122 Rules by Deek Rhew

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Guest Blogger: Jimena Novaro: Music and Me

Jimena Novaro Author
Jimena Novaro
I have the privilege of hosting my friend, Jimena Novaro! I met Jimena on Twitter and have had the honor of getting to know her as she builds her career.

Today she is writing about music. As a current music lover and former music major, this is a subject near to my own heart.

She is currently blog touring for her book, Blue Rabbit, and I am fortunate enough to have her stop by! Without Further ado, take it away, Jimena!

Music and Me

Jay, thanks so much for hosting me today! Hello, readers of Jay’s blog―thank you for stopping by!

There’s something magical about that expanding feeling I get inside my chest when I hear music that I love. I’ve always been drawn to writing about those things that border between terrifying and beautiful, rational and irrational―those dark places within us that give us the most pleasure and the most pain. To me, that’s where music lives.

I know that some people just listen to music to pass the time, and that’s unfathomable to me. As humans, do we need music? Would we survive without it? At base level, sure. We don’t eat it, don’t drink it, don’t breathe it. But then, music is just the same as any other human art―we created it for a reason. To connect our spirits with our gods, to connect to each other, to keep the shadows at bay when we crouched around our fires thousands and thousands of years ago.

Like storytelling, music is primal. And maybe even more primal. Music is simpler than language; you don’t need to know any codes to understand it. If you just sit there and listen, it’s there―in the wind, the running water, the birdsong, the chatter of people, the buzzing of insects, and even the tapping of computer keys. There are many alternative therapies that use music as a tool for healing, for creating vibrations that we feel throughout our bodies.

If you’re lucky, someone sang to you as a baby to calm you and to put you to sleep, and far before you knew any words you understood what that meant: comfort, love, and peace.

Music isn’t just a collection of notes arranged in a pleasing (or annoying) form. Music isn’t a genre or an artist or a technique. Music is part of who we are. It’s part of humanity.

Music has helped me through a lot of things. It’s been my companion and my friend. It’s absorbed my anger and given me back peace and serenity. It’s made me open up my heart and feel things, which is important to me because I’m not the kind of person who’s one hundred percent in synch with my emotions. It quite simply transcends words, but I hope I’ve been able to give you at least a small glimpse of what it means to me. And I hope there’s something in this beautiful world that means as much to you.

About Jimena's book, Blue Rabbit

In Knoxville, Tennessee, there’s a bridge to another world.

When they first cross it, Erika and her friends feel like they’ve stumbled into a dream. Magical and mysterious, the other world becomes their little paradise, a place to explore and escape from their everyday lives. Until one night a boy from school, Mike, follows them to the other side―and he’s kidnapped by strange and powerful Creatures.

Back home, everyone thinks Erika and the gang are responsible for Mike’s disappearance. The dream has become a nightmare. How can they negotiate with these Creatures to rescue Mike and clear their names? And why are the Creatures fixated on Erika, who feels drawn to their world even as she senses the danger?

Jimena Novaro
Jimena Novaro always knew she would be a writer. It just took her a few years to realize that she wanted to do it full-time, and relegate things like going into outer space and being an opera prima donna to hobbies. She loves reading and writing science fiction, fantasy, and YA. A self-proclaimed geeky sort of nerd, she spends a lot of her time fangirling over her favorite shows, books, and bands and educating herself about super-important topics such as how to survive an arrow wound and whether or not you can shoot a gun in space. Sometimes she gets super serious and rants about some socio-political issue or other.

She’s a member of the awesome fantasy authors group Mystic Quills. You can find her free epic fantasy serial, The Withering Sword, on her website (a new chapter comes out every Sunday!) Her first book, Blue Rabbit, a YA urban fantasy, comes out this December!

Also, if you want to know more about her or her upcoming novel, Blue Rabbit,

Please like her on 

Follow her on 

Add her book on Good Reads
Blue Rabbit

and/or visit her website http://www.jimenanovaro.com

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Book Review: The Prophecy By Erin Albert

I love getting lost in a story. I can happily let hours slip by as I experience the lives of new friends and foes in exotic, unfamiliar worlds. I journey with them, experiencing their struggles and their triumphs, as they progress on epic adventures. A great storyteller will seize and hold my attention, make me happy or sad, excited or angry, all with the press of a key on their laptop.

Erin Albert wields such super powers. From the first word in the first chapter, her book captured my attention. Her debut novel, The Prophecy, enveloped me in a new and unique universe created by a very powerful imagination. Through its pages I lived and experienced the adventures of Layla, Samson, Grant, Nash, Wil, and a host of other relatable, complex characters. Chapter by chapter time sailed by and I found myself excited for my favorites’ victories and angry at their treatment in the hands of their enemies.

The only problem? The book ends in a cliffhanger and I, along with the rest of the world, am frustratingly forced to wait until the next segment, The Outlanders, is released to know what happens. Sigh.

That, my friends, is fantastic storytelling.

The tale starts up with 17 year old Layla Givens on her way to her town’s annual celebration. Her people observe The Day of Dawning, a festive holiday that honors the First Ones--the founders of their religion. The city of Medlin is brightly decorated and a myriad of fun activities are in progress when the religious sect, the Ecclesiastics, arrive. Every year they perform the religious part of the ceremony, only this time things are different.

The leader of the group, Elder Werrick, orders all the town decorations removed and the activities canceled, claiming these things are not a “proper honoring” of the First Ones. As the town decor is disassembled he meets Layla. Almost instantly he declares her the Fulfillment, the young woman foretold in their sacred scripts that would bring about peace between the different kingdoms.

Layla is a Vanguard, a kingdom of fierce warriors that possess supernatural physical strength, and betrothed to Samson, another Vanguard. She is told by Werrick she will marry the Prince of the Ethereals, a kingdom of people that have the power to alter minds: the ability to both project images and remove memories. These two countries are sworn enemies of one another and have been warring for centuries. She tries to fight this declaration and her capture. Only the Ecclesiastics have imprisoned Samson and other members of her family and are threatening them to ensure her cooperation. Thus setting the scene that creates unlikely allies, hidden dangers, romance, anguish, and many epic battles.

The tale is told in a strong, formal voice, like nothing I’ve ever read before, and have come to think of as the Erin Albert Style. Filled with noble princes and princesses; deep and complex characters; manipulative, merciless antagonists; and plot twist after plot twist, The Prophecy will keep you guessing.

Then of course there is the cliffhanger ending. But I digress.

Come on book two!!!

About Erin
Erin Albert is an author and fitness trainer. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the "Grammar Police." In her free time, Erin enjoys acting, running, kickboxing, and, of course, reading and writing.

The Prophecy Synopsis
Growing up on a small farm in the kingdom of Vanguard, seventeen-year-old Layla Givens lives a deceptively tranquil existence. But her carefully constructed life quickly falls apart when she’s abducted by a religious zealot who proclaims her The Fulfillment of an ancient peace prophecy and whisks her away to marry her greatest enemy.

Wilhelm, Prince of the Ethereals, is reluctant to meet his new bride. He's grown up believing Vanguards are evil, an enemy to fight and fear...not love. Can he set aside his prejudices and work alongside Layla to bring lasting peace after centuries of war? Nash, a loner who has never fit in, carries a huge secret, one big enough to destroy both kingdoms. When he accidently meets Layla, he’s no longer content to live in the shadows,
but he must resist his growing attraction—for her safety and for the longevity of the two kingdoms.

When Nash's secret is revealed, a firestorm sweeps through both realms, with Layla at the center. Now she must choose between duty and desire while the fate of two nations hangs in the balance.

Buy The Prophecy!

From Muse It Up Publishing

Learn more about Erin and her upcoming YA fantasy novel, The Prophecy:

Like her on 

Follow her on 

Mark her book “to read” on

and visit her website www.erinalbertbooks.com.

Author Spotlight: Erin Albert

This week I have the pleasure of spotlighting author, Erin Albert. Her debut novel, The Prophecy, out November 15, 2013. She hosted me on her own blog in July and I had the esteemed pleasure becoming one of her Critique Partners. This is the third time I've had the honor of having Erin grace the pages of my blog. First an interview, Getting To Know Author Erin Albert, and again Erin Albert Reveals Her (Book) Cover.

If my blog is any indication of her hard work and dedication, it is quite apparent she is SUPER busy. See the bottom of this post for a list of some of her interviews and guest posts.

I wanted to do something a little different than a standard interview and since she has such a plethora of just fantastic material--and I am too lazy to come up with unique and interesting questions--I have decided to run a special post: Erin's Albert Top Internet Moments. Some of the facts come from her 25, Random Facts, a lot come from her interviews, bits and pieces from her blog, and some from my own manuscript which she is helping to edit.

Without further udo, here they are in no particular order...

Erin Albert's Top 10 Internet Moments
#1 - Agnes
Erin as Agnes Finkenhoffer
 For four years, I played a recurring character named Agnes Finkenhoffer. She was the BIGGEST nerd ever. I secretly enjoyed letting my inner nerd out so often and in such a public way.

#2 - Grammar Ninja
Erin is a certified member of the Grammar Police and a Grammar Ninja. In addition to getting her book published, she has recently been made Senior Editor for BookFish Books.

Erin as the Grammar Ninja
I have been crazy lucky that she has been helping me with my own manuscript, cleaning up grammar and other problems. She has taught me so much more beyond what I could ever hope to return to her as a critique partner.

So while there may not be a web page per se on her inner word nerd, there are a few Erinisms I can share from my own manuscript. Anyone who is fortunate enough to have her read over his material will both recognize and be able to sympathize with my plight. :-)
  * This what? - Usually she is pointing out a sentence that has "this" in it without a subject
  * Passive - Ugh! I see this all the time, where she is pointing out the dreaded passive voice
  * Adverb - Most adverbs must be vanquished. Occasionally she'll "let" me keep one!
  * POV Slip - Nope, not an omnipotent writer. Gotta stay in the right character's head
  * Third introductory statement in a row - Eep! This happens all the time in my ms
  * Fragment - Usually no subject
  * Three sentences here - Usually she is pointing out that I have a sentence that is about as long as War and Peace

#3 - Lessons on Grammar
A lot of people have learned from her lessons on grammar. I have included a two of her grammar lessons as posted on Lorrie's Flowers and Thors blog:

1) Passive voice
The use of active voice improves writing and flow. Try to avoid passive verbs like: was, were, had been, is, has been, had been, will be.
    A passive example: “I was editing my friend’s work.”
    An active example: “I edited my friend’s work.”

2) Ending in a prepositionTry not to end sentences with prepositions.
Example of preposition: “She didn’t know where he came from.”
Correction: “She didn’t know from where he came.”**

**This correction sounds slightly pompous and awkward, so the writer would benefit from reworking the whole sentence.

Reworking option (there are many other ways to change it): “He appeared by her side without warning.”

Common prepositions: of, in, to, for, with, on, at, from, by, about, into, as, after, over, against, before

#4 - Is From the South
Erin is from the south. Specifically she says on the topic: I am a Southerner, born and bred in Dixie--a hush puppy addicted, pig pickin' eating, homemade biscuit making Southerner.

Here is how to speak southern from her blog:
   *Fixin' to: about to do something. Example-- "I'm fixin' to go get my hair done."

   *Caddywhompus: askew, crooked Example-- "That picture is cattywompus. Could you straighten it?"

   *Directly: in a bit Example-- "I'll be back directly."

   *Coke: all forms of soft drink, no matter the type or flavor

   *Fetchin': attractive Example-- "She is mighty fetchin' in that dress tonight."

   *Hush your mouth: a round about way of saying thank you. Example-- Man, "You look mighty fetchin' tonight, my dear." Woman (blushing),"Why, hush your mouth."

   *Sass: bad attitude, back talk Example-- "Don't you sass me, missy!" I <may> have heard this phrase a <few> times in my life...

   *Spell: period of time. Example-- "I'll just sit here on the porch for a spell."

#5 - Is She-Ra Princess of Power
Is there one thing you do that makes you say, “damn, I’m good!”? 
I am the best at wrangling every single grocery bag from the car to the house in one trip. I HATE making two trips, so I will literally load bags from my shoulder to my wrist on both arms and stagger into the house that way. Every time I do it (after I drop the bags, of course…if my arms still work), I raise my arms in the air and shout, “I am She-Ra, Princess of Power.”
Jay Scott blog - Getting To Know Erin Albert

#6 - In Love With Percy Jackson
You are such a shipper. I’ve learned this chatting with you on Twitter. If you could ship yourself with any book boyfriend, who would be your top three picks? Name the book, author, character, and what makes you fangirl them so hard. (Anyone who hasn’t read these before may want to know all the deets to run out and find these after reading your answers. ;-) Rawr.)
Percy Jackson. Rick Riordan created this magnificent character and wrote about him in two different series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians (5 books) and Heroes of Olympus (currently 4 books). I love Percy because he’s completely and totally hysterical. I so adore a funny guy. While I appreciate good looks—and believe me, I appreciate good looks—the true way to my heart is laughter. A man with wit is worth his weight in gold to me, and Percy delivers in spades. My stomach hurt from laughing so hard after reading these two series. When he comes of age and crawls out of the pages of the book, I intend to marry him immediately. Perin (or Ercy) 5eva!

Jay's Note: I picked this one because I too am a fan of Percy Jackson. And while I don't have the romantic interest in his character, I LOVE the writing and his adventures. Thus, including the first of the three answers she gave on Melissa's site.

#7 - Little Ms. Social
Erin Albert Most Social Author Bloggy Awards
Erin Albert, Most Social Author
She is a Twitter fiend and amazingly has a personal relationship with just about everyone who follows her. So much so she won the Bloggy Awards Most Social Author 2013.

#8 - Talks About Her All Time Favorite Author: Shakespeare (even though technically he's a playwright)
For her blog post on Bibliotheca 8 on Bookish Owl, Erin discussed Shakespeare and some of her favorite quotes. Here is one:
"All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts…” - Jacques, As You Like It
As an actress, I am particularly drawn to the imagery here. But moreover, I appreciate Shakespeare’s depth. My college professor once said Shakespeare must have been an astute people-watcher to have such a clear grasp on human nature. If you study his works, particularly the tragedies, you will see this truth. I would have loved to spend a day watching people with Shakespeare.

#9 - Loves Alcide
If you follow Erin on Twitter you will see her affection for Val and Thor and Alcide (his character name on True Blood). In the blog My Nook, Books & More, Erin lists her dream cast for the movie rendition of her book. 

They are as follows:
   King Jesper: Scruffy John Corbett
   Prince Wilhelm: A young Charlie Hunnam
   Princess Vespa: AnnaSophia Robb
   Queen Montessa: Jennifer Connelly
   Prince Vance: Max Schneirder
   Layla Givens: Danielle Campbell
   Samson Mantar: Darren Criss
   Grant Mantar: Adam Gregory
   Lia Mantar: Melina Govich
   Nash: Young Jensen Ackles
   Volton Mars: Ewan McGregor
   Elder Werrick: James Gandolfini (RIP)

This leaves two major characters unaccounted for. In the list she has the following entries:

Queen Sansolena: Me (and I’m not even kidding)Queen SansolenaMe (and I’m not even kidding)
King Rex:  Joe Manganiello

#10 - Has the Most Dedicated Fans
This is Erin's debut novel, but she is so popular she has already amassed a cult-like following. Her fans create banners, graphics, and even conduct raffles to give away two copies of her book. One very enthusiastic and energetic group put together and maintain a web site for her. Wut? Who does that? Erin's fans, that's who!

Check out the Team Prophecy web site!

Thanks for joining and be sure to check out Erin's book, The Prophecy!

Also, enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card!!

About Erin
Erin Albert is an author and fitness trainer. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the "Grammar Police." In her free time, Erin enjoys acting, running, kickboxing, and, of course, reading and writing.

The Prophecy Synopsis
Growing up on a small farm in the kingdom of Vanguard, seventeen-year-old Layla Givens lives a deceptively tranquil existence. But her carefully constructed life quickly falls apart when she’s abducted by a religious zealot who proclaims her The Fulfillment of an ancient peace prophecy and whisks her away to marry her greatest enemy.

Wilhelm, Prince of the Ethereals, is reluctant to meet his new bride. He's grown up believing Vanguards are evil, an enemy to fight and fear...not love. Can he set aside his prejudices and work alongside Layla to bring lasting peace after centuries of war? Nash, a loner who has never fit in, carries a huge secret, one big enough to destroy both kingdoms. When he accidently meets Layla, he’s no longer content to live in the shadows,
but he must resist his growing attraction—for her safety and for the longevity of the two kingdoms.

When Nash's secret is revealed, a firestorm sweeps through both realms, with Layla at the center. Now she must choose between duty and desire while the fate of two nations hangs in the balance.

Buy The Prophecy!

From Muse It Up Publishing

Learn more about Erin and her upcoming YA fantasy novel, The Prophecy:

Like her on 

Follow her on 

Mark her book “to read” on

Sunday, October 27, 2013

My Writing Process - On the Blog Tour

Author L. Jay Scott
It’s blog tour day! I am so happy to get to be involved in this promotion of my fellow writers and their craft. My friend and cohort in crime Erin Albert posted hers last week. Forgive me while I shamelessly plug her book, The Prophecy, which comes out November 15, 2013. Check out both her blog and her book. You can read about her writing process here: Erin Albert.

Without further ado, prepare to enter my mind!

What am I working on?
I am going through the final edits of my debut novel, 122Rules. My writing journey has been an epic adventure as it probably is for most first time authors. In my case, I missed the debut-novels-need-to-be-80,000-words rule, so my first fully edited version was almost 160,000 words. Yep, pass the Literary Kaopectate; I’ve got diarrhea of the keyboard. The beta reader reviews were good, but the length wasn’t acceptable.

So I began a rewrite and have successfully broken the story into two books: 122 Rules and 122 Rules Redemption. My plan is to have the first book completely edited by December and out to beta readers. When I receive it back from them, I’ll make changes based on feedback then enter it into the Amazon new authors contest at the end of January.

I read about the contest last year and just missed the deadline for entering my tomb of novel by a few weeks. So glad I missed the window because, in my humble opinion, what came out of the ashes is by far a better product.

In addition, I have the third story in the trilogy about 1/3 done. I also have several synopses written for future stories that are bubbling and percolating like a witch’s cauldron in the back of my mind. Lastly, I have a complete short story, Birth of an American Gigolo, which I will  submit to whoever picks me up for publishing.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Super high-level summary: My story is a thriller novel about a man who lives outside the law tasked to find people who don’t want to be found.

I believe that my work has a different voice than anything else I’ve read. As much as I like to think I am creating something completely outside of myself, I read it and hear me talking, telling the story. A strange brew of serious, sarcastic, funny—at least I think so :-)— and adventurous. I find it entertaining, which is a good thing since I have now spent over two years working on it. Hopefully my readers will too.

Why do I write what I write?
This is an interesting question. Let me start by saying I am not dedicated to any specific genre, as either a reader or a writer. I read most anything that strikes my fancy. I’m a story guy. Tell me a great tale, and I’m hooked. So far, everything I’ve written and have in the hopper is of this same thriller genre, though it could be argued that Redemptionleans towards a more romantic classification. Oh, how everyone likes to bucketize everything!

All that being said, I don’t believe I choose the stories; I think the stories choose me. Stephen King said that he thinks of stories as something that already exist. They are buried deep in the ground like artifacts, and you have to dig them up. In my humble opinion, Mr. King is spot on.

I started my story with a vision in my head of a scene, nothing more. A woman asleep in her bed, blankets heaped all over her, with an open window overlooking the ocean and a breeze rustling the drapes, blowing dust bunnies across the floor. She is not an early riser, and when she sits up, she sees a freezing sea of cold hardwood she has to cross to get to the magic elixir that is coffee. She gets a cup and sits out on the balcony, looking over the ocean, and we learn that she is hiding. She has a new life and new identity. We get a little glimpse into her old life though we don’t yet know why she’s here or what made her leave.

At this point, I didn’t even know the why until several chapters later. There was no planning, no plot development, and no character development. I just yark my stories out like a cat coughing up a hair ball, and most of the time I don’t know what’s coming. Maybe that will make things seem more spontaneous to the reader…or maybe it will seem disjointed and random such as are the thoughts in my head!

How does you writing process work?
So I talked a bit about not planning or plotting my books. I write whatever comes out as fast as I can, and I don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, or grammar. Sometimes it isn’t too bad, but other times, it looks as though a mentally challenged middle schooler wrote it. After the initial dump, I move stuff around the timeline that needs to be moved—things don’t always come out in the right order—then I start editing. I am a SLOW, plodding editor. I’ve spent entire days working on a single page—,reworking sentence to clean up passive voice, POV problems, and wording. Even now that the final edits of the first 17 chapters are about done, I have a few sentences here and there that have been flagged to review for months.

I do not write at a desk. I usually work from my hammock. Though in the Pacific Northwest, days nice enough for hammock writing are few and far between, so I also write from the couch, the coffee shop, my bed, and, on some rainy days, the back seat of the car. There is nothing quite like hearing the patter of rain while you write. The scene I’m writing as well as my mood dictate the music I choose and often affect the raw content.  Edits are almost always done to quiet or to background noise such as the rain.

I usually have something to drink while I’m writing . I used to enjoy sipping a glass of wine, but lately, it’s been tea. Like some internal switch got thrown a couple of months ago <insert old age joke here>… Coffee in the morning, and tea the rest of the time.

Thank you for stopping in and reading about my writing process!

Next week:
JenniferMoormanJennifer is a southern writer who can be won over with chocolate, unicorns, or rainbows. She divides her time between working full-time in a publishing house, writing, and freelance editing. Her whimsical debut novel, The Baker's Man, tells the story of a young woman who creates much more than cupcakes in her enchanted bakery. She is hard at work on her next novel, Honeysuckle Hollow.

LucianaCavallaro - Luciana taught in government and private schools and during this time studied Ancient History, attended writer’s workshops and concluded a course in proof reading and editing. She has traveled extensively and has revisited her favorite destinations—Greece and Italy—the inspiration for her stories. After working in high schools for many years she resigned to concentrate on writing.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Erin Albert Reveals Cover of The Prophecy

I am beyond thrilled to get to participate in the cover reveal of The Prophecy, debut novel by Erin Albert, being released on November 15, 2013!

One often finds destiny on the road taken to avoid it....
Growing up on a small farm in the kingdom of Vanguard, seventeen-year-old Layla Givens lives a deceptively tranquil existence, working very hard to keep her true identity hidden.  But her carefully constructed life falls apart when she’s abducted by a religious zealot who proclaims her The Fulfillment of an ancient peace prophecy and whisks her away to marry her greatest enemy.

Wilhelm, Prince of the Ethereals, is reluctant to meet his new bride.  He's grown up believing Vanguards are evil, an enemy to fight and fear...not love.  Can he set aside his prejudices and work alongside Layla to bring lasting peace after centuries of war?

Nash, a loner who has never fit in, carries a huge secret, one big enough to destroy both kingdoms.  When he accidentally meets Layla, he’s no longer content to live in the shadows, but he must resist his growing attraction—for her safety and for the longevity of the two kingdoms.  

When Nash's secret is revealed, a firestorm sweeps through both realms, with Layla at the very center.  Now she must choose between duty and desire while the fate of two nations hangs in the balance.


“Everything must be taken down.”  A rotund man, with beady black eyes, surveyed the town, disdain in his expression.  While he did not appear distinguishable from the other black and purple clad men, he spoke with authority. “The First Ones and their great Prophecy must be honored properly.” He sniffed, his actions indicating the very existence of Medlin and its occupants offended him.

Layla wondered what this man considered a “proper honoring” of the First Ones.  The First Ones…they’d been dead for centuries, and, as far as Layla could tell, hadn’t done much in life except start a never-ending war.  She knew nothing more about them except that she was to thank them for good things, curse them for bad, and celebrate them on this day.

“That’s Elder Werrick, head of the Ecclesiastics,” whispered Samson, glancing back at Grant.  Layla noticed the look that passed between them.

Grant nodded his assent. “Get her out of here, brother.”

Samson tried to steer Layla away, but she held her position to get a closer look at the man whom her family so feared. She knew they had good reason to worry—her black hair and purple eyes marked her as a Fulfillment candidate, one with the potential to bring about the long awaited peace. But she couldn’t quite bring herself to believe Elder Werrick would notice her on the crowded streets, especially with her eye drops and hood. Could he really be responsible for dragging candidates from their homes, forcing them to undergo strenuous, sometimes gruesome, testing for the sake of the Prophecy?  To Layla, he looked like nothing more than a short, fat, unhappy man.  The very notion that he could strike such fear into the hearts of her people seemed almost laughable…almost. As his gaze swept over the crowd, she glimpsed a sinister undertone that made her shiver.

Waving his pudgy arms at the awaiting townspeople, Werrick commanded, “Take it down.”

Suddenly, his body stilled and his tiny eyes grew wide.  They briefly connected with Layla’s, narrowing with calculation.  The Elder turned to his nearest black clad companion.

“Do you feel that?” Layla heard Werrick ask.

The other man looked skeptical.  “Feel what, Elder?”

Werrick leaned in as the two whispered, stealing furtive glances in her direction.  When the Elder’s companion pointed at Layla, Samson grabbed her arm. She heard his breathing change from rhythmic to jagged as he pulled her away from the men.

“We have to go now.” His urgency spurred her into action.

Grant moved to block them from the Elder’s view.  “Get her away from here, Samson.”

The Elder looked up to see everyone staring at him as if frozen. He repeated his demand, “I said take everything down.”

The townspeople, joined by the Elder’s minion, scampered to remove their decorations, anxious to “properly” celebrate the First Ones.  Their flurry of activity concealed Layla as Samson and Grant escorted her away.  Layla scanned the streets, horrified, as the people of Medlin stripped the town’s center barren.  In no time, everything appeared as it always had, devoid of any celebratory adornments.  She looked up at the sky with its gray clouds lingering overhead.  A bad omen…

On the hill, a safe distance away, Layla watched a group of Ecclesiastics erect a monstrous stage where the donkey races should have occurred.  She heard the braying of the angry animals, harnessed and corralled on the orders of the Elder to avoid interfering with the “true” Day of Dawning celebration. Her ire rose.  Who did they think they were coming in and changing everything?

An icy, phantom finger traced a frigid line down her spine.  After hearing warning after warning from the Mantars her whole life, Layla knew exactly what the Ecclesiastics could do, what they had done to others in the past.  Maybe Samson and Grant had been right.  Maybe she should never have come, especially today.  Layla turned her back on the town, resolved to go home, to safety.

“Layla!” Samson’s alarmed tone sliced into her, and she swung around toward him.

To her horror, two Vanguard soldiers forced Samson to the ground.  She knew just how much strength he possessed, yet he couldn’t free himself. Her hands balled up into fists, shaking with their desire to unleash the full force of their fury.

“Run!” Samson screamed before a soldier’s fist smashed into his face.

His body stilled.  Panic, coupled with indecision, crippled her.  She should run like Samson commanded, but she couldn’t leave him lying there.  To her relief, Grant ambled toward them, his eyes full of rage.

“Run!” Grant echoed Samson’s warning.

With a final glance at the two boys who’d been as close to her as brothers, Layla fled.  She flew down the hill, swinging her head from side to side in alarm.  Ecclesiastics swarmed throughout the city, making a clear escape route difficult to discern.

Terror rose within Layla.  Why hadn’t she listened to her family?  She’d been foolish to believe she could sneak around under the ever-watchful eyes of the Ecclesiastics, and that hubris put Samson and Grant in danger as well.  She choked back a sob.

“Run,” she whispered.

Willing her feet to move forward, Layla darted toward the back of the baker’s shop, hoping to take a shortcut through the back alleyway.  She swerved to miss a wooden box and stumbled, arms flailing to right herself. Unfamiliar hands reached out to break her fall.  Once stable, Layla looked up to find Elder Werrick staring down at her.  She screamed but no sound came out of her open mouth.

“I’ve been looking for you,” he said, a wicked smile on his face.

About Erin Albert

Erin Albert is an author, editor, and fitness trainer. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word.  She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the "Grammar Police."  In her free time, Erin enjoys acting, running, kickboxing, and, of course, reading and writing.  Her favorite place to be is at home with her family and easygoing tabby cat. 

Buy The Prophecy!

The Prophecy is now available for Preorder!
From Muse It Up Publishing

Learn more about Erin and her upcoming YA fantasy novel, The Prophecy:

Like her on 

Follow her on 

Mark her book “to read” on

and visit her website www.erinalbertbooks.com.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Getting to Know Author Hank Buchmann

I have had the great privilege of getting to know Hank Buchmann over the last couple of months. He is Vietnam veteran, husband, founder of the literary magazine Crab Creek Review, poet, former journalist, and author of two published books: DeadWoman Creek (under the name Buck Edwards) and TheSteady Running of the Hour. A very accomplished man with a colorful and interesting history.

Normally when I interview an author, I review their work, blogs, Twitter posts, and other interviews then create a list of questions based on what I’ve learned. Hank is different. First of all, he used to be a journalist and has interviewed people such as Joe Namath, yes THE Joe Namath, and he was much more casual about the process. So instead, our interview was less formal and more a long, delightful conversation held over email.

What follows are excerpts with me asking questions, some of which I made up here to provide context, and his always interesting replies. I saw no reason to reword anything he wrote, because A) I couldn’t possibly say it any better B) Hank has a very distinct voice that would have gotten lost if I had simply reported what he said.

So, without further ado, take it away, Hank!

You published Dead Woman Creek under the name Buck Edwards. The Steady Running of the Hour and Twitter both list you as E. Hank Buchmann. Tell us what you prefer to go by.
I go by Hank. My full name, Edward Henry Buchmann, Jr. is filled with family history, but I was Hank way before I could have eaten solid food. Besides, Hank Williams was all the rage at the time, and Henry (Hank) Fonda filled the silver screen. I adopted the E. Hank because it reminded me of F. Scott Fitzgerald...and, to a lesser extent, W. Somerset Maughm.

So, Hank is good.

You are a veteran. First of all, THANK YOU for your service to our country! Second, tell me about your time in the military.
I’m an old timer that isn’t old, if that makes sense. I feel younger now than I did at many times in my life. I was drafted in the summer of 1968. I had been in college, majoring in journalism, but dropped out (or flunked out, I forget which) and they nabbed me. Rather than be a grunt for two years, I took the Army’s application tests for journalism and passed with flying colors. So I enlisted for three years, went to the Defense Information School in Indiana after basic, and became a military journalist.

My first hitch was in Aschaffenburg, Germany, where I started up a battalion newspaper. But ten months later I was levied to Vietnam, where I served as a combat correspondent. Vietnam was, and remains, a watermark in my life. I wrote a lot of feature stories there, about young men and their heroics. My very first story made the Stars & Stripes Pacific Edition, front page, no less, about a medevac pilot that got shot down three times in 24 hours, losing three separate choppers. The story was picked up by the wire services and it made a New York newspaper, among others. An impressive start. 

A critical part of my job, besides writing my own stories, was escorting civilian journalists out on their own story-searches. I grew to dislike most of them (ABC, NBC, CBS, Time & Newsweek) because of their preconceived conclusions about the war. (That is a very long story. Maybe over a beer sometime.) I had one, I’ll call it an honor, of escorting Henri Huit, part French, part Asian, photographer, a Pulitzer winner, his photos still among the archives. He was brilliant, and he and I and some reporter from NY were following some troops in the lowlands and started taking some small arms fire. Huit, unafraid, or stupid, who knows, was snapping photos. When we got back to Camp Evans we broke out the vodka and celebrated our success at staying alive. Henri Huit was killed about two months later.

While in Vietnam, my sister sent me a copy of The Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg. I treasure it still. It was my launching pad for my poetry writing. I have never been too ambitious about getting my work published in the quarterlies, though I have in a few, but it comes upon me sometimes like a preying puma.

 After the war I could have written a resume that would have had me working for a whole slew of newspapers, but I was a bitter guy by then, angry at how veterans were treated by the country at large, and I blamed the media for that. Objectivity died during the Vietnam war, and it remains dead to this day.

Tell me about interviewing Joe Namath and public speaking
Joe Namath, who was doing Lil’ Abner on stage, and even though there was a large group of big-shot journalists there, Joe kept turning to me because I asked more interesting questions. Plus, I had read his book, something the other guys hadn’t done. I came prepared.

Well, as you might expect, Namath had a co-writer [for his book], but the stories, and obviously the life, was his own. What really perked him up in the interview was when I mentioned his love of marlin fishing in the Gulf. After that, he belonged to me.

As for myself, I have put out a couple of poetry chapbooks over the years. And I’ve addressed entire student bodies on occasion for assemblies, usually connected to Veterans Day. And, I’ve read before some fun crowds, several times at the University of Washington for crowds of 100 or more. People in Seattle, and places like that, don’t think folks on the east side of the Cascades can even read, much less write. So it was fun to give them a ‘crash’ moment. All this leads to an interview from time to time.

Tell me about your books
Even though DeadWoman Creek is a western, it could pass for a Michael Connelly or Lee Child, simply because it tries to unravel a mystery, of sorts. It will be an uphill battle convincing people of that, and most of them (readers) won’t bother investigating. The most obvious difference between DWC and other westerns that l have read, is that I deal in the human condition. People get killed in westerns, but very few writers bother to follow the trail of pain felt by those affected. Even Boone Crowe, my hero, is haunted by his past, and I try hard to express the humanness of him, and all other characters.

As you read through DWC, think Kevin Costner. If you’ve never watched his Open Range, with Robert Duvall, then  put it on your movie list. I’ve been to Deadwood, SD a couple of times, and eaten at his casino/restaurant where he has the costumes from practically all his movies, framed and hanging around the walls. I think Costner could pull off Boone Crowe.

My other book, The Steady Running of the Hour, (a line from WWI poet, Wilfred Owen) is purely literary. Though Edmund Ellicott is 92 years old in the telling, there is a deeper side to his personality. And to his life.  As for the story, there are no chapters, only the randomness of a life told. And, I might add, the strange and dangerous characters that join his story, long after the war.

I am careful to make it appealing to a broad audience, by giving a 16 year old high school girl a strong supporting role. Good wins over evil, but evil, in this case, is in the reader’s face, once exposed.

Follow up to Dead Woman Creek?
I just killed off one of the bad guys and I didn’t want the moment to pass without full justice. I’m working on the second installment to my Boone Crowe books, Showdown in the Bear Grass, which I hope to have ready for Kindle in the fall.
What prepared you to be a writer?
I read a lot of books, but that’s because I consider reading my ‘school.’ I hope I don’t ever offend anyone, but college, when I came home, never worked for me. So I considered every book I read a ‘class,’ and I have learned more about writing there than sitting in some MFA program and listing to a professor who has his own built-in notions about what writing is all about. It’s okay for some writers, but not me. And I think I’ve fared pretty well.

I’ve been writing since the 7th grade, when my story was voted the scariest Halloween story by my classmates. The mood was set...lights were out...and that was a good thing because I was a trembling idiot in those day. Had the lights been on I probably would have fainted.

I have a good handful of manuscripts that, once polished, could add to my list on Kindle. Some are YA, as I spent 20 years working in middle schools. (Hope you won’t be disappointed, but I was a custodian, not a teacher, though teachers had me teaching poetry and creative writing to their students too many times to count. Their Masters degrees in English didn’t cover what I had learned by reading and writing, and they knew it. I also, for years, taught creative writing to adults in evening classes at the local college.) Besides, my wife is a teacher (Seventh-grade medieval history.) I know that if I had been a teacher, I would never have had time to write.
My friend, Tim Coder, who was a fellow combat correspondent with me in Vietnam, and who certainly had many more close-calls than I did, was a big help in encouraging me to jump into the Kindle thing. His book, WarWithout End, Amen, is excellent, and certainly intense. Probably not for everybody. But my review of it appears on Amazon under Sir Henry. I don’t say this so you’ll buy it, only that our wartime friendship has endured.

Secondly, as a custodian, it paid the bills. I was raising my boys pretty much single-handedly, so it became a matter of “bird in hand...” I was a mystery even to my employers, especially when they were aware of my genuine friendship with the students, and my ability to jump-start their writing through my somewhat ‘unorthodox’ methods. On my last day working, before my retirement from the school district in February, I was interviewed by a local online newspaper.

Hank’s interview is a fantastic view into the influences he had on the kids 
View the video of Hank’s retirement interview.
NOTE: For whatever reason the video has been marked as private. We are looking into it.

Who are your writing influences?
Thinking about major influences as an emerging writer, I’d have to say that I’ve read everything Hemingway has written. Becky and l visited Piggott, Arkansas in 2010, where Hem lived with his second wife, Pauline, in her parent’s house. The parents renovated the barn as a writing room for Hem, and so today both the house and barn are mini-museums. Nothing else in Piggott but a Sonic hotdog joint. Anyway, I took pleasure in knowing more about Hem’s works than the guide did, which she accepted graciously.

Having said that, I did not like everything he wrote, but my favorites were Islands in the StreamThe Green Hills of Africa; and A Moveable Feast. Nor did I like his means of exiting this life. To say he was all about ego would be an understatement. His longtime feud/friendship with Scott Fitzgerald was based partly on jealousy. Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby cannot be touched...an utter masterpiece. No movie, not even Leo’s new one, can ever replace those words on the page.

As a kid, growing up on the farm, I became entranced with the images that book titles provided. Zane Grey’s books did this a lot. Titles like The Light of Western Stars; Raiders of Spanish Peaks; and even Riders of the Purple Sage, filled my head with almost speechless wonder. I was actually an adult before I read any of them, and yet the wonder was still there.

I keep a list of books that I count as favorites, as time goes by. And the order often is loose and ever changing, but four books always seem to rise to the top. They are: The Eighth Day, by Thornton Wilder; The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje; The Prince of Tides, Pat Conroy; and Affliction, Russell Banks. A book that sparked my interest in WWI is W. Somerset Maughm’s The Razor’s Edge. Later, another great WWI novel was The Very Long Engagement, by Sebastein Japrisot.

One rainy day when I was about 10 or 11, I made the fatal mistake of telling my mom I was bored. I literally lived outside, from dawn to dark, but that hard rain kept me in. “Bored, huh. Well,” she said, “you haven’t even touched those books I bought you for Christmas.” So, reluctantly at first, I opened The Tower Treasure, the first installment of the Hardy Boys. I devoured it, of course, and before I finally outgrew them, I had read about fifteen.

As a side-note, and one I am proud to brag-up (mainly because she never brags) is that I am married to a reading wife. I am pleased to say that she has read all 21 books in Patrick O’Brian’s Master & Commander set. A major undertaking for a working teacher. And the last time we passed through the Dakota’s, she got onto a Willa Cather kick, and didn’t stop till she’d read seven of her novels, pretty much in a bunch.

Talk to me about your writing
Though I cannot read Stephen King (I’ve tried) I did slurp down his On Writing like good soup. In fact, I used many excerpts from it in my adult night classes. I tried [to outline] a time or two in the early years, but you have it right. Give ownership to the story. One of my own lines, which I should have copyrighted (ha) and that I try to hammer into my student’s heads is this--Writing creatively isn’t something you make happen, it’s something you let happen.

Writer’s block has never visited me. I attribute it to two things. 1. I am usually working on more than one thing at a time. So if one piece begins to flounder for a spell, I just turn my attention to one of my other projects. 2. I used to walk four miles a day (I wish I still did) and I would listen to my favorites on my Walkman, George Winston, Enya, Sarah Brightman, Michael W. Smith, etc. and low and behold, the music would act like a soundtrack to the book I am writing, and the scenes suddenly appeared in my head.  

I was in the Bluebird reading group in 1st grade, not the Hawks or Eagles. And I was pigeon-holed most of my school years. When I was a sophomore in high school they said I wasn’t reading at grade-level either and so they put me in a speed-reading classes. (Dumb) Pretty soon I was reading faster, but I couldn’t remember Jack about what I had read. I hated it. It never dawned on me until I was in Vietnam, where I stumbled onto a room full of paperback books that the Red Cross or somebody furnished the troops. I got out a bookmark and purposely began slowing myself down, reading every word on every line. It was the best thing that I ever did in regards to my reading habits. As a writer, I wanted to know every single word that the author used to make his story what it was. Hence, ‘every-book-a-class’. Even now my family and friends are amazed at how I can remember the story lines of books I read 40 years ago.

Funny, the same thing happened to my youngest son, Alex, when he was in high school. Some dopey teacher got it into her head that he wasn’t reading fast enough. So she put him in a special class. So one day Alex took his reading log in to show this new teacher. (I’ve always kept a reading log for my kids, as well as myself, and for my wife.) It was rather humiliating for the teacher, because Alex was reading books well beyond what even the teacher was reading. By the time he was a freshman he had already read Girl Interrupted; Finding Forester; Tarzan, the Epic Adventures; Romeo and Juliet; and Jaws. The teacher was reading a Danielle Steel novel.  He hated Alex after that. So...speed does not a reader make.

Talk to me about writing westerns
My initial stab at writing westerns has a rather painful beginning. Ten years or so ago I was working on my first western, The Widow Makers, which was, I felt, superb. But like a computer rookie, I did not print a hard copy as I went. One day, while I was working on it, I pressed a key and my hard-drive simply disintegrated. Fried like a pork rind. It was irretrievable. (I am haunted by that still.) Will I rewrite it again someday. I probably will. But I waited quite a while before starting DWC. Well-developed characters do much of the writing for us. And so, as you have said, from the opening pages, it was just me following Boone’s trail.

Zane Grey is considered today to be too romantic. But of course, nobody bothers to wonder why. He was an easterner, from Pennsylvania (a dentist, if you can believe it) and he headed out west to see the country and ended up writing about it in novels. But his audience was fellow easterners, folks who may never travel out west. And the damsel in distress was very apropos at the time, so by the standards of the early 1920’s, he wasn’t considered overly romantic, he was just considered ‘damn good’. And he did the west great justice in his vivid descriptions of the wild country of Nevada, Utah and Arizona. (In fact, in a couple of weeks Becky and I will be traveling to the Grand Canyon via California and Nevada, and then northward, home, through Utah. So it was Becky’s suggestion that my travel book should be a Zane Grey. I readily agreed. (Checking my log, I see I’ve read sixteen Grey’s.)

Alan LeMay's excellent book, The Searchers, was also a huge influence. I love the John Wayne movie of it, even though it ends differently than the book. The book, as you might expect, is better. Conrad Richter’s The Sea of Grass also gave me inspiration, probably without knowing it at the time.

My two favorite Hardy Boys were The Missing Chums, and The Mystery of the Chinese Junk. Following close behind is The House on the Cliff.

Tell me about the literary magazine you helped found 
The literary magazine was (is) Crab Creek Review, and a gal named Linda Clifton had the idea and wanted me to help her. This back in the early 80’s. When we first started it we read grocery sacks full of poems submitted by people all over the country. We worked together on this for a couple of years, then she moved from Grant County to Seattle, to finish her masters at the UW. That was the end of my immediate involvement. Over the years Clifton decided to give it up and so turned over the whole operation to some other folks. Though they have long ago detached themselves from either Clifton or myself, I give them unwanted reminders from time to time. To my knowledge, it is still up and running, though I have lost interest in most of what they published the last few years. A nice literary newspaper-type magazine, The Bellowing Ark (a line from Dylan Thomas) is a fine outfit in the Seattle area and they have published several of my short stories and a nice bunch of poems over the years.

Thank you for stopping in and sharing with us, Hank!

Please purchase Hank's books from Amazon:

Follow him on