Quick and Quirky Free Fiction

I’ve only read one of these, but I plan to download a few I’ve never heard of and have some reading adventures.

The one I’ve read, Virginia King’s Laying Ghosts, is a page-turning spooky mystery that introduces Selkie Moon, the protagonist of her series. If you like my books, I think you’ll enjoy hers. They’re also unconventional mysteries with a touch of the mystical.

Ready to read something quick and quirky? Click here.

Have fun!

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Reading it Forward with my Team

Writing may seem like a solitary occupation, and it does involve long hours alone, but like most work done well, it also involves a team. In the past week I’ve finished the second draft of the fifth Mae Martin book and sent it to critique partners. I’ve also critiqued two short stories by fellow writers and am one-third of the way through another’s full-length work in progress. None of us could do it without each other.

I have two writing support networks. For some reason, in each trio I have one British partner and one Australian. My “mystical mystery sisters” Virginia King and Marion Eaton share similar readers, people who like mysteries that go off the beaten track and have an element of non-religious spirituality, so we share not only writing ideas but marketing. My other writing trio includes two authors of humorous mysteries, J.L. Simpson and Jordaina Sydney Robinson. They both have a knack for tight plotting as well as comic timing and can tell me when I’m going off track. I can’t imagine producing a book without them.

It doesn’t feel like work to take the time to read and critique their books. I’m honored to be part of these authors’ teams and would like to introduce them to my blog readers who may not already know their work. Virginia King did a guest post on this blog, and Marion Eaton joined me for an interview.

https://amberfoxxmysteries.wordpress.com/2015/04/16/virginia-king-mything-in-action

https://amberfoxxmysteries.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/interview-with-m-l-eaton-the-mysterious-marsh

Their web sites are:

Marion Eaton

http://www.marioneaton.com

Virginia King

http://www.selkiemoon.com

J.L. Simpson is part of the group blog Ladies of Mystery with me.

http://ladiesofmystery.com

Learn about her Daisy Dunlop series here

http://www.jlsimpson.com/?page_id=77

Jordaina Sydney Robinson’s first book, Beyond Dead, will come out soon, and I’ll be one of the first to spread the word. I mentioned it midway in this blog post a while back:

https://amberfoxxmysteries.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/karma-and-creativity

(Note: the giveaway in the link at the end is long over.)

Scavenger Hunt #uncannyquarry

lantern

I’m a late October Scorpio, so throughout my childhood I had Halloween-themed birthday parties. This suited me; I’ve always been a fan of scary stories and been intrigued by mysterious, inexplicable events. When I was around ten or eleven, my father set up a scavenger hunt in a friend’s orchard for the party. It was spooky and cold at twilight, and the old trees against the sky had that horror-movie look. Ever since then I’ve had a fondness for scavenger hunts.

The scavenger hunt Uncanny Quarry is for people who like to read paranormal fiction. Over thirty authors are participating, and their books cover the full range of paranormal genres from mystery to romance to fantasy. The grand prize is pretty grand, and second and third place are nice, too. One of my favorite authors, Virginia King*, is participating, as well as many who are new to me.

Curious? Ready to discover new authors?

Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/1616239271959563 to learn more and to join the event. Clues will be posted on the Facebook page and also on some of the authors’ web sites. Put on your puzzle-solving hat starting Sunday the 18th and keep it on through the 25th—by sheer coincidence that’s my Halloween-ish birthday—and follow the clues to win books.

Another note in keeping with the season: My new short fiction release, Bearing, comes out later this month. It’s a stand-alone story that I like to describe as subtle horror.

Happy scavenger hunting.

*Posts related to Virginia King:

https://amberfoxxmysteries.wordpress.com/2015/10/03/the-thorn-in-my-soul

https://amberfoxxmysteries.wordpress.com/2015/04/16/virginia-king-mything-in-action

The Thorn in my Soul

In July in Truth or Consequences I got a mesquite thorn in my flip-flip. It burrowed in deep and I couldn’t get it out, so I set those shoes aside and wore others. This week, in Virginia, I decided that the thorn wouldn’t come though, that it was simply buried in the sole somewhere, and I wore the shoes walking back and forth across campus. Little by little the thorn began to poke me. Not painfully, but it was there.

New Mexico is there. In my soul. The need to change my life so I don’t thave to keep coming back to Virginia to work is always there. The thorn is the craving to be my true self, the writer and yoga teacher, not the professor. I tell myself this job is not a bad way to earn a living, and compared to most jobs it isn’t, and yet the thorn is always prodding me. Go back. Go home. For good.

I’ve been reading Virginia King’s The Second Path, a novel that defies categories—though I’d say visionary fiction is the best fit. It’s a mystery, but like mine, it’s not about a murder. King’s books are about inner mysteries, psycho-spiritual discoveries. In this one, the protagonist Selkie Moon dreams clues to solving her own life’s mysteries and follows them into an extraordinary adventure. I read it before bed and it provokes me to have message dreams.

Preface: A student recently dropped my health class because the emphasis on positive psychology and a “no upper limits” personal vision of wellness upset him. He confided that he felt he didn’t have control and choice in his life, and though he was in counseling, this approach to the class was too distressing for his present state of mind—one in which he felt confined and powerless.

A few nights ago I dreamed that this young man had stolen a valuable rose-gold antique watch from me. I was chasing him across the campus of the college where I got my undergraduate degree and saw him heading for a bike rack. I knocked his bike over and he headed for a van instead, pausing to read a text message before he opened the door. He gave me smug smile. “I just got a higher bid on it.” End of dream.

Belief in “I can’t” is stealing my precious time. I’m still puzzling over the bike, the van, and that higher bid. Higher self? Higher income in a new life? Higher values? Selling my time to the highest bidder instead of taking it back? I guess I’ll have to be like Selkie in the book, following my clues to see where they lead.

It’s possible to ignore spiritual discomforts for a while, but they don’t let go. I can try to change who I am and what I value, but that doesn’t work. My first book, The Calling, is about this theme in my protagonist’s life, and now I need to take that lesson into my life. Change is calling me. How long will it take? Maybe a few years. How hard will it be? Not easy. Staying in a familiar but unsuitable place or situation can feel easier than the effort it takes to get out of the rut, but I know from the effort I’ve put into other life changes, the view from outside the rut is worth the climb.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25754726-the-second-path

Giveaway and First-in-Series Sale

sm pink banner

Leading up to the give-away, I’ve introduced my “mystical mystery sisters” from across two oceans, Australian Virginia King and British Marion Eaton. We’re fans of each other’s work and have grown from fans into friends. In the spirit of sharing new series we’ve enjoyed, we’ve teamed up for a giveaway and over a week of discounts from April 21 – 30.

Enjoy a touch of the mystical and an innovative take on mystery from a trio of B.R.A.G. Medallion recipients. Buy each e-book for only $1.99 US. Enter the drawing to win a paperback copy of the first book in each author’s series.

When the Clocks Stopped

The Mysterious Marsh Series, Book One

 When lawyer Hazel Dawkins decides to write some wills while she waits for the birth of her first child, she unwittingly triggers dramatic consequences. Mysteriously, she encounters Annie, a woman whose tempestuous life took place more than two centuries earlier when Romney Marsh was a violent place, dominated by smugglers. Soon that past collides with the present, and Hazel finds herself pitted against an evil that has stalked the marsh for centuries. As her destiny intertwines with Annie’s in the shifting time-scape, Hazel confronts a terrifying challenge that parallels history—and could even change it. If she survives.

Sales links:

http://www.amazon.com/When-Clocks-Stopped-Time-slip-Mysterious-ebook/dp/B00DTV52PK

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/530153

The First Lie

Selkie Moon Mysteries Book One

Selkie Moon is a woman on the run. In a mad dash for freedom she’s escaped her life in Sydney to start over again in Hawaii. But her refuge begins to unravel and she’s running from something else entirely. A voice in a dream says that someone is trying to kill her. Not that she’s psychic, no way. But the messages and threats escalate until she’s locked in a game of cat and mouse with a mysterious stalker. Entangled in Celtic and Hawaiian mythologies, the events become so bizarre and terrifying that her instinct is to keep running. But is she running from her past? Or her future?

Sales link: http://www.amazon.com/First-Selkie-Moon-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B00K1VC20Y

The Calling

 The first Mae Martin Psychic Mystery

Obeying her mother’s warning, Mae Martin-Ridley has spent years hiding her gift of “the sight.” When concern for a missing hunter compels her to use it again, her peaceful life in a small Southern town begins to fall apart. New friends push her to explore her unusual talents, but as she does, she discovers the shadow side of her visions— access to secrets she could regret uncovering.

Gift or curse? When an extraordinary ability intrudes on an ordinary life, nothing can be the same again.

The Mae Martin Series

No murder, just mystery. Every life hides a secret, and love is the deepest mystery of all.

Sales links: https://amberfoxxmysteries.wordpress.com/buy-books-retail-links

Enter the drawing to win paperback copies of all three books.

The raffle starts on April 21 and ends 12:00 midnight Eastern U.S. time April 26, 2015. When you click on the Rafflecopter link you’ll be able to choose which series you would like to learn more about. After that, you’ll be entered in the drawing. To get an additional entry, click on the option to tweet the give-away. A random winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter. The winner will be announced on April 27.

To enter, click here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/eb0a35092/

To learn more about the other authors and their series:

http://www.marioneaton.com/

http://selkiemoon.com/

Virginia’s guest post: https://amberfoxxmysteries.wordpress.com/2015/04/16/virginia-king-mything-in-action/

Interview with Marion: https://amberfoxxmysteries.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/interview-with-m-l-eaton-the-mysterious-marsh/

And an interview with me on one of my favorite WordPress blogs: http://saintsandtrees.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/interview-with-author-amber-foxx/

 

Virginia King: Mything in Action

The First LieVirginia King Portrait

Intrigued by the blend of world mythologies in Virginia King’s mystical psychological mystery, The First Lie, I asked her to write a guest post on how she wove mythical elements into her fiction. Virginia’s answer to that question follows.

*****

Everyone, soon or late, sits down to a banquet of consequences. Robert Louis Stevenson

In The First Lie, Australian girl Selkie Moon has run away to Hawaii to escape a destructive relationship but she’s landed herself in the middle of a mythical nightmare. Her name already has mythic origins – her mother named her after the selkies, the Celtic seal people who peel off their skins and dance in the moonlight on human legs. Ironic, since Selkie almost drowned as a toddler and has been afraid of the sea ever since.

Now that she’s arrived in Hawaii, with mythical symbols lurking under every lava rock, a series of bizarre events beset her. It all begins when a voice wakes her from a dream: Someone is trying to kill you.

The First Lie was originally set in Sydney, my home town. The writing was going through a flat patch so I decided to re-energize by grabbing a camera and visiting all the locations in the story—a whole day on the road. The outcome of that fateful excursion wasn’t what I expected. I came home and burst into tears. None of the places spoke to me.

In desperation I dropped Selkie into a whole new location, Hawaii, and the story came to life. She was now a stranger in a strange place, so I was on a journey of discovery too. My editor wasn’t too sure about it: You’ve got an Australian main character in a Hawaiian setting, but you’re drawing on Irish/Scottish mythology (selkies); it’s difficult to make those disparate elements fit together cohesively. She suggested moving the story to Ireland or giving Selkie a Hawaiian name, but I did the opposite. I made it work.

I mingled the mythical elements across the cultures to see what happened. I don’t plan when I write because it stifles psychological layers emerging in the story. Instead, if I get an idea— no matter how bizarre—I drop it into the manuscript and let it ride, let it niggle away at me until something pops. It’s incredible how connections form—usually in the middle of the night—each time adding another layer of depth. I wake most mornings and decipher the notes I’ve scribbled while half asleep.

In Chapter One, Selkie sees something strange in a mirror. It once belonged to a Kahuna and has special powers. Mirrors feature in many real Hawaiian encounters with the supernatural and they drip with symbolism in fairy tales—remember the queen in Snow White. I allowed aspects of these elements to create their own consequences. The mirror inspires some mythic scenes later in the book.

The First Lie is not a retelling of the selkie myth, but selkies create their own psychological thread. The myth involves a fisherman stealing a selkie’s pelt as the selkies dance in the moonlight. When one selkie can’t find her skin, she has to go with him and be his wife. Then seven years later, she finds where he’s hidden it and returns to the sea without looking back. This is an issue of identity, of theft, of soul. I used these concepts to add depth to this modern mystery.

Pele, the volcano goddess, has been encountered by many real Hawaiians. She’s associated with warnings of danger, such as house fires and other mishaps. Selkie is being stalked by a mysterious woman. Could she be Pele? Then there’s the landslide on the highway that sends Selkie and her friends in the opposite direction. Or could the stalker be warning Selkie about one of her new friends?

For a Celtic connection, I created a fictional Hawaiian beach named by a homesick Irishman—only to remember in the middle of the night that there’s a place in Sydney with the same name, just near Selkie’s childhood home. Spooky! And there are monk seals in Hawaii—they’re aumakuas or animal spirit guides that look out for the living. Meanwhile in Europe, scientists have theorised that the sirens in The Odyssey, who lured sailors to their deaths with their singing, may have been based on the moaning of monk seals. Greek mythology too? Yes, because the oceans are interconnected. Add another layer.

Just to make my editor’s head spin, Selkie has a fondness for Chinese food. Chinese mythology adds another thread to the mystery. Cowry shells, hugely symbolic in the islands and around the world, were used to create the Chinese symbol for money—survival in a strange place is an element in the story. And the cooks in Selkie’s favourite noodle bar see something in her aura that no-one else can see—old friend from far away—the Chinese phrase for a memory. It plunges Selkie into a deep investigation of her past.

I had no idea how The First Lie would end until all the mythical layers and threads collided in the last chapter. I just had to trust that the banquet of consequences would be—as the Irish might describe it—grand.

*****

Bio:

Virginia King has lived most of her life in Sydney, but has travelled to many places. Sheʼs been a teacher, an unemployed ex-teacher, a producer of audio-books, a writer of fifty-plus childrenʼs books, and an award-winning publisher. These days sheʼs a full-time writer who paints a bit, living in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney with her husband.

Web site: http://www.selkiemoon.com

Sales link: http://www.amazon.com/First-Selkie-Moon-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B00K1VC20Y

*****

Next week, Virginia King and Marion Eaton and I will be doing a give-away for the first book in each of our series. Details will be posted Tuesday. (Marion was featured in an interview last month. https://amberfoxxmysteries.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/interview-with-m-l-eaton-the-mysterious-marsh ) We are fans of each other’s work and want to share that enjoyment with other readers who enjoy a touch of the mystical in a mystery.