Saturday, September 29, 2012

What a Character! Ray from Missing, Assumed Dead

MISSING, ASSUMED DEAD
Prejudice, murder, insanity, suicide: Every small town has its secrets. 
MuseItUp Buy Link: http://tinyurl.com/Missing-Dasef
Kindle Ebook: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005EN73FI/ 
NOW OUT IN Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1479270202/

RAY JOHNSON

Ray Johnson owns the Jack and Jill Diner in the little town of Rosewood, OR. He had been a good friend of Salvadore Vasco, a Basque shepherd, until Vasco disappeared. Ray knew Salvadore couldn't just get lost; the old man knew all too well the rocky hills leading toward the Steen Mountains.

When Kam McBride is named Salvadore's executor after seven years he'd been missing, one of the first people she meets in Rosewood is Ray. After all, she was hungry after being lost in the high desert country and that cute Deputy Mitch invited her for a bite to eat.

Ray's a crusty old guy who stays in Rosewood because his wife is buried there, and he wants to stay near her. That, and he's got the only place to eat in the tiny town. Bev scoffs at Ray's cooking ability, but just about everybody else in the area eats at the Jack and Jill's regularly.

Excerpt: Kam meets Ray for the first time.

When she entered the diner, she had to smile. From the checkerboard black and white tiles on the floor to the slow-spinning fan on the ceiling, it looked like a stage set for Grease. Red vinyl chairs and booth seats were tucked close to green Formica-covered tables. Stainless napkin holders and salt-n-pepper shakers nestled between plastic catsup and mustard bottles on each table.

Mitch sat at the counter talking to an older man wearing a sea green apron and white chef’s hat. His bare arms, although skinny, seemed to be all gristle and muscle. She briefly wondered if Mitch and the cook were related. Both had dark skin and black hair, although the old man’s showed a lot of gray. The roman noses, high cheekbones, and strong jaws were similar enough for them to be father and son.

She slid onto a stool next to Mitch and smiled. She picked up the tall, water-beaded glass of iced tea waiting for her and took a long swallow. “God, that’s good. Thanks.”

“Kam, this is Ray Johnson. Ray, Kam McBride.”

Ray reached out his gnarled hand. The shake was gentle but firm enough to hint at the old man’s wiry strength.

“You can call me Ray, but you doesn’t have to call me Johnson.”

Mitch winked at her, and Kam twitched an eyebrow. “Um, okay. I’ll just call you Ray.” She tipped her head toward Mitch. “Are you two related? You sure look alike.”

Ray and Mitch both broke into laughter. Mitch answered. “No relation, but I’d be proud.”

The old man grinned, exposing a little gold behind a white partial plate. “I think that’s ‘cause Mitch here is half Paiute, and I’m half Basque. I do believe the two tribes came from the same beginnin’s.”

Kam studied Mitch’s face, a very nice face at that. Returning her attention to Ray, she asked, “Did you know Salvadore Vasco? He was Basque, too.”

“Yep. Him and me were good friends ’til he went missin’.” The old man shook his head slowly. “A damned shame, that.”

“Missing? I thought he was dead.”

“That’s the thing. Seven years gone by, so they’re declarin’ him to be dead.” Ray paused. “So, you’re his last relative?”

“I am, although I didn’t even know about him until a few weeks ago when I got the letter from the court. But my mom recognized the name. My father was related to him. Second cousin twice removed or something like that.”

Ray rubbed his chin. “So, you never met Salvadore?”

“No. Tell me about him. Were you friends for a long time?”

Oh, sure! Years ’n years. He’d come in town maybe once a week for supplies an’ always stopped here for a meal. I can almos’ see him walkin’ down the street usin’ his shepherd’s crook for a cane. The work stove him up some. You know, sheep herdin’ ain’t as easy as it sounds.”

Kam nodded. Finally, she’d met somebody who actually knew Salvadore Vasco. “What else can you tell me? What happened when he went missing?”



Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lorrie Struiff is in A HEAP OF TROUBLE

LORRIE UNITES-STRUIFF 

Lorrie's website is: http://struiff.wordpress.com/
Lorrie's blog is: http://lorriejuly.blogspot.com/
********

READERS, AUTHORS, I NEED A QUESTION ANSWERED ABOUT FACEBOOK. CAN YOU HELP?

Thank you, Marva, for inviting me to you blog today. I do hope we get a lot of guests because my curiosity is piqued again.

Is FaceBook becoming too much like a writer’s blog?

Are we over-running FB with pleas to go to our blogs, pleas to buy our books? Are we preaching to the choir again? You authors understand what I mean.

How are FB readers responding to the inundation? I’d really like to know readers, so I hope you leave a comment.

Readers, do your eyes gloss over when reading the ads? Do you just skip over them and scroll down? Or, do you just hit your “Friends List” or “Family” and not bother with the home page?

How about you, authors? We all belong to many book sites on FB, but do readers sign up for these sites to keep abreast of the forthcoming books, the blurbs and the book pitches.

All these questions rattle around in my head. Maybe because I am an author and I wonder if we are getting through to the readers or only to each other. The choir again.

All this make me wonder, also, if that is why FB put up those lists of “Family” and “Friends.” Maybe the powers-that-be are too aware of the inundation.

Yes, yes, I know this has been happening for years as a good way to advertise our work. I’m not saying, “stop it.” Authors have no choice. And I’m certainly going to continue.

But, I would love to hear your thoughts in some comments. Satisfy my curiosity, please.

Now, to advertise my new book. Lol. I hope you scroll down and read.

A HEAP OF TROUBLE
Buy from MuseItUp Publishing
Buy from Amazon

Back Cover

Sheriff Cole Walker has no choice, Beggar, a run-away ringtail monkey has decided to move in with him. Now, Cole doesn’t like any critters much, but he doesn’t dare shoot the ringtail who sneaks out at night to steal the townsfolk’s valuables and hides them under the bed. Why doesn’t he just shoo the animal away?

Because, Mattie Wells, a pretty woman, is new in town and she sure jingles Cole’s spurs. She thinks Beggar is adorable and takes a shine to men who love pets. What’s a poor sheriff to do but grin and bear it?

To keep the peace in town, track and chase down cattle rustlers, return valuables from the prowling night thief, Beggar. With his deputies Wade and Sully, and his unwanted sidekick, Cole must find a way to win Mattie’s heart, find the rustlers, and bring peace once again to Cold Creek, Kansas. Cole has a heap of trouble on his plate.

If you want a different sort of romance, this is a western with action, comedy and some fun characters. Let me give you a peek.

Excerpt

Dang. He ran under the desk again and the door’s wide open. Cole peeked at the monkey huddled in the dark kneehole. “If you don’t get out that door and get lost, I’m gonna have to shoot you. You understand? Now get! Shoo!” Cole flapped his arms like a wounded bird trying for flight and stomped on the floor, making a ruckus. No luck.

He leaned on his long handled weapon, sighed, then slid his hand down the wood handle and sat on the floor. He didn’t trust the monkey worth a dang. Critters belonged outside, not underfoot—especially under his foot. But, what if it belonged to some youngster? He couldn’t stand the thought of some snot-nosed tyke crying his little heart out and badmouthing the big bad sheriff who shot his pet.  

A rumble from his stomach reminded him the varmint ate his lunch. Now he’d have to wait till suppertime for a decent meal. Sweat pooled under his arms, his shirt stuck to his back. He needed a smoke …bad.      

Cole reached into his shirt pocket and took out his makings. He laid the broom tight to his thigh. Unsteady hands lost some tobacco but he managed to roll a cigarette and light it. He had to think up a way to get this unholy terror out of his office.

The monkey peered at him, blinking his eyes pathetically. It crept from under the desk. Cole held his breath and inched his hand toward the broom. The monkey somersaulted, stood straight, and clapped its hands. Cole swore the little thing was grinning. It somersaulted again then hopped up and down, clapping.

Cole snapped his fingers. The monkey chattered, nodded its head, then did another tumble. After a long drag on the cigarette, Cole snapped his fingers again, his right hand never far from the broom, or his holster. The creature sat on the floor, tilted its head, and stared at him. Cole evil-eyed him back while he ground the butt out on the floor.

A biscuit lay next to the wall. Cole threw it at his foe. The monkey made a quick one-handed grab, blinked, and gnawed on the crust. The thing did look a little scrawny.

“When you’re done eating my lunch, will you leave?”

The monkey looked up and shook its head.

“Huh? If I pack you a lunch, will you leave?” Again, the monkey blinked and shook its head. Cole’s chest tightened and he put his hand on the warm grip of his pistol. “If I shoot at you, will you leave?” The monkey shrieked, ran under the desk, and hid its eyes with its hands.

“Who are you shooting at, Cole? And why in the world are you sitting on the floor?”

His head snapped up and he found himself sinking into the sweetest blue eyes. Mattie Wells grinned, deepening the dimples in her cheeks.

Visit my website at http://struiff.wordpress.com/
Lorrie's new blog is: http://lorriejuly.blogspot.com/
See what else is new.

Here's the book trailer to give you another view of A Heap of Trouble.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Law in Missing, Assumed Dead



MISSING, ASSUMED DEAD
Prejudice, murder, insanity, suicide: Every small town has its secrets.
Buy Ebook at MuseItUp or Amazon
Buy Print Book at Amazon
Book Trailer



THE LAW IN MISSING, ASSUMED DEAD

The mystery involves lots of representatives of the law in one form or another. The Judge (see a word or two about him on this blog) and the fake Chief of Police have no interest in upholding the law. The only other police presence in the wilds of Malheur County are the Sheriff's Deputies that patrol the roads. There job more or less comes down to helping lost tourists and writing tickets for hunters without a license.

Lucky for Kam McBride, one of these fine representatiaves of law enforcement, comes to her aid when she's lost in the desert due to a flaky GPS system in her rental car. Mitch joins Kam in the search for her missing relative's murderer.

This excerpt shows how Kam and Mitch meet. Yes, they meet 'cute.'

Excerpt

The sky had turned a deeper blue as the sun continued its trip behind the mountain ridge. The shadows lengthened on the east side of the scraggly shrubs. The faint hum of a car engine drew her eyes southward. “Good, I could use some directions.” But she was alone on an otherwise empty road. Maybe the approaching vehicle held a friendly soul, but it could just as well carry a serial killer.

Using her shirttail as a hot pad, she gingerly took hold of the door handle again and climbed back into the car. Goose bumps rose on her arms when the still blasting air conditioning hit them. She turned on the emergency flashers then opened the glove box, looking for something to use as a weapon. “Ah ha!” Kam pulled out a two-inch canister. “Pepper spray? Crap, just hair spray, but that shit burns eyes. Better than nothing.” She tucked it between her right thigh and the console to hide it from view, her finger ready on the button.

The vehicle grew larger and revealed itself to be a Ford Expedition SUV painted Oregon green. The lights on its roof flashed blue and red for a moment then went off. “A cop. Excellent.” On the other hand, she’d heard of guys who decked out their rides to look like cop cars.


The SUV pulled up behind her and stopped. After a long pause, the door opened. A man in khaki climbed out and walked forward. He stopped behind the car and wrote something, probably the plate number, on a pad. Aviator glasses hid his eyes, but the rest of him looked pretty good. Tall. Well, maybe not too tall. Slim and dark, just how Kam liked them. Watching him approach, she wondered idly how he managed to keep the razor-sharp creases in his uniform in this heat.

When he reached her side window, he gestured for her to roll it down. Kam cracked the window a couple of inches. She noted the badge and the Smokey Bear hat. “I don’t think I was speeding, Officer.”

The man chuckled, showing fine smile lines at the corners of his full mouth. He had great teeth. “No, you weren’t, but I wondered if you might be lost. A lot of people get themselves turned around out here.”

Kam gave him a rueful grin. “Yeah, lost isn’t the half of it. I’m looking for Cork Hill Road.” She hoped he was the real deal, but she sure as hell wasn’t opening her door. Tin badges were easy to buy on eBay.

“License and rental agreement?”

“Sure.” She opened the center console and pulled out the papers with her left hand, then shoved the rental agreement through the two-inch opening. She couldn’t figure out how to extract her license out of her purse without letting go of the spray.

“Your license?”

“Why don’t you just direct me to Cork Hill, or if that’s too hard, how about Rosewood.”

“I’d be happy to, miss, but I really do need to see your license. Paperwork, you understand.”

Kam released a deep breath breath. She stretched her arm across her body trying to reach her purse on the other seat. She grabbed the strap and pulled it toward her. It slipped out of her left hand. She automatically lifted her right to grab it. “Shit!”

Instantly, the officer’s manner changed. The smile disappeared, and he took a step back, pulling his gun from his left-handed holster. “Drop the canister out the window,” he ordered. “Do it now.”

Kam squeaked and threw her hands up. The canister flipped out of her hand and flew at the windshield. It bounced back and landed in her lap. “Now what?”

“Pick it up and push it out the window. Slowly.”

“You already said that.” She picked up the spray with two fingers and dropped it out the window. “Hey, I don’t know if you’re a real policeman. Anyone can play cops and robbers.”

“Please step out of the car. Use only your left hand to unlatch the door and keep your right hand where I can see it.” The barrel of his pistol never wavered from her torso.

“Take it easy. I’m opening the door.” He stood outside the reach of the door’s swing. Kam decided she’d rather fight outside the car, than be shot inside it. She got out with her hands still raised.

“Now move to the rear of the vehicle,” he ordered. When Kam obeyed, he took a step forward, never taking his eyes off her, knelt, and picked up the canister. Straightening, he glanced down at the canister then back to her. The corner of his mouth twitched as he re-holstered his pistol. “Sorry, but…hairspray?” He took off the aviators and smiled.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fear and Power in Missing, Assumed Dead




MISSING, ASSUMED DEAD
Prejudice, murder, insanity, suicide: Every small town has its secrets.
Buy Ebook at MuseItUp or Amazon
Buy Print Book at Amazon
Book Trailer



FEAR AND POWER

I didn't want to let the Judge rant on about his prejudices, so I'm covering for him. This is one mean, nasty old man. But one soft spot in his heart does him in.

In "Missing, Assumed Dead," a self-proclaimed 'judge' runs a small Justice Court (really only traffic court) in a tiny town in Southeast Oregon. He has appointed his nephew, George Leiper, de facto town police chief. Of  course, there is no police department, but George loves to wear the uniform and enjoy the comforts of his own office in the City Hall.

Nobody cares to oppose the Judge as long as he keeps his connection to the White Power groups away from Roseword.

But that's not always the case. He brings the darkness of the Aryan Brotherhood right to the town's front door when he forces his daughter, Miranda, to marry one of the brotherhood, Cole Bristow. Mostly, the Judge want to get his daughter away from a Basque shepherd, Salvadore. When Salvadore disappears mysteriously, the town whispers behind closed doors, but don't dare cross the Judge with his connections to the White Power group.

Soon after bearing her daughter, Mirabel, Miranda commits suicide rather than remain married to Cole. The whole town worries, but fear keeps the secrets hidden.

The judge becomes the guardian of his granddaughter, but keeps her away from the rest of the town. Even her uncle admits that she's not right in the head. Something happened to her around the time that Salvadore disappeared. What happened to Salvadore, and why is Mirabel insane? Is the Basque shepherd her father rather than Cole, Miranda's husband?

Prejudice, murder, insanity, suicide: Every small town has its secrets. Find out what those shocking secrets reveal in "Missing, Assumed Dead."

Here's an excerpt from the book that tells you a little about Judge Leiper.

The next morning, George drove up to the Vasco place. He didn’t see anything suspicious but wrote a note for Salvadore to contact him. When he hadn’t heard two days later, he went back. The note was still on the door. He walked around the shack but didn’t see anything except Salvadore’s walking stick, the shepherd’s crook, leaning against the tool shed door. He looked inside, but nothing seemed amiss.

Vasco rarely went anywhere without that stick. George went back to town, worried something might have happened to the old man. He decided to tell his uncle about it. As a Justice of the Peace, he had close contacts with the Sheriff’s Office.

“That’s what I found, Uncle, um, Judge. I think the old man mighta wandered off and got lost.”

Judge Leiper stared at his nephew with watery eyes, then pulled a big, white handkerchief from his suit pocket. He wiped the sweat from his pasty face, nearly as pale as the cloth.

“Don’t think there’s need to worry. He’s a tough old guy and knows those hills like the back of his hand.”

George hesitated to speak up to the judge, but he had to do his duty. “I’ll contact the sheriff and see if I can get them to come out to search for him.”

Narrowing his beady eyes, the judge’s voice went from friendly to mean. “Now, you don’t want to be bothering the sheriff. I said not to worry. I’ll take care of it.”

“But—”

The judge waved his hand at George. “Now you just forget about it. I’ll take care of it.”

Friday, September 21, 2012

Beth Overmyer Grills Me

I'm answering questions today over at Beth Overmyer's blog. Come on over to visit and read an excerpt from Setara's Genie.

To make this post more interesting, here are some random images I downloaded to potentially use in Setara's Genie book trailer. They were left on the virtual cutting room floor. Some were omitted because I couldn't fit them in, some because I had a better image showing the same thing, and some are downright copyright violations, but I can post them here with the Fair Use Doctrine.





Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Special Discount Code

Special discount for my blog readers only.

Get 40% off when you purchase the "Missing, Assumed Dead" paperback at the CreateSpace store.

https://www.createspace.com/3988966

At check out, use code QJ2AAXAX to reduce the price from $6.95 to $4.17. Shipping and handling charges still apply.

You can probably get about the same price buying from Amazon if you have Prime Free Shipping or include the book in an order of $25 or more. Note that the book is eligible for the Buy 3, Get 1 Free special.





Monday, September 17, 2012

Setara Visits Katie Carroll's Blog

Katie's new book, Elixir Bound, is running the blog tour rounds. I featured her on this blog on the 7th, so she's returning the favor by hosting my main character, Setara, from Setara's Genie.

Check it out on Katie's Blog by clicking this sentence.

Read about Elixir Bound and world building on my blog.




Saturday, September 15, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Animal Andy - A Visit from His Zoo Friends

ANIMAL ANDY
by Kathy Rygg (Published by MuseItUp)

Ten-year-old Andy Ohman is spending his summer working at the Aksarben City Zoo where his dad is curator. There are rumors that the city might close the zoo due to budget cuts. An anonymous donor has given the zoo an antique animal carousel, and Andy’s dad is hopeful it will help boost attendance. Andy’s doubtful that an old kiddie ride will make a difference. He doesn’t see what’s so special about it. But when he takes it for a spin, he unlocks the magic that will help save the zoo.

Andy and some of his “friends” are here today to tell you about their adventures at Aksarben City Zoo. Welcome, Andy, Philippe, and Napoleon.

Andy: Thanks! My dad has been a zoo keeper forever. The last couple of summers he’d bring me to work with him and I’d get to ride around and watch him take care of the animals. He taught me a lot, and it was really cool spending all that time with him.

Then over the winter he got promoted to curator, which means he’s not as hands-on with the animals. Now he has lots of meetings and paperwork and stuff to do. I still get to be at the zoo this summer, but I don’t get to work with my dad. Instead, I have to clean out the hoofstock barn and wash windows in the giraffe exhibit. It’s still fun, but I miss working with him.

What can you tell us about the rumors that the city might close the zoo?

Andy: My dad said the city has to make budget cuts, and since our zoo is small, the city is considering closing it. My dad is doing everything he can to make sure that won’t happen. That’s why he was so excited when someone donated the old carousel to the zoo. He thought it’d bring in more visitors.

Napoleon: If your dad wanted to beef up attendance, he should have just talked to me. The boys and I could have put on a real show. For extra food, of course.

Philippe: I think you hairy apes have done quite enough. Instead of helping the zoo, you gave Andy’s poor dad extra work with your escape antics. If you ask me…

Napoleon: Nobody asked you, bird brain.

Philippe: Well, if it hadn’t been for me, Andy might not have survived his first ride on the carousel.

What happened?

Andy: The carousel is called the Magical Menagerie, and it’s definitely magical! I found that out the first time I snuck on and rode it by myself. One minute I’m sitting on the carousel’s zebra, and the next thing I know I had actually become a zebra! It totally freaked me out!

That’s unbelievable! What did you do?

Andy: Luckily, the zoo’s peacocks are allowed to wander around, and Philippe here saw me right away and helped me stay undercover in the zebra pen. But then Mr. George, the hoofstock supervisor came by, so I hid out in the hoofstock barn and accidentally fell asleep. Mr. George found me in there, but I had turned back into a person before he saw me. That’s part of the carousel’s magic—it decides when to turn you into an animal and when to turn you back.

Napoleon: Man, I love magic tricks. I’d give anything to take a ride on that carousel. Except food. I wouldn’t trade my food for it.

Philippe: The carousel wouldn’t work on you, Napoleon. You’re already an animal for goodness sakes.

How does the carousel’s magic work?

Andy: The guy who donated the carousel tried explaining it to me. His name is Zeb. He said the carousel has been around for a really long time. It senses when a zoo and its animals are in trouble and waits for the right person to come along who can help. I guess I’m that person.

How did you help the zoo?

Andy: Every time one of the animals needed help, I rode the carousel and turned into that animal. That way, I could talk to them and find out what was wrong. It’s so cool being an animal.

Philippe and Napoleon: (Both nod in agreement).

Andy: (laughs). Hey, that’s the first time you two have ever agreed on anything! But being an animal got me into a lot of trouble, too. Especially with my dad. And it’s not like I could tell him what was really going on. He’d never believe me. It was bad enough when one of my friends saw me as a cheetah. After that, I swore I was never going to ride the carousel again, but then something awful happened at the zoo.

What was it?

Andy: One of the elephants attacked its keeper, and she got hurt really bad. It didn’t make any sense. Raj, the elephant, would never hurt anybody.

Napoleon: Raj is good people. I holler over to him all the time from the top of the tree in my outdoor lounge. He gives me a trunk-up in return.

Andy: I had to find out the truth, but when I went to ride the carousel, its magic was gone. Zeb said I had to use my human instincts to figure out what happened. If I didn’t, the city would close the zoo for sure.

Philippe: SQUAWK! Pardon me, the thought is just so upsetting.
Who do you think will like to read ANIMAL ANDY?

Andy: Kathy Rygg, the author, wrote it for kids ages 6-10, but anyone who loves animals and likes stories with some magic in it will enjoy it. All of the books she writes are magical realism, which makes them a lot of fun.

Where can readers find ANIMAL ANDY?

The ebook is published by Muse It Up Publishing and is available online at the Muse Bookstore. A print version is available on Amazon. Here’s a neat video trailer for it, too.

Kathy Rygg has a children’s chapter book that is also available both as an ebook and in print on Amazon called TALL TALES WITH MR. K and it’s about a magical teacher who takes his students on fun adventures in the one place they least expect—the teacher’s lounge.

Kathy Rygg’s blog site is http://ksrwriter.blogspot.com
Follow her on Facebook under KSR Writer
Follow her on Twitter @kathyrygg

About the Author:

Kathy Sattem Rygg is an author, freelance writer, and editor. She earned a degree in magazine journalism from Iowa State University and has worked in corporate marketing for several Fortune 500 companies. Additionally, she worked at the McGraw-Hill Companies’ Business Publications Division in New York City and was the Editor in Chief of Women’s Edition magazine in Denver, CO. She is currently the Editor in Chief of the children’s online magazine knowonder! and lives in Omaha, NE., with her husband and two children.




Book Excerpt:

A huge, circular carousel with gold-framed mirrors around the top filled the grounds between the petting corral and the picnic area. Red and white painted stripes colored its pointed canopy above the mirrors. Small, clear light bulbs covered the carousel’s ceiling. Long, brass poles placed in the wooden floor were attached to large animal figures. But not just horses. Each pole was attached to a different zoo animal. Curvy, gold lettering painted in between the mirrors read Magical Menagerie.

Andy slid between the short barricades surrounding the carousel to get a closer look. Other than a few areas of chipped paint, the animals looked brand new. He thought his dad had said it was really old.

“Isn’t she grand?”

Andy jerked. He hadn’t heard anyone come up behind him. A gray-haired man with tiny, round glasses perched on the bridge of his nose appeared next to him.

“Yeah, I guess. I’ve never seen one with gorillas and rhinos on it though.”

"It's called a menagerie carousel because it has more than just horses. It's also why I thought it belonged in a zoo." The man stared at the carousel.

“You donated it?” Andy turned toward him.

“Indeed. The name’s Zeb." He bowed his head. "My family owned a zoo in Europe, and this carousel was a part of it. When I was about your age we moved to America. The carousel has been stored in an outbuilding at our family farm all these years, and I thought it was time to bring it out. The animals were getting restless.” He winked.

“Are you sure it still works?” Andy said, spotting a broken light bulb.

“Oh, it works when it needs to."

“Why did you give it to this zoo?” Andy thought it seemed more like something one of the larger zoos would have.

“Because I think your zoo really needs it.” Zeb started walking away. “Make sure you take it for a spin when you get the chance. The zebra’s nice and smooth.”

Andy glanced at the frozen zebra in front of him. He turned to ask Zeb another question, but he was gone, as if vanished into thin air. Goosebumps prickled Andy’s arms. He rubbed them away and turned back toward the carousel.

He stepped up onto its worn, wooden platform and walked around the edge. As he passed each animal, he ran his hand over its glossy back. Their saddles were smooth and firm, like the old-fashioned rocking horse at his grandparent's house.

Pausing in front of the zebra, he placed one hand on the brass pole that ran up through the black mane on its neck. He admired the painted bright blue and green saddle. Making sure no one was around, he placed one foot in the stirrup and threw his leg over the other side. The curved seat was a perfect fit. Maybe Benny was right. The carousel didn’t seem so bad.

Andy relaxed in the saddle when, all of the sudden, every light bulb in the ceiling blinked to life. Blaring carnival music spilled from hidden speakers. The platform began to turn, and his body rose upward. He tried placing his foot in the stirrup to get down, but it was like his arms and legs were glued in place.

Confused, he glanced around. Had Zeb turned it on? He didn’t see anyone. The carousel picked up speed. Fear rose inside him as the zebra rotated up and down on the center pole.

Everything blurred as he continued to spin, so he focused on the zebra’s black stripes. When that didn’t help, he closed his eyes. The tighter he squeezed them, the less his stomach churned.

The carousel slowed down and came to a complete stop. The carnival music shut off, leaving an abrupt silence. Andy exhaled and opened his eyes. The whirling in his head faded. Then he heard a fast, high-pitched braying sound, like a donkey. Had it come from the nearby petting corral? The zoo didn’t have a donkey. The sound came again.

He was horrified to realize this time it sounded like it came from his own mouth!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Kameron McBride of Missing, Assumed Dead


MISSING, ASSUMED DEAD
Available in ebook and print formats on Amazon.
****

I'm Kameron McBride. Call me Kam.

When I earned my degree in Computer Science, and got my first job as a systems analyst at a major software company in Seattle, I figured all I had to do is keep my eyes peeled for Mr. Right. Not that I was in any rush to get married, but I didn't want to miss something good while I was busy building my career.

Just one minor little detail. Well, make that two. Dad died. That just about killed me. He was always my best bud. Mom and I soldiered on, though. Then Mom started feeling bad, really weak. The doctor diagnosed her with multiple sclerosis. She got treatments, but MS doesn't have a cure. So she got weaker and weaker until she couldn't walk around anymore. She went from a cane to a walker to a wheelchair. But she kept herself busy with geneaology. I don't see the appeal myself, but it makes her happy.

Any thoughts of even getting a date went out the door. Don't get me wrong. I love my mom and don't resent a single second of the time I spend taking care of her. After all, she took care of me and sacrificed a lot to get me through college.

Then I got the letter. Talk about weird. Some guy I'd never heard of disappeared seven years ago, and he was declared dead. Strange enough, but even stranger, I was named as the executor of his estate.

I wanted to shuck it off, but Mom told me the man was related to my father. Seventh cousin, twice removed or something like that. She said I had to go. She wanted anything having to do with the family, you know, photos, birth records, stuff like that.

So there I was, driving through the gawdawful foresaken wilds of eastern Oregon, trying to find some bump in the road town called Rosewood. Of course, I got lost. Who wouldn't? Every chunk of scraggly sagebrush looks like the next, and they don't seem big on road signs.

Lucky for me, a Deputy Sheriff found me sitting out in the middle of nowhere. We had a minor little disagreement at first. He wanted to shoot me. But I forgave him for that when I looked into those baby blues. Ahem. Right.

Excerpt:


The sky had turned a deeper blue as the sun continued its trip behind the mountain ridge. The shadows lengthened on the east side of the scraggly shrubs. The faint hum of a car engine drew her eyes southward. “Good, I could use some directions.” But she was alone on an otherwise empty road. Maybe the approaching vehicle held a friendly soul, but it could just as well carry a serial killer.

Using her shirttail as a hot pad, she gingerly took hold of the door handle again and climbed back into the car. Goose bumps rose on her arms when the still blasting air conditioning hit them. She turned on the emergency flashers then opened the glove box, looking for something to use as a weapon. “Ah ha!” Kam pulled out a two-inch canister. “Pepper spray? Crap, just hair spray, but that shit burns eyes. Better than nothing.” She tucked it between her right thigh and the console to hide it from view, her finger ready on the button.

The vehicle grew larger and revealed itself to be a Ford Expedition SUV painted Oregon green. The lights on its roof flashed blue and red for a moment then went off. “A cop. Excellent.” On the other hand, she’d heard of guys who decked out their rides to look like cop cars.

The SUV pulled up behind her and stopped. After a long pause, the door opened. A man in khaki climbed out and walked forward. He stopped behind the car and wrote something, probably the plate number, on a pad. Aviator glasses hid his eyes, but the rest of him looked pretty good. Tall. Well, maybe not too tall. Slim and dark, just how Kam liked them. Watching him approach, she wondered idly how he managed to keep the razor-sharp creases in his uniform in this heat.

When he reached her side window, he gestured for her to roll it down. Kam cracked the window a couple of inches. She noted the badge and the Smokey Bear hat. “I don’t think I was speeding, Officer.”

The man chuckled, showing fine smile lines at the corners of his full mouth. He had great teeth. “No, you weren’t, but I wondered if you might be lost. A lot of people get themselves turned around out here.”

Kam gave him a rueful grin. “Yeah, lost isn’t the half of it. I’m looking for Cork Hill Road.” She hoped he was the real deal, but she sure as hell wasn’t opening her door. Tin badges were easy to buy on eBay.

“License and rental agreement?”

“Sure.” She opened the center console and pulled out the papers with her left hand, then shoved the rental agreement through the two-inch opening. She couldn’t figure out how to extract her license out of her purse without letting go of the spray.

“Your license?”

“Why don’t you just direct me to Cork Hill, or if that’s too hard, how about Rosewood.”

“I’d be happy to, miss, but I really do need to see your license. Paperwork, you understand.”

Kam released a deep breath breath. She stretched her arm across her body trying to reach her purse on the other seat. She grabbed the strap and pulled it toward her. It slipped out of her left hand. She automatically lifted her right to grab it. “Shit!”

Instantly, the officer’s manner changed. The smile disappeared, and he took a step back, pulling his gun from his left-handed holster. “Drop the canister out the window,” he ordered. “Do it now.”

Kam squeaked and threw her hands up. The canister flipped out of her hand and flew at the windshield. It bounced back and landed in her lap. “Now what?”

“Pick it up and push it out the window. Slowly.”

“You already said that.” She picked up the spray with two fingers and dropped it out the window. “Hey, I don’t know if you’re a real policeman. Anyone can play cops and robbers.”

“Please step out of the car. Use only your left hand to unlatch the door and keep your right hand where I can see it.” The barrel of his pistol never wavered from her torso.

“Take it easy. I’m opening the door.” He stood outside the reach of the door’s swing. Kam decided she’d rather fight outside the car, than be shot inside it. She got out with her hands still raised.

“Now move to the rear of the vehicle,” he ordered. When Kam obeyed, he took a step forward, never taking his eyes off her, knelt, and picked up the canister. Straightening, he glanced down at the canister then back to her. The corner of his mouth twitched as he re-holstered his pistol. “Sorry, but…hairspray?” He took off the aviators and smiled.




Sunday, September 09, 2012

Missing, Assumed Dead Going to Print

While my Oregon-based murder mystery with amateur female sleuth is happily ebooked with MuseItUp Publishing, I've decided to go with the print edition myself. The main reason is that I've learned over the last couple of years, ebook is becoming predominant over print. But, there are plenty of people who still prefer to hold that paper in their hands. For them, I'll provide print at the lowest price I can sell the book and still make the same amount of money I'd get for an ebook copy. That's fair, right? Here's the cover and blurb to get started. I'll put up some additional posts with articles about the book and excerpts to illustrate its wonderfulness

MISSING, ASSUMED DEAD
Now in Print at Amazon 
Available in Ebook from MuseItUp Publishing

Prejudice, murder, insanity, suicide: Every small town has its secrets.

When Kameron McBride receives notice she’s the last living relative of a missing man she’s never even heard of, the last thing she wants to do is head to some half-baked Oregon town to settle his affairs. But since she’s the only one available, she grudgingly agrees.

En route, she runs afoul of a couple of hillbillies and their pickup in an accident that doesn’t seem...accidental. Especially when they keep showing up wherever she goes. Lucky for her, gorgeous Deputy Mitch Caldwell lends her a hand, among other things. Her suspicions increase when the probate Judge tries a little too hard to buy the dead man’s worthless property.

Working on a hunch and trying to avoid the Judge’s henchmen, Kam probes deeper into the town’s secrets and finds almost no one she can trust. With Mitch’s help, she peels away the layers of prejudice, suicide, murder, and insanity. But someone in town doesn’t like her poking around, and when they show their intentions by shooting her through the police chief’s office window, the stakes are raised. Kam must find out what really happened to her dead relative before someone in this backward little town sends her to join him.

And she thought Oregon was going to be boring.





Friday, September 07, 2012

Elixir Bound by Katie Carroll


ELIXIR BOUND

Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Marva! I hope you don’t mind I’m sharing some of my illegal writing practices with your readers.

Elixir Bound takes place in the made-up world of the Greater Peninsula, more specifically in the purely imaginary Faway Forest. You might think it takes a lot of work and time to create an entire world from scratch. It’s not like any of us are J.R.R. Tolkien (who—if you don’t know—was the ultimate master of world building, creating languages, mythologies, and entire book-length documents for his fictional Middle-earth).

I’ll let you in on a secret (c’mon, get in real close so I can whisper): It’s not so hard when you steal your ideas! I know, I know, stealing is wrong. I’m not talking grand theft auto here. I’m talking about mining your own life for inspiration. Take what you know and your experiences, put your own personal spin on them, and bring them to your made-up world. Still have no idea what I mean…okay, how about an example?

Growing up I used to hike on a mountain called Sleeping Giant, so named because it looks like a giant laying on his back. It’s a great hiking spot for families because it has a large stroller-friendly path that leads to a castle, as well as more difficult paths for the older kids. It’s not very big (although I have managed to get pretty lost on it) and makes for a great day trip.

Wouldn’t you know there just happens to be a very important mountain range in Elixir Bound called The Sleeping Giant (very original name, huh?) that looks like a giant laying on his back. The Sleeping Giant is where Katora must travel in order to retrieve the Elixir’s secret ingredient. It’s much larger and way more dangerous than the mountain range of my youth and has a very interesting story behind its creation (that I did actually make up myself), but it’s very similar in its most prominent feature.

Readers who don’t know about the real Sleeping Giant might think I’m a very clever author to think of such a thing as a mountain that looks like a giant. They don’t know my dirty little secret: I stole the idea from my own life! Please feel free to steal my idea of stealing ideas in your own writing.

Elixir Bound blurb:

Katora Kase is next in line to take over as guardian to a secret and powerful healing Elixir. Now she must journey into the wilds of Faway Forest to find the ingredient that gives the Elixir its potency. Even though she has her sister and brother, an old family friend, and the handsome son of a mapmaker as companions, she feels alone.

For it is her decision alone whether or not to bind herself to the Elixir to serve and protect it until it chooses a new guardian. The forest hosts many dangers, including wicked beings who will stop at nothing to gain power, but the biggest danger Katora may face is whether or not to open up her heart to love.

Elixir Bound is available at the MuseItUp Publishing bookstore, Amazon, and other e-book retailers.

Elixir Bound excerpt:

Pop recounted how years of careful research and investigation by Luths’ wife and sons allowed them to uncover all the ingredients of the vial. The family continued to experiment with it until it became the powerful healing Elixir they currently possessed. The tale enchanted Katora; she knew so little about the Elixir.

A kick from under the table startled Katora. She almost swore out loud. She glared at Bhar, the source of the kick, and he gestured toward Hirsten. Katora had forgotten to observe him. Hirsten’s gaze fixed on Pop and he quietly hummed to himself. He turned to pick up his glass and the humming stopped. Katora looked away, not at all sure what to make of that. Pop continued talking.

“The mountain range known as The Sleeping Giant holds the key to the Elixir. On The Sleeping Giant’s highest ridge, grows a vine that bears a small flower, the nectar of which is the ingredient that gives the Elixir its healing power.”

Pop pulled the same blue vial he had given to Katora earlier in the day from his breast pocket and held it up. It sparkled in the candlelight, painting little rainbows of color on the walls. Katora had unknowingly taken a taste of the Elixir. Her stomach lurched with guilt at the memory of a single, thoughtless, wasted drop. Her eyes followed the tiny container when Pop continued.

“This is the very same vial Luths stole. I don’t think Yeselda ever realized how powerful the Elixir would become. Now it belongs to the Kase family, and we protect it from falling into the hands of evil.”

About the author:

Katie L. Carroll began writing after her 16-year-old sister unexpectedly passed away. Writing was a way for Katie to help her sister live on in the pages of a story. It also made her realize that she wanted to pursue writing as a career. In addition to penning novels for teens and kids, she edits puzzle magazines, plays soccer, and collects signed copies of books. Katie lives in Connecticut with her husband and son. To learn more about Katie, to read her blog, or to contact her, visit her website at www.katielcarroll.com.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

My Good Buddy's Book Trailer

Lorrie will be sending a little more on her new release (coming up in a couple of weeks), "A Heap of Trouble." We work our way through making a book trailer until we have something fairly decent. Do we go back and forth on artistic elements? No, we talk about what kind of monkeys and cattle work best. It's a lot of fun to put together a trailer by collaboration. Fortunately, her books lend themselves to some very fun trailer madness, which I present for your viewing enjoyment.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Drowsing to Scrambling

Once I got through the little blog tour of Setara's Genie, I thought I didn't have a lot to do. I do have a couple of my friends' books to pre-read (critique), and am enjoying the stories. Then the you know what hit the whirling device when some personal stuff (nothing dire) got in the way of doing my duty. My apologies to my dear Dreaded One (Ardyth deBruyn) for failure to complete a critique on her latest couple of chapters. I'll get rolling on it soon.

It's been a couple of days since posting my invitation to this dance (my blog). It's interesting that I've only received one taker on the open invite. I guess my 100,000+ hits (corrected) doesn't appeal to anybody (not counting my crit partners, of course). Oh, well. That just means I get to make up boring stuff rather than presenting exciting new releases.

One new thing for me is that I'm going to produce the print copy of my murder mystery, "Missing, Assumed Dead." The ebook is published by MuseItUp, my fine Canadian publisher. They're new and have limited resources. They can't do every single book in print. Mutually, we decided that my Witches of Galdorheim series was a better choice to devote resources for print. It'll be great if I can get at least the first in the series in print in time for Christmas giving.

I'm perfectly capable of putting up a quality print product. Less capable on the cover art front. Alas, I can't use the same cover as the ebook since it belongs to MuseItUp. I found I could purchase the use of the cover for my print book, but I'm of the "don't spend a penny on anything because you'll never make it back" school of book production. I will continue to spend as little as possible. I'll never buy reviews, never pay for an editor, and never pay for a cover design. Given that my text of Missing was well-edited for the ebook, I'm solid on the interior. A new cover, not so much. I thought I'd try it out here to get opinions. Hit, miss, or meh?


For comparison, here's the ebook cover:



Monday, September 03, 2012

Your Name and Book Title Here

Got a new release in the vaguely kid-friendly genres? My blog is open for your visit. While promo and excerpt are great, I like to hear from your characters or get some background on the denizens of your book.

Comment or email me to get on my blog schedule. There's plenty of room for all. I'd especially like to host debut authors. I tend to like fantasy and science fiction best, but I'm also a fan of mystery.

Here's the blog. Will you help me fill it with interesting information? Here are some books I've hosted in the last couple of months. Your book cover can be here too.




Sunday, September 02, 2012

Blog Tour Over and Out

However, I've got a couple of September bookings already. Some folks will visit me here on my blog, and I'll visit on others. I'll get the September schedule posted on the right sidebar soon.

In random newsiness: I watch the premiere Doctor Who for this segment of the 7.1 season. You just never know when they'll be tossing in a special or whatever. I think I'll keep a closer eye on the BBC America TV schedule because a few of the advertised shows look intriguing.

A brand new one, "Copper," will definitely be on my must watch list. Not SF or F, but a lovely western-eastern-Irish amalgamation. If you saw "Gangs of New York," you get an idea of the setting. The Five Points area of New York grew to be an Irish enclave. Definitely the mean streets of NY. "Copper" is set in 1864, smack in the middle of the Civil War. Half the characters have Irish accents, so we're getting the best of all worlds. The hero, Kevin Corcoran, just released from the army, is a detective (plainclothes) and definitely hot. I watched the first two episodes and want to go back for more.

The whole setting is just ripe for steampunky goodness. A black man named Freeman is a self-taught forensic pathologist. Of course, the regular police have no use for him, but Corky recognizes the value of someone who can do an autopsy to discover more than the cursory look-see the body will receive from a doctor. As one reviewer noted, this is kind of a CSI: Five Points. So far, I'm loving it. For you ladies, there are some naked males to ogle. Who said the British are staid?