Saturday, January 28, 2017

Savvy Saturday: Where are Our Authors February Edition

Jenna Greene
Meet up with this YA author on February 4th. She will be hosting a Facebook party, and is ready to chat with everyone there!

Andrea Cooper

Andrea will be in Houston on February 11th from 10 AM-3 PM CST for the Houston Author Bash. Located at The Cellar Door, make sure to stop by, meet some authors, and maybe even drink a glass of wine.

The Cellar Door
829 S Mason Rd
Katy, TX 77450

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Savvy Saturday: Meet the Characters of Caves in the Rain

Welcome back to Savvy Saturday. Today we have Bob Bickford giving us a little insight into his two main characters. Read on to get into the minds of two very different men.

Mike Latta
Mike Latta has spent a lifetime finding out where he wants to be, and when he arrives there, he knows it’s perfect. His suburban house, his lovely wife, and his precocious young daughter, Abby, are his charms against darkness. They keep each other safe and happy, and it is all the happily-ever-after he’s ever wanted. Mike has reached middle age content that he is the kind of good man that the universe smiles at.

Nobody tells you that happiness is delicate. They don’t tell you that forever is a fragile thing, a vase balanced on the edge of a shelf. Little Abby’s death is the kind of freak accident that should never happen to anyone, but sometimes does. Mike would trade his life to replay the thirty seconds before it happened, but nobody offers those kinds of deals.

Drinking helps, at least for a little while. The booze helps Mike sleep, and helps him not to think, and if anyone thinks that maybe there’s too much of it, nobody’s blaming him. He finds out that the bottle has teeth, and what seems like a friend can turn on you---and bite. When he wakes up on the living room floor one morning with an empty vodka bottle beside him, and divorce papers on the coffee table, his destruction is complete.

He’s alone, and being alone is all he has left. The divorce leaves him with an ancient cottage on an island, a summer home that the family almost never used. Echo Island is a small lump of forested rock in the middle of a big, cold Canadian lake. Mike thinks maybe a year by himself might give him a shot at getting back to his idea of what a good man should be. A year alone might be exactly the wrong thing, and the end of him. He’s okay with it, either way.

Ron Baptiste

Psychopaths also know about being alone. It’s their nature, after all.

Ron Baptiste is a successful real estate broker, a self-made man. He’s got a white smile, a great golf swing, a firm handshake, and is the first to pick up a tab. Everyone likes Ron. If you hold his eyes too long, though, you might not like what’s looking back at you from their pale depths. Ron has a lot of secrets.

Since he’s been a boy, Ron has hurt the people and animals unlucky enough to get his attention. Sometimes they end up dead. As far as Ron’s concerned, it’s never his fault. He only kills the ones who give him no choice, who hold him back from the things he wants and deserves. The world is better off without them. If people were smart enough to understand, they’d be grateful. Ron is very, very good at hiding who he is and what he does.

Ron smiles and laughs, slaps backs and shakes hands, but even in a crowd he’s entirely alone, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s got it made, and now he has a wife and daughter who are starting to get in his way. A little girl the same age as Abby Latta is in terrible danger, and there’s only a broken man who wants to be left alone who sees Ron for the monster he is.

Two lonely men, one with terrible plans, and the other with no plans at all. Mike Latta is no match, but he has one thing in his favor. He’s lost almost everything, and he isn’t afraid to lose what little is left.

Caves In The Rain
By Bob Bickford
Paranormal Mystery/Thriller
Champagne Books:

About Bob:

When he was little, Bob Bickford haunted the library. It was his favourite place. He hunted for good stories, got lost in pages, and daydreamed about becoming a writer. When he got older, real life got in the way and paychecks became more urgent than classes or degrees. The dream was filed under ‘impossible things’, and nearly forgotten. After years spent in various corners of the United States and Canada, he dusted off his imagination and became a writer-by-night. He hunts for good stories once again, and he still haunts the library.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Savvy Saturday: Exclusive Excerpt from Caves in the Rain by Bob Bickford

Caves In The Rain
By Bob Bickford
Paranormal Mystery/Thriller
Champagne Books: 

I woke up during the night. The cabin was dark, and I lay flat on my back in my bed and stared at the ceiling. I had installed several skylights in the roof, and the moon sent a dim glow through them and faintly illuminated the room. In years past, the rough-cut beams above me had been used to store fishing gear. There were a dozen or more rods with reels laid across the rafters. I didn’t fish, but I had not disturbed them. They ran up the scale from unadorned bamboo to brightly colored fibreglass and chrome. I liked the way they looked and thought they lent the room a certain authenticity.
As I watched them, the rods began to rattle on the beams. The sound was tiny, and had a cadence, a pattern my sleep-soaked mind couldn’t decipher. There was no visible movement, but I heard talking and singing underneath the clicking noises.

I tried to check the white dog on the daybed across from me, and realized with alarm that I couldn’t move. My head, neck, torso, and legs wouldn’t take directions. When I tried to tense my muscles the order went no further than my mind. I lay in a sort of languid paralysis. Casting my eyes over, I could see her white form curled up across the room in the very edge of my vision. I was certain she had died, left while I had breathed the night away. I had slept for a century, and the world outside the cabin had moved on without me. I had been left behind, and I cursed my own ignorance in sleeping through all of it. I didn’t belong here anymore. The room around me played in dreary black and white.

The gloom wavered and I wasn’t alone. I could smell perfume, with a slight odor of perspiration underneath it. It was not a scent I recognized. Although unmistakably female, it did not carry the recollection of any woman I had ever known. At first it was pleasant, but then it grew larger, pressing itself on my face. The smell of sweat under feminine fragrance was the musk of old fear, not a memory of sex. I was mounted, and smothered by a heat that changed itself rapidly into a terrible freezing cold.

Underneath the age and the dust, emptiness and colorless loss filled the room, and an overwhelming rage formed itself. It was anger so huge it had forgotten its cause; whatever sin had birthed it was nearly obscured. The decayed love that now fed it and drove it was unrecognizable next to what it once had been. It was a mother’s terror for her child, a woman’s fury. It consumed the oxygen in the room like a fire.

A light sheet covered me to the chest. It began to slide downward, slowly and implacably tugged from beneath my arms and towards my waist, inch by inch. The fishing gear above me jittered faster, and the noise increased, chattering madly. It was a chant about grief and violence. It repeated itself again and again, and I had the sense it was being sung by a child. I felt crushed, smothered by dread. The sheet continued to slide down my body towards the foot of the bed. I did not want to be exposed before this thing. I wanted to scream, and couldn’t breathe.

All at once the grip on me was released, and I thrashed upwards as my muscles again obeyed me. My captors swirled upward to the roof and I sensed the two of them above, hovering over me. I rolled off the bed, and tried to shout. I had no voice.

“Oh, my God,” I croaked. “Get out!”

They were already gone, and within the murkiness of the night, normal color had returned to the room. I stood up, and tried to collect myself. The white boxer snored undisturbed on the daybed. I sat back down and looked across at her as my breathing slowed.

“Why do you go batshit at the slightest things and ignore others?” I asked. “You can hear a squirrel on the other side of the island, but you slept through that?”

She opened one eye. I gathered my sheet and crossed the room to lie down with her. She stirred, reluctantly moved over, and after a long time we both went back to sleep.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Savvy Saturday: Interview with Bob Bickford

This week on Savvy Saturday we have the author of this month’s new release, Caves in the Rain. Let’s give a warm welcome to Bob Bickford!

Hello Bob! It’s lovely to see you here.

Thank you for having me.

Tell us a little bit about yourself Bob.

I’ve loved reading and writing since I was very small. I don’t think I’ve ever gone anywhere without a book. When I was eleven, I wrote a short story for school--something sad. My mother read it at the kitchen table, just as a matter of homework-checking, since I tended to not do mine. I remember the shock of watching her read and realizing that she was crying. The power of that--something I had written making her cry--was unforgettable.

I didn’t like school, though, and I barely scraped out a high school diploma. I always thought that being a novelist, a Raymond Chandler or a John D. Macdonald, would be the ultimate high, but that doesn’t often get done without an education. I read my way through adulthood, vaguely wishing I could write the kind of books I read. At an age when sea changes shouldn’t happen, someone asked me, “If you could have been anything, what would it have been?” I let the question bother me for a year before I bought a new laptop with Word installed, took a deep breath, and wrote “Chapter One”. Eight months later, I wrote “The End”, and didn’t know what to do afterward. So I wrote “Chapter One”, again, and started another one.

I think I’ve learned a lot over the course of five novels, most importantly that it’s never too late for anything. Except for typing. I still use two fingers, and expect I always will.

We hear you’ve lived in a lot of places. What was your favorite?

They’re all my favorite.

I’ve been lucky. I was born in Southern California, and have spent a lot of my years there. I lived for a time in Atlanta, Georgia. I also did a lot of my growing-up years in Canada, and that’s where I live now.

There are such differences in climate and terrain and culture in the world. I love the cool, cosmopolitan atmosphere of Toronto, which is such a melting pot that tolerance is a basic staple. I love the charm and sense of history in the Deep South. California, the ocean, desert and mountains, will always be my home in a very primal sense.

All of my books have depended heavily on geographical place: not just the particular sounds and smells of an area, but the way a place exerts itself on people and events. Trees, rocks, streets, and bridges play a huge role in everything I write. And water--perhaps water, most of all.

Tell your loyal readers a little bit about Caves in the Rain.

It’s really a story about love and loss, wrapped up in a thriller. Mike Latta is a fairly ordinary guy who thinks he’s lost everything. A wife, daughter, and an expected suburban success story are all taken away by the kind of freak accident that could happen to anyone. The bottle gets him by for a little while, until it turns on him and bites. Running away to a remote island to sort things out seems like his last chance.

The trouble is, running away might be just another way of giving up…until he runs into a psychopath, and has to figure out if he if he can scratch up enough goodness to stand up to him. There’s always more to lose, even when you think you’ve lost it all.

There’s also a healthy dose of romance. It often drives my stories, the way it often drives life.

Where did you get the inspiration for this book?

The book had its genesis in Echo Island, a real place in the Kawartha Lakes area in Canada. It’s a small lump of forested rock in the middle of a very big lake, with one ancient cottage built on it. The place has long history, and (as far as I’m concerned) is deeply haunted. I wouldn’t spend a night alone there for anything in the world. I knew I had to tell stories about it, but the challenge was to unfold something in a quiet, isolated place where nothing much ever happens. It’s completely secluded; it’s virtually inaccessible in the winter, and only sees humans for a few weekends during the summer.

What are your hopes for your readers as they follow Mike through this mystery?

That’s a complicated question for me, one that probably goes back to my mother reading my story at the kitchen table and crying. I’m humbled that people read what I write in the first place, and I’m enchanted that if everything works just right, they’ll have a movie playing in their head. It’s magic.

Reading is done best all alone, and the author should know better than to interrupt. Nobody likes people who give audible movie commentaries two rows back.

Magic is almost always fragile, and I think any writer who expects to control it will fail. It’s fascinating that the same character one person adores, another reader will detest. Someone once insisted that one of my characters had bright red hair. I had never written that, or even imagined her that way, but it was vivid in the reader’s mind. I love the individuality of experience in a book’s pages, and I think a good writer tries to bring that to life without trampling on the magic.

So…I hope my readers see a good movie in their minds. I hope there’s lots of ice in the Coke and butter on the popcorn, but I won’t be there. If they want to, they can come tell me about it later.

Bob, that is all the time we have today, but thank you for being here! It was really great getting to hear your unique perspectives on storytelling.

Thank you for having me.

Don't forget to check out Caves in the Rain for yourself. We think you'll love it!

Caves In The Rain
By Bob Bickford
Paranormal Mystery/Thriller
Champagne Books:

Mike Latta can’t forgive himself for the death of his daughter. It was a freak accident, but fathers should protect little girls from the bad things that can hurt them. He didn’t, and a descent into divorce and the bottle has gotten rid of every happy ending he ever hoped for.

A year of solitude on an island in northern Hollow Lake, away from the booze and the reminders of grief, may be the last chance he has. There’s more than peace and quiet on the lake though, because the ghosts of a long-ago murder haunt Echo Island. If Mike can’t figure out what the ghosts want from him, it may cost another little girl her life.

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Release for the New Year

Caves In The Rain
By Bob Bickford
Paranormal Mystery/Thriller
Champagne Books:

Mike Latta can’t forgive himself for the death of his daughter. It was a freak accident, but fathers should protect little girls from the bad things that can hurt them. He didn’t, and a descent into divorce and the bottle has gotten rid of every happy ending he ever hoped for.

A year of solitude on an island in northern Hollow Lake, away from the booze and the reminders of grief, may be the last chance he has. There’s more than peace and quiet on the lake though, because the ghosts of a long-ago murder haunt Echo Island. If Mike can’t figure out what the ghosts want from him, it may cost another little girl her life.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Tattle and Wrye column January 2017 edition



“It’s cold,” Tattle complained, cuddled under her new fleece blankie.

“It’s winter.”

“Not in Australia.”

“Wanna go to Australia?”

“Yes!” She grinned. “But for now, I’ll settle on a Love of Literature Leap Review!”

And the two blinked into DOORS by Joanne Renaud, a romantic fantasy.

“Jackie Karma draws you into a first person narrative, which involves her strange, lovable friend, Orne and his quest to open a door to another world. The book’s blurb hooked me, but it was the first, nearly lyrical, mesmerizing sentence of the prologue that fully drew me into the story.” Tattle sighs softly. “Mmmm, the dreamscape incorporated into Jackie’s story is from a science fiction book. Before her is the planet Emarchis. It wasn’t just any book but one her high school teacher had suggested. Her favorite teacher that had commanded a lasting impression, so much so, that she dreamt of him in this setting, and there he tells her to choose well.

Wrye waggles his brows and whistles the X-files tune. “You soon learn, her high school teacher had died years before in a car accident. You also discover, Orne was right, there are doors to other places. She chooses one. However, the do-do really hits the fly swatter when she walks through a door and finds a duplicate world, not exactly like her own, but actually better than her own. Her own world seems dull by comparison, her other life inconsequential. She wants to stay. Her teacher is alive. Her friendship with Orne is much more than just buddy-buds. Only what happened to the Jackie that belonged in this world? Was it right to take her place? Then again, what of the friendships she has here and not back in her real home. How much will she lose, if she goes back? Yet, just as things start to make sense, she snaps back to a tragic past event that refuses to let her go. Even in this new, different world, the old world reaches out to her. Yes, walking through that door, was only the first choice she had to make.”

Tattle nods in agreement. “Choices that demand resolution is at the core of this story. There is, also, certainly a dream-like quality to the narrative’s unfolding. It moves you along with visual prose, takes you beyond the commonplace into a whimsical existence.  You slip into Jackie’s skin, feeling her emotions, taking on her dilemma as she tries to figure out a solution to her life. The 90’s references, the puzzles that have to be solved, the personality clashes, and the adventuresome journey is just a few of the treats that Joanne Renaud has created in this story. I never read the prequel, A QUESTION OF TIME but now I must just to see the birth of these characters and how they began and how much they have changed and grown.”

Wrye takes over, “For me the bait and hook comes directly from the interplay between Jackie and the quirky Orne. The banter keeps you grinning, and the romance touches even an old crotchety guy like me. You watch the relationship develop and cheer them onward, and you also watch as Jackie grows stronger as each, but not every riddle, gets solved. At the same time, she doesn’t need Orne to make her complete. She is very reflective of the strong independent women of our modern age. She is a refreshing heroine. Thumbs up for DOORS! This is a remarkable sci-fi tale dripping with delightful romance.” 

Leaving that unique world, Tattle and Wrye find themselves in LOTUS PETALS, The Books of Blood and Fire, #1 by Brantwijn Serrah, an erotic F/F.

Tattle licks her finger, hits the air with it and makes a sizzling sound. “Yes, oh yes, LOTUS PETALS is hot! However, the erotica is coated with an endearing love story. This novel is not what you expect. Aijyn fears her master, a sadistic vampire Lord. However, she serves him fully and conscientiously. She thought herself a sacrifice, hence every day, as one of his thirteen courtesans, becomes a gift. When asked to watch after his bride, she obeys without question. Though fearing vampires, she is amazingly strong, a true survivor.”

Wrye flips through the books passages, reading with delight. “Rhiannon Donovan, daughter to the vampire Queen, is pledged to this same vile and powerful vampire, Daimyo Gohachiro. The feisty warrior was well aware of the responsibilities of her station, yet being his bride is abhorrent to her.  Neither of the young women have a choice as they are thrown into a complex political structure.  Neither of them expect to fall in love with each other either, placing their lives in danger.”

Running a finger across poetic prose, Tattle continues, “Placed in shogun era Japan, the backdrop of this story is unexpected. The intricacy of the caste system is absorbing. The depth of darkness in this tale is compelling. And the passion is intoxicating and beautiful.  This is a character driven story that holds you spellbound.  The erotic nature is secondary to the compelling plot, which is fabulously mesmerizing. Having such an intense story surrounded by an erotic love story is gripping as well as invigorating. It is a story worth reading.”

Wrye adds, “The Japanesse influence along with the vampirism and lesbian relationship turns what could be a familiar vampire plot to an erotic, intoxicating story. Brantwijn Serrah has elevated erotica unto a fresh, provocative yet literary level. This is not a throw away book, it is something to be read again and again. I am certain it will draw in readers that would never pick a book of this nature. It is truly that remarkable. Hear me loud and clear, READ IT, you will not be sorry.”

Hope you all enjoyed our reviews and we hope you all have a very healthy and happy New Year! Until next month, keep reading.

Dona Penza Rutabaga Tattle, Esq. and Associate Wrye Balderdash
of Blather City, Wannachat

Created and written by:  Angelica Hart and Zi

Books by: Angelica Hart and Zi
Books by: Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane