Maelstrom – 1st Time Free this Weekend

Maelstrom Full Cover JPEG

Here’s a chance to try my fourth novel free of charge Smile 

The ebook copy of Maelstrom is free on the Amazon site of your choice from Saturday, August 13th to Monday, August 15th. Enjoy!

Genre: Action/adventure/thriller/romance

The road up to Casa Destion - chalk - Lorna FriesenDescription: A shot is fired into the still night air and a young woman dies on Suicide Ridge. A dangerous game has begun. Over the course of one blistering, hot week, winds of change sweep through an isolated valley in small town America.

Sheriff Bert Calder, with the help of Mayor Amos Thatcher, has held the town of Haddon under his thumb for twenty-five years. As things spin out of control, Calder works the angles, ensuring he can make the most of the upheaval that is to come.

Rafael Destino, facing his own mortality, races against time to gain control of the railroad – a lifeline essential to the town’s survival. His goal – to financially destroy Thatcher, the man he believes responsible for the death of his beloved sister. His tool – adopted son Myhetta. But how far down the road of revenge will Rafael push the young man who owes him everything?

Myhetta is poised on the edge of controlling Destino Enterprises, the job he has been groomed for. While money, power and influence are his to command, the past continues to torment him.

In a clash of powerful men, with fathers pitted against sons, no one will be left unscathed. Maelstrom is a page turner that speeds along like a runaway train.

The Road to Aldeao - pastel work June Guenette

Here’s what one reader thought. 5 stars … The damage we humans can do …

As a fan of Francis Guenette’s Crater Lake series, I was interested to read this new book, a collaboration and edition of her late mother’s manuscript Maelstrom. Before purchase, I already knew from the author that it would be a very different novel, and of course wondered in what areas.

The story, which has been outlined by other reviewers, takes place not on the Canadian West Coast but in some arid, desert-like part of the USA. I was never sure where, but thought maybe New Mexico? And like the Crater Lake books, in a small town setting, but a very different one. The town is dominated by its ruthless, amoral sheriff, though as the plot progresses we learn of the network of complicated relationships and special interests which has intensified his rule. Like the Crater Lake books, all turns on the damaged personalities involved, and how they interact: but in this setting, the damage is lethal, and the results are far more violent. It is indeed a book which surveys how tragically violent and destructive human beings can behave towards one another. The view of human is by no means the “Rousseau” one that we are all basically good: most of these characters could be said to be basically bad, weak, or both, and the author doesn’t hold back what we as a species are capable of, especially in male attitudes and actions towards women.

However, it is also a Francis Guenette book despite the differences. We can still discern her psychological training, experience, and knowledge, her concern for the fate of the mixed-race and Native Americans, her feminism (to give a name to something more subtle than that), and her ability to weave the consequences of damaged personalities for good or for destruction. This, as the story progresses, becomes increasingly obvious, and makes the book a page-turner. Her love and respect for wild and domestic animals is also in there.

She also weaves into it the boy who has what can be called ‘second sight’ (though it may have other names), also found in the Crater Lake books.

Recommended if you are a reader who prefers a study of how it is to be human in an isolated township and an arid setting. This is hard lives, hard survival, in an ‘unforgiving’ landscape. But it ends with some hope.

Arizona tree - Bruce Witzel photo

Hard Survival in an Unforgiving Landscape

Pencil sketch - Casa Destino - June Guenette (2)

It’s a pleasure to have a book reviewed by a respected fellow author. A couple of weeks ago, I received just such a treat for my newest release – Maelstrom.

5.0 out of 5 stars The damage we humans can do …, 24 Jan. 2016 – By Mari Howard

Maelstrom (Kindle Edition)

As a fan of Francis Guenette’s Crater Lake series, I was interested to read this new book, a collaboration and edition of her late mother’s manuscript, Maelstrom. Before purchase, I already knew from the author that it would be a very different novel, and of course wondered in what areas.

The story, which has been outlined by other reviewers, takes place not on the Canadian West Coast but in some arid, desert-like part of the USA. I was never sure where, but thought maybe New Mexico? And like Crater Lake books, in a small town setting, but a very different one. The town is dominated by its ruthless, amoral sheriff, though as the plot progresses we learn of the network of complicated relationships and special interests which has intensified his rule.

Like the Crater Lake books, all turns on the damaged personalities involved, and how they interact: but in this setting, the damage is lethal, and the results are far more violent. It is indeed a book which surveys how tragically violent and destructive human beings can behave towards one another. The view of human is by no means the “Rousseau” one that we are all basically good: most of these characters could be said to be basically bad, weak, or both, and the author doesn’t hold back what we as a species are capable of, especially in male attitudes and actions towards women.

However, it is also a Francis Guenette book despite the differences. We can still discern her psychological training, experience, and knowledge, her concern for the fate of the mixed-race and Native Americans, her feminism (to give a name to something more subtle than that), and her ability to weave the consequences of damaged personalities for good or for destruction. This, as the story progresses, becomes increasingly obvious, and makes the book a page-turner. Her love and respect for wild and domestic animals is there. She also weaves into the story a theme found in the Crater Lake books – a boy who has what can be called ‘second sight’ – though it may have other names.

Recommended, unless you are a reader who prefers a rip-roaring good crime/adventure story to a study of how it is to be human in an isolated township and an arid setting. This is hard lives, hard survival, in an ‘unforgiving’ landscape. But it ends with some hope.

Arizona - Bruce Witzel photo

Mari Howard is a UK based writer and author of Baby, Baby (The Mullin’s Family Saga – Book One) and The Labyrinth Year (The Mullin’s Family Saga – Book Two). Check out my Amazon.com review of Mari’s book, The Labyrinth Year.

Baby, Baby Cover                                Labyrinth Year Cover

Tennessee Whiskey

Chris-Stapleton-Traveller2

I’ve fallen in love with Chris Stapleton’s song, Tennessee Whiskey. Oh my gosh, talk about smooth. I could listen to this guy sing all night.

“Tennessee Whiskey”

I used to spend my nights out in a barroom

Liquor was the only love I’ve known

But you rescued me from reachin’ for the bottom

And brought me back from being too far gone

[Chorus:]

You’re as smooth as Tennessee whiskey

You’re as sweet as strawberry wine

You’re as warm as a glass of brandy

And honey, I stay stoned on your love all the time

I’ve looked for love in all the same old places

Found the bottom of a bottle always dry

But when you poured out your heart I didn’t waste it

‘Cause there’s nothing like your love to get me high

[Chorus x3]

Well, I stayed stoned on your love all the time.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song that made me think so strongly of a character from one of my own novels. Myhetta, from my recent release, Maelstrom, is this song. He’s a whiskey drinking, hard around the edges, soft-on-the-inside, tortured sort of guy just looking for the love of a good woman to pull him out of the bottom of a bottle.

That particular myth has fuelled many a great country and western song but believe me, it can also make for a mighty endearing novel character, too. If you’ve read Maelstrom, follow the link to the You-Tube video, listen to this song and let me know if you agree. Follow the link at any rate and maybe this song will get you interested in reading my book.

Cowboy Trail off Highway 22 Alberta - Francis Guenette photo

I Share Therefore I Am –The Author Interview

Francis @ Kootenay Lake

I love doing author interviews. I may be taking a chance with that admission but go ahead – contact me with a list of questions and you’ll get a quick response. I recently did an interview related to my newly released novel, Maelstrom. Answering questions always kick-starts my creative process.

What is the hardest part of being an author?

Hands down, I find the first few weeks after a new book release the hardest part of the author life. It is as if I have tossed a newborn baby out on the sidewalk and now I wait for readers to notice and react. I am haunted by doubts and questions. Will readers value this story I have poured so much of myself into creating? Will they understand what motivates these characters that I have become so close to over the time taken to create this novel?

Maelstrom Full Cover JPEG

Can you give us a short synopsis of Maelstrom?

Maelstrom is a fast-paced thriller that unfolds over the course of one blistering hot week in August, 1976. The setting is the fictitious, American town of Haddon, which is held under the thumb of the brutal Sheriff Bert Calder. Main character, Myhetta, a young man of mixed heritage and a troubled background, has been charged by his adoptive father with the task of destroying Mayor Amos Thatcher. The man pulling the strings is Rafael Destino, the rich and powerful third Lord of Casa Destino – a sprawling estate that perches on a rise overlooking the Haddon valley. Rafael believes Thatcher is responsible for the death of his beloved sister, Serena. Much is at stake and a cruel game is set in motion that pits fathers against sons and draws the innocent as well as the guilty into a vortex of violence.

What inspired you to write this book?

June Guenette - old slideThe story behind writing Maelstrom is almost as interesting as the actual novel. When I was a child, I often heard the sound of my mother’s Remington manual typewriter well into the wee hours of the night. She was writing a book and the idea of that always fascinated me. It set my mother apart from the moms of my friends. My mother wrote all of her life and though she returned periodically to her book, I never heard of a finished version. Years after her death, I came into possession of a large box that contained over 2000 typewritten pages. This was her work on Maelstrom. It was a massive amount of material and much of it was first draft notes, ideas, false starts and alternate plot lines. I went through every page in a process of breaking the story down to its bare bones. Then the rebuilding began. In the end, the book became my own though haunting bits of dialogue and flashes of my mother’s wit and storytelling skill remain. I thought to be the ghostwriter of my mother’s book but in the end our roles were reversed. She became the ghost in the pages of my novel.

How many hours per day do you spend writing?

It varies. When I’m in the creative stage, I may spend ten to twelve hours per day on the work. It is hard to let go of the story at that point. Rewriting, editing, proofreading and formatting require a more paced approach and I slow down to a regular work day of six to eight hours for those tasks. Intense periods of writing work are interspersed with time off to garden, cook, travel and spend time with my children and grandchildren.

Brit - Guenette photo               Emma - Guenette photo

Name your top five favourite books.

My tastes are constantly evolving. Over the past weeks, I have been immersed in Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels. Connelly is a genius when it comes to creating a hero for the long haul and there is much to learn from his way of constantly developing Bosch’s character and keeping him fresh for readers. I enjoy the detail oriented writing of authors like Robert Harris (his latest novel, An Officer and a Spy is brilliant) and Dan Simmons (Terror – historical retelling of the Franklin expedition and The Crook Factory – the exploits of Ernest Hemingway in Cuba during World War II – would definitely hit my favorite list). I loved Game of Thrones – but who doesn’t? Hunger Games is a great series of novels that have been brought to the big screen with a good deal of authenticity. I also enjoy Philippa Gregory’s strong female characters in her historical Tudor period books. I read across many genres always looking for that one ingredient that means everything to me – character development.

Inspiration sign - Google Image

What are you working on now?

I am in the storyboarding and planning stage for the fourth book in my Crater Lake Series. Set on the rugged west coast of Canada, the first three books have revolved around the lives of the adults and young people who live on the isolated shores of fictitious Crater Lake. As one reviewer has said, “… there is something for everyone. Love, sex, lust, greed, spirituality, sacrifice, death, murder, life … the list goes on and on.”

Artistic Lights - Bruce Witzel photo

Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Review of Maelstrom

Maelstrom Full Cover JPEG

I recently broke one of my rules and paid for a review of Maelstrom. Okay – hold the gnashing of teeth. I didn’t pay for the actual review. I paid to have my book pushed up the ridiculously long queue so that I could have a review in a short turn around. I felt the need of an independent take on my book in a timely fashion. I got what was promised – the opinion of my reviewer, someone who doesn’t claim to be an expert literary critic or professional editor, but who is an avid reader of books like mine. Fair enough. I got the promised 5-star glittery badge (only awarded to 4 or 5 star reviews). And I got a review that is mine to use as I see fit. So, here goes! 

Maelstrom, by Francis Guenette, begins when a young woman dies of a gunshot wound. This one incident starts a series of events in which old rivalries are revealed, power plays are made and things go downhill. In a small town, big things are happening and they are happening fast. Lives are turned upside down.

This novel is a highly entertaining story that reads like a maelstrom. I was taken by the author’s wit and the way she played with words. If you are reading this novel, you will know what I mean. The title fits perfectly with the story and plot lines. It has drama, crisis and some devious men who need to be put in their places.

Sometimes, a reader can feel a writer’s dedication to their work. Maelstrom is one such novel that makes this clear. Guenette is an extremely talented writer. The book is  interesting. Seriously interesting. A great action packed drama that keeps the reader entertained.

5star-shiny-web

Changing Hats

Bette Davis in a bowler - google image

“Without wonder and insight, acting is just a trade. With it, it becomes creation.” (Bette Davis)

I would readily insert the word writing for acting in the above quote.

Maelstrom, my latest novel has been launched as an e-book and though I’ve had a struggle getting the softcover out, I’m hopeful it will be on the shelves early in the new year.

The decks will be cleared and I will plunge into extensive storyboarding and planning for the next book in the Crater Lake Series. This requires a definite change of hats from the work I have been doing over the last few months.

The self-publishing, learning curve has been steepest for me at the point where I realized that negotiating the process would be about so much more than improving my ability to craft a readable story. A wide variety of skills have been required.

Today’s post invites you to take a look at my rack of self-publishing hats.

Do you see that charcoal grey fedora? That’s my brainstorming, storyboarding, planning hat. I remember looking at post-depression era photos of my grandfather striding purposefully down a city street wearing a crisp suit and just such a hat. His eyes gleamed and I felt certain he was planning his next move as an up and coming entrepreneur. (No my grandfather was not Gregory Peck but I enjoy the comparison.)

Gregory Peck in a fedora - google image

Next on the rack you will find a black Stetson – my creative hat. This is my ride’em cowgirl stage. I am ready to tackle broncos, rope bulls and careen around corners in a chuck wagon race. Anything goes and I need a hat that emphasizes that attitude. As the picture below illustrates, sometimes the Stetson might need to be traded up for a crash helmet.

Rodeo girl - google image

When I get to the rewriting stage, I’ve got to toss that Stetson aside. A tall, black, witch’s hat suits my needs. I am not one of those kill your darlings advocates but I am ready to be brutal where necessary and cackle as I cut.

cat in a witch hat - google image

Do you see that red ball cap hanging on the rack? That’s my editing cap. There is an excitement about editing that reminds me of the opening game of the World Series. And lucky me, editing has become a team sport because I’ve got such a great editor! Everything starts to come together and the book that emerges will shine like a champ.

Red cap on rack - google image

I approach formatting with exhilaration and dread. I’m coming down the home stretch but I know the attention to detail is going to take a lot out of me. I carefully adjust my banker’s green visor and lodge a pencil behind my ear.

baby in banker's visor - google image

You might notice that flashy hat that is draped over the last peg. I don this one to do promotion and marketing work – grabbing some attention while hiding out in plain sight seems to suit me.

fancy hat - google image

Oh … yes … you’ve got me there. I have missed a hat. I forgot to mention that thick, wool toque in the corner. I am embarrassed to confess that I put that on and pull it down tight around my face when the inevitable mistakes occur. Always good to have a place to hide out and regroup.

Brit - Guenette photo

Now it’s your turn. How about sharing some of the metaphorical hats on your rack?

The Ebb & Flow of the Writing Life

Beauty Berry - Bruce Witzel photo  (1)

The most challenging part of my life as a full-time writer is the week after a book launches out into the world. I have done everything within my power to make it the best book possible; I have pulled my hair out getting formatting details just right; I have carefully planned a few targeted promotions; I have blogged, updated Facebook and tweeted on a regular basis.

That’s all I’ve got, folks. I can’t think of anything else to do. Maelstrom is now on its own, swimming in the vast Amazon sea. Here’s hoping it can paddle its way to an island with a high hill, scramble up to the top and wave wildly to be noticed by the reading public. While I may lack objectivity, I do think those who give Maelstrom a chance will enjoy the fast-paced story.

Fall colours - Bruce Witzel photo  (1)

Meanwhile, my life goes on. Fall is making its presence felt in our evergreen world. The apple, pear and Mountain Ash trees are all decked out in yellow splendour. The nights are getting colder and except for those days when the sun shines bright for an hour or two in the afternoon, we are less inclined to run around outside in T-shirts.

Late Cosmos - Guenette photoAnd yet, I can still find a garden treasure or two if I really look. The odd, brave flower brightens the barren beds. Though most plants are showing those distinct signs of decay, destined for pruning back or uprooting to a new location in the ever-growing compost pile, I’ve got a few hardy peppers still growing in a cold frame. Celery and celeriac root poke out of the ground and will soon find their way into soup to warm these chillier days. There will be a few more meals of beets – luscious, round and the deepest red.

Purple haze - Bruce Witzel photo

The fourth novel in the Crater Lake Series beckons to me from the storyboard. A growing file of notes clutter my planning file – storylines, character sketches, location descriptions and bits of dialogue. Exciting … yet something holds me back. I’m not yet ready to plunge in for that deepest of first draft dives.

St. Francis - Bruce Witzel photo  (1)

I’m like the garden going fallow for a time. I need to ponder and think, walk the trails and let my mind wander ahead of me onto paths unknown, territory uncharted. I feel the need to have story ideas turn and turn through my mind as if I sat bent over a spinning wheel with heaps of wool at my feet and the task of spinning it all into the finest yarn.

Winding Trail - Bruce Witzel photo

There is an ebb and flow to the writing life – a time to churn out words in creative frenzy and a time to rest and let the creative spirit rejuvenate. Let me honour both ends of the spectrum.

Mushrooms - Bruce Witzel photo