Thursday, April 17, 2014

Aw shucks... Thanks... Gee golly whiz...

At the risk of sounding syrupy-sweet or like I'm gushing, I really am flattered and grateful to see that readers continue to pen reviews of the Sasha Jackson Mysteries.

Just this week, a reader posted this review of Blood and Groom (2009) on Amazon:  "This was a good mystery book with lots of humor, interesting characters, and several interwoven plots." 

A few weeks previous, another reader reviewed The Lies Have It (2011) on Amazon, saying: "In the Lies Have It she delivers another well paced well written adventure for Sasha.  The plot moves at a good pace and the mysteries are well written so you do not solve too quickly."

And of Dead Light District (2011), a reader recently said this on Amazon: "Having said that I really, really liked Sasha, she was a hoot. Smart, sassy and a little self effacing. She had it all going on..."

There have also been a few reviews recently on GoodReads, and these too have made me smile!

I feel I can speak for ALL authors when I say that reviews are welcome! It's so nice to get a response from a reader.  I really do appreciate it when a reader takes the time to post a comment online.  Feedback from people always gives me that little boost during those moments when writing frustrates me.  It really does help to keep me pushing forward!   Thanks folks!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Event: Noir at the Bar - Toronto - May 8th

Mystery fans in the Toronto area should mark their calendars for a 
cool event next month:  
Noir at the Bar!

EVENT DETAILS:  Our Toronto authors on Thursday May 8th include John McFetridge, fresh off the launch of BLACK ROCK, Howard Shrier whose MISS MONTREAL has been long-listed for the Arthur Ellis Best Novel, Jill Edmondson of Sasha Jackson fame, and Andrew Pyper, whose THE DEMONOLOGIST is a finalist for the 2014 International Thriller Writers Award for Best Novel. MCs Tanis Mallow and Rob Brunet will be reading as well, Brunet from STINKING RICH which debuts summer 2014.  We've got three out-of-town guests to juice the party: Owen Laukkanen of Vancouver just back from his U.S. tour for KILL FEE; Hilary Davidson, up from NYC to launch BLOOD ALWAYS TELLS; and Terrence McCauley, also of NYC, fresh off his triple New Pulp Award wins for best author, best novel (SLOW BURN), and best short story.
There's no cover, and PJ O'Brien's got a great pub menu if you're coming straight from work. Doors open 6:30 p.m. Short readings every half hour or so after that.
For more info please check THIS LINK.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cool! My Work Has Been Quoted!

I just stumbled across the following while I was trying to find a link to a guest post I did a while ago...

In 2009, I completed my MA at Athabasca University.  My concentration was Cultural Studies, and my final paper was called Homogenized Salsa: Latina Canadian Drama.  Here's part of the abstract:

Equality, cultural identity and personal struggles are common themes in Canadian drama, and indeed are common themes in the literature of a post-colonial world. 
Another common theme in contemporary writing pertains to women’s issues: equality, sexism, gender roles, exploitation and the like frequently figure in modern drama and literature. These themes result in something of a kaleidoscopic head-on collision when 
one considers Latino Canadian drama through a feminist lens. This paper examines 
some of the works of Carmen Aguirre, an accomplished and well-established writer and actor who immigrated to Canada from Chile. Her plays, including The Refugee Hotel, 
The Trigger, and Que Pasa with the Raza, eh? are very autobiographical, and yet 
they also speak for many other Latinos who have relocated to Canada. 

So, that's that... 

But what I stumbled upon was the fact that my aforementioned paper was quoted recently in some other MA student's paper!  How cool is that?  The author spelled my surname incorrectly (Edmonson), but so what?  It's pretty cool that someone in academia found my work and my words worthwhile!!!  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Recent Reads: Ray Oblique Sense

Full speed ahead!!!  This was terrific!  It felt like Ray was in my living room having a chat with me.   I've never seen the biopic, and didn't know much about the man, but - WOW! - quite the life he led!  He tells his story with respect and fondness, and with a healthy dose of self-reflection.  His "can-do" attitude and his refusal to be pitied or to wallow in bitterness are inspiring.  Highly recommended.

This was kind of interesting, albeit out of my usual reading realm.  I agree with the thesis, but question some of the examples Kay uses to illustrate his point.

I think I'm the wrong reader for this book.  I bought it quite randomly (sale table!) and was piqued by the general idea.  However, it really focuses on babies and how they learn to think/believe and how the brain develops.  I'm not overly interested in paediatric brain development.  Nonetheless, some of the tests, experiments and research he discusses are rather interesting.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Someone Has To Die by guest author Autumn Birt

Today, I have guest author Autumn Birt and she discusses killing off characters. It's not as easy as you might think....

Someone Has to Die

There is a war. Brave heroes face countless obstacles, horrible foes, and great odds. Yet, somehow, everyone walks out with a handful of scratches. What the heck?!
I admit it, I hate it when my favorite character dies. I’ve put down novels when too many characters that I’ve come to care about are killed off. But there is something too sappy sweet, too fantastical, when no one dies. Bad things happen during battles. People get hurt. Someone will perish.
And I don’t just mean secondary or tertiary characters. I mean the ones that kept you reading the novel. Only minor injuries after insane quests used to be a pet peeve when I was a reader. When I began writing my epic fantasy series, the Rise of the Fifth Order, I realized I had to live up to the expectations I had when I merely read fantasy. I was going to have to kill someone off.
I think my first reaction was “!?!???!”
After I stopped hyperventilating, I started wondering who?
I’m writing book 3 of an epic fantasy series. I love all of my characters, even the ‘bad’ ones! The thought of losing one of them after having shared (created) their hopes and plans for the future… well, it gives me a new perspective on why some authors never have a character die. But that isn’t the type of story I wanted to write… or the one I was writing. As the chapter numbers kept rising on the final book in the series, I knew I had to make a choice.
How does an author choose which character dies?
The situation could dictate it. Maybe only one or two characters are in extreme danger? For me, that didn’t apply. There is a war, everyone is facing danger. Any one of them could make a simple mistake, fall into a trap, or be in the wrong place. I was actually going to have to make a choice. At some point… I kept stalling.
Then I realized, if I couldn’t choose and any of the characters were just as likely to die, there was another possible solution: a random Yes/No generator!
Talk about a way to come up with a plot twist?! It removes the emotion from the decision, allowing the author to step back and simply see what fate offers. I wrote down names, hit a random generator button I found online a few times and wrote down the results. End of story.
Not entirely. Oddly, the results matched what I’d already been thinking. I think it may have been rigged. And the problem was, it felt like a cop-out. I wasn’t pushing the story to the depth, emotionally, that it could go. But I needed to keep writing if I was ever going to finish, so I went with it.
In the end, the moment, and character, offered itself. And it wasn’t the one from the random yes/no generator. It was someone I hadn’t written down, probably because I would never have considered letting them die, much less planning their death since book 1! It fit the story in ways I had never seen and explained actions at the end that I knew would happen but hadn’t known why. I was good with it. It felt right. Even if it hurt. A lot.
And that really is the bottom line: Not letting anyone die can subvert the impact of a novel as much as choosing the wrong person.
I’ve already begun the outline of my next WIP, which will be a darker fantasy than the one I’m
finishing. More people are going to die. I hope that the story unfolds similarly to Spirit of Life, the final book in my epic fantasy series, and choosing won’t be an issue. If it is, I haven’t given up on the random generator idea! Actually, after recent posts at the Guild of Dreams on the lack of disabilities and mental illness in fantasy, I’m thinking I need some gaming dice or at least number assignments for levels of injury. There is more to battle than life and death. Short term injuries, long term disabilities, death of friends or family, mental impacts, all of these things are relevant in life and our writing. I want to be a brave enough author not to shy away.
What about you? As a reader, what do you think when a character dies, or doesn’t? As an author, do you have problems killing someone off or is planned from day one (and does that make friends hesitate accepting dinner invitations?!)?
Do you want to help make Spirit of Life, book 3 in my epic fantasy series, happen? I’m running a Pubslush campaign and would love your support. What, you’ve never heard of Pubslush?! Follow the link and check it, and my campaign, out. I’d love to hear what you think!

Links (if the above are broken)

Autumn's page on Amazon:
Autumn's blog:
Follow Autumn on Twitter @Weifarer

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Who Are You Inviting?

I'm not sure if other writers feel this way, but for me, when it comes to writing, I need to have a solid idea of who my characters are before I start.  I may not have every tiny detail worked out, but I have a good idea of their general personality traits, their flaws, their strengths.

I liken this to hosting a dinner party.  Long before I plan the menu or select the vino, I think about who to invite.  Which guests will mix well with the others?  What common bonds might they share?  I may think to myself that I surely have to invite Tyler - he's always good for jokes and injecting humour into an evening. And of course, I have to invite Jim - he always has wild stories to tell.  Julie just got back from a trip to Brazil and I can't wait to hear about the trip.  Donna will probably bring her guitar and after dinner drinks may turn into a sing-along.  And I know that if I invite both Liz and Andrew, there will likely be a heated debate about politics or current events since they are polar opposites.  

You get the idea.  

Once I know who I'm dealing with, the plot slowly starts to come together.  If I know Andrew is a bit of a hothead, then it will be easy for me to thrust him into situations and know just how he will react.  And when it comes to dialogue and Tyler - piece of cake because I know he will crack wise at any opportunity.

There are all sorts of charts and lists that one can create (or find online) to help you with character development, but I don't use any of those.  I'm fairly loose about backgrounds - what I do for one I may not do for another.  But generally, for most of my main characters, I'll figure out:

  • political leanings - and do they usually vote?
  • zodiac sign
  • education (major), or did they drop out of high school?
  • religion - whatever it may be - do they practice it actively?
  • where they fit in the family tree (middle child, youngest, etc.)
  • relationship with parents (and were they divorced?)
  • ethnic/cultural background
  • attitude towards some "hot button" issues, like marijuana, immigration, gay marriage, etc.
  • talents/hobbies that have nothing to do with the plot or with their jobs (do they play an instrument or are they on a sports team?)
The list could go on and on (do they prefer Coke over Pepsi, Apple or Windows, are they afraid of heights, do they have/do they like pets, do they have any allergies, etc.) but the above points usually give me an idea of who my character is.  And that's a great start!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Recent Reads: Pandora Rules Auchwitz

This was an incredible book, an incredible story!  Avey tells his tale in a no-frills, straightforward manner, and the subtlety of his delivery makes it that much more evocative.  The side story of "the cigarettes" and what happened after is incredible.  It's really quite a bit of a kick in the gut, but a very worthwhile read.
This was a lot of fun.  Some content doesn't work as well now as it would have when it was first published, but I guffawed quite a few times.  There are some brilliantly witty lines here.

This was kind of cool, and was different from my usual reading choices.  I learned a bit from it, and I generally liked the author's voice.  It gets into a wee bit too much detail at times, but that's not a bit deal.  Wells looks at human development since the dawn of agriculture rather than being hunter-gatherers.  It's kind of cool - the lenses through which he looks at humans included dental development and cavities, diabetes, and noise/light, etc.  It's pretty cool.  

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Excerpt from The Big Red Buckle by Matthew Alan Thyer

The Big Red Buckle
By Matthew Alan Thyer


For Marco Aguilar, just being at the race's starting line represents the culmination of two years of careful preparation and training. He feels a momentary pang of guilt knowing that his wife Emma has carried their family while his focus has been elsewhere. But he also knows that winning the Grand Martian Traverse is a shared decision, not just his goal. 

Petrus Mandel is a novice endurance sport athlete hoping to soar alongside Aguilar to greatness. He suspects Aguilar may have a solution to traversing the gaping expanse between the distant shield volcanoes and must face his fears and follow his curiosity.

Together, these two Martian-born endurance athletes run and soar in the solar system's greatest race.

Matthew Says

In this scene in “The Big Red Buckle” sports broadcasters Bill Vance and Toma Crysta describe a critical moment in the progress of the race. Their focus is unquestionably on what the protagonists must do to stay competitive, and out ahead of their nemesis. However, I wanted to express the joy that comes from soaring a foot launched aircraft like a paraglider. So, I tried to describe this joy, through the lens of a camera. Marco, standing on the edge of a cliff, plays with his wing, kiting it in the rising breeze that moves up the mountain. I really enjoyed writing this, because it reminded me of why I love to fly. And, perhaps even a little more, because it required that I change my point of view and express that joy by describing the motions associated.


“And Bill, today race is all about climbing.” Pronounces Toma Crysta, again in the focus of the camera.
“I’m wondering if Mandel and Aguilar have any other wild cards to pull from their sleeves today Toma. Yesterday’s record breaking flight from the side of Ascraeus was impressive and certainly upset the plans of many racers, but will it be enough to get them over the finish line ahead of the passion and drive Greg Neal demonstrated last night?”
Two figures stand motionless with their backs facing east towards the rising sun now. At the left hand side in the field of view another figure comes into frame. This one unpacks his wing while his support team stuffs supplies into his suit. He throws a pair of trekking poles away discarding them as dead weight. Other objects are presented to him and then tossed to the side. He looks rushed compared to the two stoic figures standing motionless nearby.
One of the still figures bends over and picks something up from near his feet.   
The newcomer is trying to fly his wing already as the first riffles of rising air begin to creep up the side of the great mountain. Immediately his wing comes up over his head and he turns and runs off the edge of the cliff. His wing sinks and he moves back and forth across the face of the cliff trying to stay airborne. Scratching for any lift in the light air.
The other two figures have not moved from their roost, waiting patiently for the right moment. Their moment. When a bubble of rising air will present itself and take them up and up. Periodically one of them reaches down and lifts up a handful of fine soil. Letting it slide between his fingers it falls straight down, once, then again, and yet again.
Now 200 meters below is the pilot who rushed to launch.   Still descending. As if in slow motion he slides gently down the cliff face.
Now Marco’s fully illuminated figure bends down once more. He lifts the dirt and lets it fall. It falls at an angle indicating the incoming breeze, the lifting air. Marco turns to Pet and nods once, then lifts his lines. His wing rises quickly overhead with a snap and a ruffle as the high tech fabric inflates and an aerodynamic shape comes to life.
Marco pauses with his hands on his break toggles, seeming almost to play with the wing and the wind, as the camera looks on. He dances beneath the canopy shifting back and forth to stay centered under the flying body.
Pet's wing comes up in a cloud of dust and his feet are dragged under the arcing parafoil. He struggles to slow the forward progress of the wing above by extending the break lines as far down as they will go. It is lift, a thermal grabs him and shoots him into the air. He twists around momentarily helpless under his flying wing, but then sits back in the harness and soars.
Below them Neal has found lift too. He cannot turn into it yet, being too close to the cliff face, but takes advantage of it just the same running back and forth in the rising air and climbing slowly back toward the summit far above.
Pet is climbing fast, at least 500 meters above the edge of the cliff now. Marco is still playing with his wing on the cliff, kiting it above him a little left and then a little right. Someone new runs out from the most recent rover arrival with a camera pointing it up at the orange and green canopy being danced across the talus.
Hover cameras and scouting drones are converging on the site, many of them break off from the scene at the cliff's edge to follow Pet ever higher into the atmosphere. A few are even below Neal's wing trying to get a shot of all three pilots at once.
And then, with all eyes focused on his joy in the rising sun, Marco stops playing. He turns, bends deeply at the waist and takes two big steps towards the edge turning into a human torpedo, elegant and swift, suspended under his wing.
Immediately, he's found lifting air, his gyre is tight and centered over the invisible column. A pendulum beneath his turning canopy his body rotates outside the center of the spiraling glider. The energy in this thermal is visible, Marco's rise up and away from the cliff side is quick and accelerating. Soon he is circling in tandem with Pet. Below Neal is climbing slowly.

Find Out More:
Matthew Alan Thyer (1972-present) was born on the Western Slope of Colorado and grew up loving the canyons and mountains. He is an Army veteran who served as a signals intelligence analyst. Prior to finding his voice as a writer he worked as an operations engineer, wild-land firefighter, backcountry ranger, kayak guide and river rat.
Matt's hobbies include trail running, backpacking, skiing, mountaineering, bicycling, and paragliding.

twitter: @feetforbrains

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Excerpt from NOT RAW ENOUGH by Randall Bowling

Not Raw Enough

By Randall Bowling


On the business trip of a lifetime to Tokyo for the launch of his dynamic aquatic invention, Hatteras  businessman Seth Tinsley is certain his new product will astonish and panic the wealthy power brokers in the international seafood industry.  Seth never thought about his success attracting the attention of an wealthy faction willing to go to any means to preserve  the integrity of their country's ancient cuisine.

Before his grand product display at the Tsukiji Market and the media blitz at the United States Embassy, Seth finds out he is wanted by the JNP for mass-murder and has become nothing more than an expendable pawn of the US Government. He finally comprehends that he is also the prey of a company unleashing a deadly gambit to control Japan's sixty-billion dollar seafood industry. Seth figures his only chance against the long odds of staying alive is to somehow escape Japan and lure his enemies back to Kill Devil Hills to sate their not raw enough obsession. 



International travel is such a sensory overload experience that sometimes even the big things are not remembered. Seth had forgotten how truly nonplused he was with the vaunted Japanese efficiency at the Narita Airport arrival procedures and customs fiasco. Essentially, it sucked.
Like in the old days when he traveled on his gratis airline employee passes, too much of everything was just enough. He’d consumed mass quantities of mediocre champagnes and wines, not bad beers, and when they ran out of the good stuff - the little B&Bs, he did several more Drambuies, a couple of Jaegers and some Cognacs.
Andi had not been impressed by his inclination for the variety of Japanese delicacies and international treats which he packed away, or by his stamina in attempting to single-handedly deplete the liquor supply in the first-class cabin. She tried in vain to get him to keep it to a dull roar, but after hours of his excess, up and down the aisle chatting with every passenger, and a visible lack of conversation with her, Andi landed more than a little annoyed. All in all, the flight had been very pleasant for Seth, too whacked to contemplate his pending problems. He'd executed a complete and blissful escape.
Arrival however, quickly became a sobering exercise. Now on the front curb of the airport’s lower level to arrange transportation to their hotel, Seth suffered - badly hung-over and jet lagged. Not a festive combination. 
He had taken the taxis before, but could not justify paying an additional hundred bucks plus verses taking the big bus. You'd only sit in the same traffic jams in the too-small-for-real-Americans Japanese taxis. On a grueling trip like this, first-class or not, experience was no aid.
The heavy air pollution at the curb from the buses and traffic started it. A Japanese woman brushed by Seth as she claimed her bags from the carousel, her recent excessive spritz of a potent, cheap French perfume doing its best to sucker punch Seth. He contemplated what to do when it all demanded release. Saliva flowed freely from under his tongue in amazing quantity, one of his sure signs of eminent regurgitation.
Andi curiously gazed around the congested arrival-area, ignoring Seth and his green-gills. The atmosphere of a place she'd never been before revived her.  A short man, well dressed with chauffeurs cap proudly cocked, approached them and addressed Seth. "Mister Tinsley?"
Seth only nodded, afraid to open his mouth or try to talk.
"Welcome to Japan. I am Sakai from the Okura Hotel to pick you up. Your bags?" he asked, pointing to their collection of Seth's one and Andi's two. He hoisted all three in a practiced maneuver and said, "This way, please," and started up the curb with their bags.
They followed the man to where he sat the bags down behind a shiny, white Rolls Royce. He purposely aimed and popped the trunk with his remote-control key, gently loaded the bags and carefully closed it. He rushed around to the curb-side to open the back door for Andi and motioned them in with a “Please”.
A bus directly in front of the Rolls accelerated dumping a huge black cloud of sickening exhaust that floated and hung directly on them. Seth hesitated getting in the car knowing he had lost the battle with his stomach and tried to decide the most discreet way to do it. He knew he didn't have the time to get back inside the terminal building and find the toilets.
That option canceled as his stomach heaved and demanded relief from the first class abuse. With no time even to bend over, Seth uncontrollably vomited in one hard gush; covering the sidewalk, the shoes of the chauffeur and generously spattering the side of the gleaming white Rolls. The heavy sidewalk traffic of travelers backed out of the way shouting excited epithets while trying to avoid the dispersed mess.
Everything on his stomach had exited at once and he immediately felt better. Seth straightened his tie, dabbed at the corners of his mouth with a handkerchief and got in the car like nothing had happened. The driver watched in disbelief ignoring the chunks of sushi rice marring the shine on his black shoes. He gently closed the door behind Seth and hurried around the Rolls and jumped to his position behind the wheel drove away in silence as though things like this happened to him every day.
After a half-an-hour of deafening silence in the Rolls and stopped dead in the jammed traffic, without turning from her steady gaze out the window, in a condescending tone Andi asked "Feel better?"
"Finer than frog hair. Let's go for Sushi," Seth said too loud.
"Fine!" Andi yelled. "You're a real class act to travel with. Got drunk on the plane, ate and drank everything in sight, hit on every pretty flight attendant - right under my nose, and topped it off by puking on the car, the driver, and half of Japan."
"And you sound like a fucking wife." Seth shouted in a whisper. "I'm terribly sorry if my behavior doesn't merit the Government's stamp of approval. You invited yourself along on this little expedition; now cut me some goddamn slack."
He felt terrible. His head throbbed, although he wasn't sure if it was the pipe injury or the booze. His arm hurt.  He was wasted from the long flight and customs delay and now fuming mad with Andi. The rest of the long drive, ride, stop, wait, ride and then stop again in the heavy, early evening Tokyo traffic continued in roaring silence.


Randall's page on AMAZON

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Excerpt from BABYFACE FIRE by Nicholas Andrews


All Loebo wants in life is to lead the best team of adventurers in the kingdom, get filthy rich, and marry the prettiest lady he's ever met. Is that so much to ask? 

But when Loebo and the Chosen Squad set out to rescue his love from her overprotective father, he finds out a bounty has been placed on his head, courtesy of his own grandmother! 

While the Squad tries to unravel this mystery, Loebo comes across a wrestler-turned-adventurer named Bleg, who agrees to protect Loebo from the bounty hunters. But first, Bleg is hired to escort a young woman named Seren to her new job at OWW, Bolognia's premier wrestling league. As Bleg confronts a bitter past with the company's powers-that-be, Loebo finds himself the focal point of the biggest wrestling storyline of the year.


This passage is part of a chapter that gets into what the daily life is like on the road working for a pro wrestling organization. One of the challenges of writing Babyface Fire was working out the logistics of how a wrestling promotion would operate in a world with no television, planes, or cars. I came up with the idea that they would travel and live together in a caravan, sort of like a traveling circus. 


Being in the OWW camp was like staying in some kind of wrestling shantytown. In addition to the workers and security, other personnel traveled the road as well. Some referees stood in the line of the catering wagon behind him, waiting to get their meal from the on-road chefs. In front of a wagon to his right, a blacksmith worked on hammering out a new ring post as several workers did lift training with the smith's weights. To his left, the band was rehearsing entrance songs.
     In addition to Mucus and Ivy, there were other couples as well, some of whom had children that would intermittently run through the camp in innocent play. A seamstress walked arm in arm with one of the horse wranglers, and he also saw Selky stop over to plant a kiss on the cheek of Roach Hanson, the lead singer of the Eclectic Eight. It made him yearn for Alyssa's company, remembering the many times they had strolled hand in hand through the well-kept gardens of the Royal Ward in Foeny.
     Chairs had been set up around a bonfire, and a number of workers congregated there to eat their meal. Loebo recognized 'Mo Tuff, Fawdry Pike and a tag team called the Twilight Feeders, consisting of Marcus Kavian and Ben Torea. Their gimmick was that of a couple of pretty boys who made the ladies swoon. With their long, flowing locks and chiseled faces, it was easy to see why. They had also apparently played vampires at one time.
     “Hey, guys.” Loebo sat down with some effort. His legs still didn't seem to want to work right. All conversation stopped when he touched his seat, and they merely stared at him as he began to eat. Pike gestured toward another bonfire and all four men rose and walked away, taking their food with them.
Loebo saluted them with his spoon. “Nice talking to you.”
      “Rough morning?” Seren sat down next to him, holding a salad bowl.
      “What's their problem?”
     “Well, most of us have dreamed our whole lives of being here, and it took us years of hard work to land a contract,” she said. “You kind of walked in and went right to the top of the card without paying any dues. Some people are going to resent that.”
      Loebo hummed in understanding. “I'm not exactly running through the meadows, you know. I miss my fiancĂ©e, every time my wagon hits a rock it jars my bones, my whole body hurts... I'm all sorts of out of sorts. And what the hell is this stuff anyway?” He lifted a spoonful of the goop the cook had given him and let it dangle until it oozed back into his bowl.
     “I think it's designed to keep us on a strict road diet so we can stay in shape,” Seren said. “You know, making sure we get the right nutrients and all that.”


Follow on Twitter:  @nykkochet

Monday, February 24, 2014

Excerpt from Of Dreams and Shadow by Deborah McKnight


We live. We die. Is there anything more? Jenna Barton is about to find out. After moving to the coastal North Carolina town of Parson's Cove, Jenna has unwittingly stepped into the middle of a mystery involving a missing child. Unfortunately, the predator is still on the loose and Jenna has become his new obsession. With a little luck and a bit of paranormal help, Jenna might survive.


Of Dreams and Shadow: Forget Me Not opens with a scene where Sarah, a four year old girl is taken by a specter.  The only witness is Chase, her five year old neighbor — and no one believes his story.  Twelve years pass and Silas (the specter) has awakened and chosen his newest victim. 

This is one of my favorite scenes.  I have a lot of compassion for Sarah.  She lost so much.  I imagined how it might feel to die and not “move on.”  I think Sarah would have watched as her parents suffered and would have longed to have made contact. But knowing Silas, she would have been afraid of the consequences.   She might have felt abandoned as her parents separated and moved from the only home she had known.  Through all the changes, Chase had been constant.  He had stayed.  She watched as he grew up and she fell in love with the young man he had become.

In this scene, Sarah finally feels as though it is safe to have a one-time visit with Chase.  She enters his room as he sleeps — wanting nothing more than a few stolen moments.  He awakens and a conversation ensues.  (This passage picks up midway through the conversation.)


“Things changed.” Sarah turned away from the window and
moved back to the bed. “Jenna came and drew Silas’ attention...”
She cocked her head to the side, “and yours.”
Feeling oddly uncomfortable, Chase briefly looked away before
replying. “I guess she did.”
“Not unlike you, Silas has become quite taken with Jenna. In
fact, it is his attraction to her that has made him vulnerable.”
“And you decided to take advantage of the situation.”
Sarah lifted her hand and slowly moved it to Chase’s. She
traced her finger over the back of his hand, a sad smile touching
her lips. “The sense of touch—you take it for granted while I can
only wish.”
Chase didn’t say anything. He didn’t know what to say.
She dropped her hand. “One does not live with Silas, and I use
that term loosely, and not learn to take advantage of opportunities
when they present themselves.”
“So what’s your plan?”
“My plan is to stop Silas.”
An impatient look crossed Chase’s face. “You know what I’m
Sarah acted as though she had not heard him, instead she
repositioned herself on his bed. “You know that he is visiting her
“I thought as much.” Chase rubbed his eyes. “I just hoped I was
“We are going to use that to our advantage.”
“Jenna told me about a journal. Did you read it?”
Chase shook his head. “Yeah, I did.”
She leaned forward, her eyes watchful. “What exactly did it say
about the necklace?”
“Something like, the necklace was to Silas what uncut hair was
to Samson.”
Sarah smiled. “Just as I thought.”
            “We’ve got to get the necklace from him, right?”
“Oh, we’ve got to do more than get the necklace from him.
We’ve got to destroy it.” Sarah pointed her finger at Chase. “Or
rather, you’ve got to destroy it.”
“Me?” Chase leaned forward. “I don’t know anything about
getting rid of some piece of hocus pocus jewelry.”
“You’ve got a sledge hammer, don’t you?”
“Uh, yeah,” Chase looked confused.
Sarah smiled. “I bet a couple good swings and our problem
should be smashed.”
“Really?” Chase looked relieved. “I thought it would be a lot harder than that.”
“Oh, I’m sure it will be…”
“But you just said—”
“I said destroying it wouldn’t be so hard. But getting the
necklace isn’t going to be easy. It’s not like its going to be there
waiting for you to pick it up. Silas is very protective of his treasure.
Don’t underestimate him or his connection to Jenna.”
“What connection? The one where he enters her dreams and
scares the hell out of her?”
Sarah glared. “The one where he enters her dreams and seduces
her – because that is what he is doing.” She paused, allowing her
comment to sink in before continuing. “You don’t know him. You
haven’t seen him – not as he was before.”
“What do you mean?”
“Silas is beautiful and dangerous, all the more dangerous
because he is beautiful.”
Chase chuckled. “Men typically don’t describe themselves as
“I wouldn’t call a tiger good looking. It is beautiful – dangerous
but beautiful and Silas is just like a tiger. He sets his sights on his
prey then hunts and kills it.”
“Then why go to the trouble of seducing her if he just wants to
kill her?” Chase asked.
“This has gone beyond his normal hunt,” Sarah explained. “He
wants her to choose to stay with him.”
“Like that would happen.”
Sarah’s eyes narrowed. “You may be surprised.” Standing up,
she continued, “I’ve been gone too long. I must go. This visit stays
between the two of us. No telling Jenna about Silas visiting her
A muscle in Chase’s jaw twitched. “She has a right to
“You’re absolutely right. Tell her. Maybe she’ll move. But
Silas will still be here and then what? I can’t keep watch over him
forever.” Sarah’s appearance altered and she was once again the
image of her four year old self. “I am tired, Chase – tired of living
a partial life, tired of being tied to a past that is long gone and a
future that will never be.”
“Sarah?” Concern laced Chase’s voice.
“Good night, Chase.” Her voice faded away as did her image
until nothing was left but a tiny spot of light that flickered and
then disappeared.  


Book trailer on YOUTUBE.
Twitter @DSMcKnight67