Indie Spotlight – Mystery Writer Sharlene Almond

Annabella Cordova quickly becomes embroiled in the conspiracy involving the university she studies at. Her life is turned into chaos when her friend disappears, seven days later a gruesome package is delivered to Andres Valero; the troubled detective, returning from forced leave, only to be faced with horrific crimes that brings his memories to the surface. 

Annabella’s past collides with her present, a traumatic childhood event leaving her deaf and without both of her parents. Her ability to read facial and body language in people leads her to discover parallels from an earlier century.

Initiated to Kill takes the reader back in time to the 19th century; creating a psychological profile of the serial killer that wanders the London streets, his paintings depicting crimes only seen by a killer’s eyes. 

Annabella  and Andres combined must stop this person at any cost, and reveal a conspiracy hidden for centuries.

Unveiling the Mystery of Body Language

I have always been intrigued by the interpretation of facial expressions and body language. The TV series “Lie to Me” increased the popularity of learning more about this interesting subject.

The incentive for me to finally decide to study Body Language came when I wrote my first novel, Initiated to Kill. My main character, Annabella Cordova is deaf, so fully understanding how body language could be read and interpreted was essential to me; as I wanted my novel to be an authentic as possible. I immersed myself into the fascinating and complicated world of Body Language.

One of the key things to remember when writing or reading a person’s body language is that it is not what they reveal in their baseline behaviour, but the change from that behaviour to something quite different.

Armed with a diploma in body language, people tend to ask me “what is my body language saying to you now?”

They might cross their arms, or do something fairly common like that, then want me to basically give them a run-down on what that body language is revealing.

However, it doesn’t work like that. A lot of people think that by crossing their arms they are being defensive or closed off, and yes, that might be true.

That doesn’t really tell me much. Instead, it’s watching people that change from one behaviour to another that exposes what is actually going on.

That is why people in law enforcement talk so much about establishing baseline behaviour. It is crucial at any point if you’re wanting to find out if someone is lying or omitting something, that their baseline behaviour is first established. That way, when you go to the line of questioning you really want to address, you can immediately see a change of behaviour; and that’s what really gives it away.

Now, some people may ask, “well, if it’s that clear cut, then why doesn’t law enforcement immediately know if someone is guilty?”

Unfortunately, body language isn’t an exact science. Although, much can be revealed, people may still not know why that change occurred. But it can give an inkling that they need to dig further into that line of questioning.

So, how important is it to know more about body language? Well, 38% comes from vocal tone, while 55% comes from body language. It is even thought that at around 90% of our communication to others is through our body language, without even consciously knowing we are doing it.

People tend to look for exaggerated displays of body language, but often, it is the subtle displays that are truly revealing.

Body language in relationships can even divulge what the other person is feeling. It may seem out of nowhere, your partner suddenly wants to end the relationship, while you didn’t even think there was a problem with the relationship.

Think about it. Was your partner withdrawing? Was your partner sleeping further away from you, or being less affectionate? Did they sit on another chair instead of being close to you? Has intimacy seem to have gone out the window?

Although very subtle signs, they are also very telling, revealing that inwardly your partner is withdrawing; thus, revealing in the increase of the distance between you. However, if this is recognised early on, you can then try to make changes to help the relationship, or at least be prepared for when the relationship is over.

In a dating situation, does the other person lean closer toward you when you speak? Are their hands on the table close to yours, or in their lap? Do their eyes dart around the room, or mainly stay focused on you? What about their feet? Are their feet pointed straight ahead towards you, or in another direction?

No matter how insignificant it may seem, never underestimate the small changes, words are only a very minor part of the overall picture.

Just by looking in one direction it can reveal someone is telling the truth, while another direction they are thinking up a story. Every little bit contributes to the overall picture.

These aspects are important to consider when including body language in your writing. The more you understand how it works, the easier it will be to write a realistic portrayal of a witness, victim, cop or perpetrator.

And what may surprise many people, is that body language experts believe that the legs and feet are considered more accurate communicators than the face.

Think about it. What is your body language saying about you?

Sharlene Almond has a diploma in Body Language and Criminology, enabling her to explicitly portray her characters. Living in Auckland, New Zealand with her two dogs and partner. Currently, she is working on an advice monthly newsletter to encompass all of my training – Body, Mind and Writing Newsletter. Her education in Cognitive Behavioural therapy, Freelance Journalism, and Editing give her the ability to better understand the human mind and to write about it in a comprehensive manner.

To learn more about Sharlene, visit her blog and follow her on Google Plus and Pinterest .

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Indie Spotlight on Fantasy Author Patricia Bossano

Patricia Bossano’s Faerie Legacy Series blends fantasy with realism, inviting young adult and adult readers to explore the powerful magic within. Wander into Faerie and meet the heroines in the 200-year saga of a hybrid faery-human family. The ties that bind them, despite the conflict between two realms, will touch your heart. 
 

 

Candid Confession of an Indie Author

“Bet on yourself” and “Go after your dreams” are inspiring mantras one hears hundreds of times—I’ve certainly echoed them enough over the years, although I didn’t truly live by them, until 2016.

My name is Patricia Bossano and I’m an independent author of Fantasy novels. I recently completed the 3rd installment in my Faerie Legacy series, which has been 22 years in the making. You’ll probably think, boy, what a slow writer she is! but in my defense, between 1996, when I wrote the first draft of Book I, and 2017 when I launched Book III, I raised my two children, worked as a Spanish instructor, translator & interpreter, carved a career in International Sales Operations, got divorced, lost my father to cancer, relocated my mother from South America to California, and then . . . more distress.

I had just turned 50, I was on my way to financial recovery after my 23-year marriage ended, and I’d even started glimpsing a retirement plan when, in 2016, I lost my corporate job along with the stability it afforded me.

Feeling metaphysically cornered, I paused and took a panicked look at myself.

What first came to mind was my love of the written language, which began in the 4th grade, and had grown from scribbling journals to writing letters, short stories, and eventually two full length novels.

I saw my heart’s desire had been in a back burner while I focused on family and worked real jobs.

No regrets though, only the shiver of anticipation—Do I hurry up and find my next corporate job? Or, Do I dare bet on myself and go after my dreams?

Right on cue, the words of a seer came back to me from months before: Holding Book II of my series in his hands, without having read it, he said, “The Faery Realm is destroyed in this book!” which is true, and then he proceeded to explain; “The women in your family, on your mother’s side, were guardians of a forest (faeries) in ages past. The stories in your books are not fiction, they’re subconscious recollections from long ago.”

That was the nudge I needed. I became convinced that the time was ripe for elemental, female magic to make an entrance. I told myself it is never too late to believe!

I’m a hybrid faery, and I BELIEVE in faeries! There—I said it!

I took the proverbial leap of faith. I sold the only house I ever bought on my own, transplanted myself back to California, and went after my dream of becoming a full time starving artist—I mean, writer!

I persevere daily, even when it feels like I’m the only one who believes in me. I’m doing anything and everything to get my faeries in the universe’s radar.

My dream of sharing the magic of my stories with worldwide audiences is foremost on my mind, and it is buoyed by any triumph, however small, along the way.

Patricia Bossano is the award-winning author of the Faerie Legacy Series: Faery Sight, Cradle Gift and Nahia, and other tales. Patricia lives in Southern California with her family.  If you’d like to know more about Patricia you can visit her website and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Indie Spotlight on Sci-Fi Military Suspense Author, William Alan Webb

Nick Angriff’s ultimate enemy finally takes the stage and the 7th Cavalry will never be the same.

Operation Overtime has come through its first winter in post-Collapse America in better shape than expected. Food is plentiful, the city of Prescott is healing, and there’s even a battalion of new recruits for the Marines. Everything seems to be going Angriff’s way, until people start trying to kill him again.

When the aggressive Chinese send an armored force to capture old America’s largest tank farm, Angriff can rally only desperate measures to stop them. But first he must crush the traitors both inside and outside of Operation Overtime.

Angriff must rely on others to do what he has always done for himself. As the body count mounts, he has to determine who he can trust and who wants him dead.

In the tradition of Standing The Final Watch and Standing In The Storm, traitors, assassins, and secrets explode in a rocket-powered roller coaster called Standing At The Edge.  You’ve been warned. (Standing At The Edge, The Last Brigade Book 3, continues the saga of Lt. General Nick Angriff and the 7th Cavalry, which began in Standing The Final Watch and continued in Standing In The Storm. Standing at the Edge is available for pre-order and officially releases on January 18, 2018)

The writing’s done, now what?

I majored in Creative Writing in college. You’d think that would give me insight into writing, right? I forked over all of that tuition money, sweated blood churning out stories for my classes to read, critiqued tons of bad fiction, much of it by my professors, then smiled and told them how awesome it was, even when it sucked.

That last part was mandatory if you wanted to pass.

I did everything I was supposed to do, graduated, and then got slapped in the face with the reality that everything I’d just learned was useless.

There are some great writing programs out there, but not the one I took. Instead of learning things like don’t edit until you finish or don’t think you can edit your own manuscript, I learned RULES. Not examples, mind you, just the rules.

For example, I was told show, don’t tell. Sounds pretty fundamental, doesn’t it? But what does it mean? I wasn’t taught that part. Or don’t use adverbs. What? Wait, aren’t they part of the language? Such questions earned me contemptuous glares. So I followed the rules and produced nothing significant, which led me to quit writing fiction for twenty five years. When I forgot the rules and just wrote, I produced a beast. I had written the first draft of a 164,000 word book! Yay, me!

Now what?

Every writer who has ever finished a manuscript faces the question of what comes next

Many authors suggest you now put the first draft away for a while, with the idea this will allow you distance to be more objective when you read it. And there’s merit in this approach for many, maybe most, but not for me. I dive right in.

I start with beta readers. A beta reader gives you objective and sometimes painful feedback on your work. They are almost never your mom, siblings, friends or cousins. You need the brutal truth, not “I really liked it.”

Beta readers are your single most valuable asset as a writer. Cultivate them, pamper them, worship them (not really). But most of all, listen to them. I send my beta readers the first draft, others wait until later. Whatever works.

After the beta reader feedback I’m ready to start polishing the manuscript. The first things are the author edits, starting with content. This is where you make sure everything is consistent, all of the storylines match up, names are the same, etc. Nothing will kill a reader’s willing suspension of disbelief faster than overlooked storyline errors. This is also where I do most of my rewrites. Once that’s done, the author does a timeline edit. (Some books don’t require this, but my military SF relies heavily on synchronicity so for me it’s mandatory.)

Next up is the line by line edit. Maybe some authors enjoy this. I don’t. I hate it. I hate it more than I hate liver. But it must be done and the worst part is that you don’t do it just once. You do it as many times as you can stand doing it. For me that’s usually twice. Now comes the first point where most authors make a huge mistake. They send the manuscript out or, worse, publish it.

And then they get to read review after review about the bad editing. So here’s what I wasn’t taught in college: a professional editor is a must, be it a freelance editor or one at a publisher. What’s more, not all of them are good at their jobs, so sometimes a writer has to search until they find one that fits their work. I know one writer whose first novel desperately needs a good edit from a pro, but he says that he can’t afford it. Truth is he can’t afford not to find the money.

Then comes the cover, which is probably the least understood part of the process. If you have a publisher like mine to design it for you, and they’re good at it, it can sell a lot of books for you. The cover of my first book did just that.

On the other hand, if you wing it you might not sell any books at all. The writer who told me he couldn’t afford an editor also made a huge mistake in his cover. It is a beautifully rendered pastel drawing that does not have the name of the book or the author’s name on it.

Yes, you read that right. What’s more, the thumbnail looks jumbled. There’s nothing to indicate to the reader what the book is about, or even who wrote it. This is something else they didn’t teach me in college…covers matter.

And not just the artwork itself, either. The layout matters, the fonts matter, the colors of the artwork matter. Everything matters, and it takes a pro to recognize when it’s right.

The biggest takeaway for the cover is that when you find an artist whose work sells your books, never let them out of your sight. Marry them if you have to.

If you’ve done all of this well, your book is ready for the most important people in the world, namely, your readers.

 

William Alan Webb (Bill) lives on four acres in West Tennessee with his wife of 40 years, Kathy, 8 dogs, 3 horses and a cat. To say they’re failed foster pet parents would be an understatement. When not writing fiction Bill writes military history, does the housekeeping (he considers dust bunnies more pets, but his wife doesn’t), burns a lot of food attempting to cook and mows the grass whenever it gets too high to see the house. Fortunately for him she thinks he’s cute.  If you’d  like to learn more about Bill you can visit his website, follow him on Facebook,  and follow him on Twitter.

 

Indie Spotlight on Paranormal Mystery Writer Casi McLean

Piper Taylor concedes she’ll never fall in love, until a treacherous storm spirals her into the arms of the handsome Nick Cramer. Unrelenting remorse over a past relationship haunts Nick, but he can’t deny the mysterious connection and hot desire Piper evokes.

The allure of a secret portal hidden beneath Atlanta’s Lake Lanier tempts him into seizing the opportunity to change his mistakes. But his time slip triggers consequences beyond his wildest dreams.

Can Piper avoid the international espionage and terrorism of 2001 New York, find Nick, and bring him home before he alters the fabric of time, or will the lovers drift forever Beyond The Mist 

 

How a ‘Wrinkle in Time’ Inspired my Writing Career

For as long as I remember, I’ve loved the idea of supernatural. Not blatant horror stories, vampires, sci-fi aliens, or other worldly fantasy, but the notion of “what if” that entices imagination into believing there’s more than what meets the eye.

My fourth grade teacher nudged the author within me when she read aloud Madeleine L’Engles, A Wrinkle In Time. The enchanting story opened the door to my future. I read every time travel story I could get my hands on and watched every time slip movie. The question niggled at me. If time travel was “a thing” how would the concept likely occur?

Years later, when I heard about the eerie lore attached to Atlanta’s Lake Sidney Lanier, a man-made lake located in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains, the tales fascinated me. Plagued with mysterious disappearances, freak accidents, strange phenomenon, and ghostly occurrences, the lake became the perfect setting for my passion to bloom.

What if the construction created more than a lake? What if the excavation triggered a seismic shift, which when given enough energy, opened a portal to a different dimension…a rip in time connecting past to future? I loved the possibilities. I envisioned a town that time forgot and the history and creepy tales attached to the rural area that sleeps beneath Atlanta’s famous lake, became book one of my Lake Lanier Mysteries, Beneath The Lake.

Homes, churches and buildings still linger beneath the surface, abandoned by displaced families and businesses. The moonshiners of the 1940’s added built-in suspense and sparked the birth of NASCAR. Looper Speedway, a half-mile dirt track where bootleggers competed with their souped-up cars, bared its cement stands in a recent draught. And there’s a Lady of the Lake who haunts the ghost town. Some say she lures victims to her watery grave. The truth is, swimmers get trapped among the deadfall of sheered-off trees and town remains. Even expert divers get tangled beneath the murky surface, hence the lake’s unnerving label: Lanier never gives up its dead.

I moved to Lake Lanier last year and my home overlooks a beautiful cove. The glimmering lake is a solace for me. Taking walks on trails around lake, and talking to neighbors who have lived in the area for generations feeds my muse. There’s no telling how many tales Lake Lanier Mysteries will yield, but if this inspiration should ever dry up, my passion for a touch of supernatural will keep me submerged in fodder. For now, Between The Shadows, book three, flourishes as my current work in progress. This story slips back to 1865 Georgia at the end of the Civil War, where two more Reynolds Cove characters promise to lure you into their own romantic suspense. I hope you all will join us as Lake Lanier Mysteries continues.

I love venues where I can talk about the inspiration behind writing. Thank you so much for hosting me, Anita. And thanks for reading everyone.

BIO: Award winning author, Casi McLean, pens novels to stir the soul with romance, suspense, and a sprinkle of magic. Her writing crosses genres from ethereal, captivating shorts with eerie twist endings to believable time slips, mystical plots, and sensual romantic suspense. Her novel Beneath The Lake, is the 2016 winner of the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence for BEST Romantic Suspense.  If you’d like to learn more about Cassi you can visit her website, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Book Review – The Grave by Diane M Dickson

The GraveThe Grave by Diane M. Dickson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my second book from Diane Dixon and I have to say I’m becoming a fan. It’s so nice to find a new writer whose style and work you really like.

This is a story of two very broken people who somehow find solace in one another. In a very odd yet poetic way they save each other. It’s hard to say much about the story without giving spoilers so I’ll say I read it in under two evenings. A real page turner. And the writing itself is such a joy to read that it makes you want to keep going.

My only problem with the book was it got a little head hoppy starting at about the halfway mark. Which caused some confusion for me – also there were a few places when it seems like there should’ve been a scene break and there wasn’t.

Although of the two books I’ve read from this author, I would recommend her to anyone.

View all my reviews

Indie Spotlight on Indie Author of Spiritual and Supernatural Fiction P.S. Winn

Journeys is the story of a young man who, because of a car wreck, has a near death experience. While Josh walked through that valley of the shadow of death, doorways opened. Arriving on the other side, Josh is told he has to return because an evil presence stepped through and made its’ way to earth and Josh’s hometown. Josh’s obligation is to find and destroy the evil. Josh returns and finds he was given some very unique gifts and two special friends to help him on his journey.

Writing – an Incredible Journey

When I began writing, trying to somehow preserve the words and ideas in my heart and floating in my head, I had no idea where it would lead. Now I have published fifty books in five years. One of the questions I am asked most is which book was my favorite to write. To me, that is like asking which of my seven children is my favorite. I love them all, but each has their own reason for being special. The same goes for the stories I write. The book I think took me on the most interesting journey is “Obligations.”

For me, there is a distinct link between the spiritual and the supernatural. That connection twists and weaves itself through many of the books I write.

I also think the books I write for preschoolers are important. Children who read do better in life. I have four books I hope instill the love of reading in young ones and also teach lessons that are essential.

The most important book I believe I have written is based on a true story. The man the story is about is an inventor who patented an invention that could burn garbage with no pollution and was creating an electrical charge in the process. The man, whose name had to be changed, wanted to clean our air while giving people cheap or free energy. Government bureaucrats with their big oil backers suppressed the idea and the man.

I wonder how many other great ideas have been silenced and how many important inventions suffered “Suppression” in the same way.

Although I love all my books, I give credit for the success I’ve had to the readers. Their vivid imaginations take the stories to new levels. A person who loves that journey of grabbing a book and sinking into the depths adds a different dimension. I think each reader sees the story a bit differently in their own minds. The story becomes personal to them and even better than I can imagine. The same reason the books are always better than the movies. The reader makes their own movie in their mind as they read and no two step away with the same pictures.

I believe, as a writer, I blend my own experiences into the stories I create. Along with that, I leave a piece of my heart, soul and life in each book. I think the reader does the same.

With each book, written and then read, that connection is what makes each book unique.

My health problems are making it harder for me to write. I write all the stories longhand before I struggle to type the words. That is beginning to be a bigger challenge to continue than I would like.

I hope with some innovative technologies and personal ingenuity I will produce more books. Maybe not another fifty in five years, but it is the sharing of the stories that float through my mind with readers that makes writing an incredible journey.

I have to thank my husband for his support, my children and grandchildren for input and believing in me. I have amazing friends, on-line and off who keep me going when I struggle. They are my life line and I am blessed to have them. Not only is writing an  incredible journey, but so is life.

P.S. Winn started writing when her husband had several heart attacks. He was told to move to a lower elevation. He wanted to go home to Montana and be by family. So, that is where they are now after spending thirty years in Utah.

P.S. is also an avid top ten reader on GoodReads and you can find the books she’s read and written there. If you would like to learn more about P.S. you can follow her on Facebook, join her Journeys Facebook group, and visit her GoodReads author page.

 

What’s the story with the eBook cover design?

Some of you may have noticed there is a new page called eBook Cover Design on this blog. Perhaps you scratched your head, wondering what on earth I’m up to this time. Let me explain…

About halfway through my new series ah…er…trilogy I realized that due to budgetary restraints I would not be able to hire a book cover designer. I know, I know, you must NEVER design your own book covers. All the experts say so.

Still, authors do all the time and granted many of those covers are not so great, but some of them are pretty good. And let’s be honest, some of the so-called professional covers leave much to be desired. And top of that I figured if it was good enough for Hugh Howey, then it was good enough for me.

The Learning Experience

Realizing I’d have to do my own covers I set out to learn myself something about book covers and design. What I thought would be a relatively short learning curve turned out to be a months long self edu-ma-cation. And man did I make some pretty awful ugly covers for a while. But I kept at it.

I practiced. I learned Canva and then Pxlr. Then I discovered you can’t get high resolution covers from those platforms, which was why even the covers that started to look pretty good still had that grainy amateur look about them. Finally, I faced facts and taught myself GIMP. Also a free shareware but with many similar capabilities as Photo Shop.

I read Derek Murphy’s book “Book Cover Design Secrets” (highly recommend by the way if you want to learn about book cover design). And I just kept at it.

Somewhere along the way, things gelled and I realized I’d learned how to design book covers. (Soon, I’ll show you the covers for the new series but not today.) Anyway, after all the time, study, and practice I also realized that I really enjoyed designing covers. I find it relaxing and it feeds a creative urge I’ve always had to create ‘art.’ Not art as in the written word but you know art art.

Paying it Forward

While all this was happening, I’d also gotten to know a lot of indie authors and have made some great friends in that regard. Who have helped me in so many ways. And like me, many of them are operating on limited budgets and resources are stretched thin.

In case you were unaware, there is a real cottage industry out there selling stuff to writers (especially indies) – from magic formulas that will make you a best seller to how to format eBooks, to marketing, to email lists, and so on. Some of these services are great, some of them are exploitative, and some are quite expensive for an indie author struggling along.

So, long story short, I decided to offer pre-made covers at the nominal fee of $25. Along with the cover you get some customization, your title, your name and tagline, we could change font colors and things like that. Mostly, I just wanted to offer indie authors a decent cover that they could afford and would be somewhat unique (that didn’t look like all the other pre-mades) to them and their story.

So that’s the story. If any of these covers ring your bell, feel free to drop me a line and we’ll make it happen. If not, I may be able to do a custom cover for you for just a bit more. And even if you don’t need or want a book cover they might be fun to look at.

So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Have a great weekend.

Annie ❤

Indie Spotlight on Fantasy Author Mandy Jackson-Beverly

An ancient curse

A forgotten love

A painting with secrets only one woman can reveal

Coco Rhodes is surprised by a horrific vision beneath her most recent painting: the violent attack upon a fragile young girl. When a link is discovered between an education-finance fraud and several girls disappearing from Washington, D.C. schools, Coco’s lover and leader of the Allegiance, the vampire-warlock Gabriel, vows to rescue the girls, and topple a corrupt congressman. Concurrently, the dark and twisted past of Kenan, the Allegiance’s sworn enemy, is revealed. With Kenan’s whereabouts unknown, members of the Allegiance begin to unravel his sadistic plan.

From New York and D.C., to Tuscany and the Dolomite Mountains of Northern Italy, the supernatural guardians of the Allegiance are guided by both the lessons of history and the shocks of present-day life. Through magical twists and otherworldly subplots, this supernatural thriller weaves a web of intrigue, love, and conflict. In The Devil and the Muse, Coco’s sense of duty to the Allegiance is tested. But will protecting her loved ones cause her to sacrifice her humanity?

A Gift From David Bowie

During my earlier life as a costume designer and stylist, I was lucky enough to work with David Bowie, first as the costume designer for the music video for his song “Day In, Day Out,” and subsequently asked to join the crew as head of wardrobe for the Glass Spider tour in 1987. After turning down the opportunity of touring more than once, I finally accepted.

In retrospect, touring was not exactly the ideal situation for me to be in as I had recently become sober, and the lifestyle of being on the road 24/7 was not exactly harmonious with the emotional and physical turmoil one experiences during the first year of sobriety. It would not be until many years later that I would understand the relevance of this part of my life’s journey.

After a few months on the road in Europe, I decided that for my own health and well-being I needed to resign and head back to the familiarity of the city of angels. But the tour marked a turning point in my life; a seed was planted in my soul when we stayed just outside of Florence in a sanctuary called Villa La Massa.

Skip ahead thirty years…

While researching locations for The Creatives Series and searching for a lost stapler, I happened to open a drawer and pick up a bunch of old papers. As I went to stuff them all back where they belonged, something fell to the ground. I picked up the fallen paper and a flutter of recognition sparked my curiosity. It had been nearly twenty-six years since the Bowie tour, but time did not quell the host of images that flooded my mind. The paper in my hand was a brochure for a small luxury boutique hotel just outside of Florence: Villa La Massa.

As I stared at the photo on the front of the brochure, I remembered the sense of nostalgia I had experienced the moment I stepped off the tour bus and onto the path that led to the entrance of the sixteenth-century Italian villa, way back in June of ‘87. Standing in the foyer while waiting for my room allocation, protected by a border of arches, I had felt safe and happy. Making my way to my room along the third-floor open hallway, I looked down at the foyer. From this vantage point, the arches brought to mind a flower opening her petals to the Tuscan sun – a welcoming of sorts. I recalled the vivid baby blue tones of my room and the view from the attic window – the gardens that bordered the terrace, and the reflections mirrored upon the surface of the Arno River.

There are pieces of Villa La Massa woven into The Creatives Series, in particular, Antonia’s home in Florence, and Gabriel’s Tuscan villa outside of San Gimignano. Through a strange series of events I was drawn to another property in Tuscany called, Spannocchia, and this became the model for Gabriel’s villa. One look at the turret and I knew I needed to visit this place. My wish came true earlier this year and Spannocchia did not disappoint – complete with the snuffling sounds of wild boar lurking behind overgrown hiking trails!

Not a day goes by where I’m not grateful for the short time I spent working with David Bowie. He was the ultimate Creative – a sweet and sensitive man who loved to read and engage in philosophical conversations during long flights and family-style Italian dinners.

The purpose of a stapler is to bind things together. Although I never did find my missing stapler, I believe it more than adequately fulfilled its mission.

Mandy Jackson-Beverly is the author of A Secret Muse, and The Devil And The Muse; the first two books in The Creatives Series. Mandy is a contributor to The Huffington Post and a book reviewer for The New York Journal of Books. Her first novel, A Secret Muse, won first place in the fantasy section of the 2016 Beverly Hills Book Awards. Mandy has taught Advanced Placement Art, and previously worked as a costume designer and stylist for photographer Herb Ritts, and directors Joel and Ethan Coen, David Fincher, and Julien Temple, and music icons David Bowie, Madonna, and Tina Turner, to name a few. If you’d like to learn more about Mandy you can visit her website, follow her on Facebook, and Instagram.

 

 

 

 

Indie Spotlight on SciFi Author, Lesley Smith

FOR EVERY GOOD FORTUNE, THERE’S AN EQUAL AND OPPOSITE MISFORTUNE. As a brilliant young computer scientist working on her master’s degree, Ella Hote doesn’t believe in luck. But when bizarre accidents, insane coincidences, and weird encounters with improbably handsome strangers start to happen all around her, even hardheaded Ella has to change her mind.

She comes to realize she’s inadvertently created a luck generating computer that can make even the longest of long shots pay off.

Unfortunately, for every stroke of good luck, someone else pays the price in bad luck.

Ultimately, when lives are on the line, how far will she go?

Conservation of Luck is an engaging science fiction story that grapples with questions of morality—do the ends ever justify the means? And how can you go to save your loved ones?

My Love Affair with Science Fiction

Hi, my name is Lesley Smith and I’m a science fiction fan.  And, yes, I know that sounds like the intro at a twelve-step meeting. I write science fiction because I read science fiction.

My SF experience all started when I was a little girl and my chemist dad gave me a copy of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy. From there it was just a hop, skip, and a jump to novels of Robert Heinlein such as Stranger in a Strange Land and Time Enough for Love. And, then, before I knew it I was hanging out at the library at all hours, reading works such as Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury.

Maybe you had a similar experience with your favorite books?

My love affair with SF continued over the decades. I was especially happy to find more modern authors like Connie Willis and Kathleen Goonan who write from a more feminine perspective.

My critique partners like to say I write ‘science fiction with heart.’ I say I write the kind of books I want to read, with female protagonists who can be kick-ass scientists, have romances and dear friends and joke around, who can live and love–all while saving the world.

The bottom line is I can’t resist flights of fancy to other worlds and other societies. I love going on adventures and trying to understand other sentient creatures, cultures and scientific concepts. I love letting my imagination run wild in parallel with my reason when I create new fiction.

Reading fiction is the only activity in which you get to become someone, or something, else. Thus, as a girl I got to become an astronaut, a Martian settler, a time traveler, a psycho-historian, a robotic engineer, a scientist, and many other professions. I felt as if I was having adventures such as exploring Mars and doing scientific experiments. I’m a firm believer that you have to be able to dream of something to do it. You have to imagine yourself doing it.

For me, SF became a gateway to something even more powerful: science. Decades later, you guessed it, I’m a scientist with several degrees under my belt including a Ph.D. in Physics. I’m very passionate about encouraging people in underrepresented groups become STEM professionals and I think science fiction helps make this happen.

Every day, I make use of the imagination and creativity I learned, and continue to learn, from science fiction. Every day, I’m honored to carry the torch and advance humanity’s knowledge a little further and to write about it in my fiction.

And every day I’m grateful for the opportunity.

(Photo by Patrick Campbell/University of Colorado)

Lesley L. Smith has collected a plethora of degrees including a PhD. in Physics and a MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. She has published seven science fiction novels with her latest being, Conservation of Luck. Her short science fiction has been published in several venues including Analog Science Fiction and Fact. She is an active member of the Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She is also a founder and editor of the speculative fiction e Zine Electric Spec. She has had a variety of scientific jobs including investigating quarks, dark matter, extra-solar planets, clouds, atmospheric chemistry and global warming. She has worked for a variety of research institutions including The University of Kansas, Argonne National Laboratory, the Department of Energy, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, NASA, and The University of Colorado. If you’d like to know more about Lesley you can visit her website.