Sunday, June 27, 2010

When Magical Realism becomes Too Real

I don't know about other writers who dabble in the magical realism genre, but when real world events are more bizarre than magical realism,things get a bit scary.
As  magical realism authors we create  alternative realities, even though they happen in real time and in real place.  But now, with all the global shaking going on, egged on by human failure to keep up or manage our own technology, the planet and its inhabitants are plunged into a world stage even a magical realism author could not imagine.
Warning us all  - there are some things too big to ignore.
So I have scuttled my final plot line for my second novel in the Shaman series, Shaman in Exile and am rewriting the final chapters after a long hiatus.  So much has happened in real life which impacts the characters of Shaman Circus.  Afterall, for a Haitian voudou practitioner, a Haitian hermaphrodite (who features more in the second Shaman Book) and a host of characters who are  residents of New Orleans, and remain after Katrina, I can't ignore the actual real world events, even though Shaman in Exile takes place in New England and France and not in New Orleans like in Shaman Circus.
But now with the oil spill in the Gulf, following close on the heels of the earthquakes, my main character Jacob LaGuerre, will not allow me to ignore these major catastrophes which affect his family and friends.  So I'm having to rework the final concept and have decided not to have Shaman in Exile the final book in the series.  My original concept would be trite and unbelievable in the light of these recent disasters.
Besides Jacob won't stand for me pretending they didn't happen. He has too much to do and say in regards to both Haiti and Louisiana to let me escape with a simple closure.  To him it's turning a blind eye.  And that he will not allow.
So I've been writing, and I have to say, it's a painful process even as it's great to be back in the Shaman landscape - but I had hopes of happier times for my characters after all I've put them through.
But alas, as it often happens in life, those hopes are sidestepped by unexpected events.  I had also previously planned to avoid my favorite approach to endings as a cliff hanger or ambiguous ending.  I've received both praise and critiques for my preferred modus operendi.  And this time,  I was going to cut my characters some slack and let them have a a nice tidy closure after all the chaos they've endured. 
But world events proved more powerful than my good intentions.  So now it's back to the intricate work of trying to tidy things up while also paying heed to the "realism" aspect of the genre and facing the unfortunate facts.

Monday, June 21, 2010

author tour Quantum Earth by Julie Achterhoff

Quantum Earth  

by Julie Achterhoff

A team of metaphysical scientists is dedicated to finding out why the Earth is in crisis. The rate, size, and destructive power of hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions is out of control. All of these acts of nature have become more devastating to human life than ever before in history, but why? Is the Earth cleansing itself of humanity? Or could it be that human thought is the true cause? This is what the team is asking; the hardest question of all: Do we create our own reality?

Review by Danni Milliken:

It's not an easy thing to offer to review the work of an author you don't know very well. If it's a good friend that's one thing, because you can say something honestly if you find that you don't like it. But, if it is someone who you don't know very well, it is a scary thing to offer to do, because the thought screams loudly in your mind, "What if I don't like it?" But, one day I know that it will be me out there pimping my work. So, with that knowledge in mind I found I had to put my hand up. Because, one day I hope someone will put their hand up for me.
Still, it was with trepidation that I opened the ebook and began reading the prologue. By the end of the first two paragraphs I made a very happy discovery. This is a good book. From two paragraphs I could tell that Julie Achterhoff is a quality author. Her writing style is extremely easy to read and the scenes are painted so that you can envision their detail easily without the over the top page wasting some lesser quality authors are prone to spend setting the scene. I could have written a review based only on the first few chapters, but this book was so good that I wanted to finish all of it for the sake of my own enjoyment. An exceptional achievement on the part of Julie Achterhoff there, as I rarely read novels to the end anymore.
Quantum Earth is a unique story where a group of scientists use new age beliefs to examine whether or not humanity creates its own tragedies. As natural disasters escalate, this team of researchers use a number of methods to collate data including trance, hypnosis, and dreams prior to the event.
This is a fantastically unique story and it is incredibly well written. At the current price of $15.99, you are getting a real bargain. I have no doubt at all that Julie is a future bestseller, and you won't regret the short time it takes to enjoy either Quantum Earth, or her new book "Deadly Lucidity" which has just recently been released to


All Things That Matter Press

Deadly Lucidity

Caught in a tangled web of dreams and nightmares, Marie Reilly is being hunted by a psychopath in the
dream world she can't escape. Her single ally, a Ranger named Murphy, may be her only hope. He
must help her reach the great Fortress, where they've been told there is a way back to her reality.
Together, they fight their way through the twists and turns of Marie's mind so she can have her life
back. But what of their burgeoning passion for each other? How can she leave the man she has come to
love behind in this nightmarish world he has called home as far back as he can remember?


Official Apex Reviews Rating:

Caught in a dream world from which she can’t escape, Marie finds herself hunted by a dangerous psychopath. Her situation is far from hopeless, though, as a handsome Ranger named Murphy vows both to protect her and help her find a way back to the real world. Over the course of their shared adventures, Marie looks very much forward to getting her life back to normal – but her growing passion for Murphy makes the prospect of leaving him behind an increasingly difficult choice to make...
Skillfully crafted by author Julie Achterhoff, Deadly Lucidity is an engaging suspense thriller. In it, Achterhoff has crafted a compelling alternate nether world straight out of the darkest regions of any imagination. In addition, as Marie wends her way through a series of increasingly perilous events, you find yourself rooting
not-so-silently on her behalf, turning each fresh page in rapt anticipation of precisely what fate awaits her as the story progresses. Furthermore, the genuine affection that she and Murphy feel for one another adds a layer of palpable tension to the overall tale, drawing the reader in even more as this modern twist
on the age-old tale of good vs. evil plays itself out in fantastical fashion.
A dynamic, riveting thriller with a host of intriguing twists, Deadly Lucidity is a recommended read for lovers of well crafted fantasy suspense tales.


Available from:

All Things That Matter Press:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Trudging and Travails

Two steampunk submissions are now in circulation and as it turns out, I may turn The Foxglove Broadsides into a novella or perhaps a series of steampunk short stories set in the same part of Kensington, UK involving the same characters.  I'm enjoying the opportunity to play with science, botany, and the printing industry of the 1800's, incorporating a clamshell press I saw in an antique store in Columbia, SC, during a,memorable visit to a friend who provided a tour of arcane bookstores and antique shops.  We even discussed, in a somewhat offhand manner,how to transport the two ton piece of glorious machinery to my house.  The press was a work of art in and of itself with its art noveau styling.  It also appeared quite serviceable.  But alas, it's weight deterred me. So now it lives in my reality through it's place in two of  my stories. This way, I am able to own and operate it with ease through my characters, Cecile Bainbridge and Nathanial Cooper. Talk about ways to shift dimensions, time and space.  Writers get to do it at all time.
On a less Victorian note,  I've been offline for a while for a series of reasons which include, lack of time due to setting up and initiating  the new Arts Activity program at the head injury program, some health issues and a vicious virus which has rendered my regular computer out of service.  Due to the latter, and other forms of thuggery and protection rackets perpetrated by the banks, cable companies, cell phone companies, utilities and Internet is it any wonder I prefer to wander about in an alternate time?

Friday, June 11, 2010

THE GREER AGENCY by Harris Tobias

THE GREER AGENCY by Harris Tobias

An exciting new approach to detective novels, 15 interconnected short stories involving a different kind of private eye.

The Greer Agency is 75k words of gritty detective fiction presented in 15 separate but connected stories. The reader follows the development of private detective Mike Greer, the only PI in the Altoona, PA phone book. It’s tough to make a living in a decaying old railroad town, but with the help of an anonymous benefactor, Greer lands some interesting cases—cases that he solves with guts and determination. Throughout the stories, his budding romance with Susan grows. Eventually they realize they are right for each
Readers will find Mike Greer an accessible everyman with luck, pluck, smarts and a host of interesting friends. He finds his way into and out of problems large and small. Greer narrates the stories in a refreshing and original voice. Each story has its own plot and can stand on its own but, as the book progresses, the mysteries pile up and the plots get more complex until the explosive last story. Mike Greer is a protagonist with a low tolerance for bullshit and an easy touch for the emotional pleas of the downtrodden. He works alone and struggles against an uncaring world. But throw no pity party for the man, he will have none of it. His melancholy is tightly wrapped inside his tough guy exterior, and pity just bounces off as he walks away, down the dark sidewalks of Altoona into the next story.

For reviews of The Greer Agency:

Now available in print and e-book format from All Things That matter Press:

For more on Harris Tobias                         

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Shaman Circus book signing at Milagro Studios recap

What a remarkable evening at Fais do do, a Celebration to New Orleans at Milagro Studios in Greenville, SC. It was my first book signing for my magical realism/dark fantasy novel, Shaman Circus and I was very nervous beforehand, as much as for my first art show. But there was no need. It turned out to be so much fun, thanks to all of the activities planned by gallery owner, Suzanne Vitti and gallery artist, Kay Larch and chef and snow cone maker extraordinaire, Dave Vitti.
I experienced the warmest of feelings when I first pulled up to the curb in front of the gallery and saw a number of my friends from the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism – a group which recreates the Middle Ages) looking for the gallery. Wow, it was remarkable to see them all there!
Dave made this amazing gumbo and mini beignets, rolling the dough in confectioner’s sugar as people chatted and took in the amazing array of art: mosaic style paintings of Marie Laveaux, Frida Kahlo, elaborate skulls, and more by Kay Larch, tiles, pottery and an incredible New Orleans panel, complete with references to absinthe. (hint, hint, we need an enterprising individual to come and purchase the panel and build an absinthe cafĂ© around it), bold expressionistic paintings by Eric Benjamin, and wrought iron by Ryan Calloway, including a spider web garden gate as our entrance!
I had been as nervous as my cat, Shadow, during a thunderstorm beforehand, but the Cajun music and atmosphere was so incredible, most of my tension fell away with the ambiance. Even the sultry heat transported us to New Orleans as patrons wandered around sno cones in hand, even into the little courtyard with its herb garden and New Orleans secrecy.
We were slammed full most of the evening and it was wonderful to see so many friends show up, some from as far away as Atlanta, some getting away from very hectic days. I eventually relaxed enough to enjoy the conversations and write inscriptions.
Unfortunately, Suzanne who had planned this event for months had pneumonia and missed it. She called frequently and we all felt sorry she couldn’t see the fun she and her husband provided for everyone’s enjoyment. It was a unique experience for the Pendleton St. Arts District.
There’s a lot of things I should have done, such as accept Bethany’s offer to take photos. But I wanted her to have fun (not work – she is a professional photographer as well as awesome fused glass jeweler). My daughter had expected to come and take photos, but she was held up at the hospital with a family friend.
All in all, it wasn’t as stressful as I’d feared and I’m so grateful to all the people who came out to make the events such a great experience.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Author Tour: The Swindler by Michelle Kaye Malsbury

The Swindler by Michelle Kaye Malsbury

Publisher: All Things That Matter Press
ISBN 978-0-9844219-4-7

Genre: suspense, thriller, mystery, fiction

How easy is it for an investment broker to deceive clients? Very, particularly if his personal hero is Bernie Madoff. Skip Horowitz, along with his old pal A.J., has created what they believe is a foolproof scheme using commodities trading, bookmaking, and various other businesses as covers. Their plan has served them well for decades, surviving the scrutiny of government agencies lacking solid proof to support any allegations of wrongdoing. But luck can't hold forever...or can it? Catherine O'Reilley, newly sponsored in the high-risk world of investment strategy by Skip Horowitz, is about to find out.

About the Author
Michelle Malsbury was born and raised in Champaign, Illinois. Currently she resides in Florida. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Business Management and a Masters Degree in Business Management. She has just completed her first year of doctoral studies in the discipline of Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies with high hopes of helping to build nations and sustain peaceful interactions around the globe.

Here’s What Others Are Saying About The Swindler:

1. Judy Ramsook from the Austin News Service, Austin, TX
In The Swindler, by Michelle Malsbury, you will find yourself being pulled in to a fictional tale of romance and a lot commodities swindling through the eyes of a third person narrator.
So come along and meet true to life and memorable characters such as: Catherine, The Realtor/Commodities Broker, Connie, Catherine’s best friend, Shamus, Real Estate Broker and the man who thinks he is the right man for Catherine and last but not least, Skip Horowitz, a ruthless Ponzi Schemer who is being investigated by the Feds.
It’s a gripping tale that will make you want to keep turning those pages to see what happens next.
Set in Key West, Florida, the author displays her vast love for and knowledge of the area so well, that if you have not been there and know nothing about Key West, perusing The Swindler by Michelle Malsbury will indeed give you a rich education into that paradise.  So come and enjoy this well written and detailed tale and see if Catherine really thinks Shamus is the right man for her, and if the elusive Skip Horowitz gets the justice he so deserves. I enjoyed it and I think you will too.

2. Mike Fentem, longtime friend of Michelle Kaye Malsbury
I've known Michelle since she was fifteen or sixteen years old. We grew up in the same small town in Illinois and went to the same schools, pools, and parks. She was always fun and had a good imagination. I'll be the first to admit that back then who would have thunk that she would become a author? However, I have had the pleasure of reading both of her books and have found them to be well written and fun reading! The characters are inventive and interesting. The stories take places in fun and exotic locales. The plot builds from chapter to chapter keeping the reader engaged in what may occur next and how it will all end. The main character, Skip, is a enigma himself with a ego larger than life. His thirst for money and fast women was second to none, but I liked getting to know him while reading this book. Besides having little, to no, scruples, he does manage to keep his ponzi scheme and other illigitimate business endeavors pretty secret for a number of years while he rakes in oodles of cash and stashes it all around the globe. However, can he outlast the SEC and other regulatory agencies, who is hot on his tail or is his time up? I truly enjoyed The Swindler and I believe you will too!

3. Thomas Keyes
The Swindler is a fast-moving, hard-hitting account of a swindler who, with his batch of subalterns, ran a Ponzi scheme in Key West and elsewhere. The tale is so realistic and convincing that you can hardly believe that it didn’t really happen and that the authoress is not in there somewhere, perhaps as Catherine, the honest realtor who gets embroiled in the mess.
The racket consisted of selling counterfeit commodities futures mostly to fairly well-heeled middle class types, and following up by generating bogus statements showing earnings. It may be difficult to feel overly compassionate for someone worth several hundred thousand dollars who gets stung for fifty, but there are a lot of smaller victims too. The most touching was a young girl in Central America whom Skip, the swindler, got pregnant. She was hoping this pregnancy would bind them together and enable them to live a beautiful life. Then the blow fell. Skip was arrested and prosecuted, and the girl’s dreams flowed away in tears.
The pages are full of unsavory characters, and the action moves from Florida to the Bahamas to Costa Rica to Las Vegas.  The language is earthy. Read it, you’ll like it.

4. Billy O’Toole, Senior Financial Consultant, Southern Commercial Corp. Columbia, Mo.
During a long and successful career in the trucking business, I always carried a stack of books to entertain myself and hopefully learn a little something also. One of my favorites was Steven Frey because he always had some insights into the dark side of finance along with great characters. Move over Frey and make room for Michelle Malsbury! The Swindler has great characters, some lovable, and some not, but all believable. Indeed, I felt like I already knew many and were acquainted with several others. There were the obvious evil ones but the mindset of good ones being led along and seduced by money and the good life was particularly poignant.  When my business blew up because I had no customers anymore, I began to study finance moved to being a Senior Financial Consultant. In the process of interviews and study I felt like I met many of her characters, things just didn't feel right, but oh so seductive! All this set in quirky and sultry southern Florida, I could feel the humidity, see the pastels, and revel in the ambience. What more could anyone want in book?

5. Marilou Trask-Curtin, Author of "In My Grandfather's House: A Catskill Journal"

Michelle: First of all, congrats on an absolutely incredible book!!! Have you also written this as a screenplay????!!!! Would be amazing to watch and the timing seems right as well.  I only found a couple of blips but after I wrote them down lost the note where I had written the page numbers. The main one: There was mention of the basketball team the had it written as the NICKS...that would need to be corrected as we New Yorker's who are KNICKS fans would probably retaliate by throwing soggy basketballs your way--LOL...otherwise, an incredible story...!!!
The Review: "The Swindler" - an incredibly fast-paced roller-coaster ride through the world of illegal commodities trading with enough sun and sin to heat up every reader's day (and night.) Michelle Malsbury at her finest! A definite must read!

Marilou Trask-Curtin, Author of "In My Grandfather's House: A Catskill Journal"
Thanks again for the opportunity to read "The Swindler" and I wish you all the best with it. Also, sorry it took so long....
PS: I love the way you got MJ into the story with the crotch grabbing episode :-]

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