Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Nifty Newly, featuring Toni V. Sweeney

Toni has lived in the South for 30 years, the Midwest for another 30, on the pacific Coast for 10 years, and she's now trying for her second 30 on the Great Plains.  Presently, she lives in Lincoln, NE. She works as a promotions manager for Class Act Books, and has published 74 novels in fantasy, science fiction, and other genres. I've worked with her for almost a year now promoting my first book, and she has been a joy and an amazing resource. Please welcome to Nifty Newly, speculative fiction author Toni V. Sweeney.

What's the title of the book you're currently working on? 

I’m currently putting the finishing touches on Retribution, the 13th entry in the Arcanian Chronicles series, a sci-fi/fantasy which is written in two parts and will have a total of 16 novels.

How many books have you written? Published/unpublished? What genre? 

Counting reprints, I’ve had around 74 novels published. I have 2 that are WIPs and therefore not published yet. One is a paranormal, the other a contemporary romance.  I’ve a list of 56 novels I want to write and I’m working my way through the list. I’ve already written 22 of them.

What inspires you, as a writer?

Just about anything.

How do you come up with names?

Since a good many of my novels are fantasy/sci-fi, I like to take the original forms of names and use them. When I do that, I’ll write in a scene somewhere when a character mentions his/her name and how to pronounce it to help the reader along if the name looks difficult.

How do you come up with ideas?

Someone may say something to trigger a thought; I might see a movie and decide I could make a better ending. Once I dreamed of a character and ended up writing a horror novel called Serpent’s Tooth.

Why is originality important in fiction? Or is it important?

Someone once said there are no original ideas. They all boil down to the same theme. It’s what the writer does with that theme, where he gives it that little twist making it different enough that it stands out or makes the reader coming back for more.

What would you consider a good example of originality in your fiction?

I’ve two I consider originals.  One is the Adventures of Sinbad, where I took my favorite (at that time) tv show Beauty and the Beast (1980’s version) and transformed Vincent into Sinbad sh’en Singh, a humanoid feline smuggler who becomes the eighth richest man in the galaxy. That was to be a one-shot story and ended up as a series of 8 novels.

The other would be Bride of the Beast.  From the title, it sounds as if it’s going to be a Grade-B horror movie (actually there was a Grade-B horror movie by that name), but in reality, it’s the story of the Golden Calf…or, in this instance, the Golden Lion.  When Moses went to receive the Ten Commandments, the Israelites made a golden calf, the Egyptian goddess Hathor.  My question was:  What if there was a second faction within the camp who made a different statue, that of Maahdes, the lion king? What would’ve been their punishment?  Something much worse than being forced to wander 40 years in the wilderness, you can bet.

That involved a great deal of research, both into ancient Egyptian as well as Judaism. I guess I managed what I intended because one of my reviewers was Jewish and she said I was spot-in in my portrayal of Judaic custom and ritual.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your work with us, Toni! Her most recent novel, Sinbad's War, was released April 15 by Class Act Books. We've included an excerpt from the novel for your enjoyment. 


Sinbad sh’en Singh, smuggler-turned-shipping magnate, has become quite the family man, knee-deep in offspring and complacent with his life...but Fate is about to interfere...

Terra is again at war, attacked by the Severani, members of an aggressively militant planet daring to challenge the Federation.

That was the enemy’s first mistake.

Bombardment of other Federation planets follow...then they invade Felida, and among the casualties are the people Sin holds most dear...

...and that is the final and fatal mistake.

The hostile Severani are about to discover there’s nothing quite so dangerous as a Felidan who’s lost his mate...especially if his name’s Sinbad sh’en Singh.

Excerpt from Sinbad’s War:

The young man jumped to his feet, staring at the tall figure who stopped, looking down at him.

Nils Van Lewen considered himself tall, but the man coming through the door was a giant. He was also the first Felidan Nils had ever seen. Nothing had prepared him for this…

The creature said, “I’m Sinbad sh’en Singh. You wanted to see me?”

Nils stared up at him.

Before he realized it, he stuttered, like a fool, “G-G--, you’re tall!”

More than once he’d used his own height to intimidate someone and now he knew how that felt.

“We all are.” A slight smile touched the giant’s mouth, revealing another shock.

Pointed canines.

He leaned against the desk, arms crossed over his chest. “What do you want…” Green eyes flicked to the insignia on his right shoulder. “…captain?”

Good G--, they looked like a cat’s. The young man’s thoughts were a jumble.

“Van Lewen…Nils Van Lewen, Captain, Federation Armed Services.”

Thank God, he sounds like a Terran, speaks Inglaterre well, too. No accent at all.

“I don’t want to seem rude, but I’ve a business to run. I’d appreciate it if you’d state your purpose in being here so I can get back to it.” Sin stared at Nils expectantly.

Nils stared back.

“Well?” There was a hint of impatience in the deep voice.

“I’m sorry, but I was told you were paraplegic,” the young officer began, then shook his head as he realized the statement came out sounding like an accusation.

His assignment seemed so easy. Go to Felida, talk to the invalid owner of sh’en Singh Shipping, an old man partially paralyzed, dazzle him with Federation authority. Already nothing was going as it should.

“You are Andrew Malcom McAllister? Sinbad sh’en Singh?”

“I am,” Sin answered, a little brusquely. “And all that moving around you’ve witnessed is merely the work of a very finely-programmed micro-computer implant.”

For another minute Nils continued staring before bursting into explanation. “I’m going to get right to the point, Mr. McAllis…uh…sh’en Singh…sir.”

“I’m waiting.” Sin didn’t hide his sarcasm.

“Terra’s at war.”

“Am I supposed to be surprised? What else is new?” Sin shrugged. “Who’s the unlucky aggressor this time?”

“A planet called Severan.” Nils ignored his sarcasm.

“Never heard of it.”

“Not many people have. It’s a small world in the Drexus Cluster. A petty bunch of blackbirders barely surviving in the slave trade until about fifty years ago, when a dissident faction overthrew the emperor and set about establishing a military-controlled planet.”

“And they’ve been stupid enough to attack Terra? I doubt Earth attacked them.” Sin went on, before Nils could answer. “Tell me, has there ever been a conflict in which Earth was the aggressor? Still, fifty years isn’t long enough to get the military power to attack a planet that size.”

“That’s what the Federation thought when it was told a fleet of Severani warships were headed toward Terra, but they were wrong.” Nils shook his head. He got to his feet again. “The Severanis have devoted themselves entirely to building up their armed forces, sacrificing public welfare and natural resources to achieve their goal…and they succeeded. The attack on Earth was not only successful, but there was a sixty-five percent destruction rate in the areas hit and a severe loss of life. They fire-strafed both coasts. If the Federation hadn’t had that brief warning of the attack, the war might’ve been lost and won right then.” He shuddered.

“Damn.” Sin breathed the word. “I never thought I’d hear anyone say that. But they retaliated?”

“Of course, what else could they do?”

“Of course.” Once more that ironic tone.

“Nevertheless, this fight’s going to be a bad one. The Severanis are well-trained, dedicated, and fanatical in sacrificing for the Mother Planet.”

“This is all very interesting, Captain Van Lewen.” Sin went around the desk, dropping into the chair behind it. He frowned at the look of wonder still lingering in the young man’s eyes. “But what exactly does it have to do with me and mine?”

“The Fed’s sending officers like myself to members of the Federation, setting up enlistment stations.”

“I see.” Those two words weren’t encouraging.

“We’re going to need all the man-power we can get for this one. If we don’t get volunteers, we’ll have to start inductions, and they don’t want to do that. We haven’t had a true draft in three hundred years.” He carefully omitted mentioning the conscription in effect during the Terro-Felidan War.

“Quite frankly, with so many worlds involved, I doubt it could be effectively enforced.”

“You want to set up this enlistment station in Khurda?” Sin struggled to glean information from what Van Lewen wasn’t saying.

The young man nodded.

“Why come to me?” Sin spread his hands. “I’m merely a humble merchant. You should be talking to the emperor.”

“I have, sir, or at least his representative. Before I landed. His Excellency gave his permission, but told me since Khurda, as the largest pride on Felida, was chosen as the site, I had to get the Pride Chief’s permission also. You’re anything but a humble merchant, sir.”

And you damn well know it, Nils thought.

Sinbad’s slight smile said so.

“So, here I am,” Nils finished.

 “I’ve very little love for the Federation, Captain Van Lewen, and consider myself having no loyalty to it, either.” His answer was short and sharp. “This business now called sh’en Singh Shipping was originally a smuggling operation illegally supplying goods while we thumbed our noses at the Fed.”

“I’m aware of that, sir.”

Damn, the kid’s so polite, I want to deck him. How can I continue being rude to someone sounding so respectful? 

 “We…” Van Lewen’s expression changed to one of absolute terror. He swallowed convulsively and cleared his throat. “We were hoping you’d volunteer your ships, sir.” It came out in a near-whisper.

My ships?” Sin’s exclamation exploded into the air.

Nils jumped, knowing his reaction wasn’t very officer-like. “Y-yes sir. You see, your darters are nothing more than modified Federation Thunderbolts, and your pilots are already combat-trained and if we had them…”

Sin glared at him.

“…we wouldn’t have to waste time training a Felidan Defense Force…to…” His voice trailed away.

A Felidan Defense Force.” Sin laughed. “Isn’t that contradictory? According to the Peace Proclamation between Terra and Felida, we aren’t allowed to have a defense force. I suppose technically, my having these darters to protect my cargo ships is also in violation of the Treaty.”

“That part of the Proclamation’s been amended, sir,” Nils answered.

Sin frowned. “And…?”

Nils shook his head as if he didn’t understand.

“…do I need to remind you Felida isn’t a member of the United Terran Federation?” Sin’s voice went bitter. “No animals are allowed.”

“A special act of the PanGalactic Congress was passed before I left Terra. It also revoked the Federation Edict declaring Felidans non-humans, giving them First Class citizenship and bringing Felida into membership.”

“That generous move wouldn’t be just to get my ships, would it? Well, you can’t have them.”

Realizing he was wringing his fingers in a completely unofficer-like manner, Nils looked down at them and forced their nervous movement to cease.

The Felidan stood up, towering over him again. His ears seemed to flatten slightly, eyes narrowing.

Nils wanted to cower against the wall, but managed to stand still. His reactions had probably already disgraced the Federation and the uniform he wore. He hoped he wasn’t about to void his bladder, too. He definitely felt weak in the belly-region. Trying to do so without being obvious, he pressed his thighs together, grateful his tunic-tail covered that area of his body.

“I’m overjoyed I’m now a true citizen of the Federation.” Sin’s reply was deep and sarcastic. “I’m certain my wife’ll be greatly relieved to know she’s no longer sleeping with an animal, but you aren’t getting my ships, Captain Van Lewen. You’re here on sufferance, so be thankful you’re being allowed to stay at all.”

Buy Links (check 'em out!):

Publisher’s website: http://www.classactbooks.com/cat-romance/sinbad-s-war-detail
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071R9J4KH/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/718489

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Nifty Newly, featuring Linda J. Burson

Linda Burson started out writing non-fiction stories, but now focuses her time and energy on writing contemporary fiction novels. Though she never published any non-fiction works, she has multiple fiction novels published and is working on another romantic suspense novel. This genre is what motivates her now, but that may change at any time. Please welcome to Nifty Newly, author Linda J. Burson.

What's the title of the book you're currently working on? I'm writing a short story at this time and as of this interview, I do not have a title for it. Usually, the title is the last step for me after I finish the end of the story.

How many books have you written? Published/unpublished? What genre? I have written 13 books for my Marcy series which is a romance thriller/suspense. Six of those books have been published so far. The balance, though already written, need editing. I have a stand-alone novel that was just published this month called The Colors of My Life; I have a murder mystery completed called Murder Between Friends which I'm hoping to have published sometime in 2017, and I have a suspense/mystery short story that is completed.

Rage (The Marcy series Book 1) by [Burson, Linda]    Confusion (The Marcy Series Book 2) by [Burson, Linda]    Agony And Ecstasy (The Marcy Series Book 3) by [Burson, Linda]   

The Agreement (The Marcy Series Book 4) by [Burson, Linda]    The Past Returns (The Marcy Series Book 5) by [Burson, Linda]    The Colors Of My Life by [Burson, Linda]

What inspires you, as a writer? Inspiration comes when I least expect it. It can be from something I see or hear or remember from long ago, but they all usually come to the forefront of my mind when I'm alone and it's quiet. Sometimes, just taking a drive in the country gives me a peace which lends itself to ideas, which gives me the passion to go home and begin another story or continue with one I've started.

How do you come up with names? I try as much as possible to use first names of people I do not personally know. As for last names, I play around with sounds and repeat the first name I've chosen to see how it fits. Also, I try to remember street names I've seen and sometimes use those. If I want names to direct someone to a specific nationality of my character, I learn how those names are spelled be it ending in a vowel, etc., and then play with the sounds out loud until I find something that I like.

How do you come up with ideas? Ideas come to me from a variety of ways. Maybe I reminisce about an event from years prior; or I think about a situation in my life that I can exaggerate or expand on. I've even thought about incidents in the news that I can take and twist into a different kind of story, but it gives me the basic idea.

Why is originality important in fiction? Or is it important? Originality is important for most stories; however, it most likely will not be achieved. I personally, do not believe there is anything that can truly be original. No matter what we write, it has all been done in some form or another. Maybe a novel isn't repeated in its entirety, but you can bet each part of a story is most likely to be found in a multitude of other stories.

What would you consider a good example of originality in your fiction? The biggest original part may be that I have a triangle marriage; a woman married to two men, having children and all living in the same house. I know it's been done with a man having multiple wives and children, but I haven't read anything where there was one woman with multiple husbands--but who knows. It may be out there somewhere.

Thank you so much for your time, Linda. Happy writing! If you would like to learn more about Linda Burson as an author, or more particularly her romantic suspense novels, check out the bio, links, and book excerpt below. We've labelled them all for you. :-) 

Author Bio:

Linda is an author from Connecticut.

After years of writing and editing for others, raising a family, and over twenty years of running her own businesses, Linda decided to tackle her first fiction novel entitled Rage, which began as a single book. Eventually, the novel became a trilogy, and finally a much longer series. All the books are a part of The Marcy Series, a romantic suspense series.

There are thirteen novels in the series, five of which have been published so far.

Links for more Linda: 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Lbursonbooks/?fref=ts
Instagram:  www.instagram.com/lindajeanburson
Website is lindajburson.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2258525.Linda_Burson
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Linda-Burson/e/B016SOB3S4
Twitter: @lindaburson23

Blurb for The Agreement, Book 4 of the Marcy series:

After the perfect honeymoon, Brad and Marcy return to reality to begin their new life together. Unfortunately, Brad and Marcy’s wedded bliss runs into complications. Brad seems distant and cold, and Marcy is confused by his unexpected behavior.

When Marcy goes into labor, Brad is by her side. Later, Marcy confronts Brad about their crumbling marriage and decides it may be better for them to separate. Brad begs Marcy to reconsider, pleading with her not to leave.

For now, Marcy agrees to stay put with their son. Brad and Marcy reconcile. Brad forms a surprising and unexpected friendship which changes the course of their lives.

Excerpt from The Agreement Book Four (Marcy series)

“I wonder why they came after you now. Do you think they know he’s dead?”

“I don’t think so. Maybe they were watching me, or they just happen to find me alone and vulnerable and took the chance. They did say something about me finally being there. It’s like they were waiting for me to return one day.”

“Maybe, but still something’s different. If they were scared enough of him that night, they must’ve thought he could find them anytime.”

“He could have, especially with Will’s help.”

“So, he’d have gone after them?”

“I don’t know. It was probably just a threat.”

“Marcy, the only thing that would scare someone that much is proving you can get to them anytime and threatening to kill them.”

I don’t say anything.

“Marcy, would he have killed them?”

“Bradley, why are you asking me this? How am I supposed to know?”

 “I think you do know, and you’re protecting him.”

“Protecting him from what? He’s dead.” I start to cry so I turn away from Brad.

“Marcy, why are you crying?”

“Because you’re being cruel.”

“No, I’m not. I asked you a question, and I didn’t yell. You’re crying for him, aren’t you?”

I can’t answer that because he’s right. I’m still grieving, and saying the words he’s dead after talking about him and remembering him all evening is too much to bear.

“I’m just feeling the effects of the night, that’s all.”

“Please, Marcy, don’t lie to me. It’s okay to cry because he’s dead. I know you loved him. You never lied about that, and you’re more emotional and sensitive being pregnant.”

“If I say that’s why I’m crying, you’ll think I don’t love you enough.”

“That’s not true. I know you love me very much.”

“Do you?”

“Yes, baby, I do. Come here. Turn back around to me, please?”

“Please don’t be mad at me. I can’t take it when you’re mad at me, Brad.”

“I’m not mad at you, sweetie. I’m just a little jealous that this man always seems to be your hero.”

“Brad, that’s what he does. He protects people. He was in the military for twenty years. He couldn’t protect his family from being murdered, so he protects others. You asked me if he would’ve killed them. If they hurt me, yes, I think he might’ve. What would you have done if they’d hurt me tonight? Shake their hands and forgive them?”

“You’re right, baby. I’d probably do the same thing he would’ve. I’d never let anyone hurt you, not ever. In fact, that’s probably the one time when he and I would be on each other’s side, working together, protecting you.”

Buy Links:

Rage: https://www.amazon.com/Rage-Linda-Burson/dp/193870374X/
Confusion: https://www.amazon.com/Confusion-Marcy-2-Linda-Burson/dp/1938703782/
Agony and Ecstasy: https://www.amazon.com/Agony-Ecstasy-Marcy-Linda-Burson/dp/193870388X/
The Agreement: https://www.amazon.com/Agreement-Marcy-Book-4-ebook/dp/B01IG982NS/
The Past Returns: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MYMGCH5/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479186993&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Past+Returns+by+Linda+Burson
Also available at the publisher’s website: www.classactbooks.com

Friday, May 19, 2017

Nifty Newly, featuring Michael D. Smith

Michael D. Smith was raised in the Northeast, then the Chicago area, finally moving to Texas to attend Rice University, where he began seriously working as a writer and visual artist.  He's been writing science fiction since he was seven, extending a branch into literary fiction along the way. "Childhood writing energies seem to linger in my modern writing," he explains.  "I’m very much into humor as well as the exploration of psychological themes; somehow these disparate forces work together for me."

His day job is Technology Librarian for McKinney Public Library in McKinney, Texas.  His work includes assistance to the public with eBook and eAudiobook content and devices, and he's done extensive programming for adults, including book talks and author presentations. He'll be in charge of the library’s National Novel Writing Month activities in November, also known as NaNoWriMo. Please welcome to Nifty Newly the accomplished and deep-thinking Michael D. Smith!

What's the title of the book you're currently working on? 

I have three novels in different stages of development:

Sortmind, which chronicles a start-up company’s invention of an app that provides all known information telepathically to any subscriber, and the urban riots which ensue in response.  Somehow the book also manages to include two sets of aliens with opposing ideas about dealing with this malfunctioning human race.  I'm up to Draft 8 on it, and I certainly hope it comes together soon.  In any case I wound up naming my website for this novel.

Jump Grenade, about a psychopathic but supernaturally gifted fourteen-year-old basketball player.

Akard Drearstone, about the rise and fall of a rock group in a commune north of Austin in the seventies.  I guess this qualifies for “historical fiction.”  I left the novel in the past so I don’t have to worry about things like smartphones with GPS, which can definitely play havoc with a murder/kidnapping plot.

How many books have you written? Published/unpublished? What genre? 

I’ve written sixteen novels, of which six are published, with an additional one now under contract.  Then three novellas, one of which is published.  Most of these are science fiction of the space opera variety, but several are literary. CommWealth from Class Act Books is literary/dystopian/black humor.

I also just completed a fun project which I self-published on lulu.com.  I recently rediscovered my sixth grade science fiction story which, strange as it may seem, introduced several of the main characters of my later published science fiction series.  The urge then struck me to illustrate the story and make it into a paperback picture book.  That was quite a bizarre experience, another psychic bridge between childhood energies and the present, but the final result is more like a satisfying piece of visual art than a “publication.”

What inspires you, as a writer? 

Things that make deep emotional and thematic sense, almost like a dream or déjà vu; or the eerie sense you sometimes get that you’re in fact living in a novel right now.  I’ve always been drawn to the concept of the psychological novel.  I'm not sure how well I’ve lived up to that genre, but I keep pushing on it.  And as I mentioned, somehow “humor” and “psychological novel” flow together for me; I don’t think I’ll be writing grim investigations like Crime and Punishment.  Then again, never say never.

How do you come up with names? 

Usually character names emerge on their own as I’m preparing notes or during actual fiction writing; it’s funny how sometimes a tossed-in name for a minor character in Book One can show up as a major figure to be developed in Book Five.  I respect whatever force throws the character names at me.  However, there have also been times when I’ve glanced up at my bookshelf and taken some author’s last name off the spine of a book.  I recently used an anagram producing website for a few character names (https://wordsmith.org/anagram/; beware—you  can waste a lot of time here).  I can also recall in the fifth grade looking through the phone book as I sought character names; I remember how professional I felt that evening, researching character names for a story.

How do you come up with ideas? 

As plot and character notes drift into my head over time, I jot them down on slips of paper and chunk them into an “ideas” folder.  Later on, sometimes years later, I harvest these ideas and though most prove too vague to be writable, I often feel fresh reverberations from a few and I write these up and add any new notions that arise.  Sometimes I take a batch of notes and arrange them across a large table and sort them, but while I’ve had some amazing syntheses and whole novels come out of this process, I’ve also had several notable failures where I finally realize, months later, that all my sorted notes are just “interesting concepts” and not a writable novel.  But even in that case, I chuck the whole sorted notes failure back into the ideas folder for recycling.  Who knows what might come up six years from now?  I also get ideas by working from existing characters and considering what they might do next.

Another method that can work quickly, and which I know many authors swear by, is the “What if?” scenario.  As in CommWealth, what if there were absolutely no private property?  The “What if?” for Akard Drearstone was: “What if I had gone straight from Rice University to a rock commune north of Austin?”  Often entire plots and subplots emerge from the simple “What if?”  Of course the “What if?” needs to be personally important to you, and if you bring your full energies to it, I think it will be important to your readers as well.

Dreams are another source of ideas and are often the core of my novels, though I’ve learned I can’t force dreams into novels.  If they fit in and work, great.  If not, try something else.  CommWealth in fact sprang almost fully formed out of a dream—which  also brought up the “What if? question.  I posted this dream on my blog at http://blog.sortmind.com/wordpress/index.php/2016/11/commwealth-the-origin-dream.

Why is originality important in fiction? Or is it important?

I think you should tell your own story, work your own themes, and not worry about how “original” your book may be considered by others.  It can be argued that nothing is truly original, yet it’s also true that we see many new adaptations, that each person brings a unique perspective.  Startling new ideas or plots may come and they may not.  Trying to conjure up "originality" as a means of standing out, of inflating your ego against other writers, or of marketing your book is futile; it comes across as cheap and flashy.

What would you consider a good example of originality in your fiction? 

The outrageous dream logic of CommWealth’s propertyless society, in which there is no legal claim to any kind of private property, and any object from your house to the clothes you’re wearing can be demanded by anyone, to be enjoyed for thirty days before anyone else can request it.  The fact that this plot came from a dream was a factor in whatever amount of “originality” is in the novel.  Also, within the novel, a drunken character is inveigled into revealing the plot of his secret play, “Hiding the Hitler,” in which an app is invented for hunting down Hitler’s next reincarnation.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone proposing to hunt Hitler down in his next lifetime.

Thanks for visiting Michael, and for all the thought and effort you put into your work. I hope we get to work together again sometime! To experience more of Michael's fiction, read through the blurb and excerpt below from his upcoming novel, CommWealth. Links to his website, blog, and websites where you can purchase CommWealth are all included after the excerpt. 


The CommWealth system has created a society in which there is no legal claim to any kind of private property. Any object from your house to the clothes you’re wearing can be demanded by anyone, to be enjoyed for thirty days before someone else can request it. As actors in the Forensic Squad theatrical troupe attempt to adapt to this chaos, their breaking of the Four Rules sustaining the system, as several members navigate betrayals, double agents, and murder to find themselves leading a suicidal revolution.

Excerpt (with minor edits for language):

Rule One - You are free to enjoy the chosen object for thirty days. During this period no other person may request it.

Rule Two - The requestor is untouchable for thirty days by the person asked. Attempts at retaliation, such as demanding unusually large quantities from the original requestor after the thirty-day period, carry stiff penalties.

Rule Three - Once you ask somebody for something, you can never ask him or her for anything else again.

Rule Four - You can never ask for the same thing back from the person who got it from you, not even after his or her thirty days of enjoyment.

Allan shivered at the reflection of his black overcoat and his striding legs on the wet sidewalk. Up ahead someone with a DreamPiston Electronics bag opened a shiny red Porsche glistening with thousands of water beads.

“Okay,” Allan said, “I’ll take your car here.”

The mustached little twerp looked up. “Ahhh, crap...”

“C’mon, don’t give me any trouble. Gimme the key.”

“Look, it’s raining. And I just got these MP3 players and the new Fappy tablet—”

“Not my problem. Fork the damn key over.”

“Look, my umbrella’s in the car—can I just get my umbrella so my stuff—”

“Forget it. The umbrella’s part of the car as far as I’m concerned. Anything in the car. Besides, I just lost my umbrella a couple blocks back. I’m soaked.”

“C’mon, I just got this car the other day!”

 “Don’t hand me that. The sticker on the plate says you got it a month and a half ago. You’re overdue, buddy. Now hand me the key.”

“Dammit! Dammit!”

“Got trouble there?” A bright blue City of Linstar police car idled in the rain. “Got a Hoarder there?” a huge officer grinned.

“Uh, no... not at all...” said the twerp. “I just—I just can’t find the key—”

“Yeah, right—you just unlocked the damn car with it,” Allan said, turning to the policeman. “He is giving me a lot of crap about it.”

“C’mon, sir, you know better than that.” The officer’s name tag read BARCLAY.

“Dammit!” the twerp snarled. He separated the Porsche key off his key ring, thrust it at Allan, then spun around and fastened on a man coming down the sidewalk. “Give me that umbrella! Right now!”

“---dammit...” the man grunted, surrendering his umbrella to the twerp, who grabbed it and hoisted it above his DreamPiston bag.

“We really got the Christmas spirit here, don’t we?” Barclay said.

“Really,” Allan said. “Some people...” He examined the Porsche key in the rain. “Thanks for your help, officer.”

“Oh, I’m sure it wasn’t really necessary. People are basically good, you know. Give ’em time to adjust and all, that’s what I say.”

The twerp leapt into traffic with his new umbrella and his bag, waving his free arm. A little green car skidded to a halt. The twerp ran to the window and pounded on it. “Give me this car! Right now! Damn you!”

“-----...” Allan said. “What a bastard!”

Barclay was out of his patrol car in a second, hand on his holster. “Sir, that’s not the right way to go about it. We need to be respectful. That’s the CommWealth way.”

Find out more about Michael D. Smith at:

Website:  www.sortmind.com
Blog: http://blog.sortmind.com/wordpress/

CommWealth is available at:

Publisher’s website: http://www.classactbooks.com/index.php/component/virtuemart/dystopian/commwealth-6022015-08-14-23-29-50-detail?Itemid=0

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/CommWealth-Michael-D-Smith-ebook/dp/B013YPU5D4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478983628&sr=8-1&keywords=CommWealth

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/commwealth-michael-d-smith/1122537291?ean=2940152097313

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/569160

Also available from amazon.uk:

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Nifty Newly, featuring Sherry Derr-Wille

Sherry lives in a mid-sized city in Southern Wisconsin. Fifty-three years ago she married Bob, her high school sweetheart, just two days after high school graduation. She's a wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, but "first and foremost," she says, "I’m a writer." She's been producing novel after novel her entire life, with the end result being that she is one of the most prolific authors I've ever heard of. Please welcome Sherry Derr-Wille.

What's the title of the book you're currently working on? 

The Return of the AncientsYou Again

How many books have you written? Published/unpublished? 

78… 76 published, 2 unpublished but contracted.

What genre? 

Romance, family epics, murder mysteries, romance, crime, and erotica.

What inspires you, as a writer? 

I've been writing since I was fifteen. I've tried not writing, but after about twenty minutes I’m back at it again. I write not because I want to but because I have to.

How do you come up with names? 

I have a couple of names that show up quite often ie: Karl & Kate. Usually I wait for the characters to name themselves.

How do you come up with ideas? 

Just when I think I’ve hit a dead end another an idea pops into my head. I've had several times when I'm at a loss and the characters of another book appear out of nowhere. I've also been known to dream the entire plot of books. I live an interesting life with a lot of imaginary friends.

Why is originality important in fiction? Or is it important?

I've been told there are only nine plots in romance. If I’m not original, I’m afraid my fans will be disappointed.

It is very important. Another thing that is important is being completely correct. Readers expect facts to be right and will catch you on it every time. I've been caught once and it wasn't pretty. I tell writers to always check their facts and then check them again. In other words, you need to be more accurate in fiction than in non-fiction.

What would you consider a good example of originality in your fiction? 

Writing in several genres means whatever I write has to be fresh and new. I think the book I have coming out in June from Class Act Books is a good example. Blood Relatives is a crime story set in Chicago. It is out of my comfort zone, but it's also something I wrote many years ago. Unfortunately, when I went to recreate the story, I couldn't find the original so I needed to start from scratch and make it fresh and something unexpected by my fans.

Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing with us, Sherry! If you'd like to learn more about Sherry Derr-Wille, please visit her websites here:

Website: www.derr-wille.com
Blog: www.derr-wille.blogspot.com

For a look at her fiction, check out this excerpt from one of her popular Rhonda Pohs mysteries! 

BLURB from The Man in the Lake, a Rhonda Pohs Mystery. 

Rhonda Pohs has been hired as a token woman cop to say nothing of a grief counselor for the force of Milton, WI, although the town is never mentioned in the book.

When a man, who has been a womanizer all his life, is found floating in Storres Lake, Rhonda is sent to comfort the widow. To her surprise, the man’s mistress is also there.

Throughout the twists and turns of unraveling the murder, Rhonda proves she’s not just the token woman or the grief counselor, she’s a top notch detective and someone to be reckoned with.

EXCERPT from The Main in the Lake (edited for minor profanity):

“I think you ought to take this one, chief,” the secretary said through the intercom.

Jack sighed deeply and picked up the receiver. “Franks here.”

“Jack, this is Al. I just went out to Storrs Lake fishing and there’s a man floating in the middle of the lake.”

The panic in Al’s voice was enough to send chilled shockwaves through Jack’s body. “What do you mean a body is floating in the lake?”

“Just what I said, a--hole. I came out to fish and there’s a body out there in the middle. I haven’t tried to go out and bring him in. He must have drowned, but I’ve seen enough cop shows to know you don’t touch things at a crime scene.”

Jack rolled his eyes. He and Al had been friends since kindergarten and Al tended to exaggerate. If his friend were a woman, Jack’s wife would have called Al a “drama

“Are you sure some kids haven’t stolen a mannequin from the mall and dumped it in the lake?”

“Mannequin, hell, this ain’t no mannequin. It’s a man, and he’s dead I tell you. Now get your a-- out here and investigate. That’s your job, after all. You should do something to earn your pay rather than just sitting in the office reading the paper.”

Jack shoved the paper aside, ashamed everyone knew about his duties and reading the paper was all he had to do on a Friday morning. “Okay, I’ll humor you, but if this is one of your practical jokes, so help me Hannah, you’ll pay.”

He hung up the phone, but it rang again before he had the chance to grab his keys and head out the door.

“This is another one you have to take,” the secretary assured him.

“Franks here,” he said, just as he always did when he answered the phone.

On the other end of the line he could hear a woman crying. “This is Kitty Reedman and my husband is missing.”

Jack thought about Karl Reedman. He was hardly what anyone would call a “faithful” husband. He recalled he cheated on his first wife, Barbara, with his second wife, Marie. Then he’d cheated on Marie with his third wife, Christine. Just lately he’d cheated on Christine with his current wife Kitty, so why was Kitty so upset about him staying out all night? He was probably just scouting out wife number five.

 “What do you mean he’s missing, Kitty?”

“Oh Jack, it’s so terrible. Karl went out last night to get a pack of cigarettes and he never came back.”

“Are you sure he’s not with a friend?”

“Positive. I know what you’re thinking. I know all about Susan Barclay. I called her and she hasn’t seen him either.”

“I’ll look into it, Kitty. I have something else I have to do first and then I’ll be right over to file a missing person’s report. I’ll see you in a couple of hours.”

He hung up the phone and wondered where in the h--- he was going to find a missing person’s report form. He knew they were somewhere in the office, but since his secretary, Melissa, arrived and reorganized the filing system he couldn’t find a d--- thing.

“I need a missing person’s report form.” He approached Melissa’s desk. “Do you have any idea where I might find one?”


The Rhonda Pohs Murder Mysteries are available at:

Class Act Books: http://classactbooks.com/component/virtuemart/cat-murder-mystery-suspense/the-man-in-the-lake-242013-04-29-03-35-03-detail?Itemid=0

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lake-Rhonda-Pohs-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B00GDV938K/

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Nifty Newly, featuring Paul McDermott

Paul is really good at introducing himself, so I'm going to let him take the floor right away. We'll get to the questions in a minute. Please welcome to Nifty Newly, genre-crossing polymath author Paul McDermott

Hi Jeremy, many thanks for the opportunity to chat with you today!

One thing you’ll have to accept is the indisputable fact that we invented spellings on this side of the Pond, and I have the honour to be a fully paid-up member of the Grammar Nazis and the Punctuation Police.

According to Chinese Astrological charts I was born in the Year of the Tiger, Month of the Panther. As a direct consequence, I have a cat’s tendency to roam, do my own thing. I love my home town, Liverpool but spent most of my working life elsewhere. This included about 20 years in Scandinavia & N. Germany. I trained as a teacher and taught every standard school subject, but curiously I taught very little English all the time I was abroad. I’m ‘native-fluent’ in five European languages – six at a push, mainly because the Jesuit Head Teacher at my Alma Mater insisted on foreign languages being taught by native born teachers. This was reinforced when I went on to Liverpool University, where my English tutor (another Jesuit) was fluent in no less than FORTY-THREE languages! Trivia fact: this year, in the FIVE Universities located in Liverpool there are students from 95 different countries.
Here’s a poem I wrote inspired by this stat. (NB. Line 4. words beginning "ll…" in the Welsh language have a distinct sound. Try 'sounding' something close to 'hklemon' for 'lemon' and you're getting close)

One Hundred Cocktails

A heady mix, bubbling with energy, sure to slake your thirst
The raw ingredients culled from every corner. Who came first?
Welsh Druids settled on the Mersey's banks, and with their songs
They made their mark and lleft their llilting llanguage on our tongues
Norse seamen chanced upon our shores and chose to settle down
Adding names like Kirkdale and Formby, parts of the growing town
Cæsar thought he could rule the world with his fearsome Roman legions
To Britain he came, and yes, he saw – but he couldn't quite conquer this region
Their lasting gift to us was surely the hypocausts: public baths and improved plumbing
A thousand years ago, who would have seen such 'mod. con.' luxuries a-coming?
Certainly not the noisy lot, our troublesome neighbours in the North
Whom Hadrian stalled with a half-built Wall to prevent them sallying forth
“Aye” and “haud yer wheesht” cannae be so hard tae unnerstan' ye'd think
Still we'll sing “Auld Lang Syne” and bid welcome the New Year with drink
Their vowels and growls rotate, mutate, becoming one more aspect
Of the local lingua franca, the proud and inimitable Scouse dialect
Enhanced by the music and laughter of the Irish, forced into exile
When Famine and Death laid waste their green and pleasant isle
The language alters subtly, sometimes from day to day
Marvel at the expresso speech of the Italians down Scottie Road way
Contrast that with the slow, thoughtful reflections handed down
By the Elders enjoying a game of Mah-Jongg in Chinatown
The oldest community in Europe – perhaps the world?
Sparkles anew every year, when banners are unfurled
To mark Chinese New Year, as the Lion Dance
Unleashes fire-breathing Dragons, and children prance
A kaleidoscope of colour, creed and culture from so many different lands
A hundred Cocktails? No! At very least, a Thousand!

The Spear Of Destiny by [McDermott, Paul]1. What's the title of the book you're currently working on?

My latest book is currently AT the printers and will be available before the end of May 2017. The Spear of Destiny was inspired by the years I lived in Scandinavia (mostly Denmark). I had the honour and privilege of meeting and talking to a number of people who were active members of the Danish Resistance Movement [mødstandsbevægelsen]. These incredibly brave folk have never had the recognition they truly deserve and I have attempted to redress the balance a little by raising awareness and offering sincere thanks. I’ve kept close to the recorded facts as we know them, but I’ve altered the names: these patriots have earned the right to have their anonymity preserved.

2. How many books have you written? Published/unpublished? What genre?

The first book I had published appeared in what ultimately became my final year of teaching. The family ‘rogue gene’ [arthritis] made it impossible for me to continue teaching – Drama, Music, PE, English, climbing stairs between lessons … I’d been pontificating in the staffroom about the poor quality of childrens’ books. Head of Dept. challenged me “if you think you can do better …” Six months later, hey presto! Johnny Dupl’eau was published by a small local Indy publisher. It’s the tale of a band of not-very-good pirates and their escapades, intended as the ‘lead volume’ of a series. The publisher has since ceased trading, but I have 2 more complete yarns and I’m looking for a new publisher.

I’ve experimented with writing in a variety of genre. Two exceptions: I don’t feel I know enough about the subject to attempt writing a Western, and Smut – however you dress it up by calling it ‘Erotica’ – doesn’t interest me.

The Chapel of Her Dreams sounds like a Romance, and there’s a simple love story in its pages, but the main thrust of the tale is Celtic myth & legend. It’s inspired by research into my own family history.  This book is the first volume of a planned Trilogy. Book 2 is almost ready for first draft editing.

Plague Sally is a historical fantasy, set in 13th Century Britain during an outbreak of the Black Death. Sally is a gifted healer, but when she cures people of the disease she is accused of being a witch and must run for her life.

Classic Act Books has pencilled in another historical of mine, provisional date is still TBD but hopefully before Christmas. Working Title: Perori, Peacebringer. Perori is a musical instrument (a lute) with magical powers. Her bard, Easten, uses her to complete a quest. This has also led to a sequel, which I’ve started writing.

Rocking Horse Droppings. Like buses, you wait for ages then two come along at once …
This is a childrens’ book. Published on World Book Day [March 2nd] it tells the tale of a group of friends who go to a local park to play cricket and find themselves transported to Liverpool, 1941 during the Blitz…

I have on file completed mss in several genre. Chronological is as good a listing as any other:

Disaster scenario: a new powerful strain of the Rabies virus in the UK.
Political satire. Liverpool/Merseyside lose patience with an incompetent London government and declare the region an Independent Republic.
Global Warming is about to destroy life as we know it – one last chance to save the earth
International drug-smuggling scenario spreading over Ireland, UK, Denmark, Sweden and Germany
Craig [central character] has to ‘go off radar’ because he owes money to the ‘wrong people’ – loan sharks. How does he survive with NO money, no resources, no place to stay?

I also write music: I’m working on a YA “rock opera” and the scripts to a couple of short plays (none of which have yet been performed). One of the plays is a commissioned work for a local history group who have asked for a play about a group of Tourists learning the history of one of Liverpool’s oldest streets. Earliest records of Liverpool are based on seven streets (which still appear on the map) spread around the docks.

3. How do you come up with names?

I still remember most of the alphabetical list of names of my class mates from school & university. It’s as good as any other list – unless I’m writing a ‘true’ historical, where the names are a matter of record.

4. How do you come up with ideas?

A lot of my inspiration comes from Dreams – the Trilogy beginning with The Chapel of Her Dreams is one example.
I keep a stack of notepads at the side of my bed and frequently scrawl a few almost-illegible words when I half-wake in the middle of the night with an Idea.
I also try to base work on events and people I read about in the local press & media.

5. Why is originality important in fiction? Or is it important?

Originality. In Gilbert & Sullivan’s Savoy operetta The Mikado one of the characters says he is merely “intending to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative.” This verbiage is actually pretty good advice.

6. What would you consider a good example of originality in your fiction?

In The Spear of Destiny I’ve kept very close to the recorded facts of the sinking of U-534 but I decided to add the Spear. I did this because of Hitler’s known weakness, superstition. He believes he has found a powerful secret weapon which he can use to turn the War in Germany’s favour. This light drizzle of fiction in what is essentially an account of historical events is my way of adding an original slant to the yarn

Think that’s me done for the night, Jeremy – once again, my thanks for inviting me!

Thank you, Paul! Happy writing! To experience more of Paul's work, he's kindly offered us a sample from The Spear of Destiny for your reading pleasure. Be sure to check out the links to his websites and social media pages, as well as links to where you can purchase The Spear of Destiny. Enjoy! 


In 1945, U-boat Kapitän Herbert Nollau must deliver a weapon which will turn the war in Germany’s favour. His orders are delivered verbally. There will be no written records... and no witnesses.

Alone, far from home, hunted by the Danish Resistance and the might of the Allied Forces, he must obey either his final Orders…or the inner voice of his conscience.


Überlojtnant Herbert Nollau stood with his Zeiss nightglasses glued to his eyes, impervious to the rain whipped across his cheeks by half a gale. This howled almost exactly at ninety degrees to the tide, which had just reached the full but had not yet begun its retreat. His command craft, U-534, sat uneasily at anchor, dipping at bow and stern in the current, yawing appreciably as frequent Force Ten gusts buffeted her broad flanks. Low, heavy rainclouds hunkered closer, seeming to settle on the upper branches of the natural pine forest which spread untamed, unculled, across the low hills of Schleswig-Holstein.

An identical pair of black Opel staff cars bracketed a canvas bodied Mercedes half-track transport wagon, all three vehicles picking their way carefully along an unmarked country road. The headlights were taped down to the size and shape of a feral cat's vertical slits, acknowledging the strict rules governing all traffic during the hours of darkness. The road to the harbour just outside Lübeck was neither tarmac’ed nor enhanced with any form of lighting. The drivers were obliged to steer cautiously around every twist, using the gears and brakes more frequently than the accelerator.

"Amateurs!" he thought to himself, as the three sets of headlights crawled slowly closer.

He blanked the thought as soon as it intruded on his consciousness, forcing himself back into State-approved Wehrmacht thinking, based on purely practical matters directly related to carrying out current instructions, with maximum efficiency, without question. He pulled the collar of his oilskins closer around his throat in a futile attempt to prevent the rain from seeping through, soaking his uniform. Raising his night glasses once more, he cursed the weather, the Wehrmacht and the world in general, feeling more exposed and vulnerable with every minute that passed as he waited for the convoy of lights to crawl closer, carrying the equipment which he had been ordered to collect. It bothered him that he was expected to set sail immediately, and await orders concerning his destination by radio once he had cleared the bay and entered Store Bælt: technically, that section of the North Sea was neutral Danish waters, and if he were to remain on the surface for any length of time in order to receive orders …

As the lights snaked around another pair of curves and began their final descent to the shoreline and the jetty where U534 was waiting, Herbert Nollau realized that he had on board a much more powerful sender/receiver than any other U-boat: in fact, not just one but two radios equipped with the Enigma cryptographic programme had been installed, ostensibly for testing. With a sudden jolt, the deceptively young-looking Überlojtnant realized that this technology was far more sophisticated than that which had previously been regarded as the best in the world: apart from being guaranteed unbreakable as a code, it could also send and receive radio signals without his craft needing to surface.

He shook his head to clear the worst of the pools which had formed in the upturned brim of his sou’wester and made his way down the ladder bolted to the side of the conning tower, aiming to be waiting on the quay before the three vehicles wheezed to a halt. His mechanic’s ear analysed and diagnosed a list of faults he could clearly identify from the laboured chugging of each engine. Furious at this indication of inefficiency, a corner of his mind decided that he would have had the senior officer responsible for each vehicle court-martialled, if the decision had been up to him. In spite of the horrors he had witnessed in three years of naval warfare, he shuddered. His orders, distasteful though they might be, were crystal clear …

Two gaunt, silent shadows slid with simultaneous choreography from the rear seat of each of the Opels: their sleek black trenchcoats almost touched the planks of the jetty, glistening in the starlight as if the officers wearing them had been marching for hours in the rain rather than just stepping out of a warm, dry car. Nollau fired off his most formal salute: the four SS-officers responded with a world-weary, bent-elbow half-salute and pointedly refrained from returning Nollau’s “Heil, Hitler!” One detached himself for a moment and gave a hand-signal to the driver of the canvas-sided truck.  The driver immediately hammered his fist twice on the bulkhead behind his seat. Four soldiers appeared over the tailgate of the wagon and began to manoeuvre something long and heavy out of the cargo space.

Turning to face his command meant that Herbert Nollau had to turn his back on the four staff officers. Somehow he managed to do this with an insolence which stated quite clearly that, as far as he was concerned, they were barely worthy of his contempt.

He placed a small, shrill whistle to his lips and blew, one long (but not overloud) blast. Within ten seconds, the deck was populated by about twenty matelots, standing at ease, who somehow contrived to arrive from nowhere and in total silence. Close to the bows, and just for’ard of ’midships , cables were deployed from two small jib cranes. Within seconds, the submariner crew were on the jetty, taking the unidentified cargo from the shoulders of the four soldiers and hoisting it with ease onto the foredeck, thence by some lightningfast legerdemain out of sight below decks. The crew had followed, leaving Überlojtnant Nollau as the only member of the Senior Service still on the jetty. At a silent gesture from one of the anonymous black trenchcoats the four soldiers climbed back over the tailgate, into the truck. After about four attempts, the driver managed to coax the engine into life and began to back and fill, facing back the way he had come.

As he completed the manoeuvre and gunned the engine to set off up the hill, the four SS officers opened their trenchcoats to reveal the muzzles of rapid fire MP40 machine pistols. With one accord they raised their weapons and sent round after deadly round of ammunition into both the cab and the rear of the vehicle, holding the triggers steady. Before the hail of bullets ceased, the fuel tanks of the wagon exploded, sending flames soaring high into the night sky, setting small fires in the tree tops as they lost their intensity and curled back towards the ground.

Suddenly, Herbert Nollau’s orders seemed fractionally less dishonourable.

Having emptied their weapons, the four executioners appeared to have rediscovered some of their habitual swagger and pride. Crashing the butts of the now-empty weapons against the rough wooden planking of the jetty they raised their right arms to the fullest, and screamed: “Heil, Hitler!” as their heels crashed together in perfect unison.

Sick to his stomach at the pleasure his countrymen took from the callous murder of fellow Germans, it was all Herbert Nollau could do to raise his arm, bent-elbowed, in the less formal salute he would never under normal circumstances have accepted from others nor used himself.

About the Author:

Website: www.PaulMcDermottBooks.webs.com
My Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/paul.mcdermott.7737
Also: www.whimsicalpublications.com and www.writerschatroom.com

The Spear of Destiny is available at:

Publisher’s website: http://www.classactbooks.com/component/virtuemart/historical-fiction/the-spear-of-destiny-detail?Itemid=0
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZZKRH5K/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/718491