Never Again

"Romance as sweeping as the Texas sky."
―Gwyn Cready, Rita award-winning author of Seducing Mr. Darcy

"This is a rollicking adventure and Marly Landers is a girl with True Grit."
―Phyllis Smallman, Arthur Ellis award-winning author of Champagne for Buzzards

"L'amour in the style of Louis L'Amour…Pin a silver star on this thrilling tale of love and justice in the old west."
―Lou Allin, author of On the Surface Die

"I loved the murder mystery…as well as the sense of humor which had me either chuckling or laughing out loud."
―Jacqueline Wilson, Deputy Sheriff for Publications of the Chicago Corral of the Westerners

Book Description:

Disguised as a boy, Marly joins a handsome Texas Ranger in the hunt for a con man and they must bring the fugitive to justice before giving up the masquerade and giving in to their passion.

When Marly Landers is fooled by con man Charlie Meese, she's determined to bring him to justice―even if it means dressing up as a boy and setting off across the plains to find him.

Texas Ranger Jase Strachan is also after Meese, for crimes committed in Texas. He joins forces with the young boy in a journey that takes them to Fortuna, where a murder interrupts their mission. Jase is duty bound to find the killer, no matter the cost.

Marly carries out her own investigation and comes to the aid of Amabelle Egan, the sister of one of the suspects. But appearances are deceiving, and Marly is mistaken for Amabelle’s suitor, making her a target for the killer. Not to mention, Charlie Meese is still out there.

Under the Texas stars, Marly and Jase are drawn together by circumstances beyond their control, yet fate plots to tear them apart. Will Marly finally get her man?

Book Excerpt from Under a Texas Star:

Chapter 1

Trailing from one dusty town to another in pursuit of a criminal fugitive was a job for a bounty hunter with a good horse and a small arsenal. It was tough work for a slim boy of small build, few means and fewer possessions―tougher still when the boy wasn't a boy at all, but a girl.

It wasn't the walking. Marly was used to spending most of her day on her feet in the yard of the schoolhouse her aunt taught in, tending the kitchen garden, feeding the chickens, hanging the laundry or walking the mile to town for whatever errand Aunt Adele required.

It wasn't the weight of the oversized oilskin coat or the bedroll slung across her back. They were nothing to hefting a crate of books or a basket of surplus eggs and vegetables into town to trade for flour and sugar.

It was the solitude.

Once upon a time, Marly would have reveled in the opportunity to get away from her aunt's incessant homilies, the critical stares of her aunt's cronies and even the kinder yet oppressive expectations of her friends. Now she realized that the outside clamor would be preferable to her own self-critical reflections. The long walks as she travelled from one town to another, gave her too much time to dwell on the events that put her on this solitary trail.

"As ye sow, so shall ye reap," her Aunt Adele would say.

"No good turn goes unpunished," was more like it.



It had started with a trip to the Doc's house. The two Johnnys had been fighting again. The on-and-off best friends were trying out their fledgling boxing skills. Marly blocked a stray punch while grabbing hold of the smaller John Henry. John Thomas' wrist gave way.

Despite the pain, he was quite cheerful during the trek into town. Doc's chiding would be nothing compared to one of Miss Gumm's lectures, a fact he was quite comfortable sharing with Marly. She pointed out that her aunt wouldn't forget to punish him when he returned.

When they came in sight of the Doc's house and found Sheriff Langtree on the porch, Johnny's fear of trouble was so obvious, Marly almost laughed.

"I just sent a deputy to fetch you," the sheriff said by way of a greeting. "I brought Doc a wounded man. Victim of a hold-up. I think Doc could use your help. Rebecca's got her hands full and I've been ejected for being no help at all."

Marly gave him a quick smile and consigned John Thomas to the sheriff's care. Ever since she provided first-aid and brought John Henry's older brother Joe in―after he shot his toe off with his father's borrowed revolver―Marly had become the Doc's go-too person when he needed more help than his wife could provide.

"Just who we need," Doc said, looking up from his work. "Wash up, my girl. Take over for Becky so she can get back to Mrs. Applegate. She picked shopping day to go into labor. Silly first-timer mistake to make. "

"Babies come when babies come," said the childless Becky on her way out. "Except when they don't."

Marly spent the next hour assisting the removal of two slugs and the stitching of the wounds. This mostly consisted of handing implements to the doctor and the application of ether on a breathing cup when the patient started to rouse.

Doc saw to John Thomas. She cleaned up and held the basin for the man as the effects of the ether wore off and nausea settled in. She bathed his face with lavender water, known for its cleansing and calming powers.

When his hazel eyes cleared and he was fully conscious, his eyes lit with appreciation and genuine esteem.

"I must be dead," he croaked, his throat raw from the ether, "for you are certainly an angel."



Right, thought Marly, kicking a stone down the dusty road. Not an angel, but a naïve chit of a girl to be taken in by slick words and hazel eyes.

Maybe if she hadn't been taken in by Charlie Meese, neither would the townspeople of Cherryville, Kansas. She had opened the door to a trickster because he appealed to her latent vanity. That girl was left behind in Cherryville. The Marly Landers that was tracking Charlie and the money down was now a scruffy boy in oversized clothes and a droopy, weather-worn hat.


Chapter 2

"DO NOT ARREST―STOP―FOLLOW TO EL PASO AND MONEY―STOP..."

Texas Ranger Jason―Jase―Strachan reread the telegram, then stuffed it into one the copious pockets of his duster. Jase wasn't surprised by the order. He was on the trail of a confidence man, who had made the mistake of cheating some very powerful people in Austen. However, arresting him now wouldn't recover the half million dollars he had embezzled.

Dog Flats wasn't much. A couple of houses, a general store and a saloon. Blink and he'd ride right by. Most people―and more importantly, the stage―did just that. That was one of the reasons Jase chose the town. The other walked through the door just as he settled into the back corner of the saloon with his second beer.

The boy couldn't have been more than fourteen or fifteen, yet he marched up to the barkeep, bold as brass, and demanded a job.

"Don't need anyone," said the grizzle-haired man behind the bar.

"I can wait tables, wash dishes, cook, clean. I'm a hard worker and you don't have to pay me. All I want is room and board for the night."

Jase waited. The bartender stared down at the boy. The boy smiled back at the man.

"You can start by clearing tables. Put yer stuff at the back."

For three days, Jase had watched the same scene play out, afternoon or early evening. Arriving in town, the boy would talk himself into a job sweeping floors, washing dishes, mucking barns―all for supper, a packed lunch and a roof for the night. Then, at sunrise, he was on the road, walking or hitching a ride to the next town. Town by town, he advanced across Texas. The kid was patient and determined.

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Kindle Author Interview: Dave White

Dave White, author of Witness to Death, discusses his book, his journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Witness to Death?

DAVE WHITE: Witness to Death is a dark thriller about down on his luck teacher, John Brighton. He follows his ex's new boyfriend to prove the new guy is a cheater, but instead encounters a gun battle on the banks of the Hudson River. From there John is on the run and being hunted by a vicious assassin. There are terrorists, torture, explosions, a love triangle and all sorts of other fun stuff you find in a thriller.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

DAVE WHITE: Lots and lots of revision. Each of my characters starts with as a particular type—a young teacher, a badass spy, that sort of thing, and they build from there. But, I find, when I finish a draft, there are times where certain characters sound alike or does something that doesn't fit with the rest of his motivations. So that's when it's time go back find out what's trying to drive someone to do something. What was their past like? How are they different or similar to their friends? Each draft changes the characters in the book slightly until each is his or her own person.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

DAVE WHITE: It's funny, but I don't often imagine an ideal reader. A lot of people like different types of books depending on their mood. I love thrillers and PI novels, but right now I'm looking to try out some sci-fi. For Witness, I think anyone who loves an action-packed thrill ride is going to enjoy this book, but they might be surprised to find there is actual heart here. The characters are in their late 20s and are trying to figure out who they are. Anyone who's looking for a book that is filled with nail-biting moments and packed with real emotions is going to enjoy this one. I'm hoping this book will sucker punch the reader on multiple levels. Er...in a good way.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

DAVE WHITE: I started writing Internet-based short stories about a New Jersey Private Investigator, Jackson Donne. In 2002, I wrote a story called "Closure" that dealt with the after effects of 9/11. The story won an award and gained some attention. I wrote a few more Donne stories (collected in the Kindle anthology More Sinned Against), and then decided to try a novel. I ended up with two PI novels: When One Man Dies and The Evil That Men Do. Both featured Donne, and were nominated for the Shamus Award. Now I've written Witness to Death and have decided to try publishing it myself. The results so far have been pretty good.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

DAVE WHITE: By day, I'm a teacher. So, I try to write when I get home. You know, go to the gym, get home, settle in, and bang out 1,000 words. I don't outline my first drafts, but have outlined revised drafts. In the summer, when I have more time, I'm more able to focus and get longer writing days in. I usually try to save the summer for revisions. This summer the plan is to dig in and really revise the heck out of the novel I'm working on.

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

DAVE WHITE: Oh, wow. There are so many. I grew up on a steady diet of Robert B. Parker, so his Spenser novels really stand out. But I think I learn something from everything I read. When I read or watch something really special, that usually inspires me. Right now Steven Moffat's work on TV is pushing me to be a better writer. I really think he's too clever for his own good. I'm always blown away by his work.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

DAVE WHITE: Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane. A great puzzle book. A great interpretation of gothic horror. And a terrifically dark ending. It's stuck with me for years.

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

DAVE WHITE: I've hit the Kindle boards, I've done interviews, I've tried to get featured on Kindle sites. I've tried to use Twitter and Facebook, but backed off that because I was pretty worried I was going to annoy people. But every little bit helps, so I tried to do as much as possible.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

DAVE WHITE: I was inspired by a great ebook-only book. Choke on Your Lies by Anthony Neil Smith is my favorite book of 2011 so far. When I read that, I realized how many quality novels were being published as ebook exclusives. Smith and I share an agent (Allan Guthrie) so I asked my agent about the Kindle. He thought Witness could do well. So, I gave it a shot.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

DAVE WHITE: It's tricky for first-time authors, isn't it? If I hadn't been previously published, I probably wouldn't have given this a shot. I think it helps to have a reputation of some sort, whether it's writing short stories that people can seek out or having a previous book deal. That's not true for all cases, but I'm new to the Kindle game and definitely don't have all the answers. The only thing I can stress is to write the best book you can. Go over it with a fine tooth comb. Revise, revise, revise. Get it professionally edited. Do as much as possible to put a professional product out there.

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dave White is the two time Shamus Award Nominated author of When One Man Dies and The Evil That Men Do. His work has been nominated for the Strand Critics Award, the Million Writers Award and won the Derringer Award for Best Short Story. When not writing, he teaches English to 8th graders in New Jersey.

Read his blog and follow him on twitter.

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Saturday

Kindle Author Sponsor: Tara Maya

Book Title:

The Unfinished Song: Taboo

Author:

Tara Maya

Kindle Price:

$4.99

Available from:

Amazon




Author Website:

http://taramayastales.blogspot.com/

Book Reviews:

"I recommend this [series]...to fantasy and epic saga lovers and readers who liked reading Lord of the Rings, but found the length of the book overwhelming....This book series has a unique concept—breaking down the traditionally long Epic Fantasy tale into shorter more manageable books."
—Gina, My Precious: Ramblings of a Kindle Addict

"More than a simple tale of growing up in a magical setting... a fantasy reader's fantasy."
—Anthony Pacheco

"...a world that felt as comfortably recognizable and uniquely untried as Narnia, Hogwarts or Middle Earth."
—Casee Marie, The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower

Book Description:

About the twelve-book epic fantasy series, THE UNFINISHED SONG:

Love is not stronger than Death. Except in faery tales...

Welcome to Faearth. The world is still young, fairytales are real, and humans are trapped between the immortal fae and the minions of Death. The war between the fae and the Deathsworn will tear apart two lovers.

This is an epic adventure, a timeless romance, and, above all, a faery tale.

A DEVASTATING SETBACK
Enemy tribesmen attacked during the Initiation. Dindi used the magic of the corn cob doll to protect herself and others but at a terrible price. Now her dreams are in shambles. In despair, she decides to step into the forbidden faery ring, and dance herself to death with the fae. Then she discovers another choice that saves her life…but breaks the ultimate taboo.

A DESPERATE OUTREACH
After being unfairly exiled from his own people, Kavio may have found a new home, but only if he can protect it from another attack by the enemy. He gathers a small group to venture deep into the heart of enemy territory in search of the ultimate prize…peace.

But by the harsh laws of their land, they cannot both break taboos and keep the peace. They will each have to choose, what, or whom, to betray.

The Unfinished Song: Initiate
The Unfinished Song: Taboo

Book Excerpt from The Unfinished Song: Taboo:

Rthan clenched his teeth to keep from weeping at the pain. The human dancers with their black-pronged bear claw knives were terrible enough, but Yellow fae had joined the savage loop of dancers. Torture tama were primeval, one of the few that humans and fae could share with equal relish. He could not see the Brundorfae, but he could hear their growls and, mercy, he could feel them, the sting of their claws raking, ripping and peeling his skin back to raw muscle.

The worst part was that just as he or one of his comrades teetered on the precipice of blessed unconsciousness, or better yet, death, the accursed Yellow Dancers reversed the direction of their circle and began to dance healing. Once or twice during these sessions, strong liquid was forced down his throat. The Yellow Tavaedies revived Rthan and the other hapless captives back to strength and consciousness, then switched the direction of their dance again and resumed their vicious torture. Rthan yearned for Lady Death and her arrows of merciful oblivion

The leader of the Yellow Bear dancers hid his face beneath a bear head mask. His breath stank, rancid sweet, when he leaned forward to hiss taunts in Rthan’s ear.

“Beg for mercy, sharkbait, and maybe we will let you die. If you curse your mother, your father and your ancestors, we will slit your throat and end this agony.”

Bleary with pain, Rthan lifted his head to peer into the empty sockets of the bear head mask. He licked his dry lips and tried to say something, but all that came out was a rattle and cough. The bear masked man leaned closer to hear Rthan’s plea.

Rthan spit in the hollow socket of the mask.

He must have hit the man’s eye, because the Yellow Bear Tavaedi shrieked and jumped back. The masked man turned his back to lift his mask and wipe his eye, so Rthan wouldn’t see his face and know whom to hex in revenge. Rthan wheezed in laughter, despite the ache the movement caused him, until the bear masked man punched him across the face.

“You won’t die until you curse your tribe, you stinking worm!” He grabbed Rthan’s chin and forced the hot healing liquid down his throat. He slashed his bear claw across Rthan’s stomach, opening another bloody gash.

Rthan’s laughter turned into a sob. Yes, he wept with pain, but he still would not beg this filth for mercy, nor turn against his tribe.

The torture resumed, more brutal than ever. The enemy Tavaedi had it in for Rthan now. But it was one of his companions, a warrior whom Rthan did not know well, who broke down first, wailing like a baby, pleading for death. Rthan couldn’t pity him. His weakness only made it harder for the rest of them.

“I curse the womb that bore me!” screamed the pathetic coward. “I curse the fool that sired me! I curse the tribe of Blue Waters!”

“Grant him mercy,” ordered the bear masked man.

One of the dancers plunged his dagger into the Blue Water warrior’s heart. His body sagged like a deflating water skin.

“You see how easy that was?” the bear masked leader asked Rthan.

“Come closer…” rasped Rthan. “…so I can spit in your other eye!”

“All of you focus on this one!” roared the leader, infuriated. “Break him first! The others will fall after their hero does!”

The whole bunch of them, masked like terrible beasts, closed in on him. They whirled and stomped around him, the invisible fae too, he was sure of it, and he felt vigor sweep back into his limbs. Damn them seven times, they were healing him again. For once, his strong body was only a burden to him. The longer his body kept him alive, the longer he would have fight the temptation to break down and beg.

“Now…” began the bear masked leader, full of malice and glee, but before he could complete his threat, an unmasked warrior jogged up to the circle and whispered something to him. The growling of the Yellow Fae quieted, and the human dancers in their bear furs stepped back. He shook his head and snapped something back, but after a few minutes of argument (Rthan thought he heard, “Mine!” and “Hertio” and “outtriber”), the bear masked leader stalked away, evidently in disgust. A sept of warriors came to untie Rthan from the post. The way they grinned at him warned him that though the Torture Dance might be over, whatever awaited him would be no better fate.



Brena caught her breath when she saw the man forced to his knees before the stone table. Rthan hardly looked tamed. It took six warriors, two with whips, to hold him down. The pride on his tattooed face was fierce enough to shatter sugar loaves.

“I thank you for your gift, Hertio.” Kavio studied his enemy. “Prisoner! Your life is worthless now that you are a toy in the hands of your enemies. You will be kept alive only so long as it amuses the tribe of Yellow Bear to torment you.”

Rthan threw back his head, meeting Kavio’s eye challengingly. A slight smile touched Kavio’s lips.

 “You do have one other choice,” Kavio continued. “The law of light and shadows mandates that any under the penalty of death, whether criminal or prisoner of war, may opt instead to be offered as a sacrifice to the fae. If you wish, we will take you to the Tor of the Stone Hedge at midnight, and summon the fae. If you are still alive on the third night, you may live free.”

Rthan recoiled. Hate contorted his face. “I’ll not be your blood sacrifice to the demon bears of the Tors. I’m not a babe, to weep in fear of your tortures. I will die like a man.”

“As you decide. Perhaps we should do to you what you would have done.” He gestured to one of the guards with a whip. “Beat him, on my signal . . .”

Brena knew she shouldn’t pity her enemy, but she couldn’t bear to watch. Only when she heard no smack of leather to flesh did she raise her face in surprise. Kavio had converted his signal to the guard into a gesture toward Brena.

“But I do not deserve this slave,” he said smoothly. “It was actually Zavaedi Brena who delivered the victorious blow. I think you should grant this slave to her.”

Brena sat straight up. “What?”

All heads, including Rthan’s glowering one, swiveled to her.

“She’s a widow,” Kavio went on, either oblivious or impervious to her glares, “with no husband to till her fields for her. A slave husband would be a handsome reward for her courage and devotion in defending the Initiates against this vile foe.”

“I don’t need any kind of husband, certainly not a slave!” sputtered Brena.

“Naturally, if you prefer to let someone else avenge you, I’m sure many would be glad to make the prisoner suffer,” Kavio told her. “But after seeing the depth of your fury at this man during the battle, I felt certain that you would prefer to mete out your own punishment. Imagine the numerous ways you could demean him to avenge your own humiliation.”

She glanced at Rthan, worried that in his pride and fury, he would do something stupid. He rumbled like a volcano about to erupt. Their eyes met briefly, and she flinched at the loathing that scorched her. Curse you, Kavio, she thought. Do not do me any favors!

“Perhaps I was wrong,” Kavio said. He raised his hand again, and this time the leather cracked in the air and lashed Rthan across the back. He roared and almost broke free of the six warriors holding him down.

“Wait!” Brena said. “I . . . up until now I have needed no husband, but I forgot that both my daughters, who helped me before, will now be busy with duties of their Tavaedi societies.” Aware of Rthan’s ire, she refused to be intimidated. She kept her tone as callous as possible. “Perhaps a brute would be of use for brute labor.”

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Kindle Author Interview: Kelly McClymer

Kelly McClymer, author of The Fairy Tale Bride, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about The Fairy Tale Bride?

KELLY McCLYMER: First, I can tell you I never expected to write a historical romance when I first began writing. I am a voracious reader and I always loved to read historical romance novels, but my first love is science fiction. Unfortunately, science fiction didn't love me (editors almost universally advised me to turn my stories into novels, and all my critique group members indicated my endings...ummm....sucked). Being a logical sort, I knew I wasn't tackling an entire novel without knowing the ending: enter historical romance, with its traditional happily-ever-after ending. I could do that. So I wrote a very big North-South post-Civil War epic for practice. It sprawled, it traveled, it pontificated. It had a happily ever after. It did not sell (something about the sprawling and pontificating, I think).

I wasn't sure whether to write another science fiction story with a fizzle-meh ending, or another romance novel. Then, as often happens, my characters decided the matter for me. Miranda Fenster, the heroine of The Fairy Tale Bride, was quite certain I should tell her tale. After all, she was determined that  everyone deserved a happily ever after, and she was so busy trying to enlist help to see that her brother and his true love got theirs, she didn't even notice her own happily ever after was busy glowering at her and muttering under his breath about the futility of fairy tale endings.It seemed clear to me that, if I didn't write Miranda and her duke a happily ever after, they might not get one. Because, honestly, every romance novel needs an obstacle to keep them apart, and Miranda's duke, Simon Watterly, Duke of Kerstone, seemed an insurmountable obstacle. He doesn't just talk family, honor, and blood, he lives and breathes it. An unexpected wife doesn't fit into his carefully laid plans. In order to defeat the duke's magnificently pig-headed defenses against his own happily ever after, I had to deploy Miranda's five delightful young sisters, a lost child, and an ambitious relative without much conscience. I hope it would not be a spoiler to reveal that Miranda and her duke have the perfect ending: happily ever after.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

KELLY McCLYMER: I am a people watcher, and have been from a young age. I'm fortunate to come from a large and interesting family (my dad was a Southerner and my mom a Yankee—so even the holiday traditions changed whether we were celebrating on Long Island with my mom's side, or in Charleston with my dad's). I learned to see what people were saying, and thinking, underneath the accent and local phrases. For example, as has been widely explained in fiction by other, better writers, a southerner's soft "Bless her heart" can be a pat on the shoulder—or a knife in the back.

When my characters begin to tell me who they are, I pay attention. I've never met two real people who fit in the same box, so I don't write two characters who do either. Sometimes, in the very beginning of a book, when I'm not quite sure who the character is, I'll think of a real person I know and take a trait I love and a trait that frustrates me and pin it to a character, but by the time that character is "cooked" there's absolutely no resemblance to the real person. Over the years of writing, I've tried various character development tricks, but I almost always rely on one straightforward method now: I put the character in conflict and see how she/he reacts. Very often, I'm surprised to learn something about the character that I wouldn't have if I'd tried to draw a little box around him/her too early on. It's one of the methods I offer to my students: what would your character do if the door doesn't open this time? It seems like a simple question, but the answers can vary from "walk away" to "pick the lock" to "break it down." That tells you a lot about your character.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

KELLY McCLYMER: That is an excellent question, and one I don't have a good answer for, though I have been trying to define it lately, with my dip into indie publishing. I write science fiction, fantasy, historical romance, and paranormal YA. Obviously, my ideal reader is someone like me, who loves to explore interesting ideas in different ways (for example, romance explores exactly what it is that can take two very different people and turn them into an unbreakable couple; historical romance throws in the twist that the heroine, socially, isn't even usually considered a full person under the law).

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

KELLY McCLYMER: I wrote my first play sometime in junior high, for my sisters to perform for our parents. I was on my high school newspaper staff. I won a prize at our state competition for a review I wrote (which was quite pragmatically critical, something the judge that year valued). I learned the toll that fame can take, when I did not win the next year, and my newspaper advisor was utterly crushed by my lack of win, place or show.

I took writing classes in college, and I submitted my first short science fiction story when I was 20 years old (it was deservedly rejected, but the next story got me connected to a critique group that shaped my writing life for a decade and beyond). It took me longer than it should have to write a novel for many reasons (though I think I will soon begin to start blaming my children, in hopes they will feel guilty and take care of me in my dotage).

I wrote my first historical romance (the North-South sprawler) and was then hooked. I sold The Fairy Tale Bride and six more in the series (to tell the stories of Miranda's sisters and brother) to Kensington and was very busy writing for three years. Then I had a teenage witch show up and demand I tell her story. So I did. The Salem Witch Tryouts took me into an entirely new world for three books.

Now I'm re-releasing my historical romance novels (which have been out of print for seven years). Ten years makes a difference in writing skill (especially since I have been teaching writing for a decade), so I'm rewriting them, too. I have two YA novels that I am seriously considering going indie with. Once I'm finished with the re-releases of the historical romance, I'll be editing and getting those two books ready to release.

I love the freedom that epublishing has offered to me. I have several books that didn't quite make it past the marketing department's gatekeeper. I had planned to do what author friends of mine have done for years (i.e. submit them every three years, to the new revolving crop of editors). But now I have other options.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

KELLY McCLYMER: Mayhem. Chaos. Lunacy. On good days.

Seriously, I have tried many different techniques and schedules. 3x5 scene cards, no outline, detailed outline (well, I did that for the first third of one book, but gave up after that), brief outline, photo collages. Right now, I'm in love with Scrivener, which lets me make notes, drag in research materials and inspirational photos, and write scene by scene (which helps me keep the idea of conflict front and center). Before Scrivener, I would spend a lot of time looking for things (a historical reference, picture, character detail, timeline, etc.) in order to get the scene right. Now its right in the program when I need it. Less excuse to go get a cup of coffee, but much easier on my stress levels.

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

KELLY McCLYMER: I will never write a book like her, but Harper Lee has my heart. If you could only publish one book, wouldn't it be wonderful to say it was To Kill a Mockingbird? For more contemporary references, I have to reveal my science fiction and current YA bias and say Suzanne Collins with her Hunger Games series. I'm so jealous of her mastery of character, world-building and conflict. Not to mention the killer (literally) concept.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

KELLY McCLYMER: To Kill a Mockingbird. But I never could have. That's the thing about books—the great ones have to be written by whatever author writes them. No one else sees the world, the character, in just that way that tips the reader over to feeling like they lived the story.

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

KELLY McCLYMER: I've given talks, done signings, have a website with a blog, I'm on Twitter and Facebook and have a presence on my YA publisher's (S&S) site. But marketing is not an easy thing for me (or for most of the authors I know). It would be akin to walking around introducing my daughter to every eligible man I met and trying to marry her off! Which I don't have to do, because she is engaged (and I'm running a 99 cents promotion to help pay for her wedding that is probably the most fun marketing and promotion I've ever done...is that smooth marketing or what?).

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

KELLY McCLYMER: Amazon has recognized indie authors, and offered them a very powerful incentive to partner with them to bring our work to readers—70% royalties and placement that doesn't discriminate between indie and Big Six published. Amazon doesn't make any more promise to indie authors than that our books will get a fair shake with readers, and that we are free to experiment with what will sell more books as we learn our way around putting our books out there. And that's something that even the Big Six can't offer to every author nowadays.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

KELLY McCLYMER: Make sure your book is ready. And by ready, I mean written as best you can write it, critiqued by trusted critique partners, or a paid editor, proofed by someone who knows grammar and spelling. Being able to let go of a book and stamp it "ready" is a tough thing for some of us. But the good thing about the Kindle process is that you can always go back if you realize later down the road that you really must fix that not-quite right scene. I am very grateful for the opportunity to revise my historical romances before putting them back out there in the world of readers. I loved the the stories when I first told them, but I'm a better writer now, and I can write more sharply now, than I did then. I fully expect, if my books are still going strong on the Kindle in ten years, that I may just revise them again. I plan to write new books, and grow as a writer, but that doesn't mean I can't spruce up my backlist (at least, the books in my control, not my publishers'), if I really, really want to.

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Growing up with one foot in the Deep South and one foot over the Mason-Dixon Line, Kelly McClymer has always believed in freedom of the press and freedom of speech. But even in her wildest dreams, as she feverishly wrote her novels in the last decade of the last millennium, she did not imagine the freedom that Amazon would unleash for indie authors with their Kindle Direct publishing program in 2010. Thankfully, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords are in the writer revolution movement, too. She plans to take full advantage of this revolution, releasing backlist books, finding a home for the books that her editors didn't have room for on their lists, and writing original material to please her readers. May the readers find their writers, and the writers find their readers in this awesome new age of indie publishing.

Visit her website, find her on facebook, and follow her on twitter.

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Friday

Kindle Author Sponsor: Conchie Fernandez

Book Title:

Undrawn

Author:

Conchie Fernandez

Kindle Price:

$2.99

Available from:

Amazon




Author Website:

Website
Facebook
Twitter

Book Reviews:

"Fernandez masterfully immerses readers in the world of Kyle’s canvas, so that they paint right along with the artist. [The author] eloquently captures the subtleties of human relationships."
—Jill Allen, Clarion ForeWord Review

"When I finished reading Undrawn, I felt the sort of thrill you get when you discover something important. [The author] has debuted with a novel which, in my opinion, firmly establishes her as a serious author with an excellent grip on the profound complexities of the human soul."
—Jose Baez Ventura, Hoy newspaper, Dominican Republic

"Debut novelist Conchie Fernandez has shown in her just released novel Undrawn that she is a voice deserving to be heard, and heard widely. The book (particularly the ending) is emotionally satisfying and thought provoking. I endorse this work."
—R.W. Bennett, author, "Love.com"

Book Description:

Kyle Reed stands on the verge of his lifelong dream of artistic immortality when a call from his estranged older brother Stuart puts a halt to everything in his carefully constructed life. Kyle faces the impossible decision to go back "home" and attempt to undo the many painful choices he made that severed his ties with his family and the woman he once loved. As he steps into the house he grew up in, Kyle revisits the lives he led. He walks through the elegant rooms where he learned to keep quiet to avoid his father's temper, and dealt with the debilitating disease that opened the doorway to his art. In his journey through his past, he assesses the perilous habits that distanced him from his family, the bitter enmities that still ravage his peace, and the surprising loyalty he finds in the people who surround him. Kyle juggles with the present and the past and he clings to sanity through his art, the passion that has become his true north. Between the sculptures and images that fill his spaces and canvases, lie the crucial aspects of his life that he's been avoiding for years: the icon he destroyed, the crime that still fills him with shame, and the forgiveness he never offered...or received.

Book Excerpt from Undrawn:

CHAPTER ONE

BOSTON

“I have no illusions. I lost them on my travels.” Christopher Hampton, Dangerous Liaisons

Kyle stood across the street from his father's home and smoked. He had stood there for a long time, under the insistent drizzle; his long hair hung limp against his pale face. He held the dying cigarette between his lips, which he kept pressed into a thin line, and hugged himself against the cold that was already creeping inside his body. He wasn't sure what was harsher, to stand outside in the autumn rain, his exhausted body battling against the wind and the cold, or to cross that street, put out the stub and announce his arrival 'home’.

He felt ridiculous standing there, almost concealed by a media van, milling among the press as if he weren't a part of what was happening behind his father's gates. He was a part of that family; he had been summoned there, forcefully, and he had surrendered. So why am I postponing the inevitable, why am I standing here, making myself look even more miserable?

Of course he knew why. The whys had kept him outside the tall iron fences of his former home for close to four years.

The house still looked the same, the guard's post, the ornate black iron gates, which even as he stood there, swung outward to let in a black limo; the green lawn that covered the short hill leading up to the house. The two-story house was still magnificent, sturdy and stubbornly immaculate. It was still painted in that strangely placid, pale yellow his mother liked to describe as "beige gold", but he and his brothers had secretly called "egg yolk." That was the end of the comfort, of the warmth. The front door remained closed to him and he was sure the entire Reed clan was behind it, waiting for him.

He took another deep breath, hoping to fill his lungs with smoke, and then glanced down at the dead cigarette. He sighed as he threw the stub out and ground it beneath his black boot. He looked up again and studied the half-or-so-dozen cars that lined the driveway. Limos, a Saab, a Mercedes, a couple of generic and unrecognizable and impossibly expensive cars. Did you call for valet parking, Stuart? He wondered. His brother was perfectly capable of doing just that. Anything to keep cars from the manicured lawn, to give off the appropriate semblance of order, luxury and civility.

He knew he had to cross the street. He had stood out there for close to twenty minutes, trying to convince himself he could turn around, hail a cab and go back to Chicago. That deeply ingrained, illogical loyalty, however, kept him glued to the sidewalk. His heart was pounding. He felt a sickening weight in his chest and he had to admit to himself that he was scared shitless.

Seeing his father, who, according to everyone from Stuart to the news, was finally dying... how could it be anything but terrifying? Still, he was not grieving a priori. He told himself he was just scared of the drama. He had spent the last couple of years avoiding the jolts and unending rollercoaster ride of being part of his family, pretending his mother alone, his one tie to the Reeds, aside from Troy, had spawned him. But he’s dying. And I came back. And maybe when he’s gone, all of this will fade and get buried.

The sound of his cough shook him. Time to go in. Not losing the 40-dollar cab fare. He had come this far and he was going to live through the ordeal. Kyle grabbed hold of his bag and took the first step toward the house. Here it comes: Norma’s tears and just about everybody’s top-ten lists of insults, accusations and your everyday friendly calamities. Just a reminder, in case I forgot how I fucked up. And to top it off, dealing with my older brother, the brilliant and successful Senator Reed. Other than ex-Senator Brandon Whitman Reed, his father, Stuart was, bar none, the aggravation Kyle most wanted to avoid.

Fuck it. Going in. He went up to the guard's post, making his way among the press and the blatantly curious. He went undetected until he stood before the uniformed guard.

“I’m here to see Senator Reed,” he said in a low voice.

“Sorry, but you can’t go inside,” the guard grumbled. He sounded like he had repeated the litany several times that morning.

"I'm expected," Kyle said patiently. The guard gave him a quick look and pursed his lips in open disbelief. Kyle took a deep breath and continued. "Please tell Stuart Reed that Kyle is here."

“Kyle who?”

That’s a good question. Kyle Who? Who are you, anyway? And what the fuck are you doing here? Are you crazy? His anarchic brain demanded. The guard had every right to ask; Kyle was certain he looked like shit, but he felt like it too, so for once his outer image reflected his emotions. He could feel his long hair plastered to his face, he knew there were dark circles under his dark eyes, and he was dressed in black from head to toe so he was sure he did not resemble the Armani-wearing clique behind the iron gates.

“Kyle Reed,” he admitted. Never had his name sounded as alien and legitimate as it did then. He was admitting his kinship to them; he was making himself a righteous part of whatever was going on behind those closed doors. The guard gave him a dubious look, but nevertheless ordered him to wait as he walked up to his post and picked up the intercom. Kyle looked around in slight amazement although he shouldn’t have been surprised at the interest roused by his father’s illness. There must have been more than a dozen journalists and cameramen surrounding him. He felt it was almost comical, how the world had huddled outside the gates of his father’s world, waiting for word on his death, so the flags could be ordered to stand at half mast, so for the next two days a couple of TV channels could run documentaries and tributes of the ex-Senator’s career. The specials are probably already sitting in the cutting rooms of the local stations. Kyle couldn’t even remember when his father stepped down from his Republican seat, but somehow he had managed to hang onto his claims to royalty, he was still influential and respected.

Kyle chuckled aloud and shook his head. Then it hit him – as so many things had, for the past two days: this wasn’t about his father. This was about Stuart. Brandon Reed might have been a filler story for CNN or the local channels if only he hadn’t been Stuart Reed’s father.

And he's also my father. There are three of us, actually; the oldest a Senator for the almighty Republicans, no doubt fast on his way to the presidential run in a couple of years. The youngest has a foot in the closet and another not quite outside. Then there’s yours truly, the middle child, self-designated oddity.

“Mr. Reed?” The guard addressed him humbly. The man looked flustered and genuinely apologetic. “I’m sorry about the delay, Mr. Reed. Please follow me.” Kyle nodded and heard a sudden hush following the man’s words. He blushed instinctively; his innate loathing for the media resurfaced. He bowed his head to avoid the flashes and the microphones that were immediately thrust into his face. The people around him broke into excited cries and summons and their impropriety and incessant curiosity engulfed him.

"Mr. Reed! Kyle!" Kyle heard them yell as he and the guard made their way to the entrance. The calls continued as the gates opened for them. The press became excited again; a new story was born. He could see the headlines in his mind: The Estranged Son Is Back! The Bearded Stranger Is Stuart’s Brother! Yes, I am the proud skeleton in the Senators’ otherwise immaculate closets! He imagined himself admitting to the press.

"I'm sorry about that, sir, but you've got to imagine how tight security has been around here since the Senator got sick. There’ve been a lot of VIPs coming in to see him. We have to be careful.” The guard blurted out nervously. Kyle shrugged him off.

"It's OK. I haven’t been here in a while; I didn't expect you to recognize me.”

"I'm sorry about your father, Mr. Reed."

"Thank you," Kyle said curtly. His eyes were stationed on the front door, which he knew would open shortly. Who would stand there to greet him? Current Senator Reed incarnate? After all, Stu had called Kyle, late the night before. Kyle had been asleep but he remembered the conversation vividly. How could he forget it? He was rarely blessed with the pleasure of Stuart’s voice on the line.

"Yeah?" Kyle had barked into the phone.

"Kyle?" For a moment Kyle had not reacted, he was shocked at the intrusion, the instantly recognizable and unwanted voice that broke through his uneasy sleep.

"Yes. Stuart?"

“Dad’s very sick. We don't think he'll make it over the weekend." Stuart had paused, perhaps waiting for some sort of reaction, which he didn't get.

“I didn’t know it was that bad.”

“Well, it got worse. Mother would like it very much if you were here if...when Dad passes. Can you fly to Boston?"

Kyle had been silent for a moment. Fly to Boston? Could he really do that? Could he take the journey, go back?

"Yes," he had answered, betraying himself in less than a second.

"I’ll send you a ticket." Stuart had offered coldly.

"No, I’ll take care of it."

"Actually, I had my office take care of it. Flights are pretty full from Chicago to Boston this weekend. There's some sort of convention here. I booked you on American, first class, tomorrow morning."

"I don't need to fly first, Stuart," Kyle had said dryly, knowing full well it would tick Stu off.

He bit. "I don't want you in coach, Kyle,” he hissed, losing his former composure and distance. “I really don’t give a shit where the fuck you sit in the goddamn plane, but this house is surrounded by press and I sure as hell want you to be as inconspicuous as possible. There’s less of an audience in first class."

"People don’t know who I am,” he countered.

“Just because you’re hiding in Chicago doesn’t mean people have forgotten all the shit you pulled, Kyle. Just for once do something for this family. Sit in goddamn first, get in the fucking limo and get inside the house so no one can fucking see you!”

He felt his heart pound and his anger boil over his vision, his hearing. All he could hear was his heart race relentlessly in harmony with words he didn’t want to say: fuck you. He would not fall. He would not react. Still, he argued in deadpan: “I'm not paying for first."

Kyle heard Stuart take a deep breath. Two minutes into the conversation and he lost it first. I win. “Kyle, I paid for the fucking ticket."

He spoke cautiously, enveloping every non-confrontational word with remote condescension. "Cancel it. Call off the limo. I’ll take care of my own shit."

"Do whatever the fuck you want." He hung up.

He’d always anticipated that call. Troy had been telling him about Brandon’s downward spiral for weeks. He’d called his mother to check how she was dealing, but he’d muted her soft complaints to filter out any of her pain. Still, he wished Troy or his mother had called to say his father was dying, not Stuart. It was fitting; surely his younger brother and his mother were too distraught to call or to notice Stuart had chosen to be the family spokesperson and reach out to him. He had too many mixed feelings over his father’s illness, feelings he’d been bleeding onto his canvases to suppress their gnawing emptiness, but his brother’s call compounded the uneasiness, the hollowness of the surreal concept that was the end of his father’s life.

The tall oak door swung open and Kyle stiffened for a second, and then relaxed when he saw his younger brother at the doorway. The guard excused himself and Kyle was left with Troy.

"Hey," Kyle said quietly and he felt his face soften as he smiled. Troy rushed out to him, disregarding the protocol of their family's privacy, ignoring the flashes outside their gates. The men embraced for the first time in too long and Kyle felt his flush heighten. Like a vampire, he couldn’t rush inside without his brother’s invitation, but he regretted the show of emotion under the lenses of the press.

"Bro, I've missed you,” Troy whispered and Kyle did not reply, as usual. Troy slowly pulled away from him and he smiled through damp, reddened eyes and the exhaustion that dragged his handsome face. "Let me help you with your stuff, Ky."

"I'm fine, really. How're you doing?"

Troy shrugged and sighed, then put an arm around Kyle's shoulders. "Come on in,” he invited. Kyle braced himself in spite of the warmth of his brother’s half embrace. He felt the finality of his arrival when Troy closed the door behind him.

He was trapped in the distinctive scent of potpourri and flowers and the soft amber lights of the foyer. Inside, the house hadn’t changed much. He couldn’t really remember if the interior had always been painted in stark white, but the marble floor still shone to perfection, the mahogany archways still glowed and the brass knobs on doors and windows still looked brand new.

He looked around and felt the indisputable discomfort of being a stranger in the house he’d grown up in. As he stood before the grand stairway and muted his brother’s small talk he felt the ghost of their childhood selves rush by. He felt his parents’ voices, the music from his father’s studio, his piano lessons, Stuart bouncing a basketball with his friends. He heard pets bark and Troy splash around in the pond in the back although his mother had told him for the fifteenth time not to touch the fish in the pond! Yes, this had been his home once; this had been the place he had longed to return to many years before. Now he was back, voluntarily, returning from exile but not quite the prodigal son. He was an expected and unwitting guest, uncertain where he fit in, if he even had a place in this house.

He wondered if he would occupy one of the guest rooms, surely his old room didn’t exist anymore. He wondered if this was how ghosts felt when they were trapped in their former homes, watching as their clothes were given away, their rooms changed into closets and studios.

"You wanna go up and change?" Troy asked quietly. "You're soaked."

"Sure. Where's Mom?"

"She went to her room to lie down, she was up all night. But she asked me to wake her when you got in."

“No, let her sleep.” He paused. Next natural question: “And Stu?"

"He's in the library with Carol and Dad’s doctor. I'll tell him you're here."

"Don’t bother. Can I shower in your room?"

"Sure. I'll be right up."

Kyle nodded and watched Troy walk down the hallway and turn into the library. So I was right, you’re all huddled inside the library, my least favorite room in the house. Kyle took another quick glance around him. It was small wonder, the house was still expertly decorated; his mother had always been devoted to making it look beautiful. His parents’ home had always reminded him more of a museum than a house; even as he grew up in it, he had felt engulfed by the antiques, the expensive art objects, the overall sterile luxury of the furnishings. He remembered some magazine had taken pictures of the house once, back when the family had seemed like a bastion of bliss.

Kyle slowly made his way up the stairs, one hand on the mahogany banister and another on his bag handle. He looked to his right, knowing he would find the painting still there, staring back at him. He was not disappointed; even though his family had seemed to erase almost all traces of him, they had not taken the family portrait down. There it hung, beautiful and false, all of its twenty years frozen in time. Brandon stood tall behind a sitting Norma, whose lips were turned into that loving smile Kyle had been told he’d inherited, but seldom showed.

He had always thought of his parents as a striking couple. His mother was surely still considered a stunning woman and Brandon was, without a doubt, a regally handsome man. The painting showed an incontestably attractive family: a dashing couple with three perfect children.

His smile would have been somewhat melancholy if he didn’t feel the familiar touch of remorse, cynicism and slight revulsion that his family portrait always evoked. He climbed the stairs toward his brother’s room. As he made it to the second-floor landing, he paused before the room that was once his. He didn’t even argue with his rebellious thoughts as he opened the door quietly, carefully, not wanting to disturb whatever phantoms lurked inside.

The curtains were drawn so the lighting was poor; he didn’t flick on the lights. He didn’t need much illumination to see the room was anonymous. The beige Berber had been left untouched, but the wide mahogany bed he'd slept in was piled high with a thick comforter and a dozen throw pillows. The TV and the stereo were gone, his first paintings had been replaced with a mirror and two non-descript landscapes. Nothing in the room told he had once lived there. He pursed his lips and cursed himself for feeling so lost. He’d been right, he was the ghost revisiting his old haunt, finding himself effectively obliterated and wondering if he’d ever really lived between those walls, if there were any clues to his existence hidden somewhere in that house.

He closed the door swiftly and was almost disappointed it made no sound as it closed. He would have wanted to slam it. Maybe the sound would have made him react and get the hell out of the house, the impossible situation. He chuckled again. And what the fuck is wrong with me anyway? It’s just a room. Just my old room. It’s not mine anymore; I'm not a part of almost anything or anyone in this goddamn house anymore.

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