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What To Read? Cursed: Ruadh’s Story

What to Read?

I have a little gem for your today. I’m particularly proud of this one as I’ve helped the author, Troy A. Hill, a little bit with it. It is published today!

Cursed

Ruadh’s Story

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You may remember the Dark Fantasy Spring Giveaway Event not long ago. I won this book in Troy’s competition after guessing the correct shifter form of Ruadh (and no, I didn’t see the bear in the moon on the image that he showed us 😀 ). That’s the first thing that attracted me to this book; the cover. The artist did an excellent job detailing the atmosphere described in the story (not that I knew that when I saw the cover for the first time, of course).

It’s a short read, with only one hundred pages. This doesn’t diminish the reading entertainment, though. Mr. Hill has a particular way of writing, one that suits the character of Ruadh very well. He gets you to experience exactly what Ruadh is going through as he shapeshifts and on his flight from evil but without getting overly descriptive. His words are straight to the point yet transporting you into the scene. You get drawn into this ancient world with shapeshifters, banshees, and godesses creating havoc. There even is a comic relief in there, although this may not have been intended 🙂 . There truly is not a dull moment in this story. It is a good set up for the main novel to come, and I hope to read the other books soon.

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All of Troy A. Hill’s books are available on Amazon and Cursed is on sale at the moment, so grab it while it’s hot!

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Meet The Author – Ingrid Foster

Meet the author

Ingrid Foster is the author of two short horror stories, a fantasy suspense novel, My Father’s Magic, the first in the Esme Bohlin suspense series, and working on the sequel called Revenge of the Dark Queen. She is a real world traveler and a great storyteller.

Ingrid Foster

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You have traveled a lot, including to places like Australia and The Netherlands (places I traveled as well) as well as thirty US states. What attracts you about traveling?

I grew up a reader, loving books about foreign places and strange names. When I enlisted in the Air Force and was given an opportunity to be stationed in Germany, I jumped at the chance. Exploring Germany and much of Western Europe allowed me to experience places I’d only read about. That’s what traveling gives you, opportunities to explore and sense new things.

Which country do I like best?

I don’t know yet, maybe I’ll know after I’ve gotten a chance to explore them all 🙂

You have written two short stories (A Home for Rose and Fresh Meat) and a novel; My Father’s Magic. In Fresh Meat, you feature a grandmother. Did you have a special bond with your grandmother?

I did. My grandmother is no longer with us. In truth, she was my best friend, especially when I was a child. My mother suffered from Post Partum Depression, so my grandmother retired early from her job so she could care for me. When I was a small child I used to spend hours playing with old makeup and perfume bottles, whatever I could find and create the most elaborate stories. My grandmother was always amazed and supportive; she never had a negative word, even when I beat her at Chinese Checkers.

Where did you get the idea for My Father’s Magic?

I wanted to write a memoir, but quickly tired of it. So I decided instead to write a story about a lonely young woman who finds a key to an old haunted house and discovers a family she didn’t know she had. Of course, being me, I needed to keep it entertaining, so I included magical creatures and scary things that go bump in the night.

I don’t plot my stories, so when I write, I never know what will happen next. My theory is that if I enjoy writing the story, my readers will enjoy reading it.

What is your favorite passage/dialogue in the book?

My favorite passage is when my main character, Esme, whose memory had intentionally been blocked by her sorcerer father when she was six, gets her memory back:

(Excerpt) Reaching out to open the stainless refrigerator, something caught my eye. At the far end of the kitchen, in a vacant hearth, sat a child’s table with two small chairs and a half-played game of checkers, the game appeared to be waiting for the children to return.

My_Fathers_Magic.JPGSomething was familiar about the scene, something that wouldn’t let me pull my eyes away and as I stared, a sense of déjà vu hit me. “Stoney, we never did finish that game of checkers, did we?”

As if in response, there was a loud thud and then Stone was by my side. “No, your father called you home and you never came back.”

There were so many questions I wanted to ask at that moment, but my mouth could only form one, “And you never picked up the game?”

Stone smiled down at me. “My mother thought to a few times, but I told her no, that one day you’d be back and we would finish.”

…over coffee laced with whiskey, we finished the game we started eighteen years before, in the living room in front of the fire. I had never enjoyed a game more in my life. And then as we curled up on the sofa, in each other arms, and the flames danced across the thick logs, I was content for the first time in a very long time; probably since I was six and my only care in the world was beating my best friend, Stoney, at checkers.

(Excerpt, My Father’s Magic)

What part of the story did you find the hardest to write?

When Esme is sexually assaulted by someone close to her. It was hard for me to write because I have a history of being both sexually assaulted and raped. I had to put myself back in those memories, so I could capture the raw emotions. It was actually quite therapeutic, especially when Esme gets justice in the end.

What can readers expect when reading your work?

My stories are all suspenseful and captivating leaving my readers wanting more. Or, at least, that’s what they tell me. At 5 Stars for most of my reviews, I must be doing something right.

Are you working on another book? If yes, what’s it about and could you give us a little preview?

The second book in the Bohlin Series is coming out later this year. It’s titled Revenge of the Dark Queen and it picks up where My Father’s Magic left off.

In the following scene, my main character Esme is on her way up in an elevator to her father’s penthouse. With her is Liebling, the last known Katzenspinder, a very old magical species that has the cashmere-soft body of a cat and eight legs like a spider, the front two ending in paws. Liebling’s fur changes color according to his mood:

(Excerpt) Seconds later, the elevator stopped and I took a deep breath, “Okay, we’re here.” As the doors opened, not waiting for my signal, Liebling dropped his invisibility and jumped down from my shoulder.

“Wait,” I told him telepathically. I started scanning the apartment.

It felt all right. I didn’t sense anything, no people, no spirits…but still, something was definitely off. I pointed my wand at the far wall, opposite the elevator, where my father’s elaborate gold mirror once stood.

“Revelare Cesern,” I said with more power in my voice than I expected considering how nervous I was.

Red words, left splattered and dripping, appeared on the far wall. Liebling, his fur now white, began to shake. “Need Edgar.”

I looked down at him, trying to catch his meaning. “Bruce is in school.”

“No. Go. Need Edgar.”

In my mind’s eye, I knew he thought I was walking into a trap and, based on my experience with my father’s magic, I knew that even though the last occupier of the penthouse, Geoff, was dead, his magic could remain.

“Very well,” I said, pushing the elevator’s “G” button. I lifted Liebling onto my shoulder and he turned invisible before I thought to ask. As the elevator lowered, Liebling shuddered. “Bad magic. Bad magic.”

(Excerpt, Revenge of the Dark Queen)

What is your preferred surrounding when writing?

I have a home office that allows me to close myself off from the world. As for music, I only listen to instrumental while I’m writing, and it varies according to the scene and story. For the Esme Bohlin Suspense Series, I listened mostly to Nox Arcana, Escala and anything Celtic. For the Dark Desert Tales which is all dark fiction, I’ll listen to something darker.

Thank you so much, Ingrid, for sharing your life’s experiences and giving us those wonderful excerpts of your novels. Katzenspinder… I just have to read your books now! 🙂

 

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Ingrid Foster’s books are all available on Amazon.

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What To Watch? The Shape of Water

This weekend we had a double whammy and went to see The Shape of Water first and The Greatest Showman straight after. Both were great movies. I actually don’t like singing in movies, so I’m not going to discuss the latter here. I do love a good romance story, so The Shape of Water it is.

The Shape of Water

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Cast and Plot

This story plays in 1962 Baltimore when racism is the norm and homosexuality is still a taboo. Elisa Esposito (played by Sally Hawkins) is a woman who lives above a movie theatre and works as a cleaning lady in a secret government laboratory. Her neighbor, Giles (played by Richard Jenkins), is a homosexual artist, trying to make a living with his drawings. Elisa is mute. She appears to have been found as a child with strange scars in her neck like someone scratched her.

When an aquatic creature (played by Doug Jones) is brought into the facility, Elisa forms a bond with it. She is delighted to have found someone like her, someone who can’t talk, and she spends her lunchtimes with the creature. The agent in charge of the creature, Colonel Richard Strickland (played by Michael Shannon), is a very cruel man and delights in torturing it. The Russian scientist studying the creature (played by Michael Stuhlbarg) notices the bond between the creature and Elisa and realizes it is an intelligent being. He tries everything in his power to make his superiors see this without spilling the beans on Elisa.

What I liked

This is a wonderfully romantic story about an outcast who becomes a hero and finds true love. Who doesn’t like a story where this happens? The fact that is was nominated so many times probably has something to do with the fact that the movie puts a spotlight on all sort of social taboos; masturbation, homosexuality, racial discrimination, and physical disabilities. The fact that it plays in 1962 only highlights that a lot still needs to change.

I like the casting of the actors. They weren’t perfect, yet beautiful. In other words, not a typical Holywood cast. Michael Shannon was a particular well-cast actor, and I think we’re going to see more of him on the big screen.

I liked that Doug Jones, who played the creature, also played Abe Sapien in Hellboy, one of my favorite movies. The creatures aren’t the same, yet their likeness was the first thing that sprung to mind when I saw the creature for the first time (before I knew Doug Jones played both roles). Loved, loved, loved the outfit!

Abe Sapien from Hellboy vs. The Creature in The Shape of Water
Abe Sapien from Hellboy vs. The Creature in The Shape of Water

What I didn’t like

Even though it is a very romantic story, I missed something. Maybe it was the short time dedicated to the build-up of the romance, I don’t know. Questioning logistics issues, explained too late, took me out of the story sometimes. And of course the WTF-moments that always seems to happen. I can accept fantasy logic, but I won’t accept things that they pretend can happen in this physical world. It just isn’t possible from a earthly-scientific point of view. You can take the girl out of science, but you can’t take the science out of the girl 🙂

Summary

All in all a bloody good movie for Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Romance, and Thriller lovers. Go and see it!

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Meet The Author… – Terry Marchion

Meet the author

Today, I’m introducing to you… Terry Marchion. I met Terry online through One Stop Fiction. He is a lovely man who doesn’t mind going out of his way to help a fellow writer (he’s one of my beta-readers and my writing would be terrible without him). He has written three sci-fi novels about Christopher and his uncle Tremain, who live on a space colony called New Earth. Terry gives us a peek into his WIP, The Misplaced Mentor. It’s the fourth book in the Adventures of Tremain & Christopher series, so be sure to read all the way till the end :). But first, let’s get to know Mr. Marchion a bit better.

Terry Marchion

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Interview with Terry Marchion

Are you a full-time writer?

Ok — I’m not a full-time writer — I do hold a day job, which sucks away a lot of my time – eventually, I’d love to write full-time, but I’m not there yet. I’ve always written – in one way or another, but I’ve never had the confidence to pursue it. When I was around 18 or so, I did submit a short story but was promptly rejected. That colored my dreams for quite a few years until 2016, when I submitted a pitch on a twitter event. I received a few replies of interest but was rejected then too – go figure. But, thinking that others could read AND like my work inspired me to go the indie route and do it all myself.

What do you like about writing?

I like the freedom writing gives me — it’s sometimes frustrating, but also very liberating. I’m satisfying my need to be creative and hopefully being entertaining at the same time.

What don’t you like about writing?

I don’t care for the politics around writing — I’ve come to like the process of writing and formatting and having others beta read — the rest is work. LOL — but I’m learning to embrace the work too.

Who should read your writing?

People should totally read my stuff if they like fun adventures with a sci-fi bent to them. Think the old serials of the 40’s — Buck Rogers, for instance, or the episodic tv shows we all watched like Lost in Space, Star Trek, Doctor Who — that’s the spirit this adventures series is written in.

What is the best thing you’ve learned about writing?

The best lesson I’ve learned is to be persistent and never to give up.

What is the worst thing you’ve learned about writing?

The hardest lesson I’ve learned is to be persistent and to never give up. I want it all NOW dammit!! LOL

Where do you write?

Where do I write? Everywhere! I don’t have a dedicated writing spot — I tend to feel constrained if I can only create in one place — I use a laptop or a tablet/keyboard combo or just a pen and paper to get my thoughts down. I eventually go solo on the laptop to put it all together. But at least I’m writing.

What is the most memorable sentence you’ve written?

I’ve yet to come up with a consistent writing schedule, but I’m working on that.I don’t have a memorable line yet, but I’m working on it. Hopefully, one of my characters will spout something I just can’t predict.

Thank you so much, Terry, for sharing this with us. I’m sure we all can do with that boost to never give up! They say great writers are the ones that don’t quit, so I clink my glass to you and will keep on writing!

Without further ado, here’s that special snipped I promised you from Terry’s fourth book, The Misplaced Mentor, which is to be released soon.

Preview of The Misplaced Mentor

Marjorie’s apartment sat in the middle of the city, just off from the bazaar. Tremain and Markus walked the short distance from the lab complex, past the flapping tents and awnings of the bazaar, down to the residential area, overlooking the coast. The austere building was built around a park, complete with park benches and walking paths. The pair walked up the stairs to Marjorie’s apartment in silence, the smell of stale air, cooked food and paint heavy in the corridor. Once outside the door, Tremain consulted his tablet.

“Well, you are right, it shows she’s inside. Well, at least her tablet is.”

“What if she’s injured . . . or worse?” Markus whispered.

Tremain turned to his friend.

“Have you regressed to a teenager again?” he scoffed, “you’re jumping to conclusions,” Tremain gestured to the door. “after you.”

Markus knocked on the door. There was no answer. He gripped the door handle. It buzzed in answer. Naturally, it was locked.

“Oh, it’s a biometric lock. Only Marjorie can unlock it.”

Tremain nudged Markus aside.

“Or someone with a key,” he said as he pulled a device from his lab coat. He fit it around the handle and pushed a few buttons. In seconds, the lock clicked open, pinging in acceptance. “There, we’re in.”

“Tell me we didn’t just break the law,” Markus asked.

“Of course not, who do you think helped Marjorie design that lock? Naturally, I had a back door for emergencies.”

Markus sighed in relief.

“Good. I didn’t want the authorities called down on us.”

Tremain shook his head.

“Need I remind you that YOU are one of the authorities?”

Markus chuckled.

“I suppose you’re right. Come on, let’s go in.” He pushed the door open, ready to enter, but Tremain held him back.

“Hold on, let me look first.” He said as he pushed past his friend.

“Why? What do you think you’ll see?”

Tremain stood just inside the doorway, scanning the areas he could see. No bodies visible, so that was a positive.

“I’m just seeing if there is anything out of place.”

“You’ve been here recently?”

“No, I’ve never been here, but there’s a lot you can deduce from what you see initially,” Tremain stepped into the apartment, beckoning Markus to follow, “for instance, she’s not much into decorating, is she?” He gestured to the walls, which were bare, save for a few small pictures. The furniture was functional, but not cozy. The apartment’s front door opened into the living area of the apartment. Directly in front of them was a short hallway which led to the bedrooms and bathroom and off to the right was the kitchen.

Tremain and Markus stood in the center of the living room. The coffee table was littered with some papers and pamphlets. Markus walked through the kitchen to the bedrooms while Tremain leafed through the papers. He picked one at random and frowned when he looked at it. A photo of a plot of land appeared at the top, with a description of the property below it. At the very bottom was the agent’s details. The next few papers were the same, a piece of property, some large, some small, but all were offered by the same agent. He checked the dates.

All were printed at least six or more months ago. He scratched his head as he pulled up one of the pamphlets. A brochure about a construction company. Another was regarding refrigeration processes and equipment. Tremain’s frown deepened. Markus came from the bedrooms, shaking his head.

“She’s not here. I did find her tablet, on her bed. She didn’t want to be tracked down.”

Tremain showed him the real estate listings.

“She was looking at land all over the place. And,” he pointed at the various brochures, “she was building something,” He scratched his head again, “something secret. She didn’t want anyone knowing about it or we’d have heard.”

“So what does this all mean?” Markus grumbled, “Where is she?”

Tremain crossed his arms as he thought.

“She’s definitely not on one of her sabbaticals, that’s for certain,” He paced the room, “she’s consulted with an agent for land, so I think that’s where we go next.” He stopped pacing and slapped Markus on the arm. “A perfect job for a Senator. You find out where she bought land, and I’ll investigate these disturbances.”

Markus nodded and left on his mission.

Tremain lingered just a bit, glancing around the apartment. To be honest, it reminded him of his own. He spent more time in the lab than at home, so it made sense to keep it sparce. Even in her retirement, Marjorie hadn’t made her apartment more cozy, which implied she spent more time elsewhere. Something caught his eye. In the corner of the doorway was a scattering of dirt. He knew he and Markus hadn’t tracked anything in, so where did this come from? He knelt down and felt the dirt. It had a fine grain feel to it, almost like sand. He gave it a sniff, but couldn’t detect anything. The beach wasn’t that far, definitely in walking distance. She must have brought some sand in with her when she went for a walk. Filing that away for later, he locked up the apartment and headed back to the lab.

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Terry Marchion’s Books

You can find all of Terry Marchion’s book on Amazon.

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What To Watch? Grimm

What To Watch?

Guess what? I haven’t watched any movies this weekend! Not. One. Movie. That’s a very rare occasion. Why? Because I have been working my butt off on my WIP. This didn’t mean we didn’t watch any TV at all. We did watch Grimm, and The Bing Bang Theory.  We only discovered the latter recently. But never mind TBBT, here is my take on Grimm.

Grimm

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The Cast

Grimm is the story of a homicide detective, Nick Burkhardt (played by David Giuntoli), who suddenly can see people change their image into fairytale creatures, called Wesen, when they lose their composure. They can be anything from werewolves to snakes to birds. Nick’s auntie Marie informs him, just before she dies, he’s a Grimm, a person with this special seeing abillity who must keep the balance between humans and the Wesen. Other people can’t see the Wesen unless they are a Wesen too or when the Wesen want humans to see their true self.

Nick is not alone in his new duty. In the first episode, he befriends Monroe (played by Silas Weir Mitchell) who is a Blutbad, a Wesen like a werewolf. He is the comic relief in the series but plays a major role. Nick has a work partner, Hank Griffin (played by Russell Hornsby) and a girlfriend, Juliette Silverton (played by Bitsie Tulloch). Hank and Juliette don’t know Nick is a Grimm (at least, not at the start). Nick’s Captain, Sean Renard (Sasha Roiz) also plays a major role. I have to mention sergeant Drew Wu (played by Reggie Lee) as he, too, is very funny. His humor is more subtle than that of Monroe, though.

The Plot

Every episode, Nick needs to solve a murder mystery. Very coincidentally, most murders have a Wesen involved (surprise, surprise!). All sorts of creatures pass the screen and it’s fun to see their faces change when the Wesen are upset or die (and they revert back to their human form).

The second storyline mainly depicts Nick’s relationship with the others; Monroe (who is unwilling to help at first as Grimms usually are out to kill Wesen), and Hank and Juliette (who have no idea why their partner is acting so strange lately). In season two, Juliette plays a bigger role than in season one as she gets involved in the mysteries against her will.

In the background, there’s always the ‘bigger picture’ story involving Nick’s boss Renard and his involvement with a Hexenbiest, or witch, called Adalind Shade (played by Claire Coffee). Things are happening on a more international level with them.

Likes

I like the fact that this series is about a more mature cast, not teenagers for a change. Nick is in a steady relationship with Juliette, yet the series manages to incorporate some love issues here and there.

It always amazes me how they come up with yet another type of Wesen. The creators must have a very good imagination or a damn good book on mythology.

The secrecy and love plots make you want to watch the next episode and when you’ve done that, you want to see the next one. There are some really good cliffhangers.

Dislikes

There’s always some dislikes, of course. The graphics are not the greatest. Yes, I like the facial changes of the Wesen, but they can look really fake. The fact that only the head changes (well, most of the time) also seems like a rather cheap option.

Sometimes the plot is a bit predictable, but only sometimes.

Overall

We have binge-watching nights of Grimm, going through three or four episodes per night, depending on how much time we have. We’re only in season 2 yet, and there are six seasons in total, so we still have a fair amount to feast on. Bring on the Wesen!

 

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Quoth the Raven

Thoughts on Fantasy

This morning, I came across a blog about crows and ravens in fantasy, written by Nicola on her Thoughts on Fantasy blog. It an interesting text that informs you of the black birds’ characteristics, their appearance in symbolism and mythology, as well as their occurrence in fables, poems, and literature. She also talks about the roles ravens have in fantasy stories. Check it out at Crows and Ravens in Fantasy.

My Experience with Corvids

When I lived in Australia with friends of my mother, an elderly couple, the man used to go outside with a tray of raw minced meat every afternoon. One day, I asked him what he was doing with it. He told me to join him. We sat on a bench in his front garden, and two Australian magpies came up to him. He fed them the minced meat. He told me that every day, the birds would come and wait for him to feed them the minced meat. You can imagine how perplexed I was, about the fact the birds ate minced meat, the fact that they knew what time the man would come out every day, and, of course, the fact that the man fed them the meat.

In the hamlet where I currently reside, live a clamor of rooks. I could’ve said a parliament of rooks, or a building of rooks, the other collective nouns for the noisy, black birds (see this webpage for more collective nouns for birds), but they really do make a clamor. They live on the other side of the hamlet and I hope they stay there. I rather prefer hearing the soft chirping of the smaller passerine birds over the noisy rooks.

The sound of corvids I like best is that of the Australian magpie. They’re bigger than the European magpie and have a very typical song. Waking up in the Australian bush and hearing this (incredibly intelligent) bird warble is magical!

Header photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

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One Stop Fiction Online Book Club

One Stop Fiction is the baby of OSFARG (One Stop Fiction Authors Resource Group). It is an online book club for readers and writers. They have lots of book available, amongst which 30 FREE books, 20 genres to choose from, and a competition in which you can win a kindle reader worth $110! What more could you want?

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Sign up now and enjoy the work of indie writers from all over the world. If you are a writer you can also advertise your books here. There is something for everyone!

It’s so easy, just sign up here…

This is the current list of FREE books available, if you still have any doubts about signing up 🙂 :

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Email List… :)

As I find it very hard to get away from my computer I am happy to say I have wasted my sunshine time wisely and finally made that email list for you to sign up on! Check out my Home Page for the form. I’m handing out free ebook copies to the first 25 to sign up!

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