Interview: Fantasy Writer Scott Marlowe

Welcome to the World of Scott Marlowe

Scott Marlowe defines himself as a “first-generation Texan.” (His family had heretofore been staunch New Yorkers). After bouncing from one end of the country to the other, he finally returned to his beloved Lone Star state where he lives with wife and “two crazy dogs” (the crazy dogs’ response to their interview was “grrrr”). A software engineer by trade, he had long been a reader of fantasy. He founded a fantasy-science fiction ezine Pegasus Online and wrote a “terribly written story” (hey, we’ve all been there), but not so bad it wasn’t published. But writing books was on his horizon. He launched The Alchemancer, followed by A Tale of the Assassin Without a Name. He lives in a strange little world called Uhl, but they like him there. You’ll like him too. Read on.
(Copyright 2015, G G Collins)
Author Scott Marlowe

Author Scott Marlowe

How does a software engineer stray into the fantasy/sci-fi arena? Was it an escape from machines or a natural next step for you?

It actually was a first step. Like most authors, I was a reader long before I became a writer (or a software engineer). I started with such classics as The Chronicles of Prydain and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Also, I got hooked as a child on Harryhausen movies. Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans (the original, not that travesty of a re-make). Classic stuff which led me into the pulp works of Robert E. Howard, the horror of H.P. Lovecraft, and the sword and sorcery masterpieces penned by Fritz Leiber and Michael Moorcock.

Tell us how you add that touch of steampunk to your stories.

Coming from a fairly classic fantasy reading background, steampunk was something new for me. I liked reading it, but when it came time to get back to my own writing, it was back to the usual fantasy sorts of things. But then I started writing one book in particular and it just hit me that the story needed an infernal device of some sort. I already had the powerful magical device trope in there, but I started to think, what if this magical device was actually a mechanical device? Even better, what if it was a blend of science and sorcery? The story—and the series—took a completely different turn from there. I wound up incorporating these same technological elements into my other series; I kind of had to since they take place in the same world, albeit at different geographical locations.

So what started as a single infernal device prompted a certain proliferation of other technology: handheld devices to measure energy; mechanical, alchemically-driven carriages to whisk people around the larger, more modernized cities; and, of course, airships, some with specialized engines for high altitude travel.

Despite this, however, the overall feel of my stories remains fantasy. I didn’t want to stray too far from that, so it’s very much a pre-industrial world, where the overall presence and use of technology remains at the fringes, its potential benefits—and dangers—still looked upon with a skeptical, wary eye by many.

Introduce us to the World of Uhl and some of the “creatures” who reside there. I especially enjoy the cat-people. Me-ow!

"The Five Elements"  The Alchemancer: Book One

“The Five Elements”
The Alchemancer: Book One

Uhl (pronounced “ool”) is the world where my stories take place. It’s a world without gods—they destroyed themselves five hundred years ago—where science and sorcery have risen to fill the void left behind. It’s populated by a diverse group of races: humans, dwarves, eslar, skeva, krill, raspel, sitheri, and others.

Humans are what you might think. They’re spread out amongst the Four Fiefdoms, which is the remnants of a single kingdom, and the Freelands, which is a “lawless land of outlaws and bandits,” depending on who you talk to.

My dwarves are much like one might expect in fantasy, though mine are also raiders, a bit like Vikings.

Eslar are a blue-black skinned race that lives far to the east. They’re a bit of a mystery to readers because I’ve only dealt with them through three characters: one in The Hall of the Wood, a sorcerer, and the other two, Ensel Rhe and his daughter, Jakinda, in The Alchemancer series. But, in the next, upcoming book, I’ll deal with them some more and continue to reveal bits and piece of their society and way of life over time.

"Hall of Wood" Marlowe's Debut Novel

“Hall of Wood” Marlowe’s Debut Novel

Skeva, or rat-men, live beneath other cities. They’re featured quite prominently in the second Alchemancer book, The Nullification Engine. I had a lot of fun writing them. The best part? Bringing out their human qualities.

Krill, or cat-people, most definitely do not make ‘meow’ sounds.  They’re vicious hunters, strict xenophobes, and all-around mean people. That’s what they want the world to believe, anyway. Gerwyn, a krill character in The Nullification Engine, is actually quite friendly and a bit of a gentleman. He’s also weapons master to Jakinda Rhe, Ensel Rhe’s daughter.

Raspel are an insect-like race of traders and sitheri a tribal people who exile their warriors from their swamps, not allowing them to return until they’ve collected a certain number of scalps from their kills. They’re not a very friendly species.

When working with fantasy and science fiction subjects, how much research can you do and how much is left to imagination?

Because I’m primarily writing fantasy, I leave a lot of it to imagination. But I often start with a subject which is better served by science fiction, then bend and twist it to conform to more of a fantasy norm. It gives me free “reign” to play with things like negative energy, dark photons, anti-gravity, and other theoretical topics. I then research those topics as much as needed for the story or for whatever hokum I happen to need at the time. A lot of ideas on how to pull these concepts into a fantasy world come out of just the research itself.

You have two series: The Alchemancer and A Tale of the Assassin Without a Name. Describe your protagonist from each. What do they have in common? Or not?

Author, and outdoors-man, Scott Marlowe hitting the trail.

Author, and outdoors-man, Scott Marlowe hitting the trail.

Interesting question because the characters are almost complete opposites. The Alchemancer features Aaron Shepherd, a young sorcerer’s apprentice who finds himself in that role because of his intellectual abilities and not because he has any aptitude for magic. In fact, he has no skill with magic at all. Aaron is a selfless individual, always putting the problems of other people ahead of his own. He’s most definitely an intellectual character, so it’s not likely you’ll ever see him in a physical role.

The title character in the Assassin Without a Name, on the other hand, was called by one reader an “endearing sociopath.” Where Aaron often finds himself in situation where he is in over his head, my assassin character never does, simply because, in his mind, there is no situation he can’t handle. He is completely confident in his skill with weapons, his charm, his wit, and his cunning. Of course, this is only in his own mind. He often finds himself contending with situations where he has no choice but to rely on others to succeed or, even more fun as an author, where he simply falls flat on his face.

I think the only common ground between these two characters is that, ultimately, they both want to do the right thing. My favorite witty assassin may make sure his interests are taken care of in the process, but even he has others he cares about, so it becomes a question of eliminating the greater of two evils where he is concerned.

“Thief’s Gambit” is your forthcoming book, the 5th in the Assassin Without a Name series. Give us a sneak peak.

Click on the picture to pre-order "Thief's Gambit"

Click on the picture to pre-order “Thief’s Gambit”

Thief’s Gambit is a rip-roaring escapade where readers find out why the Assassin Without a Name, well, doesn’t have a name. It’s much more revealing about the character than any of the previous stories, and it moves the overall storyline along nicely as we find out that the Warders, who have seemed benign up to this point, may not have the good people of Alchester’s best interests at heart after all. Elizabeth West, the title character’s love interest and the thief referred to in the title, is back, leveling insults at my main character while making sure he doesn’t get himself killed. The series has been a lot of fun to write and this story, I think, is the best yet.

An outdoor guy, how does your love of the great outdoors influence your stories or characters?

I think some of that came out in The Hall of the Wood, one of my earlier works, especially because most of the story takes place outdoors. But all of my work after that has been inside city walls mostly. It’s probably a good thing since a lot of people think The Hall of the Wood is “overly descriptive.” Oh well. What can you do?

Just for fun. I’m a dark beer fan too. What are your favorite 3 beers? 

Only three? My favorites change, but right now I love a good Blue Moon Mountain Abbey Ale. The Sam Adams Octoberfest last season was a real good one, too. I love seasonal beers. Also, New Belgium has a black lager called 1554 that I never turn down. I generally go for stouts (Guinness was a favorite for a long time) and I’ve been on an IPA kick lately. New Belgium’s Ranger IPA is one of my current favorites.

Find Marlowe on Twitter: @scottmarlowe & Facebook: www.facebook.com/ScottMarloweAuthor. Also on Goodreads, Pinterest and Google+. His books are available on Amazon. Click on the book pictures above for a direct link.

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Book Review: “Tombstone Courage” by J A Jance

Sheriff Joanna Brady is Every Woman

Reviewed by G G Collins     (Copyright 2015)
Tombstone Courage by J A Jance William Morrow & Company

Tombstone Courage
by J A Jance
William Morrow & Company

* * * * * When last we saw Joanna Brady in series premier, Desert Heat, her husband was murdered while running for sheriff of Cochise County, and she was under suspicion for drug trafficking. After she was instrumental in solving the case, which included corruption in the sheriff’s office, her friends urged her to run for the office once held by her father.

Joanna Brady’s first day on the job as sheriff is a stressful one. Two bodies have been discovered in the county, her chief deputy openly campaigned for one of her opponents and thinks the sheriff’s office is no place for a woman, and the ditzy office receptionist makes no effort to hide her hostility. Her personal life is complicated by young daughter, Jenny, when she has ambivalent feelings about mom’s new job. What if she gets killed too?

Joanna struggles to reassure her child, gain respect at the office, all the while sorting hideous clues involving one of the dead men, his estranged daughter and a lawsuit.

Holly Patterson, once a rising star in Hollywood and now a has-been, has come home with therapist and lawyer in tow. As an alleged victim of repressed childhood sexual abuse she is suing her father for his entire ranch. If she wins, it would displace her sister Ivy who has worked the ranch side by side with her father for forty years.

Before Holly’s father, Harold Patterson, has a chance to set things right he is killed leaving more questions than answers. Did Burton Kimball, Patterson’s attorney and nephew commit the crime in a drunken stupor after a blowup with his uncle? Ivy Patterson hasn’t spoken with her father for sometime because she has come to believe her sister’s accusations. Could she have murdered her father? She did, after all, delay overnight before calling authorities after finding her father’s body. No one knows much about Russian immigrant, Yuri, who has suddenly become engaged to Ivy. Was he looking at a quick ticket to citizenship?

Tombstone Courage refers to one of the ten tragic errors made by law enforcement officers–failure to call for backup. Sheriff Brady for all her pluck has yet to learn this valuable lesson probably because life has taught her to handle things on her own.

Joanna Brady, first woman sheriff in Cochise County, is a great character. She deals head-on with resentment, sexism, and political shenanigans with aplomb and when warranted, force.  Yet she is vulnerable to her child and everyday irritations such as runs in her hose. She shows cagey inventiveness as she assembles a new life for herself and her child.

This book isn’t really about law enforcement–the mystery almost gets in the way–but the exploration of the American woman on the move, meeting daily challenges, and rising to the occasion.

Every woman in America is not a sheriff, but Joanna Brady is every woman.

 

Tombstone Courage by J A Jance  (Joanna Brady Mysteries Book 2) 

William Morrow & Company ♦ 304 pp ♦ June 1994 ♦ Now available in Kindle format

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Crystal Energy: Adding Dimension to Spirituality

Meet M J Trantham: Share Her Journey of Enlightenment

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to M J Trantham, my crystal sage and good friend. I’m one of those people who had purchased a few stones because they were pretty. When I began writing about Rachel Blackstone, the Reluctant Medium, I wanted her to grow as she became more astute, albeit reluctant, with her psychic abilities. M J had been telling me about her exploration of crystals and I was fascinated. We’d talk—she’s correct, it’s nearly daily—and soon I was asking questions and including crystal power in Rachel’s paranormal adventures.
Get comfortable and enjoy this intimate one-on-one with M J Trantham. Whether you’re just beginning your journey with crystals or are already a fellow traveler, M J’s story may inspire your own.                                                                                                            
(G G Collins Copyright 2015 including photos)

♦         ♦        ♦

When did your interest in crystals begin?  Was there a specific turn of events that led you down this path?

Crystals in Dish. Includes Lemurian Wand  Copyright G G Collins 2015

Crystals in Dish. Includes Lemurian Wand
Copyright G G Collins 2015

I think I have been fascinated by rocks since I was a child.  I remember having a “rock collection” which probably consisted of rocks I found in our back yard.  When I got a little older, I watched my grandmother collect rocks from places she visited.  She brought them home and put them in her yard.  When my grandmother died I picked up as many as I could identify and now they are in my yard.

As an adult, I used to drive to Hot Springs, Arkansas every spring to the Arkansas Derby, but I always made a stop at the tourist crystal shop.  I still didn’t have a clue what I was buying but was attracted to their beauty and would take my time holding and admiring them before making my selections.  My first crystals were an Amethyst and a Rose Quartz.  I also have several very large crystal clusters in my home that I know I didn’t pay a lot of money for.  I see similar ones now for hundreds of dollars.

I think my turning point was when I had two nephews join the military.  It was during the transition from the Iraq war to the movement of troops to Afghanistan.  I was so afraid for them.  One evening during my meditation I was impressed to make them each a medicine bag for safety.  I also had a niece that was working for ICE on the Mexican border.  I purchased three medicine bags and a book on crystals.  I selected the crystals that I felt were appropriate and sent each of them a bag.  Then I decided to make a bag for each of my grandchildren and then all of my nieces and nephews and a new project was born.  By then I was so intrigued and basically hooked on crystals.  My friend, G G Collins, had written Reluctant Medium and graciously accepted my suggestion that her protagonist needed crystal energy to help her accomplish her goals.  I now crochet the medicine bags which I feel adds my energy to them and select the stones after meditation.

Explain what the “properties” of crystals are. Do they hold actual  powers?

Rose Quartz & Amethyst Copyright G G Collins 2015

Rose Quartz & Amethyst
Copyright G G Collins 2015

Crystals have been acknowledged for their beauty and power for thousands of years.  Most people first notice the color and brightness of crystals.  Later, maybe minutes or maybe years, we begin to learn that each crystal is special and emits different types of power.  I like to call that power, energy.  Some crystals have energy to help someone heal from a disease or a situation which is uncomfortable or causes emotional pain.  Other energies are used for abundance, prosperity, wealth, and protection from people, places, and/or things, grief, and assistance in achieving goals.  I have been able to find a crystal for almost any situation.  I believe the “power” is real, just like I believe “faith” is real.  Someone might pick up a raw crystal, one that hasn’t been polished or tumbled, and throw it down thinking it is just a rock.   Others will see the beauty and feel the energy in the palms of their hands.  Sometimes it is a slight vibration and sometimes becomes warm.

Crystals were created when the Earth was born.  Most people know about Amethyst, Quartz, and Birthstones.  However, crystals have evolved as the Earth has evolved and we now have what some call “New Age” crystals, such as Larimar, Petalite, and Phenacite.

What crystals would one choose for issues such as fear, creativity, and wealth?

There are many types of fear.  If you want to alleviate fear, use a Charoite.  Charoite is a beautiful purple stone when polished.  It is a stone of transformation.  “Charoite is the soul stone that overcomes fear.”  Smoky Quartz relieves fear, lifts depression, and brings emotional calmness.  When purchasing a Smoky Quartz, look for one that is slightly cloudy.  The darker the color the more likely it has been radiated to enhance the color.  You want the natural one.

Creativity also covers many types.  For a writer, I would recommend a Blue Topaz.  This crystal helps a writer become aware of the influence their writing and knowledge can have on others.  It promotes openness and honesty.  It helps a writer see the bigger picture and the minute details.  If a writer is experiencing “writer’s block” a Fire Agate helps dissolve the negativity that might be causing the block and replaces it with creativity once again.

Tiger's Eye Crystals: Gold, Red, Blue.  Copyright G G Collins 2015

Tiger’s Eye Crystals: Gold, Red, Blue.
Copyright G G Collins 2015

A Brown and Gold Tiger’s Eye helps any type of creativity by aiding that person in recognizing one’s talents and abilities, and faults that need to be overcome to achieve their desired goal.

A wonderful crystal for wealth, abundance, and prosperity is a Honey Citrine.  It comes in small round stones, large Citrine points, or larger geodes.  Honey Citrine can be placed in a medicine bag and carried with you at all times in your pocket or purse.  You can also use a medicine bag with a cord attached and wear it around your neck and over your heart.  It can also be placed in the “wealth corner” of your home which is the farthest left corner of your home looking in from the front door.  It is also used for grids when mixed with other wealth stones like, blue or green Citrine.  Honey Citrine encourages sharing what you have and yet helps you to hold on to your wealth.

What is a medicine bag and how is it used?  Describe your signature bags.

Trantham's crocheted medicine bags.

Trantham’s crocheted medicine bags. Works of art.

A medicine bag is simply a bag of some type to hold your crystals.  Some crystal users recommend storing your crystals in a silk or velvet bag.  Many people prefer leather bags.  When I decided to make medicine bags for my friends and family, I decided on a very soft yarn and began to experiment with different shapes, sizes, and colors.  Depending on how many crystals I want to include decides the size.  Most are 3 x 3 or 4 x 4. I like to decorate them with ribbon, buttons, pins, and charms.  The type of bag and decoration depends on who the bag is made for.  I use several bags.  I have one under my pillow to ward off night terrors and recently added a crystal that assists with dream recall.  I have a bag I meditate with that is for good health, self-control, and will power to eat, drink, exercise, and be healthy.  I have a friend who is very interested in angels.  I made her a bag with stones to attract angel communication.  A family member travels a lot in an RV.  I made them a bag for safe travel.  Medicine bags can be for any type of issue that is going on in someone’s life.  I tell people if they feel uncomfortable wearing the bag, to place it on the night stand beside their bed.

In the Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mystery Series, you’ve been an enormous help in broadening Rachel’s psychic horizons.  How do you approach this challenge; introducing a reluctant medium – and her creator – to the world of crystals. 

I don’t think it was ever a challenge because I was so excited to be included in G G’s writing process.  I can say what I do for Rachel Blackstone is constantly evolving.  My study of crystals is always a learning experience as I continue to use crystals in everyday life.  I was so excited when Reluctant Medium first came out I read it in one day and was absolutely hooked on Rachel.  I had to go back and reread it to really see what was happening.  During the second read, I began to think about how crystals and psychics have so much in common using crystals for guidance, safety, protection, and direction.  I honestly don’t remember exactly how we got from “there to here”, but G G asked if she could use my personality to create another psychic that dealt in legal marijuana in Colorado and crystals.  I was so flattered and excited I had to say yes!  G G and I discuss Rachel and ideas almost everyday, so I think I understand where Rachel might be going.

Honey Citrine & Blue Topaz Copyright G G Collins 2015

Honey Citrine Point & Blue Topaz
Copyright G G Collins 2015

No matter who I am working for to create a medicine bag, I want to know what the issue is and what outcome they would like to have.  I have shelves of books covering Metaphysical subjects and I use them as a reference for all of my projects.  If the person says they are depressed, I look for crystals to help depression.  If they are afraid, I look for crystals that dispel fear and restore a positive outlook.  I also look for things that specifically address health issues, cancer, chemotherapy, renal failure, heart failure, broken bones.  If I can’t find something specifically to “cure” a broken bone, I look for other reasons for the broken bone, maybe osteoporosis or some type of calcium deficiency or maybe just a really bad fall.  One suggestion leads to another and I continue to learn as I go along and finally decide on the correct crystal for the situation.

I didn’t mean to get into Rachel’s head, however, I found myself talking about her as if she was a real friend of mine.  I think I just do for Rachel what I would do for any friend that asks for my help.

You’re in the process of bringing what began as a personal interest to the next level:  a business.  What will you be offering in the way of medicine bag combinations?

I love to crochet and knit.  I like the feel of the yarn and watching something very pretty result.  It is also a great time to meditate or work out a problem.  When I decided to crochet medicine bags, I did so because I thought mine were prettier and less expensive to make than the ones available at the crystal shops and metaphysical fairs.

Transition Crystals for the Dying: Scolecite, Lilac Kunzite, Lapis Lazuli & Pink Tourmaline.

Transition Crystals for the Dying: Scolecite, Lilac Kunzite, Lapis Lazuli & Pink Tourmaline.

I am going to take a few months to get my material together and see how I would do at the local Farmer’s Market.  We have a very nice one all summer in the city where I live.  After much thought, I am going to make medicine bags for several different issues.  I will most likely begin with bags for healing, love, protection, recovering from an illness or grief, anxiety and depression.  I also like wealth, abundance, forgiveness, angel communication, and raising spiritual awareness.  I’m open to more suggestions.  Several years ago, I found a blessing for a dying person to assist in a pain free and fearless transition.  I have used it several times and have had good results.  By results, I mean, less sadness, more acceptance of the loss of a loved one, and for one I actually got a return message of a safe and happy arrival on the other side and in living color.  It has totally changed my opinion of death, past lives, and what I might find in my next life.

Some bags will be empty and buyers can choose their own crystals.  Others will hold the crystals that assist the person requesting help.  The type of bag and whether or not they hold crystals will determine the cost.

I’ve already developed a flyer to assist someone buying crystals on how to take care of them, how to cleanse them and program them for their own purpose.

What would you recommend to people just beginning their journey into crystals and their uses?

This photo shows the difference between raw, tumbled and egg-shaped crystals.

This photo shows the difference between raw, tumbled and egg-shaped crystals.

Visit crystal shops, metaphysical fairs, and gift shops to explore what is available.  Pay attention to what you are attracted to.  Before investing a lot of money, check other shops for a price range.  I often find crystals that are $7 in one shop and the same crystal is $2 in another.  Crystals can also be purchased on Internet sites, but I prefer the “in person” method.  If you go in person, you can hold the crystal in your hand to see if you get a response.  A response is not always necessary, especially if the crystal has been handled by lots of people.  It may need to be cleansed and near you for several days to begin to recognize your energy.  I received a crystal as a gift.  I cleansed it and wore it for several days so it would recognize my energy and work just for me.  I do the same when I give crystals as gifts and finish with a dedication to the recipient.  I then ask the recipient to meditate and claim the energy for themselves.

There are lots of books out there that tell all you need to know to begin using crystals.  For a beginner, I would suggest buying a couple of books.  Most crystals have several different energies and address multiple issues.  I usually research the issue for suggestions regarding which is the best crystal to buy.  Then I research the crystal to see all that it can do.  Lots of crystal shops also have classes to share information and I find “crystal people” excited to talk to anyone about their crystal beliefs.

To begin your crystal journey, Trantham recommends these books:

Book Crystal BibleThe Crystal Bible, A Definitive Guide to Crystals, Judy Hall, 2003.

The Crystal Bible 2, Over 200 Additional Healing Stones, Judy Hall, 2009.

The Crystal Bible 3, Over 250 New-Generation Stones for Healing and Spiritual Alchemy, Judy Hall, 2013.

The Encyclopedia of Crystals, Judy Hall, 2007.

Book Crystal TherapyCrystal Prescriptions, The A-Z Guide to Over 1,200 Symptoms and Their Healing Crystals, Judy Hall,          1988.

Crystal Therapy, How to Heal and Empower Your Life with Crystal Energy, Doreen Virtue, Ph.D., and Judity Lukonski, 2005.

Simply Crystals, Cass & Janie Jackson, 2006.

 

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Author Patrick Parker Talks Suspense Thrillers

Welcome Author Patrick Parker

From GG: There’s no one better to tell a story than someone who has lived much of it. Patrick Parker’s military career took him to Southeast Asia, Europe and Panama. He drew from his defense experience and the many locales where he was stationed and fashioned them into fast-paced thrillers. His wife challenged him to write the his first book, Treasures of the Fourth Reich, and he was hooked. In his second novel, War Merchant, Parker wrote about a woman assassin and weapons broker. Let’s see what else he has to say.

You have written two suspense thrillers, Treasures of the Fourth Reich and your latest, War Merchant. What is your background and how did you come up with these two exciting books?

Author Patrick Parker

Author Patrick Parker

During my army career my family and I lived in Italy for five years and traveled extensively during my off duty time. We spent many hours visiting museums, castles, cathedrals, churches and historical sites in Europe. I was fascinated with the history. The Nazi lootings of treasures became the catalyst for Treasures of the Fourth Reich. I was sent to Panama before the invasion and, while there, I met a fascinating art dealer. She formed the basis for my character Maria in that story.

After retiring from the Army, I worked in the defense industry for fifteen years. I continued to pursue my writing and developed the concept of War Merchant. This story is taken from my corporate experience and coupled with my military background. After retiring a second time, War Merchant came to life.

Neither story is about war but about espionage, deception, betrayal, terrorism, and murder.  All the elements to make a good story coupled with a real world environment.

As a man, what were the greatest challenges in writing your female lead character in War Merchant and why did you choose a female protagonist?

War Merchant is available at Amazon.

War Merchant is available at Amazon. Click on the cover.

Dydre Rowyn, my female protagonist, is a combination of several women I knew from my corporate career.  She was definitely a challenge as I wanted her to be smart, cunning, very attractive, and deadly.  She also had to have a mother’s instinct.  A woman can be more dangerous than a man which I knew.  But it was her feelings, emotions, and knowing just how far a woman would really go to get her son back and protect him.  That was the challenge.

I received counsel from several mothers and from my wife.  I did drive my wife crazy trying to get it right.

In a story like War Merchant, people would typically expect this to be a male protagonist.  I thought it would be a lot more fun and exciting to have a female protagonist.

You used several locales for War Merchant. These included Africa, Europe, Central America and the States. How do the varying countries contribute to the story? You live in the US, but have you traveled abroad?

In the real world of government contractors and arms brokers, it’s a world-wide business. Every country has a military of some type. Countries hire government contractors (mercenaries, trainers or contractors, they are all basically the same) when they don’t have an army large enough to fight the conflict; a government cannot garner the political nerve to answer the call; or simply don’t want to get their hands dirty.

Dydre works for a black arms dealer in Germany.  Clay Zsigmond. Zsigmond, who became corrupted by money and power, is a consultant, supplier of arms, trainers, and services to the countries around the world. He brought a young defenseless and naïve Dydre into his business to do his dirty work. When she finally realized it, she was in so deep she became vulnerable if things went wrong or she crossed him.

I have traveled extensively internationally and believe it adds to the realism to incorporate international locations into the story as that is real world.

How has your military background helped you in your storytelling? Does it add depth to your story through shared experiences with your characters?

Yes, it gives it depth and adds realism. My characters and their environments are based on real places, people and events.  Even my FBI agent is based on real female FBI agents—tough as woodpecker lips.

My military background and defense industry experience has given me insight as to how things really work. I want my stories to be plausible and based on real events.

What do you see as the essential elements of a good suspense thriller?

First of all it should be believable. The details make a difference and must be right.  The protagonist should be faced with some sort of disaster or death and insurmountable odds.  Just as in our real world, all choices have consequences based on current circumstances.  The wrong decision can be disastrous.

I believe pacing is very important, use lots of action verbs and keep the story moving.

I like to use real events in the story.  For example in War Merchant, the assassination of the President of Rwanda which sparked the Tutsi and Hutu war, was a real event.  No one knows who was responsible for downing of his plane. This provides a glimpse of what Dydre does and what she is capable of doing. The action starts immediately.

Treasures of the Fourth Reich available at Amazon. Click on the cover.

Treasures of the Fourth Reich available at Amazon. Click on the cover.

In Treasures of the Fourth Reich I used the real events of Nazi looting as the basis for that story. We are still seeing today real stories related to the looting as I have shown in my blog (http://bit.ly/1tTUjjv).

My next book is based on current events, ISIL, terrorists, and a real man-packed nuclear bomb.

Real life can be stranger, more complicated and more amazing than fiction.  This all makes for good story telling.

Why did you publish an e-book first instead of paper? What do you enjoy about self-publishing?

Once I received my manuscript back from the editor and finalized, it was very easy to publish as an e-book. The paperback edition required a little more work getting it into the format and the back cover completed.

Treasures of the Fourth Reich was first published by a royalty paying publisher. I didn’t have control and things I was promised never materialized. The publisher talked a big story and delivered a small package. Self-publishing gives me the freedom to do things that need to be done to market my books. If something isn’t done it is my fault and I have fewer frustrations.  Although I am a lot busier, I am a lot happier. I am getting more done and making better progress now as a self-published author. My royalties are much higher as well.

For more information and updates, please see:

Amazon Author Page http://amzn.to/1izsnBH

Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1pnfAoM

Twitter https://twitter.com/pparkerntx

Google + http://bit.ly/1xQof6e

Goodreads http://bit.ly/1pnLth0

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Read Tuesday (Black Friday for Books) December 9, 2014

Today is Read Tuesday!

Read Tuesday (Black Friday for Books) December 9, 2014

Read Tuesday (Black Friday for Books) December 9, 2014

Special Deals all day!

Find out about Read Tuesday here:

http://readtuesday.com/2014/12/07/tip-for-finding-read-tuesday-book-deals/

Learn about your favourite books and authors; discover new ones. Check out books, boxed sets, author profiles. It’s Read Tuesday!

Reluctant Medium:Debut Novel in the Series

Reluctant Medium:Debut Novel in the Series

Try “Reluctant Medium” beginning at £0.99 in a Countdown Deal on Amazon.UK :  http://amzn.to/1AbeQUy

This year “Reluctant Medium” is available only on Amazon.UK to introduce the Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mystery Series to UK readers. My thanks to US and Canadian readers for placing “Reluctant Medium” and “Lemurian Medium” on Amazon Top 100 Lists over and over!

Thanks to Chris Graham at the Story Reading Ape and Chris McMullen for including me.

 

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New Children’s Christmas Book by David Chuka

David Chuka Does It Again: Billy and Monster’s Golden Christmas

Meet David Chuka

Author David Chuka

Author David Chuka

From GG: David Chuka began writing children’s books because he found only one Kindle book available in the form of a beginning reader for his daughter Ruth. She loved it, but . . .  “I couldn’t find many books on the Amazon Kindle store that I could download.” One day, he thought “Hey, I think I can write stuff that she’ll like. I went on to write my first children’s book titled If You See a Doctor and I haven’t stopped since then.”

Kojo the seadragon Gets Lost

Kojo the Sea Dragon Gets Lost         Available at Amazon

He has written three non-fiction Animal books for children that contain fun facts and photos.  One is the fiction Animal book titled Kojo the Sea Dragon Gets Lost. “The story is about a one-eyed, buck-toothed, multi-tailed sea dragon who gets lost while playing a game of hide and seek. Although he was advised by his Mum never to go to the South side of the river, he ventures there because he wants to win as he never does against his friend, Kofi. The story is ultimately about how a community comes together to rescue Kojo and how he learns to trust his Mum. I think telling a story with animals is fun as you can get away with a lot of things.”

New Release: Ta-dah!

Billy and Monster's Golden Christmas by David Chuka

Billy and Monster’s Golden Christmas by David Chuka                       Available at Amazon

In this book, which is the fifth instalment in his best-selling series – The Adventures of Billy and Monster – David tackles that scenario we sometimes face during the holiday season: What do we do when we get a gift we don’t really like? Billy gets a golden pen from Uncle Leland from England while his cousin Bob gets a Monster truck. Billy doesn’t show any gratitude and his attitude makes his Dad mad and his uncle sad. An incident at the refrigerator while reaching for Grandma’s chocolate caramel pecan pie leads Billy to a world filled with snow and colourful monsters. While there, he learns about one of the most important things about Christmas. I’ll be picking up a copy to enjoy with my loved ones over the holidays. Do grab a copy today.

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Quirky Santa Fe

Keep Santa Fe Weird

by G G Collins     (Copyright 2014)

Every city has its quirks. These are some of my favorites in Santa Fe.

Every Year We Burn Zozobra Copyright G G Collins

Every Year We Burn Zozobra
Copyright G G Collins

This strange looking guy wearing the dress is Zozobra. This petite version can be found at the Convention and Visitors Bureau on Marcy Street. Every autumn Santa Feans burn him–along with their worries. The next year, he is constructed and once again set on fire to screams of “Burn him, burn him!” For more on Zozobra see https://reluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com/?s=Zozobra here on Reluctant Medium at Large in Santa Fe.

Santa Fe Current by Colette Hosmer Copyright G G Collins

Santa Fe Current by Colette Hosmer
Copyright G G Collins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish might be the last thing you’d expect to see in downtown Santa Fe and yet, here they are. The monumental sculpture is “Santa Fe Current” by artist Colette Hosmer. It features Rio Grande Cutthroat trout. Each granite fish is 2′ x 3 1/2′ in size. Right outside the Convention and Visitors Bureau on Marcy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ojo Optique Sign

Ojo Optique Sign

You might find a sign in New Orleans that includes a skull, but this one uses the Spanish word “ojo” which means “eye.” But “optique” is French, meaning vision, so go figure. Find it near the Plaza on Lincoln Ave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even the Crows Eat Chiles!  Copyright G G Collins

Even the Crows Eat Chiles!
Copyright G G Collins

 

In Santa Fe even the crows eat chiles. This guy, who lives in a sculpture garden along Canyon Road, appears to have a notoriously hot chile called a scotch bonnet (100,000 – 350,000 Scoville Units). Turn onto Canyon Road and make a quick left. There is parking, shops and art everywhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prairie Dog Enclosure at Jackalope Copyright G G Collins

Prairie Dog Enclosure at Jackalope
Copyright G G Collins

In a region where prairie dogs are sometimes cursed, this lucky family of the little “dogs” lives at Jackalope. Find it at 2820 Cerrillos Rd. Pottery, rugs and furniture doesn’t begin to describe everything that you’ll find here.

To learn about the history of Jackalope, click https://reluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/reluctant-medium-virtual-treasure-hunt-tour-july-8-2012/

The Shed Restaurant Copyright G G Collins

The Shed Restaurant
Copyright G G Collins

The Shed restaurant is famous for its excellent New Mexican cuisine. But did you know that The Shed serves French bread with every meal? It also offers a decadent Italian dessert called a zabaglione, a rich custard made with Cointreau and white port. Find the shed on East Palace just steps from the Plaza.

My characters Rachel Blackstone and Chloe Valdez meet at The Shed often to solve paranormal mysteries.

Learn about the humble beginnings of The Shed at https://reluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/on-location-with-the-reluctant-medium-week-two/

Santa Fe is one of those places with lots nooks and crannies. Don’t be afraid to explore. You’ll miss the most beautiful places and its quirky surprises.

How is your city “weird?”

 

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Author Interview with Mystery Writer G G Collins

David Chuka–Children’s Book Author, Interviews G G Collins

David Chuka, Children's Book Author & Blogger

David Chuka, Children’s Book Author & Blogger

 

My thanks to David for an insightful interview. I think a journalist spirit lurks within this children’s book author (another life?). I enjoyed answering his questions. For more on sneaky reporter tactics, Brussels sprouts and oh yeah, writing the Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mysteries, here is the link.

Check out his Web site and books from If You See a Doctor to Kojo the Seadragon Gets Lost with lots of colorful stories in between. I’m partial to the seadragon as I write about dragons in Lemurian Medium–a fellow traveler?  Check them out here.

http://davidchuka.com/books/

 

 

 

Free Holiday Promotional Opportunity for Authors (Read Tuesday Sale)

G G Collins, Author & Journalist:

Reblogged to Reluctant Medium at Large. Thank you Chris!

Originally posted on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog:

Authors:

Wouldn’t it be great if you could find a free opportunity to promote your books for the holidays?

Readers:

Wouldn’t it be great to find a huge holiday book sale?

Well, there is. It’s called Read Tuesday.

It’s like Black Friday, but for books.

In 2014, Read Tuesday falls on Tuesday, December 9.

Untitled

Mark your calendars.

What do you have to do?

Very little:

Authors:

Sign your book up for Read Tuesday at http://readtuesday.com. Click the authors page to learn more.

Readers:

Visit http://readtuesday.com on Tuesday, December 9. Browse the catalog of books on December 9, which will include links to Kindle pages at Amazon with amazing sale prices as well as Smashwords discount codes.

Gift-givers:

Send books for the holidays. You can gift an e-book, purchase CreateSpace paperbacks with discount codes, or give a paperback as a gift from Amazon and keep…

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Santa Fe’s Museum Hill & Botanical Garden

A Little Bit of Heaven on an Autumn Day

By G G Collins          (Copyright 2014)

Mountain Spirit Dancer by Craig Dan Goseyun Bronze, c. 2000 Copyright G G Collins

Mountain Spirit Dancer
by Craig Dan Goseyun
Bronze, c. 2000
Copyright G G Collins

As I walked up the steps to the huge courtyard at Museum Hill, southwestern music floated across the breeze to greet me. I could almost pluck the notes from thin air. Although the open space is large between the museums, the courtyard feels intimate with beautiful desert landscaping, en plein air sculpture garden and dedicated spaces. With the Sangre de Cristos as backdrop and storm clouds adding drama but no rain, it was a perfect Santa Fe fall day.

On this excursion I wasn’t covering the museums, but please don’t let that stop you. The “Hill” is composed of the Museum of International Folk Art, Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, Wheelright Museum of the American Indian, Museum of Spanish Colonial Art and the Laboratory of Anthropology. You can stay the entire day and see them all. For a time-out, the Museum Hill Cafe provides food, drink, music and a place to rest tired feet.

Rock, Paper, Scissors by Kevin Box Copyright G G Collins

Rock, Paper, Scissors by Kevin Box
Copyright G G Collins

Two things dominate the courtyard (also known as Milner Plaza), the Mountain Spirit Dancer by Craig Dan Goseyun. The massive bronze sculpture appears to be moving. Look at the fringe on his costume, the feathers caught up in his movement, the lightness of his feet. Throughout the courtyard the art runs from howling coyotes to mother and child. There is a performance circle included here for a cozy outdoor experience with the arts. But at the other end of the court is a labyrinth. Santa Fe is known for its many public labyrinths. This one is contemporary in style and is constructed using stones in the southwest colors of turquoise and coral. Set aside a few minutes and take a contemplative walk. Who knows what you’ll discover about yourself. There is another blog post about labyrinths at  https://reluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com/?s=walking+meditation

Santa Fe Botanical Garden, Art Walk Background Copyright G G Collins

Santa Fe Botanical Garden, Art Walk Background
Copyright G G Collins

 

I crossed the parking lot to the new-ish Santa Fe Botanical Garden. Phase 1, the Orchard Gardens opened in July 2013. Phase 2, Ojos Y Manos: Eyes and Hands, is scheduled to debut in 2015. While wandering the grounds, notice the red bridge. Phase 2 will be beyond Kearny’s Gap Bridge.

Me in my "office, Santa Fe Botanical Garden w/Kevin Box sculpture. Copyright G G Collins

Me in my “office,”Santa Fe Botanical Garden w/Kevin Box sculpture.
Copyright G G Collins

While there, I enjoyed “Origami in the Garden” a series of metal fashioned through lost wax casting and fabrication techniques, by artist Kevin Box. Both whimsy and beauty are found in his work. From the his Rock, Paper, Scissors to Painted Ponies, they are all inspired creations with their origins in a sheet of blank paper. For more about his work: http://www.langorigami.com/art/gallery/gallery.php?tag=kevin-box

Coming up next is the GLOW, the winter lights event. It opens December 4, 2014 and runs through January 3, 2015. Along with the beautiful lights will be Santa Claus, music and hot toddies every Saturday evening. Tickets are $7 to $8 (non-members) with children 12 and under, free. To buy tickets: http://www.santafebotanicalgarden.org/events/glow/

Museum Hill Sculpture Garden  Copyright G G Collins

Museum Hill Sculpture Garden
Copyright G G Collins

 

There are many opportunities for education and community service. For more information:  http://www.santafebotanicalgarden.org/about/

To reach Museum Hill and the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, take Old Santa Fe Trail southeast from the Plaza to Camino Lejo (there are Museum Hill signs along the way). Public transit is available. Please see for directions:  http://indianartsandculture.org/directions

Whatever the season, Santa Fe’s Museum Hill and Botanical Garden is a little bit of desert paradise for all the senses.

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