Merry Christmas!

You’ve got better things to do with your Christmas day than to read lengthy blog posts, so I won’t post one.

Wishing you happy holidays from myself, WordCrafter Enterprises and Writing to be Read.

If you leave your holiday wishes in the comments and which of the books published by WordCrafter Press in 2022 is your favorite, I’ll send you a digital copy for free, but only if you respond on Christmas Day. After that, we’re on to New Year’s and 2023.


Announcing the winners of the “Resurrection Mixtape” giveaway

Last week we ran the WordCrafter “Resurrection Mixtape” Book Blog Tour with reviews, guest posts about how this unique book came to be, and even an awesome interview with author Jeff Bowles. Since this book was inspired by music and a simple mixtape plays such a vital role in the story, Jeff ran a generous giveaway, offering chances for signed copies of the book and a $25 Amazon gift card, and all you had to do to enter was tell us what the top three songs on your mixtape would be. Only three people entered, so, I am pleased to announce that the winners of the three signed copies of Resurrection Mixtape are TansGental (Geoff LePard), Teagan Riordan Geneviene, and Annette Rochelle Aben.

And for the $25 Amazon gift card, the winner is… (drumroll please) Annette Rochelle Aben!

Congratulations to each of you. I will be contacting you to arrange for shipment of your books, so watch for my email. And thanks to all who participated in this rockin’ tour.

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Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


Day 3 of the WordCrafter “Resurrection Mixtape” Book Blog Tour

Welcome to Day 3 of the WordCrafter Resurrection Mixtape Book Blog Tour. Today we have an audio excerpt from Resurrection Mixtape, read by the author, Jeff Bowles, and my review of this wonderfully original novel. It’s a fun read when you feel like getting outrageous.

On Day 1, I had a fun interview with author Jeff Bowles, and Day 2 featured an interesting guest post from him. For the next two days we have more guest posts and another review, so visit each stop to learn more about Jeff and his awesome novel. If you missed the first two days of the tour, be sure to stop by through the following links:

Day 1 – Interview with author Jeff Bowles – Writing to be Read

Day 2 – December 6 – Guest Post – Robbie’s Inspiration

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Giveaway!

For this tour we’re giving away 3 signed print copies of Resurrection mixtape and a $25 Amazon gift card.

To enter, just tell us the top three songs on your mixtape in the comments.

Come on now. We really want to know.

Winners will be chosen in a random drawing.

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Now let’s move forward with an audio excerpt from Chapter 1 of Resurrection Mixtape, read by author Jeff Bowles

Resurrection Mixtape Excerpt

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Emily has been dead a year, but that doesn’t stop her from crashing in on her former best friend’s life in a whirlwind of mayhem, dark magic, and music. She’s been resurrected by a supernatural mixtape full of excellent but probably evil pop tunes. Amazing powers of transformation flow through her, piece-by-piece endowing her with abilities beyond anyone’s understanding. Within and without, a dark presence dwells, ready to express itself in all sorts of colorful and destructive ways. It’s all in the music, man. Press “PLAY” at your own risk.

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Resurrection-Mixtape-Jeff-Bowles-ebook/dp/B0BKYG2JJQ/

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What they’re saying on Amazon

Take the time to get a feel for the voice of this book. It’s worth it. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets its dark cousin with an irreverent twist. I look forward to more from this writer and if anyone makes a playlist for the mixtape I want a link. – Amanda Harris

My Review

How to describe Ressurection Mixtape, by Jeff Bowles? This book is unlike any I’ve read before. A mixture of horror and humor, supervillian fiction and pop culture guide this story into never before explored realms of storytelling. Bowles is a talented creative fiction author, and creative emphasises this, his latest novel. His unique style of storytelling makes this book an entertaining ride that readers won’t soon forget.

There is no doubt the existence and sanity of the entire world is at stake, but good guys are swept away under evil control and it’s hard to know who to root for. But one thing is certain. It’s not Emily, although even she could be seen as a victim, who didn’t ask for any of this, even if she does want to conquer the world now. It’s a wild ride fueled by a demonic mixtape, but it’s all a part of a much grander scheme which will be revealed, if not fully understood. What do these alien powers really want? What’s the true story?

Fun and entertaining, with twists and turns you won’t see coming. I give Resurrection Mixtape five quills.

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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!

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That wraps up Day 3 of WordCrafter Resurrection Mixtape Book Blog Tour. Thanks helping us in sending off Resurrection Mixtape in grand style. We’ve got more guest posts from the author and another review in the week to come, so follow the tour to learn more about Jeff Bowles and his unique and entertaining story. And don’t forget to let us know what the top three songs on your mixtape would be to enter the giveaway for a chance at one of three signed print copies and a $25 Amazon gift card.

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Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


Welcome to the WordCrafter “Resurrection Mixtape” Book Blog Tour

Join us for the opening day of the WordCrafter Resurrection Mixtape Book Blog Tour. This week we’re celebrating the release of the amazing new novel by author Jeff Bowles. We have an interview with the author, and you’ll get to hear from him about this unique and wonderful book, along with a couple of interviews and a fatastic giveaway. So follow the tour to learn more about Resurrection Mixtape, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway. You’ll find the tour schedule with links below, but of course, the links won’t work until each post goes live.

Tour Schedule

Resurrection Mixtape – December 5 – 9

Day 1 – Interview with author Jeff Bowles – Writing to be Read

Day 2 – Guest Post from author Jeff Bowles – Robbie’s Inspiration

Day 3 – Audio Excerpt & Review – Writing to be Read

Day 4 – Guest Post from author Jeff Bowles – Roberta Writes

Day 5 – Guest Post from author Jeff Bowles & Review – Carla Loves to Read

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Giveaway!

For this tour we’re giving away 3 signed print copies of Resurrection mixtape and a $25 Amazon gift card. To enter, just tell 

us the top three songs on your mixtape in the comments. Come on now. We really want to know.

Winners will be chosen in a random drawing.

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The Book

Emily has been dead a year, but that doesn’t stop her from crashing in on her former best friend’s life in a whirlwind of mayhem, dark magic, and music. She’s been resurrected by a supernatural mixtape full of excellent but probably evil pop tunes. Amazing powers of transformation flow through her, piece-by-piece endowing her with abilities beyond anyone’s understanding. Within and without, a dark presence dwells, ready to express itself in all sorts of colorful and destructive ways. It’s all in the music, man. Press “PLAY” at your own risk.

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Resurrection-Mixtape-Jeff-Bowles-ebook/dp/B0BKYG2JJQ/

The Author

I met Jeff Bowles while earning my M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Western Colorado Sate University back in 2014. It was immediatey apparent that this guy had some immense talent when it came to writing, paired with an amzing imagination. He has been a member of my blog team since 2017, and has done several popular blog series on writing, as well as reviews of books, movies and games. His current blog series, “Bowlesian!”, which is featured the first Wednesday of every month and usually features his short fiction, is currently featuring a serialized version of his latest release, and featured book of this tour, one chapter at a time.

Resurrection Mixtape is his third novel, but he also writes short fiction, and has published three short fiction collections, in addition to stories featured online and in anthologies. In fact, he has short fiction featured in three different WordCrafter Press anthologies, and was a contributing author in Ask the Authors 2022. He lives in Colorado with his lovely wife, Carrie, and despite life throwing him some pretty big curves, he is a talented writer and author, among his many other talents, and I can’t tell you how pleased I am to be able to feature his interview here today.

Interview with author Jeff Bowles

Let’s start with the very basics – Can you tell your readers, or potential readers, who is Jeff Bowles?

Hello there! I’m a Fantasy and Horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. I’ve had lots of short story publications, but as a novelist I’m an indie guy. I’ve published three novels so far, plus three short story collections, all of which you can find on Amazon. Resurrection Mixtape is my third book. I’m very proud of it, so please do check it out. I got my MFA in Creative Writing at Western Colorado University a few years back, and I live very happily with my wife and our animals in the foothill region of Southern Colorado. Nice to meet all of you!

Please tell us a bit about your latest novel, Resurrection Mixtape.

Well, this is my pandemic book, if I can call it that. I’ve been battling serious mental illness for a while now, and Resurrection Mixtape was my keep-sane project while COVID was at its worst. The book is about music and the afterlife, death and love; there’s plenty of humor, and quite a few surprises. Basically, a singular conglomeration of supernatural beings decides to resurrect this woman, Emily, using a special mixtape designed to endow her with incredible abilities. Her former best friend, a guy who’s been in love with her for years, finds her on his doorstep almost a year to the day since she burned to death in a house fire, and he’s pulled into a wild string of events that culminate in a pretty fun and exciting way.

What was your inspiration for the story of Resurrection Mixtape? Where did the idea for the book come from?

That would by my wife, Carrie. She had this idea that a mixtape could bring someone back to life, though I’m pretty sure she envisioned the concept as more of a romance than a superpowered rock and roll horror romp! I have a deep and abiding passion for music of all kinds. I’m a musician myself, and I’ve been playing guitar and writing songs since about the age of ten or eleven. So this book is really a love letter to the music that made me who I am. As a matter of record, I began writing Resurrection Mixtape without any notes or an outline. I had no idea where it was going, but fortuitously enough, it found its conclusion after months of hammering a fairly rough story into place.

Can you give an introduction for the main players in the story? Who are these characters?

Emily is the subject of this particular resurrection. She died almost a year ago, and in the bowels of the netherworld, she became convinced her husband, Guy, was the one who killed her. Jason, her former best friend, is there to try to convince her otherwise. That doesn’t go very well. The two of them have gone through plenty of ups and downs together. Emily used to be fair-minded, generous of spirit, a music lover (hence the hexed cassette). But now she’s something else entirely. An evil presence dwells within and without, and Jason is helpless to do anything but go along for the ride.

What part of the novel was the most fun to write? Why?

One of the characters (or should I say group of characters) has a really fun voice that was always enjoyable to write. This mass of spiritual entities calls themselves the ICM (Interspecies Conglomeration of Mack), and they’ve got a kind of stately, if kooky way of putting things. The ICM owns the narration through some of the book, and I look back on writing that stuff fondly. It’s still fun to read, even after picking through it dozens of times!

What part of the novel was the most difficult to write? Why?

I’d say the writing was the easy part. Editing and compiling and revising the blasted thing once the rough draft was done, this was some of the hardest writing work I’ve had to do to date. Like I said, I went in without any notes or an outline, and this inevitably made more work for me on the back end of the project. Which was fine, because this is a passion of mine. But gosh, next time we’re going back to the outlining. Another tricky thing was trying to get in my word count every day. For mental health reasons, I limit myself to four or five hundred words per day, which is much less than what I used to aim for. So the long-haul nature of the project began to wear on me towards the end. More technical issues than anything specific to any section or scene from the story itself.

If  Resurrection Mixtape was made into a film, who would you like to play Emily?

Oh man, awesome question! Emily would be fun to cast, because she’s got her background identity, the person she was before she died, but then she also becomes something much stranger and more egoic. This actor would have to wear prosthetics for later sequences in the film … hmm, I’m going to have to go with Amy Adams. She’s got a serious amount of range, from humor to drama to horror, all of which would be required for Resurrection Mixtape. That would be incredible. Could we make that happen someday?

I know that music is a big part of your life, listening as well as creating, and it is a key element in the story. Do you listen to music while you write?

Actually no, I can’t write to music to save my life. I’ve always gotten that advice from other writers and have tried it on various occasions, but the truth is whenever I hear good music I can’t help but stop everything and listen. It’s like I’ve got special musical ESP or something. When I’m writing, I find it incredibly distracting. I’m just too sensitive to good tunes, but that also means I usually need to write in silence, which can be pretty boring for me and everyone else in the house.

What is the strangest inspiration for a story you’ve ever had?

Well I’ve had some pretty weird ones. Between concepts my wife and I have come up with, my stories have ranged pretty far and wide as far as weirdness goes. One of my favorite short stories was about a little guy or girl camped out on everyone’s heads, acting thereon as a physical voice for our id, our inner desires and fears. It’s called “Itsies,” pretty funny little story. The inspiration for that one came from imagining a little dude in a teddy bear costume living under my hat or something. Kind of a weird thought, but it turned into a published story, so there you have it. Actually, the dark zaniness of so much of my work comes from my own short attention span and inability to stay bored for longer than a minute or two. If I’m feeling bored, I figure my readers are too. In that case, I may just take a left instead of the right. Doesn’t matter where I end up. All just grist of the mill.

(“Itsies” was recently featured on Jeff’s blog series “Bowlesian!”. You can find it here.)

What is the one thing in your writing career that is the most unusual or unique thing you’ve done so far?

I’ve worn a few hats. I was a private editor for a while, I wrote for the local newspaper, went to school for creative writing (specifically for genre fiction), and I’ve even been a technical writer for Lockheed Martin, of all places. That was just a normal desk job, but it might’ve been the least likely place to find a writer like me plying his talents. Here I am now, writing about cursed mixtapes, but then I was at work detailing technical systems and reviewing incredibly dry schematics, editing user manuals for government computer systems twenty or thirty years old. Plus, I was still in my early twenties, way too young to understand most of what my superiors were trying to communicate. I did my best, and earned a few merits. Maybe I had no idea what I was doing, or maybe they didn’t. Either way, Lockheed Martin turned out not to be my thing. Much happier writing about spirit conglomerations and the awesome but probably evil pop songs that drive them.

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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!

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Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


Drumroll please: the winners of the WordCrafter “Visions” Book Blog Tour

Visions

Thanks to all who participated in the WordCrafter Visions Book Blog Tour. We had fabulous contributors who were eager to participate in the extensive promotions we did for this anthology, including the tour, which we wrapped up yesterday. We also had some wonderful tour hosts, a few which were also contributors to the anthology, leading to several reviews of individual stories, but we like those too. This is an exceptional anthology and we all have it an outstanding send off.

But a blog tour wouldn’t be much without all of the wonderful guests who joined us, and to show our appreciation WordCrafter Press is giving away five digital copies of the Visions anthology. I want to thank all who followed the tour or just dropped by one of the stops and left a comment, and I am pleased to announce the five winners of the giveaway.

Drumroll… … …

And the winners are…

Jan Sikes

Roughwriting

Dan Antion

Jill Weatherbolt

BoundlessBlessingsBlog

Congradulations to you all!

Please contact me at kayebooth@yahoo.com for a link to claim your prize.

I’m sorry if you didn’t win. 🙁 But look on the bright 🌞 side. You can still grab your copy of Visions at you favorite distributor.

Purchase link: https://books2read.com/u/49Lk2

Visions

Day 8 of the WordCrafter “Visions” Book Blog Tour

Visions Book Blog Tour

Today is Day 8 and we’re wrapping up the WordCrafter Visions Book Blog Tour here on Writing to be Read. We’ve had a fantastic tour for this unique fantasy, science fiction, and horror anthology. For anyone who might have missed a stop along the way, you’ll find links to each stop below. Note that they will not work until each post goes live. We’re running a great digital giveaway and all it takes to enter is a comment, so visit any stops you missed and leave a comment so I know you were there.

Monday – October 17 – Guest Post – Billie Holladay Skelley & Winning Story Interview with Roberta Eaton Cheadle – Writing to be Read

Tuesday – October 18 – Guest Post – Michaele Jordan & Review – Patty’s World

Wednesday – October 19 – Guest Post – D.L. Mullan – The Showers of Blessings

Thursday – October 20 – Guest Post – C.R. Johanssen & Review – Robbie’s Inspiration

Friday – October 21 – Guest Post – Patty L. Fletcher & Review – Zigler’s News

Saturday – October 22 – Guest Post – Jeff Bowles – Writing to be Read & Interview w/ Kaye Lynne Booth on SaraWesleyMcBride

Sunday – October 23 – Guest Post – Stephanie Kraner & Review – Roberta Writes

Monday – October 24 – Guest Post – Joseph Carabis – Writing to be Read & Review – Undawnted

Digital Giveaway

Three digital copies of Visions will go to three lucky winners.

Enter at each stop just by leaving a comment so I know you were there.

Follow the tour, comment at each stop, and learn more about this exceptional anthology.

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Visions

Grab your copy today from your favorite book distributor through the Books2Read UBL: https://books2read.com/u/49Lk28

About the Book

An author’s visions are revealed through their stories. Many authors have strange and unusual stories, indeed. Within these pages, you will find the stories of eighteen different authors, each unique and thought provoking. These are the fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, and horror stories that will keep you awake long into the night.

What happens when:

An inexplicable monster plagues a town for generations, taking people… and souvenirs?

A post-apocalyptic band of travelers finds their salvation in an archaic machine?

The prey turns out to be the predator for a band of human traffickers?

Someone chooses to be happy in a world where emotions are regulated and controlled?

A village girl is chosen to be the spider queen?

Grab your copy today and find out. Let authors such as W.T. Paterson, Joseph Carabis, Kaye Lynne Booth, Michaele Jordan, Stephanie Kraner, and others, including the author of the winning story in the WordCrafter 2022 Short Fiction Contest, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, tantalize your thoughts and share their

Visions

From Kaye Lynne Booth, editor of Once Upon an Ever After: Modern Fairy Tales & Folklore, Refracted Reflections: Twisted Tales of Duality & Deception and Gilded Glass: Twisted Myths & Shattered Fairy Tales.

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For today’s tour stop, we have a guest post by contributing author, Joseph Carrabis, here on Writing to be Read, and then over on Undawnted, DL Mullan has a review of his story, “Marianne”.

Guest Post

The Genesis of Marianne 


Marianne originally was Mitre and dealt with how grown children deal with a senile parent. It was set at an ocean front home and many of the plot points in Mitre made it through to Marianne, except Mitre presented a dim view of people professing Christianity in order to avoid unpleasant responsibilities, and Mitre – a devout Catholic and an immigrant – is senile throughout the story.
The original Mitre draft – written sometime in the early 1970s. I was a live-in groundsman/driver/bodyguard for a wealthy family who lived in a mansion on the ocean – never worked for me although I appreciated the idea behind it and most of the plot points, so into a drawer it went (we didn’t have computers back then). I rewrote it twice in 1988 (at which point it made it into a computer), twice again in 1998, then again in 2013, 2015, 2017, twice in 2018 and ’19, and remained unsatisfied although I knew each rewrite got closer to the core story. I rewrote it four times in 2020 which is when Mitre became Marianne and I realized what wasn’t working for me. It took me four more rewrites to get the characters’ voices, the fantasy concept, the myth induction, and associated elements to work to my satisfaction.
Here are some specifics:

  • What worked
    • the low character count. Good short stories are rarely Cecile B. DeMille productions.
    • The family dynamic.
    • The relationship between Mitre/Marianne and her deceased husband.
    • The oceanfront home setting.
    • Licorice.
  • What didn’t work
    • Ragging on Christianity/Christians – too easy a target.
    • The introduction of a Catholic, immigrant background – not relevant, red herrings, and weakened the story line.
    • Poor storycrafting.
  • What I liked originally – The resolution.
  • Why I couldn’t let the story go – I don’t think I’ve ever let anything go. I have close to 16G of stories, novels, plot lines, characters, settings, et cetera, on my hard disk waiting for me to finish them. Specific to Mitre/Marianne, I couldn’t let go of the victimization and abuse of the elderly idea (even though it came to me long before it was a recognized cultural concern).

About Joseph Carrabis

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That wraps up up today’s tour stop on Writing to be Read, but be sure to drop over to Undawnted for a review of “Marianne” by DL Mullan.

Also, Joseph ran his own set of blog posts on the anthology, with sixteen contribiuting authors featured. His posts can be found as follows.

Janet Garber & “The Treatment”

Michaele Jordan & “Farewell, My Miko”


Stephanie Kraner & “Here, Now, Wherever”


Jeff Bowles & “Wilding of the Painted World”


Billie Holladay Skelley & “Secret Thoughts”


Sara Wesley McBride & “The Devil’s Bridge” & “The Haunted Palazzo”


Leah Cutter & “Survivor”


Roberta Eaton Cheadle & “The Bite”

Julie Jones & “Tourist Trap”


DL Mullan & “Reality Hackers”


Christa Planko & “The Vanishing Tattoo”


Patty L. Fletcher & “The Portal Brings Christmas Love”


Kaye Lynne Booth & If You’re Happy and You Know It”

Zack Ellafy & “At the Mountains, Majesty”

C.R. Johanssen & “Her Beholder”


Joseph Carrabis & “Marianne”

Thank you all so much for joining us and I hope you all enjoyed this tour as much as I have. There’s still time to get more entries in the giveaway by visiting each stop through the links at the top of the page. I will post the winners for the giveaway tomorrow in a special announcement post.

And don’t forget to grab your copy of Visions.

Purchase Link: https://books2read.com/u/49Lk28

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Book your WordCrafter Book Blog Tour today!


Day 2 of the WordCrafter “Visions” Book Blog Tour

Visions Book Blog Tour

Today is the release! And Day 2 of the WordCrafter Visions Book Blog Tour finds us over at Patty’s World, with a guest post by contributing author Michaele Jordan about the inspiration for her story, “Farewell, My Miko” and a review of her story by Patty Fletcher. Won’t you join us? And don’t forget to leave a comment so I know you were there and get a chance to win a copy of this totally awesome anthology!


Welcome to the WordCrafter “Visions” Book Blog Tour

Visions Book Blog Tour

Welcome the the WordCrafter Visions Book Blog Tour, where we are celebrating the release of the Visions anthology, which will be out tomorrow, October 18. But it is also available for pre-order now. It’s a fantastic science fiction, fantasy & horror anthology filled with nineteen unique stories and we have an amazing eight day tour planned to honor the occasion. With a guest post for each day; two seperate interviews: one with the author of the 2022 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, also known to many of us as Robbie, and contributing author Sara Wesley McBride will also interview me; three reviews; and a fantastic digital giveaway, this tour promises to be full of surprises. Join us and help send Visions off right.

Schedule

(The links below won’t work until each post goes live)

Monday – October 17 – Guest Post – Billie Holladay Skelley & Winning Story Interview with Roberta Eaton Cheadle – Writing to be Read

Tuesday – October 18 – Guest Post – Michaele Jordan & Review – Patty’s World

Wednesday – October 19 – Guest Post – D.L. Mullan – The Showers of Blessings

Thursday – October 20 – Guest Post – C.R. Johanssen & Review – Robbie’s Inspiration

Friday – October 21 – Guest Post – Patty L. Fletcher & Review – Zigler’s News

Saturday – October 22 – Guest Post – Jeff Bowles – Writing to be Read & Interview w/ Kaye Lynne Booth on SaraWesleyMcBride

Sunday – October 23 – Guest Post & Review – Stephanie Kraner – Roberta Writes

Monday – October 24 – Guest Post – Joseph Carabis – Writing to be Read & Review – Undawnted

Digital Giveaway

We’re doing a digital giveaway which offers copies of Visions to three lucky winners, and you can enter at each stop just by leaving a comment so I know you were there. So, follow the tour and comment at each stop for a chance to win or just to learn more about this exceptional anthology at the same time.

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Today’s blog tour stop is a double treat, with a guest post by Billie Holladay Skelley about her story, “Secret Thoughts”, and then an interview with Roberta Eaton Cheadle about her story, “The Bite”. So without further ado, I will turn this over to Billie. Please help me welcome Billie Holladay Skelley.

Guest Post

My inspiration for “Secret Thoughts” came from several places, but the first source was the actual history itself. The gunfight described in my story, between James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok and Davis Tutt, actually occurred on July 21, 1865. It took place in the town square of Springfield, Missouri, and the city of Springfield has preserved the details of the fight. The actual site has become a popular tourist attraction. At the time of the duel, Hickok was not widely known, and his “Wild Bill” persona had not been established, but the shootout served to accelerate his prominence and legend.

There are various accounts regarding the source of the disagreement between Hickok and Tutt, but many believe it started with gambling debts and escalated when Tutt took Hickok’s prize watch as collateral. Tutt wore the watch in public to humiliate Hickok, and that certainly elevated the dispute.

After the duel, Hickok initially was charged with murder, but the charge was reduced to manslaughter. His trial lasted three days, and the jury decided the killing was justified—and Hickok was acquitted. Apparently, in 1865, humiliating a man by wearing his watch in public justified the deadly use of firearms.

What attracted me to this story was the actual shootout, and the fact that it was one of the few one-on-one, face-to-face, quick-draw duels that ever occurred. This type of shootout was quite rare in the Wild West—even though Hollywood movies have taken every opportunity to invent and popularize them. 

The actual shot Hickok made also intrigued me because, by many accounts, it would have been a very difficult shot to make—considering the distance and the firearms used. Hickok truly must have been a remarkable marksman.

I also was inspired by Hickok’s colorful life (1837-1876) as a whole. While several events in his life have been sensationalized, Hickok did have many interesting occupations, and he did experience many violent encounters. He also died relatively young. Eleven years after the duel in my story, Hickok was shot in the back of the head while playing poker. When he died, he was holding two pair—aces and eights—which he reportedly grasped tightly in a death grip. Ever since, these cards have been known as the “Dead Man’s Hand.”

As I researched Hickok’s life, I became increasingly intrigued by what makes a man (or woman) stand out, be recorded, and be remembered in history. I kept thinking about what spark, trait, or events align that make one person be more notable than another. Obviously, James Butler Hickok had an extraordinary life, even if some of the events in his life were sensationalized—and I started thinking, in terms of the story, what if he did have a secret advantage—or a secret talent that contributed to his success and augmented his fame.

I didn’t want to make him a “superhero” with over-the-top powers. I just wanted him to have a slight advantage that was highly useful. When I consider the paranormal genre, I usually focus on things like telekinesis or clairvoyance—so it seemed logical to proceed along those lines.

I hope readers enjoy “Secret Thoughts,” but I also hope it makes them think about what characteristics, talents, and events make a legend. What do those people have that makes them stand out from others and that makes them be remembered? It’s interesting to consider what their “secret” talents might be.

About Billie Holladay Skelley

Billie Holladay Skelleyreceived her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.Now retired from working as a cardiovascular and thoracic surgery clinical nurse specialist and nursing educator, she enjoys focusing on her writing. Billie has written several health-related articles for both professional and lay journals, but her writing crosses several different genres and has appeared in various journals, magazines, and anthologies in print and online—ranging from the American Journal of Nursing  to Chicken Soup for the Soul. An award-winning author, she has written eleven books for children and teens. Her book, Ruth Law: The Queen of the Air, was recently selected to receive the 2021 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Children’s Literature Award. 

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Visions

You can get your copy today from your favorite distributor at the link below.

Purchase link: https://books2read.com/u/49Lk28

About the Book

An author’s visions are revealed through their stories. Many authors have strange and unusual stories, indeed. Within these pages, you will find the stories of eighteen different authors, each unique and thought provoking. These are the fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, and horror stories that will keep you awake long into the night.

What happens when:

An inexplicable monster plagues a town for generations, taking people… and souvenirs?

A post-apocalyptic band of travelers finds their salvation in an archaic machine?

The prey turns out to be the predator for a band of human traffickers?

Someone chooses to be happy in a world where emotions are regulated and controlled?

A village girl is chosen to be the spider queen?

Grab your copy today and find out. Let authors such as W.T. Paterson, Joseph Carabis, Kaye Lynne Booth, Michaele Jordan, Stephanie Kraner, and others, including the author of the winning story in the WordCrafter 2022 Short Fiction Contest, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, tantalize your thoughts and share their

Visions

From Kaye Lynne Booth, editor of Once Upon an Ever After: Modern Fairy Tales & Folklore, Refracted Reflections: Twisted Tales of Duality & Deception and Gilded Glass: Twisted Myths & Shattered Fairy Tales.

Visions – Eighteen talented authors, nineteen unique stories

Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s story, “The Bite” was chosen as the winner of the 2022 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, and is included in the Visions anthology. As a special treat, Roberta has agred to answer a few questions about her story, the anthology and winning the contest, as well as her own writing pratcies. Let’s see what she has to say.

Interview with Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Where did you get the idea for “The Bite”?

“The Bite” was inspired by the Tarantella Dance which I learned about through fellow blogger, Rebecca Budd. We had a bit of a chat about this dance in the comments section on a post and I was sufficiently interested to look up the dance and what its origins were believed to be.

The Tarantella is an Italian Folk Dance that has a history and mythology that spans several centuries. One of the possible sources of origin for the dance relates to a cure for a bite from a Tarantula, Arania or Apulcian Spider. The dance was used as a cure for the poison from the bite. Town people would play non-stop music and the victim would dance to sweat out the poison and avoid succumbing to it.

I used a Wolf Spider for my story as I discovered accidently that the female Wolf Spiders eat the males, unless he is bigger.

How did you react when you learned that “The Bite” was the winning story in the 2022 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest?

I was honoured and proud. I felt very encouraged that my short story was selected among so many excellent stories as one the judge particularly enjoyed and appreciated.

What’s something most readers would never guess about you?

Most readers don’t know that I worked as a spinning instructor in our local gym for five years before I fell pregnant with Gregory. I used to teach 10 classes a week. I also used to cycle and participated in the famous Argus Cycle Race in Cape Town a few times.

Besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?

I like to read, especially family dramas, classics, war, paranormal and dystopia. I am a little selective with horror and its sub-genres. I don’t like unnecessary blood and guts, and the plot needs to be clever for me to appreciate it.

I enjoy fondant art which is effectively the same as sculpturing with clay. I like creating art works using my fondant figurines and cake or gingerbread structures. I use these to illustrate my children’s books and some of my adult poems. Some of my cake art is a personal response to issues like climate change and the Sixth Mass Extinction which is currently taking place.

I like to cook and am currently running a series on my art and poetry blog called “Recipes from Around the World”. I am sharing my amended and personalized recipes for popular dishes like Greek moussaka and Durban Chicken Curry. I can never follow a recipe without changing it for my personal preferences.

I enjoy writing poetry and am currently judging the haiku and poetry categories for a local writing competition.

I also participate in corporate social initiatives that provide funding and other aid to charities. I am particularly interested in initiatives involving children and the elderly.

Which author/poet, dead or alive, would you love to have lunch with?

Hmmm! To be honest, I would prefer not to meet up with any of my favourite authors. I have my own mental image of what they are like as people and I would rather retain it than have it replaced with the real facts. I understand from what I’ve read that two of my favourite children’s authors, Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton, were not very nice people in real life.

You also write children’s books with your son, Michael. Do the two genres have anything in common?

I do not have one specific genre I write, although I do favour historical and paranormal with my adult writing. The Sir Chocolate Series, which I write with Michael, is fantasy and is set in Chocolate Land where you can eat everything. The lead characters, Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet, go about Chocolate Land helping their friends put wrong things right.

My adult writing is always based on a real fact set which I either retell from a historical paranormal point of view, or weave into a fantasy setting as I did with “The Bite”.

The two genres don’t have anything in common, although my children’s books for older children, Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town and While the Bombs Fell, are both fictionalized memoirs of a part of my own life and a part of my mother’s life, respectively.

If writing suddenly made you rich and famous, what would you do?

I don’t think my life would change much if I suddenly became better know as an author. I already do many of the things I want to do and like doing, for example visiting game farms and historical sites locally and travelling to the UK and Europe to tour and visit family.

I have decided to continue in my day job for the next few years at least as I am easily bored, and don’t think writing full time would suit me. I write better when I must squeeze it in around other commitments, strangely enough. It is how I am wired.

What are your secrets for juggling writing with family?

My sons are older now, so they don’t need [read that as want] as much attention from me. I write and blog early in the morning on weekdays. I also get up early on weekend mornings and write from 6am to about 8.30am. Sometimes, I read blog posts during my 30 minutes of lunch, and I also do social media activities while waiting in queues or for various appointments or meetings. I listen to audio books while I drive and do household chores. I don’t spend as much time writing as a lot of other authors I know because I just don’t have that time.

How do you decide the titles for your stories? Where does the title come in the process for you?

Usually, I have worked out most of the details of a story, short or long, in my head before I start writing. In particular, I usually have the ending. As a result, I often have the title before I start writing, but sometimes I change it. I changed the title of Through the Nethergate, which has a double meaning, and which was deliberate. Nethergate is the street in Bungay where my mother’s childhood home is located. This street features in the story. The Nether Gate in Norse mythology is also the gateway to the afterlife, Nether being the place of the dead.

My title “The Bite” was also a bit of a deliberate deception as I knew readers would initially think my villain was a vampire…

What do you think is the single most important element in a story?

The ending. There is nothing worse than reading a wonderful book and then the ending is a let down (IT by Stephen King always comes to mind – a giant spider; come on!)

What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?

With regards to writing, starting a blog was good advice. My brother-in-law suggested it as a good way for me to meet other writers and readers, to develop relationships in the writing and publishing communities, and to learn more. He was right. My blog has been my single most worthwhile endeavor as a novice writer, and I have developed and learned through the generosity of the blogging community.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors/poets/screenwriters?

You must be thick skinned and tenacious. You will never please everyone. Take on board constructive criticism that helps you and ignore the rest. I am of the view that some people get satisfaction from judging another person’s efforts to achieve. Jealousy is the most destructive of all human emotions in my opinion. I always keep that in mind when I do anything, be it writing, working, baking, blogging, or cooking. I’ve had people make comments about my taste in literature, some admiring, some collaborative, and some condemning. Take it in your stride and keep moving forward.

“The Bite” is a horror story and you’ve had stories in other horror anthologies, as well as some paranormal ones. Do you enjoy reading horror? And what is the attraction of writing horror for you?

I am not a big reader of horror; I prefer the paranormal history, paranormal thriller, and dystopia sub-genres of horror. I do not like mindless butchering and bloodshed in books and I don’t read that sort of horror book.

I enjoy books that have clever plots and are unique and innovative. I don’t mind death in stories, I include a lot of death in my own writing, but it must add to the story and give colour to the setting and storyline.

My favourite books are The Shining and The Stand, both by Stephen King, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and anything by Edgar Allan Poe. I also love war books and am endlessly fascinated by the psychology of war.

Do you prefer writing short stories or novel length works? Why?

I prefer short stories. Novels take too long to write as I am a slow and methodic researcher and writer. I tend to lose interest if things drag on.

A Ghost and His Gold is long at 118,000 words. I wrote that during the pandemic and lockdowns which enables for me with regards to writing time. There was nothing much else to do, no travel, no dinners out, no entertaining. With life having returned to normal now, I am finding getting a novel finished difficult.

What is the biggest challenge for you when writing short fiction?

I can’t say I can think of a specific challenge to writing any kind of fiction, short or long, other than finding time to write and edit. The story ideas come, and I keep them in my head as a skeleton until I want them. Luckily, I don’t forget things. I have an unusually retentive memory. That is also why I don’t re-read books; I always remember the ending if it was good enough for me to consider re-reading it. I sometimes re-read books for the love of the language and the writing. Dracula falls into that category for me, that book has the most remarkable descriptions.  

What is the best thing about having a story featured in an anthology?

I enjoy anthologies for two reasons.

Firstly, it is a good way of keeping my name and reputation as a writer out there in the public eye. Writing a few short stories isn’t an insurmountable effort for me (it takes me about 3 weeks to finish a short story, depending on the length, and another week to polish it up), and it enables me to add a book collection to my name and to advertise it on my social media. I view the anthologies I have participated in as feathers in my writing cap and the more I participate in, the more the writing world sees my name attached to a book.

Secondly, I like meeting new authors and writing friends. In an anthology setting, many of the contributors step up to help market the book and that means your work and name is seen by new readers who might be sufficiently interested to seek out your other works.

I also just like socializing with people who have an interest in writing and reading. This world makes me feel comfortable and happy.

Do you write with music, or do you prefer quiet?

Absolutely no music when I write. I can tolerate high levels of background noise, but music distracts me.

What goals do you set for yourself in your writing?

I am working on becoming better known as a children’s writer in South Africa and elsewhere. I have joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators which is international and has a branch locally. My membership of SCBWI has helped me meet other South Africans involved in writing and illustrating children’s books and I have had opportunities to profile my work, in particular my illustrations, at various events which is pleasing and helpful.

I am planning another children’s book, Dinah in Wonderland, with my son, Michael, for publication next year.

On the adult writing side, I am working on a book of poetry called Lion Scream which is about the Sixth Mass Extinction and African animals. It will also include some of my wildlife photographs and videos.

I am also working on a collection of short stories set in South Africa and have completed three stories to date. I have ideas for several more in my head.

I have written the first four chapters of After the Bombs Fell, a sequel to While the Bombs Fell, which I plan to work on next year after my December research trip to the UK.

The Soldier and the Radium Girl and The Creeping Change are both also lurking. They are each around 50,000 words to date, but my interest has flagged so they are currently on hold until my enthusiasm returns.

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors, including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has two published novels:

* Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy; and

* A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has eleven children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa, where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and an Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written seven publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

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That wraps up Day 1 of the WordCrafter Visions Book Blog Tour. Join us tomorrow over at Patty’s World, with a guest post from contributing author, Michaele Jordan about her story, “Farewell, My Miko”. And don’t forget to leave a comment for an entry in the digital giveaway.


Day 5 of the WordCrafter “Haunted Halloween Holiday” Book Blog Tour

Haunted Halloween Holiday Book Blog Tour

For Day 5 of the WordCrafter “Haunted Haloween Holiday” Book Blog Tour, we’re over at “Zigler’s News” with a guest post from Robbie Cheadle​ and a review by Tori Zigler​. Come join us and don’t forget to comment to enter in the giveaway!

https://ziglernews.blogspot.com/2022/10/wordcrafters-book-blogtour-for-haunted.html


Day 3 of the WordCrafter “Haunted Halloween Holiday” Book Blog Tour

Haunted Halloween Holiday Book Blog Tour

For Day 3 of the WordCrafter “Haunted Halloween Holiday” Book Blog Tour, we’re over at “Patty’s World”, with a guest post by author, Robbie Cheadle and a wonderful review from Patty Fletcher. Won’t you join us to learn more about this deliciously delectable children’s book by Robbie and Michael Cheadle.