Monthly Round-Up: November 2015

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

Here we are in the penultimate month of the year, when the days are too short and the nights are too cold. Winter is not my favourite time of the year. So it should mean I have the perfect excuse to stay in and write, yes?


Nothing new to report, but there’s plenty of my stuff out there from earlier this year. I’m in the anthology of women horror writers, FEMME FATALE. I’ve got a story in the FORMER HEROES anthology. And of course THE WHISPERING DEATH is available in both paperback and Kindle formats. So that should be plenty to take you through the holiday season!

And just a reminder that if you read any of my work and enjoy it – or if you don’t, for that matter – reviews are always appreciated, as it’s the best way for a writer to get her name Out There.


This month I did a blog swap with US mystery writers JQ Rose. On hers I was talking about making time to write, something I seem to forever be juggling.


Work continues on both of my WIPs. I have almost completed the first draft of the third Shara Summers novel, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH. I’m not very happy with it at present, though. It needs some major rewriting before I am willing to send it out into the world.

Progress has also been made on the new horror WIP, though this one still doesn’t have a name. I’m referring to it as the ‘urban explorers horror WIP’.

By the time of the next monthly review, the presents will have been opened, the crackers will have been pulled and I’ll still be stuffing my face with mince pies and Christmas chocolate and getting ready to say goodbye to 2015. So a review of my writing year will be timely.

See you then!

Monday’s Friend: JQ Rose

Today I’m pleased to have author JQ Rose stop by as part of her blog tour for her latest release. JQ and I are having a mutual blog swap today – I’m over on her blog today talking about Making Time To Write.

There’s also plenty of prizes to win, as not only is JQ offering a giveaway here on my blog today, but there’s a chance to win one of my books over on hers, too.

Welcome back to Monday’s Friends, JQ!


Hello Sara-Jayne. Thanks so much for hosting me today on my book blog tour for my new mystery/romance/paranormal, Deadly Undertaking.

 Readers, you’re invited to enter the drawing for prizes awarded after the November tour. The Rafflecopter information is at the end of the post.

# # #

Raising Awareness
by J.Q. Rose

Writing has been a life-long pursuit for me. From the time I began writing stories in second grade, throughout my growing-up years, and young married and mom years, I created stories and poems for my own enjoyment. When my husband and I bought a floral shop and greenhouse business, I must confess, I had enough on my plate with working at the shop 24/7, caring for our daughters, and managing a household, so the writing wasn’t a top priority. Maybe a poem once in a while because let’s face it, a writer has to express herself no matter what. I had plenty to write about, just no time to do it.

After twenty years in the floral industry, we sold our business. The girls were grown and nearly out of school, so I decided to give writing a chance. I boldly entered the local newspaper office and asked to write articles. Surprisingly, the editor agreed. The seed that had been planted in second grade finally was allowed to blossom and allow me to inform and entertain readers.

Seeing that first article published in the paper with my byline fed my desire to write. I wanted to enrich other people’s lives with the articles on local businesses and stories of folks in the community.

Later I branched out into writing feature articles for magazines and e-zines (online magazines.) But after fifteen years of working as a freelance writer, I was ready for a change. I was ready to play and use my imagination to develop stories just as I did when I was seven years old.

I began penning fun characters, situations, and worlds that swirled in my brain. But I didn’t want to entertain readers only, I added subtle messages to the story to inform them or become aware of their world.

My e-books contain my own views on issues we face every day—preserving our environment, too many drugs prescribed for senior citizens, the media madness, forgiveness.

In Deadly Undertaking, a romantic suspense, I hope to raise awareness about the epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease and the legalization of recreational marijuana. Yes, pretty heavy topics for readers who want to grab a book to escape reality. I don’t lecture about these issues, but I do have my characters deal with them.

If you’re a writer, do you try to bring up issues we struggle with in this modern society? If you’re a reader, do you look for a message in your reading?

# # #

Back of the Book: Deadly Undertaking by J.Q. Rose

Lauren Staab knew there would be dead bodies around when she returned home. After all, her family is in the funeral business, Staab and Blood Funeral Home. Still, finding an extra body on the floor of the garage between the hearse and the flower car shocked her. Lauren’s plan to return to her hometown to help care for her mother and keep the books for the funeral home suddenly turns upside down in a struggle to prove she and her family are not guilty of murdering the man. But will the real killer return for her, her dad, her brother? Her mother’s secrets, a killer, a handsome policeman, and a shadow man muddle up her intention to have a simple life. Welcome home, Lauren!

400x600 Rose-DeadlyUndertaking-Payloadz (2)Amazon
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble
Books We Love Bookstore

Author Bio:

After writing feature articles in magazines, newspapers, and online magazines for over fifteen years, J.Q. Rose entered the world of fiction. Her published mysteries are Sunshine Boulevard, Coda to Murder, and Deadly Undertaking. Blogging, photography, Pegs and Jokers board games, and travel are the things that keep her out of trouble. She and her husband, Gardener Ted spend winters in Florida and summers up north camping and hunting toads, frogs, and salamanders with her four grandsons and granddaughter.

Connect with J.Q. Rose online at

J.Q. Rose blog
Amazon Author Page


Thank you so much for hosting me on the Deadly Undertaking Blog Tour.

Readers, you’re invited to enter the Rafflecopter drawing for prizes during the tour November 12-25. Find the Rafflecopter and the blog tour schedule at the Contest page on the J.Q. Rose blog. Good luck!



Monday’s Friend: Bryan Fields

Today I’m pleased to have Bryan Fields as my guest on the blog.

SJT: Welcome back, Bryan. You last visited in January 2014 to tell us about LIFE WITH A FIRE-BREATHING DRAGON. Now the third book in the series, DRAGON’S LUCK has been released. What are David and his dragoness girlfriend Rose up to now?

BF: Since the end of the second book, ‘The Land Beyond All Dreams’, David and Rose bought a gaming studio and have been trying to get a new online role-playing game finished and onto the market. The problem is, David is good at playing games, but knows nothing about making them. The only hope they have of getting a product out the door is to get a new investor, so they go to the BuzzCon gaming convention in Las Vegas to drum up some interest and hopefully some capital.

Once there, they become embroiled a civil war between two factions of Dark Elves living on another world. The god Crom recruits David and Rose to find a weapon capable of ending the conflict once and for all. All they have to do is find it and get back to the convention before the costume contest starts.

SJT: The new book sounds like a fascinating mix of urban fantasy, gaming and Las Vegas. What was the inspiration that gave you this idea?

BF: Inspirations came from all manner of events, usually totally unconnected. I’ll give you some examples:

My wife Noelle and I took our daughter, Alissa, to her first convention a few years ago, and while we were waiting in line to get in I got an email with the contract for “Life With a Fire-Breathing Girlfriend”. That was pretty exciting, obviously. “The Land Beyond All Dreams” was almost finished, so, naturally, I was thinking about what to do with the third book. We go in to the convention, where we were surrounded by all the people in costumes and the dealers and all that, and as I watched Alissa, just, wide-eyed, taking it all in, I kept wondering how Rose would react to that environment. That idea became the background setting.

I was going to set the convention in Denver, but somewhere in there, I ran across this promo ad about vacations in Las Vegas. It said, “With money, one is a Dragon.” Great line, and I immediately moved the convention to Vegas. Really, for a Dragon, it’s the best city on Earth. I found out later that the line the ad used is only half of a Chinese proverb. The rest of it says, “Without it, a worm.” Which is pretty damn Vegas as well.

Games are a big family activity for us, and one of the games the whole family plays is World of Warcraft. One day Noelle came up with the idea of Blizzard, the game’s publisher, building a WoW-based casino in Vegas. The guild we play with in WoW actually has a bunch of game designers in it, including some from Blizzard, and she made a point of submitting it to them as an official suggestion. Well, I loved it. That idea became the Trove, the casino the story is set in.

DragonsLuck_2 (2)At one point, I got stuck trying to work out the events of the story, and I wound up breaking out my box of Storymatic cards. It’s a great tool for exactly this situation. You draw a card, and you get a random event, goal, or character description. I drew about six, and one of them was ‘steal a car’. I used them all in one way or another, but that one card established most of the second half of the book, including a running battle across northern Arizona.

You don’t always need a huge, grand idea; it just has to be the right one.

SJT: Dragons are legendary creatures that have inspired many writers. Is your dragon more like a D&D dragon, or did you make up your own rules?

BF: Well, I made up the rules when I was running D&D games, so…yes to both. The dragons of Pern were a great influence, along with the movies of Hayao Miyazaki. I love the fact that people in his movies accept these wonders they discover. I didn’t want the dragons to be monsters. I wanted them to be likable and relatable, even though they are different.

The biggest influence, though, was the player community for the online game ‘Istaria’. It was and still is the only online role-playing game where you can play as a Dragon. I played for several years and eventually joined the design team as a writer. The game lore and the Dragon society created by the player community were a huge influence.

The first book I ever completed was very heavy on Dragons, and they are quite different from Rose and her people. The title, ‘True Flame’, came from the Istarian Dragon community. It means something embodying the quintessence of what it is to be a Dragon, which is a strong theme in that book. Right now, the book is up on blocks for transmission work. I have to write out a major character, and it’s not easy. One of these days… J

SJT: Are you a meticulous plotter, or more a ‘seat-of-the-pants’ sort of writer?

BF: I try to plot out the events of the main story and the major secondary stories, but I know it’s a guideline at best.

SJT: Have you ever put people you know in real life into any of your books?

BF: Yes. Russell, in the first book, was an amalgam of several people, including an idiot who decided to clean his pistol at the table during a D&D game, load it, and leave it pointing at the game master because he didn’t like how the game was going.

There are a fair number of others, but Russell is the only one I’ll give up; mostly because the people he was based on were just awful and I’m glad they are out of my life.

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

BF: Charles de Lint did a review of ‘Fire-Breathing Girlfriend’, which, I have to say, was one of the most awesome moments I’ve had as a writer. One of the comments he made was about the escalation of the stakes in each story. Essentially, ‘after you save the world, then what? Save the galaxy?’ Well, he was right, and I took it to heart. ‘Dragon’s Luck’ was pretty much finished by then, so I couldn’t change the stakes in that one. However, from here on out, David is not saving the world any more.

The next story, “Born With Wings”, is about David fighting for custody of his daughter Aparna, who was introduced in the first book. She’s four now, was born and raised in India, and does not know David is her father. David and Rose get to go to Mumbai for a wedding. Thirteen, the talking cat from book two, is back, and it has been a lot of fun catching up with him. David is also having some issues with the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles; he’s trying to figure out how to get a title and registration on a car he brought back from Thirteen’s world.

The biggest change in David’s world is the world itself. Noelle and I decided that it would be fun to merge the backgrounds for our books, so now we are working with a single shared world. The events Noelle covers in “Forging Day” hit at the beginning of “Born With Wings”, and the effects of the Change precipitate most of the events in the story. In some ways, having magic and non-Humans in the world makes things harder for David and Rose, because things people once dismissed out of hand are now entirely possible. They have to be more careful than they have been, which is fun for me.

I don’t know what will happen after this story, but that’s the good part about David being a Hero; there’s always someone out there who needs one.

You can buy DRAGON’S LUCK from the MuseItUp bookstore, and follow Bryan on his blog and Facebook page.

Friday Fears: Two-sentence Horror #9

Tomorrow is Hallowe’en – traditionally the time for spooks and ghouls and things that go bump in the night. So I am offering a couple of new two-sentence horror stories to give you chills.


I went to tuck my son in and found him standing outside his bedroom door, completely translucent. “I just wanted to say goodbye, Daddy,” he said, before fading from view.


My wife never says thank you when I take her breakfast in bed every morning. She really ought to, after I went to all the trouble of digging her out of her grave and all.


Happy Hallowe’en!


Monthly Round-Up: October 2015

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

Here we are at the end of October, rapidly approaching the Witching Hour. The clocks in the UK went back last weekend and it’s now dark by 4:30pm. I really hate the long nights, but there are things about Autumn that I really like. The beautiful colours of the trees. The crunch underfoot as I walk through fallen leaves on my way to the station. The anticipation of bonfire night, and of Hallowe’en. And of course October is my birthday month. This year I happened to spend it at FantasyCon. It’s the first time I’ve spent my birthday at a convention, but it was quite nice to get all the extra birthday wishes. Since the date of FantasyCon 2016 has already been announced and it’s in September, it’s looking unlikely that will happen again next year.

Anyway, on with the news.


Nothing new to report, but just another reminder that THE WHISPERING DEATH is available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon. If you’ve read it and feel inclined to review it, I would be most grateful. Word of mouth is the best way to promote a book, and reviews really help.


I’ve been fairly busy with online promotion over the last month.

14 October – I made an appearance on Theresa Derwin’s Terror Tree blog talking about the questions you shouldn’t ask a writer.

14 October – on the same day I was part of the Horror Writers’ Association’s Hallowe’en Haunts feature, with a blog post about what Hallowe’en is like in the UK.

25 October – I appeared on Iva Valentino’s blog talking about my lifelong love of reading.

In addition, I did two Cons in October – Bristol Horror Con and FantasyCon – and two book launches.

Ready for punters at the launch for THE WHISPERING DEATH on 14 October

Ready for punters at the launch for THE WHISPERING DEATH on 14 October

The first book launch was locally on 14 October. That went rather well, and we had about 20 people turn up, including two who happened to see my poster and liked the sound of the book. So proper punters, as opposed to people who already know me. I was very pleased about that. It felt like one more small step on the path to notoriety.

The second book launch was at FantasyCon, and didn’t go quite so well. I am grateful to the five people who did turn up and show support, but clearly all the promotion, Tweeting and cajoling people at the Con didn’t have much effect. I think launches at Cons only work if you’re well known enough to have a following. Evidently I’m not there yet.


I’ve made some progress with SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH – in fact the end is in sight. This is only a first draft, though, so there’s still lots of work to do yet. Not so much progress on the urban explorer horror novel, however.

I’ve set a new pledge to write 3,000 words a week between now and the end of the year. Most weeks I’ve managed to meet my target, and every little helps.

Well that’s it for now. I wish you a happy Hallowe’en, and I will see you here next month!

Monday’s Friend: Noelle Meade

Today I’m pleased to have fellow Muse author Noelle Meade on the blog. Welcome, Noelle!

SJT: When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?

NM: I first talked about writing a book probably in 4th grade. I didn’t think of it in terms of being destined to be anything. It’s just where I ended up.

SJT: Who would you cite as your influences?

NM: That’s a tough question. As a writer, I’m influenced by my experiences, good and bad. I won’t name names for the people involved. My daughter has been a huge influence. Having a child with autism exposes you to an entire world you never knew existed. All of the groups I’ve done table top gaming with have influenced the stories I want to tell. The stories my husband, Bryan Fields, and I built together while gaming since 1990 still have elements that show up in my current writing.

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

NM: Write what pleases you. If you enjoy your story, there’s every chance someone else in the wide world just might be interested too.

SJT: Tell us about your new release, FORGING DAY.

forgingdayNM: The story is something of a thought exercise. What if a mysterious event were to occur in the modern world and roughly one third of the world’s population became something other than human? What is magic becomes real? I explore how people react to these changes.

Olivia from FORGING DAY was a character I first created better than 17 years ago. The Olivia in my story isn’t quite as ruthless as her predecessor. This Olivia begins in a very bad place. She has a horrible boyfriend and no self-esteem. Through the challenges of changing relationships and fighting monsters both human and other, Olivia discovers her inner strength, and for the first time, a sense of self-worth.

I have received feedback that there’s too much sex, or not enough sex, or too much violence, I wrote from Olivia’s point of view. This is her life and her experiences. I don’t fade to black.

SJT: This is the first book in Olivia’s story. You say you’ve written the next three and are now working on the fifth. Did you know, when you started writing the first book, that this would be such an epic series, or did Olivia’s story grow as you started writing about her?

NM: At this point I’ve written five books of Olivia’s story and have an outline started for the sixth. I’m also writing a companion series from the point of view of her brother, Leo’s, military unit. When I started out I knew it had the potential for other stories. I can’t say that I knew what direction they’d go as I was writing Forging Day, but I left it open for her further adventures. Olivia, like all good adventurers, is a trouble magnet. She kind of has her happily ever after, but that doesn’t have to mean her journey ends.

SJT: You are married to a fellow writer (Bryan Fields). Do you ever work on things together, or does it work out better when you give each other separate writing space?

NM: We work in the same building so driving to and from work every day is our own little writer’s group. We have a shared world but we each write our own stories. We do use a shared calendar to help with continuity. FORGING DAY begins at roughly the same time as Dragon’s Luck, the third book in his series. It’s nice to be able to bounce ideas off of each other and so far we’ve been respectful of not stepping on each other’s toes or taking liberties with each other’s characters, at least not without asking first.

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

NM: Along with writing, I work full time. I manage my daughter’s needs. Trust me. A teenage girl with autism is a challenge. I have two online shops on Etsy: Designs by Alladania and Alla’s Attic. I sell hand crafted and vintage jewelry in my first shop and knitted, crocheted and sewn items in my second shop. I read. I enjoy gaming – mainly World of Warcraft, Wizard 101 and Minecraft at this point. I play a few Facebook games. I watch a few shows on television: The Big Bang Theory, Survivor, Doctor Who, The Walking Dead, Archer and Game of Thrones. I try to squeeze in a few hours sleep here and three – about four hours and change a night. I’ve also been teaching myself to draw. I’m reasonably pleased with my progress. I thought about taking a class, but I’m not sure when I’d squeeze it in.

Noelle’s latest book FORGING DAY is now available from MuseItUp Publishing. Learn more about Noelle and her writing from her blog, My Hatchling Ate Your Honour Student.


Monday’s Friend: Iva Valentino

Today I’m pleased to have the lovely Iva Valentino as my guest on the blog, to tell us all about her new middle-grade book. Welcome, Iva!

SJT: When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?

IV: I’ve loved writing stories since I was a kid. One of the first stories I remember writing was about my brother’s pet rat snake, Albini. I was about ten years old. Albini had gone missing in real life, and I concocted an elaborate holiday adventure for him involving Rambo, MacGyver, the members of the Grateful Dead, and of course, Santa. (Albini was thankfully found living behind the sofa, very skinny but apparently doing fine on bug cuisine.) Anyhoo… many, many stories followed this one!

SJT: Who would you cite as your influences?

IV: I’ve always been a voracious reader! I think that my love of reading has really influenced my love of writing. I grew up on The Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley Twins books. I always liked books that were light-hearted and funny. One of my goals for my books is to make my readers laugh!

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

IvaIV: Write something EVERY day if you can! Even if you don’t feel like it. Just write!

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

IV: I am most definitely a planner. No pantsing for me, please! I like to sit down and really plot out a book ahead of time. I like to know exactly where I’m going so that I’m not stuck in the middle of the book, realizing that I’ve headed off into La La Land. This doesn’t mean that my characters can’t do wacky things that I hadn’t quite planned for them… they surprise me quite a bit!

SJT: I have exactly the same approach! Tell us about your latest release, and where we can buy it.

IV: Black Cats and Ballet Slippers is a humorous middle grade chapter book. Gemma Mayfield, the main character, is a ballerina and middle school student. She is convinced her teacher is a witch. After her crush, Trevor, has a spell cast upon him, Gemma embarks on a mission to save Middleton Middle School from witchcraft!

MuseItUp Publishing:

SJT: You love dancing and yoga, according to your website. Do these activities influence your writing at all?

IV: Yes, for sure! In Black Cats and Ballet Slippers, Gemma is a ballet dancer. Ballet plays a big part in her solving the mystery of witchcraft at her middle school. Gemma’s mom loves yoga, and has taught her a thing or two. Gemma tries to use yoga breathing techniques, but finds out that she sometimes sounds like Darth Vader!

SJT: Your bio also says you like to travel. Tell us about your favourite places you’ve visited.

IV: My favorite place to visit is Croatia. My entire family is Croatian and I try to visit each summer. Pula is by the coast, and has the most beautiful beaches! Other places that I’ve really enjoyed visiting are Peru, Paris, Copenhagen, and the Caribbean.

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

IV: I’m working on a sequel for Black Cats and Ballet Slippers. Gemma and the other characters will be back, along with some new ones. I just finished the rough draft, and am taking a break before jumping into the revision process!

Author Bio:

Iva Valentino lives in Arizona with her husband and their dog, Lupo. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Education. She loves living year-round in the warm desert.

Iva spent many years as a middle school teacher, where she enjoyed doing fun science experiments with her students. She currently works as a science editor at an educational publishing company. She loves travel, yoga, and photography. There is nothing that brings her more happiness than a good dance class!

black catsYou can visit Iva at the following sites:





Okay, so something REALLY strange is going on. Boys are from a different planet, but right now a few of them at Middleton are acting like they’re from a different universe. (Wait. Does this make sense? Is there more than one universe? Ugh. Maybe I should have paid more attention last year in Astronomy.)

So, by the time I got to Ms. Pruett’s class, I had already worked myself into a super version of “I Don’t Wanna Go To Class Because I’m Creeped Out!” mode. I walked into the Science Laboratory, and I swear I felt the cold of Building 400 smack me right in the face. I’m not kidding.

Of course Ms. Pruett was at the door, acting like her sweet old lady self (ha ha, I know better), and was welcoming all the kids into the classroom. I just kept my head down and muttered a hello as I passed. Staying below the radar was the goal. Then I sat down at my lab table and shivered a bit.

Joey sat down at the table just a second later. Normally he is really loud and obnoxious, cracking jokes, and calling to the other Soccer Jocks across the room. Today he was quiet.

“Hey,” I said, trying to be friendly. I thought maybe we could commiserate on us both having spells cast on us. Joey responded with a “hey” but didn’t say much else. Hello? Was this the Joey I knew?

“So, Joey, are you feeling okay?” I asked. “You know, after yesterday…”

Joey didn’t say anything, but began writing on a piece of paper. He folded up the piece of paper and passed it to me. I gave him a questioning look. He gave me a weird look back that I couldn’t decipher. The note was as follows:

     Hey Gemma,

     Sorry I gave you a hard time yesterday about the “Cute Boy” list. It was kind of rude of me.


That’s when it hit me that Joey hadn’t recovered from Ms. Pruett’s spell. For me it was just temporary, like a few minutes. But Joey was acting weird. It had to be the spell.

“Um, thanks,” I said. “Don’t worry about it.” I then started taking out all my school stuff so that I could look busy and not have any more awkward moments with Joey until he felt better. He was taking longer to recuperate.

After class I headed straight down toward the lunchroom. On the way there, I saw Trevor going in the opposite direction past me. Our conversation went like this:

Me: “Hi Trevor!” (with a big smile and enthusiasm)

Trevor: “Oh, hi Gemma.” (with zombie-like attitude)

Me: “Okay, have a good lunch!”

Trevor: “Okay, thanks. Bye.”

I wondered where he was going, in the opposite direction from the lunch room when it was lunchtime. It took me another couple of moments to realize that the ONLY classroom in that part of campus was Ms. Pruett’s room. He was headed back toward Building 400!

Yikes! I turned myself around in mid-stride and turned back the way I came. I knew there was no way possible that Trevor would be going to Ms. Pruett’s. Why would anyone in their right mind be going there by themselves?

I didn’t want Trevor to think I was stalking him, because of course I would never do that. But just in case that’s what it appeared to be, I used as much stealth as possible. I walked in the shadows and stopped to peek out behind bushes and building walls. I saw him up ahead…just before he ENTERED MS. PRUETT’S CLASSROOM.

My mouth fell open, and I just sort of stared at the door for a while.

Weird things are going on here at Middleton. And I think Ms. Pruett’s behind it all!



Friday Fears: Two-Sentence Horror #8

It’s been a while since I posted any Friday Fears. But we’re moving towards Hallowe’en so it’s time to bring it back.

I seem to have zombies on my mind at the moment, going by what I came up with this week.


I thought it was odd that I saw no one as I walked to the bus stop. Then I spotted the first of the zombies shuffling down the street, their chilling moans breaking the silence.

I woke up this morning to discover the world ended last night, and I am the only human being left alive. There are a lot of things out there, though, that are not alive, and not human.


If you’d like to try your hand at your own two-sentence horror stories, send me your contribution or post it in the comments, and I will feature it next time.

Happy Friday!

Monday’s Friend: Karina Fabian

Today I am pleased to welcome author Karina Fabian to the blog, as part of her month-long blog tour. Karina writes about zombie exterminator Neeta Lyff, who has been described as being to zombies what Buffy is to vampires. Well, I’ll let her tell you all about it. Welcome to Imaginary Friends, Karina!

Slider-ilmbiSF-audio-tour (2)

SJT: When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?

KF: I was standing before a mountain lake. It was early, and a light fog drifted across the water. I couldn’t stop gazing at it. I was filled with inexplicable anticipation.

Then a woman’s hand rose from the water, bearing a keyboard, and a voice said, “By this tool, you shall entertain the masses.”

Actually, it sounded more like, “Blub, burble, burble,” because her head was underwater…

I don’t think I’ve ever felt “destined” to be a writer. I love writing, and I love telling stories. I have since I was a child. It tickles me to no end that people enjoy reading them.

NeetaLyffe_ZombieExterminator_300dpi_eBook - CopySJT: Who would you cite as your influences?

KF: As far as authors: Madeleine L’Engle, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Mercedes Lackey…in varying degrees and depending on the book I’m writing. As far as living people: my editors and my readers, plus the cast of Whose Line is It, Anyway? because they make me want to write funny. For the Neeta Lyffe books, all the people on Facebook who meme; people who are publically stupid enough to end up in the news (including politicians), my brother-in-law for the idea for I Left My Brains in San Francisco, and the writers of Total Drama Island.

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

KF: Advice I’d give a new writer: Get in the chair and write the book. While you’re at it, figure out your target audience and learn to market to them.

I got plenty of advice as a new writer. I wish I’d had a mentor, though.

SJT: Your Neeta Lyffe series is described as ‘zombie satire.’ Tell us a more about it.

KF: It’s the 2040s, and the Zombie Apocalypse turned out to be the Zombie Not-pocalypse. Spine severing and public safety campaigns have reduced zombies from pestilence to pest, and a new breed of exterminator has risen to handle the problem. Neeta Lyffe is one such exterminator. She’ll spray for ants and behead that shambling corpse in your backyard – all part of the job.

Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator: The Zombie “Apocalypse” Meets Reality TV!
I Left My Brains in San Francisco: The Zombie “Apocalypse” Meets Radical Environmentalism!
(Coming Soon) Shambling in a Winter Wonderland: Zombies on Skis!

NeetaLyffe_ILeftMyBrainsinSanFrancisco_audio_MEDSJT: So. Zombies. Why do you think they have such long-lasting appeal?

KF: They certainly keep going past their shelf life.

SJT: What would be your personal weapon of choice during the Zombocalypse?

KF: Common sense, which seems to be lacking in most zombocalypses I’ve seen.

SJT: When you’re not fighting zombies (in your writing, of course), what else do you like to do to pass the time?

KF: Write about dragons or psychics or spaceships. Clean house. Play D&D. Hang out with my kids. Drive my Miata. Write some more.


Zombie problem? Call Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator–but not this weekend.

On vacation at an exterminator’s convention, she’s looking to relax, have fun, and enjoy a little romance. Too bad the zombies have a different idea. When they rise from their watery graves to take over the City by the Bay, it looks like it’ll be a working vacation after all.

Learn more about the book from Damnation Books, Amazon (paperback and Kindle) and at Zombie Death Extreme.

karinachainsaw2AUTHOR BIO

Winner of the Global eBook Award for Best Horror (Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator), Karina Fabian’s writing takes quirky tales that keep her–and her fans–amused. Zombie exterminators to snarky dragons, things get a little silly in her brain. When she’s not pretending to be an insane psychic or a politically correct corpsicle for a story, she writes product reviews for and takes care of her husband, four kids and two dogs. Mrs. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars online. Learn more about her by visiting her website.


Monthly Round-Up: September 2015

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

This blog has been a tad neglected of late. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on. On the contrary – things have been extremely busy, and thus I have a lot of news to report as we move out of September.


I am pleased to announce that FEMME FATALE, an anthology of horror stories by women, is now available in print and on the Kindle. All profits from this book are going to a charity that supports victims of domestic violence, so if you buy a copy, your hard-earned cash is going to a good cause. And of course you get to enjoy an outstanding collection of stories. My story ‘The Haunted Dolls’ House’ features.

And of course THE WHISPERING DEATH is also available to buy now. I also want to add a reminder that another anthology featuring one of my stories, FORMER HEROES, has also been released recently.


I had a blog swap earlier this week with fellow Muse author Susan Royal. She appeared on my blog talking about tim travel, and I appeared on hers talking about why I wear many hats.

There are a great deal of events going on in real space in the forthcoming month, and I shall be kept very busy. For starters I am attending two conventions in October. The first is Bristol Horror Con on the 17th, where I am appearing on a panel at 11am about the use and abuse of horror in literature through the ages.

The following weekend I’m off to FantasyCon in Nottingham, which runs from Friday 23 to Sunday 25 October. On the Friday at 5pm I’m on a panel about the use of fear in horror – an appropriate topic, since I did my dissertation on this very subject when studying for my English degree. The launch for THE WHISPERING DEATH will be happening at FantasyCon on the Saturday, at 8pm. That day also happens to be my birthday. If you’re at FantasyCon please come to the launch; that will be enough of a birthday gift.

WD launch poster (477x640)And, speaking of launches, this is of course the second launch for THE WHISPERING DEATH. The first will be held at The Brook independent arts centre and bar in Wallington, Surrey at 7pm on Wednesday 14 October. This launch is for everyone who isn’t going to be at FantasyCon, and if you’re in the London/South East area and can attend, do please drop me a line. I am attaching a copy of the official invite. There will be free bubbly, if that makes a difference…


And amongst all this, I’m still hard at work on two WIPs. The third Shara Summers novel, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, stands at nearly 40,000 words and I am aiming to get this finished by the end of this year.

The second WIP is a horror novel about urban explorers, as yet untitled. Thus far only 2,000 words of it exist. I’m aiming to get this one finished by Summer 2016, though.

So, I have a lot of work to do. I may be neglecting the blog a bit longer as I race my way through my busy October. But if you’re going to be at the Cons at either Bristol or Nottingham, do say hello!


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