Praise for my editor, Wordsmith Penny Freeman

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Author Spotlight: Alex McGilvery

In honor of the release of Xchyler Publishing’s release of its new paranormal anthology, Beyond the Wail, it is my pleasure to spotlight outstanding emerging horror writer Alex McGilvery.

Alex McGilvery is an author living in Flin Flon, Manitoba with his wife, Alex, and three dogs. He has been an avid reader all his life and wrote novels in his early teens. He has been writing short stories and poetry ever since. In addition to his first twenty-year work, he writes a novel every year through NaNoWriMo and another with the 3-Day Novel contest. He also writes reviews, specializing in indie authors, and works on short stories for contests.

He has now published five books, most recently Sparkles and Blood, a collection of horror novellas, edited an anthology along with the Flin Flon Writers Guild, and continues to be active in the Guild. In order to pay for his writing habit, Alex works full time as a minister in the United Church of Canada. Some of his parishioners wonder at the occasionally dark and twisted nature of his writing.

btwblogbannerWhat is it about fear and the unknown that pulls so passionately at the human heart? Perhaps we are drawn not to the darkness itself, but to the resolution, the overcoming of what we most deeply dread. After all, the more terrible the struggle, the greater the victory when it comes at last. Presented in this anthology are twelve remarkable stories of the darkness that overshadows us, and the resolution that may be found beyond them. They are stories of fear and oppression, but ultimately stories of hope, stories that will take you BEYOND THE WAIL.

Alex’s story in the anthology  is Saint Peter’s Fish: Sam is a walking disaster of biblical proportions, but how much is he willing to sacrifice to escape, and will the Powers That Be allow it?

Available in Amazon paperback and Kindle. See what others are saying about Beyond the Wail on Goodreads.

Author Interviewat work

with Xchyler editor J. Aurel Guay:

  1. How did you come up with the concept of your story?

This one started as a challenge. I was responding to a blog stating never start a story with the weather. I posted the first couple of paragraphs and got a good response. When the contest came up I knew it was time to finish the story.

  1. How did you come up with the title?

The fish in the story burps up gold coins. It is a direct reference to a fish Peter caught to pay taxes.

  1. Please provide some insight into or a secret or two about your story.

In the first iteration of the story the climax is a bar fight in Toledo and God is a biker. That either needed a full novel to deal with, or a switch to a heavy comedic tone. I shifted it around to match better with the contest.

  1. What was the most surprising part of writing this book?

The fork. I had no idea that blasted fork was going to show up and confuse everyone. In the end I like the concept.

  1. What was the hardest part of writing your book, and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge was not to overdo the voice of the story. It would have been so easy to fall into writing the lilt instead of the story. I kept being reminded the story came first and making the words serve the tale, not the voice.

  1. What is your preferred writing genre?

I don’t write heavy romance or hack and slash horror. Other than that I think I have stories at least in just about every genre imaginable, and a few you’d probably never think of.

  1. Who is your favorite author? Who has most influenced your work?

I don’t have one favourite author. When you read fifty to a hundred books a year, you need to keep branching out. I have been known to pick random books off library shelves in an attempt to find new people to read. Now being a reviewer takes care of that. As for influence, I love people who can write complex and layered stories and make them look easy, Kristin Cashore is a newish author I particularly like.

  1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I started writing novels in grade school. I never stopped being a writer. Now I sort of get paid for it.

  1. Given unlimited resources, what would be your ideal writing environment?

I keep joking about a desert island with power and wifi, and probably a fridge.

  1. Where do you actually write? Do you write on a schedule?

I have an office in the basement which I share with our library and our freezer. I have a wonderful view of the neighbour’s peeling paint when the curtains are open. I don’t have a schedule, but try to work an hour or two a day.

  1. What is your writing drive? The power that keeps you going when your writing gets difficult?

I’m sure when they autopsy me, they will find the claw marks from stories trying to get out of my head faster than my fingers will write them. The stories demand to be written. What keeps me going is discipline. If I am a writer, I will write. Whether I feel like it or not is not part of the equation.

  1. Name one entity that you feel supported your writing, outside of family members.

I’m a member of a local writing group. We share stories and critiques.

  1. How does writing impact other parts of your life?

Sometimes people who hear my more twisted stories worry about my mental health.

  1. What activities best give your brain a break? How do you unwind?

When I’m not writing, I like shooting pictures with my camera. I’ve been planning to make a few more knives for my collection, but it will wait until warmer weather now.

  1. What are some of your other published works?

In order of publication, The Unenchanted Princess, Playing on Yggdrasil, Sarcasm is my Superpower, By the Book, and Sparkles and Blood.

  1. What is your advice to writers?

Write. Really. You aren’t a writer if you don’t write. Then find someone to help you deconstruct your writing to help you make it better. Then write some more.

  1. What’s up next for you?

I’m bringing out another collection of novellas in November called The Heronmaster and a middle grade book for Christmas called Unboring the Princess. I’m also resubmitting a fantasy novel which is the first in a trilogy. I’m in the initial planning stages of a collection of my romance stories called ‘Romantic Shorts’.

  1. What is your favorite snack while writing?

Beer, or coffee, scotch is good, but in small amounts. In terms of food, whatever I can scrounge up.

  1. If you had three wishes, what would they be?

I wouldn’t bother with wishes. If they were handed to me, it would be cheating and I’d miss the story of the journey. Someone else can have mine.

  1. Is there anything else you’d like your readers to know about you?

My wife is named Alex, same as me. My first published book was written as a gift for her. She is in some way the inspiration for all my stories, but she doesn’t read them. She makes me read out loud, usually in the middle of the night.

Just for fun nerd list:

  • Star Wars or Star Trek? As a kid, we watched Star Trek every week, but I don’t have a strong preference.
  • Hunger Games or Divergent? neither
  • James Bond or Jack Ryan? Graham Greene’s   Our Man in Havana
  • Sherlock: Robert Downey, Jr. or Benedict Cumberbatch?   Not a Holmes fan.
  • Spock: Leonard Nimoy or Zachary Quinto?   As an old fart, Nimoy.
  • X-Men or Avengers? They haven’t made a Mighty Mouse movie yet?
  • Batman or Superman? Mighty Mouse
  • Beatles or Rolling Stones?  Supertramp
  • Vampires or Werewolves?  Carnivorous Frogs
  • LARP or MORPG?  I used to DM for D&D complete with manuals and weird dice.

Learn more about Alex, his publications, and what tickles his brain:

flinflonWhere is Flin Flon, Manitoba?





BEYOND THE WAIL: 12 Grave Stories of Love and Loss

Book Release Blog Tour


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Signing at Marissa’s Books & Gifts

AMNS2ndEd-frontUpcoming signing!

Marissa’s Gifts & Books, a charming local independent bookstore, is hosting a signing of the new second edition of A Midsummer Night’s Steampunk, with its gorgeous new cover, Friday, October 9th, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm.

Located at 5664 S 900 E, Ste 8, Murray, UT 84121, marissa's logoMarissa’s is your home for hard to find vintage and collectable books, as well as new titles from local authors.

Already own a first edition copy of AMNS?

Bring it by, and get the second edition, autographed, for only $10. That goes for Kindle copies of the first edition, too. Screaming deal, right?

Come in Steampunk costume, and get $2 off your copy of the second edition.

Hope to see you there.


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Steel & Bone released!


Jump in on a fun give-away for the launch of the new Steampunk anthology, Steel & Bone: Nine Steampunk Adventures!

My novelette-length short story, Sindisiwe, was released by Xchyler Publishing June 27, 2015, in the new Steampunk anthology.

My story is Sindisiwe: A slave girl in Zanzibar escapes a beating when a stranger in the marketplace proves her past is more than just a fairy tale.

Here are the wonderful authors and titles sharing the anthology:

Katherine Cowley, The Clockwork Seer

On an island of oddities, a young clairvoyant struggles for normalcy, but deadly automatons have other plans.

TC Phillips, Stand and Deliver

Neither shackles, slave labor, nor the island’s deadliest inhabitants will prevent these brothers from meting out justice to their father’s murderers.

C.R. Simper, Island Walker

Kit digs her treasures out of trash heaps, but the theft of her invention leads to discoveries money can’t buy.

Zanzibar girlKin Law, The Mysterious Island of Chester Morrison

Dodging her chaperone, a debutante stumbles into adventure and romance at the World’s Fair.

Danielle E. Shipley, A Mind Prone To Wander

Beyond a locked door lies Rowan Charles’ death or his sanity, and the survival or extinction of his people.

Sarah E. Seeley, Curio Cay

The future of humanity rests in the hands of three time-traveling scientists battling biomechanical creatures in the Jurassic past.

John M. Olsen, Revolutionary

A dirigible captain goes down with his ship, and wakes to find himself a captive of a sky-dwelling civilization.

Gail B. Williams, The Steel Inside

Darkness lurks in Sarah’s forgotten past, kept hidden by those who claim to be her devoted husband and loyal servants.

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ARC’s available: Steel & Bone

SteelBone_BookcoverAnyone interested in an electronic Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) of the new Steampunk anthology “Steel & Bone” from Xchyler Publishing? It’s free in exchange for an open and honest review on Amazon or Goodreads. PLUS…<drum roll please>…I’ll give any ARC reader who posts a review a printed copy when the book comes out in a few weeks.

My story in the anthology is “Sindisiwe”, a story set in my “A Midsummer Night’s Steampunk” universe, the story of giant Zulu mech Shaka’s lost teenage daughter, who is living in slavery on the island of Zanzibar.

Willing and able? Message me.


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Cover Reveal! Johnny Worthen’s “The Finger Trap”

TFTCoverJohnny Worthen’s fun new comic noire, The Finger Trap.

Available for pre-order now!

Read all about it on Johnny’s site:

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Author Gail Williams Answers the Pivot Questionnaire

Author Gail Williams and I both have stories in the Steampunk anthology Steel & Bone (Xchyler Publishing, 2015). Mine is Sindisiwe: A slave girl in Zanzibar escapes a beating when a stranger in the marketplace proves her past is more than just a fairy tale. Hers is The Steel Inside: Darkness lurks in Sarah’s forgotten past, kept hidden by those who claim to be her devoted husband and loyal servants.

  1. What is your favorite word?

There are so many!  Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, rambunctious, rubicon, mischief, different.  Like different a lot.

  1. What is your least favorite word?

Right this second “favorite” is really annoying me, there’s a “u” missing, it should be “favourite”.  I don’t mean to be offensive, and I know that it’s just pedantry, but being as I’m British, American spelling can really grate on my nerves.  It’s something that I’m getting over since the American audience seems more interested in my work than the British one but sometimes I just have to grit my teeth about it.  In all I’m not sure I have a least favourite word, they’re all good in the right circumstances.  I guess thing I hate to hear the most is ‘not listening’, it’s so closed off.  Hate that.

  1. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Good company, good conversation, and if it comes along with good food and wine, so much the better.

  1. What turns you of?

Wilful stupidity.  Having differences of opinions I find really interesting, a good debate is equivalent to a good conversation, but people who are wilfully stupid irritate me, especially when they say ‘I’m not listening.

  1. What is your favorite curse word?

Felgercarb.  It’s the swearword used in the original Battlestar Galatica.  For all I know it was used in the remake too, but I never saw that.  Also really like ‘frelling’ from Farscape.

  1. What sound or noise do you love?

My husband saying “I love you.”  Oh dear, that sounds so sappy, oh well.

  1. What sound or noise do you hate?

Finger nails on blackboards – sorry, think you call them chalkboards.  Or the dentist drill.  Or that really creepy laugh that is supposed to emulate a child’s chuckle for a little kiddies rides you see outside the supermarket that actually sounds like something off the soundtrack from a gore-fest horror movie.

  1. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Writer – ha-ha – only just kidding.  Right now I’m a full time asset management professional, which means I work a lot on spreadsheets and it gets dull quick.  Really prefer to be working with words  all the time, hence the response.  There again, I’m also a freelance editor, which is working with words, so I can’t say I’d like to attempt that as technically I’m already in the profession.  Which I guess leaves police work as the working with people would be interesting and the solving problems would be an intrinsic reward.  This might be why I write a lot of crime fiction.

  1. What profession would you not like to do?

Pathologist.  I think this is ‘dead’ interesting and I watch a lot of pathology programmes and I read a lot about forensic pathology, but I don’t think I’d be much good in the theatre.  I had to remove the heart and lungs from an already gutted rabbit once, I nearly threw up.  The rabbit stew was really tasty though.

  1. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Well last time it was “You’re too early go back”, so I could deal with hearing that again.  Oh and by the way, it’s Saint Peter at the Gates not God (oh dear the pedantry is showing again).


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Author John M. Olsen Answers the Pivot Questionnaire

John M. Olsen     Author John M. Olsen and I both have stories in the Steampunk anthology Steel & Bone (Xchyler Publishing, 2015). Mine is Sindisiwe: A slave girl in Zanzibar escapes a beating when a stranger in the marketplace proves her past is more than just a fairy tale. His is Revolutionary: A dirigible captain goes down with his ship, and wakes to find himself a captive of a sky-dwelling civilization.
     I asked him the questions of the famous Pivot Questionnaire. Here are his answers:
     1. What is your favorite word? I don’t have a single outstanding favorite, but I will go with veritable, as in a veritable cornucopia of (something).
     2. What is your least favorite word? Literally. Tracy Hickman has a shirt that says “Misuse of ‘literally’ makes me figuratively insane.”
     3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Truth, knowledge, and the application thereof. Learning about principles, which are always bottomless pools of potential.
     4. What turns you off? I get annoyed at those who purposely remain ignorant when they’re given the opportunity to learn. Also poor drivers. I’m waiting for the day when I get rear ended because the guy behind me assumed I would run a stop sign.
     5. What is your favorite curse word? That’s a hard one. There are probably less than ten people who have ever heard me curse, even counting most of the stand-in watered-down words.
     6. What sound or noise do you love? Crickets in the night. If you asked my wife, she would say a purring cat, but I’m sort of allergic to them despite owning one.
     7. What sound or noise do you hate? Curse words. :)
     8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? I started college as a physics major, and have always been fascinated with astronomy. I also enjoy creating things, whether digital or physical. I do woodworking as a hobby, but would avoid it as a profession.
     9. What profession would you not like to do? I really can’t see myself doing anything out of the high tech industry or related to computers as a profession. To take that on an unusual and non-intuitive leap, let’s say professional gambler.
     10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? So, you remember how you didn’t think you made much of a difference? Let me introduce you to some people.

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Author Neve Talbot Answers the Pivot Questionnaire

Neve TalbotAuthor Neve Talbot and I both have stories in “Mechanized Masterpieces 2: American Anthology” (Xchyler Publishing, 2015). Mine is “Nautilus Redux“. Hers is “West End”: A heartbroken Theodore Laurence follows the siren song of steam to Jamaica, where love and law collide with explosive results.

1. What is your favorite word?

Serendipity. It has a sort of tinkling sound to it, don’t you think? Like wind chimes. It convey​s a dichotomy of fate and self-determination: there’s a little bit of magic working ​in your favor, but it’s up to you to capitalize on it. Combine the meaning and the aural stimulation and it’s just shiny.

I’m also particularly partial to “snicklefritz.”

2. What is your least favorite word?

​Fair. Specifically, used in the whine “it’s not fair.” It conveys a sense of both helplessness​ ​and entitlement which I think can be debilitating. Nothing is fair. Ever. Get used to it. Fight for justice and equality.​ Work to elevate others. Strive to fulfill your potential. Don’t sit on your hiney until life suddenly becomes fair. That makes you a victim because it’s never going to happen. You are what you make yourself. Start becoming, especially that part of yourself that reaches out to help others as you improve your own situation.

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Emotionally/spiritually: beauty. My family is the most beautiful thing in my life. I find the greatest joy in watching m​y children and grandchildren finding joy in each other, strengthening their friendships, creating unbreakable bonds. I believe people take photographs because they want to capture the way that they feel at that particular moment. My phone is full of pictures of my family.

I also get hung up on sunsets, stormy skies, water, sweeping vistas, tall skyscrapers/cityscapes, the stunning beauty of faces cragged with life experience, and the faces of babies.

Creatively: in all honesty, turmoil and stress. One part of my brain gets so frustrated and closed in, I escape into my head, creating worlds more hospitable, while the other part thinks, “oooo. This would make a great story,” or “here’s a great stumbling block to throw in my MC’s path.” I think I’d be bored to death if life were simple.

4. What turns you off?

​Dealing with business. The sight of a bank statement churns my stomach.

5. What is your favorite curse word?

​Don’t even get me started on curse words. Professionally, I believe good writers put into words those things their reader feels but cannot convey. Since people use curse words​ ​because they lack the vocabulary to properly express themselves, a writer defeats their own purpose when they resort to the same language.

Personally, some things just baffle me, like how did the f-word become an adjective or a noun? How did it become something so pervasive? Do people even consider its definition? I mean, it’s angry and aggressive and violent. It’s the synonym of rape. What if people started substituting “rape” instead? Would society be just as blasé about its use? I’d like to think not, that people would take offense, but something tells me it wouldn’t make a difference.

To me, words both spoken and on the page are objects of power. The words we use create our own personal world. That creation then spreads and co-mingles with the worlds of those with whom we interact, like watercolors on paper. What color do we want our world to be? Bright and clean and clear? Vibrant and alive? Or bleak and muddied and dark?

6. What sound or noise do you love?

Children’s laughter and play sounds. I’m particularly fond of opening doors, followed by “Nana!!”​

7. What sound or noise do you hate?

​​Leaf blowers and lawn mowers at 7 am. I’m a night owl.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

​If I weren’t a writer, I’d like to be an artist.

9. What profession would you not like to do?

​Customer service representative or telemarketer. The work lives of those poor people​ must be miserable.​

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

“Good job!”

When I envision meeting God, there’s not a lot of talking but immense expressions of love and acceptance. Lots of gratitude expressed. Sometimes words fail.


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The new faces of Joanne Kershaw’s “Fated”


One of my favorite authors and friends, the Joanneincomparable Joanne Kershaw, has just completed her Vanguard Legacy trilogy.

What’s more, this incredibly prolific author has produced all three volumes, Foretold, Reflected, and Fated, in barely as many years. Believe me, that’s impressive.

She recently played a little game we authors sometimes amuse ourselves with: picking actors with the faces and/or public persoReflectednae closest to what we saw Fatedin our heads while we were writing. Will Hollywood ever listen to us–assuming we land that multi-million dollar movie deal? Doubt it. But it’s a fun game nonetheless.

For our game this time, Joanne concentrated on new characters from the third volume, Fated. 

So here is your peek into the mind of this talented artist–here’s what she sees when she writes:


Elora’s quad leader

He has a little bit of a crush on her (okay, a big crush!), but he’s professional enough to not let it interfere while she is his subordinate. He’s a big softy at heart. Marcus is driven by the work, and takes losses personally. His quiet and calm demeanour means that he counterbalances the craziness inside Elora’s head and it allows her to do her job properly.

Plus, he’s hot, which helps!


Elora’s new quadmate.

Clara is determined to be the best Vanguard she can be. Like Elora, she has familial expectation to live up to, and she has requested a challenging assignment to allow her to do that. She is an open book for Elora, and they have a lot in common.


Another of Elora’s new quadmates!

Patrick seems to have a lot on his plate and Elora often wonders if there isn’t something else going on. He’s the strong, silent type, but he has the best interests of his team at heart. A real man’s man, Patrick can be counted on to make the tough decisions.


Elora’s new Vanguard Superior.

He can’t replace the man she lost in the past, but he does a pretty good job! Of course, it turns out that he has a history with her mother, because which Vanguard doesn’t have a relationship with Nina? Right?
Elora looks just like she does on the covers of the books, because no other person can do that now!

Beyond Books Takeover Treasure Trail Question Three:
Q3: How long did it take Joanne to publish the entire trilogy?
a) 4 years
b) 3 years
c) 5 years
Now, go check out A. F. Stewart at for question 4!


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