Thursday, August 15, 2019

Ever Alice

Ever Alice by H.J. Ramsay, © 2018, Red Rogue Press

Have you read Alice in Wonderland? Who hasn't been swept down the rabbit hole by Lewis Carroll's classic novel written in 1865. Well, you are in for a treat today. This much-loved book has finally got a sequel with the help of H.J. Ramsay. Only 'Ever Alice' is a little darker than Carroll's original version.

When Ramsay reintroduces us to Alice, she is locked in an asylum; put there by her concerned parents. Alice can't stop talking and thinking about the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts, and everything she saw in Wonderland. The inhabitants of Wonderland haven't forgotten her either. But the Queen of Hearts has stepped up her game. Heads are rolling faster than ever. It seems like the only way to stop her is for Alice to return to Wonderland. If Alice is willing...

Intrigued? You should be. Maybe you need a little more to whet your appetite though? How about a little taste of what Alice and the Queen are up to.

Ever Alice Excerpt

Chapter 1
Warneford Asylum, Oxford
September 15, 1888

Alice stared at the spoonful of red syrup. It may as well have had a note saying, “Drink me.”
Nurse Hazel said, “Open wide.”
Alice took the medicine into her mouth and let it pool under her tongue while she made a show of swallowing. The taste of nutmeg and something metallic, almost like blood, made her eyes water.
“That’s a good girl,” the nurse said. She wiped the spoon, capped the bottle, and left the room.
The lock clicked.
Alice waited until the nurse’s steps faded into the symphony of shrieks and moans that always rang down the hallway, and then she spat the medicine in the sink before her thoughts could curdle like an overheated custard.
She wiped her mouth on her sleeve and reached under the bed, wiggling the loose floorboard. Her tattered notebook lay in a cavity between the joists. She dusted off the cover and flipped past her drawings and recollections until she came to a fresh page.
Her hand itched to fill it, but she waited with her eyes closed. At last, he came to her, like he always did. She drew the White Rabbit, a timepiece in his paws, the chain dangling from his waistcoat pocket.

Chapter 2
House of Hearts, Wonderland
Lilly of the Valley 11, Year of the Queen

A light drizzle misted the air while the drummers played “March-O Death-O.”
Rosamund, the Queen of Hearts, tapped her fingers to the beat.
So very appropriate.
Of course, Rosamund wouldn’t have expected anything else. All ways were her way, and whatever way she wanted, she generally got, even if only in the end.
Her perch on the tower balcony gave her the best view of Thomas as her guards led him to the block. Her lips melted downward when she saw the proud expression on Thomas’s face.
The traitor.
Rosamund wanted Thomas to look afraid, pathetic even, but he appeared exalted, as if he were walking to his coronation, not his death. It would be better if he acted a little remorseful, but that was Thomas’s problem—he never did what she wanted.
She bit her lip until she tasted blood. Tears sprang to her eyes, and Rosamund dabbed them ceremoniously with her handkerchief. She glowed with satisfaction as her people followed suit, shaking their heads and giving her their bravest faces.
They’ll always love me.
Rosamund forced more tears to flow until she could taste them. She took a breath as the drummers rattled out a long, steady beat that reminded her of a purring cat.
She hated cats, but that didn’t concern her at the moment.
The traitor stopped before the block, and the drumming ceased. A dreadful calm lingered in the air. Slowly, he dropped to his knees and rested his chin on the chipped stump.
Thomas’s eyes flashed toward her.
She expected to see anger in them, perhaps even hatred, but there was only pity.
The executioner raised the axe and the drummers started a low and steady roll.
Brrrrrrrrrruuuuuuuuummmmm…buh DUM.
The axe sliced through the air, and his white head dropped into the basket in a baptism of blood. No one turned away. Not even as Thomas’s legs twitched on the ground. They watched her, waiting for what she’d do next. She draped a black veil over her face.
“Lower the drapes,” Rosamund said to a palace servant. “I am a widow today.”

And just so you know, Ever Alice is available now on Amazon.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Mischief and Mayhem

Mischief and Mayhem: Part 1 of the Faerlands Chronicles by S.D. Nicholson, © 2019, köehlerbooks

You are in for a treat today. Not only has a new book hit my bedside table, but I have a little more insight into it and the author that wrote Mischief and Mayhem—S.D. Nicholson. As it is the first book in a series, this offers an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a new world.

Meet the Faers and the world they inhabit. And meet Samuel, our author and host, as we step into a world of fantasy that is sure to pique your interest.

Mischief and Mayhem: Part 1 of the Faerlands Chronicles

Q: This is your first novel – what got you interested in writing?

Nicholson: For the few who knew I was writing the manuscript; it was all about an escape. I was a commercial real estate agent at the time and was enjoying it, but it was a relentless grind, day in and day out. Stepping away from it, I have a far greater appreciation for the brokers who survive and keep at it. Mischief and Mayhem was my outlet into a world other than my own, dictated by the rules I chose. I feel like a broken record, but I truly believe in the concept of “escape through entertainment” and I decided then that I wanted to not only escape, but become the creator of the worlds I escape into.

Q: Where did the idea for the The Faerlands Chronicles series come from?

Nicholson: It’s difficult to narrow inspiration down to specifics. From my own childhood adventures to reading Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones to “ticking away the moments that make up a dull day,” I want to say everything has been an inspiration. I believe every interaction we have, be it with others or in an activity, shape how we view the world. In this case, I feel like the realm of the Faerlands is constantly growing and evolving as I too learn and do more.

Q: Many fantasy books today are aimed at teens. Why did you choose to write for adults?

Nicholson: Honestly, I find it easier to target adult interests more than teens or young adults. Yes, adults are more complex in their judgment and preferences, but they are also more accepting of new ideas. There are two key elements here. First, there is a level of enjoyment that nearly everyone has for fantasy, whether it be creature specific, magic, or just the general world of a “Middle-Earth.” Second, people don’t like to say it, but humans are intrigued by violence. Part of you enjoys the flutter of your heart when tension rises and emotion overtakes judgment. You cheer for some characters to live and hope certain ones to die. To make a long story short (too late), I felt I could ease adults into my world and attach them to characters, before dousing them with fantasy, and then be more violent and expletive along the way.

Q: Mischief and Mayhem takes readers into a very complex world. When you began writing, was it more around character development, or world creation?  

Nicholson: It was always world building, which is weird to say now that I’m nearly finished with Part Two and I know and love the characters to death. I knew who my characters would be and their general attitude, but until you put the letters on the page and make words come out of their mouths, you only have a description. I started writing with the idea that I’m going to let my characters evolve on their own and “grow into themselves” throughout the story. I said earlier that I wanted to escape into the world, not necessarily walk with the characters. The Faerlands is only one landmass in this world, with many others hinted at. I felt that the reader needed to see what trees and foliage surrounded them in the Woodlands. They need to smell the sweet aroma of honeysuckle and shiver during a cold breeze.

Q: Mischief and Mayhem introduces readers to a lot of new characters. Which one is your favorite? And why?

Nicholson: This is difficult, because I know more characters and more importantly, who dies (insert maniacal laugh). My favorite is by far Ophelia. In short, she’s a little badass. She’s far stronger than she realizes, but it comes at a great cost. Her power forces her to relive tragic moments and nearly drives her insane. I cannot even count how many hardships I’ve forced upon her, yet she always has a positive outlook and refuses to let any loss or wrong doing define her. It hasn’t been shared on socials yet, but I had my most recent tattoo be of her. Soon it will be done with more imagery from different scenes and fights. All in all, I couldn’t think of a better character’s mindset to tell most of the story from.

Q: Mischief and Mayhem is the first book in the series. When will the next one come out, and what can readers expect from it?

Nicholson: Hopefully soon! My goal, as I’m sure is any debut author’s, is to reach a point that I’m constantly producing content. I moved to the Outer Banks at the beginning of the off-season and right when I began the publication process, knowing that I would have a lot of free time. I’m pleased to say that in the past six months I’m just over the three-quarter’s mark with Part Two and it is full speed ahead. As far as expectations go: more story. Part One ideally sets the stage of the world and lays out what surface issues are occurring. Part Two brings in a third storyline, following the forces in the Meadows as they defend against the invaders. It also follows the antagonists more, learning a little about their story. Overall, Part Two is a hurricane of emotion, violence, and mysticism. More races are introduced and understood, along with even more fantastic creatures!

Q: What do you want the reader to take away from Mischief and Mayhem?

Nicholson: I want them to take away the concept that even when the world looks bleak and empty, you only need to turn the page and find a silver lining. Our characters face far worse problems than any of us could imagine in day to day life, yet they endeavor to persevere. I know it’s cliché, but our issues are always minute in the grand scheme. Sometimes we just need to see others, whether they are fictional or not, overcome something worse and inspire them to do better and enjoy life for what it is. TLDR…don’t wait to be happy, go seek it.


Thank you to S.D. Nicholson for sharing some insight into his debut novel and the worlds you can get to know within its pages. I look forward to the next installments already! If you want to learn more, visit his website for a deeper dive into his world.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

A Devil Comes to Town

A Devil Comes to Town 

by Paolo Maurensig
Translated by Anne Milano Appel

Excerpt read to you by Katherine Krige
Reading from pages 21-23 

World Editions is hosting a page-a-day Read Along of Paolo Maurensig's newest novel A Devil Comes to Town. I was asked to contribute a reading of his book as well.

Listen along, as illustrious readers, including Paolo himself, spin the tale of a devil who arrives in a town full of writers, intent on shaking up the Swiss village's harmony. I join other authors, publishers, booksellers, and more, as we work through Paolo's literary thriller page by page.

It's a beautiful day for a dark tale of narcissism, vainglory, and our inextinguishable thirst for stories. Care for a listen?

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Award for Best Supporting Actor Goes To...

The bell rang signalling the end of first period. I walked out of Mr Warne's class with a new textbook, my class list, and a dull fear of how I was going to maneuver the rest of the school day minus the one thing that everyone else seemed to have—a locker. Somehow, I fell short in the locker lottery and would now be forced to carry all my possessions for the rest of the day. Scratch that, for the rest of the school year. Not so bad now with only one textbook in my backpack, but there were seven more classes to go, and sure to be many more books added to the load before the day was through. The office suggested sharing a locker with a friend, but that was something I had in short supply. I had squeaked through primary school with one and she now went to a different high school.

By my first spare, I had picked up a couple more textbooks, but no more friends. Always painfully shy, this would be far harder than solving a math equation or analyzing an English paragraph. I slipped towards the gymnasium looking for a corner to hide out in and ease my backpack off my shoulder. And that is when Nikki smiled in my direction.

"Hi," she said. "I think you were in my homeroom with Mr Warne. What did you think of him?"

"Um. He's alright I guess," I mumbled.

No one ever typically sought me out for conversation. I felt out of my depth, but somehow buoyed by her friendliness. She had mousy brown hair, an English Beat tee-shirt, and big, beige glasses that took over half her face. Just like mine did. And apparently she wasn't put off by my Bi-way cords or equally mousy haircut in a slightly light shade.

We chatted for a few minutes, and then she commented that my bag looked heavy.

"Yeah," I replied. "I didn't get a locker. I guess I'll have to get used to it."

"Do you want to share mine?" she asked.

And with that, I gained a best friend who would fade in and out of my life for years, but would always be there to share the load when I needed a friend the most.


Today's 30-Day Writing Challenge though is two parts. The above is part one. The second half of the challenge is to imagine what life would have looked like if my supporting actor had not stepped into my world. 

How did they change you and how have they influenced your life? Try to imagine who you would be without them. Write that scene again but without them


I walked out of Mr Warne's class. Barbie and Kelly pushed by me laughing at some inside joke I wasn't privy to. Kelly looked over her shoulder, as they got to their locker.

"Nice glasses," she muttered to Barbie with a nod in my direction. Both girls snickered cruelly, as they jammed their heavy backpacks into the shared space.

"Oh, look," Barbie added.

"Twinsies," she cried as another girl slunk out of the now empty classroom. "It's the nerd squad!"

I put my head down and quickly walked away from them. The weight of my backpack was nothing compared to the embarrassment that weighed me down by being centred out by the 'cool' girls. I might not ever had been overly popular, but being singled out to be picked on was more than I could stomach on my first day of school. My only friend from primary school went to another high school, leaving me alone in a sea of strangers. Anxiety swelled inside me as I fled away from their taunts. I was too scared to stand up to their cruelty and too shy to seek out the other poor girl who was sadly lumped into my geek domain. She didn't need that kind of stigma.

At the end of the hall, I escaped into the girls bathroom. Older girls stared at me, as I stumbled in. This wasn't the refuge I imagined. Those weren't friendly eyes boring holes into my cheap Bi-way outfit. I wouldn't fit in here either. Maybe I wouldn't fit in anywhere...


Would it have gone down like that? I don't want to know. With a new friend at my side, I gained confidence to find my voice, to find my tribe, to find my path. I am blesses that she walks on my path still and has influenced my life for the better every step of the way. She is a positive role model and amazing cheerleader for anyone who needs the boost. She might have experienced her own ebbs and flows in life, but she sure isn't afraid to fight for what's right for the downtrodden, little guys, or marginalized. And her soul makes mine stronger to fight for the same rights for those in need in my neck of the woods. She is definitely one of the best supporting actors in my life. 💕

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Roll the Dice: Amazing Inventions


Character: A child
Conflict: Invents something amazing

I have 15 minutes to create. Where will the story go?


"Mom! Dad! Check this out," Ginny yells excitedly, as she stands in front of her hand-crafted workbench.

Calling it a workbench is generous. Old nails stick out of scavenged plywood and pilfered two-by-fours. A scrap of Ginny's shirt snared in a rusted peg not quite flush with the uneven surface. She is infinitely proud of the bench though, having made it when she was nine. Still standing, but barely...

"Will you go and look?" Lizelle begs, hands covered in flour as she pounds chicken for schnitzel.

When no movement arises from the living room, she adds, "It's your turn. I got to see the marvels of the marble run last week!"

"mmmrhh... Fine. But these taxes won't finish themselves!" John shoots back, as he clumps out to the back room that they have designated for Ginny's workshop.

"What do we have today?" John asks. "Something to help me find more money on our taxes? Maybe a meat tenderizer for your Mom?"

Ginny rolls her eyes.

"Meat tenderizers have already been invented Dad," she exclaims. "And I don't know why you still do your taxes yourself. That nice lady in the mall said she could do them for you and was sure to find
you oodles of rebates."

"Anyway," Ginny continued as John rolled his eyes. "This is something WAY cooler! It's amazing! Check it out!"

Scraps of lumber littered the floor. As did a good pile of sawdust and Lizelle's new hammer. John nimbly avoided the spill of nails and overturned yoghurt container lying in the midst of the mess. It was a good thing that he came for this invention unveiling, as Lizelle would lose her mind at the chaos.

"It's... umm," John started. He cocked his head and looked at it from one side, then the other. "It looks interesting Ginny. But uh... What is it?"

Sawdust, Saw, Wood, Woodworks, Timber, Logging


That's it! My 15 minutes is up. We'll never get to find out what Ginny invented and whether Lizelle or John would be as amazed as she was by its invention. Did I set the scene? Did I build any tension? Would you keep reading if there was more to the story or should there have been more depth, intrigue, or character development? 

Day 3 of my 30-Day Writing Challenge!


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