Tag Archives: Feline Intelligence

The Cursed….

31 Oct

HAPPY HALLOWEEN from the GSP Halloween Promo. This is the last post for the Promo and we would like to thank you all for your support and participation. It has been a fun month and hope that you, the readers enjoyed it too! Today we welcome Lisa Farrell.

Lisa Farrell has been writing for as long as she can remember. Much of what she writes is speculative fiction, but she tries other things from time to time. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, and some of her stories are available in print and online – check out lisafarrell.blogspot.com for links. She lives in the UK with her husband, son and two black cats.

Her book that we are featuring on today’s post is The Cursed.

Magic cannot be used without consequences, that’s why you need a license to use it. But if your child was suffering because of the backlash of someone else’s spell, could you stand by and do nothing? Wouldn’t you want to save them, no matter what the cost?

This is a dark tale of magic, desperation and revenge.

Excerpt:

She pretended not to notice the women watching her as she approached the bier. She kept her head up and eyes forward as she passed them, her baby held carefully in the crook of her arm. Her offering was precious perfume for the chaotic god; she had to bring the best she could afford. It wasn’t her fault the other women could only spare a loaf of bread or a bunch of wild flowers. Their husbands toiled in the wheat fields because they hadn’t the skills to do anything else. Her man could both write and count, and so served the lord personally, up in the great house on the hill.
    That was where he was now, though the sun had almost set. The farmers were able to attend to the rites with their wives while she had to make their pledge alone. As the other women joined hands with their men and marched past her with their noses in the air, she turned to head for home. She cooed to her baby, who was waking up.
    It was a warm day, so she kept to the shade of the tall rickety houses along the street. The smell was worse in this season, as the sun released the vapours from the dung that had been walked into the cobbles of the road.
    She hated the town. Everywhere there was life, but of a very different sort to that around the country dwellings where the more fortunate lived. The sort she could have lived in, had her husband’s family not been cursed with ill fortune. It would be a long time before he could afford to house her on one of the hills above the town, where the air was clear and the ground not infested with maggots or disease.
    Her husband worked all day up on that hill, and she envied him for that. She had to return now to their poky little house, with nothing but a stone wall between her and the farmers’ families. At times she even envied the farmers themselves, who at least got to spend their days in the open fields beyond the town walls. They weren’t encased in stone all day.
    Her baby began to cry as she closed the gate behind her. He didn’t like the grate of metal as the latch dropped back into its place. Her garden was a mass of herbs and the scent greeted her. Everything she grew had a strong smell; it served to mask the stench of the town.
    She walked up the little stone path, jiggling the baby in an effort to quieten him.
    “It’s all right, my sweet one,” she said, “we’re home now.”
    She wished that she needn’t take him out when she paid homage, but she couldn’t keep a nanny for him, and it would look bad if she didn’t take something to the bier in the square at least once a day. Not with her husband doing so well in comparison with the other poor souls around, and with a young child to keep safe too.
    Her key was in the bottom of her pocket; she could feel it digging into her thigh. She held the baby close with one hand and fumbled for the key with the other. Her long skirt was too tight, she couldn’t get her fingers in without shifting position again. The baby was starting to thrash in her arms.
    “Stop it,” she snapped. “Give me a minute.”
    Her tone did nothing to soothe him, but when she pushed the heavy door open at last and stepped into the dark of the hall, the cool air quietened him. He whimpered softly as she moved to the living room, where she placed him on the rug before the empty grate.
    “There, that’s better,” she said, smiling as she knelt before him, hoping to have a smile in return. He just stared at her with his big blue eyes, but she tickled his round tummy and was rewarded with a giggle. He was getting bigger so quickly. It hadn’t been long ago she could leave him lying there as she worked and he’d be safe. Now if she turned her back for a moment he would crawl off somewhere more interesting.
    “Are you hungry?” she asked as he reached for her. “Already?”
She gathered him in her arms and sat in the chair by the fireplace to feed him. She had worked hard today, washing and baking. She hoped he’d sleep after his feed, and give her time to rest herself.

***

    She woke to his wailing and sighed. Her head hurt, as it generally did when her sleep was interrupted. Her husband rolled over to face her and mumbled something, but she hushed him. She would get up to quiet the baby and let him sleep.
    Her candle had burnt down while she slept. Moonlight highlighted the cracks in the shutters and allowed her to see her way to the cot by the shades of grey. The baby’s cries were angry and urgent, as though he was in pain. He was kicking his legs in the air as he shrieked, and his tiny fists were clenched. She reached in to lift him out, but before her fingers touched him she could feel the heat radiating from his body. She was afraid to touch him. She put a finger to his wrinkled forehead and yelped at the burning of his skin.
    “Mark!” she cried. “Get up! Something’s wrong.”
    She didn’t try to lift him for fear of dropping him, so stood uselessly looking down at his face. Her husband stumbled to her side and blinked down at the screaming child.
    “Maybe he just needs feeding?”
    “He’s too hot, Mark, feel him. I think . . . I think someone has brought the curse on us.”
    Mark put his hand to the baby’s forehead and the little hands latched onto his bare arm. The sickly smell of burnt hair began to fill the room but Mark didn’t move.
    “Fetch the doctor,” he said.
    She spared little thought for the shame of having to go herself, but hitched her nightdress up and ran barefoot through the street to the doctor’s house. A learned man who came at no small price, his house had a wall higher than her own. She clambered over the gate, for her hands shook too much to open it, and hammered on the door.
    She was shivering by the time he opened it to her, but couldn’t feel the cold. She could only blurt out that they needed him before she broke into sobs. He came with her at once, throwing a coat over his dressing gown.
They could hear the baby’s cries from halfway down the street, and she cried harder to think that his little throat must be raw with screaming.
    “He’s burning up,” Mark said as they entered the bedroom. “What’s wrong with him, Doctor?”
    He had detached his arm from the child and lit a candle. She could see red welts on his arm where he’d been gripped. The doctor hurried to see into the cot, and swore.
    “What is it?” she asked, and gasped as she peered over his shoulder. The child’s face was scarlet, and his eyes, open wider than she’d ever seen them, were bright yellow.
    “Oh, gods help us!” she said. “What’s happening to my baby?”
The doctor turned to her, his lips a tight line and his brow furrowed.
    “I can’t help you,” he said. “It’s the curse. Only magic can save him from magic.”
    “No!” she shook her head, and her husband caught her trembling hands before she could grab the doctor by the collar. “There are no magicians in this town! There must be something we can do.”
    “I’m sorry, Madam, but this is no natural sickness. Do you want me to inform the witch-finders?”
    “Yes!”
    “No,” Mark said. “That won’t help him. We must employ a magician to redirect this curse.”
    “Someone has cursed our child,” she growled at him, “and we can’t let that go unpunished. No one has a license in this town. They must be brought to justice!”
    “One man has a license,” Mark said. “Our lord. And I shall go to him at once.”
    “Be sure that you do,” the doctor said. “The child will burn out; he doesn’t have long.”
    “Wait!” she shrieked, breaking from Mark’s grip to follow the doctor from the room. “I beg you, Doctor. Send for the witch-finders.”
    “As you wish, Madam.”

Her book is available at: http://www.amazon.com/The-Cursed-ebook/dp/B00433U1EU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351668472&sr=8-1&keywords=the+cursed+lisa+farrell

Philip and The Monsters

11 Oct


Thank you John for being part of the GSP Halloween Promo.
    John Paulits is a former teacher in New York City. He has published five other children’s novels, four about Philip and Emery, as well as two adult science fiction novels, HOBSON’S PLANET and BECKONING ETERNITY. His previous Gypsy Shadow book, PHILIP AND THE SUPERSTITION KID, was voted best children’s novel of 2010 in the Preditors and Editors readers poll.
Congratulations, John, for Winning first place in the 2010 (Philip and the Superstition Kid) and top Ten in the 2011 (Philip and the Angel) Preditors and Editors Readers Poll for Children’s Novel!

For this post we are featuring, Philip and The Monsters.

Could the Frankenstein monster, Dracula and the Wolfman actually move into someone’s respectable neighborhood? Philip and his best friend Emery are convinced it has happened when a suspicious new family moves in down the block. The boys have seen the vampire bat; they’ve heard the werewolf’s growl; they’ve witnessed the coffin delivery to the house. When Emery’s mother invites the new family to dinner, Philip and Emery have no choice but to prepare for the worst.

Excerpt:

Chapter One

“Boo!” shouted Emery. Philip’s heart shot up, and his stomach tumbled. He spun to face his friend.

“Are you crazy? Are you really crazy? Why did you do that? I walk into your house and you jump out like a maniac? You almost gave me a heart attack.”

Emery laughed and waved a hand at Philip. “Get out. We’re too young to have heart attacks. Unless,” said Emery in a spooky voice, “your arteries are clogged with the cholesterol of fear.”

Philip stared at Emery.

“What?” Emery asked.

Philip continued to stare.

Emery smiled nervously and shrugged.

Philip didn’t move a muscle.

Emery blinked and blinked again.

Philip continued to stare and refused to blink.

“Say something, please,” said Emery in a small voice. He waited. Philip said nothing. “Come on, you’re scaring me.”

Philip kept on staring and counted to himself. When he reached three, he threw his arms in the air and shouted, “BOOOO!”

“Ahhh!” Emery burst out. “Why did you do that? Are you crazy, too? You were scaring me and then you scared me. Why’d you scare me?”

“Can we go back to the beginning?” Philip asked slowly, still giving Emery his coldest stare.

“The beginning?”

“Did you ask me to come over so we could do our homework together?”

“Yes, I did,” said Emery, paying very close attention to Philip’s questions. He didn’t want Philip to start staring and BOO-ing him again.

“Did you tell me you would leave the front door open, and I should just walk in?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Why?”

“So I could jump out and scare you.”

“Then you admit it!” Philip cried. He tried to stay calm. “Why did you want to scare me?”

“Uh, because you said I could.”

Philip stared at Emery again.

“Are you going to do the staring Boo! thing again, because . . . ?” Emery stepped back, arms out, hands waving slowly.

“No, stand still,” Philip said softly. “When did I say you could jump out at me and try to give me a heart attack? When? When did I say it?”

“You said we would do our homework together, didn’t you?”

“Yeah, so? Is giving me a heart attack doing our homework together?” Philip shouted.

“No, but scaring you is. I’m doing my report on how people act when they get scared. You have to do a report too, you know. The class report we have to do about a feeling. Remember?”

“What was the stuff you said before?”

“Before? When?”

“Before. About the arteries and the clogging.”

Emery laughed. “Did you like it? I made it up. I read this newspaper article about good heart health, and I read a different article about how peoples’ hearts beat faster when they get scared.”

“You didn’t have to read about it. I could have told you.”

“Yeah well, I put the two things together and I said . . .”

“I know what you said. What does cholesterol have to do with your report?”

“Nothing. I made a joke, for Pete’s sake.”

“Some dumb joke. Next time, save it for Pete.”

“Never mind the joke. Tell me what you felt when you got scared.” Emery scrambled to the floor and lay on his stomach, pencil in hand and notebook open. “Go on.”

Philip tried the best he could to remember everything he felt when Emery jumped out at him. As Philip talked, Emery wrote fast.

“Good,” said Emery, his pencil zipping across the paper. “Good. Now let me write what I felt when you scared me.”

When Emery finished writing, Philip said, “Lemme see.” Emery handed him the notebook.

Philip read, “When Philip first scared me by staring, I got scared because I didn’t know what he was doing. I felt scared because I didn’t know what would happen next. When Philip jumped at me, I felt really scared, heart-beating scared.”

Philip looked at Emery, impressed. “Pretty neat. You got scared a different way each time.”

“Yeah, it’s great for my report. Now I need you to add things to my list.”

“What list?”

“My list of things people get scared by. Tell me what things scare you. You know, to see or think about. Know what my mother said? She said hairy people scare her. You know with hairy hands and arms and eyebrows and nose hairs and hair where it shouldn’t be, like on warts and stuff.”

“Disgusting!”

“Yeah, but scary. Go on, what scares you?”

“What did you put for yourself?”

Emery flipped back a few pages. “I put waking up in the dark in a strange place.” Philip agreed. No argument there. It happened to him. “Watching scary movies in the dark when my parents are out.” Philip agreed again. Still no argument. “Being alone in the house. Sometimes. Like at night. That’s all.”

“They’re all good ones.”

“Your turn.”

“You took all the good ones.”

“You have to give me something different. Come on.”

“The haunted house scared us. Going inside it, remember?”

Emery wrote it down.

“Somebody finally moved in there, you know,” Emery said, when he finished writing.

“I heard. My dad told me. At least we won’t have to mow their lawn anymore. The new people can mow their own lawn.” He and Emery had beautified the deserted house by mowing its lawn as part of a community service project.

“Give me one more. A good one. How about monsters? Are you afraid of monsters?”

“What kind of monsters?”

“Regular monsters. You know. Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman.”

“Everybody’s supposed to be afraid of them, but they’re not real.”

“I’ll put it anyway.”

“Under my name?”

“Sure.”

“No, no,” Philip scoffed. “I don’t want everybody in the class to think I’m afraid of Dracula. Put your cousin Leon’s name instead of mine. He’s afraid of everything.”

“All right. All right. So there. Only one more person to interview and I’m done making a list. I’ll ask Mrs. Moriarty later what she’s scared of.” Mrs. Moriarty was their favorite neighbor. “Fourth grade projects aren’t so bad. You pick yours yet?” Emery closed his notebook and tossed it on the sofa.

“No,” said Philip.

“You better hurry up. Want to go see what the new haunted house family looks like?”

Philip looked out the window. It was early December and darkness arrived early. Philip checked his watch, hoping Emery got the message and would suggest a time with more daylight available.
Book available at http://www.amazon.com/Philip-Monsters-Emery-Series-ebook/dp/B006JG0N2E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349974756&sr=8-1&keywords=philip+and+the+monsters+john+paulits

The Haunted Spring….

10 Oct

Today we welcome Anthony Diesso on our GSP Halloween Promo.

About Anthony. “I currently live in Northern California with my wife and two children (they’re growing so fast – my kids, I mean: my wife is maintaining her usual size, and I’ve leveled off, too). The Haunted Spring not only reflects my interest in ghosts (which are constantly hiding my car keys), but also in the experiences of an NICU ward, in which my wife and I spent three months after the birth of our first child.”

His new release The Haunted Spring is our featured book for this post.

ay Bennett, a comfortably maladjusted man in his early 20’s, finds Anna LaMonica knocking on his apartment door, looking for someone else. Seeing more of each other, however, they quickly fall in love. After overcoming an extended separation, as well as hostile family and friends, they marry and begin a new life together.

But Anna’s sudden death during childbirth leaves Jay to watch over their infant, born premature and requiring an extensive hospital stay. Grief-stricken, helpless, and alone, he is tormented by apparitions of his lost wife, recalling their love and ruined hopes. These apparitions, at times horrifying, at others pathetic, yet others darkly alluring, threaten to crack loose his grip on reality. Attempting to overcome such frightening occurrences, he struggles to piece together his life, to pull some sanity and hope out of the world around him, and to become a good father to his newborn son.

Excerpt:

Chapter One

Knock, knock, knock.

From inside, in comfortable shadows, I just stared at my apartment door.

Knock, knock.

And jogged out of a late afternoon stupor, I put a mailed catalogue aside, hastily aligned a bowl of mushed bran-flakes upon the armrest, and stood up from the sofa. Its springs creaked abruptly with relief as I called out, “Who is it?”

There was a woman’s muffled voice. “I’m very sorry. I was looking for apartment seventeen.”

Pausing a moment without considering anything, I then turned the latch, pulled the knob, and found her waiting. She had auburn hair, which as she backed up from the opening door, was glazed with sudden sunlight, and her eyes, a soft, rich hazel, chilled me instantly. We waited for me to say something, ‘til, helping things along, she stepped forward under the eaves again and into the shadows before me. She wore a dark skirt and a smoky-colored blouse, and her lips curved slightly with embarrassment. I wondered if she could see the bowl of cereal from the door; I also wondered if it was about to tip. And almost looking back, I hastily put it out of my mind, trying to think of nothing as I waited politely.

“The numbers go from sixteen to eighteen,” she said in a more intimate voice, slightly tilting her head to one side, keeping her hands behind her back.

I grinned, nodded like a bobble-head, my own hands gesturing with theatrical intensity, my lips grown a bit stiff. “Yes, it’s on the way, other side of the building. Sharon McClean. I don’t know why they numbered it the way they did. Here, let me show you.”

“Oh, I’d appreciate that. Thank you very much.”
The day narrowed my eyes, along with a surface spangle on the swimming pool; and a reflected light cast wobbly shapes across the walk. I wasn’t much interested in any of that, but it was an excuse to avert my glance, and I fixed eyes on it while speaking, noticing peripherally her slow, legato steps. “So you’re a friend of Sharon’s?”

“Yes, we knew each other in Arizona before she moved out here.”

“Mmm. Where in Arizona?”

“From Flagstaff. I’ve come down for a couple of weeks.”

The walk began to warm my brain up. “Ah, I’ve been there once. A college, mountain town, with lots of forests, all shadowed green and pine. It smelled nice.”

“Some parts better than others, yes. Why were you there?”

“I was looking for my dog.”

“Really? What was it doing in Flagstaff?”

“I don’t know. He could have gone anywhere, so I decided to try Flagstaff. I crossed it off the list.”

She laughed with a pleasant familiarity, and I met her glance, if only briefly.

“Well, here it is.”

A woman waved from the window of apartment 17, a faded shape behind the sun-glare off of tinted glass. Having grabbed our attention, she disappeared into the dark behind the reflected white. Latches worked, the screen-door creaked, and before that nasty slam they make, she had gotten in several sentences.

“Finally! Anna, I thought you were lost. Are you all right? How was the traffic, was it bad? How was the drive?” Smack! “Did you get lost?”

“Yes, no, good, no.” The woman laughed while embracing her friend.

“I was ready to drive out to look for you myself. California has wonderful freeways, but like everything else here, there’s too much to choose from.”

“No, I followed your instructions. They were good. Your neighbor was nice enough to show me to your apartment.”

Sharon was a pleasant enough woman of about 24, rather short, and blonde, with black-rimmed glasses. Like a lapdog, she seemed to have a full-sized nervous system pressed into a smaller frame, and if you didn’t know her, you would think she was looking for someone to report some sort of disaster to. I moved into the complex after her, and she showed me where the mail drop was, the laundry room, the rear parking lot, the pool, all the things the apartment manager shows you in that first grand tour. We were amiable enough, but hardly close, and she probably couldn’t consider me a friend when I was already a neighbor.

But with her visitor, she seemed to view me in a fresh light, or at least to present me in a role I wasn’t expecting: “Jay, that’s nice of you. You’re the protector of travelers, like St. Christopher in cargo pants. I don’t think I even told you she was coming. Anna, this is Jay Bennett. Jay, this Anna LaMonica.”

We smiled awkwardly, as if we had just laid eyes on each other, and whatever corner table nuance our former looks and words conveyed was now entirely lost within a banquet hall exaggeration.

“Jay, would you help Anna with her bags?”

Her friend grinned, shrugged her shoulders. “I only have one bag in the trunk and it’s on wheels, with a handle.”

“Fine. While Jay is helping you to get it out of the trunk, I’ll set out the glasses.”
We nodded to each other, and I walked a step ahead of her, guiding her toward the parking lot.

Returning from the car, the two of us entered the small front yard space, and sat at a round glass table with impressions on it, like fingerprints, that made the two sets of knees and shins and shoes seem as if under ice. Sharon emerged from the apartment with a bottle, and seeing only part of the label, I noticed, in curling, vine-like script, the name of some sort of leaf. She poured the rosé into each of the scarlet-tinted glasses, then sat and watched. I pinched the stem, lifted it, declared, “Well, salute.”

“Salute,” murmured Anna.

“May the road rise up and smack you in the face,” Sharon piped in. “That’s an old drinking toast. At least that’s what my father said.”

I tasted the wine. It was light and sweet, with a slight carbonation that pestered my tongue. It was refreshingly cold for a late, summer afternoon, and would have been just the thing for an alcoholic’s tea-party.

“Anna, I’m glad you’re here. And Jay—thank you for helping with the bags.”

“No, not at all. Thank you.” I lifted my glass again and nodded.

The walk lamps clicked on, producing frail, golden auras. The dusky mood and, of course, the wine, stirred shadowy but pleasant thoughts in me, at least: a number of peculiar and buried recollections, like odors not inhaled for many years. When the conversation drifted toward our childhoods, I mused, “Oh, the things that I believed when I was small: that coins shook in the sunlit trees, and boughs were crooked spider legs. I’d peek out from the window and see those dangling things, and plead with Ma to sweep them from the tree. She’d take a broom, go outside, then come back in to say that everything was fine.”

I stopped talking, conscious that I might be drifting in my conversion, amusing only to myself. I glanced at Anna tenuously: her face was lowered in reflection, its expression cast upward from the table toward me, a lit veil of fixed eyes and slightly parted lips. She traced her finger in the moist imprint left by the base of the wine-glass, and spoke almost in a whisper, “My parents had a small statue of the Virgin, and at night, by the dim candlelight, she would move her eyes or change expression. I told my parents, and they smiled and said it was a miraculous sign.”

“At least they didn’t have to take a broom to it,” Sharon laughed.

“Have you outgrown it?” I asked Anna, after smiling at Sharon’s quip. Given the opportunity, I lingered over her delicate, oval face, her supple, curved lips, her brightly dark and almond eyes; her look turned upward from her finger, gliding as if on ice, to me.

“Mostly,” she replied. “Have you?”

Anthony’s book is available at:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Haunted-Spring-ebook/dp/B009FDY9C8/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1348931074&sr=8-6&keywords=diesso

WEBSITE: anthonydeaso.webs.com
BLOG: http://www.anthonydiesso.blogspot.com/
TWITTER: https:twitter.com/AnthonyDiesso
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/anthony.diesso

The Eyes Have It….

9 Oct

Today we are featuring, with pleasure, Denise Bartlett. Welcome Denise.

Denise Bartlett began writing short stories when she was nine. Pen and paper gave way to word processors and typing, printing, reading and perfecting. A dreamer, she has always searched for deeper meaning and more vivid experiences in her everyday life. From hypnosis, training with mystics and spiritual people of many walks to tax preparation and gardening, her interests vary widely. The thread that runs through her life is imagination. Denise has written a variety of poetry, short stories and novelettes, as well as columns and articles on gardening and income taxes.

Her GSP Halloween Promo book entry is The Eyes Have it.

Liza Casey called in to report a double homicide today. Sheriff Bobby Knowles had a high-school crush on Liza’s mother, Elizabeth, who disappeared without a trace, years ago when Liza was young. Liza’s life has been a maelstrom of tragedies, and this seems to be yet another one. But what is behind the latest report? Liza says it’s the green-eyed monster.
Excerpt:
Peace officer. Hah. Sheriff Bobby Knowles poured single malt whiskey neat into the same small Support Your Local Sheriff tumbler his father had always used. His father, Robert Knowles, Sr., had been the sheriff of Lane County, Texas, for years before retiring and backing his oldest son’s election to the spot. Easing into his recliner, Bobby pulled the remote out of the western-design saddlebags his wife had made for the old stuffed chair several years before. When he clicked the button, the pre-programmed CD player dutifully started through a stack of 20 George Strait and instrumental country music disks.
His back hurt, the worn out muscles sent spasms up his spine and he knew exactly where the pain originated. The desk chair at work was hurting his back these days, but that was his own fault. During his trip to the U. S. Law Expo in Washington, D. C. last month, paid for by the fair politicos of Lane County, he’d opted for the latest in technology-three new laptop computers equipped with satellite uplink and GPS-with absolutely no money left for new office chairs. Maybe he’d just have to set aside the money from the meager supply funds and get one. Yeah, right.
Sometimes he wondered why he had gone into law enforcement. As he mused, he smiled to himself. His mother had always said he had gone into peace-keeping. “It’s a worthy field, Bobby. Your father has kept the peace here for years.” He’d thought-there is no peace, Mom-but had kept that thought to himself. He knew it was the only way she could justify allowing another of her loved ones to wear a badge and carry a gun. But he had not been able to keep the peace.
Being a peace officer had not been enough to keep cancer from ravaging Jill’s body, either. They’d been married only five years when she died. They had no children; he alone remained. He still lived in his parents’ rambling old two-story, built somewhere around the turn of the century.
Shortly after his dad’s retirement, a car accident way off in Minnesota had taken both his parents from him. Peace. He could not believe how much he ached from the times peace had been replaced by tumult in his life.
Jill. He’d met her his freshman year over spring break in Galveston. She’d been a fresh, vibrant sociable fireball of a girl. Her blond hair was straight and her blue eyes bright-and he’d loved that little birthmark at the base of her throat that seemed to tremble when she was excited. She’d often been excited-at football games, at parties, out late at night at beach parties and alone with him in his car. Those were the days. . . .
Fun and youth and laughter. Going to Padre Island to look for shells, feed the sea gulls and watch the sun set on the dunes. Why did he feel so old and alone today? What was with him?
How he missed her. Jill. He sat staring at the brown liquid in his glass, moving it slightly to watch the waves swirl against the insides. He sipped again, letting the fiery liquid burn his throat as he slid deeper into reverie.
Before Jill, there had only been one other love interest, a local girl, Elizabeth Casey. He had a huge crush on her, but he never knew if it was reciprocated. Sitting there in his lonely house, forty years heavy on his frame, he recalled those high school days. He remembered very well the long afternoons spent daydreaming that someday she would be his wife. Unfortunately, there was a significant block of his unexpressed ardor from the beginning.
Liz Casey, one of the most beautiful young women in the county, had the most domineering father Bobby had ever met-maybe the most domineering man Bobby had ever known. How many times had the teenage Bobby driven to the end of the driveway leading to the lonely cliff-top home of the Caseys and turned back after sitting, staring, wishing for an hour or more? Bobby knew the number was not low. The young Bobby Knowles had never ventured anywhere close to the old mansion.
To make things worse, the man Liz had married as the result of an arranged betrothal was not any kinder than her father to the way of thinking of the citizens of this fair town, Bobby among them. Straight out of high school, she was swept off to someplace off in the Eastern USA to be courted and married. The town had been abuzz with the news that Elizabeth had married one of her father’s old friends. Scandalous talk-rumors really, gossip shared quietly over the side fence for fear of repercussions-sizzled through the town’s grapevine. Elizabeth’s father was not young when his daughter was born. Her mother had died in childbirth when her daughter was only ten years old. A housekeeper, Abigail Carlson, cared for the girl and her father, as old Naomi Carlson, her mother, had tended the Caseys before her.
Many believed hers was an unhappy marriage, for Elizabeth rarely came into town in the months after she and her husband returned to her childhood home. However, they had seen her blossom with the birth of her own daughter. For a short time, she had come out of her shell and spent time in town, showing off her child and adorning her in lovely dresses made by the local seamstresses.
Then, fifteen years ago, when her daughter was only six years old, tragedy had struck. Much to Bobby’s horror, at midmorning of a windy, overcast fall day he was summoned to the cliff-side mansion. The girl’s nanny was crying, almost incoherent in her worry. She haltingly reported that Elizabeth had disappeared. As they arrived, his men had spread across the land, working in a grid from the spot where they found her horse. An avid horsewoman, she always went for a morning run to exercise the restive Arabian mare, Katie.
Her beloved bay mare grazed on a long line. The animal was still saddled, its bridle hanging from the pommel of the saddle, a rope attached to her halter, keeping her close for the rider who never returned.
According to Mrs. Carlson, Liz sometimes came here, to the highest point of land overlooking the sea, to sketch scenes of nature-she’d always had a natural ability. They found a sketch pad with a riding jacket folded beside it, but not Liz. Teams of Search and Rescue dogs and their owners, familiar with the rocky coastline, were called in at noon. The afternoon wore on. When darkness approached, a sense of desperation settled in until one of the men shouted. Then it was a deep sadness which intensified in the hearts of the searchers when they saw him pointing down toward the turbulent, rocky waters.
Throughout the long day, Little Liza had refused to stay at the house, following the movement of the sheriff, as the others circled around him, watching from her seat on a big flat-topped rock. She was wrapped in a blanket the police had given her, but she would not give in to the exhaustion Bobby knew she felt.
It appeared the rocks on the side of the cliff bore some blood, but the rain and the waves washed it away before anyone could crawl down to gather it for testing. What had caught the eye of the man was a flash of color-one of the bonnets Elizabeth always wore clung below them, against the stark gray cliff side. Its bright red ribbons fluttered sadly from a crevice. Perhaps it had flown there on a breeze as she fell-or jumped-to her death. A storm raged through the night and the evidence, what there was of it, had washed away.
They spent a week searching for her, hoping against hope that the young mother would be found alive. After no additional evidence surfaced, Elizabeth Casey Skews was declared dead from accidental drowning. The conclusion the police and townspeople had drawn was that Elizabeth had slipped and fallen to her death. Wilton Skews and his daughter Liza continued living in the big manor house with only old Mrs. Carlson helping out as housekeeper. The nanny had been dismissed.
Wilton remarried three years later. And only three months after the wedding, the now nine year old Liza had come home from school to discover Wilton’s wife and two stepdaughters brutally murdered where they had picnicked atop the cliff overlooking the ocean. Although Lisa discovered the grisly triple homicide, she didn’t witness it. The murders were still unresolved. Bobby still wondered about it-had it been a random event? The women’s jewelry had been taken, but the house had not been broken into.
For more about Denise and where to get her books please follow the links.
http://www.gypsyshadow.com/Denise.html#EyesExc
http://www.silvervalkyre.com
Denise@silvervalkyre.com/.
http://www.amazon.com/The-Eyes-Have-It-ebook/dp/B00433TAPQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349754518&sr=8-1&keywords=the+eyes+have+it+denise+bartlett

The Witch and the Squirrels

8 Oct

Today’s post goes to author G. E. Stills. Welcome to the GSP Halloween Promo Gary.

I live in the southwest with my wife, dog and a cat. I have grown children with children of their own. In the past I was a mechanic and then a business owner, retired. I have always loved to read and enjoyed writing stories from an early age. Most of my time now is spent in front of my keyboard writing or sitting back and thinking about a current WIP or a new story to write. When not engaged in my favorite pastime of writing, I enjoy boating and camping.

My stories primarily deal with paranormal, fantasy or science fiction and all of them, thus far, involve romance. The heat levels vary from non-erotic to sizzling. Most of my characters are strong and assertive; many are outspoken. Many of my characters have magical abilities or are normal people in abnormal situations with a strong sense of justice. My villains are, well . . . villains, doing villainous things.
The book we promoting for this promo is The Witch and the Squirrels.

As a fireman in a small town, Chad’s life is laid back, easy going. The worst problem he has is tolerating Jerry, his so-called friend. Jerry sees himself as a gift to women. He’s a player and Chad has a difficult time dealing with that. Chad’s life is destined to become much less peaceful and serene when Heather appears in town. From the very first time they meet, he is strongly attracted to her. To his consternation, Jerry imposes himself between them and tells lies about Chad in order to win Heather’s favor.

Jerry vanishes, as does Heather. Then one day on the way home from work, Chad encounters her again. Having discovered Jerry’s lies, she invites Chad to join her for dinner. Cheerfully, Chad accepts. With Jerry out of the picture it’ll be just the two of them . . . but things are about to get very interesting for Chad. 

Excerpt.

Chad resisted the urge to break into a run when he passed the run-down house. If not for the fact it was along the route he used when he walked to work . . . You’re a grown man, not some scared little boy. Still—something about the place gives me the willies.

Cold and dreary-looking, the dilapidated two-story structure sat on a lot that encompassed the entire block. An unkempt yard, overgrown with vines and shrubs, surrounded it. Nobody had lived in the place for years.

Not since old lady Jameson vanished a number of years ago.

That was long before he’d moved here.

His steps carried him away, putting the house behind him. The somber feeling of foreboding lifted from his shoulders as the distance increased. Two blocks farther, he entered a two-story eight-plex. Taking the steps two at a time, he then paced down the hallway to his apartment door located on the left near the rear of the complex. Soon he forgot the eerie feeling. Changing out of his uniform, he put on faded blue jeans and buttoned up his sport shirt.
Locking the door behind him, he left for the small bar a short distance away. When he opened the door, the smell of whiskey and stale cigarettes assailed his nose.

Why do I come here?

He answered his own thought immediately.

Because this may be a hole in the wall, but they have an excellent burger. He usually treated himself to one at the end of his shift. The bartender poured a glass of ice water and set it in front of him on the counter.

“The usual, Chad?” the bartender asked.

“Yes, thanks.”

The bartender walked away to place his order.

“What’s up, Chad my man?” a familiar voice said. He stifled a groan when Jerry sat down next to him.

Why me?

“Not much. Just got off work.” For some reason, Jerry had glommed onto him from the start.

Maybe because I was new in town. Maybe because I didn’t know him any better. That, and the fact he has an apartment in the same building as me. And he and I are both single.

“Wanna come to the club with me tonight? There might be some fresh meat there. Ya never can tell, with that new catalog ordering center opening up. I hear they’ve hired a number of women. About damn time this shitty little town got some new businesses.”

Translated, new women who don’t know you and what a player you are, Jerry.

“If you hate this place so much, why do you stay? Why don’t you move to a larger town?”

“Maybe I will someday, but in the meantime I haven’t bedded all the eligible ladies in this one.” He winked.

And some that are not eligible, Jerry.

Chad shook his head and smothered his sigh of disgust. Even after all these months of knowing Jerry, he found it hard to believe his attitude toward women. He found it even more difficult to accept.

“So what time should I pick you up?” Jerry asked.

“I’m kind of tired. Just got off my three-day shift.”

He should have known that Jerry would not be discouraged that easily.

“Aw, come on. You don’t do anything but lay around over there unless there’s a fire.”

“We do other things besides fight fire in this town, you know.”

“What, rescue cats from trees?” Jerry scoffed.

He rolled his eyes and bristled at hearing his job belittled. “It’s not worth arguing about. I just don’t feel like going out tonight.”
More information about Gary’s books and where to get them:
http://www.gestills.com
http://www.facebook.com/gary.stillman
http://www.facebook.com/AuthorGEStills?ref=hl
authorgestills.blogspot.com
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007FRP90M
http://www.gypsyshadow.com/GEStills.html#top
http://www.wickedinkpress.com/product_info.php?products_id=50

The Anvil Ghosts winner is Anne Sutton.

The Anvil Ghosts and ……a chance to win a free copy.

6 Oct

Today I have yet another Gypsy Shadow author. I would like to introduce you to Violetta Antcliff.
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Violetta Antcliff has been a member of the Nottingham Writers’ Club for the best part of Twenty years. She is the winner of numerous short story competitions and was area short listed in Waterstone’s WOW factor story competition. She took first prize in Nottingham short story competition with a story called Irish Mouse Tales and has read her poetry and short stories on local radio.
Congratulations to Violetta for being in the 2011 Preditors and Editors top ten Short Story Category for Magic and Mayhem.

Violetta has very kindly offered a free e-copy of her book, The Anvil Ghosts, to the winner of a promo competition this weekend. This is how it works. Below is a question about the book. The answer lies in excerpt. All you as the reader has to do, is read the excerpt to find the answer and then email it off to annehpetzer@gmail.com. On Monday evening the winner will be announced. 🙂

What are the names of Anne Scrimshaw’s children?

The Anvil Ghosts.

When Anne Scrimshaw makes the decision to move her dysfunctional family from the city to a rundown cottage in the Yorkshire Dales, she has no idea what she is taking on. With two broken relationships behind her, a troubled teenage daughter and a six-year-old son who craves affection, the last thing she needs is a cottage with a history. Although Anne doesn’t believe in ghosts, her daughter does and forms a friendship with a ghost called Tom and Silver Blick, a phantom horse she runs away on in the middle of the night.

Excerpt:
The cottage was run-down, drafty and in need of repair; guttering needed replacing, doors rehung, as they didn’t fit properly, and there was no central heating.

Regardless of all the faults, the Estate Agent could tell the woman was interested, and he was desperate to get rid of the property, for it had been on his books for far too long.

“The cottage is worth twice what it’s going for; the owners want a quick sale,” he said, smiling down at the woman benignly. “If you want my advice, snap it up while you’ve got the chance. Look on it as an investment.”

Anne wasn’t looking for an investment, she was looking for something in her price range as far away from Nottingham as she could get. “Would the owners consider dropping another thousand off the price, as it needs so much done to it?” she asked.

The man rubbed his chin as if considering the idea, then shook his head. “Can’t see them agreeing to another thousand—five hundred maybe. I’ll tell you what: you take another look round and I’ll phone and see what they have to say.”

Mobile in hand, he walked round to the far side of his car out of earshot.

Anne didn’t want to take another look around; she’d seen all she wanted to. Anvil Cottage was just what she’d been looking for, but she couldn’t let the man know this; it was the reason she’d been finding fault with every little thing since they’d arrived. She’d pointed out it was a long walk to the village, grumbled about the lack of entertainment in the area, questioned the frequency of the bus service. Gone out of her way to nit-pick, making believe she wasn’t really interested in the property

“Susan! Martin! Come on, we’ve got a bus to catch.” Anne’s tone was sharp, impatient. She hadn’t seen either of her children since they’d arrived and she wondered what mischief they’d been getting up to.

“Susan, Martin, I’m warning you—if we miss the bus you’ll both be in for it.”

A boy no more than six years of age appeared from inside the cottage. Hands thrust in pockets, he ambled over to where his mother was standing and stared up at her. “Don’t like this place, there’s nowt to do ‘ere,” he growled.

Anne ignored him; she had too much on her mind, enough problems of her own to contend with. What her son liked or disliked didn’t come into the equation.

Patience wearing thin, she looked at her watch and yelled again, this time angrily, “Susan, where the bloody hell are you?”

A head belonging to a teenage girl poked over the bottom half of a stable door. “What you yelling for?” she returned hotly. “You knew where I was.”

Anne bit her tongue, determined to keep her temper. Her daughter was the reason she wanted to get away from Nottingham; the reason she’d split from her partner, Martin’s dad.

“Now you’ve seen it, what do you think?” she said, waving her arm around taking in the cottage and out buildings.

“Hate it,” the girl said, “and if you think I’m going to come and live in a dump like this you can just think again. I’ll go and live with my dad and Marlene, if they’ll have me,” she added under her breath.

“Just been on to the owners.” The man sauntered over to where Anne was standing, all smiles.

“And?” she said.

“They have agreed to five hundred off the asking price.”

Anne hesitated. five hundred off the price was less than she’d hoped.”I’ll think about it,” she said, brow furrowed.

Anvil Cottage was the type of property she’d been searching for and she’d considered herself lucky to have found it, but she still wondered if she was doing the right thing dragging the children away from a bustling city to live in the quiet of the countryside.

She was a woman on her own with two broken relationships behind her and two children to look after. Martin, with his dark hair and brown eyes, took after his father. He was a serious child, doing well at school. The girl spent more time playing truant than attending classes; fair skinned, blue eyed and blonde, she was the exact opposite of her brother.

“If you’re worried about missing the bus.” The man tousled the boy’s hair and got his hand pushed away for his trouble. “I’ll be only too pleased to give you a lift into Darlington. You can catch a later train, or a bus from there.”

“I said I’d consider it, I’ll be in touch when I’ve had more time to think about it.” Anne could see the man was weakening. She was no fool; she’d guessed he wanted rid of the property. “If the owners had been prepared to drop it a thousand, well . . . who knows?” she shrugged her shoulders.

“A thousand less it is, then.” the estate agent came back without a moment’s hesitation, and stuck his hand out to shake on it. “You strike a hard bargain, Mrs. Scrimshaw,” he said, ushering her toward the car. “Hop in and I’ll take you back to the office, and we’ll sort out the details.”

The only ones not happy with this turn of events were the children. Sullen-faced, they clambered in the car and sat tight-lipped, arms folded, on the back seats.

To learn about Violetta’s books please visit her page:
http://www.gypsyshadow.com/Violetta.html#AnvilExc

A Dozen of Dreadfuls…

4 Oct

Next up for our GSP Halloween promo, I have the privledge of sharing Charlotte Holley’s entry, A Dozen Dreadfuls.

Charlotte Holley has an inborn love of all mysteries and the supernatural, and has been reading and writing about the paranormal for more than forty years. A mass communications major, she has written and published newsletters, magazine and newspaper articles, as well as poems and short stories since receiving her bachelor’s degree in 1980. As a beaded jewelry designer, she has also self-published twenty-two pattern collections on CD and in eBook form and has produced almost 400 individual original patterns. 
Having spent several years as a professional psychic, she has had extensive experience with the spirit world and has observed supernatural dramas that defy all rational explanation. Charlotte uses her expertise and story-telling ability to weave a powerful tale of mystery and horror, of love and deceit and of the overpowering desire of the human nature to make things right.

About A Dozen Dreadfuls:
It’s been said if two or more people strongly agree on any one thing, no matter how unlikely, that thing will come to pass. When art lovers and critics alike unanimously acclaim Sam Forbes’ monsters in his Dozen Dreadfuls series as real enough to step right off the canvas and into the world, they unwittingly unleash a rash of gory killings and a plague of terror as well.
   As the only living human who knows what is happening, Sam sets out to make up for the damage his work has caused at the risk of losing his first and best claim to fame. Can he save the world from the horror in time, and what will he have left if he does?

Excerpt:
  He was alone; the streets, deserted. The city lay sleeping in the sultry hush of the summer’s night. He trudged along, kicking the debris at the edge of the pavement, stopping now and then to rifle through the trash for anything that might be worthwhile. Here, he found a dime; there, a perfect silver chain someone had lost when the clasp came unfastened, freeing it to slide unnoticed into the piles of refuse. He smiled as he held the gleaming silver treasure up in the luminance of the streetlight before he stuffed it greedily into the crumpled paper sack he carried. The pickings were slim tonight, but he was grateful for what he did find.
     Rounding the next corner, he stopped cold. Two men were arguing in the alley. The heavier of the two grabbed the other by the collar, nearly jerking the man off his feet. “I said, give me the rest of it, punk!”
     “Quinn, I already told ya. This is all I got, man,” the smaller man squeaked.
     Quinn let go and shoved his companion to the pavement. “Sure you did, Amos. Sure you did. Okay . . . fine. So give me the rest of the goods then, and we’ll be square.”
     Amos squirmed at Quinn’s feet, looking like he’d puke when Quinn asked for the drugs. “Uh—no can do. See, my mark—well, he done stole the rest of it from me.”
     “Is that so?” Quinn demanded, kicking Amos in the gut.
     The tramp ducked farther into the shadows, fearing the two men would spot him. This whole affair was no concern of his, and to tell the truth, he knew he should go on his way. He should be making tracks as far from here as he could, as fast as he could, but something made him stay glued to the spot, fascinated by the real-life drama unfolding before him.
     Amos was doubled over in pain from Quinn’s assault.
     Quinn grabbed the writhing man by the hair of the head and jerked him to his feet. Amos screamed, but Quinn just laughed. “How many times do I have to tell you? You’re supposed to take your mark for all he’s worth; not the other way around, stupid. This is—what? The third time your mark has made off with the payload, leaving you with only crumbs? Does that seem right to you?”
     “No,” Amos managed to say between gritted teeth.
     “And does it seem right to you for me to let you live when you are such a screw-up?”
     Amos’ breaths were coming in short gasps now. He tried to escape from Quinn’s steel grip, and the tramp thought he actually heard the sound of the punk’s hair ripping from his scalp as Amos staggered free, leaving a handful of his hair in Quinn’s hand. “Aw now, come on, man. Surely you don’t mean that.”
     “Of course, I mean it. You didn’t lose the goods to your mark, did you? Did you?”
     “I—”
     Quinn threw Amos’ hair to the pavement in disgust and reached inside his jacket, bringing out a .45 and aiming it at the other man in one fluid movement. He brought the gun to bear on Amos so fast the tramp could hardly believe his eyes.
     “No!” Amos wailed. “Please, man. I got a wife and two kids. Don’t kill me. Please!”
     “I’d be doing them a favor, punk,” Quinn spat. “You’re a loser. Why don’t you admit the truth? You sold a little of it for more than you should have and took the rest of it yourself. I know your kind. You’re not just a loser; you’re a junkie to boot. Probably beat on your wife and kids, you filthy—”
     Amos stared down the barrel of the .45, his hands shaking, his gasps a mixture of hysterical sob and wheeze. The front of his pants turned dark with the stain of urine that traveled down his leg and pooled at his feet. He didn’t say another word, unable to pull enough air into his lungs to expel the utterance. He swallowed hard, and then closed his eyes, perhaps hoping if he couldn’t see when Quinn pulled the trigger, it wouldn’t be true.
     Quinn cocked the revolver.
     Amos winced and steeled himself for the shot that never came.
     At that exact instant, the tramp saw movement in the alley behind Quinn. He was still trying to decide what it was when a ten-foot tall monster took two giant steps from the shadows and knocked the gun from Quinn’s hand. Another second was all it took, and pieces of Quinn flew all over the alley before Quinn even had the chance to react. 
Where the book is avaible:
http://www.gypsyshadow.com/Charlotte.html#DreadfulsExc
http://www.amazon.com/A-Dozen-Dreadfuls-ebook/dp/B0043EV9EK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349370168&sr=8-1&keywords=A+Dozen+Dreadfuls

Check out Charlotte’s website at: http://charlotteholley.com/

Thank you Charlotte for being part of my promo.

Clawless on Centre Stage

24 Feb


This month we are fortunate to have yet another wonderful guest, hailing this time from Northern Ireland. I am very excited to have Christine with us today as her project which you are about to read supports a cause close to my heart. I consider animals, especially pets, to be one of the most vulnerable parts of our society. They often end up in a less than pleasant situation and Christine’s project aids the relief for some of them. Let’s hear about Clawless the first, I believe, feline soap opera :).

“When Clawless came out – it’s release week, our publishers sent out a press release to all the magazines and newspapers that subscribe and I sent out my own press releases to local newspapers and was thrilled to get a call almost immediately. My local paper ‘The Newtownabbey Times’ wanted to send someone round to interview me and take a photo. Of course, I felt nervous but also pleased as it is great to talk about your own achievement but strangely difficult. How easy is it to say ‘My book is very funny and wonderful’? Well, easier than you think because I didn’t write it! As a co author it is so much easier to be able to say ‘Oh it’s so funny. The other authors are a scream and write so well.’  Plus ‘Oh one when person wrote something really funny you sort of felt you had to write something as good so we all helped each other to keep up the standard’.  And when asked which was my favourite bit – it was fun to be able to praise one of the other writers’ work.
 
I had a few calls and emails from the Authors online press release including a few children’s comics ‘Animals and Me’ being one. They loved the book but maybe it was a little ‘old’ for their 6 – 10 year old readers. But any publicity is good publicity.
 
Choosing the charities had been hard.  We wanted to give the royalties to a cat charity and one that wasn’t too big so they would appreciate our donation and preferably and international one but we couldn’t find one. International animal agencies are there but mainly for wildlife or endangered species and I was keen to use Bath Cats and Dogs Home again as they do such amazing work – I had got Kimmy from there and truly they are the best animal rescue of its type bar none, in the UK.   (they have a vet on site to care for the animals and a behaviourist to work with dogs who are ‘difficult’ so they can be rehomed and they rehome cats of all ages but always have a waiting list of cats to come in. The animals are very well cared for too.)  On a par with Battersea Cats and Dogs Home which is also excellent but no better and with a different type of stray problem being in London.
 
As we had 2 UK writers,  4 US, 1 Canadian, 1 Australian and 1 S. African – it should probably have meant that they royalties went to one US charity if we couldn’t find an international one but the publisher was in the UK and it seemed … well unfortunate not to capitalise on Kimmy’s fan base in the Bath area plus the fact that Bath Cats and Dogs Home had been remarkably good at helping me sell books before via their newsletters and shop.  So we decided to give to two charities  – Bath Cats and Dogs Home and Ann Scarborough’s local shelter, The Humane Society of Jefferson County (another small but hard working centre where animals are not routinely euthanised unless very old or sick)  and both charities were so grateful.  As yet we have not made a fortune for them and the sales have been slower than I would like but we are still hopeful that the world will catch on to Clawless and that sales will rocket.
 
Had we done a second book we would have used two other charities probably in Australia next time and maybe in the US as well.
For more info on Clawless:

http://www.facebook.com/ClawlessBook
http://www.wix.com/squishgeo/clawless

It may purchased at: Authorsonline.co.uk

thank you Christine for being part of my blog. I wish you loads of sales.

Feline Book Feast

17 Dec

This month’s guest is Elizabeth Ann Scarbourgh. An author that I respect and a person I appreciate very much. It was on her recommendation that I sent my manuscript off to GSP and as a result became a published author. We share a love of cats and writing. I first ‘met’ Elizabeth on United Cats, a site that we both belong to. Our friendship was forged over our cat’s blogs and emailing back and forth. Earlier this year Elizabeth published a feline adventure as told by her past cat, Kittbits, ‘Spam vs the Vampire.’ A wonderful fun story about cats, forest animals and vampires. We are also highlighting ‘9 Tales of Cats’ the most recent of her books that has just come out. A series of short stories making it a wonderful feline feast!

Thank you Elizabeth for joining us for this post.
Having just read– and loved – Spam vs the Vampire, it intrigues me as to what inspired this story?

EAS: Well, we live in the town Port Deception (the town in the story) was modeled on. This is just about 75 miles or so from Forks, where the sparkly vampires of Twilight are supposed to live. We had about a solid 2 weeks of high winds earlier in the winter when I started SPAM, and for a period of time, were cut off from the rest of the world with both transportation and communication compromised (at least intermittently). As I mention below, this started out to be a straight cat mystery but the motivation worked out better if the culprit was a vampire.

Why did you choose to have your cat ‘write’ it?

EAS: It’s in first person from the viewpoint of Spam, the feline protagonist, and his appearance and backstory (about the philandering feral father) are all borrowed from Kittibits (K.B. Dundee) anyway, so I decided to make him my co-author. HIS story is that I can type and am alive and he can’t and isn’t so he made me HIS co-author.

I believe it was set in your town. Were any of the human characters based on people that live there?
Only the crew at Sea-J’s fish and chips cafe, where Spam enjoys fine dining with his new best friend Maddog. I don’t think I used any other real people, though many of the places were real. In the next one, THE TOUR BUS OF DOOM, a couple of my friends on the staff at Elevated Ice Cream make cameo appearances.

When you created the character of Spam did you have a particular cat in mind or is he a general feline? 🙂

EAS: Is there any such thing as a general feline? In my experience, they are all most individual and particular felines. As I said in the second question, Spam’s appearance is based on my rainbow cat Kittibits. His personality, however, is much bolder than Kittibits’ and is much more like that of Cisco, who supervises me now along with his brother Pancho. Both of them are black, however.

Stories which includes vampires usually conjure up dark images of old castles and werewolves but Spam vs the Vampire is light and fun. Did you plan it this way?

EAS: There have been some funny vampire books. Most of the recent ones have been romantic and I guess part of me was saying “ooooh, noooo, girlfriends. Didn’t you read Dracula? Vampires may be theoretically sexy in some books but would you really want to marry one? The underlying theme is actually not so funny–you never know who someone is even in real life, much less some guy you meet on the internet who comes from far far away and has delusions (or maybe not) of vampirism. Not all ladies will have a noble feline on hand to investigate if they disappear suddenly.
In fact, there was a real crime behind this story, although it didn’t involve vampires. A local woman I used to sometimes meet at the bakery in this story disappeared suddenly while out on a walk. Her elderly mother waited for her to come home, and she never did. There was a little search I guess but then everybody seems to have given up. I thought, what if it hadn’t been a mother at home but a cat or cats, sitting in the house waiting for her to come home but she never did? Nobody would know or care. So that part is quite serious too. I originally was going to write it as a straight mystery instead of a paranormal, and thought probably the woman would have been killed. But then in real life, the killings are almost always sex and torture related and I didn’t want to write one of those and also wanted my cat hero to succeed so I used a vampire instead, since they have their reasons for keeping victims alive.

An even more recent book of yours has just been released, 9 Tales of Cats. I love the title ;). As I believe these stories were previous ones you put together?
EAS: These stories are among the short stories I’ve written for various published anthologies over the years. Many of them are from Andre Norton’s CAT FANTASTIC anthology series. Their original publication dates are listed inside the book, for those who are curious. Oddly enough, I seem to have
written exactly 9 short stories about cats so the title fit.

Did you write these stories over a period of time or was the book completed in its entirety?
EAS: They were written over the last 30 years or so, while I was also writing my novels.

You also wrote two previous feline stories along with the late Science Fiction writer, Anne McCaffrey, the Barque Cats books. How did you and Miss McCaffrey set about working out putting the story together?
EAS: Anne and I had worked on fourteen other books together already and we both thought it would be fun to write about cats in space. She was also a great lover of cats (as well as horses, dogs and dragons). She had introduced Barque Cats in her Tower and Hive books and wanted to do a series about their own stories, as ships’ cats. She wrote the beginning and off we went…BTW, did you know that the original ships’ cats were Maine Coons and their close relatives Norwegian Forest Cats? The thick water resistant coat is helpful to them during cold wet sea voyages.

And as to future novels, after the success of Spam vs the Vampire, can we expect to see a sequel to this wonderful book?

EAS: Yes, I am working on THE TOUR BUS OF DOOM (with zombies), also a Spam story, right now, and have a couple of other ideas for further purranormals in the future.
Elizabeth thank you so much for being my guest today. I wish you Merry Christmas and may 2012 bring you even great literary success.
For the link to the above and other Scarbourgh novels:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=spam+vs+the+vampire&x=15&y=26
http://www.amazon.com/9-Tales-O-Cats-ebook/dp/B005WF40P4/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1324111064&sr=1-3

Zvonek 08 Book 2 – with special Christmas story

10 Dec

Am so pleased to anounce that the second book in the Zvonek series published by Gypsy Shadow, is currently on sale in PDF format and on Amazon compatible for Kindle. Thank your Denise and Charlotte for your hard work in getting it out in time for Christmas. So all you feline fans out there here is an except ( for blurb please click on Zvonek 08 series heading)


Prologue
1786 BC

The bejewelled sky spread its dark velvet covering over the silent earth below. The pale light of the moon cast a cold glow on Ma’at. The form of the goddess nestled among the columns of the temple; statuesque, protected from the night. Still and calm filled the land with peace that brought comfort.

Somewhere in a corner, a small movement. Not threatening. In the shadows, a small, huddled bundle. Silver, shining in the tiniest of pale rays that reached it. Another movement, shifting, and then the smallest of contented mews.

On the other side of the temple, a door opened silently. A dark shadow grew in the pale light. Stopped. Then moved again. Another mew, the shadow moved stealthily forward, growing longer in the pallid light. It reached the far corner, bent. There on the floor in a golden basket, lying on a silken quilt, the small body of Anther was rhythmically breathing the safe, contented breath of sleep.

The shadow stopped, did not move for an entire twelve seconds, then quietly bent over the basket and gently lifted the sleeping kitten, clothed in the soft quilt, into its arms and moved quickly and noiselessly back to the door. A sharp glow from the eyes of Ma’at pierced the shadow, causing it to stumble and fall in a heap at her feet.

Anther, now awake and frightened, darted for the door and disappeared inside.

In the bright golden light of day, a few worshippers gathered on the temple steps, all with only one eyebrow. Anther could not be found. All that remained were the empty basket and a crumpled silk quilt.

2011

Zvonek was not in the mood to wait for Honza. They had decided to have lunch at Whiskers. The last mission had been successfully completed, the paperwork filed, and now all that was left was to kick back and relax. It hadn’t been as dangerous or as stimulating as other missions. Clawdette had decided to stay in Prague to oversee the mission, causing undue stress for everyone.

He looked around the pub. It wasn’t as full as usual. It was only their second visit to Whiskers since the HQ of Feline Intel had moved to their new location. Zvonek hadn’t been sad to leave the old FI building at all. It was getting cramped and they needed something more upmarket. Their new location certainly was in a better area. The garden around the flat—it had been arranged for Mom to move as well, which wasn’t easy since she hated change—was so much better, too. Lots of long, soft, grass. And trees! Zvonek loved trees. It was great to have them in his own garden! The flat was down the road from the former residence.

One window was situated halfway behind a leafy bush, so you could look out, but it wasn’t that easy to look in. This garden had a proper fence, about ten metres from the window. Nice all round. Alas, there still were many things he missed about the old flat.

The humans who came to pet him while he lay in the sun at the living room window. The human friends he had made on the block. Ah well!! Guess it was time to move on.

“Anything else, sir?” The kit arrived at the table, disturbing Zvonek’s thoughts.

“Nothing more for me, thank you. Just the bill.”

He looked around and saw Honza was still at the bar, purring at a couple of felines. Zvonek smiled to himself. It was typical of Honza; his friend just couldn’t help it.

He slowly walked home. It had been a hot day and Zvonek was glad for the reprieve. He stopped under the bushes in the garden to enjoy the coolness before going in.

He sat under the tree outside the window. He still used the flap method in the cat net to get in and out. Simple and it worked well. He smelled the air. Different smells, but not unpleasant.

This time, he had a dog to contend with. She belonged to their neighbour, and he had groaned inwardly when he saw her. She proved useful in a canine sort of way, like keeping strays away, which meant that he had peace, so he would tolerate her for now.

Zvonek stood up and stretched out his legs in front of him, rump in the air. He’d better go in. Mom would be home soon and he should be inside, ready to greet her. It was Wednesday, which meant poached fish! It was his second favourite. He especially hadn’t had lunch at Whiskers not to ruin his appetite. When he got inside he would nibble on some granules, just to keep himself going. He walked slowly towards the window, stretching one back leg at a time. Just as he was about to jump onto the window ledge he heard a noise. The dog! He high-tailed it across the remaining space, leapt onto the window, through the flap, and onto the sofa. Just in time. The dog bounded toward the fence, to bark at people passing the garden.

Dogs! Zvonek shook his head as he sat down on the sofa, catching his breath. He looked around the room. It was a smaller flat than their last, by a couple of square metres. Instead of a separate bedroom and living room, in this flat they were together. Mom closed the door between the living room and kitchen while she was out, so that he didn’t run out when she came in after work.

http://www.gypsyshadow.com/AnneHPetzer.html#Zvonek2
http://www.amazon.com/Mau-ow-Miracle-Intelligence-Republic-ebook/dp/B006JG0TWS/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1323409338&sr=8-2