Wrapping up the WordCrafter “Will Write For Wine” & “Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard” Book Blog Tour

Will Write for Wine & Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard Book Blog Tour

This is the last stop on the WordCrafter Will Write For Wine & Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard Book Blog Tour with a guest post by author Sara W. McBride about the inspiration behind the Will Write For Wine, and my review of her debut novel. I want to thank you all for joining us, and if you missed any of the stops along the way, you can catch them at the links below.

Writing to be Read – Opening day post: Guest post by Sara W. McBride – The Inspiration for “The Devil’s Bridge”, and review of Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard

The Showers of Blessings – Guest post by Sara W. McBride – The inspiration for “Stealing Georgione’s Mistress”

Carla Loves to Read – Guest post by Sara W. McBride – The inspiration for “The Masked Kiss”, and review of Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard

Writing to be Read – Interview with author Sara W. McBride and guest post – The Inspiration for “Lazzaretto Vecchio: A Dowry for Saffron”

Zigler’s News – Guest post by Sara W. McBride – The Inspiration for “A Gentleman’s Portrait by a Pregnant Man”, and a review of Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard

Annette Rochelle Aben – Guest post by Sara W. McBride – The Inspiration for “The Haunted Palazzo”

Roberta Writes – Guest post by Sara W. McBride – The Inspiration for “The Secret Vault”

Give-Away

Don’t forget to leave a comment and click on the link below to enter for a chance to win a free digital copy of Will Write For Wine or Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d9280cae1/?

Image of Laocoön
Credit: Laocoön statue, Vatican, Photo by Frank Eiffert on Unsplash

Inspiration for Will Write for Wine

Guest post by author Sara McBride

What inspired the novel Will Write for Wine?

My love affair with Venice began in 2005 on my very first trip to Italy. I had planned a two-week research trip, by myself, that started in Venice and ended in Rome. My husband had shown me an article about an art historian who believed a sketch by Michelangelo, dated 1504, was of the torso of Laocoön, the statue that Pope Julius II paraded through the streets of Rome and subsequently launched the Vatican Museum. But Laocoön wasn’t discovered until 1506, and it’s discovery changed the world of Renaissance art.

How did Michelangelo sketch a statue that was still buried in the earth? The hypothesis was simple: Michelangelo forged the statue and buried it.

I spent 6 months researching Michelangelo’s life, his art commissions, and his war with Pope Julius II—Which is epic!—and came to the conclusion that the hypothesis might be true. I built a 76-page itinerary—fully color-coded, because I’m that anal—and set out across Italy to walk the steps of Michelangelo and those I believed assisted with his subterfuge.

I hunted for evidence in the art world itself. Since I wanted to write a novel, I also sought ambiance from historical locations and wrote down the smells of restoration sites with turpentine and plaster dust hanging in the air, the sounds of echoing footfalls in an empty cavernous church or of a single woman weeping in a side chapel, the taste of rustic breads, the sight of sunset over St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and the smoothness of Istrian stone supporting Venetian palazzos.

After that first trip, I could walk into any museum room and at a glance, tell you which paintings were completed before or after 1506, the year of Laocoön’s discovery. That’s how influential the discovery of Laocoon was on the Italian Renaissance art scene. But on the flip side, I couldn’t tell you how the artist felt when he painted or sculpted an art piece.

I wrote a novel. It read like an 800-page art history dissertation. Snore-ville! Even though the entire novel is centered around Michelangelo, Bramante, Rafael, Sansovino, and Pope Julius II, the reader never becomes invested in the characters. I understood the history, the places, the art, but not the men or what motivated them.

Anyone can sing a song, but for it to resonate and draw in a listener, it must be sung with emotion. It is the emotion of the song that tells a story. My novel was missing the emotion.

But seventeen years later, I’m still drawn to the story of Laocoön, which I believe to be Michelangelo’s greatest forgery—Some forgeries were documented—and with every art museum exhibit, every church, every trip to Europe, I see more evidence for the pieces of the story. But now I seek to understand why Michelangelo and Pope Julius II were at such odds with each other. For that, I needed to understand people.

Venice is an amazing city to study not just history, ambiance, food, beauty, and smells, oh so many smells, but to study people. And out of that study, came the novel, Will Write for Wine.     

Will Write for Wine

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Will-Write-Wine-Alexis-Novel-ebook/dp/B09XVM6Y38

What they are saying on Amazon:

The mind of Alexis Lynn is as delightful and convoluted as the labyrinth of canals and streets of Venice. Tagging along on the ride with this endearingly flawed character is sometimes rooting for her, sometimes laughing with her, sometimes crying with her, sometimes wanting to smack her, and sometimes wanting to smack the men she entangles herself with. Will Write for Wine is a quick and light beach read – no, scratch that – it’s a quick and light European vacation read. Alexis Lynn puts the “fun” in “dysfunctional” and the “Veni” in “Venice”!

My Review

Alexis Lynn is at a crossroads, starting a new life in Venice and leaving the old one in the America behind, making the choices which will affect her future. At times like this, lots of wine may be required, and there’s no end to what Alexis Lynn will do for good wine- the writing of stories, the breaking of hearts, the solving of age-old mysteries. In Will Write for Wine, by Sara McBride, it’s a fun ride with Alexis, her new found friends and the ghosts of Venice as she writes stories, falls in and out of love, and delves into Venetian history to create a new life for herself with the best from the old, as well as the new.

Pour yourself a glass of wine and settle in for a good read with Will Write for Wine. You don’t need a good wine to enjoy this novel, but I’d highly recommend it. I give it five quills.

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Day 5 of the WordCrafter “Will Write for Wine” & “Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard” Book Blog Tour

Will Write for Wine & Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard Book Blog Tour

Day 5 of the WordCrafter Will Write for Wine & Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard Book Blog Tour finds us over at Zigler’s News with another wonderful guest post from author Sara W. McBride and a review of her short story collection by Victoria Zigler. Join us to learn more about this author and her delightful books.

https://ziglernews.blogspot.com/2022/07/wordcrafters-book-blog-tour-for-will.html


Welcome to the WordCrafter “Will Write for Wine” & “Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard” Book Blog Tour

Will Write for Wine & Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard Book Blog Tour

Stories I Stole from Lord Byron’s Bastard is a collection inspired by Venetian history. The fictional character, Alexis Lynn, wrote these stories in the novel Will Write for Wine by Sara W. McBride, but they are fun stand-alone adventures to be enjoyed with an excellent glass of Italian wine.

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Welcome to the WordCrafter Will Write for Wine & Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard Book Blog Tour. This is going to be a fun tour because we have two fabulous books to celebrate by a wonderful new author Sara W. McBride. Will Write for Wine is her debut novel about a writer, Alexis Lynn, and her funny and romantic escapades when she moves to Venice to start a new life. Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard is the recently released short story collection and companion to the novel. Her fiction is well researched and presented with a witty flare which I find refreshing and I think you will too. I hope you’ll follow the tour and join us at each blog stop. You’ll find the schedule and links below.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, June 27 – Opening Day Post – Writing to be Read – Guest Post: Inspiration for the Devil’s Bridge” & Review of Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard

Tuesday, June 28 – Showers of Blessings – Guest Post: Inspiration for “Stealing Georgione’s Mistress”

Wednesday June 29 – Carla Loves to Read – Guest Post: Inspiration for “The Masked Kiss”

Thursday, June 30 – Writing to be Read – Guest Post: Inspiration for “A Dowry for Safron” & Interview with Sara W. McBride

Friday, July 1 – Zigler’s News – Guest Post: Inspiration for “The Pregnant Man” & Review of Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard

Saturday, July 2 – Annette Rochelle Aben – Guest Post: Inspiration for “The Haunted Palazzo”

Sunday, July 3 – Roberta Writes – Guest Post: Inspiration for “The Secret Vault”

Monday, July 4 – Wrap-Up Post – Writing to be Read – Guest Post: Inspiration for Will Write for Wine & Review of Will Write for Wine

Give-Away

In addidtion, to the awesome guests posts, interview, and reviews at each tour stop, Sara is offerin a chance to win a digital copy of each book, Will Write For Wine & Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard. Leave a comment and click on the link below to enter for a chance to win:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d9280cae1/?

Introduction

I must begin by giving kudos to Sara W. McBride for the clever way that she has braided these seven short stories in this collection in with her debut novel, (and I’m told that she is currently working on a companion wine tasting journal). While both of these books stand alone easily, they really should be consumed together. In the novel, Will Write for Wine, we see the story of how Alexis Lynn comes to write these stories, but we don’t get to actually see the stories. For that, you must read Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard, which offers not only the stories, but the true inspiration behind them. After reading her delightful novel, and seeing Alexis’ digging up the background for the stories and seeing Manu’s reaction to reading them, one can’t help but be curious about the actual stories and want to read the collection. It’s brilliant!

Now let me turn things over to the author, Sara W. McBride, so she can share her inspiration for the story.

Ponte Del Diavlo – The Devil’s Bridge

https://www.puckpublishing.com

Inspiration for “Devil’s Bridge”

Guest Post by author Sara W. McBride

What inspired the story, “The Devil’s Bridge?”

The moment I saw the sign “Ponte del Diavolo,” I knew I had to write a story. At the edge of the bridge sits Palazzo Priuli, home to several Doge Priulis and is now an elegant hotel (www.hotelpriuli.com) in the Castello area of Venice. I had already been researching the tragic death of Antonio Foscarini, and then I discovered that the doge—Basically the president of Venice—who had him executed lived in the palazzo at the edge of Devil’s Bridge. It’s not often that history simply hands me a story, but there it was, burning bright in the Lancet windows of a 14th century palazzo. Here’s the real history behind the Devil-possessed Doge Priuli and his most famous victim:

Antonio Foscarini, executed on April 22, 1622, was a Venetian ambassador to London (1611-1615) and is rumored to have had an affair with King James’ Queen, Anne of Denmark. He returned to Venice during a “Spy War” with Spain and was suspected of betraying Venetian secrets to Spanish officials. Someone who knew about his affair with the Queen of England might have seeded this rumor. Upon his arrival in Venice in December 1615, he was arrested and held prisoner for three years under Doge Bembo, who uncovered the Bedmar plot which would have permitted Spanish mercenaries to march on Venice. In the midst of the crisis, Bembo died—or was possibly assassinated by the Spanish—and Doge Nicolo Donato reigned for a mere 35 days before he died. I believe he was assassinated by the Spanish, but have found no clear evidence for such a claim.

I’m considering writing a novel on the Venice/Spain Spy War of 1615-1622 because it’s super fascinating and an interesting statement on what fear does to a governing body.

Antonio Priuli (1548-1623) was elected doge in 1618 and released Foscarini in order to monitor him and his activities. Priuli was a brutal doge who arrested hundreds of innocent Venetians suspected of plotting against Venice. Was he possessed by the devil? Probably not, but how Devil’s Bridge earned its name is a mystery, so I took license and speculated that the devil enjoyed his residence at the bridge’s end.

On April 8, 1622, Foscarini, then a Senator of Venice, was arrested and accused by the Council of Ten—basically the governing body of Venice, particularly over state security matters—of meeting with ministers of foreign powers and communicating the most intimate secrets of the Venetian Republic. The evidence was weak and Foscarini denied all charges, yet he was still condemned to a public execution for high treason. Why? The answer will never be known, so I had fun speculating that perhaps a guest of his, under her own volition or persuaded by a demonically possessed doge, provided false evidence to seal his fate.

By the end of 1622, Doge Priuli showed signs of illness. In January, 1623, the same Council of Ten revoked Foscarini’s guilty verdict—Whoops, they were wrong—and reinstated the family’s honor with a posthumous exoneration. His bust and tomb can be found in the Church of San Stae in Venice. There’s more on Foscarini’s final resting place in “The Masked Kiss,” another story in this collection.

Doge Antonio Priuli died on August 12, 1623, but oddly, I am unable to locate his tomb. It’s usually pretty easy to find a doge’s tomb. I would have thought him to be buried in Santi Giovanni e Paolo (aka San Zanipolo), which houses tombs of 25 doges, but I haven’t found him there. The art and sculpture in this basilica-sized ediface is amazing! This behemoth church manages to hide on the North side of the Castello and is off the beaten tourist path, but you should definitely seek it out.

Two other Priuli doges, brothers Girolamo Priuli, 1486-1567, and Lorenzo Priuli, 1489-1559, are buried in San Salvador, but apparently there was no space remaining for their Priuli descendent, or perhaps the family just didn’t like Antonio.

Another source claims that the spy-hunting doge is buried alongside Marco Polo in the Church of San Lorenzo in the Castello district, but San Lorenzo has been closed for over a hundred years, only recently reopened, and I have not seen or read any evidence of the doge’s tomb being contained within. They couldn’t find Marco Polo either.

If you find the tomb of Venice’s 94th Doge, Antonio Priuli, please write to me at sara@puckpublishing.com. Otherwise, I’ll just have to assume he’s buried in the depths of the canal under Ponte del Diavolo.

Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Stories-Stole-Lord-Byrons-Bastard-ebook/dp/B0B27TS5GL

My Review

Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard

Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard is a short story collection by Sara W. McBride which will tickle your sense of adventure and discovery, and perhaps, your funny bone. A companion to her debut novel, Will Write for Wine, these stories bring Venetian history to life with a personal touch of humor, adding in the missing details which historical archives and family histories only elude to. Each story is accompanied with the history and inspiration behind it, and it’s fun to see how McBride crafted in characters to transform legend to story.

Included are tales of an unsuspecting hero who gets the girl, in “The Masked Kiss”; an apprentice who betrays his master in the name of love in “Stealing Giorgione’s Mistress”; a bridge occupied by a demon, in “The Devil’s Bridge”; a nun who chooses life on a plague island over marriage in “Lazzaretto Vecchio: A Dowry for Saffron”; a smuggling operation gone awry in “The Secret Vault”; and a delightful tale of a young artist forced to masquerade as a male in order to ply her trade in “A Gentleman’s Portrait by a Pregnant Man”. But, I’d have to say my favorite story in this collection is “The Haunted Palazzo”, because I’ve always been a sucker for a good ghost story, and the mysterious specter and wet windowsill are certainly prime food for ghostly fodder.

Stories I Stole From Lord Byron’s Bastard is a collection of short historically inspired stories which are light and entertaining reads. Fun and enjoyable. I give it five quills.

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Welcome to the WordCrafter “Hope for the Tarnished” Book Blog Tour & Review

Hope for the Tarnished Book Blog Tour

Welcome to the WordCrafter Hope for the Tarnished Book Blog Tour. On this tour you’ll learn about a touching new young adult novel, Hope for the Tarnished, with guest posts by the author, Ann Chiappetta, as well as reviews and an interview. I hope to see you all at each tour stop. Here’s the tour schedule so you don’t have to miss any of the stops:

Day 1: Writing to be Read – Introduction and Review

Day 2: Patty’s World – Guest Post by Ann Chiappetta

Day 3: Writing to be Read – Interview with Ann Chiappetta

Day 4: Roberta Writes – Guest Post by Ann Chiappetta

Day 5: Zigler’s News – Guest Post by Ann Chiappetta and Review

About Hope for the Tarnished

Young Abbie struggles to cope with the traumatic experiences in her life. Ripped from everything familiar after her parents’ divorce, she is dropped into a strange neighborhood and is emotionally abandoned by her unstable mother. Abbie is caught up in the cruel nature   of one sister’s addictions and often rescued by her other sister’s sense of familial responsibility and love.

The story takes place in the 1970s, revealing family secrets   and the shift of cultural norms as Abbie leaves her doubts in the past, embracing a bright future.

My Review

Hope for the Tarnished, by Ann Chiappetta is a young adult novel about a young girl who triumphs over the adversities of life to find a chance for happiness as a young woman. It’s a story of tragedy and triumph. It’s a story of hope that will tug at your heartstrings.

Growing up as a latch-key kid, before it was ‘thing’, with a mentally unstable mother, who is indifferent to her daughters’ needs, and sister who is an addict, Abbey faces loss and tragedy head on. But as she grows into a young woman, love complicates her life and makes her doubt her own decisions. With time, social norms and personal situations change, making Abbey dare to hope for happiness once more.

A touching story of love and hope, with the message that nothing ever stays the same, Hope for the Tarnished leaves you with an overall good feeling. I rooted for Abbey all the way through.

$11.50/3.99 Purchasing links: Amazon/Kindle Smashwords

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And the winner is …!

Visions

Announcing the winner of the 2022 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest.

Every year, WordCrafter Press runs an annual short fiction contest and publishes the resulting anthology. The first contest was in 2019, with the Whispers of the Past paranormal anthology, followed by Spirits of the West paranormal western anthology in 2020, and Where Spirits Linger paranormal anthology in 2021.

Today it pleases me to announce that Roberta Eaton Cheadle is the winner of the 2022 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest. Robbie has entered the WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest every year since 2019 and this year her story “The Bite” stood out and shined, although with so many good stories submitted, it was still quite difficult to choose. I am proud to include her story in Visions.

The Visions anthology will be different from years past in that I have included stories by invitation only, which were not a part of the contest, so it will be a bit larger than previous anthologies, with a total of nineteen terrific stories for your reading enjoyment. In addition to Robbie, contributing authors include previous contest winners, Jeff Bowles and Christa Planko; invited authors Sara McBride, W.T. Patterson, Julie Jones, Zack Ellafy, Leah Cutter, Joseph Carribis, D.L.Mullen and Stephanie Kraner; and contest entrants, Patty L. Fletcher, Billie Holladay Skelley, C.J. Serajeddini, C.R. Johansson, Keith J. Hoskins, and Janet Garber.

I look forward to putting this anthology together and sharing it with all of you.

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Join Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Readers’ Group for WordCrafter Press book & event news, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, as a sampling of her works just for joining.


Book Review: There Will Be Consequences

There Will Be Consequences, by Loretta Miles Tollefson is a biographical historical novel which tells the story of 1837 New Mexico territory history from a biographical perspective, using multiple P.O.V.s. 1837-38 is a complicated period of New Mexico’s history, when rebellion broke out, which Tollefson has undertaken to portray, and she chose an effective way to illustrate all of the different perspectives. There Will Be Consequences tells the story of an historical conflict in which there were no winners.

Although I am familiar with Colorado’s history for this period, this book shows that there was a lot more going on on the western frontier than just cowboys and Indians, wagon trains and mining. This is not a tale of high adventure, but one of the backbone of this country just trying to survive, and it is filled with events that most will find astounding.

There Will Be Consequences

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/There-Will-Be-Consequences-Biographical/dp/1952026059

There Will Be Consequences is skillfully crafted to offer an inside look into the events of the 1837 rebellion and the resulting events. If you are familiar with this historical period and area, you’ll enjoy the thoughtful insights Tollefson offers through the different perspectives offered. If you’re not, you’ll find it all quite interesting. I give it five quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth lives, works, and plays in the mountains of Colorado. With a dual emphasis M.F.A. in Creative Writing and a M.A. in Publishing, writing is more than a passion. It’s a way of life. She’s a multi-genre author, who finds inspiration from the nature around her, and her love of the old west, and other odd and quirky things which might surprise you.

She has short stories featured in the following anthologies: The Collapsar Directive (“If You’re Happy and You Know It”); Relationship Add Vice (“The Devil Made Her Do It”); Nightmareland (“The Haunting in Carol’s Woods”); Whispers of the Past (“The Woman in the Water”); Spirits of the West (“Don’t Eat the Pickled Eggs”); and Where Spirits Linger (“The People Upstairs”). Her paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, and her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, are both available in both digital and print editions at most of your favorite book distributors.

When not writing, she keeps up her author’s blog, Writing to be Read, where she posts reflections on her own writing, author interviews and book reviews, along with writing tips and inspirational posts from fellow writers. In addition to creating her own very small publishing house in WordCrafter Press, she offers quality author services, such as editing, social media & book promotion, and online writing courses through WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services. As well as serving as judge for the Western Writers of America and sitting on the editorial team for Western State Colorado University and WordFire Press for the Gilded Glass anthology and editing Weird Tales: The Best of the Early Years 1926-27, under Kevin J. Anderson & Jonathan Maberry.

In her spare time, she is bird watching, or gardening, or just soaking up some of that Colorado sunshine.

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Join Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Readers’ Group for WordCrafter Press book & event news, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, as a sampling of her works just for joining.


Deadline approaching for the 2022 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest & a chance for inclusion in the Visions Anthology

Visions

Just a reminder:

The deadline to enter the 2022 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, May 31st. There’s still time to get your submission in for a chance to have your story included in the Visions anthology alongside other esteemed authors, but don’t delay. You can find the full submission guidelines and entry here.

The deadline is fast approaching and will be here before you know it. The winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card in addition to being featured in the anthology, but you can’t win if you don’t enter. If you write fantasy, science fiction, horror or paranormal short fiction, I want to read your story!


Book Reviews – First Bite: A Limited Edition Vampire Romance Collection

I’m kind of hesitant about vampire stories. I’ve read a few that were crafted quite well, like those created by Anne Rice, which I loved and more than a few with twinkling vampires or other gimmicks which veered from traditional tropes, which turned my stomach just a little. But when I received a review invitation from Jordan Elizabeth for the new anthology in which she has a story featured, I didn’t think twice before saying yes.

The Creative Words anthology, First Bite is a varied collection of vampire romance stories: vampires romancing vampires, vampires romancing humans, vampires romancing hunters, or vice verse, etc…., which might be classified as vampire erotica. While I must admit that horny vampires don’t do a lot for me, but many of these stories were explicit and the erotic portions were tastefully done. But be aware that some of these stories bordered on sizzling.

Several of the stories featured are prequels, leading into the rest of the series, rather than complete stand-alone stories. This may be a clever marketing trick to entice readers into the series, but it may also be frustrating to a reader who is expecting a complete story arc in each offering.

I personally, find this tactic annoying, because just when the author has grabbed your attention and you are really getting into the story, they pull it all away and say, “If you want more, go buy my book.” Seems a little underhanded, doesn’t it? But, I know this is a marketing tactic authors are often using these days. You usually see it in newsletter magnets and freebies, although I’ve not seen it in an anthology before.

But… I loved the unique, (at least to me), story concept for “Vampire Occupation”, by Kat Parrish. Although it ends with “to be continued…”, it left me intrigued enough that I’d like to read more. Apparently the tactic works, annoying or not.

There were no prequels or “to be continueds…” from the author requesting the review, Jordan Elizabeth. I’ve reviewed many of her YA novels in the past, and always find them quite enjoyable, and her story, “October in Elmdale “, was no exception. I was drawn into this story immediately by her skillfully placed hook, and her full story arc kept me riveted to the end, where love blooms around a broken curse.

Also worth mention in this story collection is “Must Love Humans”, by Amada Aggie, a complete story where love is kindled over a bet on a game of billiards; “Immortally Yours”, by Lenore Danvers, a complete story in which the vampire plays the part of knight rescuing a damsel who doesn’t yet know she is in distress, and “Once Bitten”, by Kathleen Ryder, a complete story where lost love is reclaimed in spite of a dark secret.

Only a vampire can cherish you forever.

Hidden among average cities and quaint little towns, monsters hunt unsuspecting prey. Secret predators prowl in plain sight, watching. Waiting. The lost souls they consume never see the beast before it hits. If they did, they’d willingly give in to the intoxication of the vampire’s sex appeal.

Overall, First Bite: A Limited Edition Vampire Romance Collection is a captivating anthology of vampire romance stories for the adult reader. I give it four quills.

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/First-Bite-Limited-Vampire-Collection-ebook/dp/B09L356DG1

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


BOWLESIAN! – Dr. Julianus Techt’s Five Easy Steps to Building a Better You

Dr. Julianus Techt’s Five Easy Steps to Building a Better You

by Jeff Bowles

You are an absolute horror show. You are a wreck and ruin of a human being. I can’t even stand the sight of you anymore. You’re weak. Feeble. Go on and do it. Go on and rid the universe of your wretchedness once and for all.
Sound familiar?
Hi, friends. Dr. Julianus Techt here. Life got you down? No friends? No significant love interests? No point in living one more excruciating, soul-crushing day? Believe me, I know the feeling.
Congratulations on your purchase of Dr. Julianus Techt’s 5 Easy Steps to Building a Better You. This book, and the accompanying materials and spells companion crate, are each designed with the lowlife in mind. Contained within these pages, friends, are the answers you are looking for. Not happy with the man/woman you have become? Why not simply build a better you? The methods, magics, and matriculations I am about to divulge are time-tested and fool-proofed.
I know exactly what it’s like. I was once in your shoes. My PhD is in world-class suffering. I earned my doctorate at the school of hard knocks. Now I am a new man entirely. Come along with me and discover the secrets to self-love, self-respect, and self-actualization. Your glorious, resplendent days in the sun are just 5 Easy Steps away….

Easy Step 1: Back to Basics

Why is it you hate yourself so much? Why is it you’re so despairingly, disconsolately desperate to become a better human being? Is it because, like me, you’ve let down every last friend, family member, and lover who’s ever cared about you? Or do you, like me, simply find life painful, disappointing, a series of valleys–each deeper and darker than the last–without even a passing glimpse of a single peak or shred of hope?
Ha ha. Well, you were sharp enough to buy this book. So at least you’ve got that going for you.
I want you to imagine what the better you will look like.
Now I want you to open your materials and spells companion crate and make it happen.
Inside the crate you will find,
One (1) man-sized sheet of multi-colored construction paper
Five (5) century-aged cherry wood logs, each weighing approximately twenty-five (25) lbs.
One hundred seventy-five (175) lbs. of premium oil-based plastilina modeling clay.
One (1) ancient scroll of Black Soul-Shard enchantments.
And last, but not least,
One (1) complimentary Pizza Barn coupon, buy 1 slice, get the second half-off.
Arrange your materials and spells in whatever manner that best allows for ease-of-access and attenuation with the life-force powers of the universe and the forsaken black domain of the damnation/animation god, Frülik.
Ready to begin?
Good. I was hoping you’d say that.

Note: Dr. Julianus Techt’s 5 Easy Steps to Building a Better You is, if nothing else, a trial-and-error process. Steps 2-4 will enable you to produce 3 different soul-shard versions of yourself. If at any time you become satisfied with a soul brother or sister, please feel free to skip to step 5, There, isn’t That Better? Similarly, if at any time you feel threatened or are attacked by your soul brothers or sisters, please discontinue use, flee your house or place of residence, and immediately cash in your complimentary Pizza Barn coupon as you await police/emergency medical technician intervention.

Easy Step 2: Frülik

From your kitchen, retrieve one (1) large knife, serrated; one (1) cereal bowl; one and one-half (1 1/2) teaspoons of iodized table salt; one (1) sticky bandage, extra-large; and one (1) lb. of leftover meat to offer as supplication to Frülik, the damnation/animation god.
Retrieve your ancient Black Soul-Shard scroll and refer to enchantment #12 as you perform the following:
Sit down on the floor with your legs crossed. Pour the salt into the bowl and set it in your lap so that it can catch the copious amounts of blood about to gush from the palm of your hand.
This next part may sting a little.
Slice open your hand and hold it over the bowl. As you howl in agony, notice that your blood runs red. This will change as you begin to recite the enchantment, the one which begins,
“Oh mighty Frülik! I offer you my blood and meat! Cleave my astral self in twain! Take from me now that which you desire most!”
Notice that three things occur. The first is that your blood turns black. Don’t be alarmed. This is simply an indication you have just sold your soul for something far purer than you can possibly imagine. Notice, too, that the air around you has suddenly grown approximately 50° cooler. Your breath puffs frost. You snort in the cold like a castrated bull. You should probably be aware that the damnation/animation god, who will be arriving shortly, cannot abide warmth. It reminds him the living still thrive in the world beyond his forsaken realm, and that for him, all hope for love, passion, and earthly pleasures are lost, lost, lost.
Anyway, the last thing you will notice is that a 10-foot tall, bone-armored, entrail-covered, cloven-footed demon god will scratch and claw his way from the cereal bowl filled with salt and your precious blood.
Once he’s standing over you, with the edge of his massive Broadsword of Deepest Lacerations resting precipitously against your neck, he will squeal like a cancerous boar. He will then say something to the effect of,
“Woe unto you! Woe! Your soul is damned to the bleakest pits of horror and suffering! Pestilence! Rotten, fetid, malodorous flesh! I shall feast on your severed scrotum each mealtime for a thousand lives of men!”*

*Please note that based on your gender, Frülik may or may not in fact use the word “scrotum.”

The damnation/animation god will now use his broadsword to cleave your head from your shoulders. Do not be alarmed, this is simply an astral projection of your head and nothing more. Unfortunately, the pain you feel is entirely real and will no doubt haunt you for years to come.
Frülik is consumed by his own lust for spiritual power. He will snort and stomp and pull exactly three (3) individual shards of your soul out through your neck. His desire, of course, is to eat them and thereby enslave you for all time as his personal Concubine of Nightly Anguish.
It is now appropriate to offer him the one (1) lb. of supplication meat.
“Meager vittles!” he will bellow, but he will nevertheless proceed to stuff the meat into his face and forget all about the severed pieces of your spiritual essence hanging from your throat.
Please refer to enchantment #16 on your ancient scroll. Recite and repeat until the damnation/animation god is banished, moaning and cursing your name, back to his profane realm.
“Mighty Frülik!,” you will say. “Return to blackness! Mighty Frülik! A caelo usque ad centrum!”
Once Frülik is gone, and his howls of abject agony and rage have finally subsided, you will feel the urge to pass out and slip into the Sleep of Ages. This is completely normal, a side-effect of doing business with a demon god, and I must tell you, feels rather nice after a nightcap of chamomile tea and vodka.
Before you sleep, pull the three soul shards from the astral wound in your neck and lay them out, as best you can, with the rest of the materials from your companion crate.
When you awaken in exactly twelve (12) days and nights, we will finally create your soul brothers/sisters. Won’t that be fun?

Easy Step 3: The Better You Emerges

Twelve (12) days and nights have now passed. Are we back in the land of the living? Excellent.
Quick, what is fragile, tenuous, rough around the edges, and excruciatingly, mind-numbingly easy to reduce to cinder? No, it’s not Dr. Julianus Techt’s four failed marriages. It’s paper, friends. Simple, well-crafted, infinitely pliable commercial paper.
Your next task is to create a soul brother/sister from the man-sized sheet of multi colored construction paper you’ve retrieved from the materials and spells companiontjngsopjojgs kijipsgmijijithinign ijisrjomoejoig Frülik fhsko
sohoihionofihisniohi Frülik shinjpspsom Frülik shions
Frülik loves Techt
Frülik loves Techt
Frülik luvs Techt
Frülik has Techt
Frülik has Techtmpr
Say goodbye, Techt
Say goodbye, Techgtnikjigjopop

Managing Editor’s Note: And this is the last thing he wrote for the project, people. The police entered his home last week to find the place torn to pieces but otherwise empty. They found on his workstation a single Tupperware dish containing a full pound of rotting meat.
Due to the highly volatile and disturbed nature of this manuscript–and of course, in light of Dr. Julianus Techt’s mysterious disappearance–One-Hill Prairie Publishing hereby suspends all production plans for Five Easy Steps to Building a Better You until further notice. We have also mandated the immediate destruction of all mockup materials and spells companion crates. Our number one priority is to keep the particulars of this project from reaching the public. Can you imagine what’d happen if some poor fool actually attempted any of this?

Post-Script: We realize that working with Dr. Techt these past weeks and months has been trying, and at times, freakishly horrifying. Free mental health screenings and complimentary Pizza Barn coupons to all who apply.

END


Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, Love/Madness/Demon, is available on Amazon now!

Love Madness Demon Cover Final

Check out Jeff Bowles Central on YouTube – Movies – Video Games – Music – So Much More!


Treasuring Poetry: Meet poet and author Abbie Taylor

Today, I am delighted to introduce poet and author, Abbie Taylor, to discuss her favourite poems and poetry in general.

Which of your own poems is your favourite?

“The Bedroom” is one of those red herring poems that makes you think it’s about one thing, then turns out to be about another. It illustrates how much my late husband Bill depended on me after suffering two strokes that paralyzed his left side. It’s my favorite because even today, almost ten years after his passing, I’m amazed that I was able to meet his needs for six years after his strokes, despite my limited vision. Here’s the poem:

The Bedroom

At three in the morning,

I’m mildly aroused

by the gentle touch of his hand.

He only has one good arm and leg

but still knows how to please me.

As he strokes me,

and I breathe the scent of his sweat,

I purr with anticipation.

The mood is shattered

when he whispers, “I need to pee.”

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

Every night, after I brought Bill home from the skilled nursing facility, where he recuperated after his strokes, he woke me at least once, sometimes more than once, during the night, because he needed assistance to sit on the side of the bed and use a urinal. He was never demanding during this time. He gently woke me by rubbing my back and shoulders. Once I was fully awake, he said, I need to pee.” After he heard me read the poem during a public event, when he woke me, he would say, “What does your poem say I have to do?” Eventually, he was able to use the urinal in bed without sitting up first. So, all I had to do was get up and empty the urinal periodically, which made life a lot easier.

What are your plans for your poetry going forward?

I don’t have any definite plans. I’ve put together several collections but haven’t had much time to do anything with them. I imagine I’ll eventually publish them.

What is your favourite poem?

I’m assuming you want to know about my favorite poem by another author. Well, that would be “The Lanyard” by Billy Collins. Here it is, along with a link to a video of him reading it.

The Lanyard

BY BILLY COLLINS

The other day I was ricocheting slowly

off the blue walls of this room,

moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,

from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,

when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary

where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist

could send one into the past more suddenly—

a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp

by a deep Adirondack lake

learning how to braid long thin plastic strips

into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard

or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,

but that did not keep me from crossing

strand over strand again and again

until I had made a boxy

red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,

and I gave her a lanyard.

She nursed me in many a sick room,

lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,

laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,

and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,

and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.

Here are thousands of meals, she said,

and here is clothing and a good education.

And here is your lanyard, I replied,

which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,

strong legs, bones and teeth,

and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,

and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.

And here, I wish to say to her now,

is a smaller gift—not the worn truth

that you can never repay your mother,

but the rueful admission that when she took

the two-tone lanyard from my hand,

I was as sure as a boy could be

that this useless, worthless thing I wove

out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

Why do you like this poem?

In a humorous way, it emphasizes the idea that our mothers do so much for us but we feel we don’t do enough for them.

About Abbie Taylor

Abbie Johnson Taylor is the author of three novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. Her work has appeared in The Avocet and Magnets and Ladders. She lives in Sheridan, Wyoming, where, for six years, she cared for her totally blind  late husband who was partially paralyzed by two strokes soon after they were married. Before that, she worked for fifteen years as a music therapist in nursing homes and other senior facilities. During that time, she also facilitated a support group for blind and visually impaired adults, taught Braille, and served on the advisory board to a state trust fund providing adaptive equipment to blind and visually impaired children and adults.

Contact Abbie Taylor

Website: https://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com

Blog: https://abbiescorner.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Abbies-Corner-of-the-World-988391584616528/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Abbie-Johnson-Taylor/e/B00GDM1BWK/#nav-tophttp://

My review of The Red Dress by Abbie Taylor

The Red Dress is a lovely novel about a woman, Eve Sawyer, who has become a best selling author and has a devoted husband and three children, but who has never been able to move on from an unfortunate incident in her younger years when, in a fit of embarrassed irritation, she gave away the red dress that her mother had made for her to wear to her prom. Although Eve was goaded by her selfish roommate, Charlene, into giving her the dress, her mother has never forgiven her for this transgression and it has impacted heavily on their relationship. Her mother is now suffering from dementia and is being cared for in a home for the elderly, but she still remembers that Eve gave away this dress and holds it against Eve.

Eve wore the dress to her prom and she associated the dress with bad memories as her date had disappeared with her best friend, Adele, and she had found them in a compromising position in the back of his father’s car. Eve cuts Adele out of her life and has not contacted her in many years, even though Adele had returned to their home town to raise her son, conceived on the night of the prom.

The story starts with Eve receiving a Facebook request to connect with her old roommate, Charlene. She accepts the request, although she had doubts because she didn’t like Charlene. Before long, her daughter, Ashley, is in touch with Charlene’s daughter, Brenda, and the situation is irreversible. Eve is having her own problems with overwork and issues with her older daughter, Julie, who feels neglected as a result. Her husband is also irritated with her because he feels she favours their younger daughter and son and is harsh with Julie.

This is a story that tackles the themes of working mothers, unresolved grudges and situations from the past, raising teenage children, forgiveness, terminal illness, and death. The author does a good job of sharing Eve’s frustration at her mother and older daughter, irritation at Charlene for the trouble she has caused her, and hurt at Adele’s betrayal of their friendship.

Eve has to confront her negative emotions to resolve these lingering troublesome relationship issues from her past and move on with her future.

I enjoyed the character of Eve and found her to be realistic and relatable. Her situation vividly establishes the difficulties that can result from unsettled emotional problems from the past and juggling work and motherhood.

I enjoyed this story and would recommend it to readers of family dramas.

What Amazon says

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again. Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

Purchase The Red Dress

Amazon US

My review of How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver (Poetry)

How to Build a Better Mousetrap is a memorable book of poetry which covers two distinct time periods in the author’s life.

Part 1: On Being a Family Caregiver, revolves around the poet’s role as caregiver to her husband following his having two strokes, a year apart, and becoming partially paralysed.

The second section section of the book comprises of Part 2: Recollections, Part 3: Reflections and Part 4: In the End which describes through the medium of freestyle poetry, the various states of the poet’s life from her early childhood through to her old age. There is little mention throughout the book of the author’s visual impairment, but I am aware of it as I have previously read an anthology, Understanding edited by Stevie Turner, that disclosed this information.

The poetry in this book is compelling and quite fascinating in its honesty as the poet ventures to express feelings and emotions that many people might seek to hide. It is refreshing to read expressions of helplessness and even the occasional anger and resentment towards a set of circumstances that have so drastically and unexpectedly impacted on the poet’s life. These emotions are overwhelmed by the poet’s clear devotion and love for her partner.

These verses from three different poems in this collection illustrate this internal conflict:

“In the beginning, you knew all about me
which buttons to push,
how to hook me up,
install programs, fix problems.

Now, you hesitate,
push the wrong buttons.
When I don’t give you the desired response,
you beat my keyboard, proclaim I don’t work.”
From Before and After

“I open my eyes,
gaze upon his sweet sleeping face,
long to hold, kiss him,
caress his hair, his cheek.”
from Awakening

“I’ll never tell you you’re stupid
when you forget something or don’t understand.
I’ll never tell you you’re lazy
when you sit at the kitchen table in your wheelchair
while I fix dinner, clean up.
I’ll never tell you you’re a baby
when I must do most things for you.”
from Things I’ll Never Tell You

What Amazon says

In January of 2006, Abbie Johnson Taylors husband suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed on his left side. After months of therapy in a nursing facility, he returned home in September of that year. Although he still had little use of his left arm and leg, it was hoped that through outpatient therapy, he would eventually walk again. In January of 2007, he suffered a second stroke that wasnt as severe, but it was enough to impact his recovery. In August of that year, his therapy was discontinued because he showed no progress. He has never walked since.

The first five poems tell the story of how Taylor found her husband when he suffered his first stroke, detail events in the first few months afterward, and describe Taylor and her husbands reactions. The rest of the poems in the first part were inspired by Taylors experiences while caring for her husband. Covering such topics as dressing, feeding, toileting, their relationship, and his computer, they often provide a humorous outlook. Some poems are from the husbands point of view. Poems in the next two parts cover childhood memories and other topics. The last section of poems was inspired by Taylors fifteen years of experience as a registered music therapist in a nursing home before marrying her husband.

Purchase How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

Amazon US

About Robbie Cheadle

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Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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