Aya Walksfar, Author

Hard hitting, in-the-news murder mysteries

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

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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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6 Internet Places You Should Visit

6 #Internet Places You Should Visit

largest madrone Giant Madrona, Road to the Lost Coast, Mattole Valley, California. There are many beautiful places, if we take the time to see.

The internet can be entertaining, enlightening, empowering and fun. Let’s start with enlightening and fun.

  1. Tianmen Mountain scenery is spectacular and scary. As an author, I troll the net extensively. Sometimes, I discover wonders I didn’t know existed. The first link will give you some history of Tianmen Mountain and the second link will take you to more photos of the longest cable car ride in the world and a very scary road to the mountaintop. Not to mention the glass bridge that hangs out over empty space.

http://www.travelchina.gov.cn/tirms/front/en_US/spot_77.html

Tianmen Mountain

  1. 15-year old Kira Taylor is a Cystic Fibrosis Warrior. I met her on the internet some time ago and never cease to marvel at this young woman. She is fighting a deadly disease, yet her beautiful voice doesn’t carry any self-pity. She uses it to help fight bullies everywhere and to enlighten people to what this deadly disease is all about. Listen to this wonderful voice.

http://contest.nobullchallenge.org/video/74167-bad-day-contest      Kira Taylor Cystic Fibrosis Warrior

  1. I’ve known good #cops; and, I’ve known bad cops. My series, The Special Crimes Team, is about misfit cops who bend the rules. Here are some other cops who go beyond the letter of their jobs.

http://www.news4jax.com/news/st-augustine-officer-rescues-4-baby-raccoons/31096156

http://fox59.com/2015/03/30/impd-officer-saves-dog-hit-by-a-car/

 

  1. One of the things I love about writing is learning what my characters have to say. They often surprise me.

https://www.pinterest.com/ayawalksfar/what-the-characters-say/

 

Hard Road Home, Cas Redner

Hard Road Home, Cas Redner

  1. Molly Greene writes cozy mysteries that make excellent evening reads. I’ve read several and enjoyed them all. She is also an accomplished blogger and blog trainer. I have learned many interesting and helpful things through her blog posts about social media. So, whether you are a writer, or not; a business person, or not; or if you simply love to makes friends through social media, Molly has some helpful tips for how to make the most of social media. She also has a reader’s club; think about joining.

http://www.molly-greene.com/10-tweets-you-should-never-send/

http://www.molly-greene.com/readers-club/   Gen Delacourt Mysteries

  1. Many people ask me why I write. Read my answer, and other entertaining and enlightening posts, on Women and Words blog:

http://womenwords.org/2015/03/31/the-socially-conscious-writer-by-aya-walksfar-plus-a-couple-of-free-books/

The first five people who comment on this post will receive a free download from Audible of Street Harvest, Book 2, Special Crimes Team. All of the Special Crimes Team series can be read, or listened to, as stand-alones.

If you enjoyed this post, add your email so you’ll never miss one. Visit me on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ayawalksfar or my fan page at http://www.facebook.com/AyaWalksfarAuthor

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YOU PROMISED!

I just read an interesting thriller; true, there were some commas missing and a few words that were either wrong or missing, but all in all, a solid story. Since I’ve recently read a couple of very well-known authors who also had commas and words missing, I decided to give the errors a pass. After all, I was still interested in who won.

All the way up to the end, that is. The end that wasn’t the end. A non-ending. A favorite ploy of some authors. A surefire way to discourage me from ever again reading anything they write.

The sad thing about this book and its author: the author didn’t have to do that to get me to purchase the next book. I wanted to know what happened to these people and there had been enough doubt thrown on their happily ever after to make me think another adventure might be in the cards. If only the author would’ve stopped with the couple happily ensconced in their new home.

The last few pages that made the ending a non-ending would have worked remarkably well as the beginning of the next book–the book blurb could’ve drawn the reader in with the knowledge of this couple’s peril.

When I pick up a book, I am making a contract with the author: here is my time–very precious–and my money. In return, I expect a novel that has a distinct beginning, middle and end. Not one that says “to be continued.”

Such a ploy makes me feel that the author has no faith in their own writing being strong enough to pull the reader back to them. Or perhaps they don’t believe in the strength of the characters they’ve drawn; that the challenges faced by these imaginary people would keep a reader interested enough to put out more money to read the following book.

There are many ways to do a series. Kay Hooper does a great job in that each book is a complete novel with the requisite beginning, middle and end. However, she has constructed enough interest in the people who populate the Bishop series and the Haven series, that I am willing–and happy–to put out money for the next installment on their lives. Each book of Ms. Hooper’s Bishop series can be read as stand-alones. In fact, I first discovered the series with the fifth book in. I went back and purchased the other four books.

Patricia Briggs’ wonderful Mercy Thompson series allows the option of reading the books as stand-alones. They are, however, more fun to read from book one to the latest release as the characters develop over the different books.

In my own series, The Special Crimes Team, each book can be read as a stand-alone–each one has a distinct beginning, middle and end. A new reader can start anywhere in the series as each book supplies the necessary backstory–much along the same lines as Ms. Hooper and Ms. Briggs– to fill in where needed. It is, however, more satisfying to read the series starting from book one and continuing to the latest release because the characters change and develop from one book to the next.

When I release a novel, I am implicitly offering a contract to the reader who picks it up: In exchange for your time and money, I promise that I have written and delivered a complete story.  Holiday bazaar 008

If an author wishes to release a book that is not complete, then it should be designated as Part One; or, perhaps in the description, the author could write: “this story is to be continued in Book Two.” With such a simple device, the author could uphold their implicit contract with the reader: here is as much of the story as I am going to give you right now.

When an author does this, however, it would behoove them to have the next book ready to be released within months. If I am willing to give my time to read part of a story, then I expect the next part, and the ending, to be forthcoming quickly. A few months is all the time my patience will allow. Also, as I read up to five books a week, the storyline would soon be forgotten amid other storylines. I would have little interest in re-reading the first part simply so I could read the next part and have to wait for the ending, yet again.

Do you, as a reader, feel shortchanged when an author has a non-ending? Would appreciate your comments. Please, comment below.

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COMING THIS JUNE! BACKLASH, BOOK 4, SPECIAL CRIMES TEAM  This week I will release the first draft of  the Backlash cover on my facebook. Come on over and check it out! http://www.facebook.com/ayawalksfar    or  http://www.facebook.com/AyaWalksfarAuthor

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Is She or Isn’t She?

Ever wonder if that reclusive neighbor is something….different? Read on and get the real scoop!DSC09897

From the Archives of the Matriarchs

At the beginning, Great Goddess was. She is the Alpha and the Omega. She is Creative Force of all that Was, Is and Ever Will Be.

From Her Very Soul, she ripped pieces and formed the Goddesses in her own image. In blood and pain and sacrifice she gave birth to them. Their names are Mother of Magick who came to be called Hekate, Athena who was first known as Mother of Wisdom and Learning, Warrior Woman and Protector who came to be called Artemis, Woman of the Sun who refused any other name, and Woman of Fierce Darkness once called Amanirenas. These were the first five. Companions and co-creators with Great Goddess.

When their souls demanded them to create, she warned them that creation must come from ripping pieces of their own souls loose and implanting those pieces in the new creation. She told them that Creation could only be done amidst blood and pain and sacrifice for such is the nature of creation. Still their souls demanded for them to create and so they did.

Together they created all the universes, all the worlds, and all that lives within them. Except the Earth. Mother Earth was endowed with a strip of the soul of Great Goddess. From different parts of that strip of soul came the mountains, the valleys, the lakes, the oceans, the plains, the volcanoes, and all that make the body of Mother Earth.

Woman of the Sun took a piece of her soul and Created Father Sun then set him in the sky to warm the Mother. Amanirenas placed Grandmother Moon to shine when Mother Earth needed a rest from the strong rays and the warmth of Father Sun. Grandmother Moon fostered the quiet, the time for contemplation and feeling. Father Sun fostered action and growth.

Then Great Goddess took pieces of her soul and made the trees, the grasses, the flowers, and all that clothe Mother Earth.

Hekate, Athena and Artemis took pieces of their souls and made the animals, the creatures of air, of water, of earth. And because each piece of soul was unique, each creation–be it tree or be it tiger–was unique.

Great Goddess called together her companions and co-creators and they shared the worlds and universes they had created–each beautiful in its own way. Yet, when they gazed upon Mother Earth, in spite of all they had Created, they felt something was missing. Some essential element still needed to be brought forth. They Dreamed long and finally decided. This was a world where they could place small images of themselves, to watch each one grow and develop; to watch as they came into their creative powers. And so it was that Woman was Created. They let their Creative Powers rejoice and out of this celebration came the many colors and shapes and sizes of these replicas of Great Goddess and the Goddesses that Great Goddess named Woman. In a great burst of joy, they also created almost-replicas of themselves that Great Goddess named Man, for he was not fully a woman.

They Gifted Woman with a small bit of their own Creative Power. In her, new life could grow, but only in the image of the female. So it was that tigers gave birth to tigers and humans gave birth to humans.

Man begged to feel closer to Great Goddess and the Goddesses, begged to become more like them. And so, it came to pass that Great Goddess Gifted man with a seed that could assist in the creation of new life. Man rejoiced to be so close to Great Goddess, to be a part of creation.

Great Goddess created almost-replicas of the Goddesses and called them gods. They, like the almost-replicas on Mother Earth, could not create as the Goddesses did.

For millennia, all grew and prospered both in the Heavens and on Mother Earth. Woman and Man took only what they needed to live and they gave back as much as they took. So the balance continued.

After many millennia, the gods became restless. Unbeknownst to Great Goddess, they incited human males to anger and envy of the human females’ ability to create life. They filled the weaker male minds with thoughts that were subversive to all that Was and Ever Had Been.

Eventually, human males who followed the gods enticements were named Caine by the gods to distinguish them from the ones that followed the Way of Great Goddess. They named those Abella, as the leaders were always females.

During the Dark of the Moon, the followers of Caine rose up and slaughtered the unsuspecting followers of Abella, those who held tight to the Teachings of Great Goddess and the Goddesses. Millions died. That period of time came to be known as The Great War.

Because each living being held a piece of Great Goddess’ soul or a piece of the souls of the Goddesses, and therefore were given freewill, Great Goddess could not allow interference in The Great War, could not allow the usurpation of Freewill.

There came a time, however, when Artemis wept and threw herself at the feet of Great Goddess. Those the Goddesses loved had been reduced to small groups and even then the Children of Caine hunted them. She begged Great Goddess to allow her to save the remnants of their people, those who were known as the Children of Abella.

And so it came to pass that Artemis bestowed upon the Children of Abella certain powers. Among those powers were enhanced senses, enhanced strength, and near-immortality. The other Goddesses gathered close and they, too, bestowed certain powers upon the Children of Abella. In return for the many powers, Artemis demanded that the Children of Abella adher to the Purpose set by Great Goddess Herself.

The Children of Abella must never kill without reason, and must seek to help the Children of Caine overcome their blood that had been poisoned by envy, greed, hate, and needless violence.

So the Children of Abella would never forget their connection to the Children of Caine, Artemis decreed that in order to live, the Children of Abella must drink the blood of the Children of Caine. To remind the Children of Abella that none are free of fault, they were afflicted by sexual lust. The only way to be free of the Lust was to find their True Mate, be that mate a Child of Caine or a Child of Abella. Not all would find a True Mate.

Because the root of human male envy was the human females’ ability to create life, among the Children of Abella only the female could create life. To more tightly bind the Children of Abella to the Children of Caine, only a liaison with a human male would result in a child.

Because males brought about destruction, only females could hold power over the Children of Abella. Born females received Powers upon their 24th birthday. Before the receiving of power, they were brought to the House of the Head of their Family and watched over as the Power Came Upon them. Not all survived the Coming of Power. Born males never received powers nor were they able to impregnate females of either species.

Both Born male and female could Create new Children of Abella through a controlled bite and sharing of blood. Only females were allowed to do so without explicit permission of the Head of the Family. Created males were a lower caste than Born males. They could aspire to the Born male caste through accomplishments.

Huvams–those children born to a Vampire mother with a human father–became the leaders of the Children of Abella. Created females could aspire to leadership through their accomplishments.

A World Council of Five Matriarchs ruled all the Children of Abella.

The world was divided into regions and each region was headed by a Matriarch. Within the regions, First Councilwomen ruled the Heads of Family. The Heads of Family were responsible for all Children within their extended Family.

Over time, the Children of Abella came to be called Vampire. The Children of Caine came to be called Human and mostly forgot that the Children of Abella still lived.

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#3/22/14: When the Mountain Fell

light in darkness

On March 22, 2014, at 10:37 a.m., the side of the hill above the #Stillaguamish River gave way suddenly. It crashed into the river, scooped up the river’s water and became a mud tidal wave that crashed against the far shore and swept away the lives of 43 people and numerous wildlife and domestic animals.  The wide spot that had once held the town of Hazel, Washington and more recently had been known as the Steelhead Community had vanished under tons of earth within minutes. Friends and family had been lost. The community of #Darrington devastated.

To make matters worse, the major artery between Darrington, Washington and “down below”–all points to the west of Darrington–had been severed. It would be weeks before traffic could resume use of Highway 530.

For all intents and purposes, the small town of Darrington was isolated. Yet, in this small town everyone from Cub Scouts to one hundred school-age young people to Senior citizens rallied to create the infrastructure necessary to field, outfit and feed multiple volunteer teams of local people dispatched to the mudslide. (Local volunteers arrived minutes after the slide hit and though most of them had no prior rescue experience, they were the leading edge of the rescue efforts.) A road was punched through to reach the far edges of the slide. Chainsaws growled, heavy equipment grumbled, people called to each other. As the days piled one on top of the other, young people stocked food banks, elders cooked, some people took care of the home bound, others took care of those affected physically and emotionally, cots were set up, information streams established, and still others made sure that supplies kept coming in for the teams and for the town.

The byword was ‘hope”. Every where you looked yellow ribbons spelled out that brave word: #hope. candle in dark We each became a candle that glowed in that great darkness. Together, we lit the way for each other, and for our town.

During those days and weeks, I learned what made Darrington such a special place. I saw people drag in to check out from their volunteer positions after nine at night and saw those same people back in front of me to check in for work at six the next morning–day after weary, heartbreaking day. People stopped in the middle of the store, in the middle of the street, and gave support and encouragement to each other; hugged each other. We had each others’ backs.

Darrington still epitomizes the word “hope” to me.  We still have hope. I think this town lives and breathes hope. Now, it is the hope that we continue our healing as the first anniversary of the day when the mountain fell approaches.

Be kind to one another. Hope lives in each of us. We can heal each other, and ourselves. I send a hug to each and every one of you.

imagequote sunsets prepare for new day

Candle photo courtesy of geralt, all-free-downloads.com Other photos courtesy Deva Walksfar.

 

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