Guest Post: Christina Weigand author of Palace of the Twelve Pillars

If my memory serves me correctly, and it almost always does, unless I’m forgetting something, Christina Weigand was one of the first Muse It Up authors I met online after signing my own contract. To close off a month of firsts here on, Christina has given me not one, but two excerpts. So in the first ever Double-Feature, you can read about her current release, Palace of the Twelve Pillars, as well as her upcoming release, Palace of the Three Crosses. And as always, don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments section.


Palace of the Twelve Pillars:

The High Wisdom raised the crown from its golden case. A loud scream tore the silence in the tent. Joachim turned to look at the entrance. A soldier fell through the opening, blood spurting from a slit stretched across his throat.

As he bounded off the dais, Waldrom screamed, “What’s going on here?”

A wild rush of wind ripped the tent flaps open, and a horse and rider burst through. Joachim gaped at the body of the dead soldier. His heart raced and leapt to his throat. His gaze traveled up the horse’s legs. A man’s black boots. A scream caught in his throat, and tears filled his eyes. He stared into blue eyes.

The horse pawed the ground and snorted. The rider dismounted and stood next to the dead guard.

Wriggling free of Waldrom, Lilia ran to the rider. She threw her arms around him. “Brandan, you’re here. You’ve come to free us.”

The prince pushed her aside. “Brother, I see you are trying to usurp me again. It appears I got here just in time.”

“No, you’re wrong. I have no desire to take anything rightfully belonging to you.” Joachim stepped toward his brother and reached out a hand to him. “I want to help you and see what we can accomplish together.”

Swatting his hand away, Brandan laughed. “Help me? You’re the one who needs help. Anything you have to offer is worthless to me. Now out of my way. The king and I have business.”

“No, listen to me. You can’t do this.” Joachim spun him around.

He clouted Joachim, knocking him down. “King Waldrom, we need to talk.

He’s deceiving you.” He spat at Joachim then turned and bowed to Waldrom. “I’m at your service, My King.”

Regaining his feet, Joachim pushed Brandan into the guard standing behind him. The guard wrapped his muscular arms around Brandan. “What should I do with him, Sire?”

Brandan flipped the soldier to the ground and put his black booted foot on the man’s chest. “The one you should be detaining is standing there, you fool.” He pointed at Joachim.

“What are you doing?” Lilia grabbed Brandan by the arm. “Stop this, or Waldrom will imprison us all. Why are you jeopardizing our lives?”

He looked at his mother. “Don’t worry, Mother. The only one in any danger here is the traitor you see standing before of you. First, he betrays me, next he kills Father, and now he would betray you and Waldrom. Guards, seize him!”

The king stepped forward and raised his hands to stop the guards. “What do you mean a traitor, and how do you know this?”

“Because I know my brother, and that’s the way he thinks. He’ll lie, cheat, and kill to achieve his own ends, and his goal is to have both countries under his to rule at any cost.”

“Why should I trust you over him?”

“Because I’m just like you,” Brandan responded.

Walking around the twins, Waldrom rubbed his goatee thoughtfully. “My boy, you present an interesting dilemma. How do I choose one over the other? How do I know which one to believe? Guards seize both of them.” Two guards stepped forward, and each grabbed a twin.

“You’re wrong.” Joachim struggled to break free. “This is wrong. I’m not a liar. I only want what’s best, and that’s for us to be together.”

“You’re the one who’s wrong.” Brandan pulled his arm free. “I’ve no use for you.” He turned to Waldrom. “Get him out of here, so we can finish.”

Joachim broke loose, stepped across the gap and grasped his brother by the tunic. Brandan jerked around and punched him. He rubbed his jaw and shoved Brandan, who fell to the ground “What happened to you? You’re not the brother I know.”

Standing up, the black prince pulled his sword. “Nothing is wrong with me. I just realized who I am and who truly cares about me…and it’s not you.” He rested the point of the sword on the cut Waldrom had given Joachim. As Brandan pushed the tip in the scratch, he re-opened the partially scabbed wound. Joa laid his hand on the side of the sword and pushed it away. Guards grabbed Joachim’s arms.

“Enough! I can see you two will not make this easy. I put before you a challenge, which will determine my choice. You will travel to the Cave of Njori and extinguish the flame of Asha. Melvane will accompany you and testify to its completion.”

Brandan replaced his sword and walked over to his horse. “I don’t see the need for this. It’s obvious I am the one, but I’ll go along if that is what you want.” He remounted his horse and reined it around to exit.

Still in the grasp of the soldier, Joachim yelled, “No, Brandan, stop! You can’t do this. We can’t. It’s the light of Asha, never to be extinguished. If you do this, you’ll destroy all hope and any chance we have of defeating this evil.”

Brandan laughed and kicked his horse. “All the more reason to get this done quickly. Guards, find a mount for my brother.”

“No, I won’t go. I can’t do it.”

The king raised his hand. “The choice is made. Guards, take Joachim to the prison tent. Brandan, we will deal with this inconsequential flame later. Right now, we have more important business to attend to.”

He signaled two of the guards to remove Joachim and then, as if it were his own idea, said, “I knew all along he was a traitor. I was only crowning him to draw out the true Prince of Sidramah. Brandan, thank you for arriving so soon and before these Wisdoms regretted what they did here today.” As the guards dragged him from the tent, Joachim struggled and screamed, “No, he’s lying! Brandan, why are you doing this?” His cries echoed through the camp as Waldrom returned his attentions to those remaining in the tent.

* * * *

The burly guards pushed Joachim into the prison tent. Most of the Cratonites taken captive during the preceding battle had already been put to death or enslaved. One lone dark figure sat in a corner. Joachim walked over to the opposite corner and fell to the ground. The tent smelled of unwashed bodies and excrement. The ground was mushy and muddy. Joachim felt it seep into his clothing. Two camp dogs covered with blood and dirt wrestled over what appeared to be a human leg bone.

He retched, and tears coursed down his cheeks. The prince buried his head in his hands. “How could Brandan do this to me? I only wanted to protect him from Waldrom and the evil, yet somehow it got to him anyway. And what have I done to Father? I know I wasn’t there to kill him, yet everyone believes I did. How can this be happening?” As the tears dried on his cheeks, Joachim fell asleep, and dark dreams began to plague him.

He stood in the Cave of Kobata. A Nemean lion leapt on his back. He twirled around, throwing the lion off, and then reached for a knife hidden in his boot. He went to slash the lion, and it turned into Waldrom. He paused in confusion. “Your father and brother have deserted you.”

“No, Father loves me. He would never leave me.”

“Don’t you see he already has? He no longer searches for you, and Brandan has betrayed you. You have no other option than to kill them. Remove them from your life before they do so to you. You no longer need them.”

The king changed into his father as Joachim finished the slashing motion putting his knife into the heart.

“Joa, why are you doing this to me?” Theodric asked as he died.

The prince ran across the cave to a tunnel leading farther into the mountain and felt a stabbing pain in his heart as he fell to the cold, hard floor. His father was dead, and it was his fault. He killed his father. The pain of abandonment and desolation overwhelmed him.

The prince jerked awake. I killed him. He dropped his head into his hands. A hand touched his shoulder. He looked up and saw the dark figure who had been sitting in the corner.

“Listen, my boy. You’ve done nothing wrong. You couldn’t have killed your father. Pull yourself together. You must find a way to escape and get back to him. Your father needs you now, more than he has ever needed anyone.”

“No. Don’t you see I’ve killed him? I can never be forgiven for that. There is no place left for me to go.”

The man shook Joachim. “You didn’t kill him. Sidramah is planting these thoughts in your head, so you’ll become discouraged and give up. You can’t let him take your heart and mind. You must fight him. Come, you are needed.”

Joachim pushed the stranger away. “Who are you, and why do you care what happens to me or my father?”

“My name is Salochin, but that is unimportant. Just know this, you must find your way out of here quickly.” Salochin turned and walked into the shadows and disappeared.

The prince sat for a moment, attempting to assimilate what he had seen. Who was that man, and why did he care? He didn’t have time to figure it out. Right now, he needed to find an escape. He stood and walked over to the spot where Salochin vanished. He ran his hand up and down the wall but didn’t find any tears or weak spots. How could the man have gotten out of the tent? Joachim walked around the inside perimeter of the tent, poking and prodding, trying to find a weakness or an opening, but he found none. Soon, he sat down in a discouraged slump.

He wished Brandan were here. His brother would be able to find a way out. Joa recalled how as children his brother always found a way to hide, to escape. But, how did he do it? The prince couldn’t remember the invisibility spell. He thanked Asha King Waldrom hadn’t felt the need to bind his powers. “What were the words for that chant?” It hadn’t been a chant but a way of thinking. He imagined a white light surrounding him. The light started to blur and take on the color and shapes of his surroundings. He faded into the light, became a part of it. When he had completely disappeared into the camouflage around him, he walked out of the tent and through the camp. Brandan’s spell appeared to be working for him. Joa could see everything and everyone in the camp, but no one seemed to be able to see him.

He kicked a cook fire which set one of the dilapidated tents aflame and watched as its inhabitants ran to escape. When he reached the tethered horses, Joachim set them loose and smacked them, so they would wander off. The few guards on duty were dozing, and Joachim full of overconfidence with his success thus far, tried to walk past them.

A scraggly looking dog covered with sores and dirt lay in his path. Joachim failed to see the dog and stepped on it. The animal jumped up and yelped in pain, waking up a tall, skinny lookout. The guard’s eyes widened as he looked into Joachim’s face and sounded the alarm with loud shouts.

When the guard yelled, Joachim froze. The little Mantion stepped over the dog and pointed his long spear at Joachim’s chest. A second guard stepped up behind the prince and put a spear point to his back. Joachim’s heart beat so fast it felt like it would jump out of his chest. They saw him. What had he done wrong? He panicked. “Frog!” he yelled. The two Mantions turned into frogs and leapt away. Joachim took a deep breath and bolted into the woods surrounding the camp.

The sun had gone down, and clouds covered the quarter moon in the sky. Shadows scared Joachim as he ran through the forest. Soon he collapsed in an exhausted heap. This must have been how his brother felt after doing forbidden magic. Even though he had lectured Brandan about it numerous times, he never realized how much energy was wasted by actually using the magic. Now he had used the black magic. He had killed his father and abandoned his mother and brother. He had no place to go. No one would welcome him, except to punish him for his crimes.

The stranger from the tent materialized in the darkness. “Go to Crato’s battle camp. You are guilty of nothing except caring about your family.” He disappeared as suddenly as he had appeared.

Now he was seeing phantoms. He must be more tired than he realized. He shook his head. Maybe he would find a place to rest for the night and then decide in the morning what to do.


Palace of the Three Crosses comes out in September. Christina plans a cover image revealing soon, so stay tuned to her links found at the bottom of the page. For now, here is an excerpt from the forthcoming sequel to Palace of the Twelve Pillars.

Palace of the Three Crosses:

Outside the chapel, Waldrom, Brandan, and Joachim stood in a triangle. Waldrom laughed. “So nice to have you two in one place, makes my goal so much easier to achieve. Now I have both of you. Oh, did you know your mother rejoined me.”

Derdrom walked forward leading Lilia in chains.

“We could have been one happy family, but now, I have to kill the two of you along with Lilia. You brats have put me in disfavor with Sidramah, and the only way to regain his favor is to get rid of all three of you. I had hoped to spare at least one, but alas, that is now impossible. The only question is…who’s first? The time has come for a decision.”

Brandan stood beside Joachim, his face working with barely controlled rage. Brandan lunged toward Waldrom.

Waldrom sensed the presence of magic and glanced behind him. Rupert and Lukan stood behind him. He grabbed Lilia and pulled her close, placing his short sword at her throat. “I suggest you stop, or I will cut her throat,” he warned Brandan. To emphasize his point, he pressed the sword against her skin puncturing her flesh.

Brandan, with sword drawn, took another step.

“I wouldn’t do that, unless you want your mother’s corpse on your hands.”

Brandan advanced, as Waldrom muttered a spell to compel the king to keep moving and cut a little deeper drawing blood. He felt Lilia quivering in his arms.

A woman stepped out of the chapel, carrying a sword covered in blood. “Brandan, what are you doing? There’s a battle being fought. Why are you out here and not inside helping me?”

Waldrom glanced at the new arrival. He did not recognize her and turned his attention back to Brandan, who was still advancing. “Well, I see you’ve gone and made yourself right at home. You even found a strumpet to help warm the place up. I should have known you wouldn’t waste any time. Sorry to break up this little party, but it’s still my kingdom. I would greatly appreciate if you would all leave. But, since you won’t go, I’ll have to remove you myself. Where were we? I was deciding which of you to kill. I see, though, a few have been added to the numbers. All the more fun for me. Although it may be a little more painful for you, but that doesn’t matter. Should Lilia remain my first choice?”

* * * *

Magda grabbed Brandan’s arm. She recognized Waldrom and had as much against him as Brandan and her father. “Wait, Brandan, I will deal with this.”

She moved toward Waldrom, but a voice in her head cautioned her. “Don’t reveal yourself. This is not our battle. Walk away. Let Waldrom do what he will.” She glanced around. Whose voice did she hear? It sounded like Melvane, but he was nowhere in sight. Upon further consideration, she realized this wasn’t her battle. She had every reason to want Waldrom out of the way, and if she let him get rid of these humans and the Kningrad, then she could deal with him at my leisure.

The voice spoke again. “That is right, let Waldrom do what he may, and then we will take care of him.”

Magda dropped her sword arm. “Brandan I don’t know what’s going on here, but I don’t want any part of it.” She turned and walked back into the chapel. “Hurry up and finish out here. I’ve taken care of those in the chapel so we can begin the joining once you’ve ended things. we’ve a joining to conclude. I’ll be waiting.” She slammed the door behind her. Waldrom’s voice followed her into the echoing chamber of the chapel.

Waldrom laughed. “Brandan, I would say you haven’t made a very good choice. You should be grateful I am going to end your life so you don’t have to put up with her much longer. Now where was I?”

* * * *

Joachim wanted to run to Lilia, but his head whirled. Stars floated in front of his eyes, their motion making him sick with dizziness. He stepped up to stand beside Brandan. “Waldrom, I’m afraid you’re mistaken. First, you are seriously outnumbered. Second, what makes you think you can use Mother to blackmail us? Such childishness, using a woman to negotiate, instead of dealing on a man-to-man level. Let her go, and we will discuss your surrender. I don’t want to kill you.”

Brandan pushed Joachim aside. “You may not, brother, but I do. He will stop at nothing to destroy me, and I can’t let that happen.”

A group of Brandan’s personal guard came charging down the hall. Waldrom pushed the sword point a little further into Lilia’s throat. “I see you boys still don’t agree on anything. I suggest you stop the group of soldiers from attacking me. Rupert, I know you’re back there, trying to form a spell to stop me. That wouldn’t be a good idea either.”

The tableau unfolded before Joachim’s eyes. Waldrom, in the center of the circle holding Lilia with a short sword slicing her throat and Brandan, his long sword drawn, advancing on Waldrom. Rupert and Lukan stood motionless behind Waldrom. Lukan had his sword drawn. Conflicting voices rang in Joa’s head. “Kill them all. You don’t need them.” Other voices calling, “Joachim save them. They need you.”

Lukan yelled, “Sire, watch out behind you.”

Joachim started and turned as a Mantion rushed at him. He pulled his short sword from his scabbard and stood before the coming onslaught. As the attacker reached him, he swung his weapon cutting and angering the Mantion. The foe sliced at Joachim’s knees with his knife, leaving a gash in his thigh. When Joachim doubled over in pain, the Mantion leapt on his back and pummeled the king. Suddenly, the weight of the attacker lifted from his back. Joachim fearfully turned his head, expecting to see the Mantion standing over him ready to deliver the kill stroke.

Author Bio:

Christina Weigand’s a writer, wife, and mother of three grown children and a middle school daughter. She is also Nana to three granddaughters. She lives with her husband and youngest daughter in Pennsylvania, returning there after a short sabbatical in Washington. Currently, she’s working on fantasy novels and inspirational writing. Through her writing, she strives to share the Word of God and help people young and old to realize the love and mercy He has for everyone.012

When she’s not writing, she’s active in her local Church as a lector, Bible Study, or with the church theater group, volunteering at her daughter and granddaughter’s school in the library as well as helping the children develop a love for reading and writing. Jesus fills her home with love as she shares Him through her writing.

Links to buy Christina’s books:

Links to find Christina:


Twitter: @CAWeigand





Character Interview with Trevor from Charmed Memories

Today I have a special treat for you. In the first ever character interview on, Trevor, Crown Prince of Palindore, has stopped by for an interview. And as a special treat, his creator, Mary Waibel is giving away a copy of Charmed Memories to one person who comments on this post. See the first comment by Mary for more details. Now, on to the interview.

Welcome, Your Highness.

Trevor: Thank you. And thank you for agreeing to meet in my study. As you can see from the pile of correspondence on my desk things have stacked up while I was away.

Wow! I guess so! (Trevor chuckles.) So, where have you returned from?

T: I was searching for Princess Elsbeth, my betrothed. Bri and I had quite an adventure.

Lady Bri, the Woodland Guide?

T: The one and only.

Were you and Lady Bri successful in your search?

T: If I told you that, it would ruin the book.

Ah, yes. Your story- Charmed Memories.

T: Yes. A tale of looking for lost love.

Sounds like quite a story.

T: It is. Ships. Sword fights. Betrayal. Mermaids. A missing princess. But, I won’t say more than that. If you want to know what happened, you’ll have to read the story.

Well, I know I want to learn if you found your missing princess. So, where can we read your story?

T: Charmed Memories is available from MuseItUp Publishing, Amazon, and most major retailers. Oh, and you can find my sister Kaylee’s story in Quest of the Hart. I make an appearance toward the end, although if you ask me, I should have been there much sooner!

I’ll be sure to pass your displeasure along to Mary. Now, for the rapid fire questions.

Coffee or tea?

Tea. I’m not aware of this coffee thing.

Favorite season?

Fall. It’s cool enough for a fire, but warm enough to be outside during the day. And the colors remind me of Bri’s hair.

Favorite color?

Cerulean, although green runs a close second.

Beach or mountains?


Thank you, Prince Trevor. It’s been a pleasure.

T: You are most welcome!

And thanks to Mary Waibel, for letting us have this opportunity to speak to her prince. I’ve gotten to know Mary the past few months on Twitter, and it’s been a real treat to have the first character interview here on I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. Keep reading for a blurb about the book.

Charmed Memories 200x300

A prince vows to prove the girl he loves is his missing princess by recovering her lost memories.

Prince Trevor has always placed duty to his kingdom above the desires of his own heart. But when his betrothed is lost at sea, he finds himself torn between honor and love.

After four years of searching for the missing princess, he begins to secretly long for Lady Bri, the Woodland Guide he works with each day. But the law says he must marry a princess, and Bri is barely a noble.

When Trevor learns that Bri shipwrecked at the same time and place as the princess, he begins to believe he has finally found his bride-to-be. But his happiness is short lived. Bri has no memory of her past, and the princess wasn’t the only girl who disappeared from the ship.

Desperate to prove Bri is his princess, Trevor unwittingly places the two of them in grave danger. Buried in Bri’s memories are deadly secrets someone wants kept from the light of day, and learning who she is may cost more than either is willing to pay.


I appeared on Susan Royal’s blog earlier in the week explaining how Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud came to exist. I don’t know exactly what happens when you reblog, so I thought I’d try it.

Susan A. Royal

Author Photo

Today I’m doing a blog swap with fellow Muser, Eric Price. It’s great to have him here. Let’s find out a little bit about him.

Eric grew up in central Illinois. He now lives in northwest Iowa with his wife and two sons. He began publishing in 2008 when he started writing a quarterly column for a local newspaper. His first short story, “Ghost Bed and Ghoul Breakfast,” a spooky children’s tale about a haunted bed and breakfast, came out later the same year. He has published more than 30 nonfiction articles/columns, four short stories, and a poem. Three of his short stories have won honorable mention in the CrossTIME Annual Science Fiction contest. This is his first novel.

A Sci-Fi Writer Becomes a Fantasy Writer
or Why I Wrote Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud
by Eric Price

For conversational purposes, let’s say you already know I wanted to write, I…

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Guest Post: Susan Royal Discusses Genre Fiction

Today I’m doing my first blog swap. Susan came to discuss genre fiction here, and you can find me talking about the origin of my novel, Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud here.

In many ways, writing is even more interesting than reading. When you find a book on a shelf, you usually have a good idea what type (or genre) of book you’re holding. The cover image, blurb, publisher, and author gives the clues we need to decide if we’re looking at a mystery or a western, a fantasy or a thriller. When writing, often times you may have a character in mind who needs to tell his story, but you only have a faint idea of what will happen in the story. At least that’s how it works for me. And what happens when you’ve created a heroine, you know she’s going on an epic adventure, but after you start writing you realize she’s going to meet a love interest along the way?

Sometimes genre can get blurry. This becomes a challenge when you’ve advanced beyond the writing stage and started marketing your book to potential publishers, or later still when you’re trying to find your target audience. Today’s guest blogger, Susan Royal, has written books that blur the genre lines, and she’s going to discuss the challenges she’s faced as an author. Now I’ll turn the keyboard over to Susan.

The Encarta dictionary on my computer defines the word genre as this: one of the categories, based on form, style, or subject matter, into which artistic works of all kinds can be divided. For example, the detective novel is a genre of fiction. While that definition works pretty good most of the time (fantasy, scifi, time travel, adventure, romance, action, thriller, horror) what happens when a novel blurs the lines?

Traditionally, romance involves chivalry and adventure. In modern writing, it tends to be a story about character development and interpersonal relationships rather than adventures. It has produced a wide array of subgenres, the majority of which feature the mutual attraction and love of a man and a woman as the main plot, and have a happy ending.

You have mystery and horror, which can also have supernatural and/or fantasy elements. Then there’s history and alternate history. Fantasy can include SF elements or fit into an Urban fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Epic/high fantasy sub-genre.

Crime stories often falls into the Action or Adventure genres. In an Adventure the protagonist journeys to epic or distant places to accomplish something. In an action story the protagonist usually takes a risky turn, which leads to desperate situations (including explosions, daring escapes, etc.). Action and Adventure are usually categorized together (sometimes even as “action-adventure“)

Science fiction is similar to fantasy, except stories in this genre use scientific understanding to explain the universe where it takes place. It generally includes or is centered on the presumed effects of computers or machines; travel through space, time or alternate universes; alien life-forms; genetic engineering; or other such things. The science or technology used may or may not be very thoroughly elaborated on; stories whose scientific elements are reasonably detailed, well-researched and considered to be relatively plausible given current knowledge and technology are often referred to as hard science fiction.

A Thriller is a story that is usually a mix of fear and excitement. It has traits from the suspense genre and often from the action, adventure or mystery genres, but the level of terror makes it borderline horror fiction at times as well. It generally has a dark or serious theme, which also makes it similar to drama.

My first book was a time travel with action, adventure, history and romance in fairly equal doses. If I promo it as a time travel, some readers might assume it’s heavy on the scifi and avoid it like the plague, while others are going to read it and say, ‘it’s not what I’d call scifi at all.’ If I call it a romance, I’m going to lose male readers who wouldn’t be caught touching that kind of book with a ten foot pole, and others won’t like it because it’s not the kind of romance they’re used to reading.

On the other hand, there’s plenty of action, and I did a lot of research in order to make sure medieval references were as accurate as I could get them, but it’s not a historical novel. I try to incorporate as much action as possible to keep my readers engaged, but only enough to move the story forward.

My books have been called Young Adult, but truthfully they are more on the adult side of the genre. My main characters are in their twenties and testing the waters of adulthood for the first time. Are you beginning to see my dilemma?

Think of your favorite author. Chances are, seeing their name on the cover is all it takes for you to know just what kind of book its going to be. But an author like me is just getting started, and hasn’t established that kind of presence yet. It’s important to promote yourself in the best possible way to draw readers to your books. That’s why I find it so difficult to pick one particular genre and stick with it. For one thing, it’s not the way I write.

One of my favorite authors is Ilona Andrews, a husband-wife writing team, who meshes action and romance in their urban fantasy series. He, I’m assuming, writes the action in great detail, down to the weaponry, while she handles the relationships. It works out great. I love reading Susanna Kearsley’s books. She writes paranormal mysteries with romance. Diana Gabaldon is another favorite of mine. When she began writing her famous Outlander series, she encountered the same problem I did. Her books didn’t fit into any specific genre. They were filled with history, adventure, romance and the underlying theme is always time travel. No one knew where to market them. But they caught on and now it doesn’t really matter. If you’re a Diana Gabaldon fan, you’ll know what I mean. Robert McCammon is another talented author. His books are more likely to fit into one certain genre, but each book varies and are all done with his unique twist.

I guess it all boils down to this. Write the kind of book you love to read. If it blurs the lines, try not to stress over it. These days, most books do. Work hard at getting exposure through promotion and have patience. Your readers will come back for more.

In My Own Shadow:


Talk about the worst day ever! Lara lets her friend Carrie talk her into a blind date, only it turns out the handsome stranger waiting for Lara after work isn’t Carrie’s cousin after all. And, when they’re chased through a portal to another world, Lara realizes Rhys really is out of this world.

Lyra, her alternate in another dimension, has left clues to the whereabouts of the Book of Secrets that explains the mystery of time travel in Lara’s subconscious.  Or so Rhys thinks. Power-hungry telepaths pursuing them will stop at nothing to get it, even if it means breaking Lara’s mind. To complicate matters, Lara gets tangled up in her feelings for Rhys while exploring her connection with Lyra.

With Rhys as her guardian, a bear of a man named Azle to guide her, and the spirit of Lyra haunting her dreams, Lara must find the Book of Secrets before it falls into the hands of those who want its power.  Only then can she return to her world safely.


About the Author:


Born in west Texas and raised in south Texas, Susan makes her home in a 100-year-old farmhouse in a small east Texas town that comes complete with a female ghost who has been known to harmonize with her son when he plays guitar.

Susan is married, with three children and four grandchildren. Her family is rich with characters, both past and present. She spent her childhood listening to her grandmother’s stories of living on a farm in Oklahoma Territory with three sisters and three brothers and working as a telephone operator in the early 20th century.  Her father shared stories of growing up in San Antonio in the depression, and through her mother’s eyes she experienced how it felt to be a teenager during WWII.

Her newest, In My Own Shadow, is a Fantasy adventure/romance. Her first book, Not Long Ago, is a time travel adventure/romance. Both ebooks are available through MuseItUp/Amazon/B&N.  She is currently working on a sequel to Not Long Ago, because her daughter insisted there was still more of Erin and Griffin’s story to tell, and she was right.


In My Own Shadow (fantasy, adventure, romance)

Not Long Ago (time travel, adventure, romance)

Not Long Ago book trailer

Both books available at MuseItUp, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads

Some Amazing Graphic Novels and a GIVEAWAY

As a followup to Wednesday’s guest post by Scott Harpstrite on comic book movies (if you missed it, read it here), I have decided to compile a list of my favorite graphic novels. As Scott mentioned in his post, I too won’t squabble over the difference between graphic novel and comic book. My main criteria for classifying something as a graphic novel: can I get it in a collected edition instead of buying individual issues–I know, this opens up almost every popular title ever printed. I’ll be selective. This is not a Top 10 list, nor are they listed in any particular order. Many great graphic novels remain unread by me–largely due to the fact that I try to get them from the library so I don’t have to buy them. I believe collecting is the biggest vice of a comic book addict. So please use the comment section to let me, and other readers, know some of your favorites. And don’t overlook the giveaway of the Collector’s Set of Wolverine/Gambit: Victims which started on Wednesday.

File:FrankMillerSanDiego crop.jpgI’m going to start, not with a title, but with a writer/artist: Frank Miller. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t read everything he’s done. Of what I have read, here are my favorites:

Sin City: Gripping writing filled with obscure metaphors and similes gives these stories a “pulp” feel. Yet, the artwork drew me in even before I read the books. Almost entirely drawn in black and white, color is only rarely used to draw attention to certain characters.

Batman: Year One: Growing up watching Adam West as Batman (in syndication–I’m not that old), this was my first look at a very dark Batman. Okay, I didn’t read this when it was new, and although the Tim Burton film (which came out two years after Batman: Year One), seemed very dark, it couldn’t hold a candle (get it?) to the darkness of Batman: Year One.

300: A fictionalized retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae. With every page illustrated as a double-page spread, it had more the feel of watching a widescreen movie than reading a graphic novel.

Watchmen: Alan Moore’s alternate timeline where superheros emerged to help the United States win the war in Vietnam. Written in the late 1980s, Watchmen takes the cold-war fears and exaggerates them to the point of the United States being on the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. This is another book I read years after publication, and growing up with the Comic Code, I had no idea how real a comic could seem if made without “PG-13” restrictions.

File:WalkingDead1.jpgThe Walking Dead: I know this is a periodical series, but it has been grouped into six volume collections, and it’s awesome, so I’m counting it. I know, everyone loves the T.V. show, but if you watch the show and haven’t read the comic books by Robert Kirkman, you’re shorting yourself. I’ve only seen the first season (I can write more now that I don’t have cable), but the books go so much farther than anything T.V. will allow. Especially with the character of Carl Grimes, a child. As I said, I haven’t watched all of the show, but in the books, Carl does some things, and has some things done to him, I’m sure would never make it to T.V.

Locke & Key: Joe Hill, son of one of my favorite authors, Stephen King, and Gabriel Rodriguez have created a strange and gripping comic where the Locke family moves to Keyhouse (see where the name comes from) and they find mysterious keys which can unlock a person’s mind, strange doors with mysteries of their own, and the elusive Omega Key which opens a portal to allow demons to enter our world. The series will conclude within the next few months. I’m excited to see how it ends, and sad to see it go.

Age of Apocalypse

Age of Apocalypse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

X-Men: The Age of Apocalypse: I know I’m going out on a limb with this last one, but all the issues are available in a four volume set; plus, I blame this, more than anything else, on my comic addiction. Before the Age of Apocalypse, I had a casual interest in comics. But when Legion went back in time intending kill Magneto, he accidentally killed his father, Charles Xavier, and he simultaneously spun the X-Universe into an alternate timeline dystopia where Apocalypse conquered North America , and me into a several year addiction. Every X-title got involved. Magneto led the X-Men, Cable never acquired the techno-organic virus (neither did he get raised in the future nor go by the name Cable), and Wolverine only had one hand (but he still had six claws).

There are some of my favorite graphic novels. I know I’ve missed a lot. Let me know what you like. And don’t forget to enter the contest!

Click here for a Rafflecopter giveaway!

Guest Post: Scott Harpstrite and Comic Book Movies

Scott 1Today I am pleased to welcome Scott Harpstrite as he discusses the evolution of the modern comic book movie. Scott is a Research Lab Supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. I know what you’re thinking: “So he understands liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, but how does this qualify him to discuss comics?” I’ll tell you. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a recovering comic book addict. On Saturday mornings, I frequently paced the mall (faster than most of the senior citizens, but not all). I did this not for exercise, but in anticipation of the comic book store opening; and Scott strode next to me. In many ways, our addictions fed off one another. This post couldn’t go on forever, so many notable movies had to go unmentioned. Please use the comments section to talk about your favorite (or least favorite) comic book movie. And come back here Friday at 4pm CDT for a companion article about my favorite graphic novels.

The First Giveaway!

To make this more fun, I’ve decided to give away my unopened Collector’s Pack of the Wolverine/Gambit: Victims mini-series. So please, enter to win and tell all the comic book fans you know. To clarify one of the criteria, you can get entries by commenting on either this post or the one I will run on Friday, but not both…I don’t think. The same giveaway will be connected to Friday’s post. Click the link at the bottom to go to the giveaway (I can’t figure out how to make the giveaway show up here).

I can think of no better way to prove to myself I’ve progressed in my recovery than to give away something I once coveted. I reread my opened copy the other night. Aside from having an interesting “modern-day Jack the Ripper” storyline written by Jeph Loeb, in all of their 1995 glory, issues three and four have autostereograms: One for Spider-man they other for Mallrats. Remember those pictures you’d stare at until a hidden image appeared?

The Modern Age of Comic Book Movies

By Scott Harpstrite

In today’s world, movies based on comics are commonplace.  Previously vetted material, from various genres, with the added bonus of an eager, established audience, provides a straightforward moneymaking concept.  In this spring and summer’s blockbuster season, we’ve seen five movies with origins in comics: Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, Red 2, R.I.P.D., and The Wolverine (and who knows, I may be overlooking one or two).  But things were not always like this.  Not so long ago, movies adapted from comic books were rare.

Cover of "Superman - The Movie"
Cover of Superman – The Movie

In 1978, Superman set the bar for modern comic book movies very high.  Christopher Reeve’s portrayal of Superman made people believe a man could fly.  The movie captured the heart and soul of the comic book.  But as the series continued with its three sequels, the quality of the plots declined, their popularity dwindled, and profits decreased.  While the Superman franchise died, the idea of adapting comics into movies lingered.  In 1989 the genre leaped forward with Batman.  Tim Burton’s vision of Gotham City and The Caped Crusader was drawn straight from the comics, dark and serious.  Unfortunately Batman quickly followed Superman’s path.  The franchise saw three sequels, each considered worse than the previous.  Fortunately, the realm of comic book adaptations expanded beyond these two well-known superheroes.  Several other films based on comics debuted: The Mask, Judge Dredd, Barb Wire, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Phantom, Spawn, and The Crow. By reaching beyond the superhero genre, these movies received a broad range of acceptance.

Now it was around this time when I stumbled across comic books.  I instantly became obsessed, reveling in the fantastical worlds, the exaggerated personalities, and the always-epic storylines.  While I gave a great effort to learn about and follow many comic book universes, I lived in the world of the X-Men.  As the Batman movies came and went, I was sinking deeper and deeper into everything X.  Looking at other comic book adaptations, I impatiently waited for the day X-Men would finally hit the big screen.  And just a few years later, an X-Men movie was in theaters; leading to one of my fondest memories…

Cover of "X-Men (Widescreen Edition)"
Cover of X-Men (Widescreen Edition)

Several weeks after opening weekend, my girlfriend and I sat in an almost empty theater. Wolverine, face down in the snow, had just been thrown through his truck’s windshield and slid across the ice. Seconds earlier, Rogue had told him he should wear a seatbelt. We crack up laughing, and the odd sensation of someone watching me set in.  Still laughing, I looked around.  No one else was laughing, and a few of the moviegoers had looked at us, with expressions of curiosity and disbelief on their faces.

As much as they must have wanted to know what we found so funny, I wanted to know why they were not laughing. After a moment of pondering, I understood.  They must have thought that we had already seen the movie and therefore knew what was coming[1].  We had not previously watched the movie.  Yet, we did know what would come next[2].  Wolverine would stand up, grumble, and his wounds would disappear.  We knew the same metal on his claws (adamantium, shown minutes beforehand) covered his entire skeleton, making it nearly indestructible.  We knew any injuries he received from breaking through the glass windshield and skidding across the ground were short-lived, thanks to his mutant healing factor.

At this time, I also understood we watched completely different movies.  I watched my heroes, characters whose struggles I enthusiastically followed.  I watched villains I despised, yet sometimes sympathized with.  I watched my favorite comic books in live-action.  Everyone else in the theater saw something different.  They had just heard ominous introductory narrative on evolution and watched a boy torn away from his family entering a Nazi concentration camp.  They had heard the screams of a teenage girl after a kiss put her boyfriend into convulsions, followed by a Senate debate on the rights of people born different.  They had just witnessed a rough-looking man (whose dog-tag read Wolverine), in a brutal cage fight, a near bar fight where metal claws tore from his knuckles, and a violent crash.  They watched a serious, dark movie.

This difference is the key to comic book adaptations becoming successful movies.  While many people went to see their favorite characters in theaters, many more just went to see a movie, with characters and storylines new to them.  Here were successful comic book characters being tested in the movie format.  If a comic-uninitiated audience enjoyed the movie, it would make money, and justify making another adaptation (i.e. Daredevil, Hellboy, Spiderman, Constantine).

Also, if a particular title turned a profit, a sequel would follow.  If the title failed, it was put back on the shelf…but no longer permanently.  Much like the comic book characters they were based upon, movie franchises can come back from the dead[3].  Almost a decade after Batman Forever ended the series, it began anew with Batman Begins.  Gone for almost twenty years, the Superman franchise returned with Superman Returns, failed, and is now rebooted with Man of Steel.

A new constant for the field developed: several years after a title fails, or even fades slightly, it can reappear to be tried again. This stability allowed the field to expand and experiment.  Now, instead of movies simply retelling popular stories and themes, they sometimes emulate the comic book style, trying to nearly reproduce the comic book on-screen.  Sin City is presented almost entirely in high contrast black and white, very similar to the graphic novels[4].  Watchmen and 300 have the camera angles produce identical views as the comic book panels [5].  These movies are nearly the same as viewing a comic while actors dictate the word bubbles.

Comic book adaptations have changed greatly since the time of Superman. Comics solidified their place in the movie industry through slow and steady expansion. This stability led to some less predictable changes.  Now, movies based on comic books range from a new story for a character originating in a comic book, to an attempt to bring a comic book to life by placing the pictures from the paper pages onto the screen.


[1] It is also possibly they thought we’re sadistic for laughing at a man getting hurt…which in retrospect does seem a bit sadistic.

[2] My girlfriend, while not obsessed (she didn’t even read comics), had a great knowledge of the X-Men due to us living together.  I believe it is a common occurrence that anyone living with a comic book collector inadvertently (and sometimes unwillingly) absorbs an advanced knowledge of comics.

[3] Death in comics has little meaning.  Returning from death (or perceived death) is far too common, especially for very popular characters with significant deaths: Jean Grey, Superman, Jason Todd (the second Robin), The Flash, Captain America, Batman, Jean Grey again (To tell the truth, I don’t know if she’s currently alive or dead.  She dies and comes back a lot, which makes sense, her codename is Phoenix.).

[4] I don’t want to get into a semantic debate concerning the terms “comic book” and “graphic novel”.  For the purposes of this discussion, I consider them the same type of literature, just packaged differently.

[5] While it is my current favorite comic/graphic novel and movie, I did not mention Scott Pilgrim because it seems to simultaneously be a movie based on a graphic novel and a graphic novel based on a movie.

Don’t forget! You can enter to win an unopened box set of Wolverine/Gambit: Victims 1-4.IMG_20130805_223558_767
Click here for a Rafflecopter giveaway!