BEG, BORROW, STEAL: A Writer’s Life by Michael Greenberg. New York: Other Press. 2009.

As I’m getting to know the stacks of the Marstons Mills Library here on Cape Cod, I’m picking up random titles that catch my eye and writing about them. This one is a memoir by writer Michael Greenberg, a New York writer. Since our time in New York overlapped somewhat, I felt guilty about not knowing him or his writing while I lived there.

The book is a series of chapters as memories — some are of his childhood, some are of incidents in contemporary time that spark trains of thoughts or send him on adventures, such as riding a subway on Christmas with a friend who got a job as a motorman or investigating Hart’s Island (aka Potter’s Field). There are very few chapters actually about writing — although one, about adventures as a for-hire writer, is hilarious and very telling to any of us who job out. Many of the chapters seem to be about NOT writing, doing other things.

But, really, isn’t that the “life” part of a writer’s life? Something catches your attention, your interest, you decide to follow it, and you find someone to pay you to write about it. A writer gets to live many lives, sometimes more than an actor. Actors often have to wait to be cast — a writer gets to write his own reality.

The writing is thoughtful, funny, and makes one think about all those places and people one passes every day, living in New York, without giving them a second thought.

If you’re in the Barnstable area, you can stop by Marstons Mills Library and check it out — who knows what else you’ll find in the stacks? The library’s jewel is its theatre collection. If you’re in CLAMS network — order it. If you’re far from the Cape — contact your local independent bookstore and order it!

Several of the DEATH SPARKLES contributors were able to take the time to answer some questions about the process. It’s always fun to see how these things evolve!

Devon Ellington: How did the story spark from the prompt and grow?

KT Wagner: I was googling related phrases, desperately searching for inspiration, when I came across a news story about a young man in New Zealand who had purchased a diamond ring, and then his girlfriend rejected his proposal. He set up a treasure hunt and gave the ring away, but not before he created some controversy by profiting from click-throughs – money he donated to charity.

Faith Dincolo: I found the process of visualizing a dead woman with diamonds dangling from her hand, to be fertile ground for creativity. In “Persephone’s Progeny”, the diamond necklace was a catalyst for Persephone to grow as a robot. The prompt really helped me to think outside of my usual story telling process. I would recommend a prompt to anyone struggling with writer’s block, as it opens up the creative flow.

Diana Holdsworth: When we got the prompt, I was rusty at short story. My first version came out like the compressed outline of a novella. The necklace was used as an example of greed over common sense, and the prompt line was stapled in near the end of the story. I brushed up on my short story skills and realized the first version wouldn’t do. Starting from scratch, I tried again, but nothing came. I didn’t think I could manage it. Then I reached back into my life and a tale came to mind that resonates for me on a deeply emotional level. The story poured out with ease. The necklace in “A Girl’s Best Friend” stands for something quite different from the one in the first version. As for the prompt line, no staples required.

PJ Friel: I’m not a fan of horror so when I read the prompt, I knew it was going to be a challenge for me. My solution for this was to discuss the prompt with a friend, Jessica. I find that my imagination really kicks into gear during lively conversations. Focusing on the necklace and the meaning behind it was key for me. What was so important about that necklace? Jessica and I threw around some ideas and then I went home to begin my research. With some facts and pictures in hand (visuals are very important to me), the story started to flow. Oddly enough, I really didn’t know where the protagonist was going to take me. I always know the ending of my stories, but not so with this one.

Killion Slade: As soon as I read the prompt, I immediately knew I didn’t want to write a simple murder scene. My horror muse truly wanted to be fed and pushed me out of my comfort zone. I wanted the piece to seem surreal, confusing, a bit disorientating, and downright uncomfortable. From initial beta readers, I was asked to take the story further, deeper, and then once I added sensory elements, it truly took off on a life of its own.

Nina Benneton: A day before the assignment was due, I’d listened to a conversation between two sisters and their dialogue was so rich, I went home and fictionalized the characters, taking advantage of the dialogue’s rhythm.

DE: What was the hardest thing about writing to the prompt?

NB: This particular prompt screamed mystery or thriller or horror to me, but my muse was not cooperating. She wanted humor instead, so I relented and let her be. After all, I had a deadline.

FD: How and where to place the prompt was a big issue for me. I wanted a seamless use of the prompt that didn’t jar the reader and make them say, “oh yeah, there is the prompt.” This was a challenge for me, because putting the prompt as the first, or last sentence, seemed very appealing. Make it obvious and blatant, then this little voice in me asked, “is the prompt more important than the story, or vice-versa?” When I wrote the story, the prompt fell naturally into place at the dark point of the story.

PJF: The hardest part about the prompt was that it didn’t come from within. It’s difficult for me to take someone else’s idea and build around it. This prompt was especially hard because it was drawing me into a genre that I avoid. I could have worked the sentence into a fantasy story, which is my chosen area, but I felt that the point of the prompt was to write something outside of the norm. I’m glad that I didn’t take the easy way out. I don’t think I would have been nearly as satisfied with the results.

DH: I knew the story I wanted to tell before I knew where to put the prompt line. The muse is a subtle creature: I believe my creative self understood where the prompt line was meant to go long before my conscious self did. During the writing process, my big worry was that the prompt sentence would stick up like a nail in the road. By the time the story was done, the prompt line slipped into place naturally.

KS: I would say the hardest thing about the prompt was the tense. Writing in first person created a challenge to meet the prompt. It also was the style of the death. Immediately, when I think of diamonds dangling from a dead woman’s hands, I think of her stealing them, getting caught, and being poisoned in some sort fashion. So trying to come up with a unique situation for this woman and why she was dead and had diamonds dangling that was not cliche’ in my mind was indeed a challenge.

KTW: Other than some terrible cliched ideas, I floundered around seeking inspiration for far too long. I remember one night lying in bed staring at the ceiling and playing word association games when I should have been sleeping.

DE: Do you see these characters in any other pieces besides this story?

DH: In a sense, yes. My recent Victorian Gothic short, “No Tongue Can Tell,” is similarly themed, with similar characters in parallel situations. Writing “A Girl’s Best Friend” allowed “No Tongue Can Tell” to pour out with ease, even though I’d never written a Victorian Gothic before. Creativity feeds on itself.

NB: Not until this question. Hmm. I think I might like to see Catarina and Nipolita showing up to help the priest at the orphanage in Guatemala.

KS: Devon Ellington taught us how we can use our short stories to ‘put the feelers out’ for new characters. Let them try on their story, so to speak. We also learned how to incorporate older characters into new situations where we normally wouldn’t see them in, to find out more about what drives them. I have not considered writing more for these two characters in “The Trophy Wife”, but it could becomes a twisted little mini-series of short stories based around the unique world built for them.

PJF: While the protagonist is certainly an interesting character, I don’t think I could spend an entire novel inside her head. It’s a rather scary place inside her noggin and I’m a big chicken.

KTW: The motivations and rationalizations of people like the main character fascinate me, but no, I won’t be writing about these particular characters again.

FD: I always see my stories as bigger pieces. Short stories really turn on the creative flow, and get me thinking about all the possibilities that I could do with that story. I find that it can be very difficult to write a short story, because the story wants to grow. I envy short story writers that can see their stories in a few pages.

Bios:

Nina Benneton always wanted to be a priest and save orphans in third-word countries, but ends up writing romantic comedies; for now. Visit her at www.NinaBenneton.com.

Faith Dincolo writes horror, sci-fi comedy, and creative non-fiction. She can be found at https://www.facebook.com/FYDincolo.

PJ Friel is a writer and artist, dwelling in the land of fantasy. Visit her online at http://www.amberstar.net.


Diana Holdsworth writes novels, novellas, short stories and memoir. Visit her at http://www.DianaHoldsworth.com.

Killion Slade comprises of a married writing team who met in the virtual realms of Second Life and virtually enjoy everything. Read More at http://www.killionslade.com.

KT Wagner writes science fiction, Gothic horror and steampunk, novels and short stories, with the occasional forays into other genres and her garden. Visit her on-line at http://www.northernlightsgothic.com

Purchase DEATH SPARKLES here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s here!  The Death Sparkles Anthology is available.  Here’s the Kindle link, and it will also be available on B&N and Smashwords.  I wrote the introduction and have the final story, “Sea Diamond” , a science-fiction mystery that introduces the ass-kicking, take-no prisoners Fiona Steele.  We WILL see more of her.

Nine authors contributed to this anthology, inspired from the prompt “the diamond necklace dangled from the dead woman’s hand” and nine very different interpretations of that.  The wonderful PJ Friel did the cover AND is a contributor, with “The Needing”.

We kick off the fall season on A BIBLIO PARADISE with guest Sharon Buchbinder and her newest release, KILLER KISSES.

Devon Ellington: First of all, I love the premise of each and every one of these stories. Over how long a period of time were these stories written?

Sharon Buchbinder: Thank you for your kind words, Devon. I started writing these stories in 2006 and published the first one, CATASTROPHE, in 2007. About one came out each year until 2010. About that time, I asked for the seven stories to be put together in an anthology, but for business reasons, the publisher declined. I really wanted a collection of my short stories, so when my contracts expired, I asked for my rights back so I could re-issue them under one cover.

DE: Are these characters one-offs? Are they tied to other works, or is there a potential to meet any of them again?

SB: There is a full length book related to this anthology. BONDED FOR LIFE has Isabel Ramirez as Lola Getz’s cousin. She appears off stage. In DESIRE AND DECEPTION (Red Sage), Isabel was a main character.
The 2 reunion stories grew out of the genius of Kathy Cottrell, the Senior Editor for the Last Rose of Summer line at the Wild Rose Press. She came up with the Class of ’85 Reunion for Summerville High School and some key characters (e.g., Richard and Elizabeth Heade). The authors then had the pleasure of populating her fictional town with characters and giving them life. The only thing we had to include was the invitation. If you enjoyed BONDED FOR LIFE and AN INN DECENT PROPOSAL, please be sure to check out the other wonderful Class of ’85 stories at the Wild Rose Press.

DE: Is there such a thing as a “typical writing day” in your life, and, if so, what’s it like?

SB: These days, it’s more like writing sprints. I’m an academic and in 2010, I quit the day job as a tenured full professor and department chair and became a full time consultant and writer. A year later, my consulting role led me to a part time teaching position in nursing. I realized how much I missed teaching, so now I’m back to work full time and love my job as a full professor and program coordinator for the MS in Healthcare Management program at Stevenson University. Now my writing occurs either early in the morning or on weekends. My next project is huge and I’m very excited about it. That will keep me getting up at 5:30 am to write.

DE: Do you prefer to work on one project at a time, or juggle multiple projects?

SB: My life is inherently about juggling projects. Right now I’m deep in reviewing copy edits for a textbook, CASES IN HEALTH CARE MANAGEMENT, which is due out in spring 2013 from Jones and Bartlett Learning. And, I’m building a new MS in Healthcare Management program. And, I’m working on the epic novel. I like to use both sides of my brain, the logical scientific side and the creative, world building side. They feed each other.

DE: You mentioned participating in Maryland Romance Writers and RWA. Are you part of a writing group that meets regularly? How have all of those connections supported and strengthened your writing?

SB: I belong to a wonderful critique group that meets once a month. There are six of us in it, and we critique everyone each month. It keeps me moving forward, doesn’t allow me to slack off. We are cheerleaders for each other and celebrate each accomplishment. We are also very picky about our writing. We have high standards and hold each other to them. It makes our work stronger.

DE: What’s next?

SB: I have a 3rd book under review with a publisher (fingers crossed). It is a paranormal romance. In OBSESSION, a recovering addict must work with a Mexican drug lord to rescue her one-year old son from the clutches of a cult leader who believes the child is the Chosen One.
And, I’m beginning to write the sequel to KISS OF THE SILVER WOLF. KISS OF THE VIRGIN QUEEN is the story of the epic romance the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon and the impact of their relationship on their descendant, Eliana Solomon. It will be a paranormal romance.

Thank you, Sharon, for spending time with us!

Bio:
Sharon Buchbinder has always been a story-teller. As a child, she got into a lot of trouble for “making things up.” Now, she is rewarded for making things up. She’s been writing fiction since in middle school and has the rejection slips to prove it. After graduating with a BA in Psychology and no job, she realized her dreams of working in the attic writing great prose would have to take a back seat to the simple pleasures of eating, drinking, and having a roof over her head. After working in health care delivery for years, she became a researcher, an association executive, then an academic. She had it all– a terrific, supportive husband, an amazing son, and a wonderful job. But that itch to write (some call it obsession), kept beckoning her to “come on back” to writing fiction. She found friendship, support and the opportunity to develop as an author with the Maryland Romance Writers and the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Since romance has over a dozen sub-genres, she was able to turn her fascination with horror and mystery into paranormal romance and romantic suspense. When not writing she can be found reading, fishing, working out, golfing or enjoying a good meal and laughter with friends and family.
http://sharonbuchbinder.com/
On Twitter: @sbuchbinder
Facebook


BLURB for KILLER KISSES

Killer Kisses is a collection of Sharon Buchbinder’s tales, ranging from contemporary, short and chaste to paranormal, long and spicy.

In A Peck on the Cheek: Hurricane Jason, a female private investigator searches for a two-timing husband, but lands in an hurricane shelter. Does she get her man?

In Cat Nips: Catastrophe, a crazy cat lady is evicted by her drunken landlord and the lives of her cats are at stake. Will she and her rescues wind up on the street? Or will a secret admirer find a better home for everyone?

In Hot Lips: Lake Placid Cure, a woman finds her husband in a compromising position–again. Looking to recover her dignity, she sets out for a medi-spa, encounters a murder mystery and discovers that miracles still happen in Lake Placid.

In French Kiss: Pigmalion, a speech pathology graduate student needs one more subject for her research project to graduate. She runs into a hot guy with a heavy accent and tries to recruit him into her study. Will she teach him the language of love?

In Sizzling Smooch: Bonded for Life , a Mexican artist runs for her life to hide in the little town where she graduated from high school. She’s convinced no one will find her there. But a boy with a high school crush on her grew up to be a hunky cop–and he has her in his cross hairs.

In Delectable and Delicious: An Inn Decent Proposal
, a chef and a hotelier join forces at a foreclosure auction on an old inn and outbid a small time hood. The thug doesn’t like being on the losing end of the deal. Things heat up outside and in the bedroom. Can the couple make a go of it? Or will the hood destroy their dream?

In Release Your Inner Wild Women: Kiss of the Silver Wolf, a young woman searches for the truth about her brother’s debilitating disease. An intriguing man with silver hair and a penchant for long night runs insists she’s his life mate. How does this sexy man figure into her family secrets?

And the excerpt:

Prologue: The Hunt (Part I)

He leaned down on his front paws, relieved the kinks in his back, and shook out his thick coat. Beneath the cold air, a hint of spring tantalized his senses. Under the moist leaves, between the tree roots, alongside the chortling streams, the sleeping earth mother stretched her legs and wiggled her toes too. He gazed at the pearl white moon as she rose on the horizon, full and iridescent in the February sky. Only a few days left to enjoy this part of his life.

Time for a run. He began to trot, then broke into a long easy gait, loping around the perimeter of his territory, through trees and winter-bare brush. He picked his way across a snow-melt-swollen stream, past massive rock formations and darkened houses, enjoying the feel of his muscles as they kept pace with his pounding heart. This was what it felt like to be alive.

Too soon he reached the asphalt and the end of his fun. Panting, he turned away from the road and walked at a slow easy pace, back to the pack’s meeting place. Time to speak to the Old One about the future. Midnight runs no longer suppressed his primal feelings, the visceral urge he felt when the full moon rose.

Each month, the call to mate was stronger—irresistible as the pull of the moon on the oceans—and on him. The females in the pack were off limits, bonded forever to their soul mates. Besides, their scents didn’t arouse him. No, the one he wanted was far away, almost an unattainable being. The moment he saw her smoky-eyed image, he knew she was The One. Often when he was alone at night, he gave into his dark urges and fantasized about holding her and making her his own. But in the morning, he was still alone, his dream-mate a dust mote on a sunbeam. He shook his head to clear his thoughts and stepped into the apple orchard.

Half-hidden in shadows beneath the moonlight dappled trees, the Old One nodded his head, a knowing glint in his bright orange eyes. The younger male trotted over to him and bowed his head. Half a dozen adolescents tumbled over and around the Old One, bit his gray ears, and nipped his toes. When the smaller ones looked up and saw the younger male, they yipped, hobbled over to him, and threaded between his legs. The Old One’s mouth opened in a grin, and his tongue lolled.

The younger male fell to the ground, rolled on his back, and the six pups leaped on his belly. He chuffed and pawed at them, cuffing each one lightly. He enjoyed the role of honorary Uncle, but what he really wanted was his own pups to play with. After a few minutes, he gave a great sigh and flipped onto his belly. The little ones seemed to sense his change in mood and hobbled off to play with sticks.

He locked gazes with the Old One. When will I have my own mate? It’s not enough for me to watch the little ones play.

The Old One winked and nodded. My job is to preserve the pack, to keep our people alive. I have chosen your mate. You know who she is. You have my oath.

The younger male shook his head. You didn’t answer my question. When? When do I get my mate and become Pack Leader?

The Old One leaped to his feet, glared at the younger one, and growled a deep throaty roar that belied his age. You dare to question me? Me? The one who saved you? Is that how you show your gratitude?

The younger male put his ears down and lowered his head, his nose touching the ground. Forgive me. I’m—I’m so lonely. My heart aches for a loving mate and my own pups. Every moon the urge gets stronger, the hunger greater.

The Old One came closer, grabbed the back of the younger male’s neck with his teeth. The large signet ring on his iron necklace clanked as he gave the upstart a small shake. The time is coming near. I promise. You will—

The unmistakable crack of a rifle sounded in the distance.

The Old One’s mate barked out orders to the other females. Grab the pups. Get them home. Hurry, hurry.

The younger male found a straggler hobbling along as fast as his legs permitted. He lifted him by the scruff of the neck. C’mon, little one. I’ve got you. You’re safe now.

A second shot rang out closer by.

The little one whimpered and shuddered in his grip. Please don’t let the hunters kill me, Uncle Zack. Please?

****
“I told you to hold your fire!” Special Agent Eliana Solomon stood by the abandoned mine and drummed her fingers on the butt of her Sig Sauer.

“Sorry, Sir—Ma’am…I thought I saw a wolf in my night scope.” The newbie looked downward as she glared at him.

“This isn’t a hunting trip with your buddies. It’s an active operation and I’m in command. One more shot and I’m taking your rifle away from you. Got it?”

He gulped, clutched his weapon, and nodded. “Yes, Ma’am.”

She had asked for experienced soldiers; instead they sent a bunch of green boys. She understood the Middle East took precedence, but didn’t the Army get the concept of domestic terrorists?

The mission of Project Aladdin was to find jinn, the portals where they came through from a parallel dimension and to shut the gateways down. Contrary to popular TV images of a pretty girl in a bottle, the jinn, or genies, were not nice. Powerful shape shifters, they hated humans and wanted to take over the world. If a terrorist ever found a way to conjure and command even one jinni, the world would never know what hit it.

Despite her obsession and round the clock investigations, she’d been unable to make any progress. With her evaluation coming at the end of the month, she had to find something. Otherwise, she’d be exiled to a desk and spend the rest of her professional life analyzing emails. She shuddered at the thought of death by tedium and twisted the heavy signet ring on her left hand.

Strange energy signatures had been seen on satellite images of this area and identified as the type associated with jinn. The abandoned mine was the logical place for a porta—but so far the scout they’d lowered down into the shaft hadn’t reported anything. She glanced at her watch. He’d been silent for twenty minutes. He was supposed to be reporting in on the quarter hour.

Mouth dry, she keyed her radio. “What’s going on down there?”

Static.

“Hello. Can you read me?”

A long burst of static was followed by garbled voices. A man screamed.

She wheeled on the pale-faced young corporal holding a rope. “Get him out of there!”

He leaned back and grunted, red-faced with exertion. “Something’s wrong, Ma’am!”

She raced behind him, screaming at the stricken-looking young men huddling together. “Get over here. Help us get him out.”

Three of them put their backs into the effort, finally bringing the scout up into view. Limp-limbed, the young man’s head lolled back, his camouflage uniform covered in blood. They hauled him onto the ground and rolled him over.

A soldier held a flashlight as Eliana pulled out a handkerchief and wiped his face off. Something was on his forehead. She dabbed at it and stopped. The words burned into the man’s forehead told her all she needed to know. She stood on shaky legs.

Bug eyed, the corporal turned to her. “What is it? What’s it mean?”

She chose her words with care. “It’s Hebrew. It says: GET OUT.”

She flexed her fist and rubbed the heavy signet ring inscribed with pentacles and letters from an ancient language. She was going to need help from a source that some people said didn’t even exist.

Buy it here:

This is a stunningly beautiful book on many levels.  Susan Wittig Albert is probably best known for her China Bayles mysteries, and she also writes the Cottage Tales Mysteries featuring Beatrix Potter and the Darling Dahlia mysteries, about a garden club in the South in the 1930’s.  With her husband, Bill, she co-wrote a series of Victorian mysteries as “Robin Paige”.

AN EXTRAORDINARY YEAR OF ORDINARY DAYS is her journal of 2008, a daily account of her life, work, and changing perception about issues such as climate change that seem far away, but, in reality, affect every day of our lives.  The journal talks about her writing schedule — the China Bayles mystery she’s writing, the one that’s in edits, the one that’s released — her Cottage Tales schedule,  the spark of the idea for the Darling Dahlias series, and the production process of her memoir, TOGETHER ALONE.  She demonstrates how a working writer shows up and gets the work done, without sacrificing the small joys of daily life.  She revels in the daily life of 31-acre Texas property and the house in the mountains of New Mexico.

With intelligence that’s both gentle and sharp, she reads voraciously, inquisitively, and applies what she learns to both work and life.  This book is wonderful for writers at all stages of their careers, for women entering a new phase of life (the journal covers her sixty-ninth year), and for anyone who is interested and/or believes in stewardship of the land.  It is personal, conversational, passionate, and wonderful.  She has quotes from her reading running along the margins, and offers both a monthly reading list and an extended bibliography in the back.

The book was released in 2010, by the University of Texas Press.  I first read it in 2011, and re-read it over the past few days, gorging myself on this glorious feast of words.

Visit her website for more information about her books here.

I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that the first Jain Lazarus Adventure, HEX BREAKER, is out, from Solstice Publishing. The original publisher went out of business, which meant the book (and the series) went out of print. Once the rights reverted, I took a break to lick my wounds, outlined the entire series, and then started my market research. During the time I tried to find the right publisher, I kept getting requests for the book, and questions as to when Jain, Wyatt, Billy, and the gang would be back.

Solstice Publishing and I came to an agreement, and HEX BREAKER was contracted. The remarkable PJ Friel did the new cover, and my editor was the creative, eagle-eyed, and compassionate Shawna Williams. I couldn’t ask for better support than with these two. I feel really lucky — I got to revisit the book, go deeper into Jain’s POV with the knowledge I now had for the rest of the series, making it richer and more complex.

Solstice contracted the second book in the series, OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK, and I plan to get third, CRAVE THE HUNT, to them this summer. OLD-FASHIONED DETECTIVE WORK is from Wyatt’s POV, and CRAVE THE HUNT alternates from Billy’s and Jain’s POVs. Billy gained such an adoring fanbase that he’s now got his own blog, Billy Root Blogs, where he talks about the books, the stories, and what it’s like to be an actor playing a character who’s a character in a series of novels. Fun stuff, and great fun to write in his POV outside of the narrative. Yesterday’s blog post contains a new excerpt, only found on the blog, not here or on the website or in the media kit. Read it here — then come back and read another new excerpt on this blog, below!

“Town Crier”, a short story about one of Jain’s exploits about ten years before the events of HEX BREAKER will be available the second week of June, followed by a Billy-centric tale, and then the re-release of “The Possession of Nattie Filmore” and “First Feet.”

So what’s HEX BREAKER about?
Hex Breaker Jain Lazarus joins the crew of a cursed film, hoping to put to rest what was stirred up before more people die and the film is lost. Tough, practical Detective Wyatt East becomes her unlikely ally and lover on an adventure fighting zombies, ceremonial magicians, the town wife-beater, the messenger of the gods, and their own pasts.

New excerpt (not found on the website or in the media kit):

Jain bolted toward the screams. Randy and Zig pounded down the path behind her. When they reached the row of trailers, they found Cady, hysterically flailing in Nick’s arms. He held her, trying to calm her down. Billy stood by, shifting from foot to foot, while Clive yelled, “Has anyone called the police yet?”

Vince rounded the corner, followed by several members of the crew, including Dennis and Mike. Cady wrenched herself away from Nick and flung herself into Vince’s arms, sobbing.

“What the…” Zig began.

Smeared across the door to Cady’s trailer and along the wall was a mass of grayish-red matter. Red liquid dripped from it.

“Something’s been killed,” Billy said with a shudder.

“It looks like someone’s head was smashed and smeared against the wall of the trailer,” said Nick.

“Is anyone missing?” Dennis asked.

“I’ll make the rounds and do a head count.” Mike turned and hurried away.

Jain stepped forward.

“Don’t touch it!” Clive warned. “We need to leave it for the police.”

Jain glared at him for a minute and bit back a retort. She leaned close. Billy paled, tried not to retch, and turned away. Jain examined it without touching it and took a sniff. She straightened. “Ground beef,” she declared. “And ketchup.”

Cady lifted her head. “It’s not someone’s brains?”

Jain shook her head. “Just a psycho trying to freak you out.”

“That was a success.”

********

More information on the Jain Lazarus site.

Available on Amazon Kindle and from Solstice Publishing.

I’m a HUUUUUGE fan of Karina’s writing, and so excited that her new book is out. She graciously stopped by on her blog tour to answer a few questions:

Devon Ellington: How did you develop the idea for this book?

Karina Fabian: I really need to take notes on my books… All I remember was that I was in a Bond mood when Magic, Mensa, and Mayhem came out and I was excited to do another humorous fantasy, but this time with more meat to it. I did a lot of watching of spy flicks and read a few books in order to get the secret agent ideas. I also read up on Norse mythology for my villains. I did some rudimentary outlining (which my characters pretty much ignored) and as the title says, let fly!

DE: It sounds like Vern gets his Bond on in this book. I’m sure Sister Grace had a few thoughts on NOT being a stereotypical spy twinkie sidekick in a bikini. Has their relationship changed at all in this book? Gotten stronger? More conflicted?

KF: The role of “Bond Babe” was played by singer/actress Rhoda Dakota, aka Heather Haskell from Magic, Mensa, and Mayhem. She, however, is engaged to Herald Charlie (also in MM&M). She gets to do the whole Bond Babe scenario—from helpless hostage to spunky assistant to champagne in the dinghy!

Grace does have to step out of the habit and dress up while playing her alias, a reporter for a resort magazine. She’s done this a time or two, but is never comfortable with it. She’s a pretty good actress though. No bikini, though she does wear a frumpy old lady swimsuit and surprises everyone with her diving skills. (She is part siren, after all.)

Incidentally, Vern shares the Bond role with two humans—Charlie Wilmot and Stan Rakness. Stan is new to DragonEye and was great fun to write. He loves being a secret agent and embraces the playboy/undercover stereotypes. Charlie is more the serious Bond. Vern is also serious and a little brainier (he is a dragon), but he also gets to charm a few ladies, get beat up, battle impossible odds with flair–the usual spy stuff—sometimes, as a dragon, sometimes, as a human.

Grace and Vern do have a few moments of awkwardness when he’s in human form—and she gets just a little miffed at his undercover persona—but you’ll have to read the book for that one.

DE: What was the hardest part about writing this adventure?

KF: Organizing the mystery. I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, which is not always a good thing when trying to craft a huge, complex, Bondworthy evil-overlord scheme. When I did try to map it out, the characters (especially Rhoda) refused to cooperate. Then, my villain changed mid-book—and it all turned out so much better than if I’d tried to stick to my plans!

DE: Was there anything so over-the-top you had to cut it or tame it, or did you just go for it in any scene?

KF: Not in Live and Let Fly, though I do have a few other stories that I simply will not write until they calm themselves down, and there have been a few times when Rob has called me on something I thought was funny in my Neeta Lyffe books, but which came off as sarcastic. It’s great to have a husband who is also a crit partner.

DE: What is the best tidbit of advice you can give to writers who want to combine humor and action?

KF: Have fun with it, but then go back and read it aloud and preferably to some others so that you know it works.

LIVE AND LET FLY by Karina Fabian:
When Charlie Wilmot, the Duke’s herald and Vern and Grace’s friend, gets mugged and his fiancé’s engagement ring stolen, they agree to find the culprit. But his courier pouch held more than just a ring–the secret device sewn into it could help others create their own Interdimensional Gap–or usher Armageddon into two universes. Drafted into an Interdimensional intelligence network, Vern, Grace and Charlie go undercover–Vern, as a human! It’s super-spy spoofing at its best as 007 meets Ragnarok!

Excerpt:
Festival was Friday. We had two days to stop a Nordic demigod evil overlord—overlady, overbeing, whatever—from blowing up a nuclear power plant, possibly destroying half an island full of revelers in the process, and creating an Interdimensional Gap through which she can bring the rest of her giant relatives to set up housekeeping where the Faerie Catholic Church didn’t have the power to control them. In other words, two days until Hel broke loose.

I’ve had worse deadlines. I could afford a long bath in our whirlpool tub and a good meal first.

Buy it here.

Watch the trailer here.

Karina Fabian
Winner of the 2010 INDIE for best Fantasy (Magic, Mensa and Mayhem) and a Mensa Owl for best fiction (World Gathering), Karina Fabian’s writing takes quirky twists that keep her–and her fans–amused. Nuns working in space, a down-and-out Faerie dragon working off a geas from St. George, zombie exterminators—there’s always a surprise in Fabian’s worlds. Mrs. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars online.

Her websites:
http://fabianspace.com
http://dragoneyepi.net