Thursday, September 30, 2021

Guest Blog with Diane Morrison - Learn How to Get Wax Off Your Altar Cloth

Hi there, Paranormalists! My name is Diane Morrison, and in addition to being a science fiction and fantasy writer, I am an IRL witch. I also write Pagan non-fiction under my Craft name, Sable Aradia.

Today I thought I would share with you a tip that is the hidden purview of High Priestesses everywhere, and one of our most important Craft secrets. Are you ready?

I’m going to teach you how to get wax out of an altar cloth.


Break off as much of the wax blob(s) as you can, minimizing the amount of wax you have to deal with.You can also use the tried-and-true ironing method to reduce the amount of wax present before you begin. This method is meant for dealing with the thin layer of wax that always gets stuck in the fibers of the fabric.

Lay the section of the altar cloth that is covered in wax over a bucket or barrel. An ice cream pail in a bathtub, or in a sink, with the hot water tap running, will do. Don’t put the plug in; you want excess wax to run down the pipes in the hot water, to prevent it from gumming up your plumbing. But I prefer to do this in the yard when possible.

Heat water to the boiling point in a large pot or kettle. It doesn’t have to be a rolling boil, and if you’re concerned about color running, it probably shouldn’t be.

Using the kettle, or a glass liquid measuring cup, carefully pour the hot water over the shiny wax spot, starting from the outside and working inward. This will prevent the wax from spreading outwards too much, which can be a concern.

However, the wax will still spread, so keep expanding your circle as you work at the wax, making sure to get any of the shiny bits on the fabric.

Once you think you have removed all visible wax, flip the fabric over and repeat on the opposite side.

When you think you have successfully removed all the wax, allow the fabric to partially dry. When it is damp, hold it up to a light and double-check for more shiny areas, which indicate that a thin layer of wax remains.

If you do see a shiny spot, re-heat your water, and repeat the process as before. Only the most stubborn wax will remain after two cycles of this but, if necessary, it can be repeated a few more times.

While the fabric is drying, and when you are finished, dispose of the wax floating in your pail by first allowing the water to cool (or adding cold water, if you are impatient like me) and then straining the waxy water through a metal sieve, to prevent big globs of it from clogging your pipes. Throw the wax globs in the garbage, and clean the sieve by squirting a little oil-cutting dishwashing liquid into it, letting it sit a moment, then running hot water through it. Make sure the water is good and hot before doing this, as cold or lukewarm water will just turn it solid again. You can use either the water you’ve heated, or the water from your tap, if it gets hot enough.

I hope this helps someone! Happy witching!

My practical approach to magic and my tongue-in-cheek sense of humor are features feature of both my fiction and non-fiction work. You can get my latest novel, A Few Good Elves, now at

A Few Good Elves
Toy Soldier Saga 
Book One
Diane Morrison

Genre: Science fantasy, military science fiction, space opera, epic fantasy, dark fantasy, blackpowder fantasy
Publisher: Aradia Publishing
Date of Publication: September 7, 2021
ISBN Ebook 978-1-9995757-5-5
ISBN Hardcover 978-1-9995757-4-8
ISBN Paperback 978-1-9995757-3-1
Number of pages: 490
Word Count: 155k
Cover Artist: Cayotica

Tagline: A dark blackpowder fantasy military space opera

Book Description: 

Toy Soldier: A derogatory slang term for an elven marine.

Battles great and terrible, small and bitter, raged across Known Space as the wars of Elves and Orcs played out their legacy of hatred across the stars themselves. Epics would be written, songs would be sung; but wars are fought by real people with loves and families and homes.

All Shaundar Sunfall ever wanted to be was a Star-Pilot. Raised on his father's ship, he has found an affinity for the stars -- although as a mixed-race elf and a bit of troublemaker, he often runs afoul of his commanding officers.

Now the orcs have returned to once again wage war on their ancient enemies. The fate of his people is at stake. Although he is too young, Shaundar lies about his age to join up. But he is about to learn that no matter what the sagas say, war is no great adventure.

A bit like what would happen if Horatio Hornblower met the Honorverse, met Lord of the Rings, met Game of Thrones, A Few Good Elves is part naval adventure, part high fantasy, part space opera, and part war novel.

CW: graphic violence, sexual violence, torture, war, genocide

All about on the decks of the Queen’s Dirk, the crew were running and screaming. There were too many dead and wounded to count, and the Chiurgeons had elves spread out over the tables in the mess, the garden, even the Captain’s bed.

Shaundar sensed Lieutenant Sylria on the remains of the fo’c’sle, now mostly a debris field, commanding the mages to ready spells and the weapons crews to continue their attack. He could also see the gravity well of the Vengeance, just now coming about on their starboard side, though he was certain that it had been much longer than they needed.

“I have the helm!” Shaundar cried.

“Get us out of here, Shaundar!”

He turned his head and studied the rapidly oncoming Balorian ship through both the hole in the starboard wall, and Queenie’s senses. Even with Sylria’s magical boost, he knew this to be hopeless.

“I can’t do it, Sylria,” he said in a hollow voice. “They’re just too fast.”
Sylria looked down at her feet for a long moment. She squared her shoulders. “Then we shall die with honour.”

Shaundar nodded. Amazingly, there was no fear, just sadness, that he would not see his family or Narissa again. “Sails, evasive manoeuvres!” Shaundar commanded. “Hard down!”

As the insectoid ship neared, it closed those claw-like limbs to grapple them. But under Shaundar’s power and direction, they dodged the attempt. Shaundar saw a whole army of armoured Balorian warriors pour out onto the deck and stand to the rails.

Sylria shrieked, “Mages, fire!” and she let off a lightning bolt herself. There were only a couple of elves left alive topside to obey Sylria’s command, but they responded. Flames and electricity washed over the orcs, enough that it stopped them in their tracks and aborted their boarding attempt.

“Bring ‘er about,” Shaundar ordered. “Hard astarboard!”
Queenie answered sluggishly with all the shorn rigging and shorthanded crew, but she came back around. As they swooped back towards each other, Sylria’s command rang out. Defiantly, the Queen’s Dirk fired another volley.

The Balorians greeted it with a broadside of their own as they both swung starboard at the last moment. The larboard ballistae both missed, but two of the three others dented the hull. The third pierced it once more on their larboard side with a ringing tear of sheet metal.

Their catapult did not fire at all. Whether it was because it was damaged, or because there were too few crew left to man it, Shaundar would never know.

The decapitated Vengeance had only one gun it could bring to bear on the pass, but it fired that larboards bombard at point blank range. The fo’c’sle simply collapsed like a sandcastle. Sylria was swallowed into the sinkhole. Shaundar roared in horror and pain but could not hear his own voice in the overwhelming noise.

There was no sail crew left to command, but hoping against hope, Shaundar bellowed anyway,

“Hard aport!” The mizzenmast was shorn away, and he knew it, but knowing there was nothing else to be done, he yelled out, “Prepare to ram! All hands brace for impact!” just as Garan had attempted.

He didn’t flinch as the Queen’s Dirk collided head-on with her foe.

About the Author:

Diane Morrison lives with her partners in the Okanagan Valley, BC, where she was born and raised. She has been published in SFF markets such as Terra! Tara! Terror!, Air & Nothingness Press, and Cossmass Infinities. Under her pen name “Sable Aradia” she is a successful Pagan author, a musician, and a Twitch streamer and podcaster.  She likes pickles and bluegrass, and hates talking about herself.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Author Interview- Far Beyond Woman Suffrage by David McCracken #AltHis #AlternativeHistory

- What is your “day” job if you are not a full-time author?

I am always researching, writing, editing, and marketing. Even in my sleep.

- If you wrote a book about your life what would the title be?

I did. My science fiction autobiography, Fly Twice Backward: Fresh Starts in Times of Troubles. The important stuff is all there, if altered and expanded.

- What is the hardest thing about being an author?

Resisting discouragement and doubt to keep on writing when I don’t know how to make something work and don’t know if I can.

- What is the best thing about being an author?

Knowing I’ve written well, with feeling and knowledge.

- Have you ever been star-struck by meeting one of your favorite authors? If so who was it? 

I’ve never met a favorite author. Guess I hang out in the wrong places!

- What book changed your life?

My first novel. I saw it was finished and good, that I can write well, eventually, after editing and editing. And editing.

- What were some of your favorite books growing up?

Misty of Chincoteague, which I read over twenty times, and Winnie the Pooh, which I had read to me and read myself more than that.

- What books are currently in your to-be-read pile?

They don’t sit idly in a pile. I have several I’m reading now: A century of Votes for Women: American Elections Since Suffrage, A more Beautiful and Terrible History, The Half HaS Never Been Told, and Word Press for Beginners, 2021.

- Which do you prefer ebooks, print, or audiobooks?

Definitely ebooks: highlighting, looking up and linking, and so easy to slip in my man bag.

- If you could live inside the world of a book or series which world would it be and why?

Ender’s Game, and others in the series by Orson Scott Card, because he creates worlds in depth.

Far Beyond Woman Suffrage 
The Prices of the Vote
Book One
David McCracken

Genre: Alternative History
Date of Publication:  8/25/21
ISBN: 979-8464929616
Number of pages: 104
Word Count: 32,514
Cover Artist: PixelStudio

Tagline: “It isn’t just about women in long skirts finally voting!”

Book Description: 

It isn’t just about women in long skirts finally voting. The racists and the rich know that, and the politicians worry.

Mercy Martin has an inside view as the battle for woman suffrage nears a climax, but she encounters many puzzles.

So many women and Southern states oppose votes for women.  

So many people are afraid it would bring on free love, abandonment of family, economic catastrophe, or communism.

So many suffragists are willing to abandon black women voters.

From an innocent teen to a young adult, Mercy has a central role in the campaign. She advances from confinement in a suffragist jail cell to the national campaign for the suffrage amendment. She campaigns around Tennessee, ending at the capitol for the explosive climax in the last state that might ratify the amendment and grant the vote to women. 

Why should something so clearly right be so hard, and why were some bitter compromises made? Mercy is right in the middle, relied on by key players. Along the way, she acquires a husband, a baby, and better parents than she was born with.

This is an intimate view via alternative historical fiction, as accurate as it can be and as thoughtful and moving as it must be. In this first novella of a series, Mercy jumps into the campaign for woman suffrage and prepares for a vital role in the coming decades. She’ll continue on into the wider civil rights struggle growing out of woman suffrage. 


Anita and I have taken a circuit northwest from Knoxville and back around to the northeast. We’re canvassing as many legislators and their key supporters as we can track down. Finding them is the tricky part. Sometimes we go as far as the road goes and finish the journey to an isolated farmstead on foot, with our dresses trailing in the dust. We’ve been drenched by rainstorms, chased by watchdogs, and even had to change a flat tire, which isn’t that easy in a long dress, but we find our men.

Some seem to be avoiding us, like Representative Cletus Jacobs. He keeps barely visible off in his woodlot. We mark him as a “no.” Senator Phil Gridley graciously, really graciously, says we are communists betraying our gender, our state, and the country. Fortunately, the next two are warm and positive. However, Sen. Billy Broadus says he is nervous the women’s vote will support that anti-American League of Nations. He seems mollified when we point out it would first have to go through a vote in the U.S. Senate, where it is sure to fail.

“Anita,” I ask, back in the car, “why is there such a fear of communism here?”

“Well, with the recent Russian Revolution and the widespread unrest in European countries after the war, people are nervous, especially people with property. You may not realize that Communism seemed on the verge of sweeping across Europe after the war, with uprisings all over. I guess women are considered softies who might vote communists in or go easy on them. Maybe they’re especially sensitive in the South on the loss of property since their human property, slaves, were ‘taken’ at the end of the Civil War.”

“I guess big business is hyping the fear for their own purposes, against labor unions.”

“You’ve got it, Honey!  That started before the Russian Revolution, as a way to smear and foil labor unions.”

“I don’t guess we could ever reach people so concerned about communism, however they got concerned!"

“ ’Not bloody likely,’ to use a term  Alice Paul picked up from a friend over from England. (The shocking phrase was uttered by Eliza Dolittle in George Bernard Shaw’s new hit play, Pygmalion. Alice loves throwing  it out.)”

Driving east from Livingston, on a dim overcast day, we have a scare. Three white-robed riders and horses are moving into position as if to stand astride the road and block our path. Behind us, we see three more horsemen trotting out of a grove we had just passed and following us.  We look at each other and gulp. It doesn’t look good, even if their robes look rather shabby. A lonely road doesn’t seem ideal for a twilight chat with six mounted Klansmen. Luckily, they hadn’t reckoned how fast our Blue Knight moves or how well Anita can handle it. Just as the ones in front are getting into position, Anita swerves far over onto the left edge of the road and races onward. The nearest horse nervously dances back, then rears and throws his rider as we roar around them.

“I thought the Klan was dead,” I say.

 “Apparently, that Birth of a Nation propaganda film of a few years back is reviving them. Next, they’ll burn a cross.”

 “Well, they’re eating your dust. Great driving!”

“I hope we’ve seen the last of them. How’d they know where we were?”

I think and respond, “Was Senator Broadus actually less friendly than he seemed?”

“I wondered why he spent so long in idle chatter before he let us go,” offers Anita.

About the Author:

David McCracken became a political activist when the Supreme Court ruled against school segregation. Fellow students joined him in urging the school board in Winchester, KY, to integrate immediately. He campaigned for a Democratic governor and joined the ACLU before he graduated from the University of Kentucky. After debating at U.K., he got a degree in economics and a job with the U.S.  Department of Commerce.

When his daughters approached school age, he became increasingly concerned with how he wanted them schooled. Researching that, he decided teaching was what he really wanted to do. He got a master's degree in elementary education at Murray State University. He taught for several years, until the fact that his girls qualified for reduced-price lunches based on his salary got to him. Ronald Reagan's anti-government policies prevented him from returning to government work, so he took programming courses and shifted careers again. Programming was like being paid to solve puzzles all day, but teaching eventually drew him back until retirement.

For many years of this time, he was working intermittently at a novel that became Fly Twice Backward: Fresh Starts in Times of Troubles. This concerned his waking on his twelfth birthday, trying to figure out what had happened, following his new opportunities, and ultimately outliving an evil president resembling Donald Trump. After thirty-six years, David finally published it as an interactive alt-history Kindle novel. He soon started Far Beyond Woman Suffrage: The Prices of the Vote, an alt-history novelette dealing with the campaign for woman suffrage. He finished this piece in just ten months. At 81, he is bold(?) enough to plan this as the first of a six-volume set dealing with the far-reaching results and implications of woman suffrage. His completed novels and another in the works are presented for discussion on a new website,

David now lives with his third wife, stepdaughter, and step-grandson near Winchester, VA. He has a son from his second marriage, six grandchildren, and two stepchildren. And a funny black dog with four white feet.

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Monday, September 20, 2021

The Top 10 Books that Inspired Tales from The Foxes of Foxham by Matteo Sedazzari #Fantasy #YoungAdult

Tales from The Foxes of Foxham is a traditional story of good vs. evil in a fantasy, adventure, and horror setting in 1950s Naples and Norfolk. With anthropomorphic foxes and other animals, witches, some good and some bad, a few humans, and cameos from real-life historical characters. Like many creative projects, be it a play, a film, a poem, a painting, or a book, there is inspiration from your past and present that helps you accomplish your vision. Tales from The Foxes of Foxham is inspired by an assemblage of things, my imagination, my childhood, Italy & Norfolk, fantasy and horror TV shows and films, and of course, books. In addition, illustrations are instrumental in my novel, and Andy Catling, the illustrator, was equally enthused by these books when I used them as a reference point.  

So without any further ado, here are the top ten books that influenced me for Tales from The Foxes of Foxham

1. Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Grahame and Illustrator - E. H. Shepard) 

One of the first books that I fell in love with as a child. The antics and delights of Mole, Rat, Badger, and Toad, who became my best imaginary friends. Wind in the Willows gave me a passion for the river, the countryside, summer days, wildlife, and literature. E.H. Shepard’s illustrations add magic to the beautiful words of Kenneth Grahame. Touched in my early teenage years as my favourite band, The Jam, released Tales From The Riverbank (1981), it was Paul Weller’s (The Jam’s songwriter) homage to the book. Pink Floyd also fans, as their debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, is named after a chapter from Wind in the Willows. The novel leaves a lasting and positive impression.  

2. The Hundred and One Dalmatians– (Dodie Smith  Illustrators-Janet and Anne Grahame

A cosy thriller with an endearing psychopath, Cruella De-Vil. The woman’s vanity would make her consider such cruelty to animals so that she could stand out at a fashionable cocktail party. Dodie Smith and the Johnstone twin sisters’ Illustrations thrilled and entertained me with her words as I read the book with a torch under the bed covers as a child. Furthermore, when I heard a dog bark late at night in a nearby garden, I believed they were partaking in the famous dog communication, The Twilight Bark. Furthermore, the novel gave me a zest for London at an early age.

3. The Midnight Folk – (John Masefield Illustrator Rowland Hilder)

Given to me as a Christmas present when I was a child. The story of Kay Harker, going to live with a cruel Aunt. Kay, feeling sad and lonely in a cold and barren bedroom, then out of the blue, a talking fox enters his room. He takes the young lad to a dangerous yet exciting world, searching for a treasure to which he is the rightful heir, how I longed to be Kay and go to a magical land with a talking fox. The mysterious element of The Midnight Folk, along with Hilder’s illustration, was a reference point in creating the dark aspect of Tales from The Foxes of Foxham.  

4. The Faraway Tree Series (Enid Blyton IllustratorDorothy M. Wheeler)

My mother, when I was old enough, passed on to me her original copies of the books. I didn’t care about how much the books were worth, as it didn’t even cross my mind. What I did treasure was the story of children, then my age, climbing a tree in an Enchanted Wood, making friends with the tree’s inhabitants, and reaching a new magical land at the top. Like so many children, when I went to a wood, I would search for the Magic Faraway Tree. The book then, and now, was instrumental in giving me a good imagination, which is undoubtedly active in my writing today. 

5. The Adventures of Pinocchio –(Carlo Collodi.)

The beautiful adventure story set in Italy, with self-discovery and rebirth, as an underlying theme. In search of finding your true self, the travel aspect influenced two of the main characters in Tales from The Foxes of Foxham, Carlotta, the young hip good witch, and Trudi Milanese, the good fox witch. Furthermore, the sinister characters, like the thieves, The Fox and The Cat, and the naivety of Pinocchio, were always with me for the plot development. These aspects enthralled me as a child.  

6. Folklore, Myths, and Legends of Britain (Russell Ash) 

A title that says what it does on the tin. My grandparents had a copy of this at their home in Norfolk. My brother and I would read through it, which fascinated, frightened, educated, and thrilled us, as we learned about the fables, the ghosts, the witches, and creatures that are part of history in Great Britain. This book made me fall in love with the magic of Norfolk. My passion for folklore has never left me. And thanks to eBay, I have sourced a copy, which sits proudly in my bookcase.

7. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (and the three books after) (L. Frank Baum Illustrator W. W. Denslow)

The first six books in this top ten, are books from my childhood, that I read again before and during the writing of Tales from The Foxes of Foxham. The Wizard of Oz, of course is familiar to me, because of Judy Garland as Dorothy in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s classic The Wizard of Oz. When I saw the film many moons ago, I was then developing a zest for American Comics, football and music, so I wasn’t concerned about reading the book. Yet for this project, I decided to give this classic a try, which turned me into a fan. Baum packs so much action into a chapter, yet without losing the thread. I was influenced by his detail yet rapid style, in the more adventurous chapters like when Alberto with Carlotta escape the clutches of The Witches of Benevento.

8. The Chronicles of Narnia (C. S. Lewis. Illustrator by Pauline Baynes)

Putting aside the criticism of these chronicles. I will discuss how these books inspired me. Before writing Tales from The Foxes of Foxham, I read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Yet I remembered that C.S. Lewis is a  master in creating backstories, a whole universe with fast-paced and detailed battle scenes. So, I decided to read these books, which helped me shape the characters, the history around the story, and the showdown.

9. Hobberdy Dick (Katherine Biggs IllustratorScolar Anderson) 

Tales from The Foxes of Foxham is set in a magical yet realistic setting. So I wanted a book, not necessarily to emulate the style. But one that kept me in the mindset of fantasy yet a natural place to read at night or just before I commenced writing. This forgotten gem from the 1950s fitted the bill; Hobberdy Dick is a hobgoblin who serves a Puritan family, without their knowledge, apart from the children, during the English Civil War. Written in an old English style, this book was not only a source of stimulation but a joy to read, as it did fire my imagination similar to the books of my childhood.

10. Reynard the Fox 

It would be impossible to write a book about anthropomorphic foxes without reading the French folklore of Reynard, the fox. The cunning and mischievous fox, always in conflict with the authority, which he often outwitted. I read two versions, one translated by James Simpson and one retold by Selina Hastings with many illustrations by Graham Percy.  Reynard’s foxy ways were a significant influence on all the foxes in my novel. I even name a principal fox character, Charles Renard, the leader of foxes in his honour, and the view that they are related.

Tales from The Foxes of Foxham 
ZANI’s Tales Trilogy
Matteo Sedazzari

Genre: Light Fantasy, Humour, Young Adult. 
Publisher: ZANI 
ISBN: 13-978-1838462420
Number of pages:207 
Word Count: 60428 

Tagline: A magical adventure story, packed with colourful characters and exciting situations, in a battle of good versus evil. Set in 1950’s Naples and Norfolk.

Book Description:

It is the late fifties and the Witches of Benevento are determined to plunge the world into darkness by kidnapping and sacrificing the jolly and young Neapolitan fox, Alberto Bandito, in a sinister ritual.

Yet, fortunately for Alberto, he is rescued, then guarded, by his loving mother Silvia and mob boss father Mario with his troops, a good witch Carlotta with an uncanny resemblance to Marilyn Monroe, the Bears of Campania, the boxing wolves’ brothers Francesco and Leonardo, and other good folks of Naples and beyond.

However, their protection is not enough, for Alberto has been cursed. So, the young fox, along with his family, has to travel to the village of Foxham in Norfolk, the spiritual home of foxes across the world, to rid himself of this spell. The ritual has to be performed by a good fox witch, Trudi Milanese, but there is a problem, Trudi doesn’t know she is a witch….

Tales from The Foxes of Foxham is a magical adventure story, packed with colourful characters and exciting situations, in a battle of good versus evil.

Amazon UK     Amazon     Blackwells    Hive

Excerpt 3 

‘Soon, my wicked friends, very soon, we will sacrifice that ugly fat fox…’ announces Enoch in a noble manner, as he stands on a makeshift timber platform in the middle of Hickling Broad marsh, with Ettore on his right-hand side, and Diana, Monica, Caterina, Andriana and Benedetta just standing behind the dark lord and the black cat in a bowler hat.

As Enoch exclaims the words ‘ugly fat fox’, the sinful crowd erupts into euphoria, bellowing at full volume with voices from the world of nightmares, ‘Kill the fat fox! Kill the fat fox! Kill the fat fox.’

About the Author:

Matteo Sedazzari developed the zest for writing when he produced a fanzine entitled Positive Energy of Madness during the height of Acid House in 1989.  

Positive Energy of Madness dissolved as a fanzine in 1994 and resurfaced as an ezine 2003 which became ZANI, the ezine for counter and pop culture in 2009,  promoting online optimism, along with articles, reviews and interviews with the likes of crime author Martina Cole, former pop star and actor Luke Goss, soul legend Bobby Womack, Clem Burke of Blondie, Chas Smash of Madness, Shaun Ryder of Black Grape/Happy Mondays and many more.

After producing and writing for his own publication, Matteo’s next step was to pen a novel, A Crafty Cigarette – Tales of a Teenage Mod.

Matteo is influenced by Hunter S Thompson, Harlan Ellison, Kenneth Grahame, Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, Irvine Welsh, DH Lawrence, Alan Sillitoe, Frank Norman, Joyce Carol Oates, Mario Puzo, Iceberg Slim, Patricia Highsmith, Joe R. Lansdale, Daphne du Maurier, Robert Bloch, George Orwell, Harry Grey and many more.  American comics like Batman, Superman and Spiderman, along with Herge’s Tintin, also provide Matteo with inspiration.

Matteo also finds stimulus from many films like Twelve Angry Men, A Kind of Loving, Blackboard Jungle, Z, Babylon, This Sporting Life, Kes, Midnight Cowboy, Scum, Wild Tales, The Boys, Midnight Express, La CommareSecca, Dr Terror’s House of Horrors, so on and so forth.

As for music, anything that is passionate, vibrant and with heart is always on Matteo’s playlist.

Matteo Sedazzari resides in Surrey, which he explores fanatically on his mountain bike. Matteo supports Juventus, travels to Italy and Spain, eats and dresses well, as he enjoys life in the process.

Author Advice with Lee Matthew Goldberg #AuthorAdvice

Finding an agent is one of the toughest things in an author’s career. For me, it took about two years of querying before I landed with my agent, Sam Hiyate of The Rights Factory. A lot is about the agent reading your MS when they are looking for a similar type of book to sell. A friend of mine had signed with my current agent and passed along my info. He liked my MS but had a lot of notes and said to take six months to rewrite and get back to him. I took every one of his suggestions and then he wound up signing me. 

So, if you know of anyone with an agent that’s looking for your type of manuscript, it’s a good place to start with a referral. In terms of cold submissions, was really helpful to me. You can also get a subscription to Publisher’s Marketplace to get the info from agents that have sold like-minded titles as yours. It’s not worth querying an agent that doesn’t do your genre. 

Other options are Pitch Wars on Twitter and attending conferences where you get to pitch your book to agents. Conferences in general are a great place to meet other writers and get involved in the community. I know of authors who have signed that way too with agents after a really good pitch. 

It’s also important not to sign with a bad agent. You want someone you have a good working relationship with and doesn’t have red flags. 

Google the agent before to see if anything suspect pops up. 

Good luck!

Grenade Bouquets
Runaway Train
Book Two 
Lee Matthew Goldberg

Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Wise Wolf Books
Date of Publication: August 5, 2021
ISBN: 978-1953944078
Number of pages: 286
Word Count: 70,000

Tagline: “I’m a time bomb, a cannonball, I destroy everything around me.”

Book Description:

I had stars in my eyes and I couldn't see around them...

The year is 1995 and my parents have finally allowed me to take the summer to tour in a VW van across the country with my boyfriend Evan and our band. Yes, my dream to be a singer became reality. Even with Clarissa, Evan's jealous ex-girlfriend, as the lead singer, it's my presence on stage that led us to a major record deal. There are moments you'll always remember in life, but I can't imagine anything more cool than hearing your song on the radio for the first time.

But being a Rockstar isn't as easy as it sounds. Using alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms, nothing but tension surrounded me, hurting my still blossoming relationship, and continued grieving over my sister's death.

A love letter to the nineties and a journey of a girl becoming a woman, Grenade Bouquets charts the rollercoaster ride of a band primed to explode on the scene, as long as they keep from actually exploding.


I’m barefoot on a roof deck, maybe it’s my own, I dunno. Life has been a series of tour buses and motels recently, but I think this is that place the band rented down on the Lower East Side. Everyone hates me and I’m left alone in a huge railroad apartment with a fire escape that twists up to a roof and barely any railing to keep me safe. I have a joint in one hand that’s surprisingly still lit in the rain and a trusty bottle of Absolut Citron in the other. I’m wearing a baby doll pale blue dress, the one I rocked during the Grenade Bouquets set when the A&R manager said he was gonna make us stars. I once heard that when you’re looking at stars in the sky, you’re already looking at the past and they’re already dead. I’m seventeen and I can completely relate.

I’m over myself and have been looking into the past so much, I might as well be dead.

I chug from the bottle, the excess liquid spilling down my cheeks like hot tears. What lands in my throat, burns and my eye twitches...I’m so bombed. My makeup has run all over my face and made me into a clown. I pity whoever will find my ghastly remains. I bring the joint to my lips and suck as the cherry flares, the smoke streaming through my nostrils. I’m a dragon in pursuit. Three stories down below, a sea of umbrellas await. I think of Kristen.

Her spirit no longer visits and I understand. She has better things to do than deal with the living. My sister has been gone now for over a year, and sometimes I forget the sound of her voice. I wake up in the middle of the night frantic that I’ve lost it, and then a glimmer reappears—a whisper in her high pitch calling me back to sleep, aware of how my insomnia can plague me. She would be so proud of my success as a singer and for me to live my dream, not realizing that it was killing me as well. I don’t remember the last time I went to bed sober. I feel distant from everyone I used to care about. Evan can’t even look at me anymore. I’m Nico the Beast, a whirlwind intent to destroy.

If you heard me on the radio, you’d be jealous. I’m that girl you wish you could be. My song like a spit in the face, a baby Courtney Love with scabbed knees, dark red lipstick, hair
dyed so much it’s fried, a scowl for a smile. And then in the next song, I’m scrubbed clean, my dress full of flowers rather than ripped, my bruises bandaged, my makeup a light touch rather than an onslaught, singing about love and hope and everything that grunge is not. Because grunge is dying. Kurt Cobain solidified its end and the record companies can smell it. A future of sugary happy pop awaits. What will they do with me, with any of us? We’re already that dying star. Might as well help give them a push.

The rain has risen in tempo, a drumbeat on my skull. The joint has gone out and I toss it into the crowd. It disappears into the ether, like I will soon. I picture my obituary, the phrase ‘One Hit Wonder’ highlighted. All I’ll ever be. But I don’t have any more songs in me. My quill is broken, my heart has followed—I’m sick of myself.

I raise my arms like Brandon Lee in The Crow. Evan and I saw that at the Angelika, an artsy movie theater down on Houston St., which I mispronounced like it was the city Houston. We toured Manhattan that day, the first time either of us had been: hand in hand through The Met and wandering down paths in Central Park, sneaking through the Plaza and pretending I was Eloise, hot chocolates at a place called Serendipity, his blue eyes never letting me out of his sight. I never imagined I could be so in love. Only a short time ago but might as well be a lifetime, those blues will never look at me in the same way again. I’m tarnished, I’m filth. I heard a song called “Only Happy When It Rains,” and it couldn’t be truer. Miserable people feed off misery and that’s all I have to give.

I wonder what my mom and dad will say when they have to identify my body. They’ve both found new lives with new loves that will be a shoulder for them. Maybe they’ll be relieved.

Back home, my friend Winter has her own shit to deal with and brought Jeremy into her drama, so they’ll mourn but are preoccupied enough to only think of me in passing. I know that’s what they do now. They are still in high school and I’ve dropped out, promising my folks I’d get my GED, but I never did. And high school seems so pointless and far away. I’ve lived in the real world. I’ve skipped down New York City streets with crack vials crunching under my feet. Out of spite I’ve let a man inside of me whose name I didn’t even know. I’ve crowd surfed over a hundred bodies chanting my name. I thought I was in love and never want the pain of it ending ever again. I’d rather be numb. I’d rather be gone.

My feet are cold against the tar of the roof, the toenail polish chipped and starting to fade. I give another swig until the bottle is empty. I aim to launch it into the sky, not caring who I’d hit down below. I climb onto the edge, wobbling, teeth chattering, knees knocking, singing a Matthew Sweet song to the world, to this dark city where I never belonged, so far from a home. “But I’m sick of myself when I look at you, something is beautiful and true. World that’s ugly and a lie, it’s hard to even want to try.”

My vocal chords are raw from the vodka and pot, my tears make everything blurry. I go to pitch the bottle and my foot slips from a slick of water. I lose my heart as it leaps out of my throat and I think I’ve gone over the edge, plummeting headfirst to my death. But I fall backwards, smacking my head on the tar. The grey clouds above go in and out of focus until they disappear entirely. My eyes have shut but I can see the night sky, and one little star, so dead but so bright, guiding me not to slip into unconsciousness, praying for my survival. Like a diamond it glows brighter, and I think that maybe it’s Kristen’s eye, somewhere up in heaven, winking at me to stay on Earth for a little longer because I haven’t finished all I intended to do, as the rain washes me pure, its drumbeat now playing Letters to Cleo’s beautiful, simmering song, “Here and Now,” while I travel back to what led me to become these twisted remains once called a girl. 

About the Author: 

Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of seven novels including THE ANCESTOR and THE MENTOR, currently in development as a film off his original script, and the YA series RUNAWAY TRAIN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the Prix du Polar. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in The Millions, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, LitReactor, Monkeybicycle, Fiction Writers Review, Cagibi, Necessary Fiction, Hypertext, the anthology Dirty Boulevard, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. 

Follow him at: 

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Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Author Interview - Illusions: Ravens of Darkness by Elle Preston #YoungAdult #PNR #paranormalromance

- What is your “day” job if you are not a full-time author?

My day job is a 24/7 position called “mom to five kids between the ages of five and fifteen.” My family comes first unless I’m trying to edit, then the kids have to fend for themselves. Editing is hard. 

- If you wrote a book about your life what would the title be?

Grateful.  I've been very blessed. 

- What is the hardest thing about being an author?

For me, the hardest thing about being an author is finding time to write. I wish there was a quicker way to get ideas from my head onto the computer.  So I have to get creative, writing on my phone when I’m waiting for kids to get out of their activities, dictating scenes into my phone while making dinner, doing my research while I sit with them doing their school work.  

- What is the best thing about being an author?

Working in my pajamas.

- Have you ever been star struck by meeting one of your favorite authors? If so who was it?  

Star struck, no. But I did get to meet my favorite lyricist at a concert once. It was a quick “Hi. Love your words. Thank you.”  It was unexpected. It would have been great to have more time, but I’m not sure what I would have said.  

- What book changed your life?

There isn't one book. But many. I think when we love something we’ve read, it sticks with us in profound ways and changes us.

- What were some of your favorite books growing up?

I loved the Little House on the Prairie series, Judy Blume books, Beverly Cleary. I always liked the Choose Your Own Adventure books because I got to control the direction of the story a little. I loved Edgar Allen Poe at a young age because my dad was an English teacher and would read it aloud. 

 What books are currently in your to be read pile?

Before Versailles, by Karleen Koen and The Razor’s Edge, by W. Somerset Maugham

- Which do you prefer ebooks, print, or audio books?

I'm old school. I love print books -- the weight of them in my hand, the way they smell.  Old books are the best. I do appreciate audiobooks as well.  They are great for road trips.

- If you could live inside the world of a book or series which world would it be and why?

There’s not a single book I would choose to live in, but rather specific scenes from various books, for example: Chapter Three of The Great Gatsby, Or Act 2 Scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet.  I read a lot of historical fiction and while fascinating, I wouldn't necessarily want to jump into Henry the Eighth’s world. And when it comes to dystopian novels, reading the books is enough.

A fictional place I would love to live in that is not from a book is Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls.  How fun would that be? Everyone is witty, troubadours abound, and literally the worst thing that could happen is Taylor raises the price of grapefruits to pay for some revolutionary war reenactment. 

Illusions: Ravens of Darkness 
Ravens of Darkness 
Book One
Elle Preston 

Genre: Young Adult; Paranormal Romance 
Publisher: Lark Publishing Crew 
Date of Publication: November 14, 2020 
ISBN: 978-0578661230 
Number of pages: 269 
Word Count: 84,000 
Cover Artist: Lark Publishing Crew 

Tagline: Nothing is what it seems. Not even love. 

Book Description: 

An ancient cult. A supernatural addiction. A forbidden love. Sixteen year old Evie Willow is terrified of drowning but she's even more afraid of her own feelings. 

When the charismatic and telepathic lifeguard, Talon Renwyck, suddenly turns his affections toward her, Evie’s ability to rein in her feelings is threatened. Talon knows a secret which plunges Evie into the deep waters of her hidden emotions. As she drifts away from the life she knows into Talon’s beckoning arms, Evie learns that Talon is much more than just the handsome guy she’s falling in love with. Caught in a dark and supernatural addiction and tied to a secret cult, Talon is crying out for help. Can Evie save him from himself? 

Is their love the real deal or is it an illusion? 

Nothing is what it seems.

Illusions is the first book in the Ravens of Darkness Series. 

If you like character driven, paranormal romance sagas with supernatural elements, darkly dynamic love relationships, and a hint of magic and mystery, then you'll love the Ravens of Darkness Series. 

Book Two, Reflections, to be released November 2021 

Book Trailer:  

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It's freezing here at the top of the sand dune in the dark with the wind off the lake. Alex pulls a hoodie out of his backpack and tosses it to me. I put it on and get a sudden shiver through my body. I tighten my arms around my knees to keep warm. He leans closer to me,

"What are you thinking?" Alex says for the second time tonight. I laugh at that.

“You’re a telepath.  Don't you know what I’m thinking all the time?”

"You wonder why Talon chose you?” he says.


“My guess is he’s hung up on you because you’re wound so tight."

"Are you insulting me?"

"No. Just making an observation. Your repressed feelings; not crying for ten years. That’s a lot of tension. You’re a whole bunch of canned heat. You’re probably an amazing rush."

That sounds vaguely obscene like something scratched into the wall of the men’s room at the Cosmic Bowl. For a good rush call, Evie. I shudder to think. “Rush. Why do you call it that?"

"It’s the feeling you get as the energy sweeps through you. There’s nothing like it." Alex looks me in the eyes. I was addicted. I was a morphi, He thinks to me.

Was. Alex said he was an addict, but doesn't that mean he’ll always be one? I ask him how it works. How does a person take another person’s energy? What are the mechanics of it?

What’s the procedure? He says that the human body has energy vortices just like the Earth does. There are seven of them, basically starting in the pelvis and going up the spine to the crown. Morphi (energy addicts) access energy through the vortex at the neck. The throat is the easiest portal to access.

That sounds a lot like vampires to me.

"You girls and your vampire fetish,” he rolls his eyes. “I think it’s where vampire mythology started,” Alex says. “Morphi are the real vampires. Psi vamps. Cultures evolved the myth over time into bloodsuckers, but it all started with energy.”

“Describe it. What happens?"

He tells me to imagine what it’s like to be gasping for air and just when you think you can’t hang on anymore someone gives you oxygen. "It’s insanely satisfying, but hard to explain." He rubs his hands together.

"C’mon, I want to know," I pester him.

He takes my hand and rolls back the sleeve of his sweatshirt I’m wearing. He gently turns my palm face up. “Here.” He rubs his thumb in a circular motion on my inner wrist. "You put your pulse point on the base of the throat near the thyroid gland. It’s one of seven energy pools on your body." He touches his own throat, guides my wrist toward it, holds it against his skin for a moment. His skin is soft against the inside of my wrist.

"After a few seconds your wrist gets warm, your pulse quickens, your nerve endings start to tingle, your blood feels hot." He stretches my arm across his lap and squeezes my wrist. His grasp is strong. "The tingling feeling starts to move, slowly at first, all the way up, getting stronger and faster as it travels."

He slides his finger up my arm, holding me with his eyes and rests his hand on my shoulder. "It overwhelms you as it shoots through your heart and lungs. You gasp for breath and for a moment it feels like drowning. Scary, blurry, helpless. Then you stop gasping and you breathe deep."

Alex closes his eyes and I notice the corners of his mouth turn up as he remembers. "Electric energy floods your body from the top of your head to the bottom of your spine. It rushes through your mind, stimulates the pleasure center of your brain and suddenly you have unbounded energy to do whatever it is you will: manipulate water, control fire, levitate." His hand is still palm to palm with mine and he looks at me with those strange grey eyes. "When it’s over, you can’t think of anything else except how much you want it. Do you know what it’s like to want something so bad?” “ don't know," I lie.

I slide my hand away and wrap my arms back around my knees, but I’m no longer cold.

About the Author:

Elle Preston is the author of the Ravens of Darkness series, a young adult, paranormal romance saga. Illusions, Book One, is her debut novel. Book Two, Reflections, is set to be released November 2021. She is currently working on the third book in the series. Elle lives with her husband, five kids and several fur babies near the shores of Lake Michigan and the Indiana Dunes where she sets her novels.

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