Friday, October 31, 2014

SPOTLIGHT: "Underground" by members of the NIWA w/ an INTERVIEW with Mike Chinakos


The word underground makes everyone think of something different. I, personally, think of music and underground bands. Others think of mines, secret passageways, claustrophobia, the subway and who knows what else?
The Northwest Independent Writers Association gave some of their members a word count limit abd that one word, and the results are what you'll read in Underground.
You have horror, crime, romance, mystery and the just plain creepy while you make you journey Underground with these talented writers. One story is about a war hero (villain) and a one-eyed crow. In another, the world is literally underwater. An old woman dances with death while a girl is saved from it by a loyal companion.
I loved reading this, because there was no set theme, just an idea. Some stories were better than others, yes, but they were all intriguing and engaging on a different level. Scary, strange and delightful, you should definitely treat yourself to this book!
Below, you'll find a guide to all of the authors who contributed to this book and an interview with author Mike Chinakos!


MIKE CHINAKOS is the author of the Hollywood Cowboys series, the sci-fi short story collection Terminal Horizons, the novella Dead Town, and numerous short stories published in magazines and anthology collections. He is the cofounder and first president of the Northwest Independent Writers Association (NIWA). You can find him online at and mikechinakosauthor.

AMBER MICHELLE COOK is the author of two novellas (contemporary fantasy/ urban fairy tales What the Faeries Left Behind and Defense Mechanisms) and two forthcoming novels— a modern adaptation of Through the Looking Glass with an adult Alice set in a Wonderland version of McMenamins’ Edgefield; and Night of the Victorian Dead, Book 1: Welcome to Romero Park, a paranormal/ gothic novel laced with sly humor. Partly raised in Germany, she went to an international high school, majored in linguistics, and loves literature and period pieces.   She’s also a photography/ graphic arts artist of color and wonder, and she blogs on the topic Caution: Adults Playing. Aside from words and stories, she adores dogs and is fascinated by any and everything aquatic.   Especially cephalopods. Find her online at

PAMELA COWAN is best known for her psychological thrillers. Her mystery novel, Something in the Dark, won the NSQ award and was a #1 best seller on Amazon Kindle. She recently published Storm Justice, a suspense thriller, and is currently working on the second book in that series. Her short stories have been published in Alien Skin, Argus, Space and Time, Visions, and various anthologies, and have been read on OPB-supported Golden Hours Radio. She is the former editor of the speculative fiction magazine, Nanobison. An Army brat, she was born in Germany and moved with her family seventeen times before her father retired to Oregon, where she has steadfastly remained.   She has two grown children and lives with her husband and several four-legged house guests.

Having left fabulous Las Vegas, fantasy author JAKE ELLIOT and his wife chose the Pacific Northwest as a great place to have new adventures. Without kids, they are guardians over a sometimes hostile cat by the name of Samson. Minimalists at heart and masters of traveling on a shoestring budget, Jake and his wife travel whenever they can dupe anyone into watching vicious Samson.   Jake’s current published works include two novels with Damnation Books, six short stories, and one story published under a different name. His first novel is temporarily out of print and is being re-formatted for re-launch. Soon, very soon. JONATHAN EMS thinks he so f*** ing clever. He lives in Portland, Oregon, where he is a constant embarrassment to his friends and family. He’s previously published Obviously, I Anticipated This . . ., a collection of essays and short fiction, and Modus Operandi, a science fiction mystery novel. His current projects include the comedic fantasy novel Vampire Lesbians From Dimension X   and the sci-fi comedy feature film Self Portrait. Find out more about his work at his website,

T.L. KLEINBERG has been writing for her own entertainment nearly all of her life. She was the child who told ghost stories at slumber parties until everyone shivered deliciously in their sleeping bags. A few years ago she decided to write her stories down for those who might enjoy reading them. She lives in Tigard, Oregon, where she and her husband manage an eighty-unit apartment complex. Her dream is to move to the coast and write until she can no longer handle the keyboard.

JASON W. LAPIER was born and raised in Upstate New York and now lives happily with his wife and a long-haired dachshund in Portland, Oregon. He loves gardening, hiking, cooking, and music. During the day, he masquerades as a mild-mannered software engineer. His debut novel, a sci-fi murder mystery called Unexpected Rain, will be published by Harper Voyager in Summer 2015. Find him online at

JASON W. LAPIER was born and raised in Upstate New York and now lives happily with his wife and a long-haired dachshund in Portland, Oregon. He loves gardening, hiking, cooking, and music. During the day, he masquerades as a mild-mannered software engineer. His debut novel, a sci-fi murder mystery called Unexpected Rain, will be published by Harper Voyager in Summer 2015. Find him online at

MAGGIE LYNCH has never missed a chance to learn something new. With degrees in psychology, counseling, computer science, and education she has had opportunities both in private industry and academia that have taken her around the world. She has enjoyed working in Europe, Australia, and the Middle East. Her current publishing credits include five non-fiction books, over thirty science fiction short stories, and nine novels across multiple genres.   She is also the founder of Windtree Press, a growing publishing cooperative currently with fourteen self-publishing and hybrid authors. Retired from her consulting and academic career, Maggie now spends most of her time journeying into her imagination. She writes romance and science fiction under the name Maggie Jaimeson, and YA fantasy under the name Maggie Faire. Her non-fiction work is written under Maggie Lynch. You can find her in online at

ROSLYN MCFARLAND is the author of the YA Paranormal Romance See No Sea, currently available in both e-book and paperback formats. In 2006 she was struck down by health problems, undiagnosed and progressing into full immobility over the course of six-and-a-half years. Going out of her mind with worry, frustration, pain, and boredom, her solution and salvation came from getting a childhood recurring dream out of her head by writing it down. With the completion of her first novel came the diagnosis of Lyme Disease, quickly followed by treatment and a cure, thus clearing the way for editing and preparation for publication. God works in mysterious ways. Roslyn currently lives in Oregon with her husband, two extraordinarily active and strong willed little girls (karma) and a house full of fur kids (cats and dogs; she doesn’t expect the goldfish to last long). She’s nearly completed book two and already outlining book three of the No Sea Trilogy, both of which she hopes to release within the next year. She’s already amassing a lengthy list of future series ideas and hopes to be able to continue turning dreams into reality for many years to come.

CODY NEWTON is a 26-year-old freelancer and fiction writer. He is a graduate of the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism.   He’s won a Pacemaker Award from the Associated Collegiate Press and a Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, and he was nominated for a Hearst Award. He’s been published in Ethos, The Source, Crack the Spine, AlterNet, and Willamette Week.
He currently lives in Portland, Oregon, and works for the Forest Service as a Wildland Firefighter in the summers. Apart from writing and reading profusely, DEY RIVERS adores Doctor Who and anime. Feeling less than inspired at her soul-sucking job at a bank, she quit and is currently pursuing a degree in art. This is her first venture into publishing.

STEVEN L. SHREWSBURY, from Central Illinois, enjoys football, history, guns, politics, and good fiction. His short stories— 365 in number— have been published in print or digital media. His novels and small press books— Philistine, Overkill, Hell Billy, Thrall, Bad Magick, Bedlam Unleashed, Stronger Than Death, Hawg, Tormentor, and Godforsaken— run from horror to historical high fantasy. Look for his forthcoming novel with Maurice Broaddus, Black Son Rising.

Born and raised in the great Pacific Northwest, DALE IVAN SMITH got into trouble in grade school for sneaking off to the library during class. Later, he earned a degree in history, so naturally he became a librarian. He has worked for Multnomah County Library system since 1987. Dale has his mother to thank for his love of science fiction and fantasy— when he was 15, she loaned him her set of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom novels and he was hooked for life. He met the love of his life, LeAnn, at a part-time job while a senior in high school and they’ve been together ever since. She shares his love of gaming (board/ card/ roleplaying/ video games) and all things science fiction and fantasy. Dale’s stories have appeared in Every Day Fiction and 10Flash Quarterly, and at Amazon and other online booksellers. A collaboration with K.C. Ball appeared in the June ’14 Perihelion Science Fiction. Currently he is writing an urban fantasy novel and revising his weird western, The Hardscrabble. You can find him at and on Twitter (@

LAUREL STANDLEY is an author and scientist living in Portland, Oregon. In her novels, she focuses on eco-suspense and fictional narrative.   Her novels include Poisoned Seed and Reflections on a Journey. Laurel blogs and tweets (@ Laurel_Standley) on reducing environmental exposures, and she is the author of the nonfiction, self-help book: Toxins Tweet: 140 Easy Tips to Reduce Your Family’s Exposure to Environmental Toxins. To learn more, visit her author site at

JENNIFER WILLIS is a writer and editor in Portland, Oregon. Her articles have appeared in The Oregonian, The Christian Science Monitor,, The Portland Tribune, The Writer, Religion and Politics, Spirituality & Health, and other print and online publications at home and across the globe.   In fiction, she focuses on urban fantasy and playful mayhem. She is the author of the Valhalla series and Rhythm.   Jennifer is the 2014 and 2015 editor of the NIWA Anthology and was the 2013 Director of NIWA’s NSQ Program, for which she was honored with the inaugural Adam Copeland Award. She and her boyfriend share their home with a mutt, a crazy wolf-dog, and two incredibly quirky cats. Find her online at



1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?

I started my love affair with writing fiction in the fourth grade. A wonderful teacher, Mrs. Pool, had her class put together their own books as part of an English assignment. She wanted us to write short stories and create illustrations to go with them. You probably won't be surprised to find that most of the books put together by the kids in the class were very heavy on the drawing, but light on actual stories. To this day I have trouble drawing one dimensional stick figures, let alone any kind of quality picture! But through that assignment I discovered a passion for fictional storytelling. Mrs. Pool strongly encouraged me to follow that passion. As the years went by, I wrote a lot, but would never have considered myself a writer.
Jump forward to 2009 when the economy took a nose dive: I was laid off of a job I thought I'd be working at until I retired. At that time I was close to finishing up what I consider my first real endeavor as a professional writer, the first book in the Hollywood Cowboys series, called oddly enough,Hollywood Cowboys. At the time I was devastated at losing my job. But in hindsight, it turned out to be one of the best things to happen in my life. With free time on my hands, I decided to make a go at writing for a living. I've never been happier about making such a big life changing decision. I've never looked back.

2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today?

The same year I fell in love with writing I discovered Ray Bradbury. I read the Martian Chronicles and it further cemented my desire to tell stories. Other authors that inspired me, and continue to inspire me are, William F. Nolan, Richard Matheson, H.P. Lovecraft, Steve Perry, Michael Moorcock, Stephen King, Arthur C. Clarke, Joe R. Lansdale, Isaac Asimov, Joseph Conrad, Fred Saberhagen and George R.R. Martin. Just to name a few!
Recently I've been revisiting and discovering some works of Michael Moorcock. Back in the 90s, White Wolf publishing put together an amazing 15 book omnibus collection of the Eternal Champion stories, and let Moorcock put them in the order he thought they should appear. And of course, like everybody else, I'm anxiously awaiting the next book in the Ice and Fire series by Martin. When I'm in the middle of writing a piece of fiction I never read fiction. I take that time to read biographies (often about my favorite Rock 'n Roll or Metal bands), history books, political books, etc.

3. What was the inspiration behind your story for NIWA?

Hmmmm... this one could get me in a little bit of trouble, but I'll spill the beans. There's a character in the story that doesn't spend much time on the pages, but is kind of the glue that holds the story together and gives motivation to the plot. That person is largely based on an actual drill sergeant I had while in the army. I combined that character with a theme I explored in a couple of back to back short stories; the effects of the physical and emotional damage suffered by our wounded warriors over the past decade when they return home. Down in a Hole, which appears in the 2014 anthology, deals more with both physical and emotional damage. The Other Side of Daylight is a short story that appears in my most recent anthology, Grim Highways.

4. What was out about 1980's metal that made you decide to write a novel about it with Hollywood Cowboys?

First and foremost, it's METAL!!!! My love affair with all things Hard Rock and Metal is no secret to those that know me. Like I said in my blog about my musical evolution, "As hard as those middle school days could be on a D&D-playing, Star Wars-loving, glasses-wearing geek, Metal was like a healing salve for my soul. Or should I say it was more like pouring gasoline on an already roaring bonfire of hormones and barely contained energy?" If your readers are interested in checking out that blog, or any of my other blogs, they can do so here:
But what really got me to specifically write Hollywood Cowboys was when a very good friend, and fantastic musician, let me read him a short story of mine that became the prolog of the novel. At the time it was just a short piece. I had no plans of it going any further, but when he heard it, that all changed. My friend basically gave me the old "write what you know" advice. And I know music and horror as well as my friend knows his way around a guitar. So I set out to write a homage to my favorite horror flicks and my favorite bands. The first novel in the series came out in 2010. Since then there's been a huge wave of 80s nostalgia. I feel lucky that grabbed my surf board early on to ride that wave! A second edition, the Hollywood Cowboys Triple Platinum edition, will be out after the first of the year.

5. You claim to be a metal fan. I am as well! What are some of your favorite bands?

Sooooo many! But to name a few, and not all Metal: Rush (my favorite band in the world), Black Sabbath, Black Label Society, Anthrax, Testament, Machine Head, Iron Maiden, Slipknot, Rage Against the Machine, Van Halen, Korn, Motley Crue, Guns 'N Roses (actually, anything with Slash), Prince (I said not all Metal!), AC/DC, The Cult, Dan Reed Network, Oingo Boingo, Blue Murder, Motorhead, Judas Priest, Into Eternity, FuzzBot, anything with Sammy Hagar... Okay, I gotta stop! I could keep going for hours!

6. Do you ever take characters' personalities from real life?

Very rarely. But Hollywood Cowboys is the major exception to that rule. There's a whole lot of my life, and the lives of other people I know, in those books.

7. What other genres would you like to try your hand at?

I've written Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy and Steampunk. I have plans for some thrillers in the future. I'm also in the middle of a Splatterpunk re-telling of Romeo and Juliet for an anthology I was asked to contribute to... and if you can believe it after seeing those previous genres... I might take a stab at Historical Romance.

8. You've written steampunk and horror. What are the biggest differences between them?

That's kind of a tricky question. On the surface, some might think they have little in common. But both of my Steampunk stories have a horror element to a degree. I would suspect that the biggest differences between the two genres is situational suspense and the gore factor. Creating suspenseful scenes for any genre is all part of good storytelling, but knowing what factors into the suspense of a genre and knowing when gore is appropriate or not is also important. At the heart of it all, you have to have a story with a great hook, believable characters and solid writing.

9. What kind of monster (vampire, demon, etc.) is your favorite and why?

Damn you and your difficult questions! I love them all! But I'm really intrigued with the thought of living forever, so probably a vampire. No! Wait! I take that back. I want to be a towering, city-destroying behemoth! I want to be a Kaiju monster! That sounds like a great time!

10. Would you like to see any if your novels as a film? If yes, which one and who do you want to see play your characters?

Are you kidding? Of course that would rock! And the big paycheck wouldn't hurt my feelings at all. I'd love to see the Hollywood Cowboys trilogy brought to the big screen in all of its tongue-in-cheek glory. I'm going to take some creative license with the casting and cast people that might be dead, not actors, or younger versions of themselves to fit the images of the characters in my head:
Myself as Jonny Mosh (because who wouldn't want to be a lead singer in a Metal band from the 80s?)
Brandon Lee as Charlie Chance
Michael Anthony as D.C. Hunter
Slash as Tommy T
Scarlet Johansen as Lana Achates
Richard Biggs (from Babylon 5) as Les Jones
Donald Sutherland (about 20 years younger) as J.J. Jezreel
David Lee Roth as Diamond Dave
Haley Joel Osment (as a kid) as Jericho
Tom Savani as Kane
Bill Paxton as Sabbat

11. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?

Hopefully with some best sellers! But for sure, well-entrenched in my career. I'd like to get a few screenplays under my belt as well.

12. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?

In a perfect version of the world? Fronting a band!

13. Can you tell KSR what you're working on next?

As a major project I'm currently working on the third book in the Hollywood Cowboys series, called Season of the Dead. I'm also working on the Triple Platinum edition of Hollywood Cowboys as well as numerous short stories.

14. What authors, dead or alive, would you like to collaborate with?

Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, Pam Cowan, Fred Saberhagen and George R.R. Martin: that way I could help him crank out the Ice and Fire books faster! Just kidding, George. Take all the time you need because the stories are fantastic!

15. Thank you for participating in the interview. Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?

Interesting question. Here goes:
1.) Despite my love of the horror genre, I'm actually a man of science. I don't believe in the supernatural as much as I relish writing about it. 
2.) And again, despite my love of horror, I'm actually a pretty down to earth guy who prefers peace over conflict. Yep. I know I can write some pretty sick shit, but I swear I'm fairly normal. At least that's what the voices in my head keep telling me.
3.) I love writing in all genres. That's why I admire writers like King, Bradbury, Moorcock and Saberhagen. I don't want to be tied down to only one genre. I have too many stories fighting to get out of my head to limit my ability to share them with the world!

Find Mr. Chinakos online via:


Official site

RELEASE DAY: "Fretensis" by Dennis Villelmi (w/ REVIEW)


Freten­sis, by Den­nis Villelmi

In The Image Of A Blind God, Vol 1

Freten­sis — An epic prose poem, part Dante, part Love­craft, part Bur­roughs, full of vast, cyclopeian hor­rors and hid­den, twi­light Gods and their vas­sals con­vers­ing in the dark cor­ners of Mankind’s metrop­o­lises and the aban­doned civil­i­sa­tions fore­saken by time, always watch­ing, wait­ing for the time when once again they will rise and walk amongst us.

A work of mad genius,a man­u­script of the damned, Freten­sis tells tales of Damzui, Lord Of The Husks, through the ages of mankind, of the games that the Celes­tial Beings play with mor­tals (some­times through mal­ice, some­times because it is merely within their nature), it lurches from Ancient, marble-​​columned Rome to the dust-​​blown Amer­i­can Mid­west of the mod­ern day to the inner-​​most dark­ness present within the cor­ners of our psy­che. Fea­tur­ing madness-​​cursed immor­tals, thrice-​​damned whores and a myr­iad of char­ac­ters, all with their own agen­das and insanities.

A must for all fans of hor­ror and poetry.

Den­nis had these thoughts on the inspi­ra­tion for writ­ing Fretensis:

“In ret­ro­spect, I see now that “Freten­sis,” which is but the intro­duc­tion to a larger poetic opus, is one of those books which, regard­less of the authors’ feel­ings toward them, had to be writ­ten. It’s a project that I’ve wel­comed in, as it were, from both reflec­tions on the sub­ject of divin­ity, and the abyss that such reflec­tions drove me into. Human thought, since its advent, has been yoked with the con­cept of “gods,” or “God Almighty.” To me, this isn’t so much a pre­oc­cu­pa­tion, as it is the mad­ness of a species. H.P.Lovecraft saw reli­gion as soil most fer­tile for hor­ror; who can argue that this hor­ror has not been of the largest con­stituents of our com­mon his­tory? Thus, “Freten­sis,” Book I of “In the Image of a Blind God” series stands as both a sus­pi­cion of Deity, and as ben­e­fit of the doubt granted to the so-​​called “fallen.” Often have I asked myself whether Lucifer fell, or fled in hor­ror, and with that ques­tion always does it feel that “In the Image of a Blind God” isn’t so much an epic poem that I am com­pos­ing, but rather, is an epic poem com­pos­ing itself through me.”

We are very happy to be work­ing fur­ther with Den­nis (many of you will recog­nise him from our antholo­gies and his poetry which has appeared on our site more than once) and help­ing him to fur­ther his artis­tic vision as an author.

The cover will be designed by Matt Davis, who was the cover designer for Zero, and the book will be released on Hal­loween for paper­back and kin­dle on Ama­zon, as normal.

Fretensis was a fast read, and one I read over twice, just to be sure that there was nothing I missed. It will raise eyebrows, and perhaps some questions amongst the readers. It will a lot of people turn to Google for the deities that they may not be familiar with.
It read so smoothly, I believe the quote above, that the poem wrote itself through the author and not the other way around.
Art, especially poetry, is so difficult to rate in a review. When you add in such a strong view about religion and various faith-based beings, it is even more difficult. My views are polar opposite of Mr. Villelmi, but I respect his views and the beautiful way in which he expressed them in Fretensis.
I also loved the art inside, which added to the eerie vibe of this book.
For fans of Otep Shamaya (like myself), I think you'll be enthralled. This was a great book to release on Halloween!


Purchase Fretensis via:


HALLOWEEN SPECIAL Pt. 2: Nicky Peacock Interview


1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?

I'd always wanted to be a writer. My mum got me into writing at an early age and I've always been an avid reader. But it has only been in the last couple of years that I've been published. 

2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today?

Growing up I read a lot of Anne Rice and Kelley Armstrong. I then moved on to Charlaine Harris and Laurell K Hamilton books. I still read all these authors to this day. I've recently been introduced to Karen Marie Moning books (which are great) and, for my horror addiction, I've been reading all the lovely gems coming out of Dark Fuse Publications. 

3. What was the inspiration behind your novel Bad Blood?

I really loved zombie and vampire books and wondered what would happen if they were thrown in together. But when I looked around i couldn't really see anything like that available - so I decided to write it myself!

4. Will we ever see these characters again?

Yes, the Battle of the Undead series is planned to at least a trilogy. I'm currently beavering away on the 2nd book entitled, Bad Timing.

5. How would you act if you were in Britannia's position about being turned without permission?

Good question! I always try to inject a piece of myself in all my protagonists, but Britannia really only had my sense of humor. I'm not as angry as she is or as impatience. I'd probably be pissed about it for a few hours, until I realized that I was going to be young and beautiful for ever, I'd then get over it pretty quickly (yes, I am that shallow! LOL)  

6. Why vampires vs zombies?

I think it's because they are both technically 'undead' but are so different in terms of what they are, what they do and how they kill. Vampires are usually portrayed as pretty ruthless and with them having so long to live, they are intelligent and scheming. Zombies are just shuffling, pack animal killing machines - I've always said that 'at least you know where you are with a zombie' they're not going to deceive you or pretend to be something they're not.

7. What other genres would you like to try your hand at?

I write horror, urban fantasy and paranormal romance. I'd like to give steampunk a proper go - I think its a very under-estimated genre with a lot of potential.

8. Do you believe in magic?

I'd like to say I do. I did growing up. But unfortunately, the older you get the more you realize that magic is a belief rather than a reality - man, that sound so depressing :( I actually had a recent experience watching that mermaid documentary on Animal Planet. It was shown in the UK a couple of months ago and I didn't realize that it was a fake. For a brief twenty minutes I was actually convinced there were real mermaids and out there! Magic was real! Of course I discovered later that the whole show was a lie, but I still remember that feeling of thinking that anything was possible. I called Animal Planet a lot of nasty names that day! 

9. Where did you get the idea for the vampires' backstory?

In all honesty, to make Bad Blood work, the vampires really had to hate one another, other wise there would be no tension. So I deliberately created Britannia with a stubborn streak a mile wide and Nicholas with a kind of old world 'I know better attitude' and their back stories pretty much wrote themselves. 

10. Would you like to see Bad Blood in theaters or on TV? If so, what actors would you like to see play your characters?

It would lend itself to either a movie or TV (there's too many locations for it to work on the stage) For the actors - For Britannia, it would have to be Emma Watson, I think she would rock the attitude Brit has and she definitely has the right look. For Nicholas, he was a little tougher, but I'd go with Andrew Garfield, more for his earlier performances than his current Spiderman hi-jinx. For Philippe It has to be Tom Hiddleston - he could work both angels of this complex character. Jack would be a Nicholas Hoult, Tate would be Daniel Kaluuya (I just loved him as Tea Leaf in Psychoville - UK program) and Josh would be Liam Hemsworth. Lyle isn't in this book as much, but he features a lot in the next two so I'll pre-cast him as Eddie Redmayne. 

11. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?

10 years goes by quicker than you think! I'd hope to still be writing books I love to write, and with the readers still enjoying them. I'd like to say that, at that point, I could give up my day job and write for a living, but I'm not that naive. Probably only the top 10% of authors get to live that sort of lifestyle, so I would have to be very fortunate indeed to achieve that.

12. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?

My day job is advertising sales and marketing, so I'd be doing that. I'd probably be reading twice as much to fill the gap - so living in a semi-functional literary coma!

13. Can you tell KSR what you're working on next?

I'm working on Bad Timing (2nd in the Battle of the Undead series) and also an adult retelling of a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale - I've turned it into a historical urban fantasy. 

14. What authors, dead or alive, would you like to collaborate with?

A few years ago I worked on a project called the 48 hour Book for the UK's World Book Day. It was basically 20 authors writing a book in 2 days. Although we managed it, it was probably the hardest thing I had to write as most authors are very stubborn,  and everyone had a specific vision of where they wanted to go with the story - so I'd politely decline doing anything like that again with any author. But, I'd love to meet Richard Laymon and talk to him about the horror genre.

15. Thank you for participating in the interview. Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?

1) I have no sense of direction.
2) I'm a bit of a shopaholic when it comes to clothes and nail polish.
3) I'm always honest in interviews.
*Thank you for the interview Kelly! Happy Halloween everybody!

Find Ms. Peacock online via:



Face Book Page:

Amazon Author page:

Good Reads:



Website for my Writers' Group:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

BOOK BLITZ: "Frequent Flyers" (Amanda Weaver)

Book Blitz for Frequent Flyers


Featuring "The Friendly Skies"


Amanda Weaver

TFS Cover


Cassie Sinclair has been there, done that, and has the frequent flyer miles to prove it. She’s far too jaded to fall for the engaging stranger seated next to her on her flight to Mexico, no matter how pretty his face or dreamy his accent. But when the flight’s re-routed and their tightly packed schedules are blown, she decides indulging in one reckless night with Simon couldn’t hurt. They’ll have their fun and fly back to their regularly scheduled lives the next day. But fate (and Simon) might have other plans.


“Cass, let’s just call this what it is.”

She blinked at him, unbearably aware of his hand covering hers. God, could he feel the way her pulse was racing under his fingertips?

“And what’s that?” she asked, her voice thick and quiet with nerves.

“A date.”

“This is a date?”

He shrugged casually, one corner of his mouth curling up in a smile. His fingers slowly slid higher on her arm. “Yes, a date. We might not have set out to go on one today, but that seems to be where we’ve found ourselves. So let’s go with it.”

“On a date.” His smile grew wider and he nodded once. He was positively caressing her arm now.

“A date. Which means I’m buying.”

She didn’t protest when he slid the check out of her reach. After tucking his credit card in the folder, he took her hand again, turning it over and skimming his thumb over her palm. Her breath caught in her throat. Such a tiny, insignificant touch, and yet she felt it in so many places.

“Since we’ve agreed that we’re now on a date, maybe you won’t mind me doing this,” he murmured, lifting her hand and pressing his lips against the pounding pulse in her wrist. He looked up at her, his lips still brushing her skin. “Okay?”

She nodded. “Okay,” she whispered.

“And this?” He kissed the center of her palm, slowly, deliberately, and she was fairly certain she felt his tongue flick out to taste her skin.

She pressed her knees together as her nerves and muscles slowly melted. She wanted to climb into his la


p, straddle him, push his shoulders back, grab him by that tie…

“That’s okay, too.” Her voice had turned into a rasp.

“You’ve got some chocolate on your finger,” he murmured, his breath washing across her palm. “Right here.”

There was no errant spot of chocolate, but she said nothing as he drew the tip of her index finger into his mouth. She thought she might combust on the spot. It didn’t last long, just a whisper of his slick, warm mouth around her fingertip and then he let her go, sitting back and smiling with an expression that was nothing short of salacious.

“I’ve wanted to do that all day.”  


Headshot 2 a

Like many writers, Amanda Weaver spent her childhood telling stories. College steered her in a different direction and into a successful career as a designer. Several years ago, she picked up writing again to blow off some creative steam. One thing led to another, National Novel Writing Month happened, and here we are.

Amanda Weaver grew up in Florida and now lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, daughter and two crazy cats.    

Add Frequent Flyers to Your Goodreads Shelf!

Frequent Flyers





Click the logo to buy your copy from all the major retailers!




Connect with Amanda Weaver

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Pinterest


Join us for the Frequent Flyers Release Day Party on November 1st!


And enter NOW to win one of six Amazon gift cards or six ARCs of Frequent Flyers!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Watch the Frequent Flyers trailer!


Congratulations to everyone published in the Wishful Thinking anthology! Look for my review very soon!

BOOK REVIEW: "Penny (Women And War #2)" by Ellie Keaton


Penny is hell bent on revenge on the man who caused her to flee France as a teenager with little more than the clothes on her back. She lost everything, her friends, her home and her family. She is desperate to find love and to go back home. The Nazis have occupied her country. To return now means she will risk arrest, imprisonment, hideous torture and perhaps even death. Her British friends and adoptive family don't understand her need to go back. 
It's the second year of the war. Britain stands alone. Civilians face death and destruction on a daily basis through the Blitz. Penny throws herself into her translation job in order to forget about the man that broke her heart. Yearning to do more, she convinces her bosses to drop her behind enemy lines in Northern France as a spy. Working with the resistance in the darkness of occupied France her bravery, skills and resourcefulness are tested to the limit. 
Now a trained killer, she comes face to face with the man she holds responsible for the loss of everything she held dear. Will she let revenge destroy any chance of happiness the future may hold? Or will she give in to the love she has waited a lifetime to find? 

Penny is the book I've been waiting for since reviewing its predecessor, Gracie, a few months back. Penny, the character, struck me as deep, unique and powerful, the exact female lead for the time the story is set during.
I was not disappointed!
This is as much a tragedy and a romance as it is a thriller. It makes you feel as though you're right in the middle of the Blitz, hearing the air raid sirens and seeing dead bodies everywhere.
But the real story is about Penny, her life with her stuffy relations who look down upon her class, and the death of her mother, who was brutally murdered. You're with Penny every step of the way in her journey, feeling what she feels and seeing what she sees.
Ms. Keaton is a magnificent storyteller. I truly enjoy reading her books and hope I have convinced you, reader, to do the same.


Purchase Penny via:


HALLOWEEN SPECIAL Pt. 1: "Bad Blood" by Nicky Peacock Review


For my Halloween special post this year, I was sent Bad Blood, an upper YA novel by Nicky Peacock, about vampires saving humans during the zombie apocalypse.
It might sound strange, and it is, but in the best way!

Britannia is a 450 year old vampire, turned without permission by Nicholas, a pompous vampire who fell in love with her and wanted to keep her with him for eternity. He even killed her fiancé.
She spent centuries hunting down his vampiric children, but now they must work together, because the vampire Elders need as many humans saved from the zombies as possible, or else vampires will starve.
But when the spitting image of her lost fiancé shows up, things get even stranger...

Young adult vampire novels are often cheesy. Young adult zombie novels are often pure violence and no story. Bad Blood is neither of those things. Think, Darren Shan and Poppy Z. Brite had a lovechild.
The story is a very quick read, very violent and very emotional. You get love, hate and every little thing in between. There are twists, but nothing too complex.
Britannia is a wonderful lead, with snark and depth. Nicholas is the perfect antagonist, and the supporting characters will imprint themselves in your memory.
My only problem here is, will we get another book about them? You won't want this story to end and you will ask yourself, "Why isn't this a movie?" Ms. Peacock has so much untapped potential here. I'm excited to read more from her.


Purchase Bad Blood via:


Amazon UK


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

BOOK BLITZ: "Frequent Flyers" (Angel Lawson)

Coming November 1st!

Frequent Flyers

Romance flies the friendly skies in this diverse collection of short stories from a talented group of best-selling and up-and-coming authors.


There’s something for everyone in this mile-high compilation – from a love story born in a blizzard to a steamy encounter spawned by a series of crazy events. For supernatural fiction fans, how about the tale of an airport that’s also a portal to another world… or a scheduled flight that takes a detour into an alternate reality? From an unexpected trip that reignites a twenty year old flame, to a quirky liaison between a ticketing agent and an adorable doctor, Frequent Flyers takes you on a journey that will touch your heart and leave you flying high!

Forced Landing


Angel Lawson

Forced Landing copy (1)

Forced Landing ventures into co-existing worlds as Nadya discovers her tiny hometown airport is a portal to a world she never knew existed. Ancient history is buried deep within her bloodline, one that is revealed as events push her closer to pilot, and Sidhe Guard, Liam Caldwell.

As a protector, Liam agreed to never reveal the truth to Nadya about his connection to her and her family. That agreement is tested when Nadya’s own abilities emerge, igniting their bond while placing her and the portal in danger.

FF excerpt graphic

He passed me and entered the hallway, directing me back the way I'd come. The house was silent, no sign of the woman that escorted me the first time.

When we reached the foyer he paused. “As much as I appreciate your concern, please do not follow me again, Nadya. It isn’t safe.”

“Safe? What do you mean?” From our close proximity I could see that the injury on his face had fully healed. I dropped my eyes to his chest, but there was no evidence of a bandage under his thin shirt. Without thinking I reached forward, more curious than I’d ever been, but he stepped deftly away and my hand grasped nothing but air.

“Goodnight,” he said, opening the door.

The rain had finally passed and I stepped out into the muggy night. I turned to say goodbye, but instead heard the loud snap of the solid wood door as it closed in my face.


FF about the author graphic

Angel Lawson lives with her family in Atlanta and has a lifelong obsession with creating fiction from reality, either with paint or words. On a typical day you can find her writing, reading, plotting her escape from the zombie apocalypse and trying to get the glitter out from under her nails. She is the author of five books, including the completed Wraith Series, Serial Summer, FanGirl, & an urban fantasy novel, Vigilant. She is the co-author of the New Adult Paranormal book, Odin's Murder with Kira Gold.



AMAZON | Kobo | All Other Platforms








a Rafflecopter giveaway

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Man On The Run" by Gail Hamilton

Lydia Marshall needs to round up the last samples of an unpredictable "relationship enhancer" created by her employer, NuGenn Pharmaceuticals. The last batch of the so-called potion is in the hands of a test subject, Damone Reid. But when Lydia finally tracks him down she's in for a shock. He is no longer the shy, awkward programmer she interviewed months before. Suddenly, she finds herself swept up in Damone's potion-fueled quest to live life to the fullest. They go kite flying.  They go whale watching. They go dancing in the moonlight.

Even though Lydia tries to keep things professional the former nerd's enthusiasm--and kisses--are infectious. As the tall, sexy adventurer takes her on a wild ride, Lydia finds herself falling for him. But is it the love potion that is igniting her feelings? And what will Damone do if he finds out her secret mission is to destroy the very thing that is changing his life? The discovery could destroy their blossoming romance.

asked to see Damone right away but Mrs. Benson shook her head. 

gone.  Packed a bag this morning and told
me he was going on a trip to have some fun. Didn't know when he'd be back.  Whistling show tunes, he was, and said he
meant to start at some place called Barrel-o-Thrills.  Took off before I could get another word out
of him."

Lydia thanked Mrs. Benson and rushed out to her car.  A quick search on her cell phone found
Barrel-o-Thrills out on the edge of the city. It was a club specializing in
bungee jumping. The website announced: Give
yourself the thrill of a lifetime.  Your
molecules will never be the same.  

remembered the 50-foot railing and tore out of the driveway.  What if Damone came to real harm because of
NuGenn!  What if he'd used too much of the
potion and it had morphed into a thrill enhancer instead of a relationship

Oh, the
lawsuit!  Oh, the bad publicity!

By the time Lydia got to Barrel-o-Thrills, parked and
paid admission, her heart was pounding. 
She raced over to bungee towers just in time to see a long, gangling
body flying through the air, arms and legs wind-milling, yelling with
delight.  When she finally got to where
the crew were slipping the harness from Damone, she could see what his
grandmother meant. He was grinning even though, wobbling and whooping, he could
barely stand upright.

the potion have done this?
wondered again.

Or had he just discovered common recreational drugs?

Moving swiftly and decisively, she rushed over and
grabbed Damone by the elbow.

         "Let him go.  I'll take care of him from here," she told
the crew chief.

Unclipping the last of the harness, the man shrugged
and handed Damone over.  Reeling from the
wild plunge, Damone staggered straight into Lydia.  Hanging on to stay upright, he blinked at her
in disoriented, astonished surprise.

"Volta..." he gasped.

The next second, he flung
both his arms around Lydia and started kissing her with a passion that curled
her toes and shocked her at the same time.

In fact, Lydia was so shocked that she just stood
there while Damone tightened his embrace even more.  His mouth feasted on hers with such total
delight, and such complete abandon that the sensation swept away any resistance
Lydia tried to muster.  The fellow was
kissing her as though he hadn’t kissed a woman in ages--kissing as though he
meant to claim every delicious pleasure he had missed living like a hermit in a
basement.   Lydia could actually feel the determination rushing through

Gail Hamilton has been creating novels since the great romance boom of the eighties, writing for Harlequin and other publishers. She has been a farm hand, English teacher, ad copywriter, and once rode a British Bedford truck across the Sahara and back to see Timbuctu. All of it is fodder for her fiction. She is drawn to action, romance, adventure and characters with a distinctly odd twist. These show up in her many romance novels and her fast-moving historical novel, The Tomorrow Country.

After trying urban life in Europe and Toronto, Gail returned to live on the family farm where she grew up. In this rural corner hugging the north shore of Lake Ontario, Gail digs into the rich, raucous local history. She cherishes a secret passion for animated movies and loves snapping photos of nature all around her, reading the constant changes like a newspaper every morning. What better place to hatch brand new tales for everyone’s enjoyment.

Visit Gail’s website at

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

BOOK BLITZ: "Frequent Flyers" (Kira A. Gold)

Frequent Flyers Cover

Romance flies the friendly skies in this diverse collection of short stories from a talented group of best-selling and up-and-coming authors.

There’s something for everyone in this mile-high compilation – from a love story born in a blizzard to a steamy encounter spawned by a series of crazy events. For supernatural fiction fans, how about the tale of an airport that’s also a portal to another world… or a scheduled flight that takes a detour into an alternate reality?

From an unexpected trip that reignites a twenty year old flame, to a quirky liaison between a ticketing agent and an adorable doctor, Frequent Flyers takes you on a journey that will touch your heart and leave you flying high!

Coming November 1st!



Featured in Frequent Flyers

 photo AMidsummerFlightsDreamcopy_zps4d00952f.jpg

In A Midsummer Flight's Dream, librarian Jolie Flynn has recently lost everything: her money, her house, her job, even her own name. When she has to fly to Öland, an island off the coast of Sweden, she bumps into Mattias during a layover. Twenty years ago, he promised to catch her if she fell, but he's no longer the boy she knew from that magical summer two decades years ago.

The attraction between them still burns hot as the solstice sun, and Jolie is reminded who she used to be, and that perhaps she hasn't lost everything after all. Contains young lust, old books, and wild strawberries.    photo BehindTheStory_zps5158b8d1.jpg
Öland Gettlinge.jpg

Öland, (pronounced err-lahnd) is an island off the southeastern coast of Sweden, a magical place that time, and for eleven months of the year, most of the world forgets. Iron Age and Viking people settled (or at least died a lot) there, and the island served as the Royal game preserve for centuries of kings. Nowadays it's a folksy artist summer hideout, with huge parties at midsummer that go on for days.

I first was on Öland---which translates to island-land, Swedes being rather literal like that--in 1991, and I fell in love with everything: the sea, the stones, the history, and the people. Everyone is beautiful in Sweden, from the craggy faced great grandmothers with laughing eyes, to brash boys that stare openly while not saying a word, and gorgeous women with the innate ability make really funky sweaters look fashionable. If you don't believe me, have another shot of aquavit and tell me there isn't something charismatic about that guy over there, the tall one who has been watching you all night and doesn't look away when you meet his eyes.

The sunlight is amazing in Sweden in June. All the clichés of the "land of the midnight sun" are true; it's as if the sun is too excited to set, and doesn't want to miss the festivities. I lost track of the hour when I was there, and the day, it was simply summer. A Midsummer Flight's Dream is an homage to the island, and the airports that take us there and get us home.  photo Excerpt_zps3e081652.jpg

“I can't believe you're doing this.” Lucky clipped the stop sign as she backed out of the lot of the bed-and-breakfast that had given me a discount rate for the whole month, and turned north. “You're like one of those college students who hikes across Russia with nothing but a sleeping bag, so she can ‘discover’ herself.”

My 35-year-old best friend was the one who looked like a college student, or even younger, with yesterday's glitter still smeared on her eyes and her hair in pigtails.

“I always thought that ‘discovering yourself’ was a euphemism for ‘figuring out how to masturbate,’” she said. “You've got cash, right? So you can eat?”

“Yes, I have money.” I didn't tell her how little I had: $93 dollars in my bag, $80 of it in change, leftover from the last yard sale. Enough, at least, to get me there. “I have a place to stay, and there'll be food.” I hoped. “I'm fine.”

Lucky picked up the coffee stirrer from her gas station cappuccino and chewed it as she turned on to Route 7, mumbling something that sounded a lot like “No, you're not.”

I grabbed my carry-on, a blue canvas backpack faded with twenty years of hard use, the reluctant gift from a boy who hadn't wanted me to leave. In the outside pocket, next to my e-ticket receipt and my passport, was a pack of stale gum. I counted sticks—two for each flight—and took the one left, unwrapping it partway. I held it up and tugged the plastic stick from Lucky's mouth.

“Just promise me you'll cut loose a little. Get your mojo back,” she said, folding the gum into her mouth. “Get drunk. Get laid, even. Seduce some rich married guy and do him in the airport hotel.”

“You're telling me to be the ‘other woman?’”

“No! Of course not. No.” Then she groaned. “No. Nonono!” She grimaced at the rear view mirror, slowing to a crawl on the side of the road. “I'm so sorry, Jolie. I wasn't speeding, I swear.”

I turned, looking over my shoulder to the dark green squad car of a Vermont State trooper. “It's okay,” I told her, though it really wasn't. The plane ticket cost me what was left of my settlement and my last paycheck from the library. I hadn't been able to afford the missed flight insurance.

The police officer tailed us until we could pull off alongside someone's gravel driveway, and then he sat behind us for ten minutes, while I counted my heartbeats and Lucky apologized every thirty seconds.

Finally, he rapped his knuckles on her window. “Going a little fast there,” he said, taking her license and proof of insurance. “Are you aware your left brake light cover is broken?”

She shook her head, apologizing to him now, and he left after eyeballing her train pajamas. I checked the time on my phone—two minutes ahead of the time on the dashboard of Lucky's car—and reread the email I'd received late last night.

“So you're staying at your aunt's house?” Lucky asked. “The one who sends you all the weird hats?”

“Yeah. Great Aunt Tove. My mom's mother's sister.” She made fancy hand-dyed yarns for fiber artists, and knit strange gloves and scarves decorated with seashells, some itchy and musky with homespun fibers, some softer than kittens.

Lucky looked at the side mirror, and tapped her fingers on the steering wheel. “Will you have internet?”

“I doubt it. I'll be happy if there's electricity.”

“Wait. Is this the same woman with the neighbor boy? From that summer?” she asked, and I nodded, running my fingers over the three embroidered crowns on my backpack. They had frayed, but the yellow was still bright under the thinning metallic threads.

He had dark hair, green eyes, and skin tanned gold by the Arctic sun and the sea; he'd taught me how to fish and what the words on the menu at the cafe said and how to drive my aunt's ancient stick shift Saab, and had refused to say goodbye.

Lucky grinned at me and bounced in her seat. “Is he still there?”

“I don't think so. Tove said he got married a long time ago. Before I did.” She'd sent me a picture, addressed to her in gorgeous feminine handwriting, a Christmas postcard of three dark-haired girls with wide-set eyes, so button-cute my heart cried sugar tears.

The officer tapped on the car window again, even though it was rolled down halfway. He handed her a slip of paper, explaining that she had ten days to fix the light, and then waved us on. We'd lost twenty-three minutes.  photo AbouttheAuthor_zps3edbfefb.jpg


Kira Gold

Kira A. Gold is an expatriate of cold places way up north, now living in Lexington, Kentucky. She is a textiles artist and costume designer working with many theaters in the Bluegrass area. She has four accidental cats and an intentional collection of vintage marionettes, and drinks enormous quantities of Earl Grey tea. After midnight, she writes strange things in a blue bathrobe.


Her first book, ODIN’S MURDER, with Angel Lawson, is a New Adult paranormal twist on Norse mythology. Her solo debut, THE SCENT OF FLAMES, is a Young Adult take on Hamlet, set in Vermont. Look for her next play on Shakespeare, a seductive and speculative MacBeth, early next year.


She blogs sporadically at wordpress. Like her FB author page here, for book info and odd thoughts or follow her inappropriate insanity on twitter: @


 photo WatchtheTrailer_zpsd47fdb34.jpg



AMAZON | Kobo | All Other Platforms



A Rafflecopter giveaway!

BLOG TOUR: "Love Poison" by Pete Barber Review, Excerpt and Interview


Love is a dangerous drug.
Lab assistant and avid climber Amber Wilson is no stranger to risk. But she feels invisible around her handsome boss, Mark, until she accidentally doses him with an irresistible aphrodisiac that leaves him with a suicidal hangover. Abruptly fired, Amber and Mark partner up to research the source of the drug—a rare New Zealand mushroom—in hopes of refining it for safe use.
On their way to New Zealand to collect fungi samples, Amber is blindsided by a deep and intense romantic connection with Mark. Their new business plan is endangered by ruthless Maori mobsters who control a mushroom scheme they’re killing to protect. As the body count rises, Amber struggles to salvage her and Mark’s dreams, but when she risks her heart and acts alone, both of them could end up paying the ultimate price.


Chapter 1
Climb a sheer rock wall dangling from a single rope two thousand feet up a mountain— check. Scuba dive in shark-infested waters—check. Make small talk at the office Christmas party—hell no! Tonight, apparently, that was a bridge too far for Amber Wilson. With her back against the far wall of GenFun’s large conference room, replete with festive balloons and a tacky, artificial Christmas tree, she tracked the progress of her boss, Mark, as he wove toward her through their coworkers.
Mark had sought her out ten minutes earlier. They had briefly discussed a work project, then silence. Awkward, long silence. She didn’t need a drink, but what a relief when he offered to fetch one. This whole evening felt like a hair shirt. Not that she’d ever worn a hair shirt, but it would be uncomfortable, and so was this party. She felt out of place, and what she really wanted was out of here. Amber checked the wall clock again—eight forty-five. She’d hold out until nine then make her excuses and escape.
Acquiring the beer was proving complicated. Three times, Mark had to stop and answer a question, or return a Christmas greeting. He was tall and good looking in a rugged, outdoorsy way that appealed to women, which was probably why, just as he finally broke through the crowd, Sharon stepped in front of him, placed a hand on his arm, and began to flirt. When he looked over and widened his eyes, Amber smiled and nodded. Poor Mark—too nice for his own good, sometimes.
“Phew,” he said when he reached her. “That was tougher than running a route in the Super Bowl!”
She accepted the beer and raised the cup. “Thanks.”
His aftershave reminded her of something. She’d been struggling to place the smell. Suddenly, she got it—the mountains—that fresh, woodsy scent. Not for the first time, she admired the strong line of Mark’s jaw. In the office, he was always clean-shaven, but tonight he’d left a stubbly shadow. Purposely, she was sure, because the line on his cheek was distinct, planned. Nice.
Then she noticed Mark’s head tilting to the side. He was waiting for an answer to a question she hadn’t heard. “Sorry?”
“I asked how you were coping… without your mom. I know you were very close.” Her face grew hot. In seconds her neck would be a blotchy mess. Instantaneous dry mouth left her gaping like a landed fish. Was this why she’d felt all night as if her skin didn’t fit? Although it was a whole year ago—or maybe because of that dreadful anniversary—thoughts of her mom’s last few months swamped her mind.
His left eyebrow lifted, and he touched her arm. “Are you okay, Amber? I didn’t mean to upset you.” Concern flooded his ice-blue eyes.
Her heart was racing, and tears were imminent; Mark’s sympathy had smashed through a wall she didn’t know she’d built, and there was no way to shore it up standing in the middle of a crowd. Amber handed him her cup, spun around, and scurried away like a startled rabbit.
Eyes locked on the floor, she dodged through clusters of people who were dancing in place while nibbling finger food and sipping from plastic cups. Everyone was talking, laughing, relaxed.
Everyone except her.
As she stepped into the hallway, she snatched a backward glance. Mark stared after her, looking stupefied, and she didn’t blame him.
The party was her first large social gathering since . . . Oh, God, the last time she’d been with this many people, eating and drinking and talking in groups, was at her mom’s funeral— twelve months ago this week. But Mark didn’t know that.
She hurried along the hallway, ducked into the women’s bathroom, and locked herself in the middle stall.
Seated on the commode with the index finger and thumb of each hand touching, palms upturned, she breathed deeply, closed her eyes, and tried to clear her mind by picturing the view from the top of her favorite Vermont ski slope—snow-draped hills spread out below her feet like huge billowing sheets.
The bathroom door opened, and the clatter of high heels on floor tiles shattered her attempt at meditation.
“I nearly peed my pants out there!”
Two women laughed, overloud and tipsy.
Amber recognized their voices—Sharon, only daughter of GenFun’s CEO, who “worked” in Accounting, and her BFF, Carol from Human Resources.
The stall doors on either side of Amber slammed shut. The woman on her left let out a long, loud sigh, causing her friend to snicker.
Two flushes, followed by the sound of doors reopening and then water running as they washed their hands.
Perched on the toilet seat, Amber softened her breathing and hoped the women were too drunk to notice the occupied stall. She considered raising her feet in case they peered under the door. Why would they even think of doing that? “Any luck with Mark?” Carol asked. “Not yet, but give me time. God, I love his accent. Is he British?” Amber’s hand shot to her mouth, and she gnawed at a loose piece of skin beside her thumbnail.
“New Zealander, a Kiwi,” Carol said. “Did you see Amber? Sniffing around him like a bitch in heat. And, oh my God, that dress!”
“Must have raided Granny’s wardrobe,” Sharon said. Their laughter echoed off the tiled walls.
Amber had told Maude the hemline was too long and that red didn’t work with her hair color. So much for taking fashion advice from a fifty-five-year-old.
“But seriously,” Sharon said, “she had him pinned against the wall.”        Oh, God. Did I?
“I know. His eyes were spinning like a trapped animal’s.” “As if a guy like Mark would be into a geeky lab rat.” “Shh. Look.” They’ve noticed me. Sharon lowered her voice to a drunken whisper. “Whatever, everyone knows she has a crush on him.”
“Damn, Sharon, you can be a bitch when you’ve had a few.” “That’s Queen Bitch to you. Come on. I’m going to find Mark.” The bathroom door opened and closed, and the women’s banter faded. Tears threatened again. Amber dabbed her eyes with toilet tissue. What the hell was wrong with her? She’d led a climb up Wallface in the Adirondacks without trembling this much.
But that was before her mom had died and left her alone.
Deep breaths. She and Mark made a good team, but she didn’t see him in that way. He was handsome: tall and well put together—and those eyes . . . but work and romance didn’t mix. Anyway, she didn’t have time in her life for a relationship. Then she realized. She did have time. And the ache, Mom’s ache, flooded her mind and settled like a rock in her gut. God, she was a mess. For three years, her life had narrowed to work and Mom. And during that final year—filled with chemo, and puke, and soiled Depends—she thought she’d never make it. But she had. And now Mom wasn’t there. For a year Mom had been not there. After being a caregiver for so long, Amber didn’t know how to be Amber anymore.
Wait. If Sharon and Carol thought she had been flirting, did Mark? Perhaps those bitches had saved her from making a total ass of herself.
I have to get out of here. She gathered the crumpled toilet tissue from her lap and flushed
Before anyone came in and saw her, she washed her face. Her hair was down for the party. She brushed it back and slid on a scrunchie. Amber grimaced at her reflection: bloodshot eyes, blotchy neck, red hair in a ponytail, and those damned freckles. She resembled a jilted schoolgirl.
Amber cracked open the bathroom door and peered along the hallway to her right. Empty. But the music had switched up tempo; a driving techno drumbeat vibrated the hallway’s glass partitions. A woman shrieked at what must have been the world’s funniest joke. Swiveling left, Amber hurried past Mark’s office and ducked into hers, next door. “Amber Wilson, Senior Lab Technician,” the sign read. Senior self-deluded idiot, more like. Did I really have him trapped?
Her polished desk stood in the center of the room with papers neatly sorted: in-tray, out- tray, pending. Six framed photos lined the wall—scenes from her mountaineering years, a couple of her in a wetsuit in Key West, and one of the Vermont ski slopes she’d tried to conjure in the bathroom.
Through the door at the rear, she slipped into familiar territory, her lab: a hundred feet long, filled with stainless-steel counters, centrifuges, computer monitors, test tubes. She breathed in the comforting antiseptic smell and skirted past the workbenches to the door at the far end. With a swipe of her keycard, she entered the growing room where GenFun propagated the fungi specimens she studied.
Rows of tables with two-foot-square plastic growing boxes containing developing mushrooms stood on either side of a central aisle. Infrared bulbs positioned over a few specimens supplied meager light. The air was cool, damp, and musty—the way fungi liked it. Eighty strains constantly rotated, with new specimens shipping in each month. An ever-changing challenge—a challenge she loved.
Amber turned sideways and squeezed between two tables, shortcutting to the red exit sign on the far wall.
Behind her, she heard laughter.
She spun around, and her purse sideswiped the growing box on the table to her right. The lid flipped off, rattling loudly as it hit the floor. The automatic door clicked shut. She froze, holding her breath.
A couple were whispering and giggling out in the lab. It sounded as though they were making out.
Quietly, she retrieved the lid. The box was thick with hundreds of maturing mushrooms. In the dim light, they emitted a silvery phosphorescent glow. The plastic top had gouged the growing medium, and a few fungi, each the size and shape of a Q-tip, had spilled on the tabletop.
Henry, the janitor, would go ballistic if he found torn-up mushrooms lying around. The only waste bins were in the lab, and the couple who had sneaked in were going at it hot and heavy. So she brushed the damaged specimens off the table into her purse, smoothed out the disturbed bedding, and replaced the lid.
In ten more sidesteps, Amber reached the exit and pushed the panic bar. Clang, clang, clang.
She clamped her hands over her ears. The alarms were never normally armed. But this is Saturday night, dummy.
When she stepped outside, the door snapped shut behind her. The loud bell had set her pulse racing, and she ran across the parking lot toward her yellow Prius, wobbling on the four- inch heels she’d worn for the party.
Or did I wear them for Mark?
The lights came on, and a man emerged from the administration building to her left. She recognized Mark’s broad shoulders silhouetted in the building’s front doorway. Why him? “Hey, you. Stop!” He cleared the steps in two strides and ran toward her. She slowed to a walk and waved. “It’s just me, Amber.”
The night air misted her breath, and a damp cold coming off the Hudson River cut through her dress. The overhead mercury lighting gave the parking lot a washed-out, eerie look. She shivered and pulled her unbuttoned coat more snugly around her. More people spilled from the building. Mark turned and shouted, “Okay, guys! Friend, not foe. Go back to the party. I’ll join you shortly.”
“You sure?” one of them called. “Yeah, go ahead.”
The doorway cleared, and someone silenced the bell. Mark reached her as she chirped her car’s door lock. “Sorry, Mark. I cut through the growing room and forgot the alarm. Silly of me.” God, I sound so whiney.
“You’re leaving early. Did I offend you, Amber?”
“No. Of course not. I have a headache. Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. You go back to the party.” In the dimly lit parking lot, at least he wouldn’t be able to tell she’d been crying. She tightened her gut and focused on cutting this exchange as short as possible. She needed to go home.
“What’s on your hand?” he asked.
Amber glanced at her fingertips, which glowed with silver phosphorescence. “Oh, I accidentally touched one of the fungi specimens.”
He reached out and took her left hand. Turning her palm up, he stroked the silvering with his thumb. “Which ones?”
Mark’s hands transfixed her: broad, with long, strong fingers. Hers were thin and delicate by contrast. When she looked up, he was staring—once again waiting for an answer.
“Which of the fungi displayed phosphorescence?” Mark’s voice sounded businesslike. “Sorry, I didn’t pay attention, but I can show you on Monday.”
He dragged his fingers across her hand. Rubbing the silvering between thumb and forefinger, he brought it to his nose and sniffed. “Odorless,” he said. Then his voice deepened, became husky, softer. He pointed to her cheek. “You have some on your face, too.”
She bent to the car’s side mirror. A glowing snail’s trail marked the side of her nostril. Great, now he’ll think I’m a nose picker.
When she straightened, he’d moved closer. Now she detected traces of citrus and fresh mint in his aftershave. His eyes were the first thing she noticed whenever she saw him. And right now they were gazing at her intently enough to lift the hairs on the back of her neck.
Don’t be dumb, Amber. He was just being kind talking to you, ’cause he’s like that. In truth he couldn’t wait to get away from you. A trapped animal, remember?
Mark touched her nose, brushing at the silver streak. She swallowed hard, and stiffened. As she opened her mouth to speak, his other hand moved up, and he cupped both her cheeks. Her face felt lost in his palms. He bent forward and pressed soft lips to hers. As her eyes closed, his tongue teased and touched hers, hot, and wet. Sparks flickered against her eyelids. Oh, my God!
Legs trembling, she locked her knees and kept her arms rigid at her sides, not daring to touch him, not wanting to encourage him. Or did she? Where had this kiss come from? Had she signaled for this in the party? His fingers slid from her face and caressed her neck then slipped down the outside of her coat. When his hands spanned her waist, he broke from the kiss and stepped back.
Tingling and light-headed, she opened her eyes and finally remembered to breathe. “Wow!” he said. “I’m sorry. I don’t know where that came from.” Neither do I. Should I kiss him back? Should I slap him? “Please come inside,” he said.
And face Sharon, Carol, and the other staff again after sneaking out and triggering the alarm? What did the kiss mean? This was too fast, too complicated. Her voice cracked when she said, “I should head home.”
“It’s early. The party’s just beginning. Stay.” He locked those eyes on her again. “Although we’ve worked together for nearly a year, tonight, for the first time, I feel I’m getting to know you. Come inside.”
How was she supposed to process this? Mark was her boss. A shift in their relationship would change everything. This was happening too fast. She needed this job. The job was the only thing that kept her sane—the only solid thing in her life since Mom. “Thanks, Mark, good to know. But I have a headache. I have to leave.” “All right, give me a few minutes to say my good-byes, and I’ll drive you home.” He caressed her arm and raised his hand to her cheek.
He’s going to kiss me again.
Breath coming in short gasps, mind spinning, she said, “No. It’s your party. You’re the boss. I . . . I need to go. See you Monday, okay?”
His face sagged, but he released her. Then he lifted her left hand and brushed it with his lips. “Monday.” He breathed the word into her palm like a prayer.
Amber retrieved her hand and grabbed for the car door handle. She missed and stubbed her fingers, got it second try. As she stepped around the door, she tripped on her heel, bumped her head on the doorframe, and more or less fell into the driver’s seat. Way to impress, Amber.
Mark stood in the parking lot with a contented grin on his face while she reversed and pulled away. He was still waving when she drove past the building.
“Holy shit!” Amber gripped the wheel with both hands to steady them. Tremors in her legs made the gas pedal jerk, so she set the cruise control at forty and practiced deep breathing.
She shot through an intersection where she should have turned right and had to double back. The next thing Amber knew, she was parking in front of her apartment building with no recollection of the drive home.
With her ridiculous shoes in one hand, she ran barefoot up three flights and let herself into her apartment. With the door locked and chained, she leaned against the wall and slid to the floor. Leo, her overweight ginger cat, peered out from the living room. He threw her a disgruntled look and turned away.
Her mind had frozen up. She tried to analyze what had happened. Tried running through her earlier conversation with Mark, looking for markers, looking for ways she might have signaled that she wanted him to kiss her, but none of it made sense. The physical sensation was thrilling, exciting—surprisingly so, but logically this could only lead to disaster. She had to work with the man!
Sitting in the hallway didn’t resolve a thing, so Amber headed for the shower.Forty minutes later, she was curled up on the sofa in her PJs, sipping green tea, with Leo by her side. For once, the cat allowed her to stroke his belly.
She shouldn’t have gone to the party. It had been excruciating. Her friend Maude, whom she trusted, had convinced her that mixing with people at the office party would help: “At least you know them. Not like the pressure of meeting strangers.” On the one hand, Maude was right. Amber couldn’t spend the rest of her life avoiding human contact. But for so long, her mom had been her life. Mom had raised her, supported her, encouraged her. She had to repay that trust when the cancer came, had to stay strong for them both. She was a daughter, but in many ways she’d also fulfilled the man’s role in their house.
Since she’d lost her mom, Amber hadn’t filled the void. Maude meant well. “You’re too young to become an old maid.” But Maude didn’t understand. It wasn’t that Amber didn’t enjoy the company of men—she did. She had her favorites in the climbing group. Then there was Carl, at the diving school in the Keys. Just thinking of Carl made her smile. But she never brought anyone home, because there was no room for another relationship. Her mother needed all of her.
Then at the party, when Mark asked how she was coping, when he looked at her with his kind eyes, the anguish from last Christmas flooded back. Standing in that conference room, surrounded by people she knew, Amber had never felt so alone. Maybe she would never connect again. What if something in her brain’s wiring had changed forever? That’s what nuns did, they committed their lives to an idea, to Jesus—a god made human, a perfect man. She’d committed her life to caring for her mom. Who else would; who else could?
It had always been just Amber and her mom. Stanley, her father, died before she was two—she had no memory of the man. Afterward, her mother shouldered the responsibility of raising her, fulfilling Stanley’s dreams for his daughter. Dreams of college and a career, of an independent woman he would never meet.
Attractive and still in her prime, her mom had never dated, never looked at another man. No man could fill Stanley’s shoes. Theirs was a love for the ages. Amber glanced at the framed photograph on her coffee table. An action shot of a twentysomething Stan Wilson in full stride, powering down the home stretch, tall and muscular, cheeks flushed with effort, his head topped with buzzed red hair. It was her favorite picture of him, and she carried a smaller version in her purse. He and Mom began dating soon after that photo was taken.
As a child, Amber loved to hear her mom’s stories about how he wooed her—such a gentleman—and how he doted on his little girl. Later, as she matured, and went to college herself, she understood he’d foreshortened his athletic career when he took a teaching job to support his new family. On her graduation day, her mother told her how proud he would have been. Just thinking of it now lodged a lump in her throat. Would she ever find a love so strong? Which brought her full circle to thinking about men again and what had happened in the parking lot.
“Damn it!”
Amber sprang to her feet, dumped the tea in the sink, and filled a glass with chardonnay from the bottle in the fridge. She slugged it in three gulps and poured a refill before plunking herself on the couch again. Leo glared at her from the rug as if to say, “Go ahead, beg, but I’m not coming back up there.”
Where had the kiss come from?
It seemed so out of character for Mark. But how did she know? Maybe he’d had too many beers. Or his kind, generous nature was an act. Was he one of those men who had to dominate a woman, control her? Well, not this woman, he wouldn’t. But why did she even think that? Mark had never given that impression, and he was one hell of a good kisser. She grinned as she remembered his lips—so soft. Their tongues had touched. Her cheeks grew hot. She took another pull of wine and let out a sigh.
What if Sharon was wrong? What if Mark liked her and he’d been holding back? Perhaps he was shy, too.
But he hadn’t been shy in the parking lot. He’d begged her to go back to the party. Good job she didn’t. How would she have faced him on Monday? How could she date the boss? Anyway, it was against company policy.
More confused than ever, she phoned Maude. Not that she expected any useful life guidance from her best friend, but at least she could discuss “the incident” rather than have Mark’s kiss swirling around in her head.
The call went to voice mail. Ten fifteen—she’s probably in bed. Next to Amber, Maude had the most barren personal life of anyone she knew. But Maude was fifty-five. And Maude didn’t care.
Oh, God. That’ll be me in twenty years. How depressing is that?
She left a voice message instructing Maude to meet for breakfast at the Brooklyn Brew. To prevent the Mark incident from keeping her awake, she took an Ambien.
When she got in the bedroom, Leo wasn’t in his customary spot at the bottom of her comforter. She hunted and found him on the kitchen table nuzzling her purse and purring. Amber tried to pick him up, but he spat at her.
“Suit yourself, but I’m off to bed.” She waited at the door, expecting him to follow, but Leo clung to the purse like a junkie to his stash.
“Weirdo,” she said, and switched off the light.


Scientist Amber let her personal life take a backseat while she cared for her ill mother. A year after her mother's death, her boss, Mark, makes a move on her at a party, but he was really drugged by a strange secretion from New Zealand mushrooms.
When they both lose their jobs, they decide to experiment on the mushrooms and go to NZ to get new samples.
But what they don't know is that a deadly Maori tribe controls the mushrooms, and they won't be happy with their interference.

I was expecting a romance novel with more sex than story because, let's face it, sex sells. What I got, however, was a whirlwind of a story with sex taking a backseat to love, introspection and danger. This was a thrill ride for the ages!
Set with beautiful scenery (you've seen some of it in The Lord of the Rings films), deep, emotionally scarred characters and a scientific idea beset with violence and murder, this is a unique book with a great talent behind the scenes.
Characters were well-written, the plot was very well researched and the secondary characters were delightful! If you read this and don't love Maude, I don't know what's wrong with you!
Great book and a wonderful departure from the usual romance novel!


Purchase Love Poison via:


Barnes & Noble:








Author page on RAP:



Rafflecopter code (Reader Contest):


a Rafflecopter giveaway





1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?

My wife and I ran a motel on Carolina Beach, NC for ten years. Being an hotelier is a huge time suck, so when we sold out in 2005, we elected not to take on another massive work obligation. Instead, we moved to a rural setting and took some time for ourselves to finally do what we wanted in life. I’ve always wanted to write but never had the time.

2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today?

As a pre-teen, Golding’s Lord of the Flies was the first book that made the hairs on my arms stand to attention. As a young man, I read mostly sci-fi. I still have my original copy of Frank Herbert’s Dune trilogy.  When I was twentyish, a serious car crash laid me up in hospital for ten weeks. I read Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy—it’s a complex novel. I’d never have made it through to The End if I hadn’t been confine to bed. But I still have my copy, so it mattered.  In my middle years, I traveled a lot for work, and survived on a steady diet of best sellers purchased in airport book stores.  Nowadays, I read almost exclusively indie titles. I have more time, and generally finish one book each week. I review what I read for Big Al’s Books & Pals. The last book I read was Neil Ostroff’s Drop Out; it left me gasping. I finished four days ago, and I am still thinking about the story .

3. What was the inspiration behind your novel Love Poison?

I wish I could summon up an earth-shattering reason or theme that inspired me to write any of my stories, but sadly I don’t operate at such an elevated level. Love Poison, like all of my tales started with an incident. In this case--a woman, Amber, sitting in a bathroom stall hiding from the crowd at her office Christmas party and trying to overcome an anxiety attack. Why that? Who knows? She just popped into my head, so I wrote her down. Then, of course, I had to explain why she was anxious, and more importantly, I had to get poor Amber out of the bathroom. During her escape, she stumbled across a mushroom that made men instantly fall in love, and that’s how it all started. Nothing deeper, I’m afraid. But I did have a lot of fun with the concept.

4. Will we ever see Amber and Mark (and Maude) again?

Probably not. I think I’ve put them through enough traumas. They deserve to enjoy their happy-ever-after time together

5. Would you go after your love like Mark did after Amber?

Oh. I think so. Like him, I’d have blamed myself for letting Amber put herself in danger. I don’t see how I’d have any choice but to set things right.

6. Were any of the characters personalities or emotions taken from real life?

How characters react to conflict must stem from personal knowledge. When a character is in a tight spot (and poor Amber gets into plenty), the way she escapes, or overcomes the obstacle has to be drawn from inside. Otherwise it would seem false.

7. What other genres would you like to try your hand at?

I’ve previously published a thriller and my next novel is a drama. I don’t set out to write in a particular genre; rather, I let the characters take me where they need to go. However, I do enjoy writing action scenes, so I think whatever story I’m engaged with, it’ll always be fast-paced and full of action.

8. Do you enjoy science like Amber?

I’m far from a nerd, but I have always and still do enjoy reading about science. Hearing about a potential scientific breakthrough always has me playing “What if” in my head—that’s where most of my story ideas spring from. For example: what if there was a love potion, what would the consequences be, how would it affect the world? How would it affect the characters?

9. Do you think there's a love potion out there? Would you take it?

I don’t think I’d take it. I have had a number of women readers ask me if I can direct them to Paradise Island, though .

10. Would you like to see Love Poison in theaters or on TV? If so, what actors would you like to see play your characters?

The movie rights are available, Kelly. So if you hear of any billionaire movie mogul who’s interested, just send him or her my way—I’ll give you a cut.
For the cast, well, Amber is thirty-five. When we first meet her she is uncertain of herself and where her life is going. So the actress would need to show a vulnerable side. As the story progresses, Amber has to change and grow. Additionally, she is quite an athlete. Toward the end of the novel only great physical strength and endurance allows her to reach her happy-ever-after. Although she’s a little older than Amber, I’d have to go with Uma Thurman.
Mark, her love interest is a no-brainer—Hugh Jackman. He’d manage the Kiwi accent without any problem, and my wife wants to meet him in the worst possible way!

11. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?

I’ve just completed the first draft of book-one of what I believe might be a trilogy. It’s based around a child who has the ability to heal illness in others. The medical premise is unusual, and her abilities have created a lot of nuanced complexity for the characters, who have surprised me—a lot—in how they’ve developed. I’m driven by the tale. I think about it all the time. It owns me. It haunts me. I’ve written book-one twice before and thrown away the words. Now that I’ve accumulated more expertise in my writing skills, maybe I can actualize the concept. If I can pull it off, I think it’ll be a worthwhile read.

Ten years sounds about right. By which I mean, if I don’t have a finished story by 2024, I should probably quit! Kelly. I hope you’ll agree to review my opus if I finally manage to spit it out.

12. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?

Oh, my! I get a level of satisfaction from writing that I can’t get from any other activity. So, I don’t want to be doing anything else.

13. Can you tell KSR what you're working on next?

Last year, while I was researching a story idea I stumbled upon a website written by and for military spouses who are struggling with the fallout of PTSD and TBI in their returning warrior husbands and partners. I was so moved by their plight that I’ve written a novel that, I hope, makes their struggles more understandable for non-military readers. The book is scheduled for editing in November. Look for Shell Shocked in spring 2015.

14. What authors, dead or alive, would you like to collaborate with?

I don’t think I’d enjoy collaborative writing. I like to sort things out myself.

15. Thank you for participating in the interview. Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?

When I was six-years-old, I was hit by a large truck as I crossed a busy road. I lost six pints of blood before they patched me up—six-year-olds only have six pints of blood—yup, it was that close.
My left leg is one inch longer than my right (see above) my femur was smashed and as it healed, the gaps calcified and extended the bone. Incidentally, the surgeon assured me this is very difficult to do on purpose. I’ve always refused to wear a built-up shoe, so my spine is as crooked as a dog’s hind leg.
When she was sixteen, my mother--who was an uneducated kitchen maid and quite a looker--ran away from home to marry my father. The love-match was against the wishes of my father’s family who were quite wealthy. His dad offered my mom one-hundred pounds sterling to get the hell away from him and never come back. In today’s value, that was around $20,000. That I’m writing this post shows she declined the offer. His family cut my parents off without a penny. I’ve never met anyone from my father’s family. Sadly, my father died when I was two, so I never met him either.

Thank you for inviting me to guest on your post, Kelly. Your questions are tough.