Monday’s Friend: Amanda Faith

Today I am pleased to have as my guest fellow MuseItUp author Amanda Faith. Welcome, Amanda!

amanda faith (2)SJT: When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?

AF: It was in the sixth grade. That was when I entered my first contest. We had to write a short story and design and make the book cover. The name of the story was “Tallahassee.” It was about a small colt who was an orphan and wanting to find a home where someone would love him. Although I didn’t win, I knew then I wanted to write.

SJT: Who would you cite as your influences?

AF: I remember being so excited about the contest. Mrs. Clay, my English teacher in the sixth grade, really encouraged me to write. My grandfather was also a huge influence. He was a music ghostwriter for some really great artists in the Grand Ole Opry and I would sit and listen to his creativity for hours. He always wanted me to follow my dreams.

SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

AF: Read as much as you can in a variety of genres. Granted, you should read what is “hot” now, but also read classics. Read across the board. The more you read, the more you expand your horizons, the more your inner writer generates new ideas. Remember, you should not write about what is hot now. Write what you feel drawn to. That may become the next “hot” item.

SJT: When it comes to your writing projects, would you describe yourself as a meticulous planner, or a ‘seat-of-the-pantser’?

AF: Probably some of both. It depends on what I am writing. For the academic work, I tend to plan more. There tends to be a lot of research in that. For the creative work, I usually have a general idea of where I am going. My outline is not massively detailed, but I do still use paper and pencil for that. I find that writing down my ideas on paper is my creative venue. Even with that said, sometimes my characters decide they want to go their own way. Sometimes I give in to that to see where it goes. That may be a good thing or a bad thing, but if I don’t let them have their voice, I can’t get anything else done.

SJT: Tell us about your latest release.

AF: Strength of Spirit is centered on Velvet Moon. She never thought she would have an interesting life. It was ok, just not interesting.

Strength of SpiritNow her death is another story.

Her and her mother had no idea the day Wren Easton came into their shop would change their lives so much, or that he would involve them in his job with the government.

Did I mention he was like a Ghostbuster 007?

As a ghost, she has to solve her murder, protect her mother, and fight against an evil man that wants to rule the world.

Why not? She has nothing better to do.

This book won the 2014 Gold Global eBook Award for Paranormal Mystery. It’s also UP Author Approved 2013.

SJT: You were born in the North and now live in the South. My country is much smaller than yours but we still talk about a ‘North/South’ divide. What would you say are the main differences between these two halves of the US?

AF: I moved South my senior year in high school. It was a major culture shock for me. Granted, all of the US speaks English, but the South has its own “English.” It took me a little bit to get use to the common terminology here, but I love living in South Carolina. It’s friendly and a lot warmer than Ohio. I really don’t miss the snow and ice.

The term ‘Southern Hospitality’ is so true. I find that people are more friendly here than in the North. The lifestyle is more laid back. Here in the South, sweet tea and grits are staple food products and “y’all” really is a word.

I think one of the major differences is the schools. Unfortunately in the South, they tend to be behind the academic growth. I am not sure if it’s because of the slower paced lifestyle here or something else. I wish it were not that way. Our kids suffer because of it.

SJT: Your bio says you’re involved in Dragon Con, which is famous amongst geeks – even British ones – as The Con to attend. If you were to convince a British con-goer to part with her hard-earned cash and fly across the Atlantic to attend Dragon Con, how would you sell it?

AF: It is the geekiest place on earth. I am constantly amazed at the variety of events and panels available to everyone. It’s not your comic book special. There are so many panels to attend, gaming to play, art to see, stars to ogle over, parties to attend, gatherings to join, people to meet…it is a plethora of everything geek. You can make some really great friends. I have been going for years, even before I was on staff. I have yet to meet anyone nasty. There are so many people there of like mind, it’s like having a huge family. Last year, 62,000 attendees descended on downtown Atlanta, Georgia. That is so mind-boggling. It’s for the young and the young-at-heart. Even though I am 50, I have never been sneered at by the younger generation attending the Con. My students love the fact that I attend every year. They tell me they can see the joy on my face talking about it.

SJT: Any works in progress you can tell us about?

AF: I have 2 more books completed, a third more than half done, and another idea I am outlining.

I am trying to finish the edits on the second book in the Velvet Moon series. It is complete. I just need to polish it before I send it out. It has an Alice-in-Wonderland element in it. Velvet definitely has her hands full with this one.

The other I have finished is a science-fiction piece. A young woman discovers her power in art and the control she may have over others for justice to prevail. Again, it’s complete, but I have to do the edits.

I hate editing…lol. I have to get it in gear, though.

SJT: I think we all hate editing, but it has to be done! What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

AF: I’ve had to recently give up scuba diving and motorcycle riding (due to degenerative arthritis). I loved doing those things. I am an amateur radio operator. I go for walks in the woods and on the beach. I love reading and traveling. I have been to several countries. (The UK is on my list. I can’t wait to go). I am one to try new things. Although I love quiet time, I can’t imagine being in a rut.


Amanda Faith was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, but has lived in the South since 1980. Teaching high school English by day, college English by night, writing, and doing paranormal investigations doesn’t slow her down from having a great time with a plethora of hobbies. Her published credits include short stories, poetry, several journal articles, her doctorial dissertation, and her award-winning book Strength of Spirit. She is a staff writer for The Daily Dragon at Dragon Con. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English, a Masters in Education-English, and a Doctorate in Education-Teacher Leadership.

Learn more about Amanda at her website.

See the book trailer for Strength of Spirit below:


Strength of Spirit is available now in all e-book formats from the MuseItUp book store.


Monday’s Friend: Charles Bowie

Today I am pleased to welcome Charles Bowie to the blog to talk about why the number three is so significant to his writing.  Take it away, Charles!

The Power Of The Three
By Charles Bowie

Charles BowieThree. It’s the second prime number, not even the first one. Yet it holds sway over us with a mystical power that cannot be denied. It’s big in religion, just ask The Father or The Son or…you know. It’s big in the corporate world. Every director and manager knows, or think they know their staff can only retain three main facts from any meeting. And it’s massive, when writing.

Earth, wind and fire. Food, clothing and shelter. The Earth, the skies and the heavens. I could go on but, well, I’ve used up my three examples. Suffice it to say, in the human mind, the application of three to develop a concept has been employed through the ages. This is never truer than when telling a story.

Beginning, middle and end. Have I not just described, simply, every story you’ve ever heard, seen or read? (There I go again; sorry.) Let’s say you agree with me. What can you do with this revelation? There are simple and complex applications to this, from a writer’s perspective.

To start, let’s look at the beginning, middle and end aspect of writing. It occurs to me if one was to divide their story into three elements, each one had better hold a special significance. There’s a saying that originated from Western movie writers. ‘What’s the secret to a great duster? Shoot the sheriff in the first five minutes.’ Did you get the viewer’s attention? You bet. You have a beginning. Now take the middle. Is it filler? Is it okay to go straight from the beginning to the climax (end)? No. Not good enough. You have to have massive amounts of goodness in the middle, in the form of character development, exposition, dialogue, atmosphere, not to mention a damn good plot. Fill up the middle with meat, you have my permission. Now for the end. I was chatting with my friend Victor this morning. He’d read a manuscript that contained no climax, and felt robbed. If you’ve taken the reader that far, shouldn’t there be a crisis, perhaps a culmination of the journey being taken? All three elements of the story—any story—have to be respected.

What else can we writers use this numerical phenomenon for? I personally adore working with three distinct storyline arcs, when writing my thrillers. This isn’t for everyone, but it works for me. If you think about the classic love triangle: two guys and a girl; a man, a woman and her career; the power of the three cannot be denied. In classic writing, you have the protagonist, antagonist, and something called nemesis. Nowadays, writers have great success having the protagonist, as well as his or her antagonist, also known as the bad guy. It can be helpful to have someone—the nemesis—arrive on the scene, solely as a catalyst for action. They could be the tech guy who delivers the critical information. They can be the wise mentor, who imparts something to the hero. They can be the comic.

Next time you read a book—hopefully later today—look for the power of the three within it. See how you can exploit this in your writing. I did. I do, and I will.

Chuck Bowie’s latest book Three Wrongs is available right now as an eBook and it comes out this fall in print.

From MuseItUp:

From Amazon:

The second novel in the series, AMACAT, drops October 17th.

From MuseItUp:

From Amazon:

ThreeWrongsAMACATAd071014AUTHOR BIO 

Chuck Bowie is a Canadian writer who lets his experiences in wine and travel influence his taut, well-written suspense-thrillers. His first two: Three Wrongs and AMACAT have already set the scene for Sean Donovan, a thief for hire. His newest offering, Steal It All promises to keep you wanting more.

Chuck writes for MuseItUp Publishing. You can find him on Twitter as @BowieChuck. His website is



Monday’s Friend: Matthew Peters

Today I’m pleased to welcome Matthew Peters to the blog, who has not one but two novels released this year.  He also has some frank things to say about mental illness, so let’s chat to him now.

Matthew Peters (2)SJT: Your biography refers to your own mental health issues, and this clearly influenced at least one of your novels. Did you ever use writing as part of the healing process in difficult times?

MP: Thank you for raising the issue, Sara. I have a dual diagnosis. And I’d like to take a moment to tell what that means.

Though there are some variations in definitions of dual diagnosis, the term generally describes a person who has a mood disorder (e.g., depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder) and some form of chemical dependency (e.g., alcoholism, and/or addiction to cocaine or heroin). For example, I have depression (Major Depressive Disorder) and I have alcoholism.

It is estimated that 6 out of 100 Americans have a dual diagnosis. It is also estimated that 29% of those who suffer emotional/mental disorders have abused substances and that 53% of substance abusers have had a psychiatric problem. Famous individuals among the dual diagnosed include Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Ernest Hemingway, and Sigmund Freud. Robin Williams was also dual diagnosed.

And, to answer your question, yes, I have often used writing as part of the healing process, not only in difficult times, but in good times as well. My experiences with depression have led me to develop empathy for suffering, which I’m often able to use to understand the motivations and actions of my characters.

SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

MP: First, read the classics and as much good literature as you can get your hands on. Read widely, too, from poetry and plays to science and politics. If you don’t read well, you can’t write well.

Second, realize that you may have several stories or even novels in you that you must write to get out of your system. In many cases, these will not be salable. That’s okay. Most of us have a lot of bad writing inside of us that needs to get out before we get to the good stuff. Growth for writers is a process. Be patient with it.

Third, don’t be a perfectionist. I think perfectionism kills. Realize that unlike other professions, say neurosurgery, writers don’t have to get it right the first time. We have the luxury of being able to revise our product as much as we wish. Realize that, and let it free you up in the writing process. Write junk if you have to, but write. Anne Lamott talks about a “shitty first draft.” Indeed. Most first, second, and third drafts are pretty lousy. But that’s okay. Give yourself permission to write and to not be perfect. You can always revise later.

Fourth, it’s okay not to be in love with writing every second of every day. It’s natural to resent it at times. Don’t stuff these feelings. Take a break if you can, and then come back to it.

Fifth, join a writing group. Make sure others read and give you feedback on your writing. Make sure someone other than your parents or significant other reads your work. But also be wary of taking too much constructive criticism from too many people—too many writers can spoil the plot (among other things).

Sixth, before you submit your work to an agent/publisher or self-publish, make sure it is free from typos, grammatical, and factual errors. If you can afford it, have a content editor and a copy editor go through your work and polish it until it shines. Don’t submit anything for publication until it represents your absolute, best effort. I think you’ll be surprised how much that will help distinguish from among other writers.

Finally, write as often as you can, but don’t be afraid to take breaks.

SJT: Who would you cite as influences?

MP: Well, I’d love to write with the philosophical and psychological depth of Dostoevsky, the spirituality of Hesse, the soul of James Baldwin, the clarity of Hemingway, the plotting of Richard Wright, and the lyricism of William Styron. I consider them and many others to be influences.

SJT: Your novels are clearly well-researched. Have you ever had to do anything really strange in the name of research?

MP: I haven’t had to do anything really strange for my research yet, though I’m sure I will at some point. Most of my research consists of poring over books from a local university library. In addition to books, I’m a fan of using YouTube and Google Earth J

SJT: Tell us about your latest release.

MP: I’m promoting a religious mystery/thriller called THE BROTHERS’ KEEPERS and a literary novel called CONVERSATIONS AMONG RUINS.

THe Brothers' KeeperHere is a brief description of THE BROTHERS’ KEEPERS:

Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus’ purported spouse, Mary Magdalene. But what about Jesus’ siblings? What role did they play in early Christianity?

Contemporary Jesuit and renowned religious historian Nicholas Branson is about to find out…and the answer will shake the foundations of the Judeo-Christian world.

It all starts with the murder of a United States Senator in a confessional, and the discovery of a strange religious document among his possessions. At the urging of his FBI friend, Branson joins the investigation. His effort to uncover the truth behind the murder draws him into the search for an eight-hundred-year-old treasure and into a web of ecclesiastical and political intrigue.

Accompanied by a beautiful, sharp-tongued research librarian, Jessica Jones, Branson follows a trail of clues, from the peaks of the awe inspiring French Pyrenees to the caves of war-torn Afghanistan. Along the way, shadowy powerful forces trail the pair, determined to keep safe a secret buried for centuries.

How will it end? Read The Brothers’ Keepers … if you dare.

Here is a brief description of CONVERSATIONS AMONG RUINS:

 Conversations Among Ruins is a portrait of a descent into madness, and the potential of finding salvation there.

While in detox, Daniel Stavros, a young, dual diagnosed professor meets and falls in love with the cryptic Mimi Dexter. But Mimi has secrets and, strangely, a tattoo identical to a pendant Daniel’s mother gave him right before she died.

Drawn together by broken pasts, they pursue a twisted, tempestuous romance. When it ends, a deteriorating Stavros seeks refuge at a mountain cabin where a series of surreal experiences brings him face to face with something he’s avoided all his life: himself.

Though miles away, Mimi’s actions run oddly parallel to Daniel’s. Will either be redeemed, or will both careen toward self-destruction?

Conversation among ruinsSJT: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

MP: You mean there’s something else? LOL I love reading and listening to classical music. I also enjoy hiking.

SJT: What writing project is next for you?

 MP: Currently, I am working on the next book in the Nicholas Branson series.

SJT: Thank you, Matthew, for taking the time to talk to me today.

To find out more about Matthew and his books, see the links below.


Twitter: @MatthewPeters65


 The Brothers’ Keepers:


Barnes & Noble:

MuseItUp Publishing:

Conversations Among Ruins:

Amazon Paperback:

Amazon Kindle:

Barnes & Noble Nook:

All Things That Matter Press Paperback:




My Life in Books: The Stand

The-Stand-Stephen-King-UsedI never read The Stand in its original published version, but came across it when it was re-released as an ‘author’s extended version’ in 1990.  I was working in a book shop at the time, a job that was responsible for expanding my library quite dramatically – not just because I was around books all day and kept finding ones I wanted, but because we all got a staff discount if we bought books from the shop.  For some reason I had trouble finding an image of the cover of the 1990 release, which is the book that still sits on my shelf (along with quite a number of other Stephen King books), to include with this post.  The one I am including here is photo of someone’s copy of the book, not a JPG of the cover.

A huge doorstopper of a book, at over 1,150 pages, King allegedly put back in scenes that were cut from the originally published version, the reasoning being that people would be put off buying such a large book.  But I guess by 1990 Stephen King was such a mega-bestseller he had the freedom to do pretty much whatever he wanted.

Best described as a post-apocalyptic thriller, the plot of this book involves a super-virus, originally cultivated as a biological weapon, that effectively wipes out the population of the US, leaving handfuls of survivors that eventually band together, forming two camps – one clearly evil, the other fighting on the side of good.

The extended version, though a long book, is still one of King’s best in my view.  It’s a story of ordinary flawed people thrown into an extraordinary situation – what Stephen King does best.  The enduring appeal of post-apocalyptic novels is the study of how humanity behaves when the survival of the species is in crisis.  Modern post-apocalyptic stories generally feature zombies, but still study the behaviour of the human survivors – look at The Walking Dead, for example.  Though we’d like to think that when there are only a handful of humans left, everyone will pull together to save humanity, but sadly that’s not normally the way it is.  The surviving humans become extremely territorial, fighting each other.  This is the idea behind The Stand, and though there are no zombies to be found in this novel, the concept of what humanity is capable of in extreme survival situations is far scarier. The leader of the ‘evil’ camp is unquestionably a supernatural entity, evil for the sake of being evil, but his followers are all too human, and capable of some pretty despicable acts.  Like all King books there are truly hateful, but ultimately human, characters, who generally get what’s coming to them at the end, and likeable characters you root for and then get all upset over when they meet an undeservedly tragic end.

There are some passing observations about how our attitude to the things we take for granted shifts when the world as we know it has ended – using paper money as a book mark, for instance, as it has become worthless, and how a ruptured appendix becomes a fatal condition when there is no one around with medical knowledge to perform what is currently considered a basic and routine operation.

It’s not the first Stephen King on my list of memorable books and it will not be the last, but this book stands out for me as one of the best I ever read.

Monthly Round-up: September 2014

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

September already, and here in the UK we are firmly into Autumn. Which means duvet back on the bed, heating on, sweaters and boots become normal work wear and we look forward to delays on the trains because of leaves on the line.

But enough of that. Here is the news for the last month.


Happy to report that DEATH SCENE is now available. Until Friday it’s available at a special sale price from MuseItUp’s online book store, so buy it now while it’s cheap!

DEAD COOL releases on 25 November, but it can be pre-ordered now. So if you want to be front of the queue when it does release, visit the MuseItUp store and get your order in.


Lots of guest appearances in cyberspace over the last month. Here’s a quick roundup of blogs that have hosted me since my last report:

22 August – Penny Estelle

3 September – Matthew Peters

17 September – Hilary Mackelden

19 September – Katie Carroll

22 September – Victoria Roder

23 September – John Rosenman

Con-wise I went to FantasyCon in York in early September and appeared on a panel about whether there can be hope in horror with Guy Adams, Ramsey Campbell, Roz Kaveney and Adam Nevill. The answer, of course, was yes there can be hope in horror, if the Big Bad is defeated and there are a few survivors. But it is equally acceptable to kill everyone off. There was an interesting discussion on this panel about whether or not killing everyone off is cheating the reader, since the human condition clings to hope. Those writers who finish their horror novels with everyone dying a horrible death apparently get bad reviews from unhappy readers. Something to bear in mind, I guess.


I’ve made a start on the third Shara Summers book. Well, inasmuch that I’ve been working on the plotting. Still rather a lot of writing to do before it looks anything like a story.

I’m also rewriting the new horror novel, and getting slightly depressed that there’s more work to do than I initially thought. But once I get my head around what changes need to be made, it will probably seem slightly less daunting.

All in all, a rather busy month. Catch you next time!

DEATH SCENE Release Day!

It’s here at last! DEATH SCENE is released! Or, I should say, officially re-released since this is the second publication for this particular book. But a different publishing house means a different editing process, so if you did read it the first time round, you’ll find there are some differences in this version.

Death Scene 200x300I am very excited about this day finally arriving, and I love DEATH SCENE’s fab new cover. To celebrate sending my amateur sleuth Shara Summers out into the world once more, I am giving away a free copy of the e-book. To be in with a chance of winning, all you have to do is post a comment on this blog. It’s that easy. There aren’t even any questions to answer! Everyone who has posted a comment by midnight (GMT time) tonight will go into the drawer, and the winner will be chosen at random tomorrow morning. When you post your comment, please ensure you include your email address in the comments form when it asks you to, so I know how to contact you if you should win.

If you don’t win, there will be another chance to win a second copy, as I am making a guest appearance on John Rosenman‘s blog tomorrow and giving away another copy. So swing by there on Tuesday and post another comment.

If you still don’t win, and have to resort to buying a copy, it is available in all e-book formats from MuseItUp Publishing now.

And because I know some people like their one-click Kindle buy options, I’m even going to supply links to worldwide Kindle purchases (which of course are restricted by region).



If I’ve left out your region I’m sorry. I am rather assuming I’m not internationally famous at this stage.

And while you’re surfing the Internet, go and check out Victoria Roder’s blog, where today I am making a special release-day appearance talking about family ties and how important they are to my amateur sleuth.

And while you’re doing that, I’m going to have some more virtual champagne. Cheers!

Monday’s Friend: Ron Scheer

Today I am pleased to welcome fellow MuseItUp author Ron Scheer to the blog, who is talking about a subject close to every writer’s heart – finding the time to write. Take it away, Ron!

Where does the time come from?
By Ron Scheer

I was recently asked where I find the time to read and write. It made me wonder how unique I might be. I have a full time job just like anyone else. I have children that need help with homework, driven to sports practice, and taken to scouts. I have a wife who demands that, at least occasionally, I put the laptop down and take her out for a night on the town, or barring that, at least help fold the laundry and put the dishes away. I have a poker night (Monday) and Friday movie night with friends and relatives.

Ron ScheerBut even with all of that, I still manage to write for for a least an hour (sometimes a lot more) and read until my eyelids won’t stay open every night. Still dreaming of the day I get to put those five words in front of my name that every writer who doesn’t have them wants: New York Times Bestselling Author.

So where does the time come from? What do I leave out that other people don’t? The answer is quite simple. I don’t really watch TV. From what I hear at work, or see on the internet there are a lot of shows on the tube that people get interested in, and continue to watch week after week, season after season. But guess what? I’ve never watched an episode of NCIS, or Dr. Who, or (you fill in the blank…I don’t know the names of most shows.)

Obviously I’m a night writer. That whole get up in the morning before the job starts and pound the keyboard doesn’t work for me. I tried it a couple of times, and all I ended up with was a whole bunch of zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz’s, both on the document, and in my recliner. (I don’t write from a desk–laptop while reclining is the only way to go)

I do have to wonder if I’m missing out sometimes. Every now and then someone will come up to me as say, “did you see what happened on HIMYM?” My answer is usually something like “what’s a hymn yim?” And then they look at me like I’m the crazy one. By the way, when did every show become known by its acronym? And speaking of acronyms, let’s change DWTS so it means Driving While Texting is Stupid.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against TV. I’m not standing on some soapbox trying to preach an end to what millions of people do to entertain themselves each night. Hey, if some big shot Hollywood producer wants me to help write a script for the next big sitcom, I’m game. I’m simply saying that until someone invents a way to make the evenings longer or the work day shorter, I’ll use my time to do what I want to do.

And let’s don’t get stupid, of course I watch football.

Author Bio

Ron Scheer lives in the heart of the heartland with his wonderful wife, a daughter, and a son. He spends his days selling and installing carpet. His nights, however, are devoted to books. Whether reading or writing, there are always words at his fingertips. The Forager is his first novel.

Blurb for THE FORAGER:

The ForagerIt’s been thirty years since the economy collapsed, and all Dillon has ever known is a world without electricity or medicine, living in a community constantly under the threat of starvation as they struggle to feed the rest of the country.

Orphaned and alone, unsure of his future, Dillon serves as a lookout, watching for the bands of Scavengers that prey on towns like his—while also trying to keep away from the mayor’s twin sons, who are bent on terrorizing him.

When a Forager rides into town, he opens Dillon’s eyes to the possibility of another life for himself. And when a Scavenger attack leaves the Forager injured, he sends Dillon out on a mission that may mean the difference between life and death for the mayor’s missing daughter. Dillon is about to find more than a way to help his community—he’s about to find himself.


Monday’s Friend: SS Hampton, Sr

I’m pleased to welcome Stan Hampton back to the blog for his second appearance this year.  His new book, SHARING RACHEL, an erotic romance, is rather different to his last release. Let’s find out more about it.

SJT:  Your new novel is a bit of a departure from your previous work. How did the concept come about?

SH:  Yes, SHARING RACHEL is different from my first story, BETTER THAN A RABBIT’S FOOT, both from MuseItUp Publishing (MIU). During research for my writings (horror, fantasy, science fiction, erotica, and military fiction) I often come across information that I think would make a good foundation for a story. SHARING RACHEL is the first contemporary erotic romance novel that I have written, and that is a far cry from my previous MIU writing, BETTER THAN A RABBIT’S FOOT, which is a military short story. One thing about writing that I do not care for is the necessary evil: editing. Editing a novel is more time consuming and requires even more attention to detail than a short story.

Sharing Rachel coverSJT:  When is SHARING RACHEL released, and where can we find it?

SH:  The novel will be released before the end of 2014, and it can be found in the MuseItHOT bookstore of my publisher, MuseItUp Publishing.

SJT:  Who would you cite as your influences?

SH:  Various influences, fiction and non-fiction authors. They include Frederick Forsyth (The Odessa File, The Dogs of War), Jean Larteguy (The Centurions, The Praetorians), James Michener (Centennial), and those whose works are too many to mention, HP Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Cornelius Ryan, and Bernard B. Fall.

SJT:  What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

SH:  Recognize and understand the importance of marketing and public relations. More and more unless you are a successful big name writer, getting the word out about yourself and your writing has become the writer’s responsibility. The various small publishers help to a certain extent, depending on the publisher, but first and foremost, it is on the writer’s shoulders. In some ways this has become more important than the actual writing.

SJT:  Have you ever been inspired to put people you know in real life in your books?

SH:  No. Fictional characters in different times or places were never based on anyone I knew, just because. Fictional characters represented in current military fiction—stories taking place during the Global War On Terrorism—will not represent anyone I know. It may sound a little superstitious, but though I may add a trait or two from various people I know, no character is based on a real person. If I write that a character is killed or crippled in combat, I would feel like I had cursed the real person to such a fate. And I know plenty of people who still serve, and will serve overseas in a combat zone. So, no.

SJT:  When it comes to your writing projects, would you describe yourself as a meticulous planner, or a ‘seat-of-the-pantser’?

SH:  I would have to say more of a “framework planner.” I start out with an outline and characters, but as my story progresses I will readjust as necessary. Sometimes a story (or even a character) needs to progress in a different direction than I had planned. I learned a long time ago (though I do not always pay attention, usually to my regret) to listen to my “gut feeling.”

SJT:  Have you got any works in progress on the go?

SH:  Plenty of story/novel ideas and outlines with research—the problem is I cannot make my mind up as to which one to start on. Additionally, I am still unpacking from my move, and recovering from the financial devastation visited upon me because of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service sitting on the 3-months military retirement backpay I was owed. I could start on the second sequel to SHARING RACHEL (the first sequel has been submitted, but no word of acceptance or rejection yet). There is a story about a haunted German Tiger tank in North Africa during World War II; a science fiction writing that asks what makes a man “great” in the eyes of others; an “alternate history” or perhaps fantasy visit to the Crusades, and more stories about the Global War On Terrorism, most being military-supernatural based (one of my favourite combinations).

SJT:  What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

SH:  Have a beer or Smirnoff Ice Screwdriver, watch Netflix or YouTube, and listen to music. Sometimes I meet a friend or two for drinks and dinner. After I have my 16-year old car looked over and worked on (very reliable foreign made car), go for drives and listen to music while exploring what lies over the horizon, around that bend in the road, or at the end of the old, narrow Las Vegas street—all of which are useful for scouting locations for my photography. Okay, add some painting and drawing. And, that’s about it.


Sometimes people choose to live life to the fullest…

Burt and Rachel Markham are ordinary small business owners of a seed & feed store in a small Kansas farming and ranching community. Many years before, as young university graduates eagerly anticipating exciting overseas employment, a lifetime in Kansas was the furthest thing from their minds, particularly Rachel who was raised overseas and dreamed of going back. By July 2013 their twin 18-year old daughters, having graduated high school several months before, go east to attend a university. Burt and Rachel settle into their new life of an empty house and a predictable and unchanging routine that threatens to stretch far into the future. One summer evening Burt has an idea—but will Rachel accept the idea? If she does, will the idea add new excitement to their marriage, or destroy it?


She stood and grasped his hand. “It’s a little windy out, but it looks like there’s only a slight drizzle. We won’t get too wet walking home.”

Burt glanced at the steaming dancers again and smiled. “It’s been a long time since we walked in the rain.”

“It has been,” she said and leaned against him.

“I always liked walking in the rain. A light rain that is. A slight drizzle is better.” They stepped into the cool twilight. “Anyway, when your blouse is soaked your nipples really stand out.”

“Oh God,” Rachel giggled. Silent lightning lit the wet road as if showing the way home.

Burt slipped his arms around her and kissed her cheek.

“Hi,” he whispered in her ear. She responded with a little sigh and reached back to place her hands on his hips.

The greeting was their signal when in public that one or the other was horny. They began whispering “hi” to each other shortly after they became lovers; now they also whispered it after he slipped into her or when she seated herself on him and they were looking into each other’s eyes.

The storms passed and the humid summer heat returned. The feed store remained busy. The trains rumbled past Four Corners, past their home, as they had done for the past two decades. Burt always thought that the late night train whistle that echoed across the moonlit prairie was one of the loneliest sounds he ever heard.

One night during their dinner walk they passed by the dark school. Rachel paused and stared at the small wooden building. Twinkling fireflies floated through the schoolyard.

“Are you going to volunteer this year?” he asked. Classes would start in a few days.

She was silent for a few moments before shaking her head. “No. I enjoyed being a volunteer teacher’s aide, but with the girls gone…” Her voice trailed into silence. “It wouldn’t be the same.”

Burt brushed her long hair away from her face. “What about soccer?”

“They asked me and I said I’d help on special occasions, like the end of season awards banquet.” She folded her arms around herself as if she were cold, though a warm breeze blew across the moonlit prairie. “But otherwise, no.”

“It wouldn’t be the same?”

“Jah, jah,” she whispered.

“Well, okay. I mean, there’s been a big change in our lives, but it doesn’t have to mean cutting most ties.”

When they returned to the farmhouse Rachel announced she was going for a swim. She poured a glass of Sauvignon Blanc for herself and picked up a CD player. She usually listened to classical music, waltzes, and operas when floating in the pool. There was a chakra wind chime hanging near the pool for the times when she felt like floating in near silence except for the chimes and the sound of the prairie wind.

A few moments later Burt followed with beer in hand. Maggie trotted behind him, rawhide bone in her jaws. Classical music floated through the night; fireflies played hide and seek among the neatly trimmed hedges along the perimeter of the yard. Others drifted in and out of the nearby cornfield, while the insects of the night droned on in disharmony.

He saw Rachel drop a dark robe to her feet. In the silvery light of the moon her nude fleshy form had a ghostly white sheen to it. She glanced over her shoulder, flashed a lusty smile at him, and dove into the pool. He stood by the edge of the pool and watched her gliding beneath the sparkling moonlit water. Then she surfaced, rolled and floated on her back with closed eyes. A pair of fireflies circled above her face.

It was the second time she was skinny dipping. It was like she was shedding the older, busy exterior of motherhood so that her younger carefree personality could reassert itself.

He sipped his beer and watched her face with Bettie Page bangs plastered to her forehead, surrounded by a fan of long hair and the glimmering water. She looked so content.

A thought was born.

A surprising thought.

A thought he never entertained before about his wife of 21 years—and the mother of his children. He walked unsteadily to a wooden chair with thick cushions and sat down heavily. He gulped his beer. A warm breeze flowed through the night; the trees rustled and the field of corn swayed like watery currents. Fireflies sailed past him.

“Dammit,” Burt whispered to himself in disbelief…disbelief and excitement. And trepidation. What would her reaction be? What would she say? Could he even find a way to suggest it?


He returned to the poolside. Her eyes were open. Moonlit water droplets on her beautiful face sparkled like tiny diamonds.

The thought wouldn’t let go. It took root…

SHARING RACHEL will be available from the MuseItUp hot bookstore later this year.



Author Bio:

Stan Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, and a published photographer and photojournalist. He retired on 1 July 2013 from the Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class; he previously served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Nevada Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007) with deployment to northern Kuwait and several convoy security missions into Iraq.

His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others.

In May 2014 he graduated from the College of Southern Nevada with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Photography – Commercial Photography Emphasis. A future goal is to study for a degree in archaeology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology (and also learning to paint).

After 13 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters.

As of April 2014, after being in a 2-year Veterans Administration program for Homeless Veterans, Hampton is officially no longer a homeless Iraq War veteran, though he is still struggling to get back on his feet.

SS Hampton can be found at:

Melange Books
Musa Publishing
MuseItUp Publishing
Amazon UK
Goodreads Author Page

Monday’s Friend: Rosemary Morris

Today I am pleased to welcome fellow MuseItUp author Rosemary Morris to the blog.

 Rosemary Morris - Small photo (2)RM: Thank you for inviting me to be your guest.

SJT: You have travelled widely, and are now settled back in the UK. Any stories about cultural differences picked up on your travels that you’d like to share?

RM: With regard to marriage there are distinct cultural differences in the East and West. In the U.K., even if a couple decide to be partners instead of marrying, women their priority is their relationship often to the exclusion of everyone else. In Hindu communities with a modern outlook arranged marriages in which the husband-to-be and prospective wife have not met are uncommon – although, I am told, this is still usual in India. Duty to family is very important and it is usual for couples live in a joint family.

SJT: I was interested to learn you’ve spent time in an ashram in France. What did you take away from that experience?

RM: First of all – according to the teaching of The Bhagavadgita, otherwise known as The Song of God, my belief in reincarnation strengthened. To put it simply, for every action there is a reaction. For example, I do not believe Adolf Hitler is condemned to eternal hell, but he will suffer throughout many, many, births before he has even the slightest chance to redeem himself. However, someone such as Mother Teresa – if she has not gone to heaven – will reap the reward of her piety.

Something else which I took away is the power of daily meditation, which brings peace and the ability to deal with whatever life throws at me.

SJT: Most of your books seem to be set in the past. Do you enjoy the research, or is it an attraction to a simpler time that draws you to bygone eras?

RM: I enjoy the research but do not think that time was simpler in bygone eras. The majority of people were ‘dirt poor’ and lived in appalling conditions and slaved for the basic necessities of life.

However, I enjoy writing about the upper classes, their customs, clothes, the food they ate and their religious and political beliefs. (Perhaps I should add that I am planning a novel about a young girl from a humble background who the heroine of Sunday’s Child has ‘taken under her wing.’ Three of my novels are set in the reign of Queen Anne Stuart – 1702-1714 a period of political and economic change which affects the modern day United Kingdom. The Act of Union between England and Scotland was passed in 1706. To this day, many Scots resent it and say they were not consulted about the Act, and now there will be a referendum to decide whether Scotland will choose to separate from the rest of the U.K. It is also interesting to note that if Marlborough had not won the War of Spanish Succession the history of Europe would be very different.

SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

RM: Obviously, to write historical fiction a novelist needs a good imagination, which is something that cannot be taught. However, when I wrote my first novel, compelled to write the story of my imaginary characters, I knew little about the craft of writing. I wish that I had known about books on How to Write and courses on writing. Of course, in the past there was less help to the aspiring novelist. Nevertheless, I wish someone had pointed me in the right direction.

SJT: Tell us about your latest release.

The Captain and The Countess 200x300 (2)RM: THE CAPTAIN AND THE COUNTESS set in the reign of Queen Anne Stuart is more than a love story between a younger man and an older woman. It is the story of a widow cruelly treated by her late husband in an age when men had complete authority over women.

The following is a *5 review, on, which covers the subject matter of THE CAPTAIN AND THE COUNTESS.

“I’ve really become a fan of Rosemary Morris’s books because I feel she sets out to write much more than a romance. Her new historical did not disappoint me with its hero who is a young Captain in Queen Anne’s navy, marooned at the time of the story on half-pay, and the widow nine years his senior. It is set in the time of Queen Anne, 1702-1714, so quite a bit earlier than the Regency offerings we get so used to.

I particularly enjoyed the way the politics, lifestyle and beliefs of the age were woven in quite seamlessly, and loved the tender manly hero and the somewhat damaged heroine. Though he is the younger, his naval service has brought him maturity. Though she is older, she has been very badly used by the men in her life and has a shocking secret.

The research is truly immaculate but I felt as though I were in Kate’s drawing room rather than reading a history book. Rosemary has explored some of the folk customs and superstitions current in this period and also written a great love story.

Suitable for those who enjoy a well-written, well-researched historical novel; a sensual love story with no explicit sex and a happy ending. This book is downloadable to kindle and other e-readers and is therefore suitable for many with a visual disability.

Well done,

J Pitman”

SJT: Have you ever been inspired to put people you know in real life in your books?

RM: Neither real life historical characters nor people I know feature in my historical fiction. However, like all novelists I am a people watcher and my mind buzzes with eccentricities, accents and the people’s faces. Sometimes, while I’m out and about I see a face that inspires me.

SJT: When it comes to your writing projects, would you describe yourself as a meticulous planner, or a ‘seat-of-the-pantser’?

RM: I am neither. Before I begin a novel I need a working title, which might change later. I also need to name my main characters and fill in detailed profiles. Much of the information might not be used in the novel but it serves to make them real in my imagination. When I write the first paragraph I know what the plot and theme will be and how the novel will end, but I don’t plan every detail. Although I like my characters to surprise me but I let them know I am in charge.

SJT: What’s next for you, writing-wise?

sundays-child-200x300 (2)RM: At the moment, I am writing Monday’s Child, the sequel to Sunday’s Child, a traditional Regency novel set in the Regency era, and am planning to continue the series.

SJT: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

RM: Most important of all I enjoy spending time with friends and family. Apart from this, I am a keen organic gardener. I grow 50 or 60 percent of my own herbs, soft fruit, stone fruit and vegetables. I am a vegetarian so my garden produce is very important. At the moment, I’m planning to write a book about my garden that begins on January 1st and ends on December 31st and incorporates recipes. When I have time I enjoy knitting, patchwork and other crafts. However, whatever I’m doing I never switch off completely from writing. I like reading historical fiction and non-fiction and visiting places of historical interest.

 SJT: Thank you for being my guest today, Rosemary.

To find out more about Rosemary Morris, see her book covers and read extracts from her novels please visit her website.

E-books by Rosemary Morris published by MuseItUp Publishing:

Sunday’s Child
False Pretences
Tangled Love
Far Beyond Rubies (also available as a print book)
The Captain and The Countess

Monthly Round-up: August 2014

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

We’re over halfway through August already.  Where is this year going?  This means it’s time for another report on what I’ve been up to writing-wise over the last month.


I now have release dates for both the forthcoming Shara Summers novels.  DEATH SCENE is to be released on 22 September, and DEAD COOL on 25 November.  Though both books are e-book only, they will be available for pre-order through the MuseItUp website.


I’ve made a couple of guest appearances online since the last update. Details below:

13 August – I appeared on Kat Holmes’ blog as part of her Summer Bash, talking about cultural displacement.
20 August – I was on Anne Stenhouse’s blog with Five Fascinating Facts.  Well, I hope they were fascinating…

Con-wise, I went to the fabulous Geekfest, and had a fine old time.  Next up, FantasyCon in York, which will also be the last Con in my calendar.  At least for this year.  I’m already lining up my Con schedule for next year.


I have made a start on what I will hope be the final rewrite of the new horror novel, which is entitled THE WHISPERING DEATH.  I’ve worked out what I need to do with this, and feel happy with the way the rewrite is going so far.

September is looking like a horrendously busy month, with a lot of personal and day-job related stuff going on.  But with the release of DEATH SCENE on the horizon, there’ll be plenty of writing-related stuff going on as well.  Catch you next month!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,148 other followers