Friday, December 9, 2016

Friday's Film Adaption: A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd

A beloved, bestselling classic of humorous and nostalgic Americana—the book that inspired the equally classic Yuletide film.

The holiday film A Christmas Story, first released in 1983, has become a bona fide Christmas perennial, gaining in stature and fame with each succeeding year. Its affectionate, wacky, and wryly realistic portrayal of an American family’s typical Christmas joys and travails in small-town Depression-era Indiana has entered our imagination and our hearts with a force equal to It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street.

This edition of A Christmas Story gathers together in one hilarious volume the gems of autobiographical humor that Jean Shepherd drew upon to create this enduring film. Here is young Ralphie Parker’s shocking discovery that his decoder ring is really a device to promote Ovaltine; his mother and father’s pitched battle over the fate of a lascivious leg lamp; the unleashed and unnerving savagery of Ralphie’s duel in the show with the odious bullies Scut Farkas and Grover Dill; and, most crucially, Ralphie’s unstoppable campaign to get Santa—or anyone else—to give him a Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle. Who cares that the whole adult world is telling him, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid”?

The pieces that comprise A Christmas Story, previously published in the larger collections In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash and Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories, coalesce in a magical fashion to become an irresistible piece of Americana, quite the equal of the film in its ability to warm the heart and tickle the funny bone.



Printed in angry block red letters the slogan gleamed out from the large white button like a neon sign. I carefully reread it to make sure that I had not made a mistake.


That's what it said. There was no question about it.

The button was worn by a tiny Indignant-type little old lady wearing what looked like an upturned flowerpot on her head and, I suspect (viewing it from this later date) a pair of Ked tennis shoes on her feet, which were primly hidden by the Automat table at which we both sat.

I, toying moodily with my chicken pot pie, which of course is a specialty of the house, surreptitiously examined my fellow citizen and patron of the Automat. Wiry, lightly powdered, tough as spring steel, the old doll dug with Old Lady gusto into her meal. Succotash, baked beans, creamed corn, side order of Harvard beets. Bad news—a Vegetarian type. No doubt also a dedicated Cat Fancier.

Silently we shared our tiny Automat table as the great throng of pre-Christmas quick-lunchers eddied and surged in restless excitement all around us. Of course there were the usual H & H club members spotted here and there in the mob; out-of-work seal trainers, borderline bookies, ex-Opera divas, and panhandlers trying hard to look like Madison Avenue account men just getting out of the cold for a few minutes. It is an Art, the ability to nurse a single cup of coffee through an entire ten-hour day of sitting out of the biting cold of mid-December Manhattan.

And so we sat, wordlessly as is the New York custom, for long moments until I could not contain myself any longer.

"Disarm the Toy Industry?" I tried for openers.

She sat unmoved, her bright pink and ivory dental plates working over a mouthful of Harvard beets, attacking them with a venom usually associated with the larger carnivores. The red juice ran down over her powdered chin and stained her white lace bodice. I tried again:

"Pardon me, Madam, you're dripping."


Her ice-blue eyes flickered angrily for a moment and then glowed as a mother hen's looking upon a stunted, dwarfed offspring. Love shone forth.

"Thank you, sonny."

She dabbed at her chin with a paper napkin and I knew that contact had been made. Her uppers clattered momentarily and in an unmistakably friendly manner.

"Disarm the Toy Industry?" I asked.

"It's an outrage!" she barked, causing two elderly gentlemen at the next table to spill soup on their vests. Loud voices are not often heard in the cloistered confines of the H & H.

"It's an outrage the way the toymakers are forcing the implements of blasphemous War on the innocent children, the Pure in Spirit, the tiny babes who are helpless and know no better!"

Her voice at this point rising to an Evangelical quaver, ringing from change booth to coffee urn and back again. Four gnarled atheists three tables over automatically, by reflex action alone, hurled four "Amen's" into the unanswering air. She continued:

"It's all a Government plot to prepare the Innocent for evil, Godless War! I know what they're up to! Our Committee is on to them, and we intend to expose this decadent Capitalistic evil!"

She spoke in the ringing, anvil-like tones of a True Believer, her whole life obviously an unending fight against They, the plotters. She clawed through her enormous burlap handbag, worn paperback volumes of Dogma spilling out upon the floor as she rummaged frantically until she found what she was searching for.

"Here, sonny. Read this. You'll see what I mean." She handed me a smudgy pamphlet from some embattled group of Right Thinkers, based—of course—in California, denouncing the U.S. as a citadel of Warmongers, profit-greedy despoilers of the young and promoters of world-wide Capitalistic decadence, all through plastic popguns and Sears Roebuck fatigue suits for tots.

She stood hurriedly, scooping her dog-eared library back into her enormous rucksack and hurled her parting shot:

"Those who eat meat, the flesh of our fellow creatures, the innocent slaughtered lamb of the field, are doing the work of the Devil!"

Her gimlet eyes spitted the remains of my chicken pot pie with naked malevolence. She spun on her left Ked and strode militantly out into the crisp, brilliant Christmas air and back into the fray.

I sat rocking slightly in her wake for a few moments, stirring my lukewarm coffee meditatively, thinking over her angry, militant slogan.


A single word floated into my mind's arena for just an instant—"Canal water!"—and then disappeared. I thought on: As if the Toy industry has any control over the insatiable desire of the human spawn to own Weaponry, armaments, and the implements of Warfare. It's the same kind of mind that thought if making whiskey were prohibited people would stop drinking.

I began to mull over my own youth, and, of course, its unceasing quest for roscoes, six-shooters, and any sort of blue hardware—simulated or otherwise—that I could lay my hands on. It is no coincidence that the Zip Green was invented by kids. The adolescent human carnivore is infinitely ingenious when confronted with a Peace movement.

Outside in the spanking December breeze a Salvation Army Santa Claus listlessly tolled his bell, huddled in a doorway to avoid the direct blast of the wind. I sipped my coffee and remembered another Christmas, in another time, in another place, and . . . a gun.

I remember clearly, itchingly, nervously, maddeningly the first time I laid eyes on it, pictured in a three-color, smeared illustration in a full-page back cover ad in Open Road For Boys, a publication which at the time had an iron grip on my aesthetic sensibilities, and the dime that I had to scratch up every month to stay with it. It was actually an early Playboy. It sold dreams, fantasies, incredible adventures, and a way of life. Its center foldouts consisted of gigantic Kodiak bears charging out of the page at the reader, to be gunned down in single hand-to-hand combat by the eleven-year-old Killers armed only with hunting knife and fantastic bravery.

Its Christmas issue weighed over seven pounds, its pages crammed with the effluvia of the Good Life of male Juvenalia, until the senses reeled and Avariciousness, the growing desire to own Everything, was almost unbearable. Today there must be millions of ex-subscribers who still can't pass Abercrombie & Fitch without a faint, keening note of desire and the unrequited urge to glom on to all of it. Just to have it, to feel it.

Early in the Fall the ad first appeared. It was a magnificent thing of balanced copy and pictures, superb artwork, and subtly contrived catch phrases. I was among the very first hooked, I freely admit it.


This in block red and black letters surrounded by a large balloon coming out of Red Ryder's own mouth, wearing his enormous ten-gallon Stetson, his jaw squared, staring out at me manfully and speaking directly to me, eye to eye. In his hand was the knurled stock of as beautiful, as coolly deadly-looking a piece of weaponry as I'd ever laid eyes on.


Red Ryder continued under the gun:


The next issue arrived and Red Ryder was even more insistent, now implying that the supply of Red Ryder BB guns was limited and to order now or See Your Dealer Before It's Too Late!

It was the second ad that actually did the trick on me. It was late November and the Christmas fever was well upon me. I thought about a Red Ryder air rifle in all my waking hours, seven days a week, in school and out. I drew pictures of it in my Reader, in my Arithmetic book, on my hand in indelible ink, on Helen Weathers' dress in front of me, in crayon. For the first time in my life the initial symptoms of genuine lunacy, of Mania, set in.

I imagined innumerable situations calling for the instant and irrevocable need for a BB gun, great fantasies where I fended off creeping marauders burrowing through the snow toward the kitchen, where only I and I alone stood between our tiny huddled family and insensate Evil. Masked bandits attacking my father, to be mowed down by my trusted cloverleaf-sighted deadly weapon. I seriously mulled over the possibility of an invasion of raccoons, of which there were several in the county. Acts of selfless Chivalry defending Esther Jane Alberry from escaped circus tigers. Time and time again I saw myself a miraculous crack shot, picking off sparrows on the wing to the gasps of admiring girls and envious rivals on Cleveland Street. There was one dream that involved my entire class getting lost on a field trip in the swamps, wherein I led the tired, hungry band back to civilization, using only my Red Ryder compass and sundial. There was no question about it. Not only should I have such a gun, it was an absolute necessity!

Early December saw the first of the great blizzards of that year. The wind howling down out of the Canadian wilds a few hundred miles to the north had screamed over frozen Lake Michigan and hit Hohman, laying on the town great drifts of snow and long, story-high icicles, and sub-zero temperatures where the air cracked and sang. Streetcar wires creaked under caked ice and kids plodded to school through forty-five-mile-an-hour gales, tilting forward like tiny furred radiator ornaments, moving stiffly over the barren, clattering ground.

Preparing to go to school was about like getting ready for extended Deep-Sea Diving. Longjohns, corduroy knickers, checkered flannel Lumberjack shirt, four sweaters, fleece-lined leatherette sheepskin, helmet, goggles, mittens with leatherette gauntlets and a large red star with an Indian Chief's face in the middle, three pair of sox, high-tops, overshoes, and a sixteen-foot scarf wound spirally from left to right until only the faint glint of two eyes peering out of a mound of moving clothing told you that a kid was in the neighborhood.

There was no question of staying home. It never entered anyone's mind. It was a hardier time, and Miss Bodkin was a hardier teacher than the present breed. Cold was something that was accepted, like air, clouds, and parents; a fact of Nature, and as such could not be used in any fraudulent scheme to stay out of school.

My mother would simply throw her shoulder against the front door, pushing back the advancing drifts and stone ice, the wind raking the living-room rug with angry fury for an instant, and we would be launched, one after the other, my brother and I, like astronauts into unfriendly Arctic space. The door clanged shut behind us and that was it. It was make school or die!

Scattered out over the icy waste around us could be seen other tiny befurred jots of wind-driven humanity. All painfully toiling toward the Warren G. Harding School, miles away over the tundra, waddling under the weight of frost-covered clothing like tiny frozen bowling balls with feet. An occasional piteous whimper would be heard faintly, but lost instantly in the sigh of the eternal wind. All of us were bound for geography lessons involving the exports of Peru, reading lessons dealing with fat cats and dogs named Jack. But over it all like a faint, thin, offstage chorus was the building excitement. Christmas was on its way. Each day was more exciting than the last, because Christmas was one day closer. Lovely, beautiful, glorious Christmas, around which the entire year revolved.

Off on the far horizon, beyond the railroad yards and the great refinery tanks, lay our own private mountain range. Dark and mysterious, cold and uninhabited, outlined against the steel-gray skies of Indiana winter, the Mills. It was the Depression, and the natives had been idle so long that they no longer even considered themselves out of work. Work had ceased to exist, so how could you be out of it? A few here and there picked up a day or so a month at the Roundhouse or the Freight yards or the slag heaps at the Mill, but mostly they just spent their time clipping out coupons from the back pages of True Romances magazine, coupons that promised virgin territories for distributing ready-made suits door to door or offering untold riches repairing radios through correspondence courses.

Downtown Hohman was prepared for its yearly bacchanalia of peace on earth and good will to men. Across Hohman Avenue and State Street, the gloomy main thoroughfares—drifted with snow that had lain for months and would remain until well into Spring, ice encrusted, frozen drifts along the curbs—were strung strands of green and red Christmas bulbs, and banners that snapped and cracked in the gale. From the streetlights hung plastic ivy wreaths surrounding three-dimensional Santa Claus faces.

For several days the windows of Goldblatt's department store had been curtained and dark. Their corner window was traditionally a major high-water mark of the pre-Christmas season. It set the tone, the motif of their giant Yuletide Jubilee. Kids were brought in from miles around just to see the window. Old codgers would recall vintage years when the window had flowered more fulsomely than in ordinary times. This was one of those years. The magnificent display was officially unveiled on a crowded Saturday night. It was an instant smash hit. First Nighters packed earmuff to earmuff, their steamy breath clouding up the sparkling plate glass, jostled in rapt admiration before a golden, tinkling panoply of mechanized, electronic Joy.

This was the heyday of the Seven Dwarfs and their virginal den mother, Snow White. Walt Disney's seven cutie-pies hammered and sawed, chiseled and painted while Santa, bouncing Snow White on his mechanical knee, ho-ho-ho'd through eight strategically placed loudspeakers—interspersed by choruses of "Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to work we go." Grumpy sat at the controls of a miniature eight-wheel Rock Island Road steam engine and Sleepy played a marimba, while in the background, inexplicably, Mrs. Claus ceaselessly ironed a red shirt. Sparkling artificial snow drifted down on Shirley Temple dolls, Flexible Flyers, and Tinker Toy sets glowing in the golden spotlight. In the foreground a frontier stockade built of Lincoln Logs was manned by a company of kilted lead Highlanders who were doughtily fending off an attack by six U. S. Army medium tanks. (History has always been vague in Indiana.) A few feet away stood an Arthurian cardboard castle with Raggedy Andy sitting on the drawbridge, his feet in the moat, through which a Lionel freight train burping real smoke went round and round. Dopey sat in Amos and Andy's pedal-operated Fresh Air Taxicab beside a stuffed panda holding a lollipop in his paw, bearing the heart-tugging legend, "Hug me." From fluffy cotton clouds above, Dionne quintuplet dolls wearing plaid golf knickers hung from billowing parachutes, having just bailed out of a high-flying balsawood Fokker triplane. All in all, Santa's workshop made Salvador Dali look like Norman Rockwell. It was a good year. Maybe even a great one. Like a swelling Christmas balloon, the excitement mounted until the whole town tossed restlessly in bed—and made plans for the big day. Already my own scheme was well under way, my personal dream. Casually, carefully, calculatingly, I had booby-trapped the house with copies of Open Road For Boys, all opened to Red Ryder's slit-eyed face. My father, a great john reader, found himself for the first time in his life in alien literary waters. My mother, grabbing for her copy of Screen Romances, found herself cleverly euchred into reading a Red Ryder sales pitch; I had stuck a copy of ORFB inside the cover showing Clark Gable clasping Loretta Young to his heaving breast.

An Indiana schoolboy dreams of getting a Red Ryder air rifle for Christmas.

Release Date: November 18, 1983
Release Time: 93 minutes

Peter Billingsley as Ralphie Parker
Jean Shepherd as adult Ralphie (voice)
Ian Petrella as Randy Parker
Melinda Dillon as Mrs. Parker
Darren McGavin as Mr. Parker (The Old Man)
Scott Schwartz as Flick
R. D. Robb as Schwartz
Zack Ward as Scut Farkus
Yano Anaya as Grover Dill
Tedde Moore as Miss Shields
Jeff Gillen as Santa Claus

Author Bio:
Was an American raconteur, radio and TV personality, writer and actor who was often referred to by the nickname Shep. With a career that spanned decades, Shepherd is best known to modern audiences for the film A Christmas Story (1983), which he narrated and co-scripted, based on his own semi-autobiographical stories.




Silver Bells by Jacquie Biggar

Title: Silver Bells
Author: Jacquie Biggar
Genre: Holiday Romance
Release Date: December 1, 2016
Mystery writer, Joel Carpenter, has no time for romance. He has a deadline to meet, and too many skeletons in his closet to trust the slightly spinny artist renting his house.

Christy Taylor has her hands full dealing with an ailing business and a diabetic daughter, she doesn't need the temptation that is her landlord, Joel Carpenter.

Can a Christmas wish bring two stubborn souls together and give a little girl the gift she wants most?

A family of her own.

A pair of dark brown hiking boots—size enormous—came into her line of sight and her heart skipped a beat. Most people on the island were friendly and kind but she was a woman on her own and it was rapidly getting dark. How stupid.

She tightened her grip on the bag and cursing the fact she’d been so irresponsible, slowly rose to her feet, her gaze following the long, clean line of jean-clad legs, dark cotton shirt, tucked in and belted at the waist, open leather jacket, and chiseled jawline covered in a day’s worth of stubble. Glittering eyes stared at her from a deeply tanned, aloof-looking face.

“Quit following me.” The voice matched his visage, cold, harsh, and unforgiving.

So much for her fantasy hero, Christy stiffened and glared. “Kind of full of yourself, aren’t you?”

He leaned back and crossed his arms, his stance unforgiving. And to think she’d found him intriguing. Ha, more like infuriating.

“So it’s just a coincidence that every time I turn around, there you are?” He lifted a hand and she flinched. He hesitated, then rubbed the back of his neck. The rasping sound along with the backdrop of the swishing waves made her feel—restless.

“Look, I don’t do interviews, okay? Not even for cute little pixies. Tell your boss, next time I’ll call the cops.”

Incredulity overrode her curiosity. “Are you serious? I have as much right to be on this beach as you do, buddy. Trust me, you’re not half as fascinating as you seem to think you are.”

In between one breath and the next, Mr. Personality seized the bag out of her grip and delved inside.
“Hey, give that back,” she cried, trying to wrestle it out of his grasp.

“If you have nothing to hide…” He pulled the drawings free and turned his wall of a back on her.

Christy couldn’t believe this was happening. Adrenaline zipped through her body, leaving her feeling more alive than she had in a long while. And it was all due to this… this jerk ripping pages out of her workbook while she stood by helpless to do anything about it. All that work—gone.

“Please,” she begged, her throat husky. “I meant no harm. I draw for a living. That’s all they are, drawings.”

At least the shredding stopped.

He leveled his gaze on her again, as though deciding whether to throw the whole bag out to sea or not. She really hoped not. It had taken months to save up for those pencils. They were the very best and made a huge difference to the level of her workmanship.

“Please,” she said again.

He hesitated, then folded the sheets of paper he’d taken and shoved them into his jacket pocket before handing over her bag.

“Next time you might try asking,” he said dryly. His voice floated on the breeze as he clumped away in those heavy boots. “The answer would’ve been no, by the way.”

Was it too much to ask that he trip over his enormous—arrogance?

Author Bio:
Jacquie Biggar is a USA Today bestselling author of Romantic Suspense who loves to write about tough, alpha males who know what they want, that is until they're gob-smacked by heroines who are strong, contemporary women willing to show them what they really need is love. She is the author of the popular Wounded Hearts series and has just started a new series in paranormal suspense, Mended Souls.

She has been blessed with a long, happy marriage and enjoys writing romance novels that end with happily-ever-afters.

Jacquie lives in paradise along the west coast of Canada with her family and loves reading, writing, and flower gardening. She swears she can't function without coffee, preferably at the beach with her sweetheart.  


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When Blood Reigns by Barbara Custer

Title: When Blood Reigns
Author: Barbara Custer
Genre: Adult, Horror, Science Fiction
Release Date: December 5, 2016

***$2.99 for the first month after release date***
Marked for death, Alexis accompanies her lover, Yeron, and four survivors of a zombie invasion on a search for the renegades who created a chemical that induces a zombie-like state. On the way, ravenous flesh-eaters attack Alexis’s team; one survivor turns on her. She realizes too late that the renegades have been tracking her every move. When officials capture her, she becomes deathly ill. Can DNA splicing save her? Will Yeron’s attempts at rescue jeopardize all their lives?

When Blood Reigns has the voice of a lover and the sting of a scorpion. Barbara Custer writes with keen perception and sharp imagination. ~ Charles Gramlich, Author of Midnight in Rosary

Teodon pointed toward Laurel and held a finger to his lip.

“Do not speak out loud. I will understand the answers you think.”

Okay, Yeron’s badly hurt and so am I. I can’t move him without making his injuries worse.

“All right, then I will levitate him. I know how and I will not see him die. Go ahead of us and lead me to Quyeba’s laboratory. You must forget your injuries and pain. It may seem impossible, but Yeron needs your help. I cannot carry two injured people safely, and if you stay, Laurel will come after you again.”

I understand. Alexis struggled onto her hands and knees.

Harsh chewing and slurping sounds issued from Laurel. Despite the pain wracking her body, Alexis crawled toward the door.

She had to find her way back to the lab. Yeron was moaning, and his cries were growing weaker. Teodon lifted him. He depended on her to lead the way. Any second, Laurel would tire of Woehar and come after her.

Never mind the pain. Find help.

Gritting her teeth, Alexis began her Bataan Death Crawl. Her incisions telegraphed bolts of stabbing pain with each movement. It doesn’t matter; Yeron’s life is on the line. She mind-opened the panel and led Yeron and Teodon through the exit.

Once in the hallway, Teodon hesitated.

“Left or right?”

Woehar had made a sharp right to enter the killing field, Alexis remembered. Left.

She edged along the long stretch of hall. The throbbing from her incision and back brought to mind the pain she’d felt from the rheumatoid arthritis during her job as a respiratory therapist. Her chest tightened at the prospect of navigating that long corridor the way it used to when she faced a heavy shift. No painkillers were forthcoming. She kept going.

It was simple. Woehar had guided right from the laboratory, and then a long stretch of hallway, past two sets of doors, before making her right into the death camp. So Alexis retraced Woehar’s steps and looked for steel doors on her left leading to the lab. Adrenaline would carry her. She’d once read a tale about a mother whose adrenaline rush allowed her to lift a car off her child’s injured body.

Agony bled into her incision with every shift of her knees. The pain was worse in her lower back, where Laurel had kicked her. Sweat rolled down her forehead, dripping on the grid floor. She was leaving bloody handprints and a ribbon of blood. None of that mattered. She strained her ears, listening for familiar voices.

Seconds later, she did hear Quyeba and Zoltar. A few paces further, ungodly spasms tore through her back. The black dots returned. She called for help. She last saw Teodon kneel over Yeron, placing something on his wounded shoulder. Behind them, Laurel emerged from the corridor, growling, her mouth opened wide. The dots swelled and the screams died in Alexis’s throat as the darkness took her.

Please tell us a little something about you. 
I’ve enjoyed horror and science fiction since I was in high school back in the 1970s. My favorite was Dark Shadows, the Hammer films, and years later, Stephen King. I dabbled in writing in my early twenties but didn’t begin writing in earnest until the 1990s. By then, I’d fallen in love with Stephen King’s books, and I fantasized about writing similar tales. So I began writing horror fiction straight away, and later, when my work got into the small press magazines, an editor encouraged me to submit science fiction. Most of what I write today is a cross-genre – horror and science fiction, for example, Steel Rose and now, When Blood Reigns. Night to Dawn published some of my tales before the former editor retired. I’ve been editing the magazine for the last twelve years, and I’m publishing books through the NTD imprint. When I’m not working on my projects, I enjoy a great fright flick. Sometimes I’ll try a new recipe—it never gets too warm for baking. And of course, there’s my balloon collection. Sometimes you’ll find me at the stores, chasing and being chased by Mylar balloons.

What motivated you to become a published author?
Because finances had prohibited my schooling in the early years, my writing lay dormant until I went back to college in the late 80s. My mother died in 1990, and my instructor encouraged me to try creative writing as a way to handle my grief. I sent in my first team with the horror / SF genre, and I’ve found writing very helpful in enabling me to process my grief.

What is the most difficult part of writing for you? 
Writing those “slow” but oh, so important scenes are the worst for me. I’m a pantser at heart, and I’ve never been able to follow an outline. I gave it the college try, but the best I can manage a general sense of the plotline with a satisfying ending. For example, I wrote a scene where two men are caught dragging a woman to a zombie pit. I loved writing the drama of the rescue that followed. But then it occurred to me: what led up to her being kidnapped? Was she lured or seized against her will? Where? This is where I’ve got to try and tame the pantser in me, and write a convincing scene of what happened before the her abduction.

Pick a character from your book and describe one of his/her strengths and one of his/her weaknesses?
Let’s go with Alexis. She’s makes a true blue friend and fellow soldier—so often she’ll run into danger to save her teammates. And when Yeron is badly injured, she crawls through an underground hallway to find help, despite multiple cuts and wounds. When her travels take her to a Kryszka compound, she befriends the governor and other people there. At times, though, she lets her emotions get the better of her, and she’ll act impulsively, which almost costs her life.

What is your favorite part of your book?
I can’t say that When Blood Reigns has any one favorite part, but I get a lot of chuckles reading through the scenes that involve Johnny. Some of the things he said and did – the humor – cut through the tension between everyone holed up at the safe house. There’s also one scene I like because it speaks well of protag Alexis – when she crawls through the Kryszka’s compound hallway searching for help for her beloved Yeron despite her own serious injuries.

If you could spend a week anywhere, where would you go and what would you do during that week? 
Let’s start with activities. Day 1. Go to an outlet mall. Day 2. Go for a ride on a hot air balloon. Day 3. Get a treatment at the hotel spa. I’d dedicate days 4 and 5 to rest, but on those respective evenings, I’d like to take a tour through a deserted town and look for ghosts. Day 6. Back to the spa. Day 7. Take a leisurely train (or plane) ride home. Where would I like to go? Any place or time that enables me to do these activities in a warm, dry climate.

What genre do you like to read and who are some of your favorite authors? 
I favor the horror and science fiction genre. Some of my favorite authors include Jonathan Maberry and Stephen King. However, I will read other genres from time to time because I feel it’s a great way to study character behavior under different circumstances. Being familiar with different genres may enrich the characters in the genre you write.

If you could have any wish granted, what would it be? 
I’d like medical science to come up with a cure for Parkinson’s, the disease that took Mike, as I’d hate to see this happen to others. I don’t want just a cure but a way to reverse the damage left by the disease. It’s a gigantic ask, but…

What are you currently working on and when can we expect your next book? 
I’m working on a sequel to When Blood Reigns, but I’m still in first draft – writing goes slowly when you work a day job. So the plotline is under wraps. You can expect more zombies, renegade alien soldiers, and this time out, an introduction to new characters.

What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Read as many books as you can, both your genre and others to get a feel for characters and what makes them act out. Assume that your first draft will become history when revising begins. And before you send any book out for submission or self-publication, hire a good editor.
Fun Facts

Favorite food – Italian pasta with meatball sauce. I have to use gluten free, but a good brand will taste like conventional pasta.

Person you’d most like to meet – I’d like to meet agent Donald Maass, author of Writing the Breakout Novel. He understands what makes characters tick. He conducts workshops for authors. Writing the Breakout Novel helped me a lot with Steel Rose and When Blood Reigns, and I plan on using it for future works.

Favorite type of movie: one with a character-driven plot. Make me care deeply enough about the characters, and you’ll have my attention, no matter the genre. Of course, with horror or SF, the stakes go up when the monsters attack.

Favorite pastime – Going to an outlet mall. This happens when I’m on vacation, and on vacation, sometimes I check the budget at the garage (or bus station).
Something you like about yourself – I have a compassionate streak – for example, I cook meals for the Aid for Friends.

Favorite type of music – oldies, like the Beach Boys

Author Bio:
Barbara lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she works full time as a respiratory therapist. When she’s not working with her patients, she’s enjoying a fright flick or working on horror and science fiction tales. She’s published Night to Dawn magazine since 2004.

Other books by Barbara include Twilight Healer, City of Brotherly Death, Infinite Sight, and Steel Rose; also novellas Close Liaisons and Life Raft: Earth. She enjoys bringing her medical background to the printed page, and then blending it with supernatural horror. She maintains a presence on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and The Writers Coffeehouse forum. Look for the photos with the Mylar balloons, and you’ll find her.


***$2.99 for the first month after release date***

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