07/19/14


Cathy Perkins

New Release and a Goodreads Giveaway!

by Cathy Perkins

The cover is coming – and so is the book!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Cypher by Cathy Perkins

Cypher

by Cathy Perkins

Giveaway ends July 30, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 



06/23/14


Cathy Perkins

Release Day!

by Cathy Perkins

Way back in the dawn of time, I made the silly decision to not only participate in NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) but to also join the Entangled Smackdown on Savvy Authors. In one of life’s balances to What Was I Thinking? that Smackdown introduced me to some fabulous people who were also terrific writers. One of those women was Teri Stanley, who made us laugh with the Tale of the Cat Blanket.

Today is release day for Teri’s debut story – Deadly Chemistry, released by Entangled Publishing’s Ignite imprint. I had the pleasure of reading random early scenes and jumped on the chance to review an Advance Reading Copy. And it’s fabulous!

Here’s the scoop:

DEADLY CHEMISTRY

By Teri Anne Stanley

Sex, Lies, and Science Geeks, # 1

Some chemical reactions generate too much heat…

Former undercover cop Mike Gibson has been lying low, working as a maintenance man to put his troubled younger brother through college. But when a beautiful scientist enlists Mike’s help to repair the damage done to her lab by a group of vandals, Mike finds that his, and his brother’s pasts, are about to be brought to light.

Laura Kane was happy having a secret crush on the hot maintenance man at Tucker University, but when the drug she was studying is stolen, Laura has a chance to get to know Mike in person. The problem is, he seems to know more about what’s going on than any maintenance man should. But then the drug turns up in the wrong hands, and Mike and Laura have to decide if their own chemistry will help, or hinder, the race to save innocent lives.

 

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and other online retailers

 

Bio

Teri Anne Stanley has been writing since she could hold a crayon–though learning to read was a huge turning point in her growth as a writer. Teri’s first stories involved her favorite Saturday morning cartoon characters, followed by her favorite teen idols. She has also authored a recipe column (The Three Ingredient Gourmet), and scientific articles (Guess which was more interesting!). Now she writes fun, sexy romance filled with love, angst, and nekkid parts.

Teri’s career has included sex therapy for rats, making posing suits for female body builders, and helping amputee amphibians recover to their full potential. She currently supplements her writing income as a neuroscience research assistant. Along with a variety of teenagers and dogs, she and Mr. Stanley live just outside of Sugartit, which is—honest to God—between Beaverlick, and Rabbit Hash, Kentucky.

 

You can find Teri at her Author Website or hanging our on Twitter

 



06/5/14


Peter Andrews

Reflections on Looking Back

by Peter Andrews

“Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only? Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead, but if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.”

A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

I’ve written over 20 posts, probably better than 10,000 words about my high school adventures. I enjoyed reliving some of these experiences and dreaded others. I hope some readers have been entertained. Judging from hits, not too many.

Since I may be the primary audience here, I’ll examine what looking back means to me. I am not one who looks back very often. As much as I love history most of my career has been more or less as a futurist. And my fiction bends more toward science fiction than anything else. So, I am not the most likely person to reflect on memoir. What have I learned at this point?

  • Small kindnesses make the biggest differences. Over and over again, I’ve seen how things that have value in my life (writing, humor, science, compassion, fiction) were redirected or came to light for me thanks to the thoughtful comments and generous actions of others.
  • The young adult is still inside of me. Even something as simple as an old tape recorder can bring up back with his energy, angst, and quirky perspectives.
  • Every story has a lesson. With an amazing number of these posts, I had no idea why I had chosen the subject or why it might be of value to others or me. Putting the words down, just as with fiction, caused the full picture to emerge or to reemerge with fresh insights.
  • Fears change. I wandered around in some of Washington’s toughest neighborhoods on the heels of it’s biggest riot with regular war protests happening around me. This was not a worry for my parents or my school. I don’t remember any warnings and there certainly weren’t any liability-driven permission slips to bring home.
  • I never mentioned the Bomb. It was certainly in my thoughts. Although not as much as during the Cuban Missile Crisis, which is vivid in my memory. Maybe I should write about Adventures in Grade School.

Anyway, this has been a positive exercise for me. I’m not sure if this closes out my reminiscences of high school or not. But I’m happy with where this has led me.

 



05/30/14


Cathy Perkins

Guest Post – Joanne Troppello

by Cathy Perkins

Please welcome our guest, Joanne Troppello, to The Muse.  I’m delighted to share her latest release and …

The Story Behind Mr. Shipley’s Governess

 Joanne Troppello

Since my teenage years, I’ve been a fan of reading first YA fiction and then romance novels. Who doesn’t like reading about a dreamy hero as he pursues the heroine of the story? I began my foray into writing during my high school years. I was not actually published until many years later, but the dream was born in my heart during my senior year in English class. I had a very inspiring teacher who shared his love of writing and literature with our class—it was the first time that I thought hey, maybe someday I can become an author too.

It took me several years to write my inspirational romance novel, Mr. Shipley’s Governess because I had a full-time job while I wrote it. Now that it’s finally published, it’s exciting to bring my characters to readers’ lives for them to enjoy their story. I wanted to write a tale of love and inspiration with a romantic hero, and a heroine in need of “rescuing.” Now, this is not a damsel-in-distress tale per see, like a knight in shining armor rescuing the imprisoned princess. However, this is more of a modern day twist. The hero, Sebastian Shipley is a well-to-do business man who has a daughter with an illness. She is in need of a live-in tutor. Into the picture comes the heroine, Sophie Baird. So what does she need rescuing from? A few months earlier, her parents had died in a car accident and she needs to escape the pain of their death and be rescued from her life. Read the rest of this entry »



05/27/14


Cathy Perkins

Eve Devon – Happy Book Birthday!

by Cathy Perkins

I had the pleasure of meeting Eve Devon last year when her debut release, The Waiting Game, hit the streets. She’s just as gracious now, a year later. Let’s celebrate her novel’s first anniversary!

So, here’s Eve -

Firsts…

So The Waiting Game turns one year old today and as it was my debut book it got me thinking about all the firsts I experienced with its publication.

This year has flown by, but I can still remember the flutter in my heart when I first saw ‘copyright by’ and the copyright symbol next to my name.

And seeing my cover for the first time? I can admit that it took me a while to realize Big Ben was in the background—I was distracted by something in the foreground. Abs can say so much, don’t you think?!

Then there was seeing my book appear on all the bookseller sites that I usually purchased books from. Typing in my name and having my book pop up to buy—yep, total rush!

But as I raise my glass in celebration of The Waiting Game being out a year, the absolute icing on the cake was the first time a reader took the time to contact me and tell me how much they enjoyed my book. Read the rest of this entry »



05/22/14


Peter Andrews

Obsolete/Antique – Lessons from the past

by Peter Andrews

When I was a freshman, I tried to join Gonzaga’s ham radio club. One requirement was learning Morse code, and my dad loaned me his telegraph key. I practiced until I was ready for the test, but my efforts were wasted. My attempts to connect with the club’s president were a failure. He had an identical twin, whom I kept trying to talk to. Confusion was followed by annoyance and ended in embarrassment. I gave up. But, that telegraph key did become a souvenir, now in the possession of my son, who has his amateur radio license.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think back to all the outmoded technology from my high school years. Much of it was mechanical, like the vending machines that served up (way too many) Hershey almond bars to me. Or the pinball machines in Union Station that ate my quarters.

The slide rule I used in several courses is an antique, but deserves respect. After all, slide rules were onboard Apollo 13 and helped that crew get back to earth (a fact missing from Ron Howard’s movie).

I shudder when I think of the equipment I use in the chemistry lab. Yes, some would be the same today, but I clearly recall how excruciating it was to try to measure out materials on an old-fashioned scale. It was a beautiful device, and I’d loved to have one as a conversation piece, but I would hate to need to use one for serious scientific work. The same goes for the mercury thermometers, some of which I destroyed. I imagine if I were still working with them, I would come to be well known by Hazmat teams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of these devices required me to adapt myself to their world. To learn specific skills and to care for shared resources. I suspect that every generation learns different lessons based on the technologies and materials that surround them. Often, these lessons need to be abandoned or reworked as the world changes, and that’s not a bad thing. Finding ways to adjust to change is, in itself, a valuable life lesson. However, it’s good to revisit the older worlds for perspective and to remember the good lessons that were pushed to the side.

I am writing this blog with voice dictation. That has a curious connection to outmoded technology.

When I was taking physics in high school, I had a deep interest in audio. My teacher recognized this and let me use a kit, provided by AT&T, that synthesized sounds. Mostly, it fed vowels to a tiny speaker.

The kit included strange instructions on how you might use your hands to shape these sounds so that, effectively, you could create some consonants. I worked for hours just to master a variety of vowels, enough so I could form a sentence. Then I worked through all the exercises with my hand shapes just to create a sentence that would make sense.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After some practice, I pulled out a prize possession, a cassette recorder about the size of a lunchbox. This was high technology back then, with ease of use that surpassed reel-to-reel. I used it to record the Apollo 8 splashdown and, a few years later, an absurd debate between Isaac Asimov and Harlan Ellison.

But, though it was a marvel, its response time was a problem. Each individual phoneme required reconfiguring the breadboard. The starting and stopping of the tape was excruciating until I discovered I could avoid the piano-key-sized play and record buttons. A simple switch on the microphone would start and stop the cassette recorder as well with a lot less effort. With diligence, I was able to collect a set of sounds in the right order, recording them one by one on to my tape recorder. And I almost got the timing I needed to run the sounds together. To my ears, I got the kit to articulate a sentence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My teacher was thrilled with the work that I did. He gave me time in class to explain how I had put the device together, what was necessary to make it work (including the highly amusing hand gestures), a demonstration of setting up the machine to produce different vowels, and, finally, playing my tape. This last was a complete dud. No one even pretended to understand the sentence I’d created. Pivoting, I explained self-hypnosis was a known phenomenon for researchers involved in speech synthesis.

Then a question came up I knew was coming. Could you build a device that would recognize speech, perhaps even be able to convert speech to text? Luckily, I was prepared. The kit included an essay by a top AT&T scientist that proved definitively it would never be possible to create such a device. Impossible? Life gave me a lesson on that one.



05/9/14


Cathy Perkins

Guest Ann Gimpel – Elements of Great Storytelling

by Cathy Perkins


Welcome Ann Gimpel, Amazon bestselling fantasy and romance author, to the Muse! Her newest dark paranormal, Blood and Magic, just released with the wonderful tag line, Can Luke conquer his past and claim the only woman he’s ever loved?

Ann shares Elements of Great Storytelling with us today.

 

I’ve thought about this a lot lately since I ran into a spate of uninspired books, both on my Kindle and in Books on CD. I will say, though, that in the latter format, a gifted actor reading an audiobook can make even a mediocre story come to life and can gloss over awkward grammatical constructions so they aren’t quite as noticeable.

How about if we start with characters? It goes without saying they need to be three dimensional, which means they have thoughts, feelings, and actions that are congruent with their personalities. In my opinion, if a book doesn’t have characters that reach out and grab your heartstrings, then it’s DOA. It can have the most inspired plot in the world, but it’s wasted if readers don’t care about the characters.

Alrighty, so we have decent characters. Maybe not great characters, but they’re good enough you want to pick up the book to see what they’re going to do next. Plot determines the next moves in a book. Plot is basically the story that the book tells, but it’s how we get from point A to point B that weeds out talented writers from the rest of the pack. Brilliant plotting is tightly woven and the writer’s hand is all but invisible. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been somewhere in a book and something happens that just screams “convenient plot twist.” As an aside, this is why all writers need someone—crit partners, publishers, editors—to be a fresh pair of eyes. No matter how seasoned a writer is, he (or she) can’t see the foibles in his own writing. Not all of them, anyway. Another plotting issue is plot threads that go nowhere. They look intriguing, but the writer just never gets back to them. Read the rest of this entry »



05/7/14


Peter Andrews

Ruins

by Peter Andrews

I don’t know how historians figure this stuff out, but, apparently, people of the dark ages couldn’t get their heads around the ruins of Rome. Some thought the Parthenon, and the Coliseum, and other buildings were created by the gods. There is thought they were natural phenomena. And, the more practical barbarians saw these ruins as an excellent source for construction materials.

I have a certain sympathy for these unenlightened people since my time at Gonzaga followed a Golden Age (and preceded the successful school sees today). During my tenure there, I don’t remember any trophies being added to the collection I walked past daily. Photographs, old footballs, loving cups that needed polishing–these represented a different time. Hallways with marble inlays and peeling paint made me wonder what life had been like at the school a decade before.

Not everything was in a state of decay. The clock on the bell tower worked. The school seal, made up of hundreds of tiles set in the floor, looked fresh and new. By tradition, no one dared to step on. And the stained glass windows in the chapel were as delightful in my time as they had ever been.

St. Aloysius Church, on the other hand, needed work. It wasn’t especially clean and needed refurbishing. The altar paintings were wonderful, but the grime distracted. It got locked up more often after it was discovered to be a trysting spot for locals.

But even though it was down on its luck, the church had something special. It’s organ. One of the teachers would play it from time to time, but my favorite memory is of an instance when one of my friends caught me in the hall and flashed a key.

“You busy?” Chester asked.

This same friend was a comrade in arms for my Tolkien class and our role-playing game, War. “I don’t have to be busy.”

Chester never walked anywhere, and he never took a direct route. We dashed up stairs, down stairs, through a corridor I didn’t know existed. By the time we got where we were going, I’d lost all sense of direction. He slipped the key into the lock of a massive door, and flung it open.

I was within a few steps of the organ, a massive instrument that included floor to ceiling pipes. It would have made E. Power Biggs salivate.

“I demonstrated that I knew how to play it, and they gave me a key,” Chester said. To him, it was as if he’d been given a record contract. Or maybe a golden ticket to Hollywood. But he wanted an audience, and I was glad he chose me.

He started with flashy stuff. Real Phantom of the Opera. It was an athletic event for Chester and a great demonstration of the variety of sounds (very loud sounds the echoed through the church) the organ was capable of.

He segued into quieter music. A series of short pieces that showed big instrument was capable of as broad a range of emotion as a piano or a violin.

Then Chester finished with thunder. In his hands, the dark ages faded away. The gods were with us. The shabby church took on glow.

I often heard Chester playing on other days, as I went to class or sat in the library or fumbled through math problems. He didn’t invite me again to witness him at work. Perhaps he was giving other people their turns. But I’m grateful that he found potential within the ruins and demonstrated how, in the right hands, a glorious past could be revived.



04/25/14


Livia Quinn

Guest Claire Ashgrove

by Livia Quinn

 

Welcome Claire Ashgrove to the Muse. She’s going to share something personal about the hero in her new release.

Building on a background of fantasy game design, a fascination with history, and a lifetime love of books, award-winning author Claire Ashgrove brings to life action-filled, passionate journeys of the heart. Her paranormal series, The Curse of the Templars, marries the history of the Knights Templar with the chilling aspirations of the most unholy–a must-read for speculative fiction fans. She also writes as the  National Bestselling Author Tori St. Claire and historical romance author Sophia Garrett.

In her non-writing time, she’s runs Finish The Story, a full-scale editing house cofounded with Bryan Thomas Schmidt.  She lives in Missouri and enjoys cooking, studying ancient civilizations, and spending downtime with her two sons and too-many horses, cats, and dogs.

A Tour of Kale’s Living Quarters in BEFORE THE STORM

 Good morning, everybody!  Thanks for having me here today and letting me share my new Urban Fantasy, Before the Storm.  I recently stumbled onto a guest blog post that was a lot of fun, as it can tell so much about a character.  So, let’s let ourselves into Kale’s living space inside the Tolvenar camarilla and see what we discover.

First Stop:  Living Room – Contrary to his neat and tidy impression, his living room is full of stuff.  One wall is stacked to the ceiling with books.  Another holds an impressive array of antique weapons: swords, daggers, maces and the like. A scratched and weathered wardrobe hides a flat screen television and several shelves of movies.  This is clearly where he’s most at home.

Second Stop:  Kitchen and Fridge – Matching the man who’s always put together, the kitchen is neat and tidy.  A scarred central island, however, hints that this room sees regular use—and readers of Before the Storm know that’s not off the mark.  A peek inside his refrigerator reveals eggs, milk, several fresh cuts of meat, and fresh vegetables.  There is no beer or wine or other alcohol.  And no soda pop.

Third Stop:  The Bedroom – Kale’s bedroom is decorated in shades of grey and black that give off eerie shadows. The furniture, what little there is, is far more modern and harsher in design compared to the living room.  His walls are empty; so is the top of the dresser.  On his nightstand sits a solitary alarm clock.  If you open the nightstand drawer, you’ll find nothing inside.  There’s nothing personable in this room, as if perhaps he wants to hide the man he really is.

So there you have it!  The three primary rooms in Kale’s small residence inside the camarilla.  Does this glimpse tell you anything about the man he really is? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

I hope you’ll delve into Kale’s world and learn his secrets for yourself.  Now’s a good time too – it’s currently available at an introductory rate of only .99 cents.  No better time than now to give it a try!

Before I go, I wanted to mention that as part of the release celebration, I’m sponsoring a giveaway of a $15.00 Amazon Gift Certificate, randomly chosen from commenters throughout the tour.  And I have several opportunities over the next two weeks to win free copies and more gift certificates.  To see complete tour dates, and the other release-week events, check out the Before The Storm Tour Schedule!

Keep in Touch via:  Claire Ashgrove Website

Tori St. Claire Website   Sophia Garrett Website

Untamed Spirit Blog   Twitter   Facebook

Find Before the Store at your favorite store:

Amazon US  Amazon UK  Amazon CA  Amazon AU

Barnes and Noble  Print Version



04/24/14


Peter Andrews

Voices in the Night

by Peter Andrews

I’m one of six. I shared a room all my life until I reached high school. When I turned that magical age, my older brother and sister both were out of the house, and I was offered the smallest bedroom in the house. Mine. All mine.

To make the point, I was allowed input on the decor. I had all the taste and distinction of a teenage boy, so the furniture (including a wonderful solid wood desk) was all painted flat black. The walls became “champagne orange,” a statement color to say the least. I’m not sure I want to know what that statement meant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I dragged up an ancient television from the basement. Round-screen. Green. Permanently blurry. With this, I got my first experiences of the otherwise forbidden Twilight Zone (in reruns). I hooked pennants into the top of my blind until every American League team was represented.

My prize possession fit into the palm of my hand. It was a crystal radio I bought from my sister. She charged me a dollar. It got one station, WTOP, which was CBS, all news and talk. Every evening, I’d stick the earpiece in and listen until I fell asleep. Sometimes, that meant I woke up with a wire around my neck, and more than once, I found the radio broken. I always succeeded in repairing it. Listening to the station became a key part of discovering the world.

 

 

 

 

 

The issues taken on as the station broadcast into the night gave me deeper insights on civil rights, introduced me to feminism, provided an array of perspectives on the Vietnam War, and gave me a peek into the lives of writers, economists, artists, politicians, and actors.

An interview was likely to take a full hour, with terrific questions. They set the bar for me — my career has included hundreds of interviews — for  preparation and listening to people’s answers. Today, it is more common than not to hear an interviewer head off in a wrong direction because they know nothing about the topic, and I agonize as they ask questions that have already been answered. I never heard that happen years of late-night listening to WTOP.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The call-in shows were respectful and represented a variety of points of view from listeners — without any of them being shoved around by the broadcasters. There was no shouting, no coarse language, and, while some views were extreme, little in the way of demonizing.

Often, I was groggy the next morning because I didn’t want to miss a thing. Frequently, I was inspired to head to the library after one of these shows, and lots of my school papers included information and perspectives that would have been impossible if I hadn’t developed this habit of listening.

Perhaps the most important thing these shows did was guide me through the tragedies of those years. The assassinations. The riots. Horrible accidents and catastrophes. I lay in bed and listened to adults struggling to absorb these blows, to test out possible futures, to find consolation, and to make sense of painful changes. The answers were less important to me than my getting a window into how grownups approach a difficult world and the limits to their success.

Pretty good value for a dollar.



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