Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Making a Metz of things...

Hi everyone!  How the devil are you?  Such a pleasure to see you all again!  Well, what a jolly-dee day we’re having today.  The mighty Metz has wandered off the street and hunkered on down in the asylum for a spell.  How’d you like to meet her?
What’s your name?
Puddintane. Just kidding. I can’t help but think of that answer whenever that question is asked. My name is Amy Metz. And I’m a bookaholic.

At least you’re honest about that.  I can think of worse things to be.  I am one of those worse things, in fact.  Where are you from?
Some call it the 502… the Ville… River City… I call it Louavull… others know it as Louisville, Kentucky.
A town of many names.  Did they all get thrown up in the air to se which one would stick?  I wonder, sometimes, if that’s what happened with my name.  Do you like living there?  If not, where would your favourite place to live be?  Is yes, where would you least like to live?
Louisville is a great place to live, but the body of water we have is a river, and I would love to live by the ocean. I think Charleston, South Carolina or one of the little islands near Charleston would be perfect. Since it gets so hot and humid there in the summer, I’d live in New England for the summer months.

I’ve seen photos of New England, and I can relate.  I’ve lived alongside a river and it was wonderful to see the swans with their little cygnets.  As for the ocean, Grimsby is surgically joined to Cleethorpes, a seaside town.  It is nice to go down occasionally on a fine day and have fish’n’chips along the beach, or take your dog for a run.  I love the sound of the ocean too, though at Cleethorpes it’s drowned out by seagulls and tourists.  As you’re a writer, is this your ‘day job’?
Yes it is. Some may call it my hobby, since I’ve yet to make any money, but I consider it my day job, night job, all-the-time job when I don’t have mom stuff to do. Being a mom comes first, although I only have one son still at home, and he has a driver’s license and is pretty self-sufficient, so I have more time to write.

That’s cool.  I know someone who’d love to be a full time writer, but Life hasn’t got round to noticing that as yet.  Maybe one day.  Tell me about your latest project.
Right now I’m editing Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction, readying it for republishing when my current contract with a publisher is up. I’m also editing the heck out of the second book in my Goose Pimple Junction mystery series. And I’m working on GPJ3 and a GPJ novella, which is supposed to kind of fill in the gaps between books one and two.
Goose Pimple Junction.  That has to be my favourite ever place name.  How do you feel about bacon?  A crazy person once said it was the food of the gods.  OK, I admit that person was myself...
You know, bacon gets a bad rap. The nitrate thing is a non-issue if you don’t burn or overcook your bacon, or if you cook it in the oven. It also has essential vitamins and minerals, and… wait. What was the question? Oh, yes, I do like bacon. I particularly love bacon, lettuce, and fried green tomato sandwiches (blfgt). Now that’s good eatin’.

Erm...  Nitrates and vitamins?  I wasn’t aware stuff like that was an issue when talking about bacon.  It’s all about the bacon!  Anywho.  What’s your favourite film?
Okay, don’t make fun of me for this, but I have to say my favorite is Pride & Prejudice. And yes, ladies, Colin Firth is wonderful, but Matthew Macfadyen is and always will be my Mr. Darcy. sigh.

It’s fine.  I won’t make fun.  It’s not nice to mock the afflicted.  Actually I’ve never been into period dramas such as that.  Not enough explosions.  Have you always wanted to be a writer, or is it something you found yourself doing one day?
It’s something I found myself doing one day after my mother was diagnosed with vascular dementia. Robert B. Parker was talking about my mom when he said, “She was often wrong but never uncertain.” And once the dementia took hold, well, look out—that trait intensified. The stress of trying to be her caretaker was ginormous. Every interaction with her was frustrating, but some of the things that happened or things she said were actually funny (after the fact), and I thought writing a book about it would be therapeutic for me and helpful to others in a similar situation. At the very least, I thought it might be entertaining. In fact, beta readers told me they felt guilty at being entertained by my pain.

But in addition to writing being therapeutic for me, I found that I really liked it. I also found I needed an escape from reality and from writing about reality, so I started writing a humorous southern mystery. The characters have yet to leave me alone.

I’m sure Shaun thinks something similar about me – writing me seems to be a form of therapy for him, and (in return) I won’t leave him alone!  Do you have so many ideas they dribble out of your nose if you don’t get them down, or do you have to hunt around the floor and the back of your sofa to find where your Muse is hiding?
Both. When the dribble starts, it can be a gusher, and I scramble to write everything down. But other times, lately most of the time, I’m looking for that little booger everywhere.

Sounds delightful...  Always carry tissue.  Works for Mucous Mickey.  If you were in an asylum, what would your particular delusion or psychosis be?
It would be dissociative identity disorder, better known as multiple personality disorder. I think it would be cool to have someone more exciting than me living inside me. I wonder if I’d be my own best friend. It also would be fun to mess with visitors. They’d never know who they were visiting. Who are you today, Amy? I know people with that disorder don’t find it cool, and I’m really not making light of the disorder, so if you’re inclined to write letters protesting that comment, address them to Mamie Metz, care of Amy. J

Again, I’m sure Shaun would empathise, what with me living in his head!  You’re definitely fitting in well here.  What genre(s) do you write?
My first completed manuscript was a children’s book that is currently collecting rejection letters, my memoir is nearing completion, a thriller is in the works, as are two chick lit novels, but right now my focus is on the cozy mystery series.

Not much then!  What genres(s) do you read?
Amy likes mysteries—Robert B. Parker is the man—but Mamie likes chick lit.

Does that not get confusing?  Luckily Shaun and I have very similar tastes.  In books and films, at any rate.  If these are the same, what attracts you to them.  If they’re different, why do you think that is?
Um… dissociative identity disorder…

Oh yes.  Of course.  I wonder if you have to pay two fares on the bus.  And, bacon – just cooked or crispy?
Crispy, man. Fry the heck out of it.

Well said!  Now you’re in the asylum with me, how do you aim to get out?  Do you have an escape plan?
Hmmm…I would call Spenser. He’d know what to do.

Well,  Amy, I don’t think anyone is going to be able to help you in here now!  I’m just going to move up a chair or too.  Nothing personal, you understand.  Numb bum.  Yes, that’s it.

Enjoy an excerpt from Murder & Mayhem:

Chapter 1

May 2010 

“You are dumber ‘n a soup sandwich, Earl.”

“Oh yeah? Well, you’re a hole in search of a doughnut, Clive.”

Tess Tremaine walked into Slick & Junebug’s Diner, past the two gentlemen arguing at the counter, and slid into one of the red vinyl booths. The old men were arguing good-naturedly, and she imagined they were probably lifelong friends, passing the time of day.

Tess smiled as she looked around the diner. She was happy with her decision to move to this friendly town. Everyone greeted her cheerfully and went out of their way to be nice. It was a pretty place to live, too. Every street in the small town was lined with decades-old trees in front of old, well-kept homes full of character, just like the citizens. She was confident she’d made the right choice. This was a good place to heal from her divorce and start a new life.

A raised voice at the counter brought Tess out of her thoughts. One of the old men spoke loud enough for the whole diner to hear.

“If I had a dog as ugly as you, I’d shave his butt and make him walk backwards,” he said, jabbing his index finger at the other man.

A waitress appeared at the table. Tess hadn’t seen a beehive hairdo in person until she saw this waitress. With her pink uniform dress and white apron, she looked like she jumped out of a page from the sixties. Her nametag said, “Willa Jean.”

“Don’t mind those two old coots.” Willa Jean hitched her head in their direction. “They’re about as dumb as a box a hair, but they’re gentle souls underneath. Their problem is one of ‘em’s always tryin’ to one-up the other.”

She got her pad and pencil out of her front apron pocket, ready to take Tess's order, but she stopped and cocked her head, staring hard at Tess, and smacking her gum.

“Anybody ever tell you, you look like Princess Di? I just loved her, didn’t you?” She bent her head slightly to the side to look at Tess’s legs under the table. “'Cept you look a might shorter 'n Di was. How tall are you?”

“Five-five.” Tess couldn’t help smiling at the compliment.

“Yep. What we have here is a mini Diana. And your hair color is a reddish-blond instead of a blonde-blonde like my girl Di. Other 'n that, honey, you could be her clone.”

“Thank you. You just earned a big tip.” Tess’s smile lit up her face.

The waitress winked at Tess. “What can I gitcha?”

“I think I’ll just have a Coke and a ham sandwich, please.”

“Anything on that? Wanna run it through the garden?”

“Run it through the . . . “ Tess’s brow furrowed.

“Yeah, you know . . . lettuce, tomato, and onion. The works.”

“Oh! Just mustard, please.”Willa Jean nodded and hollered the order to the cook as she went towards the kitchen. “Walkin’ in! A Co’Cola and Noah’s boy on bread with Mississippi mud.”

Tess smiled and looked around the diner. The front counter was lined with cake plates full of pies covered in meringue piled six-inches high, cakes three and four layers tall, and two-inch thick brownies. Six chrome stools with red leather seats sat under the counter. The walls were packed with framed snapshots from as far back as the fifties. From the looks of it, they started taking pictures when poodle skirts were popular and never stopped. They were running out of wall space. The top half of the big picture window was covered with a “Henry Clay Price For Governor” banner. Tess spotted similar signs throughout the restaurant, and she’d noticed the waitress was wearing a campaign button.

The diner was only half full with about twenty people at various tables and booths. A few tables away, a mother was having trouble with her child. Tess heard the mother say, “I’m fixin’ to show you what a whoopin’ is all about!” When the little boy whined some more the mother added, “I mean it son, right now, I’d just as soon whoop ya as hug ya.” She looked up to see Tess watching them and said, “I’ll swan— raisin’ kids is like bein' pecked to death by a chicken.”

Tess laughed. “I know what you mean. But you just wait. In ten years time, you’ll be wishing he were five again. The time goes by so fast.”

“How many you got?”

“Just one. My son's twenty-five now, but it doesn't seem possible.”

“You married?” the woman asked boldly.

“Divorced,” Tess answered.

“Here’s yer Co’cola, hon,” Willa Jean said. “It’ll be just a minute more on the sandwich. You visitin’ or are ya new in town?” She propped a hand on her waist.

“Brand new as of a week ago. I've been unpacking boxes for days. I guess you could say this is my debut in Goose Pimple Junction.”

“Well, all Southern Belles have to have a debut. And we're mighty glad to have ya, sugar. Lessee . . . did you buy the old Hobb house on Walnut?”

“My house is on Walnut, but I believe the previous owner’s name was York.”

“Yep, that’s the one I’m thinkin’ of. Houses ‘roundcheer are known for the families that lived in ‘em the longest. Them Hobbs had the house for over seventy years, up until old Maye Hobb Carter died a few years back. It was her late huband's family home and then hers, even when she remarried. She was a sweet old soul, bless her heart. We all hated to lose her, but it was her time. She had a hard life, and I reckon she was ready to meet her maker. Her daughter still lives in town, but she and an older sister are all that’s left of the Hobbs ‘round here. Mmm-mmm— the things that family went through.”

“Willa!” the cook behind the counter yelled. “Order up!”

“Hold yer pants on, Slick,” she yelled and then turned to Tess. “Be right back.” Willa hurried off to get the order and came bustling back with Tess’s sandwich. “It was nice talkin’ with ya, hon. I’ll leave ya to eat in peace. Holler if ya need anything else.”

A few minutes later the door to the diner opened, and almost every head turned to see who came in. Tess noticed everybody, except for her, raised a hand up in greeting, and a few said, “Hidee, Jackson.” The man’s eyes caught Tess’s and held them a little longer than normal. He sat down at the counter with his back to her and ordered iced tea. Willa waited on him, and Tess heard her say, “You don’t need ta be any sweeter than ya already are, Jackson. I’ma give you unsweetened tea.” She leaned across the counter looking up at him adoringly.

“Don’t you dare Willa Jean or I will take my bidness elsewhere!” he said with a big smile.

Big flirt, Tess thought.

He was a good-looking man who looked to be in his early to mid- fifties, Tess guessed, but she wasn’t in the market. Being newly divorced, the last thing she needed was to get involved with another man.

As far as I'm concerned, they're all Martians and are to be avoided at all cost. Men Are From Mars, And Women Are From Venus wasn’t a best seller for nothing, she thought.

The door to the diner opened and a middle-aged man of medium height, dressed in a conservative suit and tie stuck his head in. “Vote for Henry Clay Price for governor, folks,” he said, with a wide politician’s smile
“You know it, Henry Clay. You’re our man. We’re proud as punch to have you runnin’,” Willa Jean said.

Other than the smile, Henry Clay didn’t look like a politician. He had thinning auburn hair that was almost brown, and he wore round wire-rimmed eyeglasses on a round face. He reminded Tess a little of an absentminded professor.

“You gonna let out all the bought air?” Slick grumped, and Henry Clay waved and closed the door, then ambled on down the sidewalk.

Tess finished eating and walked to the counter to pay her bill. Willa gave her change and said, “Nice meetin’ ya, hon. Don’t be a stranger, now!”

As she closed the door she heard one of the men at the counter tell the other, “Yer so slow, it would take you two hours to watch 60 Minutes!”

“I love this town,” she whispered to herself.

Amy has a whole host of links to peruse.  You can find her good self here:


Sunday, 27 April 2014

I Used to be a Wolf...

...But I'm alright now-ooooo!

Following on from my previous review of a film which promised much but failed to deliver, here's a film which is the complete opposite. 

That's not to say The Wolf of Wall Street didn't receive lots of critical acclaim and , more importantly, the public's acclaim, because it did. What I mean is, for me, I didn't feel the lure of a movie about the stock market. I know nothing about stocks and shares, or even if they're the same thing. I own a few but my knowledge is minimal - as is my interest.

I like some DiCaprio films but not others. I didn't like The Beach, but thought Inception was amazing, for example. So I was completely unsure about The Wolf. 

Friends at work and customers of my wife had said it was brilliant. We had to give to give it a go. It wasn't until the film had started we realised it was almost 3 hours long!

We needn't have worried. The pace of the film is, mostly, so fast we didn't notice. Sure, there are a couple of lags at various points, but DiCaprio just owns the screen. He's sharp and there are some hilarious moments. 

Margo Robbie, his wife in the film, is simply stunning. She's come a long way from her stint in the Australian soap Neighbours, a show which also launched Kylie, Guy Pierce and Alan Dale, who's appreares in everything from Lost to Indiana Jones to, more recently, Captain America the Winter Soldier.  Margo and the rest of the cast (Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey and so on) are all excellent and this is a film that excuses class and a wit so sharp it could cut itself. 

That this is a true story, more or less, is amazing. For a man in the street such as I, to even imagine the amounts of money thrown around here beggars belief.

All in all, this film is definitely one to watch. I'll reserve judgement on such things in the future! 

Oh watch out for the part after he passes out making a call. SO funny.

A well deserved 8/10

Friday, 25 April 2014

Starred Down!

This blog post was originally going to be a rant, but I’ve changed my mind today.  The rant is now hanging in the air, like the blue smoke of a cigarette, waiting to descend and choke someone.

It can linger a little longer.

Instead, we can go for something a touch lighter.  A review, and then maybe something extra if I have time.

Well, I say ‘lighter’.  Neither the subject matter of the film nor my opinion of it are light, but at least it’s not a rant.

You know how some films have masses of amazing reviews, with stars adorning the posters and critics raving, but the film itself doesn’t live up to the hype?  Of course you do.  It happens numerous times.  Well, Starred Up is one of those movies, I’m afraid.

I’d not heard of this film prior to seeing it.  My wife had seen a trailer on television and wanted to see it.  I’ve never been a fan of ‘hooligan’ films, such as Green Street etc., and Starred Up seemed to be one, so it really didn’t appeal.  This wasn’t because there was going to be no spaceship, alien or hobbit in sight – I do like a lot of films that are not fantastical in any way.  They simply don’t do anything for me.

But, my wife fancied it and it meant we could have a ‘date night’, and I love the cinema anyway, so I said go for it.  And we went for it.

Before we left home, I watched the trailer to have an idea what I was letting myself in for.  I wouldn’t normally do this, but as this film was something new, I wanted to have a look-see.  I admit, after watching the trailer, I, too, thought it might be good.

The cinema wasn’t that full, but there was a decent amount of people there without it feeling either empty or claustrophobic.  We settled down and I was looking forward to the show.

Well.  I’m not going to go into a long commentary on the finer points of prison life or the treatment of prisoners.  I’m not going to dwell on too much really.

I didn't like it. 

The acting was ok.  Good, in fact, mostly. It just didn't seem to go very far.  Not a lot seemed to happen, apart from an extensive use if a certain four letter swear word beginning with C and ending in T.

We only became interested when the interaction between the film's main character and his father kicked off - ten minutes before the end!

It was a disappointment. I wouldn't go as far as those behind us who said the film was another four letter word beginning with S and ending, again, with T, but it wasn't nearly as good as all those stars suggested. 

Starred Up should be starred down so I'm giving it 3/10.  You might enjoy it. 

I didn't. 

As I have a two year old wanting to play doctor with me as the patient, I don't have time to add something else as I said I might. I'll be back, though - as long as she says I'm well enough. 

Friday, 11 April 2014

The Voices in my Head...

Sometime last year, I was approached by Cherry Hill Publishing to ask if I’d be interested in them producing an audiobook of Sin.  I immediately responded with a resounding YES!  I was flattered and so pleased to be asked.

But...  What do you do when the voice in your head is going to be someone else’s?  Sin is my creation.  He’s a huge part of me – you’ve seen me refer to him as my ‘Dark Half’.  Of course, in my head, he sounds like me.

The original idea was for me to narrate myself.  That sounded like great – Sin would sound, pretty much, how he was meant to.  Unfortunately, I had sinus problems.  I had nasal polyps and obliterated sinuses.  As such I could only speak for a short time before needing to take a drink or blow my nose.  Trying to narrate a book like this was not a good idea.  Also, as I know the story and the character, I also read it too fast.  I didn’t pace myself.

R.D. Watson to the rescue!

Roger, a grammy nominated record producer who has worked with The Beatles, Roy Orbison, Tina Turner, Billy Idol, Tim Rice and Blondie to name a few (and pretty much discovered Huey Lewis) is the voice of a great many television adverts and much more.  He’s also a well spoken southerner, whereas I’m a decent enough (I think) spoken Northerner.  As I mentioned, Sin sounds a certain way in my head.  It wasn’t like Roger’s voice.

There were a couple of test goes, where he laid a smidgeon of accent over his narration, but it sounded a bit ‘Yorkshire’ for my liking.  I’m from Grimsby.  I’m not entirely sure how we come across to others, to be fair, but Yorkshire is a wee bit too strong for Sin.

Roger was intent on getting it right.  We spoke on Skype a number of times so he could find out who I was, who I perceived Sin to be and what my own voice was like.  Then he ran with it.

I was excited.  I was nervous.  Apprehensive, in fact.  What would it come out like?  Would Roger really just not suit Sin?


I know Sin is my own book.  I know the narration is the narration of my own book.  But I love it!

If you don’t know how I speak, you may have no preconceptions of how Sin should.  Granted, Sin is a narration in itself – he’s telling you his own story.  As such, you will probably already hear him yourself, as I do.  Don’t worry.  Remember Sin is part of me.  Before very long I was completely drawn in by Roger’s telling of the novel.  His voice has a warmth and... gravity to it which adds depth and I love how he adds in little laughs and stumbles deliberately to show how Sin is feeling.

Most importantly, Roger gets Sin.  This is important, to me at least.  You can’t simply read the words.  You have to know how he feels when Sin is talking to you.

Even my 80 year old grandmother-in-law, who doesn’t ‘do’ paranormal and the like, was enjoying listening to the audiobook as I had it playing in the car.  My ten year old daughter too.  Roger’s voice draws you in.  It makes you feel comfortable whilst talking to you about people dying.  I was genuinely not looking forward to coming to the end.

I don’t know how other authirs have felt when a voice is put to their work, and that voice is not their own.  Did you meet with the same trepidation?  Did you end up thinking you’d made a mistake, or something wonderful was created?  I have to say the latter.

Yes, it’s my book, but I don’t have to like the audiobook.  The fact that I think something wonderful was created, is a bonus!

I have to thank the lovely Connie J. Jasperson for her amazing review.  Here’s a couple of snippet:

Today I am discussing the most recent of my audio-book purchases, Sin. I have in the past referred to the written version of this book by indie author Shaun Allan as "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest meets Finnegan’s Wake." Beautiful plays on sarcastic, witty words formed into lyrical, wonderful prose. I thought the written book was wonderful, but I am here to tell you, the Audio Book as read by R.D. Watson is nothing short of AWESOME!

R.D. Watson's reading of Allan's shining, witty, prose is moving and brilliant in every aspect. He gets into Sin's head, and you are completely spellbound.”

This book is a roller-coaster ride from the start to the finish, and I give it 5 stars for originality, and if I could I would give this audio-book version TEN!”

What can I say, except Thank You!

If you wish to take a peek, and would like the voices not to be just in Sin’s head, you can get the audiobook in a multitude of places:

I hope, like me, you enjoy the ride.  A massive thanks to Rick at Cherry Hill Publishing, and to R.D. Watson for giving me such an epic gift.

Oh, and watch out for Dark Places, coming soon!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The Stray Ally Blog Tour!

Stray Ally by Troy Lambert - sm banner

And after our wildly successful launch day for Stray Ally, the Finishing Fairies are now delightedly hosting a small tour for the very same book.  Since it's launch it's garnered some great critical acclaim, and currently has an average of 4.6 stars on (as of April 3rd). The tour, from the fourth (here) to the 11th, is on some great blogs, with all unique content, and a great view of the inner workings of Troy Lambert, rescuing animals and the writing habits of a great author. blurbblack
Stray Ally by Troy Lambert - 500A strange accident on the freeway, accusations of murder, and an encounter in the Idaho wilderness all propel Todd Clarke into a new friendship with a dog named Sparky. But Sparky is no ordinary dog, and there is more going on than Clarke could have imagined. A military commander he investigated for Aryan activity and links to domestic terrorism is after him, and he’s not sure why until another chance encounter provides the answer. With Sparky and the help of his canine friends, will he be able to figure out the Colonel’s plan and stop him in time? All Clarke knows for sure is none of it would be possible without the help of his Stray Ally. Buy the book here, from the Tirgearr Publishing.    

My Current Stray Ally
Labs are possibly the greatest dogs ever bred by man. Maybe that is just my opinion, and as my wife and I age and the children leave (or are propelled) from the nest, I’ve started to look at smaller dogs as we start to look at smaller yards and a desire to travel.
But labs have it all. Loyalty, strength. They have an insane desire to please, a great fetching instinct, and a desire to be with you all the time. I call mine my Velcro dog, always stuck by my side. They also have the ability and desire to wrestle. The first time you wrestle with a Corgi when you are used to a larger dog you will feel horrible when it goes rolling across the carpet, trying to gain its almost non-existent legs. I’ve heard anyway. No such issue with larger breeds.
Not that they don’t have challenging habits. A lab never grows up: they stay in puppy adolescence until about five and a half years old, and mine, nearly ten now, still acts like a puppy, just one that wears out a little faster with a little more white around his snout. He once ate part of a peach pie off the counter, and still from time to time sneaks a loaf of bread if it is left out. (Yes, I said a loaf. Buy me beer sometime, and I will tell you stories.)
The best thing about him though? He knows my moods, can tell when I am down or angry, when I need him near, and when it is wiser for him to avoid my path. In short, he is in tune with my emotions just like Sparky from Stray Ally is in tune with Clarke’s. Why then is the book dedicated to my dog Houston?
Because when Houston passed, I had Indie. If I hadn’t, I might not own another dog yet. I loved my old dog dearly, and his sudden death crushed my spirit. But Indie was there. He knew my mood, and sometimes just pushed his head under my hand or my leg, letting me know things were okay. He seemed to miss Houston too. So this work is dedicated to Houston, a little dog that helped me through some really rough stuff. That doesn’t take away from the role of my current Stray Ally though.
I just don’t want to dedicate a book to him yet. I can’t imagine being without him. Who’s your Stray Ally? Tell me here, or e-mail me your story at I’d love to hear from you.

Troy works as a freelance writer, researcher, and editor. He writes historical site characterization reports for those performing remediation on former resource extraction sites, software instruction and help guides, and edits the research of others as well. His true passion is writing dark, psychological thrillers. His work includes Broken Bones, a collection of his short stories, Redemption the first in the Samuel Elijah Johnson Series, Temptation the sequel to Redemption, along with the horror Satanarium, co-authored with Poppet, a brilliant author from South Africa and published by Wild Wolf Publishing. His next novel, Stray Ally, will be published March 4th by Tirgearr Publishing. The final in the Samuel Elijah Johnson Series, Confession will be published May 1st.
Troy lives with his wife of twelve years, two of his five children and two very talented dogs. He is a skier, cyclist, hiker, fisherman, hunter, and a terrible beginning golfer.


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April 4th -The Finishing Fairies  Introduction
April 5th -The Horror Tree   Guest post
April 6th - Authors you want to read   Top Ten
April 7th - Danielle DeVor   Guest Post
April 8th - Shaun Allan  Guest post
April 9th -Diane Nelson  Guest Post
April 10th - Donna Augustine  Guest post
April 11th - Michael Melville  Top Ten
April 12th - Deborah Carney  Animal rescue post
April 13th - Author Interrupted  Guest Post
 April 17th - AtoZ special post - Wilderness Apocalypse
Head on over to The Finishing Fairies for tour central, information and more!
Promotion of Stray Ally Launch Tour is brought to you by:
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Friday, 4 April 2014

A Rae of Sunshine

It seems an age since I dropped by this blog.  Did you miss me?  Well, aim better next time.  Here’s another ‘SINful’ interview to brighten up your weekend.
What’s your name?
Nikki Rae
Hi Nikki.  Where are you from?
New Jersey
New Jersey?  Isn’t that were Danny DeVito comes from?  Do you know him?  No, of course you don’t.  But…  Do you? Lol.  By pure coincidence, Living on a Prayer has just come on.  Do you like living there? If not, where would your favourite place to live be?
It’s okay. I’d rather live somewhere where there are more bookstores and more cats.
Bookstores and cats.  An interesting combination.  I was always a dog person, until my pet Persian, Magic, came along.  Now I love cats too.  You don’t get many in the asylum, however.  Shame.  It might calm some of the more… energetic patients.  If you’re a writer, is this your ‘day job’?
My day job is a student and I also work at Petsmart, selling animals to people. : )
Or, finding people for your animals?  Tell me about your latest project.
Sun Damage is the third and final installment of The Sunshine Series and this is where things either come together or fall apart for the characters, depending on who they are. It’s bittersweet, saying goodbye to all of them, but the ending is worth it.
It must be difficult saying goodbye to people you’ve spent so much time with.  I won’t let my writer, Shaun, let go of me.  He’s stuck with me.  MWAHAHAHAHAHA!  Anywho.  How do you feel about bacon? A crazy person once said it was the food of the gods. OK, I admit that person was myself…
I don’t know.  I haven’t had bacon in over twelve years. lol. I hear it’s really good. But piggies are too cute for me to care about bacon.
Well, piggies are cute, but bacon is bacon!  What is your favourite film?
The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Good choice!  I went to the 40thAnniversary tour.  It was brilliant!  Have you always wanted to be a writer, or is it something you found yourself doing one day?
I think I always had it in me to be a writer, but I never took it seriously until a lot of people started to read my work and tell me it was good. Then I began to become interested in being published.
Being told your work is good is a bonus.  I’m pleased you wrote anyway, even before you were told that.  Do you have so many ideas they dribble out of your nose if you don’t get them down, or do you have to hunt around the floor and the back of your sofa to find where your Muse is hiding?
I think I’ve experienced both, but mostly the first one. I have ideas in my sleep, while I’m eating or in the shower, while I’m out with friends or when I’m trying to watch TV. Whichever one grabs the most of my attention is the one I usually work on first.
It sounds like they spin around in your head, making a whirlpool you get caught up in.  You should maybe stay a little longer in here!  If you were in an asylum, what would your particular delusion or psychosis be?
Probably Schizophrenia. I talk to different “people” all the time, so I guess that one would fit the most. 
Do you argue with them, or do they each take a piece of the pie indicidually, I wonder.  What genre(s) do you write?
Right now, I write dark paranormal romance, which is mainly categorized under the New Adult Genre, but I’m working on a horror/suspense novel, a sci-fi story, and even maybe dystopia in the future. I’ll try anything once.
That ideal could get you into trouble!  I know a guy, though, who is similar.  He writes whatever is in his head at the time.  That’s how come he can write horror and then move onto children’s poetry!  What genres(s) do you read?
Mainly horror/fantasy/paranormal. And I’m a girl, so some romance is always nice too, but I’m really picky with that one because of how cheesy it can be.
Being not a girl, romance literature has never really taken my fancy.  I’m with you on the horror/fantasy/paranormal bit though.  I suppose I’d have to be, wouldn’t I?  If these are the same, what attracts you to them. If they’re different, why do you think that is?
I’ve always loved the idea of out of the ordinary or scary things happening to ordinary people, so I guess that has something to do with it.
Well, I just wanted to be ordinary.  It’s not my fault people died.  Well, it is… but I didn’t want it to happen.  So.  Bacon – just cooked or crispy?
Are you trying to make me puke? ; )
Listen.  Bacon.  It’s good for you.  Honest.  Would I lie?  Now you’re in the asylum with me, how do you aim to get out? Do you have an escape plan?
I plan on acting as normal as possible, maybe stop talking to myself. They’ll let me go. I’m pretty convincing.
You’d think so, but I wouldn’t be so sure.  Look at me – I’m perfectly normal!
So that was Nikki.  I think she belongs here more than she might think.  Either way, this is the bit all about her…
Nikki Rae is a student and writer who lives in New Jersey. She is an independent author and has appeared numerously on Amazon Best Seller lists. She is the author of The Sunshine Series and concentrates on making her imaginary characters as real as possible. She writes mainly dark, scary, romantic tales, but she’ll try anything once. When she is not writing, reading, or thinking, you can find her spending time with animals, drawing in a quiet corner, or studying people. Closely.

Here's an excerpt to wet your appetite!

I can bring her back.
Those were the first words that came to mind.
I watched her for years, never intending to do anything but watch. Then she bumped into me at the hospital, like fate, luck or just the opposite had slammed us together. That’s when I first saw it. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t slip inside the hard shell of her mind. The darkness pushed through her every emotion and sensation, enveloping her and trying to hold on. If I could have climbed the wall around her thoughts, I would have only found thick, black spiders within. I felt each one webbing their way through her annoyance at me for touching her shoulder and asking if I should get a doctor. I could sense deep fear and agitation rather than embarrassment when her sunglasses slipped down and her reddened eyes stared at the floor beneath her boots.
But there was something else. A sliver of something powerful and beautiful. A shard of the person she once was—could be. As she slid her glasses back up the slender bridge of her nose, pushed me away, and murmured a half-hearted “thanks”, the thought remained the same: I can bring her back.
I never wanted to drag more darkness into those eyes but that is precisely what I have done.
Maybe it would have been better when we first met to have just turned away. I could have left her on the ground, never entertaining the fantasy of talking to her and knowing about her life. I could have stayed in New York, coming back to check on things in New Jersey once every few months like I always had. I could have chosen not to enroll myself in her school. I could have never introduced myself. Known her. Loved her.
Would I have been able to live that way?
Michael would have eventually found her whether I kept my distance or not. He would have tried to kill her anyway; I didn’t have to intervene. He would succeed without me trying to stop him and he would have made it look like an accident or a suicide. She would be dead now.
At least this wouldn’t be happening. She wouldn’t be going through the pain of being dragged deeper into the darkness in order to transform into something like me.
Myles. Evan’s voice breaks through my walls every time. I don’t want to keep him out but I don’t want to talk either. I still haven’t forgiven him for what he’s done. I know he was trying to help by forcing this situation on us and make it so neither Sophie nor I had a choice.
It was hard not to be angry with them both when I found his mark on her stomach but none of that matters now. It’s done, and everything that’s been done can’t be taken away or changed. I understand why he did it. He wanted to see for himself.  I was curious once too. The only difference is that I had enough self control. Even when Sophie was bleeding in front of me, I never gave in. She is more important to me than what is pumping through her veins. As long as her it keeps pumping. As long as she’s alive.
Even when I did bite her, it wasn’t hunger that drove me. It wasn’t curiosity. It was love. I wanted to keep her close to me. I wanted to be entwined.
Now we are. More than any two beings can ever be; I hate myself.
I know you are still angry. The thought is too loud and causes my temples to twitch under the weight. You should be.   
I squeeze my eyes shut and discover I have enough strength to block him off for one silent minute. Then my walls give way and he’s back, this time, slightly quieter. I can hear him moving, the sound of his pants as his legs rub together. Let me help you. I stretch my stiff arms above my head, making sure the pain in my mouth and stomach has subsided.
He thinks I’m still ignoring him, so he repeats, Myles.
When my eyes open, I train them on him. Evan stops trying to communicate to watch what I’ll do next. My arms seem to be working again; only a dull ache emanates from my elbows and wrists when I lay them at my sides. I can’t move the rest of my body from the recliner he helped me sit down in when my limbs started to feel numb.
I try to speak, but I can’t open my mouth just yet. Yes, Evan?
He’s kneeling, placing a hand on my arm. This is the most physical contact we’ve exchanged in quite some time and his walls are completely down. He’s scared that I’m really hurt this time.
I’ll be fine. I tell him. We’ve been through worse together.
Evan’s thinking about numerous things at once but he’s doing a good job at keeping them roped up tight so they don’t flood in and overwhelm me. What keeps seeping through is how sorry he is, how worried he is for me, and then his concern for Ava slips in as well. She had another attack this morning. He left her upstairs so he could take care of me.
Go, I tell him.
His expression leaves no doubt in my mind that he knows I’ve heard what he was trying to keep from me. “I do not want to leave you,” Evan says out loud as if the sound will emphasize his point.
I want to speak back but my jaw is still numb. Ava needs you more than I do.
“You are my maker,” he says, his back straightening with pride.  “You come first. I am not leaving you.”
I’m not alone.
Even now, with Sophie’s polluted blood mingling with mine, pumping through me, stabbing outward and trying to stay inside my body at the same time, I can hear Alex and Adrienne in the next room.
They’re arguing yet again about what a bad decision this was. Before I fell asleep, Alex was insisting that Sophie would be able to do this. She believed that I would recover in a few hours and everything would be fine. Now both of them doubt all those things.
Evan speaks again when the silence has gone on for too long. “Ava is fine.”
I know she’s not. She’s only been getting worse. He knows I can see that like it’s drawn in the carpet but he wants to stay with me, the one who’s taken care of him from the beginning.
No, I say again. I can feel the energy I gained during my short rest draining out of me.
Evan leans down and places his hand beside my knee on the couch cushion. He’s about to argue further, but a soft knocking outside distracts him.
I try reaching out with my mind but I fail.
“Sophie,” Evan says, already standing. I try to move as well but my wrists won’t support my weight and my legs won’t move.
There’s some shuffling then the door opens. “Sorry,” Jade, is saying. “You told me she wouldn’t wake up.”
I hadn’t realized I closed my eyes. They open when he says that.
Jade enters the room, looking just as tired as I am, stubble roughening his face and dark circles make shadows under his eyes. “She wants you,” he says. It takes me a few moments to realize that he’s talking to me. She wants you and not me, is what he doesn’t say out loud.
I didn’t want her to see me like this. Weak when everything else around us is breaking. But I knew she wouldn’t be able to rest for long without me near her. I had planned on only being gone fifteen minutes but it’s been close to an hour now.
Evan, I force out of my mind. Help me up.
He wants to argue; he knows he can’t.
Evan wraps an arm around me and I sling myself over his shoulder. Leaning my weight into him, I stand on shaking legs. I’m surprised when Jade is next to me, mirroring Evan’s position on the opposite side of me in order to hold me upright.
This is so fucked up, he thinks. How did this happen?
I can’t disagree. I can’t help asking myself the same question.
The walk back to Sophie’s room isn’t long but my body fights me every inch, bones threatening to snap, muscles starting to bend in ways they shouldn’t. I’m so relieved to be in the doorway once we reach it that I pay no mind to Evan or Jade, breaking free of them and stumbling to the bed where she is.
I remember having Alex change the blankets for me so Sophie wouldn’t have to see the blood and she lies among the clean, white sheets. Her hair is messy, falling in pink waves that crash around her face and shoulders.

She is beautiful. She is always beautiful. When I notice her staring at the wall, there is no life behind her eyes. Her skin is grey and her cheekbones stick out. 
It’s all my fault but I can’t shatter with her here.

I climb onto the bed gently, trying not to disturb her. She doesn’t look like she’s in pain yet, but the transition stage will soon hit her, and I know that any movement holds potential for agony. Once I’m next to her, she is drawn to me like the ocean to the shore. She places her head to my chest, and I am home.
Evan covers us both with another blanket.
“Is she…” Jade whispers and my eyes open. He can’t finish the sentence except for in his thoughts: Is she a vampire now?
“No,” I say out loud, my mouth filling with sharp needles. “Not yet.”
“This is normal,” Evan says for me so I don’t have to keep talking.
Yeah. This is an everyday goddamn occurrence. Jade sits down in the chair beneath the window. I want to say something to help him through this, but even if I could, what good would it be? It’s my fault someone he loves is dying in front of him. That he will have to see it happen again.  There are no words. Just the reality of what’s happening to his sister and who has done it to her.
Evan leaves us, and soon, I hear her Jade’s even breathing. He’s fallen asleep in the chair, exhausted.
Sophie’s skin is cold against mine as she shifts her arms around my waist. My muscles are sore but her touch soothes me. I can smell dried blood on her chest, rust mingling with the faded flowery scent of her shampoo.
“You left,” she whispers into my neck, her breath wet and warm.
I will my fingers into her hair. “I know,” I whisper back, my jaw aching only slightly now.
“You left,” she says again, pulling herself even closer.
“I’m here.”
We both give up on remaining conscious then. I close my eyes and allow the dark blood to swallow me up again and she does the same. We are part of the same darkness now, yet we drift separately to a place where I will have to find her.