Monday, March 19, 2018

Authors To Watch: Ashley Warren, Author of Survivors' Dawn

Diana Forbes is a 9th generation American, with ancestors on both sides of the Civil War. Diana Forbes lives and writes in Manhattan. When she is not cribbing chapters, Diana Forbes loves to explore the buildings where her 19th Century American ancestors lived, loved, survived and thrived. Prior to publication, Diana Forbes’s debut won 1st place in the Missouri Romance Writers of America (RWA) Gateway to the Best Contest for Women’s Fiction. A selection from the novel was a finalist in the Wisconsin RWA “Fab Five” Contest for Women’s Fiction. Mistress Suffragette won 1st place in the Chanticleer Chatelaine Award’s Romance and Sensual category, and was shortlisted for the Somerset Award in Literary Fiction. Mistress Suffragette won Silver in the North American Book Awards and was a Winner of the Book Excellence Awards for Romance. Mistress Suffragette was also a Kirkus Best Indies Book of 2017. The author is passionate about vintage clothing, antique furniture, ancestry, and vows to master the quadrille in her lifetime. Diana Forbes is the author of New York Gilded Age historical fiction.



Author: Diana Forbes
Publisher: Penmore Press
Pages: 392
Genre: Romance/Historical Fiction/Victorian/Political/NY Gilded Age Fiction

A young woman without prospects at a ball in Gilded Age Newport, Rhode Island is a target for a certain kind of “suitor.” At the Memorial Day Ball during the Panic of 1893, impoverished but feisty Penelope Stanton quickly draws the unwanted advances of a villainous millionaire banker who preys on distressed women—the incorrigible Mr. Daggers. Better known as the philandering husband of the stunning socialite, Evelyn Daggers, Edgar stalks Penelope.

Skilled in the art of flirtation, Edgar is not without his charms, and Penelope is attracted to him against her better judgment. Meanwhile a special talent of Penelope’s makes her the ideal candidate for a paying job in the Suffrage Movement.

In a Movement whose leaders are supposed to lead spotless lives, Penelope’s torrid affair with Mr. Daggers is a distraction and early suffragist Amy Adams Buchanan Van Buren, herself the victim of a faithless spouse, urges Penelope to put an end to it. But can she?

Searching for sanctuary in three cities, Penelope will need to discover her hidden reserves of courage and tenacity. During a glittering age where a woman’s reputation is her most valuable possession, Penelope must decide whether to compromise her principles for love.


Amazon | Barnes & Noble

At what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I was always writing from the age of 5. When I was 6 I started keeping a diary, like Harriet the Spy. After that, I wrote poems, followed by articles for my school paper. By the time I was in college I knew I wanted to be a writer.

Do you take notes when reading or watching a movie?

Yes! I mark up every book I ever read with Post-It notes and underscores. When friends want to lend me a book, I tell them “Don’t lend it to me. Give it to me. Because If I have to give it back to you it will be unrecognizable.”

Has writing always been a passion for you or did you discover it years later?

I always knew I wanted to be a writer. The issue was: what form would the writing take, and was I brave enough to tackle fiction?

Can you name three writing tips to pass on to aspiring authors?

I am a big believer in Stephen King’s idea of “putting your butt I in the chair and just writing.” I write for 5 hours a day, and try for 7 or 8. It is true that you have to build up your writing muscle. Some writers I know do it by pages, but for me the number of hours per day is a better predictor of success. But when I am done, I am done! I have a separate office that I commute to, and once I am finished for the day I try to leave the writing behind. One thing that has also helped me is taking writing classes. I take two in-person writing classes a week, every week.

Do you let unimportant things get in the way of your writing?

Sometimes I try to take the emotion of it and put that in my writing. Unimportant things can inform your writing without hurting your writing or your writing schedule.

What hours do you write best?

I am a morning writer. By 6 p.m. it’s time to hit the gym!

How often do you write?

Every day, including Saturday and Sunday.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Welcome Reluctant Stranger by Evy Journey

WELCOME RELUCTANT STRANGER by Evy Journey, Multicultural Women's Fiction, 314 pp., $12.50 (Paperback) $2.99 (Kindle edition)

Author: Evy Journey
Publisher: Sojourner Books
Pages: 314
Genre: Multicultural Women’s Fiction

What happens when a brokenhearted computer nerd and culinary whiz gets rescued by a relationship phobic psychologist with a past that haunts her? For Leilani and Justin, it’s an attraction they can’t deny but which each is reluctant to pursue. More so for Leilani whose family had to flee their troubled country when she was only nine.

Leilani is focused on leaving the past behind, moving forward. But when she learns the truth behind her family’s flight—the shocking, shameful secret about her father’s role in a deadly political web—she is devastated.

Is her father a hero or a villain?  Can she deal with the truth?

But the past is impossible to run away from. Together with Justin, she must get her father out of her former home. Can she forgive her father, accept him for what he is? And can she reconnect with her roots and be at peace with who she is?

Order Your Copy!

Prologue: Roots
If you could see heat, you would see it that day rising from the concrete paving in the schoolyard, colliding with rays plummeting from the sun. The light was blinding, the heat oppressive.
The schoolyard was unlike most others on this tiny island on the Pacific. A concrete wall, eight-feet high and topped with countless pieces of broken glass embedded into the concrete, surrounded both the school and the perimeter of the 30,000 square foot yard. A young woman fully covered—except for her face and hands—in the white habit of a Catholic novice, circled the yard, watching pupils play.
About a hundred girls, ages six to eleven, clad in dark blue skirts and white shirts with peter pan collars loosely tied with wide, dark blue bows, formed groups around three or four games. Despite the buzz of activity, no one shouted, shrieked, or raised a ruckus.
The girls ignored the heat as they played in the few minutes they had for recess. All, except one girl. She sat in the shade, smiling, content with observing everyone else, and enjoying the light breeze that blew now and then.
Younger girls hovered around rectangular hopscotch courses drawn with chalk on the cemented yard. Some older pupils ran games of tag but the majority, along with a few younger ones, waited in a long line to take their turn at jumping rope.
From a slatted wooden bench, Leilani watched the game with cool interest until her best friend, Myrna, ran into the arc of the spinning rope to join another girl from her class. Leilani leaned forward.
Two girls, each holding one end of the rope, swung vigorously down, sideways, up, and around over and over. The rope whirled so fast that all Leilani saw was an elliptical form pinched at its ends, like a sausage bulging in the middle. Inside, the girls jumped, as fast and as high as they could to evade the whirling rope. If they got their feet caught, they lost and had to get out. The player who lasted longest won.
Myrna was good at it, maybe the best. She skipped like a fawn and could outlast everyone else Leilani had seen. Before long, the other girl gave up and yielded her place to another. Leilani clapped hard for her friend, a wide smile wiping away the pout on her lips.
“Why aren’t you with the other girls, Leilani?”
Leilani turned as Sister Young sat on the bench next to her. Sister Young was the newest novice who alternated with another novice, Sister Mariano, in watching the children in the schoolyard. Leilani liked Sister Mariano better. She had a nicer smile and she spoke in a soft, sweet voice. Sister Young, tall, thin, light-skinned, and sharp-featured, looked like she disapproved of everyone. And she was too nosy.
Leilani shrugged, her pout returning, as she turned her attention back to the girls skipping rope.
“Is anything wrong, Leilani?”
“No. It’s too hot to play.”
“Your classmates don’t seem to think so. Myrna looks like she’s having fun.”
“Myrna likes to jump rope better than school.”
Sister Young chuckled. “I can understand that. When I was your age, I preferred running around with my brothers than playing with my dolls or reading. But what about you? What do you like to do best?”
“Watch people.”
“Is there much fun in that?” Sister Young sounded as if she believed the opposite.
Leilani shrugged again. The novice said nothing more for a few minutes.
Myrna jumped out of the spinning rope, yielding her place to a girl who had just joined her in it. Standing outside the arc of the rope, she swiped her arm across her face and wiped it on her shirt. She ambled to the side and dropped her butt down next to one of the girls swinging the rope.
“She must be tired,” Leilani mumbled to herself, sitting back on the bench and sticking her lower lip out farther.
Sister Young said, “What did you say?”
“How’s your family doing, Leilani?”
“Sister Mariano told me your father is a doctor who’s part of the team that takes care of the president. You must be very proud of him.”
“He’s no better than other doctors.”
“But he must be pretty good to be on the team. Do you see him much? I know doctors can’t keep regular working hours like others do.”
“I see him enough.”
“What about your mother?”
“Mamá is Mamá.”
“Does she work?”
Leilani scowled. “She paints her nails different colors every day and fills lots of vases with flowers.” She knew no one who worked, among the mothers of her classmates. She added, “We have maids who do the housework.”
“Like all the families of the other children here, I’m sure.”
Leilani turned toward Sister Young. “Didn’t you have maids when you lived at home?”
“No. I learned to clean and cook by the time I was your age.”
Leilani stared at the young novice. She wanted to say something nice to her, but what? Cooking and cleaning at her age—nine years old—seemed like punishment. How did a child tell someone older and able to order them around that she was sorry? She reached her hand out to touch Sister Young, but remembered that school rules did not allow touching between teachers and pupils. So, she regarded her in sympathy and the novice acknowledged it with gratitude in her eyes.
The bell rang, announcing the end of recess. Leilani jumped up from the bench. Although she felt close to Sister Young for a few moments, she was relieved to be free of her. She joined Myrna in the line for girls from her class.
“Oh, Myrna, you’re sweating into your white shirt. Your uniform has stains on it.”
“Yes, lucky our skirt is dark. I’m sure it’s dirtier than my white shirt.”
“Is that why you stopped skipping rope?”
“Yeah, but it’s too hot, anyway.”
“The stains—will your Mamá be angry with you?”
Myrna shrugged. “She doesn’t care. But Nana will give me a scolding. You’re lucky your parents didn’t get you a Nana.”
Leilani crinkled her nose. She had once asked her father for one. “No. Mamá thinks she and no else should take care of us. I’ll bet she’s stricter than your Nana.”
“Keep it down, girls,” Sister Young said as she led the line of girls back into the school.
Everyone stopped talking as they entered the classroom where Sister Lourdes, their math teacher, waited. A middle-aged nun with a thin face, whose smiling eyes had etched upward creases on the corners, she was kind but she inspired awe. Her pupils knew quite well what that set to her jaw meant: She was determined to make them as proficient, if not better, in math as boys. She followed up on her mission by rigorous training, starting each day with written exercises on lessons and homework of the previous day.
Leilani calculated that she spent more time studying math than other subjects, although literature was her favorite. She wanted to please Sister Lourdes.
A quarter of an hour later, only the scratching of pencils on paper and the swishing of the nun’s habit, as she paced between desks, could be heard in the room. The class was absorbed doing the written arithmetic exercise of the day. Every second pupil or so, Sister Lourdes peered discreetly down the girl’s back to gauge her progress.
Leilani sensed the nun’s presence behind her. She bent lower over her work. She had solved two-thirds of the problems halfway through the allotted time but she did not want her teacher to see her progress until she finished. A soft knock on the door saved her from the sister’s watchful eyes. The nun hurried to the front of the classroom. Leilani sighed in relief.
A low but excited buzz of voices broke the relative quiet of the room as Leilani and many other girls raised their heads from their work. Before Sister Lourdes reached the door, it swung open and the principal entered. Behind her, a visitor walked in, partly hidden by the principal’s layers of black and white habit.
The principal once said she was anxious not to disrupt lessons, so she rarely came to their classrooms. She had meant to reassure them of her unwavering interest in growing their minds. Instead, she aroused curiosity and anxiety when she did come—reactions that grew more acute when she brought a visitor along.
A visitor meant some pupil was going to be singled out, taken out of the classroom for some shameful or unhappy reason in her family. If she had a problem having to do with school, she usually had to go to the principal’s office. That was the rarest event of all, and it caused greater shame.
“Mamá,” Leilani muttered, when the visitor came out in full view from behind the principal. Her mother picked her and her sister, Carmen, up when school was over, but she never entered the school grounds. She waited in her car.
She was staring at her now, her lips pressed into a line, as if she was holding back an urge to cry or to shout. Deep creases on her brow cast shadows on her eyes. Something disturbed her. Something terribly wrong.
Leilani turned toward the huddled heads of the principal and Sister Lourdes who had been talking in hushed voices. She thought, they’re talking too long, as she put the stubby end of her pencil in her mouth, and bit on it so hard that the eraser broke off.
She spat the broken piece in her hand and looked around at her classmates, their faces animated with malicious delight. They were relishing the little drama unfolding before them, squirming with anticipation for what was to follow.
She knew what it was like, watching and waiting for trouble to fall on another. But the visitor was her mother and she looked much too worried.
Before long, the principal stepped back and Sister Lourdes faced the class. Leilani knew what was coming. She held her breath. Today was her turn—the unfortunate girl drawn into a familiar scenario, the butt of the week’s jokes for her often bored classmates. She had known it would come, and though she was sure it was impossible, she wished she could will it away.
Later that afternoon, they would gossip. Taunt arrogant, aloof Leilani, finally pulled down from her pedestal by the disgrace of being taken out of the class by her nervous mother.
Her teacher said, “Leilani, please gather all your things and give me your work. I’ll grade whatever you finish. You must go with your mother at once.”
To Leilani’s relief, instead of the whispered guessing and curious stares she had anticipated, her classmates hushed up. Maybe, like her, they sensed something terrible. Their teacher spoke in a tone they had never heard before, a tone so solemn that her usual calm demeanor seemed as troubled as her mother’s.
Leilani seized pencils, books, and notebooks off her desk and hastily stuffed them in her bag. Her arms were trembling and she could not zip up her bag. She picked it up, hugging it close to her chest.
Myrna, who sat behind her, leaned over and said, “Call me tonight.”
Leilani nodded without turning toward her friend. She marched, head straight and gaze forward, toward the waiting adults.
Sister Lourdes lightly tapped the top of her head. “Don’t worry. I’ll take the number of right answers you gave against the total number you finished. That’s fair, don’t you think?”
Leilani nodded.
“Thank you, Sister Lourdes,” her mother said. “Let’s hope she can come back to school tomorrow. She doesn’t like to miss any of her classes.”
“You’re welcome, Mrs. Torres. And don’t worry about Leilani’s progress. She catches up very quickly. I’ll give her extra exercises, but I don’t think she’ll need them. I hope things turn out all right for your family.”
Leilani felt her mother’s hand pushing her toward the door. She was impatient to be out of there.
In the car, her older sister Carmen waited in the front passenger seat. They bobbed their heads in greeting.
Leilani threw her schoolbag on the back seat and climbed in. She was dying to know what was going on, but she knew better than to ask. They hardly ever talked in the car. Their mother insisted on silence while she was driving.
She and Carmen needed only one incident to learn that their mother meant what she said. One day, they continued their banter after she told them to stop. Without warning, she slammed on the brakes and Carmen, who always took the front seat, hit her head on the dashboard. Leilani fell on the floor. Carmen sported a bump on her head for days after that.
Leilani was impatient to be home, certain that her sister knew what was going on. Unlike her, Carmen could coax things out of their mother. She would not hold anything back, eager to show Leilani that their mother trusted her and liked her better. Leilani refused to believe her sister, but conceded that because Carmen was thirteen—nearly a young woman—their mother told her grown-up things.
For now, Leilani would play her waiting game.  She tried to calm down, but her resolve lasted only until her mother turned at a street. She could not hold her tongue then.
“This isn’t the way home. Where are we going?”
Neither her sister nor her mother answered and all she could do was wait to see where her mother was taking them. She scooted close to the window and watched all the buildings they were passing by.
A while later, she heard the drone of planes flying low above them and recognized the streets they were on. She knew it. They were off to a place away from home. She was not about to be dragged away, without knowing why.
“We’re near the airport. What’s going on? Are we going somewhere?”
Her sister said, “Just shut up, will you? You’re getting on my nerves.”
Carmen was quick to notice and use their mother’s expressions. “Getting on my nerves” was their mother’s way of telling her children to go away. Leilani heard it often enough that she could tell from the way she glared and parted her lips that her mother was about to say it. Leilani learned to walk away before she could utter those words.
But, trapped for the moment, she could only comply.
At the airport, Mrs. Torres parked the car in a ten-minute zone and said, “Get all your things. Don’t leave anything in the car and keep quiet until we’re out of here.”
She went to the back of the car and took two suitcases out, one large and the other small. She banged the trunk close but did not bother to lock the car, as she usually did.
“What about Papá and Rudy?” Leilani cried. Were they escaping? But where to and why? And from what?
Again, neither her mother nor her sister answered. Her mother handed Carmen the small suitcase. Carmen handed Leilani her schoolbag.
As she rushed alongside her mother and sister inside the airport building, she began to imagine stories about escaping and became excited at the idea of it. Her heart raced and her whole body tingled. They were off on an adventure. Any adventure was welcome. She had so little of it in school, and less at home.
Walking briskly, carrying two schoolbags heavy with books, she sweated profusely. Her arms ached and her legs groaned. The air conditioning helped, but that was over too soon. They passed through the building before she could cool down.
Out in the sun, their mother ran in front of them, toward a small plane waiting on the tarmac. She looked back at them and shouted, “Run, you two. You move like turtles.”
Her mother was actually laughing, as if she shared and enjoyed her fantasy that they were about to embark on a great adventure.
Leilani was bewildered. The fear in her mother’s eyes and her mouth had been palpable not only when she stared at her inside the classroom, but also when she drove towards the airport, gripping the steering wheel so tight that, from the back passenger seat, Leilani could see the muscles in her arms twitching.
Leilani and Carmen ran faster, laughing, infected by their mother’s mirth. Leilani felt light and carefree. Everything was going to be all right. But the feeling lasted only a few short minutes.
Before they reached the plane, she saw a man she remembered seeing with her father once. He was a big man with alert, suspicious eyes that Leilani found menacing. He waited for them at the foot of the steps to the plane.
He took the suitcase from her mother’s hand and said, “I’m sorry, Mrs. Torres, I couldn’t get him out. Rudy is waiting for you inside the plane. He’s in the front row.”
The laughter died from her mother’s face and deep worry crept back on her brow. The man was clearly talking about her father. Something awful was going on and no one was telling them anything about it. She had to find out what it was.
Inside the plane, she spotted her brother sitting on an aisle seat. He stood to let her and Carmen pass to the seats next to him. As was Carmen’s habit on a bus, a train, or a plane, she claimed the window seat and Leilani had to content herself with the place wedged between her and Rudy. At least her brother, the oldest among them, liked her better than Carmen. He would tell her what was going on.
Her mother took the aisle seat across from Rudy. He helped her place the small luggage Carmen carried in the compartment above her.
Before she sat down, she reached out silently, reassuring each of them with a tender pat on their hands. But Leilani caught the sadness in her eyes.
Rudy sat down again and buckled himself in place.
Leilani said in a soft subdued voice, “Where’s Papá?”
“He couldn’t come. But he should follow us soon.”
“What’s going on, Rudy? Where are we going?”
“I don’t know any more than you do. The guy you saw by the steps? I know him. He picked me up at school, said he had a letter from Papá to me. But I wasn’t supposed to open it until after we get to where we’re going. It’s in my jacket pocket. Then, he brought me here without telling me anything more.”
“Are we escaping? Is Papá in trouble?”
“Why do you say that?”
Leilani pouted and scowled. “Because … Why doesn’t anyone say anything and why is everything so mysterious? Can’t you open the letter now?”
Rudy shook his head. “No! You’ll have to wait, like me.”
“Does Mamá know what’s going on?”
“She must, but you know Mamá. She thinks her main role is to protect Papá, at all costs.”
“But why does Papá need protecting? Did he do something wrong?”
“I’m as clueless as you about this,” Rudy said, scowling and getting irritated.
“What about my clothes? My dolls? I promised to call Myrna.”
“I think Mamá might have brought a few clothes in that big suitcase.”
“But where’s that suitcase?”
“The stewardess put it away on a luggage rack. Now, Lani, will you shut up until we get to wherever we’re headed?”
Leilani pouted again, leaned back against the seat, and closed her eyes. She was going to sleep if nobody wanted to talk to her. Still, she did not give up that easily. She would find out somehow.
Not long after, she felt her brother’s hand on her arm. He whispered in her ear.
“I’ll tell you this, though you won’t like it. Be prepared. For anything.”
“Why?” She tried to whisper but her shrill voice rose above the whirr of the plane.
“Shhh! I don’t know much, but I’ve seen and heard enough. We’re not going back home. Ever. No more Myrna. And you’ll have to make do with the few clothes Mamá packed for you until Papá comes.”

Evy Journey, SPR (Self Publishing Review) Independent Woman Author awardee, is a writer, a wannabe artist, and a flâneuse. Her pretensions to being a flâneuse means she wishes she lives in Paris where people have perfected the art of aimless roaming. She’s lived in Paris few times as a transient.
She's a writer because beautiful prose seduces her and existential angst continues to plague her even though such preoccupations have gone out of fashion. She takes occasional refuge by invoking the spirit of Jane Austen and spinning tales of love, loss, and finding one’s way—stories into which she weaves mystery or intrigue and sets in various locales.
In a previous life, armed with a Ph.D. and fascinated by the psyche, she researched and shepherded  the development of mental health programs. And wrote like an academic. Not a good thing if you want to sound like a normal person. So, she began to write fiction (mostly happy fiction) as an antidote.
Her latest book is Welcome Reluctant Stranger.




Authors To Watch: Mike Martin, Author of 'A Tangled Web'

Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a longtime freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand. He is the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People and has written a number of short stories that have published in various publications including Canadian Stories and Downhome magazine.

The Walker on the Cape was his first full fiction book and the premiere of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series. Other books in the series include The Body on the T, Beneath the Surface, A Twist of Fortune and A Long Ways from Home.

A Long Ways from Home was shortlisted for the 2017 Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year. A Tangled Web is the newest book in the series.



Author: Mike Martin
Publisher: Booklocker
Pages: 338
Genre: Mystery

Life is good for Sgt. Wind­flower in Grand Bank, Newfoundland. But something’s missing from the Mountie’s life. Actually, a lot of things go missing, including a little girl and supplies from the new factory. It’s Windflower’s job to unravel the tangled web of murder, deceit and an accidental kidnapping that threatens to engulf this sleepy little town and destroy those closest to him. But there’s always good food, good friends and the love of a great woman to make everything better in the end.

A TANGLED WEB is available at Amazon.

We welcome you to My Bookish Pleasures! Can you tell us how you got started writing fiction?

I have always been a writer, but most of my writing was from my head and not from my heart. I wrote business articles and created newsletters and wrote speeches and backgrounders. Then, I became a freelance writer and started writing a little more about what I wanted to write about, but still writing from my head about what I thought and what I knew. But I realized something was missing. I started writing short stories for my friends and family and that felt good. So, I kept going and found my connection to the creative flow and began writing from my heart. That appeared as my first real works of fiction. Six books later, I’m still going.

Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?

I write from inspiration and try and connect to the creative flow that I believe exists in and around all of us. I find a beginning. Usually it is a scene or a picture or something in the news that catches my attention. That’s my starting point. If it has resonance I begin writing about what I see and the rest of the story comes along. I write first thing in the morning and I have a quota of words I have to hit. If I don’t finish in the morning, I go back later and make up my word count. I can write anywhere that is calm and quiet. Not in a coffee shop!!

Can you tell us about your most recent release?

A Tangled Web is the latest book in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series which is set in Newfoundland, on the easternmost tip of Canada. It is the latest adventure for Sgt. Windflower and while there are crimes and even murders, there is also great friends, food and adventure. The series is short on police procedures and long on finding the joy in everyday life.

How did you get the idea for the book?

For me, every book kind of starts the same way, with some connection to a picture or scene. In the case of A Tangled Web, I actually did see a truck parked near the brook in Grand Bank one day and thought that some small child could climb inside, without anyone noticing. Months later, when I sat down to start the new book, that image was still there.

Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

My favorite character from the series and from A Tangled Web is Sheila, Sgt. Windflower’s wife. She is much more than his wife, she is a business woman and the Mayor of Grand Bank. She is Windflower’s moral compass and guide to society. She is definitely the smarter and stronger of the pair and even asked him to marry her. She is his rock and the underpinning of the series.

What projects are you currently working on?

I have at least one more Sgt. Windflower book left to write. But that’s what I said after the first book. The reason I say that with some certainty is that the story isn’t over yet. Some wise person once said that the story is only really over after the author dies. I have little intention of doing that right now, so I think I will write another Windflower mystery.

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring fiction authors?

I had no idea of where to even begin writing a novel so I did what was suggested to me, which I offer as advice to all aspiring writers: Read about how other writers did it. One book that really helped was Stephen King’s “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” and in this book and others I learned that the way to write a novel was to start and then to keep at it until it was finished. It didn’t matter about the weather, or money, or the economy, or relationships, or even family or sickness or anything. If you want to write a book, you just get up every day and you do it. Good luck with your writing.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Authors To Watch: Michael Robert Dyet, Author of 'Hunting Muskie'

Michael Robert Dyet is the Metaphor Guy. Novelist, short story writer, closet philosopher, chronicler of life’s mysteries – all through the lens of metaphor. He is the author of Hunting Muskie: Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet, Blue Denim Press, October 2017.

Michael is also the author of Until The Deep Water Stills: An Internet-Enhanced Novel – traditional print novel (self-published) with a unique and ground-breaking online companion featuring text, imagery and audio recordings. This novel was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Michael posts weekly in his blog: Metaphors of Life Journal aka Things That Make Me Go Hmmm

Metaphors of Life Journal Blog:
Novel Online Companion:



Life becomes a search to find our way back home after unexpected storms knock us off course. This collection of 16 stories reflects that deep urge to return to where we feel at peace. The journey back becomes a rite of passage.

The title story, “Hunting Muskie”, sets the tone – the hunt to find and subdue an unseen foe. Each of
the other stories elaborates on this theme.

Hunter is haunted by the mistake that defined his life. A chance encounter sets Edward on a search for answers. An act of bullying committed decades ago brings a day of reckoning for Quentin. Will must pay the ransom of conscience. A shocking event causes Laurel to fall victim to a temptation she cannot rationalize. Huck shuts out the loss he cannot face until he can deny it no longer. Malcolm seeks atonement for a desperate act committed in the name of love.

The longer piece, Slipstream, ties together the connecting threads: the powerful forces that derail us, how we are driven to search for answers and the harsh truth that redemption often comes at a price.


Amazon | Barnes & Noble

We welcome you to My Bookish Pleasures! Can you tell us how you got started writing fiction?

From an early age, words began to spin in my mind in search for that sudden light of insight and clarity. It has always been my desire to make sense of life through the creative exploration of language and story-telling. I am convinced that writing is encoded into the spiral helix of my DNA.

My earliest recollection of catching the bug was in grade six in elementary school. At that time, Composition was a regular assignment and my favourite exercise. One of the suggested subjects was The Autobiography of a Dollar Bill. I embraced the idea and wove a complex, humorous tale of all the hands that a dollar bill passed through including a bank robbery. My composition was enthusiastically received and I was hooked on writing from that day forward.

Canadian literary icon Margaret Atwood was once asked in an interview: What made you decide to become a writer? Her answer was ironic but revealing: A big thumb came down from the sky, pointed at me and said You.

Aside from expressing that she was tired of answering the question, I believe Atwood meant that one never really decides to become a writer. At some point, you realize that for better or worse you are one. It is something you simply must do to be psychologically and emotionally healthy. This has been my experience and my writing is informed by it.

Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?
The process actually starts at a subconscious level. I recognize potential for story ideas in real-life events and incidents. These experiences have to be absorbed into the deeper recesses of my brain to be processed and shaped by unconscious thought.

It is much like the process that forms a pearl. The experience is shaped and polished by subconscious pondering. Sometime later, months or even years down the line when the time is right, it remerges as a precious gem I can build a narrative around.

I always start by constructing a loose outline for the story. I need to see the arc of the storyline from start to finish even though I know it will evolve as I go. Once I have the outline, I push as quickly as possible through the first, very rough draft. This is the grunt work. It is a grind, but I have to go through it.

What follows is a series of revisions where I flesh out the narrative and the characters and refine the metaphors. (Metaphors are central to my writing.)  The plot can change a little or a lot during this process. I am working toward a vision which becomes gradually clearer as I go along.

The final step in the process is a series of what I think of as “polishing revisions”. Nips and tucks, fiddling with the narrative voice and sharpening the focus – AKA polishing the pearl. This is my favourite part of the process. I often do five or six of these polish revisions before I am satisfied.

Can you tell us about your most recent release?
Hunting Muskie: Rites of Passage is a literary fiction short story collection. The common thread in the 16 stories is the search and the struggle to find our way back home after the unexpected storms of life knock us off course. Each story reflects that deep urge to return to where we feel at peace. The title story, Hunting Muskie, sets the tone – the hunt to find and subdue an unseen foe.

The collection opens with a novella length piece, Slipstream, which was written at the request of my publisher as an anchor story for the collection. It ties together the connecting threads – the powerful forces that derail us, how we are driven to search for answers and the harsh truth that redemption often comes at a price. The stores that follow elaborate on that theme.

Hunter is haunted by the mistake that defined his life. A chance encounter sets Edward on a search for answers. An act of bullying committed decades ago brings a day of reckoning for Quentin. Will must pay the ransom of conscience. A shocking event causes Laurel to fall victim to a temptation she cannot rationalize. Huck shuts out the loss he cannot face until he can deny it no longer. Malcolm seeks atonement for a desperate act committed in the name of love.

How did you get the idea for the book?
As a short story collection, it did not evolve as one idea, but rather more organically over time. The individual stories were written over a period of seven or eight years. Each story was a from-the-ground-up creative exploration on its own with all the associated pains of giving birth to fictional characters and the worlds they inhabit.

I was not conscious that the stories were circling around a common point of origin. Authors are often driven by psychological and emotional forces of which they are unaware. As I pulled the stories together into a collection, I began to see the connecting thread I mentioned earlier. I went through a couple of additional rounds of editing, guided by my editor and publisher, to emphasize the overriding theme and make the collection cohesive.

Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?
My favourite character is Huck Fryman – the protagonist of the story Incorrigible. He was inspired by a real and quite eccentric person I encountered briefly a number of years ago. I was immediately driven to explore the experiences that may have made him into the eccentric he became and where that behavior might lead him.

The real-life person evolved into a fascinating and ultimately tragic character. Huck is unapologetic for refusing to conform to society’s expectations. He goes his own way and damn the consequences. But as sometimes happens, life took from him the thing he valued most. He retreats from the pain until he can avoid it no longer.

I am uncommonly fond of Huck and wish that the fate I created for him could have been less tragic. But it was the ending that the narrative demanded.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?
The simple answer to this question is carving out the time and clearing away the clutter necessary to get into the writing mindset. Modern life is so busy, and at times chaotic, it is difficult to clear the psychological space I need to write. I have a day job so it is a constant struggle to find the time and the focus to write.

Writing short stories has its own challenges. Each one involves creating a miniature world from the ground up. I am starting from scratch each time which has its painful moments. Multiply that by 16 for this collection of stories. To continue the earlier metaphor, it is like creating 16 separate pearls.

What projects are you currently working on?
I have a pearl-in-the-making idea working itself out in the creative factory of my mind that will be my next novel. It will blend parallel storylines in the present and the past. In the present, it will depict a middle-aged, divorced man struggling to come to terms with his failures, with aging and where the next phase of his life will take him.

The parallel storyline in the past will depict a settler family (based on a real-life family) that carved out a harsh living on land they squatted on and are now being forced to leave. The two storylines will converge geographically and thematically. Stay tuned!

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring fiction authors?
My tips are for fiction authors.

Tip #1: You will most likely have to make a conscious decision regarding why you write. Is it to earn a living or to pursue your creative passion? There are a few authors out there who are fortunate enough to combine the two. But for many of us, it is by necessity an either/or question. Think long and hard about this question and get comfortable with the answer you settle on.

Tip #2: Work hard to find your personal narrative voice. It is the most difficult thing for an aspiring author and it goes well beyond the first person or third person perspective question. In your early days, you will likely emulate the authors you enjoy and who inspire you. But eventually, your own unique voice has to emerge if you are to find fulfillment as an author.

Tip #3: Seek out and embrace solitude. It is a rare commodity in modern life. But it is within the discipline of solitude that the best fiction writing emerges. You have to plumb the depths of your subconscious for the stories you are driven to tell. You can only go there when you have cleared the clutter from your mind. In my experience, solitude is the only means of doing so.