Tag Archives: Fiction

Author Interview: ‘Where Will We Go? A Sequel’ by Emily Craig

About the Book:

Two years of marriage ruined by one drunken mistake.

Lucy’s story is not yet over. In the sequel Where Will We Go?, Lucy Berry is faced with new challenges that will both excite and challenge her. Newly divorced from her high school sweetheart David, she is plunged into a new world where David is now engaged to his mistress while she has to navigate a life after love and heartbreak.

Just when Lucy is feeling unworthy of happiness, a silver lining presents itself. She lands her dream job as a travel writer. Follow aspiring author Lucy as she embarks on a journey of self-discovery with her best friends by her side. Witness as she blissfully immerses herself in French culture while hitting all of Paris’ hot spots for her new job. Laugh along while she helps throw an epic murder mystery birthday bash. Most of all, join Lucy as she transforms her self-doubt to self-love, ending a tragic year with the surprise of her life.

Will Lucy finally leave David in the past or will he continue to haunt her dreams?

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Barnes & Noble

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you into writing?

Hi, I’m Emily Craig. I’m an indie author with two published fiction books and five poetry collections. I have loved writing since I was in elementary school. Funny thing is, I enjoyed writing over reading growing up. I didn’t fall in love with reading for fun until I was a Freshman in college. 

I think school writing assignments got me into writing. I loved writing them even when kids would make fun of my essays. I kept going and haven’t looked back since.

2: Do you have a favorite time and place where you write?

I write wherever I end up during the day: work, home, or thinking of something while running errands. I have inspiration at random times. But, I write the most at my work desk.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

My personal life is a big factor. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t go through what I did over the last several years. Heartbreak, breakups, friendship, writing, and music,  that you see in my books come from me. The rest such as divorce, travel writing, marrying a high school sweetheart come from the world around me and a splash of fiction. 

My second book, Where Will We Go?: A Sequel, could have been a totally different book. Then one day, I decided I wanted to make Lucy a travel blogger and the rest fell into place. I couldn’t imagine this book any other way.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

For me, it depends on the story I’m writing. 

With my debut release, Will You Love Me Again? I wrote from an outline that changed over the course of writing my book. 

But with Where Will We Go?: A Sequel, I went by the seat of my pants. I didn’t have a plan other than to write in order and not skip around the whole time. I managed that way until it came to editing and explaining the timeline of events to my editor. It was not a fun time for us, but somehow we managed to keep the storyline intact. 

A little sneak peek: with my next book, I am using an outline to keep my thoughts straight as I continue Lucy’s story.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

Young to New Adult Fiction, Women’s Divorce Fiction, Travel Fiction. 

I absolutely fell in love with the Young Adult Genre in college. I couldn’t put them down. The If I Stay series by Gayle Forman really drew me into Mia’s life. I wanted a character similar. Then there’s the To All The Boy’s I’ve Loved Before series by Jenny Han. I relate to Laura Jean in so many ways, so much so, that I look to her for inspiration. 

My writing expanded from there as Lucy went from her early 20s in WYLMA to her mid-late 20s in WWWG. In a way, women can grow up with Lucy like my generation has grown up with Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. I am combining myself with all my favorite characters to create my main character, Lucy Berry.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

Ohh, I love this question. 

I would love Lucy Hale to play me in the story of my life, so of course, she’s my pick for Lucy Berry. Another choice would be Olivia Rodrigo. Both women are firecrackers at their craft and I’d be honored to share this story with either of them. 

Ben Platt is definitely my top pick for Michael Sparks. He’s such a genuine actor and adorable. Even Alex Wolff would be an excellent cast pick. 

Nick Robinson is fabulous in any role, and he’d do Aaron Morgan justice. I feel like he’d make a great husband to Jenny. 

Hailee Steinfeld as Jenny Thompson Morgan. I love her in every project. She and Nick would be a dream couple on screen.

Tom Holland would be the best Mason Edwards. Readers will find out why when they read the end of my new book. He would be so caring to the character.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

Not as much as I’d like to, but yes I love to read. My favorites are Jenny Han, Gayle Forman, John Green, Jay Asher, JK Rowling, and many more. Those authors have written some of my favorite series.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

I’m reading The Child in Us by Elizabeth Ivanecky. She is my Virtual Canadian Author Best Friend. I finally started her book this year. Her book started as a Happiness Project. She is also an indie author.

9: What is your favorite book and why?

To All The Boys I’ve Love Before by Jenny Han.

Han’s writing is so rich and full of life. Her characters jump right off the page. I instantly fell in love with her books and the movies adapted from them.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

Embrace the messy drafts and sucky wording. Don’t let anything keep you down. Keep going and pushing forward. Everything falls into place in time.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?

My website: www.emilycraigwriter.com

My author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/emilycraig1996

My Goodreads profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/401771.Emily_Craig

Also, you can follow my Twitter @emilycraig44 and Instagram www.instagram.com/emnicolecraig_author

About the Author:

Emily Nicole Craig is an author, poet, and blogger. With a Bachelor of Science in English from the University of North Alabama, she always knew writing was her future. Her background in writing covers many genres, ranging from Southern Gothic to Young and New Adult. With five pieces of published poetry under her belt and after the success of her debut book, Will You Love Me Again?, she wanted to fuel her passion for writing with a sequel, thus Where Will We Go? was born. She lives in Athens, Alabama with the love of her life Dustin and their dog Buttercup.

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Release Blitz: ‘Just River’ by Sara B. Fraser

Title: Just River

Author: Sara B. Fraser

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Genre: Fiction

About the Book:

The Otis, an inconsequential river—not the Hudson—flows through Wattsville, a small city a few hours north but a universe away from the real City, capital C. You might think the everyday people who live here, in this land of scarce opportunity, are also inconsequential. Until you meet them.  

Sam, a cross-dresser with a voice like Tina Turner’s and his best friend Carol, a cashier who stress eats, prove their mettle when Carol’s daughter Garnet is imprisoned for defending herself against a violent boyfriend. Sam and Carol’s plots to save Garnet have consequences, however. An innocent boy is blamed for their actions and kidnapped, a dog gets poisoned, and Garnet’s life is imperiled as parole becomes a distant dream. In the end, it’s the river that offers up justice for these heroes-at-heart. But they will need to be able to swim.

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Reviews:

“Hilarious and grave, Just River reminds us how complex and dangerous we all are and how this complexity fuels our need for tenderness and generosity. Fraser earns our gratitude for her restless, relentless observation, and for showing us how we come together.” – Peter Brown, author of A Bright Soothing Noise

“This is the essence of Rust Belt America. When the good jobs moved out in the 1970s, hopelessness, unemployment, and drugs moved in. Compelling, intriguing, and full of unexpected twists and turns, Just River shows us the seamier side of life without romanticizing it or overdoing it.” – Mark James Miller, author of Red Tide and The White Cockade

“Just River is an interesting tale of trouble in a small town, masterfully woven together through multiple narratives. Fraser has a talent for writing engaging characters who are so real.” – Christina Berry, author of Up for Air

About the Author:

Sara B. Fraser is the author of LONG DIVISION, a novel published by Black Rose Writing in March, 2019 and of JUST RIVER, published in November, 2021. Her short fiction has appeared in Carve, Jabberwock Review, the Forge, Wilderness House Literary Review, Salamander, Stonecrop, and more. She is a high-school Spanish teacher, married to an Irishman, surfing-obsessed, the mother of two wonderful boys, and owner of three-legged Sierra, the best dog in the world. As an author, she has to use her middle initial because some English guy took her real name as his pen name and published a bunch of books. She’s okay with that.

Social Media Links:

Website: www.sarabfraser.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/phrasers

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sarabfraser

Twitter: @saraphraser

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/18896267.Sara_B_Fraser

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/sara-b-fraser-47916714

Publisher: www.blackrosewriting.com

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Series Book Blitz: ‘Rivers Trilogy’ by Joan Schweighardt

Series Title: Rivers Trilogy

Book 1: Before We Died

Book 2: Gifts for the Dead

Book 3: River Aria

Author: Joan Schweighardt

Publisher: Five Directions Press

Genre: Fiction

About the Book:

Two young men battle corruption, the forces of nature, and their own weaknesses (including the issue of their love for the same woman) in the deepest part of the Brazilian jungle. In 1908 two Irish American brothers leave their jobs on the docks of Hoboken, NJ to make their fortune tapping rubber trees in the South American rainforest. They expect to encounter floods, snakes, malaria, extreme hunger and unfriendly competitors, but nothing prepares them for the psychological hurdles that will befall them. BEFORE WE DIED, the first in a three-book “rivers” series, is a literary adventure novel set against the background of the South American rubber boom, a fascinating but little known historical moment.

About the Book:

Jack Hopper is holding tight to his secret, though it gets heavier by the day. Nora Sweeny is tired of suffering losses and ready to improvise. Their relationship, based on Jack’s lies and Nora’s pragmatism, builds against a background that includes World War I (as experienced from the docks of Hoboken, New Jersey) and escalates when Jack and Nora travel together to the rainforests of South America seeking closure for a life-shattering event that occurred years earlier. Equal parts romance, adventure, and psychological suspense tale, Gifts for the Dead shines a floodlight on the characters’ deepest yearnings and greatest fears.

About the Book:

It’s 1928 and Estela Euquério Hopper, an ambitious young woman from an impoverished area of Brazil, has landed a job at the NY Metropolitan Opera House, though only to work in the sewing room. Her good fortune is due in part to a unique and rigorous education provided to her (and a handful of other “river brats”) by a renowned educator and operatic vocal instructor from Portugal. The other part is due to the fact that her father is American. She hopes to make it from the Met sewing room to the Met stage, but there are three huge obstacles standing in her way: her father, her cousin (who has been kept in the dark regarding his own parentage), and the wild, anything goes, often violent temperament of New York City herself.

Add to Goodreads:

Before We Died

Gifts for the Dead

River Aria

Purchase Links for all 3 books:

Amazon – UK / US

Links to posts on Reading Nook:

Author Interview for Before We Died

Book Blitz for Gifts for the Dead

Excerpt from River Aria:

Context: 1928. Manhattan. Estela, who grew up in Manaus, Brazil, a city that rose to splendor during the rubber boom only to fall into decay when the boom ended abruptly and all the rubber barons fled, has arrived in New York—a feat made possible for a mixed-blood girl in those times only because her father is American. Estela, the narrator of River Aria, is to work at the Metropolitan Opera House, albeit in the sewing room. Her first viewing of the grand structure leads her to recall how—thanks to a twist of fate—she came to study opera in the first place, in the vestibule of the Teatro Amazonas, the great opera house built by the rubber barons back in Manaus.

******

We were river brats back then, all of us. We could pull hooks from piranhas blindfolded. Our skinny brown arms could bail water out of boats, and out of the shacks we lived in when they had to, night and day. We ran off to the jungle on school days whenever we heard the call—all of us, leaving our teacher with not the least idea how to punish us. We knew what vines contained fresh water, and we carried knives to cut them. We weren’t afraid to eat termites when we couldn’t find fruit. We wore our only shoes only on Sundays, when we raced one another up the hill to what used to be the rich people’s province and prayed at Igreja de São Sebastião for protection for our manioc gardens and good health.

But when Carlito Camilo first saw us, scurrying over the docks like rodents, he didn’t see river brats at all. Carlito Camilo saw what no one else could have possibly seen: the world’s next generation of elite performers. He gathered us around him at once, and while he fed us the colorful candies—Wine Gums, he called them, though they contained no wine at all—he carried in his pockets at all times, he told us he could teach us music, and more. He could teach us languages, poetry, myths and legends from parts of the world we had never even heard of. As he had already amassed as much wealth as he thought he would need to last as long as he thought he should be allowed to live, he wanted no payment either—which was excellent, because none of our families could have given him a single centavo. I was the first of a dozen or so river brats to commit myself to his program. I was nine then, almost ten.

Were it not for Carlito Camilo, I would not know the difference between an aria and a soup spoon, nor would I care. I’d be sitting down at the docks with Mamãe, content as a bôto, singing river stories and repairing nets, or I’d be up at the restaurant with Tia Louisa, serving cachaça to men who never tired of trying to look down my dress when I bent over their table. I would still believe our bumba meu boi, an elaborate, loudly sung, foot-stomping performance that told the story of the life and death of an ox, was the highest form of entertainment ever conceived. But the truth is, I first went to Carlito Camilo not because I ached to learn but because I heard he would be giving his lessons in the lobby (the city commissioners would not allow even the great Senhor Camilo to instruct in the theatre proper) of the Teatro Amazonas. And I wanted to see the inside of the Teatro Amazonas, badly, even if it was only the entrance. 

The Teatro Amazonas had been at the heart of my fantasies since I was very small. At night, when I turned into a beautiful princess like the ones in the stories Mamãe sometimes told me, it was in the Teatro Amazonas that my prince and I danced. When I was Iara, the half-fish river creature, it was to the Teatro Amazonas that I dragged my scaly tailfin seeking the prince whose kiss would render me human at last.

I pulled open the heavy doors and entered the lobby of the Teatro Amazonas on the day and time Carlito Camilo had scheduled for me. He was there, sitting on a marble bench against the wall all alone. His sour look turned at once into a smile and he got up to greet me, but when he saw that my eyes were all for the marble floors, the crystal chandeliers, the frescoes and statues, the ornate carvings on the ceiling, he sat down again.

Carlito Camilo waited patiently, perhaps for a full five minutes, to have my attention. Then he asked me to sing for him.

Standing there in middle of the grand lobby of the Teatro Amazonas, I could not have said if I was asleep or awake. I was barefoot, and wearing a shapeless stained shirt that fell below my knees, beneath it only my underwear. Were you nervous? everyone would ask later. I had no answer. There was no room in the moment for contemplating the state of my nerves.

I sang a folk song my mother had taught me, about a child who disappears in the jungle and returns years later, a grown man with his arms laden with gold. He offers the gold to save his people from starvation, but it’s not enough for them. They want to know where he found such a hoard and if there was more. And they don’t believe him when he says there was no more and that he found it years earlier, when he first lost his way, and it had taken all this time to find his way home with it. So the men of the village leave their wives and children weeping and go off themselves to search for more gold, and not one of them ever returns. The song was a simple one, simple rhythms based on mostly whole notes.

Carlito Camilo watched me expressionlessly all the while I sang, and then for another moment afterwards. Finally he said, “That was a story I didn’t know, a good choice, garotinha. I think you must be a girl who sings all the time. Is that true?”

I shrugged. I didn’t sing all the time. Sometimes I slept and sometimes I ate, and I could not sing sleeping or eating. Nor did I sing in school, except to myself. But otherwise, yes. Who didn’t sing? We were all songbirds in Manaus. Even the gruffest old fisherman could be coaxed to sing a river song when we gathered together for festivals or late some nights, when Tia Louisa locked the restaurant’s front door and opened the one in the back.

“Now let me ask you,” he went on, “are you a smart girl who learns quickly?”

No one had ever asked the question before. I nodded.

Carlito Camilo got up slowly from his marble bench and approached me. “You have a good voice, but I want to ask you: what do you feel when you sing, garotinha?”

What kind of a question was that? I shook my head the other way. I didn’t know what he wanted from me.

He patted his chest with his fingertips, hard and fast. “In your heart, garotinha! In your heart! What do you feel in your heart?”

He wasn’t frightening me, but I could see he was looking for a specific answer, one I didn’t happen to have. Senhor Camilo was a short man, but I was a child, so he seemed enormous looming over me like that, his jowls aquiver. He bent over even more, until our faces were almost touching, though his was at a peculiar angle. Now he tapped my chest with his fingertips, lightly. Softly, slowly, as if each word was meant to survive all on its own, he asked, “Does your singing ever make you feel like you have a little red-throated hummingbird in here?”

Now I saw what he was driving at: the little tremble that happened sometimes when I sang very loud. All at once I was overwhelmed by the fanciful notion that Carlito Camilo was a king, and I was a princess, and that was why we were there in our castle, standing eye to eye, talking about my heart. Typical of all adults, he was trying to make me understand something I already knew!

“Sing for me again,” he said, straightening but not moving away. “Sing very loud.”

“What would you like?” I asked.

“A note. A single note. AHHHHHHH!”

I sang it: “AHHHHHHH!”

“Keep going, keep going,” he cried. “Louder, louder. Deeper, deeper, from the inside out.”

I sang louder. He shouted over me, “That’s good, that’s very good! Breathe, and keep going! Open your throat!”

I did what he asked.

“Now do you feel it?” He was bending over me again, shouting in my face. His breath smelled like the Wine Gums he kept in his pocket. “Do you feel the o pássaro in there?”

I nodded, my mouth still wide open; I was still singing. I didn’t want to stop. I was nearly screaming in his face. AHHHHHHHHH… I almost laughed, thinking of the look Mamãe would have given me if I sang in her face like that. But Carlito Camilo only watched me with wide round eyes and a slight smile on his plump jowly face. He straightened, slowly, the way older people sometimes do. I was still singing. AHHHHHHHH. His expression became stern and he gestured, one hand slicing over the top of the other. I stopped singing at once.

“Now, what do you feel, criança?” he shouted.

“Everything,” I shouted back at him. And I could see I’d made him very happy with my answer, so I threw my arms out and shouted it again. “EVERYTHING!”

About the Author:

Joan Schweighardt is the author of five novels, and more on the way. In addition to her own writing projects, she writes, ghostwrites, and edits for individuals and corporations.

Social Media Links:

Website: www.joanschweighardt.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/joanschweighardtwriter

Twitter: @joanschwei

Instagram: www.instagram.com/joanschweighardt

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Book Blitz: ‘A Dog of Many Names’ by Douglas Green

Title: A Dog of Many Names

Author: Douglas Green

Publisher: Circuit Breaker Books

Genre: Adventure / Fiction

About the Book:

Born a runt, Rascal is destined to be an underdog. Despite what looked like an unbreakable bond with the daughter of the family who bred her, Rascal’s devotion is discarded when she finds herself left roadside, with nothing but a few pieces of kibble to help her survive. Abandoned and alone, Rascal must learn to fend for herself and embark on a harsh and dangerous journey through the mountain wilderness of Southern California. Along the way, she encounters strangers who teach her about the good and bad of humans. But will she ever find a home that lasts? A Dog of Many Names is a courageous story of survival, seen through the eyes of an unforgettable dog, struggling between her greatest needs — to find her own strength, and to love and be loved.

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Barnes and Noble

Excerpt:

Chapter One

The Empire

And then, one by one, the eyes opened…

Everything you hear about Southern California is true—stars, beaches, awful traffic—but about sixty miles east of Los Angeles lies another world. Called the Inland Empire (to convince farmers to move there long ago), it’s a dusty land of factories, warehouses, and homes. A land of struggle.

For example, take Fred and Myrna Corbett. Fred’s grand- parents stopped here on their way from Oklahoma during the Depression. Years later, Myrna’s father moved nearby for a military job after serving in Korea and met her mother one night as she sang for a touring band.

Fred and Myrna met in high school. But they were in their thirties before both suddenly realized they’d always liked each other. Next thing they knew, they were married, then pregnant, and then mourning the loss of a son who almost made it to breathing. But this only made the birth a year later of a baby girl, Angela, especially joyous. By this time, the local couch factory had closed, and Fred had started his own furniture repair business, while Myrna kept her job at the chain drugstore counter three days a week. And now that Angela had defined them as a family, they bought a dog.

Greta was, everyone said, as perfect a German shepherd as ever had been seen. Larger than normal, with defined musculature, noble chin, and a splendid mask (the coloring on her nose and mouth), she was a natural watchdog and companion, and easily the most valuable possession—if you’d use that word—in the Corbett home.

But the Corbetts had another role for her too. Given her looks and her pedigree, they found that breeding her with José Hastings’ similarly beautiful Siegfried gave them litters of pups which, after splitting the profit, brought in  a welcome few thousand dollars a year. Myrna joked that, while they lived in an area called an empire, the only real imperial power around was Greta and Siegfried’s progeny taking over the whole county.

Fred refused to keep Greta in a crate, except when she was nursing pups. But he did keep their eight-foot fence in good repair, to ensure no one but Siegfried would ever date their beloved debutante. Which eventually led to quite a mystery.

When Angela was almost nine, Greta was found to be pregnant again, but when she gave birth it was clear the puppies…weren’t Siegfried’s. All but one bore a clear resemblance to Walter, a chow-Doberman-and-more mix owned by Homer Scott down the street. But how could Walter, who was too stocky to jump over a shoebox, have managed to climb into their yard?

Fred searched the yard and found no possible way. But as he finished, he noticed muddy footprints on top of Greta’s doghouse, which was just tall enough for her to have climbed onto it and pulled herself over the fence. Pulled herself?

Despite regular visits with Siegfried, she risked her life to escape to Walter? Fred went into the house, where Myrna was showing the newborns to Angela, and revealed his discovery. “We won’t let anyone know about them till they’re eight weeks old,” Myrna explained. “Then they’ll be so unbearably cute, no one will be able to resist them.”

Angela smiled, remembering when “unbearably cute” was the term her mother would use to describe her, just before covering her tummy in loud kisses. She counted the babies out—five, six, seven, with the seventh just half the size of the others. She asked why, and Fred explained that, even inside the womb, puppies compete for food, and the smallest often comes out malnourished. “And the runts usually end up fearful, because they’ve been beaten up for longer than they can remember.”

“Ohh!” Angela whined, and reached out to hold the tiny morsel, but Myrna reminded her not to touch them yet. Seeming to grasp the idea, though, Greta leaned over and started licking the tiny one.

And then, one by one, the eyes opened. And their personalities as well.

The cheerful brat who would bite his siblings to get more access to Greta’s  milk; the nurturer who spent all  his awake time licking his brothers and sisters, even when they were sleeping or nursing; the explorer who had to    be watched so that she wouldn’t find a way out of the fenced-in kitchen (“Like mother, like daughter,” Fred shook his head); the lazy sleepy boy who didn’t seem to mind any treatment as long as he could remain exactly where he was; the nervous watcher, always checking around as if some- thing bad were coming at him; the big bulky girl, shoving others all day, but with no ill will—just moving whatever was in her way. And the sad-eyed runt, pushed away by the others at every feeding time, but pulled in by Greta when she’d cry, or at the bottom of the pile at playtime, or sleeping on the outside of the tiny pack—pressing herself against whomever was available for warmth. Ironically, she was the only one who looked like a tiny version of noble Greta, while all the others looked like Walter or a mixture of the two.

And at eight weeks, Myrna’s theory proved right. All it took was posting on a website, and the phone started ringing immediately. The puppies, unable to sleep with the noise, watched to see what the furless giants were doing. When the sixth call came in, Myrna smiled at Angela and answered, “Daisy Hill Puppy Farm!” Angela giggled, even though she didn’t know what her mom was referring to. But then Myrna’s eyes widened suddenly. “Oh, I’m sorry, Rich. Nothing. What…?”

She looked concerned. “Today? But I’m…I’d…I’d have to bring Angela in, is that…? Okay, sure, I’ll be there.”

She hung up, looked at Angela, and almost said some- thing, but thought better of it.

“What, Mommy?”

“We have to go in to work.”

“Oh, Mom, I don’t want to! It’s boring there, and I want to stay with the…”

“I’m sorry, honey,” Myrna cut her off. “It won’t be for long. Something’s…something’s up.”

They left out the back door, as sixteen eyes watched.

All the eyes were startled open two hours later, by the sound of the door unlocking and Angela asking, “What does ‘got her trained like a little monkey’ mean anyway?” in annoyance. The puppies began whining, as Greta pulled them in and began cleaning them.

“What? Who said that?” Myrna asked absently, looking at her phone.

“Mr. Daniels. When we first went in. He gave me that big, loud, ‘Hey, Angela! How’s it going?’ and I said ‘I’m fine, Mr. Daniels. How are you?’ and he told you that you had me trained like a little monkey.”

“Oh, honey, he’s just… He’s not very good with people. He was actually complimenting your manners.”

“Well, if he’s not good with people,” Angela asked while opening a bag of electric-colored candy, “why is he your boss?”

Myrna paused to think that one out. “I think because he’s good at dealing with his bosses. That’s a good lesson to remember, dear.”

The runt, getting shoved aside by the pushy pup, watched Angela give that idea some consideration for about one second, before giving up on it. “And why does he ask questions and then talk over me when I answer?”

Myrna turned to Angela. “That was awful, honey. He was wrong to do that. He asked you about your school, and then when you started to tell him about it, he turned and talked to me, completely ignoring you. I hated it.”

“So why didn’t you stop him?”

“Because…” Myrna winced. “Because what he was saying upset me more. I’m sorry.”

Angela nodded blankly but turned to the crate. “And how are you, little squirrels? Did you have a good afternoon?”

“Better than ours,” Myrna muttered under her breath as she opened the refrigerator.

Greta looked up from her pups and gestured a friendly lick to Angela. Two of the puppies stayed feeding, while the others came up to the bars to lick and chew her fingers. “Why do you think they smell so good, Mommy? Even their peepee smells nice.”

“Oh, that’s probably so we don’t get mad and kick them out when they bite us with those sharp teeth.”

“But they’re too sweet to…Ow!” She pulled back her finger from the brat as he wagged his tail and headed back to his mother.

“Oh, Myrne, no…” Fred moaned as he walked in, the watching pups able to hear his worry. “What happened?”

“I’ve known it was coming. Ever since they started in- stalling those self-checkouts in the front, I’ve told you.”

“But you’ve been so loyal. Who was it? Rich?” “Of course.”

Angela, holding the sleepy little one in her lap, while Greta and the other pups focused on the scent emanating from the oven, chimed in, “I don’t like him, Daddy. He asked me how I liked school and I told him it was fine except that Julia Gonzales called me stupid, and Robin Walker pulls my hair, and—”

“Honey, let Mommy tell me.”

Angela sat back with her mouth still open, and then looked down as the pup in her lap nuzzled her hand.

“Oh, you know, it’ll be two weeks’ pay—what’s in the contract—and he’ll write a letter of recommendation and talk me up. Usual company policy. All ‘Hey, Myrn, you know I don’t make policy, right?’” Myrna said, in a good enough imitation of Rich to make Angela giggle.

Myrna and Fred smiled at her, but then nobody could think of anything to say, so the room went silent, except for the whimpering of the exploring puppy, trying as usual to open the crate’s gate.

“And Mommy took me and her out for candy. And I got a—”

“‘Herself and me,’ honey. Or ‘us,’” Fred counseled Angela, not taking his eyes off Myrna’s clenched face.

“I thought the darkest chocolate I could find might help,” Myrna smiled.

Angela’s face soured. “I tried it. It tasted like the tar on the playground.”

Fred turned to her. “You really ate the—?” “Actually, honey, dinner’s almost ready,” Myrna interrupted. “Can you put him back and go wash up? Face and hands—your mouth looks like a rainbow from all those gummies.”

Angela gave a silly, wide smile, with a “Yummm!” as she carefully put the squirming handful back into the crate and walked out. He sniffed at his curious siblings, curled up in a corner, and shut his eyes.

“There’s something else…” Myrna said low, once the child was out of earshot. “I got a call.”

“What about?”

“It’s Greta,” she whispered, but the sleeping mother across the room heard her name, her ears raising just slightly. “A breeder called. He saw our ad and said she’s probably got only one good whelping in her left, and he’d be happy to take her where he can watch her more closely than we did, to make sure they’re purebred.”

“Oh, I can build our fence higher—that’s no problem. Why would we—?”

“Three thousand dollars,” Myrna interrupted.

Fred started to talk, but stopped, thinking. “Up front?” he finally got out.

“Cash. He says he’s got buyers looking for shepherd pups, as well as wanting some for himself, and Greta’s so known…”

“But I can’t just give her away. That’d be like selling off you or Angie.”

She took his hand in hers. “He said we’d be able to visit her all we wanted. And we’re going to need the three thousand by the end of the month.”

Fred sat back, his body deflating. With his mouth twisted, he thought out loud, “Well, let’s check him out, anyway. To make sure he’s legit.”

Angela walked in. “Are you all cleaned up?” Myrna asked, opening the oven and releasing enough aroma to send all the puppies yapping.

“Clean enough for pizza!” Angela smiled.

Over the next week, countless interested buyers came by the house to check out the puppies, till all seven were booked to be picked up on their twelve-week birthday. As it might be too difficult for Angela to watch, she was sent to her grandparents the night before the pickups, and Fred and Myrna set to glumly doling out the youths they were more attached to than they liked to admit.

First, though, they took Greta to the breeder’s home, figuring it would be too cruel to make her watch her chil- dren being given away. He did seem kind and welcoming, repeating that they should come often for visits.

Then, with no time to feel emotions, Fred and Myrna rushed back to face the puppy-adopters. The feisty brat went to a farmer with a large field; the nurturer to a fam- ily with a child in leg braces who needed a protective companion; the explorer to a young couple who loved hiking; the sleeper to an aged couple who’d just had to put their fourteen-year-old Labrador down; the observer to a storekeeper as a watchdog; and the bulky shover to a local high school football coach, who respected the mutt’s attitude toward life.

The last family finally showed up, excited to take home the funny brash nipper. “But you picked the runt. The shepherd-looking one,” Fred explained.

“No, we picked the fun one. We were holding the little one, but we said we wanted the other.”

“Oh, sorry, but he’s gone. This one’s all that’s left. Would you like her?”

“Well…” the father whined, irritated. “Really, no. We wanted a fun playmate for our boys. This one’s scared of her own shadow. Thanks for nothing.” And they left in a huff.

Fred was still doing his best to explain to Angela, as they walked into the kitchen later, that, as expected, Greta and the other puppies had gone to other homes, and they’d put another ad out for the remaining pup. Angela didn’t re- spond, but looked inside the crates as her father left. There was the little one, gnawing on the bars. “Are you going to be mine?” Angela whispered. “Are you my friend?”

The puppy licked her through the opening with her grey-dappled tongue and then rushed back to gnawing. Angela giggled.

Myrna yelled from the next room that it was time for bed. Angela put her finger into the cage to let the puppy chew on it, said “Goodnight, little rascal,” and headed off to brush her teeth—while the puppy went back to dealing with her own, in her puppy way.

About the Author:

DOUGLAS GREEN is the author of the widely-acclaimed 2015 book The Teachings of Shirelle: Life Lessons from a Divine Knucklehead, and runs the advice website AskShirelle.com, based on the wisdom in the book, which he was taught by his ridiculous dog. Released from decades in the entertainment business for good behavior, he directed the film The Hiding Place, and now works as a psychotherapist in Los Angeles, specializing in children and teenagers.

Social Media Links:

Website: www.authordouglasgreen.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheTeachingsOfShirelle

Twitter: @DougGreenAuthor

Instagram: www.instagram.com/douggreenauthor

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/7421468.Douglas_Green

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Author Interview: ‘Many Miles Away’ by Charles H. Smith

About the Book:

Reporter Kerry Phillips is in for the surprise of her life: her television station has been contacted on a matter so important that ‘scarcely anything could be of greater interest,’ and she has been asked to follow up on the story.  Little does she know just how interesting her job is about to get!

 

Link to PDF Download

 

Excerpt:

Prologue

The sudden knuckle raps didn’t startle the room’s occupant, a forty-ish, slightly built, bespectacled man absorbed in scrolling text down his computer screen.

“Yes?” he called out calmly as he turned around. The office door swung wide open. A lanky student

security worker was standing there, grinning. “Hi Dr. Plummer; ’just to let you know we’re closing up now. Will you be leaving, or staying?”

Plummer smiled, an ‘oh it’s you again’ smile. “’Staying, for a few minutes at least. I still have a couple of edits to make on this manuscript…”

Sure, thought the student, just like most nights…

He replied. “Okay then… But be careful out there when you leave — like they warned, the temperature is dropping, and it’s already been snowing for a while.”

Plummer acknowledged with a brief nod. “Thanks for that. Have a nice evening.” He turned back around as the student left the area. Shortly thereafter the lights in the hallway outside clicked off.

Plummer exhaled. Yup, this book review was nearly in the can. Just one more pass should do it, he thought.

But the once-over exposed a small omission, one requiring a couple of fact checks. By the time he was finished, after a final look-through, it was more than half an hour later.

Finally! Off went the computer. He took a deep breath, rose from the desk, and gathered his coat and

scarf. The lights were the next to go; a minute later he was punching the button on the service elevator leading to the lower back entrance of the now-deserted building. Beyond that there was just the matter of the outside stairs, and a flat walk of a few hundred feet to the parking garage.

The elevator arrived and opened, and once inside Plummer hit the sub-basement button. The lift grunted and slowly began to edge its way downward, seemingly in no rush to carry out its orders. But finally it reached its destination. The door opened to an eerie hallway setting that might have framed the final scene of an X- Files episode. Plummer smiled at the thought, then walked briskly down the corridor to the back door — through which he quickly passed, and then just as quickly locked behind himself. He next edged toward the concrete stairs a few feet away, already thinking about possible television choices for the evening. It was Friday, so something good should be on…

He suddenly realized that it truly was getting cold. ’Windy, too, and snow was whipping at his face… Stopping for a moment to pull his scarf up tighter, he then began to move deliberately down the concrete stairs. But the third step was icier than he expected. He slipped abruptly and lost hold of the railing, tumbling right off the steps and down the exposed slope to its side. A moment later he saw a bright light, but after that there was only darkness.

 

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I’m a now-retired librarian and PhD. scientist (really!) who has a fair body of modestly successful “academic” literature to my credit (>50 articles, nine books, lots of editing).  My first novel was written during a period of unemployment in 1993 and remains unpublished, though workable.  My “academic” writing mostly concerns subjects in the history and philosophy of science, systems theory, and music history.  I also maintain several “hand-fashioned” websites featuring a lot of bibliographic matter.

I now turn to fiction again in an effort to convey some thoughts on social evolution.  The two main protagonists in “Many Miles Away” are a television reporter, and an alien being who has no idea why he and his family have suddenly been plunked down at a location in rural upstate New York.  The reader is not given the answer until late in the book, and it will most likely come as a surprise.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

Not really, beyond doing it all from my desktop.  I tend to be a night-owl, keeping late hours (as I write this, it’s 3:47 AM).  I have to get in the mood, but once I have started generally keep going until I am either tired out, or it is insanely late/early!

3: Where do your ideas come from?

Good question: do any of us really know where our ideas come from (actually, this is one between-the-lines subject of the new book)?  Most of the things I have written concern subjects in one way or another related to evolution.  “Many Miles Away” is loosely social criticism, a commentary on social evolution.  The title comes from the lyrics of a song by activist Malvina Reynolds (of ‘Little Boxes’ fame), and if the reader fully comes to understand why I used this title, he/she will have gotten something out of it.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

I always know where it is going, whether it be nonfiction or fiction.  In the latter case, relevant details and sub-stories may be sprinkled in as I write, but the overall arch precedes and organizes.  

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

Both of my novels seem a bit beyond genre association, but they do have a bit of a paranormal or sci-fi bent to them.  Nevertheless, they are “plainly” told (i.e., are in no sense fantastical, as most sci-fi, in my opinion, is).

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

Glad you asked!  It seems to me “Many Miles Away” might make a good movie: imagine the tornado or ‘pools of blood’ sequences onscreen!  I see (fantasize) Kerry Phillips played by Amy Adams (or a younger Jessica Chastain, or Elle or Dakota Fanning), and the alien John Dezar by someone projecting an honest innocence (while in alien makeup!)—somewhat ‘Data’-like, but less robotic (I don’t know—maybe David Krumholtz a la ‘Number8’ or Joseph Gordon-Levitt).  J. K. Simmons or a somewhat younger Stacy Keach would make a good Jim Whittaker; Special Agent Towner might be portrayed by Ryan Gosling (or maybe Jon Hamm or Tom Hiddleston), handsome Col. Raisz by Ryan Reynolds or Colin Ferrell, Tim Van Meter by Jim Parsons or Paul Rudd, President Coady by lots of people (e.g., Stanley Tucci, Nathan Fillion, Gary Oldman, Damian Lewis, Kevin Kilner, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Bakula…).

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I don’t read much these days, except nonfiction.  In days past I enjoyed works by novelists Kurt Vonnegut, Anne Rice, Ursula Le Guin, and Kingsley Amis.  On the nonfiction side I have been most influenced by old dead white guys such as Baruch Spinoza, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Alfred Russel Wallace, and Alexander von Humboldt.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

Have been doing more writing/research than (fiction) reading for quite a few years!

9: What is your favourite book and why?

“The Malay Archipelago”, by Alfred Russel Wallace.  Wallace was a contemporary of Charles Darwin, and a clever early evolutionist and social critic (he did not write fiction).  I am a leading expert on Wallace, a relatively important figure in the history of science, and this particular book of his is an awesome tour de force of regional nature writing.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

It depends…  For fiction, for my two cents’ worth, I would say make sure you have something worth saying!  For nonfiction, general craft is essential, as well as some sort of expertise in the subject at hand.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

Research Gate; my professional homepage at http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/index.html ; my Wallace site at http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/index1.htm ; my Bepress page at https://works.bepress.com/charles_smith

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