Excerpt of SPINDRIFTS by A-M Mawhiney

Introducing author A-M Mawhiney who shares an exclusive excerpt of her dystopian sci-fi novel SPINDRIFTS…

Suddenly Fania gasped loudly and yelled, “I know where he is. He’s by the rapids. Poppy, come on. Gram, bring your kit and follow us.” She flew out the door with Kaib following fast behind her.
“What was in that tea you gave her?” Hope asked, watching them go.
Alicia was exhausted and unable to face another bout of Hope’s ire, so she merely shrugged her shoulder and stared at her daughter, gesturing with a sweeping motion of her hands for Hope to follow Kaib and Fania.
Kaib could hardly keep up with Fan she was running so fast. She can really run, he thought as he started to fall behind. He was just able to keep her in sight. When Fania got to the rapids he saw her stop suddenly, and she turned to Kaib and signaled for him to stop and remain quiet. Fania’s gestures showed she was fearful of what she saw. As he crept up, he saw why. Ollie was on the rock shelf overlooking the rapids, his back turned to the water, too near the edge for him to be safe. Kaib was terrified Ollie could back off the ledge into the rapids. Kaib followed Ollie’s frightened gaze to see what held the boy’s attention.
“It’s Mkwaa, a bear, Poppy,” Fania whispered quietly, pointing to a large sow reared up onto her hind legs, the bear and boy both frozen in place, staring at each other.
One minute Fania was beside Kaib, and in a nano-second she was between Ollie and the bear. Kaib had taught Fania to be tall and make lots of noise in a bear encounter, but he gasped in alarm when Fania did the opposite, crouching down several feet in front of the bear.
“Fan,” he started, but she motioned for silence, pointing behind her at Ollie and then to Kaib, telling him to get Ollie while she murmured to the bear softly. At first he could not make out what she was saying, until she switched to Anishinaabemowin and spoke at length, saying she wasn’t going to hurt the bear and she wanted to be friends. She asked the bear to let Ollie go with Kaib. Her calm voice seemed to soothe the animal. At that point Fania was sitting on the ground, and the bear suddenly came down on all fours and sat on her rump several metres away, mimicking Fan. Almost like a tea party, she thought, slightly hysterically before catching her breath to settle herself.
The moment was surreal. Mkwaa looked over at Kaib, grunted, and turned her head to look at Ollie, as if to say “get on with it then. Get the boy cub to a safe place.” Kaib motioned for Ollie to approach him slowly, as he inched toward the boy. Once he was close enough, Kaib grabbed Ollie gently and swung him down off the ledge.
A few moments later, Hope arrived to find Kaib holding Ollie in his arms, and Fania, of all things, sitting and chatting with a bear. Kaib passed Ollie to Hope, and once she’d checked him carefully and found no signs of injury, she sat with Ollie at the side of the trail. She gave him water and some warm soup while she glanced back at Fania over her shoulder, her heart in her throat, terrified to clear the tic lodged there in case it distracted Fania. Or the bear. She was paralyzed with fear that the animal would charge Fania. She could see Kaib was readying himself to intervene and that added to her worry, but she turned back to focus on the patient in front of her, steadying her hands so the soup didn’t spill, cooing softly at Ollie who had started to shiver. She knew she had to get Ollie to a warm place. It was time for him to be with his parents.
“We’ll go home now, Ollie. Can you walk with me?”
“Oh,” he wailed, bursting into tears. “I’m in so much trouble. My parents will be terribly mad at me.”
“Oh no, they will be happy to see you safe, you’re not to worry about them being angry. They’ve been beside themselves ever since they realized you were gone,” Hope reassured him quietly, as she put her supplies back into her kit. Standing up and taking hold of Ollie’s hand, she indicated with hand motions to Kaib she was leaving. With great reluctance, she glanced back at her partner and granddaughter one last time before taking the first difficult steps away from where they remained in danger.
Kaib whispered, trying to get Fania’s attention. “Ollie’s safe now. It’s time for you to step back and move slowly closer to me.” The bear looked over at Kaib as he spoke, grunted, and turned back to Fania.
“Oh no, Poppy. I can’t move yet. Mkwaa has some kind of problem we’re trying to figure out. I’m not sure what she is trying to tell me, but she’s upset about something.” The bear suddenly reared up, and Kaib started forward to grab Fania, terrified the bear was starting to attack, but she slowly turned and waddled off into the bush.
“Come along, Fan, it’s safe now, let’s go,” Kaib urged.
“I can’t leave yet.” After a few moments of silence, punctuated by Kaib’s panicked gasps, the bear returned, carrying a young cub in her mouth. She put her cub down near Fania, but far away enough that Kaib could see Fania was safe—at least for the moment. The bear huffed at Kaib as if she could understand what he was thinking, and backed up to give Fania room to approach her cub.
Kaib noticed the cub had fishing line wrapped around its snout.
“There’s a fishhook in its mouth, Poppy,” Fania said quietly, as she gently picked up the cub and put in on her lap while the poor creature moaned in pain. He couldn’t open his mouth because of the fishing line. Fania gently pulled the hook out while she crooned to the cub. Once the line was untied, Fania put the cub back on the ground, stood slowly, and stepped back a few paces. The cub rushed back to his mother who stood and regarded Fania intently for a few moments, crashed to the ground on all fours, and herded her cub back into the bush, stopping once to look back at Fania before disappearing from view.
Kaib quickly climbed up onto the ledge and urged Fania to sit with him, overlooking the rapids. The water level was low with the rocks showing though in places. As Kaib looked far below, at the churning water, he felt so relieved that Ollie hadn’t fallen. He’d never have survived such a plunge.
Kaib put his arm around Fania, who had started to shake. She leaned in for his warmth and comfort. “This is so strange. I felt calm and safe the whole time I was with the bear and her cub, but now I feel scared with what could have happened.”
“You were very good in such a difficult situation. It is natural to have a reaction right after such an intense experience. I’d worry if you didn’t.” He held her for several minutes, until she breathed deeply and stood up.
“Let’s go home, Poppy. All of a sudden I feel exhausted.”

This is an excluisve excerpt from A-M Mawhiney’s debut book, Spindrifts, published through Friesen Press, November 2021 which you can find here.

Guest Post: ‘Food, Family, Friends, & Football: An Introduction to The Winning Ingredient . . .’ By Kelly Swan Taylor

Introducing Kelly Swan Taylor who shares the story of her upcoming novel.

My upcoming contemporary novel is a story of unwavering friendship through loss and triumph and was born out of a love of baking, family traditions, and (of course) my passion for sports. It’s as eclectic as I am and holds a special place in my heart. And I hope it will in yours.

Each fall, for a while now, I pull out my recipe book and prepare for a long season of baking from Halloween through Christmas. What started with a simple (well, not really ingredient-wise) gingerbread recipe turned into at least a dozen different varieties of cookies, now carefully placed between wax paper and packaged inside colorful tins. I tie them with a bow of red and white baker’s twine and ship them off to friends and family. This tradition is my personal version of a bakery and became the catalyst for my debut young adult novel.

As a former laboratory scientist, recipe experimentation is what fueled my enjoyment of baking. That, and sharing the unique results with others. This is something my protagonist, Mia DeSalvo, and I have in common. Bringing new life to old family recipes keeps these cherished memories alive. And it does help to have a wonderful treasure trove of recipes from which to choose. I’m lucky in that department. From my Slovak great-grandmother’s apple strudel to my grandmother-in-law’s “Oatmeal Crispies,” my cookie tins are overflowing.

But it was the stories that my husband told about his Sicilian roots and warm dinners around the Italian table growing up that prompted me to create the DeSalvo Bakery. It was inspired by my husband’s great-grandmother, Antoinette DeSalvo, who immigrated to this country in the early 1900’s. I will never forget my own experience visiting Italy a few years ago and feeling the comforting warmth of delicious food and drink, including sampling several cannoli in each city.

Of course, no sweet teen story would be complete without a fun group of tight, loyal friends. I chose to huddle them around the emerald turf of a football field. While I hadn’t initially intended for football to play such an integral role in the novel, I couldn’t imagine my own high school or college experiences without it and loved the instant action and drama it brought to the story. Whether as supportive teammates or dedicated fans, participating in sports emphasizes teamwork, dedication, and goal setting — all wonderful lessons for the young and old alike. And, while the teenage characters take the lead in this story, the diverse multi-generational cast is included and respected as an important part of their world.

Finally, there is a distinctly American feel to The Winning Ingredient that was intentional. And it isn’t just the all-American football theme. It is scattered throughout the book, from the school’s name and mascot to the hard-working people, who care about their community. The story is a shout-out to immigrant families who own small businesses and came to this country to achieve a dream and share their legacies. Their many recipes and traditions are now weaved into the fabric of our one flag. And I couldn’t forget the essential Gold Star and Blue Star families of our military, who sacrifice so much to keep us safe and allow us the freedom to achieve our dreams.

The Winning Ingredient by Kelly Swan Taylor will be available from the 22nd of September. You can find Kelly on Twitter and for information check out her website.

Guest Post: Excerpt of ‘Heroes Of the Shadow. Blue Scar Indeabinito’ by S.S. Frankowska

Introducing author S.S. Frankowska who shares an excerpt of epic fantasy novel ‘Heroes Of the Shadow. Blue Scar Indeabinito’.

“INDEABINITO WAS A VERY OLD WORLD. It has existed for millions of years. Over the first centuries, new races were born. After all, the kingdom was inhabited by twelve different races, one being the human race. The other eleven races were characterized by abilities which humans were unable to possess. Still, the position of people in this world was extremely privileged. They have been treated as a race that everyone else should watch out for. A race that others have to look after, with no one allowed to hurt them.
At the head of the kingdom were always human queens and kings. They held meetings in which all races took part. The king and queen were always ready to hear the voices of other races, but ultimately it was up to them to make decisions.
There came a moment in the history of this world when the last ruling couple made a mistake. Worrying about the future of their children, putting their good above the good of the kingdom, they mislaid their trust and irreversibly changed the course of Indeabinito history. With their actions, they introduced into this world something that had never been there before. Magic. A force that allowed humans to measure themselves with the abilities of other races.
Of course, at first no one dared to oppose humans. Everyone knew that their firstborn son embraced to seek the power that did not come from this world, but they remained silent. The second son of the royal couple grew into a wonderful man. Nobody doubted that he would be a worthy successor to his parents. Therefore, after the unexpected death of the king and queen, when their ship sunk because of a storm, all races were glad to welcome the nineteen-year-old king. The second son. Nobody knew what was happening to the eldest son of the royal couple. They were worried about his disappearance, but nobody was eager to find him. The whole kingdom celebrated the coronation.”

This is an excerpt of epic fantasy ‘Heroes Of the Shadow. Blue Scar Indeabinito’ (Chapter 16: Victor’s Story) by S.S. Frankowska which is available now.

You can find more information from S.S. Frankowska on Twitter and via the Heroes of the Shadow website.

Scarred by Damien Linnane – Review

A brutal tale of justice blinded by revenge…

52916432. sx318 sy475

Scarred is exactly what the title suggests and Damien Linnane has carved a unique story telling path by bravely going to some violent and graphic places. It isn’t for the faint of heart but the places readers are taken make for a great story.

You have the historically abused and damaged vigilante in the form of Jason Ennis who leads the story while residing on the fringes of society. He’s the quiet type who could be Batman one day and then in the same breath a cold blooded killer, even though his motives could possibly be justified – the conflict which is genius in this story and that being whether or not Jason’s motives are the right thing to do? He’s complex and haunted by a childhood of abuse, his back story like all of the other principal characters is explored and told through the eyes of whoever is leading the scene. The view even switches in some scenes which is a credit to the author’s execution and work to achieve.

We also follow Howard who is at the other extreme end of life’s scale. He too is haunted by a dark past and uses it as a fuel on others sometimes brutally and graphically. In between the violence and sometimes depravity is a reason to go there, not for the shock factor but for the the greater good of a story which I eventually couldn’t put down.

There are so many messages within the story such as revenge not always being the answer and the true morality of justice. My only real critique comes from the writing style which chooses more often to show as opposed to tell – a rather cliche critique in book reviews and for this book the ‘showing’ works most of the time to immerse one in the depth of backstory and to get into the thoughts of characters.

For those who don’t mind some violence and graphic content, you’ll appreciate a story that goes to places of darkness and scarring to tell it while a few ‘bad guys’ get taken down in the process.

 

5 Stars – I enjoyed this immersive and sometimes brutal tale. Thank you to the author for reaching out! Reviews left on Goodreads and Amazon (UK) 

Into the words I go : Without looking back once

No the title of this post isn’t a typo, but yet another attempt of witty word play. The Hall of information is back from quite a lengthy absence. But why have I been away?

My body had decided to recall an old friend called asthma in between two weekends that I played Robin Hood in a local amateur pantomine. After every arrow fired, men in tights danced and damsels in distress had been saved it was quite safe to say my anatomy was both physically and mentally drained.

So he’s pulling the sick card, I hear some of you say?

No but I mean drained, my right ear is still currently blocked (a sinus issue the NHS has led me to believe)

Quite honestly my energy to blog at the best of times is lousy so throw all of the above in and the Hall of information is a desolate place.

Seems quite bleak, but in adversity comes the best of stories. I have thrown myself back into the words of my novels and never before have I been so driven to write!

A week ago I printed my first novel in its entirety. Holding what I have created for the first time filled me with a drive to continue on. A real book written by me in my hands!

Unpublished, I continue with 2 full novels and a third in progress. Many times I ask myself why carry on with writing Clark Thorn 3? Nobody has offered me any representation for the first book.

Much like when I looked into the audience of Iver Heath new village hall and said to myself,

“I love this place”

I do the same every time I open Microsoft word and look at the pages I have written,

“I love this story and that’s all that matters to me”

People will always doubt and refuse to like my facebook page. They simply don’t believe I will ever get published. That’s fine, it feels better to prove someone wrong anyway.

I am willing to take my story through hell and out the other side to get it out there, and the reason I do it, because my dream is for the world to see my work. Giving up isn’t an option now nor will it be an option later.

There are only a few things you need to be a success in this world at any level:

Talent, which I don’t believe I have an ounce of (so not vital).

A good attitude, check sort of.

Hard work, (pivotal to anybody who is successful)

I love performing on stage but since I was twelve I have loved writing and telling stories. My future will always side to written word.

Right now I am writing book 3 with publication of book 1 firmly in sight!

It will happen one day, that’s a fact.

The Hall of information is back people, whether you like robot criminals or not!