About Once Upon a Word: We're a large group of multi-talented authors working together, to bring you the best romances. Please, stop by our websites and check out what we've been up to: Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery and Victory Tales Press.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

THE VINE THAT ATE THE SOUTH


Posted by Linda Swift
 
Kudzu photos courtesy of http://www.jjanthony.com/kudzu/

If you live in the South, Kudzu needs no introduction but in case you’re not a Southerner, let me introduce you to this climbing, coiling, trailing vine that came to the US through the Japanese pavilion at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. It was welcomed in southern states to stop soil erosion and has been used as animal feed, medicines, and for making baskets. Kudzu can grow as much as a foot in a day and measures to eradicate it have failed miserably. In spite of efforts to mow it, burn it, and poison it with herbicides, it continues to devour the countryside. Just so you know, it now covers over seven million acres in the Southeastern part of our country and devours another 150,000 acres every year. In his poem, Kudzu, James Dickey warns us to close our windows at night to keep the kudzu out of our houses.
 
My morbid fascination with Kudzu began on a family vacation with my husband and two children several years ago. We took a shortcut on state roads from Kentucky to Florida and found ourselves in a very creepy (literally) situation as we drove through Mississippi. Trees, buildings, even utility poles were totally covered by the creeping vines. Nothing could be seen but green for miles. The image took root in my mind but lay dormant like kudzu until years later when I was taking a creative writing class at a North Alabama University. Did I mention that I am a nomad?

I decided to write a story about the vine. This required characters and Billy Ray Warren came into being. I wrote a few pages and when it was my turn for a consultation with the instructor, I shared them. He said he would like to read more and at this point gave me the best writing advice I’ve ever received. I was narrating the story about a good ‘ole southern boy in my best post-graduate voice and he said the narration should always be at about the same intellectual level as the characters. I took his advice and the story was off and running as fast as kudzu grows. I became a recorder and experienced for the first time a story that evolved into a life of its own.

That summer I submitted the story to Indiana University Writers’ Conference. I had entered three categories the prior year and been rejected in all three so I couldn’t believe it when I was notified that it had won the Fiction Skills Scholarship for the week’s free tuition. The director told when he called that I was a true rags to riches story. Then he said the winners of the four divisions would read their winning entries at the conference opening night and mine, being longest, would be last. The story was thirty pages long, over 7,000 words, and took more than half an hour to read aloud. And so, in front of more than two hundred authors and instructors from all over the US, I put my creation, my heart and soul, on the line. I finished and there was dead silence. I held my breath. And then the crowd gave me a standing ovation. It was only one of three times I’ve ever felt truly validated as a writer.

All week I basked in participants’ praise and fantasized someday joining the ranks of my idols, Eudora Welty and Flannery O’Conner. At the suggestion of my judge and conference leader, I submitted the story to Saturday Evening Post when I got home. It wasn’t long until a letter of acceptance came—with one small stipulation. I had to cut the words in half. Cut off Billy Ray’s arms and legs? Impossible. I sent him out a few more times to have doors slammed in his face. And then I buried him in a dark closet where he has remained until now. As the IU judge remarked about Billy Ray when she gave me the scholarship certificate, “Poor  bah-stard, he never had a chance, did he?”     

I had begun to think her observation was true. But there is a time and place for everything. And this story has found its niche in speculative fiction.


Linda Swift divides her time between her native state of Kentucky and Florida. She has 10 ebooks (also in print) and 5 short stories available from six publishers. More books and short stories are scheduled for release in 2012. 

Get more info at www.lindaswift.net



 



Newest Release:  Winner Take All

Billy Ray Warren returns from Detroit to claim the old family homestead but first he will have to destroy the intruder who has taken it over. He comes armed and ready to do battle with his hated rival for possession of what is now rightfully his but an unfortunate accident leaves him a helpless prey for his ruthless enemy. With grim determination, he fights for his life knowing there can only be one winner. 

You can find Billy Ray now at  AmazonSmashwords, and Monkeybars  for .99 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

KANE'S PROMISE IS HERE!

Last year, I started to write a short story for a western anthology that I wanted to

submit to. I had an idea that wouldn’t let me go, no matter how hard I tried to shake it off. I normally write romance. But this story was to be a western, with no romance involved. My “what if” concerned the long reaching effects of an Indian massacre and kidnapping on a young white boy, Will Green.

To tell a story like that, I was going to have to be inside the boy’s head. So the story would have to be told from the first person POV—something I just never do. It’s always been a temptation of mine to write something in first person. But could I pull it off? First person, a boy, a child. I had to try, because there was just no other way to do it.

Once I began to write KANE’S REDEMPTION, I could see that the “short story” was not going to remain “short.” The word count limit for stories for the anthology was 5,000 per story. When I stopped to count, I was already at double that amount. I laid the story aside and started another shorter story in order to finish it in time to submit. But when I came back to KANE’S REDEMPTION, I was free to make it as long as it needed to be.

By the time the story ended at around 25,000 words, I knew that it truly wasn’t finished, even then. So much had happened to young Will and Jacobi Kane, the man who rescued him from the Apache, that I knew this was going to be a series of novellas. In the first book, Will and Jacobi forged quite a relationship, first of necessity and then of a father/son bond. But that relationship was only just beginning.



I wrote KANE’S PROMISE, book 2 in the series, that carries them on into the next year of Will’s life. When a posse comes calling to ask Jacobi Kane to help them track the Apache, will he go? He’s made a promise to his first wife to avenge her, as she lay dying in his arms, but now he has other responsibilities.

Ten-year-old Will is torn between staying with his pregnant stepmother and following Jacobi. He must make a gut-wrenching decision. But they are a family now, and family helps one another, no matter what.

BLURB:
Kane's Promise, the second in a series of three, is the continuation of Kane's Redemption, the story of Will Green, a young boy whose family was murdered by the Apache, and Jacobi Kane, the man who rescued Will from the Indians.

In Kane's Promise, Jacobi Kane must lead a band of lawmen in their mission to find and annihilate the remnants of the Apache renegades who were responsible for killing Will's parents and Kane's wife and children.

But Will knows he belongs at Jacobi Kane's side—not left behind in the safety of the cabin. Once they find the Apaches, all hell breaks loose.
Can Kane protect Will and see this battle to a final end?

EXCERPT: Will and Jacobi are getting ready to leave Colbert’s Ferry Station when Marshal Eddington, one of Jacobi’s old nemeses, decides to cause trouble. He has just insulted Jacobi in front of everyone, and Will, unable to stand Jacobi’s silence, jumps down from his horse and attacks the unsuspecting marshal. Jacobi pulls Will off, but Eddington draws Jacobi into the fight. Here’s what happens:

“I ought to kill you!” Eddington’s eyes were murderous, and now that I had regained my senses, it dawned on me I had made us an enemy for life by making him look foolish in front of the other men. He looked back and forth at me and Jacobi, so I wasn’t certain who he meant to kill, but I was pretty sure he meant me.

Jacobi turned to look at Eddington, rising swiftly to close the few steps between him and the marshal. “If you ever lay a hand on him, Oscar, you’ll answer to me.”

Eddington was busy wiping the blood off his face but he looked up at Jacobi, his thick lips twisting in a sneer. “Go on. Tell me you know a hundred ways to kill me, and all of ’em would make me wish I’d never come into the world at all!”

“You said it, Eddington. Not me.”

Eddington took a final disgusted swipe with his dirty bandana at the trail of blood that kept trickling from his nose.

“I believe ’em, Kane,” he spat. “All those rumors about you bein’ part Injun your own self. You’re no better’n Laughing Wind hisself. A murderin’—”

Jacobi jumped for Eddington, who had quickly gone for his knife. Jacobi landed squarely atop the marshal’s belly and delivered a hammering blow to his jaw at the same time. He easily knocked the marshal’s blade out of his hand as if it were child’s play. Eddington let out a loud “oomph” when Jacobi’s fist connected with his belly.
But Eddington had learned a few tricks of his own, and he was surprisingly quick to be as fat as he was. I’d always felt sorry for his horse, having to tote him all over creation, as heavy as he had to be.

Jacobi knew what Eddington’s next move would be before he made it, it seemed like. I’d only seen Jacobi fight twice before. The first time was when Red Eagle found us and tried to jump us. I could tell both Jacobi and Red Eagle knew they were fighting for their lives, but I couldn’t see much, bein’ as how it was in the middle of the night. The fight Jacobi and Laughing Wind had had was just as serious—a fight to the death, for Laughing Wind. But, in the heat of the battle that had been going on around me, I hadn’t absorbed the skill Jacobi had. The way he rolled and punched and parried Eddington’s blows was like some kind of a dance.

After a few seconds, it was all over. I knew it wouldn’t take Jacobi long to end what he’d started.

Eddington had stopped trying to fight and was covering his head, instead. He was making the little girl noises again. Jacobi had sure beat the hell out of him, and it made my heart glad. I reckoned Jacobi understood just how I’d felt only a few minutes ago. I knew there wouldn’t be one word of lecture from him about me tearing in to Marshal Eddington, when he’d gone and done the same thing his own self. He rolled away from Eddington and came to his feet, breathing hard and just looking at the marshal for a few seconds. Then, he reached down and picked up his hat, dusting it off.
The other men had all gathered around, and even Mrs. Colbert and her daughters had come outside and stood watching. Marshal Eddington began to holler like a wild man when he saw everyone watching him.

“I’ve got witnesses! Kane, you’re going to pay, one way or another! You and that whelp of yours—”

Jacobi took a step forward, planting his foot squarely on Eddington’s wounded thigh, directly over the bullet hole.

“Son of a bitch!” Eddington screamed. He tried to roll, but Jacobi dropped to his knees, grabbing Eddington’s arm and twisting as he kept his weight on the wound.
“Don’t threaten me, Eddington. Never, ever threaten my family, or me.” He leaned close and spoke so softly no one else but me and Marshal Eddington could hear. “Don’t force me to pick one of those ‘hundred ways’, Marshal. I promise you, I will do it.”

Today I’m giving away a copy of KANE’S PROMISE to one lucky commenter. Please leave a comment along with your contact info to be entered—easy, huh?

You can find KANE’S PROMISE as well as KANE’S REDEMPTION here at my Amazon site:
Cheryl's Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

Kane’s Redemption is available at Barnes and Noble for Nook, and Kane’s Promise should be there as well by the end of the week.

Look for part 3 of the series, KANE’S DESTINY, in the fall! Don’t forget to leave a comment to enter the drawing for a copy of KANE’S PROMISE.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Welcome to Wolf Creek

Hi there. I'm Troy D. Smith, current president of Western Fictioneers and series editor of WF's exciting new project, Wolf Creek.

Western Fictioneers is the only professional writing organization devoted exclusively to -well, fiction about the West, specifically the period we now call the Old West. We have a lot of very talented members- including several folks who write for Western Trail Blazer- and WTB itself is a patron member.

I'm almost scared to list the WF members who write for WTB, because I know I'll forget somebody... but I'm going to give it a try anyhow:

Madeline Baker
John D. Nesbitt
Cheryl Pierson
Kit Prate
Tom Rizzo
Jory Sherman
Troy D. Smith
Chuck Tyrell
Les Williams

Please holler if I've forgotten anyone- and if you have written anything for WTB, remember that qualifies you for WF membership! For details on that, see http://www.westernfictioneers.com/ .

Yesterday WF announced details about Wolf Creek. It is a western novel series, set in and around the fictional town of Wolf Creek, Kansas. All of the WF authors involved- 17 at last count -have created one or two characters. In each novel five or six of those writers produce a chapter or more apiece, from the POV of their own character. As series editor I coordinate the plotting and make sure everything flows into one story. The books are produced by Western Fictioneers, as our anthology was last year.



We are using a "house name" -Ford Fargo- as the author, at least on the front cover, but each contributor gets credit for the chapter(s) they produce (the house name is to make it easier for readers to remember.) We have been having a lot of fun so far, and I think it shows through in the final product -and I want to acknowledge all the help I've recieved on the editorial front from Livia Washburn and Cheryl Pierson.

(By the way, our very own Cheryl Pierson is one of the writers for this first volume, and Chuck Tyrell will be appearing in one soon!)

Our first volume, Bloody Trail, is scheduled for release on Sept. 1, and we expect to have a new installment every three to four months after that. It is a wonderful ensemble cast, and we have some fascinating folks living in our little town. For our WTB readers, I invite you to take a look at what we've come up with once it is available; and for my fellow WTB authors, I invite you to join us at Western Fictioneers and take part in the fun!

Details about Wolf Creek -the writers involved, their characters, and an overview of the town -can be found at our special website for the series, http://wolfcreekkansas.yolasite.com/

Remember: Wolf Creek is a great place to visit, but you wouldn't want to die there!

Troy Smith

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mining my Hillbilly Roots


Deal With the Devil by Gerald Costlow
Second in the Appalachia series.
also available Monkeybars and Lulu 
In this exciting sequel to A Distant Call, it's a hot summer in 1920's Appalachia and love is blooming along with the wildflowers.   Jolene and Seth are in love.  Unfortunately, she is the daughter of a wealthy businessman and he is the penniless son of a local moonshiner.  Their romance across the social gulf is forbidden and must remain secret.

But there are far older and darker secrets in the mountains, and our young sweethearts become caught up in a violent world of past debts and broken deals.  When the Devil himself shows up to collect, someone is going to pay a terrible price.  Jolene and Seth must have faith in each other and heed the advice of the local Preacher to save both their families.


Mining my Hillbilly Roots

As a writer, sooner or later you realize that some of your richest material can come from your childhood and the people who raised you.  When I decided to place my first series of supernatural romance adventure stories in the Appalachia foothills, I mined my own memories of stories told to me by my extended family to create a detailed, authentic world. 

My family migrated north from the Appalachia foothills into central Ohio on what became known as the Hillbilly Highway, seeking jobs in the steel mills.  By the way, I never heard the word “Appalachia” used by my family.  The Appalachian mountains stretch from New York to Missouri but my folks only knew they lived either “out on the ridge” or “down in the holler” depending on which part of the foothills they’d staked out.


My mother, age 5, in front of their cabin.
That's her younger brother and her Uncle with her.
Their old horse died that summer.

So we’re not Appalachians.  We’re Hillbillies.  If you’ve read a Lil Abner comic or seen a “Ma and Pa Kettle” movie or watched a Hee-Haw show, then you’ve seen the stereotype that goes along with the name.  Like all such exaggerations, there are enough lies to insult someone if you’re so inclined, but enough truth to poke good-natured fun at yourself if you know how to laugh. 

So what was it really like, growing up in the Appalachian foothills?  In one word: struggle.  People don’t try to raise their families crammed into a two room cabin halfway up a mountain with no running water or electricity because they enjoy the rustic life.  If they had money, they’d buy a homestead with some actual flat land to farm or move to town.  When they did finally move, it was out of desperation.  You survived by growing and canning your own garden produce, raised a hog or two to butcher, had chickens for eggs and Sunday meals, and most of the meat you put on the table came from hunting and fishing.  Just getting by each month was always a struggle. 

The characters and world of my Appalachia series reflect the people and world I observed firsthand or as described in long conversations with my Grandparents.  It’s not at all like the stereotype, but then again you can see where outsiders got their ideas.  In the 1920s, while the rest of the nation had flush toilets and electricity and telephones and automobiles, the Hillbilly world remained stuck in the past century.  It wasn’t until the New Deal following the great depression that any effort at all was put into extending the benefits of modern society to these people.  Think of it as a time capsule to our frontier days existing side by side with Prohibition era roaring twenties.  It is a treasure trove of possibilities and a world ripe for adventure.  I hope you enjoy reading the series as much as I enjoy writing it.    

So what have you mined from your own roots for your stories?              

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

If you could learn another language...


Growing up, I always wanted to learn French. My hometown, Manchester, New Hampshire, is the 2nd largest French speaking city in America. (New Orleans is #1). I love listening to French being spoken. The accents and words have such a natural flow and graceful feel to my ear. I took 3 years of French in high school and I wish I could have taken more.

I have to say my high school offered a wide variety of languages, too. There was German, Spanish, Latin, and Greek.

I have a lot of respect for those who can speak a 2nd language. It requires a talent, a tenancy, a passion for learning, and a dedication that I admire.

For my day job, I work for LAPD as a 911 dispatcher and we staff 4 dedicated lines for Spanish, so if we have a person calling in who only speaks Spanish, we can transfer them to our Spanish lines. Our Spanish interpreters are sharp, witty, have a sense of humor, but also caring, sensitive, and kind – very well rounded if you ask me.

That's how I envisioned my interpreter, Sofia, in "A Polish Heart." She's kind, caring, and sharp. She adores her family and loves her country. When Sofia meets Darrin, she wants to do a good job interpreting for him. Her wholehearted honesty shines through and that's an inner quality, which Darrin can't help but be attracted to.

Question: If you could learn a 2nd language, which one would it be? Why?


Blurb for A Polish Heart: Can Sofia's faith give Darrin his heart back?


Opening Line: This was going to be the most challenging thing he'd ever done in his life.

Book Trailer:



7, 5 Star Amazon Reader Reviews

"Heartwarming tale of romance," Joy Cagil, Amazon Reader

"This is an excellent read," vlvm, Amazon Reader

"Totally enjoyable read," Tara Manderino, Amazon Reader

Amazon Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007AS29AO

Smashwords Buy Link: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/164429


About the Author: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She spent 11 years in the US Army, 7 years overseas in Germany. She loves traveling, reading, and hanging out with her boys.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

"Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound..."nd

No, all ye 'baby-boomers' like me, I'm not referring to George Reeves in his Superman outfit (with that slightly middle-aged paunch that always made me giggle).
I'm referring to something that would have had the Man from Krypton green, not from Kryptonite, but from envy; something that could have made the atom bomb look like a penny cracker.
Imagination: the most powerful force in existence outside of God, and capable of performing such miracles as turning a single raindrop into a world-engulfing torrent, or creating an army so huge, so fearsome that no creature to ever live would have dared challenge it.
I often think the modern-day creators of those fantastic and unbelievable creatures, machines, worlds, and other bits and pieces found in the lab of a set creator from Hollywood have made a mistake by not leaving more to the imagination of the film-buff. Are we not capable of creating creatures and places in our imaginations that no Hollywood genius could ever hope to put together? Don't believe me? Close your eyes, and conjure up the most hideous, fearsome, terrifying, blood-thirsty and totally unstoppable creature you can...then ask yourself: could Stephen Spielberg create this, if I described it for him?
But where do those scenes and sets found in our imaginations come from? For some writers, they come from gazing out of the window and dreaming; I know of others who keep a box of trinkets - nuts, old nails, pieces of sea-shell, bent pennies, literally anything that is small and can be placed inside a small box along with another hundred or so oddities, then taken out at odd times and gazed at...until whatever it is you hold in your hand triggers some hidden neuron in the brain, and up pops a story, or perhaps just a sentence, or a title, or maybe even a word or name...and from that grows a 50,000 word tale that will entertain a reader for hours, days, weeks, depending on how busy their own lives are.
In my case, I'm afraid I can't tell you where my stories come from...not because I don't want to, or because it's currently listed under the national secrets seal, but simply because I don't know!
Sometimes, all I have to start with is an image...say, a monstrous, fanged, blazing-eyed werewolf clinging to the very pinnacle of a church spire, and searching the streets below for its next victim. Sometimes, it's no more than the title; at other times, it may be no more than a word. Yet I know that if I sit down at my computer and place my fingers on the keys, the words will come...even though, as I place my fingertips down, those words are nowhere in sight!
And here I make a confession: I have never planned a story in my life. I don't know how the story will end; I don't know who will survive; I don't even know what I will write tomorrow in my usual five-hour stint. I only know that when I awake and grab my cup of coffee and sit down, turn on my machine, and place my fingers on the keyboard, the words will come, from where I know not. And I also know that when I finish the story and then set myself, some days later, to read back through it, each little twist, each tiny deviation from the plot, will work and will fit just as if it all came from the most finely detailed blueprint ever drawn.
Of course, there are hours of research involved, because I love writing in the past - the 17th or 18th century usually - and in different countries, which obviously means research. But even that is fun. It's fun to find out when the first match to light a pipe with was created, and what people used before it was invented; it's fun to dig into what people wore in those days. It's even fun to find out what kitchen maids did with the washing-up water (assuming they washed up, of course) after they'd used it...in fact, it's what happened to dirty water that caused us to adopt the good manners to ensure a lady walked on the inside of the footpath whilst ye gents walked on the outside (so that if any poor sod was to wear a face-full of filthy water, it was the male).
But at the end of the day, it all comes right back to imagination, that tool we all possess, and without which there would be no writers...in fact, there'd be not much of anybody, when you think about it.
Imagination...what a gift it was! A gift beyond price. And I thank God He saw fit to give it to us.

It may seem unusual, but I'm just taking the short route to advise all that my email address has changed.
It is now ian64832@optusnet.com.au
Adrian

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Are You a Risk-Taker?

AUTHOR CELIA YEARY
IN A SECRET UNDISCLOSED LOCATION
I have read that most writers are risk-takers. I would never place myself in the category of a daredevil, which to me is the same thing as one taking a risk.

Risk-takers, to me, are extreme sportsmen, drug users, or perhaps some Olympians. Take Shaun White, the US snowboarder, for example. During one of the winter Olympics, I became very interested in this sport. I know nothing of it, except the little I've seen on TV. Shaun won the gold medal. How? By inventing a new, complicated, dangerous move, which he performed on his last trial. He pulled it off without a hitch, and while the other contestants played it safe with no errors, he took a chance with something more complicated and also pulled it off with no errors. Gold!

That same year, Evan Lysacek  also represented the United States in men's figure-skating. His performance was flawless, perfection on ice, a routine he'd practiced, literally, for years. His Russian counter-point, the medal favorite, took a chance and executed a move than no one else did. But! The judges weren't looking for extraordinary moves—they were looking for those within the guidelines, and a contestant who skated those perfectly. Who won the gold? Not the risk-taker, this time, but the one who played it safe.

Do you take risks in writing and submitting? Do you try for the agent who will take you to the top? Or do you play it safe, sticking only with the area you know best and feel somewhat confident of earning some success?
Which works best?

Me? I have taken risks, and not one person I know would believe that I did. I don't look the part, I don't act with bravado, in fact, I look like a Sunday school teacher. In my forties, I signed on to be a sponsor to take forty high school students skiing. I had never skied in my life. There were four other female sponsors, along with four male sponsors. At the mountain resort, all of us donned skis on the bunny slope and tried it out for most of one day. By the second day, all females had quit except me. I went on the second day with two men to an intermediate slope. Down we went, back and forth. On the third and last day, the men enticed me to go to the next harder slope, which I did. I had several mishaps, frightening ones, but each time I stood up and kept going. At the end of the day, I'd stayed with those men, even though I almost scooted down the slope. My poor body ached and hurt all over. I never skied again.

The same thing happened when I learned to play golf at age forty. I studied and worked, and soon I was winning money and small trophies at our local course. I couldn't have been happier during those years. Other women said, "Man, you came out here to win!" "Yes," I said, "why would I come out here to lose?"
And so, I'm a mix of risk-taker vs. play- it-safer kind of author. One day, I hope to take a really big chance and try for the gold. Right now? I'm playing it safe.

What about you? Risk-taker? Play-safer?
~*~*~*~


BLURB from the newest release, Charlotte and the Tenderfoot
~*~ While driving home in her buggy, Charlotte Dewhurst discovers a man lying by the road. William Montgomery, an attorney, was passing through the area when accosted by two hoodlums. The resulting court case keeps Will in town. His attitudes confuse Charlotte as he seeks her company, yet proclaims he will soon be moving on. But Will may be the most confused one of all.
~*~
A 99Cent Dime Novel from Western Trail Blazer
Available on Amazon, B&N, Monkey Bars







Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
My Website

Sweethearts of the West-Blog

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Ms. Quote Interview with Miriam Newman

   Hello Fantastic Readers out there ‘cross the other side of the screen! You don’t know me. Yet. I bet ya an’thin’ , though, that you’re familiar with my hero, I.B. Nosey? Oh, sure. He’s that absolute yummy hunk dubbed the ‘official unofficial’ cyberspace reporter of GumDrop Island fame? Well, I’m not him but my dream is to become famous an’ stupendous an’ wondrous an’…an’ an’thing else that’s ous. To that end, the delightful authors on this blog (aren’t they just the sweetest thangs!) are allowin’ me to interroga…uh, I mean, ask ‘em questions. Ooh, I’m plum excited to get to know ‘em better! Aren’t you? So, welcome, y’all. This is my column today and it’s called…




Ms. Quote's WORDS with... 


 Miriam Newman


 
MQ: Well, a good gracious greetin’ to you, Miriam! How you doin’ today, sweetie?  

MN: Umm…(glancing around with confused expression) Is this what I signed up for?

MQ: ‘Course it is! (bats lashes) You’re goin’ to be famous right along with me! What else did you expect, honey pie?

MN: Certainly not a blonde…(gives Ms. Quote a quick once-over) bimbo.

MQ: (taken aback) Why, that’s not my name. Shame on you, Billy Bob. (presses ear bud closer and speaks into microphone) What kind of producer are you, telling this nice lady my name is Bimbo. You know he’s the hiccuping monkey you’ve lined up for the next act.

MN: Never mind. (hastily takes seat) In half an hour I have a sky diving lesson with a blind pilot and I don’t want to be late. So what say we get started, huh?

MQ: Goody! (plops down in seat across from Miriam, and picks up book off table) This here was written by you, wasn’t it?

MN: You’re holding it upside down.
 
MQ: Oh. (chortles) Silly me. Here we go. (holds book correctly) My super silky eyelashes keep getting’ in my way, so can you read this title, please ma’am?

MN: (mutters) I wonder if you can read, period.

MQ: What was that?

MN: Nothing. (clears throat) The title is The King’s Daughter.

MQ: Ooh, an’ it has a nice cover an’ ever’thin’! Who’s this gal right here? 

MN: Uh, might that be Tarabenthia, the king’s daughter?
 
MQ: Now that you mention it, I bet it is! (giggles) And what in the world does a name like that mean?

MN: “Heart of the Earth.” It’s the name Tia is given at birth, in her parents’ native Alcinic language.

MQ: Al --Alsend-- (waves hand in dismissive gesture)  Oh, pooh. I believe you. What’s the story about, hon?

MN: Let me read the blurb. (takes book and turns to back cover) Born to a dying queen and an ambitious king, Tarabenthia is heir to the crown of Alcinia. Yet when the idyll of her childhood ends she will defy her father, tipping the balance in a world poisoned on the brink of destruction, leaving history to judge whether she is heroine or harlot. In a time of war, what would you surrender in the name of love? 

MQ: (blinks) Wait a minute. How is the world ‘poised on the brink of destruction’? Don’t get me wrong, an’ I don’t wanna argue, but you know that can’t be true! 

MN: (stares at MQ) Say what?

MQ. (nods) Why, yeah! It’s Atlas that holds the earth on his big thick muscles. Are you sayin’ he gets drunk or somethin’, an’ he lets Earth fall an’ it smashes his piggies? 

MN: Ooh, that’s quite a picture. (fights against grin) No, this fantasy world has been gradually moving from a Neolithic culture to something more “modern,” with alliances between nations and other signs of a flourishing culture.  Suddenly, it’s beset by a primitive one which finally acquires the means to break out of its isolation and threatens everything the others have achieved.  So they risk being  destroyed by barbarians who greatly outnumber them.

MQ: O--kaaay. Whatever you just said. (shrugs) So what’s this fightin’ all about?
 
MN: It’s a pre-Medieval conflict complete with swords, crossbows and every other nasty thing the warriors of that time can dream up.

MQ: Well, oh my. You look like such a calm lady. What made you write a book like this?

MN: Fantasy poetry driven by myths and legends has been my passion for as long as I can remember. 

MQ: Really? Don’t you try your hand at an’thin’ else?

MN: Sure. I was published in poetry before catching the romance writing bug.  I bring that background to my writing along with a lifelong addiction to horses, an 18 year career in various areas of psychiatric social services and many trips to Ireland. That’s where I nurture my muse. 

MQ: Muse? Is that the name of your kitty cat?
 
MN: (sighs) I do have a “motley crew” of rescue animals, but Muse isn’t one of them.

MQ: Oh, poor Muse. So you don’t read your poetry to him?

MN: There is no…Forget it.

MQ: How good are you at poetry? Can you make up something right now?

MN: How’s this:

Oh, fickle are ladies in pink
Who wonder if poets can think!
So we ply ‘em with candy
And poems quite dandy
And sometimes occasional drink.

MQ: (squeals with delight) That’s just darlin’ is what that is! An’ what else are you published in, Ms. New-woman?

MN: That’s Newm— (squeezes eyes closed and shakes head) Anyway, my works range from contemporary fantasy romance to fantasy historical, futuristic, science fiction and historical romance.  
 
MQ: Did you say science fiction? What’s that one called?

MN: Scion – Book I – House of Bardin is my best-selling (for me!) futuristic romance.

MQ: An’ the name of that history one?

MN: The Comet - my favorite historical romance, set against the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D.

MQ: Uh huh. Well, that’s real interestin’ an’ all, but gettin’ back to poor Muse…

MN: (groans)

MQ: You said you found him in Ireland? What were you doin’ over there? Don’t you live ‘round these parts somewhere?

MN: Nowhere close to you! Currently, I reside in rural Pennsylvania.

MQ: So why are we talkin’ about Ireland? You hopin’ to find that pot o’ gold all them little men in green hunt for?

MN: (checks watch) Yep.  I’m going back in September, in fact.
 
MQ: For real? What about your ‘romance writing bug’? Won’t you need to stay here and tend to that?

MN: Excuse me, but look at the time. (stands up) It’s been fun —sorta— but I need to…

MQ: Wait! You gotta tell me how you ‘caught’ that bug. Where was it flying around? In the Forest of Love?

MN: Actually, it was in Ireland. I think it was in the Guinness Stout.

MQ: Oh, an’ just one more thin’…(grabs Miriam’s arm) My hero, I.B. Nosey, as you know he’s won the Pukelitzer Award. Did I hear rightly that you were sittin’ in the audience at the ceremony?

MN: No, but I wish I had seen that!

MQ: Me too! I can’t wait to meet him in person an’ — (cuts off as door to studio slams open. Monkey dressed in a diaper rushes inside. MQ screams) Billy Bob, get this rascal out of here! 
 
MN: Hey, look. He’s holding my book. (gasps) He’s reading!

MQ: Billy Bob, did you hear me? (flings down microphone and stalks to doorway) That Bimbo is ruinin’ my interroga — I mean, my interview! Billy Bob! Billy Bob? Where are you?

MN: Hmm. (gives cautious glance around, then picks up monkey) You know what, Bimbo? It so happens that I’m terrified of heights and that pilot is blind, so…..(makes a mad dash to Exit door, stage left)

* * * * *
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The King's Daughter 


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Be sure to come back next month on Wednesday, July 4th, 
to see who Ms. Quotes' next victi... uhm... interviewee will be.