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text 2017-04-09 15:10
A Drift of Quills for April 2017

 

With April, spring truly approaches in my neck of the woods—and I mean that literally, as I live on an island on the Mississippi. I watch the eagles nesting in a small island just off the one on which I live, see the cranes pose (are they doing yoga?) on the distant banks, and enjoy the seagulls as they dance with joy over the now-open water. So as spring has now sprung, we Quills turn our attention to a new topic, namely, “TV Shows We Enjoy.” Our focus is on the types of shows that grab our attention.

 

Let's hear what P.S. Broaddus, author of A Hero's Curse, has to say.

 

 

I love movies. TV shows. As mentioned, part of that love relates to the communal, shared-story aspect of film. I watch Person of Interest with my wife and Phineas & Ferb and Dinotrux with the boys. I watched Marvel's Netflix collaboration, Daredevil, which was particularly interesting as it featured a blind protagonist with super senses. How intriguingly fortuitous. But today, since I'm a young adult/middle-grade writer, I'll talk about . . .

 

Find out more here.

 

Next up is Robin Lythgoe, author of As the Crow Flies. What do you think, Robin?

 

 

I remember going through a period of time several years ago when I was bored with television. Oh, sure, there were some decent dramas to watch, and maybe few good action programs, but my speculative fiction soul positively yearned for fantasy and science fiction, and the pickin’s were extremely slim.

 

Read more here.

 

Finally, here are my thoughts.

 

 

I’d guess that it was over a period of about fifteen years that I watched little or nothing in the way of television series, whether dramas or comedies. As a political news junkie, other things held my attention. Moreover, I had young people in the house, and there were so many things I didn’t want them to see and to hear before their time. However, more recently, I thought it would be interesting to catch up on some of the shows I’d missed over the past years. I found that most of those of interest to me came from cable stations and/or are Netflix originals. Aside from the obvious series with the “political bent” (such as House of Cards), three main types have attracted my attention and they all relate in some way to my writing:  historical fiction, crimes and mystery, and fantasy/superhero. While I find television considerably more graphic overall, I’ve enjoyed some series, nonetheless.

 

There is more here.

 

What about you? What shows are your favorites? Which ones would you suggest that I watch?

 

While you're at our various sites, don't forget to sign up for our newsletters!

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text 2016-10-18 05:31
Strange Truths by S.D. Wasley Released Today!

 

For those of you following my "Alice England" posts, Strange Truths is a new YA mystery story by Sasha Wasley featuring Alice. It released today and can also be found on NetGalley if anyone is interested in checking it out. I'm really looking forward to reading/ reviewing my copy and finally finding out all about the mysterious Alice England. : ) 

 

 

Strange Truths 

Synopsis:

 

Why did she have to be so goddamn weird?

 

Mikey Warrender’s goals are within his grasp. On track for a spectacular swimming career in the last months of his senior year at school, his life seems ideal. A successful Senator father, a pretty, popular sister, and a girlfriend who acts and looks, well, perfect. They’ve had their share of trouble in the form of Mikey’s late twin, but that trouble died with Toby and now things can finally get back on track.

 

Until Alice England. Mikey couldn’t have been less interested in a friendless undertaker’s daughter who sees strange things and always speaks the truth—until she starts stalking him at school. Alice has reason to believe Tobias Warrender was reluctant to take that fatal dose of crystal meth. What’s more, she insists Mikey is grieving for his twin. Curious, Mikey lets Alice in—just for a moment—and before he knows what’s happening she’s wedged her foot in the door and busted his world wide open.

 

Alice leads him through a series of discoveries that make him look more closely at his own carefully constructed reality. Innocent yet knowing; kind yet devastatingly honest, Alice effortlessly unravels Mikey Warrender’s falsely safe world—and what really happened to Toby.

 

Strange Truths is a coming of age detective story that will appeal to adults both young and old(er), especially lovers of classical mystery with a twist.

 

 

Strange Truths

Excerpt:

 

It seemed like the girl Jasmine had identified as Alice England, the undertaker’s daughter, started haunting Mikey’s life. He’d never noticed her before, but now she was everywhere: in the hallways and library, passing by the pool building when he was running a swim squad meet, or outside his classroom window. He started looking for that particular burnt-red shade of her hair in amongst the throngs of students in the cafeteria, assembly hall, and locker room. She was always alone. Jasmine must be right in saying she had no friends.

She sure had the look of a genuine loner. Her gait was vague and preoccupied, her gaze trained absently on her own private thoughts… except that she had now developed an odd awareness of Mikey. She would lift her eyes to observe him as she passed him in the hall, her eyes invariably dropping to his chest. He hadn’t yet bothered to remove the Saint Cosmas pendant from the chain he always wore around his neck, so either the girl admired his physique, or she was interested in the saint medallion. Alice’s persistent staring irritated him, but not enough to make him remember to take the pendant off.

 

A few weeks after the funeral, while Mikey was in the school’s office organizing a day pass for his next swim meet, Alice came in. She handed a note to the receptionist.

 

“It’s for Mr. Cameron. I can’t attend the kayaking weekend because I work in my family’s business on Saturdays and Sundays. My father has signed it.”

 

The woman told Alice she would pass it on, but the girl didn’t leave right away. He checked her face. She was looking at him. Her solemn gaze remained on him until Mikey grew uncomfortable and glanced away, but when he looked back, she was still watching him, her eyes on his pendant. Unexpectedly, she raised her hand and took hold of a pendant at her own throat, holding it up to show him. Saint Cosmas. Mikey did a double take.

 

Alice nodded.

 

He did extra laps in the morning and bailed on the after-school session. It wasn’t a squad meeting, so he figured it was okay to skip. Mikey waited at a street corner between the school and Tranquility Funerals. He’d fobbed Jasmine off. She’d wanted to go for shakes with their friends, but Mikey couldn’t stand some of the girls in the group. He had no desire to sit through an afternoon with their inane, high-pitched remarks in his ears. Things were a little tense between them all around. Jasmine had been quiet on the topic of Mikey skipping Simona’s birthday party, and although she couldn’t argue with his reasons, he still got the feeling she was disappointed with him. He was already in trouble with her for developing an allergy to her favorite perfume. She had mostly stopped wearing it, but every few days she tried a small splash just to test him. He invariably fell into a violent sneezing fit within moments of meeting her. He knew that pissed Jasmine off, although she pretended not to mind.

 

The refusal to go with her to Harlem Shakes tipped the scales. She got pouty and cold, and within a couple of minutes of leaving with her friends, Jasmine texted him to say she felt hurt and abandoned. He knew when she was fishing for an apology, and gave her one, excusing his behavior by saying his shoulder was playing up again. His nagging case of swimmer’s shoulder was a convenient excuse whenever he needed time out from Jasmine―or any kind of excuse for poor boyfriend behavior.

 

There she was. Alice England. He spotted her walking toward him, on her way home, her hair pulled back into a messy ponytail. She gazed at the ground with a thoughtful frown on her face, carrying a battered canvas satchel like the ones kids used in the seventies and eighties.

 

“Hey,” Mikey said when she was just a few steps away.

 

Alice’s head came up and she regarded him with interest. “Hello, Michael.” Her eyes flicked to his pendant―like she was making sure it was still there. She stopped beside him.

 

“You walking home?” he asked.

 

“Yes.”

 

“I’m heading your way. Mind if I walk with you?”

 

Alice shrugged, but then stared with renewed interest. “You waited for me?”

 

Mikey reddened, although he wasn’t sure why he should feel flustered. “Yeah, I guess. I figured you had something you wanted to say to me.”

 

It was an accusation turned back on her. Alice took it calmly and considered his words without a hint of embarrassment.

 

“Do you miss your brother?” she asked.

 

Mikey nearly choked. Not one other kid at school had mentioned Toby since he died, although they all knew about it. A couple of Jasmine’s girlfriends had given him hugs and whispered that they were sorry, and Mikey’s buddy Flynn had punched his arm and then slung his own arm around Mikey’s neck for an instant to show recognition of the event―but that was as much as any other kid had done. Alice waited, her eyes on his face, alight with curiosity.

 

“I wasn’t close to Toby,” Mikey said.

 

“That’s not what I asked,” she remarked, but apparently without sarcasm or any kind of hidden meaning.

 

“I don’t miss him because I wasn’t very close to him. That was implied.”

 

She resumed walking and Mikey walked with her. He checked to see if anyone was around, watching them. He didn’t exactly want to be seen with Alice England.

 

“It must have been rather a relief,” she said. “He was in trouble a lot.”

 

“You saw the news, huh?” The level of bitterness in his own voice surprised even him.

 

Alice shook her head. “I read one article. Tobias was addicted to drugs and I think he got caught stealing to pay for them a few times. Is that right?”

 

Mikey didn’t speak. This was what they were going to discuss? Toby’s rap sheet? Was the girl feeding the press or something? He shot her a suspicious glance but dismissed the idea a moment later. She was too weird to have cut a deal with the press. A girl like Alice wouldn’t even know where to begin. But he could interrogate, too.

 

“Why are you so interested in my pendant?” he asked.

 

For the first time, Alice’s honest eyes spoke of some kind of connection with him―because he’d been so blunt with his question, Mikey figured.

 

“It’s because I realized Tobias was a twin when I was tending to his body. Your mother supplied a Saint Damian pendant for him to wear. I know about the Saints Cosmas and Damian, the patron saints of twins.”

 

Alice’s light, sweet voice made her sound fragile. It had a vaguely hypnotic effect. He focused on her words.

 

“You’ve got a Cosmas, too.”

 

“Yes. They usually give Cosmas to the firstborn twin.”

 

“Firstborn by nine minutes,” Mikey answered.

 

“Four minutes,” was her reply.

 

“Four minutes; nine minutes―and we get the Saint Cosmas pendant as the reward for winning the race.” Mikey permitted himself a wry grin.

 

“As well as the traditional family name. Primogeniture, Michael Warrender the Fourth.”

Alice said this without a shadow of humor, and Mikey searched her face furiously for layered meanings. He couldn’t detect a thing. He didn’t know that word she’d said, but he knew exactly what she meant. It smarted, although he wasn’t completely sure why, and he got defensive.

 

“Okay, what about your twin?” he said, pulling his eyes away from Alice’s open face as he made his attack. “What happened to yours?”

 

Alice paused for a brief moment before answering. “My twin was born dead. Our umbilical cords were tangled around us both. My leg, and my twin’s neck.”

 

Mikey felt like a dumb jerk. Clearly, Alice was a little like a kindergartener: brutally honest and without much of a filter to make her interactions socially appropriate.

 

“You were lucky,” he said, for want of a better reply.

 

“I was. My leg’s no good, though.”

“What d’you mean?”

 

“The circulation to my leg got cut off and the muscles have never developed properly. I’ve had physiotherapy, but it’s just weak and inferior. It even looks strange.” She stopped and hitched up her skirt to reveal her bare leg.

 

Although it was an innocent gesture, the sudden feeling of his sexual interest spiking embarrassed him. Jesus, Michael, he rebuked himself. He didn’t know where to look, but Alice waited patiently for him to bring his eyes to the leg. Finally, he looked. There wasn’t anything too abnormal at first glance, but when he focused on what he was looking at, he saw spidery surface veins and some discoloration.

 

“It looks fine,” he said because she seemed to be waiting for a response.

 

Then Alice hitched her skirt on the other side so he could see both legs against each other. He saw how one creamy-colored thigh looked somehow much healthier than the other, which was bluish and blotchy. He also got a glimpse of bright green underwear. Again, the little surge of thoroughly unexpected and unwanted desire. Damn the girl for showing him her legs and underwear in such an ingenuous manner. It made him feel disgusting and guilty about having a physical reaction. If Jasmine had been the one hitching up her skirt to show him her smooth, tanned legs, she would have caught his eye and smirked flirtatiously. Alice was peering down at her own legs, observing their variation critically, as though she wasn’t quite convinced of her own story. She dropped her school skirt and lifted her head to look at his face again.

 

“Yes, so for me it was the leg, and for my twin, it was the neck. I imagine us doing a kind of synchronized swimming in the uterus, getting all tangled up.”

 

Surely this must be a joke? An odd attempt at humor? Mikey started to smile, waiting for her to grin or giggle, but Alice simply resumed walking. He scrambled to catch up.

 

“My twin had a Saint Damian’s pendant, but my parents didn’t bury her with it. She was just a tiny infant, and I’ve seen it many times―newborns that the parents want buried with a pendant or other jewelry they’ve bought specially. But jewelry can look wrong on a baby; it seems to take away from the innocence and purity. The parents usually change their minds when they see how big and ugly jewelry looks on their tiny babies.” Alice glanced at him.

 

“My parents kept my twin sister’s pendant. It belongs to me now.” The honesty in her face was almost physically painful for Mikey. “Your mother asked for the Saint Damian’s pendant back,” she added. “She told me she needed to keep that one small thing of his for you.”

 

Mikey’s chest suddenly felt like a cavern, barely holding up under its own hollow weight. He’d not felt a thing for Toby for a couple of years, well, nothing but contempt. But when he thought of Alice keeping her sister’s pendant, and his own mother keeping Toby’s pendant for him, he felt… well, he felt like…

 

“I’m home, now.”

 

“What?” he said in agitation. He went to run a hand through his hair but caught hold of it instead, tugging on it in an attempt to clear his head.

 

“I’m home.”

 

Alice stood neatly by the steps outside Tranquility Funerals. Next to the front door was a modest sign, an old brass plaque that read, England’s Funeral Parlor Est. 1906.

 

“Goodbye, Michael,” she said, turning around to climb the steps.

 

She went through a gate at the side of the house. Mikey wanted to call out to her, to stop her from walking away, but there was no reason he could think of to do so without looking irrational and crazy, so he just watched her go.

 

Enjoy!

"I hope you enjoyed the excerpt and would love to hear your thoughts on the book."

Sasha

 

Visit S.D. Wasley

Visit Alice on Instagram 

Visit England's Funeral Parlor

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text 2016-10-05 18:45
Alice England Scavenger Hunt!

Some of you may have heard of Alice England. She’s the star of an upcoming mystery novel from Curiosity Quills. Alice has talked the publisher into running a little game – a find and unscramble-the-letters puzzle to reveal the title of the book, set to release October 17, 2016.

 

The 13 letters are scattered across a number of book blogger and author websites, each linking to the next. Start the trail here (http://bit.ly/2dEZofi) to collect the letters, and you will finish up at the entry form to submit your guess and go in the draw to win a 2-book pack from Curiosity Quills and a print of your choice by Evie Seo.

 

 

When you submit your guess, you will also find out the correct title and get to see the cover in advance of the official reveal. Look for letters in an aquamarine square with the seashell key symbol.

 

Write down the letter and click to proceed to the next clue!

 

Good luck!

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review 2016-08-01 15:31
The Faraday Files - Book #2
The Timeseer's Gambit (The Faraday Files Book 2) - Kate McIntyre

The Timeseer's Gambit is the second book in The Faraday Files series by a fantastic up & coming author, Kate McIntyre. I fell in love with the first book The Deathsniffer's Assisstant when I read it last year and I have been not-so-patiently waiting a whole year for this second book. I can't get enough of the brash Olivia Faraday and her sensitive and meek assistant, Chris. They are quite the dynamic duo! 

 

In this new book, both characters are growing and developing. Olivia is showing a little more of a caring and sensitive side which is a side we don't normally see of her and Chris has grown more adept at handling Olivia's brashness.

 

McIntyre also tackles the complexities of sexuality and we get to see Chris as he deals with his desires for both his friend Will and his sister's nanny, Rachel. On top of that, someone is using bound elementals to kill priests and Dr. Livingstone's trial for the Floating Castle murders is drawing near. Can Olivia and Chris find their first serial killer and free and innocent man before time runs out?? You'll have to read and see...

 

If you're in the mood for something a little different, give The Faraday Files a try. The imaginative world building, complex characters and superb writing combine to make a one-of-a-kind series! I can't wait to see what McIntyre has in store for us next!

 

 

*I received this ARC from the publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

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text 2016-07-25 20:10
A Drift of Quills - August 2016

 

I swear the earth tilts back and forth (hence, our seasonal changes) faster and faster all of the time! Can you believe it is August already? Well, with its debut comes the monthly post for we Quills. It is a particularly exciting time for us, as we've just added a new member, Parker Broaddus, who publishes under the author name, P.S. Broaddus.

 

In celebration of Parker's joining us, we decided we would interview him. 

 

So, Parker, here's your first question(s): What are your earliest memories of reading as a child? Did you visit a library regularly? A bookmobile? How did that impact your life as a reader and/or writer?

 

 

I recall reading quite a bit as a kid. One of my earliest favorites was Call it Courage, by Armstrong Sperry. I loved it! I drifted toward adventure stores and we had a whole shelf of G.A. Henty's historical novels that I enjoyed.

 

Read more here.

 

 

Robin Lythgoe, author of As the Crow Flies, has another question for Parker. Go ahead, Robin!

 

When we had Parker as a guess on the Quills a few months ago, Patricia and I liked his style and his wonderful sense of humor so much that we . . . 

 

Read more here.

 

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