Meet my friend, Ola

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One of the unexpected perks to being a writer is getting to know people from all over the world through my books. It’s been so much fun. Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Ola Adamska, a student from Poland. She found my books on Goodreads, read them, liked them, and has given me some wonderful reviews that she featured on her blog.

This gives my demographics a whole new perspective. So naturally I was thrilled and in turn I asked her to be interviewed for my blog.

Thanks for accepting, Ola. It’s great to have you here today. First tell us a little bit about yourself…a mini biography if you will.

I was born in Warsaw, capital of Poland. Now, I’m 22 year old girl, who love books. I’m 3rd year student at Military University of Technology. I study land surveying. As long as I can remember I love reading books, watching good movies/TV series and meeting with friends.

In February I hope to become an engineer and then go to Master studies. And of course recently I became a reviewer, I like almost all kind of books. There are only 3 genres I will never read or make a review.

Name one of your all-time favorite movies, the one you instantly recognize when it flashes across the screen, the one you stop and watch no matter how many times you’ve seen it, the one where you find yourself mouthing the dialogue along with the characters.

O my, I think it will be some of Disney movie, recently I watched Mulan and Frozen. Unlimited love for their movies, One old and one new. And for sure I rather say dialogues from books.

Name a book/author you can read again and again and always learn something new.

For sure, it will be Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop. I read it when I was, well, about 15 or 16 year old. And then I got to read it about 2 years ago and I understood characters a little bit better.Sometimes I quote even dialogues from this series!

What song or artist always makes you want to cry?

Song I always listen to when I feel like that is Hurt by Cristina Aguilera. I wish I will never feel like a girl in this song.

Name an author or authors who never fail to inspire you.

For sure it will be Sherrilyn Kenyon, with her 2 series: Dark Hunters and The League.

And also Anne Bishop. For inspiration I read these two authors.

Describe one of your favorite characters and tell us who you patterned them after and why.

It’s so hard to choose, but if I have to, it will be Daemon Sadi from Black Jewels. I do not know why I like him, It is just like that, maybe for his attitude and also way of thinking.

What is something we’ll never catch you doing?

Hmm… not enjoying playing with children. But, with no joke, meeting my friends with a gloomy mood.

What is something you’ve always wanted to do but don’t have the nerve?

I think it would be parachute jumping, I love air, but I don’t have well need of adrenaline to do so.

What is the one thing you never seem to have enough time for?

It will be reading. I have a list that contains, well about 200 books to read, but there is no enough time to do so. I usually read a book per 3/4 days. I still didn’t manage to reduce this amount. In fact I add more books to it.

Thanks again for letting us get to know you Ola. Readers, please take a minute to visit Ola’s blog or email her if you have a book you’d like her to consider reading and giving an honest review.

Blog: http://www.iliasviel.wordpress.com http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/16049918-ola-adamska

Email: olciaadamska@gmail.com

A new review and a new fan!!

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I received an unsolicited email a few weeks ago from Ola Adamska, a young college student. She expressed an interest in reading and reviewing Not Long Ago, the first book in my Time Travel series. I’m always delighted to find someone who has discovered my books and is interested in reading them. Especially someone who fits into my demographics. But it’s especially nice to learn I have a new fan from Warsaw, Poland. Long story short, she read it. She liked it. Afterwards she posted the following review on Goodreads and told me I had a new fan!

i recived this book for free in exchange for honest review. the begining is so misterious, that it make reader to think: omg why? I want to know more😉 in this book we have a lot of action and plot twists. There are happy and sad moments to share with characters. I Was afraid to find Erin little and well not being able to deal with it on her own. but she Was great!! and time thing was very sirprising to me. you will find more when you read😉 I recommend book especially to wemen wto like romances in medieval😉 and when femele character isn’t helpless😉 very good pice of work😉

What a great way to start my Tuesday.

Into the Unknown

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close encounterWhile channel surfing this weekend, I happened to catch the end of Close Encounters. Never see that movie that I don’t think of my husband. Especially now that he’s gone. It was one of his all-time favorites. I never really thought about it until today, but now I understand why.

In the movie Richard Dreyfuss plays Roy Neary, an average middle-class guy who loves his family and works hard to provide for them. Only there’s another side to his character. He still believes in magic. In the movie, when Roy experiences a close encounter, he doubts his sanity. But he can’t let it go, because deep down inside he wants it to be true. So he makes up his mind to prove it.

My husband was the same kind of man. He worked hard, took care of his family and lived a quiet life. But like Roy, there was more to him than met the eye. The casual observer never saw his keen sense of adventure. He had a fascination for the mysterious, the unexplained. The idea of travelers from another world was intriguing to him.

He would have loved the chance to do what Roy did. So it isn’t hard to visualize him on the runway at the end of the movie, all smiles. Reluctant to leave his life on earth, yet filled with nervous anticipation at the thought of going on an adventure beyond the stars.

I like to think that’s exactly what he’s doing right now. And I’m certain he’s enjoying every minute.

Someday, I’ll join him.

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Introducing Jean Davis

JeanToday I’m hosting one of my friends I met through Critique Circle. For those of you not familiar with CC, it’s a great online critique group. Jean Davis is one of the really neat people I had the pleasure of meeting. Not only is she a good writer, but she does a fantastic critique too!!

Jean Davis lives in West Michigan with her musical husband, two nerdy teenagers, and two attention-craving terriers.  When not ruining fictional lives from the comfort of her writing chair, she can be found devouring books, enjoying the offerings of  local breweries,  weeding her flower garden, or picking up hundreds of sticks while attempting to avoid the abundant snake population who also shares her yard. Her novel A Broken Race is available from Caffeinated Press, and her short fiction has appeared in the Brewed Awakenings II anthology, The 3288 Review, Bards and Sages Quarterly, Theian Journal, Acidic Fiction’s Corrosive Chronicles anthology, The First Line, Tales of the Talisman, and more.

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Here’s a taste of her work:  The lights hummed overhead, a faint buzz that hurt One-fifty-two’s ears and made him feel all jittery inside. He tiptoed quiet as a rat.

Their voices grew louder. He held his breath and pressed his back against the wall

“Who’s there?” asked a girl.

One-fifty-two leapt away from the wall. He spun around, searching for the source of the voice. Then he realized that the wall wasn’t a wall at all. It was a door with a rectangular, barred window at the top. A girl with wide brown eyes watched him from inside.

Maybe she was sad, too, and needed someone to be her stuffed dog. He puffed out his chest, trying his best to look like a Jack.

Arianne had said she didn’t want to lie with a Simple. He knew he would never bite a girl, but if this girl knew he was a Simple, she might be mad. But he wasn’t a Jack or a William, and pretending to be one would be lying. The Williams said lying was bad. His mother had said so, too.

“I’m Joshua.”

The girl’s eyebrows rose. “Is that so?” She wrapped her thin fingers around a bar and pulled herself against the door.

He glanced down the hall, but found it empty. He’d lost Jack and Arianne. Maybe this girl could take him to his mother. One-fifty-two nodded. “Can I come in?”

She scowled, looking much like a William did when he was about to beat someone. Her knuckles turned white where she grasped the bars. “You’re no Jack. Get away from my damn door.”

One-fifty-two shook his head, backing away. He didn’t want to be her stuffed dog. “But I’m Joshua. Can you come out and help me?”

“Only if you have keys, and since you’re no William, you don’t have those either. You’re a good for nothing Simple!” She beat on the door with her fists. “You don’t belong down here alone. Get out.”

William was just outside the main door. He probably had keys. If William was still sleeping, One-fifty-two could grab them. “I could let you out if you’ll be nice and help me find my-”

“Nice? You want me to be nice to you?” She turned away from the door. He heard her pacing. “I’m locked up here alone, away from my sisters, waiting for a Jack that may or may not come thanks to the Wildmen. I heard about the attack, you know. A William told us so we’d be ready if we had to be.”

“The Wildmen are gone. The Jacks scared them away.”

“Good. Too bad the Jacks didn’t scare you away too.”

“Jacks don’t scare me. They’re nice.” Williams would scare him, but they only did that when he didn’t listen right or took too long to do his job.

The girl laughed. “Why would they be nice to you? You don’t give them anything. You eat their food and you get in their way. I hear all about it when they visit me.”

“The Williams eat way more food than I do. I don’t get in their way.”

“Sure you do. You waste space in the fortress. All you damned Simples. And while you’re up there, bumbling about in the dirt, we’re stuck down here.” She slammed her hand on the door. “We should be in charge. Without us, none of you would have even been born. In your case that would have been a favor.”

His breath hitched. This girl was meaner than any William. He had no doubt that if she wasn’t locked behind her door, she’d be hitting him. Probably kicking him too. Girls shouldn’t be mean. He’d not even done anything wrong that she should be mad at him about. She shouldn’t yell at him. It wasn’t her job.

Now let’s find out a little more about her. Jean, describe what you consider your ideal writing conditions.

Writing is most productive for me when I can sit in my comfortable chair with my feet up and my laptop ready. Silence is also a big plus. I keep ear plugs next to me so that my son playing his computer games on the floor above or my husband practicing his guitar don’t bother me. Having my own writing office has been wonderful. I don’t have a clock so I don’t keep track of time, letting me get lost in the story. Chocolate is stashed within reach, because I need that when I edit, but I eat Twizzlers when I write. Oh, and I love having my own space where I can act out actions or expressions when working on description. I don’t mind my dogs watching me, but other people, well that’s just weird.

Are you a plotter, a pantser or some combination of both?

I’m a pantser. My stories, both novels and short stories, begin as with a character or what if question. I might have an opening scene in mind or maybe an ending. Then I sit down and let the words out. I’ve started with as little as a name and a genre and with as much as a single page of hastily written notes.  For me the magic in the writing comes from creating as I go. When I know what’s going to happen I get bored and easily distracted.

Somewhere around the second or third draft I finally get around to plotting, with notes and outlines and all that organized stuff because I’m working on consistency and flow and pacing by that point.  

Give us an interesting or fun fact about your book/series (one we couldn’t possibly know).

When I set out to write A Broken Race, it was with the intent to write all point of view characters as equally good and evil. I originally planned to decide who was going to be the protagonist and the antagonist after the dust of the rough draft was over. However, by that point I was rather attached to almost all of them and made the choice to keep them all as grey as possible so the reader could decide who was ultimately good or evil.

Who is your least favorite character and what makes them less appealing to you?

That would have to be the Williams. The fact that the Williams are in charge only because they’ve maneuvered their way into power made them hard to portray in the middle ground I was striving for. I may have an issue with authority figures, and even making fictional people subject to them irks me. There’s a reason I’ve always been in management and am now self employed. 

What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

When I’m not writing, I’m working…and thinking about writing because doing repetitive tasks frees up the mind to wander. By day I own a sign and graphics business and do most of the production work myself. But when I’m not working, I’m playing with my dogs, working in my yard, nagging my son (because computer games!) or volunteering for whatever my daughter is doing (usually something science or orchestra related). When I have a chance to escape my mom duties, I run to the nearest local brewery, winery or bar with my husband and friends. Why? Because there are no kids there and I have teenagers. 

What is the one thing you never seem to have enough time for?

Until recently, I would have said writing, but I’ve got a good routine going the past few months and I’m pretty satisfied with my productivity. That leaves me with reading. I have so many piles of books that I’ve gathered over the past few way to be busy years that I want to read. When we moved into our new house a year ago, I intentionally spread out my to be read stacks so they wouldn’t feel so overwhelming. There are currently four, and that’s three too many. And that doesn’t include the virtual pile on my kindle. But I’m on book two of the year so at least one stack is slightly shorter. Now, if I can just stay out of the book store.

Jean, it’s been great to have you. Come back again soon, and the best of luck on A Broken Race.

Newsflash!! Jean just got a 3 book deal from her publisher. Congratulations Jean!!

Blog:  http://www.jeanddavis.blogspot.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jeandavisauthor

Email:jeandavis71@gmail.com

Amazon: http://amazon.com/Broken-Race-Jean-Davis-ebook/dp/B01773Z03Y Direct from Caffeinated Press: http://www.caffeinated-press.com/davis/

YA Fantasy author Eric Price

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Eric is a fellow MuseItUp author. He stopped in for a visit a while back and I’m tickled to have him here again. He lives with his wife and two sons in northwest Iowa. He began publishing in 2008 when he started writing a quarterly column for a local newspaper. Later that same year he published his first work of fiction, a spooky children’s story called Ghost Bed and Ghoul Breakfast. Since then, he has written stories for children, young adults, and adults. Three of his science fiction stories have won honorable mention from the CrossTime Annual Science Fiction Contest. His first YA fantasy novel, Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud, received the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval and the Literary Classics Award for Best First Novel. His second novel, The Squire and the Slave Master, continues the Saga of the Wizards. He is a member of SCBWI.

Now let’s get to the fun part where I get to ask questions and find out a little more about my guest. Eric, describe what you consider your ideal writing conditions.

I need my desk to be clean. Even though I use a laptop, I prefer to write in my office. I typically listen to music while I write. I try to find something that fits the mood of the scene I’m writing. It works best if I’m very familiar with the song. Writing is not a time for me to check out new music.

Name a book/author you can read again and again and always learn something new.

I adore the Harry Potter books. I’ve read them countless times to myself. I’ve listened to the audio books. I’ve read the series to my oldest son, and now I’m on book three with my youngest, yet I still catch new details each time.

I love the Harry Potter books, too. They remind me of the stories that drew me in when I was  young–all mysterious, dark and magical. I wanted to live in that kind of world. Tell us about your current WIP.

My current WIP is titled A Wizard Reborn, and it will be the third and final volume in my Saga of the Wizards series. In Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud, Owen and Yara went on an adventure together. In The Squire and the Slave Master, Yara got her own book. This one is Owen’s solo project. It takes place at the exact same time as The Squire and the Slave Master, so I’m finding it harder to write than I had imagined (and I imagined it would be tough)

What is the best compliment you ever received as an author?

“I read your book.” Okay, it may sound like I’m taking the easy way out here, but think about it. Someone dedicated several hours of their time, time they could have done any number of things, including read a different book, to read your book. They are four simple words, but they hold a lot of weight.

You are absolutely right. What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

As a family, we travel a lot. And we usually drive where we’re going. When the kids get restless, I sometimes feel like pulling out my remaining hair, but when their teachers tell me how much they contribute to their classroom discussions with personal experience stories, I know it’s worth it. Last summer we took a road trip covering Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, back to Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and finally back home to Iowa. We redefined tired by the end of that one.

What is the one thing you never seem to have enough time for?

Cheesy Answer Alert! Okay, I warned you. I never have enough time to write. But the bottom line is, for me, writing doesn’t pay the bills. So when something has to get cut, either because I’m out of time or because I’m too tired to do anything productive, it’s usually writing.

Yeah, I hear you. There are only so many hours in the day. Sometimes things we enjoy have to get put on the back burner, don’t they?

Folks, here’s an excerpt from Book Two of Saga of the Wizards: The Squire and The Slave Master.

The Squire and the Slave Master 333x500“I don’t know how long I’ll be gone.” Yara cut the fat from an emmoth rib. “I don’t suppose anyone knows. It will take as long as needed to end the slavery.”

Her mother pushed her mostly untouched meal around her plate. “I’d prefer you didn’t go. It sounds dangerous.”

“Mother, these people are engaging in slavery. Not farm animals forced to work, they’re humans.”

“I understand. I’m not saying we shouldn’t intervene. I’m just not sure why you have to go.”

“King Kendrick and Owen think an undercover magician could give us an advantage. I agree with them. Besides, I want to go. I need to get away from here for a while. Plus, I’m an adult now. You can’t tell me what to do.” Chancing a glance at her father, she hoped she hadn’t upset him again. Their earlier argument had been mostly in jest, but the comment she made about her brother must have stung.

Instead of looking angry, he leaned back in his chair and chewed his emmoth meat. When he finished, he grinned. “Don’t get upset, Kamala. At least she told us she planned on leaving this time.”

“When I left in search of Owen and Cedric, I didn’t have time to tell you. This time we have a plan.” Yara chewed her last piece of rib meat. She’d snuck out after her parents had turned in for the night.

She could usually count on her father to have a level head…when he wasn’t provoking her about a woman’s place in the world.

Her mother cleared her uneaten food from the table. “I don’t presume to tell you what to do. I just want to make sure you’ve considered all the aspects of the mission.”

“To the best of my ability, I have considered all aspects. First, I have to travel as a boy. Aside from my appearance, I shouldn’t have trouble with this. My best friend is a boy, and I’ve never had much interest in girly activities. And why would I? As a child, playing with dolls couldn’t compare to chasing piglets through the muddy stockyards.”

Her mother’s eyes lightened for the first time that evening. “You also don’t care much for washing clothes. If you did, you’d have realized most of the mess you got into in the stockyards wasn’t mud in the truest sense.”

She laughed. “Fair enough. Now my second concern, while traveling as a boy, I’m best to not get caught. Big burly men, out to sea for several days, may have more interest in a helpless girl than just someone to whom they could confide their deepest secrets.” She grinned, raised her hand above her head, and caused a blue flame to burst forth from her palm. “Good thing I’m not a helpless girl.”

As long as they don’t attack me in my sleep.

Her father collected the dirty dishes.

Yara helped him clear the table. “If I can keep my façade, the trip should sail by, so to speak. Once we get to Buisna, we’ll have to find the ruler of the slave operation. I suppose this could present itself as a difficult task, but at least I won’t have to do it alone.”

Of course there’s always the question of what we’ll find in Buisna. Why does a country the size of the Western Domain need our help? How large is this new country? How many people are there to fight? The military of the Central Domain is weakened from the attack by the Wizard Rebellion. Why would King Kendrick decide to send troops at a time like this? Do they know, or suspect, more than Owen told me?

With the table cleared of dishes, Yara stretched and yawned. “Now, if you don’t mind, I think I’ll retire to bed early tonight. Shoeing that horse wore me out, and I need to get some thorough rest before my training tomorrow.” She hugged her mother. “Everything will work out. King Kendrick and Owen will have a strategy planned for the whole mission.”

A loud, rapid knocking at the front door startled her. Answering it, she found Owen standing with a man about his same size but a few years older, donned in the armor of the King’s Sentry

Owen glanced around the room, his eyes wide and observant but clear of any panic. “Yara, you have to come to Innes Castle now. The plans have changed. You’re leaving tonight.”

If you haven’t had a chance, read the first book in Eric’s series. Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud is where the story begins. Unveiling the Wizards Shroud 300ppi

Muse It Up Publishing (both)
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OmniLit (eBook)

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Readers, thanks so much for stopping by. If you get the chance please check out Eric’s blog  https://authorericprice.com/ for a peek at my newest book, Xander’s Tangled Web due out April 26th.

 

Dinner And A Movie Monday – Legends of the Fall

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LEGENDS OF THE FALL is a film is about life in Montana in the early 20th century and how nature, history, war and love affect the lives of the Ludlow family. The film begins the decade before WWI, takes us through Prohibition era and into the 30s. Along with his three sons, Colonel William Ludlow, played by Anthony Hopkins who is one of my favorite actors, retires and takes up ranching. Alfred, the eldest, is responsible and cautious; Tristan, the Colonel’s favorite son, is wild and well versed in American Indian traditions; Samuel, the youngest, is educated but naive and constantly watched over by his brothers. Susannah is the young woman who loves each of them.

When Samuel returns from the east with his fiancée Susannah, she is captivated by the land and the Ludlow family. She loves Samuel but finds Tristan captivating. Before they can marry, Samuel joins the army, along with Alfred. Tristan does as well, but only to protect his brothers.

Samuel dies during a reconnaissance mission. Tristan tries to save him, but he’s too late. He cannot forgive himself. Susannah comforts him, and they become lovers. A jealous Alfred leaves home to make his name. Tristan leaves Montana for several years. Susannah patiently waits for him, only to receive a letter coldly telling her to marry someone else. She settles for Alford.

This story is about three brothers’ love for the same woman and how everyone has to learn to live with the choices they make. The scenery is gorgeous and the acting is wonderful, but the story always leaves me feeling less than satisfied. Maybe it’s because none of the characters seem to be able to decide what they really want out of life.

baked beans~ BAKED BEANS~

Baked Beans and Potato Salad are summer staples at our house. We serve them with grilled steak, hot dogs, burgers and barbecue.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: Makes about 16 servings.

  • ½ pound bacon, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium to large red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup chopped green onions
  • 3 (16-ounce) Pork and Beans
  • Kosher salt & fresh coarse ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup BBQ Sauce
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • ¾ cup unsulphured molasses
  • ¾ cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon or spicy grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro or 1 tablespoon fresh
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • For the Optional Topping
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 4 tablespoons light or dark brown sugarIn a large frying pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until browned and just about crispy, about 5 minutes. Reserve rendered bacon fat in pan. Add onion and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in chopped red bell pepper and green onions; sauté until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside. Add all of the sauce ingredients to the bowl or stock pot with the bean mixture. Stir well to incorporate. Using rubber spatula, scrap and pour mixture, evenly dividing, into baking dishes.
  • Bake in preheated oven until sauce has thickened, is bubbling and cooked through, about 90 minutes. If desired, top each with four bacon slices and sprinkle light brown sugar over the bacon after 30 minutes of baking. Remove from oven and transfer to cooling rack to rest before serving, about 5 minutes.
  • Combine beans in large bowl or stock pot; season with salt and pepper. Scrape bacon and vegetable mixture into beans. Season with salt and pepper; stir well to incorporate.
  • Preparation

 

Sarah Jayne Townsend

sara-122Sara Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror, and someone tends to die a horrible death in all of her stories.  She was born in Cheshire in 1969, but spent most of the 1980s living in Canada after her family emigrated there.  She now lives in Surrey with two cats and her guitarist husband Chris.  She co-founded the T Party Writers’ Group in 1994, and remains Chair Person.

She drew on her own background to create Canadian actress and contemporary amateur sleuth Shara Summers. The first two novels in the Shara Summers series, DEATH SCENE and DEAD COOL are available now from MuseItUp Publishing (https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/our-authors/70-our-authors/authors-t/420-sara-jayne-townsend). The third book, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, will be released by MuseItUp in 2017.

Learn more about Sara and her writing at her website (http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com) and her blog (http://sayssara.wordpress.com) and buy her books from Amazon (UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B003QROE8S & US http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003QROE8S).

You can also follow her on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarajtownsend) and Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3500282.Sara_Jayne_Townsend) or join her Facebook Group, “Imaginary Friends” (https://www.facebook.com/groups/301037281383).

Death Scene 200x300Poking around in family closets produces skeletons… 

British-born, Toronto-based, actress Shara Summers turns amateur sleuth when her sister is stricken with a mysterious illness. Summoned back to England to be with her family during a time of crisis, Shara discovers doctors are at a loss as to what’s causing Astrid’s debilitating sickness. 

After her aunt is found dead at the bottom of the stairs the death is deemed an accident. Shara suspects otherwise. Her investigation unearths shocking family secrets and a chilling realization that could have far-reaching and tragic consequences that affect not only her own future, but Astrid’s as well.

 

DEATH SCENE is coming 22 September from MuseItUp Publishing:

https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/coming-soon/death-scene-detail

~EXCERPT~

Ruth sat in her rocking chair watching the television–which was probably about ten years old, and appeared to be the most modern thing in the room.   She was wearing a blue floral dress, with a patchwork blanket over her knees.  I had seen that dress before.  Her hairstyle hadn’t changed, either–her white hair was thinning, and she wore it short and curly, in the style of old ladies everywhere.  When we came in she looked up, a toothless smile breaking out over her face.  She had dentures that she never wore–something else she only saved for special occasions.  As a child, Ruth had appeared very scary to me on the occasions she wore her dentures because we just weren’t used to seeing her with them.

My mother went up to Ruth and leaned in to give her a kiss on her soft wrinkled cheek.  “How are you, Auntie Ruth?” she said loudly.  Ruth’s hearing had been going even back then.  She must be virtually deaf by now.

The house was freezing.  The only source of heat was a three-bar electric fire on the floor by Ruth’s feet.

“I’m doing all right, dear,” Ruth said.  Her voice was husky, ravaged by age and lack of use.  “Mustn’t complain.”

Summer, still in my mother’s arms, began to cry and squirm, no doubt intimidated by the presence of this ancient lady.  “Who’s this?” Ruth said, stroking one of Summer’s chubby legs.

“This is Summer,” Mum said.  “This is my granddaughter.  You’ve met Summer.  Astrid’s daughter.”

Ruth frowned.  “Astrid?  Your little one?”

“Not a little girl any more, Auntie Ruth.  She’s all grown up now.”  Mum pointed in my direction.  “This is my other daughter, Shara.  Do you remember?  Shara lives in Canada.”

Ruth was staring at me, frowning.  There was no indication that she recognised me.  “It’s been a long time,” she said eventually.

“Hello Auntie Ruth,” I said.

“Have you taken your pills, Auntie Ruth?” my mother asked.

Ruth frowned in concentration.  “Pills?  Think so.  Can’t remember, you know.  My memory’s not what it was.”

My mother thrust the crying child into my arms.  “Watch Summer for a moment, Shara.  I’m going to make Auntie Ruth some lunch.”  And off she went into the kitchen.

I sat down in the faded armchair and bounced Summer on my knee.  She kept crying.  Ruth stared fixedly at the television.  There seemed to be an Australian soap opera on.  I couldn’t tell which one.  I wasn’t a fan, and they all looked the same to me.  “So what are you watching, Auntie Ruth?”

“Eh?”  She swivelled round to stare at me.

I raised my voice.  “The television.  What are you watching?”

“Oh, I don’t know, dear.  I watch everything.  Keeps me company, you know.”  And she lapsed back into silence, staring at the television.  A couple of minutes went by and then she said suddenly, “they’re stealing from me, you know.”

“Who?”

“They’re stealing from me.”  Ruth continued to stare at the television.  I wasn’t at all sure she was even aware of anyone else in the room.  I stood up with Summer in my arms and hurriedly went to find my mother in the kitchen.

 

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They were dying to be famous. And someone was prepared to kill for it…

Actress Shara Summers has settled in London and is “between jobs” when her Canadian ex-boyfriend David sails back into her life, begging to her to fill the backing singer vacancy in the up and coming band he’s about to go on a European tour with.  Short on funds and auditions Shara reluctantly agrees, but tragedy strikes at the opening night party when the band’s charismatic front man Dallas Cleary Anderson falls to his death from a hotel window.  It soon becomes clear that Dallas did not fall, but was pushed.  His arrogant and confrontational manner means there are no shortage of people who wanted him out of the band permanently – but who would resort to murder?

 

~EXCERPT~

“You just don’t get it, do you?”  David yelled.  “You don’t own the world.  You can’t swan around doing whatever the hell you please!”

“You’re just jealous because the lady prefers me to you!” Dallas shouted.

I jumped up and hurried over to the table.

David pointed a finger at Dallas.  “You’re unbelievable.  You just walk in and take what you want.  You can’t treat people that way”

“You’re just sore because your little plan backfired,” Dallas sneered.

David took a step forward, his hands clenched into fists.  As he and Dallas stood off against each other, I sidled in alongside the table and linked my arm through Astrid’s.  She offered no resistance, staring at the two men standing each other down.

“What the hell do you mean?” David demanded.

“Oh come on, it’s obvious.  Trying to make your ex-girlfriend jealous by making the moves on her sister.  But neither of them is interested in you and that just pisses you off.”

Sara-Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror.  She was born in Cheshire in 1969, but spent most of the 1980s living in Canada after her family emigrated there.  She now lives in Surrey with two cats and her guitarist husband Chris.  She co-founded the T Party Writers’ Group in 1994, and remains Chair Person.

The first two books in her amateur sleuth series about Canadian actress Shara Summers – DEATH SCENE and DEAD COOL – are available from MuseItUp Publishing. She is currently writing the third book.

Today we have the pleasure of interviewing Shara Summers. She is the main character in Sara Jayne Townsend’s contemporary amateur sleuth novels.

We’re all dying to know about you, Shara. Give  us a quick history.

I’m half British, half Canadian. Born in the UK, moved to Canada with my folks when I was young. My mother returned to the UK when she and my dad divorced, with my sister Astrid. I was seventeen and about to start my university education in Toronto so I stayed with my dad. I moved back to England a couple of years ago, and I’m settled here now.

Sounds like you’ve done some traveling. Now that you’re back in the UK, what do you do for a living?

I’m an actress. Or I try to be. It’s not always easy to make enough to get by. Between acting jobs I do whatever I can to pay the bills. Bar work. Office temping. Recently I was offered a job as a backing singer in my ex-boyfriend’s band. That really didn’t end well. Let’s not go there. 

An actress, eh? How exciting. Now, tell me what you look like. Are you short or tall?

Very average, unfortunately. I’d like to be a statuesque blonde, or redhead like Nicole Kidman maybe. You can do a lot to change your appearance in the acting game, but you can’t do much about your height. 

That’s true. I guess I never thought about it like that. What’s your preferred mode of transportation?

Living in South London I get by on train, bus or underground. I can’t really afford a car at the moment, and parking round where I live is a constant problem. Fortunately it’s pretty easy to get around London on public transport.

What are you most comfortable wearing?

My old jeans and a sweatshirt. I know that’s not the right answer for an actress. We’re meant to be glamorous. But clothes to me are costumes. Even when I’m not on stage, I feel like I’m playing a role. When I’m at an audition or a promotional event, I have to wear clothes that give the right image. Only when I’m at home do I get to be me, and that’s when the jeans come out.

Very true. What’s your favorite drink?

I like a nice glass of white wine. Chardonnay or sauvignon blanc.

How about food? What’s your favourite dish?  

I’m very partial to Marmite on Toast. For anyone not in the UK, that’s a yeast-based spread. It sounds disgusting but I love it. You can’t buy Marmite in Canada, so when I lived there I used to get my mother to ship it out to me from the UK.

Tell me. Who is your BFF?

My best friend is Helen Grayson, and we’ve been friends since primary school. When I lived in Canada and she was in the UK we wrote copious letters to each other. Since I moved back to the UK we’ve reconnected, but even though we now live quite near each other it’s still hard to find time for each other. She’s a doctor and works long shifts, and I have to go where the work takes me. We try to make a point of catching up every couple of months or so. She’s probably the person who knows me best, outside my family. When we were kids we were always putting on plays for our folks. Of course I always had to have the starring role. And Helen always let me get my own way on that. She knew I was going to be a diva, even back then.

Thanks for coming and sharing, Shara. We’re looking forward to reading all about your adventures.

 

 

A Visit With Lauren

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We’re in for a treat today. I’m welcoming Barbara Ehrentreu back for a return visit. She’s brought along the main character from her newest books and has graciously consented to interview her for us. But first let’s learn a little bit about Barbara.

Barbara at Fairfield Bookstore signing headshot

Barbara at Fairfield Bookstore signing headshot

Barbara Ehrentreu grew up in Brooklyn and moved to Queens. She has lived and taught in Long Island, Buffalo, NY and Westchester, NY as well as a year in Los Angeles, CA. She has a Masters Degree in Reading and Writing K-12. Currently she is retired from teaching, tutoring, and living in Stamford, CT with her family. If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor won second prize in Preditors & Editors as Best Young Adult Book for 2011. It was inspired by Paula Danziger for her children’s writing workshop at Manhattanville College. Her second book, After, considers what can happen to a teen when her father becomes ill with a heart attack. It is based on her own experiences when her husband had a heart attack and the aftermath of what she and her family experienced. She is preparing the sequel to If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, Who Is Jennifer Taylor? Barbara also writes poetry and several of her poems are published in the anthologies, World Poetry Open Mic, Prompted: An International Collection of Poetry, Beyond the Dark Room, Storm Cycle and Backlit Barbell. She has a blog, Barbara’s Meanderings, and she hosts a radio show on Blog Talk Radio, Red River Radio Tales from the Pages, once a month. She is a member of Pen Letters and SCBWI.

Interview with Lauren Walstein from After by Barbara Ehrentreu

Today we have the pleasure of getting to know a little more about Lauren Walstein, who is the main character of After by Barbara Ehrentreu. Since this is one of Lauren’s first interviews she has asked that her author interview her.

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My name is Lauren and I am from Mill Valley. I love to play softball and I’m a pitcher on my school’s team. In the book I’m fifteen, a sophomore and I’m hoping to get a scholarship to go to college. My parents told me I can’t go if I don’t. My father is a lawyer and my mother works for an advertising agency. I’m pretty tall. My hair is short and kind of a dark brown. I don’t think about it much. My pet peeve is letting oil trucks on the highway. Blue is my favorite color. I don’t drive so I usually go with my sister, Diane, my parents or Joey. I am most comfortable wearing jeans and a tee shirt or tank top. I like to listen to all kinds of music, but the song I love because it means Joey is calling is: “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”. I know it’s corny but it fits him. My favorite drink is diet soda and my favorite thing to eat is mini chocolate-chip pancakes. My best friends are Joey and Jenny. I would have to say my nemesis is Amber Goldstein. Ooooh!!!

Barbara: Lauren has gone through a very turbulent year. I’ll let her tell you about all that happened.

Lauren: Um, hi. I’m not sure who is here, but Barbara told me a lot of people would read about me, so I’m a little nervous. I come from a pretty small town in upstate New York, Mill Valley. I’m still in high school. When everything happened I was a sophomore. Now I’m a senior and getting ready to graduate this year.

Barbara: Why don’t you tell everyone what happened to you the first month of your sophomore year?

Lauren: Well, um, yeah I’ll try to remember. Do you want me to start at the beginning?

Barbara: Yes. Tell us everything that happened. You know with your father and Joey.

Lauren: Okay, but I might start crying, because I always do when I have to tell this story. Is that okay?

Barbara: We can’t see you. So just start talking. You can stop if it gets to be too much!!

Lauren: So it all started with me watching the Mets play on TV. They had a good chance to win the pennant that year and so I was really hoping it would happen, but they were losing this game. I’m a pitcher on the softball team, so I take baseball seriously. Just as I was getting so tired and the score was so ridiculous I decided to go to sleep. I put one foot on the first step and the phone rang. I picked it up, because it was right near me and it was my dad. Only he didn’t sound right and wanted to speak to mom. So I gave the phone to her and started upstairs until I heard mom saying: “You have indigestion and back pains?” So I ran back downstairs and Diane came right behind me. We both got close to Mom who was hysterical. She kept saying how Dad needed to go to a hospital and then she called our doctors and they agreed. So she called Dad back and he said he would. I won’t go into everything she said, but I really think my life changed with that phone call. So I started thinking of life as before the phone call and after the phone call. Before it was all me thinking about lunch and my baseball mitt, winning the next game and Joey and after the call I felt like my world had shattered and everything changed. I mean everything!!

Barbara: Are you okay to keep talking Lauren?

Lauren: Yeah, I guess. I’ll skip over this part, because I don’t like to think about it too much, but Dad went to the hospital and they said he had a heart attack after we had been there for hours. Then in the morning they moved him to a new room and then another hospital. He had to have

bypass surgery and they didn’t do it at that hospital. All I remember is being in the hospital and then getting into a car and going to another hospital and then that hospital was so stupid they didn’t even have good chairs in the waiting room and it was awful. Dad had to wait too long and …. You know I don’t think I can talk about this. You know….

Barbara: Yes. It’s okay. Tell us about Joey.

Lauren: Oh, Joey. He’s like my best friend since kindergarten and before this year we did everything together. But during the summer he met Amber and they started going out. So I saw him practically never. But he was really nice when he heard my dad was in the hospital and when I was with him I started to feel more than friends if you know what I mean. Like I liked him as a guy and a friend too. It got really complicated because Joey wanted to be with me too, but he had to deal with Amber.

Barbara: That does sound complicated. How did you handle it?

Lauren: Well, when I was BFF’s with only Joey I didn’t have any girl friends. So when I really needed a friend an old friend who helped me though I hadn’t talked to her since elementary school, her name is Jenny, she got me through school. As we got closer I realized how I had missed a real girl friend and it was all good.

Barbara: What happened with Amber?

Lauren: Do we have to talk about her? I can’t talk about her and really if Joey were here he would tell me not to think about her. She’s a non-person to me.

Barbara: Well, thank you very much Lauren for telling us about your experience and anyone who would like to learn more will have to go and read After to find out the whole story.

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“After” is a story about the struggles Lauren Walstein, a fifteen-year-old girl, has to go through when her father suddenly has a heart attack and undergoes bypass surgery. In one phone call her life changes completely. Lauren is a character with whom most teens will relate. Her best friend since kindergarten, Joey, is going out with her enemy and they have grown apart. Before the phone call all she thought about was getting a scholarship for softball, and the Mets. Suddenly she must deal with both her father’s illness and being in school. The demands on her from both ends complicate the story. In the middle of all this, she finds she is developing feelings for her best friend that are more than friendly. Is he feeling the same or is he just comforting her? In addition there is Joey’s mean girl friend Amber, who doesn’t appreciate Lauren being in the picture. Will Lauren’s father recover? How will Lauren cope with her new feelings for Joey?

Excerpt: Chapter One

The phone rang as the ball left the pitcher’s glove and I glanced toward the sound. Mom’s tears made me forget all about the game. My life changed while the TV blurred and turned into a nightmare kaleidoscope. That moment has been indelibly pressed into my thoughts.

My sister, Diane, was upstairs hunched over her computer as usual. She’s not a baseball fan at all. But I lived and breathed for the Mets that fall. They had such a great chance of getting the pennant and maybe even winning the World Series. I obsessed about the Mets, and of course, Joey.

Joey, my best friend from kindergarten, was always there for me. It’s hard to imagine a recess without him by my side. He’s bigger than I am and always looked a little older than he was. Mom liked Joey because he reassured her he would obey her rules. Maybe it was his easy smile or his clear, gray eyes.

Lately, though, Joey and I haven’t been so close. It happened during the summer when he was a counselor at this camp and he hooked up with this girl, Amber, who goes to our school. So now he spends a lot of his time with her and we barely see each other. We used to watch the Mets together all the time, too. So I missed him being there with me, and his comments about the players. But all that was before the phone call. Pre-phone call my deepest thoughts centered on the Mets and finding the sweet spot for the ball in my new baseball glove. Pre-phone call, my world was worrying about homework getting done and wondering what lunch would be like on Monday. Oh, and of course, thinking about how to beat the next team we were up against in softball. I’m a starting pitcher this year and I want to show my coach she can believe in me. I’m only a sophomore, but I hopesomeday to play college softball. I need to get a scholarship in order to go. My parents have already told me they can’t swing it without one.

After the phone call my life was a ball of twisted emotions and all I could think about was Dad, and how Mom, Diane, and I would get through this night.

After:

MuseItUp Publishing:     http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/young-adult/after-detail Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/After-Barbara-Ehrentreu-ebook/dp/B00NDYDC3C/ref=la_B00J0URGVM_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1418409175&sr=1-2 For Nook on Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/after-barbara-ehrentreu/1120349821?ean=2940046242980

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If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor: (print and ebook) MuseItUp Publishing: http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/museityoung/if-i-could-be-like-jennifer-taylor-detail Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/If-Could-Like-Jennifer-Taylor-ebook/dp/B005NWRLL6/ref=la_B00J0URGVM_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1418409175&sr=1-1

For Nook on Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/reviews/If-I-Could-Be-Like-Jennifer-Taylor%2FBarbara-Ehrentreu/1105870667?csrfToken=7tl0EbMuS9kryS71CGU8jWQqfAkqgZfa&sort=3#reviews

Blog: Barbara’s Meanderings: http://barbaraehrentreu.blogspot.com

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/BarbaraEhrentreu

Twitter: https://twitter.com/barbehr

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4797564.Barbara_Ehrentreu Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/edit?trk=hb_tab_pro_top

Thank you all so much for coming. I haven’t read After, but if it’s anything like her last book, If I could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, I can say you will not be disappointed. While you’re out an about, please run by Barbara’s blog at http://barbaraehrentreu.blogspot.com for a peek at my newest book Xander’s Tangled Web.