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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Confessions of a Comic Geek

By Alison Bruce

You can learn a lot from Charlie Brown. Charles Schultz created an iconic set of characters with Peanuts. And Lynn Johnson has done a brilliant job of depicting the ups and downs of family life in For Better or for Worse.

But I don't think of the strips when I think comics. I think Superman and Wonder Woman; Spiderman and the Fantastic Four; even The Tick and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.I think superheros.

Maybe it's a character flaw, but I'm a comic book geek.

Honestly, I thought I got over it. It's been years (decades actually) since I managed a comic book store. Almost as long since I gave up collecting. I've been known to pick up a graphic novel from time to time, but I barely know what the X-Men are up to these days unless you count the movies. (Which at one time I would not have... not it a million years.)

Then I thought I'd do a quote piece. Rather that go back and see what pop culture sources I'd already covered, I decided to do one I knew I hadn't touched: Superheros.

That was six hours ago. Since I came up with my brilliant plan I've been catching up on a couple of my favourite characters, reading a few articles on women in comics, and searching for images of my all-time favourite hero, Wolverine.

 "I'm the best there is at what I do. But what I do best isn't very nice."

When it comes to words to live by, Wolverine can be a bit dark. So what is it about the guy that's so attractive (besides having Hugh Jackman play him)?

Honour. Courage. A warped sense of humour. What's not to love? Okay, you can't expect to settle down and have a happily ever after with him, but you know you'll have a friend for life. (Your life, not his, since he's well over a hundred years old and not aging.) To quote one of his proteges:

“You keep waiting for the dust to settle and then you realize this is it; the dust is your life going on. If happy comes along -- that weird unbearable delight that's actually happy -- I think you have to grab it while you can. You take what you can get, 'cause it's here, and then... gone.”
Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat

Now those are words to live by.

Kitty is the sort of young woman I wouldn't mind having as a friend. She also has honour and courage and a warped sense of humour, but without so much darkness attached. And she has a dragon... at least she did. Or she will. Keeping up with timelines in the comics can be like finding the right side up in an Escher drawing.

Now it's way past my bedtime and much too close to when I have to get up for work. So here are the quotes this post was originally going to be about.

“Patriotism doesn’t automatically equal conservatism”–Tony Stark/Ironman

"It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me." Batman

And my personal fave...

“Of all the stupid — ! When my body turned invisible, the gown didn’t!” — Sue Richards/Invisible Girl

Saturday, October 3, 2015

He is a fallen guardian, sworn to protect humans from evil. Is he even capable of falling in love? He's about to find out . . .

finalBF2THIS WEEK'S FANTASTIC FIND is the paranormal fantasy romance BREAKING FATE by GEORGIA LYN HUNTER
Book 2 in the Fallen Guardians Series
An immortal without a soul is bad enough. But when his only tether to remaining honorable is his addiction to bone-crushing pain, it makes Blaéz a dangerously loose cannon.
A Guardian sworn to protect mortals from supernatural evil, Blaéz straddles the edge of darkness as his needs grow. When a good deed brings him to the doorstep of a female unlike any other, one whose touch ignites emotions long lost in the hellish pits of Tartarus, he’s determined not to lose her. She belongs to him. But she’s human. Forbidden. And bringing her into his life may just destroy them both.
Darci Callahan has given up on love. But when a lethally handsome stranger suddenly appears late one night, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to the captivating man with the pale, empty eyes—a man who awakens in her a desire she never believed possible. Except Blaéz brings more than unexpected passion to her life, he brings danger.
In this treacherous new world of gods and demons, Darci soon discovers a heart-shattering truth and the twisted games the gods play. Caught in the crosshairs, she’s forced to accept that, sometimes, no matter how much you love someone, you have to love them enough to let them go...
I’ve been creating stories from the moment I could string two words together. No matter the tale, it always has romance woven through them. Yes, I'm a hopeless romantic. When I’m not writing or plotting new books, I like to read, travel, paint, or troll flea markets where I usually buy things I might never actually use because they're so pretty—who can resist those displays. After working in a few jobs (all art related), a chosen career as a fashion designer, then an art teacher, I finally found my passion nearly five years ago: writing. There really is no other job I’d rather do. I'm a South AfricaN, but I currently live in the Middle East.
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/GeorgiaLynHunter?fref=nf
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/GeorgialynH
PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.com/georgialynh/
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/auth…/…/6903715.Georgia_Lyn_Hunter
WEBSITE: http://georgialynhunter.com/

Monday, September 21, 2015

Catching up with Kat Flannery and Fern

I love novellas. I always have. They are a great way to try out a new author or enjoy a couple of hours with a old favourite. They're gaining popularity again as more publishers cater to readers on the run. 

Kat Flannery and I wrote twin novellas in Hazardous Unions: Two Tales of a Civil War Christmas. Now Kat is writing a series of novellas, starting with newly released Fern

Kat, you've written novels and novellas. What are the main challenges of each. Do you have a preference between them?

With a novella you have to start the action right away. Your story is taking place within a short timeline and writing that can be a challenge as in description, dialogue and pacing. You still need the plot and characters to be believable. Writing something this short puts your skills as a writer to the test.

I enjoy the novella; there is less thinking in the way of planning like there is with a novel. They’re a fresh fun way of getting the story out of your head.

A novel is more in depth. The biggest challenge for me is the pacing. With a novel you are giving the reader little bits of the backstory, plot, and characters throughout the whole book until the climax followed by the resolution. If you give too much away in the beginning the reader will not be compelled to finish the book.

If I had to choose which I liked better I’d have to say the novel, only because I love piecing a story together. Creating twists and turns for my reader is also fun. The characters are also so much more in depth. 

What inspired you to make Fern a gardener and healer? Did she require much research?

Fern’s story came to me right away when I decided to write about three sisters. She was strong, and resilient, but soft and timid as well. Her gift to use the herbs, plants and vegetables she grew in her garden to heal the sick, injured, or aid a laboring woman would be the reason she was a suspect in a murder.
In my last two full-length novels I did a lot of research into the medicinal effects of the plants and flowers that grow within the land. I used a lot of that research, in creating Fern. However, I did need to delve a little deeper into the types of plants that were indigenous to Wyoming during the 1800s. I didn’t mind…it is the part of my job I love.

This is book one in the Montgomery Sisters series. Do we get to meet the other sisters in this book? Are there any hints you can give about what comes next?

When I was considering writing a novella I knew I wanted it to be a series of some sort. Not a trilogy, but standalone books where you could read them out of order and you wouldn’t miss anything. I came up with the idea to write about three sisters living in the west during the 1800’s.

In FERN you will meet her younger sisters, Poppy and Ivy, two very different individuals. Ha! Poppy is a firecracker, and Ivy, well you’ll have to wait and see. Poppy’s story will be next and I am working on it now followed by Ivy. I can tell you, Poppy is a gunslinger hunting down criminals. She is crass, tough as nails, and has the red hair to go along with her temper. But will Pinkerton detective, Noah Shaw be able to tame her?

The Montgomery Sisters Book 1

Can one woman heal the heart of a lawman?

A gardener who uses plants to heal, Fern Montgomery is an outcast who refuses to be pushed out of town. When her friend is murdered and all fingers point to Fern as the only suspect, she must find a way to prove her innocence while fighting off unwanted feelings for the sheriff.

Sheriff Gabe Bennett has his mind set on arresting Sarah Fuller’s killer. But his key suspect isn’t what he expected. He soon realizes there is more to the quiet gardener than he’d first anticipated. As passion blooms, Gabe is forced to face his feelings—and the woman who has stolen his heart.



Wyoming Territory, 1880

Fern Montgomery was desperate. She slapped the reins onto Nelly’s brown back.
“Faster! Faster!”
The old mare couldn’t go any quicker. The horse was all she had. A lack of money and other necessities were a priority. A Thoroughbred hadn’t been in the budget, but at this very moment a stallion was what she wished for.
She snapped the reins again. “Damn it, Nelly. Get going.”
She didn’t like to swear. Her younger sister did plenty of it for both of them, but today she’d make an exception. She glanced behind her at the woman lying beaten in the back of the wagon. Sarah Fuller had come to her on more than one occasion. Fern had used the remedies taught to her by her father to mend the cuts and bruises Sarah’s husband, Robby, had given her.
Today was different. Sarah had arrived slumped over her horse and unconscious, her face so badly bruised and swollen she was almost unrecognizable. But when Fern tried to wake her there was no response. Without a second thought she’d left her sisters and headed into town.
She needed to get Sarah to Doc Miller’s. There was something wrong beyond Fern’s abilities, and she wasn’t qualified to assess her to determine what it was. She knew her plants and the vegetables within her garden well. She also knew how to use them medicinally. Her father, a doctor, had believed in using the landscape and what it grew in aiding the sick. Not everything could be cured with opium or morphine, he’d say. When he passed away two years ago, Fern had continued to help those who came to her. It was her passion and how she supported her younger sisters. She loved toiling in the soil, caring for her plants, and she enjoyed helping those in need.
She pulled on the reins to slow Nelly down as the wagon rounded a corner on the dirt road. The sun was climbing higher in the sky, and she wiped a bead of sweat from her brow as she passed the creek. Had there been time she would’ve stopped to soak her handkerchief and lay it at the base of her neck to cool her off. Instead her heart thumped rapidly in her chest causing her face to flush. Tiny black dots danced before her eyes. She blinked to clear her vision. She fanned her face and slapped the reins with the other hand. Please God, let Sarah be okay.
She blew out a long sigh when she saw the church on the outskirts of town.
“Almost there, Sarah,” she whispered more for herself than her unconscious friend.
Main Street was busy with women and children shuffling along the boardwalk. Men lined up outside the livery waiting for supplies while several elderly men puffed on their pipes a few feet away.
She passed Mayor Smith standing in front of his office. She shivered. He repulsed her. Refusing to meet his glare, she stared straight ahead. The rotund man wanted Fern for his wife. After many polite declines he turned bitter, siding with Pete Miller in his charge to stop her from selling the natural medicine. There was no way she’d agree to such an absurd demand, and her choice resulted in a one-sided feud with the two men doing everything in their power to stop her.
She pulled on the reins and halted the wagon in front of the doctor’s office. She hiked up her skirt and jumped from the seat. There was no time for etiquette. She was sure the uppity women of Manchester were tipping their noses at her now. Well she didn’t care. If any one of them came near her, she’d blast them.
Fern pulled on the door and nearly took her arm off. It was locked.
“Doc’s gone to lunch,” a deep voice said from behind her. “Can I help you with something?”
“Not unless you’re a doctor,” she replied, ignoring him to climb into the back of the wagon and assess her friend.
“What happened to her?”
“She showed up at my place beaten and unconscious.”
He jumped into the back of the wagon. She had no choice but to acknowledge him then. Wide shoulders fitted within a denim shirt displayed thick arms and a wide chest. Her gaze moved upward to a square jaw, high cheekbones and dark brown eyes. A jagged scar cut up the left side of his face to pull the corner of his eye down just a bit. It looked to be from a knife, but she couldn’t say for sure.
He coughed.
Her cheeks grew warm, and she focused on her friend.
Brows furrowed, he inspected Sarah’s arms, legs and back.
“Why did she come to your place?”
“She visited often.”
He brushed the hair from Sarah’s face and inhaled sharply.
“What the hell?”
“She’s been beaten. I told you that.”
“Did you do this?”
“Of course not.”
His eyes locked with hers.
“Do I look like I could do something like this? She was my friend.”
He shrugged.
She bit down hard on her bottom lip to stop herself from going off on the oaf.
“How long has she been in your care?”
“Half an hour. The length of time it took me to get here.”
He placed two fingers to her neck.
“Because she’s dead.”

 Available at:

Kat Flannery’s love of history shows in her novels. She is an avid reader of historical, suspense, paranormal, and romance.
She has her Certificate in Freelance and Business Writing. A member of many writing groups, Kat enjoys promoting other authors on her blog. She’s been published in numerous periodicals throughout her career.
Her debut novel CHASING CLOVERS has been an Amazon bestseller many times. LAKOTA HONOR and BLOOD CURSE (Branded Trilogy) are Kat’s two award-winning novels and HAZARDOUS UNIONS is Kat’s first novella. Kat is currently hard at work on her next book.

You can find Kat here:

Friday, September 18, 2015

She's a stylist sleuth who just can't resist solving murders. Even on her honeymoon! Peril by Ponytail by Nancy J. Cohen

Friday's Fantastic Find is the cozy mystery PERIL BY PONYTAIL
by Nancy J. Cohen (A Bad Hair Day Mystery)
CONTEST: Enter to win Nancy’s latest contest athttp://nancyjcohen.com/fun-stuff/contest/
Hoping for a romantic honeymoon at an Arizona dude ranch, hairstylist Marla Vail and her husband Dalton arrive to find a series of mishaps plaguing the resort. A nearby ghost town is suffering similar problems. Is it mere coincidence that Dalton’s Uncle Raymond owns both properties? When Raymond asks for their help in finding the culprit, Marla and Dalton eagerly accept. Then news of a local forest ranger’s death raises the stakes.
With sleuthing more natural to Marla than horseback riding, she delves into the investigation. But as she digs deeper, she discovers skeletons in the family closet. Someone means to drive Raymond out of business, and the reason may be linked to his past misdeeds. Raymond isn’t the only one with secrets. The trail leads Marla from an environmental activist group to saguaro poachers to water rights proponents to an abandoned copper mine beneath the ghost town. She’d better saddle up, rein in the clues, and find the killer before she becomes the next spirit inhabiting the haunted hillside.
Nancy J. Cohen writes the humorous Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring hairdresser Marla Vail, who solves crimes with wit and style under the sultry Florida sun. Titles in this series have made the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association bestseller list. Nancy is also the author of Writing the Cozy Mystery, a valuable instructional guide on how to write a winning whodunit. Her imaginative romances, including the Drift Lords series, have proven popular with fans as well. A featured speaker at libraries, conferences, and community events, Nancy is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who's Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets. When not busy writing, she enjoys fine dining, theme parks, cruising, and outlet shopping.
“Peril by Ponytail ropes in the reader in Nancy J. Cohen's captivating new tale, which deftly braids together deadly secrets under the sand, long hidden resentments, and romance on the range.”—Ellen Byerrum, Author of the Crime of Fashion Mysteries
“Another winner from talented author Nancy J. Cohen. Saddle up and come along for a great read!”—Maggie Toussaint, author of the Dreamwalker Mysteries
“As usual, it's just a matter of time before Marla risks life and limb to help her husband solve a case that's bigger than either of them anticipated.” —Kirkus Reviews
“This is a good addition to Cohen’s long-running series. The heroine is in fine form and ... the slight bit of paranormal activity adds a nice touch.” —RT Book Reviews
“Nancy J. Cohen once again delivers a delightful cozy mystery with the latest escapades of Marla and her partner Dalton.” —Night Owl Reviews
“I have never read a book with more twists and turns. There was so much happening, I was on the edge of my seat and biting my nails.” —Mary’s Reviews
“A great addition to a wonderful cozy series.” Ana Kurland’s Reviews

Monday, September 7, 2015

What I Read Last Summer

“One benefit of Summer was that each day we had more light to read by.”
Jeannette Walls

I remember those days, when you didn't need a flashlight to keep reading late at night (late for little kids that is). In fact, even though we had a bedtime, we didn't have a lights out in summer. We could read as long as we could keep our eyes open.

For me, that was past my parent's bedtime. For my sister... well she'd often fall asleep halfway up the stairs going to bed.

I still associate summertime with reading time, even though I'm usually busy editing my next book as well. Just like my school days, the period leading up to July first is crazy busy with work for the Arthur Ellis Awards and the Crime Writers of Canada AGM as well as my usual work, not to mention writing/editing/promoting my books. In July, the pace starts to slow. The kids are home. And I have a backlog of books in my TBR pile.
A few of the many stories I caught up with were by Kathleen Rice Adams, longtime (we won't ask how long) journalist turned author. The last year (more or less) has seen the publication of her first short stories in various western historical romance anthologies, and the release of her debut novel. Time getting away from me as it does, I've been catching up this summer. I've been delighted to find that Kathleen and I share a similar approach to romantic adventure, feeling that a healthy dose of humour is the best garnish.

Vacations are the best time for reading. The last vacation we took with my dad, I drove him and the kids from beach to beach in the Southwestern Ontario. Just before we left, I made a great discovery: Stephanie Plum. I managed to pick up most of the series, from One for the Money to Ten Big Ones at Value Village. I had a few gaps to fill in but it was the cheapest summer reading binge I ever went on. Every evening, after Dad and the kids were asleep, I sat up reading. I averaged a book and a half a day.

This summer I caught up on book 22 in the series, thanks to a birthday gift from a friend. I also discovered a new author, Ann Charles thanks to Jacquie Rogers, whose stories also make me laugh.

The Deadwood series, starting with Nearly Departed in Deadwood, mashes up two of my favourite genres, mystery and paranormal suspense. Add in a genuine western (albeit contemporary) setting, humour and romance and you have a series I couldn't resist trying out.

I love discovering new authors and series in the summer. Then I get to read a bunch of books at once and not have to wait until the next one comes out until much later.

A few years ago, the new series was Michele Bardsley's Broken Heart OK series. An infected vampire/werewolf goes on a rampage and almost kills a bunch of single parents who are then turned into vampires. The town of Broken Heart has always had more than its fair share of divorcees, but now romance literally sucks.

It started with Because I'm the Vampire, That's Why and takes the broken hearts of Broken Heart on, one by one. Over all, we learn about the origin of the vampire families, the Consortium and the vampires who choose not to consort with the Consortium.

I mention these series because now that I have to wait for the next book, I save them up for summer (or Christmas holidays) when I can really savour them. It was the same when I was a kid. Throughout the school year, most of my reading was required for school. But come summertime, the reading was easy.

“The library in summer is the most wonderful thing because there you get books on any subject and read them each for only as long as they hold your interest, abandoning any that don’t, halfway or a quarter of the way through if you like, and store up all that knowledge in the happy corners of your mind for your own self and not to show off how much you know or spit it back at your teacher on a test paper.” 
Polly Horvath

So, what did you read last summer?