Apocalypse, Trolls and Bounty Hunters

Mac & Molly 2

R. Mac Wheeler and Molly

In four years I published eight books and contributed to several anthologies. That’s pretty good for me. I know writers who are single parents holding down two jobs, who wait until their kids are asleep and write into the early hours. I know writers who have gone through life-threatening illnesses, medical emergencies and personal trauma and didn’t stop writing. I know writers who publish a new book every two or three months. I wish I could be like them. I am not a fast writer and as I get older I want to make time for other things I enjoy, so I do.

I admire the aforementioned authors for their hard work and dedication, which, in my usual rambling way, brings me to my guest, R. Mac Wheeler, who has published twenty-four books in a little over two and a quarter years. Although he completed his first book quite some time ago, he wrote and published the last seven in the past two years, a little over three months per book.

Linda: Hello, Mac. Thanks for stopping by. Congratulations on publishing your twenty-fourth novel!

Mac: Thank you. To clarify, I started writing in 1987 and ended up with my first novel (which I subsequently split into a three-book series) and sixteen others. In 2011 I made the decision to self-publish. Took me almost three years to get sixteen of those published, and I wrote an additional seven novels in the last two years.

Linda: It’s an accomplishment any way you look at it. I wish I had your literary stamina. Let’s start with an easy question. You live in South Florida with your wife and dogs. Who runs the household?

Mac: Ha ha. Like I’m going to answer that one. “Oh, honey, does this make me look fat?”

Linda: It wasn’t a trick question.

Mac: Really? Then it’s . . . who rules your household?

Linda: The dog.

<Mac and Linda high-five>

Linda: So, Mac, when did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

Mac: Sitting at a traffic light one day on my way to work, my door flung open and an ogre ripped me out of my car. I knew he was an ogre just like that. You can’t miss the tusks and snout. He dragged me along on this epic journey to secure peace for his warlock and witch friends. Oh, the stories I could tell about the dragons we came across. We survived many near death experiences that changed me – in a dark way, let me tell you. We became – ”

Linda: <interrupting> Seriously?

Mac: Would I lie to you? I suppose you’d rather I said I wrote my first story in fifth grade, which really jazzed me. Creative Writing and Journalism in High School began to gel the dream. But after an interview with the local paper and realizing writing didn’t pay, I changed my major in college to Computer Science. I didn’t start writing again until I reached the empty nest stage. There. Satisfied?

Linda: So your ogre friends, and others, inspired you to write fantasy. And you went on to write fiction in a range of genres, right?

Mac: And non-fiction, such as brain surgery and rocket science. But since I don’t know much at all about those things, I make up lies about my neighbors and their late night séances, my ogre and elf friends, and such. Actually much of what I write about is the bare-butt truth, cross my heart. I just change the names to protect the guilty.

Linda: <glaring> Next question: Do you come up with a plot and stick to it, or follow the Muse?

Mac: During a trip to Black Lake, I met a wizard who went by the name of The Muse. He was a cranky, smelly troll, though, and I wouldn’t follow him out of a blizzard.

Linda: Mac! Ten or maybe even twenty people are going to drop by to listen to us! This is a serious blog and you’d better get with the program here.

Mac: I typically come up with the character first, mull and cogitate over him/her for weeks, and the character starts to tell me about his/her life, and it turns into a story.

 

Linda: I can barely hear you. Are you sulking?

Mac:  No.

 

Linda: You are sulking.

Mac: I’VE DRIVEN MOTORCYCLES LIKE AN IDIOT, SHOT LOTS OF GUNS, RIDDEN HELICOPTERS, JUMPED OUT OF PLANES, RAPPELLED DOWN CLIFFS, EXPLORED MINE SHAFTS, SKIED, KAYAKED – ALL WITHOUT A NET. REAL DRAGON-SLAYING MEN – LIKE ME – DON’T SULK.

Linda: Now you’re shouting. What would your wife think if she knew you shouted at an old lady, huh?

 

Mac: You’re older than old.

 

Linda: Yes, old enough to be your mother. In fact, one of my sons is your age.

 

Mac: Sorry.

 

Linda: What is your problem, Mac?

Mac: It’s that word you keep using: serious. I used it in a novel once but had to take it out. It didn’t make sense.

Linda: <sighing> How much time do you dedicate to writing per day.

Mac: After walking the pups every morning, it’s all writing until I break at 5:30 to prepare dinner for my wife, we watch the news, and I treat myself after that with my reading time.

Linda: What do you read? Who are your favorite authors?

Mac: I read the back of the cereal box every morning. Tony the Tiger has interesting things to say.

Linda: <warning tone> Mac – ”

Mac: <interrupting> AND . . . I don’t think a writer can write without reading. Reading creates the artistic fodder of stories and characters. I’ve expanded the breadth of my interests in the last few years.

Linda: <rolling eyes> What is the most surprising thing you discovered during the publishing process?

Mac: After a couple of Kerr’s jars of shine, the print on the back of the cereal box gets fuzzy.

<Two minute glaring match, after which Linda reluctantly backs down>

Linda: Okay, let’s get this moving. Mr. Wheeler, what is the most difficult part about writing for you?

Mac: <smirking> Getting the right edge on my quill. Aggravating as all get out how quickly those things get rubbed to a stub and you have to start all over again. I mean, really. Can’t they develop a better method for getting ideas on parchment?

Linda: <sarcasm> So, using quill and parchment, you managed to write and publish 24 books?

Mac: Plus I had surgery on both knees and shoulders and moved across the continent.

Linda: What made you self-publish instead of going the trad route?

Mac: If I’d found an agent, been published, and felt appropriately treated, I probably never would have. But I read how crappy writers get treated by the big houses, get screwed around by agents and small pubs, and stopped querying.

Linda: What is the most surprising thing you discovered about the publishing process?

Mac: I can’t say I’ve been surprised. I’ve stepped conservatively. I’ve focused inwardly, not worrying about the publishing and selling, but working on my craft, creating a bookshelf of assets that will support me one day maybe, when I get that lift that propels my writing into the spotlight.

Linda: What is the most difficult part of writing?

Mac: Finding enough hours in the day to get the character’s story typed. My characters don’t like me to interrupt the flow for things like eating and sleeping.

Linda: <beaming> Thank you! I’m glad you’ve finally decided to take this interview seriously.

Mac: No! That word again! I can’t hear you. Na na na na na na.

Linda: Mac, I know you . . .  Mac? Where are you going? I haven’t finished.

Well, that didn’t turn out as I anticipated.

Mac actually is serious about his writing and his books offer a variety to choose from. Action-packed adventures. Stories written from the perspective of strong female characters who kick butt and carry guns. What he calls Dude Lit (the Seeker series.) Family sagas (the Shadow series.) Mac spins tales around rich, gritty characters with a lot of baggage, who he puts through more grief than they can handle. His tone leans toward the sarcastic, passive aggressive. He writes speculative fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, suspense and paranormal with a twist. You can find his books at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Check out Mac’s website and his Blog where he also publishes his photography. If you drop Mac a note (links on his Website and Blog) he’ll send you a free copy of New Order Apocalypse!

 

24

 

April in England.

DSCN0684Ah, England in the spring, blue skies, the sun shining, the perfect temperature. The fine weather didn’t last, but the first week was marvelous. You think you know all the colors of green grass and foliage, until you go to England. Apart from a few new houses, designed to blend in with ancient homes and gardens in rustic villages, little Rushall Village and nearby Upavon haven’t changed for decades. If you read Demon on a Distant Shore, you may be able to picture the area. Little Barrow is based on Rushall and Upavon combined, although I must stress the characters and businesses in the stories are fictional, not based on local villagers. But, anyway, this post is not about my books, or writing, or publishing – so if that’s what you want to see, read no farther – it’s about my recent trip to England. As a British citizen and legal USA resident I am lucky to belong to two countries, both of which I love. But there’s something special about revisiting the home of your birth when your childhood memories of there are happy.

The first 11 days with Mum in Rushall were bittersweet. I saw firsthand that the everyday household tasks we breeze through are terribly difficult for her now. She rarely let me help her. “I have to do this myself,” she’d say. “I don’t usually have anyone here to do it for me.” But I did become the chief dishwasher and potato masher and she let me mow the grass and vacuum the living room floor. We took the little local bus to Pewsey, Devizes and Marlborough, and otherwise just sat around talking and dozing – she due to age, I due to jet lag. I walked the path to Chilton Village several times, because it’s beautiful and I needed the exercise. I wish I could have stayed with her longer, or forever.

After a lovely time with Mum, it was off to stay with my sister in Newbury, and no more lazing around. My first full day there, we went to London to meet up with niece Cath, and my friend author Carol Townsend. We took a bus from Paddington to the Brick Land district. Fascinating place. Artists are given free rein in many of the more modern areas and we spotted weird and wonderful artwork all over the place. If you go there, look up as well as all around, or you will miss stuff on rooftops and along walls. We slowly made our way through the old East End, wandering along Dickensian streets too narrow for modern traffic, to our destination: the Spitalfields Markets. My niece first took us into a building where vendors had set up stalls selling glorious, hot food from all over the world. The temptation to sample everything was almost overwhelming, but not wanting to spoil our lunch, I heroically passed it by. We were in Spitalfields Old Market and it was incredible. I have never seen such an eclectic assortment of beautiful merchandise and, yes, more food stalls . . . drool. The Spitalfields New Market is in a big, modern complex of shops and restaurants and although the merchandise was fabulous, it didn’t have the Old Market’s ambience. We were surprised by a living statue so good I didn’t know what he was until he moved and startled a passerby. We ate at a Greek restaurant where all four of us discovered Greek cuisine is much more than souvlaki and dolmades. Thank you, dear niece, for a terrific day in London.

It had been a long day when sister and I got home, and we went out again for supper. The next day it rained just as we got to the old Newtown Road Cemetery with its gothic angels and stones. It pretty much rained for the rest of my visit. England still hasn’t recovered from all that flooding and even where it looks fine, the ground must be waterlogged because a light rain caused flooded roads and roadsides. At the railway station, water bubbled up from a drain in the middle of the road and the station entrance on one side had to be closed. Being stout Englishwomen, we ignored the rain and went into town for supper. Monday was a long wander around Newbury – including lunch and supper.

Tuesday was a nostalgic visit to the tiny village of Herriard in search of my Nan and Granddad’s old home, and I found that what I remembered from my childhood days was far from accurate. I had a picture in my mind, of walking from the church, down the road a little way, and there was the farmhouse. Nope. We walked for MILES till we found it. The place has been vastly altered by successive owners and renovations to the rear makes it look like a different house altogether. We knocked on the door and asked to take photos of the outside anyway, and the very nice owners invited us in. The inside, although also remodeled, still retains its old-fashioned charm, but the huge kitchen I remember is in fact very small and narrow. The copper boiler Nan used for laundry is still inside the house. The hand pump is still out back. Then we tromped MILES more in search of another home of theirs, and think we found it. Then MILES more to the local pub for lunch. It seemed like an upscale kind of place where we were asked if we had a reservation. A reservation, in a country pub, for lunch! What is the world coming to? For all that, they forgot to put the cheese and bacon on my steak burger. Shame on them. We stopped in Basingstoke on the way back. Having failed to find a gift for my hubby, we were sure to find something in the gigantic mall. Nope. I ended up taking him a Mr. Tom candy bar. Well, his name is Tom. Wednesday was a morning in town and afternoon packing my suitcase and relaxing. My sister saw me off to London on the 8:29 train from Newbury.

I did have a little kerfuffle with the man in the station’s ticket office. I pre-purchased my ticket online and accidentally deleted the confirmation e-mail, which included the confirmation number. In the past, I’ve just had to give them my credit card, they pop it in their machine and my booking magically appears, but now they want the confirmation number. I didn’t have it. I didn’t get my ticket. Had to buy another one. Bah humbug.

Thank God the station is near her house! I was exhausted and my feet hurt so much. I have plantar faciitis in my feet which makes walking any distance difficult and painful. As it is, I can only wear Crocs and not be crippled. No more beautiful shoes for me, but at least Crocs now make some really cute styles. All that walking around cities, towns and country lanes hurt something awful and my feet looked like they belonged to a hippo at the end of each day. They still haven’t recovered and I’ve been home three days.

I had a great visit, although at times I felt like a stranger in a strange land. People in the States and in England often comment on the fact I still have an English accent after all my years here. When in England, my English accent gets stronger. Perversely, the accent can lead to confusion. I don’t always remember which version of a word to use unless I have time to think about it – imagine the looks I get when I ask a waiter for the check, not the bill. People think I’m English and expect me to know what everything is called and how it works – even my sister, who should know better. There’s a whole lot I don’t know, but I’m expected to and get the “stupid old lady” look when I have to ask, especially when traveling. A few trips back my friend Carol stymied me when she said she’d get me an Oyster Card to use in London, and my sister said she had to pop out to top up her Key Card. I don’t know the latest English slang or about current events on most people’s minds. And nowadays, hardly any merchant will accept a non-British credit card, because theirs have identity chips embedded, which ours do not, and when I offer it (just in case) I get a “you should know” pitying look.

I think I’ve gained ten pounds. During 17 days in England, many hours were dedicated to satisfying my food cravings. You may be thinking that’s a shallow goal, but believe me, when a bunch of British people get together the main topic of conversation is food, every single time, and we go a little crazy when we go home, consuming vast quantities of all the food we’ve missed eating. Even the basics, like eggs, cheese and milk, taste richer. And the cream – oh my gawd, every dessert needs cream, and I wish there’d been a way to bring home a deep-fried donut filled with cream and a drizzle of strawberry sauce. However, not all was as it should be. I regret to say, Mr. Brain’s Faggots are not what they once were. Mr. Brains’s – what a name for something made of offal and generally discarded bits of meat. Don’t mock – you eat hotdogs, don’t you? Balogna, maybe? Faggots are now made from “cuts of pork and liver with breadcrumbs and herbs,” and are over-processed with the consistency of pate, and bland. Mum said the butcher’s or deli versions are better, but I couldn’t find any. I looked at every pub menu I passed – and there are a lot of pubs in every English town – in search of one with good old steak and kidney pie on the menu. In the end, I got a pie from the butcher and it was yummy. But the fish and chips from my favorite chippie have gone downhill. The chips were revolting and the battered cod, although still nice, just wasn’t what it used to be. I think I drove my sister crazy as I dragged her around town to fulfill my food wish list. Just to mention a few: fish and chips, steak and kidney pie, pork and egg pie, scotch eggs, haslet, Easter eggs (not the same as your American Easter eggs, my dear), sausages (not the same as your American sausages, dearie), caramelized onion chutney, English style quiche (which we used to call egg and bacon pie when I was a kiddie), custard tarts, sticky toffee pudding, honeycomb, my favorite chocolate bar Wispa Gold, Thornton’s Chocolates. The list was endless, and most of it now resides in my stomach.

And now I’m hungry so am off to eat lunch; one of the things – IMO – the USA has perfected: American style pizza.

Wherever you go and whatever you do, may the luck of the Irish be there with you.

pot-gold-rainbow-600x450I like stories which are a wild ride to the dark side – bloody, darkly humorous, irreverent and populated by anti-heroes who were once or never were human. One of my recent finds was John L. Monk’s novel Kickabout suicide Dan Jenkins whose after-life job is to return from the dead and hijack criminals’ bodies, and make sure they reap their just rewards. He gets to be alive again – albeit in another’s body – and if in the course of administering justice he clears out their bank accounts, spends their money and lives in luxury, so much the better.  Each successful performance earns him the right to return and do it all over again to another who needs retribution. I enjoyed the novel so much, I tracked down John on his Facebook page and website, and made his acquaintance.

What has this to do with St. Patrick’s Day? Nothing. But . . . .

I discovered John has an offbeat sense of humor I can appreciate. With his permission, and in honor of Saint Pat, here is John’s illuminating blog post which divulges the real reason for St. Patrick’s Day.

THE WAR BETWEEN IRELAND AND THE UNITED STATES.

Many years ago, before I made my millions as an independent author, I wrote freelance history for one of the largest history clearinghouses in Spokane Rhode Island. The details aren’t important, but what I’m about to say is.  Shortly before my breakthrough novel, “Kick”, while pouring through dusty old tomes and ledgers, I came across a little known episode in American history which has since been hushed up: in 1897, Ireland declared war on the United States.

The president at the time was William McKinley. Now, as everyone knows, McKinley was one of the least warmongering of the U.S. presidents, and had a kindly disposition in all things except one: everyone knew to never, ever ever, interrupt him during breakfast. The staff in the White House had even placed a sign outside the presidential dining room, reading, “Do Not Interrupt Breakfast.”

One day (a terrible day which will live in infamy), President McKinley was eating breakfast and “minding his own business” as the press reported it, when, out of nowhere, a tiny little man in a green outfit popped up — as if by magic — and stole his Lucky Charms.

The documents reveal an angry, vengeful president who immediately sent warships to blockade the small island.  Back then, Ireland was mostly cut off from the Western World. What little trade they had with anyone was centered around shamrock production — until McKinley, in his rage, had the farms destroyed in a series of devastating night raids.

The furious Irish people invaded the U.S. through a magical rainbow that spanned from Belfast to Fort Knox.  Millions of angry, red-headed Irishmen poured through, slashing and butchering their way towards Washington. McKinley was terrified.  He sent his best troops down — only to have them captured and left tied and gagged on the side of the road wearing hilarious green hats (years later, these “green berets” would learn brawling tactics from the Irish and become a mighty fighting force, but that’s another story).

When the mob got to Washington, the angriest Irishman with the reddest hair banged on the White House door, and yelled, “Come out of there you son of a bitch! You’re gonna pay for what you did to my sister’s shamrock farm!”

What happened after has been mostly lost to history.  Rumor has it McKinley was made to hand over a generous weight in gold from Fort Knox. Whatever the truth of that, there can be no doubt he was forced to declare March 17th a holiday, so that we Americans will never forget the destruction of all those shamrock farms.”

So there you have it, the truth about St. Patrick’s Day, compliments of John L. Monk. I don’t know about you, but it made me think . ;)

Click to check out Kick and John’s website.

 

 

 

 

 

Giving it Away

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The Midnight Choir (A Whisperings Short)

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Tiff Takes on Halloween (A Whisperings Short)

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Your opportunity for creepy Halloween reads and help the animals!

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Giveaway #2 – Halloween goodies.

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Now Available – Downside Rain, an urban fantasy novel.

Prelim 8

Downside Rain is now available as an e-book from online retailers Apple iTunes, Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble Nook.

Another place lies palm to palm with the world we know. Downside, Earth’s backdoor, where magic, madness and monstrosities abide; where rain falls from a cloudless red sky and neon pulses day and night.

A fallen angel in a derelict tower weeps crystal tears.

A powerful man hides a dark secret.

Wraiths skim through the streets, hunting monsters.

Rain and her partner Castle are wraiths. They will take almost any assignment, providing it’s legal and pays well. They specialize in ridding Gettaholt City of monsters, be they mischievous but relatively benign sprites, or ghouls which don’t limit their feasting to the already dead. The partners are also ears and eyes for Alain Sauvageau; unnoticed, the pair glean useful information for the crime lord. Rain would be happier working for Alain if he didn’t try to get into her pants, but she refuses to be the reigning lothario’s latest in a long line of affairs and jilted lovers.

Rain goes Upside on a mission for Alain and while there discovers River, a wraith who knows nothing of Downside. She is duty bound to introduce him to Downside society, an obligation she resents. When she’s marked for death, she must survive attacks by demons and Gettaholt citizens compelled by powerful magic. Who is trying to kill her, and why? Is River friend or foe? Can a wraith die twice?

GIVEAWAY #1

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