That’s right, not a fairy tale, a Tale Faery. A genuine hetero, cis Tale Faery. We’re rare.
It started with dragonflies on a magic summer day in Gainesville Florida. One of those 100+ degree, 100+% humidity (seriously, a clear blue sky supersaturated with humidity, a state of dew), my five-year-old daughter and I rode our bikes around a swamp, and I discovered what faeries are.
Heather rode in front. Her little legs pumped the pink pedals, and her scarf trailed behind. Empty roads and sidewalks, weather fit for a Florida hibernation.
A red dragonfly flew along between us.
“Look,” she said, “a blue one and a green one!” The farther we went, the thicker our dragonfly entourage. They ranged from an inch across to wingspans of almost eight inches. Each a single bright primary color.
A big red one perched on her handlebars, its wings brushed her hand. She let her bike coast to a stop and rubbed a finger along the dragonfly’s body. Its wings buzzed for an instant, but it didn’t take off.
“Look another one!” A blue dragonfly landed. She reached over it flew away.
Heather started pedaling again. We passed a pond where two men sat on an ice chest in the shade with fishing poles; the only people we saw that day. Dragonflies darted across the surface.
Down a street into a neighborhood lined with oaks. Trunks as big as the cars in driveways, and branches that met over the street forming a canopy with Spanish moss dangling like tropical icicles. I stopped in the shade, and she turned back toward me.
“If you lean into a turn just right, you can ride without pedaling,” Heather said.
“I guess we could just lean into these turns and go around in circles all day.” I pushed off too. I remember wondering if the energy of the Earth’s rotation could be used to maintain this sort of precession with no effort and how it could be used as a power source. Heather was in a world all her own, too.
She broke the silence. “I guess the dragonflies don’t like the shade.”
“They’ll probably come back when we head home.”
We rode around in circles for a while longer and then Heather stopped in the middle of the street. She leaned back, looked up into the leaves, and said, “I wish the world would stop turning.”
“No, that’d suck,” I said. “If the world stopped turning there’d be brutal earthquakes, tidal waves. No night and day, it’d be like Mercury and the light side would get insanely hot, and the dark–”
“That’s not what I mean, silly,” she turned and looked right at me. “I wish the world would stop turning so that this day could last forever.”
That day didn’t last forever, but from then on, I’ve found great joy in the little creatures who flutter, buzz, and zip around us.
In The Book of Bastards wonderful faeries, beautiful little people whose bodies share wings and shapes of butterflies, dragonflies, bumblebees, lady bugs, and so on, help people deal with the hardships of life. And then some jerk comes along and ruins it for everyone.
I hope you enjoy the ride! And, by the way, if you want me to finish the trilogy, you have to ask, firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ve finished a draft of book two, Bastard Knights, and have outlined Bastard Princess, but I might need some influencing to tidy it all up for you. Graft would help.
Date Published: January 14, 2021
Publisher: The Intoxicating Page
Welcome to The Gold Piece Inn, where you can drink, gamble, and play!
Cursed on the day the king is assassinated, Dewey Nawton is compelled to protect the widowed queen, but protection means different things to different people (and different curses).
Kings have dictated every role Queen Dafina has ever played. Now, a halfling innkeeper assigns her the role of serving lass. But is The Gold Piece Inn just another tavern? Could it be an orphanage? … surely, it’s not a brothel.
Oh yes, she’s fallen from grace, but will that stop her from leading a handful of pirates and a dozen bastards to avenge her king and rescue Glandaeff’s faeries, elfs, and mermaids (and merbutlers!) from a brutal tyrant?
Dewey has a secret. Dafina has a secret. The Bastards have two secrets.
Is there even a sip of moral justice in all this bawdiness?
The Book of Bastards combines a riveting, intense plot of righteous vengeance with tongue-in-cheek banter that will keep you turning the page with eager anticipation. With settings that make you wish they were real, characters you can’t help but cheer for, and twists that keep you guessing, Ransom Stephens has crafted an engaging tale that makes every minute of reading, time well spent. I don’t often reread a book, but I think I’ll make an exception. Loads of fun. Highly recommended. – Brian D Anderson, million-selling author of The Bard and the Blade
“A delightful, detailed tale about morality, being honest with yourself, and self-reflection, even when you don’t like what the glass has to show. A perfect treat for lovers of rich fantasy worldbuilding, gory battles, and the kind of thoughtful, character-driven stories that make your brain whirl, your imagination dance, and your heart surge.” -J.M. Frey, bestselling author of The Accidental Turn Series
About the Author
Ransom Stephens has searched for the Holy Grail in Cornwall and Wales but settled for a cracked coffee mug. He’s won several awards, but they’ve all been named after people he’d never heard of which made for awkward acceptance speeches. The author of four previous novels on simple, non-controversial topics like science vs religion in The God Patent, technology vs environmentalism in The Sensory Deception, oligarchy vs anarchy in The 99% Solution, and love vs money in Too Rich to Die, in his latest, The Book of Bastards, he offers readers what they really want, a story of bawdiness washed down with a sip of moral justice.
I’m a fairly accomplished scientist and technologist, all the details at https://contact.ransomstephens.com
Dewey took his seat between the fireplace and the only glazed window in the building. He could see the street, the saloon, the casino, the red-carpeted stairway, and the balconies and rooms on the second and third floors. He listened to the minstrel’s ballad of a heartbroken pirate on a desert isle, ate salmon grilled in rosemary and served on sourdough bread, felt the warmth of the fire on one side and the cool evening fog on the other—and none of it soothed Dewey’s worries.
Then he saw her on the porch. She fell through the door but not the way drunks fall. She reached up as though climbing from an abyss, and wailed, “Oh gods, please help me. Anyone, please!”
Loretta got to her first, dropped to her knees, and took the woman’s hands.
The woman grabbed at Loretta, tears cascading down her face, sobs racking her from head to toe. “Please!”
“It’ll be all right, dear. We’ll care for you.” She looked up at Dewey and added, “We will care for her.”
Dewey stood over them. Children accumulated. Teen-aged Aennie said, “She’s the cleanest beggar I’ve ever seen.”
Another kid plopped down next to the woman and held his worn black feet up to her clean pink soles. “Somefin wrong wit her feet.”
“What the?” Loretta said. “Feet don’t come that clean. I’ve tried.” She held the woman at arm’s length and examined her. “She’s a bag of bones, must be starving—Macae, fetch salted bread.”
“Get her out of sight,” Dewey said.
“You know her?”
“To the barn. Now!”
Loretta lifted her, muttered, “She weighs nothin’,” and guided her back outside.
The screech owl that lived in the barn announced to everyone within a mile that a stranger had arrived.
Dewey looked back at his inn. The minstrel had switched to a light ditty about a horny woman who carried drunk men into a field and took advantage of them—the sort of song that’s mostly chorus so anyone can sing along. Children were underfoot and some of the goats had found their way back inside. Bob was pouring ale and wine, the servers who weren’t delivering food and drink were lounging on the laps of smiling patrons. A serving-lad named Faernando slipped off a sinewy woman, the profiteer sailor and card-cheat named Baertha. She threw the lad over her shoulder and carried him to the stairs just as the chorus returned to “she threw the boy down, he popped up, and she made him a man.” The crowd erupted. Baertha took a bow, the lad waved, and Dewey held out his hand. As she passed, Baertha dug into her belt and tossed a silver ohzee. Dewey said, “You give him two of those when you’re through. If you hurt him, it’ll piss off the wrong kinds of faeries.”
In other words, it was just another night at The Gold Piece Inn, and no one had noticed the beggar at the door.
Dewey rushed through the kitchen and out to the barn. He dodged sheep, rabbits, a sleeping cow, nearly stepped on the tail of an old bloodhound, and climbed the ladder. The loft was covered in straw and cordoned into sections by blankets of differing color and quality. The woman lay on a brown blanket next to an unshuttered window that let in the last light of the day. Loretta appeared to be threatening her with a baguette.
“She’s lovely but there’s nothin’ to her,” Loretta said to Dewey. And then to the woman. “You faer?”
“I require your aid,” the woman said. “Please, my children …”
Loretta took a bite of the baguette dripping with salty olive oil and then offered it to the woman again. “Never seen a beggar who won’t eat. She elfin? Your kind?”
“No, she’s as human as you are.”
Loretta leaned forward and sniffed the woman’s neck. “She don’t smell like a human.”
“She bathes. Some people do that, you should try it.” Dewey helped the woman up.
Loretta examined her hands, no scars or calluses. She ran her fingers through her long, straight black hair and mumbled, “Fine as silk.”
Dewey said, “When have you ever touched silk?”
Loretta said. “I didn’t think skin got that pale.”
The woman’s eyes lost focus, and she fainted.
“Farqin shite!” Dewey said, “Get some water—nay, a blast of brandy.”
Loretta dropped down the ladder in a fluid, practiced motion.
Dewey waited a few more seconds and then whispered, “Queen Dafina, what are you doing here?”
She sat up straight, dabbed her eyes, and said, “I require your help.”
“You have to get out of here.”
“You must assemble the bodies of my husband and children.” Her voice cracked. “They require decent burial.”
“The usurper has them. There’s nothing I can do.”
“I can pay you more than you can imagine.”
“Maybe so but pay means nothing to a dead man.”
“Think of the favors I can grant, I can—” and then she went quiet and looked down, blubbering out the words, “My children, my husband, everyone is dead.”
“I’m not, and don’t plan to be any time soon.”
She looked up at him and then around. She fondled the rough threads of the blanket and pulled a piece of straw through a gap in the weave. A lamb bleated below, and a mouse scurried across a rafter overhead.
“Surely you don’t want to watch more people die.”
The Queen stood and bumped her head on a beam. Dust sprinkled onto her face. “No,” she said. “No, anything but that.”
“I’d like to help,” he said. “Dozens of good people, your subjects and their children, live here—you’re duty bound to protect them, and you know what Lukas will do if you’re found here.”
“Right.” She started down the ladder and Dewey held her steady. “I’ll go.” She stepped toward the barn door and Dewey nudged her, gently at first and then with a bit of authority to the side exit that led to an alley out of view of High Street.
He put two silver ohzees in her hand and said, “Take the morning barge back to Glomaythea or get passage on a ship to Nantesse—isn’t that your home?”
He gripped her shoulders and rotated her to face him. He waited for her to look up and said. “You asked for my help and I have helped you. Right?”
“Yes, thank you good sir.”
He oriented her downhill and gave her a shove. She staggered into the dark alley and down the hill that would take her back to the marketplace if she followed it. She said, “My babies are dead. They’re all dead.”
Dewey shut the gate just as Loretta appeared with a goblet of brandy.
“Just in time,” he said. He took it and drank.
With the recent launch of The Collectors, I experienced the same fine emotion I always feel when a book is shared with readers and reviewers. To me, each book is a like a daughter, stepping off the porch barefoot, a bit disheveled, but grinning—perhaps smirking—as she heads out into the real world. As I watch her head on up the road with her battered suitcase and tousled hair, I wish her all the best, confident that I have loved her and done my very best to raise her well. We’ve had our ups and downs, disagreements and arguments, but this was always in the spirit of helping her become the best that she can be.
As always, I hope her journey is good and interesting, just before the screen door slams and I head to my back office, where another young one is waiting to be born.
This is why when I’m asked about having a favorite Danser novel, the answer is always no. How can you, and why would you ever favor one darling child over another?
All the best,
The Danser Novels
Greg Jolley earned a Master of Arts in Writing from the University of San Francisco and lives in the very small town of Ormond Beach, Florida. When not writing, he researches historical crime, primarily those of the 1800s. Or goes surfing.
Publisher: BHC Press
December 15, 2020
Pierce Danser is on the hunt for his soon-to-be ex-wife, the actress Pauline Place, who’s disappeared from the Black Island film set in the heat swarmed waters off the Mexican coast. A wealthy “collector” with a black heart and dangerous, evil mind has kidnapped her, planning a forced marriage to complete his manage of twisted museum pieces. As Pierce starts down the winding, dark, and deadly path in pursuit, his journey is a roller coaster through a horror show. No matter the grisly and dangerous obstacles, he is determined to rescue Pauline, even if it means the loss of his own life.
The clock is ticking, his resources are slim and he’s up against a man of great means as well as a twisted, cruel vision.
“Welcome to the film set, Mr. Kiharazaka. Please mind your step, we’re having a problem with vermin.”
The tall, thin man, fresh from Kyoto, adjusted his stride, placing each step of his spacesuit boots gingerly.
“I’m Rolf. Can I call you Zaka?” the assistant director went on.
“Please, no,” Mr. Kiharazaka replied demurely.
“Will we be going weightless? It was in the original scene.”
“We’re woking on that, yes.”
“A joke. Sort of.”
A few yards away, green gaffing tape marked the edge of the darkened film set. Rolf spoke into her headset and the lights came up, revealing the interior of the spacecraft: the complex helm and seating for the crew. The second set—the crew table and galley kitchen—was half-lit in the distance.
Mr. Kiharazaka stared with unreserved delight. The crew had accurately replicated the 1990s television series Tin Can’s two most famous locations.
Members of the film crew were already on the set, at their places among the equipment; lights, extended boom mics, and various cameras, some dollied and some shoulder-held. Mr. Kiharazaka had to rotate stiffly in his spacesuit, turning his helmet, visor up, to watch the young, professional film crew. He nodded to some and spoke to none. For the most part, these serious professionals looked right through him, focused on their craft.
“Please step in, Zaka. We’d like you to feel comfortable in both locations.”
“Where is the cast? The Robbins family?”
“Soon enough. Please.” Rolf extended her hand and Zaka crossed the green tape and stepped into the helm, noting that the flooring was white painted plywood. With the flight helmet on, the voices about the set were muted. Zaka stared at the helm, admiring, but not touching, the multiple displays. He stood back of Captain Robbins’s helm chair, taking in all the exacting details of the complex spacecraft controls. Easing between the captain and copilot chair, he turned to Rolf with his white gloved hand out to the second chair, asked, “May I?”
Rolf gave him her buttery professional smile.
“Captain, permission to man the helm?” Zaka asked.
Rolf rolled her eyes, up into the complex scaffolding above. The client was already in role, using the famous and familiar dialogue from the Tin Can series. Since none of the cast was yet on set, Rolf answered for Matt Stuck, the sod of an actor who played Captain Robbins.
“Aye, mate. Take thar helm,” she spoke the next well-known line with a grimace.
Zaka bowed to her voice and twisted around into the copilot’s chair.
She looked on as Zaka began the familiar series of taps and changes on the right side of the helm. She could hear him identifying each click and adjustment he made. He was doing a good job mimicking the terse, focused voice of copilot Sean Robbins, but his inflections were clearly Japanese.
The director, Rose Daiss, entered the soundstage, crossed to the set, and for once didn’t trip on the snakes of cables. She wobbled her large rear into the La-Z Boy with “Director” stenciled on the back. Her nickname was “Bottles” and never used in her presence—it was a reference to the many times she had washed up. Her pudgy face was nip-and-tuck stretched, her skin was rough, but rouged well. She did have good hair.
The director’s personal assistants entered the soundstage and roamed to their places just back of the cameras. They donned headsets and leisurely took up their positions, standing deferentially to Bottles’s side, their faces lit by the glow of their tablets.
Rolf shouted for status among the film’s crews, and they called back equally loud. Lighting, boom mics, and cameras leaned in on the set. Mr. Zaka climbed from the helm and walked back into the spacecraft along the equipment bays on the left wall—the right wall of equipment didn’t exist, providing the view for one of the many cameras. He tapped a brief series on the wall panel and the air lock door opened with a gasp. He stepped through, the door closing at his heels, and crossed the short area of soundstage to the side entrance of the crew and kitchen set. Zaka took in every detail of the reproduced Tin Can galley as he moved carefully through the room. He eased himself into his role and the chair assigned to Ruth Robbins, the flight crew’s matriarch.
The director shouted at her assistants, barking orders and questions, sounding semi-lucid. Rose’s drug-addled, fast-clipped voice received intimidated replies. She was enjoying their pale, cowering expressions while chasing two lines of thought, a mixture of movie-making aesthetics and redundant direction. Her face was beading with drug sweat on her upper lip and brow.
“Where’s my cast?” Rose bellowed, finishing the tirade. That done, she promptly nodded off, delighting Rolf, who then inherited the director’s role.
Zaka was exploring the many displays embedded in the galley table, trying to ignore the shouting.
“Heat it up,” Rolf instructed her underling
The assistant typed a series of brief commands on his tablet and the script dialogue for Ruth Robbins—whom Zaka had paid dearly to portray—appeared. The script was scroll ready and at an angle on the galley table that couldn’t be seen by the cameras.
Rolf heard the cast crossing to the set, a scuffing of moon boots and voices approaching from the soundstage. A sweeping flashlight beam guided their way. The cast moved into the back glow from the lights on the set. Rolf pressed the inside of her cheek between her teeth and bit down. Most of the original cast had been hired or persuaded to appear in the remake of the famous season seven-ending cat fight scene. The brawl between the Robbins’ daughters was nominally, impotently, refereed by the only member of the flight crew who was not a member of the family: the handsome, irreverent, and sociopathic engineer, Greer Nails.
Twenty-two years had been most unkind to the once-famous family members. Greer Nails appeared overinflated; the penchant for food and wine, and dessert, over the past years of dimming celebrity had taken their toll. His formerly idolized face was jowled, reddened, and fat. His spacesuit looked like a white dirigible.
The other cast members were naked save their space helmets. Time and gravity and overindulgence had also taken a toll on their bodies. Greer Nails was the lone holdout from nudity, and with obese good reason.
The scene that Zaka had chosen from the menu provided by the studio had cost him a breathless $3.7 million. An additional $1.3 million was invoiced when he selected the option off the Premiere menu for the cast to be nude except for space helmets. He had expressed his desire to be part of the famous scene’s reenactment, in the role of Ruth Robbins, the space family matriarch. Most of his role was to be aghast at the start of a violent family shouting match and brawl. Later, he would be able to view the vignette time and again, for all eternity, receiving sole ownership of the footage of this and the other short scene as part of the package he had paid for.
Zaka watched his castmates approach, trying to keep his eyes on their helmets, not their nakedness. He was delighted and light headed with his proximity to the famous—the real flesh instead of celluloid, but their memorized faces were distorted by their helmets.
Nods were used in lieu of greetings. They had met during rehearsal earlier in the day. Places were taken, and Rolf reviewed the lighting and camera placements.
The first scene was succinctly re-rehearsed. This was of little use to Zaka, who had the script committed to memory. But the rehearsal helped him dissolve some of his lighter-than-air headiness. The rest of the cast drolly joined the read and walk through, their acting marked by a blend of boredom, professionalism, and chemicals.
Zaka was delighted. Here he was, a real actor with an important part in the infamous scene’s reenactment. It was all he could to not giggle. He somehow found the ability to maintain Ruth Robbins’s dithering mothering role.
Julianne, the slutty smart sister, stepped past Greer and pantomimed the jerk-off gesture that would set off her sibling, “Cy,” as in Cyborg. In the television series, Cy had been Greer Nail’s budding romantic interest.
Zaka was enthralled, but also concerned. He had paid for Captain Robbins to sit at the head of the galley table, and he was nowhere to be seen.A booming, authoritative voice carried from the back of the soundstage.
“Welcome to Tin Can Two, Mr. Kiharazaka. You are certainly star material, mm-hmm!” Fatima Mosley called out.
Fatima was the studio head, noticeably short and burdened by a massive chest that gave her stride a wobble. She was dressed in an elegant and trendy style, including a beret. She had a titanium leg, the original lost to disease. The metal ratcheted when her knee articulated.
“Zaka’s doing a great job.” Rolf called over, not turning from the rehearsal.
“It’s Kiharazaka, please,” Zaka politely corrected Rolf again.
“Actually, it’s Ruth Robbins,” Fatima smiled, causing her cheeks to fill and her eyes to disappear.
Zaka flushed with pride at being addressed as Ruth.
“All is well, mm-hmm?” Fatima asked Zaka.
“Yes, yes. Might I ask? Is Captain Robbins ready? And son Sean Robbins?”
“Why, here’s Sean now,” Fatima answered, her crunched face dissolving downward, revealing her wise, ferret eyes. She didn’t explain Captain Robbins’s absence, and Zaka showed good manners by not repeating his question.
Sure enough, Sean Robbins, the Tin Can’s copilot appeared from the shadows of the soundstage, naked save his helmet and boots, looking slightly sedated—well, a lot sedated. His birdlike wrists hung limp.
There was a white worm of drool creeping from his face, now ravaged by years of amphetamine addiction. He was escorted by two of the bigger grips, who held his scarecrow thin arms and pulled him along, his moon boots sketching the soundstage flooring.
The sisters, Cy and Julianne, did not look pleased to be reanimating their once famous daughter roles, no matter the money. They were clearly drugged to an agitated condition and firing foul slurs, even before the shoot began. Julianne had a wrench tattoo on her naked, once-perfect boob. Cy’s sensual body was scarecrow thin, as though drawn of all blood.
The grips assisted Sean Robbins into the hot lights and seated him at the galley table. He opened one eye and panned it across the cameras and lights aimed on him, then barfed into his own lap.
“Unpleasant, mm-hmm,” Fatima observed.
Zaka did the brave thing—he stayed in role, putting on his best Mrs. Robbins bemused and maternal expression.
“Nice,” Rolf encouraged him.
One of the grips wiped up Sean’s vomit. The other cleaned off his chest. Sean stood up and looked on, patting one of the men on the top of the head.
Rolf called out, “I have the set!”
From the film crews came sharp, short calls, and the boom mics lowered overhead.
“Quiet, quiet!” Rolf delighted in her temporary directing role.
“Lock it up,” she hollered.
“Places,” she shouted to the cast.
A young woman appeared with an electric slate, shouted a brief stream of incomprehensible code, clacked the device, and disappeared.
Zaka did well, not looking to Captain Robbins’s empty seat at the head of the table.
Rolf yelled, “Action,” and the movie magic began.
For Zaka, there was a spiritual lift, even as he stayed in his rehearsed movements. He allowed himself to experience the elation, but stayed in the role of motherly concern.
Julianne entered the scene from the door to the helm. She moved behind Sean, who had a line of dialogue but missed. Staring at Cy, she stepped to Greer’s side and hefted the weight of his groin. Cy transitioned fast and smooth, from agog to madness. She fired forward and attacked, going for the smirk on her sister’s face with a clawed left hand and the space cup in the other.
As scripted, Mrs. Robbins took one step back from her end of the table, her expression alarmed and offended.
Greer was looking down at his groped crotch like he was just then realizing he had one. He leaned back as Cy collided with Julianne, and the brawl exploded with screams and nails and fists. The two careened off the galley counter and shelving, swinging and connecting blows.
If Captain Robbins had been at the head of the table, he would have moved fast to separate the two, looking sad and determined and disappointed. Instead, a bit of ad lib occurred, the two brawlers tumbling low in the shot, fists and knees swinging and pumping. Greer performed the ad lib, turning to the mayhem with a slack expression and barfing on himself again.
Mrs. Robbins went into action. She stomped manfully to her scuffling daughters, arms shooing, intending to break up the chaos on the spaceship floor. She was two strides away when Greer stepped out and pushed her back. Mrs. Robbins resisted, flailing her arms, eyes wide with alarm. Greer held her true. The fight continued, the sisters grunting and gasping. Hair was grabbed, a low fist was thrown. Julianne coughed in pain. Cy let out a cry, “You bitch!”
That was Zaka’s cue. He looked away, eyes upward and spoke the season-ending line, “My daughters. The sluts.”
“Cut. Cut. Cuu. Cuush . . .” Rose Daiss, the replaced director, called out in a trailing off slur. She was ignored.
The brawl continued. A mangy rat crossed the plywood set boards, scurrying away from the fisticuffs. The two beefy grips stepped to the edge of the set, poised to separate the sisters. The brawl looked real enough to them.
Rolf took the director’s prerogative, screaming at everyone.
Date Published: June 26, 2020
Publisher: Jan-Carol Publishing, Inc.
Seventeen-year-old Jerrod has struggled with the guilt of his actions for an event that took place almost a year ago. His friends have abandoned him, his family ignores him, and he lost his best friend. To make matters worse, he was unable to access records that may have revealed his father’s whereabouts. His sister, Ella, guides Jerrod as he tries to learn and accept secrets his family has tried to hide. However, a sinister spirit may be influencing Ella’s actions, and it has an agenda of its own.
I had been thinking a long time about the past, and early morning light had run away the shadows. I didn’t want to relive those terrible moments in time, but my mind kept pushing me back to them.
My mother’s bedroom door creaked open, and her feet padded softly down the carpeted hallway. I thought she would go downstairs, but her footsteps stopped outside of my room.
I lay frozen on my bed, looking at the door. I could hear my mother’s breath, soft and sad.
The knob turned, and the door inched open slowly. My mother stood in the doorway with a laundry basket against her hip.
Oh, she was putting away laundry. No big deal.
“Hey, Mom,” I said, rising from my bed. “I’ll get that for you,” I offered, motioning to the laundry basket.
My mother didn’t move or look at me. She seemed like she was unsure about something.
She was trying to get her emotions under control, but she let a tear fall as she looked at the floor. “I never blamed you,” she whispered. “You never hurt anyone.”
The last words seemed to be too much for my mother, and she burst into tears. I watched her with my hands up. What was I supposed to do?
Before I could decide on a course of action, my mother turned around and closed my door. I lowered my hands and stared at the door.
I had waited almost a year for my mother’s forgiveness. Now that she had pardoned me, I still felt cold and alone. I had pictured us holding and hugging each other, but my mother had left without a show of affection.
My mother may have been trying to keep her emotions in check, like her father had taught her to do when she was young. She was probably ashamed of her tears. Besides, she was from the city, and city girls weren’t supposed to cry.
I settled under my comforter and tried to push the gnawing emptiness away. I tried to pretend my twin was on the bed above me and that he was only sleeping. I wanted to talk to him, and I knew he would understand.
No matter how mad I made him, he always listened to me and tried to help.
The morning light landed on Josh’s model car collection, but it was dusty and mostly forgotten. One of the models was missing because of me.
I enjoyed most of my memories of the past, but I had been avoiding one of the worst times for our family. My thoughts shifted back to the day I had hidden my brother’s favorite model truck in the kitchen stove.
It was nice to hear that my mother didn’t place blame on me, but her actions over the past year suggested otherwise. We both knew I had hurt a lot of people during my seventeen years, and Josh wasn’t the only brother who had died because of me.
About the Author
Courtnee Turner Hoyle was raised in Unicoi County, surrounded by the traditions and dialect of the area. She embraced the regional stories, mountain views, and culture -except sweet tea and unannounced visits – and sought to correct the misconceptions about the local people and the town stories that turned into rumors.
Despite the challenges that face a young mother, she graduated East Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English, with an emphasis in technical writing, and a Bachelor of Business. She received a Master of Arts in Teaching from the same university, and began writing novels. She volunteers with community organizations, and she has been involved with Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians for several years as a Troop Administrator. She also volunteers with the Girl Scout Service Unit in her area. Her responsibilities include planning events, organizing social media releases for the service unit, and writing articles about the activities and accomplishments of all the troops in her county.
She resides in Erwin, Tennessee, with her children and husband. She has hiked the section of the Appalachian Trail near her home, has visited many of the caves and other mountain trails in the area, and is fascinated by their enigmatic appeal. She likes reading, writing, and any reasonable music. Most of all, she enjoys sharing adventures with her children and making memories through their experiences.
People often ask how I come up with ideas for my novels. Sometimes I have no answer—it just seems to pop into my head. Best guess, the kernel of an idea probably came from a newspaper or magazine article or something I saw in a movie. It was probably just so far back I don’t recall.
Before I started to write THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL, Brandon Garrett’s story, the third book in my Maximum Security Series, I had decided to set a book in Colorado, maybe even a new series. I ran across an article about the Army Chemical Weapons Depot near Fort Carson and started thinking… wouldn’t it make be interesting if someone stole chemical weapons from the depot? I wonder if it could be done? How would the good guys catch the thieves? And so off I went on a story that turned into The Ultimate Betrayal.
Having written over 70 novels since I began way back when, it’s harder and harder to come up with fresh ideas. I do a lot of research for my books. This novel, set around a military base, was particularly difficult. Lots of stuff I didn’t know.
In the story, when investigative journalist Jessie Kegan’s father, a colonel in the army, is accused of treason, Jessie is determined to clear his name. Reluctantly, she turns to former Special Ops soldier, Brandon Garrett, her late brother’s best friend–a true heartbreaker, according to her brother.
With danger coming from every angle, time is running out and the game being played is deadly. Working together, Bran and Jessie must risk everything to solve the riddle and confront the threat–before it’s too late.
Till next time, happy reading and all best, Kat
When investigative journalist Jessie Kegan’s father, a colonel in the army, is accused of treason, Jessie is determined to clear his name. Reluctantly, she turns to former Special Ops soldier, Brandon Garrett, her late brother’s best friend—a true heartbreaker, according to her brother.
With danger coming from every angle, time is running out and the game being played is deadly. Working together, Bran and Jessie must risk everything to solve the riddle and confront the threat—before it’s too late.
Bestselling author Kat Martin, a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, currently resides in Missoula, Montana with Western-author husband, L. J. Martin. More than seventeen million copies of Kat’s books are in print, and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Fifteen of her recent novels have taken top-ten spots on the New York Times Bestseller List, and her novel, BEYOND REASON, was recently optioned for a feature film. Kat’s latest novel, THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL, a Romantic Thriller, will be released in paperback December 29th.
Today’s guest author is Larry Deibert. Larry is a Vietnam veteran and is the past president of the Lehigh Northampton Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Macungie, PA. Larry retired from the U.S. Postal Service in 2008 after working as a letter carrier for over 21 years. He and his wife, Peggy, live in Hellertown, PA., where he enjoys reading and writing. Larry’s website is, www.larryldeibert.com. You can contact Larry at email@example.com.
In 1999, I wrote two books, 95 Bravo and Requiem For A Vampire. Eventually, both were published; Bravo in 2004 and Requiem in 2007.
In 1974, after finding out that I was going to become a father, I thought it would be a good idea to write a book about my military service. Many concerns about the effects of exposure to Agent Orange, a defoliant used in Vietnam, were coming out, and the end results were devastating, including death.
The prospect of dying before my child was old enough to understand what I went through in the service, prompted me to write this story. Back in those days, there were no computers, so I had to type my story on an old-fashioned typewriter, and because errors were apt to occur, I typed several drafts before I had a copy that really shone, one that publishers would not immediately dismiss for errors, I thought.
My book was quite short at about forty-thousand words, but, then again, my experiences were limited. I had never been in combat, so what kind of war story would this be. After placing my manuscript in a plastic folder, where nothing could happen to it, I began seeking a publisher. Over the course of several months, I submitted my book to twenty-three publishers, utilizing hard copies and snail mail. Fortunately, I had a friend who worked in a printing office, and he was able to make all the copies I needed.
After sending them to the publishers, I waited various lengths of time for responses, receiving twenty-three rejection letters, finally giving up, thinking I had no talent for writing.
Fast forward to 1999. I had been involved in Vietnam Veteran groups for about ten years, hearing the stories of many combat and non-combat veterans. Some of the stories became a burden to carry, and I was advised by an Edgar (Allan Poe) winning author to rewrite my story, adding what those veterans shared with me, fictionalizing the book. I also wanted to tell the stories of what the nurses had gone through. In 1993 I was a technical advisor for a play titled Piece Of My Heart, based on a book about women veterans. One of the events during our Lehigh Northampton Vietnam Veterans Memorial weekend, was the second time I saw the play, especially proud of my daughter as she portrayed a nurse. It was the only play she ever did, saying, “Dad, I don’t think I could ever do another role as satisfying as this was.” I began to type the book on my word processor, and later, on a computer. The process took many months, and one-hundred-and-forty-three-thousand words later, completed my manuscript.
As I searched for a publisher, now being able to send digital copies, I began to write a second book.
95 Bravo was published as an e-Book in 2004, by Writer’s Exchange E-Publishing, and in 2009, the paperback was released. The rewrite came after my wife, Peggy, read the paperback. She felt that there was entirely too much unnecessary information in the book, and she wanted me to focus more on the protagonist’s love interests, making the story more female friendly.
This rewrite was relatively easy, because it was a simple matter of reading it, cutting out the unnecessary stories and when I finished, I had cut nearly twenty-five thousand words, and tightened it up quite a bit.
Late, in 2009, I self-published it with Lulu, and years later, with CreateSpace. And finally, Kindle Direct Publishing. The new title became Combat Boots dainty feet-Finding Love in Vietnam. That title came about after a co-worker of mine read the manuscript, finding that my female lead had dainty feet. He offered that I should use that in every proceeding book, which I have done.
While waiting for a publisher for 95 Bravo, I had the itch to continue writing; the juices were flowing.
Having always been a vampire fan, Bela Lugosi scaring the beJesus out of me when I was a kid, and seeing many vampire movies after that, I had come up with some ideas of what my vampire would ‘look’ like. In the 60s I became a fan of Dark Shadows, a daytime soap opera that featured a two-hundred-year-old vampire, Barnabas Collins. During my twenty-two months in the army, I was unable to watch it, so my sister sent me weekly synopses of the show. Many years later, a new TV Network, SiFi ran the entire series again. I enjoyed watching the shows I had missed. A second Dark Shadows was released about twenty-five years later, and I also enjoyed that show.
I never quite believed that a vampire, a dead creature, could be destroyed by driving a wooden stake in his or her unbeating heart. Why would garlic affect a vampire? Can a vampire actually see its reflection? Do vampires eat? Why can’t they walk in the sunlight and be twenty-four seven killers?
Coming up with my own ideas about these subjects, I began the writing process, my fingers flying over the keyboard. I probably wrote the manuscript in about three months, ending up with ninety-three thousand words, and change.
I found a publisher, Mundania Press, in 2007, and after the manuscript was edited and an amazing cover created, my book was published. Sadly, they did nothing as far as marketing was concerned, and my sales were not great. I got my rights back, and figured that someday I would rewrite the book, not caring for some of my character’s names and the story needed a little work.
For months I had been searching for the disc or flash drive that contained the manuscript, but I had no success. I tried photocopying the pages of the book, printing them out and writing as I read the page. That was a horrible experience. In May, I found the answer. I used the dictate feature on Word and began to read my entire book aloud, seeing the words appear on paper. Technology is amazing. After completing a hard copy, I began the process of editing, which is not my forte.
I purchased a program-Grammarly-and after dictating a chapter, I had to move the chapter from Word to Grammarly. After correcting the piece, I had to copy it back to Word, with every paragraph indent disappearing. That gave me an opportunity to reread my work again, and after completing that task, I used the Word editing program.
On July 20th, I finally finished the dictation process and the two editing processes. My manuscript is now in the hands of an editor, and I look forward to giving the story one more read before my wife, who has been the final reader of each book, gives it her once over.
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