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Interview with Mary Jensen, author of Chiaroscuro


Mary headshot

You are the author of a new book of poetry, Chiaroscuro. Can you tell us a little about the book?Chiaroscuropromo

Chiaroscuro is a poetry book about the contrast and balance between light and dark. Poems range from internal conflict to worldwide war to creatures of myth, but all follow the themes of finding havens of light in dark days, persisting despite the odds.

What was your experience of putting the collection together? How difficult/not did you find the organizing?

The collection slowly came together over eight years. Back in 2008, I took a course at the Muse Online Writers Conference called “How to Turn Your Poetry Into a Saleable Chapbook.” I had a lot of poems in my portfolio and wanted to create a cohesive collection.

I looked over my poems, and sorted them into themes. I found a lot of them were on the darker side: death, pain, abuse. It hadn’t really dawned on me until then how much I use poetry to deal with the darkness.

With encouragement, I went ahead with the dark theme. Chose my title, Chiaroscuro. My initial tag line was: Exploring the darkness, bringing the monsters of death and abuse into the light.

That first time, I printed off all the poems that matched that theme. I sat on the floor and shifted poems around until it felt right. Wasn’t much reasoning for any of it other than gut.

The process became much easier once I got Scrivener. In that program, you can drag individual items in the sidebar to reorder them, and view them as individual items or as the whole collection. I also tagged everything with more specific themes – fantasy, war, relationships, doubt, death. With that visual I was able to first group by theme, then shift them around to best tell a story.

The collection starts out darker, with a world falling apart. Then slowly becomes more focused – nature, people, self. As we approach the end, it shifts more into the light. One poem that never changed location in all my revisions was the end poem: “Ash and Water.” That last line, “And I turn from death to embrace life” really summarizes the entire book.

Are any of the poems written specifically for the book?

What was initially planned as a 25 poem chapbook, later expanded to a book length collection to enter into a local writing competition. Most of the additional poems were older ones which I revisited and revised, but I did write new ones with the theme in mind. Most notably: “Dark Days,” “Danse Macabre,” and “Ghost of Childhood”.

How did you decide which poems to include and which ones to leave out?

These are themes I find myself revisiting often in my poetry, so I didn’t have to search hard to find enough to fill a book. There were a few poems that I wrote later and added to fill it out more.

I chose most of my poems for their ability to tell a story. Those felt like they had more impact than ones that simply asked questions or explored a topic.

Another big help was my poetry group, The Poetic Muselings. They helped me identify my stronger poems.

What’s your favorite poem from the book? Would you mind sharing it with us?

Ooh, this is a tough question. Three really come to mind for different reasons.

“The Sun Sets” is really the center of the collection. It’s one I wrote back in high school, the oldest of my poems to make it in the book.

“Concrete Forest” is more a mixture of the dark theme and the other topic I write a lot about: fantasy. It’s about a fairy in today’s modern world.

The third poem is much shorter than both of those, and is the one I will share with you. I love the sound of this one, and never tire of reading it aloud.

The Ocean

Beauty in endless motion,
the ocean,
she takes as oft as she gives.
A cherished ship meets its doom
in her womb,
and still, the sailors forgive.

You did a lot of research before you decided where to submit your collection. Can you tell us a bit about that?

I did searches on Duotrope and Writers Digest, making a list of all the poetry book publishers I could find. I made a chart in Excel and went through each website to get stats on book length, theme preferences, payment, format. I made a list of what I most wanted in a publisher:

clear information

print options

listed response time

ease of submitting (email)

I know self-publishing is an option, especially for poetry, but I’d prefer to go through a publisher for the formatting, marketing, cover book, all those things that intimidate me. It’s a process I’d rather not go through alone.

SynergEbooks was one of my top choices, but their submissions were closed when I began submitting. When their submission window opened again, I still hadn’t gotten a publisher so I sent them my query and sample poems, and they loved it. Lesson learned: don’t be afraid to aim for your top picks. You can’t hit a target you don’t shoot for.

You write fantasy as well as poetry. Do you have a preference?

They satisfy me in different ways. A great thing about poetry is that I can write one in a single day. The feeling of finishing a project is very gratifying. Poetry also focuses more on the moment, and allows me to play with language. Fantasy delights me in other ways: I can create new worlds, explore magic systems, and really delve into a story in a way that poetry cannot.

How do you balance your writing time between fiction and poetry?

Sometimes I try to keep them in two separate boxes, a poet in one moment and a fiction writer in another. But they are both a part of me, and they definitely bleed into each other. I’ve written poems and songs for my novels, and I tell a lot of stories with my poetry.

That being said, most of the year I’m more a fiction writer than a poet. Poetry tends to come in waves. I can go a year without writing a poem, and then write forty in one month. It’s much more reliant on inspiration than my fiction.
You have a young son. How do you find the time to write?

Since I don’t have a day job, I try to get my writing done while my son is in school. Summer has always been a challenge. This year, I’ve scheduled an hour every day that is “alone time”.  He also earns two hours of solo video game time each day. That gives me three hours that I can use for myself – either recharging or writing.
What are you working on now?

I have a hard time focusing on just one project. I actually have five novels in progress. The two I’m (mostly) focusing on are:

The Minotaur Staff:  A (mostly) modern supernatural adventure, with time travel. A treasure hunter finds an artifact that summons a gladiator from ancient Atlantis.

Race to 100 Deaths: Traditional fantasy. Three elven diplomats are captured by a human baron that wants war. He forces them into a contest – a race to 100 deaths.

Where can readers find your book?

You can order Chiaroscuro directly off of ( It is also available for Kindle and Nook.

Where can readers find you on the web?






Group blog:


Any last words?

We are all unique. We each have a story to tell: through our blogs, poetry, fiction, film, art, or other mediums. We can all contribute to the world. When we stop contributing, we do the world a disservice.

I’d love to hear from you. I’m giving away a free PDF version of Chiaroscuro to one of the commenters, so don’t be shy.

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Meet Heather Greenis, author of the Natasha Saga


Thanks so much for hosting me.  Heather

Margaret blog

 The fourth book in the Natasha Saga has just come out. Can you tell us a little about this saga?

The saga begins with a young woman from upper class. Her life changes once she volunteers at an orphanage. Unfortunately, there are consequences when she rebels.


What started you writing these books?

I had a dream and it stuck in my brain. I couldn’t get the characters out of my mind. I told my husband about the dream and he suggested I write about it. Allow my imagination to go for it and develop it. A four book saga later…


Of the four Natasha books, which is your favorite and why?

Oh, tough one. The Saga is actually one big book that is broken into four sections. That’s like asking someone which part of a book is their favourite, The beginning, the middle or the conclusion. The first book is an emotional read, the second you get deeper insight into characters. The third offers further development. Each book is a generation. The fourth ties it all together, answering questions, concluding it. People reading the story love the way I tied it together.


Are you planning any more books in this saga?

Nope. Not in the plans. Never say never, but at this point, I don’t see a need. My editors loved the way I ended it. So do a few people that have contacted me. I’m happy with it.


Do readers have to have read the three previous books to enjoy this one?

Each books starts with a small recap, but to understand the plot, the characters, and the moral, it’s advisable.


What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

I simply hope they stop and think. Question the purpose of life. We’re given a short time on this planet, what do you want to be remembered for? The answer to that is personal and changes for everyone. I’d like to think I’ve accomplished something meaningful when I die. That I have made the world a slightly better place. I’ve left a small footprint.


What are your strengths as a writer?

Ask me again in a few years! I’ve learned so much in the past two years thanks to my editors Nancy Bell, Teale Dallas, Sharon Pickrel and Greta Gunselman. I’ve grown and matured as an author. Hopefully, my growth will continue.

What is the best piece of writing advice you ever got? The worst?

‘Make sure the end product is something you’re happy with.’

‘Don’t give up your day job. Not right away’

Completely agree with these.

Worst – give yourself a schedule and abide by it.

Disagree – Writing isn’t a 9 – 5 job. Don’t tell me to write if I’m not in the mood. There are 7 days in a week and a 24 hour clock. I write when I’m inspired.


Do you belong to any critique groups?

No.  My husband is an avid reader of almost any genre.  He is the first to read my  manuscripts and the poor guy ends up reading them multiple times before I submit. He corrects small errors, points out major errors and makes suggestions. He was afraid to be critical at the beginning, but now he’s tough which is great. I’m fortunate.

My niece is also an avid reader. She read the saga years ago and critiqued it. I looked at her notes and rewrote, making major changes. She is the reason my story got published.


Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I begin plotting but am willing to change anything and everything.

I’ll write a scene, give it some thought and rewrite it, more then once. The plot went through some major changes.


What are you working on now?

I have a few stories in my brain.  One is well underway but going through hubby edits. The second is well underway, but hasn’t been seen my any other eyes yet. Who knows how it will end up. The remainder are still bullet points. I’m not rushing any of them. When I have an idea, I open the file and jot some ideas down.


Any last words?

Once again, thanks so much for hosting me. I’m honoured to be on your blog.

I began this process, submitting to publishers in March 2012. June 2014 the last of the saga has launched. Woohoo!

For blurbs, please see my page on my publishers site and click ‘read more’
links to purchase can be found on my website

Natashas Hope 333x500Natashas Legacy 333x500natashasdiary333x500natashasdream333x500-4

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Not With a Whimper – an interview with Pam Kelt


  Dad_writing NWW_frontcover Your dad’s book, Not With a Whimper, is newly released on Amazon. Tell us a bit about your dad.

My father was born in Dumfries and went to study geography and anthropology at Edinburgh. Like young men in the 1950s, he had to do National Service, and ended up moving to England for work. His masters degree meant he could be employed as a teacher in England, not Scotland, so off we all went. He enjoyed most aspects of teaching, and had a marvellous rapport with some of the tougher cases that came his way. In his private life, he loved sport – golf and rugby – and was something of an armchair revolutionary. He was the most tolerant man, and modest to a fault, and loathed injustice and corruption. He also had the silliest sense of humour, which was totally infectious.

Your dad has passed on. What was it like for you, preparing the book for publication.

Hard! It took me months to open up the box of manuscripts when they arrived. He’d never DSCF0964-400let me read anything of his during his lifetime, so I had no idea what to expect. I read the first few paragraphs and was stunned. The style was so confident and professional. At first, the job was merely technical: I had to scan the typewritten pages and then correct them. After a while, the story and characters began to emerge, and I could recognise people and places – even myself! Subsequent editing was fine, but when it came to developing the website, it did get a bit emotional. My stepmother Maggie and I shed some tears, I have to admit.

Tell us a bit about the book.

It was written in the paranoid 1970s during the Cold War. It’s dad_head_and_shoulders_spaibased on a family trip to Spain. We stayed in a hotel in Andalusia not far from the American naval base at Rota. The place fired his imagination and the story is all set there. It’s full of the most fascinating characters, heroes and villains galore, with some wonderful cinematic scenes of suspense. With the tight dialogue and piercing insights, it would make a marvellous movie!



My own father was a terrible martinet when it came to English grammar — he never let anything slide. Most of what I remember about the subject is due to him, not to my teachers.  Did your own father have any influence on your writing, and if so, what?

Dad was brought up in the Scottish system, so his grasp of grammar and language was top notch. He also continued to read widely, from the essays of Montaigne to John Updike, so he was quite the gentleman of letters. Yes, I can still hear him correcting me if I ever said ‘me and my friend’ or whatever. In fact, I’d be corrected in stereo, for my mother was a journalist. There was no escape!

You have written several books of your own. What is your favorite among your own work, and why?

It has be Tomorrow’s Anecdote. This started out as a rant against the sleazy misogynism of 1980s journalism and turned into a semi-autobiographical murder mystery novel. It’s also written in my own conversational voice, because I was getting weary of agents and editors sneering at my choice of words or use of adverbs. One day I just rebelled and out it splurged. It was cathartic. I had to be careful about some of the characters, and although I did think about killing off a few more just for fun, I was restrained. It was also my first book to come out in print, and that’s always special.

What do you consider your strengths as a writer? What do you struggle with?

I do like to plan the stories, and I certainly love the research. It’s sometimes hard to stop. What I do find hard is to have a regular schedule. I simply can’t sit down and be creative at set times. My brain just rebels.

What’s the best writing advice you ever got? The worst?

Best advice – don’t give up! The worst? Pay lots of money for writing agencies to edit your books before submission. You could spend hundreds of pounds, disagree with what they’ve done – and still not get published.

What is your favorite book? Favorite author?

Although I love murder mysteries and medieval whodunits, the books I can’t put down are always teen fantasies. Just recently, I finished the Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfield. It was fast, funny, action-packed and simply dazzling. I also loved the Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Ridell, with those haunting illustrations. I felt bereft when I’d read the last one.

What would you like readers to take away from your dad’s book?

Although it’s a spy novel, it’s a very human story about a rather modest bloke struggling with an impossible situation. However, it’s not just the main character that is so compelling. My father studied psychology, and just seemed to know what would make every individual tick. In my view, it’s a fascinating study of flawed humanity – and a cracking plot!

Any last words?

Getting Not With A Whimper into print was quite an emotional journey. I’ve been particularly touched by everyone’s response. It’s a travesty it wasn’t published in his lifetime, but we got there in the end. Dad was always one for saying ‘don’t look back’, but I’m rather glad I did on this occasion.


Peter A. W. Kelt –

Pamela Kelt –

Video trailer -

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Meet Christopher Mannino


I read you teach theater arts. How did you get involved in this?Headshot1

I have been involved with theatre since I was 10.  I have been an actor, designer, director, playwright, and now teacher.  I initially went into theatre education because it was a stable way to make a career in theatre, without having to live audition to audition.  However, once I started working with teenagers, I found that I truly enjoyed inspiring young minds.  When I was in high school, all of my greatest memories were on stage.  It is one of my biggest joys to be able to share that passion with new generations.  Theatre teaches more than just acting, it teaches teamwork, leadership, communication, and public speaking.  Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else.

I loved theater as a kid. What kinds of plays do you put on with your students?

The school where I teach, and only started teaching at last year, has an enormous theatre program, one of the largest in the Washington DC area.  Every year, we present a Broadway musical, a play with the advanced acting group, a student-directed play, a One Act Festival, and a series of short sketch-comedy style student-written skits, which are performed at a large performance nicknamed “Pancakes”.  There is also a student improvisation team, which performs four times a year.  Next year, the advanced play will be different, as I plan to develop an original ensemble-based play with the class.  We will adapt a story, and create the play together.

Do you have to use abridged versions? I always hated those as a kid.

We use full versions of all plays and musicals.

Your book is coming out soon. What inspired you to write it? It’s an unusual CoverSchoolofDeathssubject.

The idea for School of Deaths emerged when I was finishing my graduate degree at Oxford University.  I spent four months abroad, far from everyone I knew.  Every week, I traveled somewhere I had never been before.  I would climb castle ruins in Wales and visit cathedrals in England.  One of my favorite trips was to Tintagel Castle in Cornwall.  I crept to the cliff face of Barras Nose, a stony peninsula jutting into the North Sea and overlooking the ruins of Tintagel, which some believe to be the birthplace of King Arthur.  It was dawn, there were no other people in sight, and I had to struggle against the wind, fighting to keep my balance so I didn’t crash into the ocean.  I imagined being buffeted by winds, alone, and what that would do to a character, and came up with the character of Suzie, alone in a world of men, buffeted by sexism.

Returning to Oxford, I envisioned Suzie alone in a strange school.  The idea of a school of trained Reapers appealed to me, giving a fantasy edge to her story.  In an early draft, the school of deaths resembled Oxford.  However a beta reader told me, very correctly, that Oxford was the inspiration for JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series.  I eventually changed the setting drastically to avoid that parallel.

Is this your first novel?

Technically, no.  It’s my first published novel, however it is the second novel I’ve written.  The first is currently shelved, although I may re-visit it at some point.  I have also written a play, which was performed at a high school in 2012 (not the high school I teach at now).

Who are your favorite authors?

Tolkien, Rowling, and Philip Pullman

 What’s the best writing advice you ever got? The worst?

An author I met told me this: “What do you call a writer who never gives up?  Answer: Published.”  I’ve never forgotten that, and have never given up.

The worst writing advice I received was from my parents.  When they heard me say I wanted to write they suggested I copy someone else’s book, or just write fanfic.  I decided to do neither.

What are you working on now?

My current work in progress is a sequel to School of Deaths called Sword of Deaths.  While I did write School of Deaths as a standalone novel, I knew Suzie’s story was not finished, and I had always intended to turn it into a series.  Other projects in the work include an adult science-fiction novel and a historical fiction novel set during the American Revolutionary War.

 What’s your favorite part of the writing process? Your least favorite?

The best part of writing is drafting at the beginning, a phase that is pure creation.  My least favorite part was trying to find a publisher, and now marketing.  Editing was difficult but it did help the story, and overall wasn’t that bad.

Are you a plotter? A pantser? Somewhere in between?

I am definitely in between.  I need to have an idea of where I’m going, and I sketch out with pencil and paper where I want my story to take me.  I outline roughly at the beginning, but once I have a general idea, I let the story run its own course.

What do you consider your strengths as a writer?

My greatest strength is my vivid imagination, and ability to bring new worlds to life.  The combination of vivid world building with strong characters helps my stories.

What would you like readers to take away from your book?

With determination, anyone can overcome adversity.  Suzie feels that she is alone, and she is bullied, yet turns her differences into her greatest strength.

Any advice to aspiring writers?

Keep writing, no matter what you do.  Perseverance and patience will pay off in the end.

Any last words?

If you enjoy the book, please visit my website for extras including a free prequel.


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The Little People Did It

ring finger

ring finger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a ring given to me by my spouse when we were first together. In general, it never leaves my finger, which is why I was surprised and distressed to discover it missing some months ago. It vanished overnight. I went to bed with it on, and woke up to find it missing. Did I remove it somehow in my sleep? I don’t know.

I searched everywhere for it, but, alas, it was gone.

A couple of days ago I returned to my room to discover the ring, lying in a pool of cracker crumbs, in the middle of my bed. Again, it wasn’t there when I left, but when I returned, there it was.

It’s back on my finger. I have no explanation for how it got onto my bed — other than:

yes, the Little People must have returned my ring.

I’m thrilled to have it back.

Where I was this past week:

On the 4RV blog, blogging about How do you know you’re done with your draft?

On Jean Drew’s blog with an interview

On the Poetic Muselings blog, blogging about What we write about

On Exquisite Quills, posting a couple of excerpts, one setting the scene and another about that first kiss


  • What we write about
  • Poetry
  • The intricate art of Paper Quilling
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Meet Eric Price


Unveiling the Wizards Shroud 333x500 Final(1)eric


Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud comes out November 22 — that’s today. It’s available  now on the Muse It Up Publishing website. If you order it today from the publisher’s website, save your confirmation number and enter it into the rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a T-shirt featuring the beautiful cover art by CK Volnek. I’d even scribble my name across the shirt, if you so desire.

Available in all sizes. For US mailing addresses only, sorry. Non-US readers, if you pre-order, keep your confirmation number as well. I have more giveaways planned for after the release.



As the only son to King Kendrick, Owen despises the idea of being king one day. Magician may
be the only career he’d like less. He has dreaded the days leading up to his fifteenth birthday,
when his father will certainly declare Owen heir to the throne. But at the birthday celebration, his
father falls ill. The only person in the kingdom that may be able to save him is a magician–the
very same magician Owen holds responsible for the death of his mother.
Owen and his companions will have to travel the continent of Wittatun in search of the cure for
King Kendrick. On the journey, they will battle strange beasts and harsh climates, befriend
extraordinary magicians, and meet a dragon before returning to Innes Castle–where much has
happened in the days since he departed.


About the Author

Eric grew up in central Illinois. He now lives in northwest Iowa with his wife and two sons. He 
began publishing in 2008 when he started writing a quarterly column for a local newspaper. His 
first short story, “Ghost Bed and Ghoul Breakfast,” a spooky children’s tale about a haunted bed 
and breakfast, came out later the same year. He has published more than 30 nonfiction articles/
columns, four short stories, and a poem. Three of his short stories have won honorable mention 
in the CrossTIME Annual Science Fiction contest. This is his first novel.

Owen halted in his tracks. Did the magician really just suggest they stroll into the perils 
and scorching heat of the accursed land? He shook his head in disgust. “Did you say the Land of 


Cedric stopped and looked back at Owen, a casual expression gracing his face. “Yes.”

“So we have to cross Death Desert?”

“Indeed, we do.”

Owen could feel rage bubbling at his temples. His vision lost focus, and his voice 
sounded more like the grunt of a wild boar than a human. “You know I can’t get beyond the 
outer rim! If the heat doesn’t kill me, the animals will!”

“You can, and will, get through Death Desert,” Cedric’s mustache twitched as he 
attempted to smile through his mass of facial hair. “But we’ll have to use magic.”


Twitter: @AuthorEricPrice

Facebook: Author Eric Price and Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud
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The Alpha Male Hero: guest post by author Megan Johns



The stereotypical alpha male thrives as a romance hero, despite (or possibly because of) the anne250 (1)progress in society towards more equal relationships.
Alpha males are typically portrayed as wealthy, confident, natural leaders, physically strong, good looking and able to have any female they desire. However, cross them and they can become aggressive, they may be difficult and unreasonably demanding, uncompromising and, of course, unfaithful.
Beta males, on the other hand, although less confident around women and unlikely to become heartthrobs, may make better long-term partners as they tend to be more considerate and respectful. But are they as attractive? Despite the progress of women in society, do we still secretly yearn to be swept off our feet by a hunk? Perhaps fictional aphas  fulfil a fantasy reflecting our instinctive, deep-rooted needs which have been suppressed by modern society.

Giovanni, the hero in ‘A Shore of Secrets’ is most definitely an alpha. He is a successful businessman with easy authority and sexual magnetism, but he is also sultry and moody. Cross him and expect a backlash.

Roger, the hero in ‘A Path of Innocence’, on the other hand was a beta, a sensitive type, but who demonstrated core strength when needed. His father, an alpha, however, had some very unattractive traits.

So which of the two stereotypes makes for the best romance hero?

In life, true romance is about relationships based on shared experiences, difficulties overcome, tenderness, understanding and respect – in essence beta qualities. Yet in romance fiction, alpha heroes continue to thrive. Why? Maybe, somewhere deep in our psyche, we all secretly hanker to be swept off our feet and our readers simply yearn to be transported away from reality into the fantasy of their dreams.


A Shore of Secrets 200x300 (2)

AUTHOR BIO:  I live in a pretty village in the UK countryside complete with a duck pond and stocks on the village green. With our daughter now grown up, my husband and I are empty nesters apart from an adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and some neighbouring alpacas.

I always enjoyed writing, but juggling family life and a lecturing career left little time. Only when life began to slow down did I start writing in earnest.

My reading tastes are eclectic. I enjoy Joanna Trollope because of the pithy way in which she deals with contemporary issues, also Rosamunde Pilcher and the late Maeve Binchy are firm favourites. I like to explore most genres, however.

In my own writing, I aim to focus on writing contemporary romance novels ‘with teeth’.



TAG LINE:  ‘In all secrets there is a kind of guilt.’ Can Abi learn to trust, and Giovanni to forgive?

TAGS: Romance, contemporary romance, women’s fiction, Italy, Venice, holiday resort, British heroine, secrecy, trust

‘Italia! Oh Italia! Thou who hast the fatal gift of beauty.’ Byron

And Venice is exquisite. Nor is the beauty confined to the place. Hotelier Giovanni Renaldi is tall, dark and devilishly handsome. Yet holiday representative Abi seems immune. Crossed in love, she is in no hurry to fall again. Plus his arrogance is so infuriating.

Surely the discomforting feelings he evokes can only be guilt at covering for his naive sister’s secret lover?

When passion finally wins through, the thrill of their lovemaking is soon wrecked. And Giovanni, proud and fierce defender of his family since inheriting the role of patriarch, is enraged to learn Abi has colluded with his sister.

But Abi quickly discovers her secrecy is nothing compared to Giovanni’s. As the family’s closely guarded secrets begin to unfold, she is sucked into their internal wrangling.

Is nothing what it seems in this clandestine community?

And can love triumph over the turmoil of scarred lives?


The entrance to the Casa Mia was to the right of the piazza, now buzzing with early evening activity as people spilled out to join in with the pre-dinner passeggiata. A slow-moving river of holidaymakers glided along the pedestrian-only shopping street, reputed to be the longest in Europe. From time to time, a group would dip out of the main flow to browse around one of the endless shops that lined the route. Others scanned menus on display outside the equally proliferate restaurants. Women in fine, tailored dresses and elegant gold jewellery promenaded arm-in-arm with designer-clad males. And then there was the younger set, exchanging playful banter, eager to show off their fashionable clothes. Families, too, strolled in convoy, at one in their low-key unfussy holiday attire. It was that type of resort. Nobody looked out of place.

She paused to retrieve the note from her bag and scrutinised the writing to check she had not misread anything.

“Hey, Abi!” A voice sounded from behind her.

Turning, she acknowledged the client with a bright, “Hi. Everything okay?”

“Great.” The woman’s low-cut dress revealed angry red strips across her breasts.

She hunched a resigned shrug, accustomed by now to her clients’ ingrained disregard for the strength of the sun. Despite repeated warnings, it was an endemic madness for which the farmacia had an endless supply of high-strength creams. Thank goodness. The added complication of clients with severe burns would make her job intolerable. In the event, life was not so bad.

A trail of deep, pink bougainvillea escaped from the dense curtain of colourful bracts enshrouding the entrance to the Casa Mia. Stooping to push it back, she allowed a small smile to curve her lips.

“Ciao.” A disembodied voice chimed the moment she stepped into the foyer.

She turned to acknowledge Francesca beaming a broad smile from over in the dining room. The young girl’s perfect, naturally white teeth dazzled even from a distance.

“Ciao,” Abi responded, her spirits lifted as ever. Francesca’s vitality bubbled over clear and bright, as refreshing as a mountain spring.

Come stai? Okay?” With careless abandon, the young girl threw down a handful of cutlery and proceeded to lay the table.

Così.” Abi twitched a little shoulder shrug.

Stopping her frenetic activity, the Italian girl fixed an earnest gaze on her. The brown eyes were anxious, almost child-like, as if a dimmer switch turned down the light in the youthful face. “Problema?”

“I’ve come to meet Mr. Henderson.” Abi swept the vicinity with vigilant eyes and then lobbed her a wink.

A discordant clatter of cutlery resonated through the air. Francesca was by her side in no time. “He is no happy?”

She grinned at the young girl, so fresh-faced and eager to please. Despite her best intentions, Francesca was like a butterfly—beautiful and graceful, always flitting here and there so you could never be certain what she was likely to do next.

“Francesca!” Another disembodied voice echoed from the depths of the dining room, this one harsh and impatient. “Tavola!”

Un momento!” Rolling her eyes, Francesca blatantly disregarded the command.

“It’s okay. Mr. Henderson knows I’m meeting him here. You go back to the tables and I’ll wait.” An oblique smile played at the corner of Abi’s mouth, reassuring the younger girl, and she pulled Rosa’s note from her bag, creased into neat folds, despite its dog-eared state.

However, the voice was upon them before there was time to act. Giovanni’s tall, dark form loomed out of the shadowy interior, the short sleeves of his crisp, white shirt a vivid contrast to his deep olive colouring.

“Francesca!” A spark of temper lit his eyes to flaming gold and, with a commanding nod, he ushered his sister back to her abandoned duties.

“Hallo.” He turned to Abi, his annoyance curbed, and he adopted the cool, crisp, business-like manner that was his usual demeanour. “Can I help you?”

His tone was mild, yet when she lifted her gaze she was hit by the piercing intensity of his stare. Her heart gave a little leap.

“Thank you. I already have an appointment to meet Mr. Henderson here.” Unsettled by the sensation of being scrutinised and assessed, she glanced aside. With a dry cough, she cleared her throat and endeavoured to regain the equilibrium he had destroyed. Her eyes shot back to him. “Actually, yes, you can help.  Maybe you could explain what happened last night? I need to complete a full and accurate report. There are a lot of unanswered questions at the moment.”

He turned his watchful stare on her again. “It was nothing of any consequence. The fire alarm in the kitchen was triggered by some smoke from a pan.”

“At one o’clock in the morning?”

“Signor Donadini was making himself a snack. We hoteliers often have to eat at odd hours.” His manner remained bland, despite his obvious impatience.

“And the ambulance?”

“There was a minor mishap and the pan caught fire. Signor Donadini burnt his arm whilst putting it out and I insisted he should have the wound checked. There’s no need to make a drama of the situation.” Swiping the air with his hand as if to erase the words, he signalled the matter was closed. His body language defied her to question him further.

A surge of anger threatened Abi’s equilibrium again. She, and not he, should be in the role of assessor. Yet Giovanni oozed authority from every pore. Not for the first time in his presence, she found herself struggling to maintain a professional standing.  She caught his ironic smile, as if he was enjoying her discomfort.

“Is that all?”

“Hmm…” Her tone was sceptical, conveying she was far from convinced, and her combative gaze clashed against his.

For a fleeting second, his eyes seemed to spark. What the hell went on behind them she couldn’t begin to imagine. The moment passed. With one bat of his long lashes, he renewed his assault with a stare so icy it would have frozen a geyser.


BUY LINKS MuseItUp Publishing

Amazon Kindle U.S.

Amazon Kindle U.K.

MEGAN’S LINKS: Megan’s Web Site

Megan’s Blog
Megan’s Amazon Author Page

Megan on Facebook

Megan on Twitter

Megan on Goodreads


Author’s Other Works:
‘The Path of Innocence’, published by Devine Destinies BUY LINK CLICK HERE

Short stories in the anthologies ‘Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road’ and ‘The Speed of Dark’ published by Chase Enterprises Publishing. BUY LINK CLICK HERE

Giveaway: A pdf of ‘A Shore of Secrets’ to be awarded to one commentator








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Meet Author J.Q. Rose



Hi Readers. Glad you’re here. I appreciate you taking your time to stop in to visit. Please remember to leave a comment to be entered into the random drawing for prizes at the conclusion of the tour on March 21.–$10.00 MuseItUp Publishing gift certificate and free e-books.Coda To Murder 333x500(1)

It’s an old cliché that it “takes a village”. With this book it took a city,
Fellow authors in my Koffee Kuppe Writers Critique Group and writers in the Fremont Area District Library Writers Group helped to find inconsistencies in the action and timeline, typos, and keeping the character “in character.” But they weren’t all that picky all that time. These writers were great at brainstorming ideas for the story line and a source of encouragement and support as well as just a joy to share this time together. If you’re a writer, please don’t be shy about sharing your story with other writers in order to get some input and fresh eyes on your story.

My main character, Pastor Christine, found herself in situations not usually covered in seminary such as her church’s music director murdered in the church basement. I turned to my favorite pastor and friend, Pastor Ed, for advice and direction on how one would look at the circumstances from a pastor’s point of view.  His help in looking at all the relationships involving the pastor and church staff and the congregation and community helped me to round out the details.

Officer Doug was helpful in explaining police procedure in a small town police force. I didn’t know police throw a phone through a window to communicate with a hostage taker and not have to use a megaphone!

We are all familiar with the acronym for SWAT team…. SWAT, Special Weapons and Tactics. Doug’s explanation for SWAT is to Sit, Wait, and Talk in order to resolve a hostage situation. The example of that definition was clearly demonstrated in the latest kidnapping of the little boy from a school bus. The police wanted to wait for a peaceful ending to the incident, but in that situation it was impossible.

I listened and interpreted what the writers and the professionals told me, but if there are any errors or misinformation in the story, it is entirely my doing!

Cyber hugs and kisses are speeding through cyberspace to Lea Schizas, MuseItUp Publisher, and editors Kim Cresswell and Penny Ehrenkranz for their help in shepherding the raw manuscript into a finished e-book. I am proud to be a part of MIU knowing how important it is to the staff to offer the best book possible to their readers.

Also a huge thank you goes to my cover designer, C.K. Volnek for a spectacular, eye-catching cover that will attract readers’ attention. She took a spark of an idea from me and turned it into a lovely, emotional piece of art.

I can’t forget to thank all the authors at MuseItUp for their support and encouragement. Many authors who will be hosting me on the Coda to Murder virtual book tour are Muse authors. I am overwhelmed at how close people can become over cyberspace, never meeting face to face. I cherish these friendships.

My name appears as author on the book, but I have had a team who helped me to put it altogether. My thanks to all of you.

# # # #

TAGLINE: Pastor Christine Hobbs never imagined she would be caring for a flock that includes a pig, a kangaroo, and a murderer.

BLURB:  Pastor Christine Hobbs has been in the pulpit business for over five years. She never imagined herself caring for a flock that includes a pig, a kangaroo, and a murderer.

Detective Cole Stephens doesn’t want the pretty pastor to get away with murdering the church music director. His investigative methods infuriate Christine as much as his deep brown eyes attract her.

Can they find the real killer and build a loving relationship based on trust?


Now available at MuseItUp Publishing- and major online booksellers.

BIO–After writing feature articles in magazines, newspapers, and online magazines for over fifteen years, J.Q. Rose entered the world of fiction writing with her first published novella, Sunshine Boulevard, released by MuseItUp Publishing in 2011. Her latest mystery, Coda to Murder, was released in February. Blogging, photography, Pegs and Jokers board games, and travel are the things that keep her out of trouble. Spending winters in Florida with her husband allows Janet the opportunity to enjoy the life of a snowbird. Summer finds her camping and hunting toads, frogs, and salamanders with her four grandsons and granddaughter.

Connect with J.Q. Rose online at
J.Q. Rose blog
Girls Succeed blog
Author website
J. Q.  Rose Amazon Author Page

  • Self-publishing on Smashwords
  • The Million Dollar Writing Question
  • So, How Much Writing Does An Author Have To Do Before They’re “Good”?
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More progress ..


.. I lost 1/4 lb this week in spite of my food being fairly decent (for me). I exercised five days out of seven.

I also submitted Geek Games, the second Aleyne novel, and will submit the third one, Broken Bonds, tonight.

I’m interviewed on Children’s Authors Radio today

Aleyne’s Mountains

My vision of Aleyne City

My Alien Visions board on Pinterest has some of my digital art work showing my vision of the Aleyne landscape.

  • Why spend time creating? :: How a boy became an artist
  • The Childen’s Writer as Role Model?
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Flash Fiction Anthology, Possibilities, Goes Live!




Last February I participated in a seven week online event honoring the state of Black science fiction 2012. In my original post, which you can find here I complained about the disparity between the number of Black poetry anthologies (I searched on “African American Poetry Anthologies) versus the number of Black science fiction anthologies (I searched on “African American science fiction anthologies”). The number was  1244  to 144.

I searched again just now. The new numbers are {drum roll, please}:1391 to 168. We still have a lot of work to do.

And now for the good news. Possibilities, a state of Black SF Flash Fiction Anthology, is live!

State of Black SF authors have created a flash fiction anthology that opens imagination to the idea of what Black speculative fiction can become…  What’s the flash fiction prompt? A mystical bracelet. Specially created Black SF images along with the 500-word super short stories are morsels of raw potential.    Join artist Winston Blakely and authors LM Davis, Milton Davis, Margaret Fieland, Edward Austin Hall, Valjeanne Jeffers, Alan Jones, Alicia McCalla, Balogun Ojetade, Rasheedah Phillips, Wendy Raven McNair, and Nicole Sconiers as they endeavor to explore the possibilities of Black SF in the broad ranges of Science Fiction from Paranormal to Steampunk. Readers will see the immense possibilities of Black SF.
Here’s the link to download your FREE copy:
Please, if you enjoy our work, leave a review! And check out the other work by all of the artists in this fine anthology.

L. M. Davis, Author–began her love affair with fantasy in the second grade.  Her first novel, Interlopers: A Shifters Novel, was released in 2010, and the follow-up Posers:  A Shifters Novel will be released this spring.  For more information visit her blog or her website

Milton Davis, Author– Milton Davis is owner/publisher of MVmedia, LLC . As an author he specializes in science fiction and fantasy and is the author of Meji Book One, Meji Book Two and Changa’s Safari. Visit him:  and

Margaret Fieland, Author– lives  and writes in the suburbs west of Boston, MA with her partner and five dogs. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines is available from  Her book, “Relocated,” will be available from MuseItUp Publishing in July, 2012. The Angry Little Boy,” will be published by 4RV publishing in early 2013.  You may visit her website,

Valjeanne Jeffers, Author — is an editor and the author of the SF/fantasy novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend and Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. Her fourth and fifth novels: Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch: Clockwork will be released this spring. Visit her at: and

Alicia McCalla, Author- writes for both young adults and adults with her brand of multicultural science fiction, urban fantasy, and futurism. Her debut novel, Breaking Free will be available February 1, 2012.  The Breaking Free theme song created by Asante McCalla is available for immediate download on itunes and Amazon. Visit her at:

Carole McDonnell, Author–She writes Christian, speculative fiction, and multicultural stories. Her first novel is Wind Follower. Her short fiction has appeared in many anthologies and have been collected in an ebook, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction. Visit Carole: or

Rasheedah Phillips,Author–is the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair in Philly. She plans to debut her first spec/sci-fic novel Recurrence Plot in Spring 2012. You may catch her ruminating from time to time on her blog,

Nicole Sconiers, Author-is also a screenwriter living in the sunny jungle of L.A. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and she recently published Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair and Rage.  Visit her:

Balogun is author of the steamfunk novel Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman and the fantasy novel Once Upon a Time in Afrika. He is screenwriter and director of the action film A Single Link and the steamfunk film Rite of Passage: Initiation. On his website,, he discusses steampunk and steamfunk.

Wendy Raven McNair is the author of Asleep, Awake, and Ascend (WIP), a young adult fantasy trilogy about teen super-beings. Her stories celebrate African American teen girls. McNair has a B.A. in English from the University of Texas and is certified in Graphic Design (
Edward Austin Hall writes journalism, poetry, and fiction. He serves as host of Eyedrum’s monthly literary forum, Writers Exchange, and as an organizer of Eyedrum’s annual eXperimental Writer Asylum (a part of the Decatur Book Festival). His writings about comics and comics creators have appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Code Z: Black Visual Culture Now, and the Dictionary of Literary Biography. His forthcoming first novel is titledChimera Island. See more at

Alan Jones is a native Atlantan, a former columnist for the Atlanta Tribune, and a Wall Street consultant. His brand of science fiction blends fanciful characters and scenarios with generous doses of philosophy and social commentary. His book, To Wrestle with Darkness, is available at most major retailers.

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