Friday, December 26, 2014

Interview with Krish/Flank Hawk over at the Library of Erana

If you have a moment, check out the interview with Flank Hawk over at the Library of Erana.

If you've never read any of the First Civilization's Legacy Series, you can learn a little about the main character. If you've read one or more of the novels, maybe you'll learn something new.

Link: Character Interview Number Twenty-Two – Flank Hawk

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas: The First Noel and Remembering

It's Christmas again! Wishing everyone both a Memorable and Enjoyable Christmas spent with family and Friends.

One of my favorite songs in celebrating:

My Father's One Major Decoration
now hanging in my Home

I still miss driving up to Toledo to visit Dad on Christmas Eve.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Rudolph Parody: An Oldie but a Goodie

Although you've probably seen this before, it's still funny--at least it is for me:

Sunday, December 21, 2014

My Primary Place of Employment

Sometimes readers, and people at book signings and conventions, ask where I work, as I don't make a living as an author.

I always tell them that I'm an English instructor at a career technical high school. Sometimes, depending upon the conversation, I'll also share that I used to teach science there as well.

In any case, here's a youtube link that discusses where I work:

I guess I wasn't 'photogenic' enough to have been included in the few brief academic instructor inserts. ;)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Character Interview: Mr. Hood, of Bound by Alan Baxter

Note: I am re-running this interview as the three book series by Alan Baxter has been released beyond the original Australia and New Zealand Region. It can now be found in the USA, UK and elsewhere in ebook form. Hopefully, print will follow.


Mr. Hood, could you tell the readers a little about yourself, including your business?

Certainly. I run a company called Black Diamond Incorporated. We are an investment and acquisitions firm. I’m sure you’re more interested in the less mundane acquisitions side of my activities. Well, let’s just say that I seek arcana that the magical community might be prepared to pay very well for and I sell it to them. If they can afford it.

In general, Mr. Hood, could you describe some of your clients? And isn’t it dangerous to deal both with arcana and individuals in the magical community, especially those with access to magical powers and wealth?

Well, I know few people who control greater wealth than I do, and therein lies my ultimate power. My clients are many and varied, but confidentiality prevents me from telling you anything about them. Suffice to say that I can meet their many and varied needs well. Everything good in life can be dangerous, but that’s half the fun, no?

Understanding that client confidentiality is of vital importance to your business, might you be able to name and describe an example or two of the arcane items that you’ve obtained and/or sold through Black Diamond Incorporated?

There’s really very little I don’t sell through Black Diamond. If someone wants something, I’ll get it for them. I have people out there in the world who are experts at finding things. A lot of magical grimoires pass through our hands – people are always after that powerful tome. You know, the one that will make them more powerful than they ever dreamed. Very few such things exist, of course, but that doesn’t stop my business from making a good turnover on the desire. Ancient god icons tend to attract a lot of bidding too, but we usually source those for specific clients. The truth is, if it’s rare, and especially if it’s magical, we can get it for you. If you can afford it.

Can you describe a situation where one of your competitors did something foolish or unwise that cost them dearly and allowed Black Diamond Incorporated to profit?

Ah, well, you see, the problem with that question is the assumption that I have competitors. No one does what I do. Sure, there are various arcane dealers out there, but they trade in trinkets compared to me. And should they get their hands on anything of real value, I’ll soon relieve them of it and turn a proper profit on the thing. The most foolish and unwise thing any person can do is think they have any chance at competing with my company.

“Relieve them of it” is quite a loaded answer. Correct me if I am wrong, but what you’re indirectly relaying is that underhanded actions, which might be an understatement, or hiring someone outside the company structure to perform such actions, are part of your business model?

Business is business. My business is successful because I get what I want. We live in the jungle, we’re still animals. Don’t mistake this concrete and glass for anything other than a variation on the trees and vines of the wilds. Survival of the fittest. I will always make a viable business offer for anything, but believe me when I say that I get what I want. Nothing “underhanded”, of course, and yes, I have many outside subcontractors on my payroll.

Mr. Hood, as you view humanity as a form of animal, and actions animals take to survive and prosper aren’t generally classified as ‘underhanded’ in the animal kingdom, would it be accurate to say you’re a firm believer in ‘The ends justifies the means’?

Most certainly. The strong survive and the weak are subjugated. There’s no point in complaining about it. The only response is to become stronger, become the apex predator. Many people try to moralize all kinds of other positions, but the simple truth is that the strongest survive by feeding on the rest. That’s the end that justifies the means of existence throughout the animal kingdom. Man likes to think he’s more evolved, but look at the news any day of the week and you’ll see the truth.

Keeping with the animal theme, humans are animals that form relationships and communities. Who would you consider part of your social circle, be it family, friends, associates, subordinates, or others? What part do they play in your life?

I have many people in my social circle, from the purely business-related to rather more personal liaisons. But there’s no one I couldn’t do without. Reliance on anyone is a weakness. To continue your analogy with animals (or was it mine?) the greatest hunters hunt alone. Some work in packs, but the truly apex predator is solo.

What do you think of the Kin, and what sort of contact or business interaction do you have with them—if any?

They are what they are. Usually I have very little to do with them, but if they come to me for business, I will offer them the same service I would extend to anyone else. But in my experience, they tend to keep to themselves. Which is probably best for everyone.

From the following, in your experience, which type of client is the most risky to deal with and which would be your preference to deal with when they’re seeking an item that might notably enhance their power? And, if you could, provide some insight as to why

  1. An accomplished conjurer preparing to bite off more than he can chew
Someone else in your sales and acquisitions business, not necessarily one with magical abilities but is knowledgeable
  3. A Kin in a leadership position within their culture
A skilled witch that’s part of a powerful coven
A demon garbed in (or possessing) a mortal body

Ah, well now we get into the nitty gritty of the business! I’ll address each of your queries in turn. Number one is likely to be a once-only client, as people in that position tend not to survive a brush with the truly powerful items. Number two I would never deal with. One doesn’t fraternize with the enemy. Number three is usually represented by someone. A Kin leader coming directly to me is usually up to no good within his or her own Den. And let me tell you, I find that kind of internecine warfare quite delicious. Number four I’ve learned to be very wary of and deal in open and honest terms. Seriously, it is foolish to cross a powerful witch. Number five is unlikely to come to me and I don’t know if I’d recognize them for what they are if they did. And I certainly wouldn’t tell you.

Might you relay how you came to be aware of the magical community and provide your view on why it remains an unknown to the vast majority of humanity?

The thing about this world is that people only see what hey want to see. Very few people really want to know anything beyond their job, three meals a day and a roof over their heads. Anything that doesn’t fit the paradigm gets filtered out. Other people, very few and far between, do want to know more. The true seekers, the adventurers, and they will discover the wonders that are out there to be found. It’s also in the interests of those people not to publicize too much the wonderful world they know. There’s value in exclusivity, after all. And power. And I’m here to help facilitate that power to those who know and can afford it.

Mr. Hood, as we are closing in on the end of this interview, is there anything you’d like to add or say to the readers here?

Simply that if anyone out there requires the rarest of arcane treasures, then I’m the man you need to see. And if you can’t find me, you’re clearly not cut out to be my client.

Thank you, Mr. Hood, for taking the time from your business to answer questions for the readers.

(End of Character Interview)

Note: The Alex Caine books are currently only available in the Australia/New Zealand region, but should be available everywhere else before too long. (as of Mid December 2014, they're available everywhere!)
Amazon USA: Bound (currently free) -- Obsidian -- Abduction
Amazon UK: Bound (currently free) -- Obsidian -- Abduction

About the Author, Alan Baxter:

Alan Baxter is a Ditmar Award-nominated British-Australian author. He writes dark fantasy, horror and sci-fi, rides a motorcycle and loves his dog. He also teaches Kung Fu. He is the author of the dark urban fantasy trilogy, Bound, Obsidian and Abduction (The Alex Caine Series) published by HarperVoyager Australia, and the dark urban fantasy duology, RealmShift and MageSign (The Balance Book 1 and Book 2) from Gryphonwood Press. He co-authored the short horror novel, Dark Rite, with David Wood. Alan also writes short stories with more than 50 published in a variety of journals and anthologies in Australia, the US, the UK and France. His short fiction has appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Daily Science Fiction, Postscripts, Wily Writers and Midnight Echo, among many others, and more than twenty anthologies, including the Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror (2010 and 2012). Alan also writes narrative arcs and dialogue for videogames. He wrote the popular writer’s resource, Write The Fight Right, a short ebook about writing convincing fight scenes.

Alan lives among dairy paddocks on the beautiful south coast of NSW, Australia, with his wife, son, dog and cat. Read extracts from his novels, a novella and short stories at his website – – or find him on Twitter @AlanBaxter and Facebook, and feel free to tell him what you think. About anything.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

One of Many Chance Reminders of My Friend, David Stace

Yesterday, I was looking through my collection of audiobook CDs to share one with a friend, when I came across my copy of The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis. The post-it note is from David Stace, who'd borrowed it to listen to during his devotional time.

I also think about Dave whenever I get to sign a copy of Soul Forge, the book I dedicated to him.

The Great Divorce is a story about a man who takes a bus trip from Hell to the outer reaches of Heaven, and observes why damned souls continue to bar themselves from entering Heaven. It's both an interesting and instructive listen (and read).  David agreed. :)
Dave, with Bob Ohler on his right and Pam Weldy on his left
 Here's a link to my previous post about David Stace: I'll Miss You, David Stace, and I'm Not the Only One

Friday, December 12, 2014

Gas Prices in West Central Ohio

Price December 11, 2014
Last night I filled up my truck. I didn't mind the gas price. In truth, I didn't expect to see gas prices this low again. I thought maybe $2.50 to $2.75 per gallon...someday.

What this means is that without state and federal gas taxes, it's well below $2.00 a gallon.

Why? From what I read, there's a variety of reasons, from slow economies around the globe and low demand, to larger/excess production, including from the USA, and that OPEC hasn't cut it's production. Too many factors to be sure, and the effects will be many--mostly positive, except for those associated with bringing oil from beneath the ground or ocean.

I can say that it will save me a little over a dollar a day in getting to and from work, as compared to last year. I keep track of the price, jotting it down each time I fill up along with other information such as the date, distance traveled since last fill up, and how many gallons it took to fill the tank.

More money in my pocket is good for me and my family, and good for other aspects of the economy. :)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Signing Event This Saturday at Little York Tavern & Pizza (Troy, Ohio)

I along with another author and a solid host of artists will be at a Christmas Bazaar event being held at the Little York Tavern & Pizza establishment located at:

116 W Main St, Troy, Ohio 45373

The event runs from Noon until 4:00 pm, this Saturday (December 13th).

You can find more information by following this link: Holiday Bazaar

I hope to see you there, where I'll be talking to folks about reading and writing, and signing copies of my books. And why not enjoy lunch while you're there. Both the food and service are great!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

This is What Editing Looks Like

This is what editing looks like, at least for me when I take a red pen to the first draft of Relic Rescue--one of many drafts yet to come (See picture to the right).

I printed out this particular section and marked it up in between browsers and customers during the Christmas in the Village event this past Saturday. Why not use snippets of down time for productive writing?

As I'd been away from the novel for a bit, I figured looking over the last two chapters written would help me get back into the swing of the story...and while reading, why not do a little editing as well, right?

Yesterday and today I started entering those edits, before moving forward and adding more words to the first draft.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas in the Village (St. Paris) Book Signing

Just to let folks know that I'll be participating in Christmas in the Village from Noon until 6:00 pm on Saturday (December 6). I'll be there with more than five dozen vendors that include sellers of clocks, fancy pens, decorations, collectables, crafts, jewelry and much more.

I'll be talking about reading and writing, and signing books. If you're looking for a few Christmas gifts or something for yourself, this is the place. If you already have copies of my novels, bring them along and I'll be happy to sign them.

I'll be in the Municipal Building located on Main Street (U.S. Route 36) just west of Springfield Street.

Note: Santa is scheduled to arrive for a visit to see children at about 1:00 pm.

Follow this link for more details: Christmas in the Village

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Genre Shotgun Released in Audiobook

Genre Shotgun, my short story collection, has been released in audiobook! It's narrated by Ryder Timberlake and is currently available via:



The collection contains 13 stories, from Science Fiction and Horror/Suspense to Inspirational and Mystery.

Follow the link (to Audible or Amazon above) and give sample a listen, and see what you think

The full list of stories includes:

The Scene of My Second Murder
Skull Face Return
The Candy Bar Game

Science Fiction:
Accelerated Justice
Seconds of Eternity
Tethered in Purgatory
Vegetable Matters
The Exchange Box

It Was a Mistake
Even Zero Can Add Up to Something
The Last Meeting

Drug Dogs
Fictional History


Friday, November 28, 2014

C.S. Lewis on Teaching

The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts. --C.S. Lewis

I think there's a lot of truth to this.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Holiday Bazaar Tomorrow at Upper Valley Career Center

A quick reminder that tomorrow I'll be participating in the Holiday Bazaar along with over two dozen other vendors (foods, jewelry, knitted and sewn gifts, cooking ware and more). For those who know them, the Domestic Divas as well as author Stephen Hines will be in attendance.

I'll have copies of all my novels and short story collection, ready to sign for readers and for gifts to readers!

It runs from 3:00 pm until 6:00 pm, although I have to leave at 5:00 pm to attend a tri-county planning commission meeting in Bellefountaine as part of my responsibility as a councilman for the Village of St. Paris.

Upper Valley Career Center is located at:

8811 Career Drive
Piqua, Ohio  45356

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Some Teachers have Super Powers

Joanne Detter at her desk
A co-worker of mine relayed a classroom incident that I found both amusing and interesting, although not surprising.

Mrs. Detter forgot to turn off her cell phone after her planning period. As class was staring it chimed, indicating a text. She apologized to the students, silenced her cell and placed it face down on her desk (to make a point), telling them she'd check it at lunch.

Her students were both surprised and perplexed. She informed them that she would check the text when lunch arrived. They couldn't believe she wouldn't immediately check it, and had the ability to ignore who'd sent her a text and what it said. They were more anxious and nervous than she would ever be--on her behalf. How could anyone have that sort of self-control? Mrs. Detter has super powers.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Interview with Fantasy Author Alexandra Butcher

Welcome to Up Around the Corner, Alexandra. Could you tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

Hi and thanks for having me.. I’m a Brit, living in the South West. I like to read, watch movies, and I love natural history, history and science. I’m currently studying an online course about Roman History and thoroughly enjoying it. I hate clowns, dolls and enclosed spaces.

My writing is mainly fantasy and fantasy romance but I also write poetry, occasional horror, short stories and erotica. As of October 2014 I have two self-published novels in the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Fantasy series. These are set in the mythical world of Erana; it is a dark and dangerous world, at least for some. Magic is illegal – punishable by imprisonment or death and elves are forced to live as slaves. The books follow the adventures of an elven sorceress and a human (ish) mage as they seek to rescue a kidnapped child, and for Book II - The Shining Citadel they seek out a long lost elven city, hoping it will bring answers but what they find is a dangerous truth. Tales of Erana is a collection of short stories set in the same world, told as mythic accounts or fairytales. That one is also available in audio.

I also have various short fantasy stories and poems in a number of anthologies.

I imagine you incorporate knowledge through your interest in natural history, history and science into your writing. Can you explain where this has come to pass in one or more of your works?

I researched quite a bit of herb-lore and flora and fauna for The Shining Citadel. As some of the book takes place in swampland and some in forest it helps to know what is likely to be found there. What plants or creatures can be eaten? What do they look like? What kind of terrain do they inhabit? Of course it doesn’t have to mirror Earth but it helps to have a basis. History is helpful – especially weapons/armours and warfare, medieval buildings, and transport, knowledge. Period technology is important too, what can and can’t be done – even with magic.

What would you list as a few of your favorite movies and/or novels? What do you enjoy about them, and have they influenced the type of stories you write?

Movies: Lord of the Rings, Schindler’s List, Dead Poet’s Society, Star Wars IV-VI, High Plains Drifter, Willow, Dune, Jabberwocky, Phantom of the Opera, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Bourne Trilogy, Monty Python, Reign of Fire, Day After Tomorrow, Terminator(s), Silent Running, Lost Boys, Guardians of the Galaxy, X-men, 300, Wall-E – as you can see it is quite a mix. I like movies with a good plot, excitement, perhaps humour and fun characters. I like fantasy films BUT there are a lot of really rubbish fantasy and sci-fi ones. I tend to find fantasy and sci-fi movies which are bad are BAD. More so than other genres. Having fancy special effects does not excuse a crap plot.  

Books: Hmm where to start…. Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, I, the Sun, the Sacred Band, Wuthering Heights, Dracula, Lord of the Rings, most of the Discworld books, War of the Worlds, Reader of Acheron, Frankenstein, Mystery of the Yellow Room, Beyond Sanctuary, Schindler’s List, Dragon Fate, Dragon Blade. Honestly there are too many to mention.

The books certainly have influenced me. Good writing does that. Some of these are written by the masters and mistresses of their craft, and a good teaching tool. I write fantasy because I enjoy it. I am not technical enough for sci-fi and, although I like to read horror, and occasionally write it, I prefer fantasy. Fantasy is a very wide field and anything is possible. Also, many of these books have memorable and complicated characters. I hate shallow characters, and enjoy an anti-hero.

Do any of your stories feature an anti-hero?

Yes, I’d say both Olek and Archos are anti-heroes. Certainly Olek, he is a good deal more than he seems at first. He is introduced as an elven manservant to Lord Archos but it soon becomes clear he has an unusual skillset for a servant. He’s a thief, an assassin and important in the Erana underworld. Archos too has many secrets – for a start he is a mage living in a world where magic is punishable by death. Both of them use their skills to help those who cannot help themselves and defy the established order. Archos is not a man who refuses to get his hands dirty, he deals with one of the Witch-Hunters and the main bad guy in very nasty ways, and yes he enjoys doing it. He is often kind, generous and loyal but he is also willing to kill for his own purposes, and to deal with the dark and deadly. 

Also one of my recent short stories features a vampire anti-hero named Wolfgang, who is, I have to say, a bit nasty. J

Would any of your former teachers be surprised that you write novels and short stories? What about your family and friends? What do they think of your being a writer and have they read any of your works?

I doubt they would be surprised, at least not my English teachers. My dad hasn’t read the books, he is quite disabled these days and he doesn’t read much due to his bad eyesight. He isn’t keen on fantasy anyway. My mother died a couple of years ago, from cancer, but she saw the first edition of the paperback. My sisters have both read the books. As one is an English teacher and the other loves fantasy they were delighted. The only other person in the family who was a writer was my grandmother, who wrote local history non-fiction.

Here’s a question that’s a little off the current track: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people (language not being a barrier), who would they be, where would you dine, and what would you hope to discuss?

Oh gosh. That is a tricky one. Sir David Attenborough, the naturalist, for one. I love natural history and he has done more to bring nature into our homes than anyone else. For more than sixty years he has presented programs about everything which flies, swims, walks and crawls. I think I’d ask him his opinion on global warming and the impact human beings have had on our planet.

Second, probably Homer. I’d ask him to discuss the Odyssey, his thoughts on the war of Troy and the nature of heroism. What makes a man or woman a hero?

Thirdly, Sir Ernest Shackleton, the explorer. Again probably the nature of courage, and survival. He was a leader and when his ship was trapped in the Antarctic ice he and some of his crew walked to freedom through an icy hell. How does one man convince his fellows to follow him, to trust their lives to him? So a discussion on leadership.

Where would we eat? I love Italian food so a great Italian restaurant.

Interesting choices.

Could you share with us what you’re working on now and what readers might expect from you in the next year or two?

The Stolen Tower – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book III is due early next year, which follows some characters from book II as they embark on a mercy mission.

I’m hoping to release another volume of Tales of Erana – probably a heroes and monsters edition. There will be a few more stories in anthologies too, although exactly what and when is not yet decided.

I’m currently revising book III drafts, and short story writing for anthologies. I’m beginning work too on an associated gaming system for the world of my novels – realistically that won’t appear for a good while but next year will see the basics begin to appear. Planning is in process for Book IV of the Chronicles and presently I’m studying an online history course which may lead to some historical fiction further down the line.

Sounds like you’re going to be busy.

As we’re closing in on the end of the interview, is there anything else you’d like to share or add?
I’d just like to reiterate the power and importance of storytelling. So much pleasure can be found in the pages of a book. A person can escape, find new worlds, meet wild and wonderful people and experience things most people never can. A book can make you cry, bring joy, bring learning and widen the mind. I truly believe books make people civilized, free and human. No other creatures have written language, to our knowledge, and for thousands if not tens of thousands of years storytelling has been the way of imparting knowledge, experience and excitement. 

Spend time with a book, spend time reading to your kids, or encouraging them to read for themselves. Don’t limit what they read – even if you don’t like it, they might. Let the story free!

Good advice, Alexandra. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.


A. L. Butcher is the British author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles and several short stories in the fantasy and fantasy romance genre. She is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet and a dreamer. When she is grounded in the real world she likes science, natural history, history and monkeys. Her work has been described as ‘dark and gritty’.

Amazon Page: