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    •  The last thing Jonah Sands expected on his thirtieth birthday was to have his life thrust into the hands of a dangerous, red-haired woman—or to be the only person in the world to survive an encounter with her. As the death toll skyrockets, Jonah and his two best friends, the siblings Tristan and Ava Carter, find themselves at the epicentre of inexplicable phenomena—a stranded ferry transforms into a barge headed for the Underworld; young girls levitate to whisper ancient riddles; technology across the globe is controlled by some unseen hand. And it all seems to lead back to the woman with red hair. When a stranger finds them in the midst of a thunder storm and offers his otherworldly assistance, Jonah finally unravels the truth about who he really is. And what it means for the rest of humanity. Click HERE to learn more or to buy. After Dark,  Liz’s collection of short stories. What’s waiting for you in the shadows? Ghosts, curses and creatures of the dark, these stories take you on a journey from the secret whisperings of the trees, to the torments of the subconscious mind. Click HERE to learn more or buy  Advice from Liz to other writers:  “Believe in yourself! Just start writing and don’t worry about perfecting it the first time around.” Liz Butcher resides in Australia, with her husband, daughter, and their two cats.A self-confessed nerd with a BA in psychology and an insatiable fascination for learning. Liz was previously the former Executive Assistant at the Horror Tree, which is a mainstream resource for authors, and has published a number of short stories in anthologies including her own collection, After Dark, in 2018. Fates Fury is her debut novel.   More information can be found about Liz at her website: https://lizbutcherauthor.wixsite.com/lizbutcher 

    • The Worldshapers fantasy series by award-winning Saskatchewan author Edward Willett continues with the September 10 release of Book 2, Master of the World, from DAW Books, in trade paperback, audiobook, and e-book formats. The critically acclaimed first book, Worldshaper (which received a starred review in Publishers Weekly and was long-listed for Canada’s prestigious Sunburst Award), just cameout in mass-market paperback; it’s also available as a tradepaperback, audiobook, or e-book. Since we last interviewed Edward, he’s enjoyed a rising popularity with his books. He tells us: “At this point, I’ve been a full-time freelance writer for twenty-six years, so recent publications haven’t really changd my view of the profession at all. I’ve learned that there are ups and downs, that there’s no easy road to success, and that there are always authors whose success you’re going to be envious of, even as their are authors who are envious of whatever you’ve achieved. There’s always more to work for and hope for. Ultimately, it boils down to one simple credo: try to make whatever you’re writing now the very best thing you’ve ever written.” Master of the World, takes the central character, Shawna Keys, into a new, steampunk-flavoured adventure. Shawna has fled the world she only recently discovered she Shaped, narrowly escaping death at the hands of the Adversary who seized control of it…and losing her onlyguide, Karl Yatsar, in the process. Now she finds herself alone in some other Shaper’s world, where, in her first two hours, she’srescued from a disintegrating island by an improbable flying machine she recognizes from JulesVerne’s Robur the Conqueror, then seized from it by raiders flying tiny personal helicopters, andfinally taken to a submarine that bears a strong resemblance to Captain Nemo’s Nautilus. Oh, and accused of being both a spy and a witch. Shawna expects—hopes! —Karl Yatsar will eventually follow her into this new steampunkyrealm, but exactly where and when he’ll show up, she hasn’t a clue. In the meantime, she has to navigate a world where two factions fanatically devoted to their respective leaders are locked in perpetual combat, figure out who the Shaper of the world is, findhim or her, and obtain the secret knowledge of this world’s Shaping. Then she has to somehowreconnect with Karl Yatsar and escape to the next Shaped world in the Labyrinth…through a portal she has no idea how to open…to continue her quest to convey the knowledge of all the Shaped worlds to Ygrair, the mysterious woman at the centre of the Labyrinth. Only Ygrair, Karl has told her, can defeat the Adversary, who is determined to enslave and ultimately destroy the Shaped worlds (and the billions who live within them)—and only Shawna, he claims, can gather the knowledge Ygrair needs to do so. No pressure! Read more of Master of the World (Worldshapers Book 2) at: https://amzn.to/2LpqwBV Worldshapers (Book 1) For Shawna Keys, the world is almost perfect. She’s just opened a pottery studio in a beautiful city. She’s in love with a wonderful man. She has good friends. But one shattering moment of violence changes everything. Mysterious attackers kill her best friend. They’re about to kill Shawna. She can’t believe it’s happening–and just like that, it isn’t. It hasn’t. No one else remembers the attack, or her friend. To everyone else, Shawna’s friend never existed… Everyone, that is, except the mysterious stranger who shows up in Shawna’s shop. He claims her world has been perfect because she Shaped it to be perfect; that it is only one of uncounted Shaped worlds in a great Labyrinth; and that all those worlds are under threat from the Adversary who has now invaded hers. She cannot save her world, he says, but she might be able to save others–if she will follow him from world to world, learning their secrets and carrying them to Ygrair, the mysterious Lady at the Labyrinth’s heart. Frightened and hounded, Shawna sets off on a desperate journey, uncertain whom she can trust, how to use her newfound power, and what awaits her in the myriad worlds beyond her own. “Rollicking secondary-world contemporary fantasy.” – Publishers Weekly (starred review) “Fun, quirky, and highly enjoyable.” – Booklist Read more of Worldshapers (Book1) at: https://amzn.to/2AbfNVi Learn more about Edward Willett at the following sites: www.edwardwillett.com My latest: Worldshaper, Book 1 in the Worldshapers series from DAW Books “Rollicking secondary-world contemporary fantasy.” – Publishers Weekly (starred review) “Fun, quirky, and highly enjoyable.” – Booklist

    • Book Ads and BookTrailers WORK! Now, some people will tell you that no one will buy a book after seeing a book trailer. My response… Do you watch movie trailers before you see a movie?  Do you look at the photo on social media posts before reading the article? Do you look at a book cover before deciding to investigate it further? That’s my point! With a million (under exaggeration) books out there, most badly created, poorly edited, with unattractive covers, densely packed on a bookshelves, or ordered on a webpage… • WHAT makes your book stand out?  • What do people know about your book? • How do they know that? Regardless of their quality, YOU are still in competition with THEM!  Your only way to let everyone know about your book is by SCREAMING IT out there, personally contacting people who can help promote your title. Use your contacts: not everyone has those.  You can also take out PAID ADVERTISING.  Paid advertising works if you have a good audience as well as… a WELL-DESIGNED BOOK AD. and/or A BOOK TRAILER… A good book trailer should grab the viewer’s attention, offer a tease, a taste of the contents, the plot, without revealing anything substantial. In the same way that a movie trailer plays a large part in your decision whether to see a movie at the theater or wait for release on a streaming channel, your book trailer can inspire the viewer to purchase your book immediately. ARE YOU LOOKING FOR AN AFFORDABLE BOOK TRAILER or BOOK AD? Let me make one for you. See the Book Trailer  I made for Bestselling Author, JC Ryan. The length of your book trailer should be based on the information you wish to convey. For an action story like the one above, a longer trailer allows for multiple suspense elements to be included. Other options include voice narration, interview with the author, shorter length, thematic imagery and videos, a variety of music, all designed to grab your attention. And affordable, too. Did I say ‘affordable?’ Very affordable!   FREE CONSULTATION I’d like to discuss your options, suggest features and content of your book trailer and offer you a guaranteed low price, as well as a completion timeframe.  Please complete the form below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.  

    •  NYT BESTSELLING AUTHOR TOSCA LEE OFFERS GLIMPSE OF POST-PANDEMIC U.S. IN THRILLER THAT BLENDS HEADLINES, SCIENCE.  Tosca Lee, the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of 11 novels, has A Single Light, the sequel to  The Line Between, available for pre-order. A SINGLE LIGHT (Howard Books/Simon & Schuster, 9/17/19), the sequel to her headline-inspired bestseller THE LINE BETWEEN, which New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry (V-Wars) calls, “the line between science fiction and terrifying real science.”   Set in a U.S. crippled by a pandemic and cyberterrorism, A Single Light catches up with cult escapee Wynter Roth and ex-soldier Chase Miller, who emerge from their bunker to find a country ravaged by disease. Six months after vanishing into an underground silo with sixty others, Wynter and Chase emerge to find the area abandoned. There is no sign of Noah and the rest of the group that was supposed to greet them when they emerged—the same people Wynter was counting on to help her locate the IV antibiotics her gravely ill friend, Julie, needs in order to live. As the clock ticks down on Julie’s life, Wynter and Chase embark on a desperate search for medicine and answers. But what they find is not a nation on the cusp of recovery thanks to the promising new vaccine Wynter herself had a hand in creating, but one decimated by disease. What happened while they were underground? With food and water in limited supply and their own survival in question, Chase and Wynter must venture further and further from the silo. Aided by an enigmatic mute named Otto, they come face-to-face with a society radically changed by global pandemic, where communities scrabble to survive under rogue leaders and cities are war zones. As hope fades by the hour and Wynter learns the terrible truth of the last six months, she is called upon once again to help save the nation she no longer recognizes—a place so dark she’s no longer sure it can even survive.  A Single Light is a thriller of nonstop suspense about the risks of living in a world outside the safe confines of our closely-held beliefs and the relationships and lives that inspire us.  When we asked her how life has been since we last interviewed her, she responded: “Life has definitely been busier! There’s more happening with things like TV options, speaking and events, and I’m always somewhere in the cycle of editing/promoting new releases. It can definitely be challenging to tune it all out and get the writing done. But it’s also brought me great opportunities to help and encourage other upcoming writers.” ~Tosca Lee Lee’s headline-inspired first installment in the series, The Line Between, is inspired by the real headlines, including a Siberian village that became infected with anthrax from a thawing reindeer carcass in 2016 and scientific worry about infectious— and still viable—microbes in the melting permafrost. It addresses issues of big agriculture, and the potential fallout of an attack on the power grid, should incursions like these recorded by the U.S. government succeed: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/alerts/TA18- 074A  It has been optioned by Radar Pictures (Jumanji) and Ed Burns’ Marlboro Road Gang Productions (Public Morals) and is in development for television as first reported by Deadline Hollywood: https://deadline.com/2019/01/edward-burns-radar-developing-the-line-between-thriller-novel-for-television-1202538907/  Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of 11 novels including The Progeny, Firstborn, Iscariot, The Legend of Sheba, and The Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker. Her books have been translated into 17 languages and been optioned for TV and film.  Tosca received her B.A. in English from Smith College. A lifelong world adventure traveler, she lives in Nebraska with her husband and three of four children still at home. Additional Tosca Lee Books: To learn more about Tosca, please visit ToscaLee.com.         A Single Light releases September 17, currently in development for TV 

    • Lost Pet Found Please Call by D.W. Davis Taylor saw the poster on the telephone pole and knew immediately what had been missing from his life. He’d initially thought he could fill the hole with a new car, or a new job, or even a bigger television. He’d tried the job; that was the most affordable. It hadn’t worked, but he was stuck there because he wasn’t sure he could get hired on anywhere else in this town, in this economy. In a couple months he’d be able to afford the new TV, but the car remained a faint dream for some point in the distant, unreachable future. However, when he saw the black and white eyes of the two-tone feline staring back at him, stretched slightly as the paper wrapped around the pole, he knew how to right the ship. He’d been feeling alone since the breakup, never mind that the breakup had been over a year past and decidedly friendly. Hell, they still talked. But he missed the companionship, he missed having someone to communicate with on a regular basis. Maybe a cat couldn’t talk back to you, but there was a level of attractiveness in that. The photograph was crude, taken by a cell phone most likely, but the phone number had been typed. Taylor pulled out his phone and dialed. A woman answered, told him she still had the cat, yes he could come pick it up that afternoon. She’d be waiting. He showed up at her door in a run-down area of town he hadn’t been in for several years. She answered on the first knock, a freckled, blond girl a couple years younger than him, in ripped blue jeans and a Bob Marley tank top. She smiled at him and said, “I wondered if you’d actually show.” He glanced over her shoulder, into a cluttered little room that he knew was the biggest in the house. He didn’t see a cat, but he figured a cat could be anywhere in that mess. “You’ve got some nerve,” the girl said, and took a step forward. “Sorry,” Taylor said, trying to smile. “I was just looking—” “The real owners picked him up yesterday,” she said. “They had a photograph and everything. What do you have?” Taylor blinked at her. He glanced over his shoulder, at the Civic sitting at the curb. He jingled his keys in his pocket, wondering the impression he would give if he just turned and ran. He wasn’t a graceful runner. He didn’t present a very good image in motion. “No,” the girl said, and poked his shoulder. “You look at me, man. Answer my question.” He faced her again. Her eyes were so clear and blue he thought they might crack like ice. She had her hair tied back, pulling the skin on her face taught. She was thin, but he thought maybe her clothes were just baggy; she seemed like the kind of person who ran, not for exercise but to burn off energy. “I just thought,” Taylor said, and he had to look away because her eyes widened, and he thought they might swallow him up. “No, you didn’t,” she said. Another jab of the finger, so hard it might’ve bruised. “You’re an asshole, you know that? That family had a kid. That cat was some kid’s pet, and you were just going to take it for your own, make that kid go the rest of her life missing her pet. Why, huh? What the fuck is wrong with you?” Taylor’s mouth went numb, his tongue swelling. Knees trembled as something warm and achy burned through his veins. The girl took another step closer, that finger darting out, and Taylor recoiled, left foot reaching back, except instead of finding solid ground, it encountered nothing but empty air. He reeled backwards, the girl’s face giving way to weather-faded siding, which changed to leafless tree limbs, which finally settled into an overcast October sky, as something hard whacked the back of his head, and something else, or maybe the same thing, scraped his elbows. “Oh Jesus,” the girl said, from somewhere very far away. He thought about asking her to come closer, didn’t know why she’d try to have a conversation with him from across the road, across the neighborhood. It seemed like a silly idea, truly. They could just talk up close, like normal people. Work this out. Then her face was over his, her hand on his cheek. One finger tangled in his hair; she struggled to pull free, and the pain made his eyes water. He gasped and tried to sit up. “No, don’t,” she said, holding him down. “Jesus Christ, don’t, okay? Just lay there. I’ll get an ambulance.” “Please, no,” he told her, except even he couldn’t understand the mumbled obscenity that issued forth from his lips. It sounded like the time he’d taken too big a hit of his cousin Blake’s bowl, couldn’t speak right for three hours, teeth tripping over his tongue, Blake telling him to bite into it, get the swelling down, and Taylor too afraid of the taste of blood to do anything but grunt his frustration and cry. “Stop laughing,” the girl said, even though she was smiling. “Please, stop laughing. It’s not good.” “It’s okay,” Taylor said, and realized he could understand the words. “No, it isn’t,” the girl said, but her smile widened. One of her front teeth was chipped. Very slightly. Taylor didn’t think he would’ve noticed from any other angle. “I think,” Taylor said, and he pushed himself up into the hand she held against his chest. “Yeah, I think I can sit up.” She let him, but bit her lip and said, “What about concussions?” “I don’t know.” “You should see a doctor.” He shrugged. “I’m okay.” He glanced at her stoop. “It wasn’t a long fall.” She helped him to his feet. He brushed off the back of his jeans, thankful it hadn’t rained

    • Fifteen Seconds by Linda Juliano Leia kicked the knife away from the body before running out of the alley, rounding the corner and barreling into a couple, almost knocking them to the ground. “Hey!” the woman shouted, recovering her balance. “What the hell?” “Sorry,” Leia murmured automatically, looking over her shoulder as she came to a halt, eyes wild. She stood with her legs more than shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent and hands balled into tight fists. She was ready for her attacker to tear after her. “What’s the matter with you?” the man asked with wary concern in his voice. Between heaving breaths, Leia said, “Some guy attacked me. He tried to . . .” She couldn’t get the sour word past her lips. “Are you okay? Your clothes are torn . . .” The man glanced at Leia’s chest then quickly averted his eyes to the ground. Leia looked down to find the buttons of her blouse missing and her white lace bra exposed. She pulled her long sweater tight across her breasts. “I need to call the police, but I dropped my phone.” She glanced over her shoulder. “Back there I think.” She bit her tongue, her body was shivering so convulsively. The man told his companion to stay with Leia as he jogged to the alley opening. “He’s still there,” he shouted over to them. “Hey!” he yelled down the alley before disappearing. “Brian!” the woman screamed, running to see where he’d gone. “Leave him for the police,” she said, panic ripping through her voice. The world around Leia dimmed. One of her worst nightmares just happened. She was dragged into an alley and almost raped. A slight and petite city girl, she was always on guard; diligent about walking with her head up and being aware of her surroundings. It only took a few seconds for her to break that rule and become a victim. She’d looked down at her phone just long enough to check the bus schedule. That’s all it took. Fifteen seconds. A heady surge of emotion moved in her stomach, chest and throat. She vomited onto her shoes, then wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, shuddering at the memory of the attack. The man had grabbed her from behind, clamping his large, calloused hand over her mouth and nose, cutting off her air supply. He dragged her behind a dumpster and pushed her face against a brick wall while pressing the tip of his knife into the side of her neck. His rancid, nicotine-laced breath skimmed her cheek as he warned her not to scream. She froze just as she always feared she would. But when he tore open her blouse, roughly grabbing her breast then reaching for the zipper of her jeans, instinct kicked in, coursing through her veins like fire. She spun around, surprising her attacker before pushing him in the chest, and with a guttural scream, knocked him a few steps back. Then before he had a chance to recover, she planted her foot in his stomach with enough force to empty the air from his lungs and double him over. One last adrenaline-fueled kick to the head sent him sprawling to the ground with a pathetic grunt. She kicked the knife away and, remembering instructions from a self-defense class to run once your attacker is down, she fled. Leia jumped when someone placed a blanket around her shoulders, guiding her toward an ambulance she hadn’t seen arrive. It was a police officer. “You’ll be okay,” the officer said, her tone gentle and soothing. “What’s your name?” Leia’s breathing slowed, allowing her to speak. “Leia Reynolds,” she mumbled, her mouth dry. “You kicked that jerk’s ass, Leia Reynolds,” the officer said with a smile. “Nice work.” “Did I?” Leia whispered, hardly believing it. “You did. He’s bleeding and bruised over there.” She nodded in the direction of a police car where her attacker was standing, facing the car, legs spread and hands cuffed. Another officer was reading him his rights before pressing him into the back seat of the car. Leia pulled the blanket tighter around her shoulders. She wasn’t strong, but she’d moved with speed. She didn’t think; she took action. Fear hadn’t shut her down, it had fueled her. She watched the back of her attacker’s head shrink away to nothing, disappearing with the police car into the night. Leia sat up tall. Like a rising tide covering the sand, pride engulfed fear. ▪️ About the Author Linda Juliano writes from San Francisco, CA. She’s the author of Cadence Beach, a romantic suspense novel that can be purchased on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com). She’s a recent winner of a Writer’s Digest Magazine contest and has short fiction published in magazines such as Adelaide (http://adelaidemagazine), Across the Margin (https://acrossthemargin) and Literary Juice (https://www.newpages.com). You are invited to follow her on her author FB page, Twitter (@ljwrite), Goodreads (goodreads.com) and her website at lindajuliano.com. Authors: Are you ready to…Learn what to do, what we pay etc.

    • Marina was born in the former Soviet Union and moved to the United States at the age of 11. Having grown up in Brooklyn, she considers the United States of America to be her true home. Always one to tell tales, she began writing short stories and essays when she was a teenager. Though she did not study creative writing in college (and actually went on to graduate from law school), she’s been writing for pleasure ever since high school. In the following short interview she’s asked about her process of writing.    How did you get started writing, and what is your process like?” [ie: pen and paper, loads of notes, tons of research first, by the seat of your pants…] I started writing in high school. Of course, back then, my stories were thinly veiled fantasies about my crushes, but hey—inspiration is inspiration. I started writing more seriously in 2006, when I began outlining what would eventually become One Year in Berlin (a novella). It was inspired by my very own nightmares. Since about the age of 19, I regularly dreamed of being in Auschwitz. The recurring nightmare routinely culminated with a shot to the head (mine). Eventually, growing convinced that I simply must write down this story to try to rid myself of these awful dreams, I travelled to Auschwitz. The story took on a few different forms along the way, and what exists out there in the world today is the 2012 version. It’s oddly personal and truly did help me: I haven’t had the dream since. My process… It honestly varies project to project. The basics remain the same: I always must have the first chapter drafted before I can go back and outline. I need to handwrite those first few pages to try to feel out my idea, my concept, my characters, my voice. Once that is done, I try to put some kind of a rough outline together. I am not a very good outliner, I must admit. In fact, this new idea with which I am currently wrestling inside my head has the privilege of being the first thoroughly outlined work (kind of, sort of, maybe). So yes, my process varies from project to project. My two-part series, Effortless, had fairly detailed outlines, whereas my novella Foreign Bride was all momentum, so to speak. Good Morning, Bellingham, my new novel coming out this fall, has been in the making since 2015 and had a few outlines since its inception, whereas Joe After Maya had one solid timeline. I try to do as much research as I can ahead of time, sure, but I won’t lie—sometimes when you get the itch to just sit down and start writing, you’re almost afraid to piss off the muse by not complying, so the research, at times, gets done as I go.   Anything you would like the reader to know about you, or your book(s) that isn’t often asked? I am never asked Who is your target/ideal reader?  As a writer, you’re constantly told to stick to the confines of your genre, write with your ideal reader in mind, to never betray her expectations. We’re told to think of an “avatar.” However, no one ever asks me in an interview who that mythical reader is for me, what that avatar looks like (spoiler alert: it’s not blue!) For me, it’s someone for whom characters are everything—a genuine fan of literary fiction in the sense that they are invested in a story that’s driven primarily by characters rather than strictly the plot. I imagine it’s someone who likes a good indie film—you know, the one that’s a little quirky, delightfully odd, with honest, real characters who aren’t sanitized in the effort to increase their appeal. I want to write stories I want to read myself, not simply follow strict genre guidelines for fear of upsetting some convention. You may follow Marina in Facebook: Facebook.com/AuthorMarinaRaydun EXCERPT from EFFORTLESS by Marina Raydun Chapter One: What Say You? Plucking stray hairs out of your chin is a humiliating exercise, even when you are engaged in the activity in the privacy of a windowless room, with no one there to witness your shame. I suppose “emasculating” would not be the most appropriate adjective to describe the procedure, but the process, as well as the mere reminder of the need for it in the first place, leaves you feeling embarrassed and hollow. And, if that weren’t enough, you are also fully aware that you’re only wasting your time—all along you know that you will be right back where you started within a matter of days.   That’s what I was doing (namely cursing the heavens I could not see from where I was for the three hairs that insisted on poking through my sensitive skin week after week, despite my disciplined plucking) when Veronika knocked on my office door that spring afternoon. “Office,” of course, is too mighty a term for the closet I shared with two fellow history teachers, our desks forming an awkward letter “T” in the claustrophobic space that was painted a pale shade of pink, but it was my space, nevertheless. I rarely kept my door open, so if you wanted to interrupt me while grading papers, poking at a salad, or at my half-baked attempts at cheating in Words with Friends, you had to knock. I’d been told years ago by somewhat of a mentor, that young teachers would always have to try doubly as hard as the older ones to maintain any status of authority with the students—it began with not wearing jeans to work and always keeping your door closed. I was not copied on the memo regarding the cutoff age for the said self-imposed policy. “Ms. Levit, you have to come with us! They need one more chaperone,” Veronika begged the second I opened the door and ushered her in.   Routinely lectured by the same friendly advisor on ways to protect

    • by Jill Hedgecock (www.jillhedgecock.com) Rachael Herron is the internationally bestselling author of more than two dozen books. The diversity of her writing talent is impressive. Her books span multiple genres including thriller (under R.H. Herron), mainstream fiction, feminist romance, memoir, and nonfiction about writing. She received her MFA in writing from Mills College, Oakland, and she teaches writing extension workshops at both UC Berkeley and Stanford. She is a proud member of the NaNoWriMo Writer’s Board. Rachael generously agreed to be interviewed to share her breadth of knowledge. You have recorded over 130 Podcasts on How do You Write? What’s the most inspiring thing that you have learned? I started the podcast so that I could hear many different writers’ processes so that hopefully I’d glean the magic bullet, the one that would make writing easy for me. I know, of course, that it doesn’t exist. Even after writing more than twenty-six books, I still haven’t found this impossible thing, but knowing that will never stop me from searching! The most inspiring thing I’ve heard is something that many of my guests, over and over, say in different ways but always coming down the same thing: They failed and they got up again. Every single time they were knocked down by a rejection, or a publisher who didn’t buy the next book, or a string of terrible reviews, they sat on the ground for a minute, dazed, and then they stood back up again.  That’s always the most important thing for me to remember, and my guests always remind me of it: Failure is part of writing. If you write, you will fail. But as the Japanese saying goes, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” You only ever have to get up one extra time.  What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Find a community, as soon as possible! Writing is so solitary (and we like that! So many of us, including myself, are introverts). But writing with other people and talking to others about the craft and business of writing is one of the most important ways to move forward with your writing journey. I wrote my first published book (the fourth book I’d attempted to write) and sold a three-book deal to HarperCollins before I’d ever had a community. Then I joined the Romance Writers of America, and my life completely changed. Now, eleven years after I joined, my best friends have come from my writing groups. Even though I don’t write romance anymore, I’d never quit going to RWA. (I’m actually on the board—that’s how much I believe in it.) It doesn’t matter which group you join (Mystery Writers of America, or a local writing MeetUp, etc.), just make sure you cultivate close friendships with other writers. Not for critique (be careful with getting critique from people who might not know very much more than you do yet) but for encouragement, which every writer sorely craves and will always need.  You serve on the Board of NaNoWriMo.  Can you describe the program? What advice can you give to first time participants? NaNoWriMo is an online challenge to write a full novel (50,000 words) in the month of November. That’s all! To win, you write 50,000 or more words. They don’t need to be good words! In fact, they won’t be! In order to write that fast, you have to write a lot of dreck. This is the magic trick. You must silence your inner editor and just put down silly or terrible or laughable words, and lots of them.  I spent the seven years after getting my MFA in Creative Writing trying to write a great literary work. Then I heard about NaNoWriMo, and I tried it. I wrote a terrible book. But for the first time, I had completed something! And revising something that was already done was the easy part! That book became How to Knit a Love Song, my first published book.  NaNoWriMo has changed so many lives, including mine. I owe my career to viscerally learning that I had to get my inner editor to stop criticizing the words I was putting on the page. I can’t recommend it more highly.  What has been the biggest challenge on your path to publication?   Great question! My biggest challenge has been when my books don’t sell as much as my publishers gambled on them (which is called not earning out the advance). When you fail to sell what they gamble you will, it’s very hard to sell another book. Through sheer will and stubbornness, I’ve kept writing, and my agent has always sold another project for me. Someday I know I’ll have the breakout success I’m hoping for (hopefully with the next book, my first thriller!). I believe that all authors must have a firmly rooted tree of hope in their hearts—they must keep watering it, and keep the sun shining on it. Hope always pulls us through and gets us to write one more line, one more paragraph, one more book.  What authors have most influenced your writing?     L.M. Montgomery—Anne of Green Gables was my first literary mentor. I wear a ring on my left hand that my mother gave me—my great aunt Lucy’s ring (like Lucy Maud!). When I was about nineteen, I had “Because of Anne” inscribed inside it. Because of Anne, I would be a writer, I hoped. And I was.  But recently, I’ve been loving lots of thrillers: Tana French, Liane Moriarty, Sophie Littlefield (a friend and incredible writer), and Belinda Bauer. The darker the book, the better for me lately.  If you were to describe yourself as a character in a murder mystery (e.g., sleuth, police investigator, etc.) who would that be? The 911 dispatcher! I was one for seventeen years, and I still believe it was a wonderful job, a great combination of detective and first responder. I sleuthed the computer systems to put cases together and find the people we were

    • If Walls Could Talkby Lisa PostPart 1: Sometimes, You Can’t Get a Foot from ShoreThe Hired HelpYou run your hand along the wall.  The wood is rough.  If it weren’t for your leather gloves, splinters would have claimed the palm of your hand as their own.  The wood is old, and the boards have retracted so far that you could throw a baseball between them.  The wood smells musty.  The elements have had their own way with the barn for decades.  There was no one to maintain the old building, and prevent the entrance of the wind, rain, snow, and hail.  They came and went as they pleased.   The walls are slanted. The once-straight lines of the barn are slanted, leaning slowly away from its existence into oblivion.  The walls are unstable.  They groan and creek and slightly sway, growing older ungracefully.  When you first laid eyes on the barn, you were driving by to pick up paint for your own barn.  You commented to your wife how it looked to be about ready to fall in.  Not two days later the call came.  The owner said they had a building, an old barn, ready to fall in on Route 6.  Did you know it?  You roll your eyes and say “Yeah, I know which one.”  But times are tight, and the money is sorely needed for your own farm, so you take the job. On your first day you expect long hours of solitude, if not quiet.  The creaking of boards as the wind teased around them create a constant flow of wooden complaints.   And as you work, you realize you are not alone. Voices whisper the secrets from the past.  Unwillingly you hear the words, but you wish you hadn’t. Board after board is carefully removed and your hands fall on the remnants of old newspapers, trash, and odd artifacts. The artifacts have been keeping secrets for decades, and are revealing them because they are too tired to hide any more. WoodyWhen a log rolls, it usually gets the leg.  That is the general belief, and in Justin’s case, it certainly proved to be true.  You see, I met Justin after just such an accident.  I heard him tell the story over and over again to friends, family, acquaintances.  He would tell it in a growl, as if the whole world had somethin’ against him.  I think it was just plain ol’ bad luck.  To hear him tell it, you would think there was some sort of cosmic personal vendetta against him. But that’s Justin. Ever since the accident, it seems as if he just can’t catch a break.  You see, he was out felling trees.  His family has lived on the same little farm in the Appalachian Mountains for generations.  None of them had even been outside of Pennsylvania. Of course the land in that area is rolling, hardly a flat area to work anywhere.  That was no matter.  Anyone from that neck of the woods was used to it.  I’m guessin’ if they were given a piece of flat land they wouldn’t know what to do with it.   Story goes that Justin was just out felling some trees when one fell wrong, rolled, and nabbed his leg.  Rumor has it that his scream was heard all the way down to the next farm. He was by himself, so he had to drag himself down the trail. He was finally met by a neighbor who happened to be tapping for sap that day.  The nearest hospital was almost an hour away, and by the time Justin got there, he was nearly unconscious.  Justin says he don’t remember nothin’ until he was waking up from the operation.  “Leg is gone. Sorry, son,” a doctor, whose name Justin never could remember after, informed him bluntly. Soon after that I met Justin.  He was still in the hospital.  We hit it off right away.  I was assigned to him, and went home with him. We got along fine at first, though from time to time he would do the strangest thing.  He would be saying something like: “At least my other leg is fine, knock on wood,” and then would hit me three times.  He always referred to me as “Woody.”  For a while I know Justin was in pain, and he was popping pills faster than he could get refills.   At first that was no problem.  In fact, the doctor seemed to take a great deal of pity on him, as Justin learned to live life minus a leg.  But it seemed to me the more Justin improved and used me to help him, the less he did around the farm.  Or the less he wanted to do.  The grass was uncut; the crops were not tended to.  The tractors were left strewn by the field, where he had left them on that day he decided to cut wood instead of cultivate the corn.  I heard him grumbling about bills that were coming in, but all he did was throw them in the woodstove. And then he’d pop a pill.  He used to only take about four a day, then it was five.  After several weeks it was six.  I lost count after that.  He was never really a good-looking man, but he was fit.  Until he lost his leg, that is.  After a while, after taking dozens and dozens of those pills, he started to lose his hair.  I saw him one day, while he was looking in the mirror in the bathroom, with just one light swipe of his hand, take out a clump of hair.  Eventually, what didn’t fall out turned a dirty gray color.  His face was once tanned, and he even sported dimples in his cheeks.  That was probably his one redeeming quality.  Over time, when his hair was falling out, I noticed that when he leaned on me, it was much easier to bear his weight.  One night, when he took me off and threw me

    • High Kill Shelter: A short story by Steve Passey Every Saturday morning an autistic girl walks past the shelter wearing noise-cancelling headphones and dark sunglasses. When she comes to the crosswalk she waits for a car to come and stop to let her cross. She can’t make herself cross unless a car stops. She’ll wait for one if none are there, even though she could, in theory, cross safely. This is the visible part of the invisible sequencing error that is autism. She cannot move without a cue. She stands and waits and her particular, peculiar rhythm beats in her heart and in her head. The cars that stop for her are witnesses to this but they do not know what it is they see. # An old man brought in an old dog.  “What’s his name?” Jaime asked. “Doesn’t matter anymore,” the old man said.  “There is a fee sir,” Jaime says. “Ninety dollars. And some forms—some things we need to know.” The old man just walked out. The dog, cataracts visible in his eyes, sat and looked around. His tail thumped on the floor twice before he quit trying to wag it. He could tell by the smell what’s in the shelter, in the cool concrete-walled room with the blue metal door at the back. They bring them in one at a time mostly. Pit bull crosses from young men moving to where they can’t have them. The dog’s face and name are sometimes tattooed on their shoulders. They pay the fee. Young women come in in twos, one for moral support and the other the dog’s owner, dropping off teacup Yorkies saying they are moving to a place where they can’t have pets but it’s really because the stupid fucking thing is two years old and can’t be housetrained and they are tired of picking up dog shit and wiping up dog piss a dozen times a day. They pay the fee.  Very, very rarely do any middle-aged women bring their dogs in. Fifty year-old women keep their dogs until the dog dies at home, in their arms, or in its bed on top of two layers of soakers. These women will spend way more than ninety dollars on surgeries and injections to keep their dog alive an extra two weeks. Like Mother Theresa telling the poor to embrace their pain and love God for giving it to them they keep the blood flowing in animals in which the blood wanted to stop two years prior. You never see them at a high kill shelter. These lonely old women will chew off one of their own legs first. Another day, another dog, until there are too many dogs and then the first brought in are euthanized to make room for the newly unwanted. # Jaime went into Maria’s office to tell her about the old man and the old dog and that he had walked away without paying the ninety dollars. Maria was on the phone with the veterinarian and Jaime waited. Jaime had taken the job because it was available and she had thought of herself as if not exactly a “dog person” as very definitely not a “people person.” Dogs were preferable to people. She had let her hair grow out—wash and go—and people, strangers even, would sometimes ask if they could touch the expanding halo of dark brown curls. That was too much. She wore her hoodie up over her hair on public transit. The dogs were happy to be fed and groomed when she had time and she had a sense of duty, if not love.  For dogs love and duty is the same thing. For people they are two different things. Jaime waited until Maria hung up and then said “I’m leaving. I got a job at a call centre. It’s not much more money but there are benefits after three months. I need this.” Maria nodded. Jaime was a good one, but they come and go. The shelter is not a life.  “Next Friday will be my last day” Jaime said.  Maria nodded. ‘Thank you,” she said. “Hey—I have a kid coming in next week. It’ll make your last week a little easier.” “Where did you get this one?” Jaime asked. Jaime, as the only employee of the shelter save Maria, was used to occasional help from volunteers or employment programs. Summers were the best, high school students financed by government job creation money made everyone’s life easier. “Court Ordered Community Service,” Maria said. “A con?” Jaime said “Like, what did they do? Rob a bank, sell some crack? What?” “Threw his ex-girlfriend’s Maltese/Bichon cross off of an overpass.” “Come again?” “Rich kid. Rich kid love triangle. The Judge knew that any fine he levied would be paid for by the parents, and there is no room in any juvenile facility. So he gave him a suspended sentence and ordered him to work fifty hours in an animal shelter. We are that shelter. We are going to teach him empathy.” Jaime thought a minute. “Empathy is not a teachable skill,” she said. # Maria had been running the shelter since its inception. Maria wore thick-rimmed glasses and the fat on the back of her arms moved in waves when she spoke because she spoke with her hands and when she becomes particularly excited her hands are always up over her head. Most of Maria’s day was spent on grant applications and canvassing for donations. She put her own money into the shelter more often than she should. Her husband, her third one, works for the city electrical department and makes decent money. Maria puts a lot into the dogs. Only two bad things have ever happened to Maria. Her third husband, Gonsalves, who she always referred to by his surname, had left her once. He moved out for two weeks to live with a waitress from a bowling alley bar. The waitress left him two weeks later for a man

    • Finish With Engine: Having been sunk twice by enemy action in the North Sea and saved both times, Frank Reilly’s luck had to change. His promotion to the captaincy of the 6,000 ton merchant ship, the SS Benmacdhui after the last sinking, was as much welcome as it was a surprise. From day one his new responsibility is plagued with anomalies, riddles and intrigue. A battle with his conscience, his crew and the enemy becomes daily routine. A test for the new captain’s resolve, but deeper undercurrents are at play.No one reckoned with the attack on Pearl Harbour, or the perfidy of people surrounding him, but then no one reckoned with Frank Reilly. Based on the mystery of the Hong Kong 1 cent coin and the perfidy of politics in 1941. Finish With Engine attempts to fill some of the holes in the history books. Click > https://amzn.to/2l5X0GG to learn more/buy (Kindle/Print)       HK 1 cent coin. Learn more HERE.     Author Robin Melhuish enjoys historical novels based on reality. His previous books include: All That Remains: A tale of circumstance, a chance find in a junk shop and an old war vet’s tale that leads to the love of Alastair’s life and uncovers a trail of lies and deceit that goes back decades. The devious connivance of the unscrupulous, on all sides, in WWII to defraud their nations of millions before the war ends. The story of babies bred for the Third Reich and the mothers that gave their bodies, some more freely than others. Then love gets in the way, the rest is history. A family branded by the sins of the past a woman tormented by love and deception. All leading to the discovery of the worlds greatest undiscovered robbery. It’s all smoke and mirrors, it’s all fake, or is it? Why did they wait 30 years before telling the story? Click > https://amzn.to/2l5uKnx to learn more/buy (Kindle/Print)   The Quiet Way: A railway tanker explodes in 1946 in post war Germany, no one can conceive the significance 64 years later. Detective Chief Inspector Alan Hanks is confronted with a dilemma, two options, either of which could be true, either of which could be false. In a race against time Hanks and his team try to prevent the biggest peacetime disaster that Britain if not the world has seen. Click >https://amzn.to/2LO4tp2 to read more/buy (Kindle/Print)      

    • An author, posting to a popular Facebook group: 20Booksto50K   shared her success in publishing that seemed noteworthy to share with you (with her permission, of course, although she did request I not include her actual income figures. If you want to see those join the FB group above and you will see her post there.) While this strategy worked well for her, it may not work for you. That said, it is an excellent study in planning and perseverance. Sheridan Anne wrote: I can’t believe I’m making this post. It’s scary as hell, but after a little arm twisting by Simone Lockett, I’ve been convinced to put this up to share my experiences on my latest launch with you to let you know my way up the mountain and hopefully inspire a few of you. A little background about my publishing career. I started writing as a hobby about 4 or 5 years ago. flat out refused to read a book before the age 18 and only did when my twin sister threw a book in my face and insisted she wouldn’t leave me alone until I had done it, so naturally, I cave and I fell in love (It was twilight btw and yes, I’m still crazy obsessed.) I also failed English and I’m sure many of you can see that my grammar absolutely sucks! My first book was a fantasy and took me two years to write (it’s only 80K words). I was terrified to publish and held onto it for ages while writing other books.  As I mentioned, my grammar sucks and my work was filled with errors. I wasn’t at a stage to have my work edited. I started working on other projects and in December 2017, I published my first book – a New Adult Romance. This book was self edited and had a cover which I’d created myself. I made HUGE mistakes with this book/series. It quickly turned into a 4 series and by this point, I’d had a 70K novel down to 4 weeks writing time.  I published each book roughly a month apart and continued this schedule throughout all of 2018 – It wasn’t easy! So, so much goes into doing it all by yourself. By the end of 2018 I had 14 published titles. My editing seriously sucked, my blurbs were ok but I was lucky that I seemed to have done an alright job with my covers. Each month, with each new release and new series I worked on, I was steadily increasing my income. By the end of 2018, I was happily making [a modest amount] a month, though it took nearly the whole year to build up to this. All these releases were done without a news letter, bookfunnel, FB or AMS ads. Basically, no marketing at all, but I was still earning pretty good money and I was happy with how things were going. This proved to me that I didn’t need to be spending big bucks on certain things, though it certainly would have helped. Here’s where things started to blow my mind! Oh, I only have 20 titles btw, not 47 but with Kindle, print, and Box sets, it looks like I’m better than what I am! I had an idea for a YA high school romance and I wanted it to kick ass! I got busy and wrote the first book in 2 weeks. The rest of the 6 book series followed just like that (I was averaging 7K words a day with – I go into each day with a clear understanding of what I want written. It’s like the next scene plays out as a movie in my head and I just have to write it down). It came easy and I realised that maybe this is the genre for me. I did my covers and call me cliché, but I knew I was aiming at a young audience who would most likely be female, so my covers are pretty in pink. I lost the naked man chest and opted for a pretty girl, super casual. Here’s the kicker – I made it damn obvious what the book was about and titled it after the high school. The series is called Broken Hill High. When people scroll past it, they instantly see that it’s high school, the rest of the cover makes it clear it’s a YA romance. I followed suit with the rest of my covers, making it obvious they were a series. With covers out of the way, I made a description that I thought kicked ass. it was fun and pulled in an audience from the first line. I learned how to do that by studying all the posts in this group about writing descriptions. If you haven’t already utilised the information hidden within this group, then pull on your big girl/boy panties and get on it! Knowing reviews help to kick off releases, I got a booksprout account and I believe this helped to make a good launch, incredible. I had roughly 20 reviews at release (not great but effective) I had planned for a rapid release. I was releasing every 2 weeks. I put up my pre-order for book 1 and was shocked that I had 53 pe-orders by release day. On release day, I made sure I was enroled in KU and made sure to release the pre-order for book 2 with a link in the back of book 1. KU was like some kind of gift given to me by Amazon and counts for two thirds of my income. I will never come out of KU – some days I had nearly 500K page reads. By this stage, I had a qualified friend helping me with editing, however she doesn’t do this professionally. By the time book 2 was released, I had 500 pre-orders and I was in shock. I followed the same process and started some Amazon ads (the first two months

    • What Happened? We’ve delayed the June issue of Books ‘N Pieces Magazine (as you likely figured out by now) as there are format changes ahead. I’m sorry for the inconvenience. Look for the June issue out the 15th. So What’s the Deal? Well, we’ve looked at all the ways our readers like reading our content and the winner is having it on the Website and not having to download things. And that’s fine, however it requires a bit of adjustment on our part. What To Look Forward To! You’ll see the same content, only it will be right in front of your face. You can select STORIES or INTERVIEWS or BOOKSTORE or ARTICLES and get a list of what is there, what is new…and so on. Our goal is simple: We want to feature as many authors as we can. We want the interviews to be RELEVANT for new writers and interesting to existing authors. And we’re adjusting our name to…. Books ‘N Pieces Magazine presents…. SPOTLIGHT ON WRITING Thanks for your patience. See you soon!

    • The First and Final Thing by William Gensburger. FREE KINDLE DOWNLOAD Monday May 27 (Memorial Day) and Tuesday May 28. https://amzn.to/2Wh4Zl0  Simon Pratt was supposed to be dead. At least that’s what his doctor had told him. Diagnosed with end-stage terminal cancer, and a few weeks to live, Pratt decides to spare his family the agony of watching him wither away. He gives away his wealth and possessions and makes a bold decision. Armed only with a ragged copy of his favorite author’s paperback novel, and a few things from his own father, Pratt ventures into the Idaho back country prepared to die quickly while immersed on some of the most beautiful country. The only problem is . . . he doesn’t die! Now what will he do? He can’t go back, not that he wants to. But what lies ahead? This is a story about life and death and all that comes between. “A solidly engaging tale and a testament to Hemingway.” ~ Alex Perata (Verified reader) https://amzn.to/2Wh4Zl0      Squaring The Circle 4.8 stars on 12 reviews Science Fiction, Thriller, Technothriller Physicist Sam Jacobson has made an astounding discovery: A particle that serves as a direct line of communication to the fabric of spacetime. If a person conveys expectations to the cosmos, as he now can, reality answers in kind. Want to create a black hole in the laboratory? Done. Make yourself bullet-proof? No problem. But with great power comes great insanity. Left unhindered, the evolution of man into God could come to a horrific, world-ending conclusion. Two strangers, entangled like a pair of fundamental particles, are the only ones who can stop him. The first is David Sandoval, the executive producer of a once-popular television show, and he isn’t ready to retire just yet. His program will be canceled by the network unless he can find a way to improve the ratings. An invitation to a mysterious laboratory might be the miracle he’s looking for. The second is a girl named Eddie. Pissing off her overbearing mother, popping psychotropic medications, trying to ignore the voices – these are the sum total of nineteen-year-old Eddie’s life. But when forced into a surreal connection with the creator of her favorite science program, her world changes forever. Eddie’s meds aren’t working, but that’s okay. She doesn’t dare ignore the voices now. https://amzn.to/2HEdI8M Depravity 4.3 stars on 712 reviews Paranormal Romance, Fantasy Romance Book 1 of 3 in A Beastly Tale (3 Book Series) https://amzn.to/2MdAEQJ Benella is concerned with two things–avoiding the two village boys who torment her and scrounging for food to help feed her family. Unfortunately, the best wild fruit and vegetables are near the walls of the estate, a dark misty place inhabited by an unforgiving beast. When her tormentors lock her behind the massive gates, Benella knows her fate is sealed. Yet, the fate isn’t one she expects. Her encounter with the beast starts a bizarre cycle of bargaining for her freedom, a freedom the beast seems determined to see her lose. A classic fairy tale with a seductively dark new twist, the Beauty and the Beast saga begins with Depravity. Intended for mature readers due to sexual situations and moderate language. This book is part 1 of 3. Click here to see all available books in A Beastly Tale (3 Book Series) by M.J. Haag on Amazon. Authors: To have YOUR book(s) featured here, contact us.

    •   The May 2019 issue of Books ‘N Pieces Magazine featuring interviews with Kimberly Stuart, Pam Houston, Short Story by Avra Margariti. Also featuring FREE D/L DAYS, Congratulations, Gareth Powell, Author Questions on the Run, Book Previews, Letters to the Editor, Brain Games #4 and more. •Digital PDF edition. • Issuu.com Flip-style Magazine • ePub • Kindle (mobi) If you enjoy Kindle Unlimited, the edition will be available there May 8th.           Click the ad for more information.

    • We’re giving away a printed edition set of FOUR issues of Books ‘N Pieces Magazine (October 2018, February 2019, March 2019, April 2019) to one lucky winner. This includes the issues with Craig DiLouie, Tosca Lee, George R.R. Martin, and Ellen Michelle/Gareth L. Powell on the covers. To enter, CLICK HERE. Contest ends April 15, end of day. [Note: Be sure to file your taxes!!!] The winner will be selected at random and the winner will be notified the following day for their mailing information (yes, we pay postage, too!). Good luck and enjoy.  

    • Happy April Fools Day, however, for real, the newest issue of Books ‘N Pieces Magazine is ready for you to read. This issue of Books ‘N Pieces Magazine featuring interviews with Ellen Michelle, Emily Gallo, Gareth L Powell, Kathrin Hutson, Short Stories by Ellen Denton and Mike Todd. Also featuring Author Questions on the Run, Book previews, Letters to the Editor, Brain Games #3 and more. You can read it in multiple formats directly from our Website, or, if you have Kindle Unlimited, you get to read it FREE on Amazon on your Kindle device as well. For other readers we have added Nook, Kobo, Google Play, Apple Books, as well as a PDF file. The print edition is also available on Amazon for $5.99 (118 pages, BW interior).   Simply click the link you want. Enjoy this issue and please let us know your thoughts. ~WG Choose your version PDF issue.com (flip-page style) Kindle (.mobi for your device) Kindle Unlimited iBooks Nook Kobo Google Play Generic ePub format PRINT EDITION $5.99    Check out these books!Click image for more information

    •   The APRIL issue will be out by April 5th. This is not an April Fools Day joke… really!                    PS: It’s a fantastic issue, once again FULL with interviews, stories, tips, and some new features. Stay tuned!   And sign up for our VIP Mail list––we’ll keep you updated!   Thanks, William    

    • The March issue featuring the interview with George R.R. Martin and Alan Brennert was hugely successful. You can read it FREE from our site, or from Amazon (Kindle Unlimited). The print issue, due to its size, was pricey, in full-color, and over 100 pages. We have revised the print issue reducing the size and dropping the price to $11.99 which, honestly, gives us no profit, but is as good as it can be from a price perspective. This issue just looks great in color. Future issues will have a black & white interior for print, yet full color for our digital editions. For the April 2019 issue we have some NEW FEATURES including our “Author On The Street Interviews,” short questions posed to a wide range of authors––both bestsellers and fresh authors. You’ll enjoy the wide variety of responses. We’re opening up our SHORT STORY SUBMISSIONS (be sure to read the guidelines and pay rates before submitting – submit from the main menu). We will also be returning to black and white interior for our print edition which will allow us to lower the price even more. And our popular print size (6″x9″) allow our publication to be placed on your bookshelf. The digital edition will be full color as usual. If you have not read Books ‘N Pieces Magazine yet, you should. Past issues are available on our Website and we have interviewed a wide range of authors including: George R.R. Martin, Robert J. Sawyer,  Peter James,  Tosca Lee, Steena Holmes, Eileen Cook,  Miranda Oh,  JC Ryan,  Mike Wells, Grant Faulkner,  Jim Christina, Robin Barefield, C.S. Lakin,  Devika Fernando,  Jas T. Ward,  Fiona Ingram, Arabella Sheraton, Kelly Charron,  Joanne Pence,  Tony Phillips, Alan Brennert, Stuart Horwitz,  Marc Rainer, Ellis Knox, Laura Lefkowitz,  A.C. Salter,  Robin Melhuish, Sarah L. Johnson,  Marc Watson and more. Click HERE to learn more and BUY. We also accept your book advertising (see ad on the left) offering a wide audience exposure, in the publication, our Website and on Social Media, all at an extremely reasonable low rate UNTIL THE JULY ISSUE: Full Page Ad $65 you can’t beat that–– ask me for details.) Your ad helps support the continuation of this magazine. The April issue will be available April 5th. Watch for it!

    • “I was definitely apprehensive before the interview,” Hedgecock said. “My feelings were a mix of nervous energy and anticipation. I felt pressure to make sure I provided a good first impression.” George R.R. Martin, Jill Hedgecock & Alan Brennert After arriving and meeting with both Martin and Brennert, the group moved upstairs to a conference room on the second floor of the theater. “I asked Diane to take some posed pictures. One of which was with the two men seated in front of their latest books. Then, spontaneously, George looked at Alan and joked: ‘My book is bigger than your book.’ We all laughed and I knew I was going to enjoy the duration of the interview.” George R.R. Martin and Alan Brennert discuss whose book is bigger. While in New Mexico, Hedgecock and photographer, Diane Walsh, drove to Ramah, about two and a half hours from Albuquerque to visit the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, which currently houses several wolves with connections to George R.R. Martin: a pure Arctic wolf named Flurry who makes frequent appearances at Jean Cocteau Cinema; and six, pure white, high-content wolves, known as the Westeros pack (their only relationship to the Game of Thrones show are their names). Jill Hedgecock interviewing George R.R. Martin Martin’s involvement in Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary (WSWS) came about because––while these furry beasts figure prominently in some of his novels––Martin’s fan group, Brotherhood Without Banners honored his wife, Parris McBride-Martin, with a holiday present. Looking back, Hedgecock reflected on her experience. “As a person, I was deeply honored and humbled that he agreed to take time to meet with me. As a writer, it felt like I had presented me with a giant birthday cake. I was about to interview not one, but two accomplished authors.” Jill Hedgecock with Flurry For Martin, Hedgecock wanted to make sure she captured the human side of the successful author. “He does lots of interviews about GOT but I wanted to write something that revealed his philanthropic side. So when I did my research and learned that he had bankrolled the reopening of an old cinema and sponsored the rescue of wolves and wolf-dogs, I focused my interview questions there.” In addition to the interview, Jill Hedgecock also learned that her book “Rhino in the Room” was the recipient of the 2018 Fifth Annual New Apple Book Awards for Excellence in Independent Publishing, a well-deserved recognition for a local author who can only be described as a powerhouse in her field. Read Hedgecock’s interview with George R.R. Martin and Alan Brennert in the March issue of Books ’N Pieces Magazine To learn more about and the Westeros wolf pack and how to contribute to WSWS visit: https://wildspiritwolfsanctuary.org/westeros-pack. Read Jill Hedgecock’s award-winning novel “Rhino in the Room” at https://amzn.to/2ESjkuK

    • If you follow Game of Thrones then you will know of George R.R. Martin, the prolific, multi-award winning author the popular book series. In this issue, Jill Hedgecock offers our readers an exclusive interview with George R.R. Martin (GRRM), and another well-known author Alan Brennert which look place last week at Martin’s Jean Cocteau Theatre in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The March 2019 Issue of Books ‘N Pieces Magazine featuring an exclusive interview with Game of Thrones’ author, George R.R. MartinClick the cover to read the PDF editionClick to read the Flip-Page edition Jill Hedgecock, award-winning author of Rhino in the Room, also reviews GRRM’s book Fire & Blood in this issue. Additional authors interviewed are Tony Bussey and Scarlett Halloway, short stories by Gene Parola and William Gensburger, as well as two DIY articles for writers covering self-critiques and book cover and page layout software options. Also enjoy BRAIN GAMES #2 with a very difficult puzzle offering only 15 word choices. Can you make a dent in them? Enjoy this issue. And please leave a comment with your thoughts. [Note: If you enjoy Kindle Unlimited, you can read the issue on your Kindle FREE from Amazon. ePub readers, links will be posted shortly.

    • [Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons] He started writing at age 21 and from there has been a powerhouse in the fields of science fiction and fantasy, television, and more. He is best known for his series of epic fantasy novels, A Song of Ice and Fire, which was adapted into the HBO series Game of Thrones that has been going since 2011. George RR Martin, Jill Hedgecock, and Alan Brennert [Photo: Jill Hedgecock] Jill Hedgecock, who pens our book reviews and other articles, caught up with GRRM in Utah this weekend for an interview that will be in this upcoming issue of Books ‘N Pieces Magazine. Be sure to sign up for our mailing list to stay up to date.

    • There’s a cold wind coming in from the North; there’s always a cold wind when Martin comes by. I can feel it in the bones of this old Maine house, whittling the warmth of the wood away in gusts and howls. Its brittle joints creak and moan as crevices in the ancient beams let streams of air flow through them. Chilled by the November breeze, I wrap myself in a thin, scratchy blanket my grandmother gave me when I was nine. It used to be sky blue but is now faded and smudged like an old ink stain. I absentmindedly pick the rivulets of cotton and dust that spring up endlessly out of its forty-year-old fibers, and I wonder how much longer I’ll be able to keep up this habit before it tears a hole through the blanket and begins letting the air in.  A strong gust rattles the loose window and I gasp in surprise which sends me into one of my fits of coughing. Luckily I’m close to the kitchen. Staggering to the sink, I spit yellow mucus away and wash it down, down, down the drain. I watch it spin around, swirling, sinking, spiraling out of control and I can’t help but wish to follow it. I wish I could be it. I’m sure being flushed down the drain wouldn’t feel much worse than this. The orange paisley rug of the living room itches my feet as I escape the freezing linoleum of the yellowing kitchen floor. Brittle wallpaper flakes off near the door as I lean up against it. The flecks stick in my blanket and I pick them out, carefully dropping them into the trash can. As if it were following me, the wind blows open the windows and I’m forced into combat them. They struggle, I give, they give, and I struggle. It’s a never ending battle with the cold…there’s always a cold wind coming through when Martin comes by. Finally, with my aching old hands and all, I manage to shut them. I am left with a couple bruises, blue and already showing, but they’ll yellow-out in no time and get lost on my skin.  It must be soon now. There are still some bits of wallpaper in the blanket so I pick them out. They fall like whirlybirds to the floor where they become forever entrenched in the tough fibers of the carpet. I’m too tired to bring them back to the trashcan. I try to read while curling up on the grey sofa but it’s no good. It smells like Travis, my Great Dane, now gone. My breath rattles in my chest, wheezes through my lips and stinks of eggs and toast; I should have brushed my teeth. And now here I am, thinking about Martin again. Forgetting him is like trying to forget an advertising jingle-impossible. The door bell buzzes weakly, but I hear it and adjust the bandana on my bald head before answering. I want to look my best.  I open the door and there he is, with eyes so brown they’re almost black, skin falling off his old bones just like mine. Okay, maybe not as bad as mine. He has a detached but practiced smile on. It warms most people, but not me.  “Hey Martin, how are you?” I ask breathlessly, then cough, wrapping the blanket around me tighter.  “Hi Carol, nice day today huh?” he asks despite the biting wind that flings frost into our eyes. His wide and crooked nose is rosy red in the frigid air––he might have a cold.  “Not really Martin, no,” I have to answer. “Uhm, well yeah, I guess you’re right. Anyway, here is your package. More meds?” he guesses by the size and weight. He should know by now; he’s been delivering my antibiotics for almost two years. Two years since he fell off that damned roof, hit his head, and forgot all about me. Two years since I walked away from his hospital bed and let him go live a new life, one without a wife.  “No, no, these are just some vitamins, keep me strong for the grandkids, you know,” I lied, we never had children. We didn’t know why we couldn’t for a long time of course, but by then it was too late. Now I have to keep him from knowing that I was ever a part of his life. It’s not his fault he lost parts of his memory… but why did it have to be memories of me? Like a damned Lifetime movie.  “Well, I’ll see you Martin,” I said, slamming the door shut as the wind picks up and forces me inside. I shouldn’t have let him take that job at the post office. I don’t need to have him coming by every day but Sunday to remind me of the worst mistake I ever made.  Yet still… I watch him leave the porch and head to the little white truck at the end of the driveway. Even now, even after forgetting everything, he still flicks the lowest branches of the mulberry tree on the way down. I guess some things are never forgotten. I can’t help but notice he looks a little disappointed. I’m disappointed too, and maybe… angry. I can feel the harsh line of my lips pressing tighter on these old teeth till they feel like they’re going to pop. I’ve never watched him walk away this long before––I can’t stand seeing so much of my past go sauntering off unawares. However, today was different. He seemed so… interested, and I shoved him off again. I suppose it’s only fair. The impossible happens. He turns around and looks right at me, right through the cracked window, just like he always used to do before work. And, for a moment, I can see him throwing his bag to the ground and running back to me, remembering everything. I can imagine his embrace, the constant smell of wood chips

    • February 2019 edition: (link for answers at the end) This fun game is addictive. We’ve come up with the words and challenge you to solve it. The rules are easy: 1) Four or more letter words-as many as you can. 2) Words MUST use the center letter (blacked out) Check your answers HERE when you are done. No cheating!!! Enjoy.

    • READ IT NOW:PDF edition:Kindle edition: Also it is Free on Kindle UnlimitedePub edition:Issuu flip-page edition: Enjoy our interview with bestselling author Tosca Lee, Jenna Greene, Paul Alan Ruben. Short stories by Paul Alan Ruben and Jim Courter. Wine While Writing, Jill Hedgecock’s Book Review, DIY Editing Tips, Do You Have What It Takes to Self-Publish?, Brain Game, Advertising, Bookstore ‘N Pieces and more… Read the whole interview in this issue:READ IT NOW:PDF edition:Kindle edition: Also it is Free on Kindle UnlimitedePub edition:Issuu flip-page edition: Be sure to check these out on Amazon.Catching Hell/Marc WatsonThe Fountain/Suzy VadoriJefferson’s Chance/Jim ChristinaDream of Darkness/HM Gooden

    • We get many submissions each month. And we read each of them, even if we know they will not make publication. As time has passed we know that there are at least FIVE deadly mistakes that new writers make, disqualifying them from serious consideration by most reputable publishing houses. Why do we read them? Because we deal with a lot of new writers, where suggestions can be offered, where encouragement can be given, we like to do so. Often a story comes through that has the potential to be publishable. Perhaps it lacks in just a few areas. We like to offer the writer a chance to resubmit (often more than once), until we reach a point that we can accept it. Sometimes, we still cannot accept it after revisions. Many writers do not like the idea of rewrites and often fail to resubmit.  New writers are enamored with their work. An amazing number of first drafts are submitted riddled with spelling and punctuation errors, poor sentence structure, contradictory tenses. Below are the five deadly mistakes we see the most. #1 POOR PLOT: Stories that begin at the beginning of a story arc, slowly and without a sense of urgency, often fail to make a reader continue. Your story MUST grab from the first page, the first paragraph, and, if possible, the first line. Why would a reader waste time having to decipher your story? #2 ALL NARRATIVE: Many submissions come in as stories told, as though a narrator was reading. These stories have no dialog, no character descriptions, and with no dialog fail to show character traits through the dialog. These stories are the most boring. As a reader I want to be able to “see” the story in my mind’s eye. Void of anything substantial from characterization and dialog, it is just like listening to someone talk endlessly. #3 NO CONFLICT Like the last complain, a story without conflict is just not a story. Conflict is a difficult concept for new writers. They create their world, fall in love with their creation and hate to destroy it or change it in any way. As a result, with no conflict, nothing happens. Again the reader yawns. Yes, you may have created a lovely world, but it is also a boring world.  All stories need conflict, must be driven by conflict and should start with the conflict right there. Grab your readers and hold them. Add more layers of conflict so that the plot thickens and the reader is compelled to finish. Do not be afraid to break your world, hurt your characters. Through the story they will rise to the challenge or perish. Either way the reader will feel satisfied. #4 STUPID CHARACTER NAMES Unbelievably, many stories are submitted to us with character names that are ridiculous. Intended to be funny, light-hearted, or amusing, treating your characters like this destroys any interest the reader has to invest their time. Pola Rosensplatt, for example, or Harold Puffswiggins.  The power of your character lies in their backstory, their ordinary name that becomes extraordinary when they rise to the conflicts, and in their transitional story arc.  #5 POOR RESOLUTION/NO RESOLUTION Inasmuch as a character must have a conflict, a story must have a decent ending. This does not mean your story must resolve, but the character must reach a point where the story can be stopped, told, handled, and with that part resolved.  Look at movies with sequels. Where did each end? Was it sequential or did it treat each film as a standalone? Your characters do not have to live happily ever after; but they must do something that indicates the story arc has been completed and this part closed. There is nothing worse than a weak, or absent ending to your story. It leaves the reader feeling cheated after all the investment of their time.  These are just five of many problems that can result in your story being rejected. Have you noticed any of these in your stories?  If you enjoy these tips, and would be interested in receiving more, please sign up for our newsletter at http://bit.ly/BandPMailingList  AltPublish also holds Online classes to help writers (and students) refine their work, obtain feedback, learn marketing techniques (not Facebook or Twitter), and more. If you are interested in more information please email us at info@altpublish.com ~William

    • Peter James has had a most colorful life. He is a New York Times bestseller, as well as having 11 consecutive Sunday Times No 1s, and he is published in 37 languages. His DS Roy Grace crime novels have sold 18 million copies worldwide. His mother, Cornelia James, was Glovemaker to Her Majesty the Queen, running the business with his late father who was a chartered accountant. The firm is today run by his sister, Genevieve and her husband, and still supplies the Royal Family: www.corneliajames.com.  His first novel, Dead Letter Drop was published in 1981, and from that point until 2005, he remained a renaissance man, juggling multiple endeavors, including the aforementioned family business, film and television projects…and, of course, novels.  Q: You’ve been (more than) around the block with a lengthy career in a variety of writing (television, films, novels, stage plays and more.) If you could only pick one form of writing, which would it be and why? A: I love writing crime and psychological thrillers because I am fascinated by human behavior.  When I was a small child I always knew there were three things I wanted to do in life – write books, make films and race cars!  I always felt that motor racing was too frivolous too go into as a profession and that I wanted to contribute something of value to the world.  After thirty years of alternating two day jobs – writing and producing, I realized in 2005, shortly after making the film I’m most proud of, Merchant Of Venice with Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons, that actually, I much prefer writing novels. The problem with films is that they are such a collaborative process, it becomes almost like a committee, but up to 20 people who each believe it is their film!  And most of those 20 normally have egos the size of aircraft carriers.  When I write a novel it is just me.  I don’t have to change a single word, if I choose not to (although of course I always respect my agent and my editor’s criticism). Q: Your life experiences have been equally broad, from cleaning Orson Welles’ house, to race car driving. Given your preferred writing genre as a crime author, does your lifestyle come from your stories, or does it provide elements for your stories? A: I think as a writer every single thing you do in life provides opportunities to draw from for both inspiration for stories and for texture. I find one joy is that it is impossible to be bored even standing in a tedious airline security queue as I’m looking around thinking ‘Ah there’s a possible future character’. Q: Whats the worst part of being a wildly successful crime author? The part you detest the most? A: There’s nothing that I detest. I feel the luckiest person in the world to make a living doing what I love, and to have wonderful fans. I guess if there is anything that angers me it is when a reader gives me or, any other author a 1 star Amazon review because the book arrived with the packaging damaged or some equally ridiculous complaint that has nothing to do with the content of the book! And a final thing – I guess the scariest thing about being ‘successful’ – is every time I start a new book I am terrified that is not going to be as good as the previous ones because I am determined to always try to raise the bar with each book. Q: You failed mathematics “O-level” exams three times, and your grades in school were less than stellar. And from this you have reached a level of success many people dream of, but rarely achieve. What turned you around from that student, to your current level of proficiency? A: I am a great believer in Oscar Wilde’s maxim that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught!  I think a lot of teachers at school told me they didn’t ever think I’d amount to much and I think determination and tenacity to prove them wrong was a big driver. Q: What is your writing process like? Are you rigid in your approach, schedule, manner? A: Each book I write it takes me approximately seven months to write the first draft, then a further four months of editing processes. I try to ensure that whatever I’m doing I leave myself time to write 1000 words 6 days a week.  I find my best writing time is early evening, but I also write in the mornings, taking a break from writing in the afternoon to catch up with emails, walk the dogs, or do interviews and research. I plan a book carefully. It is really the first 20% that I plan in detail, along with the ending, which I always know, to give me a “road map” and the three high points – but after that I like events to happen spontaneously, and for the story to start to take on a life of its own – that is when, for me, the real excitement starts.  I believe that if, as a writer, you do not surprise yourself, you aren’t going to surprise your readers! Q: Any advice to new writers hoping to enter the field? A: The best possible advice I can give to any aspiring writer is to read, read, read, and analyze, and write, write, write.  Writing is a craft, and any craft is improved with practice.  But most importantly is to read the most successful of the kind of works you would yourself like to write:  So, if you want to be, for instance, a crime thriller writer, read the blockbusters of the past fifty years.  Analyze them, literally deconstruct them and try to figure out what made them so popular.  This is what I did when I started out.  I took the books I most admired, the ones I most wished I had written, and literally read

    • Didn’t I just wish you a “Happy New Year? That’s what I thought. And here we are getting ready for the February 2019 issue of Books ‘N Pieces Magazine. ⏳ Tosca Lee graces our cover with our unique cover shot! And as the title proclaims, she is down to earth. Our interview with her focuses not just on her new release The Line Between, but also on her journey to bestseller status, her thoughts on the directions she took, things she did that worked, as well as a perspective for other authors. We also have two other interviews: Jenna Greene and Paul Alan Ruben. Paul has a short story in this issue as well you’ll enjoy. In addition Jim Coulter has a short story. These are gifted writers with an obvious talent to hold our attention. Jill Hedgecock offers a book review, while Jeri Walker offers another episode of “Wine While Writing” which, as you can imagine, involves both wine and writing. 👀 Our tutorials in this issue include some DIY down and dirty editing hacks that you can employ––we know that most writers do not have the budget for a full scale edit, no matter ho necessary it may be. This first step might well save you lots of time and cost, part of our “Bestseller on a Budget” series. We also offer some marketing 101 tips that you can employ. Have you got what it takes to self-publish? Find out in this issue because that is where we believe you should be. And if you are signed to a small publishing company you may want to read this. Even if you are locked into a contract, you might find some value in our comments. Possessives drive many writers insane. Is it apostrophe s, or s apostrophe, or neither? There are some simple rules you can follow to keep straight on this diabolical problem. And finally, we’re opening up the Bookstore ‘N Pieces store where you can buy books, writer related items, both new and gently used; some steals you won’t find elsewhere. If you have books to sell, or gently used writer gear, check us out. HEY––sign up for our VIP list if you have not done so. It’s 🆓 and we will not spam you. Be our VIP! ➽ Writers: Are you interested in having a chat forum where you can meet other writers and exchange ideas, ask for help and more? Free? Let me know in the comments. “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” E. L. DoctorowAmerican novelist, editor, and professor. One of the most important American novelists of the 20th century. Books ‘N Pieces Magazine will be available FEBRUARY 1, 2019

    • Press Release: BOISE, Idaho – Jan. 8, 2019 Pre-order today https://amzn.to/2si8R4S Author and volunteer for the deaf, Danielle Calloway, highlights a true life story of a young deaf boy (Nicolás) in Ecuador. Her debut novel, The Lost Child, tells the story of young Nicolás’ life on the streets and the perils he faces. Abandoned by his step-father because of his disability, and alone in a country of overwhelming poverty, Nicolás must face life without security, always a step ahead of being caught by those who would further mistreat him, until he is found by a caring police officer, and a social worker volunteer, both of whom who must defy the odds to keep him safe. “The word ‘deaf’ seems to be not very PC,” explains Calloway, “however, to the deaf community, ‘hearing impaired,’ is an insult. The word ‘impaired’ implies they are defective. They are deaf, and deaf encompasses a whole culture, not just the inability to hear.” Through her words in The Lost Child Calloway hopes to bring attention to both the plight of the deaf, but in particular to the young children lost to the world in places like Ecuador. “We can all make a difference,” Calloway adds. “Some people like Nicolás only receive kindness from strangers. I only hope The Lost Child motivates people to seek more ways to be kind.” Published by AltPublish, The Lost Child is a powerful story of life, death, fear and hope, that resonates with all readers. In particular, it is Calloway’s hope that the deaf community will recognize its powerful message to be shared globally. Excerpt: Twelve years earlier, in Esperanza, Ecuador, a young mother lovingly cradled her baby boy.   Outside the mud thickened as heavy rains fell, forming puddles where the donkeys and cows had just walked down the streets.  The children quickly threw their soccer ball aside and grabbed sticks, leaves, and rocks and started to play in the mud, dirtying their bare legs, tattered shorts, and bare chests.  Their contagious laughter filled the air and adults stopped their labors for a moment to watch the children and remember happier times. The sound of the rain pattered on. Nicolás’s mother listened to the children’s laughter outside and the rain falling on the leaky tin roof of her small, dirt floor, bamboo house.  Holding the tiny boy in her arms she whispered softly to him, “I hope your life is better than mine, I’ll try my best to make you happy and you’ll finish school and get a good job.  You’ll marry a nice señorita and have a beautiful family of your own.  Your life will not be like mine!”  His large dark eyes fixed on hers each time she spoke to him.  Only Nicolás couldn’t hear what she said.  It would be two years until she realized that he was deaf.  When she found this out, all her hopes and dreams for Nicolás vanished.  She was devastated.    Looking for hope, she took him to the priest of the local church, even though it had been a long time since she had been in one.  Timidly she tiptoed into the dark interior with Nicolás balancing on her hip.  The priest was at the pulpit, practicing his lecture for Sunday’s mass.  Shyly glancing at her surroundings, she felt small and insignificant.  Embarrassed, she turned around to leave.    The priest, a slightly balding middle-aged man, raised his hands in the air and took a deep breath to deliver a damning message, his white collar squeezed his expanding neck as the buttons of his black shirt strained.  Glaring down at his imaginary audience he said in a deep voice, “God sees all, he sees what you do in the dark, he sees what you do behind closed doors….”   A shadow moved, breaking his concentration.  Quickly putting on his glasses he saw a woman with a child timidly trying to leave unnoticed.  Thinking she might want to have him bless the child, he called out to her in a much softer voice, “Please, stay for a moment.”  Walking up to her he gently took her elbow and led her to a wooden bench, “Please, have a seat.  What is your name and what brings you here?” She placed Nicolás on the floor to play and looked down, embarrassed.   Then, looking up into his soft brown eyes and seeing concern and warmth, she explained, “This is my son, Nicolás, and I just found out he is deaf.”  The priest gazed down at the boy, who looked back up at him with a smile and held one slobbery hand up to him.  Looking at Nicolás, the priest couldn’t tell he was deaf.  He seemed like a normal toddler.  He was a little too thin and had olive skin, straight black hair, and a wide mouth with a smile that invited friendship.  The priest could tell, though, that something about those eyes were different.  Set wide apart, those black eyes looked intensely at him, intelligent, sincere, and observing.   He remembered a saying, “The eyes are the windows to our soul,” and saw through Nicolás’s eyes that he was a gentle boy, full of love and kindness.  “However,” he thought to himself, “he is deaf, and I’ve been taught that he is the product of sin.” Seeing the priest gaze tenderly at her child, she started to have a glimmer of hope.  Then, seeing his face suddenly harden, fear gripped at her heart.  With tears slipping down her cheek, she raised her big black eyes to the priest and asked, “Why?  Why is he deaf?  Why did God do this to me?  And what can I do?  How do I raise him? What kind of life will he have?”  The warmth had disappeared from the priest’s eyes.  He coldly crossed his arms and frowned.  Taking a deep breath, he sternly he told her, “When a child is born deaf, blind, retarded, or deformed, it is because God is punishing the parents for their

    •   Jill Hedgecock, among many other things, writes our book review column. Her book Rhino in the Room has been released, a powerful story of young woman’s  African safari trip and the peril she finds herself in. You can read my review at the end of the interview below. Q: What prompted you to go on safari and was your interest in the plight of the rhino as result, or something that predated the trip? A: Elephants, giraffes, lions, rhinos… I love animals and I’ve always dreamed of going on an African safari. When it became a reality in 2015, the experience exceeded my high expectations. I marveled at  the wonders of a round, copper orb highlighted by an orange-red sky at the end of the day. My heart races as an elephant blocking my game vehicle’s path, not out of fear, but out of sheer joy. Watching the majestic arc of a giraffe’s neck as it silently grazed on treetops, I had to pinch myself to remind myself that this really happening.  While I was well aware of the poaching of elephants for ivory, it was during a game drive in Kruger National Park when I learned that three rhinos are killed every day for their horns.  I had no idea that rhinos were being slaughtered and that these amazing creatures may be wiped off the planet in my children’s lifetime.  I knew before the trip that I wanted to write a novel that would bring the experience of an African safari alive for people that are not as fortunate as me to have this experience, but when I learned about the plight of rhinos an idea for a different kind of story started to unfold.   Q: You’ve managed to take a valid, current, important cause, and wrap an interesting story around it. How difficult was it to find the balance in the telling to do justice to both aspects?  A: It was not difficult at all. In some ways I can attribute having this skill from my background in the sciences––a discipline where looking for logic in seemingly unrelated facts is commonplace. But I also wonder if the way I think is a result of early childhood. When I was a kid, I loved doing jigsaw puzzles with my sister. We both found them easy and loved a challenge, so we started dumping multiple puzzles together, mixing them up (usually by throwing the pieces high in the air) and then solving them simultaneously (we dubbed the game “toss the salad.”) I think this playtime activity helped my brain develop in a way that the thought processes necessary to intertwine stories together isn’t hard for me. Q: What is your writing process like? Rigid, fluidic? Notebook, computer? Coffee, tea, Hemingway cocktails? Solitary, public cafe, etc?   A: I gravitate toward being what writer’s call a “pantser.” This may seem surprising given my scientific background. But I find that characters tend to have their own idea about what the story is and I like to let them do their magic.  That said, for Rhino in the Room, I knew that time was of the essence and I wanted to fast track the novel, so I created a muse board before I wrote a single word.  I used these images as a guide not only to keep details to Jill Hedgecock’s Muse Board No notebook for me. I have to easily be able to move sentences and paragraphs around.  I prefer a quiet setting, so I don’t write in coffee houses. However, I do attend a Shush and Write event every week where a small group of 4 to 6 writers declare their writing goal for the evening, sit together and write for two hours, then reconvene to report our progress.  Q: You’ve written many articles, book reviews and more for different publications (including this one). What got you interested in writing in the first place and how did you start?   A: I am not one of those writers that started writing stories at the age of five or ten or even in college. I only took one English class when I studied biology at U.C. Davis. After I graduated and entered the working world, I even had a boss that told me during a performance review that I needed to learn how to write. I was completely shocked by this because I’d always excelled in writing assignments during my school years. Q: What would you like to share about your discoveries for this novel that readers should know, and what resources can you guide readers to for more information? A: Oh, where to start!  I have actually written five novels that are in various stages of completion.  One novel  was actually agented, but it never sold. So Rhino in the Room is actually my fifth novel and my biggest discovery has been the marketing phase.  I also went all in and wrote a script for a book trailer.   # [Publisher’ review: Hedgecock has a mastery of evocative language and seamlessly guides the reader through the details of both an African safari adventure, as well as the poaching that takes place. The reader experiences everything in such detail that the experience becomes real. The plight of the rhinos is made quite clear and it is difficult not to feel helpless as the novel develops. Rhino eases you slowly into the action, but then holds you tight until the highly charged finish, leaving the reader exhausted and satisfied.] BUY Rhino In The Room HERE > https://amzn.to/2QREtMh 

    • Wulfstan followed Margot into the misted atrium. Ferns and leafy plants made a rain forest impression. Hidden speakers pumped out soothing atonal music. A few goldfinches fluttered about, lovely little birds that almost looked fake. ​This is where people went to refresh themselves after a long spell in the sun. Wulfstan loved the feeling of the atrium mist on his skin, particularly his face, which had developed the dark green buboes often seen on pubescent males. His complexion, a cucumber green that contrasted sharply with Margot’s delicate aphid hue, had been ravaged of late by these unsightly blemishes, which besides marring his appearance did not trouble him otherwise. ​“Do you ever get tired?” he asked Margot. ​All cheekbones and emerald eyes, Margot never liked to express negativity, even when appropriate, or necessary. ​“I mean do you ever get tired of loafing around and misting, then loafing around some more? We don’t do much else. I mean, I just get tired of it. Don’t you?” ​“Why would I ever get tired of it?” Margot asked, her voice breathy and frail. “We sunbathe all day, get completely refreshed, and do whatever we want in the off hours. We pay no taxes, live disease-free and face no competition at any level. Our lives are blissful compared to those of the past.” ​“You’re sure about that now?” ​“Our lives are the culmination of generations of relentless scientific study, experiment and hope. We were on our way out, Wulfstan. We were finished as a species. But because some of us never stopped believing in ourselves, and in science, we have managed to rid the world of malnutrition, pollution, and aggression. Why cast aspersions?” ​Wulfstan touched the plump bubo under his right eye. The things would pop if you squeezed them, but the green goo that squirted out smelled awful, and draining them left scars. Margot was right, to a point. Their untrammeled, ostensibly utopian lives rested on the shoulders of many scientists and visionaries who refused a repeat of the calamities that befell the latter 21st century, when almost 5 billion perished. The genetics and technology that had bestowed homo sapiens with chloroplasts, the tiny engines in plants and algae that allow for photosynthesis, ensured that, during the life of the sun, no human would ever starve to death again, and no plant or animal would ever die again to nourish  a human. ​Nevertheless, despite all the wonderful facets of his reality, and the understanding that humans had lived brutish lives in the past, Wulfstan felt bored and vaguely dissatisfied with the status quo, though he couldn’t put his finger on why exactly. This was a condition shared by an ever growing number of young males—an indeterminate dissatisfaction. It had led to acts of barbarism, including rape, murder and even cannibalism. Geneticists despaired that despite all their crisping and splicing, some essentially reckless and aggressive genes were still in play, surfacing primarily in young males. ​For instance, like so many of peers, Wulfstan wondered what it was like to eat, something considered primitive in the extreme. As human digestive systems had atrophied and lost functionality—residual teeth extracted for cosmetic reasons, toothlessness in vogue—eating food not only was nearly impossible, but extremely unpleasant. Wulfstan had tried to eat a zucchini flower one day last summer as he had heard they were in ancient times considered a tasty delicacy. But the orange petals of the flower clogged his windpipe and his mother had to help dislodge them. As for taste, he had never imagined such bitterness. It reminded him of grog, the concoction his Uncle Louis made from fermented tubers. The men of the times liked to drink it and dance. It made them loose and uninhibited. Wulfstan had tried it a few times, and had danced well, but when the euphoric effects wore off he felt shattered. ​“Refreshed?” Margot asked, spreading her arms and thrusting up her pale green breasts. ​“Tell me something,” he said. “Do you look down on me for my darker hue?’ ​Margot fluttered her grassy eyelashes. “Of course not,” she said. “I rather like your hue. It’s stimulating.” ​“But my buboes—don’t they repulse you?” ​“All boys go through that stage. It’s natural. Just don’t pop one on me ha.” ​Wulfstan smiled. He was still getting used to smiling with efficacy and confidence. All of his teeth, none bigger than a pea, had been extracted last autumn. Not that he felt the need to impress Margot. She was like a sister. He could never imagine grafting with her. Grafting was the term they used for the new sexual practice of the species, which differed from the old only insofar as orgasm had been virtually bioengineered out of the equation. That is to say, with a number of egregious exceptions, sexual congress was no longer seen as an act of pleasure or lust, but solely as a means of reproduction. Grafting often led to offspring. Care of offspring had been greatly simplified and streamlined. Since children no longer needed feeding—four hours in a sunny hammock a day sufficed—parents could focus on more important things than nourishment and the often laborious quest to secure that nourishment. ​Willowy and lithe, Margot draped herself with a diaphanous white scarf. Wulfstan slapped on his bollocks-guards. Men were required to wear these in case primitive urges reared their ugly heads, which, as mentioned, they did with increasing frequency among adolescent males. The bollocks-guards nipped that in the bud, as it were. Wulfstan had felt some of these urges, or tickles, but the bollocks-guards had worked wonders. Margot entwined her arm with his as they exited the atrium and walked along a softly-lit path blanketed with leaves. It was a fine evening, the stars out, a half-moon smiling down on a healing Earth. ​As Wulfstan and Margot turned a corner, two young males, chlorotic in aspect, neither wearing bollocks-guards, stopped and asked them directions to the atrium. They reeked of grog and carried metal objects in their hands. ​“It’s

    • “Life asked Death, ‘Why do people love me, but hate you?’ Death responded, ‘Because you are a beautiful lie, and I am a painful truth.’ ” ~Anonymous  The woman flicked an inch of ash from her smoke as she sat on a cement step in front of the small café. Behind her was a sign in the window that read, Now Hiring. “You work here?” Eddie Hoak asked. She looked at him, pulling a fleck of tobacco from her lip. “No, I just enjoy sitting in front of this greasy spoon trying to keep my knees together.” Eddie smiled through her sarcasm. He stepped past the woman into the café and managed to get the job. Barney tied an apron around Eddie’s waist and put him to work. He didn’t mind scut work—janitor, day laborer, burger flipper, whatever it took to serve his personal apprenticeship—the road to becoming a writer. He bussed and cooked the rest of the morning. Following the lunch rush, he stacked a sandwich for himself and strolled out back to the alley. Maddie was leaning against a wall, hip thrust out and another cigarette between two of her fingers. Her face was highlighted by a crescent scar on her forehead above an eyebrow. That scar told him a lot. “Hey Newbie, are you stalking me or something?” “Not me. Just collecting research.” Maddie dropped her smoke and crushed it. “What? Research on how long it takes to fry an egg, or how many orders me and June can serve up in an hour?” “Something like that.” Maddie grinned as she brushed a piece of ash from her bosom and strolled past Eddie back inside the restaurant. Finishing his sandwich, he reached into his pocket and felt his silver dollar. He considered it a good luck charm. Eddie’s daddy had given him the coin before catching a train out of town, never to return. Lung cancer took his mamma a few years later. He grew up leading an untethered existence, moving from place to place, taking in what people offered and learning to survive. The café was just the latest stop on his road of information gathering. If it was only a few days work, that was all right. Some new opportunity always came along. Luck had a way of finding him. There used to be a carousel in June Tunstall’s small hometown. She often daydreamed about her childhood: stealing quarters for her mom’s purse to pay for rides on the carousel. She always found her favorite carved horse scarred by decades of children and teenagers climbing up and down, but June hadn’t cared. When the carousel began to move, she found herself in a magical place away from childhood problems. When the ride was torn down, she had been terribly depressed. If she’d had the power to destroy those who spoiled her escape from reality, she would have done so. A doctor once told June she had unresolved issues, might need professional help. Whatever. All she knew was she had never felt happier when astride her painted pony all those years ago. And in her search for something equally enchanting, something more than a distant memory, there were times when the calliope’s music haunted her. At the end of the day, Barney asked Eddie to stay on. Eddie thanked him and volunteered to stick around with June, the café’s other waitress, until closing time. She was a doughy-eyed girl with a hopeful face and a sweeter disposition than Maddie. He waited for her as she locked up. They had exchanged few words in the café, but June’s interest was apparent. He offered to escort her home. She accepted. “You don’t have a place to stay, do you?” “I’ve got my gear in a locker at the bus station. It’s cool. I’ll see you tomorrow.” “You don’t have to. I mean, we don’t really know each other, but I have a couch and you could stay until you get on your feet.” “Sounds awfully tempting.” June’s eyes lit up. Eddie felt a twinge of sympathy. Was she a pushover, or just making a onetime devil-may-care gesture? There was no timetable for moving on. Finding accommodating people had become part of his lifestyle. Strange how opportunities turned up. He felt the shape of his silver coin through his pants pocket and followed June. She had been warned about involvement, what it might lead to, but there was something about Eddie that caused June to take the chance of letting him into her life. He did not try to take advantage of her hospitality like most men would have done. Late at night, she listened to his heavy breathing from the sofa as she drifted on a seductive river to a place she had not known for some time. When Eddie told her he’d once worked on a merry-go-round, it sealed the deal. He had even given her a plastic jewel he claimed he’d taken from the bridle of a carousel horse. True or not, she felt the blossoming of kindred spirits, fate intervening in her rather drab life. Only three nights passed before June suggested he would be more comfortable sleeping in her bedroom. Eddie knew June was thrilled with his companionship. Maybe more than thrilled. After a week, he promised to stay around longer than planned recognizing a good deal when she saw one. Although June’s behavior could be a bit erratic, bi-polar perhaps, she seemed delighted with their arrangement and he was willing to work at a relationship, at least until the urge to move along overtook him.     “Eddie? You don’t ever have to leave. You can write your stories right here. I could support you while you’re writing.” Eddie gave June his rakish grin when she made such offers. “We’ll see.” All June wanted was the most natural thing in the world—love. She had loved her carousel horse. She thought she loved Eddie. There was no reason to believe anyone or anything

    • Shaun holds the door for me, but Joey shoves ahead, pulling cigarette and lighter from somewhere. I give him a look, but he lights up anyway, maneuvering his words around his cigarette: “It’s a bar.” “We have to post it.” Boxcar waves a red bar towel towards a No Smoking sign tacked up on the dark paneled wall behind him. Leaving the rag in a small heap, he flips the lids from our beers, then leans across the bar, raising his eyebrows and lowering his voice like we’re confidants: “But we won’t enforce it, least ‘til somebody raises a stink.” Joey blows smoke at me before wandering off to find a table. I used to stand with the smokers just outside the double doors of the English building, and then, when they pushed us off campus, on the sidewalk across the street. Now when I walk near them I inhale, remembering my reasons for quitting: the burden of accoutrement, lighter and pack; amber-stained fingers and nails, the old smoke clinging smell, and regret every night for every cigarette I had smoked during the day, and guilt in the morning because I knew I would do it again. And Shaun hates it.  But I grew up with smokers, though both parents had finally quit, sort of.  My dad encouraged me: “If I can do it, anybody can!”  After years of Marlboros, he stopped. “Just like that” he would say if you asked him about it. These days he trains habitually for a marathon he has yet to run. Last month on my way home to visit, I drove past him on an outer road as he trudged along wobbly and out of breath. “I keep expecting him to collapse; he trains all the time,” my mother says, rolling her eyes like she always does. “It’s his thing these days.” Meanwhile, she smokes clandestinely, crouched between the storage shed and the privacy fence, or next to the arborvitae near a brush pile topped off by a plastic baby pool she uses for bathing Biscuit, her glassy-eyed cocker spaniel. He sniffs the weeds or pants next to her as she inhales and exhales luxuriously. Other times he waits outside the bathroom, tail thumping, where my mother hides with the fan whirring and window open. We aren’t supposed to know. But I understand. There might as well be an old, bony, yellowed finger poking at a soft spot on my brain all the time. I still want to smoke, and Boxcar’s, with its dim lights, dark walls, and an old hardwood floor worn smooth by decades of drunken shuffling, is the kind of place that begs you to smoke as soon as you hit the door. So I have back-up: beige squares of nicotine gum, even though I get hiccups and mouth sores if I chew too fast.  The table Joey grabs is in the center of the bar with a view of the stage, unless the dance floor fills up, which isn’t likely. As we wait for the band, Shaun twists around in his chair, shooting looks back at the door, more interested in whomight show up rather than in who actually has. I catch myself digging a thumbnail into my forearm. I stop and pick at my cuticles instead.   The band wanders onto the stage so nonchalantly almost no one notices until a squatty bass player plucks a string, sending a deep, bouncy note ricocheting wall to wall just as Shaun stands up as if on cue to wave someone over. A girl with big, round eyes and a complexion like a new doll’s steps up to our table. Joey sits up straight and, though he has to do some untangling, he removes his legs from the chair next to him and offers it to her, so for a minute I’m convinced Joey has a date. Good, I think, because he could use a girlfriend. Joey practically lives with us these days. He left the apartment above ours and moved across town to his sister’s house last month when his lease expired. Though he is leaving for Fort Hood in November, he apparently means to spend every afternoon until then with his legs slung over the side of our green recliner while he chain-smokes and watches game shows or thumbs through novels from my Southern fiction class. He quizzes me about obscure words—transmogrification, indefatigable, moiling—and fictional genealogies, when he isn’t calling some contestant on Wheel of Fortune a dumbass. I stumble regularly over Joey’s big, black boots, and he refuses to take a hint when it is time for him to go. But Shaun is gone more and more often these days, so on nights when he doesn’t come home at all, and muffled voices and laughter drift down through vents from the apartment upstairs, I don’t actually mind Joey being around. Back at Boxcar’s, the girl ignores Joey and slides into the chair on the other side of Shaun. Smoke from Joey’s cigarette curls in front of my face, soliciting attention like an old familiar pet, as the girl grabs Shaun’s beer like she’s entitled to it, wraps her pink lips around it and takes a swig. I punch my thumb nail through the foil on a square of gum.  The band begins a Velvet Underground song. The lead singer does a decent Lou Reed, sing-speaking an undulating lyric asShaun picks up a dime and starts to scratch a word in the tabletop. I can see the letters: M-e-g. He pauses, searches the girl’s face for clues, then continues: h-a-n. I dig my nails into my wrist. “Impressive,” says Meghan-with-an-‘h’ when Shaun finishes the etching. She finds his blue eyes with her own freakishly round ones and pins him with her stare: “No one ever gets the ‘h’ right.”  Shaun shrugs and looks away as if Meghan’s approval is no big deal. But I know him. The way he squares his shoulders, leans back in his chair, and tries

    • Our year-end issue is bigger than ever, featuring 6 short tories, 6 interviews, as well as book review, book chapters, articles, and more.  Click  to read >> PDF << PDF edition.Click to read >>Flip-Page Magazine Style << edition.Click to download >>EPUB<< format for all eReadersClick to download >>MOBI<< format for Kindle The print edition, a BW edition, will be available from Amazon, B&N, and other outlets later. You can also read the Kindle edition FREE in you use the Kindle Lending Library/Kindle Unlimited. (available 12/12/18) Be sure to join our VIP NEWSLETTER and stay updated. Enjoy, and please let us know what you think. ~William

    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mR50hhaHHes I heard this song first,  then listened to a few more. It’s addictive and frankly makes me want to stop what I am doing and just write. The power of music that helps you to process, and digest, thoughts and feelings, and be able to paste them on a blank sheet as something melodic and beautiful, is an amazing art form. I’m talking about writing, not playing music; I play music terribly, however I enjoy music expansively.  Gabin (French: [ɡabɛ̃]) is an Italian pop band consisting of Massimo Bottini and Filippo Clary. Their name is a reference to the most popular French actor of the 1930s and 1940s – the antiheroJean Gabin. Learn more about Massimo and Filippo HERE. It’s a clean, connective sound that layers thought atop emotion…. Music encourages a focus and a peace, when it comes to writing. It enhances mood which in turn affects how you write what you write.   In an Online paper written by Kelley Pugh, titled: “The Effect of Music on Creative Writing,”  she writes “The second major finding was that music greatly influenced creative writing. An outside stimulus such as music could have a deep impact on the creative works one produces.” Read that paper HERE.  Let’s find out with another of Gabin’s tracks “Urban Night.” Enjoy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyFmPGMII98 And if you want to listen to the whole first album Online, you can below: The opening track reminds me of Pat Metheny.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uiK8i2saAc Wanna buy the CD?  Free to stream if you are an Amazon Prime member. Or buy it on iTunes, or free as part of Apple Music, also a good deal.  There is more than enough here to keep you busy for a few hours of solid writing.  I’m ready to get started now. How about you? ~William

    • Still Twitchy After All This Time! What used to be a streamlined process of publishing a print book with Createspace, has become somewhat of a debacle with Kindle Print Publishing. Many people, going back as far as the start of 2017, long before the merger, found that their print editions would stall right at the Online Previewer stage. The process would hang until an error popped up, offering no clue as to the problem. I have just experienced that SAME error with a client book. It uploads fine, passes the auto checks for fonts, pagination, and so on, right up until the previewer is to kick on. Then it just hangs for a good ten minutes before offering an error page (below). Generic error message from Hell! Multiple calls to Kindle result in first being connected to India, then to tech support who promise to evaluate the issue and get back to you within 48 hours. They will call you, the customer service rep assures you. However, 48 hours later, no call, no fix, no nothing! Now I know that Amazon is huge, publishing represents 3 percent of their revenue, but honestly, that is not my problem. I fulfill my part, process files as specified, and have done my due diligence in testing a variety of solutions.  It is now a week and a half later and the problem persists, despite multiple upload attempts, the creation of another book file to test that possibility, altered formats, and still the same problem. I have spoken to their customer and tech support at least six times, and right now I am ready to throttle someone. My client has a big promotion ready and the uploaded, edited files are crucial.  An Internet search suggests a myriad of possibilities. Everything from PDF output format, annotations, file size as potential issues. These are being attempted as I type this.  What is apparent, however, is that Amazon, and Kindle, in particular, do not care about my issue, even if it is across a spectrum of users. They are big and we are little, and unless we wish to retain an attorney and publicly sue them, we are, essentially, at their mercy. Which brings in Plan D. Convert files to Lightning Source, and take my business there. What was once convenience at Amazon, has now become an itch that cannot be scratched.  Now I know that there are other venues offering print POD publishing. Most of those have their limitations. The big two were Amazon and Lightning Source. In the future, no doubt, as the viability of the self-publishing market continues to grow, I have no doubt there will be other companies involved.  Have you had a problem with YOUR book getting published on Kindle Print? Let me know.  ~William

    • Books make an affordable, high-quality, and enjoyable gift for Christmas, birthdays, as well as other notable days throughout the year. So let me ask you… “When and what was the last book YOU purchased?” This year, we have offered you many interviews with bestselling, and notable authors, in our magazine, most with a wide selection of titles, as well as authors from ur bookstore selections. For your convenience I am listing some of these authors here, including my own book, Homo Idiotus. Click the link on the author’s name -–– it will take you to their Amazon author page where you can use the “Look Inside” feature to learn more about the book. Hopefully you will find a book or three that would make a terrific gift for someone in your life. Or even for yourself. Enjoy. FEATURED AUTHORS: Peter James (crime/mysteries) Robert J Sawyer (science fiction) Steena Holmes (contemporary fiction or psychological suspense) Eileen Cook  (YA) KJ Howe (thrillers) Kurt Koontz (life adventures) Mike Wells: (mysteries) Kelly Charron (YA and adult horror, psychological thrillers ) Arabella Sheraton (Regency romance) Fiona Ingram (YA) Devika Fernando (romance) Alan Brennert (historical fiction) Joanne Pence (mysteries, historical, romance, fantasy, suspense) Miranda Oh (chick lit) Sarah L Johnson (post-apocalyptic) Brenda Stanley (mysteries, cooking, life) Craig DiLouie (thriller, apocalyptic/horror, and sci-fi/fantasy fiction) Edward Willett (science fiction, fantasy, non-fiction) Stuart Horwitz (non-fiction – Book Architecture) Marc Rainer (crime/drama) Ellis L. Knox (medieval historical fiction) Laura Lefkowitz (non-fiction) JC Ryan (mysteries/science fiction) JS Ririe (romance) Richard Paolinelli (science fiction) Jill Hedgecock (adventure) Robin Melhuish (historical fiction) William Gensburger (fiction) Would you  like your book featured in Books ‘N Pieces Magazine, or on our Website? Ask me how! <email.>

    • JS Ririe let us know that one of the winners of an autographed Book 1 & 2 of her Indecision’s Flame series emailed her.  Amber Homer of Boise, Idaho was one lucky recipient. “I’m so excited I won your books!!! I love reading and I admire those who put their passion on paper. I’ll definitely write a review after I read them,” Homer wrote.  She also promised to pass it along to daughters, Makenna & Kaila (pictured).  If you have not checked out JS Ririe’s books, you should do so. But you should also join her newsletter mailing list so you can stay up to date on her releases. There are more coming. You can do so at http://eepurl.com/dCPYVf Here is a synopsis of Book 1. Indecision’s Flame by JS Ririe Brylee Hawkins was going home, but it wasn’t for a happy reunion. She was there to confront her father, so she could return to the man of her dreams and get married. But the Australian Outback wasn’t the place she remembered, and the truth behind her mother’s unexpected death wasn’t the only reality that would toss her into a quagmire of doubt, suspicion and self-doubt. Lies, cover-ups and betrayals abounded – including a new family, a dangerously seductive ranch hand and the realization that everything she had believed to be true about her past was only an illusion created to protect her.  Will she be strong enough to fight the demons alone, or will she sink into a dark abyss and lose everything, including her soul?  Praises for Indecision’s Flame: “The chemistry between the character had me turning pages anxiously for more. What an exciting book.” – Cathy M. “This is a romance that has it all – complex characters, an exotic location that captures the reader’s imagination. Mesmerizing. Best of all, Brylee is a heroine for the 21st century. She is an accomplished, talented, confident and independent woman who captures your heart.” – Peggy O. “I’m totally hooked on this book and cannot wait for the rest of the story!” – Joan M. Buy the books at https://amzn.to/2BXNSdv

    • Steve Cattrell, who won the personalized and autographed hardback of Peter James’ Absolute Proof, sent us this photo after receiving his copy.  We hope he enjoys it, and also wish to thank Peter James for taking the time to do the signing (he was out of the country promoting his new book.) Steve Cattrell holding his personalized, autographed copy from Peter James. From Peter’s Website: “Absolute Proof is a thriller that grips from the outset but it’s also incredibly thought-provoking, asking some of life’s biggest questions about science and faith, setting big pharma and high church on a collision course that could change the world. I was thrilled when Peter asked me to provide the narration for his latest, most compelling book.”  – Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) Investigative reporter Ross Hunter nearly didn’t answer the phone call that would change his life – and possibly the world – for ever. ‘I’d just like to assure you I’m not a nutcase, Mr Hunter. My name is Dr Harry F. Cook. I know this is going to sound strange, but I’ve recently been given absolute proof of God’s existence – and I’ve been advised there is a writer, a respected journalist called Ross Hunter, who could help me to get taken seriously.’ What would it take to prove the existence of God? And what would be the consequences? The false faith of a billionaire evangelist, the life’s work of a famous atheist, and the credibility of each of the world’s major religions are all under threat. If Ross Hunter can survive long enough to present the evidence…. If you would like to read Absolute Proof, you can get it on Amazon >  https://amzn.to/2DYYfjh Be sure to visit Peter’s Website at www.PeterJames.com If you have not read my interview with Peter in the August 2018 issue of Books ‘N Pieces Magazine, you can do so HERE. BTW, print copies are still available directly from me for $5 each (includes postage). Click HERE to buy one now. Have you joined our NEWSLETTER mailing list yet? It’s FREE, and you get lots of information, added stories, writing tips, advance reads, and more.  You can do so HERE. I won’t spam you––promise! William Gensburger

    • Let’s face it; editing your work can be a time-consuming, and costly exercise, although one that is vital to successful writing. There are a few things you can do to jump-start your edits. Obviously start with the spelling and grammar checkers that come with most word processors. While simplistic, it will catch some basic errors. There are also a number of FREE Online programs that are extensions to browsers such as Chrome. Many of these can scan your document and point out the obvious mistakes. These include After the Deadline, Grammar and Spelling by Ginger, Slick Write, Language Tool, and many more. There are also some low cost options out there as well. Before undertaking any self-editing, you should put your story aside for a few days (at least), so that the familiarity of it diminishes slightly. While it is still imprinted in your memory, a little distance allows you to catch things you missed the first few read-throughs. Depending on your computer system; your computer should also be able to read your work back to you in a voice of your choice. Hearing your words read back to you make it much easier to catch mistakes and poor sentence structure.  Even better is to ask a friend or family member to read your story aloud to you. There is a huge difference in how the brain identifies speech through auditory processing versus how the brain identifies speech through visual pathways. My opinion as to why this happens is based on the three to five year gap between a baby/child identifying sounds heard, versus learning to read. Your ears have so much more training than your eyes, or at least your brain has more training through those pathways. Even after you know how to read, you listen far more than you read. Your Eyes Lie to You! Here is a test for you: Read the following out loud at normal speed. Did you read it? Did it say: PARIS IN THE SPRING IS LOVELY TO SEE AND TO VISIT? Are you sure? Read it again. Aha! Did you catch it this time? Some of you are still not sure what I am talking about. Let me help you.  It does not read: PARIS IN THE SPRING IS LOVELY TO SEE AND TO VISIT! Honestly, it doesn’t. There are TWO “THE” words. It reads PARIS IN THE THE SPRING…. The point is that YOUR EYES LIE TO YOU! As a writer you must understand that your brain edits everything you see. It ASSUMED you meant only one THE and so it edited out the second one. It is a brain trick. What it confirms, however, is that you cannot believe what your eyes show you.  And that is why using your EARS is an excellent way to catch many errors. It is also why YOU should not read aloud. If you read the story, your eyes will see errors that your brain will edit (again) and pass over. You need to HEAR your story from someone else. That is why the computer voice works just as well. Once you have passed through these few suggestions, you can re-read your work using a RULER so you are focused on line-by-line reading. This way you are focused on the pieces of the line/sentence, rather than reading for pleasure, a more generalized, and higher speed, reading. In a future article, I will discuss various paid editing services that are affordable and effective. Let me know your thoughts on this tip and other tips you have learned. If you want to stay updated with more tips, sign up for our free newsletter (monthly) > HERE Enjoy, ~W

    • You should be able to make me dribble from write your turkey description. Can you? I challenge you. My sample below: add yours. Crisp, taut, skin a caramel-browned canvas stretched across a mountain of juice-infused flesh beckoning a peel, sliver-sliced and bite-sized. Succulent juices dribble off as you lift the taste, first catching the scent of turkey flavored with onion, garlic; themes of carrots, celery, bread stuffing, and, of course, cranberries dosed with a shot of despair. There is a bountiful hope in the anticipation of the first touch upon the tongue, enveloping warmth, holding your memories of innocence firm against the new splinter of flavor, piqued by the hinting of the old Vine Zinfandel you just sipped.     Happy Thanksgiving.

    • We get many submissions each month. And we read each of them, even if we know they will not make publication. As time has passed we know that there are at least FIVE deadly mistakes that new writers make, disqualifying them from serious consideration by most reputable publishing houses. Why do we read them? Because we deal with a lot of new writers, where suggestions can be offered, where encouragement can be given, we like to do so. Often a story comes through that has the potential to be publishable. Perhaps it lacks in just a few areas. We like to offer the writer a chance to resubmit (often more than once), until we reach a point that we can accept it. Sometimes, we still cannot accept it after revisions. Many writers do not like the idea of rewrites and often fail to resubmit.  New writers are enamored with their work. An amazing number of first drafts are submitted riddled with spelling and punctuation errors, poor sentence structure, contradictory tenses. Below are the five deadly mistakes we see the most. #1 POOR PLOT: Stories that begin at the beginning of a story arc, slowly and without a sense of urgency, often fail to make a reader continue. Your story MUST grab from the first page, the first paragraph, and, if possible, the first line. Why would a reader waste time having to decipher your story? #2 ALL NARRATIVE: Many submissions come in as stories told, as though a narrator was reading. These stories have no dialog, no character descriptions, and with no dialog fail to show character traits through the dialog. These stories are the most boring. As a reader I want to be able to “see” the story in my mind’s eye. Void of anything substantial from characterization and dialog, it is just like listening to someone talk endlessly. #3 NO CONFLICT Like the last complain, a story without conflict is just not a story. Conflict is a difficult concept for new writers. They create their world, fall in love with their creation and hate to destroy it or change it in any way. As a result, with no conflict, nothing happens. Again the reader yawns. Yes, you may have created a lovely world, but it is also a boring world.  All stories need conflict, must be driven by conflict and should start with the conflict right there. Grab your readers and hold them. Add more layers of conflict so that the plot thickens and the reader is compelled to finish. Do not be afraid to break your world, hurt your characters. Through the story they will rise to the challenge or perish. Either way the reader will feel satisfied. #4 STUPID CHARACTER NAMES Unbelievably, many stories are submitted to us with character names that are ridiculous. Intended to be funny, light-hearted, or amusing, treating your characters like this destroys any interest the reader has to invest their time. Pola Rosensplatt, for example, or Harold Puffswiggins.  The power of your character lies in their backstory, their ordinary name that becomes extraordinary when they rise to the conflicts, and in their transitional story arc.  #5 POOR RESOLUTION/NO RESOLUTION Inasmuch as a character must have a conflict, a story must have a decent ending. This does not mean your story must resolve, but the character must reach a point where the story can be stopped, told, handled, and with that part resolved.  Look at movies with sequels. Where did each end? Was it sequential or did it treat each film as a standalone? Your characters do not have to live happily ever after; but they must do something that indicates the story arc has been completed and this part closed. There is nothing worse than a weak, or absent ending to your story. It leaves the reader feeling cheated after all the investment of their time.  These are just five of many problems that can result in your story being rejected. Have you noticed any of these in your stories?  If you enjoy these tips, and would be interested in receiving more, please sign up for our newsletter at http://bit.ly/BandPMailingList  AltPublish also holds Online classes to help writers (and students) refine their work, obtain feedback, learn marketing techniques (not Facebook or Twitter), and more. If you are interested in more information please email us at info@altpublish.com ~William

    • Let’s face it, everyone wants recognition, many want fame and fortune, and a few want power. But for the majority or writers, we write to EXPRESS ourselves––cheaper than therapy, better than solitude––allowing us to find peace in an otherwise conflicted world. Am I wrong? The sad fact is that so many people are writing and submitting that it does, to some degree, mute out your efforts. That is not to say you should give up, but that you should be aware you are a writer-addict in a world filled with writer addicts. But ignore that for now.  We all ackowledge that the old axion: “If you build it they will come” is bullshit. You live in a time of a zillion screaming voices, each trying to drown out the next. That most latch onto some popular idea and try to rework it to their own besteller, is irrelevant. You are not in competion with them: You are only in competition with yourself.  Who knows the next flavor of the moment? If you recall when STAR WARS came out it was immediately followed by a few hundred bad sci-fi films that hoped to ride on the success of the first. Philip K. Dick, an author I enjoy, died while writing. He lived in a time when quantity was required to produce enough of an income to survive. Back then pay rates were terrible and many authors had to share books (Ace Doubles) just to get in print. As a result Dick required large amounts of medication to allow him to churn out volumous works. Only one novel was made into a film before his death at age 53 of a massive heart attack: Blade Runner (or more accurately: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep). He never lived to see the finished film, although he did see early versions. But since his death, most of his work has been in demand, resulting in a windfall for his children/estate.  So far we have seen: Minority Report, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, to name a few, with more on the way. And let’s not forget the immenselve popular Amazon series of The Man in the High Castle.  I often wonder what Dick would have thought about all this.  As I write,  am reminded that I write for my sanity. I write for the exorcism of the demons within that need to come out. I write to make sense of this crazy world and the crazy and crazier people I see as time passes. And I write so that my children have a piece of me that transcends our parent/child roles. In this way I am a success.  The rest would be nice, but quite honestly, when I watch the farce-award shows and the actors prancing around as though they invented penicillin, instead of just pretending to be someone else, I am reminded that life is about reality and that writers live in that realm, even when they write fantasy.  And so a better question may be: “Will you be upset if you die before you are a successful published author?”  What I have learned after decades in the business is the following: Write what you care about, not what you think may be a success. Write because it keeps you sane, and free of psychiatrist couches.Write because whether you are successfull or not, you leave a legacy behind. And who knows how your work will be received after you are gone.Write because you leave a posterity for your own family, one that they will treasure. Write because it sets you apart from a fundamentally illiterate society. One day, they may look upon your words as that of a Godlike figure. Someone might even form a religion out of it. God-forbid! So in summary, it does not matter whether you reach stardom. You are the pilot of your own life and, so long as you do not starve, you should write if the compulsion to write is there. Like Richard Dryfus’s character in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, compelled to make Devil’s Tower in Wyoming out of mashed potatoes, and his back yard dirt, you are a writer because you are compelled to be one.  And honestly, that is the best reason of all. Write on! ~William

    • Looking for Great Giveaways? How about winning a free, personalized, autographed copy of international bestseller, Peter James’ new book Absolute Proof? It’s EASY to enter and no purchase is necessary.  Simply join our newsletter mailing list and on October 31, a winner be selected from our list and you’ll be contacted for the personalization details that I will forward to Peter James who will sign and send the book!  (He’s mailing it from England so it will take a bit to reach you.)  Join OUR mailing list HERE.  If you are already on our mailing list you do not need to enter again.  BUT… …that’s not all.  We have MORE drawings for personalized and autographed books.  On October 25, TWO names will be picked to receive a personalized and autographed copy of JS Ririe’s Indecision’s Flame, books 1 & 2. This is a romance series you will enjoy. But to enter you have to join HER mailing list, which you can do HERE.  BUT WAIT…we’re not done! Head over to Kindle and enter my giveaway for 10 copies of my ebook Homo Idiotus the 10th Anniversary edition of Signs You May Be An Idiot. You can do that HERE if you want the ebook. On November 15, I’m also giving away 2 personalized, autographed print copies of Homo Idiotus as well. To enter that join my author mailing list HERE.  Nope…still not done. On November 20, author Danielle Calloway is giving away two personalized, autographed copies of her upcoming book The Lost Child. To enter you must join her mailing list HERE. STILL NOT DONE! Would you like to win a print copy of the June, August and October issues of Books ‘N Pieces Magazine? That’s right, 3 issues!   To enter this giveaway, you need to leave a COMMENT on this post. Tell us why you read Books ‘N Pieces Magazine. On November 15, five comment winners will be selected and people notified. Thats FIVE giveaway opportunities! Brought to you by Books ‘N Pieces Magazine. Do me a favor and share this with your friends—use the social media share buttons to do so. Thanks for reading, and good luck to everyone entering. And a big thank you to Peter James for being a good sport from across the pond. Cheers! ~William PS: AUTHORS & PUBLICISTS: Do you want your book (or your client’s book) featured on our Website as a GIVEAWAY item, like you see above? Ask me how. EMAIL WILLIAM.

    • URGENT: Authors Need to Read This! Publicists, too! As a magazine publisher, one of the biggest problems I encounter during layouts is imagery; specifically the fact that most authors have low-resolution headshots and book cover images, totally unsuited to any print publication. Your print images should be at least 300 dpi to ensure a high quality image. Yes, they look great on the computer screen or smartphone or Website, BUT these pictures are low resolution, often smaller sized images at 72 dpi. DPI means dots per inch. On a small monitor, 72 dots in the space of one inch is not bad. And images sized to fit on the screen also look fine, unless you try to magnify them.  In a printed book, magazine or newspaper, 72 dpi will result in very blurry, pixelated images that look terrible. Your print images should be at least 300 dpi and sized for 2 inches for a headshot and 4 or 5 inches for other images to be placed in a magazine print page.  While you may be pandering strictly to a digital audience, you should realize that print publications are very much strong forms of exposure for your book, even if you do not offer a print version of the novel. Newspapers and other media (television) may wish to run a story about you, but with low resolution imagery, it is unlikely they will do much.  This year, as layouts were being assembled, Books ‘N Pieces Magazine had to search for higher resolution book covers for many of our listings within stories, and our bookstore pages. Sometimes, after checking for an author page with added imagery, or checking with the author, the Internet offered better resolutions. Usually though, this was not the case. As a result, even though some Photoshop magic was used to upgrade these images, the end sizes remained small. In one or two instances, a visit to the bookstore was in order to take a photo of the book cover for a better image. That is added time and frustration. Below are some examples of images at differing resolutions from our latest cover. (left) Web quality 72 dpi cover                         (right) 72 dpi cover as it would look printed So what can you do? Maintain an image gallery of both high and low resolution images, available to the public and press. That way you have both handy. Include added imagery, fun images, so that there are differences in the stories run. Include press clippings and other related information that helps someone to write about you and your book(s). International bestselling crime author, Peter James (Books ‘N Pieces Magazine, August 2018 issue), has a Website that is well set up to cover all possibilities. In particular he has a MEDIA link that offers a PRESS PACK which includes everything a reporter or feature writer might need to put a story together. You can see from this screenshot that his site is prepped for readers, reviewers and writers alike. You can visit his page at www.PeterJames.com. Please make a point of upgrading your available imagery, including headshots and full body shots of yourself. It can make a difference in your promotions. Publicists and publishers, please also ensure that your clients have this material ready. I know that I will be the first to thank you. ~William PS: Did you know that we are accepting advertising from publicists, publishers and authors? Our global exposure, as well as our à la carte options of advertising in print and digital, Website, social media platforms, and even our newsletter, reaching thousands of people, give you a wide range of choices. And our rates are extremely reasonable. EMAIL me for more information.

    • This issue features: Craig DiLouie, Edward Willett, Richard Paolinelli, Lance Thompson, Jill Hedgecock and JS Ririe interviews, short stories by Sue Ellen Herring, Jay Seate, Charles Hitchcock, and Salvatore Difalco. We also have book chapters from JS Ririe, Kurt Koontz and Danielle Calloway, as well as lots more.  This issue is 80 pages packed, available in print from Amazon, PDF, ePub and on Issuu.com.  Print copy HERE PDF issue HERE ePub issue HERE (70 mb file, so it may take a moment to download) Issue.com (flip style magazine) HERE Enjoy this issue. Please join our mailing list HERE and can get EARLY ACCESS to Books ‘N Pieces Magazine future issue.

    • We’ve revamped our Books ‘N Pieces Newsletter which we send out once a month. In it we offer advance peeks, extra items, things that you will not see on the Website until  much later (like short stories, interviews), as well as advance notice on contests, giveaways, specials, tips, and more. And… NEWSLETTER READERS get the new issue of Books ‘N Pieces Magazine DAYS BEFORE we post it on the Website! Be the FIRST to read it.  Be sure to sign up for our newsletter. We won’t spam you, and will not sell your information. You can unsubscribe at any time.  Click HERE to join. “Being featured in the magazine has introduced me to new readers, which has been amazing.”~Steena Holmes, NY Times & USA Today Bestselling author. (www.SteenaHolmes.com)

    • Q: The Writers’ Edge started last year (on YouTube), and features a wide range of guests from newbie and Indie authors, thru New York Times bestselling authors. What was the genesis of the idea behind this show and how has audience (YouTube) reaction been? A: Christie (Stratos) was given The Writer’s Edge (what a nice gift!) by fellow author Joshua Robertson a year ago, and the idea has always been to discuss writing in all aspects – advice for writing holiday-based books, what self-publishing vs. traditional publishing looks like, balancing writing with your job and life, and so much more. Mickey (Mikkelson) came on-board recently, and at that point we added one-on-one interviews to our livestream panel discussions.  Now we’re on every second and fourth Thursday at 9 p.m. EST. We always keep our eyes out for experts, people with a lot of experience or even varied experience depending on the topic, so that we have a diverse and helpful discussion. The reaction has been very positive, with viewers who attend every livestream, and ask questions, and new viewers networking with our consistent ones. It’s amazing to watch those connections form. In reality,  our show is meant to give exposure to any one  who is in the literary industry and that is really how we want to be identified and related with! Q: How far reaching is your audience, and do you find responses vary based on the country of the viewer (not unlike British and American humor are different)? A: Our largest viewership is in America, but we always have plenty of viewers in Canada, Mexico, the UK, France, Germany, Australia, and even India! Neither of us has noticed a difference in response because of culture, but most who are vocal during the chat either ask questions, share their own ideas, or just have a nice conversation. As for reach,  we are also looking to expand our reach and we will always tweak and adjust when something is working. Q: What sort of advance prep is required to put on an Internet show, and to what degree is it scripted versus free-flowing? A: The first step is coming up with the topic, something that will be appealing and helpful. Then we find guests who suit the topic. Once those preliminary steps are completed, Christie develops the questions and sends them to the participants, although live questions from viewers are encouraged too. Nothing is scripted, but the panelists do know about the set questions ahead of time. We create a Facebook event, create a YouTube event, and voila! A show is ready to go live.  Q: Where would you like to see the progress of the show headed in the future? A: We have already had some sponsorships, but we’re looking to gain further sponsorships to help bring us to a larger audience. At this time, sponsorships are extremely affordable and earn the sponsor air time with a wonderful audience of engaged writers. We’ve already expanded the show to be twice per month instead of just once, and now that we have both panel discussion and interview style shows, we are looking to expand the types of guests we have beyond (but still including) authors. We’re looking at reviewers, publicists, booktubers, publishers, and more,  anything that is going to create interest and exhibit entertaining and dynamic episodes. Q: How do you select your guests? A: Sometimes we already know authors who are perfect for the show, sometimes we search for authors who have experience and offer diverse viewpoints. On our “Variety is the Spice of Writing Romance” panel, we had authors who write romantic comedy, military romance, romantic suspense, contemporary romance – a great variety of subgenres, both with publishers and self-published. Our goal is the ensure that everyone always has something to add, even if it’s to disagree and share very different experiences. Everything is helpful when it comes to sharing writing, marketing, and publishing advice. In the past, we have even had prolific writers and not yet published writers on the show to share their own writing advice and experiences; each one had extremely relatable things to say. Q: Does this format enhance sales for authors, if you know?  A: We’ve certainly gotten feedback that it can enhance their social media following, but we don’t have information about their sales. The other aspect to think about is that guests are accountable to share the feed as well.  Like any media vehicle,  it will only be effective if everyone works together to get the word out about their episode.  Its like any other marketing scheme, more views should equal more sales long term! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yAuIFMYiGc Watch all the episodes of The Writer’s Edge at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrFrRVtI0YyaR8NEYAdZ24w

    • When I speak to my friends we often joke and reminisce about the imaginary friends we used to have as kids, sometimes we would play or discuss things with them and even argue with them, perhaps it was just an instinctive way of preparing ourselves for growing up. The general rule of thumb is they would come out on request, when you needed them, when you wanted to play or just not be alone. My imaginary friend was called Hugh. He was two years older than me and an exception to the rule, and I thought he was a prick. Sitting at the dinner table one day, and as my Mum was reaching for the veggies, he slipped under and came back up holding his nose and gagging, he told me my Mum wasn’t wearing any knickers. He also said he caught my Dad playing with himself in the shower earlier and he wasn’t goddamn surprised. I intentionally dropped my fork to prove he was just telling tales, I promised myself I would invent a time machine to take me back and grip that fork with everything I had. I didn’t eat much that afternoon. Some things he told me were truths; others were just outright lies designed to ruin self-confidence and to push anxiety levels through the roof, and he thought this was hilarious. For example, on my seventh birthday, he told me I was adopted and the papers were in the third drawer down of my Mum’s dresser. All I found was a bunch of knickers and bras, and what looked to be a torch that vibrated. Hugh told me that my Mum used to shove the torch so far up her fanny  you could see her tonsils. Obviously, I didn’t believe him. He lied about the adoption and the torch, and he was full of shit. At this point he had also told me that my Mum was sleeping with the postman and that my Dad was a serial killer, so you can see what I was dealing with.  When Hugh told me there was someone else living at the house, another child, I dismissed it immediately.  Hugh said he could prove it but I’d had enough, to be honest; I actually tried to unimagine him from my mind for a good couple of weeks before I realized the stubborn little prick wasn’t going anywhere.   The first day at school, already a hard enough time for a seven-year-old to get his head around, was something I will never forget. The teacher placed me next to some kid called Robert. He seemed nice enough, but Hugh seemed jealous that I had even said hello to the kid.  In my ear all day, “you’re a homo, you’re a homo,” and slightly more inventive “Jack and Bobby sitting in a tree, Jack blows Bobby, one-two-three.”  That carried on all day. “You’re a homo, you’re a homo,” until I lost the plot and screamed at the top of my lungs in front of the entire classroom. “I’m not a fucking homo!” Some of the kids laughed, some went white, the teacher did neither but did escort me from the class. Mum picked me up early that day. She was very disappointed indeed, not that I wasn’t a homosexual, but my behavior let her down considerably. Hugh was still unbelievably pleased with himself and asked me to follow him; he had something to show me. “Where are we going?” I called out to him in pursuit as he sprinted ahead down the hallway and towards the back end of the house. “You’ll see soon enough,” is all he replied as he finally made it to the cellar door. My Dad always said the cellar was a work in progress and too dangerous for us to go in, I always wondered why it didn’t apply to him though.  “Hugh, I am not allowed in there, even Mum isn’t.” “Do you ever think to yourself why not?” he asked as he pointed to a jar on top of the cupboard. I grabbed the key from it, pushed it into the hole and turned the handle, the air conditioner was already on and it was pretty cool in that space, I remember. I flicked the light switch on but nothing happened. “Oh yes, in the cupboard next to the door,” Hugh said, so I went back and grabbed the torch. I saw the vast array of jars and bottles of wine spread across various tables and felt my way along the walls. “What are we doing here, Hugh?” I asked impatiently. “Keep going, nearly there,” he replied. I kept edging along the wall and finally came to the end of the room; I flashed the torch around and could see nothing else worth noting. “Push that last panel, Jack,” he said. I did and it moved inwards, not just a little bit, and I soon realized it was a makeshift door. “How do you know all this, Hugh?” I asked inquisitively. ‘Go inside, Jack,” As I stepped inside and swept the torch around, I shrieked and dropped it, I scrambled on the floor in a mix of fear and panic and finally felt the handle and pointed it forwards again. The little boy there covered his eyes and I moved the torch to the left out of his direct line of sight.  He cowered in the corner and I noticed the chain attached to the bolt in the floor, and a plate and glass on the mattress next to him. “This is Peter,” Hugh replied very casually. “Why are you in our house, Peter?” I asked very naively. Peter didn’t say anything, he just sat shaking. “You need to ask your Dad that,” Hugh replied.  As I turned around to shine the torch towards Hugh I saw the etchings on the wooden interior of the room. “Hugh was here.” [Editor note: This story appeared in the August 2018 issue of Books ‘N Pieces