Shameless Plug: Seasonal Book Promo

It’s that time of year for special gift-giving around my neck of the woods (so to speak) and as it is in many other places. And what better gift than a book or two?

Here are two books for your perusal. I hope you’ll consider them for this holiday season or for any gift-giving occasion.

“Storytellin: True And Fictional Short Stories Of Arkansas”. A collection of mixed-genre stories set in Arkansas from the early 1900s to the 1950s. Each of the fictional stories is preceded by a Cotner family story or event that inspired the fictional tales. Set against the rugged backdrop of the Ouachita Mountains these stories bring ageless tales of hope, fear, laughter, retribution, and kindness.

“Mystery Of The Death Hearth”. A Celtic tale of murder, power, and intrigue. In a far-flung outpost of the Roman Empire, the Great Cross—made of Celtic gold and amber now claimed by the Roman church—goes missing along with a fortune in coins and precious gems. Murder soon follows, igniting tensions when church leaders maneuvering for political gain are implicated in the violent plot. When news reaches the Grand Prefect in Rome, Enforcers are sent to identify the thieves and recover the missing treasure. The trail leads to the Brendan Valley where it falls to deputy magistrate Weylyn de Gort to work with those whose ways are alien to his Elder Faith beliefs. Along the way, he must find an elusive young Celt girl and her missing grandfather, unravel the mystery of an Elder’s vision, and avoid death at the hands of an assassin as he faces the greatest challenge of his life.

Mystery Of The Death Hearth Prologue

June 21st in the Roman calendar

Summer Solstice

“This sacred site has been here longer than we can remember,” Elder Blaine the Slender told the small group of children clustered around him. They were surrounded by festival vendors in tents bearing colorful flags, all part of the crowd gathered there to celebrate the Solstice holiday. “Heed these stories well, so you may pass them to those who will come after you.”

He saw them nod, some smiling, many somber, all attentive.

“Learn your crafts well, listen to your elders, honor the gods, and respect the land. Enjoy the life you have been granted and help others do the same. No other goals should be attempted lest you fall into the evil snare of greed and dishonesty.”

A small voice whispered, “He means the Romans, right?”

“Not just Romans, young one. Celts, too, face dark temptations. The two worst enemies we all face are liars and thieves,” the Elder continued. “Take nothing that isn’t yours. Honor the code of doing what you will so long as you harm no one or their possessions. Have compassion for those less fortunate, help those in need. Follow the path of our Celtic Elder Faith, stay true to its teachings. You will be wise to–”

Blaine’s words were interrupted by heavy beating of drums and cheers from celebrants within the inner circle of the standing stones. Before Blaine could continue, a child spoke up.

“What about murderers, Elder? Aren’t they an enemy, too?”

Elder Blaine nodded. “Truly spoken young one. Murderers are the worst kind of thief. They steal your life.”

 

 

 

 

Goodbye February!

RayBradburyOnWriting

February 29th has arrived, the month almost over, and my birthday is six days behind me. I’ve finally come up for air after spending the entire month working on wips (works in progress) adding new chapters to the second book in my Celtic murder mystery series, fresh stories in new worlds for my second book of short stories, additional poems for publication, all the while juggling life’s daily (and necessary) interruptions.

Where has the time gone?

Who cares, I’m writing!

Author Event This Saturday

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I will be attending the latest Local Author Event Day this Saturday, December 5th, 2015 from 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Nightbird Books store, 205 West Dickson Street, Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Don’t miss this opportunity to meet local authors, purchase great signed edition books for gifts, and support our local small businesses.

From Nightbird Books:

We are inviting our local authors into the store on December 5th to give you a chance to meet writers in our community and pick up some great autographed holiday gifts. Because of smaller space, we will have two shifts. The first is from 10:30 to 1:00 and the second from 1:30 to 4:00. This is always a fun event so I hope you can join us.

Participants include:

Sybil Rosen, John Walsh, Tom McKinnon, Susan Holmes, Jack Cotner, Carolyn Guinzio, Vance Clement, and Edmund Harriss from 10:30 to 1:00

and Denele Campbell, Radine Trees Nehring, JB Hogan, Paul Williams, Alexander Margulis, and Martin Jardon from 1:30 to 4:00

 

I hope to see you there!

Jack Friday Sales Event!

Happy Holidays colorized Pen and Ink copyright noticed

Forget Black Friday sales events. On this blog it’s Jack Friday.

Actually, it’s a sales event that goes beyond just this Friday featuring the Kindle editions of both my short story collection and my Celtic murder mystery novel. They’re  on sale now through December 5th for just $0.99 each. From December 6th through December 23rd they will be half their usual listed price.

Grab a copy for yourself or purchase for family and friends.

 

A Cup Of Tea And A Book

Cup of Tea and a Book

Not so sure about the ‘well-balanced life’ thing but I’ve managed to ingest a large amount of tea and coffee while pounding out several thousand words this week on three of my wips including 3,000+ words on the second book in my Runevision Mystery Series. I’ll call the past week a success then and am looking forward to this week as I attempt to catch up on email and additional things of little interest to others before sitting back down and writing more. Besides being glued to the computer (alternating between both staring blankly and typing furiously) I’m reading a new book by Anthony Horowitz, ‘Moriarty’.

Creating A Lovable Villain

VaderSelfieStick

Check out the blog writersinthestorm for some wonderful tips in a short, well-written article about creating a lovable villain by award-winning author Shannon Donnelly (Under The Kissing Bough) as she speaks of “villains we love to hate and how to keep them from becoming a cardboard stereotype whose every action is predictable and boring.”

“Nothing marks a writer as a beginner as clearly as the cliché bad guy.

This is the bad guy who is ugly inside and out with no redeeming qualities—this is the “boo-hiss” melodrama mustache twirling villain. And this is an easy fix in any story.

What’s that easy fix? Lots of things can help, but here are five quick fixes:

5 Quick Fixes to Make Readers Love Your Villains” –Shannon Donnelly

The article is definitely worth the read and I found myself thinking of one of my villains as I read Shannon’s advice.

I won’t say the assassin in “The Mystery of the Death Hearth” is exactly a lovable creature. Parzifal is, after all, a person who makes a living by killing. But he does have depth; that is to say as the story progresses, more is revealed about his background, his parents, his past and the horrid conditions among the less-than-honorable slave owners that helped create his inevitable destiny as a professional killer. He also has present-day motives that go beyond the daily, murderous tasks given him by criminal bosses. Parzifal has plans, high hopes for a new life, and a mental image of possibilities beyond his current circumstances having nothing at all to do with underworld crime. Does he manage to accomplish those personal goals? Can he successfully break away and fulfill his dreams? No spoilers here but I almost found myself rooting for this man even though he can and does make my protagonist’s life miserable to the brink of death.

I encourage a visit to writersinthestorm and read the rest of the Shannon’s article. Very interesting and informative.

Your next villain will appreciate it, too.

NPR Poetry Reading

logoIn celebration of National Poetry Month, the University of Arkansas Press has organized a special series of poetry readings on KUAF radio. Do The Dead Call?, a poem from my book Mystery of the Death Hearth, has been selected as one of the readings by organizers and supporters of University of Arkansas Press and KUAF.

The presentation is scheduled for broadcast Saturday, April 4, 2015. Reading times and other KUAF events including an archive of all poetry selections can found here at KUAF Radio, Fayetteville, Arkansas. 

If you tweet about it, feel free to use the hashtag for National Poetry Month (#npm15) and include @uarkpress and @kuaf if you have space.

In the event you can’t hear it, or if you would like to read along during the readings, here is a copy of the poem.

Do the dead call?

If they did, could we hear?

Would the voice be from afar?

Or would it seem quite near?

Would we listen with our minds?

Or would we run in fear?

Would we open to the chance?

Or would we jump and swoon?

Would we think it summer breeze?

Or howling at the Moon?

Do the dead call?

You tell me.

I wonder if you know?

Do they call on summer days?

Or whisper in the snow?

You tell me.

I’d really like to know.