Four Fantastical Ways to Lose Your Fingers: The Blog Tour

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All week long we’ve been answering goofy questions from the authors of Four Fantastical Ways to Lose your Fingers. Here’s my question:

There are a lot of ways to use the word ‘finger’. I’m thinking specifically as a verb. Have you ever fingered someone…in a crime?

 

Michael G. Munz: Pinecone Jedi

Mike Munz

Nope. No, I haven’t.

…Okay, so that’s a pretty boring answer, isn’t it? Let’s spice this sucker up a bit with a story from my childhood when I was a wee lad cursed with what I like to call Ralph Macchio Syndrome.  RMS is in no way fatal, but it does make you look about 75% of your actual age. (This is a great thing when you’re an adult, but when you’re 16 and being offered the children’s menu in a restaurant, it can be less than ideal. But I digress.) I was in elementary school, probably 9 looking 7, and that, combined with my own terror at the idea of getting in trouble for anything gave me the reputation of being a complete innocent. In most cases, this reputation was accurate, except for one fateful school bus ride the morning after I’d had a pine cone fight with a friend. (This is what little kids do in rural areas when they want to have a snowball fight but there’s no snow. At least, it’s what I did.)

On the bus, I discovered a small pine cone in my pocket and, in a fit of youthful rebellion against my usual persona, I discreetly tossed it up toward the front of the bus. Struck with horror at what I’d done—I’d misbehaved! If I got caught the school would lock me in a dungeon with a thousand spiders and never let me out!—I hunched down in my seat and spent the rest of the ride to school staring out the window. My busmates, however, did not. The pine cone had hit a kid I’ll call, um, Joey-Joe-Joe (not his real name), who was also the kid who got in trouble the most. Joey-Joe-Joe’s immediate reaction was to tear out a sheet of paper from his notebook, crumble it up, stand up in front of the entire bus, and chuck the paper toward the back.

This sparked off the school bus paper fight equivalent of the Trojan War (well, sans giant wooden horse). It lasted the entire way to school, and then continued to rage on the way home. We had a substitute bus drive that day, and she didn’t want to have anything to do with this; she just wanted to get us brats safely to school and home. I can’t blame her. But the next day, when our tough-as-nails, discipline-through-fear regular drive returned…

I can still remember her staring down at me as I got on the bus. “Did you throw anything yesterday, Michael?” I froze, terrified, and managed to squeak out, “…just one thing.” Technically, it was true. I got to my seat then, quaking. When we arrived at school, she stood up before letting us off and said, “Okay, I want to know who started the paper fight yesterday!”

I sunk lower in my seat. Then, the rest of the bus, almost as one, yelled out, “Joey-Joe-Joe did it!!” Poor Joey-Joe-Joe protested, saying something had hit him in the back of the head, but no one believed him, and he took the fall. So I guess this story doesn’t entirely fit the bill, as I did no actual fingering, but I did finger poor Joey-Joe-Joe with my silence.

Plus I hit the poor kid in the back of the head with a pine cone.

 

 

Z.D. Gladstone: 
I don’t want to admit how many minutes (yes, minutes) it has taken for my brain to redirect to the actual question. You are a shameless instigator.
I’m sure I’ve turned on my brother when his sticky fingers got into the cookie jar, or other childhood thefts.  In my very first job I knew for a fact one of my co-workers was stealing from the till, but I had no way to prove it, & since I was a newly hired 16 year old I didn’t know what to do so I just kept mum.
Actually, I’ve probably kept quiet about more crimes than most people.  In my other life I’m a psychotherapist, & as such I am bound by strict laws of confidentiality that prevent me from repeating what my clients tell me, with very few exceptions.  I’ve heard about drug deals, car thefts, & burglaries for years & never made a peep.  Fortunately I’ve never been put into a position where I had to stay silent regarding a violent crime.  So no, I’ve never fingered someone else for a crime.
And so far, no one’s accused me, either.  So I must be doing something right.

Janine Southard: Don’t steal her stuff. Dammit.

Janine Southard

This guy had the chutzpah to come at me twice in ten minutes. In the same place. In the same manner. Like, dude, no. So of course I literally pointed him out and fingered him for the crime.

Okay, so here’s how it went down. I was in a café and bent over a book with my phone beside me on the table. Steaming milk machines roared their white noise into the rafters. This had been the state of things for about half an hour when a guy came out of the bathroom. He nonchalantly ambled over to my table, then put my phone in his pocket on his way to the door.

I stood up and ran after him, all the while yelling “thief” and “give me back my phone.”

He actually turned around, instead of fleeing, and returned the phone. “Sorry,” he said, “I thought it was mine.” Sure, buddy.

I glared at him, sat back down, and resumed my reading with my phone at my side. Briefly, I was glad he didn’t have an accomplice, because a second thief could’ve taken my bag and all my things while I chased the first guy down.

Anyway, not ten minutes later, the same guy comes out of the bathroom and reaches for my phone on my table. This time I got my hand over it before it disappeared into his pocket. Whew. Seriously, pal? We just did this routine.

He gave me a shrug, like “what can you do?” and sauntered away. I guess yelling “thief” wasn’t enough the first time. And I didn’t bother the second time, too struck by shock to react.

It still bothers me though. (1) Why did he go after the same person twice? (2) Why did no one kick him out (like the people who worked there)? (3) Why didn’t he have an accomplice to steal handbags and laptops while he returned phones?

We will never know.

 

Not this dog.

 And finally, my story:

I have not. But my old dog did.

I used to have a three-legged dog. He was a great dog. Not a perfect dog, but when it came to loyalty, he had everyone aced. His name was Chuck.

Chuck was a substantial dog. Even missing a front leg, he topped the scale at ninety-six pounds. Sitting down he was well over three feet tall. Standing on his back legs, he could easily put his front paw on my shoulder and look me in the eye. Granted, I’m only 5′ 4″ but that’s still pretty tall for a dog.

Like most labs, Chuck’s biggest downfall was food. And his definition of ‘edible’ encompassed many things. He loved bubble gum most of all. Thankfully this all happened before xylitol became a huge thing but his second favorite snack was chocolate so I still had to be hyper-vigilant with food. Whenever he could smell chocolate he turned into some sort of three-legged ninja dog. It was the worst.

I adopted the Labrador owner habit of keeping anything especially aromatic out of reach. Waaaay out of reach. Usually someplace I had to stand on a stool to get at. The top of the fridge was always a good choice. But, even then I had to put cookies towards the back so he couldn’t see them because Chuck loved cookies, especially Girl Scout cookies. Girl Scout Cookies are like Labrador-crack.

It was during one GSC season, that I came upon a very puzzling scene. Texting and smart phones were still a few years in the future so arriving home from work, I glanced at the answering machine as I always did. If I had a phone message, a little red light would blink.

It was rare for me to have any telephone messages. And on this particular day, I came home to find the light blinking. But unlike every other message I’d ever received, this light was not blinking red. It was blinking green. I had no idea that the answering machine even had another color of light. What kind of message did you have to leave in order to get it to blink green? I went investigate.

Written over the little green flashing light were the words: PERSONAL MEMO. Next to the light, a small button announced ‘push to record’.

Had that always been there? If so, who left me a message? I lived by myself and for half a moment, I was really scared that someone had broken into my house.

I reached down to play the message but in doing so, my eyes fell upon a piece of cardboard, semi-hidden behind the comforter of my bed. I picked it up. My Girl Scout Cookies! The ones I had specifically hidden on top of the refrigerator, all the way in the back, with a box of cereal in front of it just in case!

I turned to confront Chuck who was, by this point, holding his head in that way dogs do when they know they are about to get in trouble but aren’t sure why anymore. For those of you that have never seen this look its part side-eye, part adorable and mostly shame. It speaks volumes but mostly it says:

“I am not looking you in the eye because I know I am a bad dog even though I cannot really remember what it is I did that made me a bad dog in the first place. But that does not matter because I did not do it. I Swear.”

Standing in the middle of my living room, I tried to piece together what exactly happened. Somehow, he’d gotten the cookies off the top of the fridge, brought them into the living room and tore the box apart while standing next to my bed. My brain hopped from dog to couch to kitchen to bed and finally back to the scene of the crime and to the little green light blinking on my answering machine.

Finally, I reached down and pushed play.

scrape
snarffle, snarffle
rip
rip
shuffle
scrape
rip rip
snarf
Huff huff
rip
smack smack
rip
snarffle

For twenty minutes, I sat and listened to the soundtrack of my three-legged ninja dog eating an entire box of Girl Scout cookies. By the time the tape ran out tears were streaming down my face I was laughing so hard.

I never did figure how he got those cookies down.

 

These entertaining tidbits have been brought to you by the authors of Four Fantastical Ways to Lose Your Fingers: A Short Story Collection. Check it out on Amazon today!

Historical Fiction We All Love: Tess Thompson!

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Do you like Historical Fiction? How about romance and intrigue? Then we’ve got a book for you!

millerssecret-1

Stephanie from Amazon says it’s, “Beautifully written with an engaging plot that intertwines the lives of each of the main characters.” 

Obsession. Ambition. Betrayal.

Left in an orphanage as a young child, Miller Dreeser vowed to someday live a life of wealth and prestige. He obtained that life, with no thought of the consequence to those he used as puppets on a string to get there. His acceptance into the world of the socially elite is not enough to conquer his internal demons, and that unquenchable ambition may cause him to lose it all.

Surrounding him is a rich tapestry of characters—lives filled with love, heroics, and a yearning for more. His singular focus threatens them all. Will anyone survive Miller’s secret?

Author Tess Thompson explores themes of power, deceit, and dangerous obsessions in this suspenseful, page-turning post World War II drama.

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Tess Thompson: Award Winning Author.

Tess Thompson is a women’s fiction novelist living in a suburb of Seattle. Like many of her characters in her bestselling romantic suspense series, she hails from a small town in Oregon. This past summer she married the love of her life, inheriting two bonus sons and three cats to go with her two girls and two cats. Yes, that’s four kids and five cats. In 2016 her novel, “Duet for Three Hands”, won first runner-up at the RONE Awards in the American Historical category. Her latest historical, “Miller’s Secret” is out today!

In addition to the sneaky peek at her book, Tess has also agreed to an interview. She’s so kind for putting up with us, don’t you agree? So let’s hear from Ms Thompson…

Thank you for the sneak peek of your book, Tess. Of all your characters, which was your favorite to write?

This is always a hard question because I love all my characters. They become real to me, like friends or family. However, in this case, it’s easy to answer. There are four POV’s in this book. Miller Dreeser, one of those four, is the antagonist. I don’t want to give too much away, but he plans something terrible. It was hard to connect to the darkness in him that would cause him to choose to do an evil act.

When did you know this was the book you were going to write?

Last April, my fiancé and his two boys, along with my two girls, went to my hometown in southern Oregon to meet my parents and brothers. We stayed at a bed and breakfast that overlooked the mountains. It was such a peaceful and happy time. Surrounded by beauty and relaxing is often when I’m at my most creative. One morning, I woke to an image of a young man looking out his bedroom window to see a young woman sketching in a notebook. I thought it would be the first scene of the book, but it ended up a scene in part II of the book, but that image was the primary seed for the rest of the story and characters.

How much of yourself is invested in each character?

Playwright David Mamet says all his characters are some part of himself. I’ve always felt that was true for most writers, as we can’t truly write characters we don’t understand on a fundamentally deep level. In Miller’s Secret, I share at least one quality with each of the main characters: the outsider jealous of those with wealth and prestige; the young woman raising a baby by herself; the woman married to a man who is absent from their family life; the young war hero who’s lost part of himself, but refuses to give up on life.

How do you realize scenery in your books? Research? Imagination? Memory?

I use research, in this case, scouring photos from the era, along with my imagination and the memory of the time I’ve spent on the beautiful California coast. For most of my books, it’s a combination of the three, especially in my historical.

What’s your favorite part of the creative process?

I love it when an image falls into my mind, like it did that morning in Oregon, and the entire book sort of writes itself. I also love when characters or plot surprises me in the middle of the writing process. I love rewriting, fiddling with sentences and paragraphs until it expresses exactly what I want it to.

What one thing are you uniquely proficient at that is not writing?

Well, this one gave me pause. I can’t think of a thing! Drinking wine? Does that count? (Editor’s note: yes, it totally counts) I have to write because I’m not very good at most other things.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Travelling via teleporting. Is that a super power? (it is.)

Where can we get your book?

Everywhere that books and ebooks are sold. If you’re a book store consumer, you may have to have the clerk look it up for you and have it ordered. Other than that, all the ebook platforms, and, of course, Amazon for both paperback and electronic. If you’re on a budget, ask your local library to order it for you.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently finishing the first draft of the fourth River Valley series book, Riversnow. This will come out in April. After that I’m writing the sequels to my two historical, Miller’s Secret and Duet for Three Hands. Both these books require a trip to France for research. Fortunately, my new husband has agreed to take me there for a honeymoon this coming summer.

 

-Thank you Tess! And have a great time on your honeymoon!

Writer Wednesday: Camela Thompson

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Check these ladies out!

Author Camela Thompson and her dog Annie, President of the Arch nemesis obliteration Coalition.

So majestic. So queenly.

That there is Camela Thompson and her doggo, Annie.  Camela is an accomplished author who has recently released the third book of her Hunted Series, Visions & Bones.  Annie is the President of the Arch Nemesis Obliteration Coalition.

Both of them agreed to let me preview the new book for you today. And if you like it, you’re in luck! Because until July 16th – all three books in the series are on sale for $0.99.

Book 3 of the Hunted series

Book 3 of the Hunted series

Chapter 1

Mike’s dress shoes slapped against the pavement in rapid tempo, the sound echoing up the brick walls of the buildings on either side. His sports coat billowed behind him while ragged breaths tore through his throat. He slid to a stop, his high-end shoes lacking purchase on the wet pavement. The alley smelled of piss and rotted meat, covering the stench of his fear. He scanned the entry points to the alley and then shot his gaze along the rooftop. Not seeing movement, he rattled the handle of the closest door.

“Shit.” Locked.

The next doorknob turned a fraction before the sharp catch of the lock jarred his arm. Sweat, more from panic than the warm summer night, stood on his neck and steamed against his collar. He scrambled to the next door. When the latch lifted and the heavy door gave way, he breathed a sigh of relief.

The guy washing dishes didn’t bother to turn. The cook, a fat man with a shadow of a beard, raised an eyebrow but said nothing as he lifted the handles of the deep fryer baskets.

Mike rushed past them and ducked into the men’s room. He grabbed a handful of paper towels and went into a stall to wipe away his sweat. The towels came away from his body tinted orange. Fortunately, his black clothes wouldn’t betray him. He stepped out of the stall, checked to make sure he was alone, and buried the towels beneath a mound of crumpled paper in the bin. He washed his hands and leaned to the mirror to check his eyes. Dark, but the whites showed. He visited the bar often. The lighting was crappy enough that no one would notice.

Jay’s Bar had a reputation as one of the seedier establishments near Pioneer Square. Thursday nights were slow, but Mike wouldn’t stand out. The usual mix of patrons could only be described as rumpled. Some wore wrinkled suits, some wore torn jeans, but all of them had the look of someone trying to hold onto their meager existence while doing their best to forget the past. True to form, the regulars sat hunched over their grimy piece of real estate at the bar. Mike slid onto the only empty stool, not bothering with the tables scattered around the room.

“Mikey! The usual?” Abe’s blue eyes shone under his abundant eyebrows. The man had gone gray long ago, but his beard stubbornly held onto red pigment around his mouth. Mike had often been tempted to tell the man it made him look disturbing.

“Sure.”

Abe set a glass in front of Mike and poured generously. He eyed his customer before setting the booze behind the bar. “You look like you’ve been running a race.”

Mike pulled at his collar, rubbing the material against his skin. “Nah. It’s just warm out.”

Abe snorted. “Right.”

A wave of heat pressed against Mike’s back.

“It is muggy.”

Mike’s skin crawled. The woman’s husky voice would be sexy under normal circumstances. He gripped his glass until his knuckles shone white. Afraid the tumbler would shatter in his hands, he eased up but didn’t dare turn around.

“What can I get you?” Abe’s voice was friendly, but he stared at Mike with an eyebrow raised.

“I’ll take whatever he’s having and buy him another round. Why don’t you join me at a table, Mihael?”

Mike’s eyes dried up and his scalp tightened. He hadn’t been called by that name in over one hundred years. He thought about making another run for it, but now that he was around people, she couldn’t hurt him. “Sure, Olivia. Why not?”


Camela Thompson lives with her incredibly supportive husband and strange dog in Seattle, the city where cloud cover and shadows rule. How else is a girl supposed to keep her luminescent (perfectly pasty) complexion? The rain also provides the perfect scapegoat for hiding inside with a laptop, her dog, and a hot cup of tea. Excuses for reclusive behavior get considerably more creative during the summer (she may or may not have a mild sun allergy).

And don’t forget to check out the other books in her series!

all the pretty bones cover 7.12.16

 

After ten years of living in the shadow of her stalker, a diagnosis of terminal cancer pushes Olivia Kardos to take matters into her own hands. Her final days will not be spent isolated from the world, nor hiding like a hunted animal. It’s time for Mark Porter to die.

 

 

blood Spirit Bone cover 7.12.16

A stay of execution is dependent on Olivia’s acceptance of her inheritance—a duty to kill anyone who risks exposing the supernatural to the human world.