Tag Archives: Debut Novel

Meet My Cousin Jon M Michaels and his “Tale of the Sharp-Dressed Man”

I am beyond thrilled to introduce today’s guest. Jon is actually my second cousin. His dad is my cousin, but Jon and I are close to the same age. My mother is next to the youngest of a dozen or so siblings, so myself and my siblings were closer in age to the children of our cousins rather than our cousins (if that makes any sense.)

(UPDATE: I learned from my friend, Darcy Flynn, in the comments, that he is actually my first cousin once removed, and I have been defining ‘second cousin’ incorrectly my entire life. I also read that a first cousin once removed is also a nephew or niece, so I think Jon should start calling me ‘Aunt Alicia’ – anyone else agree?)

But, moving on…I barely knew Jon growing up, although I’m not sure why since we lived in the same general vicinity. I reconnected with him a few years ago at a family reunion and learned he was writing a book and told him to let me know if I could do anything to help. (Since that time, I’ve gotten to know him and his fabulous wife better, and we have so much in common with our twisted sense of humor and taste in books and shows…it’s awesome! :))  He contacted me a little while after the reunion and asked me to read/edit it for him. I agreed, but I will say, I was a little anxous. What if it sucked? It was his FIRST book. How many people think they can sit down and write a book and it’s a disaster? Well, let me tell you, I was pleasantly surprised. I LOVED this novel! It’s witty and creepy and dark and funny with great, vivid characters who I felt like I knew. (much of it takes place in Wetumka, Oklahoma, an area I know well since my grandparents and much of my mom’s family lived in and around Wetumka, and I spent a lot of time in the area when I was growing up, which made it extra special). I have so enjoyed helping him polish and present his fabulous novel to the world. 

 

Without further ado (I mean, that was more than enough ado, am I right?), meet Jon M Michaels…

 

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

Well, I’m an Okie, born and raised. As a kid our family moved a lot, so I learned to adapt and make friends. That’s not to say it was easy, but I think it’s helped me to accept change. I’ve done a little bit of everything; private investigator, oil field pipe inspector, sales and some college sprinkled in there somewhere. I currently live in Oklahoma City with my wife and cat, with no plans to move.

Where did you get the idea for Tale of the Sharp-Dressed Man?

Good question. I guess the character, Sharp-Dressed Man, came to me before the story. It’s a character that’s a part of family lore. I sort of fleshed the story around that.

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

I like being freaked out by stories. Scary, and bizarre. Bentley Little has some good stuff along those lines. I read Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot when I was eleven years old, and that paved my way to horror. I also used to watch Dark Shadows as a kid. My mom thought I was in my room playing, but I was peeking around the corner at the television.

What is the most difficult thing about writing a book?

Getting to the end.

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

Finding an ending that I liked.

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

Frankenstein: or The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley.

What was your first job?

I worked in the kitchen at a nursing home. It was a summer job. It was interesting, and sometimes unnerving.

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

That’s a toughie. But I’d have to say Salem’s Lot. Great characters and a truly evil villain.

What do you want readers to come away with after they read Tale of the Sharp-Dressed Man?

That they were on an adventure, and made some friends along the way.

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

Without a scant of hesitation, I’d have to say Willie Nelson would be great as Grandpa Theo. As for the rest, I don’t have any idea.

Would you rather have a bad review or no review?

Hmm…, I guess I’d rather have a bad review, but that doesn’t mean I’d like it. At least someone was reading it.

What is your favorite quote?

Mark Twain’s quote, “Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.”

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

Ruckus McGraw.

If you could spend time with a character from your book, who would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Again, Ruckus. We’d drive around listening to the Allman Brothers, while he indulged me with advice on women, sex and high-dollar whiskey. But, I’d have to throw Grandpa Theo in there as well. The three of us would have a high time.

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

A little of both.

What do your friends and family think of your writing?

They are extremely supportive.

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

Buddy Wynn. He’s such a bastard.

Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

I drank bourbon with Barry Switzer once, and he signed his book “Bootlegger’s Boy.” He happens to be a very down to earth person.

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

Nothing specific.

How did your interest in writing originate? 

Not sure, but it’s tied to my love of reading. I caught on to reading from the first time I learned of Dick, Jane and Spot. In the fifth grade, I wrote a short story about a woman who changed into a giant, black widow spider. The story was supposed to be punishment for something I did in science class (I don’t recall what the infraction was). I was to write a one-thousand-page essay on something related to science. I chose spiders. My teacher accepted my spin (pun intended) on the subject, but he scolded me and said it was not what he was wanting. He was wanting a scientific essay, but since I put the effort into it he’d accept it. However, I saw him passing the story around to the other teachers during lunch that day. They all seemed to enjoy it.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? 
Stephen King. His characters are vivid and believable.

Tell us your favorite…

Movie – Apocalypse Now

Music – Kings of Leon

Place you’ve visited – San Diego

Place you’d like to visit – Tokyo

TV show from childhood – The Six Million Dollar Man

TV show from adulthood – Breaking Bad

Food – My wife’s spaghetti

Sports team – Sooners, Thunder

Which do you prefer: Board games/card games or television? Television

Thank you, Jon. Fun interview! Now, about your book…

 

Blurb:

Thirteen-year-old Luke Morgan was living a charmed life on his Grandpa Theo’s farm. sheltered from the noise of the world by endless, rural beauty. But, his country innocence is quickly shattered one late afternoon as he watches an approaching thunderstorm with his grandfather at his side. Something other than churning clouds were in the sky that day. A twisting, black, mass of evil that his grandfather is not unfamiliar with. Upon seeing the strange spectacle, Theo tells Luke that the two of them must travel to their neighbor’s home—and kill the entire family.

Luke quickly learns there is much he doesn’t know about his kindly grandfather, as he is plunged into a nightmarish world built of demons and human suffering.

Excerpt:

A sound nudged me back into awareness. My eyes opened to the same room, except it was darker. The antiseptic smells of the hospital swam with a lingering staleness, seeming sharper as I lay alone in the darkness. I noticed a pain in my left arm, a tube taped into place, dripping numbing concoctions into my body. A dim slash of light wandered in through the blinds in my room, probably from a street light. My head felt as if it was stuffed with cotton, and my sadness was still suffocating. I wanted to find sleep again. There was nothing in the world of reality that I wanted.

The shuffle of a shoe whispered from the darkened room, the rustle of clothes. “Who’s there?”

Footsteps, slow and easy, grew closer. A figure emerged from the shadows and stood at the foot of my bed. He was tall, dressed in a shining suit and wearing a top hat. He had long, black hair that glistened like a snake’s skin, and a face made for Hollywood. “Do you know who I am?”

“Yes.” My voice was a whisper. “You’re the devil.”

“Well, give the hillbilly a chicken dinner. You must be the genius in the family.”

The devil had a black cane topped with a small human skull, approximately the size of an infant’s. He leaned forward on the cane and smiled at me. His teeth were glazed pieces of coal. “I go by many names, but you can call me Nick. I’ve been called that for some time in these parts.”

Dreadfulness emanated from the devil, pushing against me with a smothering force. I scooted into my pillow and drew my legs tight.

Nick sighed and spun his cane with spider-like dexterity, walking in and out of the shadows, grinning. “Luke, Luke. You might have been an agent of spectacular ability. But, alas, you were protected by Him, which placed you beyond my influence. Your loss as much as it was mine.”

I was scared. More scared than I had ever been in my young life—which is a rather significant statement, considering the horrors I’d recently endured. Things slithered and bumped in the room. I heard raspy whispers speaking in a strange tongue. And the devil himself stood in front of me.

Scared shitless, I was.

Nick stopped the twirling and sat on the left side of the bed. “I don’t have much time to waste on you, so this will be brief. I just wanted to pop in for a chat. Is that fine?”

I nodded my head. I figured I didn’t have much choice in the matter.

“You’ve got pluck, boy. Not unlike good ole’ Theo.” The devil tapped his chin, thinking. “Yes, the dearly departed Theo.”

A jolt of anger filled my head with blood.

The devil laughed and stood up. He walked into the streaming light and tilted his head in a way that allowed me a brief look at his eyes. They were like black glass. “It seems all of your loved ones depart.

The words were hurled razor blades, angering and wounding. Tears formed in my eyes, which angered me even more.

“Yes, your father and your mother. They too have departed.” He pointed the end of his cane at me. “I watched as they died. It was not a pleasant experience for either of them, I assure you.”

I didn’t know much of their death, only that they were murdered. I didn’t want to know anything else about it, and I didn’t want to hear it from the devil. “Why are you here? What do you want from me?”

“Just like ole gramps, you get straight to the point.” Nick reached inside his jacket and withdrew a pocket-watch. He hooked the chain with a claw from his pinky and suspended it in front of his face. “And that is a good thing, as I do tend to get rather long-winded, and I have plans to meet with someone in this very hospital. Yes, an old woman who happens to be a patient, or in your case, a hospital neighbor. This woman has earned my company, and I do not wish to disappoint.”

I closed my eyes, wishing he would reach the end of his say, or turn to smoke and disappear. He surely did enjoy the sound of his own voice.

“At any rate, it is a wonderful stroke of fate that this woman and you are in the same residence. I may now tell you, face to face, that your life from this moment on is going to be noteworthy. You’ve been marked, boy. Your grandfather was stolen from me. A debt is still owed.”

Words dipped in hate.

“But, the hayseed—your grand pappy—possessed a faith so strong it garnered him worthy of His protection, which was passed down to you.” Black spittle sprayed from his mouth. “So, I may not harm you.”

If I trusted him, those would have been relieving words. But, he was the devil.

 

Jon at his first book signing – June 17, 2017

About the Author:

Jon M Michaels was born and raised in Oklahoma, and has lived in various rural towns all of his life. His years spent as a private investigator, coupled with the local stories he grew up hearing, heavily influenced his writing this book. He currently lives with his wife in Oklahoma City, and their black cat, Lucy.

Find Jon here:

https://www.facebook.com/jonm.michaels

 

Advertisements

32 Comments

Filed under Author Blog Post, New Release

Author Interview: Krysta Scott ~ New Release: Shadow Dancer #TWRP

I am beyond delighted to host my friend and share her debut novel, Shadow Dancer, which is an excellent paranormal romance.

Welcome, Krysta! Please tell us a little about yourself.

Hello my name is Krysta Scott. I grew up a mid-western girl in the suburbs of Chicago. After I graduated from college, I relocated to Oklahoma with my husband. I have been in Oklahoma ever since and consider Oklahoma my true home. Chicago is a nice place to visit but it is too anxiety provoking. I prefer the slow calm pace of a fifteen minute rush hour to and from work. Also, my daughters are native Oklahomans and they would have it no other way.

Where did you get the idea for Shadow Dancer and what was the most difficult thing about it?

I am a family law attorney who does some work as a Guardian Ad Litem. When I started writing again after law school I was encouraged to write about being a lawyer. Much of what I do is wade through the muck of emotional turmoil caused by tearing a family apart. It’s bad enough when I represent the parent. They fight about past wounds and injuries that have nothing to do with the child. Yet somehow the child gets pulled into their battles. It is especially painful from the child’s perspective. When I am a Guardian Ad Litem, I try to keep the child out of the middle of the dispute as much as possible. It is not an easy task. So you can imagine my reluctance to write about the heartbreak I deal with all the time. But then I thought, what if I could change how parents behave? That’s how the idea for Shadow Dancer emerged.

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

I am an attorney. Most days I like it a lot. Some days it can be very stressful. Writing is a very good way to relieve that stress. That is probably why I took to writing again.

Do you collect anything?

I collect Star Trek ornaments. It started when I got the shuttlecraft ornament as a birthday gift. It all got out of hand. I have almost all of the Star Trek ships, Star Wars ships and the Dr. Who Tardis. I have so many ornaments they have their own tree. I bought a black Christmas tree with white lights so my ships could hang in space during the holiday season. This is a good thing for the rest of my family so they can have their own more traditional Christmas tree.

What was your first job?

I worked at Burger King. When my daughters were little they thought that was cooler than being a silly old attorney.

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

Well that’s not hard. Stop watching TV. Not going to happen but I would certainly have more time on my hands.

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

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Escape to Witch Mountain. These books took me to another world where fabulous things like magic and flying cars were possible.

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

Having the power to change things is a huge responsibility. There are consequences to misusing power even if you have the best intentions.

Would you rather have a bad review or no review?

I would rather have a bad review than no review. There are many reasons a reasons a reader likes or dislikes a book. That’s why there are so many different types of books. There is something for everyone.

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

Romantic Suspense or thriller.

What is your most prized material possession?

My Raggedy Ann dolls. Why? When I was a child I created voices and personalities for my Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. I would control them for my sister. They are a big part of my childhood. Like the characters in my favorite books, they have stayed with me.

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

My favorite author is probably Joan D. Vinge. She is a very skilled world builder. Her descriptions are pure poetry, her character three dimensional and her concepts are breathtaking.

Tell us your favorite…

Movie: The Shawshank Redemption
Music: Pop and Rock & Roll
Place you’ve visited: Scotland
Place you’d like to visit: India and Italy
TV show from childhood: Lost in Space
TV show from adulthood: How to Get Away with Murder
Food: Sushi
Sports team:  Cubs and Bears
Which do you prefer: Board games/card games or television? I would say board games but I think the more honest answer is television.

And now, Krysta has a question for readers. And, she’s giving away a $5 Amazon gift card to one commenter. To enter, answer this question:

Would you rather read about characters facing problems in the real world or a world far far away? Why?

 

Blurb:

As an attorney for children, Guardian Ad Litem Nikki Angelus’ priority is protecting innocents caught between warring parents in custody proceedings. Her job proves almost impossible, until she discovers the power, through dreams, to alter the past and transform people into loving parents. But devilishly attractive attorney, Garrett Nightshade, seems to know what she’s trying to do, and is determined to stop her.

Garrett Nightshade isn’t happy about his position in the Guild of the Celestial Night. Especially when he’s given the task to find and destroy the Shadow Dancer—a Guild member with the ability to unleash dangerous power. His duty becomes even more distasteful when he learns that the lovely, enigmatic Nikki Angelus might somehow be involved.

Will their growing love survive the showdown between the shadowed dream world and reality?

Excerpt:

Nikki leaned against the sink contemplating her next move. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t characterize what the Hanover family needed.

She stopped Parker from beating his wife, but something still remained…off. Especially since he was using his powers again. She spread toothpaste onto her toothbrush and scrubbed her teeth so hard her gums bled. Not once during the time she was mucking around in Parker’s head did she stop to consider his parents might have been right to strip him of his gifts. She’d focused on Parker’s pain, not on the reasons for his parents’ actions. She spat into the sink. She had to make this right. But where to begin?

Parker would have his guard up. Resistance would make her task more difficult if not impossible. In truth, she wasn’t quite sure how to go about mending such egregious errors. Perhaps focusing her efforts in strengthening Amy’s defenses against Parker’s wishes would net better results. She wrapped Amy’s velvet scrunchy around her wrist, the one Lori had given her.

Nikki glanced up in the mirror again, pressing her lips together. She wouldn’t be deterred from her mission until she fixed this situation. She stalked to the bed, crawled in, and pulled the covers to her neck. She closed her eyes and drifted into oblivion. She raised an arm toward the slip stream. Before she was caught up in its electrical surge, steel fingers wrapped around her arm and yanked her around. She looked into Garrett’s hard gaze.

“You’ve done enough damage. I won’t let you cause anymore.”

“And how are you going to stop me? I’ve evaded you before.” She was getting weary of his pestering. Didn’t he understand she was trying to fix her mistakes?

“Like this.” He moved closer. The heat of his breath trailed her skin, tickling the back of her neck. He kissed her, sending shockwaves of need charging to her most private places. The smell of cinnamon and cloves drove her to a frenzy. Fire coursed through her veins. The charge sizzled on her lips. She fell into him, kissed him back. Her traitorous arms circled his neck. His hands locked against her spine, sending warm shivers through her.

She dragged her lips from his, gasping for air. Her heart ached but she willed herself to stay put. This was all a game to him. A desperate ploy. “I know what you’re trying to do. It won’t work.” Her mind reeled.

He smirked. “If you knew what I was trying to do, we wouldn’t be in your head. You’d be in my bed.”

“I told you this would not happen again.” She balled her fists, refusing to give credence to the pleasure of his words. Oh, to fade into oblivion, here, with him. So easy to give in. But the bastard was only trying to distract her like she had him. Did he think her that stupid?

BIO:

Krysta Scott has always been a daydreamer, imagining worlds far away with happy endings. When she was in fifth grade, she was so caught up in fantasy she earned the dubious distinction of being named the girl who daydreams the most. The award for this questionable honor was a colorful transparent plastic poster made to look like stained glass. It was very cool. Given her flights of fancy, it came as no surprise to her family when she announced she was going to be an actress. Unfortunately, her pursuit into theater didn’t last long, because she was too withdrawn and shy to exhibit any talent in this area. Left with no other choice but to pursue a more practical avocation, she decided to major in psychology and then go to law school. Not able to let go of the worlds she created in her head, she returned to writing and was very excited when the Wild Rose Press contacted her first book.

 

7 Comments

Filed under Author Blog Post, giveaway, New Release

Murder and Other Unnatural Disasters – AWESOME Debut Novel by Lida Sideras – Giveaway!

I am absolutely thrilled to introduce today’s guest, Lida Sideris. I had the privilege of being her editor for her debut novel, Murder and Other Unnatural Disasters with The Wild Rose Press. Not only did I love the book, Lida was a joy to work with. Please help me welcome her and her fabulous story…(And isn’t the cover fantastic???) 🙂

LIDAe3d391a42d895d179ff01253.image.200x300

To be taken to the Amazon Buy Page:   Click Here

Blurb:

Watch out Southern California! There’s a new entertainment attorney in town and she’s got game. Only problem is, it’s not the one she should be playing. Corrie Locke belongs behind a desk, not behind a Glock. She should be taking VIP calls, not nosing around a questionable suicide. Instead, she’s hot on the trail of a murderer. Luckily, she’s the daughter of a late, great private eye and she’s inherited his love of sleuthing…and illegal weaponry. It doesn’t help matters that her gene for caution is a recessive one. Corrie finds herself in the center of a murder case, unearthing suspects in shocking places. With a cold-blooded killer on the loose, Corrie will have to up her game, or die trying.

Excerpt: 

I veered out of the parking lot and bounced onto the cavity-ridden dirt road. The mystery car appeared out of nowhere from beneath the tall pines, eclipsed by the darkness. Now it raced away somewhere ahead.

“Why didn’t we hear it start?” I asked James.

“It’s a hybrid.”

“We’re in a car chase with a Prius?” A car chase with a Porsche or Ferrari was respectable, but with a battery operated car? All bragging rights vanished.

I shifted into warp speed and surged downhill. Seconds later, we faced the hybrid’s rear bumper. The spot for the license plate sat empty.

“He’s not getting away,” I said.

The hybrid turned and launched up a hill, kicking up pebbles and a dusty haze. It fish-tailed and I nearly nipped it in the rear. I executed a sharp left and ran over something large. And lumpy.

“Stop,” James said.

I skidded to a halt, a cloud of dirt trapped in my headlights. The Prius escaped through an open gate and onto La Paz. My eyes cut to the rearview mirror. My tail-lights illuminated the road behind us in an eerie red glow. As I surveyed the scene, not a trace of saliva remained in my mouth.

On Sale through The Wild Rose Press for ONLY $3:   Click Here

*** LIDA is giving away a print copy to one lucky commenter. (US Residents only) Winner will be announced this Saturday!

And now, let’s get to know Lida…

1) Where did you get the idea for MURDER AND OTHER UNNATURAL DISASTERS?

I was seeking an escape hatch from my day job, a way to lighten things up. The hatch eluded me, until I carved one out using words and altered scenes from a former life. I’d gone from working a high-profit job in a movie studio to running a non-profit on a shoestring budget. I used the entertainment industry as the backdrop of my novel and inserted a strong, but conflicted heroine, some slightly insane minor characters, and a murder to really rouse things. Writing a mystery was a challenge, but so much fun! And that’s what I was going for: fun. I really enjoyed twisting and turning reality around, and figuring out what the crazy characters were going to do or say next.

2) Are there any tricks/habits you use when creating a story?

One of my aunts shared issues of a magazine with me: Point de Vue, a French publication featuring European royalsAll very attractive, well dressed royals living colorful lives. I’d study the photos and create characters based on expressions, demeanor, and how I fancied they’d act, react, and interact. I wrote profiles for each and turned them into characters to populate my novel.

4) Do you have another occupation, other than writer?

I’m a lawyer, which works well because my day job has given me endless ideas and material for writing!

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

I LOVE books, so it’s a challenge to whittle it down to one.  Today, I’d say it’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe because she wrote it during a time when women were expected to do little more than run a household, and because this one small book made such a monumental impact.

My favorite childhood book is The Secret Garden – it contained mystery (who was crying at night and why the garden was a secret) and explored a multitude of themes like the power of positive thinking, which was highly appealing to my young mind. And I can’t resist happy endings!

10) What do you want readers to come away with after they read MURDER AND OTHER UNNATURAL DISASTERS?

I love films of the thirties and forties, especially those that give the viewer a little lift afterward. I hope that readers feel a small lift after reading my book. And if any part brings a smile to the face of a reader, I’ve been successful.

12) Would you rather have a bad review or no review?

I will not be ignored! So I’d have to say I’d rather have a bad review. Just hope it’s a thoughtful and constructive one or it would be like not getting a review at all.

15) What is your favorite quote?

In my spare time, I collect quotes, so again, it’s a challenge to name just one, so begging your pardon in advance, here are two that tie (you can pick the tiebreaker):

The happiness of one’s own heart alone cannot satisfy the soul; one must try to include, as necessary to one’s own happiness, the happiness of others. ~Paramahansa Yogananda 

I think the mirror should be tilted slightly upward when it’s reflecting life–toward the cheerful, the tender, the compassionate, the brave, the funny, the encouraging, all those things. ~ Greer Garson

I enjoyed the interview, Lida…like you, I love old movies (as we’ve discussed), and I love the quote by Greer Garson. 

Thank you so much for joining me today!

BIO:

Like her heroine, Corrie Locke, Lida Sideris hails from Los Angeles and worked as an entertainment attorney for a film studio. She has written numerous magazine and newspaper articles, a poem or two and a teleplay. Lida resides in the northern tip of Southern California with her family, their German Shepherds, Barbie (short for Barbarian) and Duncan, and a flock of uppity chickens. She was the recipient of the Helen McCloy/Mystery Writers of America scholarship for mystery writing. Murder and Other Unnatural Disasters is her first novel.

Find Lida here:

www.lidasideris.com

https://www.facebook.com/lidasideris

Twitter: @lidasideris

lida@lidasideris.com

You may also purchase the book here:

31 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized