“Comes this Time to Float: 19 Short Stories by Stephen Geez”

Today I am thrilled to host an author who is beyond a doubt in my Top 5 Stephen Geez Author Icon 2020 800wideFavorite Authors of All Time. I kid you not. You would think that a book of short stories would be easy to set down. Not true with this author. His writing is of the “take me away, Calgon” variety. Rather than “spoiler” alerts, it should come with “addiction” alerts. I have read several of his novels and must say they are all memorable with their endearing characters and his phenomenal writing skills that suck you and your heart right into the story. Here’s your chance to get a sampling of his work and find out what you may have been missing. –MF


Geez Float Tour 2nd leg Placard DAY 9Salutations!

I am thrilled to see you here at Day 9 of this extended blog tour! Gratitude abounds for my generous host who shared some blog space today. I hope to interest you lit-mavens in trying my first book in something lo too many years, this my only collection of short fiction: Comes this Time to Float: 19 Short Stories by Stephen Geez. You could add another “by Stephen Geez” to that, as I put the moniker in the subtitle, too. I’d be forcing it to find a theme, except maybe that all my stories try to look at something I think is important, but told in a decorative sort of way. Written here and there among novels over two decades, they show a variety of genres and styles, as I get restless. Now they’re tucked between jacketed hard covers and softs, or in e-however-you-likes.

The Enticement

Each tour stop will offer the opening paragraphs of a story from the book, then link to the full story online.  A few will also link to audio-shorts narrated by me. An RRBC-specific promo video will be foisted on you every day. Using a narrator didn’t seem right for my own trailer, so yeah, it’s me. Be sure to post reviews in your favorite places, most helpfully if Amazon. RRBC members, be sure to report the Amazon link to your Reviews Coordinator for quarterly credit.

And you, I thank, too.

A Geez Author Blurb

Stephen Geez grew up in the Detroit suburbs during the American-auto domination. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor. He retired from scripting/producing television and composing/producing television music, then expanded his small literary management firm into indie-publisher and multi-media company Fresh Ink Group. Now he works from a deck overlooking the lake in north Alabama, helping other writers share their compelling narratives with the world.

Comes this Time to Float 1000p high The Book Blurb

Prepare to think as you explore these wildly disparate literary short stories by author, composer, and producer Stephen Geez. Avoiding any single genre, this collection showcases Geez’s storytelling from southern gothic to contemporary drama to coming-of-age, humor, sci-fi, and fantasy—all finessed to say something about who we are and what we seek. Some of these have been passed around enough to need a shot of penicillin, others so virgin they have never known the seductive gaze of a reader’s eyes. So when life’s currents get to pulling too hard, don’t fight it, just open the book and discover nineteen new ways of going with the flow, because NOW more than ever Comes this Time to Float.

 The Promo Video

 Today’s Sample: “Bus, Boy”

Busboy.

André, the punk-ass busboy.

Scratchy black pants, stiff white shirt, cheap dark shoes. Sixteen years old, embarrassed to be here, he sits in a booth in the back, waiting for paperwork and some here’s-what-you-do.

P.O. set this up, said only way outta this place is to find a better job hisself. Got tomorrow and the next day off before a five-day schedule kicks in. Bet he’ll have something better before having to show his face for a second day in this place. Judge said gotta work full-time now, then part-time and GED classes in the fall, or serve that suspended year. Catch another case and he’s gone for even longer. That was last week. Probably shoulda started looking for his own job then.

Moms cried when she showed him the clothes she bought him—proud of him, she said, bring in some money, help out, maybe get some insurance to share her car. Teenage boys cost a lot.

Restaurant-style food joint in the mall, booths and tables and stools at a counter, waitresses running trays, two cooks behind the lights, order slips clipped to a turning-deal, Lenore at the register on your way out. It’s humiliating, working at a place like this, these kinda people, right by home where everybody he knows can see him. P.O. says people respect honest work. Yeah, right.

The Whole Story

I have posted the entire story on my blog today. Be sure to come back here!

https://StephenGeez.WordPress.com

The Audio-short

Find the Book Now

Should be just about everywhere, but here are the biggies:

Barnes and Noble

Amazon

Other Places I Lurk

Twitter

Instagram: StephenGeezWriter

Website

Blog

“The Klansman’s Wife” by Scott Skipper

klansmanswife

First of all, I know that I’ve been absent from my reviewing duties for a while now. That’s  because I’ve been up to my eyeballs writing a story that began as a cozy mystery that expanded into a thousand-page conspiracy thriller which has required an astounding amount of research. I truly hope to get at least the first book out in a few months. I expect it will be worth the wait.  Recently I took a trip, however, which gave me time to read on the plane and this was the story I selected. It definitely made the miles fly by at a rapid pace.


The title alone constitutes a spoiler though this cautionary tale definitely drives the message home. Set in South Carolina in the 1970s, this gripping story captures the dark side of the south in the post 60s Civil Rights era. This culture was entirely off the radar of those who lived in other parts of the country and deserves to be read for its education value alone.

I have to smile at the main character’s name, Mason, a Californian who definitely has some interesting revelations and adventures upon venturing below the Mason-Dixon line. A young man in his late 20s who has recently lost his job and been divorced by his wife accepts employment at a company in South Carolina that manufacturers machines used in the printing industry. From reviewing ECRs (engineering change requests) to interactions between employees with a variety of educational and cultural backgrounds, the author did a great job capturing the work climate of such a facility which included plenty of gossip and the inevitable backbiting. It was easy to visualize the environment and feel as if you, too, were an employee observing the drama and goings-on.

Mason is immediately attracted to a flirtatious woman named Jill. Despite warnings that her abusive husband is the Grand Knight of the local KKK, he pursues a relationship with her. As expected, he is attacked and harassed in a vicious manner, any relief from law enforcement nonexistent since they are also members of the Klan. His obsession with her is not to be doused, however, and ultimately becomes coupled with compassion and the desire to help her escape her abusive marriage.

Further description will definitely tread upon spoiler territory, though I’m sure just about anyone can figure out that this is probably not going to end well. Actually, the ending does carry a few major surprises, though the author did a good job of alluding to them. This suspense-laden story is not only a warning not to allow your libido to lure you into dangerous situations, but also provides a glimpse into what it was like in the Deep South a half-century ago. While some of it has improved, it’s still a place immersed in echoes of a culture that few outsiders understand.

Scott Skipper is one of my favorite authors, particularly his Alien Affairs series. Being much darker, this novel lacks the dry humor found there, but his skilled writing style and attention to detail make it an outstanding read.

As mentioned earlier, I read this story while on an airplane. As I was about to get into my car in the remote long-term parking lot I heard a shot. Duly sensitized by the action in the book, I ducked, wondering what was going on and whether I was in mortal danger. Then it dawned on me that it was New Year’s Eve and all I’d heard was a firecracker.  Nonetheless, it illustrated the author’s skill in pulling me into the story. Don’t miss it.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here. You can learn more about Scott Skipper and his other stories through his social media links below.

Official Author’s Website www.ScottSkipper.com
Facebook.com/Scott Skipper
@SSkipperAuthor

Cold Weather has Arrived! Celebrate with these Recipes Using an Old Favorite: Oatmeal!

Kindle Cover copy

After a long, hot summer, cooler weather has finally arrived. If you’re ready for some true comfort food from an old favorite, be sure to check out this delightful cookbook from author, Annie Douglass Lima! In her own words…


My latest writing project is very different from anything else I’ve written. It’s a cookbook! But those who know how much I love fantasy might not be surprised that this cookbook ended up with a fantasy theme. Many of the recipes have names inspired by fairy tales or fantasy stories, and I love the hints of fantasy in the two covers designed by the awesome Savannah Jezowski.

Why two different covers? The paperback version of the cookbook is an unusual shape, due to the unusual recipe format (more information about that below), so it couldn’t share a cover with the ebook.

Some people might be surprised, though, that the whole book is focused on oatmeal. After all, isn’t oatmeal that boring goop that nobody really eats if there’s anything else available?

NOT ANYMORE! In this book, you’ll find recipes for delectable dishes like creamy mango coconut spice oatmeal, cinnamon almond oatmeal, blueberry cream cheese oatmeal, and (my personal favorite:) caramel banana oatmeal with peanut butter. (Okay, so that one is a little closer to the dessert end of the spectrum than the porridge end!)

Take a look at the book blurb below for more details:

Are you tired of high-sugar, low-health-value instant oatmeals in tiny serving packets full of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives? Once Upon a Bowl of Oatmeal contains 70 hearty recipes packed with natural ingredients and brimful of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. All are gluten free, assuming you use gluten-free oats, and vegan (or they come with a vegan option). Most require no salt so are perfect for a low sodium diet. Almost all of these recipes can be prepared in ten minutes or less, saving you time in your busy morning.

Oh … and no more math! Whether you’re cooking just for yourself, for a family of six, or any number in between, every recipe comes in the form of a handy table that shows exactly how much of each ingredient you’ll need for however many servings you want.

Tasty enough for kids to crave, but wholesome enough to appeal to health-conscious parents, these mouth-watering recipes will give you plenty of energy for your day while pleasing your taste buds too. Download Once Upon a Bowl of Oatmeal now and say goodbye to artificial breakfasts that don’t fully satisfy.

Take a peek at a few of the fun recipe titles (with pictures courtesy of photographer Denise Johnson). Then scroll down for a free recipe!

TOC with pics copy

And now for a free oatmeal recipe in the unique format I use in Once Upon a Bowl of Oatmeal:

Blueberry White Chocolate recipe

WHITE CH

Ready to grab your copy? Click here to download the ebook for your Kindle or to order the paperback cookbook. And if you enjoy the recipes, please consider leaving a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or Bookbub!

About the Author:

Annie Douglass LimaAnnie Douglass Lima considers herself fortunate to have traveled in twenty different countries and lived in four of them. A fifth-grade teacher in her “other” life, she loves reading to her students and sparking their imaginations. Her books include science fiction, fantasy, YA action and adventure novels, a puppet script, anthologies of her students’ poetry, Bible verse coloring and activity books, and now a cookbook. When she isn’t teaching, writing, or experimenting with new flavors of oatmeal, Annie can often be found sipping spiced chai or pomegranate green tea in exotic locations, some of which exist in this world.

Connect with Annie Douglass Lima Online:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AnnieDouglassLimaAuthor

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/anniedouglasslima

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnGoodreads

Blog: http://anniedouglasslima.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/princeofalasia

Email: AnnieDouglassLima@gmail.com

Sign up for her mailing list so she can let you know when new books are available. When you sign up, she’ll send you a free copy of one of her fantasy books! http://bit.ly/LimaUpdates

 

 

“Love of Thol”: Book 3 of an Enchanting Sci-Fa Series for All Ages

loveoftholcvr

“Love of Thol”

by Dawn Greefield Ireland

This enchanting series is a perfect example of the somewhat obscure genre known as Sci-Fa, i.e. a combination of science fiction and fantasy. The author has created a vivid world accessible through various portals on Earth. In volume one, “The Prophecy of Thol”, teenager, D’laine Jackson, accidentally tumbles through this portal where she is received as the fulfillment of a prophecy. As she adapts to her new world in which she will play a key part, there is never a dull moment.

As the series progresses through volume two, “Gifts from Thol,” her family and others join her. Each person from Earth discovers they have a special gift in this new world. These include such things as the ability to achieve local teleportation, seeing the future, and communicating with animals. In this volume, another family joins them, their gifts unique as well.

The characters are engaging, individual, and interesting. The imagery is outstanding. I can truly visualize the settings and various characters. One note in that regard, in the back of this book there’s a reference guide to the various terms used as well as brief descriptions of the creatures and positions of the characters. It would be helpful to look that over first. When such are introduced in the previous volumes they are beautifully described. However, if it’s been a while since you read them (which you should, in order, to grasp the full genius of this series) it’s an excellent refresher if your memory is like mine and isn’t always as reliable as you’d like it to be.

The story and characters continue to grow and progress in this volume. D’laine and her husband, Trakon, are now expectant parents. The birthing process on Thol is significantly different than Earth. It appears that D’laine has adapted to their physiology in this regard, though there are various hints that things are about to change. Other civilizations and cultures are introduced, including some intriguing hooks regarding the prophecy that D’laine represents. A horrific storm called a churling that’s comparable to a hurricane on steroids falls upon them, bringing new challenges.

The plot flows easily, as if you’re right there with the characters, and is rich with a strong feel for daily life on Thol, yet new intrigue is skillfully woven in. Fans of this series will be happy to know that there is more to come as new mysteries are introduced, which would be spoilers to specify.

I highly recommend this series. While it’s intended for teens and young adults, its characters and plot are a pleasurable read for any age, from those children to whom it could be read aloud to grandparents like myself, who thoroughly enjoys my escape into this new world. It would make a terrific gift for young readers. Pick up your copy on Amazon here.

New Release from Annie Douglass Lima!

King of Malorn Cover

Thanks for stopping by! Take a look at this brand-new fantasy adventure story with a hint of romance by author Annie Douglass Lima.

You can download a copy of the ebook for free between July 9th and 11th!

Book Description:

Life as the king’s younger sister should be exciting.

Not for Princess Kalendria. She’s sick of the dissent and of constantly having her family undermined by those who think they could rule Malorn better than King Korram.

Hoping to lighten the mood in the palace, Kalendria plans a ball to celebrate her seventeenth birthday. It doesn’t hurt that their handsome Alasian ally King Jaymin has promised to attend, and she’s been waiting for him to notice her for as long as she can remember.

But unfriendly forces have their own party plans. When Kalendria, Korram, and Jaymin barely survive an assassination attempt, their only recourse is to flee into the wilderness. Tracked by unknown assassins, they must figure out whom they can trust and who is behind the plot. Can Kalendria help her brother reclaim his throne – oh, and catch Jaymin’s attention while she’s at it – before they are all killed and war destroys both kingdoms?

Click here to download your copy of King of Malorn on Amazon now! 

Click here to see King of Malorn on Goodreads.

Annals of AlasiaSeries Information:

King of Malorn is book 5 in the Annals of Alasia. But don’t worry if you haven’t read the others; it will still make sense on its own.

Each of the first four books can stand on its own as well. They each deal with events surrounding the same major political incident: the invasion of the kingdom of Alasia by the neighboring kingdom of Malorn.

Prince of Alasia begins on the night of the Invasion and describes what happens to twelve-year-old Prince Jaymin after he is forced to flee for his life.

In the Enemy’s Service features a girl as the protagonist and tells the story of those who were not able to escape from the Alasian palace when the enemy invaded.

Prince of Malorn begins several months earlier and focuses on the Malornian perspective of the events leading up to the Invasion.

The Nameless Soldier shows how a young Alasian soldier lives through the Invasion but then has to survive and make a name for himself in enemy-occupied Alasia.
In each of the books, main characters from the others make brief appearances and interact with each other at the point where the timeframes and settings overlap. 

I also have a short ebook of “interviews” that I conducted with the characters in the other three books. Annals of Alasia: The Collected Interviews is not available on Amazon, but I send a free copy to anyone who signs up for my mailing list (to receive updates when I release new books or occasionally offer them for free).

Annie Douglass LimaAuthor Biography:

Annie Douglass Lima considers herself fortunate to have traveled in twenty different countries and lived in four of them. A fifth-grade teacher in her “other” life, she loves reading to her students and sparking their imaginations. Her books include science fiction, fantasy, YA action and adventure novels, a puppet script, anthologies of her students’ poetry, and Bible verse coloring and activity books. When she isn’t teaching or writing, Annie can often be found sipping spiced chai or pomegranate green tea in exotic locations, some of which exist in this world.

Author Contact Info:

Email: AnnieDouglassLima@gmail.com

Blog: http://anniedouglasslima.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnieDouglassLimaAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/princeofalasia

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnGoodreads

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/anniedouglasslima

LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnLinkedIn

Bloglovin: https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/letters-from-annie-douglass-lima-6275229

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/annie-douglass-lima

 

 

Conclusion to Elle Klass’ “Zombie Girl” Series coming soon!

retributioncover

I’m excited the final book in this series will be out soon so I can read it. When you read the following guest post, particularly the excerpt, from fellow author, Elle Klass, you’ll probably be able to figure out why. I’m really not a big vampire or zombie fan, but Elle creates vivid and endearing characters along with clever plots with new twists on what are often worn-out themes. This one has a fair share of humor, which will draw me in every time since I can use all the laughs I can get. Check it out! –MF



Maddie is my kinda girl. She’s tough, feminine and even when afraid does what needs to be done. It’s always tough saying goodbye to characters, probably why I have such difficulty in ending a series.

If you’ve been reading you know she started out as a 14 year old girl who hated science and everything related to it until one day when the unthinkable happened.

With the whole apocalypse thing and zombies trying to eat her and the group she’s with they’ve traveled over seas and lived through some extremely treacherous times.

No matter what, the humor was always there and it gives the entire series a light heartedness that makes it memorable. It’s more like Zombieland than The Walking Dead.

zombiegirlbooksI had a ton of laughs writing the story and learned a lot developing a story in a genre I wasn’t real familiar with. Writing horror for kids is different than for adults. I had to watch my words and their words. That’s where the humor comes in. I’d also never dabbled in sci-fi or post apocalyptic fiction. It was a first and I’m proud with how it turned out.

No spoilers here! Read the series. Try the game and see which character you are, share your results on social media and feel free to comment below. Click here to play.

Book 1 Premonition is now free!  (Read my review)

Amazon

Nook, Apple, Kobo and other retailers

Book 2 Infection is at .99 through August 1st. (Read my review)

Amazon

Nook, Apple, Kobo and other retailers

Book 3 Retribution is on pre-order for .99! That will only last through release day August 1st!

Amazon

Nook, Apple, Kobo and other retailers

Excerpt: (one of my favorite parts. Hehe!)

Two dead zombie eyes stared at me. I knew that was more a reflex. It couldn’t see me. Its long gray hair hung limp on its shoulders as it clicked its tongue, blood dribbling from its mouth on its way towards me. Its drip drag stagger-walk was impressively quick. A flowered sundress covered in sprays of blood, chunks of human skin clung to the fabric.

On the floor behind her was a man in a black robe. His mouth was in an O as he screamed, “No!”

I swung the blade of the katana towards her dirty, slimy neck when she came within a few feet of me. It nearly connected then something I’d never seen, nor imagined, happened. The zombie blew apart from the inside out. I was glad my teeth were gritted as I’d have had a mouth full of deader if I hadn’t. Chunks and blood sprayed the walls. It was a definite ten on my disgusting scale.

Chunks of her blew into the man’s mouth. He gagged and spat to rid his body of the nasty zombie meal. His face met mine and he scooted backwards on the floor. His eyes barely visible through the zombie mess covering it. I moved closer to him. He was living. “Are you hurt?”

“You killed her!” he growled. “You are a murderer!”

What? I hadn’t expected that one and I hadn’t killed her; she blew up like one of Deavers’ grenades. “I didn’t kill her. She was infected and there’s no cure. Did she bite you?”

“You killed my wife.” He continued sliding backwards.

That’s when I noticed it. The beam from my flashlight caught the silver barrel of a gun, only a couple feet from him. I moved towards him. “Don’t think about or you’ll be dead like your wife.”

He scooted again and I moved quicker now and jabbed the end of the katana’s blade into his chest. Keeping it centered on him, I side-stepped and kicked the gun. It flew across the floor.

“Get up!” I ordered with a sneer.

He pushed his back against the wall and slid up it. His short, dark hair was coated in zombie film. I jabbed the blade lightly into his chest so he knew I meant business. When I did, it slid through a hole in the dark robe hanging around his shoulders. “Did she bite you, Professor?” I didn’t know what else to call him and it looked similar to a graduate’s robe.

His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed. “That makes no difference. Go. Go now!”

Well, this wasn’t going well. The patter of rain stopped, meaning the worst of the storm was over. I glanced over the hallway. A collar of sorts clung to the wall in the muck. I grabbed it. “You’ve been keeping her alive, treating her like a pet?” That was sick. Really sick and morbid.

He narrowed his eyes into tiny slits. A chunk of deader flesh dropped from his forehead. “She was my wife.”

The memory of my father turning seemed like a million years ago but it was still fresh in my head. I knew he was turning and that I should kill him, but I didn’t. Instead we tied him up. This guy did the same thing. He put a collar around her neck. I brought the katana to my side. “I don’t want to kill you and I didn’t kill her. She exploded. I’ve never seen that before. When did she turn?”

“In the beginning. The very beginning.”

That begged a lot of questions like how did you get her past the military? What has she been eating? Was that why her drip-drag was so quick?

The rain stopped and I was on a mission. “We have to go.”

“I’m not going anywhere with you.”

I rolled my eyes. I needed some answers and he would provide them. “Yes, you are. Remember I have the weapon and you don’t. I also have your wife’s collar and I bet it’s a shock collar. The kind used for training dogs.” I smirked.

“Fine,” he seethed.

I lifted the katana towards his chest again and spread the cloth of his robe. What I saw didn’t surprise me. A set of round, fresh, human-deader teeth marks. I lifted the collar towards him with my free hand. “Put this on just in case.”

Reluctantly he grabbed the collar and wrapped it around his neck. The motion caused a chunk of flesh to fall from his robe, revealing a name tag.

“You first, Mitchem.” I read the tag.

For the next hour we steadily walked towards the marina and I pried all sorts of information from him. He was a Duval County judge. That explained the black robe. He and his wife were visiting family in Gainesville when the end of the world went down. She was exposed immediately but didn’t turn until a couple days later. Dumb luck saved them from the military. They’d spent the night in their RV deep in the woods. When he woke up the next morning his wife, Gloria, was eating their Pomeranian. I imagined large puffs of fur stuck between her teeth and chuckled.

“It’s not funny!” he growled.

He was wrong. It was funny. In this new world I had to find humor where I could and that was hilarious. However, I stopped laughing out of respect and let him continue his story.

“I tied her up with bungee cords and glanced a peek out of the window. I would have waved my hands and let them take me, but they’d have killed Gloria. I couldn’t have that. A soldier approached the RV, I stood inside with my gun loaded and waited. A radio voice came through, “Need help now! Surrounded by them.” That was it. They never returned and I got us out of there.”

Copyright Elle Klass 2018 Retribution

Choose “The Alternative” Day 5 Blog Tour!

BOOK COVER

Choose “THE ALTERNATIVE” Blog Tour DAY 5.

Welcome today! Thanks to my marvelous host …

Thank you for joining me here on my New Release Blog Tour.

Book Blurb

There are those that cling unreservedly to the lifeboat that believing in Karma hands them so willingly.

They work, they live, and they function in a world that allows them the option of unreservedly trusting that Karma has no deadline.

Until they are handed the spark that ignites them into becoming the instrument of Karma itself.

There are others who have had all they once held to be truths, everything they once stood for and took pride in, torn apart and ripped from them by the hand of a cruel fate.

Then, of course, there are those who believed in nothing and no one, to begin with …

These are their stories.

The stories of people both good and bad, who made the choice to exact “The Alternative.”

Today I want to give you a brief look at “Isolation Can be Deadly”

An Excerpt.

Chapter 5. Isolation can be deadly.

The woman’s body language screamed stress. One long-fingered hand toyed with the ends of her honey-colored hair; she clenched and unclenched her fingers, totally unaware of the tangled mess she was weaving.

Her right hand showed white knuckles as it gripped the telephone.

Her voice, however, was controlled and ice cold.

“Yes, yes I can hear you just fine. Yes, I am going to place another advertisement. Not that it’s any business of yours, daddy dear. Do you think me a complete idiot?” She paused to listen to his reply.

“Why didn’t they stay? You, of all people, have a damn nerve asking me that. Why would they stay?” Sam hissed out the words. “You didn’t!”

Sam shifted the phone to her other ear, taking a deep breath before she continued, “I don’t want to hear it. I am thirty years old, not thirteen! You have no right to play the concerned father. You forfeited that right when you walked out on mother and me to be with that, that, slut! Even that stupid bitch could only stand you for six months. You are a pathetic, useless, excuse for a man!” Sam slammed the phone down.

She braced herself against the edge of the kitchen sink, feeling the bile rise in her throat. “Shit! Why do I let him get to me like that?”

“Shit!”

Two large Rottweilers came charging into the room, responding to Sam’s raised and angry voice. Their hackles were up and they searched the room with their eyes ablaze, seeking any perceived threat to their mistress.

“Easy, my boys, easy.” Sam hunkered down, soothing the agitated animals.

“Good boys. Momma’s fine … sit.” The two dogs dropped to their haunches immediately, and Sam rewarded them for their loyalty with a loving hug.

She made herself a fresh coffee and took out the writing pad to reword yet another advertisement for the city papers.

WANTED: Male Ranch-Hand, Jack-of-all-trades. Must be good with horses. Property located in Far North Queensland. Must be able to tolerate isolation. Applicants must be fit and healthy. Doctor’s certificate required. Generous wage, plus all meals. Large bonus after three months continuous employment. Written applications only. Single males only. No family ties. Successful applicants will need to travel to North Queensland for the interview process. The employer will recompense reasonable expenses incurred. Apply, Sam Mannix c/o Post Office, Shady Creek: North Queensland. Australia.

******************

There are things that can kill you in the Jungles of far flung North East Australia.

BUT … Which of them is the most deadly?

Is it the beautiful Samantha Mannix … The Owner of Euphoria Homestead?girlwithhorse

Or perhaps it’s her newly hired Ranch-Hand Ben Edwards!

guyonbike

Or was it something else entirely?

crocodile

Buckle in, stay alert and hang on … it’s one HELL of a ride.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


Again my sincere thanks to my host, and to the great crew at 4 Wills Publishing for organizing my blog tour!


“The Alternative” NOW Available Amazon.com


Author Bio:

Suzanne Burke resides with her daughter and grandson in a small country town located hundreds- of miles to the west of her previous home in Sydney Australia.

Suzanne had long wanted to write, life interrupted and she didn’t begin her journey into the world of writing until she was in her early fifties.

Suzanne has written her memoirs under the author name of Stacey Danson, both her non-fiction books have ranked in the top 100 paid in Kindle on Amazon. “Empty Chairs” and “Faint Echoes of Laughter” continue to earn wonderful reviews.

Suzanne writes her powerful Thrillers “Acts Beyond Redemption” and “Acts of Betrayal” and her Paranormal anthology “Mind-Shaft” as S. Burke.

Connect with Suzanne

Amazon Author Page

On TWITTER.

On Facebook.

My Blog

This tour sponsored by 4WillsPublishing.wordpress.com

Historical Fiction at its Best: Review of “Finding Billy Battles: The Lost Years” by Ronald E. Yates

9781545632819_cov2.indd

5stars

This well-written conclusion to the Billy Battles trilogy is its crown jewel. This series’s characters are so vivid and compelling it’s hard to believe that this is a work of fiction. Their involvement in the events of the late 19th and early 20th century brings history alive as well. The author has outdone himself in researching that era and many of the events of which only true history buffs would be aware. In doing so, he has performed a great service bringing them to readers’ attention because these various international skirmishes laid the foundation for much of the contention seen in today’s world.

As they say, victors are the ones who write history. It’s also true that what you hear in history class is based on what higher powers want people to believe and incorporate into their view of the world. There is nothing more enlightening than to see familiar situations from the other side of the fence. Through these novels, Ron Yates has done a stellar job of placing the reader in the middle of various international situations and, in the true spirit of journalism, objectively presenting both sides. Sadly, today there is so much bias in the news media that true journalism has virtually disappeared. But even before they stooped to fake news and blatant lies, the stories presented by the media were designed to maintain a certain mindset that fueled nationalism at its worst.

When the U.S.A. entered World War II, they were definitely invited. Western European countries still appreciate us for the victory made possible by our intervention. For example, to this day Luxembourg places a wreath every Veterans Day on George S. Patton’s grave, which is in a U.S. Military Cemetery within that country. However, there have been times when our actions were nothing less than intrusive, albeit based on self-protection. That is justifiable to a point, but once that goal is achieved, hanging around terrorizing other country’s native populations is flat-out wrong. If you’ve ever wondered why Mexico hates us, this book will provide some answers.

European colonialism, which we supported, is another thorn in the side of many countries, especially in Far East countries like Korea and Vietnam. Bringing our version of civilization to these foreign shores, which we were convinced to consider a favor, in many cases wasn’t. How we’ve treated indigenous populations in other lands is shameful and even persists to this day with regard to Native Americans.

Of course America did not start this practice, which originated millennia ago. Not that long ago, we were a colony ourselves, who were being oppressed, which ultimately resulted in the American Revolutionary War. So what did we do, but turn around and support colonization by those who had once been our enemy. When our borders or way of life are threatened, that’s one thing. If someone attacks us, we have the right to defend ourselves, but our intrusion into these other battles has often made us the invader. It’s no wonder that other countries fear us, and it spirals down from there. However, the world is now entangled in the unfortunate consequences of thousands of years’ worth of conquests. Cliché though it may be, it’s true that those who fail to learn from history are indeed doomed to repeat it.

I didn’t intend for this review to turn into a political essay. However, it demonstrates how effective this novel and its predecessor, “The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles”, have been in enlightening me to some of the less than savory facts embedded in U.S. history, thanks to the exploits of Yates’s amazing characters. Their interaction with actual historical figures makes it all the more interesting and convincing. Astounding imagery puts you right in the thick of things, whether geographically or via the use of the conversational vernacular of the time. In more ways than I can count, this book is a masterpiece. Do yourself a favor and get started on this series today. You’ll not only be entertained, but see the world in an entirely different way. Isn’t that what great fiction is all about?


You can pick up your copy on Amazon of “Finding Billy Battles: The Lost Years” here.

You’ll also want to read “Finding Billy Battles: An Account of Peril, Transgression, and Redemption”, Book 1 of the series, which you can find here.

Book 2, “The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles”, can be found here. My 5* review of this one is here.

Ron at Southcoast WineryLearn more about the fascinating background of author, Ronald E. Yates, and how it prepared him to write such outstanding stories from our interview here.

 

“Gravity Waves” by Scott Skipper: Another Hilarious Addition to the “Alien Affairs” Series

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This is one of my very favorite series, ever, and this episode further confirmed that whatever science fiction sub-genre this happens to be, it’s what I’d choose if I had to, over just about anything else. I guess it could be called something like “snarky, politically incorrect, hard sci-fi” and I love it. It has technology and theoretical physics speculations to feed my nerdy, physicist brain; sarcasm that makes me wish I could be as witty; and snarky undertones to evoke hysterical laughter, such that my cat glares at me for disturbing her sleep when I’m reading in bed.

It was so much fun to get a glimpse of half-breed, Terrie Dreshler, now fully grown not only to adulthood, but middle age, to say nothing of her mother, Carrie Player, now an old lady, at least chronologically, and stepping into that role where she admonishes those around her for their every faux pas.

Every time Terrie called Deshler “Dad” I cracked up. I can just see this entire series as an uproarious sit-com that comprises a family where the father is a grey alien; the mother, human; and the daughter, well, mostly human, other than her eyes. It just gets better and better. Such a show could even beat out my two favorite sit-coms of all times, “Third Rock from the Sun” and “Alf.”

Situations involving interdimensional time travel sometimes left my head spinning with regard to when and where they were, but things sorted themselves out eventually. The new alien, Emelda, a towering Nordic wonder, was a great addition to the group. Her penchant for Uncle Eddy was hilarious, as well as her insisting repeatedly that Mars was still a “sh*thole”, in spite of  the earthlings’ innovative terraforming efforts. Then there’s Terrie’s renewed relationship with Marcus, which adds a touch of something bordering on romance. The inclusion of a character who was supposedly Elon Musk’s grandson, to say nothing of the involvement of SpaceX, tied the story into current events, which gave it even more credibility. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Terrie turn up on the news one of these days, or an equivalent of their electronic personal assistant, Casseopeia, in the local Wal-Mart.

While the author does a tremendous job of tying in events from previous books as reminders and plot gap fillers, I highly recommend reading this series from the start. The evolution of the absurd situation that started in Roswell in 1947 as well as the roles of this diverse cast of characters is priceless. Trust me when I say you don’t want to miss out on any of it.

Anything that can make me laugh is worth its weight in gold. I’ve already read the first book twice. These are definitely stories that I’ll read again and again, which is extremely unusual for me since I tend to have a very long To-Be-Read list. But who doesn’t go back to their favorite stories, whether it’s a two year old wanting mommy to read the same tale every night, or a great-grandma who’s found a series that couldn’t be more perfect if it were written expressly for me?

Keep ’em coming, Scott! I think the entire “Alien Affairs” series is nothing short of magnificent. (But be warned, you probably won’t agree if you think it’s important to be politically correct. It’s not, but some things just need to be said.)

You can get your copy from Smashwords, Amazon, or your favorite online retailer.

Ronald E. Yates: Premier Journalist in Fact…and Fiction!

Ron at Southcoast Winery

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Ronald E. Yates, former foreign correspondent, professor emeritus, and author of the highly acclaimed Finding Billy Battles series.  If you haven’t experienced his work, you are missing out on some of the finest novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading.  Not only do his characters jump off the page, but you’ll find yourself transported back in time to historical events of which I, for one, had little knowledge or understanding. His stories brought me to an entirely new comprehension of the Spanish-American and Vietnam Wars, as well as how and why the USA is often viewed in a negative light. You can find more regarding my thoughts on “The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles”, second volume in his series, in my review HERE. I am now an avid fan and hooked on properly researched and objective historical fiction.

Meanwhile, here’s a glimpse of the person behind these landmark works, demonstrating that personal experience contributes greatly to the stuff of which an outstanding writer is made.


MF: You had a long and interesting career as a journalist, not unlike your protagonist, Billy Battles. Does any one particular correspondent assignment stand out above the others? If so, why?

RY: Hmmm. Let me count the assignments. There are several but I would say covering the end of the war in Vietnam between Jan 1974 and April 30 1975. The last day was chaos incarnate. Russian made 122mm rockets were slamming into buildings, 130mm mortars were hitting Tan Son Nhut airport, and the U.S. Embassy was surrounded by frantic South  Vietnamese desperate to get out of the country because they had worked for the American military or some U.S. agency. The city was in full panic mode. Several of us made our way to the sprawling Defense Attaché Office building at Tan Son Nhut and we were finally evacuated by a U.S. Marine CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter. It was a relief until the door gunner told me later aboard the U.S.S. Okinawa that the pilot apparently had to drop flares to misdirect a SAM-7 (surface to air missile) that had been fired at our chopper.

Every year I post a story detailing the last 24 hours in the fall of Saigon. People can find it on my blog. I could add a few more such as the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 and the time I was taken prisoner in El Salvador by anti-government guerillas, but that would take up the entire interview.

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MF: One thing that impressed me the most about the Billy Battles stories is how well you maintained his objectivity. I learned so much about historical events that have colored other country’s opinion of America. It seems the old standards of journalistic objectivity have gone the way of landlines and 20 megabyte hard drives. How do you feel about today’s highly biased reporting?

RY: As someone who spent 25 years as a journalist practicing it at the highest levels and then another 13 years as a professor and Dean at the University of Illinois where I taught journalism, I am terribly disappointed and disgusted by the lack of fairness and accuracy I am seeing—especially in Washington. It seems to me that too many journalists today see themselves as subjective opinion leaders rather than impartial purveyors of information that is fair and accurate. Coming as I did as a neophyte into the cavernous news room of the Chicago Tribune back in 1969 right out of college, I had editors who made sure that I didn’t stray from accurate, evenhanded and unbiased reporting into opinion and rumor. When I did, I heard about it from some crabby City Editor.

An even worse sin at the Tribune was the sin of omission. That occurred if you took it upon yourself NOT to report something because doing so might not coincide with YOUR interpretation of the event or your political predilection. Good journalism, somebody once said, is a nation talking to itself. Sadly, it is the public that suffers when journalists become advocates for one party or cause at the expense of providing unbiased news. Some say journalism in America is dead. I won’t go that far. But I believe it is in a coma.  

Ron Yates in Bangkok with title 2 (2016_01_14 15_27_28 UTC)MF: Billy is one of the most memorable and realistic characters I’ve encountered in fiction. Did he just spring to life or is he mostly you time-traveling to historical settings?

RY: That is very perceptive of you, Marcha. Aren’t all novels (or trilogies in my case) supposed to be autobiographical in some way? I guess if I’m honest I would agree that Billy is me time-traveling to the past. There are parallels in Billy’s life and mine. For example, both of us grew up in Kansas and we both attended the University of Kansas. Of course I graduated and Billy didn’t. We both spent a lot of time in Asia and Latin America in places like Saigon, Manila, Hong Kong, Mexico City, Veracruz, etc. We both lived in Chicago and we both worked for newspapers there. Even though my wife is German she is not a baroness as Billy’s second wife was. I only had two daughters, not three like Billy. We both owned guns. That’s where the similarities end. Unlike Billy, as far as I know, I never killed anybody.

MF: If you had access to a time machine, which period of history would you go to first?

RY: There are two periods that I have always been fascinated with. One is the 19th Century during the period my trilogy begins. I grew up in Kansas and I was always fascinated by what life was like there in the 19th Century when the state was still quite wild. One of my passions during my time in Kansas was the state’s past, with its cow towns, gun slingers, law dogs, and other assorted characters. I spent a lot of time learning about some of the people whose reputations were made in Kansas—Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, Bat Masterson, Wild Bill Hickok, etc.

One of my forefathers from that time knew some of these people and I used that fact in having Billy rub shoulders with them. The other is the period between 100 BC and 200 AD during the height of the Roman Empire. I would love to be able to walk through ancient Rome now that I have walked through it in the 21st Century.

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MF: How much harder would it have been to write your Billy Battles stories without the research capabilities of the internet?

RY: Let me see, how much more difficult? How about 10 times more difficult. The internet has opened up myriad avenues for conducting research. I have a fairly substantial library containing lots of reference books countless subjects, as well as books on Asia and Latin America, etc. because of my time as a foreign correspondent. I use those a lot—especially if I need to double check something I find on the internet that seems a bit off. Believe me, there is plenty of misinformation on the internet—even in Wikipedia, which I support annually with a modest contribution. I had a lot of books on Asia’s colonial period and those were invaluable. Same with books about 19th century and early 20th century Mexico, but I still found myself surfing the internet almost every day. For a writer the internet is an invaluable tool.

MF: Do you (or have you) physically travel to the locations where your stories take place or do you do so vicariously? If the former, what new insights and inspiration came from any of them that made a significant difference in the story?  Did any new plot twists come as a result?

RY: Because I was a foreign correspondent posted to Asia and Latin America I spent years in the places I write about in the Finding Billy Battles Trilogy. I actually lived in the same hotel (The Continental Palace) in Saigon that Billy lives in when he is there in 1894-96. In fact, I had him stay in the same room I lived in, so I could describe the scene outside his window quite accurately. I think it is really important for any author to have visited, if not lived for a while, in the places he or she writes about. There is a ring of truth that you simply cannot achieve by visiting these places virtually on the internet or in travel books, etc. For one thing, you can’t effectively describe the heat, the smells, the way a place can envelope you unless you have been there.

As for plot twists, there are a few in each of the three books. Probably the most significant one in Book 1 is when Billy encounters the Bledsoe clan for the first time and winds up accidentally shooting the matriarch of that family of outlaws. It changes his life and sets him on a path that borders on criminality. In Book 2, it has to be the way Billy and Katharina grow together despite their many differences. I hadn’t originally planned to have the two of them fall in love, but somehow they forced me to do it! In Book 3, I would have to say it is tragedy that sends Billy very definitely on a lawless path along with his cousin Charley Higgins. I won’t say any more. I don’t want to spoil the book for those who haven’t read it yet.

MF: Did you always aspire to become a novelist some day or did it simply evolve over time?

RY: I knew when I went into journalism that I wanted to write novels. But I also knew, that like Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, Edna Buchanan, Graham Greene, and the late Tom Wolfe who started as journalists, I needed to learn the craft of writing. I needed to develop a style and I needed to develop confidence in my writing. I didn’t want to write fiction while I was still working as a foreign correspondent, but doing that job allowed me to collect scores of characters for the books I knew I would write someday. My experiences as a journalist have been priceless and vital as I transitioned from journalism to fiction. I think any author who started as a journalist will tell you that. Hemingway once said, “everything I ever learned about writing I learned from the Kansas City Star style sheet and covering the streets of Kansas City.” I could say the same about my 25 years with the Chicago Tribune.

MF: What’s your favorite part of being an author? Your least favorite?

RY: I really enjoy telling stories. It’s what I have done all my life. Journalism is essentially storytelling, but in a different format. Of course, writing fiction is quite different. In fact, I think being an author is both a curse and a gift. It is a wonderful gift if you allow the process to come to you and don’t force it. However, don’t let anybody tell you it is not damned hard work. It is. As I said, the joy of writing for me is telling a good story. I don’t care about imparting a “message.” Nor do I care about creating any hidden “meanings” that some literature professor will hold forth about in a writing class when I am no longer around to rebut him/her. I just want to tell a good story. That, to me, is the ultimate goal of writing.

The curse is that writing can take over your life, isolate you from family and friends, and turn you into a kind of inscrutable recluse if you are not careful. Writers need to take breaks from working. If they don’t I believe they run the risk of becoming stale, self-absorbed, and misanthropic.

MF: Besides Billy, who’s your favorite character in the series and why?

RY: There are a few, but if I had to single out two they would be Charley Higgins, Billy’s shadow rider cousin who has spent part of his life south of the law. Charley is a tough hombre who never shrinks from a good scrap. He is a man-killer and were it not for him, Billy might not have lived to reach old age. Then there is the Baroness Katharina von Schreiber whom Billy meets on the SS China in 1894 on the way to Asia. At first Billy is not attracted to Katharina. She seems aloof and caustic and Billy avoids her until one night she knocks on his cabin door and his life is forever changed.

MF: What’s the most fascinating historical fact you uncovered doing your research?

RY: French Indochina was home to lots of rubber plantations and I was planning on having Billy become involved with them in some way. Then I learned that there were no rubber plantations in French Indochina until after the turn of the century. So between 1894-96, when Billy is there I discovered that coffee and black pepper plantations were the main crops. I was fascinated by the black pepper plantations, how pepper is grown and harvested, etc. so I had him involved in those. I learned a lot.

MF: What are you working on now?

RY: I am beginning a book on a woman named Iva Toguri, AKA “Tokyo Rose.” I wrote a series of stories back in the late 1970s that resulted in President Ford giving her an unconditional pardon. Iva was convicted in 1949 on one of eight counts of treason—one of only 11 Americans ever convicted of treason in American history. However, that one count was based on the testimony of two men who confessed to me that they had been forced to lie at her trial. “Iva never did anything treasonous,” one of the men told me. “Just the opposite. She was fiercely pro-American.” The two men asked for Iva’s forgiveness. They never got it. And with good reason. As a result of their lies Iva spent 6-1/2 years in Alderson Federal Women’s Prison, was fined $10,000 and essentially lost the rights of American citizenship. Those convicted of treason can never vote, never be certified for any profession, never get a passport. My stories went all over the world and, as his last act as president, Ford pardoned her. Iva and I got to be good friends. She lived on the North side of Chicago while I was with the Tribune. We had planned a book together, but in 2002 she suffered a minor stroke and we never got the book off the ground. She died in 2006, but she always told me she wanted to tell her story in her own words. That’s what I plan to do in this book.


9781545632819_cov2.inddBilly Battles: The Lost Years, third and final volume of the trilogy, is now available as an ebook; the print version will take a few more days. If you haven’t already enjoyed the other books in the series, you probably should start with them so you can travel alongside Billy, witness his progression as a character, and chronologically experience history through his eyes.

Link to Finding Billy Battles (Volume I)

The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles (Volume II)

Billy Battles: The Lost Years (Volume III)