Guest Post: The Preacher by Andrew Joyce

My name is Andrew Joyce and I’m here at the invitation of Ms. Anderson (my favorite Charlie). I’m also here to hip you to one of the best books I have ever read. The title is The Jacket (The Star Rover) Jack London wrote it in 1914. The jacket refers to a strait jacket.

Because I cannot explain the book (it is mind blowing), I’m sending you a crime story instead. I know it’s not what you are looking for . . . but  maybe you can use it. It is very short.

The Preacher

Standing on the graveyard grass, looking down at the freshly filled grave, stood the Preacher dressed in black, wearing a black, circular wide-brim, flat-crowned hat. There was no headstone as of yet, but the Preacher knew the name of the grave’s occupant. It was his brother. Five days previously, the Preacher had murdered the man who now lay at his feet, under the earth. The Preacher did not want to kill this one, but felt he had to, and he knew with a certainty that he would have to kill again . . . and soon.

After saying a prayer for his brother’s soul, the Preacher walked slowly back to the highway. As he walked, he thought of how unnecessary the killing of his brother had been. All his brother had to do was not interfere in the Lord’s work. It should have made no difference that the work involved the killing of Junior McGuire.

As the Preacher walked, he thought back to his last conversation with his brother.

“You must not interfere.”

“You’ve been killing since you was a boy. But you was family, so I held my own peace.”

“I am family to man.”

“You always were different, even when we was kids. But now you come to town and tell me you must take Junior McGuire. Well, Junior is a friend of mine. He’s the mayor of this town for God’s sake.”

“Do not take the Lord’s name in vain. Are those your last words on the matter?”

“Yup, I just can’t let you kill Junior McGuire.”

The conversation replayed itself repeatedly in the Preacher’s mind.

Now that there were no more obstacles, The Preacher could be about the Lord’s work. And this time the Lord’s work was the quick dispatch of Junior McGuire.

The Preacher had been at this work for a long time. Sometimes he wearied of the mission the Lord had bestowed upon him. However, he believed that no matter how weary, he must persevere until he was allowed a rest or brought to his just reward.

The walk from the graveyard into town was a short one. Before he knew it, the Preacher found himself standing in front of McGuire’s Dry Goods Emporium. Without hesitation, The Preacher entered and sought out the McGuire.

The store was empty of people. It made no difference to The Preacher. He was about God’s work. He proceeded to the back room where he encountered a man of about fifty years of age stacking cartons in a corner. The Preacher inquired of the man, “Are you McGuire?” When an affirmative response was forthcoming, the Preacher laid his hands upon the sinner.

The Preacher had been at this for so long he felt as though he could see the soul of the damned leave its body and pass through the floorboards on its way to perdition.

As the Preacher left McGuire’s, he thought to himself, I pray the time never comes when I enjoy this work.

 The End

***** About the Author *****

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada and Mexico. He wo7242284uldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written three books, and a collection of almost one hundred stories that is comprised of his hitching adventures, written as veiled non-fiction called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS, and his latest novel, REDEMPTION. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his dog Danny.

Find the author: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

***** About the Book *****

18393873Title: REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer
Author: Andrew Joyce
Release Date: August 2013
Length: 195 pages
Series?: no
Genre: historical, classical
Format: e-book
Source: author

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Three men come together in the town of Redemption, Colorado, each for his own purpose. Huck Finn is a famous lawman not afraid to use his gun to protect the weak. He has come to right a terrible wrong. After his wife’s death, Tom Sawyer does not want to live anymore; he has come to die. The third man, the Laramie Kid, a killer Huck and Tom befriended years earlier, has come to kill a man. For these three men Death is a constant companion. For these three men it is their last chance for redemption.

You can read my review of REDEMPTION here.

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Review: Acts of Violence

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Title: Acts of Violence
Author: Ross Harrison
Release Date: January 2014
Length: 190 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

My name’s Jack Mason. I made a mistake. Took home the wrong girl. Now she’s dead. Cut up. And they’re telling me I did it.

It’s the same cop that tried to take me down ten years ago. Now he’s coming at me hard. And he’s not the only one. Cole Webster, the city’s crime lord, thinks I stole from him. Broke me out of custody just to ask me about it. Then I killed his son. Now he really wants me.

Add to this equation a government agent, and I’m a real popular guy right now. Pretty much everyone I meet wants me dead, lawfully or otherwise. There’s nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. I’ve got till morning to uncover Webster’s trafficking operation and take the heat off me. And all I’ve got to go on is a pissed off homeless girl with a thirst for revenge.

Guess it could be worse. Can’t quite figure how.

***** Review *****

Oh, it could be so much worse.

Acts of Violence pits the elite against the peasants. Or rather, everyone’s under the thumb of the crime lord, Cole Webster, and his son Little Dick.

Premier club. It was ridiculous. The club was in the heart of the west side. The east side was the rich side. The side with all the gambling houses and other clubs. But he set up The Web here. And it worked. The social elite – or at least their spoilt brats – packed the place just about every night. 

Jack Mason has tried and failed to become a cop in Harem. Ten years ago he was kicked out of the academy. Ten years ago his girlfriend Lucy died, and the cop with the first name for the last name tried to pin him to the wall for the murder.

Jack got off, but Lawrence still thinks he has his man.

Now the stakes have risen, and crime king Cole Webster is involved. Another girl has died in Jack’s apartment. Except this time, it’s more gruesome and Lawrence is hell bent on pinning Jack to the chair. He’s knocked down each piece of Jack’s alibi like a wrecking ball taken to Lincoln Logs.

Unfortunately in a town like Harem, those charged with upholding justice can be bought. Little Dick steps in to play Little Rich Boy and show Jack exactly who is boss.

Fortune is on Jack’s side and some interesting evidence turns up incriminating someone else in the girl’s murder. Things get more heated when government officials show up and there is a glimmer of hope for Jack. If he can only find out why the girl was killed…and stay out of Cole Webster’s grips while doing it.

As his nose cracked under my knuckles, I reflected on how much I hated violence. Not violence stemming from my own unresolved anger issues. That I was fine with. It was violence against women that I hated. I don’t know why, but the prettier the girl the more I hated it. Maybe I was shallow.

The new agent, DeMartino, has it together. He keeps the investigation under wraps. Turns out the mining business Cole Webster has used for a front all the years was indeed a front, but now the tables have turned on him. Jack has more than enough bullets to dodge.

I felt like a celebrity. A celebrity that everyone wants to see hanged with his own bootlaces in a dirty cell.

Along with a homeless girl, Sixteen, Jack is determined to discover what Cole Webster is up to and how the girl he took up from Webster’s club ended up dead in his bed.

I liked the goose chase that Jack was sent on in his discovery of what’s going on, and the stream of consciousness that Harrison has used with Jack. However, I did not like that there is minimal hints here and there about the setting and world that Jack lives in. Apparently it is futuristic, with shard guns and flyers, and more than one world, but the worlds keep to themselves. Officially, at least. I wish we had all this in the exposition instead of halfway through the book.

Jack also seemed to have a few redeeming moments with Van, the club manager, and his gorilla body guard. There were also a couple of moments when Jack saw Sixteen for more than just the scrawny homeless girl. In ways, she reminds him of Lucy.

I was thrown at the end for several loops, and Jack shows some true character growth and reflection on the past.

“I’m sorry,” I said. He ignored me. It was true enough. I was sorry for everything that had happened. I wasn’t who I was meant to be. The man I’d tried to be. The man I’d spent the last ten years pretending to myself that I was. 

***** About the Author *****

Ross Harrison has been writing since childhood without thought of publication. When the idea was planted by his grandmother to do so, it grew rapidly, and after a bumpy ten years or so, here sits the fruit.

Ross lives on the UK/Eire border in Ireland, hoping the rain will help his hair grow back.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Guest Post: Recipe for Crime

Recipe for Crime

~ Madhvi Ramani ~

unnamed (2)When Charlie told me she was dedicating October to books about crime, murder and mystery, I was thrilled! (yeah, I know that sounds sordid – or even morbid…)

​I love crime fiction (Gone Girl!), true crime shows (48 hours!), crime dramas (How to Get Away with Murder!), killer films (Psycho!), books about real-life psychos (The Devil in the White City!) – you get the picture. Love crime.

Crime fiction can hold a mirror to society and tackle important subjects – life and death, morality, revenge, desire, greed…

Plus, it’s about story-telling. Crime fiction is all about penetrating surface impressions and character lies to get to an underlying truth. The detective, or reader, collects pieces of a puzzle, shuffling and re-shuffling them, until they arrive at a narrative that fits. As a storyteller, I find this fascinating.

As I’m currently working on a crime novel, I’ve been thinking about what makes a great crime story. These are my top five ingredients:

An Interesting Investigator

1497356The original private investigator was Chandler’s smart-talking, hard-drinking Marlowe, who came up with lines like, “From thirty feet away she looked like a lot of class. From ten feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from thirty feet away.” – The High Window

Of course, now, this type of lone male investigator has become a cliché and writers must find ever-more interesting characters to delve into the world of crime.

There are down-and-out actor sleuths (The Charles Paris Mysteries), computer-hacking troubled Swedish girls (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), homely Botswanan women (The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency) and 4’11” French Commandants with artistic talents (Alex).

An original, interesting investigator to accompany us on our journey is essential. Who’s your favourite investigator?

Setting

18241646Whether it’s the bleak Swedish town of Ystad in the Wallander novels, American Psycho’s New York, or The Weight of Blood’s Ozark wilderness, setting is key to crime, murder and mystery novels. Just consider the creepiness evoked here:

“The land was rocky and gummed with red clay, the thorny underbrush populated by all manner of biting, stinging beasts. The roads twisted in on themselves like intestines. The heat sucked the breath from your chest.” – The Weight of Blood, by Laura McHugh

As well as atmosphere, the setting provides clues about what happened, why, and mirrors the psyches of characters.

Keep Us Guessing

Don’t you just hate it when you’ve sussed everything out halfway through a book?

I want to be kept in suspense until the very end.

Even if I know who the murderer is, there must always be unanswered questions to keep me reading, like:

Will the investigator figure it out?

Will the culprit get away with it?

Why did he /she commit the crime?

And why was that giraffe-shaped balloon left at the crime scene?

Simple Plots, Complex Characters

Plots that are overly complicated, with constant twists and turns, are tiring. I prefer simpler plots that focus on character psychology, the intricacies of relationships and the grief of victims, thus giving the story more depth and making it seem more plausible.

Language

If something is badly written, it jolts me out of the story.

On the other hand, when the language is rich and subtle, like in the novels of Tana French’s, or when it leaps off the page, disturbed and unusual, like in Joyce Carol Oates’ Zombie, which is told from the point of view of a serial killer, it adds so much to the reading experience.

What do you think? Which essential ingredients do you think make a good crime story?

Guest Post: Danny and the Viking Funeral

Today I have a scruffy friend taking over the blog today. He is a very nautical little fellow, and keeps his master, author Andrew Joyce, in line!

I am proud to present to you, Danny the dog! unnamed (1)

Danny and the Viking Funeral 

I’m not too happy with humans at the moment, but I’ll say hello anyway. My name is Danny. To my legions of fans I’m known as Danny the Dog.

Today I want to talk about my human, his name is Andrew and he is a real idiot! Andrew wants a Viking funeral. Do you know what a Viking funeral consists of? I didn’t think so, and neither did I until Andrew opened his big yap!

When a Viking died, they put him on his boat, set it afire and pushed it out into the fjord. Oh, and one more thing, they killed his dog and laid him at the feet of the dead Viking so the friggin’ Viking could have his dog with him in Valhalla!

I mean . . . what the hell? What had the poor pooch done to warrant death?

So I talked to Andrew last night and told him if I went first into the good night, then I would want his buddies to kill him and put him at my feet before they set the boat ablaze.

And guess what? He didn’t think that was such a good idea. So we agreed to just have a simple Lutheran service regardless of who goes first. And if he keeps up with that Viking funeral stuff, I’m pretty sure it will be him that goes first. I’ll make certain of it.

***** About the Author *****

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada and Mexico. He wo7242284uldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written three books, and a collection of almost one hundred stories that is comprised of his hitching adventures, written as veiled non-fiction called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS, and his latest novel, REDEMPTION. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his dog Danny.

Find the author: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

***** About the Book *****

18393873Title: REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer
Author: Andrew Joyce
Release Date: August 2013
Length: 195 pages
Series?: no
Genre: historical, classical
Format: e-book
Source: author

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Three men come together in the town of Redemption, Colorado, each for his own purpose. Huck Finn is a famous lawman not afraid to use his gun to protect the weak. He has come to right a terrible wrong. After his wife’s death, Tom Sawyer does not want to live anymore; he has come to die. The third man, the Laramie Kid, a killer Huck and Tom befriended years earlier, has come to kill a man. For these three men Death is a constant companion. For these three men it is their last chance for redemption.

You can read my review of REDEMPTION here.

Author Interview: Stan Swanson

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The Misadentures of Hobart Hucklebuck by Stan Swanson is a middle grade fantasy and the tour runs October 13-17 with reviews & author interviews. Check out the tour page for the full schedule.

This book is geared toward ages 8-12, but I read it this summer and I found it to be quite funny and entertaining even as an adult. You can read my review of The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck here.

*****About the Book*****

22570883Things are not as they should be in Pennywhistle. Enchanted toasters are not toasting, enchanted sprinklers are not sprinkling and Hobart Hucklebuck’s origami messenger birds are suddenly attacking him. Someone seems to be draining the power from all of the enchanted items in the village. But who could it be and why have they implicated Hobart’s grandfather? The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck: Magic & Mayhem follows Hobart and his friends, Specks Spacklethack and Rosie Rumpleskirt, as they try to solve this mystery and free Hobart’s grandfather from the Tower of Tribulation on Mumblemonk Mountain. The trio’s investigation into the mysterious happenings on Druid Lane gets them into hot water more than once and ultimately brings them dangerously close to disaster not only for themselves, but the entire village of Pennywhistle.

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

 

*****Author Interview*****

Since I had previously read and reviewed The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck: Magic & Mayhem, I had the pleasure of interviewing the author, Stan Swanson. Enjoy!

Thank you for your interview. Can you tell readers a little about yourself?

My name is Stan Swanson and I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. My first poem appeared in the local paper when I was about nine years old. I have written 8 or 9 books including fiction and nonfiction and covered every age group from picture books to novels and short stories aimed specifically at adults. I am also a singer/songwriter and split my time between the two “occupations.”

In your own words, can you tell us a little bit about your book?

While The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck falls basically into the middle grade fantasy category, it is also an adventure book as well as a mystery. There is also a great chunk of humor thrown in. I think humor is very important not only in writing, but in everyday life as well.

 **There is definitely an adventure going on in Pennywhistle, and the characters are humorous!

Where did you get the idea to write about Hobart and the happenings in Pennywhistle?

I never have a problem coming up with ideas for books. I have pieces of paper, notebooks and computer files with hundreds of ideas for stories and books. The biggest problem is that I always want to start on the newest idea that pops into my head. Sometimes it’s hard to keep myself from dropping a novel that is half-finished and starting something new.

Can you tell us about the characters in your book? Who is your favorite character?

I love creating characters and it is important to me that they are believable. If I am writing a book for middle graders (like The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck), I want each character to feel like a real person to the reader. Although I am partial to Hobart as he is my main character, I like all of my characters – even if they are “bad guys.” 🙂

What makes your book different from other books within the same genre?

Probably my use of humor. Humor is important no matter what age a reader might be. I’m not sure that makes it different from other books in the genre, but I feel my use of humor is genuine and that readers will find the humor in my writing believable as well as enjoyable.

Where do you like to write?

I have no favorite place to write and can write pretty much anywhere. I also don’t write at any particular time of day. I know many authors have their favorite writing desk and write in the early morning or late at night. It doesn’t matter to me. You just have to sit down and write. I don’t really believe in writer’s block. Writing is work just like any job. It’s just a matter of sitting down and doing it.

Middle grade books aren’t your typical genre to write. What brought about the change?

I don’t think there was ever a change from writing for one particular age group to another. I’ve written picture books, middle grade books, young adult books and books for adults including nonfiction. But I enjoy the middle grade and young adult genres the most.

What is your favorite part of being a writer?

The beginning and the end of the writing process are my favorite times. I love it when that fresh idea hits me and I get to roll it around there inside my brain as it takes form. It is a very enjoyable process. Of course, I also enjoy that moment when I get that first printed copy of a finished book in my hand from the publisher. It lets me know that all that time and effort was worth it.

What do you want readers to take away from your book?

Although The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck has many small “messages” a reader can come away with (bullying is just one of those), I really just want a reader to turn that last page and say “I really enjoyed reading that. I wish I wasn’t finished.” Of course, that’s why there are more Hobart Hucklebuck books in the works. LOL.

Do you have any other books in the works? Will Hobart and his friends develop into a series of books? 

The second book in the series is already with the printer and I’m hoping for a 2015 release. The third book is also in the works with ideas for several more. I am also working on two young adult steampunk novels as well as an adult “end-of-the-world” novel I am writing with Bram Stoker award-winning author Joe McKinney.

*****About the Author*****

unnamedStan Swanson is a Bram Stoker award finalist and author of eight books including Horror High School: Return of the Loving Dead (the first book in a young adult horror series co-written with Araminta Star Matthews), Wind Up Hearts (a romance novella with a hint of steampunk), Forever Zombie (a collection of short stories), Write of the Living Dead (a highly-praised writing guide written with Araminta Star Matthews and Rachel Lee) and Return of the Scream Queen (co-authored with Michael McCarty and Linnea Quigley). He is also editor/publisher for Dark Moon Books and Dark Moon Digest. Upcoming titles include Dead Sparrows (a collection of apocalyptic poetry), The Methlands (a horror novel co-written with award-winning author Joe McKinney) and The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck: Pandemonium in Pennywhistle.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

cbbtourhost

My Seven Deadly Sins

A fantabulous blogger, Alison from Alison Can Read posted this survey a while back, and then I saw Brittany from The Book Addict’s Guide did as well. The theme of sin and deadly falls right in line with my October Outrage! theme.

I’m not one for chain-mail type of deal with the “tag-50-friends-(who will never do this)-or-else-your-loved-ones-will-die-and-you’ll-be-alone-all-your-life,” but I (like Alison) found the questions to be interesting and voila!

GREED

What is your most inexpensive book? What is your most expensive book?

The most inexpensive books I own are the on-sale-on-sale books that I pick up on the outside racks at Half Price Books. Of course, if we count the thousands of free books I have stored in the recesses of my Kindle, then we’re talking two different stories.

The most expensive book I have bought (besides those damn college textbooks!) is the most recent addition in the Outlander series, which I could only get in hardback. I snagged Written in My Own Heart’s Blood from Sam’s or Costo one day when we were in picking up a few things. I didn’t realize it, but I got it the release weekend, and the next week everyone was raving about it being out.

WRATH

What author do you have a love/hate relationship with?

I have a love/hate relationship with the late L.A. Meyer of the Bloody Jack series. I first discovered these books in my late years of high school. I adored them…and then L.A. Meyer kept adding more books to the series. When I went to college, I found out that like three or four more had come out. So I bought them. I was not impressed at all with My Bonny Light Horseman. I very much felt that the book was just a continuation of the series for the sake of continuing the series and the pocket change that went along with it. There were certain things in some of the other mid-series books that were also “GRRR” inducing. When I got all caught up and read them all, I found out there were three or four MORE books in the series, and I have yet to purchase the remainder. Unfortunately, I found out recently that there will be no more additions to the series due to L.A. Meyer’s death. 😦 I loved the characters he created and (most of) the storylines of his books, and I urge some of my more mature students to read the series, but I am sad that there will be no more.

GLUTTONY

What book have you devoured over and over with no shame?

Outlander. I first read it in seventh grade. As a sophomore in college, I heard a few older women in my chemistry lab talking about it. One had just started reading it after hearing about it, and was sharing with the other woman. I, bright eyed 19 year old, was able to chime in and fill them all in on the skinny. I even recommended it to my future mother-in-law. No shame.

SLOTH

What book have you neglected reading due to laziness?

I have neglected reading several books – not so much due to laziness as due to an insane amount of books. On my physical book shelf I have 87 TBR books, 3 anthologies and the companion guide for Outlander. I think the one that I have put off reading the longest is Inkheart. I’ve had it since before it was a movie (2008), so….yeah.

PRIDE

What book do you talk about most in order to sound like an intellectual reader?

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, hands down. I have several copies of this Mark Twain book, including one (a reproduction, of course) that has annotations from Mark Twain as he was writing the book. In my high school junior English class was when I met this book, and as a college junior I pulled out my notebook from high school, picked up another copy of the book and wrote a multipage analysis of the book the night before the pager was due…and that included re-reading the book, as well. It was not the first time my work was recommended to be in Texas State’s Persona literary magazine.

LUST

What attributes do you find attractive in male or female characters?

I find intelligence attractive. I’m sorry, but if you are acting like an idiot or relying on others to fix your problems, I can say without a doubt it will lead to bigger problems, and just turns me off big time.

I also enjoy quick wit. Now, this is not to be confused with cockiness or arrogance at all. Clever and witty, or as we describe some of our students: sharp as a whip.

ENVY

What book would you most like to receive as a gift?

I would like to receive the last few books in the Bloody Jack series. It is something I have put off. The last book I have is The Wake of the Lorelei Lee.