Saturday, May 19, 2018

Graduation Season! Where does the time go??

It seems like yesterday - well, maybe the day before yesterday - when I snapped this photo of my oldest son and his dog. Where does the time go?

And now he's all grown up. And graduating.
And going on to pilot training. Like, totally adulting right out of the gate.

I'm so proud, but at the same time I feel the tears burning the backs of my eyeballs.
I keep telling myself this is normal. This unwillingness to let go. Like I have a choice in the matter.

I keep telling him that he'll always be my baby, but really, I have to admit that he's all grown up.

Congratulations to the graduating class of 2018, not just at the Air Force Academy, but everywhere.

You guys and gals are the future. And it's filled with opportunity and possibilities.

Go for it.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Monday Book Review: The WIld Mountain Thyme, by Kathryn Scarborough

The Wild Mountain Thyme, by Kathryn Scarborough
Published January 2018 by The Wild Rose Press

About the Book:
There’s a serial killer murdering Irish-American tourists all over Ireland. Jim O’Flannery of the Boston Globe and Megan Kennedy of the Irish Times, are teamed up to report on the killings. They want to work together, but also to stay clear of each other emotionally; there was A LOT of trouble with the opposite sex in the past. But, Jim’s guardian angel appears, as a leprechaun, to pester and cajole Jim into getting involved with Megan. Jim can see Seamus, Megan can’t.
Jim and Megan trail the murderer to the west coast of Ireland, piecing together his motivation and where he may strike next. 
An attempt is made on their lives, and only Jim’s quick wits saves the two. Megan disappears. Has the killer kidnapped her? Can Jim, with Seamus’s help, save her from mortal danger?

This sweet whimsical romance is a like an old fairy tale, the kind with magical elements and hidden dangers lurking in the shadows. The lighthearted interplays of the main characters are juxtaposed with twisted ramblings of an unhinged serial killer who's fixated on the heroine.

The story unfolds from multiple points of view, mostly jumping between the two main romantic characters James O'Flannery and Megan Kennedy, journalists covering the story of a serial killer on the loose in Dublin. Jim has been sent over by The Boston Globe to work with Megan from The Irish Times, covering the murders of several Irish American tourists, supposedly at the hands of a serial killer.

The killer himself (whose identity is shadowed at first and slowly revealed) also has several chapters from his point of view, giving the reader insight into his twisted perceptions of reality. And then there are the chapters from the paranormal POV... from Jim's  guardian angel, on an assignment to earn his wings and disguised as a leprechaun.

Seamus is Jim's great-great-great-great-great-great uncle, and must be the most inept guardian angel since Clarence in It's a Wonderful Life ...but then again, it worked out pretty well for Jimmy Stewart in the end. And Seamus's heart is definitely in the right place, even if his methods are a tad unorthodox.

This is a sweet (close the bedroom door) romance that is at times silly and at times suspenseful.  To be honest, I could've done with fewer scenes (and songs) from Seamus, but it all weaves together to create a whimsical, very Irish fairy tale kind of a story. If you enjoy sweet romance with a big dash of whimsy, give this story a try.

Grab a copy on AMAZON

Friday, May 11, 2018

Friday Feature: #Excerpt from FORBIDDEN TIDES by Kyla Stan

About the Book:
Some would say I look like a mermaid, the essence of nautical beauty. I looked in the mirror and saw a monster....

Astrid Murphy, born with strange webbed hands and a thirst for saltwater, feels like a freak. She desires to look and feel normal, just like her family. But Astrid doesn’t realize that she’s meant to be the next ruler of the Deep Clan, a race of merfolk who are dying from pollution and overhunting. She is the only one who can save them.

Zander’s mission was to find Astrid and bring her home. Not fall in love with his target. Surrounded in a web of danger, a forbidden love between clan daughter and warrior blossoms. Zander knows they can’t focus on each other, and the Deep Clan must come first.

But it’s the one enemy Astrid never expected who will tear it all down. Her father. The one person who was supposed to love and protect her, will do anything to keep her from fulfilling her destiny with Zander. Even kill.

As Astrid and Zander fight for their world, they learn the true depth of what it means to love, the power of hope, and what it means to be free.
Grab your copy on AMAZON

About the Author:
Ever since she was a child, Kyla Stan enjoyed creating fantasy stories. In fact, she has a notebook from when she was a child filled with stories that are being updated for a modern young adult audience. Kyla knew at a young age that being a writer was her dream, and so she pursued it at the young age of sixteen.

Kyla hopes her writing will help other people with mental illness, such as anxiety and depression. Kyla also wants people to be aware of environmental issues, some of which are reflected in Forbidden Tides and her first self-published book about werewolves titled, Poet Tongue. She has a degree in communications, and a master’s in English and creative writing. Her dream is to become an English professor and inspire others to write.

Kyla loves animals, and lives with her cat Chippy, a seventeen-year old plecostomus named Suckerfish, two adorable gluttonous goldfish; Lucky and Chance, and nine frogs; Fudge, Gordita, Milagros, Spot, Little Froggie, Prince, Tiger, Sirenia, and Celeste.

Visit for more information about upcoming stories and tips on writing! 

Book Excerpt: Prologue:

I was born with webbed fingers and a love for the ocean. From a young age, I knew I was different. There was always a thirst for the sea, as if it called out to some deep instinct that I couldn’t understand. My life changed when I was only three years old…
“This here is the best girl in the world,” Finnegan Murphy bragged to his friends in his thick Irish accent. His daughter, Astrid, danced clumsily around to the song “Surfing USA” by the Beach Boys. A humid Californian night encircled the group of friends that huddled close to the roaring bonfire as they celebrated the arrival of the summer solstice. Airplanes resembled blinking comets while faraway stars flickered with life. When Astrid fell in the sand, Finnegan chuckled heartily and helped her back up. She pulled at her tight shoes that hid her webbed toes.

The smell of charred hamburgers on the grill made Finnegan’s stomach growl. Astrid’s mother, Maristella, chatted with the other women from the neighborhood. Her friends cackled from the over indulgence of alcohol.

Finnegan hollered to his wife to bring him a burger. She smacked the back of his sandy blond head playfully, and he wrapped an arm around her hips. He kissed her stomach, full of life with the promise of their first son. The group stopped and listened to the approaching roar of the waves crashing down before continuing their conversation. Astrid watched the beautifully hypnotic ocean with innocent, transfixed eyes. There weren’t any small inlets where they resided, just pure coastline leading out to the vast sea with no boundaries. 

She sat on the ground and played in the sand while giving an occasional tug on her uncomfortable swimsuit bottom. She looked up again as the lion’s roar of the ocean filled her tiny ears and slammed against her heart. She turned towards her father, who was laughing at some unheard joke with a bottle of beer in hand.

“Daddy, can we go to the ocean now?”

Finnegan, still laughing, looked down at his beloved child. “Of course, my dear. As soon as everyone leaves.”

When the adults began talking again, she slowly waddled off down the shoreline. Her eyes widened as the wild waves clawed desperately at her shoes, trying to bring her into the sea. Her small body trembled with delight at the thought of swimming, but she firmly planted her feet down and refused to move. She was warned by her parents that a lot of scary monsters came out at night when the water churned so violently.

Unable to hold back her urges, she bent down and stuck her hands into the cool bliss, then quickly threw them up in the air to create a splash. She giggled at the effect and continued her silly behavior while the waves licked her hidden toes.

Astrid suddenly looked up. She was sure she heard someone call her name. Her little eyes could barely see, and she had to squint just to get a basic shape.

“Astrid… come, child.”

She was frightened, but the voice seemed familiar and comforting, like a warm blanket. From the darkness of the waves emerged a man with a thick mane of azure hair and emerald eyes. He smiled as the toddler inched her way into the sea. The tides swirled around her ankles… calves…waist…

“Astrid! Get away from the water!”

The man in the sea dove back into the abyss.

Astrid turned and saw her father running down the beach. Finnegan snatched her away from the wave’s clutches in his fiercely strong arms. He was about to take her away when she pleaded for him to say hello to the man.

“But Daddy! Look!”

Her little finger steered his gaze out to sea, where a man with pale blue skin waited patiently. Finnegan’s eyes grew wide and his grip on Astrid tightened.

“No… you shall not take her from me, you beast of the depths. Over my dead body…”

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Writing Wednesday: Why Mermaids?

So. You might ask, “Why mermaids?” And while you are asking this question, most of you are picturing the Disney version of Ariel in your mind. Sweet, innocent, cartoon-ishly benign. Go ahead, admit it. She is the most famous mermaid of our times.

But mermaids aren’t so one-dimensional. After all, remember the sea witch, Ursula?

Throughout history, there have always been tales of mermaids. There are cave paintings of evil mermaids. Seriously. Over the centuries, mermaids have been closely associated with shipwrecks, drownings, storms and floods. Think of the syrens of Greek mythology, luring sailors to their deaths on the rocky shores.

In one popular Greek legend, the gods turn Alexander the Great’s sister into a mermaid. She lives in the Aegean Sea and when she encounters a ship she asks its sailors only one question: "Is King Alexander alive?" The proper answer is yes, saying "He lives and reigns and conquers the world." Placated, the mermaid calms the waters and wishes the ship farewell. Any other answer spurs her into a rage where she summons a storm, dooming the ship and its sailors.

Just a few hundred years ago, Christopher Columbus famously reported sighting mermaids in the Caribbean, saying they weren’t as beautiful as legend proclaimed. And just a few years ago, Johnny Depp befriended those same Caribbean mermaids as Jack Sparrow, in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Remember how scary those mermaids could be?

The main character of my series, fifteen-year-old Shea MacNamara, grew up in Oklahoma far away from any oceans, never thinking about mermaids. Raised by his emotionally distant father, he never knew the mom who left when he was a baby. Since Dad never even mentioned her, Shea figured it had been a surprise pregnancy, and that his dad had gotten “stuck” raising the unwanted child.

Shea never understood why his dad always seemed sad and isolated, urging Shea to keep his odd abilities secret. He’s never felt like he quite “fit in” with his classmates, but couldn’t figure out why. He endures the taunts of school bullies, developing a deep mistrust of authority but a strong sense of right and wrong. When a freak tornado destroys his farm and claims his father, Shea feels completely abandoned. A grandmother he’s never met arrives on the scene, and he’s forced to leave everything familiar to move back to Cape Cod, where his father was born and raised.

He meets a mysterious girl along the shores of the Atlantic – a girl with secrets, and who knows secrets about Shea as well. She introduces him to an undersea world which he never knew existed, and suddenly all the odd abilities he’s developed over the years make total sense. He also discovers that not all mermaids are beautiful and sweet, and that bullies and evil exist everywhere.

We readily accept that there are all sorts of vampires in literature – from the sparkly kind to the more grim and bloodthirsty versions. Why is it we think all mermaids should be sugary sweet?

Just as people come in all shades of good and evil, so should merfolk. It makes life under the sea that much more intriguing!