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Author Interview with Katherine Gilbert ~ New Release: Protecting the Dead

Please help me welcome Katherine Gilbert, with her new release, Protecting the Dead – Great title, right? I love the cover too, and it’s one of the choices in the Moonlight and Mystery Cover Contest. I’m sure Katherine would love your votes!


Good morning, Katherine. Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?

I’ve been born and raised in South Carolina (unofficial state motto: “Our politicians embarrass us”). My real family and best friend is my sister, Armida. Our goal is to become strange, cackling old ladies in the corner of a tearoom together.

Where did you get the idea for Protecting the Dead?

There was, until recently, a real apartment complex in Decatur, GA  (where my novel is set) which my sister and I once visited on an apartment hunt. Unfortunately, everything there was just a little too creepy, including the apartment she was shown which didn’t quite feel empty. When she asked about the turnover of tenants, she was told, “Oh, our residents never leave.” This hit my gothic imagination with an audible buzzing sound and wouldn’t leave me alone, until it was written.

Was there anything unusual, any anecdote about this book, the characters, title, process, etc, you’d like to share?

Some of the places in the novel are based off of Atlanta urban legends, such as the club (now closed, I believe) which was said to be the home of vampires.

Are there any tricks, habits or superstitions you have when creating a story?

I can’t talk about a story, while I’m writing it. If I do, I’ll talk it out of myself and won’t ever sit down to write.

What book have you read that you wish you had written?

Every book I love I know I couldn’t have written, but I do admire the talents of so many other authors. I wish I could throw off a laugh-till-it-hurts line like Terry Pratchett. I wish I could create a fascinating, unexpected twist like Agatha Christie. I wish I could convey an astonishing sense of time and place like Barbara Hambly–and so many, many others.

Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and do you like it?

I teach English at a SC community college. As to whether I like it, it depends on the students. Some are lovely, funny, fascinating people who I fervently hope succeed in all their dreams. Some have never mentally shown up to school once, so I’ve really only met their bodies. When there are many more of the latter group, it’s not a wonderful semester.

What do you love that most people don’t like and wouldn’t understand why you do?

When I go to a new city, I love to visit Victorian cemeteries, especially ones with very ornate mausoleums or stone angels, etc. One of the great joys of my life was getting to visit Highgate Cemetery in London, especially the older parts you need to have a guide to be allowed into. It’s beautiful, quiet, wooded, and the statues–ohh, the statues.

What do you dislike that most people wouldn’t understand?

Spicy food! It seems to me that every commercial now is for some restaurant or fast food place which promises that your head will actively explode after tasting their burningly spicy food. I love flavor in food, especially subtle, delicate flavors and spices, but not having my taste buds actively burned out of my mouth.

Do you collect anything?

Quite a few things. Among them are magnets (from just about everywhere I visit) and weird little salt-and-pepper shakers. Among the stranger ones I have is a set of Hello Kitty vibrating shakers. That’s right–you pull the string, and they vibrate. The wonderful absurdity of it just makes me giggle.

What’s your favorite book of all time and why?

It’s so hard to choose! I can maybe cull it down to three: Terry Pratchett’s The Fifth Elephant (all of Discworld is wonderful, but add the gothic and I’m totally hooked), Connie Willis’ To Say Nothing of the Dog (The world-building! The romance! The references to 19th-century comic authors!), and Jean Ferris’ Much Ado About Grubstake (it’s just a wonderfully good-hearted, light-hearted YA novel set in a fictional old west town).

What do you want readers to come away with after they read Protecting the Dead?

I’d like them to take a few moments to smile and sigh and enjoy having lived in that world for awhile.

Would you rather have a bad review or no review?

It’s hard to choose, but I suppose it depends on the bad review. No book is to everyone’s taste, so I accept that there will be people I can’t please. I’d rather not have a review which seems to be purposely trying to cut out my soul, though. As for no reviews, that’s difficult, too, since I don’t know whether anyone is reading it–and others who might want to aren’t given any guidance on whether they’d like it. I guess my answer, then, is . . . I haven’t a clue?

What is your favorite quote?

My friend, Chris, always says, “When someone thinks they’re doing you wrong, they’re actually doing you a favor.” It’s a philosophy I try to remember, when people aren’t very nice.

What celebrity would you most like to be stranded on an island with?

Sorry, she’s not famous, but it’d have to be my sister. We’d never survive, but at least we’d be together.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

To quote from the movie, Auntie Mame: “Odd, but loving.”

Have you written any other books that are not published?

Yes, I have three completed urban fantasies and one completed contemporary romance. I’m also actively working on a fourth urban fantasy novel. All the fantasies take place in different parts of the same alternate universe, and they generally fall into two categories: the magical and the gothic. Protecting the Dead is also one of the gothic ones.

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

Generally speaking, real people aren’t as interesting for me to write about as the ones I make up. I don’t think anyone would thrill to tales of a department meeting.

What do your friends and family think of your writing?

My sister is my biggest supporter. I read her every chapter, as it’s written. My friends are sort of in shock that I’ve kept at it long and hard enough to be published, but they’re excited for me.

What character in your book are you least likely to get along with?

That would be the demon who wants to destroy Lydia.

Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

I walked about six feet behind David Carradine once. Weird Al Yankovic sweated on and sang to my sister at a concert (when she was sitting right beside me). They were fun moments, but, to quote Weird Al, I think they also qualify as pretty “Lame Claims to Fame.”

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Only that good and bad people come in all forms. The forms alone don’t tell you much about the person. The way that people interact with others does.

How much of the book is realistic?

It’s based on a real place, but overall it’s much more fantasy than urban.

How did your interest in writing originate?

I started writing fan fiction for a show I was obsessed with, La Femme Nikita. I wrote a LOT of it, and there were quite a few people who enjoyed it. After awhile, I started branching out into a couple of alternate universe pieces–and through that realized that I could actually create my own characters and plot. I also realized that I didn’t need to know everything about a story to write it. I just needed to get started, and the characters would show me where things were headed, as I went along.

Your favorite…

Song–“Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls (I’m not a gigantic fan of theirs otherwise, but I LOVE that one song). A close second and third would be Evanescence’s “Bring Me to Life” and Blue Oyster Cult’s “Veteran of the Psychic Wars.”

Place you’ve visited–Ireland, England, and Scotland, all of them beautiful with touches of the gothic throughout

Place you’d like to visit–Brookgreen Gardens, a figural sculpture garden in SC. I’ve been there dozens of times, but I always want to go back.

TV show from childhoodLou Grant, or maybe Scooby Doo–I was an eclectic kid.

TV show from adulthoodLa Femme Nikita, although there are plenty of others I like. I usually only come across a show on DVD long after it’s over nowadays.


Are there any urban legends or haunted houses in your area? Leave a comment and I’ll select a random commenter to receive a $5 gift card from Amazon.




After a childhood filled with demons and her devil-worshiping parents, Lydia longs for a quiet, normal life, a safe haven somewhere blissfully dull. Being the manager at the Roanoke Apartments seems to fit that bill. But Lydia soon learns that you can’t leave the past behind so easily. She finds herself faced with unclogging drains for werewolves, conducting nightly vampire counseling sessions, and caring for two talkative cats. Then there’s the distraction of Geoffrey, the hottest, and most angelic, boss anyone ever dreamed of.  As if that isn’t enough, the demon who nearly killed her shows up to finish the job. So much for a peaceful, simple life…



She knew she was being rude, knew she certainly wasn’t being a good assistant to Geoffrey, but she couldn’t quite force herself to look up again. If she did, she was going to see things she couldn’t wholly deny. She couldn’t take that. Whatever its dangers, denial felt safe. There was only so much oddity her brain could withstand, before it just started to explode.

She found herself sitting on the couch a moment later, knew that all these men were watching her, knew that she was direly failing whatever test she was being given. But she just couldn’t help it. It was too much, was far too weird. If only life could be all picket fences and well-tended lawns and SUVs and…

Okay, so she really wasn’t dumb enough to think such details meant an utter lack of misery, but they just seemed so nice, compared to her life. She felt someone sit on the couch beside her, knew it was Geoffrey, even before he spoke.

“Give her a minute,” he whispered, tenderly stroking her blue hair.

That only made her sigh all the more. There were times she truly wished she could be a stereotypical vapid blonde.

That wish, of course, was part of the reason why she’d ended up with the hair color she was now stuck with, but she wasn’t up to such analysis.

One of the residents sighed softly. “I guess we are a bit much for a first day. Especially with our moon phase coming up and all.”

She wished she lived the sort of life which made it impossible to guess what they were talking about.

Geoffrey’s soft touch made her raise her head again, her eyes a little misty, as she gazed at the two werewolves’ worried yellow eyes. Their normal clothing only made the situation weirder. The one who had greeted them, Hugh, dressed much like her boss tended to. The second one was even wearing a business suit. She was trying not to scream.

Fortunately, Geoffrey surprised her out of the impulse, pulling her close, his arms tender, mouth by her ear. Into it, he whispered a series of soft, soothing sounds. Like at her lunch with Glory, none of them were quite recognizable, except for her name. “Lydia,” he would breathe, before those only half-hidden words began again. “Lydia.” It made her real name so darn tempting that she couldn’t quite remember why she’d ever chosen another, and it finally made her sanity begin to piece itself slowly back together.

She wasn’t certain how long they were like that, knew nothing except his touch, his comfort. Some final spate of words settled inside her as a sort of hope for the future, a thought — even if she had no conscious access to it — that comforted her even more. She felt his soft kiss there, before he finally leaned back. She didn’t really know what to think, after that.


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Katherine Gilbert was born at house number 1313 and then transplanted to a crumbling antebellum ruin so gothic that The Munsters would have run from it.  She has since gained several ridiculously-impractical degrees in English, Religious Studies, and Women’s Studies. She now teaches at a South Carolina community college, where all her students think, correctly, that she is very, very strange, indeed.

Where to Find Me:

Facebook page:

Goodreads pages:






Amazon Author’s page:



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Author Interview with Robb T. White ~ Dangerous Women: Stories of Crime, Mystery, and Mayhem

Please help me welcome Robb T. White with an interesting and amusing interview, plus a collection of stories that sound right up my alley!


Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?

I’m in my late sixties, look every day of it, and live five houses down from where I grew up along with my wife Judy. We’re celebrating our 48th anniversary in September. We’d eloped and were married in Monroe, MI when she was still a teenager. We share a big, creaky house overlooking Lake Erie in Northeastern Ohio. We have grandkids in town and Austin, TX.  A pair of cats, Sid Vicious and Athena, manage the house and keep the staff busy.

Was there anything unusual, any anecdote about Dangerous Women:  Stories of Crime, Mystery, and Mayhem the characters, title, process, you’d like to share?

We live in a time of irksome political correctness with accusations of “cultural appropriation” and other such nonsense. I admit that, the first time I attempted to write a story—a novel, actually—from the viewpoint of a female, I hesitated. I was fresh out of an academic environment where, at my university, feminists are outraged at everything male or masculine. This is an era before the MeToo movement, so I suspect it’s much worse there nowadays.  But I’ve always believed in equality between men and women, I was raised along with five sisters, and I never bought into notions of masculine superiority. I’m not immune to all prejudice, of course, but my female characters in this collection were a natural offshoot of my two female protagonists, one of whom I’ve continued. Please don’t assume I’m starry-eyed about women. As I said, I was raised with five girls so I know women can be as vicious as men.

What do you dislike that most people wouldn’t understand?

I dislike the modern tendency to blurt out everything inside. It’s ironic because I write to discover that very thing in my characters—but it has to be controlled in fiction even more than in life. People don’t just wear their hearts on their sleeves; they advertise their whining and puling unhappiness all over social media. It’s downright sickening. Say what you will about the old-fashioned “strong but silent” stereotype of Hollywood westerns of my youth, but I wish to god more men and women would adopt this trait in public.

What’s your favorite book of all time and why? What’s your favorite childhood book?

I didn’t read as a child. I remember hiding away in bathroom closet upstairs as a boy around age 13 perusing encyclopedias. My favorite book, narrowly eclipsing Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude,  is Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, which I’d read around age 15.  I read the Constance Garnett translation with all those ludicrous “By Jove!” Victorian exclamations. I’ve read better translations in the years afterward, but the book never fails to enthrall—Raskolnikov, his buddy Razumikhin, the cop Porfiry, and that delectable villain Svidrigaelov are imprinted into my neocortex.

Would you rather have a bad review or no review?

Bad reviews are better because no writer writes to be ignored.  I’ve had many bad reviews and some harsh criticism on both Amazon and Goodreads over the years. Most recently, a reviewer of my latest, Perfect Killer, in Manhattan Review hated the novel, everything in it, found my main character—a woman, no less—“unfriendly” and standoffish. She seemed to be asking herself all the way through why she chose to review when she clearly despised violent, dark crime fiction like mine. Puzzling yet amusing. I enjoyed her discomfiture, to me shame.

What is your favorite quote?

Without apology because he’s right: “Words build bridges into unexplored regions” by Adolph Hitler.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

Full name, birth and death dates. (I’ll haunt my family if anyone adds a sappy inscription.)

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

A good question, a hard one to answer.  I want to say my “imagination” creates all of them but I’m no Shakespeare. I know some must come from my childhood experiences, where most of the hurt resides in us. It’s a handy pool to dip into for creating people who don’t exist.

What do your friends and family think of your writing?

My wife doesn’t read me (Thank you, Jesus), my three kids get my books but have never said a word about them to me, and when I send my older daughter in Texas copies, I write instructions inside that my two grandkids are not to be allowed near them. My older sister is my unofficial and unpaid literary agent, who promotes me to her friends and our relatives via Facebook. I’m not your PG-13 kind of mystery fiction writer.

Is there a message in your short stories that you want readers to grasp? 

God forbid, no.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? 

Martin Cruz Smith, hands down. Thomas Harris possesses a knife-like wit, David Lindsey is the best descriptive writer I’ve ever read, but MCS puts everything together in a beautiful package for the reader: plot, characters, scenic detail.  Arkady Renko, his Moscow detective, is the most “human” human being I know.

Your favorite Movie

Body Heat (1981) with William Hurt and Kathleen Turner—a gem of a noir film. I’m embarrassed to say how many times I’ve watched it. I could shut the sound off and recite the dialogue verbatim. Ned Racine (Hurt’s character) is the quintessential man overwhelmed by a woman.

GIVEAWAY: Check Amazon’s Giveaway to win one of 5 copies of Dangerous Women.

Thank you, Robb. I enjoyed your interview immensely. Love the “God forbid, no.” – That’s pretty much my response to the question. I write for entertainment. 🙂


Violence, they often say, is a male prerogative. But someone forgot to tell women like “Baby” Frontanetta in the first story of the collection, or Francie, for whom robbing an armored car isn’t that big a deal, if only her lover will “man up” to assist her. Even parricide isn’t beyond the pale for her. There are the twins Bella and Donna, aptly named, as the narrator of “The Birthmark” will discover. There’s semi-literate Bobbie from West Virginia, a gorgeous lap dancer in a sleazy club in Cleveland, who knows what price men will put on owning beauty like hers. Come meet them all—the hustlers, con artists, thieves, and all-around trouble-makers; you’ll see what the women in these pages are capable of—but beware: they are not your mother’s “ladies.”



Be careful what you wish for, Regina.

Her mother’s words. Sometimes she could hear her mother’s voice in the house.

The Vindicator piece on Bodycomb’s death was two paragraphs.

He was found floating in Lake Milton, a popular summer resort area for fisherman seventeen miles east of Austintown just off the Interstate 80 overpass. Shot by a small-caliber weapon in the back of the head. The important information was in the second paragraph: Bodycomb, it noted, was running a dog-fighting network among three states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia for a loose-knit West Virginia crime family connected to the Pittsburgh LaRizzo family.

Damn you, Leo.

She was blowing through caution lights, ignoring the honking of cars, as she beelined for the office on Market.

Like a script from a cheap thriller, he was there, wearing the same clothes and unshaven, big jowls dark with stubble, pong of body odor in the overheated single room.

“You promised me full disclosure, total honesty,” she said.

She threw the paper across his desk.

“Here it is in case you missed it.”

Be calm, Regina, she told herself. She wasn’t going to lose her temper and a new job in that order.

“I did and I meant it, Baby,” Leo said.

He glanced at the paper sideways and pushed it back to her. He’d obviously read it.

“You asked me—no, you demanded I call somebody. I did,” he said.

He disgusted her with those wagging jowls and big stomach. She noticed his belt was undone and a patch of curly belly hair exposed.

Probably jerking off in here, the freak.

“I suppose you’ll tell me when the mood strikes.”

“I meant the second case—your next case,” Leo said. “Full disclosure, just like you want.”

Her indignation petered out at the prospect. “So tell me about it,” she said.

Bodycomb was moving in on Donnie Bracca’s territory with his dog-fighting, Leo said.

“He can kill all the dogs he wants in West Virginia,” Leo said. “But Donnie B. controls gambling around here.”

“Donnie Bracca was your real client all the time,” Baby said.

“It’s like this, kid. They don’t blow each other up in cars no more. Gentlemen’s agreements, all nice and polite. But rules have to be followed. Bodycomb went rogue.”

She bit back a retort: You mean, like your own father?

Leo went on, waxing large, a hopeless Mafioso lover, although a real mafia man, a made man, could see Leo couldn’t be trusted. But even the Aryan Brotherhood used outside associates to get things done. Leo could be useful if you couldn’t buy a cop or scare off an investigative reporter snooping in shady politics or business deals.

She didn’t feel bad about Bodycomb’s death. After all, she’d wanted to kill the guy herself.

“Damn it, Leo,” she said. “You should have told me this in the beginning.”Baby moved in the direction Bodycomb’s vehicle had taken. After A couple of hundred yards through meadow grass up to her knees, she stopped and listened. Moving on, she dodged stunted bushes that popped up out of nowhere to snag her clothing. The foliage grew less dense. She found the parallel ruts of the Road Runner’s tracks and kept moving, straining her eyes to see light ahead. If Bodycomb was hiding assets from his soon-to-be ex-wife, he was taking a lot of trouble over it.

After five minutes of faster walking in the grooves, she heard barking coming from the right. She saw the first glimmer of light in the distance. The terrain was sparse but small slopes refracted the light source so it appeared and disappeared with every rise of the ground. A single dog barking became two, then three and finally a pack. Beneath their howls, men’s voices.

When she got close enough to make out words, she lay flat on her belly and put the binoculars on a cluster of men beside a ramshackle barn surrounded by cages of dogs in the beds of trucks beside a squared string of light bulbs a dozen feet from the ground. It looked like a crude boxing ring for backyard brawlers.

Its purpose became clear in the next few minutes. It was a dog-fighting pit.


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Paperback exclusively from the publisher’s website:


About the Author:

Besides Dangerous Women, Robb T. White is the author of numerous short stories, three hardboiled Thomas Haftmann mysteries, a pair of noir/crime novels, and a recent serial-killer novel featuring a female FBI agent not named Clarice Starling.

A lifelong reader of crime fiction, he published his first story in Gary Lovisi’s Hardboiled magazine. An ebook crime novel, “Special Collections,” won the New Rivers Electronic Book Competition in 2014.  One of his short stories, was named one of 6 Best Of for 2009 by a Chicago website.

A forthcoming hardboiled novel is in the press.


Find out more about Robb at:



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Author Interview with Toni Sweeney ~ New Release: Exile

Please help me welcome fellow AHA member, Toni Sweeney…


Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?

I’ve just your average, friendly neighborhood little old lady writer.  I celebrated my 75th birthday this past December.

No pets now, but I used to own (or they owned me) 4 poodles and a mutt, AND a cat.  All at the same time.  They were the basis for my novel Spacedog’sBbest Friend.

Where did you get the idea for Serpent’s Tooth?

Believe it or not, it was from a dream.  I had a dream about an actor who was popular in the 50’s, in SF/horror movies and when I woke, all I could remember was his name and the name “Hildebrand.”  A few days later, I saw one of his movies on TV and one of the characters was named “Hildebrand.”  I took that to mean something, and wrote Serpent’s Tooth around that name.

Why did you choose this genre (is it something you’ve written in before)?

It was one of the first books Class Act Books published of mine. I’ve always liked ghost stories and tales along that line.

What is the most difficult thing about writing a book?

Making time to sit down and write it. Thee’s always something else needing to be done.

What was the most difficult thing about this one in particular?

See above.  I had it all plotted out, even written, in my mind.  It was sitting down in front of the keyboard and actually writing it that was the difficult part.

Are there any tricks, habits or superstitions you have when creating a story?

There was a time when I couldn’t talk about a book until after it was finished.  Now, I’ll tell about it if someone asks.

What book have you read that you wish you had written?

Gone with the Wind. Even those people who don’t like to read have heard of it.

What do you love that most people don’t like and wouldn’t understand why you do?

Boiled peanuts.  You’re either born loving them or not. Being a Southern, I was born this way. I also like them oven-roasted.

Do you collect anything?

I used to collect horse figurines but that stopped when a good many of them got broken during a move.  I suppose you could say I collect books since I have 12 bookcases fjull.

What was your first job?

After graduation, I was secretary to the chairman of the English Department of the college where I studied.  That was a great job for an English major!

What do you want readers to come away with after they read Exile?

I’d like theme to say, “Wow, I can’t wait to read the next one!”

What genre have you never written that you’d like to write?

Mystery. I don’t think I’m sneaky enough to write a really good mystery.

What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

I once had a publisher reject a manuscript and tell me no one would believe in a hero who was part feline.  Later, when Class Act Books published the entire Adventures of Sinbad series and it won several award, including Best series of that specific year, I wanted to write them and let them know. I managed not to.

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

I’ve based a few characters on real people, mostly ones I didn’t like.  I once made a very obnoxious co-worker into a mud-rooting pig in one of my books!

What do your friends and family think of your writing?

They wish me “Good luck,” but they don’t rush out to buy them.  Maybe the “Good luck” is hypothetical?

Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

Gene Roddenberry. For about 3 seconds.

How did you come up with the title? 

It tells the entire story and I hoped it would make the reader want to know exactly why the main character was exiled and what happened during his banishment.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

Not in this series. It’s just for the adventure of it.  Some of the others had a message, however.

How much of the book is realistic? 

Losing someone you love and never expecting to ever find anyone else is pretty realistic. I imagine almost everyone has experienced that feeling. I doubt if any one person has gone through everything my main character has, however. That would be too much!

Your favorite…

MovieRocky Horror Picture Show

Music – the finale to Swan Lake

Place you’ve visited – Jekyll Island, GA

TV show from childhoodRinky Dink and You

TV show from adulthoodGotham

Food – fruit cake


Aric kan Ingan is a Non-Person, an Exile stripped of title and citizenship for treason against the Arcanian Empire, crimes of which he is innocent.  Sentenced to banishment, he wanders the Emeraunt Galaxy a lonely decade while his uncle withholds clemency.

Money depleted and addictions demanding to be fed, Aric enlists as a guard at a Terran mining colony. Adjusting to life among hated Terrans is difficult, until Aric meets two people who will become an indelible part of his life: Susan Moran, the company doctor, and Miles Sheffield, his former mistress’ younger brother.

With Miles and Susan, Aric suffers the joy of friendship, the passion of love, and the grief of  sudden death, and eventually makes a decision that will change the destiny of the Arcanian Empire forever.


As he rounded a corner and dodged a brightly-robed Scyllan, he nearly collided with a short weasel of a man running out of a nearby doorway. The little man brushed against him and sped on, only to be pulled off his feet as Aric’s hand wrapped itself in the collar of his jacket.

“Hold it!”  He hauled the little man backward to stand before him, and held out his hand.  “Give it back.”

“Give what back?”  A face of total innocence, if a trifle ferret-like, looked up at him.

In answer, Aric snapped his fingers and thrust the hand at the little man again, palm up.  Something about the gesture told the little thief not to argue.  It frightened him and he didn’t know why.  It wasn’t the stranger’s size. He’d seen bigger men. Nor was it the tiny jewel, set like a droplet of blood in his left earlobe, announcing that here was a warrior Blooded in True Battle, just as the Sign of Ildred, marking his forehead in indelible mourning-black, likewise proclaimed him an Exile.

The little man shivered and the stranger smiled, and at that moment, Fredi the Pick knew exactly what caused his fear.  Those eyes.  Less than human.  Like a bird of prey.

Digging into his pocket, he extracted a small leather pouch, and placed it in the Arcanian’s hand, smiling a little weakly.  “Well!  Now that that’s done, I’ll just be on my—”

“Not so fast.”  He was pinned against the wall, lifted by the force of the hand against his chest, struggling to keep both feet on the cobbles as he looked up into his captor’s face.

“I suppose you’re going to peach me?” What did he expect, picking someone like this as a mark?  Stupid move, truly stupid!

“Hardly.”  The Arcanian laughed but it was a grim, cold sound.  “You know the Keepers don’t come to the Quad.”

“I’d prefer the Lawkeepers.”  The little man looked even glummer.  “We’ve our own rules here, y’know, and the Primary One’s that one inhabitant of the Quad never steals from another.”

Relief and confusion showed on the rat-like face.  “Well, then, I’ll just be go—”

The large hand detained him again.  Fredi looked up.  “Was there something else?”

“Yes, I need some…things.”

“Oh?”  The little man frowned. “What kind of things?”

In spite of where they were, Aric hesitated.  He wasn’t certain he could trust this little rodent.  “Are you a-a Procurer?”

“Why didn’t you say so?”  The frown disappeared.  “I thought—you being an Exile and all…  Did you break your Vows?  You want girls?  How many?”
“No.  Not girls.”

“Oh.  Well, I don’t usually deal the other way but—  Boys?  I suppose I could find one or two—”

“No!”  Aric’s denial was quick.  “I want—”  He lowered his voice, struggling to keep the desperation out of it.  “I need some drugs.”

“No problem.”  The little man showed no surprise.  “Name your poison.”

“I need nicotine and caffeine.  Can you get me some cigarettes and coffee?”

Cigarettes—”  The little man looked around quickly before continuing in a whisper that was almost a hiss.  “You want cigarettes and coffee?  Those two are at the top of the Unlawful Substances List!”

“Can you get them?”

The thief looked away.  He couldn’t meet that unblinking amber stare, not just the steadiness of the gaze but the bleakness in it, as if something inside the man had died.

“Possibly, but it’ll cost you.  There aren’t many, even in Thieves’ Quad who dare deal in both.”

“I can pay.”

“I’ll need something for my time, too.  Do you know the penalty for possession of tobacco?”

“I don’t want to know.” Aric was tiring of the conversation and desperately wanted to lie down.  Drel’s tushes, I need a tox!  “Just find it, at any cost.”

“Right.”  The little man eyed him as if inspecting him for some sign of nicotine-spasm.

“And I’ll need a place to stay.”

Elmia’s.  Around the corner and two blocks down.”  He gestured behind him.  “Tell ’em Fredi sent you.”

Aric released him.

“I’ll be back in an hour, maybe two.”  Fredi sped away without looking back.

Aric wondered if he’d keep his word.

Buy Links:

Paperback from the publisher’s website:


About the Author:

Toni V. Sweeney has lived 30 years in the South, a score in the Middle West, and a decade on the Pacific Coast and now she’s trying for her second 30 on the Great Plains.

Since the publication of her first novel in 1989, Toni divides her time between writing SF/Fantasy under her own name and romances under her pseudonym Icy Snow Blackstone.  In March, 2013, she became publicity manager for Class Act Books (US). She is also on the review staff of the New York Journal of Books and the Paranormal Romance Guild. In 2016, she was named a Professional Reader by

She is an Amazon reviewer, is in the 1% of reviewers for Goodreads, and in 2015 and 2016 was voted one of the Top 10 authors of those years by Preditors & Editors Readers Poll. In 2013, the Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewer’s Choice voted The kan Ingan Archives (Part Two of the Arcanian Chronicles) a Special Mention, and the following year, named the individual novels The Man from Cymene, and Space Studs, from the same series two of the Top 8 SF/fantasy novels of 2014.

As of 2018, Toni currently has 55 novels in print, including 3 series, and 3 trilogies.

Find out more about Toni:


Amazon Author’s Page:

Twitter:  @ToniVSweeney


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Author Interview with Linda Nightingale – New Release: Four by Moonlight

Please help me welcome Linda Nightingale with an author interview, a new release, and a giveaway!!


Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?

I was born two days after Christmas on a day long, long ago and named Linda Joyce. My maiden name is Brown. My hometown is Anderson, SC, and after 14 y ears in Texas, I just returned home.  I have two wonderful sons and I couldn’t be prouder of them. Man, I got lucky!

I have always had a passion for horses and bred, trained, and showed the magnificent Andalusian horse for many years.

My writing has won several awards, including the Georgia Romance Writers’ Magnolia Award for Excellence as well as the San Antonia Romance Writers SARA award.

Where did you get the idea for Four by Moonlight?

Each story in the anthology has a different theme and inspiration.  “Gypsy Ribbons,” the ghost story, was inspired by The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes.  “The Night Before Doomsday,” the angel story, was inspired by passages in The Book of Enoch from the Apocrypha. The other two stories were simply flights of my imagination.

What book have you read that you wish you had written?

The Picture of Dorian Gray.  I admire Oscar Wilde, and he is so witty.  Dorian Gray is an exaggeration of that era but there are some truths between the pages.

Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and do you like it?

I am a retired Legal Assistant. Most of my career, I liked my job but there at the end, I was more than ready to retire to write full-time.

What do you love that most people don’t like and wouldn’t understand why you do? 

Those little wieners called Vienna Sausages. Lord only knows what they are made of, but I enjoy them with saltine crackers.

What do you dislike that most people wouldn’t understand?

2% milk.  If you’re drinking milk, drink the whole stuff. It’s better tasting and better in coffee.

Do you collect anything?

Painted ponies.  I have thirteen—5 Native American themed, and 8 various ones including the unicorn and the pony named Spring from the Seasons.  My favorite is the musical pony. He is cantering on a keyboard and has violins and other musical motifs all over his black coat.

What do you want readers to come away with after they read Four by Moonlight?

Enchantment. I want them to surface from the spell created by the  story reluctant for it to end and reality rush back in.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

‘She died as she lived—with reckless abandon’.

If you could be a character in any of your books, who would you be?

Morgan D’Arcy from Sinner’s Opera (I’m currently in the process of getting my rights back) and Morgan D’Arcy: A Vampyre Rhapsody.  Morgan is handsome, sophisticated, a charmer and magnetic.  I’d leave off the vampire part!


Now to interview my readers—for a prize—an eBook of Four by Moonlight. My evil twin Bianca Swan wants to know:  Do you like erotic romance and why?

There is one erotic romance(?) in Four by Moonlight, but Bianca didn’t write it. I did.


An anthology of love in the moonlight…in the paranormal realms…

Gypsy Ribbons – A moonlight ride on the moors and meeting a notorious highwayman will forever change Lady Virginia Darby’s life.

Star Angel – Lucy was stuck in a rut and in an Idaho potato patch. She’d seen him in the corner of her eye—a fleeting glimpse of beauty—now he stood before her in the flesh.

The Night Before Doomsday – All his brothers had succumbed to lust, but Azazel resisted temptation until the wrong woman came along.

The Gatekeeper’s Cottage – Newlywed Meggie Richelieu’s mysterious, phantom lover may be more than anyone, except the plantation housekeeper, suspects.



The angel Azazel, a leader of the Grigori, narrates:

After our arrival in Eden, I often prayed for my harp. One day, it appeared in a blaze of light.

A knock at the door froze my hands upon the strings. Had someone heard the music I was forbidden to play? Annoyed at the interruption, I set the harp on its feet. As I glided across the room, I sensed the identity of my caller and relaxed. What could Magdalene want?

Another timid knock sounded. The door creaked open. A slither of sunshine crept across the floor to my feet.

Magdalene called through the crack, “Azazel, I took a chance you were home. May I come in?”

“Hello, Magdalene. Please. Come. I was playing the harp. Would you like to listen?”

“Oh yes.” She clasped her hands to her breast, the gesture innocent yet seductive.

I waved her ahead of me, following her into the late afternoon sunlight glinting on the golden instrument. She sank down at my feet and placed a hand on my knee. As the melody unfurled from the strings, I sang. This time, I did not play the music of heaven.

With the last notes quivering in the air, Magdalene repeated the lyrics. “Stoop angels hither from the skies, there is no holier spot of ground, than where love with beauty lies.” She was trembling. “I expected a hymn.”

“It was a hymn. To Beauty.”

“It sounded like a love song.”

“Perhaps, it is a love song.”

Hope shone in her mesmerizing blue eyes. “To me?”

“To you and every Eve.”

She rose to her knees, brushing back my hair and kissing my ear, her small hand fondling me. My shaft hardened in her caress. My breath caught, my heart hammering.

“Magdalene, don’t.” I caught her fingers.

“Why not?” She breathed warmth on my neck. “I love you.”

I forced images of coupling from my mind. “You’ve mistaken gratitude for love.” I set aside my harp, lifting her to her feet. “Here, I’ll take you flying.”

“I don’t want to fly. Not just yet.” Delicate fingers caressed the sensitive underside of my wing.

Every fiber of my being vibrated to a melody old as the Universe, new as the First Day. She locked her arms around my neck and applied her body to the length of mine.

Face lifted, lips parted, she breathed, “Don’t you want to kiss me?”

The heat in her gaze boiled the blood racing through my veins. My hands shook with the effort to resist. The scent of her perfume, the pure essence of Woman, and the desire that had been smoldering for days overcame me. Helpless, I bent to do what she’d accused me of wanting…something I needed more than the next breath. She stood on tiptoe, opened her mouth, a shy tongue teasing my lips to part. Not like Ruth’s kiss. Subtle, innocent yet…knowing.

I groaned in the exquisite pain of desire. My mouth opened, taking her tongue inside, dominating the kiss. Desire was death, a living rigor mortis. As my feverish hands explored her body, she moaned and whispered. Thought sizzled to fog. Spellbound, I kissed her lips, her eyes, her cheeks. When I pressed my mouth to her velvet throat, she shivered in my embrace, and I was lost.

The walls of my house closed in on me. Folding Magdalene in a wing, I lifted her and took her into the garden. Here darkness and my wings would hide our sin.

AUTHOR LINKS AND BUY LINKS (Be sure to check out the video):

Twitter: – @Lnightingale


Web Site:

Blog: Goodreads:




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Author Interview with Tony-Paul de Vissage ~ New Release: Absinthe Eternal (Absinthe Trilogy Book 3)

Please help me welcome today’s guest, Tony-Paul de Vissage with an author interview and a spooky sounding new release that’s right up my alley! 🙂


Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?

I’m from a little Southern town that has recently received the ignominious nickname of the “most Dangerous Town in Georgia.”  Since I haven’t been back there in 40 years, I can say whether that’s true or not.  It was pretty mild when I lived there!

My “official” bio says I write vampire novels because I was frighten by the movie Dracula’s Daughter as a child.  Partially true. It also says I met a group of vampires playing tourist near Savannah and they offered to may my way through college if I’d write positive things about them.  Not true.

I’m afraid I’m prettyh dull. NO family. No pets. Just li’L ol’  Moi.

Where did you get the idea for Absinthe Forever?

I had already written two Absinthe stories but felt the tale needed to be rounded out and finished off.  Since the previous stories took place in different eras, I decided to bring the final one into the present and have Absinthe’s story be completed in a contemporary setting.

Why did you choose this genre (is it something you’ve written in before)?   

I just like ghost stories.

Was there anything unusual, any anecdote about this book, the characters, title, process, etc, you’d like to share?

Not really.  I tried not to use many clichés but I found that when you’re writing a ghost story, you have to rely on clichés or it’d be pretty dull, so there are creaking doors opening, bumps in the dark and quite a few ghoulies. It’s the way they’re put together that makes I scary or not.

What is the most difficult thing about writing a book?

Keeping people away so I can write.  Some people think that because I’m not in an office somewhere, I’m not really working, so it’s OK to call and have long telephone conversations, or to drop by unannounced and stay until all hours.

What was the most difficult thing about this one in particular?

Not making it into a satire or an Abbott and Costello in a Haunted House. There were so many places where I wanted to go all slapstick, but I managed to resist the temptation.

What book have you read that you wish you had written?

Dracula. That’s one that almost everyone who’s literate recognizes whether they’ve read it or not.

Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and do you like it?

Not any more…and is that ever a relief!

What do you love that most people don’t like and wouldn’t understand why you do?

Fried tripe.  That was before I found out what it is.  Afterward? I still like it though since I no longer live in the South, I don’t get it much now.

What was your first job?

Candy salesman.  They used to have boxes filled with candy near the cashier’s counter. You’d “donate” boney and get a candy bar. I used to go around and fill those boxes, collect the money, and deposit it.

What do you want readers to come away with after they read Absinthe Eternal?

A shiver or two and the statement. “Hey, that’s make a great movie!”

What actors would you like in the main roles if your book were made into a movie?

Cameron Cuffe as David, and  Shaun Sipos as Redd. Both currently star in Krypton.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

“Here lies the World Best Undiscovered Author.”

If you could be a character in any of your books, who would you be?

My characters are so weird, I don’t know that I’d want to be any of them!

Have you written any other books that are not published?

I’m struggling with a sequel to The Last Vampire Standing, called A Single Shade of Red.  I’ve been working on it for two years now and it’s slow going.

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

One or two were but not enough that they might recognize themselves.

What do your friends and family think of your writing?

Not much, apparently. None of my family has ever bought one of my books.

What character in your book are you least likely to get along with?

Since most of them are vampires, I’d probably not get along with any of them!

Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

George RR Martin. I was at a party he was at one night.

How did you come up with the title? 

In this story, Absinthe is brought back to life and this time, he finds a way to live forever, so he’s now Absinthe Eternal.

Your favorite…

MoviePhantom of the Paradise, a rock/horror movie.

Music – the allegretto from Beethoven’s Sympony #4

Place you’d like to visit – St. Simon’s Island off the Georgia coast

TV show from childhoodTom Corbett, Space Cadet

TV show from adulthoodLucifer

Food – barbeque and Brunswick stew with a Coca-Cola




David Varine, star of Ghost Search International, a highly-rated supernaturally-themed reality show, is on assignment. At the request of the New Orléans Historical Society, he’s come to the Big Easy to prove the stately old mansion called Nouvel Espoir is haunted.
It’s said the spirit of Absinthe, accursed son of the original owner, haunts the mansion, with his lover, but David’s a skeptic. He doesn’t believe in ghosts, curses, and any of that ‘supernatural hogwash.’ He’s only in the ghost-hunting business for the money.

Once inside Nouvel Espoir, however, David’s skepticism rapidly disappears. There are too many odd things happening, things he can’t ignore. When his cameraman arrives, the two will be forced to face whatever walks the mansion by night.

Absinthe wants something from them…but what…?



As I arrived at the top of the stairs, however, I saw that the door to what I’d already begun to think of as my bedroom was ajar.

Hadn’t Kathy pulled it shut as she followed the others out? I remembered…every room they went into, she entered first but was always the last to leave, shutting any doors behind her.

“Maybe it didn’t close properly.” I spoke aloud, one of my defenses against latent creepiness. Some people whistled in the dark; I talked to myself. Loudly.

Crossing to the door, I stopped, then looked back.

“Something’s different. What…?” It took me a moment to realize I’d walked through the cold spot on the landing, only now, it wasn’t cold. Hurrying back, I stood where I’d experienced that frosty breath and icy shiver. I exhaled, blowing out loudly.

Nothing. Not even a wisp of vapor.

An episodic cold spot. Never seen that before. I didn’t like that.

Abruptly, I got that someone’s-watching-me feeling, that little prickle of the skin.  I spun, pushed the door wider and hurried inside…and skidded to a halt, staring at the figure sitting in the chair.

The Absinthe mannequin reclined in the hearthside chair, exactly as it had before.

“Well, now.” To my own ears, my voice sounded forced, too loud. “How did you get back in here?”

I was certain Kathy had been with the group as we went downstairs. Did she linger behind, going back into Étienne’s bedroom and retrieving the figure, replacing it in the chair before she joined the others?

Possibly. I couldn’t say definitely she was with them every minute. All I remembered was watching her guide everyone to the front door.

Maybe she had orders that the mannequins had to stay in their assigned room, and she’d removed it only to placate that one uneasy tourist, and then had to put it back.

“Unh-uh.” I held up a finger, waggling it back and forth as if the mannequin were about to offer some excuse for its return.  “None of that.”

It remained silent, of course, staring at me out of those remarkable green eyes.

I asked myself what I would’ve done if there had been a sound just then, even the creak of a beam…

What the hell’s the matter with me? I never get spooked like this. Anger rose at that.  I’m David Varine, GSI’s chief investigator, and scary stories don’t frighten me. Besides, I don’t believe in this stuff.

Stooping, I wrapped an arm around the figure’s waist and lifted it as Kathy had. It was remarkably light. Carrying it across the hall, I opened the door to the other bedroom, and with the barest hesitation, stamped inside.

I dropped the figure unceremoniously into the chair, Damned if it doesn’t resemble the portrait. The face was framed by black, shoulder-length hair. It had the thickness and texture of real hair. I wondered if it was. Had some human’s flowing locks been purchased for this artificial being?

Thinking back to what Kathy had said about Absinthe, I realized if he’d actually looked like this. If so…oh, the boy must’ve been a beauty…the killer handsome kind.

I rummaged mentally for my college French. “Bon nuit.” With a jerky bow—and why did I do that?—I hurried to the door and went out, slamming it behind me.

I was stepping across the threshold into my own room when I heard the faint creak. I glanced back.

The door to Étienne’s room slowly and gracefully swung open.

Buy Links:

Paperback exclusively from the publisher’s website:



About the Author:

A writer of French Huguenot extraction, one of Tony-Paul de Vissage’s first movie memories is of being six years old, viewing the old Universal horror flick, Dracula’s Daughter on television, and being scared sleepless—and he’s now paying back his very permissive parents by writing about the Undead.

TP currently has 22 novels published with Class Act Books.  His novel The Night Man Cometh was voted one of the Top Ten horror novels of 2011 by the Preditors & editors Readers Poll for that year, and in 2013, the first entry in his Second Species series, Shadow Lord, was awarded the same honor. The Last Vampire Standing placed second as Best Paranormal Romance of  2012 by the Paranormal Romance Guild.


Learn More about Tony-Paul at:



Amazon Author’s Page:

Twitter: @tpvissage


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Author Interview with Michael D. Smith ~ New Release: CommWealth

Please help me welcome Michael D. Smith with an interesting interview and a new book!


Hello, Michael. Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?

I was raised in the Northeast and the Chicago area, then moved to Texas to attend Rice University, where I began developing as a writer and visual artist. I’ve recently been writing science fiction with a mix of literary and space opera aspects; my literary novels in turn have science fiction or absurdist elements. I’m married to Nancy Remp Smith and we have seven cats, two of whom have a time share arrangement for sitting on my lap as I write. My day job is that of Technology Librarian for McKinney Public Library in McKinney, Texas. Over the years I’ve done extensive programming for adults, including book talks and author presentations, and have marketed libraries through presentations and contacts with local media. I’m currently hosting a monthly Writers’ Exchange group at my library, where participants discuss editing, publishing, and marketing.

Where did you get the idea for CommWealth?

CommWealth came from a long and involved three-part dream, and the novel fleshes out of the first part, in which our supercilious antihero Allan demonstrates his easy adaptation to the new property-less society as he requests every object that strikes his fancy and then hauls it all back to the mansion he booted someone out of. The dream’s second part, in which Allan is “requested” to work in Australia and becomes part of a murder mystery, and the third, where he returns to America shattered and in need of spiritual regeneration, weren’t used, but I’ve always considered that their energy is present in the novel, adding depth to the characters’ motivations.

Why did you choose this genre (is it something you’ve written in before)?

The dream demanded a semi-realistic dystopia, no weird science fiction technology or future setting, and I wanted the book to have a literary element; some of my books are more purely literary, and I felt I needed this genre to explore the characters. Though CommWealth was fated to be a black humor dystopia, a “what if there were no property” plot that practically wrote itself, I also wanted to highlight the usual range of human romance, fear, and courage, as well as the shadow aspects of the self. I’ve always thought of the characters in CommWealth as an ensemble cast in a movie, where accomplished actors divide the plot between them and no one actor has the lead role. The ensemble concept is apt for this novel, in which these characters form the core of the Forensic Squad theatrical troupe.

Was there anything unusual, any anecdote about this book, the characters, title, process, etc, you’d like to share?

The original title was so obviously Property that I was attached to it for a long time–until I saw a novel in a bookstore called Property. That got me to musing about the commonality of titles used for novels, especially bestsellers, and I decided I would make all my novel titles as unique as possible. So CommWealth, the name of the benevolently authoritarian state running the new property-less society, became the final title. Meanwhile I embarked on some quick research about commonly-used novel titles which I put into a blog post; at the time I counted thirty-four published novels titled Flashpoint, for instance. It’s mystifying to me, but also amusing, that big-name authors resort to such commonly used titles.

What is the most difficult thing about writing a book?

The most difficult thing for me is the time constraint, as I often have to subsist on short writing sessions before and after work. However, I’ve noticed in many cases that as I near the time I need to leave for work I often come up with unexpectedly concise chapter endings. I might see that I have ten minutes before I need to wrap things up and I’m confronting three pages of notes that might stretch to ten pages of fiction, yet somehow it now occurs to me that all those notes are superfluous, that naturally Character X would do this and then that in the next few seconds and this is a perfect ending for that chapter. This has happened so often that I wonder if I haven’t unconsciously set this up.

Another difficulty is the uncomfortable sense of confusion and doubt arising when a new novel starts gestating as vague ideas, scattered notes, and a blunt yearning for fiction. But while the process is often painful and sometimes seems hopeless, I can’t really denigrate any of it because the power underneath all that seems destined to lead to some important investigations, no matter how the final manuscript turns out.

What was the most difficult thing about this one in particular?

Possibly because of the force and novelty of the dream, this particular novel flowed fairly easily. It’s seen numerous drafts but there was never a point where the entire plot was in disarray, as I’ve had with several other novels. Every once in a while you’re blessed with a fairly straightforward writing experience, and this was one.

Are there any tricks, habits or superstitions you have when creating a story?

If there’s one thing I’ve discovered about writing, it’s that the methods I used to create the previous novel don’t work for the next one. Various schemes for sorting notes on notecards and rearranging them across a large table have sometimes sparked amazing insight and at other times … have wasted hours on non-starter ideas. Assembling every dream or interesting idea I’ve written on scraps on paper over the past two years into a hundred-page, single spaced Word document of notes … sometimes leads to inspiration, sometimes leads to wasted weeks of “organizing nothing.” The method really doesn’t matter, I guess, as long as you stay with that yearning for fiction and allow “something” to “come together” at “the right time.”

I prefer to work in the morning, especially for rough draft work, as I’m freshest then. A session of two to three hours is ideal. All other writing takes place in the evening after work. I always have ideas cooking and I plan each writing day by what project appeals to me, which one has the most energy resonance. I write just about every day.

What do you want readers to come away with after they read CommWealth?

Even though CommWealth posits a farcical dystopia, there’s much in the way of human friendship and human betrayal, true romance as well as confused lust, to distract these characters as they try to navigate their treacherous property-less society. After all, some theater troupe members see the opposite sex as property to be demanded, whether they’re conscious of that fact or not. The novel can surprise you as it veers between farce and bitter tragedy.

Would you rather have a bad review or no review?

I’d rather have a bad review as long as it wasn’t the only one on Amazon! A ratio of seventy-five positive reviews to one negative review would be fine with me. 🙂

What genre have you never written that you’d like to write?

If it were fiction, I would say a mystery novel. I really haven’t read much in that genre, but I’m fascinated by the intricate structure that must be conceived and executed to get the satisfying final result. And a mystery can also be a literary novel; consider that there’s a murder mystery aspect of The Brothers Karamazov. The genre I don’t work in that truly impresses me isn’t fiction, but well-written biography or nonfiction. I can’t comprehend how some nonfiction authors can so brilliantly integrate long, intense research into fascinating, novel-like books on science or history. I wonder if I would have the diligence for that sort of research and writing. Probably the nearest thing for a novelist would be a historical novel.

Your most prized material possession? Why?

This may not be the most prized possession, as we all have a hundred thousand objects to keep track of, but what immediately leaps to mind is my 1940’s Royal Portable DeLuxe typewriter. I sometimes use it to bang out early novel notes. If any prove useful I’ve found I can scan and OCR the results.

Have you written any other books that are not published?

I’m starting my seventeenth novel now, and I’m proud that eight of the first sixteen have been published, along with a novella and a picture book. Of the remaining eight novels, I’m seeking to publish another two (literary/absurd again), but I’ve accepted that six of my novel experiments should never be published.

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

My goal is a measure of respect and fairness to all characters, as if they were all characters in a Shakespeare play with their special moment on the stage. I want to see all aspects of their personalities as objectively as possible. So I hope I’m creating characters that are not based on real people, or people in my life, but that represent universal human forces. It’s too easy, for instance, to base a character on someone you dislike (who becomes a shadow aspect of yourself you can’t deal with), then pour a lot of bile onto him or her and never really get to the core of the character.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The concept of property touches us all in deep psychological ways we often don’t want to think about. Just think about “your toothbrush,” for example. The exaggerated ideas in CommWealth nevertheless encompass real ethical concerns. Beneath the apparent farce of the story is this laundry list of realities: theft, greed, dishonesty, cheating, unconsciousness, cowering, power-lust, political intrigue, sexual manipulations, envy, demands for pity, guilt trips, revolution, and above all, the thwarted need for privacy.

How did your interest in writing originate? 

1950’s Grade B science fiction movies got me started in the second grade. Then fifth grade assignments to write short stories, based on the current week’s list of a dozen new words to master, really sparked an upsurge in creativity. But in high school the movie 2001 floored me and inspired me to take writing much more seriously than I had before.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

My favorite author/book is probably Franz Kafka and The Trial, which I’ve read several times and have also listened to as an audiobook. The fact that Kafka is more and more regarded as a humorist (especially in Europe) resonates deeply. His biographer Max Brod recounts scenes of Kafka laughing as he reads portions of The Trial to a literary group, whose members are also finding the book deliriously funny. To me there’s a psychological dimension of this humor that goes far beyond what we might now call “black comedy.”

About the Author:

Michael D. Smith was raised in the Northeast and the Chicago area, before moving to Texas to attend Rice University, where he began developing as a writer and visual artist.  In addition to exhibiting and selling paintings and drawings, he’s completed fifteen novels.

Smith’s writing in both mainstream and science fiction genres uses humor to investigate psychological themes.  On his blog, he explores art and writing processes, and his web site contains further examples of his writing and art. He is currently Technology Librarian for McKinney Public Library in McKinney, Texas.

CommWealth is his first novel published by Class Act Books.

Find out more about Michael at:

Website: ,,

Blog: www.


The CommWealth system, has created a society in which there is no legal claim to any kind of private property. Any object from your house to the clothes you’re wearing can be demanded by anyone, to be enjoyed for thirty days before someone else can request it. As actors in the Forensic Squad theatrical troupe attempt to adapt to this chaos, their breaking of the Four Rules sustaining the system, as several members navigate betrayals, double agents, and murder to find themselves leading a suicidal revolution.


Rule One – You are free to enjoy the chosen object for thirty days. During this period no other person may request it.

Rule Two – The requestor is untouchable for thirty days by the person asked. Attempts at retaliation, such as demanding unusually large quantities from the original requestor after the thirty-day period, carry stiff penalties.

Rule Three – Once you ask somebody for something, you can never ask him or her for anything else again.

Rule Four – You can never ask for the same thing back from the person who got it from you, not even after his or her thirty days of enjoyment.

Allan shivered at the reflection of his black overcoat and his striding legs on the wet sidewalk. Up ahead someone with a DreamPiston Electronics bag opened a shiny red

Porsche glistening with thousands of water beads.

“Okay,” Allan said, “I’ll take your car.”

The mustached little twerp looked up. “Ahhh, crap…”

“C’mon, don’t give me any trouble. Gimme the key.”

“Look, it’s raining. And I just got these MP3 players and the new Fappy tablet—”

“Not my problem. Fork the key over.”

“Look, my umbrella’s in the car—can I just get my umbrella so my stuff—”

“Forget it. The umbrella’s part of the car as far as I’m concerned. Anything in the car. Besides, I just lost my umbrella a couple blocks back. I’m soaked.”

“C’mon, I just got this car the other day!”

“Don’t hand me that. The sticker on the plate says you got it a month and a half ago. You’re overdue, buddy. Now hand me the key.”

“Got trouble there?” A bright blue City of Linstar police car idled in the rain. “Got a Hoarder there?” a huge officer grinned.

“Uh, no… not at all…” said the twerp. “I just—I just can’t find the key—”

“Yeah, right—you just unlocked the damn car with it,” Allan said, turning to the policeman. “He is giving me a lot of crap about it.”

“C’mon, sir, you know better than that.” The officer’s name tag read BARCLAY.

The twerp snarled. He separated the Porsche key off his key ring, thrust it at Allan, then spun around and fastened on a man coming down the sidewalk. “Give me that umbrella! Right now!”

The man grunted, surrendering his umbrella to the twerp, who grabbed it and hoisted it above his DreamPiston bag.

“We really got the Christmas spirit here, don’t we?” Barclay said.

“Really,” Allan said. “Some people…” He examined the Porsche key in the rain. “Thanks for your help, officer.”

“Oh, I’m sure it wasn’t really necessary. People are basically good, you know. Give ’em time to adjust and all, that’s what I say.”

The twerp leapt into traffic with his new umbrella and his bag, waving his free arm. A little green car skidded to a halt. The twerp ran to the window and pounded on it. “Give me this car! Right now!”

Barclay was out of his patrol car in a second, hand on his hand on his holster. “Sir, that’s not the right way to go about it. We need to be respectful. That’s the CommWealth way.”

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Author Interview with Icy Snow Blackstone ~ New Release: Runaway Brother

Please help me welcome today’s guest, , with a fun and interesting interview, plus, a new release!


Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?

I’m originally from Georgia and now live in the Midwest.  There was a time when my entire family was into genealogy and we did a lot of research on our ancestors.  I discovered my great-great-great-greatgrandmother’s name was Icy Snow Blackstone and always thought that sounded like it should belong to a romance writer. When I was living in California, I was a member of the South Coast Writers Club and once we had a speaker who said if a writer wrote in more than one genre, he needed a penname for one of those genres, so his readers wouldn’t get confused. (Not very complimentary to the readers!) Since I was already writing science fiction/fantasy under my real name, when I decided to writer romances, I decided tgo use Icy Snow’s name as my pseudonym.

I’m also a grandmother with three grandchildren, one of whom is a budding writer.

Where did you get the idea for Runaway Brother?

I already had the plot in place—a millionaire dumps everything and runs away from his responsibilities and his brothers try to find him—so the book named itself.

Why did you choose this genre (is it something you’ve written in before)?

I’d already written several romances set in the South, so this one simply followed the others in setting and style.

What is the most difficult thing about writing a book?

  1. Getting started.
  2. Sticking with it.
  3. Finishing the book.

In other words, anything to do with writing a book is difficult!  J

What was the most difficult thing about this one in particular?

There’s a show horse in the story. An Arabian named Shazam.  I had to do a great deal of research on Arabian horse clubs in Georgia, and how the horses are shown, as well as what kind of  riding gear and costumes the owners use when showing their horses.  Finding out the names of the various parts of an Arabian rider’s clothing was the most difficult part.

What book have you read that you wish you had written?

Gone with the Wind.  It’s definitely the Southern romance to end all Southern romances.   It’s been copies in movies and literature and parodied by Carol Burnett (will anyone ever forget her walking down the stairs with the curtain rod sticking out of her dress?) I once read that next to the Bible, it’s one of the top five most read books in the world.

Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and do you like it?

I used to be a medical transcriptionist before I retired.  Now?  I review books for the New York Journal of Books, so I guess “book reviewer” is my “second occupation.”

What do you love that most people don’t like and wouldn’t understand why you do?

Boiled peanuts.  It’s a Southern thing.

Do you collect anything?

I used to collect unicorn figurines. Unfortunately I got so many I had to stop.

What was your first job?

After I graduated from college, I stayed on as secretary to the Chairman of the English Department, a dream job since I was still associating with the professors who’d taught me while I was in college.

What’s the main thing that you could get rid of in your life that would give you more writing time?

Not a thing!  I have all the time in the world to write now. It’s making myself buckle down and do it that’s now the problem.  I’m getting lazy!

What do you want readers to come away with after they read Runaway Brother?

I’d like them to have a favorite scene from the book that they keep talking about and telling friends about, ending with, “You should really read it. I can’t forget that scene.”

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

75% of my characters are imaginary. That way I can make them as nice, handsome, mean, or ridiculous as I want.

What do your friends and family think of your writing?

For some reason, a good many of them are sarcastic of my writing and always giving me put-downs.  One actually said my writing was “run of the mill.” (She’s no longer a favorite relative, I might add.)  That’s the reason I don’t talk aloud about my writing to people.  (Blogs are different.)

Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

Gene Roddenberry, long enough to say “hello,” and receive the same in answer.  I also hosted a houseparty once for George RR Martin, ‘way back when.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

If there is one, it’s that people shouldn’t be forced into roles that others think they should have but should be allowed to pursue their own dreams.

How much of the book is realistic? 

All of it could be.  There are plenty of towns in Georgia like Oceano.  I had horses when I was younger, though not Arabians, and I once dated a guy who owned a motorcycle, so all the info about the Harley is true, too.

How did your interest in writing originate? 

I’ve been writing in one form or another since I learned how to make my first words on paper. (They were “cat” and “rat” by the way. I couldn’t figure out how to spell “dog.”) I started out writing comics. I’d watch a movie and come home and draw it out and narrate it.  When I was eight, I got a toy typewriter for Christmas, and after that, I started typing out stories.  Mostly about horses, since that was the beginning of my “horse-crazy” era, too.

Thank you for the interview. I enjoyed getting to know you. I have to agree about Gone with the Wind – I would LOVE to have written that book. 

About the Author:

Icy Snow Blackstone was born in 1802, in northern Georgia where her father, the Reverend John Blackstone, was prominent in local politics.  She married a minister, raised seven children, and lived there all her life.

Two hundred and five years later, her great-great-great-great-granddaughter began using her name as a pseudonym for her romance novels. The present Icy Snow Blackstone lives far from her Southern roots in Lancaster County, Nebraska, where she continues to write romances.

As of 2017, Icy Snow has eleven novels published by Class Act Books. Her contemporary romance, Tuesday’s Child, was given the Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewers Choice award for Best Contemporary Novel of 2014. A SciFi romance, Earthman’s Bride and Vietnam-era romance Jericho Road, have also received awards.


Blurb for Runaway Brother:

At the age of twenty-two, newly-graduated Nicolo Liguori is forced by his three brothers to become care-giver for his father, who suffered multiple strokes.  For the next ten years, Nick gives up his own ambitions , working during the day in the family jewelry business in Vanderhoek, New York, and returning to the Liguori mansion every night, to be at his father’s beck-and-call. Then Papa dies and Nick is free…or is he?  Carlo, Marco, and Pietro expect him to continue life as usual, but Nick has other ideas.  Secretly buying a motorcycle, he starts to work one day and… disappears.

Nick gets as far as the southern coast of Georgia before an accident disables his bike.  Stranded, with no idea of the South except what he’s seen on TV, Nick isn’t certain what kind of reception he’s going to get.  Then, a pretty Southern miss and a white tank disguised as a temperamental horse named Shazam change his life as they and the citizens of Oceano teach a runaway Yankee about life and love in a small Georgia town.


The track was getting narrower, barely two ruts now with a width of slender, wiry grass separating them.  He slowed the bike.  Don’t want to get that stuff caught in the spokes and stall the engine.

Nick raised his head, looking around, then gave a loud sigh of exasperation.  Okay.  So I’m lost. He’d just follow the road to wherever it went, probably to some farmer’s front yard.  When he got there, he’d apologize, turn around and get himself back to the main drag.  If he could find it.

A broken branch loomed ahead, and he turned his attention to it, guiding the bike around it.

A second branch and several twigs littered the roadway.  Nick was so concerned with maneuvering around them he didn’t see the horse sail over the fence, wasn’t even aware it was there until he looked up and found the white shape almost directly in front of him.

He jerked the wheel to the right, forgetting to apply the rear brakes first.  The bike skidded, its back wheel rising off the ground as the front one stopped rolling.  He had a brief vision of the animal leaping forward, its rider clinging to its back, wide, frightened blue eyes, flying blonde hair…

The motorcycle went off the road, sliding into the ditch and running up the other side, the front fender striking one of the fence posts.  It bounced and rebounded, and Nick went flying over the handlebars, flipping in mid-air and hitting the same post with his back. The bike wavered a moment, then toppled onto its side.  Nick slid down the post, landing upside down in the ditch, his shoulders crushing coffeeweed into an aromatic mass.

The pounding hooves stopped.  He heard running footsteps, opened his eyes and saw someone running toward him.  He closed them again.

“Are you hurt?”

This time when he opened his eyes, he was staring at the upside-down face of a very pretty girl, at least she’d have been pretty if her face wasn’t screwed up into such a dismayed scowl.

Am I hurt?”  He managed a growl as he slid further into the weeds and rolled over.  “I just hit a fence and got tossed into a ditch!  What do you think?”  Clambering to his knees, while she plucked ineffectually at one arm, he jerked out of her grasp.  “I can get up by my—  Ow!”

He’d gotten upright, took a step, and his leg buckled, turning at the ankle            “Here.”  She slid into the ditch, offering a hand.  Reluctantly he took it, being careful not to put too much weight behind it as he let her pull him to his feet.  He could see she was worried and he really wasn’t hurt all that bad, but he was angry because she’d been so reckless.

“What the Hell’s the matter with you?  Jumping in front of me like that!  If I’d hit that horse—”

“What are you doing riding this road?  This is private property.”

She was too pretty for him to pretend to stay angry at, so he toned it down, answering her question. “I got lost.  I only wanted to find the end of the road and turn around.”

“You have a way to go.  The house is about a quarter of a mile that way.”  She nodded toward a group of pines thrust into the road, hiding the rest of it from sight. Nick looked in that direction, then back at her.  She, in turn, looked at the motorcycle, still on its side in the weeds.  “You seem okay.  Is that hurt?”

Nick got down on one knee, feeling under the bike.  His hand came away wet.  He sniffed at his fingers.

Gasoline. He pulled off one glove, exploring gingerly.  Something had punched a hole in the gas tank and gasoline was pouring into the grass.  He had no idea how, but it didn’t matter.  What did was that he wasn’t going anywhere as long as that hole was there.

“Well?”  She appeared to be awaiting his diagnosis.

He wiped his fingers on the seat of his jeans.  “Gas tank’s got a hole in it, clutch cable’s severed. Is there a motorcycle shop around here anywhere?”

“No, but Marshall’s in town can probably repair it.  He does everything from lawn mowers to farm machinery.”

            Oh Lord, deliver me from small town handymen!  He was about to tell her he didn’t want Marshall touching his bike when he realized, What else am I going to do?  Do you have a better idea, Mr. Runaway?

“So which way is town?”  He straightened, looked around as if expecting to see the city limits a few feet away.

“Too far for you to push that thing,” she answered, gesturing at the front wheel.  “Not with it twisted like that.”

“What do I do then, Miss Not-So-Helpful?  Since this is your fault—”

“My fault?”  Hands went to her hips.  And deliciously slim ones they were, too.  Nick had a moment to think she looked anything but angry, though it was apparent she thought she did.  Cute, maybe.  Hell, he might even say adorable with those blonde wisps floating around her face, but angry?  Nope!  “Who’s the trespasser?  Who had his head down, studying the ground when he should’ve been looking straight ahead?”

“You weren’t ahead of me,” he countered.  “You and that white tank of yours jumped a fence and came in from the side.

“Never mind.  Just let me get the bike upright and point me in the right direction, and—”

“I’ll do no such thing.”  That made him stare at her, wondering if she was going to walk away, mount her white steed, and leave him stranded knee-deep in Kudzu or whatever-the-Hell these weeds were.  “I’ll ride back to the house and get my grandpa’s truck.  We’ll put the motorcycle in it.”

She clambered up the bank, running toward the horse now was grazing on the other side of the road.  Catching the reins and a handful of mane, she swung into the horse’s back—very gracefully, he noted—then turned the animal’s head and trotted it back to him.

“You stay right there,” she told him.  “I’ll be back in a jif.”  She kicked the horse in the ribs and sent it galloping down the road.

Nick turned his attention back to the V-Rod.  It hadn’t moved.  Did he expect it to get up and limp over to him like a dog with a hurt paw, whimpering for sympathy?  Shaking his head, he leaned against the edge of the ditch, back against a fencepost.

Welcome South, Brother!


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