Tuesday, 29 July 2014

A White Sport Coat, A Pink Crustacean and A Book With No Name.

It is my pleasure to welcome good friend and fellow Mesdame of Mayhem Lisa de Nikolits to BAD GIRL.  Her book, THE WITCHDOCTOR'S BONES is on my 2014 Top Ten list.

It was a beautiful day. Road trip, upstate New York, my husband at the wheel, blue skies above, scenery pretty as a picture.
“The Killing Sands?”
Husband shakes his head.
Silence fills the car. Well, not exactly silence, Jimmy Buffett is blaring merrily and my husband is humming along.
How can he be so happy when I am in the throes of such torment?
I take off my shoes, put one foot up on the dashboard and consult my notepad.
“What Lies Beyond?”
Negatory.
“Behind the Shadow of The Sun?”
Firm shake of head; no.
I start thumbing through my dictionary, yes, a real printed book version of the thing.
Sun, sun, sun….
Shadows Under the Sun?”
“No. No shadows or sun.” My husband has moved on and is blithely singing along and grinning at me. Such joy.
I glare at him.
“A Travesty of Innocence?”
He nearly swerves off the road. “No! Sounds like a courtroom drama.” He carries on singing and I want to swat him with the dictionary but hold myself in check.
“You,” I say with gritted teeth, “are proving very hard to please.”
He has already rejected these gems: Turn From The Sun, Black Against The Sun, A Feast of Sand and Poison, A Feast of Thorns, Bad Magic and Banquet of Poison.
“What about something that’s in the book,” he offers helpfully. “Like a chapter name or something?”
“The chapter names are all too complicated,” I say, “like who would read something called Murder at Sossusvlei?”
“Well then, not a chapter name but there must be something in the book… wow, look at that old Chevy…” He segues into a long ramble about classic cars, which, under other circumstances, I would actually find interesting. But since he isn’t talking about The Book, his utterances are no more than white noise.
The CD, A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean, comes to an end.
“What do you want to listen to?” He asks.
I shake my head. “I don’t care.” I am mournful. “I’m never going to find the right title. This has been going on for months.” I hang my head.
“You’ll find it, you always do.” My husband’s confidence is very annoying.
“Easy for you to say,” I snark back. Yep. I’ll be honest, I’m the one being annoying and why he doesn’t ditch me at the side of the road and drive off with Living and Dying in ¾ Time blaring loudly, is beyond me.
“I know!” I sit up. “How about The Glass Circus Safari?”
“Nope. Too difficult to say and it doesn’t tell you anything about the book – so, no.”
“But it’s from a poem in the book, the one that Eva writes.”
“I remember the poem. But no, still no.”
I give a deep sigh. “This book. This book. Six years of my life, has this book taken from me…”
“Six years of our life…”
“Yes, six years of our life, and it’s cost me a damaged optical nerve and more sleepless nights than we can count. And now, it’s all revised, it’s good to go, but the name, the name. This book means to much to me, it’s my African baby, it explores the dark corners of Africa where others might fear to tread…”
My husband, having heard this more than once, tunes me out but I’m talking more to myself than him anyway.
“…not that treading into dark corners is in any way a new thing for me to do. When I was a teenager, I was always going into stores in Africa that most White people wouldn’t ever go into and that’s where I got my bones, my witchdoctor’s bones.”
My husband’s interest in the conversation is reawakened at this.
“What bones?”
“Witchdoctor’s bones. You get this little bag of bones and then a booklet with instructions and the bones, when thrown, will tell you about the future or where a lost relative is, or a lost possession. Sangomas or witchdoctors are usually the ones to throw the bones, that’s what they call it, throwing the bones, but I got a little bag and I tell you, bad stuff happened. That’s where I got the part for Marika, in the book. You know where she says how she threw the bones and then her goldfish died and pictures started falling off the walls and then she had to bury the bones in the veldt? Well, that was based on me, my fish died and I had to bury the bones.”
And then, EPIPHANY!
The Witchdoctor’s Bones!” I yell. “That’s it! That’s the name!”
My husband grins. “It’s a good name,” he concedes.
“I hope Luciana likes it,” I say. (Luciana Ricciutelli is my publisher). “It does fit the book,” I say, “it’s already in there and the whole book is about the consequences that befall a bunch of foolhardy people who mess with Africa without respect or fear of what might unfold.”
I think for a moment. “The Witchdoctor’s Curse?”
My husband shook his head. “Bones are better,” he says.
The Witchdoctor’s Bones,” I say and I settle back into my seat and look around. “So where are we, anyway? And how long have we been on the road? And never mind all that, let’s stop for lunch! We’ve got a title, I’m ready to rejoin the world!”

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Website: lisadenikolitswriter.com
Readings on YouTube:
       Helen’s Revenge: http://bit.ly/1phxCsg
       Dumi, An Exerpt from The Witchdoctor’s Bones: http://bit.ly/1lirtpA
Pinterest Moodboard: http://bit.ly/1f56CCG
Twitter: @lisadenikolits
Book trailer: http://bit.ly/1gNPYeB

* books can be ordered (or pre-ordered) at Amazon.ca or from inanna.ca and can also be found in select bookstores. If you have any trouble ordering a book, please contact the author, Lisa de Nikolits, at lisa@lisadenikolits.com

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

ROWENA AND THE VIKING WARLORD "a startling climax that gives a sharp new edge to fantasy writing"

Rowena and the Viking Warlord.
by. Melodie Campbell.
Imajin books.

Rowena and the Viking Warlord is a collective of sorts; fantasy, thriller, adventure and mystery, laced (pun intended) with historical accuracy, the electrically charged dynamics between the sexes and a startling climax that gives a sharp new edge to fantasy writing. (and the sex ain’t bad either.)

The writing is the polished style of an award winning writer. Campbell’s off-the-wall humour has an added feature…she builds the wall first with the zesty timing of a great one liner. The fantasy is seamlessly integrated with the fiery pace of ‘to the death battle’ that’s tinged with the regret that lost life is a given in war.

This reviewer doesn’t pretend to be a fantasy aficionado, but is a reader of well written, enticing story telling. And Rowena and the Viking Warlord is an intriguing story told with the passion of a fine writer.

Don Graves.  Canadian Mystery reviews.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

MURDER AT THE CRIME WRITING AWARDS

For those who missed it on Sleuthsayers (where I have a regular gig) here it is:

MURDER AT THE CRIME WRITING AWARDS

By Melodie Campbell

Okay, I haven’t done it yet.  But I may soon.

I’m the Executive Director of a well-known crime writing association.  This means I am also responsible for the Arthur Ellis Awards, Canada’s annual crime writing awards night, and the resulting banquet.

I’ve planned hundreds of special events in my career as a marketing professional.  I’ve managed conferences with 1000 people attending, scarfing down three meals a day.  Usually, we offer a few choices, and people choose what they want.  They’re pretty good about that.  People sit where they want.  Simple.

Granted, most of my events have been with lab techs, doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals.

It is not the same with authors.  Nothing is simple with authors.

THE SEATING ARRANGEMENT

A can’t sit with B, because A is in competition with B for Best Novel.  C can’t sit with D because C is currently outselling D.  E can’t sit with F because they had an affair (which nobody knows about.  Except they do.  At least, the seven people who contacted me to warn me about this knew.) G can’t sit with H because G’s former agent is at that table and they might kill each other.  And everyone wants to sit with J.

THE MENU

The damned meal is chicken.  This is because we are allowed two choices and we have to provide for the vegetarians.  We can’t have the specialty of the house, lamb, because not everyone eats lamb.  We can’t have salmon as the vegetarian choice, because some vegetarians won’t eat fish.

So we’re stuck with bloody chicken again.

P writes that her daughter is lactose intolerant.  Can she have a different dessert?

K writes that she is vegetarian, but can’t eat peppers.  Every damned vegetarian choice has green or red pepper in it.

L writes that she wants the chicken, but is allergic to onion and garlic.  Can we make hers without?

M writes that her daughter is a vegan, so no egg or cheese, thanks.  Not a single vegetarian choice comes that way.

I am quickly moving to the “you’re getting chicken if I have to shove it down your freaking throat” phase.

Chef is currently threatening the catering manager with a butcher’s knife.  I am already slugging back the cooking wine.  And by the time people get here, this may be a Murder Mystery dinner.

Postscript:

Nobody got murdered, but a few got hammered.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Stop All the Clocks - for my dear friend Lou Allin

I cannot smile today.  My dear friend has died, and all I can think of is this poem by W. H. Auden, meant for a lover, but equally appropriate for a friend.

For Lou: the best example of "Show Not Tell" I can think of:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Postscript:  Five weeks ago, Lou Allin flew from Sooke BC to Toronto to present me with the Arthur Ellis Award, the very award that she herself had won the year before.  She was not well at the time.  You don't forget friends like that, ever.


Wednesday, 9 July 2014

ROWENA AND THE VIKING WARLORD Rocks the Dark Ages!

Why Fantasy?  Why Funny?  It’s all in the aide of a good story.

I write humorous early medieval time travel stories.  Okay, what does that mean exactly?

First, I write to entertain.  You’ll get a rollicking adventure story, akin to The Princess Bride, only this time with a woman at the helm, when you read the Rowena books.  You’ll get some laughs, because I’m a former comedy writer (stand-up) and can’t restrain that part of me.  You’ll also get some historical accuracy, in the form of how people lived in the dark ages, what weapons they had and what their armor was like.

But the exact history of early Great Britain doesn’t lend itself well to my wacky time travel stories; it is perhaps too well known and too grim.  So what you get with the Land’s End series is a bastardized version.  An ‘alternative’ history that lends itself to a funny, rollicking adventure.

WHAT IF…is the basis of most fiction, and definitely fantasy fiction.  I love to play with those two words.

WHAT IF… a prolonged war in medieval times wiped out almost all women?  What would the land be like after several years?  And what would happen when one modern young female from the 21st century falls through a time portal into that world?

Yes, it’s the ‘Stranger in a strange land’ plot, written by a comic.  I take “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” and go wild with it! 

“Is that a broadsword on your belt, or are you just glad to see me?”

But I don’t neglect history entirely.  In ROWENA AND THE VIKING WARLORD, the third book of the trilogy, there is a Viking invasion of Land’s End.  Yes, a Viking invasion of Saxon land.  Sounds familiar…in fact, an awful lot like what really happened.

And why my hair is red.