Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Radiance - WonHundredWordWednesdays

If you remember from before, I'm involved with a Facebook group that challenges writers every Wednesday to write 100 word stories based an weekly prompt. I managed to play this week.

She’d seen it fall from the sky, an answer to a wish placed upon the first star she’d seen that night. She’d asked for her parents to stop quarreling and God had sent her the rock. It had landed in the field they rented, beside the tractor that was mortgaged, in the midst of their failed soybeans. She’d gathered it in her shirt and brought it home and put it beneath her parents bed where they slept. In the morning the place had a radiance about it and her parents would quarrel no more.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

GOT LUCK Michael Darling?

MIchael Darling
(Before Interview)
Michael Darling dropped by the Blog Mansion. It being so near after St. Patrick’s day and his book GOT LUCK dealing with Fae I thought it would be good to have some Leprechauns there. Everyone knows Leprechauns are related to Fae. invited a couple of them to sit in.

The Leprechauns however, weren’t having any of it.

Michael: Johnny are you going to let these guys tie me up like this?

Clover McSlurry: Sit yer arse down ya’ skittish pansy. We’ll show ya’ how to do an interview.

Johnny: Put down the club.

Greenie O’Wabbles: It’s a shillelagh!

Johnny: <ooommph> You’re on your own Michael.

Clover: Okay, now that we know who’s boss. We can start with Mr. Darling.

Michael: What do you want— <oomph>

McSlurry: We’ll be asking the questions if you don’t mind.

Michael: No. Not at all.

Johnny: Don’t bleed on the carpet. Use the spittoon.

Michael: Okay. I’ll just hold it in my lap.

Johnny: Maybe hold it a little higher?

Michael: I kind of like what else it’s protecting besides the rug. Especially with that one holding the club – erm, shillelagh.

Johnny: Ah, right. I’d do the same.

Clover: Okay Mr. Darling, we know that’s not your real name. What is it?

Michael: I was born a poor Irish child. I remember the days, sitting on the porch with my family, singing and dancing down in Dublin... 

Johnny: Hold on, Michael. I don’t think this is the time to be mangling Steve Martin.

Michael: You sure? All right, it’s true, my name is really Michael Christenson. 

Clover: By lyin' and callin' yerself Darling, are you trying to associate yourself with Peter Pan? You some kind of weirdo?

Michael: You know that lawsuit was dropped, right? And they’ll give a restraining order for almost anything these days.

Johnny: What are you talking about?

Michael: Nothing. Nevermind. I shouldn’t kid about things with these two around. Anyway, it’s cute how I decided on the pen name. My middle name is actually Darwin, after my father. Early in our marriage, my wife started calling me Michael Darling instead of Michael Darwin so when I needed a pen name, I had one I liked all ready to go.

The Real Michael Darling
(Before things went bad)
Greenie: That’s nauseating.

Michael: Really?

Johnny: Yeah. I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Michael: Okay, well. It’s the truth.

Clover: Back to my questions. Do you know what happened to the Darling kids after Peter Pan?

Michael: Well, J. M. Barrie never wrote a sequel to Peter Pan, so…

Greenie: Shut yer gob! They was personal friends of mine.

Michael: Okay. I see we’re just going to pretend they were real people. So tell me what happened to them? 

Clover; A string of heart-breaking incidents.

Greenie: Arrests and rehab.

Clover: The things they’d do for pixie dust—you don’t even want to know.

Michael: No I don’t. Really, really don’t.

Clover: That’s right you don’t. The Fae are not to be trifled with.

Michael: I’d never <crack>

Clover: I repeat! Not. To. Be. Trifled. With.

Greenie: “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men—”

Clover: Later, Greenie.

Greenie: Okay.

Clover: You best tell us about your book, GOT LUCK now. Greenie is impatient.

Michael: Yes, thank you. Got Luck is the name of the main character who is a private detective in Miami, Florida. He’s hired to find out more information about a murdered man. He gets shot at by people he doesn’t know, attacked by a giant invisible liondog, discovers he possesses magical powers, and accidentally gets married. And that’s just Thursday.

Johnny: Sounds like an intriguing set up.

Greenie: It’s not that intriguing. The same thing happened to my cousin.

Michael: Really? Did your cousin also uncover a plot to restore the Fae to their former glory by killing thousands of mortals?

Greenie: Uncover? No. Instigate. Maybe.

Clover: Shut it Greenie before ya get us in trouble. Are there any other settings fer yer book, besides Miami?

Michael: Well, the realm of the Fae is called An Taobh Thiar Agus Níos Faide which translates as The Behindbeyond. A lot of the action takes place there.

Johnny: Is that correct guys?

Greenie: Yes. Lucky fer you, Michael. Ya great monkey.

Clover: And that’s where ya did yer research about the Fae?

Michael: Of course. I just called my travel agent and she arranged for me to spend a week at an inn there called Corrchnámhach. It’s always good to actually experience the things you write about. 

Greenie: Ah right. Keeper runs the place. Lovely man. Great chest hair.

Clover: Who’s your intended audience for GOT LUCK?

Michael: My publisher is Future House and they are a YA publisher. The early drafts of GOT LUCK were fairly adult though, so we edited the manuscript to make it fit better for the younger market. It’s YA, but adults will like it as well since it was written for them first.

Clover: So ya cut down on the sex and violence?

Michael: Not really. The story is the same, we just toned down the details.


Michael: What was that for?

Greenie: I like sex and violence.

Forest Fae
Clover: I’ll tell ya’ what, sonny. Since ye’ be bleedin’ on Johnny’s nice rug here, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Tell us about the magic systems in GOT LUCK. Just to see if ya’ got right.

Michael: Obviously, the Fae are magical beings. Got, however, is a Halfling. Part Fae, part human. Their magical power is inside them but using it requires a focus, which is an object that can conduct magic, and a trigger, which is a word or phrase that sets off the spell. Put that together with a mystery and some humor and that’s my version of urban fantasy. 

Clover: What exactly do you mean by urban fantasy?

Michael: Well, you have a modern-day detective in our human realm, but there’s magic and a race of powerful, immortal beings, called the Fae, mixed in. 

Clover: That don’t make no sense. The Fae wouldn’t like that kind of publicity.

Greenie: Sounds like he didn’t get a writ of authorization

Clover: No, it doesn’t.

Michael: A what?


Clover: A writ of authorization. From the Fae council. Always a good thing to have before you go announcing Fae ways. They’re protective you see.

Johnny: Spittoon, Michael. Thanks.

Michael: Do you have one in a larger size?

Johnny: I’m not even going to respond to that. 

Clover: Now, Michael, tell us true. Is this a one off, or are you starting a series with GOT LUCK?

Michael: I’ve already started working on the sequel. I’m about 20% into the first draft. So far, it’s been just as much fun to write as GOT LUCK

Winter Fae
Greenie: "Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children.”

Clover: Tell me, Michael, how did you get into this writing thing?

Michael: I’ve always enjoyed it. In one way or another, I’ve been telling stories since I was a kid. After a while, the characters in my head let me know they wanted their story told and I really wanted to tell them. So I started with short stories and had a few of those published. GOT LUCK was the next logical step. I didn’t choose writing. Writing chose me.

Clover: Nice. Johnny says it can be hard to find a publisher. How’d you find yours?

Michael: It is hard. I found Future House after a lot of networking. A lot. I submitted online and did Twitter events but attending conferences and pitching to every publisher on the list is the approach that finally worked out.

Clover: How are they treating you over there at Future House Publishing? Is there anyone over there we should, eh, talk to?

Michael: They are a very dynamic, fast-growing house and their main man Adam Sidwell has a really great business model. I initially worked with their editor Ami Johansen but you can always run to their website and fill out the submission form or hit up one of the conventions. They’re almost always taking pitches. 

Clover: Nothing better than a little face-to-face, right?

Michael: <looking sideways at Greenie>: Exactly.

Greenie: “And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy My brothers.”

Clover: Where on the internet can people find out about you and send flowers and such.


Johnny: I’m sorry Michael. Ever since the Lucky Charms cereal came out the Leprechauns have been a bit belligerent. They used to be fun and games, gold and rainbows. Now they’re enforcers.

Clover: Shut yer rotten mouth before I break up ya’ upside the head.

Greenie: “And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy My brothers.”


Johnny: Hey, look at that.

Clover: The shillelagh broke.

Greenie: Weird. I was just holding it like this, all menacin'-like and snap there it went.

Clover: Well what you have there?

Michael: Looks like I GOT LUCK.

All: Groan


Michael: Ouch!

Greenie: Half a shillelagh — a "shille"— still hurts plenty. You want the half, there Michael? The -lelagh maybe?

Michael: No. <drool> I'm good. 

Johnny: Spittoon dude. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


The third and final book in The Unseen Trilogy, DAVID, THE UNSEEN arrives this summer. The cover art has been leaked but today is the official reveal. Here it is:

Eleanor dead center and watching. 
Eleanor no longer hiding; no longer the scavenger.
Eleanor empowered.


"You and no other."

Flames and blood – the story of Eleanor's existence.

How can she recover? How can she go on? How can she stay away?

Eleanor survives, it what she does. But at what cost? She learns her past and sees the terrible and tragic history of her kind, the wreckage of fear and necessity spread across generations of innocent lives. It is enough to show her she is toxic, a cause of pain and destruction. For everyone’s own good, she will disappear forever.

But first, one last visit to Jamesford.

The sleepy Wyoming town mourns their lost child. The unremarkable girl who in life wanted only to be ignored is a celebrity in death, a tourist attraction, a legend. A mystery.

But not everyone thinks she’s dead. While some wait in hope for her return, others wait in ambush.

Genre: Young Adult/Paranormal
Words: 93,000
Status: Coming June 2016 from Jolly Fish Press

Available now for Pre-Order on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Jon Clapier and the revenge of trees

Tree Hater and Author
Jon Clapier
A longtime friend of mine Jon Clapier has a new book out, Peter Chienko the Druid Hunter. I took him through The Blog Mansion forest to discuss his hatred of trees and all things lovely.

Johnny: Your protagonist attacks trees? What—bushes were too scary?

Jon: Certainly, if they were republican bushes.

Johnny: Perhaps you better tell us what you book is about.

Jon: Druids, FBI, torture, magic, and of course the trees. Lots of trees; like that one over there.

Johnny: That’s a Larch. A larch would take offense to being cut down. As would that pine, that cedar over there and the oak. Oh, that oak would be so angry. It’s been here longer than the house.

Jon: Easy there Johnny, I have nothing against trees. It’s fiction. It’s about my characters. Not that I haven’t slaughtered a few dozen trees in my time. Is that a crime?

Johnny: Maybe, I guess your protagonist, the Peter Chienko of Peter Chienko the Druid Hunter starts out as a petty criminal, on parole, a mugger - right?

Jon: Yup, I wanted to write a story about a more traditional hero with all the right characteristics but when I started writing this story Peter showed up and wouldn’t go away. It’s like he’s decided I should be his parole officer. He can be pretty annoying.

Johnny: Druids in Pittsburg? Explain.

Jon: Peter told me what location to use. He may have put a bug in my ear while I was talking with a native of the area while I was a truck driver in North Dakota. Or Maybe I was a native of the area and the truck driver was from North Dakota?

Johnny: You’re an and Idahoean,. an Idahitte… an Idahoer? — You’re from Idaho right? Is one random conversation the only way you know Pennsylvania?

Jon: I was there once when I was eighteen, and of course the internet. But I’m still waiting for someone to call me and cuss me out for getting something wrong.

Johnny: Mind the roots.

Jon: This path is kind of overgrown.

Johnny: I let the trees alone here.

Jon: Let me guess, you have Druids at your mansion.

Johnny: Probably. But that’s not where I’m taking you. Druids can fight their own battles. Wait, How do you know about Druids? What was your research?

Jon: I started dabbling in Druids after a dream I had in late August of 2009. In the dream I was hired to cut down a tree for an old man, but after I did I was arrested because his granddaughter had died of wounds that matched the chop marks on the tree. It was really weird, so being the straight upstanding guy that I am I immediately sought professional counseling... uh, I mean I wrote it all into a book. The first chapter is based on that original dream.

Johnny: Are there henges in Peter Chienko the Druid Hunter? I like henges.

Jon: Shhhh! No spoilers for book two!

Johnny: How about a burning man? Got one of those in Peter Chienko the Druid Hunter?

Jon: One, no wait, two. But they both survive. It’s tough to kill a Druid while his tree lives.

Johnny: How did you go from writer to author, tell me the story of bringing this book to print.

Jon: I wrote the original short story based on my dream and it probably would have ended there but Peter wouldn’t quit bugging me for more. So I wrote the rough draft in ninety days despite working sixty hours a week at a regular job.  At times the manuscript sat collecting dust along with my laptop for months at a time but eventually I paid for an editor to work out many of the bugs and then rewrote much of it until I began sending out queries to traditional publishers and agents. It’s tough to get an acceptance when you’re first starting out. Eventually I decided to self publish under the Fiction Vortex label.

Johnny: Fiction Vortex is a longtime friend of the Mansion. How’s that been?

Jon: Without the input from the staff of Fiction Vortex, Peter would still be harping at me from my computer files. But with their help, we packaged him up and sent him out to an unsuspecting world.

Johnny: Does your publisher share your hatred of trees?

Jon: No. Well at least not David Mark Brown, I’m not so sure about Mike Cluff.

Johnny: You know the Norse believe the world is a tree. Yggdrasill.

Jon: I grew up on mythology, Norse and others. The Norse think that a great cow nourished the Giant Ymir from whom nearly all life came or was created. And some people still think milk is bad for you. We would all be dead if Ymir was lactose intolerant. It’s a good thing that Yggdrasil was there for all the gods to hang out at their ‘things’.

Johnny: Im just saying that trees are cool. Think of the children. Tell them to cut down trees? You’re worse than George Washington.

Jon: Well… I have told a few fishing lies in my time, but I’m not a politician.

Johnny: I like the criminal protagonist. Have you ever been arrested?

Jon: I already said I wasn’t a politician.

Johnny: Will anyone miss you if you disappear suddenly? Like today?

Jon: Well, my wife might be a little upset, some of my kids and definitely my dog. Um, I thought this was just an interview, should I have brought my axe? Why are you carrying a shovel?

Johnny: No reason. Where on the internet can peeps find out more about you and your book?

Jon: Amazon carries Peter Chienko the Druid Hunter in both Kindle and paper, Jon Clapier on Facebook,, and I am an active participant in

Johnny: Here we are. The grove of angry trees!

Jon: Oh no, you’ve doomed me!

Johnny: hahahaha!

Jon: Ahhh…. uhm… nothing’s happening.

Johnny: Just wait.

Jon: I kind of thought you’d arrange a bunch of Ents to attack me or something.

Johnny: Just wait.

Jon: How long?

Johnny: Well to speed things up, I got poplars. They grow exceptionally fast. Ten feet a year.

Jon: Fast enough to threaten me?

Johnny: Oh yes. Just as long as you don’t move from that spot, you’re doomed. Let your demise be a warning to other tree haters.

Jon: I can see why you’re such a poplar guy. But I really have to get going.

Johnny: Yeah. I can see that. Book tours, promotion— you’ll be busy.

Jon: What do you suggest?

Johnny: You’ll just have to come back.

Jon: So I can be slowly immolated by growing poplar trees? Okay.

Johnny: Check with my secretary for a follow-up.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Erin Britt - FRACTURED

Erin Britt
Erin Britt returns to the Blog Mansion. You may remember her from when her back from 2013 with CELIA when we were at the Origami Fold-Off & Jalapeño Juggling Competition. Today we meet in the hall of mirrors to discuss FRACTURED, her new book and writing in general.

Erin: These mirrors are strange. I keep walking into them. What did you do buy out a funhouse?

Johnny: A couple of them actually. The trick to finding your way is to break them.

E: What?

J: Yes. You have to break them to see.

E: Oh, so you can navigate through them?

J: No. They have to be broken so you can see yourself truly.

E: Ah.

J: I always say that though not ever book needs to published, or even read, every book needs to be written. It has to do with writing as therapy, self-reflection and exploration. Artistic expression. Socrates’ quote comes to mind: “An unexamined life is not worth living.” I find your work particularly self-reflective, and like your new book FRACTURED, it is best understood with the cracks in it. When did you begin it?

E: I didn’t come up with the idea for the collection until about two months before I released it, but the pieces that make up the collection span several years.  It wasn’t until I took a creative nonfiction writing class for Spring Semester 2015 that I wrote the title essay, "Fractured," and it occurred to me that fracturing was a common theme to a lot of what I write.  It was just a matter of going through what I had and putting them into some form of order.

J: It’s raw and beautiful. 

E: My oldest son had brain surgery, so I was spending a lot of time away from work running him to appointments and being in Chicago for his surgery.  I put the collection together as a way to do some fundraising without actually asking people for money.  

J: How much of it is you? How much is fiction?

E: What’s different about FRACTURED is that it contains both fiction and nonfiction.  The nonfiction essays are all various parts of me.  Some of the stories have aspects of personal experience, either lived or observed, but mostly they’re fiction.  The poetry is a healthy mix of me and of fiction.

J: You must have been terrified to bring it out, and yet you did, on your own. What’s self-publishing like?

E: It has its pros and cons.  The thing I like about it is that I always get paid, and on a regular basis, if I sell a copy.  I also get a larger piece of the pie.  It also means that if I don’t sell any copies, it’s because I suck at marketing.  Spoiler alert: I suck at marketing.  I also had no editor as a safety net, so I had to make sure I had people I could trust and whose opinions I valued to read through it and give me their input.  I made a lot of revisions and I’m pretty happy with the end result.  As far as being scared, I think as writers we’re always scared to put our art on display.  Once it leaves my hands, I lose control over how it’s received.  Maybe people get something out of it that I didn’t intend.  Maybe people hate it.  All I can do is put it out there and hope for the best.

J: I knew your prose, but now I appreciate your poetry. FRACTURED has some wonderful pieces. As an author do you have a preference, poetry or prose?

E: Different stories want to be told different ways.  I started out as a poet, and it’s had a profound impact on my prose writing.  With poetry, you have limited space with which to tell your story, so you learn to be picky with word choice.  Your images have to do more work.  It’s helped me to keep the fluff to a minimum so I have less to cut later.  I guess that’s just a long way of saying that even when I write prose, in a way I’m still writing poetry.

J: Some of your poetry appears in HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT. My readers will remember that I has a short story in that anthology as well. Mine is called THE LOST CURSE OF THE WITCH’S NEST and it’s wonderful. You, Erin have two poems, HOWL and YOUR SECRET ADMIRER and they’re wonderful too.

E: Thanks.  HOWL was inspired by a real life tragedy.  I wish that it wasn’t.  It’s my very small attempt at making sure a lost life is not forgotten.  It’s an acrostic piece, so if you read down the left hand side, you’ll find my memorial message.  YOUR SECRET ADMIRER was just a chance to be super creepy.  I had a lot of fun writing that piece.

J: You’re working on your MFA right? How’s that?

E: My MA.  I still take writing workshops, but it has a heavy literature side, too.  One of the papers I wrote, “Lockwood as Voyeur in WUTHERING HEIGHTS, was published in my university’s Graduate Research Journal.  Most people pay attention to Catherine and Heathcliff.  Lockwood operates so effectively as a voyeur because he escapes everyone’s notice.  At any rate, I only have my thesis to write and then I will be done with school.  I can’t wait!

J: It can’t be easy to go to school and work and raise a family and live in America. How do you pull it off?

E: I’m not entirely convinced that I do.  If I’m being honest, my family life has suffered.  Of course, my family life was suffering even before I went back to school, so there’s that.  I just do the best that I can and hope that in the end it was good enough.

J: I know you’ve had some tough challenges. Does writing help you cope?

E: Sometimes.  I don’t normally write when I’m in the middle of a crisis, so it’s usually well after the fact and it helps me to reflect on what was going on.  FRACTURED, the essay, was the first time that I was forced to write through something that was still happening.  And for a workshop class, at that.  And honestly, if I can let a room full of people read that essay as it was still being written, I can let anyone read anything.  It did help, though, to have a place to put all of the fear and the anger.  I cry every time I go back to read it.  Not because my writing is that profound or anything.  It was just the scariest point in my life so far and rereading the essay takes me back to that space.  

J: What’s coming up in your life and your career? 

E: Graduation!  I will be graduating in May with honors.  I have two short stories coming out this year.  BLOOD AND RAIN will be in EDGE OF DARKNESS, an anthology coming out from Dark Chapter Press.  FRAILTY will be in DARK CHAPTER PRESS: A-Z, which is a thriller/suspense anthology that features twenty-six authors.  I was assigned the letter F.  I’m really proud to be attached to these two projects.  I’ll be looking into publishing my thesis, MIND GAMES, once I’m done defending it.  And, you know, writing it.  I’m also in the process of setting myself up as an editor.  ERINDIPITY EDITING will offer both editorial services and custom writing work.  Hopefully I’ll be ready to start accepting projects in the next few weeks.  In the meantime, I have a government day job that I really enjoy and that pays the bills.  Hooray for eating!

J: What advice do you have for other writers?

E: You aren’t a writer if you don’t actually write anything.  Put the words on the page.  Worry about making them pretty later.  Just get them down.  It’s also okay to suck.  Seriously.  Writing is a skill and an art.  The more you do it, the better you will get.  I don’t think we give ourselves enough permission to be bad at things.  You have to be willing to be very bad at something if you want to be very good at it.  You should see some of the crap I churn out.

J: Where on the internet can people find out more about you?


J: Can you share a poem with us?

E: Sure.  This was something I wrote in response to a writing exercise someone gave me.  They listed a series of colors and I had to write a poem that used all of those colors.  It’s one of my favorite poems I’ve ever written.

I've always wanted to ask you why?
You left me and I needed you.
The last time you saw me, I wore white and lace,
Tiny red rosettes nested in my curls.
You watched him slip a simple gold band on my finger,
Then you were gone.
The last time I saw you, you wore grey,
Your silver hair matching the silk you rested on.
Clad in black, I melted into shadows.
I sat alone there, shrouded in my technicolor grief-
Orange fear, magenta rage.
Tears turned blue eyes turquoise, pain turned them teal.
They sealed you inside a brown, shiny box,
Planted you like so many daisies.
I’m still waiting for your flowers to bloom.
They don't, they never do, so I bring my own,
Sweet petals of pink and purple.
In the end, I leave with nothing
But a question and green stains across my knees.

J: Come on you’re falling behind.

E: Where’d you go?

J: Follow my voice.

E: Oh there you are. I thought you were going to break mirrors so I could follow you.

J: I did.

E: This one isn’t broken. I can see myself clearly.

J: It is broken. It’s in shards. Only the frame holds it together.

E: Oh. Yes. I can see the cracks and breaks now that you mention it. But it is the only mirror that reflects properly.

J: Yes. The others don’t understand.