Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dreamspinner Press holiday sale LAST DAY

I forgot to post this here,   but Dreamspinner Press is having a holiday sale,  it ends today.   They are offering 30% off on all their titles.   Including mine, "The Finest Thing."

please stop by and check it out

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Weds Brief

It's that time of the week.   Time for Weds Brief.

This week's prompts are:

Then put your money where your mouth is or "walk a mile in my shoesor use: week, together, book
or "If you can't run with the big dogs, stay on the porchor "He/She could talk the horns off a billygoat" or use: jump, live, game or "Failure is not an option" or "welcome back to the age of jive!"

Thanksgiving was turning out to be a bust as far as getting family to come in.   A snowstorm had closed Lancaster airport and all the airports along the east coast. 

“I was looking forward to my cousins coming in from Minnesota, and wasn’t Travis supposed to try to get time off?”  Ben mentioned after he’d basted the twenty-pound bird he’d gotten from a turkey farm in Paradise. 

“No such luck, Ben.  Travis already took off last month, remember?”  Tom was just as disappointed as Ben was.  He’d hoped his brother would be able to make another visit.

“How could I forget, after that shooting at the airport I didn’t want him to leave at all.”

“I know, neither did I.”  Tom was chopping vegetables at the kitchen island when the phone rang.

“Hello?”  Tom answered it.  “Yeah Travis, it’s good to hear your voice too.”  Tom put the cordless phone on the counter and put it on speakerphone.

“Happy Thanksgiving to my two favorite brothers.”  Travis’ voice filled the warm kitchen.

“Happy Thanksgiving to you too,”  he and Ben said in stereo.

“I was hoping we could be together today.” Tom said. Disappointment could clearly be heard in his voice.

“Me too, guys.  I’m hoping I might be able to make it out the weekend after New Years.   I’m stuck here covering all the local games.  I’m covering the Rose Bowl this year, so you’ll be able to see me then.”

“Yeah, through our forty-six inch TV set.  Ain’t the same, Travis.”  Ben sighed.

“We could Skype, if you want to see me now.”

“Yeah, let’s Skype, I have a surprise to show you.”   You could hear the excitement in Travis’ voice over the miles.

Tom got his laptop from the office and, in a few moments, they went from cordless landline to staring face-to-face on Skype. 

“Before you say anything, I just want you to see what you’re missing.”  Ben took the laptop and put the webcam up to the window in the oven door and turned on the light inside,  illuminating the big bird cooking within.  “That’s the main course. We’ll also have some of Tom’s stuffing, the one he makes from his secret recipe.  The one he refuses to let me in on what the ‘secret’ ingredient is.”

“You mean apple cider?”  Travis laughed

“TRAVIS!  Damn!” Tom screamed.

“Apple cider?  So that’s what I’ve been tasting all these years.”  Ben wore a grin like he’d won the lottery.

“Can’t keep a secret can you, Travis?”  Tom smiled despite his tirade.   It wasn’t really a big deal.  He was planning on telling Ben one day what made his stuffing so special.

“Oh I think I can, like the surprise I’m about to show you.”  You could tell how excited Travis was.  “Like this.”   He held up something to the webcam.

“A book?”  Tom saw the back; he noticed it had a photo of Travis on it. 

“Not just any book.”  Travis turned it around so they could see the front.  “My Life Through Sports, by Travis Mathers.”

“You wrote a book? When, how….”  Tom was flabbergasted.

“Congratulations, Travis,”  Ben commented. 

“Congrats bro.  Well, it looks like you can keep some secrets after all.”  Tom seemed disappointed his brother didn’t share that he was writing a book.

“I’m sorry, Tom.   I know I should have let you in on it, but I didn’t want to say anything until I knew it was getting published.  The publisher just sent me my copy today.  It’ll be on bookshelves on Black Friday.”

“Does that mean I’ll have to line up at the Barnes and Noble at the mall to get a copy?”  Tom asked him.

“Now would I do that to my family?  I’m sending you each your own copies to peruse.”   Travis smiled at them.  “I hope you’ll like it.”

“I’m sure we’ll love it.  Congrats, Travis.   I do wish you were here.  I love you,”  Tom said with a tear in his eye.

“Love you guys too.  We’ll talk next week.  I have to go.”

“We’ll make sure to tune in to watch the game,”  Tom said.  

“Love you, Travis. Happy Thanksgiving again,  Ben said.

“Well, looks like it’s just us,”   Tom said after he’d disconnected Skype.   

Ben’s cousins called from Minnesota saying they decided to stay home. That they’d try to make a flight on Saturday instead, and leave on Monday morning, which was when they originally were going to leave.

“Much as I love our families, I love it best when it’s just us.”  


“And Love.”    Their now two-year-old cat had made her presence known.  

They finished up their feast and ate a hearty meal that night, sat in front of the fire, and watched the Rose Bowl game on their big screen TV.

All snuggled and warm inside.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Welcome author Cheryl Headford to my blog today

I am honored to have Cheryl Headford as a guest on my blog today.   Let's find out more about her and her book "Face in the Window."

1-How long have you been writing?

I've always written. Ever since I was a child I've written stories, told stories, consumed stories. Until the last few years, however, no one has read them. My family have never shown the slightest interest in my writing. In fact, when I was a child I would get told off regularly for 'all that nonsense'. There are no words to express how wonderful it is be free to write and have people read. Stories are just words on paper unless they're read.

 2- What is your favorite genre to write? 

It's difficult to say. What's a genre? I like to write for young people but is YA really a genre in itself? I also have almost exclusively gay protagonists. Is that a genre? I don't think it should be. The true genres are those such as sci fi, fantasy, horror, which actually tell you something about the story.

That being said, my favourite genre is fantasy. That's where my imagination can really take root and fly. I also like to write contemporary romance, although everything I write is flavoured deeply with shadow. Nothing is light and fluffy in my world.

Surprisingly, I don't really like to write erotica. It's where I started, and my absolute favourite books are out there in that genre. However, even my erotica has very little sex and I find myself bored writing the mechanics of it. I'm very much a sensual person, in my writing and my life and much prefer the sensuousness, the erotic, to the nuts and bolts of getting down to it. That's not to say I shy away when the scene or story demands it but these days I find it rarely does.

3-What are you working on now?

Apart from NaNo, I'm coming to the end of the first draft of the first in a three book YA fantasy series. It's been a real challenge, trying to get into the head of a sixteen year old boy, without using any swear words or sexual references. Not easy at all.

I'm also waiting to begin the editing process of a new YA with Featherweight Press, I've just signed the contract for.

I'm also working on the first round edits on the third book of the Upstaged series I'm writing with Stephanie Danielson.

I think there might be something else, but I've forgotten for now.

4-When you begin a story do you start with character or plot?

That's a difficult one. It depends. Sometimes, I start with a character, who will speak to me for a while, telling me things about themselves  letting me get the feel of them. Then one day something will spark. Maybe a snatch of conversation I hear, or something I see or read, and it will get me thinking 'what if....' and my character will grab it an run with it.

Sometimes I start with a picture in my head, an image of a place, a person, a situation, an event. I l look at it and wonder what stories it has to tell. Then a character will step forward and start telling me their story. always the character isn't it. Most of the time I feel that I'm not really writing a story, I'm only writing it down, telling it on behalf of the characters who are the ones actually living it.

5-Tell us about your latest/upcoming release. What inspired it? 

My blog post explains this in detail

The Face In The Window

There are those who can’t see, and those who don’t want to see, but we’re all blind sometimes

All writers will tell you they have conversations with their characters inside their heads. Well…most of them will, I’m sure.
I ‘speak’ to my characters a lot. We have conversations and they have conversations with each other. That’s where a lot of the dialogue comes from. When I write they’re here in the room with me and they inhabit my dreams.
Ace first came to me when I was on a bus one day. I live in a very small, Welsh valley and the bus route is up the main street, turn at the end, just before the mountain, and come back down the only other parallel street.
The bus waits for five minutes after it turns, pausing outside a large house. I’ve sat outside that house for years and been fascinated by it. It’s on its own, slightly apart from the rest of the houses, surrounded by a wall and bordered by the mountain. I have often looked at the windows, especially the dormer ones and wondered what would happen if I saw a face in the window. Who would it be? What would their story be?
Then, one day, I ‘saw’ a boy. He was strange as hell, wearing a shirt with an enormous daisy on it. I didn’t realise, at first, that he was blind. I just thought he had really bad taste in clothes. He had a loud ‘voice’ and a really bubbly personality that swept me away from the start. I can quite imagine the impression he made on Haze.
Ace and Haze are younger than the characters I’m used to writing, and they were much more wayward, in that the story took twists and turns I would never have imagined at the start. I found myself describing things in a different way, which required me to see things in a different way.
I researched all kinds of things that Ace might like… from phones to braille keyboards and computer programmes. He’s only just started to explore them all, although I have to admit he already knew about most of them.
When he told me he wants to go to university, I had my own experiences to draw from, as I was heavily involved with a programme of reading textbooks for blind students when I was at university. The girl I worked with was very much like Ace. She was albino, too. She was also very pretty and very sweet. She graduated with First Class Honours, which was better than I did. I was married with a small child at the time and I’m damn sure she got more out of her time at university than I did.
I have no doubt whatever that Ace will have an absolute blast, and he’ll drag Haze along with him.
Why not read about where my vision of the face in the window took me and introduce yourselves to Ace Richmond and Haze Fennell.

Ace is blind and Haze is damaged. They live in different worlds and not everyone is happy when they become boyfriends. Haze is struggling with the after effects of a traumatic event in his past that has left him at the mercy of an uncontrollable rage. When Ace’s brother steps up his campaign of torment against Ace, they’re all in danger from Haze’s outbursts, though it isn’t until things get completely out of control that the healing can really begin. But with Ace unseeing and Haze perched on the edge of a cliff, will either of them survive long enough to benefit?

Excerpt One – Meeting Ace

I will never forget the first time I saw Ace Richmond, not as long as I live and probably beyond. He was sitting at the kitchen table, the chair pushed back and his long legs crossed at the ankle under the table. There was a plate of sandwiches in front of him and he was eating an apple. I saw none of that.
To say that I had ‘seen’ him through the window would have been like saying that I had seen the reflection of the moon on the surface of a still lake or the sun setting into the sea. Beautiful but only a pale shadow of the real thing.
Today he was wearing an acid green t-shirt with a pink elephant on the front that was somewhat jarring on the eyes, especially matched with the lurid pink tartan trousers and the large jewel encrusted sunglasses that were completely out of place. I had to blink twice to fully take them in. However, if his clothing was something of a shock it was nothing compared to the rest of him.
He had appeared slender and ephemeral from my standpoint below, thin and pale. Up close he was far more substantial. He was not so slender at all, although there was a certain grace in the way he was lounging in the chair that made him seem more willowy than he was.
He was pale; his skin almost translucent, like the white hair that cascaded over his shoulders and obscured half of his face. He was gorgeous too; far better looking than I had observed or imagined, but not in the fragile, fey way that I had thought. He was very substantial indeed. Weird in the clothing sense but lovely and…real.

Excerpt Two – Ninja

We had lunch in the same restaurant that we had the first time, and Nick was suitably impressed. Ace enthused about the menus, the food, how nice the waitresses were, and Nick watched him with a slightly bemused expression on his face.
That was nothing though to the expression he wore when we went down onto the beach and I had Ace doing cartwheels again.
“Bloody hell,” he murmured under his breath as we watched Ace’s wild abandon. I don’t think he was physically able to say any more. Ace literally took his breath away.
“He’s full of surprises, isn’t he?”
Nick nodded, unable to take his eyes away from his brother.
Eventually Ace stopped and stood still, turning his face to the sea breeze, and simply waited, quietly.
“What’s he doing now?”
“Waiting for what?”
I couldn’t help a giggle. “For us, of course. He has no idea where he is now.”
“Oh. I…I didn’t think. He must trust you a lot; just to stand and wait and not be scared.”
“Ace is never scared. He’s the bravest person I know.”
We were walking by then, and Nick fell silent. We hadn’t quite got to Ace when he said, “I wish I could see the sea.” There wasn’t any sadness in his voice, just a hint of wistfulness. “It feels so…big and wild.”
“It is.” I slipped my arm around his waist, and he rested his head on my shoulder.
“Mister… Mister…” At the sound of the breathless but excited voices, we turned and I saw two boys, about eleven years old, racing across the beach toward us.
“That was awesome,” one of them gasped as they skidded to a halt.
“Can you do it again? Can you teach us?”
“How did you do it? Are you an acrobat?”
“Or a ninja?”
Ace laughed and shook his head; he frowned thoughtfully. “I don’t know how I do it, not really. It just feels…right. I don’t know if I could teach anyone, because I don’t know what I do myself.”
“Aww, but we really want to learn.” His voice was so earnest that Nick and I exchanged glances and stifled giggles.
“Please, Mister, just tell us what you do.”
“I just… You need to find something inside that really wants to come out, that needs to be free, and then you just throw yourself at it and it takes you over.
“I learned how to trust my body and the space around me at school. We do a lot of martial arts and most of the flipping and stuff are just part of the moves.”
One of the boys turned to the other and said, “See? I told you he was a ninja.”
“Ninjas,” said the other one, “wear black and don’t look like that. He’s all white with funny eyes.” His eyes widened, and his face got an excited expression. “Maybe he’s from one of those secret organisations, like the White Dragons or something, like we saw in that film. Maybe he’s an assassin.”
“WOW, Mister. Are you really? Are you? Are you a secret assassin?”
The other boy hit him in the shoulder so hard he almost fell over. “If it’s a secret, he’s not going to tell you about it, is he?”
“Oh. Sorry, Mister.” He was subdued for a moment, with downcast eyes, scuffing the sand. Then he brightened up and with a sly expression on his face. “But are you? Are you really? I mean you can trust us, because we’re only kids so you know we’re not like…like from a rival gang or something.”
His friend rolled his eyes and sighed. “Sorry. He’s a bit thick. Don’t worry, your secret is safe with us.” Ace was grinning as the boy dragged his friend away.
“Hehe, one day I’m an angel and the next a secret ninja assassin. Nice. I wonder what I’ll be tomorrow.”
I hugged him close. “Mine,” I said, and he giggled.

buy link

Cheryl was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean.
Cheryl has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play.
Later in life, Cheryl became the storyteller for a re enactment group who travelled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.
It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere.
In present times, Cheryl lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son and her two cats. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close. The part of her that needs to earn money is a lawyer, but the deepest, and most important part of her is a storyteller and artist, and always will be.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Weds Brief

It's that time of the week again.  Time to flash.   Ripped from the headlines,  Travis, Tom's brother,  is caught up in an airport shooting.  Let's find out what happened next.

This week's prompts:
 use recycling in a story or "How can you say that?" or use : swan, lake, illusion or "When did my life become a soap opera?" or use a matchmaker in your story or use: alien, growl, vendetta or "She fluttered her lashes coyly" or "I surrender, Officer..." or use time in your story in some way.

Weds Brief 

 “What’s taking so long?” They’d arrived at the hospital and found out Travis had been taken there, but they didn’t know anything beyond that.

  Tom felt like it had been an eternity since he’d gotten word that Travis had been taken to the hospital.  Now he was pacing the waiting room and Ben was being moral support.

“It’s only been a half an hour since they’d brought him in. You have to give the doctors time to look him over.”  Ben was just as upset as Tom.  Travis had been more like a brother than a brother-in-law.   He’d been the first one to show how happy he was to have Ben in Tom’s life; he’d welcomed him with open arms, literally.   Travis was almost as strong as Tom was in the hug department. 

“Tom, Ben.  I came as quickly as I could.”   Pete Mulligan joined them; he was one of Tom’s friends at the firehouse.   “Any word on Travis?” 

“No, and I’m going out of my mind.”  Tom finally sat down in one of the plastic chairs in the room.  “I don’t know what I’ll do if…” 

“Hey, Tom relax.”  Pete sat down next to him and patted him on the shoulder.

“Relax?  How can you say that? Travis was just going to take a flight home and now he’s here in the hospital.”

“I know how you feel. Remember when Susan got in that horrible accident?”   Pete’s wife was on her way to pick up the kids from school when a drunk driver broadsided her.   “Thank goodness for seat belts and airbags.

“I remember, Pete.  Look I’m sorry for biting your head off.”

“Don’t worry about it.  Just to let you know, the rest of the firehouse knows what happened, so just expect visits from the rest of the gang.”  Their firehouse had a few female firefighters too and a female EMT, so it wasn’t all men.
Ben had gotten him and Tom a cup of coffee from the vending machines at the end of the hall.   The doctor was there when he got back.  “Doctor, is Travis okay?”

The doctor looked to be in his mid-fifties, salt and pepper hair, and wore the typical white coat many doctors wore.

“Mr. Mathers is very lucky.  He suffered a cracked rib and a broken index finger on his right hand.”  The doctor gave the news in the typical, professional manner most physicians report a patient’s condition. 

“You mean he wasn’t shot?”  Tom asked. He’d been thinking the worst all this time.

“No, but he’s been asking to see you, so I think I’ll let him explain what happened. He’s in cubicle two.  Good day, gentlemen.”  The doctor disappeared into the sea of other doctors and nurses that peppered the corridor.

Tom and Ben, with Pete in tow, all descended on cubicle two.

“Oh, I see my public has come to see me.”  Travis was getting his clothes back on. 

“Travis.” Tom came over and carefully hugged his brother.  “I was so scared.”

“Me too,” Ben joined in the group hug. 

“I’m glad to see you’re okay, too, Travis,” Pete said.  “You mind telling us what happened at the airport?”

“To put it plainly, when the shooting started I was waiting at the Southwest terminal and heard the commotion.   I zigged when I should have zagged. I was trying to find a place to hide when some people trying to make a run for it knocked me down.  I finally hid out in the bathroom,”  he relayed to his worried family and Pete. 

“Which one, the lady’s room or the men’s room?”  Ben tried a bit of levity to soothe the tension.

“Lady’s. I can understand why it takes them so long to get out of there, no urinals like us guys have.” 

About an hour later, they Travis had gotten released from the hospital and Tom and Ben were driving him back to their house. 

“What about my luggage?”   Travis asked.

“We’ll find out about it tomorrow, right now we’re getting you home.  You’re going to stay with us.”

“But I have to get back to work.  The sports don’t report themselves, you know.”

“It can wait.  I almost lost my brother. You’re going to stay with us, at least for a few more days.”

“Ben, reason with him. I’m sure you had enough of me the past week, you guys should have the place to yourself. You don’t need me…”

“Shut up, Travis.”  Ben’s voice sounded like he was on the verge of tears.

“What?” Travis bent forward in the backseat. He placed a hand on Ben’s shoulder.   Tom had pulled off to the side of the road and put the car into park, turned around and looked at his man. 

“Tom isn’t the only one who almost lost a brother. You’re my brother too, Travis.  You’re going to stay with us and that’s that.”

“Okay, guys, I guess you’re stuck with me for a while longer.”  He smiled; he never realized just how much his family meant to him until he almost lost his life to a crazed gunman.