‘Watching Glass Shatter’ by James J. Cudney: review & interview

Jay’s ‘This Is My Truth Now’ web site is a great collection of book reviews, author pages, books, alerts, giveaways, book bucket list, blasts from the past, cool stuff, tips & advice column and his blog.

I met Jay (James Cudney IV) a few years ago as we connected through our blogs. He is a wonderful soul, full of warmth and humour and how he combines a full-time job with a constant flow of writing, reading, writing reviews for others’ books and running his own web site is astonishing. He is full of ideas and these hold many blessings as they are always about supporting others.  I hold much gratitude for our connection, as I am sure many others do.

He is a prolific writer and his books hold compelling plots, complex relationships and mysteries and have been translated into many different languages. Watching Glass Shatter, Father Figure, Braxton Campus Mysteries: Academic Curveball, Broken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, Haunted House Ghost and Frozen Stiff Drink.  

Jay is a humble soul, who much prefers to shine a light on others, so it is my pleasure to feature an interview with him here today, my review and an excerpt of ‘Watching a Glass Shatter’.

Over to you, Jay. Take it away, my lovely….

Interview:

  1. Where were you born?

I was born in Fort Myers, Florida. My paternal grandparents retired and move there in the 1970s to run a bar with friends. After my grandfather had a heart attack, my parents visited them and fell in love with the area. They bought a house on a canal, and a few years later I was born. When I was two, my maternal grandmother became ill, and my parents missed the rest of the family. They moved back to Long Island, where most of my family has lived for one-hundred and fifty years, also where I grew up.

2. What is your earliest memory and what feelings does that hold for you?

I actually have very few early memories. I have an unusual memory, and it’s not easy to explain. I’ve forgotten most everything from my childhood and teenage years, but I remember random restaurant check amounts and facts that I learned over time. I can’t sort out how I forget certain things and recall others, but it’s definitely inconsistent and sometimes troublesome.

One memory I do have is that a phantom used to visit me and hover near my bedroom door in the middle of the night. I tried to get out of bed many times, but it held me back, and I’d wake up screaming in a nightmare. I sometimes think it was real, and I never understood what caused it. On the positive side, I do recall spending lots of time with my paternal grandfather who used to keep sugar-coated spearmint candies in his car. Every day after school, he’d come to visit my mom for a cup of coffee, and I was allowed to sneak into his car to have just one candy. I loved spending much time with my relatives when I was younger.

3. Do the dramas and intricate personal relationships you write about come from your life experiences, or observations of others, or maybe a mixture of both?

Most are not from direct personal experience. In all of my books (except one), the main character comes from a very large family with multiple siblings. I am an only child, and although I am close with my cousins, it’s a different experience not having another person who’s descended from the same person as you. I often felt like I was on my own, and as a result, I spent more time thinking, reading, and watching television. That’s where I saw relationships develop and fall apart, and when I consolidated those experiences with various ones with friends and extended family, I created my impression of what it must be like to have such a large immediate family. If you ask any of the people who know me best or who’ve known me for a long time, they will tell you that I’m almost always silent and quiet in group settings. I am truly an observer who prefers to watch others interact than delve into the experience myself. I’m a sensitive soul, and conflict has always been a painful notion for me. I’d rather not get into a disagreement, so I tend to hide in the background and not discuss my opinion in a public situation.

4. What is important to you?

Truth. Equality. Honesty. Doing the right thing. Being fair and forward-thinking. Taking one extra step to ensure you’ve communicated properly. Never treating someone poorly. Learning every day. Treating others with respect. Saving for the future. Helping others. Being seen as a good person.

5. What are the saving graces that have helped you during these current times?

Luck and hope. I grew up Catholic, and I was more religious when I was younger. I’ve struggled with faith on and off throughout my life. But under all of it, I value the Golden Rule. It has almost always worked out for me. In the instances where it didn’t, I had little control over the situation. I’ve been healthy and safe my entire life, and my parents always protected me from the dangers of the world. I am often a perfectionist with high expectations of others. Consequently, I am also often disappointed because I feel like others don’t always do the right thing. It impacts me personally, innately almost. It is in those moments where I feel the world can be a bad place, but it is also in those moments where a conversation with my mom or a good friend will awaken my hope again. I’ve worked hard to get where I am today, but there’s a been an angel or a guiding light behind it all. I am grateful more than anyone can ever know.

6. What have you always wanted to do and want to find the time for?

I wish I could learn how to be an artist with either paint, ink, or a camera. I do not have visual design talent in any way, shape, or form. I do well enough in pulling together graphics for book marketing and home décor, but it’s basic and light because I do not have a ton of patience or natural experience in these areas. I tend to know a little about a lot of things rather than a lot about any one thing specifically. I’d love to master one of these skills in the future.

7. Do you enjoy another creative outlet, apart from your writing?

Genealogy. It’s creative in that it’s analytical research to figure out the past. Through research, database analytics, and guesswork, I’ve found 2000 ancestors, and it makes me feel good that I’m confident in most of the connections’ validity. It’s a puzzle, and I enjoy solving it to the best of my ability.

8. Do you have a mantra? If you would like to share it.

Not really… I suppose it could be something along the lines of “Get more detail.” In anything I do, I’m like a two-year-old, asking the Who-What-When-Where-Why-How questions until I get to the root of a situation. When most people accept an answer, I keep on digging until I’m 100% certain and understand all the reasoning behind something. Though I don’t shout it from the rooftops, whenever someone asks me for advice or asks a question, I can be relentless about getting down to the details. But I also know when to back away without being tedious or painful about it!

9. What gifts you the most encouragement to achieve all you do?

I strive for perfection, yet I balance it with efficiency. It’s my own version of the 80/20 rule. One of the most significant attributes in my personality is the ability to see all sides of a situation. It can be a good and a bad thing because I am a bit of an empath in that I feel bad choosing and letting someone down when there are winners and losers in a situation. I also can make decisions quickly on rational or logical things, so I’m balanced well. It can drive me a little nutty tho too.

10. How do you feel about change?

Change is a good thing, as long as it’s managed well and expectations are set about the impacts of change. I dislike change without the communication of change happening in the future. If it’s last-minute, I deal with it, but I’m usually not chipper about the change.

11. Do you need silence to write?

100% yes. I need silence in everything I do. I have a hard time functioning with any noise around me other than nature. If the dog barks or someone makes noise in the hallway outside the apartment, I’m immediately distracted and unable to focus. I think it comes from spending so much time on my own as a kid, which I enjoyed… even now, in the social distancing and quarantine, I’m a bit thrilled. As an introvert, I’m happy to spend 24/7 inside and independently, but it doesn’t mean I don’t miss and love my friends and family. I just mean that I can be okay under these conditions if I can chat or email with everyone. In time, we’ll visit in person again.

12. What draws you to write mysteries?

I like the challenge of solving a puzzle, creating drama among intriguing characters, and pulling the wool over someone’s eyes. All in literature though… never in person. That wouldn’t be right!

Watching Glass Shatter

My review:

This is a family saga, with a unique plot twist that is only revealed in the last few pages. Cudney’s writing style drew me in and I was eager to know the outcome. I cared about the characters, right from the outset to the very end.

It is skilfully written as the story unfolds through each character being gifted their own chapters. Families are complex, especially large ones, and the web of secrets hidden within this one highlight that. Cudney describes how each family member’s story is edited for other members of their family. Fear, lies and deception hiding layers of secrets and, as the carefully crafted facade of Olivia the family’s matriarch, disintegrates through shock and grief, then other facades within her family crumble.

‘Watching Glass Shatter’ is the perfect title and I am looking forward to reading more from this talented author’s imagination and pen.

List of Published Books:

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

            Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)

            Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)

            Flower Power Trip – #3 (March 2019)

            Mistaken Identity Crisis – #4 (June 2019)

            Haunted House Ghost – #5 (October 2019)

            Frozen Stiff Drink – #6 (March 2020)

For all those who wish to connect with Jay and keep up to date with his latest creativity, all his online links are below:

Websites & Blog:

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

Social media links:

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

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

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

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

It has been great to welcome Jay here today and I know you all join with me in wishing him loving energy for all his creative endeavours. ❤

Life’s Rich Tapestry Woven in words by Sally Cronin: Interview & review. #SallyCronin #interview #review

Sally’s Smorgasbord Blog Magazine is a lovingly generous mix of her writing, the writings and books of her fellow authors, collaborations, poetry, book reviews, laughter and a series of articles, such as the current one on Relationships with Debby Gies.

She is a prolific writer and her books are a delight and full of life experience, warmth and imagination; What’s in a Name (Vol. 2), Life’s Rich Tapestry; Woven in Words, Just an Odd Job Girl, Media Training, What’s in a Name, Tales from the Irish Garden, Cuentos del Jardin, Size Matters, Tales from the Garden, Just Food for Health, Flights of Fancy, Turning Back the Clock, Sam; A Shaggy Dog Story and Forget the Viagra, Pass me a Carrot.

Sally has a huge heart and her intuition hears and feels the world and people in a unique way. She has the gift of sharing her perspectives and insights through writing and there are many blessings in being connected to Sally.  Her indefatigable support for others is much appreciated, as many can attest too.

I am thrilled to bits to share an interview with Sally today.

Interview

Thank you for having me over Jane…

  1. When did you first become aware that you could see people and situations in all their layers?

We travelled to several countries with my father who was in the Royal Navy, and it meant that I was thrust into unfamiliar situations and meeting strangers from the age of 18 months. I think that gave me confidence, and also a curiosity about life and people. I apparently was one of those children who questioned everything and must have been a pain in the neck. That curiosity has persisted up to the present time and I love nothing better than a tough nut to crack. I am very happy with change and people are fascinating; as a writer, the experiences have been gold dust.

  • What is your earliest writing memory?

When we came back from South Africa when I was twelve years old, I was a year behind everyone at the grammar school in Preston I was enrolled in. They said I would catch up… It was not just certain subjects such as geography, history, French and mathematics that I was behind in. In the previous year, the girls in my class had formed their friendships and groups, and I was definitely the odd one out with my accent and tan!! I felt unhappy and isolated for the first couple of terms. Every Friday in last period, our form teacher would invite girls to stand up and read a story or a poem they had written to the whole class. One Friday, I put my hand up and delivered a poem on bullying that emphasized how everyone should be grateful they did not live in a country with apartheid especially if they were considered to be inferior. It was titled ‘We are all human beneath our skin’. There was some funny looks between the girls and also from the teacher but on the Monday there was a thawing of relations and I found myself being included a lot more.

  • Could you share with us some of your favourite books and authors?

That is very tough as I have so favourite books and authors from childhood onwards, and have gathered many more over the last 50 years. I have every book written by Wilbur Smith on my bookshelves, buying my first when I was 11 in 1964; one of the authors that I still buy in print. Also the amazing Earth’s Children Series of books by Jean M Auel which encouraged me to discover more about my own history dating back 20,000 years as part of the Oxford DNA project. To discover that I was genetically related to a woman who lived at approximately the same time as the humans in Jean Auel’s books, was a revelation and life-affirming.

  • Does where you live have an impact on your writing?

I do think that where I have lived during my life is reflected in my writing, as are the people that I have met. I have written a book set in Spain and one in Ireland and I have written short stories about many of the places I have lived and visited. I wouldn’t want to waste those experiences and encounters as they have made me who I am today. Also, I hope that I am creating a catalogue of memories that will be useful when I am in my dotage!

  • What lifts your heart in the everyday?

It has to be relationships, particularly the one I have been privileged to enjoy for the last forty years with my husband David. I had escaped from an abusive marriage and after finally obtaining my divorce after three years; I was adamant that I was not going to get married ever again. They call it famous last words for a reason. I met David when I was an assistant manager in a remote Welsh hotel when he booked in as a guest for two weeks. He asked me out on his last day and asked me to marry him the next day. We got married six weeks later. We have travelled the world, lived in 19 homes and have worked out of the same office for the last 20 years. He is my soulmate and best friend and that certainly lifts my heart every day.

And of course, there are family and friends who always have my back, including some very special online friends who have been with me every step of my blogging journey.

  • Is writing your main creative pursuit?

With the blog, poetry and books it has certainly taken over much of my life, but in a good way. Writing takes us out of ourselves and mentally and emotionally offers so many benefits. It might involve a little too much sitting on a day to day basis. but I hope it means I will keep my marbles until they carry me out the door, gripping my mouse in one hand and the keyboard in the other. Hopefully, wherever I end up they have Internet!

  • Do you have a favourite time of year?

I spent so much of my life from a baby in sunny climates including 17 years in Spain, that for me it has to be summer. If I am not writing then I am reading, and to sit outside with a cup of iced lemonade, a good book and feel the warm sunshine is bliss. I love colour in the garden and early summer when there is still blossom on the trees is magical.

  • When life tumbles and falls, what centres you?

There have been a number of close calls physically and emotionally, and I know that having someone who is supportive and loves you come what may, is essential. I also learnt to be self-sufficient growing up as a nomad which helps, as does the knowledge that I am a survivor. No life is perfect and it is the tumbles and falls as well as the highlights which make us the person we are. Some bring with them invaluable lessons that benefit us on a daily basis.

  • What would be your ideal day?

I would say that apart from a little more sunshine on a daily basis, most of my days are pretty ideal. I cannot imagine not socialising with my friends around the world online, meeting new authors and bloggers, laughing at funnies on Facebook or smiling at videos on YouTube. I certainly cannot imagine not writing every day, be it a health post or book promotion, a short story for my next collection or a poem in response to a weekly challenge. Life does not get much better than that with good health, lots of laughter and a bit of luck thrown in.

  1. Do you have an outline for each book, or does it evolve as you write?

My stories start off in my head, including the longer novels. Usually when swimming or on my treadmill when my body is occupied and my mind is free to wander. Then I sit down at the computer and dump it all out as fast as possible. Then I go back and read again and again until it is condensed and flowing to my satisfaction. Then I leave for a week or so and come back to it and read again and tighten before I am satisfied.

Thank you so much Jane for inviting me over to share my thoughts with you and your readers… I have enjoyed your questions very much.

Sally’s latest book is a collection of stories and poetry, ‘Life’s Rich Tapestry; Woven in words’ and she kindly shares one of the short stories from the collection with us here:

A moment of alignment

The child walked the darkened streets unafraid of the shadows. With bare feet, she disregarded the grit and gravel underfoot and skimmed across the surface of the odd puddle or two in her path. Her shoulders were back, and her head held high, with arms swinging confidently by her side. A faint smile touched her lips as the ring around the moon glowed brighter.

It was almost time for the perfect alignment of the sun and moon and for a brief moment, there would be a window of opportunity. She only had minutes to reach her destination and she quickened her pace. From the shadows, a dog barked in warning to those within their homes to remain inside. The animals knew how special this event was and were unafraid, but knew their human masters would cower in fear of the unknown.

Inside a house in the square, a woman sat in a rocking chair before a dying fire, tears falling onto her chilled hands as they rested on her lap. The house was silent except for the ticking of the grandfather clock in the hall; a sound that reverberated around the empty rooms. Empty of life, but also of love and hope, snuffed out like a candle a year ago when her daughter had been taken by scarlet fever. Her beautiful child, the light and love of her life; gone with a last faint breath.

The girl reached the edge of the deserted square and hurried towards the blue door so rarely opened to the light these days. As the two celestial orbs reached their perfect conjunction in the sky, she knocked three times with her small knuckles. She heard footsteps on the tiles of the hall behind the door, and then a click as the latch was raised. The door opened and the woman stood silhouetted against the gas lamp on the wall. She gasped and fell to her knees at the sight that greeted her.

In the diffused light from the hidden sun, she saw her lost daughter smiling at her, and warmth spread through her body and into her broken heart. She reached out a hand to touch the girl but it passed right through her. Mesmerised she stared at the apparition as it began to fade.

‘Mama, I can only stay for as long as the moon is ringed by fire, but I came back to see you for this brief moment, to tell you to grieve no more.’

As the sun began to peer around the moon’s edge, the girl turned to walk away but looked back once more. ‘You have love to spare mama, give it to others who need you.’

With that, she disappeared completely, and the woman remained on her knees for a long time as the street became bright with sunlight.

The years passed and the house in the square became a sanctuary for many homeless children, and the rooms and halls were once more filled with love and hope. But on the days when the sun and moon were in perfect alignment, there would be three taps on the door, and for a brief moment, mother and daughter were reunited.

My Review of Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in words

Sally Cronin is a natural storyteller and this book is a wonderful collection of verse, micro fiction and short stories.  Her breadth of life experience and wisdom show in her words and the writing style draws the reader in.

Sally’s verses cover everything from life, past times, emotions, our furry companions and nature. ‘Romance’ had me scrolling back to re-read her words and ‘Rejection’ & ‘Betrayal’ struck heart chords long buried. I found enchantment and magic in her fairy verse and in the shapes of the words and poems on the page.

Her micro fiction ‘Broken’ raised a smile and ‘Musical Interlude’ moved me to tears. A potion from The Witch’s Handbook will have you laughing and many of us will find ourselves in that one!

None who read this book will forget Jimmy or the Elephants, yet my favourite story is ‘Great Aunt Georgina’. There is so much packed into this short story and it is one that will stay with you.

In reading this collection, I feel you will want to meet Sally and sit at her kitchen table, hearing her stories and feeling her warm wisdom. I hold hope that she will share with us again in this way, as it is a loving showcase for her gifts.

You can buy Life Rich’s Tapestry at:

Amazon Worldwide

Amazon UK

Click this link for all Sally’s books and reviews

For all those who wish to connect with Sally and keep up to date with her latest creativity the online links are below:

Blog:  Smorgasbord Invitation

Twitter: sgc5

Facebook: sally.cronin

LinkedIn: sallycronin1

It has been a pleasure to welcome Sally here today and I know you all join with me in wishing her every loving sparkle in her creative endeavours. ❤

Interview with Allan Hudson, featuring his book ‘Shattered Figurine’

Allan Hudson’s blog ‘South Branch Scribbler‘ is a wonderful mix of his writing, book excerpts; Drake Alexander Series, Jo Naylor Adventures and Box of Memories, and interviews with fellow authors. His generous spirit shines through and it is obvious that writing to him comes as naturally as breathing.

He started writing later in life, inspired by one of his favorite authors, Bryce Courtenay, who began his writing career in his mid-fifties. It has been one of his most rewarding pastimes. He’s been an avid reader all his life and it started with Dick & Jane which his mother brought home from her work as a schoolteacher and she taught him to read at an early age.

Allan’s joy and gratitude for the adventures in his life, a loving and supportive family and many good friends are evident.

Now let’s hear from the man himself…

I would like to thank you, Jane, for having me as a guest today.

What project are you currently writing?

I have recently finished a historical fiction story, as yet untitled, and is going through the editing process at present. It begins in Scotland in 1911 and covers ten years of my young protagonist’s life. Due to his father’s untimely death and his mother’s dire situation, Dominic Alexander must go live with his bachelor uncle. Forced to earn a living, the eleven-year-old boy must become a man. Growing fond of his uncle, he learns his trade and life goes on even though he fights through the loneliness of missing his family. Tragic events lead him to rethink his future. He decides to emigrate to Canada and begin anew.

The story follows Dominic through the ups and downs life has to offer. The benevolence and love of his uncle carry him through.

I expect to publish in the summer of 2020.

Do you have a favourite genre?

When I’m reading, I enjoy a good mystery or detective novel. Some of my favourite authors are Chuck Bowie, Harlan Coben, Lee Child, Joseph Finder, John Grisham, to name a few. I also love writing detective or vigilante-style novels.

The premise for my first two novels is a former soldier that has the time, money, courage and a sense of right or wrong to hunt down criminals that have evaded the law. Manhunter, vigilante, frontier justice; call it what you may, it’s what he does. I have a third manuscript three quarters finished of another Drake Alexander Adventure.

The new Detective Jo Naylor series is a change-up from common detective novels. More of a novella, it is fast-paced and a different format. I am presently working on the follow-up story to the ‘Shattered Figurine’ as well.

I also enjoy historical stories from such enjoyable authors like Bryce Courtenay, Edward Rutherford or James Michener. These types of stories are what inspired my latest WIP of Dominic Alexander.

Was it difficult to write your personal book ‘Box of Memories?’

It was actually quite enjoyable. The whole idea began with my own boxes of memories. Mementoes, papers, souvenirs and vestiges of my past are stored in three file boxes and every once in awhile, I like to go through them and reminisce. They were the original inspiration for the short story and eventual title – ‘Four Boxes of Memories’.

Most stories are based on a memory of the past. Not necessarily of my own experience but of something I saw or heard as well. The short story, The Food Bank, for example, came about from a personal visit to our local Food Bank to deliver some canned goods my wife and I had collected. I mean, I never go hungry and can’t imagine anyone not having enough to eat but it happens, all too often unfortunately.

‘Reaching the Pinnacle’ is a short story inspired by a moment in my uncle’s life which I found most touching.

‘Two Boys, One Wagon and a Secret’ was inspired by my own adventures as a boy while collecting returnables from the roadside with a neighbour friend of mine.

‘Pioneers in a Hurry’ was inspired by memories of outings shared with my two brothers-in-law, one of which actually passed away as in the story So, some of the stories have a personal connection but not all.

Does where you live have an impact on your writing?

I believe it does, if even subconsciously. I have the good fortune of a quiet writing spot that faces the Bay across the road from my house. I’m an early riser and enjoy the peace of the morning where I can concentrate. The community, the small island near my home, the sunrises, etc, are all included in my writing. Sometimes by name as in the new historical fiction, or by descriptions of certain locales and moods. At moments when words fail me, I only have to reflect on the moody waters for inspiration.

Is writing your main creative pursuit?

At present, writing is what I enjoy most and do so as often as possible. Being a self-employed carpenter, I also enjoy woodworking and making stained glass. One of my side projects is refinishing older furniture and adding stained glass to it in some fashion. For example, I acquired a dresser from one of my elderly clients’ which was a wedding gift to her grandmother. Not in great shape, I had to patch and polish the exterior, make the drawers work again. I also had to make a new top in the same style. In the new top, I routered a small area that will hold a stained-glass panel I’ve yet to design and create, hoping the motif will reflect the history of the piece. 

I also have a small wall cabinet to refinish and the doors will have stained glass.

Not sure yet if this will generate any interest or extra income, I’m having fun but writing will always remain my first love.

Do you have an outline for each book, or does it evolve as you write?

I’m definitely a ‘panster’.  I have a brief outline of how the story will start, what it will be about and perhaps how it will end but the rest just comes at the moment. I’ve always admired authors who make efforts to create a guide for their story but I always felt that in-depth outlining is time away from the actual writing. Ideas change. I like the way a story evolves as it is written.

I also edit and research as I write. There are usually several drafts to my stories but I like to make corrections as I write. I can’t leave a blank in the story and come back to it so I research as I need it. There was a lot of research for my historical fiction. In the beginning, I had no idea what I might be looking for but as the story unfolded, I required factual historical data and I would go looking for it as needed. This is another aspect of writing I thoroughly enjoy.

I don’t believe one way is better than the other, just what works for each individual author and this seems to work for me.

Do you have a favourite time of year?

Where I live – the east coast of Canada – we experience the four seasons full blast. Hot summers, cold, snow-filled winters, colourful autumns and renewable springs. I’ve always enjoyed and been active in the winter with snowshoeing and snowboarding but as I get older, I find the cold more bothersome. Summer, of course, is always a treat with warm days, sunshine and the beach, warm rain. Autumn brings the many glorious colours of the dying leaves and grounds but I’d have to say that Spring is my favourite time of the year.

I look forward to the greening of the grass, the new growth on the trees, the softening of the ground, almost like new beginnings. I am always anxious for the day when my wife and I dig out our patio and gazebo furniture, making new plans each year for small changes and additions to our collection of odd chairs, benches, swings and decor. I actually enjoy cutting my lawn and trimming the small trees on my property and the coming of nightly bonfires. The anticipation of outdoor adventures and enjoyment makes Spring most pleasant for me.

Allan’s latest book is a detective thriller – Shattered Figurine – and he kindly shares an excerpt with us here:

By 8:30 the sun begins to melt the ice from the cadaver, turning the white, twinkling coating into clear drops of water that pool in the body’s cavities or run like tears. The crystal perched upon the head flashes rainbow-colored rays when Jo moves. She walks a wide arc around the body, knowing she should stay away. But she can’t, so she creeps closer. The frost groans with each step she takes. She crouches down near the head, thinking the girl might have been pretty once. She peers closely at the crystal. The figurine has only one leg and it props up the glass animal’s nose. Focusing on the tiny head, Jo gasps when she sees the horn is broken off, only a short stub to suggest there had ever been one. The image strikes her like a fist. She shrinks back from the discovery, losing her balance and falling abruptly on her ass. The shock is too great. She panics, arms flailing and feet scrambling, wanting to flee the awful truth.

Holding a hand to her mouth to stifle her sobs, she runs aimlessly along the edge of the forest. Her moans break the eerie silence to echo through the trees. Tears stream across her temple and are absorbed by short dark curls that stick out below her toque. When she stops, she bends to put hands on knees, panting from the exertion of crossing the field to the opposite corner. Deep breaths once more ease the tension she’s feeling. She needs to think clearly. Staring at the stubble by her feet, she loses focus. Indecision and disbelief rage in her mind. Foremost in her thoughts is that it’s impossible for the person who had bought the unicorn to have committed such heinous crimes. It can’t be, she tells herself. She’s known the man all her life.

My five star review of ‘Shattered Figurine’:

A surprising and gripping detective story…
 
The storyline is a surprise and a difficult one to tackle. Allan Hudson does this with skill and I was gripped from the first page. Jo Naylor and her supporting characters are engaging and I cared about them from the outset. The plot twists are also unexpected.

This is a different kind of detective story and the pace is tight with beautifully descriptive writing that carries you right into each scene.

I eagerly await the next book in this series and am going on to read other works by this author, as he is a talented discovery.

‘Shattered Figurine’ links:

‘Shattered Figurine’ Amazon UK

‘Shattered Figurine’ Amazon USA

‘Shattered Figurine’ Amazon Canada

Links to Allan’s other books:-

‘A Box of Memories’ Amazon UK

‘A Box of Memories’ Amazon USA

‘A Box of Memories’ Amazon Canada

‘Dark Side of a Promise – Drake Alexander Adventures Book 1 ‘ Amazon UK

‘Dark Side of a Promise – Drake Alexander Adventures Book 1’ Amazon USA

‘Dark Side of a Promise – Drake Alexander Adventures Book l’ Amazon Canada

‘Wall of War – Drake Alexander Adventures Book 2’ Amazon UK

‘Wall of War – Drake Alexander Adventures Book 2’ Amazon USA

‘Wall of War – Drake Alexander Adventures Book 2’ Amazon Canada

For all those who wish to follow Allan and keep up to date with his latest creativity, all his online links are below:-

Blog – ‘South Branch Scribbler

Facebook

Twitter

Linked In

It has been a delight to welcome Allan to my blog today and a joy to discover him in our Global Village. Wishing you much creative energy, Allan, always. ❤

Interview on ‘This Is My Truth Now’ James J. Cudney IV for Writing on Water: Self-awareness by Jane Sturgeon

I am so grateful to Jay for his supportive and kind interview today, where he reviews my book Writing on Water: Self-awareness. Jay’s blog is a wealth of kindness and information. He regularly posts book reviews for fellow authors, offers insightful advice and shares helpful information. You can find his own impressive list of books there too. ❤

James J. Cudney IV ‘This is my Truth Now’

Q & A by D.G. Kaye

I am touched by D.G. Kaye’s heartwarming post on her site. Debby took the care and time to interview me and gather information about my book, Writing on Water: Self-awareness, and then share it. Debby is a prolific and astute author and she generously shares her time and wisdom with others through her books and online presence.

Thank you, Debby, my unicorn buddy. ❤

Q & A with Jane Sturgeon by D.G. Kaye

Book Launch for ‘Andorra Pett and her Sister’ by Richard Dee

I am delighted to welcome Richard Dee on the launch day for the third book in his wonderful Andorra Pett series ‘Andorra Pett and her Sister‘.

Richard has written thirteen Science Fiction and Steampunk adventure books, three of which chronicle Andorra’s exploits as a reluctant amateur detective.

Take it away Richard and may the loving energy in our Global Village lift your launch.

Links to get in touch with Richard are at the end of this post.

Title and author: Andorra Pett and her Sister
Series: Book 3 in the adventures of Andorra Pett, reluctant amateur detective, published on October 15th by 4Star Scifi.
Genre: Crime/mystery fiction
Available at: http://mybook.to/Andorra_and_her_Sister

Bio

I’m Richard Dee and I’m from Brixham in Devon. I was never a writer, at least not for ages. I made up stories in my head, based on dreams and events in my life, but I never did much with them. Life, a wife, three daughters and now three grandchildren have kept me busy.

I spent forty years in shipping, firstly at sea, then in Port Control and as a Thames River Pilot, with adventures to match anything I could imagine. When I retired, I just moved them out into space, changed some of the names and wrote them down.

I write Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures, as well as chronicling the exploits of Andorra Pett, reluctant amateur detective. When I’m not writing, I bake bread and biscuits, cook delicious meals and walk the Devon coast.

My first novel Freefall was published in 2013, followed by Ribbonworld in 2015. September 2016 saw the publication of The Rocks of Aserol, a Steampunk adventure, and Flash Fiction, a collection of Short Stories. Myra, the prequel to Freefall was published in 2017, along with Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café, a murder mystery set in space, the first of a series featuring Andorra Pett. Sequels to most of them have either followed or are in production. I also contributed a story to the 1066 Turned Upside Down collection of alternative history stories. I’m currently working on more prequels, sequels, and a few new projects.

Interview

Do you need silence to write?

I used to have music in the background all the time, now I find it stops me concentrating on the action that I’m trying to describe.

Does writing flow for you and fit into gaps in your daily routine, or do you need to set specific time aside?

I try to write early and late, but I can get an idea at any time. I’m lucky to be retired, so I can pretty much pick and choose when to write. In fact, I only started writing when I retired. It was as if the voices in my head were waiting for when I had the time to listen.

What has changed for you, since you started on the published path?

I never intended to write more than one book, but I’ve found that ideas for sequels, prequels and spin-off novels keep coming along. That’s as well as new ideas. Andorra Pett started as a short story, this book is the third, I have at least two more in development. And that’s before you get to the Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures that I also write.

Here is an excerpt from Andorra Pett and her Sister.

Chapter 1

The fluorescent tubes flickered in their yellowed plastic fittings; the air was rich with the smells of stale alcohol and unwashed humanity. It was as unfamiliar to the lady standing in front of the desk as the surface of the moon.

“You can have one phone call,” said the uniformed man behind the desk, three stripes on his sleeve, which would make him a sergeant, she idly thought. Behind her, an assortment of people sat sprawled, drunk and bloodied, the result of another busy Friday night in Greenwich. She carefully avoided all eye contact, if she didn’t look, then they weren’t here, and neither was she.

More uniforms bustled around, the air was thick with words, shouted and slurred. She shifted from foot to foot, her soles sticking to whatever it was that adorned the worn plastic tiles; she didn’t really want to speculate on its origins.

The uniform was still talking. “Before we record your possessions and take you to the cells, do you understand the charges against you; and your rights?”

‘Oh God!’ she thought, it sounded so final, and such a surprise. When the doorbell rang, the last thing she had been expecting was the group of suited detectives, with uniformed officers in tow. They swarmed over her house and garden. Cupboards were emptied and holes were dug in the immaculate turf. Muddy boots trampled over the shag pile. Dogs panted and strained to sniff in all the corners. Her computer was disconnected and placed in a box, together with all the papers from her business. It felt like an invasion, and yet all her pleas for an explanation were met with silence. In the eyes of the searchers, she could see contempt and the world-weary presumption of guilt. In desperation, she faced one of the uniformed men and shouted into his face, “What are you doing in my house? What do you think I’ve done?”

Again, there was no answer; she grabbed the man, wanting to shake a response from him. Instantly she was spun around, her arms were forced behind her back and handcuffs were fitted, digging into her wrists.

“Don’t make it worse,” the policeman hissed in her ear, his breath hot on her neck. “You’ll add assault to the list if you’re not careful.” She forced herself to calm down, rage would get her nowhere.

The charges against her were read out as she was cautioned by one of the detectives; they were the second stage of the nightmare. Until a week ago, she wouldn’t have had a clue how they fitted into her life. All she did was run a modest shop, selling ethnic goods, cane furniture, ceramics and hand-woven fabric cushions. It was Fairtrade; for goodness’ sake!

They said that she was receiving controlled substances and laundering the proceeds of criminal activity. But she was forced to accept that they were, on the face of it at least, correct. The way she found out, had been just as bad. But she was saving that for the statement she knew she would need to make, sooner or later, so she said nothing. And now she was here.

The nightmare started a few days ago. She was unpacking a delivery when she knocked over a vase that she was putting on display in her shop. There were a few small plastic bags of something white taped together inside it, they were mixed in with the broken shards and her heart sunk. Stupidly, as it now turned out, instead of calling the police, she threw everything away, double wrapped in black bags and tried to pretend that she had never seen them.

“Who do you want us to call?” the police sergeant repeated. “Husband, partner, parents, solicitor?”

As he suggested each, she thought, ‘No, I haven’t got any of them,’ and if she was honest, even some of her so-called friends would not want to be associated with her now. And at this time of day, they probably wouldn’t answer or be too smashed or stoned to be of much use. In their world of dinner parties and liberal values, they all professed to despise the police and authority in general as instruments of the overbearing state, they would avoid being seen in such a place voluntarily if they possibly could.

There was only one person who could help her sort this mess out, and she still hesitated, even though there was no one else to call. To say that they had had their differences over the years would not be an exaggeration but she knew that she would come through, now that it really mattered. Because when the chips were down, that was what you did.

“Call my sister,” she said. “I’ll get you the number.” She fished around in the bag laid on the counter.

The policeman looked mystified. “Your sister? It’s up to you entirely but most people ask for their solicitor. You are aware of just how serious all this is?”

“That’s fine,” she answered, still desperately hoping that it was all a fuss over nothing, that in the end, common sense would prevail. “Just get her, she’ll know what to do.”

She passed him the card; in her purse so long that it was rubbed and scuffed by all the coins it had pressed against. He took it and peered at the writing.

“Is this some sort of a joke?” he asked in a puzzled tone. “AC Couture, a clothes shop in Greenwich? It’s been closed for years. And Andorra Pett, the Andorra Pett? That’s your sister? Won’t she be on that space station, out near Saturn, or wherever it is?”

The woman nodded. “That’s her. Just use the mobile number; it should still be the same. Tell her that her sister Argentia’s in deep trouble and that she should get here as quickly as she can.”

The sergeant dialled. “It’s ringing.”

~~~~

As well as a special launch price of £1.99, the first two Andorra Pett adventures are currently reduced to £1.49.

You can find them at http://mybook.to/Andorra and http://mybook.to/AndorraPettonMars

Links

I’m Richard Dee, as well as the Andorra Pett series, I write Sci-fi and Steampunk adventures.

My website is richarddeescifi.co.uk. Head over there to see what I get up to, you’ll find free short stories, regular features on writing, book reviews and guest appearances from other great authors. There’s even a bit of cookery!

You can find all my titles on my Amazon author page at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Richard-Dee/e/B00CN4TTCG

I’m on Facebook at RichardDeeAuthor and Twitter at Richard Dee Sci-Fi and I can also be contacted at mailto:richarddeescifi@gmail.com

Book Launch ‘The Quest for Home’ by Jacqui Murray

Today I am delighted to have a visit from the lovely Jacqui Murray as she launches ‘The Quest for Home‘ her second book in the Crossroads Trilogy.

Title and author: The Quest for Home

Series: Book 2 in the Crossroads series, part of the Man vs. Nature saga

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Available at: Kindle US   Kindle UK   Kindle CA   Kindle AU

Jacqui has also been kind enough to answer my questions and share an excerpt from her exciting book. Links to get in touch with Jacqui are at the end of this post.

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for  NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, In the Footsteps of Giants, Winter 2020, the final chapter in the Crossroads Trilogy.

Interview:

Do you need silence to write?

I do! White noise is OK (nature sounds, background TV from my husband) but not music or chatter. I’m too curious. I get distracted and lose the thread!

Does writing flow for you and fit into gaps in your daily routine, or do you need to set specific time aside?

I’d say the latter. When my kids were home and I worked outside the house, I couldn’t write. I’d get settled into a zone and the time was never enough. Now, with the kids out and me working from home, I have no problems writing endlessly. Whatever comes up can be shuffled around the writing.

What has changed for you, since you started on the published path?

Probably the most important change is that I know what I know and what I don’t. I don’t make my own covers anymore. Nor do I self-edit. But, I do my own marketing, publishing, and cheerleading. I am satisfied that I do the best I can. I don’t wish I was better, dream of an agent, or apologize about stuff. WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get).

Here Jacqui kindly shares an excerpt from The Quest for Home :

Chapter 1

Northern shore of what we now call the Mediterranean Sea

Pain came first, pulsing through her body like cactus spines. When she moved her head, it exploded. Flat on her back and lying as still as possible, Xhosa blindly clawed for her neck sack with the healing plants. Her shoulder screamed and she froze, gasping.

How can anything hurt that much?

She cracked one eye, slowly. The bright sun filled the sky, almost straight over her head.

And how did I sleep so long?

Fractured memories hit her—the raging storm, death, and helplessness, unconnected pieces that made no sense. Overshadowing it was a visceral sense of tragedy that made her shake so violently she hugged her chest despite the searing pain. After it passed, she pushed up on her arms and shook her head to shed the twigs and grit that clung to her long hair. Fire burned through her shoulders, up her neck and down her arms, but less than before. She ignored it.

A shadow blocked Sun’s glare replaced by dark worried eyes that relaxed when hers caught his.

“Nightshade.” Relief washed over her and she tried to smile. Somehow, with him here, everything would work out.

Her Lead Warrior leaned forward. Dripping water pooled at her side, smelling of salt, rotten vegetation, mud, and blood.

“You are alright, Leader Xhosa,” he motioned, hands erratic. Her People communicated with a rich collection of grunts, sounds, gestures, facial expressions, and arm movements, all augmented with whistles, hoots, howls, and chirps.

“Yes,” but her answer came out low and scratchy, the beat inside her chest noisy as it tried to burst through her skin. Tears filled her eyes, not from pain but happiness that Nightshade was here, exactly where she needed him. His face, the one that brought fear to those who might attack the People and devastation to those who did, projected fear.

She cocked her head and motioned, “You?”

Deep bruises marred swaths of Nightshade’s handsome physique, as though he had been pummeled by rocks.  An angry gash pulsed at the top of his leg. His strong upper arm wept from a fresh wound, its raw redness extending up his stout neck, over his stubbled cheek, and into his thick hair. Cuts and tears shredded his hands.

“I am fine,” and he fell silent. Why would he say more? He protected the People, not whined about injuries.

When she fumbled again for her neck sack, he reached in and handed her the plant she needed, a root tipped with white bulbs. She chewed as Nightshade scanned the surroundings, never pausing anywhere long, always coming back to her.

The sun shone brightly in a cloudless sky. Sweltering heat hammered down, sucking up the last of the rain that had collected in puddles on the shore. Xhosa’s protective animal skin was torn into shreds but what bothered her was she couldn’t remember how she got here.

“Nightshade, what happened?”

Her memories were a blur—terrified screams and flashes of people flying through the air, some drowning, others clinging desperately to bits of wood.

Nightshade motioned, slowly, “The storm—it hit us with a fury, the rain as heavy and fierce as a waterfall.”

A memory surfaced. Hawk, the powerful leader of the Hawk People, one arm clutching someone as the other clawed at the wet sand, dragging himself up the beach.

He was alive!

It was Hawk who offered her People a home when they had none, after more than a Moon of fleeing for their lives through lands so desolate, she didn’t know how anyone survived. Finding Hawk and his People, she thought she’d found a new homeland.

Her last hunt with Hawk flashed through her mind—the stone tip they created like the Big Head’s weapon, how she had hung by her ankles from a tree trunk to cross a deep ravine. How he grinned when she reached the other side, chest heaving but radiant with satisfaction. He told her many of his warriors shook with fear as they crossed. His pride in her that day glowed like flames at night.

For the first time in her life, she felt Sun’s warmth inside of her.

She looked around, saw quiet groups huddled together, males talking and females grooming children. Pan-do bent over a child, whispering something in her ear but no Hawk.

Where is he? But she didn’t ask Nightshade. The last time she’d seen the two together, they had fought.

She couldn’t imagine a world without Hawk. They had planned to pairmate, combine their groups into one so strong no one could ever again drive her away. She hadn’t known there were enemies worse than Big Heads until Hawk told her about the Ice Mountain invaders. They attacked Hawk’s People long before Xhosa arrived. Hawk had killed most and chased the rest back to their home, icy white cliffs that extended from Sun’s waking place to its sleeping nest, bereft of plants and animals. When he saw where they lived, he understood why they wanted his land.

The children of those dead invaders grew up and wanted revenge.

Someone moaned. She jerked to find who needed help and realized it was her. She hoped Nightshade didn’t hear.

He glanced at her and then away. “All the rafts were destroyed.”

She shook, trying to dislodge the spider webs in her brain. Hawk’s homebase was squashed between a vast stretch of open land and an uncrossable pond. They should have been safe but the Ice Mountain invaders attacked in a massive horde. Her People—and Hawk’s—were driven into the water. The rafts became their only escape. Floating on a log platform to the middle of a pond too deep to walk across was something no one had ever done but they must or die. The plan was the rafts would carry the People to safety, away from the Invaders.

That hadn’t worked.

“There were too many enemy warriors, Xhosa,” and Nightshade opened and closed his hands over and over to show her. “More than I have ever seen in one place.”

Images of warclubs slashed through her thoughts, flying spears, the howls of warriors in battle. Many died, beaten until they stopped moving, children dragged screaming from mothers. The giant female—Zvi—sprinting faster than Xhosa thought someone her size could, the children El-ga and Gadi in her arms, a spear bouncing off her back. Her size stunned the enemy, immobilized them for a breath which gave Zvi the time she needed to reach safety.

Almost to himself, Nightshade motioned, “I’ve never seen him this brave.”

Xhosa didn’t understand. “Him?” Did he mean Zvi?

“Pan-do. His warriors attacked. They saved us.” Nightshade locked onto the figure of Pan-do as he wandered among the bedraggled groups, settling by an elder with a gash across his chest and began to minister to the wound. 

“I remember,” Xhosa murmured. When the People were trapped between the trees and the water, prey waiting to be picked off, Pan-do’s warriors pounced. That gave Xhosa precious time to push the rafts out onto the water. It seemed none of the enemy knew how to swim. Pan-do sliced through the Ice Mountain invaders without fear, never giving ground.

Nightshade motioned, “He isn’t the same Leader who arrived at our homebase, desperate for protection, his People defeated.”

Xhosa’s hands suddenly felt clammy. “Is Lyta alive?”

Since the death of his pairmate, before Xhosa met him, Pan-do’s world revolved around his daughter, Lyta. He became Leader of his People to protect her. When he arrived at the People’s homebase, Lyta stood out, unusual in an otherwise homogenous group. First, it was her haunting beauty, as though she shined from within, her hair as radiant as Sun. Awe turned to shock when she walked, her gait awkward on malformed feet. She should have been destroyed as a child but Pan-do said he had never considered it. He explained that in Moons of migration, before joining Xhosa’s People, Lyta had never slowed them down. He didn’t expect that to change if the two groups traveled together.

And then she spoke. Her voice was like bird’s song and a gift to People exhausted from the day’s work. It cheered up worried adults and put smiles on the faces of children, its melodic beauty convincing them that everything would work out.

It was more than a Moon after his arrival before Pan-do told Xhosa what he valued most about his daughter. Lyta could see truth simply by watching. No one could hide a lie from her, and she never hid it from her father. Pan-do kept it secret because the people it threatened might try to silence her. He only told Xhosa because Lyta had witnessed a conversation about a plan to kill Xhosa.

One of the people Lyta didn’t recognize but the other, he was someone Xhosa trusted.

When Nightshade nodded, Yes, Lyta lives, Xhosa relaxed but only for a moment.

“Sa-mo-ke?”

Nightshade nodded toward a group of warriors. In the middle, eyes alert and hands energetic, stood Sa-mo-ke.

She sighed with relief. Pan-do’s Lead Warrior was also Nightshade’s greatest supporter outside of the People. When he first arrived, Sa-mo-ke spent Moons mimicking her Lead Warrior’s fighting techniques until his skill became almost as formidable as Nightshade’s with one critical difference. While Nightshade liked killing, Sa-mo-ke did so only when necessary.

Nightshade motioned, “Escape came at a tremendous cost, Xhosa. Many died, the rafts were destroyed, and we are now stranded in an unfamiliar land filled with nameless threats.”

It doesn’t matter, she whispered to herself. We are good at migrating.

She jerked her head around, and then motioned, “Where’s Spirit?”

The loyal wolf had lived with people his entire life. He proved himself often while hunting, defending his packmates, and being a good friend. An image flitted across her mind, Spirit streaking toward the rafts, thrusting his formidable body like a spear through the shocked hordes. The enemy had never seen an animal treat People as pack. Then, the wolf swimming, paws churning the water into whitecaps, gaze locked onto Seeker. Endless Pond was too deep for him to touch the bottom so his head bobbed up and down, feet paddling like a duck’s as he fought to stay above the surface.

Nightshade gestured, “The attackers almost killed Spirit.”

She bit her lip, concentrating. “I remember Mammoth’s trumpets.”

The rare hint of a smile creased his mouth. “Another of Pan-do’s tricks. It saved Spirit and probably all of us. He brayed like a herd of Mammoth thundering toward the shoreline. The invaders fled for their lives.”

Pan-do is clever.

Nightshade grimaced. “But the storm worsened and the rafts foundered. Many of the People managed to cling to logs long enough to crash onto this shore. Then, they saved others. But many died.”

He opened and closed his hands to show how many.

A stillness descended as Nightshade’s gaze filled with a raw emotion he never showed. It shook Xhosa. Nothing frightened her Lead Warrior.

She gulped which hurt her insides. Shallow breaths worked better. Rolling to her hands and knees, she stood which made her head swim and she threw up.

Finally, the dizziness subsided and Xhosa asked, “Hawk?”

Nightshade peered around, hands fidgeting. He examined something on the ground, toed it with his foot. “When the tempest destroyed the rafts, he dragged many to shore, to safety. The last time, he did not return. I tried to find him.”

Soundless tears dampened her face. Nightshade touched her but Xhosa focused on a trail of ants and a worm burrowing into the soft earth. Her vision dimmed and she stumbled, fell, and then crawled, happy for the pain that took her mind off Hawk. When she forced herself up, everything blurred but she inhaled, slowly, and again, until she could finally see clearly.

How dare Hawk die! We had plans. Xhosa shoved those thoughts away. Later was soon enough to deal with them.

“His People—do they know?”

How to get in touch with Jacqui:

Amazon Author Page:        https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/

Blog:                                       https://worddreams.wordpress.com

Instagram:                             https://www.instagram.com/jacquimurraywriter/

LinkedIn:                                http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

Pinterest:                                http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

Twitter:                                   http://twitter.com/worddreams

Website:                                 https://jacquimurray.net

Thank you, Jacqui, for sharing and we are all sending you sparkly energy for your launch of ‘The Quest for Home‘. ❤