Category Archives: books

A Vacation Horror by Thornton Cline

I am still standing today after 11 near death experiences.

I am still standing today after 11 near death experiences.

In my last blog, I shared about how I should have died when I was only two-years-old, which is documented in Chapter Two: A Toddler Almost Lost of my Indigo Sea Press debut book, “Not My Time to Go”.
In Chapter Three: A Vacation Horror, I had just finished third grade. Summer had begun, and I was headed to the lovely, pristine beaches of Mathews County, Virginia with my sister, Robin and my parents. We ventured out in our 1959 green Rambler and headed east to the beach. We were cruising down Interstate 64 East, singing songs and sharing stories of how great our vacation would be.
The sun was quickly setting as we took the New Kent County exit and headed down a lonely, two-lane highway, Route 33. It was now very dark.
“Keep your eyes on the road,” my mother warned.
There was an eerie fog that had settled on the highway. It was so dark that even two bright headlights looked like tiny candles flickering in the night. The road creepily wound beneath large trees which draped over the road. It was very rural and there was no one around for miles. Everyone in the car was silent and still. For Robin and me, it was a scary place to be.
All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a bright light flashed down on the right-hand side of the highway.

Phyllis screamed. “Bob, watch out for those poles.”
My dad swerved left, now seeing for himself the long poles jutting out in front of us. It happened so fast that no one had time to think. Bob steered to the side of the road and slammed on the brakes, taking us from 60 mph to zero in seconds. Robin and I were thrown as the car stopped. We were stunned. Speechless, we sat there in the dark trying to catch a breath. I was shaking violently. I never demonstrated much outward affection for my sister. But that night, I reached over to Robin and held her close, comforting her.
We stared at each other like zombies, slowly realizing that we were alive and in one piece. We had no cuts, scratches or bruises, nor any broken bones. We stepped out of our car and noticed the long skid marks our car had burned onto the left lane.
There was an old construction truck parked awkwardly in a rough dirt driveway. No one was in the vehicle, which was sitting perpendicular to the road. It seemed strange for someone to leave a truck parked like that, its back end barely clearing the right lane. There was no note left on the truck nor was there a rag attached to the truck indicating that it was broken down.
We looked closer and realized that passing that truck would have been fatal for us. We stared in disbelief—jutting out the back of the truck were eight long four-inch wide solid steel poles.
The truck had been parked in such a way that the poles extended over the entire right hand lane of the dark two-lane highway. These poles stuck out low enough so that if Bob hadn’t swerved to the left lane when Phyllis screamed, they would have cut off the top of our car. We would have instantly been killed, our head severed from our torsos.
Then a strong wave of peace flooded my body. I felt like I had been touched by the hand of God. I felt renewed by a new sense of confidence and purpose. At that moment, I felt reassured that I could go on with my life know I was protected by God and His angels.

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Things I learned about books and bookstores by Sheila Deeth

I run a local writers’ group. When I mentioned a free online seminar about getting books into indie and gift stores, one of the members suggested I take the class and report back. I suspect I wasn’t the right candidate for the lesson though, because in my other life I’m a mathematician. Still, it wasn’t all bad. Here’s my report:

  1. Sales are up at least 5% in indie bookstores. (Is this global, national, or average sales figures per store? Does the fact that many stores have closed affect the number?)
  2. Over 700 new indie book and gift stores have opened in 6 years (but how many have closed? And why does 100 a year sound such a small number to me?)
  3. Indie stores are where bestseller lists get their numbers from. (Great, but where do non-bestsellers go?)
  4. Indie stores hand-sell (as long as you can persuade them to read, stock and sell your book)
  5. People who look in indie stores often buy from Amazon afterward, thus raising your Amazon ranking (so much for hand-sold. I want to support indie stores!)
  6. Indie stores are community centers. People meet and talk. (Very true. I LOVE INDIE stores! Just wish I could sell my books in them).

Then came the really important stuff: Indie stores don’t exist to help you. You have to prove YOU can help THEM. Which you do by…

  1. Making the buyer’s job easy
    1. Easy ordering (preferably from a major distributor)
    2. Easy payment
    3. Easy returns
  2. Make sure the buyer can find the book and contact you
    1. Info sheet with your phone number
    2. email
    3. and address
    4. plus the book’s ISBN
    5. plus BRIEF info about it.
  3. Describe how YOU will drive sales to the store
    1. “I’m going to talk on the radio and I’ll tell everyone they can buy it from you.”
    2. “I’m going to bring the radio host to your store.”
    3. “I have tons of endorsements and reviews that you can quote from in shelf materials. The book will sell itself.”
    4. “I’m going to be featured in all these magazines.”
    5. (I think they missed the step about how I get the radio to interview me, how I get those endorsements and reviews if I’m still trying to find readers, how I persuade those magazines to feature me… Maybe all that’s in the not-free seminars I can’t afford to follow up on.)

Then came the mathematical finale…

  1. If 200 stores stock your book (200! My first novel was stocked in three)
  2. And sell 4 or 5 copies each per month (In 6 months I sold one)
  3. You’ll sell 1000 copies in a month, which pushes you up the lists and means
  4. More stores will stock your book
  5. Thus meaning more stores sell 4 or 5 per month (because, of course, those first 200 stores will continue selling it, won’t they?)
  6. And you’ll make a real-world salary, plenty to live on, in your first year!

Bumping straight back down to reality, the radio will interview me, magazines will feature me, and readers will look for me if I’m famous or have sold lots of books. Meanwhile the indie store closest me closed. I only sold one book. And pyramids are still pyramids, even when they’re made of dreams.

The best advice, of course, is to write a book that people will read, and I hope you’ll read mine.

Sheila Deeth is the author of Infinite Sum, recently released by Indigo Sea. If you think she suffers from low self-esteem after reading this, please improve her self-confidence by reading and reviewing her novel. And if you or your loved ones are weighed down by things that happened in the past, this novel just might help you understand.

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My First Book Signing

So, I had my first book signing this month.  Luckily for me it was a very casual laid back affair.  I would have felt completely awkward with any kind of crowd.  My neighbor and friend, who runs the local lumber store in our small town, graciously agreed to host me in a combination wine tasting and book signing event.

If you are not familiar with small town Manitoba, one of the things that separate it from the urban cities is that small town businesses like grocery and lumber stores can be a licenced Liquor Mart retailer.

Armed with a box of books and boxes of cheese and crackers and some one-bite brownies (that we were fancy enough to serve out of the boxes), I was set up at a table sandwiched between displays, a stack of boxes, and shelves.

Although it was a Wednesday, we failed in advertising it in advance (my printer is DOA), and it is a very small town, we had a fairly steady stream of traffic – for a small town lumber store on a Wednesday night.

We got to visit with neighbors who we seldom see, and I even sold a few books.  Seven books, in fact.  Much more than I thought I would.

I call this first ever Sanford wine tasting and book signing event a success.  I even left signed copies behind on sale on consignment.

We discussed doing a second book signing before Christmas.  Maybe this time I’ll find a way to print up some posters in advance.

It’s small, and it’s a start, but even the writers who are big today started small somewhere.  With luck, I’ll find more nooks and crannies to have book signings over winter.

Maybe I’ll even sell another seven books.

 

Can you handle a little darkness?

Follow The Woods installments

L.V. Gaudet is the author of Where the Bodies Are and The McAllister Farm
where the bodies are

 

What kind of dark secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions? Find out in Where the Bodies Are.

 

The McAllister Farm-cover 1

 

Take a step back in time to learn the secret behind the bodies in Where the Bodies Are:  The McAllister Farm reveals the secrets behind the man who created the killer.

 

Link to purchase these books by L.V. Gaudet

Link to reviews of Where the Bodies Are on Angie’s Diary

Follow L. V. Gaudet:

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Interview with Steve Hagood, Author of CHASING THE WOODSTOCK BABY

woodstock-copy

Welcome, Steve. What is your book about?

Retired Detroit police detective Chase is approached by a nice old lady who asks him to find the baby she had, and lost, at Woodstock. The search takes Chase to a small town in Michigan that has a secret that it has been hiding for four decades. The man who runs the town will go to any lengths, including murder, to keep the secret.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I have always been fascinated with Woodstock. When I heard the legend of the Woodstock baby I wondered what had happened to it. Why has nobody ever come forward to claim to be the baby, or the mother? My imagination took over from there.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

Obviously, my protagonist Chase is my main and favorite character. A lot of Private Investigators in novels have a sidekick who acts as his foil – dark, mysterious, the guy who does the dirty work – Spenser and Hawk, Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. Chase is both of those guys rolled into one. He is the wise cracking, lovable guy who isn’t afraid to do the dirty work.

Sarge and Sally are Chase’s partners in the bar he owns. Sarge was Chase’s training officer when he joined the Detroit Police. He still acts as a mentor and a steadying influence. Sally is the brains of the operation. She acts as Chase’s de facto research department. She doubles as the female, creating sexual tension between the two.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

Yes. I had to do quite a bit of research for this book. The internet is a wonderful tool for a writer. It can transport you to any place and any time you want. I was able to put myself at Woodstock through pictures and stories. Hopefully my writing puts the reader there with me.

What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

I don’t really have a schedule. I have a day job and a family so it’s not always easy to find time to write. I write when I can. I live by the mantra “Writers write” to push myself to write something every day, even if it’s just a few paragraphs or sentences.

What are you working on right now?

I recently finished another Chase novel, titled Cold Dark Places. Hopefully we will see it soon from Indigo Sea Press. It’s a story about a college girl missing in Detroit, and the basketball player implicated in her disappearance.

What was the first story you remember writing?

I didn’t start writing until about thirty. The first story I wrote was a ghost story. I don’t know why. It’s the only ghost story I’ve ever written. It was about a group of friends on a fishing trip who were haunted by the ghost of a Civil War soldier. It wasn’t very good, but it was a lot of fun to write.

Where do you get the names for your characters?

Names are tough. One of the techniques I use is to open up the internet and use the first name that I see, if it fits the character that I need to name. I head up a scholarship given by my graduating class to the high school we graduated from. I offered my former classmates their name in a book in exchange for a donation to the scholarship. I had a couple people who wanted to see their name in a book, so it worked out for me, for them, and the scholarship.

What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?

The most surprising aspect of writing, for me, is when the story builds upon itself. Sometimes I feel like a stenographer. I’m just the guy typing the words, the story is writing itself. In The Woodstock Baby there is a scene where Chase is questioning a suspect, the suspect denies any involvement and Chase says, “We have a witness!” I thought, “Wow, there’s a witness!” I didn’t know there was a witness until I typed it, and I’m the author! I couldn’t wait to see who the witness was because I sure didn’t know.

What writer influenced you the most?

I actually have two big influences. The late great Robert B. Parker made me fall in love with books. His Spenser stories are still my favorite. I’ve read them all multiple times. The fact that Chase is known by a single name is in homage to Parker and Spenser.

The other writer who influenced me is JA Konrath. I love his books, but it’s more than just his writing that influenced me. One thing the general public doesn’t know is that it is very difficult to get published – “you should publish that” a lot. If only it was that easy. Konrath called himself the king of rejection. He wrote nine full novels in two or three different genres before he got one published. He accumulated literally hundreds of rejections, but he never gave up. He eventually broke through and now has millions of books sold. He inspired me to never give up, to never stop chasing my dream.

What one word describes how you feel when you write?

Joy

If your book was made into a TV series or Movie, what actors would you like to see playing your characters?

Ironically, in Cold Dark Places I make mention to The Woodstock Baby and how some Hollywood people wanted to make a movie about the case. They promised to get Denzel Washington to play Chase, even though Chase is “white, younger than, and nowhere near as pretty” as Denzel.

In “real life” I see Chase as more of a Will Patton type. He has the ability to be caring and tough and make them both authentic.

There’s this other actor who I know named Tevis Marcum who I think would do an outstanding job as Chase. He’s from the Detroit area and has the look. Like Will Patton he has the ability to be caring and tough in the same character.

What is something you never leave home without (apart from keys, money and phone)?

My flash drive. My work goes everywhere with me. I do back it up to my computer however. It has gone through the wash a time or two. There is no terror like the terror of finding your flash drive in the bottom of the washing machine.

What is your favorite place, real or fictional? Why?

Saline, Michigan. It’s my hometown. I moved away for a while and when I returned I thought, “Ahh, I’m home.” When I needed a small town to set The Woodstock Baby in I chose Saline because “there’s no place like home.”

Where can people learn more about your books?

From Indigo Sea Press http://www.indigoseapress.com/Stiletto-Books–Crime-and-Mystery-Authors-A-H.php#Steve and www.stevehagood.com

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PURPOSE by Thornton Cline

PURPOSE
by Thornton Cline

In my debut non-fiction book, “Not My Time to Go” on Indigo Sea Press I devote chapter seventeen to the purpose of living on Earth. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines purpose as the reason something is done or used or the aim or intention of something.
Throughout my true compelling close-call, near-misses with death I gradually discovered my purpose for living on Earth. I once believed that I existed just to eat, drink, and be happy. I didn’t think too much about other people’s lives, but put high value on indulging in worldly pleasures. I didn’t have much concern for my fellow brothers and sisters. Life was all about me. And while I played the violin and piano growing up, I used those talents and gifts for my own self-seeking purposes, not for a higher purpose.
Through all of my self-seeking, I gradually became reckless, taking foolish changes with my life. Many times I felt immortal. I depended only on myself for everything. The Lord was far removed from my life, despite my childhood spent attending church. I had forgotten how to pray, and, in fact, I didn’t feel like I needed to pray at all.
Of course, that was far from the truth. My guardian angel, other angels, and my Lord and Savior have always been by my side. I just haven’t come to that realization yet. All that time when I thought I was doing it on my own, my angel and the Lord were there helping me through everything in my life.
While I was depending on myself, they were what I needed. But no one could tell me. No one could preach that message to me. I had to learn it the hard way.
Slowly but surely, I came to the realization that I wasn’t here on Earth only to take up space and to exist. I also realized that life wasn’t about partying and pleasing myself with selfish ambitions.
Through the near-tragedies that I experienced, I began to conclude that life on Earth was a testing ground for my everlasting life in Heaven. Life was about storing up treasures for the hereafter. It was not about pleasing myself in partying and living it up, nor was it about accumulating riches and wealth while on Earth. I realized that I was constantly being tempted and torn between the invincible greatness and goodness of the Lord Almighty and the dark, evil forces of Satan. I discovered that every decision I made in my life had its consequences.
Life, I finally saw, was about God’s kingdom on Earth, serving God faithfully, and planting seeds by helping others so that the fruits of my labor could be reaped later. My mission was to reach others with my gifts and bring them into God’s fold.
Finally, life makes sense knowing why I am here on Earth and what my purpose is. It took those 11 close-call, near death experiences to help me to discover my purpose and the meaning of life.

Thornton Cline, author of "Not My Time to Go"

Thornton Cline, author of “Not My Time to Go”

Recent discussion about "Purpose" with the Richmond, VA writers group

Recent discussion about “Purpose” with the Richmond, VA writers group

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Vacation Reading by Sheila Deeth

I started reading The Girl On The Train on a train

On vacation near London, I started reading The Girl On The Train at a railway station.

A London bookstore is surely the perfect location to start Mr Penumbra's 24-hour Book Store

This bookstore, with its horizontal as well as vertical displays, was the absolutely perfect location for enjoying Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Book Store

These dogs surely dared to dream while I read The Dog Who Dared To Dream

Then I followed some happily dreaming dogs while exploring The Dog Who Dared To Dream.

Surely punting on the Cam is timeless ande English enough to inspire reading The Eyre Affair

And punting on the Cam – a timelessly English pursuit – inspired me to read The Eyre Affair

A wedding goblet accompanies my reading The Daylight Marriage

A wedding goblet in the Victoria and Albert accompanied my enjoyment of The Daylight Marriage.

Then it's off to enjoy the play of the book, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time

Then off we went to watch the play of the book, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time, at the Gielgud Theatre.

Meanwhile my mum enjoyed Infinite Sum, hot off the press from Indigo Sea

Meanwhile my mum enjoyed Infinite Sum, hot off the press, freshly published by Indigo Sea.

And now I'm home, it's time for those final edits on Subtraction!

And now I’m home. It must be time for those final edits on Subtraction!

Sheila Deeth is the author of the Mathemafiction novels, published by Indigo Sea Press. Find Divide by Zero and Infinite Sum online and where good books are sold. Then watch out for Subtraction, coming soon!

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Not My Time to Go by Thornton Cline

There is a side of me that most of my friends don’t know. I have rarely shared this side with anyone until now. I am a survivor. My life has been spared. I am not talking about surviving cancer, heart disease or some life-threatening disease. I am referring to the eleven true compelling near-death experiences I have survived since I was toddler.
Long before I lived in Tennessee, my first encounter with death occurred when I was two-years old. I should have died and I should have died many times. But, it wasn’t my time to go.
What I am describing has been experienced by between four and 15 percent of humans, according to the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation. This segment of the population will have experienced a close call with death sometime in their lives.
It never occurred to me until later in my life that there was a possibility that someone or something was watching over me and protecting me from the dangers and close-call brushes with death. Later I came to the realization that there were angels watching over me. They have known me before I was born. They have watched me come into this world. They are looking out for me, watching and protecting me 24/7.
Skeptical? I can certainly understand. I was very skeptical for a very long time until I ran out of reasons and explanations for how my life was spared over and over again—11 times! I am not talking about situations where I was flirting with death, I am referring to miracles where there was no scientific or medical explanation as to why I had survived.
It takes a certain amount of faith to even consider the possibility of the existence of angels, especially for those who have no religious background or do not practice any sort of religion. And without trying to get religious with you all, I did some research from the King James Version of the Bible and discovered that the Book of Daniel (chapters 7-12) lists the names of our guardian angels here on Earth: Michael, Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael. The Book of Revelation (7:1) describes how the four guardian angels protect and watch over the four corners of the Earth.
My eleven near-death experiences read like an Academy Award winner thriller film or a New York Times bestselling book. I have experienced grave illness as a toddler; was nearly decapitated along with my family; was almost killed by a bomb explosion during a Mafia War, was involved in two devastating car accidents, escaped from fire and explosion when my car malfunctioned on the Interstate, was the victim of an attempted abduction at gunpoint when I was a child, faced the near-death of my young 10-year old daughter, was involved in a close-call brush with death on an airplane, and was a victim of a failed car-jacking as an adult.
After much prayer, research and soul-searching, I came to the conclusion that I was protected and spared by guardian angels. Each time a close-call brush with death occurred, it was not my time to go. I concluded that there were reasons why I was spared here on Earth. I now realize that I am living on Earth for a purpose. Every day is truly mission and I am here to help leave the Earth a better place than it was before.

Debut book on Indigo Sea Press

Debut book on Indigo Sea Press

Cline

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Secret Lives by John E. Stack

Children always seem excited when they see their teachers in a different environment outside of school.  They often wonder if teachers do anything other than teach and grade papers.  They always ask teachers what they do in their off-time, because in the student’s mind the teacher lives at the school.  Even though it really seems that some do, most of us lead exciting lives, married, raise kids, and work other jobs (is writing another job?). 

What if teachers did do more than teach?  What if the middle schoolers we worked with were actually alien rather than just acting as if they were from another planet? What if….?

The above is the proposed forward to my latest submission, Secret Lives (of Middle School Teachers).  Secret Lives is my first attempt at something like a novel or rather a story other than a picture book.  We are always told to write about something you know or you are interested in.  So I did.

Let’s see, I have spent ten months a year for the last eighteen years teaching in the same middle school.  With that, I have worked around a lot of the same teachers and many new teachers that rotate through our school.  Some of the personalities are unique.  Sometimes the faces change, but the personalities stay the same.

I’ve taught close to two thousand students.  I would try to describe the normal student, but who is to say what is normal.  I have had parents ask “What happened to the sweet, little girl I used to have?  It’s like some alien sucked her brains out and didn’t give them all back.”  Or, they wonder why their sons stopped taking showers and why hygiene now means nothing.

So, I took a handful of experience (eight four-day trips to Washington, DC with four bus loads of eighth graders gives some experience), several teacher personalities, and a fascination with astronomy mixed them all together with a little humor and came out with something like a story.

God gave me a little leeway and allowed me to create a planet system around a known star.  In that system is a planet named after an Englishman named Nigel that I go to church with.  I got to determine what the people looked like and the environment in which they lived.  I also got to develop worm-hole technology.

My aliens are called Nigelians (Nigel) and they are very humanoid.  The only differences are their lack of noses and ears.  While on Earth they wear assimilation suits to disguise their differences.  They also have tufts of hair rather than a full covering.  There are other differences, but maybe you can read about them later this summer.

If you have ever been to Washington, DC, you may have passed by the Old Post Office.  I have been to the building once and even took a group of students up into the clock tower.  Most of the story takes place in DC, but the Old Post Office became the home for our school and was the center for a lot of the action in the book.

I also tried something that I haven’t really attempted since I was a boy (and that was a long time ago) — free-hand drawing.  In the military, I was trained as a architectural draftsman.  I learned straight lines and right angles.  This was something different.  I did sketches, perspectives and some doodling.  Eventually, I completed all the drawings except for one, which was submitted by a student.  I did make some changes, but gave her the credit.

I have to admit that completing this book was a lot more fun than the picture books I’ve been doing.  There was more freedom in writing, in the ideas, and my thought process felt more alive.  I also got to learn a lot about DC.

When we continue to try something new we continue to grow in our art.  And, as long as we enjoy what we do it is not a job. Keep an eye out for my new adventure.  Read, write and enjoy.

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.  He is also the author of the upcoming books Cody and the Great Zoo Escape and  Secret Lives (of Middle School Teachers).

 

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Excerpt From PASTOR LARSEN AND THE RAT by Lazarus Barnhill

Reverend Martin Luther Larsen—highly regarded, completely ethical, genuine and sincere—has dedicated his life to the pastorate. Now, in the face of the drudgery, church politics and frustration that are the usual professional hazards of the ministry, a dangerous and intriguing complication has slipped into his life: Ange. No one in Larsen’s close knit congregations knew of the existence of this woman, the daughter of a parishioner who appeared just in time for her mother’s funeral. For Larsen, Ange is more than mysterious. She is alluring, wise and astonishingly intuitive. . . . And then there is the issue of the large rat that seems to be taunting the members of his church.

Excerpt:

She had answered the door shoeless, wearing a close-fitting black dress and no makeup. Her black hair was just long enough to bounce when she let him in the front door and immediately turned toward the kitchen table, where packets of documents and possessions were stacked. He assumed she was going to hand him the items she had promised him at the funeral and bid him farewell, until he saw the magnum of red wine and the two glasses beside it. First he thought he would have to turn down the offered drink, and then he wondered if perhaps he should not have assumed. Perhaps she was expecting other company. She sat down in one of the two chairs at the table and crossed her bare legs.

“Can you sit down for a minute? It was nice of you to come all the way out here to pick these things up, Pastor Larsen,” she said.

He pulled out the chair and sat down. The daughter sat in the one he had always used in past visits. It was strange to him to sit in the chair Joan Celeste sat in when he visited her, where she graciously offered him crumb cake and lemonade.

“I came out here to Alton a lot, actually. Your mother was very dear to me. That is, she was just as nice and hospitable as she could be. And I always really appreciated that. I enjoyed coming to visit her.” He smiled. “Of course you mother very faithfully showed up every Sunday. It’s a long way from Alton to Manchester. But she never missed. When someone comes that far every week, you want to show your appreciation.”

Ange Celeste stared at him. It was a bit disconcerting to Larsen. Did she not believe that he visited often, or did she doubt his sentiments? Did she—perhaps cynical about church life or even an outright disbeliever—look down on the sort of pastoral relationship he described? The unexpected or incomprehensible reactions of extremely attractive women had always troubled him, made him feel like an unappealing buffoon.

“She liked you.”

Her words and the way she spoke them surprised him. It was almost like a pronouncement or a verdict Joan had handed down for her daughter to share with Larsen in her absence. And there was something about the tone she used. It was wiser and perhaps more intimate than he expected.

“Well. I liked her.”

“She told me about conning you into going to the fall festival here in Alton. And on a Saturday, no less. And she told me about your favorite wine.”

Without asking, she turned and grasped the magnum in two hands. Larsen’s mouth dropped. He stammered, started to protest that he was working, had other appointments to keep that Friday afternoon and could not drink. The daughter paid no attention to him, though, as she poured the glasses full.

“A nice Nebbiolo from Verità Wino, your favorite Italian winery.”

“. . . I really shouldn’t.”

She had anticipated his reluctance and brushed it aside. “One glass, Pastor Larsen. Only 12% alcohol. Undetectable.” She picked up the glasses and handed one to him. “A toast to my mother, the divine Joan Celeste.”

He laughed, somewhat anxiously, as they touched their glasses. “To Joan.”

The wine was as he remembered it: rosy and slightly tart with a lingering mellow aftertaste. And with the first taste he felt himself begin to relax. The second and third sips did not disappoint.

“I did not know Verità Wino produced a magnum size of their Nebbiolo.”

She looked at the bottle, as if seeing it for the first time. “Well I guess they do.” She smiled at him. “Mother said it was ironic that you liked this wine.”

He gazed at her. “Seriously? Why did she say that?”

“Because you are so much like it.”

“What?”

“The Nebbiolo grape takes an exceptionally long time from the moment it blooms until it’s ready to pluck.” She smiled. “And once you do skin it and start the fermentation process, it takes a very long time before . . . it’s ready for the bottle.”

He stared at her oval face, cream-colored complexion, dark almond eyes, pert nose and small mouth. She bore only the faintest resemblance to her mother, whom he had only known in her 70’s. How old was this daughter? Forty perhaps, at most? Was she a late-life child?

“What does that have to do with me?”

She had finished her glass and poured another. “I guess Mother thought you were a work-in-progress.” She grabbed his glass in his hand and steadied it as she brought the neck of the magnum onto the lip and filled it again.

“No thanks. . . . Uh. What did your mother mean, that I’m a ‘work-in-progress?’ Was I not the pastor she needed me to be?”

“I seriously doubt that, Pastor Larsen. . . . Sounds like you worry about that kind of thing though.” She took another drink.

He thought about it. “Every pastor worth his salt wants to be the shepherd his—or her—congregation needs.”

“How politically correct of you.”

He laughed. “Heaven knows I try, Ms. Celeste.”

“Ange”

“Ang?”

“No. Say it right. It’s pronounced ‘auhnjj.’ It’s French.”

“Ange.”

“That’s right.”

“Well, Ange, I take it you don’t have a great deal of use for church life and customs.”

Her head tipped to one side. “I don’t do religion the way my mother did. That doesn’t mean I’m not spiritual.”

***

Bio:

Lazarus Barnhill’s titles appear in several Indigo Sea Press genres. Among his first novels to be published was the police procedural The Medicine People. Later, co-authored with Sally Jones, he released Come Home to Me Child. His work is characterized by the unexpected twist and turn, by crisp dialogue and unpredictable endings.

Only $.99 on Kindle today! https://www.amazon.com/Pastor-Larsen-Rat-Lazarus-Barnhill-ebook/dp/B01GGIKF4A

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Interview with Maribeth Shanley, Author of A View to the Unknown

What is your book about?    

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It’s the sequel to my first book, Crack in the World.  However, I wrote it to stand on its own.  It continues the story of Emily, a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of her father.  It takes Emily through the rest of her life as she continues to unravel the emotional torment her father subjected her to.  She continues not just to heal but to grow through that healing process.  She is a resilient individual, but the abuse left her with not only conscious scars but unconscious scars buried deep within her unconscious mind.  As a child, her emotional wounds which are now memories helped her to protect herself from her father.  Now, grown up and no longer in danger, her protective skills are wreaking havoc on her life by manifesting dysfunctional behavior.  She seeks to find a way to release her fears as she discovers meditation.  She becomes successful at releasing her fears and goes on to live a rich life full of hope and promise.

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

Once the girlfriend who influenced me to write Crack in the World, read the published story, she commented, “I love your characters, especially Emily and Sean. It would be a treat to follow their lives all the way to the end of their lives.” That’s all the prodding I needed. I too loved my characters and wasn’t ready to let go of them. So, immediately after Crack in the World was published, I began writing A View to the Unknown.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

A lot. I based Emily’s life on what happened to me as a child. I gave Emily all the tools I used during my healing which turns into a lifelong journey of putting what happened in perspective of my life. In the end, Emily discovers she had long ago forgiven her father for what he did to her. Because I let my stories take me on their journey, it was an amazing revelation for me to realize that I too had forgiven my father a long time ago. As Emily explains, holding onto anger, sadness and the rest of negative emotions are time-consuming. Such emotions stand in the way of happiness. Also, as I have done, Emily chose to spend her life living her life versus lamenting over her past. She views her past as her history and nothing more.

I based Jeannie’s personality on my playful, sarcastic, direct side. Jeannie was a fun character to create. She plays well against Emily’s personality which is more serious.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

Emily is all about making deliberate choices in life. She was handed a raw deal being born to a narcissistic user. She could have easily allowed what happened to her to control her life. She could have become bitter and behaved like a perpetual victim, full of self-pity. She could have turned out to become a narcissistic user like her father; or, she could have chosen to put herself in situations of being abused in one fashion or another. However, she chose to focus on learning how to become happy. When she determined to become happy, happiness is the very thing she attracted. A very resourceful individual, she never backed away from a challenge.

Sean is a truly caring man. He was the very male Emily set her heart on finding. However, when she realized she had more to deal with than her conscious wounds, she bravely released Sean. She had been a prisoner all her life, and she didn’t want to inflict that on him. In the end, he made the choice to find her.

Jeannie recognized early on how fortunate she was to have been born to her parents. She could have easily brushed Emily and all her excess baggage aside, but she saw goodness in Emily that inspired her. I believe that goodness is one of the elements that kept Jeannie ticking. It was also Emily’s perseverance that gave Jeannie the will to know that there is more to life than meets the eye. She was a true believer. In the end, she was rewarded for her leap of faith to believe.

Who is your most unusual/most likable character?

In my mind, Sarah, Emily’s mother was the most unusual character. In my life, it was my mother who died first, leaving my father to write the narrative for my family’s future. Although he was quick to tell a person he didn’t care one way or another if my siblings left him or blamed him, in reality, he cared significantly. He cared so much that he did his best and was successful at casting me as the person who “ruined” the family. To this day, I have no relationship with three of my siblings. A fourth sibling, who stuck with me almost from the beginning, has walked away from me because I have reconnected with my middle sister, who she does not like. He created such a dysfunctional environment that I have simply had to accept that I will probably never have a lasting relationship with any of my siblings except my middle sister.

I gave Emily the opposite outcome. I allowed her father to die early when her mom was still young. I wanted to imagine how it could have been had my dad died first.

Sarah grew a backbone during the early chapters. She recognized that she could have been an enabler for her husband crimes against Emily and other children. Instead of hiding from that possible truth, she decided to accept that truth and, in the end; she became a champion for Emily. She was instrumental in assisting Emily as she worked through her conscious and unconscious scars. She showed immense kindness and empathy for Emily. She was central to keeping her family intact while encouraging Emily’s three siblings to feel nothing but empathy for what happened to her.

Most likable character: hmm…that’s a tough one. I guess for me; it was Jeannie. I have a tendency to be serious. However, in certain situations, I can let my hair completely down. Jeannie’s hair was always down. As Emily explains to Sean in the prequel, Jeannie was a free spirit. I love that about her as I love when my free spirit appears.

Why will readers relate to your characters?

They will because everyone knows all of these characters. During my career in the food manufacturing industry, I constantly traveled and ran into all of these characters on numerous occasions. They are real; and, they are believable.

How long did it take you to write your book?

Once I decided not to seek to have my memoir published, it took me approximately six months to write Crack in the World. It took me slightly longer to write the sequel.

I believe both books have always been inside me. They begged me to write them. However, it wasn’t until I began meditating on a regular basis to an audio program called Holosync, that I was able to access my voice. With its creator’s blessing, Holosync, and Bill Harris, play a significant role in A View to the Unknown. Meditation to Holosync not only rewired my brain so that I have been able to unravel the dysfunctional behavior my past inflicted on me, but it opened up my hidden talents that I think I always knew were there but didn’t know how to access.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

Because A View to the Unknown was the sequel to Crack in the World, this question relates to most of the sequel. The first several chapters deal directly with Emily’s continued healing. However, I soon introduce other characters and phenomenon that took a lot of imagination on my part. Because the development of the sequel depended on imagination, I enjoyed writing the sequel more than the prequel. Writing it convinced me that I am indeed a capable and talented author. It made me realize that I have many more stories inside just waiting to be written.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

Yes, I did. In fact, I recall telling another person who longs to write that, if you have a story to tell, the Internet is your friend. It offers fact checking so that you can get your story right and make it believable.

What about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

For those who seek inspiration that it is possible to overcome the past to learn to become happy, I believe my book piques that reader’s interest. I want readers to know that it is possible to move beyond pain if they are willing to invest their time in achieving that goal.

For other readers, I’ve incorporated reincarnation, a dog-napping and child napping to entertain them. I recall seeing somewhere on social media a person commented about my canva poster. She said, “Who wouldn’t love to read about reincarnation, dog, and kidnapping.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

I’ve written several short stories which are available on my website; www.maribethshanley.com. I am writing a new novel which will probably become more a novelette and just made notes on yet another novel I will write in the future. Of course, like other authors, I’ve begun writing a couple of novels I will probably return to at some point. Too, I’m a relatively new writer, so, I’m sure I will run into road blocks in the future which I’ll have to overcome.

I don’t do outlines. Instead, I know what I want to add to my stories. As I write, I simply let the story tell itself. I don’t know how to explain it any other way.

At what age did you discover writing?

I discovered writing when I was in college. I was not encouraged to go to college. In fact, soon after high school, I expressed to my parents that I wanted to go to college, but they did everything in their power to discourage me. In their minds, I was not “college material.” Besides, there was only one sibling that was groomed to go to college and she was much younger than me.

While in college which I attended in my late twenties and after leaving my parent’s home, I wrote a short story for a literature course. It was the first story I recall writing. Unfortunately, I gave it to a friend to read, and it became forever lost.

 

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

With my first novel, I intuitively knew when it was finished. A View to the Unknown was easy because I took Emily and Sean to the end of their lives. I guess, in the future I’ll just have to trust my gut and intuitiveness.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

Yes, there is a message. In fact, in the book I’m currently writing, the theme, in general, is the same, that happiness is a choice. The other message is that doing the right thing is also a choice. It’s a deliberate choice.

Do you think writing this book changed your life? How so?

Yes, I do. Toward the end of the book, Emily realizes that she forgave her father years ago. Her revelation became my revelation. That was a true surprise for me.

What has changed for you since you wrote your first book?

I believe I have gained more self-confidence in myself, and I believe that self-confidence is helping me become a better writer.

What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

I don’t have a schedule. I write when I am inspired to write. Because I love to write, so far it’s been relatively easy for me to find the time to write. I do find that I have a tendency to write before going to bed; and, there are times I get so engrossed in writing that I have to force myself to stop so I can turn in. I’m currently working on my memoir and a few nights ago, I looked at the clock to see it was 3 a.m.

Do you have a favorite snack food or favorite beverage that you enjoy while you write?

Snack food…good Lord, no. I inherited the Shanley fat gene. If I gave into snack food, I’d be as big as a house. My beverage of choice is Peach flavored water, a Fruit 2O product. I always have a bottle of water nearby.

What is the easiest part of the writing process?

So far, allowing the story to tell itself. I wrote a short ghost story (also available on my website). I think writing it was the most fun I’ve had writing thus far because I simply let my imagination carry me away.

Does writing come easy for you?

I’ve loved writing most of my adult life. At least the life that began once I moved away from my parent’s home. After my mother died and I came face to face with my past, I used writing to “throw up” my pain. Writing became therapeutic during that period. As I write my memoir, I’m also discovering how my writing during that period is helping me write the memoir.

What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?

Honestly that my writing is good enough to be published. In a real sense, being published has been a humbling experience.

 

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