Saturday, November 29, 2014

Interview with Mary-Lou Stephens: 'Love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward in the same direction'

Mary-Lou Stephens studied acting and played in bands before she got a proper job -in radio. She writes whenever she's not behind the microphone or heading off to a meditation retreat.

Mary-Lou has garnered rave reviews for her memoir Sex, Drugs and Meditation, the true story of how she changed her life, saved her job and found a husband, all with the help of meditation. She lives in Australia with that very same husband, their dog and a hive of killer native bees. 

How To Stay Married is the sequel to Sex, Drugs and Meditation and is the truth behind the happy ending.

Mary-Lou is a blogger for The Huffington Post, a columnist for Holistic Bliss and a regular at writing festivals and events.

Visit Mary-Lou’s website at

About the Book

Title: How to Stay Married
Author: Mary-Lou Stephens
Nelson Bay
Pages: 203
Genre: Self-Help/Relationships/Love and Romance
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

Do you dream of finding the right person to spend your life with? Are you in a strong relationship already and want to keep it that way? Or perhaps your marriage is a little tarnished and you hope to make it shine again? 

You’ve come to the right place. While How to Stay Married isn’t your regular ‘how-to’ book, it is about creating the kind of relationship you want. 

This is the story of a marriage; a journey from fear, resentment and financial devastation, to a place of love, joy and trust. 

Mary-Lou Stephen’s first book Sex, Drugs and Meditation chronicled how meditation changed her life, saved her job and helped her find a husband. How To Stay Married, is the truth behind the happy ending. 

How to Stay Married takes us around the world; from the glitter and glare of Las Vegas to the sub-zero temperatures of the French Alps and the tropical heat of Thailand, all with cabin luggage only. 

The discoveries Mary-Lou makes regarding herself and her marriage are a modern day parable about learning to travel light in life, love and relationships.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

My husband and I travelled around the world, from the heat and humidity of Asia to sub-zero temperatures in the Alps, all with carry on luggage only. When we returned, our friends were astounded that we’d managed to do it so easily. As I’m a writer one of those friends suggested I write a book about how to travel light. I wasn’t sure it would make a very long or even interesting book but it got me thinking. What if I used our travels as a metaphor for our marriage?

My first published book Sex, Drugs and Meditation told the story of how meditation changed my life, saved my job and helped me find a husband. How To Stay Married is the truth behind the happy ending. It uses our trip as a framework for the story of our marriage. Our early married life was a nightmare to tell you the truth. But the lessons I learnt and the hurdles we overcame to get to where we are now make fascinating reading. How To Stay Married is a modern day parable about learning to travel light in life, love and relationships.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

How To Stay Married, is a brave and personal book. It touches on areas in a relationship that not many people have the courage to expose. I have a wonderful writing group and they gave me the support I needed to be honest. I suggest all writers find themselves a group of like-minded people for feedback and encouragement, and to have fun with - writing can be such a solitary pursuit.

My early attempts to write my first book Sex, Drugs and Meditation weren’t successful. A literary agent read some of it, saw potential but told me I had to get really, really honest if I was to continue. I wasn’t brave enough at the time so I put the manuscript away and wrote a novel instead. When I found my courage I rewrote Sex, Drugs and Meditation and eventually landed a publishing deal with Pan Macmillan.

So my two tips for other writers are to be brave and to make sure you have the support you need to carry you through when your courage fades.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

My first book Sex, Drugs and Meditation was published by Pan Macmillan after I submitted it through their open submission process. I wanted to go with a major publisher because of possible legal issues in the book. I needed a legal team to look at it before it was published. There were a few changes needed but not many. Luckily my work as a radio broadcaster has given me a fairly good working knowledge of the laws around defamation.

I’ve self published How To Stay Married  because the only person who could sue me over this book is my husband and he’s promised not to :)

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

I’ve been amazed by how friendly, generous and supportive so many authors are. I’ve been part of a writing group for many years now but I never expected that level of support from other published authors. Many of us realise how hard it is to be seen in amongst all the other books in the market and so we’re happy to support each other knowing we’ll be supported in turn. This generosity of spirit is a constant blessing. It shows a genuine love of books and writing.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I’m returning to fiction for my next book. I’m attending a writing masterclass early next year and the tutor has promised she’ll land me a publishing deal - she knows my writing and that I’ll write a marketable book. Because this book will be with a traditional publisher it probably won’t be released until 2016.

I also have a series of non-fiction books in the works which I’ll self publish in 2015. I want the freedom around these books to do what I want with them as far as pricing and bundling is concerned.

I also have another three novels planned and a YA series. Plenty to keep me busy.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

That would be Facebook. I love seeing what my friends are doing, dropping them a line and having fun. I use Facebook for book promotion as well but if that’s all I do I really don’t enjoy it. The same with Twitter. It’s called social media for a reason, it’s to be sociable, to have conversations, to connect. I’m with a group of authors who have a Google group and that’s great a great place to catch up and pick each other’s brains. I also blog for The Huffington Post and that’s a great place to hang out.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

How to Stay Married is about creating the kind of relationship you want. Isn’t that what we all seek? A place where we belong. Arms in which we feel safe. Home. My wish for my readers and the ones they love is for happy trails and many adventures along the way.

While How to Stay Married isn’t your regular ‘how-to’ book, there is a list of Seven Tips For a Happy Marriage (and one from my mum) at the end. By the time you’ve read the book you will have seen how these tips have played out in my own relationship. But really it’s the tip from my mum that sums it up best:

On her deathbed my mother gave our marriage her blessing. “Remember darling,” she said. “Love is a decision. Every day you make the decision to love the person you’re with. Keep making that decision every day and you’ll have a long and happy marriage, even when it’s not all that happy.”
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

I’m going to give my final words to Antoine De Saint-Exupery, a French aristocrat, writer (The Little Prince), poet and aviator who clearly knew a bit about love.
Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward in the same direction.
That sums up marriage for me. You’re finished with the infatuation and you’re into the real meat and depth of a relationship. The part where you have each other’s backs. You know, love and support each other and you’re building a life together that will be much greater than the sum of its parts. That’s where life and love get truly delicious. That’s what How To Stay Married is about.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Interview with Mary Lawlor, author of 'Fighter Pilot's Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War'

Mary Lawlor grew up in an Army family during the Cold War.  Her father was a decorated fighter pilot who fought in the Pacific during World War II, flew missions in Korea, and did two combat tours in Vietnam. His family followed him from base to base and country to country during his years of service. Every two or three years, Mary, her three sisters, and her mother packed up their household and moved. By the time she graduated from high school, she had attended fourteen different schools. These displacements, plus her father?s frequent absences and brief, dramatic returns, were part of the fabric of her childhood, as were the rituals of base life and the adventures of life abroad.

As Mary came of age, tensions between the patriotic, Catholic culture of her upbringing and the values of the sixties counterculture set family life on fire.  While attending the American College in Paris, she became involved in the famous student uprisings of May 1968.  Facing her father, then posted in Vietnam, across a deep political divide, she fought as he had taught her to for a way of life completely different from his and her mother's.
Years of turbulence followed.  After working in Germany, Spain and Japan, Mary went on to graduate school at NYU, earned a Ph.D. and became a professor of literature and American Studies at Muhlenberg College.  She has published three books, Recalling the Wild (Rutgers UP, 2000), Public Native America (Rutgers UP, 2006), and most recently Fighter Pilot's Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War (Rowman and Littlefield, September 2013). 

She and her husband spend part of each year on a small farm in the mountains of southern Spain.

For More Information
About the Book:

FIGHTER PILOT’S DAUGHTER: GROWING UP IN THE SIXTIES AND THE COLD WAR tells the story of the author as a young woman coming of age in an Irish Catholic, military family during the Cold War.  Her father, an aviator in the Marines and later the Army, was transferred more than a dozen times to posts from Miami to California and Germany as the government's Cold War policies demanded.  For the pilot’s wife and daughters, each move meant a complete upheaval of ordinary life.  The car was sold, bank accounts closed, and of course one school after another was left behind.  Friends and later boyfriends lined up in memory as a series of temporary attachments.  The book describes the dramas of this traveling household during the middle years of the Cold War.  In the process, FIGHTER PILOT’S DAUGHTER shows how the larger turmoil of American foreign policy and the effects of Cold War politics permeated the domestic universe. The climactic moment of the story takes place in the spring of 1968, when the author’s father was stationed in Vietnam and she was attending college in Paris.  Having left the family’s quarters in Heidelberg, Germany the previous fall, she was still an ingénue; but her strict upbringing had not gone deep enough to keep her anchored to her parents’ world.  When the May riots broke out in the Latin quarter, she attached myself to the student leftists and American draft resisters who were throwing cobblestones at the French police. Getting word of her activities via a Red Cross telegram delivered on the airfield in Da Nang, Vietnam, her father came to Paris to find her. The book narrates their dramatically contentious meeting and return to the American military community of Heidelberg.  The book concludes many years later, as the Cold War came to a close.  After decades of tension that made communication all but impossible, the author and her father reunited.  As the chill subsided in the world at large, so it did in the relationship between the pilot and his daughter. When he died a few years later, the hard edge between them, like the Cold War stand-off, had become a distant memory.  

For More Information

  • Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us to the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

In one way or another, those of us who write memoirs are writing for our lives. Like many memoir writers, I’ve been haunted for decades by traumatic childhood and adolescence experiences. They were intensely personal, of course, but they were also connected to larger events and institutions: to my dad’s role as a fighter pilot in the Cold War; to the culture of military bases across America and Europe; to the disciplines of Catholic schools; and to the radical counterculture and the anti-Vietnam War movement, which I joined in Paris in 1968.

My dad was a decorated war hero; we lived—my mother, my sisters and I—in the glow and the shadow of his dangerous, turbulent life. Through all our many moves—I went to 14 schools before I turned eighteen—I remained a good Catholic, a good patriot, and a good student.  But when I came of age in the late sixties, I turned away from much of what I’d been taught. Suddenly, the way of life I’d learned at Catholic schools and in uncounted patriotic sermons appeared distant and wrong. And all that my father had done in the Korean War and was still doing in Vietnam appeared in a different, darker light.

Then the confrontation between my father and me as a result of my involvement in the Paris demonstrations shattered my ties to the family and marked my psyche in ways I have tried for years to understand. I was deeply conflicted about my parents, especially about my Dad. And I didn’t know how I felt or should feel about myself as the daughter of the man who flew the missions he did. I wrote the book both to produce a fuller and more nuanced picture of those difficult times and to find a way beyond my own fierce anger at parents I also loved, respected, and missed. Writing Fighter Pilot’s Daughter made it possible for me to understand their choices with more understanding than I’d been able to muster in the past.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Some parts of it were very difficult to write because they sent me back into hard memories.  Drafting, for example, the chapter in Fighter Pilot’s Daughter about our move to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina when my Dad was still in the Marines brought up scenes of my mother unpacking our china, silverware, the books and paintings. Then we’re settled in and the new life begins.  Only nothing really happens.  Dad goes to the work and flies around the Caribbean, but my Mom stays home with us.  And she’s miserable.  It was like this for her in several places where we lived, but for some reason, Camp Lejeune stands in memory as a palpable instance.  Life on a military base could be very dull for her.  She was a woman with imagination and a lively sense of humor.  She had exuberant social energy and loved getting dressed up for parties at the Officers’ Club and the Marine Corps Birthday Ball.  But on most days she had no company apart from my sisters and me.  She would be moody for long stretches and angry with my father.  The moving was hard on her.  She always wanted to have an elegant, stable home with old friends coming and going, but she didn’t get one until we were all grown up and making our own lives.

It was also difficult to write about the times when my Dad was away at war.  Once, and it’s hard to believe this now, we didn’t hear from him for several months; his paychecks stopped; mom had to get a job.  But his absence in a war zone always shadowed our daily lives.  I had nightmares and am still edgy about whether my loved ones are secure when I’m not looking at them. 

When my father would come home from war, he could be very frightening.  A tall man with an intense gaze, he would fill the space of our doorway.  His movements and expressions were like those of a caged creature, jumpy and nervous. Eventually he’d settle in again, and we’d have  wonderful times with him.  We didn’t talk about these things, though, so it felt like our household would swing back and forth between thick tension and almost hysterical euphoria.    

The most difficult part of writing Fighter Pilot’s Daughter was dealing with my feelings about the work my father did, as I mentioned earlier, and the terrible fight we had, back in 1968. At that point we were on diametrically opposite sides of the political divide.  We were both home in Heidelberg, Germany after the Paris demonstrations—he’d come back from Saigon on emergency leave—and we had to live in close quarters for almost a month.  The animosity between us was thick, and it finally exploded.  For a year we didn’t speak.

Much later, by the way, we got to be very close, and I’m deeply grateful for that.  Being retired from military life, Dad had changed dramatically.  He’d been a heavy drinker in his flying days.  This stayed with him into retirement until he sought the help of Alcoholics Anonymous.  AA and the peaceful life by the sea affected him and my mother in interesting ways.  Dad became more reflective. I like to think my mother left aside some of her anger for having had to follow him around the world without a house or career of her own. Getting close to my father and mother again eased a lot of the old pain that came with my Paris days.  And thinking about our reconnecting while I wrote Fighter Pilot’s Daughter helped ease the difficulties of going back into all those edgy memories.

I’d say to anyone who’s contemplating a memoir that it’s good to spend time with any materials you have to work with—the letters, photos, and so forth—for as long as you can to let the memories get stimulated.  And then remember when you start drafting that writing has an almost magical way of bringing up more memories as you go.  You need to stay with the hard ones especially.  Making real contact with old wounds is as crucial (maybe more so) to an effective narrative as recounting joy and pleasure—for yourself as well as your book.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

My publisher is Rowman and Littlefield. My agent, Neil Salkind, placed the book with them.  

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

I had published two academic books (both with Rutgers University Press) before writing Fighter Pilot’s Daughter and didn’t have great expectations that my first venture into non-fiction creative writing would be quickly taken up by any publishing house.  Neil did a fantastic job shopping the book around, though.  I was surprised and thrilled out of my mind cut  when Rowan and Littlefield gave me a contract only a few months after Neil had the manuscript. 

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I’ve written a novel about an American woman who’s trying to make a life for herself in a small Spanish village. She’s quite a loner but doesn’t want to be.  Her story is paralleled by that of a younger Spanish real estate developer.  Both feel like outsiders in the village, but while she wants to heal old wounds by enclosing herself in the mountain landscape, he wants to transform the place. It’s a story at once of expatriate life and of the huge waves of development, corruption, and then economic catastrophe that have washed over Spain in the last decade, leaving lives and landscapes transformed forever. I don’t want to give away the plot, but they both end up subtly changed for the better.

At the moment I’m working on a new novel, this one also set in Spain.  (My husband and I have a small house there where we spend a lot of time, thus the interest in that setting.) It’s about a young Spanish woman, just setting off for university, who discovers her family’s roots in medieval Al-Andalus during the time when Spain was Arabic speaking and Islamic.  She goes back in time—in her imagination or perhaps through actual time travel—to visit a medieval astronomer who works with an astrolabe.  He keeps track of the hours so people know when to pray.  There’s a parallel in the girl’s own life, as she recovers her family’s lost history and her own daily struggles with time’s power to carry things away.   

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

I spend a fair amount of time in exchanges with people on Facebook, and I have a number of followers on a Facebook page for Fighter Pilot’s Daughter.  I find I’m entertained by Twitter lately, especially tweets from literary journals and small presses. They’re smart and often funny; and they tell me about books I might not otherwise know exist.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

I want readers of Fighter Pilot’s Daughter to come away with a deeper   understanding of what military kids and spouses experience.  I hope the book will make vivid how complicated it is for these dependents (a fraught word, but it’s the term used in military circles) of service people to maintain relatively healthy and happy family lives when they have to move all the time and when they spend long months separated from the father or mother who’s deployed to war.  Military brats make up a significant  population, but I think it’s still a widely misunderstood group.

Often when I tell people I grew up in an Army family, they ask if it was like life in The Great Santini?  Really, a lot of people ask this question. The answer is no.  Santini is an abusive father.  Of course, many military Dads work with violence on a regular basis, but they don’t always bring it home.  Pat Conroy is a great story teller, and as he says himself about his novel and memoir about his father, it’s his family’s story, not a representative one of military family life in general.  Nevertheless, his is one of the few narratives in circulation that tells a story about military dependents and their soldier fathers.  So I think it often gets taken as a model of all service families.  I hope readers of Fighter Pilot’s Daughter see this isn’t the case

If the book is about life as a military dependent it’s also about life in Cold War America more generally: about our patriotic secular and religious culture, our many wars, and the perhaps inevitable reaction of a whole generation of young Americans. I’m thrilled when readers write to say that the book has helped them remember and clarify the events and movements of the time, and to realize how powerfully these shaped our individual lives.

I also have to admit that I’d like my mother and father to be remembered.  They were complicated, fascinating, larger than life people. There are far more stories about them than than I was able to recount in Fighter Pilot’s Daughter; but it makes me happy to hear from readers that they feel they know Jack and Frannie; and that they have an idea of what my early life was like.  It makes me feel somewhat less of a stranger everywhere I go.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Thanks for inviting me to talk about Fighter Pilot’s Daughter.  I hope it’s not too bombastic to say that I actually like the book myself quite a lot.  It’s done fairly well so far, and the first printing is just about depleted.  I’ve had lots of wonderful responses from readers, particularly from people who grew up in military families.  I’ve also had a number of letters from people of my generation who don’t know military life but have powerful memories of growing up in the Cold War.  It means the world to me that these readers are moved by the book to think about their own pasts and write me about their experiences.
 I’m also glad to know the book isn’t circulating only as a memoir for children of the sixties.  At the moment, a couple of writers are thinking of drafting screenplays of Fighter Pilot’s Daughter for TV or film.  It’s impossible to say whether these ideas will go anywhere, but I’m grateful they see a vivid story here that might work well on screen and interest people of other generations as well.

A Dead End in Vegas Book Blitz!

We're happy to be hosting Irene Woodbury and her A Dead End in Vegas Book Blitz today!

About the Book:

Title: A Dead End in Vegas
Author: Irene Woodbury
Publisher: Synerg Ebooks
Pages: 248
Genre: Women's Fiction
Format: Paper/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

As Dave Sloan is leaving for the Denver airport to pick up his wife, Tricia, the phone rings. It’s the cops in Las Vegas.  His wife is dead.  Her nude body was found that morning in a hotel room at the Bellagio.

Dave is stunned and devastated.  He thought she was in Phoenix at a week-long teachers’ conference.  A lie, of course, concocted by Tricia, who flew to Phoenix, then drove to Vegas to meet her Internet lover, the handsome, charming, and very much married Joe Daggett of Chicago.

When Joe can’t join her, Tricia’s a mess.  He calls a close friend, Al Posey, who lives in Vegas, and asks him to take her to dinner.  Al and Tricia hit it off and wind up in bed.  On Saturday morning, he walks out of her hotel room at nine.  Three hours later, her lifeless body is found by a maid. 

A DEAD END IN VEGAS is a searing exploration of how Tricia Sloan’s tragic, mysterious death shatters, and later transforms, the lives of her family and friends. 

Book Excerpt:

Dave interrupted Pam.
“Excuse me,” he said sharply.  “Your husband claimed the suggestive e-mails were written by a hacker?  Who on earth could that be?”
                   “How should I know?” she snapped.  “Maybe some
disgruntled student who didn’t like the grade they got on a term paper, or a tech major trying to make a name for himself.  This is a college campus.  There are always precocious students who are bored with regular class-work and amuse themselves by hacking into professors’ e-mail accounts to make trouble.  They have some laughs over a few beers and move on to the next victim.  It’s everyday life on a college campus.”
                   Dave sighed.
“So you’re telling me that my wife was an Internet
stalker, and the e-mails and photos came from some student hacker?”
“Yes, that’s right,” she confirmed with a nod.  “My husband was the victim, not the perpetrator.”
“Excuse me, Mrs. Daggett, but I can’t sit here and listen to this garbage one more minute.  Your husband is a liar!”  Dave charged, rising from his chair and grabbing his briefcase.  He opened it with a flourish and dumped the contents on her desk.

About the Author: 

Irene Woodbury’s second novel, A DEAD END IN VEGAS, is a dark, probing look at marriage, infidelity, revenge, and grief.  Immersing herself in drama and dysfunction for months on end was a challenge for this upbeat author, whose first book, the humor novel A SLOT MACHINE ATE MY MIDLIFE CRISIS, was published by SynergEbooks in 2011.  At first glance, the two novels seem quite different, but both deal with midlife confusion and chaos, and the complexities and unpredictable nature of the human heart.  And both, of course, are partially set in Las Vegas, a city Irene got to know well during her years as a travel writer.  Between 2000 and 2005, her stories appeared in major newspapers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Irene, who graduated from the University of Houston in 1993, lives in Denver with her husband, Richard, a retired correspondent for Time Magazine who edited both of her novels.  The couple miss traveling, but, after two novels, Irene insists there’s no greater journey than the one into your own heart and mind. 

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Winter Wolf by RJ Blain ~ Book Blast / Giveaway

Winter Wolf

Title:  Winter Wolf
Author: RJ Blain
Genre: Urban Fantasy / Thriller / Supernatural Suspense
Publisher:  Pen & Page Publishing
Publication Date: November 24, 2014
ISBN:  978-1-928148-00-5

Book Description:
The Hunted Wizard
When Nicole dabbled in the occult, she lost it all: Her voice, her family, and her name. Now on the run from the Inquisition, she must prove to herself—and the world—that not all wizards are too dangerous to let live.
The savage murder of a bookstore employee throws Nicole into the middle of Inquisition business, like it or not. Driven by her inability to save the young man’s life, she decides to hunt the killer on her own. Using forbidden magic to investigate the past, she learns that the murderer is in fact a disease that could kill the entire werewolf race.
Forced to choose between saving lives and preserving her own, Nicole embraces the magic that sent her into exile. Without werewolves, the power of the Inquisition would dwindle, and she could live without being hunted.
Nicole’s only hope for success lies in the hands of the werewolves she hates and the Inquisition she fears, but finding someone to trust is only the beginning of her problems. There are those who want to ensure that the werewolves go extinct and that the Inquisition falls.
But, if she fails to find a cure, her family—including her twin sister—will perish…

Book Excerpt: 
Almost everyone in the store had a phone. Dormant devices, from reading lights to mobile chargers, littered the tables. One woman, browsing books nearby, had four battery-powered devices in her purse. One was a phone, and like mine, it hungered. Its need was strong; its battery waned to the point of failure.
If I wanted, I could charge it for her.
No one would notice if I did. Maybe the woman would wonder how her phone hadn’t died before she got home. It only had a few minutes left. It’d take me all of ten seconds to fix it for her. If I did, I wouldn’t be so aware of it. But to do so, I’d have to touch her—or her phone. Some things I could manipulate without having a direct conduit, but cell phone batteries were tricky, greedy things.
I cringed a little, setting the thriller book down. I picked up the next nearest title. I flipped it over, not reading the text on the back. Did I dare? Out of the corner of my eye, I watched the woman browsing through the books. All it would take was a few seconds. I could charge it without her noticing.
That was one thing I was actually good at.
I put the novel I held down and wandered to the same table, careful not to look at her. Book by book, I investigated the titles, circling to where she stood.
“You’re Nicole Thomas, aren’t you? The actress. You’re her.” My quarry appraised me with a pleased expression.
People normally recognized the mainliners, people with beautiful faces and voices to match, people who didn’t avoid crowds.
In short, people other than me.
I met her gaze, abandoning my perusal of novels. “I am,” I replied, wincing a little at the sandpaper-rough quality of my voice. At least I hadn’t been reduced to a whisper—yet. My fatal flaw was my rough, grating voice. Chronic laryngitis did that to a person. It ruined careers, as it had mine, though I hadn’t quite given up on being an actress. I’d already lost the ability to sing.
I wasn’t going to let a stupid disease take everything away from me.
The woman smiled, not seeming to mind talking to someone who sounded more like a zombie than a human. “You’re taller than I expected. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
She thrust out her hand.
We shook.
I left her phone alone.
“They keep putting me next to giants,” I quipped. It was true. When I did manage to get on the silver screen, I worked alongside actors easily a foot-and-a-half taller than me. “It’s a pleasure to meet you too.” I matched her smile. She didn’t tell me her name, and I didn’t ask for it.
It took all of my will not to fiddle with her phone. All it would take was a murmured word and a thought, and it’d be done. It would have been easy to charge the battery when our hands had been clasped together, but I hadn’t dared.
If, sometime later, she noticed her phone had magically been charged—literally—she might remember me. She knew my name.
And in true cowardice, I couldn’t bring myself to help her. If she connected the strange behavior of her phone with me, she might tell someone. If she did, I’d be as good as dead—or worse. I had dabbled in the occult, and the occult had dabbled back, and there were those who didn’t like when that happened.
The last thing I needed was them finding me.

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RJ Blain
RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.
When she isn't playing pretend, she likes to think she's a cartographer and a sumi-e painter. In reality, she herds cats and a husband. She is currently on a quest for a new warrior fish.
In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Should that fail, her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until she is satisfied.

Favorite Books & Series (In no particular order):
Anne McCaffrey's Pern
Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar & Gryphon Series
Jim Butcher's Codex Alera & The Dresden Files
Brandon Sanderson's Elantris
Patricia Briggs' Alpha and Omega, Dragon Bones, & The Mercy Thompson series
Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time

Contact RJ at:

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Contest Giveaway

Pump Up Your Book and Author RJ Blain are teaming up to give away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive the prize.
  • This giveaway begins September 3 and ends on November 25, 2014.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on November 26, 2014.
  • Winner has 72 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway