#Guest Author: Suzi ‘Queen of Scream’ Albracht and A LOVE HAUNTING

About Suzi Albracht in her own words:

My name is Suzi AlbrachtSuzi_Albracht2. I live just outside of Annapolis, Maryland which is in the Baltimore/Washington corridor. I mention the corridor because that is where all my books in The Devil’s Due collection take place. My book, A Love Haunting, takes place in the OBX, NC where we vacation every year. I prefer to write stories that take place in locations where I have spent time.

I typically write in the dark realm, that means Supernatural Horror Crime Fiction and most recently, Paranormal Romance/Ghosts. The horror
books are Death Most Wicked, The Devil’s Lieutenant, and Scorn Kills.

All three books are part of The Devil’s Due Collection.

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My most recent release is A Love Haunting which is book one of my An OBX Hauntings series. It is a paranormal romance, a ghost story that takes place in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This book is so much fun to write. I am taking local lore and threading it through my story.

And I get to write about love in a way that my other stories haven’t yet allowed me.

I am currently working on three more books – Her Deadly Intentions which is part of The Devil’s Due Collection, Lucifer’s Queen, also part of the collection, and a second book in An OBX Hauntings series. I also have a political thriller in the works.

My books are like my children so of course, they are all my favorites but if I am forced to pick one or two, I would say Death Most Wicked and my new novel, A Love Haunting.

I love Death because it introduces Mikael Ruskoff, my favorite character. It shows his love for his family, his hatred for the father who deserted him, and his devotion to his mother. At the same time, you get to know what a dedicated law enforcement officer he is while he risks his own life to stop a child murderer.

I am equally proud of my new book, A Love Haunting, because it allows me to show a softer side in my writing. I am free to show that silly love couples have in private, the yearning love of innocents. Plus I got to play with the whole ghost concept which pleased me to no end. I’ve always been fascinated with ghosts. It was also my first book with no profanity or violence. It was like a refreshing after-dinner drink.


A Peek into ‘A LOVE HAUNTING’

This short chapter in A Love Haunting begins Jordan’s existence as a Living Dead (LD). It appears a quarter of the way into the novel. It takes place after he feels he has lost his one true love and just before he meets Luke, a skateboarding angel, and the trio of ghosts from the 1800s who become his friend.

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Purchase your copy HERE

      Love… death… forever. That’s the story of my life apparently.
So Emily had left the Banks. In my mind, I knew she had to go, but now I am lonelier than I’ve ever been in my life. Right after the accident, my world was devastated because of my loss of Emily, our baby and… my life.
And then when Emily was in the hospital, I found a way to be near to her again, if only in a small way. Now she is gone and my life is really over. Now I have no one.
Sure I could have hung around Allie, bugging her but it would not have been fair to her. Besides, she was on her way to being a nurse practitioner, and I knew she’d be a damn good one. So while Allie was in school, I was going to leave her be, but I did plan on helping her when she embarked on her new career. Besides, I wanted to convince Allie to shoot bigger and become a doctor. Being a physician was her real calling, she just didn’t know it yet.
In the meantime, I made up my mind I was going to make the best of my new dead life, and that would require some hands-on research. Research had always been one of my strong suits. That and evaluation.
And there was something else I wanted to research but didn’t dare until I figured out all the rules and restrictions of my dead existence. I didn’t want to lose my wife, so I was going to try to… do something.
So since I had loads of free time on my hands, I would start by exploring to see what was what.
      What am I supposed to do about my feelings now that I’m dead? My life can’t end like this. It just can’t.
Wow, I hadn’t allowed myself to admit that I was actually dead until now. Dead and buried and the whole nine yards.
Well, it’s true. I died a few feet off a highway in North Carolina, not far from my favorite vacation paradise – the Outer Banks.

      I am a ghost, and this is my love story.


Character Interview with Luke, the Skateboarding Angel.

I was pleased that Luke agreed to do an interview with me. I had read the book, A Love Haunting, and was anxious to get some insight into Luke’s role. We arranged to meet at the Dune Burger in Nags Head at ten p.m. I had never been there before but felt as if I knew it from reading about it. When I arrived, Luke was nowhere to be seen. I began to worry a bit that he was standing me up.

I decided to take a seat at one of the outdoor tables and go over my list of questions for him. I had just opened my note book and put it on the table. My pen was missing so I rummaged through my purse, looking for another. Suddenly my note book slid about six inches away from my hand. I pulled it back, looking around. I didn’t think it was that windy. Oh well, I thought.

I turned to look for that pen again but now my purse was gone. I immediately jumped to my feet. I fumbled around, thinking I’d call the cops but then I remembered my phone was in my purse. And then right before my eyes, my purse materialized where it had been. I heard a faint giggle. Frowning, I grabbed it. And then it came to me.

“Luke?” I looked around. Before I could even blink, he materialized next to me.

“Dudette,” Luke said with a grin on his face.

“Hi, I am very pleased to meet you.” I held out my hand to shake, hoping Luke would oblige me. He did,but it was a high-five.

I silently appraised Luke’s appearance. Holding a skateboard under one arm, he was wearing surfer shorts, a long sleeve skater tee shirt, black Chuck Taylors, black fingerless gloves, and a silver chain with a medallion. I was dying to see what was on the medallion but felt it was too soon to get that personal.

Luke, however, is very perceptive. In an instant, I realized that he noticed my interest.

“Dudette, you dig my jangles?” Luke asked fingering the medallion. I nodded. “One of my peeps gifted me.” He stepped closer to me holding the medallion so I could see it.

“When you say peeps, are you referring to souls you have transitioned?” I grabbed my note book and pen, preparing to take notes. Luke took one look at them and began to pop-lock dance in front of me. I was taken back. Why would he do that?

I don’t know if Luke saw the look of surprise on my face or not but after a few minutes, Luke sat down at the table and put a serious look on his face. “Allie said you had some questions for me. You’re probably on a deadline… please, ask away, dudette.”

Every time he called me dudette, I wanted to fall down laughing. But I had a mission to complete.

“When you help the newly dead to transition… can you describe the feeling to me that you get when you are able to get them to Heaven?” I asked.

Luke gazed into my eyes with those big eyes of his. He leaned toward me, his face was glowing, his eyes shining. I felt I was about to hear some celestial secret.

Instead, he put his thumb and index fingertip on my nose and tweaked it. I know my mouth was hanging open with surprise.

The next thing I knew, he jumped up and took my hand, placing it on his shoulder. Then he put his arm around my waist and took my other hand in his. We began to waltz around the parking lot.

I have to say the guy has some smooth moves.

Luke turned his attention on me and said, “It makes me feel like this. Like all is right in the world.”

Then all of a sudden hip hop music blared out of a new Chevy Camaro that drove into the parking lot. I glanced at Luke but he was no longer there. I must have looked silly to the driver of the Camaro because he asked me if I was alright. I suppose I did look silly dancing with an imaginary partner. I looked behind his car and there was Luke skateboarding up the street.

I would have called out to him but I suddenly had the feeling that angels don’t like being interviewed.

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My most recent release is A Love Haunting which is book one of my An OBX Hauntings series.

You are welcome to give Suzi Albracht a shout out on Twitter @SuziAlbracht 🙂



 

#Guest Author: The latest book by ANITA KOVACEVIC ‘The Forest of Trees’

THE.FOREST.3DTHE FOREST OF TREES – the BLURB:

When a family of four faces the brutal reality of their city life, they readily embrace a complete change. Emma and David Stone, with their kids Jeremy and Dot, move to a small town with their big hopes. However, small towns have their own secrets – from urban legends about The Forest of Trees to family skeletons in closets everyone knows about.

Gradually, Jeremy and Dot make some new and unusual friends, whereas Emma and David start working again, and things seem to be going for the better. But evil never rests. The Jacksons, a bigoted and brutal family of pig farmers, however scary, are not the only ones leaning towards malice. The more new friendships grow, the more villains will struggle to retain power. Will the arrival of the newcomers tip the scales in favour of the good or the evil? And how can The Forest of Trees play its part in the solution?

The life between the legendary Forest of Trees and the small town of Tillsworth is separated only by a road. All it takes to reconnect is to take that path.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwnR-_utzJA

REVIEW COMMENTS:The.Forest.review.quote

‘This is not a fairy tale for children, but an adult examination of the way belief in oneself can change the course of lives. It is lovely, frightening, joyous, and painful. Anita Kovacevic can put another notch in her author’s belt with this brilliantly written book.’

By Elizabeth Newton, from Between the Beats (https://elizabethnnewton.com/2017/12/28/the-forest-of-trees-by-anita-kovacevic/)

‘Some of the parts were like the fairytale, happy and carefree, but other parts were nothing but the harsh reality.
The ability of the author to jump from one to another was so easy. I loved the beautiful description of the forest creatures, but I also loved the other side of the coin…’

Irena Cacic, on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36407464-the-forest-of-trees )

SNEAK PEEK:

From the author’s foreword:

Our lives always consist of beauty and ugliness, and if we are lucky, we get to keep the balance of the two. The good and the bad start from within us, and spread all around us. It is what weaves this world, and, I believe, all worlds everywhere and everywhen.

All fairytales consist of magic and horror. Not everyone is always good, and not everyone is always bad. Snow White faced the evil Witch Queen, Cinderella her step-family, the children and parents the Pied Piper…

In a way, this story is also a horror fairytale, but it is not for children. You may feel like reading some parts to your children, but those were the parts told by my own inner child, the one who still hopes and believes in magic. The horror in the story has nothing magical about it – it brings out the harsh reality I hated to write, but had to write out of me.

To paraphrase the words of two fascinating authors, we must write even that which we don’t want to write, because it must be said (S. King). And it is up to us which side we choose – the good or the easy (J. K. Rowling).

For myself, I admit to having both sides, but I intend to always feed the good in me – always.

CHAPTER 11 – READY?

Jeremy felt as if a gigantic troll with spiky teeth and heavy hands was pounding with a rock hammer against the insides of Jeremy’s skull. The noise of his bloodstream, the rhythm of his rage, the tremor of his fear, all were so strong that not even the school bus, hitting every single bump on the road, could shake them off. It was like his heart had been mauled from his chest by a monster claw, as flashes of the ruined canvas blinded his eyes like electricity coming on and off. Unconscious of his own actions, he reached for his chest to check, but there was no blood gushing, although it felt hot and excruciating just the same.

He wasn’t wiping off any tears, for there were none to dry. He wished there had been. He wished he could still cry about it, the way he had with his dad that day in the bathroom, and wash away the feeling of shame, guilt, filth, ruin and fury. But his eyes were as dry as the desert sand, and he stared through the bus window, aimlessly observing the scenery without actually seeing anything. He was almost numb to the outside world and the people around him.

CHAPTER 12 – A CHANGE IN THE WEATHER

“I hope nobody is still out there,” Miss Pagiotti said.

The rain shower had turned into a thick curtain, masking most outer events. For a second, Miss Pagiotti thought she could see something or someone still there, so she grabbed Mr Jones by the wrist, and they both rose to their feet and walked even closer to the window.

They froze at the image they saw.

Angel’s family was walking outside in the rain, from the direction of a nearby supermarket to their lorry, parked further down the street. The group was led by the grandpa, his grey jacket drenched, steel-framed boots threading the puddles. His dark hat was tucked on his forehead, hiding his wrinkled face, as his eyes fixated on the lorry; the weather never swaying his stride, despite his limp. He walked as if the storm was merely an annoying fly to swat, and ignoring everybody behind him. Angel’s dad followed, copying his father, almost tripping as he forced his legs to adjust the pace and remain behind the pack leader. His yellow fisherman raincoat protected his body, but raindrops blinded him. His two teenage sons walked each on one side of their dad, trying not to stay behind. The two dark-haired adolescents were shaking from the cold, their hands in their jacket pockets, all wet through, skinny, grim and unhappy, faces freshly scarred from fighting or getting beaten. Angel dragged his baby brother behind the trio, annoyed at being left behind as the designated babysitter, his bald wet head glowing in the street light.

As the Jackson procession passed the restaurant, Ben’s dad opened the door ajar.

“Come inside. Get warm,” he said.

“Mind your own business, you blithering idiot. The Jacksons need no charity,” Old Jackson barked above the noise of the storm, not even looking at the man.

OTHER BOOKS BY ANITA KOVACEVIC:

Adult books: The Threshold – paranormal novella; Average Daydreamer – light romance; Versus Verses – Feel – poetry; Versus Verses – Love – poetry

Children’s books: Winky’s Colours: A Penguin’s Story; The Good Pirate; Mimi Finds Her Magic; Spikes for Hank

Contributions to anthologies:

Teaching Children from the Heart & Inner Giant; Awethology Light & December Awethology Light Volume; Twisted Tales & Crooked Tales; Looking into the Abyss; A Treasure Chest of Children’s Stories

AUTHOR’S BIO:

Anita Kovacevic is multi-genre author of both children’s and adult fiction. Her belief in the power of storytelling has been strengthened through her years of teaching and teacher training.  Anita enjoys writing stories which come to her on her ‘dreamstep’, blending reality and magic, and has a quirky fondness for writing limerick stories. You can read her reviews, book news and author interviews on her WordPress blog Anita’s Haven. She lives with her husband and children in Croatia, where she graduated from university with a degree in English and Spanish Literature.

ALL BOOK LINKS:

Amazon universal link Author.to/AnitaKovacevicAmazon

Barnes & Noble all Nook https://tinyurl.com/ybfpg9gb

Kobo all Rakuten https://tinyurl.com/ycxuds4g

iTunes all Apple https://tinyurl.com/ydfyn8hq
Book Gorilla  http://tinyurl.com/le5h4x2

Lulu http://tinyurl.com/ltbvq54

Goodreads  http://tinyurl.com/jwovbbv

(Find Anita on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as Anita’s Haven; WordPress blog https://anitashaven.wordpress.com/)

The.Forest.Enough.jpg

CROOKED INTERVIEW with Author MARK FINE by ANITA KOVACEVIC

 

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CROOKED INTERVIEW with MARK FINE

BY ANITA KOVACEVIC ON 26/03/2017

crooked-tales15-authors-final-cover

CROOKED TALES

The CROOKED TALES is another bountiful reader feast prepared for you by Readers Circle of Avenue Park and 15 extraordinary authors from around the globe. It contains 15 short stories on deception and revenge from all genres and walks of life, and is now available in kindle and paperback. It gives me a mixture of pride and humbleness to state that my story Beneath is also featured.

This spring I have an amazing treat for you as these superbusy authors have agreed to be my blog guests and do an interview. Crooked Tales inspiring my crookedness, I have also given them a task – in the second half of the interview they have to interview themselves:).

To open this series of Crooked Interviews, here is MARK FINE, a man whose autobiography alone would make for a stunning movie. Thank you, Mr Fine!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MF Profile copy

The Author in his African Element

Mark Fine [Mark of the Hyena], a self-confessed, tone-deaf music executive, was born in South Africa, However, now Los Angeles is his home. There with his two sons—and Charlie, an affectionate neighbor’s dog—Mark wrote his historical fiction novel, The Zebra Affaire—the story of a mixed race couple and their struggle to survive under the racist regime’s oppressive 1970’s apartheid policies. Mark also takes a broader look at the travails of greater Africa; a topic that concerns him greatly. A charming aspect of Mark’s writing is how he looks to nature—Africa’s animals and wildlife—for inspiration and a solution to human shortcomings. In the process of telling the truth via the freedom fiction provides, a reviewer said, “Mark Fine has been brave like William Faulkner in his journey of truth telling – he has simply done it with a much different kind of Southern accent.”  For further info on Mark, check out these links— Website: finebooks.co and MarkFineBooks.com Blog: Fine Ruminations ~ or you’re welcome to connect on Facebook and Twitter: @MarkFine_author

THE ZEBRA AFFAIRE: An Apartheid Love Story  (Paperback)

THE ZEBRA AFFAIRE  (Kindle Edition)


 

INTERVIEW

– What is your Crooked tale about and what inspired it?

MARK OF THE HYENA: ‘Fish out of water’ stories intrique me. The set up of an elite academic from New York City stranded in the Kalahari desert with a tribe of San Bushmen as his only means of survival was too tempting to ignore. In the telling we learn of hubris wrapped in first world arrogance, and simple grace in respecting nature’s lore.

– What do you like writing and/or reading best? 

I now have so many stories within me to tell, I’ve shifted my focus to short stories. This permits me the time to write them, and affords busy readers the time to read them.

– What else do you do in life apart from writing?

I mentor aspiring talent in both the music world, especially songwriters, and print publishing. It is the joy of collaboration that finally motivates me.
– What are you currently working on?

An historical fiction/suspense novel based in sub-Sahara Africa. It is based on a true story, and has the tantalizing title, “THE CULTURED SPY”.


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Author Mark Fine

CROOKED INTERVIEW (In a ‘crooked twist’ Anita had the ‘victim’ of the interview, interview himself!)

A Conversation with Myself: The whys and wherefores that shaped author Mark Fine’s novel, “The Zebra Affaire”

Mark Fine: What was the genesis of Zebra Affaire? Was it a grueling process or did it write itself?

Myself: More complex, more a creative evolution. I originally wanted to write a biography about my father. But, despite his accomplishments, he remained a modest man. I began to sense that the notion of a biography would be awkward for him. So I scrapped the idea. However, a great deal of research I’d already completed about his life and times. Subliminally, my mind must have churned away at this problem, because one day—a true kismet moment—the idea of courageous love story between a white woman and black man in the land of apartheid manifested itself. Only then did The Zebra Affaire ‘write itself’.

Mark Fine: Did you find that, as the characters developed, they changed the trajectory of the story from the original vision of the book?

Myself: The arc of the story remained surprisingly consistent. Probably because I wrote the end of my novel first. Seems counterintuitive, but it made sense to have a final destination as a guidepost. Kind of like a closing argument in a legal trial, I instinctively focused on the book’s conclusion when I began. Of course, as characters assumed a life of their own, the ending was constantly revisited, and refined.

Speaking about characters, I enjoyed adding the animal world and their instinctive code-of-honor into the story. As allegories to the foibles of human behavior, the natural behavior of these creatures was rather instructive. I’m thrilled I found a place for Africa’s wildlife in the book. It makes the experience all the more authentic for the reader, and foreshadows the human narrative at the heart of the story in a fresh way.

Mark Fine:  Which of the characters, if any, did I shape from personal experiences?

Myself:  The patriarch, the DGF character, typifies the decent people that tried to make a difference within the discriminatory apartheid system. Despite onerous job restriction laws that prohibited people of color from any management position, the real DGF did in fact hire and mentor a black man as a senior executive for a public company—despite such a hiring being illegal.

Due to the real DGF’s mentorship and ‘civil disobedience’, Rupert Bopape became a legendary music producer and label chief. DGF’s philosophy was simple in a complicated color-shaped society: merit is the only sustainable litmus test, and surpasses all other things that divide, such as race, tribe, gender, and faith.

In the context of the times, DGF was quietly brave. Now for a confession, my late father David Gabriel Fine inspired the DGF character. Fittingly, by weaving his memoire within the tapestry of my historical fiction story I was finally able to pay tribute to a wonderful man, and terrific dad.

Mark Fine:  Your Zebra Affaire story deals with many areas of history and diverse ethnic groups. How much of the final work was a result of inspiration or research?

Myself: The schism between the various races and tribes was my motivation to write the novel, as it remains a cautionary tale. I felt the world tends to adopt a simplistic ‘bumper-sticker’ view of what in reality is a more complicated state of affairs. Things are invariably seen in stark black and white, when in fact it’s anything but immutable. For example, in South Africa the white clans hated each other (English speakers versus the Afrikaners from Dutch heritage), as do the various native tribes (Zulu, Sotho, Venda, Xhosa and others). It’s ironic that South Africa’s motto was “Unity is Strength” when it was such an intensely balkanized society.

But the challenge as a writer was to humanize this constantly shifting tide of societal unrest, and so the context—shocking for that time and place—of an illicit interracial romance. As such, the arcana of South Africa’s convoluted legal code needed thorough research.

However, my main goal is to entertain the reader. It’s the thrilling fusion of romance and suspense set against a canvas that’s vividly authentic and powerfully provocative that makes The Zebra Affairestory worth writing, and reading. This is about the courageous love story of Elsa and Stanwell, the two of them on a collision course with the mighty racist regime, which is the compelling narrative that draws the reader through the book’s pages. If the reader becomes better informed in the process, well, that’s an added bonus.

Mark Fine: If you could return to post-apartheid South Africa and make sweeping changes, what would they be?

Myself: Out with the men! The women of Africa are saints. That image of a humble woman walking miles in the heat of day, barefoot, with a five gallon bucket of water balanced on her head—and with a baby wrapped in a blanket bound to her back, is for me the essence of selfless sacrifice. Unless there is another Nelson Mandela, these women should represent the true voice of Africa. Tireless and dedicated they may be, yet sadly they remain marginalized, underappreciated, due to gender discrimination and patriarchal tradition. I believe it is time for an authentic, nurturing, honest African woman to become the next president of South Africa! Maybe this will become the topic of my next book…

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The Zebra Affaire [Historical Fiction, Suspense/Romance]

To purchase a copy of your own:

THE ZEBRA AFFAIRE: An Apartheid Love Story  (Paperback)

THE ZEBRA AFFAIRE  (Kindle Edition)


MARK FINE’S QUESTIONS for other Crooked Tales authors

Do you find a silver lining in a bad review? If so, please give an example.

What percentage of the research you do for a novel actually lands up on the printed page?

Do you have an author you admire? If so, why?

ANITA REQUESTS: Could other Crooked Tales authors please reply to this kind gentleman in the comments below? Other authors also welcome:)

Fine Review: “Red Queen Check” by Elizabeth Horton-Newton [Short Story]

strategyVirtues of the short story told by an artful author

I’ve become extremely fond of the short story as a medium. Life is too busy, yet I enjoy a good read, so an enticing short story is a most satisfying treat. Being a fan of author, Elizabeth Horton-Newton—her two novels “The View from the Sixth Floor” and “Riddle” having provided hours of pleasure—I confidently chose her ‘Red Queen Check’ from the short story anthology, Crooked Tales. Glad I did.

The sheer glee in the author’s writing radiated from every paragraph. This doesn’t mean this is a cheerful, trivial read; in fact it is at times gritty. However, there is little doubt she wished for the reader to enjoy the delicious comeuppance she had in-store for the miserable sociopath (or, maybe psychopath) at the stories core. But, it is the recipe of the revenge fashioned that is most satisfying.

From the opening line, Horton-Newton teases the reader with sensual heat as she introduces the femme fatale. By the third paragraph we are repulsed by him, a contemptuous and possessive blowhard with deadly desires.  And so, in the best tradition of a fine short story the stage is set for a diabolical plot driven by an avenging heart.

Yet, despite the obvious pleasure in her writing there is little doubt that the author had earnest intent. Elizabeth Horton-Newton’s message is clear:  there is little use in society for those that abuse—no matter their power or position.

I applaud the writer’s craft exhibited by Horton-Newton; her ability to score such rich characters within such a satisfying story arc—and all this, with only 4,000 words used! No wonder I now find short stories so appealing…and hope for more from the artful Elizabeth Horton-Newton.

For more about CROOKED TALES short stories click here.

About Elizabeth Horton-Newton

elisabeth-horton-newtonElizabeth Horton-Newton was born and raised in New York City. She began writing when she was a child, writing stories for friends and family. In the 4th Grade at P.S. 151 in Manhattan, she wrote an essay about her dream job—she wanted to be an author. Elizabeth continued to write short stories over the following years as she raised a family. After attending Long Island University in Brooklyn, NY and East Tennessee State University, she worked in the social work field for thirteen years.

She currently lives in East Tennessee with her husband, author Neil Newton, and a collection of rescued dogs and cats. Her first book View From the Sixth Floor: An Oswald Tale was published in October 2014; a love story that revolves around the assassination of President John Kennedy on November 22, 1963—and the ensuing conspiracy theories. This was followed in June 2015 with the release of Riddle, a romantic thriller about a Native American convicted of killing his high school girlfriend. Elizabeth’s third novel, a somewhat erotic romance of one woman’s journey through love, loss, and resolution, will be released in the fall of 2016.

This mother of 4, grandmother of 5, and great grandmother of a newly arrived boy, loves serial killers and all things horror. She has been this way since early childhood, much to her mother’s dismay. Fascinated by the inner workings of the criminal mind, an interest strongly influenced by her father, she allowed her imagination to run wild in her tale for this anthology. You are invited to pay Elizabeth a visit at Between the Beats and her author website here or connect via Facebook and Twitter: @redqueenliz

“Mark of the Hyena” by Mark Fine [CROOKED TALES short story]

Review by Elizabeth Horton-Newton the author of ‘View From the Sixth Floor: An Oswald Tale’ and ‘Riddle’

“Mark of the Hyena” by Mark Fine

When civilizations collide N!xau’s click ticks tsk tsk tricks a surprising vultured culture.

Author Mark Fine provides a unique short story with his offering of “Mark of the Hyena”. Presenting the tale with two perspectives; N!xau an African San Bushman native and Werner, a smug European professor who sets out to prove his allegation that the San Bushmen were a “trivial people” because they had no written record of their history or culture.

 

‘CROOKED TALES’ gathers the talent of 15 of the hottest authors around to thrill you with their visions of mayhem, in places exotic, bucolic, other-worldly, or simply sinister.
CROOKED TALES: Deception & Revenge in 15 Short Stories (Short Story Tales Book 2)

From Fine’s artful descriptions of the native language of clicks and clacks to Werner’s attitude of superiority, the author creates vibrant characters. In spite of the turmoil the tribe is experiencing N!xau and the Bushmen rescue Werner and transport him to their village in order to save him from certain death. The professor is ill prepared to survive in the unfamiliar wilderness he had foolishly attempted to explore. On the other hand N!xau, his wife K/ora, and his son !Xi are likewise unprepared for the true savagery of the egocentric European.

This is a compelling story that highlights the conflict between two diverse cultures, with the best of one meeting the worst of the other. Incredibly insightful it provides a harsh look at the attitudes of the pseudo intellectual professor when offered the kindness of the natives. Fine’s ability to see through the eyes of different cultures shines through in this well written story. The unexpected climax is rewarding and beautifully handled. Mark Fine remains one of my favourite authors.

CROOKED TALES IS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

Ulla Hakanson I just loved Elizabeth Noreen Newton’s review of Mark Fine’s fascinating story “Mark of the Hyena,” one of my favourites in the short story collection “Crooked Tales. Another favourite of mine is Anita Kovacevic’s “Beneath,” a truly unique story of the battle of wills! This whole book is filled with well-written suspenseful gems. Love it!

Thanks to Between the Beats for this article, for more great literary themed stories and reviews click here.

Author: Mark Fine

Author Mark Fine was a record label chief for PolyGram. Variety magazine named him “Music Executive with 20/20 Vision”—good thing too as Fine is tone-deaf. His failed efforts to compose a song resulted in the critically acclaimed novel, “The Zebra Affaire.” As research for his writings (and opinions) Fine immigrated to America from South Africa, in an effort to better appreciate being a stranger in a strange land. Due to his African roots, he is a strong advocate for wildlife conservation and is an ardent #RhinoProtector. Readers may follow him at http://www.markfinebooks.com and http://www.facebook.com/ZebraAffaire.

TWISTED TALES: 15 Literary Lies & Epic Yarns: “Karmic Odds” by Mark Fine

Short Story Review by Elizabeth Newton

Mark Fine B&W (72dpi)WebI must confess Mark Fine is one of my favorite indie author’s. I further confess his short story contribution to Twisted Tales, Karmic Odds, is one of my favorite stories in the collection. With the same adept use of prose he shows in his full length novel, The Zebra Affaire, Fine weaves a tale that is both compelling and disturbing.

Beginning with an easy pace, relating the trials and tribulations of a rather unpleasant marriage, Fine sets the tone for the story. From Roxanne’s first vitriolic outburst at long suffering Gerhard I wanted to smack her in the head. Unlike the poor man’s cheerful mother, Roxanne makes dinner time an Olympic event in castration by words; a contest Gerhard is doomed to lose. Escaping from her viper’s tongue Gerhard travels back in time to a memory that begins pleasantly before turning to a more disturbing recollection.

This is where Mark Fine spins his best magic web. He has a knack for bringing the past to life, embracing the reader with vibrant historic events, making his reader comfortable in the membrane of notable occurrences. Gerhard may have had loving parents in post war Germany but his happy if simple life is turned upside down when he is forced to leave his family behind and travel across the sea to the United States. It is in the golden west, with its sunny beaches and fifties rock and roll that Gerhard meets his future bride, Roxanne.

Roxanne’s “chameleonesque” personality may have sent up warning flags but like many men who have succumbed to beauty and the attentiveness of a stunning woman, Gerhard pushed his reservations aside.  He made the “beach-tinted” “breath of fresh air” his wife.

It would seem at this point the story would have a happily ever after conclusion but that is not to be. This is the story of a woman who is both superstitious and greedily demanding and her foreign born brow beaten spouse. It is the tale of lucky numbers and lottery tickets. It is the account of a man who sets a juicy trap for a conniving bitch. The conclusion of this story is as delicious and sweet as the Slurpee Gerhard consumes at the local 7-11.

Kudos to Mark Fine for not only driving the knife in to the hilt but twisting it skillfully and making me almost jump up and shout out “hurray”! Upon completion of reading this short story I was able to sit back and smile with the satisfying comment, “Karma is a bitch”.

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Readers Avenue Park’s Most Excellent Worldwide Book Tour showcases author MARK FINE

I’ve been fortunate to be showcased by Readers Circle of Avenue Park in their on going Most Excellent Worldwide Book Tour. Please check it out…..thanks, Mark 🙂

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THE MOST EXCELLENT WORLDWIDE BOOK TOUR #7: Meet author MARK FINE

Introducing MARK FINE, author of THE ZEBRA AFFAIRE

Mark Fine B&W (300dpi)Print Mark Fine was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has made the United States his home since 1979, living in New York, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles. For well over a decade he headed an award-winning record label that he founded, called Hammer & Lace, that united non-profit organizations with world-class celebrity and music talent to create benefit albums and entertainment events to raise awareness and funds in aid of breast cancer research, at-risk children, the blind, freedom of speech, and wildlife conservation. For these philanthropic initiatives Mark was voted by Variety magazine as the “Music Executive with 20/20 Vision.” He has also contributed articles to entertainment industry publications, and conducted public speaking engagements at media and charity events.

The oncology community has honored Mark for his innovative, entertainment-based approach to health education. But he is especially proud of his “Paws of Fame” award he received from The Wildlife Waystation for support and commitment of animals worldwide. As such, animals always make an appearance in Mark Fine’s writings. Now he resides in the South Bay, where he lives with his two sons, his “significant other” and Charlie, a neighborhood dog that drops in from time to time. There he wrote the historic romance novel, The Zebra Affaire. Set in apartheid South Africa, Mark brings an insider’s perspective to the gripping account of a bi-racial couple’s forbidden love.


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Book Blurb

IT’S THE SPRING OF ‘76. For Elsa, her affair with Stanwell may well prove lethal, as she’s white and he’s black, and they dared to fall in love in apartheid South Africa. The terrified lovers are the prey in a deadly manhunt from the golden city of Johannesburg to the exotic but dangerous wilds of the African bushveld. The Zebra Affaire is a thrilling fusion of romance and suspense—laced with rich South African history. The tension is palpable as the persecuted couple race against time and bigotry. Reviewers rave about this intimate, yet dangerous love story; that’s set against a canvas that is both vividly authentic and powerfully provocative.

Book Reviews

“INTENSELY DAZZLING…NOT A BLACK AND WHITE STORY, A RAINBOW STORY WITH THE RICH COLORS OF LIVES IN TURMOIL.” – Elizabeth Newton, author of ‘View from the Sixth Floor’

“A book to savor slowly…appreciating each moment. I found myself re-reading sentences and whole paragraphs; such was the quality of the writing. One of the best books I’ve read this year.”
 Jean Gill, author of ‘Song at Dawn’

“The story of Stanwell and Elsa really touched me. Racial discrimination was so dehumanizing. This book took me to the days of the liberation struggle, and I experienced the hurt as I read. It was a real privilege to read the history, a period of pain and hope, as seen through Mark Fine’s eyes.”
– Thandi Lujabe-Rankoe, Former Freedom Fighter & Senior South African Diplomat

“More than a daring, multiracial romance set in a racist 1976 South Africa, that nation on the turbulent cusp of collapsing due to apartheid; The Zebra Affaire grips your soul and won’t let go. Never mind zebras, think lions, raw and roar.” – Geoff Nelder, author of ‘ARIA: Left Luggage’


News

The Zebra Affaire is aptly described in cinematic terms as Romeo & Juliette meets To Kill A Mockingbirdin Out of Africa, with all the passion, racial strife and wild, exotic setting that those three books (and film adaptations) suggest. In a recent development, a screenplay based on The Zebra Affaire is currently in development.

Book Excerpt

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EARLY MORNINGS IN MID-JULY on the Highveld were gripped in the bracing chill of a Southern hemisphere winter. White frost dusted the parklands and lawns. These tiny ice crystals were destined to thaw as they faced a warming sun. However, in Pretoria’s corridors of power, matters had heated up considerably. The nation’s administrative capital was at full alert as a consequence of the Soweto upheaval. Though the mob violence had been contained, the threat still simmered.

The Soweto Riots had eroded the certainty of the ruling regime. They feared for their way of life. Despite their apparent insensitivity to the plight of other humans, the Afrikaners were great champions of wildlife conservation—and similar to the white rhino, a victim of senseless poaching, they too felt as if they were an endangered species.

An endangered animal is desperate. A cornered animal is dangerous. The ruling regime was both desperate and dangerous as they felt their grip over the nation loosening. The Soweto Riots invoked a regime dictate of zero tolerance. From on high, directives to the nation’s security apparatus adopted an apocalyptic tone—the end of the volk was imminent, and all threats must be stopped, now. No deviation from the law by anyone would be tolerated.

The Security Branch considered Stanwell and Elsa’s romantic entanglement a matter of national security; what was once considered a tawdry “domestic affair” became a public symbol of rebellion and had to be crushed. The couple had undermined a key principle of apartheid; the white minority’s dominance could not be eroded by the intermingling of the races. Another outrage was Stanwell’s status as a business executive. His authority over white employees signaled to the Bantu that they were the white man’s equal, and that was unacceptable.

The Security Branch’s first act in their campaign against the couple was plagiarism. They lifted the “Zebra Affaire” headline from the newspaper article that publicly exposed them, and made it the operation’s code name.

Their second action was to classify Stanwell as an enemy of the state.
***
Malan Zander was delighted. Finally he had his marching orders. The mixed-race couple was now fair game, and it was time they suffered the consequence of their actions. He felt the buzz of anticipation. Others chose to be doctors, teachers, or builders in order to heal, impart knowledge, or create. Zander never understood that mindset.

As a child he found it more gratifying to demolish things, and as an adult, annihilation was his guiding light. Fortune shone on him when he found an employer that regarded the destruction of people’s lives a virtue.

For Zander restraint was an anathema; he’d much prefer bludgeoning the miscreants into submission. But his orders were clear: the Zebra Affaire must be handled subtly, as the world was watching. No killings, no public trial, no questionable disappearances—just make it go away. But for now just one problematic life required his immediate attention; he would deal with the girl later. As Stanwell’s crimes against the State were twofold, in business and in the bedroom, Zander had fertile grounds to create mischief.
***
Stanwell initially dismissed the disruptions, strange repeated hang-ups or silence on his telephone at work, as a nuisance. But paranoia grew when he heard mysterious clicks and echoes on the company phone. It could only be the State’s Security Branch meddling in his business.

Then the threats started, and Stanwell’s worst fears were confirmed. Vulgar in content and vicious in implication, faceless voices with rasping accents vowed public exposure. All Stanwell’s claims of innocence to his invisible attacker were brushed aside with merciless laughter until he began to plead. At that point he was given a specific warning: Miss Elsa Marais would soon receive something in the mail. After that the calls stopped, but the pressure continued.

Two white men arrived unannounced at the warehouse facility. Their ill-fitting suits were a signal to Stanwell’s staff that they were members of the Security Branch. The visitors were seen speaking with Stanwell through the executive office’s glass wall. The three men leaned toward each other in a conspiratorial fashion. Their body language was clear—they wished not to be overheard.

After the men left, the warehouse swirled with rumors that Stanwell was a snitch working for the apartheid regime. In that cesspool of tribal mistrust, Stanwell’s coworkers happily accepted the allegations as fact. This placed Stanwell’s life in potential danger. A revenge killing by embittered colleagues was now a real threat.

Understandably, Stanwell was terrified.


Available from Amazon

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Author Contact, Information and Social Media links

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Twitter: @MarkFine_author
Email:    mark@finebooks.co

Mark Fine – An Inteview


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