There's no such thing as happy endings.

Savannah, Georgia is rumored to be the most haunted place in America. Quinn Roberts knows it is. She's felt the presence of spirits her entire life, investigating and photographing them with her best friend. Only none of those encounters ever turned violent, until now. The menacing darkness feeding off her stepmother has promised she won't live to see her eighteenth birthday.

After a chance meeting Quinn reluctantly allows actor Jason Preston into her life, which has complications of its own. She's not used to letting people get close. Falling for him while fighting for her life, and her family's legacy, only complicates things more. Jason shows her exactly what she stands to lose, especially when she's being attacked by the mysterious entity. Each attack is more violent and terrifying than the last.

With Jason's help, she dives into the Roberts' family history, searching for a link between a woman who went missing a hundred and fifty years ago and what's happening now. What they find is a brutal murder and that the ghost doesn't just want to hurt Quinn, it wants revenge.

It wants her life.

Author: Missy Fleming 
Book Title: Happily Never After (Book #1 of The Savannah Shadows Series)
Publish Date: February 6, 2013

Links to Purchase: AmazonBarnes & Noble
Reviewer: Megan

My Review: I Absolutely Loved it!!

Praise for Missy Fleming's "Happily Never After." 
I went into this book not really sure what to expect. I was initially intrigued by the paranormal Cinderella spin, but what I got was something so much better. The plot was fantastic and kept me reading page after page. 

The first thing that drew me in was Missy's historical descriptions of Savannah, GA.- As the most haunted city in the country. From the buildings, to the streets, to the people who lived within its confines for centuries, I felt like I was able to truly see Savannah and it made me want to visit. 

In addition to her wonderful portrayal of the cities history, Missy also created likable and easily relatable characters. Now we are all familiar with the story of Cinderella, and Happily Never After certainly does not disappoint when it comes to the evil stepmother and her equally evil spoiled spawns. And Quinn, the modern day-ghost hunting sensitive, does more than just live up to the reputation of Cinderella. She is cool, stand-offish, and someone you'd want on your side if you were setting out to take down some bad ass ghosts!   

I LOVED all of the paranormal twists throughout the story, and while I don't want to give anything away or create any spoilers, I will simply say Missy's creativity when it comes to paranormal abilities is creative and clever.  As I read, I was reminded of the CW show, Supernatural... I am sure anyone who is a fan of Sam and Dean, will be a fan of Quinn's as well. 

And the best part.... 

The ending!! Never saw it coming. As the climax unfolded I figured it would end as most books typically do, with the heroin defeating evil and saving the day... hmmm, what did I get? A jaw dropping, had to re-read the last page three times... OMG, that was fantastic, ending.  And what's better is that we are left ready for the next book in the series and I don't know about you, but the hairs are already standing on the back of my neck!! I can hardly wait for Book #2 of the Savannah Shadows Series. 

March Winds Do Blow...

          March came in like a lion and is going out like a tiger. A siberian tiger.
          Just a couple of days ago I had to dig my car out of a snow-drift - with the very welcome assistance of my brother and cover-artist, Andrew.
          As my car is one of those little 'jelly-mould' Micras, it looked like an igloo - I wish I'd thought to take a photo. Snow was heaped on its roof to a depth of a good six inches, and was mounded in a smooth curve from its roof to the ground in front of its bonnet. The snow had drifted to half-way up its doors, and both the rear window and number-plate were buried.
          What fun we had, Andrew and I, shovelling water! It was hard, frozen snow that could be cut into blocks with the spade. I had to get one of those flexible plastic chopping boards from my kitchen to try and lever the snow off the car roof - and some of it was just too hard to dislodge.
          My aunt, feeder of foxes, hedgehogs, badgers and any other wildlife that wants to drop by her garden, sends me these photos.


          They're of a goldcrest, which she hasn't seen on her bird-tables for about three years. This pair are now gorging themselves on fat balls, peanuts and seeds of all kinds.
          They are pretty little birds, with their flash of a gold crest, and they are absolutely tiny - smaller than a wren. They're about as big as your top thumb joint.
          And the other brother, Adam - here's what he's been up to, instead of drawing Blott cartoons...



          “Well done!  You've saved the day!  Let me reward you with these tickets to the circus and a slap-up feed at the Hotel De Posh!”
            The Hotel De Posh's signature dish: a mountain of mashed potato with sausages sticking out  horizontally all round it, and a bottle of fizzy lemonade (or, more likely, Irn Brue).  Desperate Dan's favourite, his Aunt Aggie's speciality, is far too famous for it to be worth my mentioning it here.
            Lord Snooty and his pals.  Roger the Dodger, Minnie The Minx, Dennis the Menace.  Little Plum and the Three Bears.  And Pansy Potter, who let slip her Dundee origins because her title didn't rhyme unless pronounced with a Scots accent.  She was the Strong Man's Dotter.
            A subtle Scottish cadence ran through all the speech bubbles.  People were asked to fetch messages, for instance, while we ran errands in the Black Country.  And all those Dads in the last frame, with their slippers!  They're all tall, lanky, square-headed Scots.
            When I was a child, our house had lots of books – shelved floor to ceiling in most rooms, piled on the stairs and window-sills – but we were never bought comics.  (In theory, we had weekly pocket money to buy our own, but in fact this pocket money arrived in our pockets only once or twice a year).  My parents had nothing against comics, they just didn't think them worth spending their scarce income on, when they could buy us a second-hand book from Dudley market for very little more.
            Next door lived a brother and sister who were obviously filthy rich, because they had several comics each week.  On Friday evenings it was my regular chore to carry next door a bloody joint of meat wrapped in newspapers (the Sunday joint, delivered by a mobile butcher, and taken in by my mother for her neighbour.) Every month or so my reward was to have my arms piled with a great stack of comics and magazines, and I'd hardly be able to say, 'thank you,' for grinning.  Home I'd scuttle, clutching the pile, bursting in through the back door with a cry of, “Comics!”
            “Bags me the Beano,” my Dad would say.
            The Bunty, The Judy, June, Jackie and, later, The Romeo and The Valentine.  Even, occasionally, The Red Letter, which my mother remembered from her own young days.  Looking at the cover she said, with satisfaction, “They've still got the nasty neighbour peering round the curtains – she was always there, every week.”
            But the girls' comics were quickly skimmed through and thrown aside, with their tales of butch (female) car mechanics made-over to win beauty contests, and champion hockey teams kidnapped and forced to play for aliens.  They were appetisers, something to read while other people had the comics you really wanted.
            Those were the boy's comics: The Beano, The Dandy, The Topper.  The Valiant, the Buster, The Hotspur, The Victor.  After we'd finished with them, my Dad took them to work, and his workmates read them during their tea break, their feet up on the stove, laughing at The Bash Street Kids.  It takes a real man, I think, to admit that he finds the Beano a good read.
            My Dad (born in 1928) often told us that he'd bought the very first copy of The Beano, complete with its give-away 'flash-bang'.  He wished he'd had the sense to put it away carefully and keep it mint.  Instead, it was probably used to light a fire.  (And research suggests it was  actually The Dandy he bought.  Wishful remembering: The Beano was always our favourite, The Dandy a poor second).
            My Dad, my brothers, my sister and I, all drew.  The house was littered with opened out envelopes and other scrap paper covered with drawings, and we pored over the comics' illustrations as well as the stories.  (We could never understand why friends didn't seem to notice, or care, when a favourite strip was drawn by a different artist).  The comic art was often of a high order.  The drawings of 'The Steel Claw' (in The Valiant) were favourites: a sort of comic-strip 'film-noir'.  But the Bash Street Kids, careering along in a massed group, all feet off the ground at once, were a joy, full of liveliness and movement.
            The artist who drew the thick, woodcut-like drawings for 'Faceache' and 'Jonah' was a master.  His strips were not only grotesquely beautiful, but laugh-out-loud funny.  I remember one in particular, where Faceache had resolved 'to be good'.  This turning over of a new leaf was often how a story of Minnie the Minx, or Dennis the Menace, or Roger the Dodger began.
            Anyway, Faceache swore, that for that day at least, he wouldn't twist his face into terrifying gurns, causing unrest and panic among the populace.  Instead, he was going to be good and help the baker.  Queue a series of wonderfully managed panels where Faceache burning his hand coincides with an innocent delivery man looking through the window just as pain convulses Faceache's already unlovely features into a particuarly inventive and novel shape.  Panic and unrest ensues.  It was almost filmic.  I remember my Dad took that particular strip to read in the bathroom.  He said it nearly gave him a rupture.
            My brother, sister and I used to discuss the comics like a sort of junior book-club.  We laughed at Captain Hurricane, his 'raging furies' and exclamations of  'Suffering Sausage Munchers' and 'Cowardly Cabbage Crunchers!'  (My mother told us that, as a child during the Second World War, she'd seriously believed that Germans only ever said, 'Achtung, Pig-Dog!'  Well, apart from 'Heil Hitler!' obviously.)
            We discussed whether it was sensible of Fish Boy (who had been abandoned in the wild and raised by fishes), to take an injured fish from the water and lay it on a rock  to 'bathe its wounds'.  And which was better – Galaxo, the giant robot ape, or the boy who controlled an army of little robot men by means of an armband (the name of this strip escapes me).  We were cutting our critical teeth.
            At the same time I was reading the Norse Myths, Hans Anderson, Kipling – but that was 'literature'.  I could enjoy it, but hands off.
            Comics were on our level.  Often well-drawn, often funny, often inventive, but emphatically not literature.  We could kick them around, say and think what we liked about them, have our own opinion.  We learned discernment, by and for ourselves.  Once learned – and not least of the lessons was that it was enjoyable – we could carry it with us into other fields.
            I once read an article in which a critic declared that it was impossible to appreciate Tolstoy and Mickey Mouse equally.  In order to be refined enough to appreciate Tolstoy, I gather, you had to leave Mickey far behind.
            Rubbish.  You can enjoy and appreciate Mickey – and Dennis, and The Bash Street Kids – and Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam and Daffy Duck -  for what they are, and for the skill, verve and wit that they have.  And then you can shift gears  - though whether you are shifting up or down is a matter of opinion - and appreciate Tolstoy, on his level, as someone who had entirely different aims.  The ability to move from one to the other demonstrates a flexible mind – which is probably necessary for creativity.
            George Orwell got a lot out of smutty postcards.
            It takes a realcritic to appreciate both Mickey and Natasha.

A Stationary Love...

            Have you ever, gentle blog-reader, found yourself in one of those giant stores that caters for offices?  Have you wandered into the aisle that's lined with paperclips of every hue, size and kind – striped, plastic-covered, metal, circular...  Little pots for holding pens.  Bulldog clips!  Transparent folders.  Box folders.  Folders with clips.  Folders – sorry, I have to wipe drool away – with a metallic sheen, in silver, green, purple, blue. 
            There are those little round paper rings for reinforcing the hole in the paper that fits into folders with ring-clips.  Is there a dynasty somewhere, grown rich on the manufacture and sale of little sticky paper rings?
            Envelopes of every colour and size, padded and unpadded, self-sealing and ones you have to lick.  Pens!  Oh, the pens.  I hardly ever write with a pen anymore, but oh, the appeal of the pens.  Roller-ball, felt, glitter, calligraphy... With special nibs!
            I don't think it's just me, or even just writers.  Not long after I first met my partner, I asked him for a lift to a big stationary store, so I could bring home some heavy boxes of typing paper in his car.  In the store a sort of rapture came over him and he drifted from aisle to aisle, examining paper and card of different weights, storage boxes of every kind for storing every kind of thing, rulers, compasses, calculators, coloured inks, ledgers, portfolios (WITH AND WITHOUT INNER POCKETS)...  In a dreamy, wondering voice, he said “I didn't know places like this existed...!”  Yet another benefit to him of knowing me.  And soon he was returning reguarly, alone, to look at the big set-squares, the highlighter pens and the wall charts.
            I've have other friends, quite unconnected to writing, to whom I've said, “I just need to nip into the stationary store...” and they've been visibly thrilled.  “Oh, I'll come in with you,” they've said, a little too quickly and eagerly.  And once through the doors, they've slipped away to finger the mouse-mats and the desk-tidies, perhaps bought themselves a new pencil or a block of post-it notes in that hard-to-come-by shade of chartreuse, which will make them the envy of their work-colleagues.
            Why do office supplies have this allure?  Where's the evolutionary basis?  In all essentials we are still, we're told, the hunter-gatherers of the Ice Age.  It makes sense, then, that the sight of three red deer stags picking their way past me to reach a river should rivet me to the spot.  But why does a fixture full of envelopes, with or without windows, in buff, cream or white, have the same effect?  What would Ice-Age man do with envelopes?

In Conversation with Katherine Roberts

           This month's conversation is with my good friend, Katherine Roberts...

          Sue Price:- Kath, I've often told the tale of how we sat in the garden at Charney and talked about the traditional publishing industry's coming doom and what we could do about it. And it was you who first alerted me to the possibilities of self-publishing on Kindle, and started Authors Electric - and then, not so long after it started, you got a four-book contract with Templar and left us to plough our independent way alone. But now you've self-published your wonderful I Am The Great Horse,  so you're working both sides of the street - or field, if I continue the ploughing metaphor. What are your thoughts on the whole trad vs indie thing?

Katherine Roberts
          Kath Roberts:- Well, the four books with Templar - the Pendragon Legacyquartet about King Arthur's daughter - are all delivered now (three are published, the fourth "Grail of Stars" comes out in October). But with two books coming out each year and associated promotional duties, the deadlines came thick and fast and left me very little time to think about anything else. I also wanted the focus to be on my new series rather than my backlist, and so I hopped over the field gate - sorry! Meanwhile, it seems Authors Electric grew quite happily without me.
          I'm not sure the doom we spoke of applies to the traditional publishing industry, which still seems to work brilliantly for the right sort of books. It more applies to authors, who just don't seem to have long term careers in traditional publishing any more. And that's where indie publishing comes in... to fill the gap. If you want to stick to the field metaphor, I see us all ploughing the same earth, just on different sides of the hedge and in different ways. Traditional publishing is the farmer with the big machinery and all the chemicals and hormones he needs to make his crops grow. Indie publishers have wonky furrows and a couple of stubborn mules to pull their hand ploughs, and they're probably organic so have to do a lot of back-breaking weeding. But books and authors can thrive and grow in both types of field. It's when you get cross-pollination, things start to get interesting...
Sword Of Light

          Sue Price:- Cross-pollination? Do you mean when a big publisher gives a contract to an Indie?

          Kath Roberts:- That’s one interesting thing that seems to be happening. Authors are bypassing the agent or slush pile routes, and testing their work on real readers. It seems a scary route to take, though – you need to be pretty confident in your material, and you also need to make sure it has been edited and proofread, which requires more time and expense than simply sending your manuscript to a list of agents/publishers. It obviously works for some, and a best-selling indie title must be very attractive to publishers. But it remains to be seen if authors taking the indie route to a publishing contract have any more of a long term publishing career than those traditionally published authors being sidelined to make way for them. Cross pollination can work both ways.

          Sue Price:- Yeah, the formerly published are going indie, and the indies are signing with big firms – a-a-and all spin round and face the other way!
          And then, as soon as their sales drop a percentile, the big firms will drop the ex-indies and take up a new crop – who will quickly be dropped in their turn. Everybody will have a book contract for fifteen minutes! Is that how it will work?

          Katherine Roberts:- Fifteen minutes of fame? Maybe. But I actually think not much has changed. I've noticed the same disillusionment among indies on the KDP forum, just as you get disillusioned writers who have been traditionally published but not made their first million yet. The difference is the indies don't have anyone to blame except themselves.

          Susan Price:- So, do you think, when the dust settles, that the same people are going to be left standing there, rubbing their eyes? – I mean, the ‘in it for the long run’ writers who want to write more than they want success or money.
          Maybe the publishing firms will cherry-pick the few they hope will have a big success – quickly dropping them if this proves not to be true – and what used to be the ‘mid-list’ will self-publish. But the crowd presently jostling for space on the self-publishing platforms will thin out as those who were expecting to get rich quick fall away and search for other routes to riches. (Which will still leave a pretty big crowd of ex mid-listers!)
          Do you think new e-publishing firms will emerge from the dust-cloud? One of the Authors Electric, Stephanie Zia, started by publishing her own books and now has turned into a small e-publisher, Blackbird Digital Books.

          Katherine Roberts:- I actually think the mid-list vanished a few years ago in traditional publishing, and Amazon cleverly stepped in to fill the gap. But in another reversal,  I hear that publishers who used to lock their doors against unagented authors are now opening up the slush pile again (Macmillan being one of the latest to do so).
          So it seems to me that while publishers and booksellers are busy changing the rules, authors are carrying on doing what they do best... success is meant to be 5% talent and 95% hard work, after all, so yes if you discount the "lottery winners" like J K Rowling etc, I think the same authors will succeed in the end. Some are doing this by creating their own publishing lists, others are adapting to market forces, whatever works best for the current climate, I suppose. What I've noticed is that there is a very large pool of new authors out there and far fewer authors with a career lasting 10 years or more. Once an author has been publishing for 10 years, I think it highly unlikely they'll give up trying to reach readers, whatever external challenges they may face. I for one love the way e-books have opened doors for us, even if I haven't cracked the secret of selling them myself yet! 

          Susan Price:- I’m really pleased to see the Great Horse out as an indie, though – it was (and is) such a good book, and deserved better treatment. I firmly believe that your publishers didn’t know how to market it, because it’s an original.
          And now it amounts to an original work of art!  Not only written and self-published by you, but with a striking new cover – very like a Greek vase painting – designed by you. Tell us something about that.

'I Am The Great Horse' by Katherine Roberts

          Katherine Roberts:-Thank you for your kind words! Yes, looking back I'd agree I Am The Great Horse is a book that's hard to place on a traditional shelf, and I'm grateful to Chicken House for publishing it once they realised this. That was a brave thing to do. Since they are essentially a children's list, they decided to aim the original book at the (girly) horse market, which made sense at the time - yet it seemed a shame to miss out on those adult historical readers who might enjoy a novel about Alexander the Great, as well as boys who might like to read about his adventures.
          When I published the Kindle version I wanted to make it more adult/boyish in feel, but without losing the horse angle. Hence the new cover, which was actually inspired by an ancient coin of Alexander riding Bucephalas. If you're interested, there's more on my blog about how I created the e-cover, as well as a whole series of posts I wrote about this book while it was still in print, including guest posts from my editor and the illustrator who drew the map.

           And, after going into hiding from the Black Dog last week (as if!), Blott is back!