Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Interview with Artist and Poet Jose Faus

I’m pleased to bring you my second in-person interview, this time with Jose Faus.  In addition to being an internationally-recognized visual artist with murals on display in Mexico and Bolivia, Jose is a poet, playwright and community volunteer.  He was kind enough to sit down with me last week and share some of his incredibly rich, diverse experiences with poetry and the arts, as well as some of the personal journey that stoked his seemingly boundless creativity. 
Let’s go.
Lauren: How do you feel your painting interacts with your writing?  How do the two mediums balance out?
Jose: I hate the separation.  I’m an artist.  Period.  Writing is art.  It’s a different way of creating.  Like painting, it involves images.  It’s like radio vs. television.  With TV, as with painting, you trust what you see.  With radio, as with writing, it’s up to the listener to conjure the images. 
As an artist, some things come more readily when I’m writing than when I’m painting.  Painting is more emotionally felt for me.  Colors can work against each other.  I remember when I realized that, I was painting a creek bed, and suddenly, I painted a log a particular color that made it pop out.  It struck me how powerful that is.  Words also rub up against each other.  There are things they do for which color is insufficient.  But sometimes words can be too strict, which sends me back to my brushes and paint.
Lauren: In your artist statement, you talk about being concerned with the individual and the communal.  You paint murals, which often mean other people are involved in painting them.  Tell us about some of your collaborations and how that affected your work.
Jose: Collaboration leads to discovering unexpected commonalities.  It also takes work in new directions.  Working with others, you get a lot.  I’m always afraid I’ll override someone else, but that doesn’t ever happen.  It’s like call and response.  It’s beautiful.
I’ve been on a panel in the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) and at a poetry festival Split This Rock with the Latino Writers Collective and we presented a reading about displacement. I’ve participated in several rengas in the past few years, at least five.  Two were with the Latino Writers Collective and one was for those readings.  One was called America: Here & NowIt wasn’t just poetry, either, it was visual art and performance.  Thirty local poets participated, including myself.  Miriam Carymn Goldberg did a renga about Kansas, which drew 150 poets together. 
I worked with the sculptor, Matthew Dehaemers, on a piece about the immigrant experience.  Matt is of Dutch descent.  He did the visual pieces and I did a series of poems from the Dutch family’s point of view.  Immigration has become this politically-charged subject.  It’s become associated with Latinos, but people still come here from other countries.  All immigrant stories are essentially the same.  They come to America in search of opportunity.  They arrive, they toil, they learn the language, they assimilate.  They shed their old identity.  The following generations lose their traditions.  Then, at some point down the line, there’s the rediscovery.  Matt found he had to re-create and compose his own history. 
Another collaboration project I did was through the Jewish Community Center Fellows program.  [Click here for YouTube video of the performance.]  I worked with a dancer, Anjali Tata Hudson, to write a poetry/performance piece.  The theme was resistance.  We incorporated Jewish traditions, consulted with rabbis and Jewish artists, studied art that came out of concentration camps.  It was about a woman expressing her relationship to rabbinical law.  I learned so much.  The rhythm of my words had to be precise to fit with the dance.  It reinforced things I’ve always thought about writing and art.  I had to think about balancing the words and the silences.  Thelonious Monk’s music is the silence between the notes.  You have to give as much weight to what’s between the words.  It taught me to pay attention to those elements.
I wish I could keep doing things like that but—you know.  Money and time. 
Lauren: As a Latina, I’m always interested to hear about other families’ experience in coming to this country.  Will you tell us about that?
Jose: Yes, I came here when I was nine.  My real father had disappeared when I was three.  I feel no real connection there.  I have two or three concrete memories, pictures.  That’s it really.  I’m in contact with some of his family from Spain.  But my mother got remarried and moved to the States with my sister.  My brother and I lived with my grandparents for a while, until we were sent for.  It was a strange time, a sort of arrested development.  Back in Colombia, life had very different rhythms, different customs, different sounds, different relationships.  Then suddenly, everything changed.
When I came here, the first lesson was that I was brown and there would be issues with that.  My stepfather warned me about it.  I never knew brown was a distinction.  I’m not saying there isn’t racism in Colombia because there is.  I was just too young to understand, but coming here made me realize, maybe earlier than I would have.  I had cousins, one was light skinned with light eyes.  Rafael was dark.  The rest of us fell somewhere in between.  So not only was racism an issue, there was no support.  No one ever told me that it wasn’t right.
We lived on the West Side for two or three years, in an apartment.  My brother and sister and I went to Redemptorist.  Then my sister and brother went to Queen of the Holy Rosary in Overland Park.  I went to public school.  We had to take the bus on I-35.  I was the oldest, so I had to walk the others to and from school. 
Lauren: Did you speak English when you came here?
Jose: No, no English.  Just the little we’d learned in school back in Colombia.  We didn’t know we were coming here till about a week before we got on the plane.  So we were not prepared.  But we were so young.  If someone had told us any sooner and maybe they did, it wouldn’t have been real, it wouldn’t have sunk in, you know?  We had no clue at all.
It took me about a year and a half to learn English.  At Redemptorist, we were the weird kids—it was predominantly Latino, but most of them didn’t speak Spanish that well, so they were always asking us how to say something in Spanish.  My mother was a dancer.  She taught physical education at Redemptorist.  But her English was so heavily accented, we were embarrassed.
Avenue of Murals, Kansas City, KS
Lauren: How do you feel being bilingual affected you?
Jose: It’s the sad thing about being bilingual—being embarrassed of the accent.  My mother knew it was bad.  So at home, she made us speak nothing but English.  I love English, but as a result, I’m not as good at Spanish as I should be.  Till I was 18, I hardly spoke it.  Then I got a job with La Flor de Mayo in the Westside delivering tortillas. We stopped at La Fama bakery and a worker spoke to me in Spanish and I responded in Spanish without even realizing that I’d done it.  My co-worker said, “Dude, you didn’t tell me you spoke Spanish.”  I was like, “I don’t.”  It took something like that for me to realize.  I didn’t know my English still had an accent.  From then on, I embraced it.  Now, I read a lot in Spanish.  It’s definitely affected my relationship with language.
Robert Frost said, “Poetry is what gets lost in translation.”  Now I try to read Spanish literature, then read the English translation and compare.  I try to write in Spanish.  I submitted some poetry to a journal in Madrid.  They published it, but the editor said it was an interesting mix.  They said it had an “immigrant voice,” that the expression was “simplistic.”  Again, that’s how it is with being bilingual.  The primary language becomes secondary.  It’s hard to admit you can’t do it.
When I studied at UMKC, we covered lots of authors—English, Irish, American, even some French.  But hardly any Spanish.  Then I discovered One Hundred Years of Solitude.  From there, I began to seek out Spanish writers.  I discovered how language can have so much meaning, so much nuance.  I appreciate the richness and ambiguity, the contradictions and beauty.
Lauren: Who are your favorite writers?
Jose: Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, Alexandre Dumas, Bolaño, Machado, Montalban, Lorca, Neruda, Whitman, Eliot, Faulkner, Kerouac.  So many.  I love myths.  The Iliad and The Odyssey were the first books the librarian gave to me here.  She was like a mother to me.  She gave me those, and The Count of Monte Cristo, lots of adventure books.  I love mysteries.  Lately, I’ve been reading Andrea Camilleri.  I love private eyes. I love Carlos Ruiz Zafon. 
I always have books in my bed.  I sleep on them.
Lauren: When did you become an artist?
Jose: I know exactly when.  I was taking classes at JCCC.  I had declared as a political science major, so most of the classes I’d taken had been geared around that.  I had about 21 credits under my belt.  Then one day, my brother said to me, “You know, you like to draw.  I’m taking a drawing class right now.  You could sit in on it.  There are nude models.”  He knew just what to say to get me in there. 
It was a Life Drawing class.  The teacher was a little suspicious but she gave me a big piece of paper and sat me on the floor to draw.  So I just did it, I just started drawing.  The teacher told me, “You’re welcome to come anytime.”
That was the turning point for me.  I can be an impulsive person, so just like that, I changed majors.  My academic advisor was so mad!  I threw out the credits I had and just started over.  Writing came naturally along with the drawing and painting.  I moved to Westport, started attending Penn Valley.  I got my associate’s, then went to UMKC. 
Then I didn’t do art for 15 years.  I got a job at a law firm.
Lauren: So how did you get back to art?
Jose: About three years before I quit the law firm, I’d gotten a studio and had been doing some creating.  My ex and I had separated, but we still saw each other.  One day, we were sitting together on the porch, drinking wine.  The law firm had sent me to North Carolina.  It was supposed to be for just a couple of weeks, but it turned into a year and a half.  I came back, then they told me they wanted me to go to Philadelphia.  I didn’t want to go to Philadelphia.  So I gave them six months’ notice and cashed in my retirement funds. 

Unbearable Lightness (2004)
Lauren: What do you think poetry is?  What should it do?
Jose: For me, it definitely has a function and a purpose.  It’s very personal.  I think all art is like that, and I struggle with it sometimes.  It can be utilitarian, like a greeting card.  It can make someone feel good. 
But as the writer, if you’re in the throes of writing a love poem, in the grip of that emotion, all these other things happen.  It’s activist.  It’s responding to injustice.  I have tried to find a way to say that in a poem.  But no matter what I write, people bring their own stuff to it.  I just accept that.  I don’t dwell.  I went through a period where I romanticized poetry, that we poets are like the canary in the coal mine.  But no one values us that way.  Thinking that way makes us suffer needlessly.
Not too long ago, I heard this commercial for cigars.  They say that smoking one of their cigars creates a better moment only comparable to the birth of the first child.  That pissed me off.  Poetry combats commercialism.  Don’t try to tell me what a real moment is!  That, to me, is poetry.  Making the extraordinary ordinary, and the ordinary extraordinary.  Elevating moments.  The role of the artist is sometimes to hide, and sometimes to expose, to dig around, to find the lint in your belly button and throw it at someone. 
Lauren: Would you say your work has particular themes or motifs?
Jose: I don’t think about themes, but I know they’re there.  Relationships.  Forms of love—giving and taking.  Myths.  Society.  In my longer poems, I try to investigate things I don’t agree with and communicate my point of view—that’s my poli-sci major showing up again.
And nature.  Especially things that affect us physically: wind, birds, sounds.  For a while, I dated someone in Washington MO.  I’d take the train to go out and visit her.  I got caught up in watching the countryside from the moving train, the plains, the rivers.  Once, when I rode out to see her, there had been a flood.  It changed the topography.  It had turned the land into something new.  That was the inspiration for my poem, “The Water Moves in Circles About My Speech.”
I feel like we are so removed from the land.  We retreat from it.  My work is about the loss of nature.  It’s something we lament, but keep looking for it.  We accept our role in the world, but we mourn what we’ve lost. 
Lauren: Do you think poetry should be accessible?
Jose: I think it should be whatever the poet wants.  But don’t get upset if the reader gives up on you, or if they see more than you intended.  Some poets really try my patience!  I know it’s unpopular, but Pound drives me mad.  Some poets intrigue me.  I can’t understand them on a first read, but I keep reading.  Berryman is like that, Jorie Graham.  I’m fascinated by some stuff younger poets are doing, their wordplay, their stream-of-consciousness, the way they cut the syntax.
But you can’t like everything.  A conceptual Epic Lyryc Poem, He basically just cut and pasted rap lyrics that referenced the word Lyric or lyrical.  It makes me so tired.  It just doesn’t work for me.  It’s not lyrical just because you say it is!
But you just don’t know who your work is going to resonate with.  Working with students at Paseo High School on the Poetry Out Loud series, I met this African-American student.  She was fifteen or sixteen.  She read some Gertrude Stein.  I don’t care for Stein.  I would not have imagined Stein would appeal to a young, inner-city student.  But that poem really meant something to her regardless.  I read the poem and got into the rhythms of it in helping her with it and have read some now. You just don’t know where the art is going to get in.  When it does, it’s beautiful.  It doesn’t matter what the poet does.  Someone’s going to get it.  Someone’s going to read and go, “Damn.”
Lauren: Do you have a writing routine?
Jose: Tried that.  No.  I’m not a guy who gets up early in the morning.  But I don’t feel guilty about that.  Being an artist is hard enough.
Richard Blanco spoke to the Latino Writers Collective once and he said he finishes a book and then goes off and ruminates for six months.  I’m more like that.  Ideas don’t come formed.  I carry thoughts around for a long time.  By the time I write it down, I’ve thought about it so much, then it is formed.  I have to work on a computer, though, because I can’t read my own writing. 
Lauren: What are you working on right now?
Jose: I’m working with a printmaker.  It’s called the Broadside Project.  It will be a collaborative print that will include text. We will produce ten prints, one for the Greenlease exhibition and one for a traveling show and some of for each of us collaborators.
I’m also working on a solo project with Spartan Press—their Twelve Poets in Twelve Months series.  My deadline is May.  I’m writing poems about KC.  I’ve lived here so long, I’m so wrapped up in things going on here.  I have poems about streets, about 39th Streeet, 39th and Main, about other intersections.  18th and Vine, Independence and Vine, Southwest Boulevard. 
Lauren: What are your goals?
Jose: I’d love to read in Colombia someday, at a festival.  Everyone’s there because they want to hear poetry.  In his autobiography Neruda talks about a reading he did in Minas Gerais in a full soccer field, silence fell because all the workers were there to hear poetry speak.
In Mexico, when we finished up a mural, there was a big celebration in town to celebrate its completion.  They had flamenco dancers, local dances, and a declamador or reciter of poetry.  The declamador was a real diva.  I mean, this guy shows up in a cape.  Then he takes the stage.  Seven or eight hundred people had showed up from all around.  Rich landlords, politicians, campesinos, indigenous people.  When the declamador stood up, he had the whole stage.  The audience went silent.  He recited this piece that was obviously well-known.  The poem built and built, a poem about accepting identity.  Embracing identity after running from it, after denying it.  Fifteen minutes of reciting.  His voice grew and grew, so when he got to the end, “¡Yo soy indio!” he shouted it out. 
The people there knew the lines.  Their anticipation built during the poem.  They had tears in their eyes.  When he finished, there was this silence, then an eruption of applause.  It was so powerful. 
To live, to love, to have it speak through you.  It was one of the richest experience of my life.  Such a thing would never happen here.  I would trade everything to have that, to live life so dangerously close to that edge.

Purchase Primera Pagina at Amazon

About Jose Faus
José Faus is a native of Bogota, Colombia and longtime Kansas City resident. He received degrees in Studio Art/Painting and Creative Writing/Journalism from UMKC. He is a founding member of the Latino Writers Collective and serves on the boards of The Writers Place, Latino Writers Collective and Nuevo Eden. 
He maintains a studio practice at caridostudio in downtown Kansas City, Kansas. He has been involved in many mural works in the Kansas City area and Mexico and most recently Bolivia, where he received a cultural ambassador grant from the U.S. State Department. He is a recent recipient of Rocket Grant for the community project VOX NARRO.
His writing appears in the anthologies; Primera Pagina: Poetry From the Latino Heartland, Cuentos del Centro: Stories From the Latino Heartland and will appear in the forthcoming Working: In the Red and the Black from Helicon Nine Press, Raritan, Luces y Sombras and I-70 Review. His work has also appeared in Present Magazine. He is the 2011 winner of Poets & Writers Maureen Egen Writers Exchange award.

Connect with Jose

Thanks for reading!  Please feel free to leave questions/comments below.  
If you love poetry, check out these poets: Scott Burkett, Angela M. Carter, Jeanette Powers, T. L. Washington, and Nicky Yurcaba

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

11 Questions for Multi-Genre Author Richard L. Foland

1. You have several ebooks available, in addition to blogging and running Pharos Publishing.  Tell us about your work.

I always wanted to be a writer, tried traditional publishing but couldn't break in, and one day I discovered Smashwords. I self-published three ebooks. Two were collections of twenty year old fan fiction that I had collecting virtual dust on a 3.5 inch floppy. I used those and my first original story, which I expanded from its original flash version.

I then told my daughter about Smashwords and I ended up putting together Pharos Publishing to put out both our stuff and that of other family and friends. I hope to expand it into a proper publishing company.

The blog was originally supposed to be my rant on politics but I realized I probably couldn't sustain that so it changed and was absorbed into the machine that is Pharos, contributing its name along the way.

2. Do you write full-time, or do you have a day job?  Does your job affect your writing?

I have day job, at night. Well, sometimes evenings. Hmmm….. I have a daily job that interferes with my writing and keeps me just under broke. So, let's just call it a ‘jub.’

3. What does your writing routine look like?

Unfortunately, at the moment, I have no routine. We're moving, my laptop was on life support and I have the aforementioned jub. When I can squeeze in some time, I try to force myself to write. This is exactly the wrong way to do things! Do NOT try this at home. When things get settled, I will sit at my kitchen table and write while I do the laundry, the dishes or cook dinner. First, I need to find the kitchen!

4. Do you stick to one genre, or do you write in multiple genres?  Why?

I write in multiple genres, I think partly because I read multiple genres and partly because I've lived a rather nomadic life. But I do like the freedom of science fiction and fantasy so I do a bit more of that. Plus, it's always fun to mix genres.

5. What do you feel has been the biggest influence on your work—not just books, but films, people, experiences, etc.?

Doctor Who. The show has this wonderful premise that allows it to tell stories across genres. One story might be horror, but then the next is an action romp and then it does a comedy, all mixed with the science fiction underpinnings of the series itself. The first thing I ever wrote was Doctor Who fan fiction, which is lost to the ether now though. The first ebook I published was a collection of a serialized Doctor Who/Highlander fan fiction I had written. I decided I wanted to see how Smashwords worked so I grabbed this twenty-year-old story and introduced it to the meatgrinder, which is Smashwords' automated process, and after tearing out what little hair I have, I produced an ebook.

6. What are you reading right now?

I recently read “Our Miss Engel,” which I hear is being expanded into a series now. I posted a review on Goodreads here. I just started Wizard of Ends by Vanessa Finaughty. 

7. Do you read your book reviews?  If so, how do you deal with negative reviews?

Sometimes I read them, yeah. The only negative review I've seen of my work so far was for that first ebook and it had nothing to say about my story or my writing so I laughed and moved on. I would hope that that would be the case even if it had torn my writing apart.

8. You use your work to promote domestic violence awareness.  Why did you choose that cause?  How do you incorporate that theme into your work?

It sort of chose me. Sit down and listen to a teenager talk about what his father did to hurt him all his life while he sobs uncontrollably or a woman describe what it feels like to be strangled near to death by the man she married and it would choose you, too.  Everyone knows it happens but we pretend it doesn't exist, or worse yet, we think we see it everywhere.

In my book, At What Price? I have a character who murders his fiancée. A couple decades later, he gets married and then she… well, you'll have to read it.

9. I understand your daughter is a writer, as well.  What does she write, and how do you think you influenced her?

Kayleigh writes poetry. I used to read to her when she was growing up. I'd do individual voices and accents for different characters. I miss that. 

10. What do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment at this point in your life?

My daughter, Kayleigh. When she was little I was her primary caregiver. Now, she is in her twenties and she loves to read and write. She's incredibly empathetic and she genuinely cares for others, even strangers. I am so proud of her.

11. Do you have a work in progress?  Can you tell us about it? 

I have multiple works in progress, in various stages of development:

I have a non-fiction religious relationship book to help people develop a deeper relationship with Christ, called Walk with God. That is supposed to be the next one published.

I have a children's Alice in Wonderland-style book called Kayleigh and the Caterpillar that I am working on, based on the bedtime stories I used to make up for Kayleigh when she was little. Kayleigh finds herself in a world of giant animals, talking bugs and odd physics.

Then there is Count the Cost which is part of the Body Donor Series, along with At What Price?  It explains the process behind body donation. I consider it to be Book One and Price? to be Book Zero. Cost will take place between 2012 and 2032 in the other book, so you could call it a midquel, or an expansion of Price?

I will also be donating a story or two to the Pharos Publishing Domestic Violence Awareness book, Twelve Shades of Crazy.

Purchase Works by Richard L. Foland, Jr.

At What Price?

Time Out of Joint

Highland Blades Quartet

About Richard

Richard L. Foland, Jr., has lived a mostly nomadic life in western Pennsylvania, southeastern Ohio and (briefly) western New York. As his life has become increasingly more settled, his faith in people, especially politicians, has become far more unsettled. He hates divorces, having been through one, and loathes large gatherings. The latter probably explains why he would prefer to sit alone at a keyboard rather than go to a party. It probably also explains why people think he might be antisocial, although he would rather they called him Uncle Social.

Connect with Richard

Thanks for reading.  Please feel free to leave questions/comments for Richard below.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

On the shelf

If you are in the Kansas City area and interested in owning copies of my books, West Side Girl & Other Poems or Under Julia, they are now on the shelf at Prospero's Bookstore on 39th.

This place:

The owner, Will Leathem, is a poet himself, and a big supporter of his fellow scribblers.  There's always a section in Prospero's dedicated to KC writers and that's where you'll find me.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Being Helena: Cathy Kirby Contino Reviews Afraid of Everything

Afraid of Everything by Karen Jones Gowen is a touching and expertly written book about the life and experiences of Helena Carr as she explores an intriguing new world.
Helena Carr is afraid of everything. After a crisis at work, she quits her job and feels lost. It’s time for a serious change, to beat the extreme anxiety that has plagued her since childhood. Something different, unplanned and radical. Sell her house, move to a foreign location, turn her life upside down in an effort to end the emotionally paralyzing fear. 
Before Helena can act on her options, however, she has a terrible accident on a southern California freeway. Instead of going on an exotic vacation, she is in a hospital, in a coma, traveling to strange worlds in another dimension, meeting people who seem to know more about her than she knows about herself.  
As Helena explores this intriguing new world, she realizes the truth about her past and the purpose of her future. And she is no longer afraid. She is at last ready to live. But first, she must wake up from the coma.

Cathy's Review: Being Helena
As I read Afraid of Everything I put myself into Helena’s place.  What if I was afraid like her? Actually, I had some problems with extreme shyness as a fourth grader and this book made me feel some of those feelings again. Helena did not want to befriend a child who was being made fun of because she did not want to be made fun of herself.  That made me think maybe those are some of the reasons behind why I had such a hard time making friends. Everyone was just trying to feel their way just like me.  One of my teachers told me to have friends you have to be a friend. I did not know how to do that so I just continued to struggle.
When Helena was in counseling I thought that was very brave of her and applauded her for taking steps toward her own recovery.  
I could feel her fear when being targeted on the highway although that particular situation did not happen to me, I did have a woman freak out on me when she did not like something I did. I thought she was going to get out of her car.
When Helena was in the coma I found that whole period very interesting. It made me wonder if the author had ever experienced being in a coma. I did not see from her profile that she had although I am sure she probably did a lot of research on the subject.
Being in a coma or being paralyzed and unable to communicate has to be terrifying. It would be to me just as it was for Helena. The doctors and nurses did not know if she was brain dead and were discussing pulling the plug.  I speculate as to what life after death may be like. Will I see my loved ones again? I know what the church says but no one really knows. I do love my visits from my mom in my dreams.  This is such a special book and very well written.  I recommend this book.  It struck a few special places in my heart and although some were painful places such as the shyness and feeling that no one liked me, there is also healing in this book. Great job, Karen Jones Gowen!

About Cathy Kirby Contino
Cathy was born in 1952 and was the oldest child. Cathy and her two siblings grew up in a blue collar neighborhood.  Her father worked in a tire and rubber factory and mostly he walked to work. Kathy recalls it being a simple time and remembers money being tight. In fourth grade, Cathy started wearing glasses; the stigma and teasing surrounding that time in her life resulted in her becoming quiet and shy. She eventually retreated into books and would go to the library and get as many books as was allowed. Cathy still gets lost in books and enjoys reading a variety of authors and genres.

Purchase Afraid of Everything
Available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon
Twitter hashtag: #AfraidGowen

Thank you for reading!  Please feel free leave questions/comments below.  

Check out other WOW! Women on Writing authors: David W. Berner, Tara Meissner, Kathleen Pooler, Linda Shapiro and Jerry Waxler

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Between Rubies & Opals: a paranormal romance

Since the dawn of time, there has been a violent race feud between the vampires and the werewolves, and many lives were lost through the centuries. Until this day, the feud continues… 
For five centuries,Vampire-governor Marcus Wasilewski rules Algharakh with a marble fist, as he classifies the vamps as the superior race, which severely oppresses the wolf race. Racism is eminent and the wolves demand justice, as Senator Frank Morton, leader of the political party W.O.L.F, brings Algharakh on the precipice of a political shift. 
In the midst of all the chaos, a forbidden love blooms between Sam, a werewolf, and Erin, a vampire. The two lovers, even threatened by attacks from their opposing races, do the unthinkable, and the illegal, not knowing the significant impact their decisions will have on the people around them, and on themselves. 
Will their unique love withstand the cruel prejudice and put an end to the race feud that pumps through the residents of Algharakh’s veins, or will they be ripped apart by the very thing that brought them together? 

"Even in the midst of tragedy, a silver lining managed to crawl out behind the darkness…" 

Erin looked around her for the millionth time with a frown and checked her watch again. She had been sitting in The Forte Lounge for the last hour, waiting for Sam, but he never showed. She checked her phone for any messages, but there were none. She honestly thought that he would have called by now. He didn’t seem like the kind of guy that would not show up and leave her hanging. On the other hand, she thought Lukas looked like the type of guy that would never cheat on her, but that happened sooner than she could say erythrocytes. Erin frowned and banished all thoughts of Lukas from her mind and dialed Sam’s number again. It went straight to voicemail.
“Hey Sam, it’s Erin. I’m just calling to hear where you are. I thought we arranged to meet for drinks, but you are yet to show up. Where are you? Call me when you get this, okay?”
She dropped her phone back into her bag and sighed. She could not believe that he didn't show up. Her phone rang and she fished it out of her bag again, hoping it was Sam. “Hello?”
“Hey, where are you?” Alex’s voice came over the speaker.
“I’m having a drink,” Erin answered simply, trying her best not to sound disappointed.
“By yourself?”
“He didn’t show up, did he?”
“He’s just late.”
“I told you he wasn’t going to show. Those wolves-”
“Goodbye, Alex.”
Erin hung up on her friend and dropped her phone back into her bag. She stared at her hands for a few seconds, finished her drink and left. She was angry and disappointed, maybe more at herself than at Sam.
Maybe he found out about her family, and decided not to call her, or see ever again. Not that she blamed him. He quite clearly expressed his feelings towards her kind the other night.
As she was not type of mood to talk to anyone, being close to tears and all, she climbed into her car and sped off, heading home. As she drove through a red traffic light, she turned her head and saw Sam, or someone that closely resembled him. She narrowed her eyes, activating her night vision and glanced over at him again. It definitely was him! She stopped at the side of the road, climbed out and locked her car.
“Sam?” she yelled as she crossed the street and ran towards him. “Hey!” Erin called out to him again and grabbed hold of his shoulder. He seemed surprised by her sudden pull on his shoulder and looked at her with wide, angry eyes.
“Where the hell were you? I waited for you for over two hours,” Erin asked, her voice shaking slightly.
Sam frowned and stared at her wordlessly, clenching his jaw.
“Are you going to answer me or not?” Erin frowned at him, but he still did not say anything. He just looked at her. There was a wild flicker in his eyes, but that didn’t stop her from growling at him. “What the hell is with you? Say something!” she growled angrily at him, and herself, and ran her fingers through her hair.
Sam turned away again, his jaw clenched tightly and she threw her hands in the air. “I don’t have time for this, Sam. When you feel the need to talk to me, you can call me.” She spun herself around and marched off in the opposite direction.
Sam took a deep breath and watched as she walked away. Something inside told him to go after her, and he sprinted towards her. She was standing by the traffic light, waiting for the pedestrian crossing light to flash.
“Erin, wait!”
“Get away from me, I-”
Before Erin could finish, Sam grabbed her by the arm and semi-dragged her to the other side of the sidewalk. He pushed her against the wall of the building and stared at her.
“What are you doing?” she shrieked.
“You lied to me,” Sam growled.
“What are you talking about?” Erin struggled against his grip. She had to give him credit; he was stronger than she thought. She cringed slightly and he dropped his arms to his sides.
“Gowan told me…”
“He told you what?” Erin asked, her eyes flashing.
“He showed me…”
“Complete your sentences, Sam. I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Gowan told me that you are a vamp, and I didn’t believe him! You’re nothing like them, and I tried telling that to him, but then he showed me who your parents are...” He frowned at her and wiped his face. “Didn’t you ever think that it might be important to tell me who they were?”
“You never asked.”
“So, you’re a vamp then?” Sam backed off a bit and looked at her.
“Sam, I-”
“Are you a vamp? And don’t lie to me, Erin. I want the truth.”
“You already know the truth by now.”
“Just tell me, I need to hear it coming from you,” Sam glared at her, his blue eyes flickering like stars. “Because I have to be sure…”
“Sure of what?”
“Are you?”
“Yes, Sam.” Erin clasped her hands together and looked at Sam. “I am Erina Lewandowksi, daughter of Count Arjen and Countess Cassandra Lewandowski, and I’m a vamp.”
“And Nikolai?”
“How do you-”
“Erin, just answer the question, please.” Sam closed his eyes for a few seconds and then glared at her. “Please tell me he isn’t your boyfriend, or was.”
“No, he’s my brother,” Erin shook her head in disgust.
“Your brother?”
“Yes. I swear.”
“I can’t believe this…” Sam took a step backwards, as if he was punched in the stomach and stared blankly at her. “I thought you were…”
“You thought I was a wolf.” Erin uncomfortably shifted her weight and looked up at Sam with a frown.
“You don’t even smell like them. You smell like us. Why is that?”
“It’s not on purpose, I swear.”
Sam looked at her, long and hard, and Erin knew that he was deliberating with himself in his mind. When she saw his nostrils flare, she shook her head at him.
“You aren’t allowed to be angry with me, Sam. You never asked me what I was. You came to your own conclusions about me, thinking that I was like you.”
“I can’t argue with that, but you could have told me.” He crossed his arms across his chest.
“Unlike you, I hate what I am and unless I’m asked, I don’t particularly like revealing what I am to everyone.”
“You’re ashamed of your kind?” he asked her with a frown.
“I have my reasons.”
“Okay, you don’t have to tell me.”
“I will, maybe someday.”
“So secretive.”
Erin looked at him, with narrowed eyes and crossed her arms. “Speak for yourself.”
“I’ve been honest with you from the get-go.”
She winced at his snippy remark and raised her eyebrows in slight disgust.
“Okay, so is there anything else I need to know?”
“Like what?”
“Like anything else that’s going to make me feel the way I am feeling right now.”
“And how is that?” Erin frowned.
Sam looked at her, but could not pinpoint the exact emotion that he was feeling. Shock? Betrayal? Disappointment?
“I don’t know, okay. First I thought I was shocked and disappointment, then I was angry, but now I actually feel relieved, now that I know what you are.” Sam looked at her, and she could see that his eyes were settling down.
“Well, that’s a first,” Erin frowned and dug her hands into the front pockets of her jacket. “So what do we do now?”
“Well, I did kind of stand you up on our drink date.”
“Yeah, you did.” Erin dropped her gaze and pouted slightly.
“How about I make it up to you?”
“Are you for real right now?” Erin asked in disbelief.
“Actually yes,” Sam nodded, looking pleased with himself.
Erin looked at Sam with a frown, not quite believing what she had just heard. “You want to take me out, knowing what I am?”
“If you want to, that is.”
“Why though? Why would you want to?”
“I never thought I’d ever say this, but it doesn’t really matter to me. I like you, that should be reason enough. ”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course.”
“And you don’t care what everyone else thinks? Not even your family?” Erin asked.
“No. I’m the one taking you out, not everyone else. Besides, no-one is going to tell me who to take out, right?” Sam looked over at her.
“Right. You’re a grown man; you can ask whoever you want on a date.” Erin agreed. “Besides, you owe me.”
“Exactly,” Sam grinned and Erin felt a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach. “Tomorrow night?”
“I suppose,” Erin shrugged nonchalantly.
“You suppose?”
“Tomorrow night is perfect.”
“I’ll pick you up at seven then?”
“Why don’t we meet here?”
“Why? Are you ashamed to be seen with me?”
“Of course not. It’s just that my apartment is in Coldora,” Erin cringed.
“Right, the heart of vamp town.”
“That’s okay,” Sam shrugged. “I guess it comes with the territory, dating a vamp.”
“Why don’t we meet at Methys Park and go from there?”
“That sounds good.”
“Great, I’ll see you then.”
“Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow.” Erin gave him a nod and watched him walk away with a smile. A strange fluttery feeling started in her stomach and as she caught sight of her reflection in the glass window next to her, she noticed a smile on her lips.

About Sonja L. Myburgh
Sonja L Myburgh is a 29 year old Sagittarian, and lives in Port Elizabeth, South Africa with her husband, Mark. She is the author of romance novels On The Line, A Bullet For You, If You Only Knew duology, and historical fantasy trilogy Return to Salem. Her new fantasy romance, Between Rubies & Opals show a new side of vampires and werewolves.
Possibly the worst cliché ever, but she started writing since she could remember. From a very young age, she enjoyed writing essays, short stories, and enjoyed reading. A lot. 
She enjoys reading and researching a variety of different things and loves controversial topics. Anything unusual and strange adds fuel to her proverbial fire of weirdness.
An extrovert at heart, she loves being among people – mostly to study them for an upcoming project.  With an overactive imagination, and all all round overactive brain, her trusty notebook never leaves her side.
“I’m a shameless coffee-addict with a possible case of dissociative personality disorder, alongside definite A.D.D tendencies. Add some bipolarity to the mix, and there you have me, in a nutshell.”

Connect with Sonja 

Thanks, as always, for reading!  Please feel free to leave questions/comments below.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Fovean Chronicles: an epic fantasy series by Robert W. Brady, Jr.

My guest author today is navy veteran Robert W. Brady, Jr., a dedicated animal rescue volunteer.  Living on a Tennessee farm, he personally rescues and rehabilitates dogs, cats and horses.  A portion of all his book royalties go to benefit animal rescue programs. 

The Fovean Chronicles include:

Series Overview  
The Fovean Chronicles is the story of a man from our world, drummed out of the naval nuclear power program, who finds himself the instrument of a god named War from another reality where magic is real.  Randy has just one instruction: be successful, and the pain that only a god can inflict on him to motivate him.

Randy is finding his way through a magical world, equipped with technology and with the history of Earth.  He's trying to find his way and keep War from revisiting the pain on him, and maybe even have a life along the way.

Excerpt from Indomitus Est:
My world went red, righteous tears were already flowing from my eyes.  Those bastards had killed my wife – my wife and child!  No, nothing mattered now expect that every last one of them had to die.

I let it boil in me for a moment, let it fester, tasted it.  My skin prickled from the tips of my toes to my fingers.  Like a real wolf raising its hackles against an enemy, except that the real wolf just wanted to survive.

Dilvesh’s mind tried to withdraw from mine, seeing nothing that he could do to help me.  I held him cruelly, not even knowing how I could do such a thing, as I spurred Blizzard forward.  Dilvesh had argued for Shela to stay, let him witness my death as his own.  Blizzard leapt from the ground into the forest, my lieutenants ordered the attack as I left them standing.  I didn’t much care if any of them followed me or not.  The odds remained about eight thousand Confluni to one of me, but that didn’t bother me.

No way would I live through this.

Purchase The Fovean Chronicles on Amazon

About Robert W. Brady, Jr.

Robert W. Brady, Jr. was born in Connecticut.  As a college student, he worked a series of odd jobs including construction worker, infant swimming instructor and model, to name a few.  He also began the first version of The Fovean Chronicles before graduating from the University of Connecticut in 1986. 

After college, he enlisted in the Naval Nuclear Power Program, where he served for seven years and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Southeast Asia Service Medal, and Good Conduct Medal during the Gulf War.  He was certified as an Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist, a Reactor Operator, a Radiological Controls Shift Supervisor and achieved a rank of Petty Officer First Class while serving onboard the USS Truxtun, CGN-35 and the USS Cape Cod, AD-43.

Since leaving the Navy, he's been in sales, pest control, auto repair and .NET programming.  He ran his own company specializing in add-on software and then sold it to focus more on his writing. 

He has two children, Billy and Jennifer.  Although born in Connecticut, he has lived in Orlando, FL; Bremerton, WA; and San Diego, CA.  He currently resides on a horse farm in Tennessee.

Connect with Bob

Thanks for reading!  As always, please feel free to leave questions/comments for Robert below.  
If you like fantasy, check out these authors: Richie EarlVanessa FinaughtyG. Russell Gaynor, Dani HootsDana JourneyKaty KrumpBryan O'NeillT.C. Southwell, and David Temrick