Friday, July 31, 2015

WOOHOO!!! Book #47 is out for SweetTale Books!

SweetTale Books is on a roll!  That makes 7 books this year, for a total of 47 independently published titles.  YAY!

This one is number four in the Rick Shilling to the Rescue series.  Enjoy!

Rick and Lyra have a new client who claims to have been cloned by dust bunnies under his bed.  The guy's weird, but it's not until they investigate that they realize they have a bigger problem than they anticipated, needing to get more help.

Rick Shilling to the Rescue Story 4—NOVELLA LENGTH

Chapter 1:

Someone rapped at Rick Shilling's outer door, waking him from a deep sleep. "Coming," he yelled. The idea of someone bugging him in the middle of the night ticked him off, because he was having a wonderful argument with Lyra in his dream. And for once, he was winning. He almost had her to the place where she could admit she was madly in love with him.

But in reality, it wasn't meant to be. She still lived in the big house next door and still dated Conor. Every night, Conor would visit until all hours of the morning and then would go home. They weren't doing anything out of the ordinary--mostly watching television and eating popcorn, but Rick was jealous. No, he was more than jealous. He was a stalker, watching her through her sliding glass windows to make sure Conor didn't do anything wrong. Thus, Rick always went to bed late, because he had to keep an eye on his neighbor and coworker, Lyra.

Rick shuffled in his bare feet down the stairs in his home to the front door. The doorbell rang and someone knocked, yet again. "Coming. Geesh! You'd think it was the end of the world or something."

"It is," came a male voice from the other side of the door. "Hurry up or they'll kidnap me again."

Oh brother. A client? That's all he needed. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. They all say that." Rick unlocked both locks on the door.

But before he could turn the knob, the door burst open and a man, dressed in pajamas, ran inside. "Quick. Hide me. I'll go anywhere you can store me, just to stay safe." He danced a bit, crossing his legs. "But first, do you have a bathroom?"

Rick pointed toward the downstairs bathroom, right off the foyer. "Hurry up. I want to go back to bed and can't be bugged with freaky-deeky clients right now."

The guy ran into the bathroom and slammed the door. Moans of relief came from inside the bathroom, but Rick wasn't impressed. Instead, he ambled into the kitchen and began making a few cups of coffee. He was going to need it. Reality descended into his brain. He realized he probably shouldn't be alone with a man dressed in pajamas, or the neighbors--and Lyra--might talk. So he grabbed the phone on the wall and made a call.

"Huh?" was the answer from other end of the phone.

"Neville, I have a client. I need help." Rick yawned.

"At 1:45 in the morning? What time did you finally come home from watching Lyra?"

"You're not to know about that."

Neville sighed. "Everyone in the neighborhood knows, considering the cops almost arrested you last night. What time?"

"The cops brought me back around midnight, then I was at Lyra's until after one. I'm tired. And this yahoo client wants me to hide him or something." Rick heard a noise and turned around.

The yahoo client stood in front of him with the knife from the kitchen wooden knife block in his hand. Rick wasn't impressed. "Get over here," he said to Neville over the phone. "Yahoo thinks he's Rambo or something and is wielding a knife." He ended the call and covered his mouth when he yawned. "Put that thing away. This isn't the time for heroics."

"Hide me or I'll kill you."

"Stupid man," Rick said. "If you kill me, everyone's going to be after you." He pointed toward the knife. "Your prints are on the handle." Didn't he watch cop shows?

"I don't have any prints. The dust bunnies stole them from me, to give to my clone."

Rick's brain kicked into gear and woke up. This guy just became a lot more interesting.

Buy Links (updated buy links will show up on the web page)

Have a great week!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Why Do I Write?

My kids often ask me, 'why do you write?'  They know it's not for the money, it's not for the fame, and it's not for bragging rights or seeing my pen name's book in the bookstore.  I don't have any of that, but it's okay.

I write because I have to.  Period.  These plot bunnies keep filling my head all day long.  I have to write them down.  Why not put them in a book and share my silly ideas with others?

I thought this was all for naught, but recently, I saw a review posted a while back that verified that I'm not the only one who enjoys my plots.  I received a review for the fourth of the Extreme Travel books, 'Please Don't Blow Up the Neighbors' by Andie Alexander that was just wonderful.  I don't know if I should thank the reviewer or not, because when an author does that, they get pegged by trolls and get zinged.  I don't want that to happen.

But thank you to that reviewer.  You have no idea what you did for me.  Now I have a real reason to write--for my fans.  I can also tell my kids that.  I have fans.  Actually, most of my pen names have fans, waiting for the next book.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!  You completely made my year!  :)

Have a wonderful week!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Do Your Characters Talk To You?

Mine do.  I know, that's weird, but I'll be out somewhere and be thinking about my current character that I'm writing about.  The being talks to me, telling me what to write about, sort of (no I don't hear voices in my head.)

But wouldn't that make a cool story, where an alien being becomes a character in someone else's head, to tell their story.  When the being starts to sing and become more sentient, the human host goes insane, wondering who or what has taken over his body. Sounds like a Twilight Zone episode.

Yes, this is how my brain works.  It makes people wonder about the sanity of writers.  Other writers get this.  I've even heard them talk about their characters talking to them while they're walking through the grocery store, talking to others, etc.  Demanding little buggers!

I once had a thought that if I got all my characters from all my books together, what would they do or say?  So I constructed a big meeting room in my head and brought in all of them.  Lively group, actually.  They even got along.  LOL!

So the next time someone starts telling you a story in your head, make sure it's just a character and not the real thing--or a being from another world.

Have a great week!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Point of View--from a Character's Perspective

I'm a fan of Food Network's 'Next Food Network Star.'  In that show, they always talk about 'point of view' (POV). For them, it means what's their brand, their topic or genre, so to speak.

But for a writer, the point of view means who's head is the reader in when the action's taking place.  Who is telling the story?

There are basic points of view to choose from, such as first, second, third, omniscient, third person objective, third person limited, third person omniscient, close third person...etc.  They're all different ways to write a book from different perspectives.

But I'm going to look at the actual point of view of the character in the story.  The character telling the story will have one way to look at the story, which may be completely different from what another character experiences in the same situation.

Imagine're standing beside a friend and witness a car crash.  You both saw the white car cut off the blue car, and they crashed.  From your vantage point, it was clearly the white car's fault.  But from your friend's vantage point, they saw something different.  They could see the duck wandering out into traffic.  The white car swerved to miss the duck and hit the blue car instead.

So you and your friend have different stories.  You might agree there was a crash but wouldn't agree on fault.

The same thing happens in a book.  In first person POV, the writer can only describe what the main character (the 'I') sees.  The only way he/she can know what someone else sees is for that person to tell them.

In third person POV, the writer can jump to each character's head and see what they see.  However, the writer can't do that in the same scene, or that's called head hopping.  It has to be in two different scenes or even in two different chapters.

In television shows, they get away with showing what each person sees a lot easier, because it's in omniscient POV.  The cameraman is an invisible 'character,' seeing everything.  However, they usually can't hear what the person's thinking.

A writer has to stay true to the character's story and not be able to see through buildings or cars to figure out what's really going on.  They also can't get into an animal's head unless the story is told through an animal's point of view (and fantasy or a children's book).

I read a romance, once, from a famous author, where the entire story was from the man and woman's perspective...until the last scene.  That's when they jumped to the dog's point of view, who weighed in on the man and woman's relationship.

HUH?  But it was third person, and it seems that these days, anything goes.  However, I don't recommend it.

For new writers, I'd suggest sticking with third person POV, and only write from two characters in the book.  Here's why...if you use more than two characters, you're going to lose the audience.  They have a short attention span and don't want to think that hard.  Keeping track of too many characters is tough, in the least, for a reader.

So stick in the character's head and don't head hop.  You'll be thankful you took my advice on this, when it comes to getting and keeping readers.

Have a wonderful week!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Series of Books

Series of books sell, or so I'm told.  I have quite a few started, and have to write more to get them all going to get a series.

My problem is do you end a series when it's about one set of characters?  Case in point--my Extreme Travel books by Andie Alexander.  I have four of these published, but have another seven written and ready to publish.  When do I end?  HOW do I end?  Should I kill them all off or just have them sail into the sunset?

I look at books like those from Janet Evanovich--Stephanie Plum books.  I haven't read past number 15, myself (they're hilarious), but from what I'm seeing, she doesn't plan to ever end this series.  I suspect her readership will tire of it, because of the ongoing struggles the main character has that she can't resolve.

So when to end a series?  I'm not sure, but I'm thinking six is the magic number...or less.  However, for my Extreme Travel books, I'm going to keep going until at least number ten, that I already have written.

Let me know what you think and what you like to read, please?

Have a great week!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Happy July! May the Fireworks Commence!

Happy July!

It's July already and it's not very warm in Wisconsin.  So if you're tired of the heat, head on north to the Green Bay area and chill in the 60 to 80 degree temps.  YAY, summer!  I just love it!

This month, we get to celebrate the Fourth of July for our great nation.  Love it!  In our home, we like to watch the old movie, '1776.'  If you've never seen it, I highly recommend it.  It's actually playing on the Fourth on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) from 2-5 AM Central time in the US.  If you can see it, or can tape it, I'd recommend it.  It really puts the entire founding of our nation into perspective, in a really interesting way.  I even bought the video for our daughter who wants to be a history teacher, but our son wanted a copy, too.  He loves that movie and quotes it a lot.

Anyway, I wish you a very happy Fourth of July this month!  And for the rest of the month, stay cool, relaxed, and enjoy the summer!  I certainly will!

Have a wonderful month!
SweetTale Books

What Happened At
SweetTale Books
in June?

This past month, I put out a book by Andie Alexander, for the second month in a row.  It was a book I'd written years ago, and is more PG-13 in nature.  But it's funny and even after writing it and putting it away for a while, I still laughed out loud while editing it.  Sometimes, I surprise myself at what I write.  LOL!


Brynn McMurray is awakened to a sea of reporters at her Maine inn in the middle of the night. Her ex-husband is a wanted criminal, and, according to the note left at the scene, he's heading for her inn. However, two of Brynn's current elderly guests think Nazis have invaded and want to shoot one of the reporters—Norman the Naked Newsman. Brynn would rather remove all the guests out of the inn so she can have a peaceful life, alone.  But until her ex-husband is caught, she's on a mission to stay sane. 


Chapter 1:

A huge thud woke me. I was in the midst of a dream about a gorgeous blond man feeding me chocolate-covered strawberries and plying me with glasses of champagne in the back of a private airplane. Whoever or whatever made that noise to wake me up was going to pay. Dreams like that were hard to come by for any woman over forty.

I sat up in my bed. Another noise came from outside and I heard talking. "No," I whined. "Not now. I don't want more guests in the middle of the night."

"Miss McMurray," a woman said in a low tone from outside my door. "I think da mobs are going to kill us." She had a German accent and I knew right away that it was Mrs. Jones. Her parents had been prisoners in Auschwitz, and the paranoia they'd taught their children was astounding. Her husband, though, was from America. His father had fought the Nazis in World War II, meeting Mrs. Jones' parents when he rescued them. The elderly Mr. Jones had brought them all home to America with him.

The 'younger' Mr. and Mrs. Jones were now staying in a room at my inn. Mr. Jones was 72 and the missus was 70. I'd gotten their whole story—whether I wanted to hear it or not—when they'd checked in.

I lowered my feet to the floor, thinking chocolate-covered strawberries would be much better than the current taste in my mouth. I stood up and headed to the door, wondering why the clock even bothered working in the middle of the night, because no one in their right mind cared.

The door lock was cold in my hand as I flipped the metal to the side, making me realize it was early May, which in my mind, was still winter in the Pine Tree State. I threw the door open to see Mrs. Jones in front of me with her husband hunched over beside her, holding onto his walker.

"Miss McMurray," the woman said. "Da mob's outside. I think dey found us." Her eyes grew in size, looking more than terrified. "Where can we hide to get away from these peoples?" Her German accent was mild enough to understand. "I'm sure they're sent here from Hitler himself."

Probably right on that point. The entire universe seemed to be out to get me lately.

But I wasn't about to deal with this. Granted, I'd be worried, too, if I'd heard of the horrors of Auschwitz firsthand, but this was Maine. We didn't usually have mobs hunting us down, and ghosts usually didn't require that much noise to attack people. Everyone knew ghosts and mobs seemed to like stealth attacks. No, this was probably a drunken guest and not a mob.

"I'm sure they're not here for you," I said. "And I'm sure Hitler's ghost is asleep, just like everyone else. Who knows…it may be someone from the town. They may not like me because I'm from Philly." I ushered the couple out toward the hallway. "Just go back to your room and lock your door." I pushed up the long sleeves of my sweatshirt and went into the hallway. "I'll handle this, Philly style." And I meant it. Mr. Blond Man of my dreams needed me. I could almost hear him calling me back to the chocolate-covered strawberries.

"I have a shotgun," Mr. Jones said. "I don't go anywhere without it."

I stared at him. Maybe they were fugitives and I should install metal detectors at the front door? Who were these people, anyway?

I studied the elderly couple. They were no threat, each of them having one foot in the grave. "I don't think…"

The old man took off, pushing his walker in front of him. I didn't know he could move that fast, making me just watch him in admiration. I hoped I could move that fast at his age.

The banging got louder at the back door. I ran into my room and shrugged on some sneakers and a jacket, figuring I could handle the people before Mr. Jones came out with a shotgun. The thought of a shotgun at my inn boggled my mind. The guy seemed blind and would probably hurt someone if he had any type of ammunition.

I turned toward the door. "Yeah, I'm coming!" I glanced at my watch. Two in the morning? What was going on? If it was a guest, they were paying for the entire night. No one woke me from a dream like that and got away with it.

I turned on the lights in the living room and moved to the back door, which was close to the cliff overlooking the beach. Before I opened it, I flipped on the lights, pulled back a curtain, and looked out. A sea of people stood in front of me. It looked like reporters with cameramen, microphones, and news trucks off to the side. Had I finally won the lottery or something? If not, I'd throw the entire lot of them into the Atlantic Ocean. This was the Rockbridge Inn, a respected landmark on the coast of Maine, not a place for a college party.

"I'll help," Mrs. Jones said, holding onto my arm. "If my parents could live through the camps, I can help with dis." She grasped the neck of her long flannel nightgown and buttoned the top, then straightened it out. "If I'm taken to a camp, I have to be dignified. My mudder told me dat."

I fought off the urge to roll my eyes as I ran my fingers through my short hair, hoping I looked good for their cameras. If these people weren't here to give me money, then they'd better leave and let me get back to my incredible dream.

I lifted the cordless phone beside the door, with my fingers ready to call for help. I didn't know any cops I wanted near the inn, so I might have to call in some undesirable favors from said cops if this crowd turned unruly. The thought made me shudder.

I took a deep breath, unlocked the door, and swung it open, just as a volley of questions were yelled at me.

"Did he do it?" some man yelled.

"Is he here?" another woman screamed.

"What's your relationship with your ex-husband?" a snotty-looking woman asked. "And is he available so I can date him?"

Huh? Nate, my ex-husband, wasn't anyone's type. Who would ever ask for him? He was a major loser with an invisible 'L' on his head that I seemed to be able to see clearly, now that we were divorced.

Mrs. Jones and I stepped onto the slightly elevated porch, staring at the sea of people illuminated in floodlights used for television stations.

I raised my hands, waiting for them all to stop talking. They immediately quieted. I still commanded respect from my elementary school teaching days. I'd obtained the inn after divorcing the loser, Nate, who'd called himself my husband.

I stared at their faces, all waiting for me to speak. But before I could say anything, Mr. Jones pushed his walker between Mrs. Jones and me, holding an old shotgun in his hand. I couldn't believe my eyes. The man was wearing an old bandana as a headband, appearing like a Vietnam-era vigilante ready to take on the world…with a walker and a pre-WWII shotgun.

"Be gone, you Nazis!" he yelled, then lifted his gun and aimed. People ran in every direction. However, one stunned distinguished, good-looking man in front didn't move one inch. Instead, he slipped his hand in his pocket. I nicknamed him Mr. Good-Looking.

A thought flashed through my mind. Maybe I could confiscate one of the videos the cameramen continued to shoot for their feed. I could use it for an advertisement, which might bring in more guests…especially gun enthusiasts.

Before I could stop Mr. Jones from shooting, a van pulled up onto my lawn and a younger man jumped out. "I'm here now. You're allowed to start the interviews." The man pulled off his shirt and moved into a bodybuilding pose. Granted his muscles definitely weren't defined, but I was more impressed that he would do that in such cold weather. I guessed it to be around forty degrees. What a way to wake up.

Mr. Jones lifted his gun higher, aiming at the man. "Who are you?"

Mr. Good-Looking kept his hand in his pocket, just watching the half-naked man and Mr. Jones, while all the other reporters cowered at the edges of the scene, closer to the cliff.

Mr. Half-Naked dropped his pants, and was completely naked. "I'm Norman the Naked Newsman." No one said a word as he dropped his arms in defeat. "Come on. Everyone knows me. My ratings are way up and you must've heard of me."

Mr. Jones cocked his gun. "Didn't we fight you in the sixties? I must've missed one of you dingbats back then. You're just like them Nazis."

I reached over and lowered the gun barrel. "Mr. Jones. They're not Nazis. They're with the press." I nodded toward Norman. "Even the naked guy. He's trying to get publicity because he can't do his job otherwise."

Mr. Jones' face showed extreme confusion. "Press? Not Nazis?"

"Not Nazis." I glanced out at the crowd, who were now returning to their spot.

Norman ran closer. "I'll have you know I can do my job." He crossed his arms and stared at me.

I didn't even look downward, because I knew what I'd see. Nothing, since it was so cold outside. Instead, I stared at his face. "Then why is your hair moussed up and you're wearing makeup? Women's makeup, no doubt." I really wasn't in the mood for this guy.

He shook back his hair. "I like blue eye shadow. It goes with my pecs."

Yeah. Pectoral muscles blue from the cold.

Norman raked his eyes down over me, a smile covering his lips. "You taken?"

I shot him a look that he'd better not question. Instead of answering him, I moved my hands to gather the crowd again. "Okay. Back to the topic at hand. Ignore the idiot without clothes. Just let him freeze."

Norman huffed and stared, but didn't say anything.

I returned to Mr. Jones. "Let me have the gun and if they get out of hand, I'll give it back to you."

He leaned closer to my ear. "It's not loaded, but don't tell anyone. I forget where I put the shells."

I nodded. Good to know, but everyone could've heard him. He was half-deaf and spoke loudly.

Mr. Good-Looking removed his hand from his pocket, still looking rather stunned. He was about my age, but seemed very confident and able to hold his own.

After I took the gun from Mr. Jones and stored it by the door, I turned toward the group again. "Now that we're sure you're not Nazis…" I glanced toward Mr. Jones, but he had no clue I was talking about his comment, just from the smile he wore. "…I have some questions. Given that it's two in the morning, you'll have to bear with me. I won't answer any questions if they're yelled at me, and I expect you to raise your hands and use your inside voices, even though we're outside. Before any questions can be asked, though…" I was sure I looked confused. "Why are you here?"

They all started to speak at once and I raised my hands once again. "No, you didn't follow the rules. Hands."

Norman raised his hand with every other member of the group. "Oh! I know!"

I ignored him, because he didn't follow the rules. Instead, I focused on Mr. Good-Looking. He didn't have his hand up, but from the way he stared at me, he wanted me to call on him.

I knew his type—probably recently divorced and wanted to date again. Couldn't hurt my chances. He also didn't have a camera or even a pad of paper, so he seemed to be the least obnoxious. With graying hair on the sides, dark hair around the gray and on top, and the bluest eyes I'd ever seen, I decided he wasn't that bad looking. Granted, I only had the assistance of the small light of the back porch and the huge camera lights set up around the property. Regardless, he'd do, considering my dream man in that plane feeding me chocolate-covered strawberries wasn't real and could've been Norman's age. Maybe I could have Mr. Good-Looking feed me strawberries at ten thousand feet. Interesting concept.

I pointed right at Mr. Good-Looking. "You."

"Not fair!" Norman said.

"You didn't follow directions." I crossed my arms. "Besides, you're too cold to talk." I glanced downward. "And it shows, too."

The idiot glanced downward and covered himself. What a loser.

I returned to Mr. Good-Looking's face. He grinned a very white smile and winked at me. That was as a good as an apple for the teacher, in my book.

"Well, Ms. O'Brien…" he said.

"It's McMurray. If you can't get your facts straight for my maiden name, I might have to call on someone else." Or take him inside and 'debrief' him, with strawberries and chocolate.

"Want me to shoot him?" Mr. Jones asked, holding onto his walker. "I have ammo in my room, I think."

I felt my mouth open, knowing everyone had heard him. Mr. Good-Looking bit back a smile, so I knew he'd heard, at least.

"No," I said to the Mr. Jones. "I'll handle this without hurting anyone."

The crowd chuckled as the cameramen continued to shoot pictures. I didn't even care, because Mr. Good-Looking Reporter was clearly amused. He smiled at me with his blue twinkling eyes. Even at my age, I could've melted.

"Sorry," Mr. Good-Looking said. "I think I even knew that, but my assistant was on vacation and she told me the information over a bad phone connection. Ms. McMurray, your ex-husband, Nate O'Brien, is on the run after being a suspect in the murder of his wife and mother-in-law, Senator Beckett's wife."

Time stopped and my eyebrows rose. It hit me that meeting with the press was a bad idea. But I couldn't just shut the door on these people. No, I had to save face, because I really wanted the name of Mr. Good-Looking, a potential mile-high-strawberry man.

"Want me to shoot your ex-husband?" Mr. Jones asked me. "I'm a good shot, even with my bad eyes." He scanned the crowd. "Where is he, the murderer? Is he in with that naked man? I really want to shoot him."

It was tempting to have him carry out the deed, but I figured murder was still against the law, or these people wouldn't be so interested in the deaths of Nate's current wife and his mother-in-law. Maybe it was a family reunion that got heated over a roast that was overdone. Nate hated overcooked meat.

I turned toward Mr. Jones. "No, I think we'll just see how this plays out. But I'll keep you on speed dial for my ex, at least."

I watched Mr. Good-Looking smile while I tried to rein in my shock of hearing about Nate. What was I going to do? I wanted to get to know this good-looking reporter and there was only one way. If he turned out to be a dud, I'd just sic Mr. Jones on him. He was the closest thing to a pit bull that I had at the inn. Although, I was certain Norman would do whatever I wanted him to do, just for the story.

I faced Mr. Good-Looking. "I think you just won the lottery, sir. Won't you come inside for some coffee?"

"And not me?" Norman said. "What about me? I want the story."

"Go take a picture of yourself freezing," I said. "That'll be your story." And his viewers would be able to see a living breathing idiot in the meantime.

He just wouldn't stop, jumping up and down with his arms crossed, probably trying to get warm. Considering he was naked, everything was bouncing, but I certainly wasn't impressed. "I'm not going anywhere until you meet with me," he said.

"Then it's going to be a long, cold, small night for you." I motioned for Mr. Good-Looking to join me on the porch while the rest of the reporters laughed. Yeah, Norman was the comic relief.

That's when it hit me. What was I thinking? I was asking a reporter inside?

Ah, but he was a very handsome, classy reporter. Need I say more? Besides, I was sure Mr. and Mrs. Jones would be close by, because this was probably the most exciting thing that had happened to them since the aftermath of the big war.


Buy links:

Where to keep up with me

I have five blogs, posting them over six days out of the week.  See all the feeds here:

Come visit me!  You can also see pictures and videos of our dogs.  They're hilarious!

Have a wonderful month!!!
SweetTale Books