Aya Walksfar, Author

Hard hitting, in-the-news murder mysteries

IT’S ABOUT TIME!

In 1988, I came out of the Closet. Not only did I come out, I blew the damn thing up!

The year started quietly enough–I had a nice home, decent furniture with a few antique pieces I’d refinished, rode horses with my friend of four years, and attended college to become a veterinarian. As the year progressed, that seeming normalcy shattered. My friend and I became an intimate couple–in the Deep South, in 1988.

Now, I’d always enjoyed my friend’s family as I didn’t have one of my own–big Sunday gatherings and lots of visiting back and forth–right up until I learned about the herd of pink elephants stampeding through her life. Suffice it to say that her family did not take her sexual orientation well. Her mother, a fundamentalist Christian, was certain that her daughter would go to Hell–and that was only because my friend had decided to divorce her abusive husband. With that reaction in mind, we didn’t apprise her of the change in sexual orientation. If it had only been her mother, we might have stayed and tried to work it through, but other family members felt that the use of violence would realign her orientation and wipe away her desire for a divorce.

Faced with a choice of using violence to counter extreme violence, in a state where a man could with impunity beat his wife but heaven help the woman who fought back–prison, psych wards and increased violence against such a woman–we decided to leave the state.

light in darkness

She left everything she had worked over eleven years to help accumulate including her beloved horses; walked away from a Bachelor’s of Science degree that lacked one quarter to complete, and packed what she could in an old cedar chest and a used van. I, too, walked away from home, material possessions that couldn’t fit in a couple of cardboard cartons and the van, my horses (we arranged with a supportive friend to come and get all of the horses and rehome them), and my dream of becoming a veterinarian.

We crossed the country with her old German Shepherd dog and my Pit Bull, driving for hours to exit the state and begin to feel a little bit safe. California was filled with crowds and congested cities, so we continued traveling, stopping here and there to find work, always labor and always paid in cash. We parked in rest areas and slept in the van; sometimes, awakened by the pounding of a night stick on the metal side and the order to move on. We bathed in sinks in the rest area bathrooms, in a bucket inside the van, and every once in a while, at a mission. The women there, waiting in line for their turn at the showers, frequently let us go ahead of them so we could get back on the road.

Oregon felt decidedly unsafe. A few weeks before a young gay man had been severely beaten on an Oregon college campus. Work on a couple of horse farms and a sheep farm and eventually a donut shop got us enough money to head for the state of Washington.

Years earlier, I had lived in Washington before I moved to the South. The memories of Western Washington held the promise of diversity and, perhaps, even acceptance and safety. Funny how having been heterosexual during my earlier sojourn in the state had drastically impacted my life; things had changed and not just my sexual orientation. Washington was, indeed, more tolerant than the Deep South–usually–if you were careful where you went–if you stayed aware of potential attackers around you–if you could find a landlord/landlady willing to rent to a couple of lesbos–if you could find a job where your sexual orientation didn’t matter if you could do the work—if, if, if……

Even on Capitol Hill in Seattle, LGBTQ Land, lesbians were waylaid, stalked, beaten, raped for being lesbian, and sometimes for just being female. It became difficult to tell which was the greater crime. We turned our anger to action and joined with other lesbians in an effort to change the world, or at least our little corner of it.

Over time, we found a wonderful landlady and worked temp labor at Labor Ready where they didn’t care if you were an omni-sexual purple alien; we reconnected with some friends of mine and made new friends, and we enrolled in college again, though not on our original track of studies. Slowly, we rebuilt our shattered lives.

My wife and I have been life partners for over twenty-six years, now. In spite of the sorrow and pain we endured, we grew closer to each other, strengthened each other, and have never rebuilt our Closets. It is heartening to finally have the vindication of the Supreme Court decision. Our marriage is, at last, legal in all fifty states.

No matter how dark

Will the Supreme Court decision make it easier to come out? For some, yes, but those are the fortunate ones. Those types of families and friends; co-workers and professors, are becoming more and more common. Yet still for some lesbians the day they step from the Closet, they will face violence, and ostracism from those closest to them.

There is still a lot of work to do.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/27/us/supreme-court-same-sex-marriage.html?_r=0

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Heart Dog UPDATE

Surgery today. Tumor appeared to be limited to the spleen. Spleen and tumor removed. A biopsy will be done and results in around Friday.

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The Heart Dog

The Heart Dog

adultSiab

If you’re really lucky, once in a lifetime, a heart dog will come into your life. These are more than companions, more than pets, more than a loving animal–they are the dogs who connect to our souls; who enlarge our hearts and give us the strength to face whatever may come. They are the dogs who come to us in our times of greatest need; in our times of greatest change.

I’ve been fortunate. Three such dogs have come into my life. One, a Black Lab whom I thought I was rescuing from a shelter, rescued me many times during a troubled childhood. The second, a Pit Bull, came to me in my thirties as my life underwent major, drastic changes.

Si?ab, my Muse, came to me also during a time of great changes. Heart dogs teach us; they give us the strength to move forward in our lives. She is often in my office as I scribble out the stories within the pages of my books. Her beauty of soul has fueled many of my words. When I get discouraged, she makes me smile. She is unwavering in her love.

AyasLapDog

And tomorrow, she may leave me.

Thursday a tumor was discovered on Si?ab’s spleen. It measured six inches wide and six inches long on the xray. A blood test didn’t detect cancer, but the vet said it might not even if cancer is present. So, at six o’clock tomorrow morning Si?ab and I will get in the car and drive to the vet’s. There she will undergo abdominal surgery. If all goes well, if this tumor is benign her spleen will be removed and she will go home with me. If the tumor is clearly cancerous, she may never wake up. It is a difficult choice, but long ago I swore I would never extend the suffering of someone I loved in order to avoid my own suffering.

She is my heart dog, a dog whose soul is entwined with my own.

Regardless of how the surgery turns out tomorrow, I will be out of touch for at least a week, most likely two weeks. If it turns out well, I will post the results.

 

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Genre vs Author

sunsandbookocean

Genre VS Author

When searching for a new #book to read, do you first look in the genre or do you search by author’s name? How important is it for an author to write in one genre versus writing in several genres–such as an author who writes mystery, literary, paranormal and young adult versus an author who writes only mysteries or only literary or only paranormal books?

As an author I am always seeking ways to improve my visibility to readers and make it easier for them to find my work. I have been given various pieces of advice about writing in only one genre versus writing in several. There is one school of thought that says an author can “get away with” writing literary novels in conjunction with writing another genre since literary is in a class by itself. I write both literary and #mystery on a regular basis.

However, being an avid #reader myself, who consumes books from all genres except religious and erotica, I have had characters wake me up in the middle of the night yelling, “Write about me!” So, off I tromp to the writer’s dungeon, sleep still clouding my mind, and I kick up the computer. Fingers on the keyboard, I begin typing while not fully awake.

The next day when I re-read the beginning of whatever scene or story I worked on in the middle of the night, I gasp! Oh. My. God! I’ve written the opening scene of a vampire story with werepanthers (or a young adult story with a feisty grandmother and a young girl who loves horses).

A dilemma is upon me. Do I erase these poor characters, do I assign them to the Purgatory of the dreaded “Uncompleted Stories”, or do I continue to develop them and the story they have to tell?

If I do proceed to tell their story, do I publish it under the same name as I publish my literary and mystery novels, or do I use a different name–like C. W. Anon (Crazy Writer Anonymous)?

What would you recommend? My characters beg of you, please leave a comment.

Black Wind, a young adult novella, will be released July 24, 2015.

What would force a seventeen-year old girl to steal a horse? Follow my FB fan page and find out! http://www.facebook.com/AyaWalksfarAuthor

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Death by #Dog, Book 5, #SpecialCrimesTeam

snarling malinios

Chapter 1

WEDNESDAY

Soda’s wavy, chestnut hair fell to the middle of her back. She pulled it back and tied it with a rubber band, so that it fell under the collar of her hoodie. Her mother had loved brushing and braiding Soda’s hair, even when Soda topped her mother’s five-foot-three height by two inches–before Mom got real sick; before sixteen-year-old Shelly Myers had become a street kid tagged as Soda. Sometimes, her mom would stand with her in front of her bedroom mirror and point out how they both had gray-blue eyes and the same determined, strong chin. She’d laugh and say, “Yeah, but you’re this curvy, sexy woman and I’m a stick that walks and talks.” She’d frown into the mirror. Mom would kiss her forehead and reply, “You are beautiful just the way you are.” Soda had loved those times.

But those times were miles away and months gone and mid-March in Seattle, Washington, breathed an early spring chill on the city. She flipped her hood up then zipped up the sweatshirt and stuffed her hands in the pockets. This part of Seattle–full of warehouses hulking silent in the evening and abandoned buildings with busted windows–held painful memories for her; so painful that it made her feel sick in the pit of her stomach, yet she felt unable to stay away.

Auntie El had been held by her kidnappers in a warehouse not far from where she walked. The elderly bookstore owner had befriended the street kids, Soda among them. Now she was gone, too; just like Soda’s mother. At least, Mom’s death had been beyond Soda’s control; not like Auntie El–dead because of Soda. “If only I had…” began the haunting litany. She shoved it away. Tears burned her eyes. It had been a year, yet the hurt twisted as sharp in her chest as if she’d lost Auntie El yesterday.

Ever since then these dark streets called to her. Every night she came down here, skittered from one dark spot to another, watching; circled the warehouses and listened. Some days she wondered if she was getting a bit crazy. What did she think being here could accomplish?

She edged along the deeper shadow of a crumbling, brick building; its windows blinded eyes looking out on littered streets. At the sound of male voices across the deserted street, she shrank back. Between black jeans and navy blue hoodie–pulled close around her pale face,white hands stuffed in her pockets–the shadows swallowed her form. Standing perfectly still, she strained to see what the men carried.

A few street lamps–not yet vandalized–spilled watery yellow light on the dirty sidewalk. The men sauntered into the light, the body of a large dog hanging between them as they made their way to the dumpster squatted in the mouth of the alley across from where Soda hid. They swung the body back and forth until enough momentum had built then let go. The animal sailed over the edge of the dumpster and thumped into the trash. They pulled off their gloves and stuffed them in jacket pockets.

The hum of traffic from several streets away sang a muted song, but the men’s voices–harsh and loud–rode over top of it. The short, heavy man lit a cigarette. The ember glowed as he inhaled. Grey smoke drifted up toward the circle of lamp light, but disintegrated when a slight breeze puffed off Puget Sound, smelling of dead fish. “Damn, that was some sick bitch. Shortest damn fight I’ve seen.”

The taller man accepted a cigarette from the other man and lit it. “Short for damn sure. Only thing that bitch,” he nodded toward the dumpster, “good for was a trainin’ fight. Can’t believe that other’n; not even two years old, yet. Man, I want me one of them dawgs.” He chuckled and a shiver ran up Soda’s spine.

The first man shook his head. “In your dreams.” He tossed his cigarette down, not bothering to stomp it out.

A cramp seized Soda’s calf muscle. Afraid any movement would draw their attention, she bit her lip hard to keep from shifting.

“What you think one of them dawg’s worth?” The taller man flicked his cigarette butt out in the middle of the street.

“I heard some of them cost as much as fifty big ones.”

“If I had me a dawg like that…”

The shorter man guffawed. “You wouldn’t know what to do with it. Them things are the devil’s own dogs. One of them would eat you up, bro.”

They moved away, snatches of words fading until only the hum of the traffic from nearby streets filled the air. A minute later, a truck roared in the night. Soda watched as a large pick up screeched away from the curb a half block away. She waited until she could no longer see the red of the taillights before she hustled across the empty street.

Breath sucked in deep, she exhaled then climbed the side of the dumpster. For a moment, she balanced on the inches-wide lip and stared down. Right when she had just about decided to hop off, a faint movement caught her eye.

Without hesitation, she dropped into the garbage and waded to the animal. One dark eye blinked slowly up at her. “You poor baby,” she sat on rustling papers amid half-rotted food and cradled the dog’s head on her lap. Gently, she stroked the dog’s side and face between the gaping wounds. The pink tongue slowly snaked out and licked Soda’s hand.

Even in the poor light from the street lamps, she could tell that the dog’s coat had once been a golden color. She imagined how it would have glowed in the sun. Now the spray of drying and dried blood matted it with dark splotches. One of the muscled forelegs had been gashed and the sharp point of white bone jutted out of the skin. She’d once been a beautiful #animal, the well-built body bigger than a German Shepherd’s.

Another shuddering breath pushed the dog’s ribs up and down. Soda remembered a lullabye that her mom sang to her whenever she woke up from a bad dream. As she petted the dog’s big head and stroked her side, Soda sang in a quavering, soft voice.

Before she’d finished her song, the #dog licked her hand once more, looked into Soda’s eyes and breathed her last.

Tears coasted down her cheeks as she gently laid the dog’s head on a pillow of garbage. With the sleeve of her hoodie, she scrubbed them away. She had always loved dogs. Had one before her mother died; before she’d had to leave to escape her stepfather’s drunken advances. Her jaw clenched as she struggled to her feet. Fists knotted at her sides, she vowed that even though she was only a street kid she’d do something! She didn’t know what, but she would do something to stop those assholes from slaughtering any more dogs.

Death by Dog will be Book 5 in the Special Crimes Team series. All of the books in the series can be read as stand alones without reading prior books in the series. Death by Dog is scheduled for release Winter 2015-2016.

Backlash, Book 4, Special Crimes Team: Success can be deadly…if you’re a woman! AVAILABLE on pre-order as an ebook on Amazon. Go to http://www.amazon.com/Backlash-Special-Crimes-Book-4-ebook/dp/B00W7UJAWA

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For a list of Aya’s books, go to http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar

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The Birth of a Book

In the unheard screams that rip the fabric of the night, in the silent tears of a victim huddled in upon herself in the corner of her own kitchen, Sketch of a Murder was born.

Domestic violence and rape are patterns of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence.

Once the first seeds of an idea are planted, I begin to research. What I found in the case of Sketch of a Murder was:

One in four women experience domestic violence in their lifetimes.

4 MILION women experience physical assault and rape by their intimate partners  http://www.safehorizon.org/page/domestic-violence-statistics–facts-52.html?gclid=CJ6k76f9rcUCFYeEfgodUwYACA

The number of women murdered by current or ex male partners between 2001 and 2012 were 11,766. During that same time period, the number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq were 6,488.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/23/domestic-violence-statistics_n_5959776.html

FBI Statistics for 2013 for Washington State:

Forcible rapes in seven cities: (these are the ones actually brought to trial. Until conviction, they are only considered alleged rapes) 657.

Rape and domestic violence are among the most under-reported crimes. Frequently, women internalize the blame for being beaten and sexually assaulted. Shame and a sense of hopelessness; a fear of the abuser increasing the abuse; a fear that there is no way to escape; fear of reprisal against them or their family, seals their lips against reporting the crimes.

When the crimes are reported, the woman often finds herself grilled as if she is the perpetrator–what did you do to anger him; why were you wearing that slutty dress; isn’t it true that you’ve slept with other men; how many other men; how long did you know X before you invited him to your home; and the interrogations go on and on.

If the crime does go to trial, the woman’s ordeal is increased. She is placed on the stand and forced to testify to humiliating and painful memories in a hostile environment. She is cross-examined as if she is the defendant. Evidence can be difficult to collect or has been contaminated; the woman waited too long to report the crime; the woman’s character is put on trial; the trial becomes a “he said–she said” fiasco. Technicalities and good attorneys allow men to smile as they walk away unscathed after perpetrating horrible crimes that will scar their victims forever.

With research as a foundation, I begin a process of creative “what-ifs”. What if a person decided to take justice into their own hands? What motivates a person to seek violent revenge? What type of personality would such revenge require? What type of training would a person need to be successful? What type of tools would that person have to use?

From this process, the Avenger sprang. In Sketch of a Murder, the Avenger has been triggered by a life event to exact justice. After the first murder, the Avenger goes on a spree of gruesome killings. The Avenger, however, doesn’t simply pick guilty men who have skated on serious charges; the Avenger wreaks havoc among wealthy men who have used position and power and monetary advantage to walk free.

Now that I have the antagonist–or the bad person and that person’s motivation–I must decide who will oppose this person and why; who will be the protagonist.

Some crimes are far reaching enough to warrant the formation of a Task Force. Again the creative “what-ifs” are employed. What if a task force is created by the governor because the Avenger has eluded multiple police forces and the deaths of wealthy men negatively impact her position? What if the task force is not constrained by jurisdictional boundaries within the state? What if the best cops for that force are misfits, cops that have ticked off a superior because they refused to toe the blue line? What special attitudes and abilities would they bring to the story? What conflicts with each other would such renegade team members face?

The Special Crimes Team was born from the governor’s desperation to find and stop the Avenger. Purely a political move, or was it?

All books need a place of occurrence. Whether that physical place plays a large or a small part in the story depends upon the story. The state of Washington is blessed, and cursed, with features that attract the best of people, and the worst of people. Mountains, wilderness, farmlands, big cities, airports, seaports, railway stations, high immigrant and migrant worker populations, a diverse and mobile population, a down turn in the economy that resulted in foreclosed and abandoned homes, proximity to another country’s border and a general attitude of live and let live makes this state a haven for human traffickers, dog fighters, kidnappers, and other criminals who need unlimited places in which to blend and/or to use to escape. Blessings

With those elements–the crime, the antagonist, the protagonist, the scene and some of the complications–in place, the work of writing begins.

The first draft is written without concern for grammar, punctuation, or even logic and timelines. It is the story in the rough. After the first draft comes multiple drafts, each one refining the story, further developing the characters, fleshing out the scenes, fine tuning the dialogue, checking and fixing the timeline; and, reassessing the logic and the story arc. When I decide the story is finished, I begin editing. After I edit as much as I can, I send the work to others to edit. When that work is returned, I read the feedback and evaluate what changes must be made.

After editing, Beta Readers are engaged to comment on the story as readers–did it hook them; did the dialogue sound real; were the situations believable, and so forth. With that feedback, I make final corrections then send the book to the publisher.

The publisher obtains a cover, formats the book and puts the package together for presentation to the public. And, a book is born.  Sketch of a Murderebook 7 30 2014

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To see all of Aya’s novels: http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar

Hang out with Aya on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ayawalksfar

Or chat with her on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AyaWalksfar

 

 

 

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KKK in BLUE

The KKK in Blue

light in darkness It is sad to say…that time is now.

I am about empowerment of #women and girls. I don’t talk about politics, much, or religion. When I do, I try to be even-handed. Well, the time for that is past.

After a lifetime of fighting for justice on several fronts, I had to step back from fighting the power structure because the fires of that struggle nearly consumed me. I had to learn to let go or die. Literally.

But it is time to weigh in on the events unfolding in the United States. These events are not surprising to me. It has never been safe to be a minority, nor has it ever been safe to be female, in what is supposed to be the free-est country in the world.

The strides we have made have been as much illusion as reality. Yes, a woman can now head a huge corporation and make a million dollars, but she can’t walk down a dark street safely nor does she have the sole right to govern whether or not she chooses to remain pregnant. She is harassed on public transportation; she is molested on airplanes. Women who are raped and have a child as the consequence of that rape can be forced, in 31 states, to allow the rapist access to her child.

Yes, black people can go to any school, if they have the money, but they can’t go jogging with assurance of safety nor can they gather to protest an injustice without fear of excessive #police force.

Women are still portrayed by the media in sexual ways; actresses asked about what they wear and their extra pounds while actors are asked about the parts they played and the stunts performed. Blacks who gather to protest are labeled thugs and rioters. Whites who destroy cities over a sports game are labeled drunken revelers and given a wink–it’s all in fun and high spirits.

Women can go to college, but they can’t safely attend a college party. If they have sex with more than one man, they’re whores and skanks. Blacks can go to college, but they can’t bike across the park. In Eastern Washington, God help you if you are #Latino or Mexican or Mexican American. You might as well paint a target on your back. If you’re #Native American, the bad news is–genocide is alive and flourishing under the guise of police power.

Are we seeing a pattern here?

Words are powerful and it is high time that the media be called to account for their biased reporting–and total NON-REPORTING of white and of male crimes against #minorities–racial and sexual. If you are male and white, you are right. If you are black, get back. If you are female…you be humble and grateful and for God’s sakes, look good! If you are a sexual minority, God help you. You are beset on many sides. If you are a white young male and murder women because they don’t want to date you, you are troubled. If you are black and accused of stealing tobacco products, you are criminal.

We are struggling for basic civil rights that are, supposedly, guaranteed to all Americans. When are white males–REGARDLESS of age or career–going to be called to account by the media and by the justice system? When are we going to admit and stop the Ku Klux Klan in Blue? When are the streets going to be made safe for women and LGBTQ and racial minorities?

If a cop sees another cop do something illegal, the first cop’s duty is to PROTECT the CITIZEN regardless of that citizen’s color, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender. It is not to cover it up, but to stop it! When a man sees a woman being harassed, the man’s duty is to stop it! When a white sees a black attacked, the white’s duty is to stop it! When a woman sees someone being harmed, the woman’s duty is to stop it! We may not be physically able to stop it, but we can call for help. We may not be physically able to stop it, but as the media we can tell the truth–for a change!

Words are powerful and it is the media’s DUTY to be even-handed, to be seekers after truth; not part of the problem. The first part of any problem is to recognize and name it. As long as we don’t admit these issues exist, and have existed since this country was founded, we can’t address them. Isn’t it time to guarantee #civil rights to more than just white, male, wealthy individuals?

 

 

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85 MILLION CHILDREN ENSLAVED!

According to the Huffington Post, “Kentucky state Sen. Paul Hornback, who is also a tobacco farmer, was quick to write off any concerns that advocates may have about kids — as young as 7 — slaving away in tobacco fields.

“We’re raising a society that’s too soft,” Hornback told Bee. “Children need to experience things.”

Should forced labor as young as age seven, involving health hazards such as “… 12-hour days, no breaks and frequent cases of acute nicotine poisoning–” be part of the childhood experience not only in the United States, but worldwide?

Child labor is a grim reality with over 85 million children worldwide enslaved and forced to labor under horrendous conditions. Human trafficking helps feed the monster of child slavery by stealing children from their homes and streets. The United States is not immune. Children slave in Virginia and Kentucky’s tobacco fields.

My novel, Street Harvest, Book 2, Special Crimes Team, addresses the plight of stolen children. Now, Axel Blackwell’s Sisters of Sorrow tackles the horror of child labor. When Axel approached me about the possibility of reviewing his work, I let him know that I only post about novels that entertain, enlighten and empower women and girls. He thought I might like the protagonist, Anna Dufresne. His book is well-written and presents an engaging story of how a young girl refuses to give up her dream of freedom. I’ll let him tell you about his new book.

axel blackwellAxel Blackwell, Author: Thank you Aya, for your kind words (review) about my new novel, Sisters of Sorrow, and for your invitation to discuss it here at your blog. You were one of the very first people, outside of my close family, to take an interest in this tale. I greatly appreciate that and am very happy to have the opportunity to share with you and your readers.

You asked how this story came to be… I wonder that myself, sometimes. I have wanted to write this piece for nearly two years, though I knew almost nothing of what would happen beyond the first fifty pages. I started with one scene very clear in my mind: Anna hiding in the shadow of a beached rowboat while the sadistic nuns hunt for her. The Pacific is behind her, the factory is exploding in front of her, and her only hope of survival is to follow the voice of a ghost into the cisterns below a ruined farmhouse. The rest of the tale grew from there, and it turned out to be one wild ride.

Anna’s journey starts with her lowest instincts – self-preservation, at all cost. The extremity of her circumstance has purged much of her humanity. As the story opens, she has been abandoned by her father. She bears an enormous load of guilt related to the death of her mother and infant brother. She is beat-down, terrorized, and traumatized by the cruelty of her guardians and by the brutal machinery she is forced to operate. Nearly all of Anna’s fire has been extinguished.

But that last glowing ember of hope proves to be just enough for Anna to cling to survival. She escapes the looming horrors of the factory only to rediscover her capacity for compassion, empathy, and love – traits that drive her straight back into the dangers she just escaped, and other dangers greater than she had ever imagined.

I didn’t set out to write a girl-power book, but I believe people (female or male) have vast reserves of strength available to them – if their need is powerful enough.  Also, a character who waits around for a strong man to come rescue her isn’t very inspiring.  I hope that this story is empowering and uplifting to whoever reads it. I wanted my readers to identify with Anna, to see her plight through her eyes. She hopes for rescue throughout her story, whether the rescuer be the witch disguised as a nun, or the voice that speaks to her though the walls, or her fellow-refugee Donny.  But in the final defining conflict, when there is no one left to stand between the evil and the innocent, Anna offers her own life to become that rescuer. This is a story of desperation and courage, and the power of the nobler instincts.

Sister of Sorrow bestsofarAs to Anna’s future, many adventures await. Anna still has much to discover about herself, and about the world of the witches and those who hunt them. I plan to write at least two more novels in this series, and likely a novella-length prequel as well.

Thank you again, Aya, for inviting me to your blog. As writers, we create ideas, images, sometimes entire worlds in the minds of our readers. Those creations influence the way our readers interact with the real world. Thank you for the positive and empowering message you present here. I am very happy to have had the opportunity to add my voice to that message.  I love hearing from readers. If anyone has questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at axblackwell@gmail.com Have a wonderful rest of your day :)

Axel Blackwell attempts to define reality through fiction and tease truth from tales. Also, he just tells stories. You will often find him in the woods, or on the shore, or sometimes in a book. He lives with his wife and three children near a misty bay in the Pacific Northwest.ocean and sisters of sorrow

To obtain a copy of Sisters of Sorrow, follow this link:

 http://www.amazon.com/Sisters-Sorrow-Axel-Blackwell-ebook/dp/B00VZO2242/

For more current news about child labor–over 27 articles published on April 27, 2015 by the Huffington Post–and how child labor affects the United States and what is being done about child labor go to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/child-labor/

To discover what other tough issues my novels tackle, go to http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar

 

 

 

 

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WHAT IS REAL?

Novels represent the intersection between reality and fiction. What really happened? Is this novel a thinly disguised autobiography of the author? A biography of another person? Did those events actually occur?

Authors of literary fiction are more likely to be asked this question than authors of sci-fi, murder mysteries and fantasy. Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, the Qatar author of An Unlikely Goddess, was asked if the events of her novel actually happened to her. I, too, have been asked if my literary novels are autobiographical. Though we would like readers to focus on the issues in the story, such a question is truly a compliment. People have connected to the novel on a visceral level.

It was once said of the western writer Louis L’Amour that if he wrote of a stream in a certain place, the stream existed. The Law and Order series on television boasts of ripping their episodes from the headlines. In my mysteries, I use extensive research to present reality in a fictional milieu. In Street Harvest, I take the very real issues of human trafficking and the danger in which street children live constantly and blend it with fiction as a way of highlighting these current issues to allow people to connect on an emotional level.

Reading a powerful book can change our lives.

somewhere dif Good Intentions

Since I write to not only entertain, but to also enlighten and empower; and to ultimately make a positive impact on our world, it is important for people to emotionally connect with my work. I love hearing such comments as “I want Grandma Greene for my grandmother.” The greatest compliment I have ever received was from a young person who said Good Intentions helped him to deal with being adopted and to forgive the fabrications of his adoptive parents.

A good writer knows that verisimilitude–details that lend the appearance of being true or real; what has happened to real people–increases the authenticity, the believability of her work. As such, it provides a more satisfying read and, in some cases, tidbits of knowledge.

While the cities and mountains and issues are often ripped intact from real life, the protagonists, antagonists and other characters within the novel–the good people and the bad people–seldom resemble any one person, living or dead. An author gleans characteristics, traits, eccentricities, and manner of facing life from a wide variety of people then builds the character from specific ones that will allow the story to unfold in a logical and entertaining way. The reader is guaranteed to “see” Uncle Jack or Aunt Milly in at least one of the characters, and therefore more likely to connect on a visceral level with the novel. In the end, it always returns to the reader–what will enhance the experience of the novel for the reader? What will give the reader the most value for her/his time and money?

The fiction I most enjoy reading incorporates reality with fiction to provide entertainment, enlightenment, and empowerment. It is also the type of fiction that I write.

I have tackled the tough, and sadly all too real, subjects such as family secrets, homophobia, racial tensions, hate crimes, betrayal, loss, grief, pedophilia, rape, domestic violence, street kids, human trafficking and much more in both my literary and my mystery novels. Yet, in each novel I have shown how people can triumph over horrendous circumstances and rise to live worthy and good lives. Much of my inspiration comes from real people I have known; people I have admired. Those people were ordinary people who quietly lived extraordinary lives.

So, what is real? The reality is that authors draw from real life, whether we write sci-fi or literary novels. We take what’s real and shape it into a novel. We write of love and hate; joy and sorrow; triumph and despair.

Do you identify with the characters in novels? Would love to hear! Please, comment.

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Mohana’s An Unlikely Goddess (ebook) is on sale for $0.99! Go to http://www.amazon.com/An-Unlikely-Goddess-Mohanalakshmi-Rajakumar-ebook/dp/B00FVSP82Q

To see a list of my novels go to http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar

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4 Traits Authors MUST HAVE

Traits of an Author

What traits does a person need to become a successful author? (First, the person needs to define what she considers successful.)

I wish I could claim that it requires complete and total brilliance (because I could happily travel along that logic line. I am an author; therefore, I am completely and totally brilliant. Wah-la!). Seriously? Not.

The very first thing an aspiring author should ask herself is: do I really, really want to do this? Is this so important I am willing to focus my entire being on achieving this goal? siab focus

Like most pursuits, becoming an author (I’m talking about writing something better than mindless drivel) takes a huge investment of time. Are you ready and willing to give up those late night television movies; that extra time with your homies?

I don’t find time to write; I make time to write. Not a prob when to write is as necessary to me as the oxygen I breathe. It’s just all the other stuff that I’m not especially thrilled to do: like reading tons of material on the proper use of commas; or the many books on character development that make me want to scratch my eyes out from boredom; however, if I want to be an author, these investments of time are as critical as the hundreds of hours I spend writing a novel.

That brings me to the second trait an aspiring author must have: an open and inquiring mind. UdoReading(1) Though dry textbooks are a trial, I have been blessed to learn from experts in various fields, such as law enforcement, the law, and recently–two more wonderful connections: a firefighter and one of the people responsible for the Canine CODIS at UC Davis–a database to help law enforcement prosecute people involved in dog fighting. These connections teach me more than dry facts (such as how to preserve a crime scene); they give a face and a heart to cops, firefighters, lawyers, researchers and many others. This perspective allows me to create characters that resonate with readers because those characters feel real.  Yet, making connections is not an overnight occurrence, nor is it always easy. I have to step out of my comfort zone. I have to ask millions of questions. I can’t give up, even when I feel overwhelmed and tired and discouraged. light in darkness

That brings me to the third trait aspiring authors must have: persistence; sometimes called determination or tenacity (sometimes known as pure mule-blooded stubbornness). Determination Image QuoteI cannot allow myself to throw up my hands and walk away from the unfinished book, the necessary connections, the studies, or any of the million things that go into writing and marketing a novel. More than any other trait, the difference between success and failure is the attitude that says: I don’t know the word ‘quit’. It’s going the extra mile when you’re footsore. It’s speaking to the next person, though you’ve experienced ten rejections in as many hours. It’s the fifteenth rewrite of a novel because your beta readers said……..

There you have it– what traits an aspiring author must have.

  1. First and foremost: focus. You are focused on this goal and are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve it. isisrunning(1)

  2. The commitment to make the time to learn, to write and to get that novel out there in front of readers.

  3. An open and inquiring mind that thirsts for knowledge, for understanding why someone did this instead of doing that.

  4. Persistence/determination/tenacity/plain mule-blooded stubbornness. isisButt(1)Going on when stopping makes more sense; trying when throwing up your hands would be more comfortable; doing what needs done, regardless of the pain and the effort that requires.

If you have these traits, and you have a deep desire to be an author; if you are willing to focus on that goal, then welcome to the ranks of Writers in the Night!Writer in the night. And, let me know when you release your first book. (After you’ve had it beta read and edited, please!)

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