Emerald Musings

~ 01 Butterfly, Monarch_05Welcome to my writing blog, Emerald Musings! 

Grab a comfortable chair, a cup of your favorite beverage, and enjoy while I explore one of my great passions- storytelling.  At Emerald Musings, I focus on writing and art of storytelling.  I do reviews, rant about the business, and rave about gems of the fiction and non-fiction worlds.

If you are interested in me reviewing your book, please check out my post about reviewing books.  Also, because I want to support my fellow authors as much as I can, please note that I will review only copies I pay for from now on.  If your book isn’t published yet, that’s fine –just let me know the price you’re intending on selling it, and we can possibly make arrangements.

So, as always, please enjoy, and happy reading!


    Ink and Inspirations

    "There is a house, in New Orleans... They call the..."

    Except for the fact that this particular house was found in good old Toledo Ohio.  On North Ontario Street to be exact.  It was a fairly plain house when I lived there with my then boyfriend.  We rented it from an older man and fixed it up as our relationship slowly imploded.

    We lived there in 1998 and 1999 or thereabouts.  The house certainly had a good bit of character, as did the landlord, who insisted that we were to have free rein over everything, except for the third-floor attic, which we were not allowed to enter under any circumstances, upon pain of... well, you get the picture.

    The arrangement suited us just fine.  We had four bedrooms, a fenced in backyard and a living room mantle to die for.  What would we need with a stuffy old attic?

    That's what I thought until I started talking with the prostitutes.

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    Here's What's Coming Next in Our Inspiration Series

    Hello all

    Just wanted to touch base with you all and let you know that the Emerald Musings series on inspiration is far from over -- here's what we have in store for you in October and beyond!

    This coming Friday, yours truly is picking up the mantle as I share the inspiration behind one of the darker work in progress in my collection, and also my first public foray into the world of webcomics.  The series, entitled "A Picture of You" is in the drawing stages, and I'm planning on publishing it here on The Writers Thread for your enjoyment.

    The next Friday,  October 20th, our old friend Jacey Bedford returns to talk about the latest installment of her Psi-Tech Series, the book called Nimbus.  She was kind enough to have a sit down chat with yours truly about the inspiration behind one of the major characters and the universe itself.  Be sure to check it out; it's going to be an interesting read.

    After that, on October 27th, a newcomer to the Emerald Musings blog, W.J. Evans will be here to share his inspiration behind his upcoming book, Dead Deal.

    And finally, we kick off November with yet another new friend to Emerald Musings, John Vorhaus, who is sharing what inspired his shift from being a successful writer to a successful artist.  

    So come join in the fun -- We'd love to have you!

    Happy Reading!

    Laura S.

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    The Inspiration Behind Saigon Dark -- By Elka Ray

    What inspired your work-in-progress?

    My last book, Saigon Dark, is psychological suspense, set in Vietnam, where I now live. I'm currently working on another suspense novel, tentatively called Blackmore Bay, set in the area where I grew up, on the West Coast of Canada.

    Both stories feature female leads who behave in ways that are morally questionable. In Saigon Dark, a grief-stricken mother makes a rash decision that requires her to live a lie. Blackmore Bay revolves around an ER nurse, Milla, who's also got things to hide.

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    The Inspiration for my Latest WIP by Chris Roy

    Near to the Knuckle and Pulp Metal Magazine are collaborating on a Neo-Giallo magazine series.


    These publishers have long lists of dark fiction specialists.  Filling the magazine with stories that pervade the mind with unconventional pleasure - a ripping, screaming,  dark energy - would be a relatively simple thing. Reviving the Giallo genre, though?




    Seeking writers that could do a special brand of crazy, they initially invited 5 authors to The Blood Red Experiment. The task? Write a 4 part series, each part around 2k words. My ticket was punched because Near to the Knuckle published two of my dark fiction shorts and felt the style of writing was a fit for the Experiment.


    Giallo is Italian for “yellow” (pronunciation: ˈdʒallo,  plural gialli), named for the yellow covers of thrillers published in the 60s and 70s. Fast moving killers of women, gloves and trench coats and blades, blood trails and entrails, butchered corpses… Horrific thrillers with mystery elements.




    From Indiewire:


    “It’s the season for blood and gore and unhealthy, possibly psychotic fixations, and few subgenres inspire obsession quite like ‘Giallo’ thrillers. But perhaps a detail-oriented, focused audience is appropriate for these particularly fetishistic films, as Giallo is defined by outrageous production design, bold close-ups, intense color, memorable scores filled with sighs and shards of sound, and strange, gruesome murders performed by a very particular type of villain.” http://www.indiewire.com/2015/10/black-gloves-and-knives-12-essential-italian-Giallo-109594/




    The Experiment publishers, Craig and Jason, asked us to retain the main ingredients of Giallo, though insisted we add our own sick spices to modernize it. Want to know what it's like to be invited to write for a magazine? Here's a peek at the group conversation with the publishers:


    Craig: Before we all go crazy, Jason and I will need a 300-word synopsis of your ideas before we start.  We'll then give you the green light for the challenge.  If you can, can you submit them by the 5th May?  We'll go through them and give you the thumbs up if we're happy.  You guys cool with that?


    Jason: Just a question... remember that these stories have Giallo movies as a basis. I wrote the Rules and Tropes as some folks may not be familiar with directors such as Argento, Bava etc. If you have any questions, let me know.


    Think - The suspense of Hitchcock with a lurid and groovy background, but the point is to expand this and make something new.


    Craig:  Just so everyone is aware, what we're doing now until the 5th of May is a selection process. It's likely not everyone will take part in this magazine, so don't be too disheartened if you don't make it.  We want to ensure that this term is evenly spread with a selection of styles.


    We're going to stick with Giallo as the base flavour if you like, and you guys add your sick, twisted ideas in there to come up with a vomit-inducing concoction.


    We're going to spread the talent - let's put it that way.  We'll have lots of authors with their own strengths throughout the long-term lifespan of the experiment.


    Me: Hey, I only know one way to do this: I didn't come all this way - get invited to this meaningful opportunity - to fail.


    This business model is sound, run by pros that are backed by substantial pools of talent. The timing is on point. Your picks (us!) for the "proof of concept" stage are, individually, capable of penning a Neo-Giallo series that goes viral.


    (Did I sound stupid excited, or what?)


    Craig: Just go with the flow - we'll give it a nudge and push the plot off course slightly if it needs it. Or add a dab of paint or smudge the paint on a character. It's likely we'll suggest you stick the paint in the character's eye. We'll have fun with it - that's the intention here.  But bear in mind we'll need to put people in the second line and it has nothing to do with the quality of the work.  We don't intend to put all the golden eggs in one basket.


    Jason: Hehe... "It's likely we'll suggest you stick the paint in the character's eye." Or a sharpened paintbrush.




    I began to research the old Giallo works, and was struck with an idea so abrupt it was nearly painful: Waste Management is the title. Here's a quick synopsis of the first part:


    A little girl comes home from the hospital and enjoys a homecoming party with her parents and baby brother. She's given a pool and swims for the first time.


    She drowns.


    The mother, a self-employed plumber, sacrificed everything to fight cancer alongside her daughter, including her marriage and family home. She intends to keep her son, and protect him from “the infection of society”.


    Growing up without a father can cause a boy to have developmental issues. Training to be a pipe fitter - with a homicidal philosophy - by an anti-establishment mother is certain to cause it… 


    I've written a few parts, and hope to see the story evolving into a series that goes beyond the magazine. A few months back I finished Her Name is Mercie, a crime thriller novella. I was feeling it, though not on the level I feel Waste Management. Immersing into dark fiction is a different state of mind, a blending of emotions far more criminal than what I experience composing thrillers. Action scenes with anti-heroes vs. grotesque murders and psychopaths.


    Would you like to read some of it? Below is the opening. Feedback is appreciated. Please leave a comment and share.




    Waste Management


    Part 1: Mother & the Memory


    His grip relaxed then clamped,  snatched, pushing with the other hand. A leg torqued from an uncooked chicken crackled an image in his mind, the woman's face replaced by a hair in a blink.


    Shoulders rolled up in soiled coveralls lingered a tense moment, heavy breathing mixed with a deep moan steaming to a sigh out of the corpse. His gloves moved, squeezed. The weight of the woman,  alive, the change to a lifeless load - the speed of it - was a pleasantry internalized.


    Lips drew in, his thick tongue passed over them, nostrils puffing.


    Mold permeated the concrete wall where it joined the pavement, service drive flooded with continuous drainage from the restaurant. The woman's body splashed onto the pavement. Ass,  then hands. Legs splayed. Back to the wall. Hair where her face should be. The man watched the spot between her legs. The water darkened, spread toward his boots. His nose puffed faster.


    Dishes rang from just inside the doorway. Loose rocks popped, boots coated in sludge rotated him, hard leather stretching. Solid-still as a wide cliff, bolder shifting atop, his large frame froze, head turned toward the restaurant’s kitchen. He watched the light on the floor.


    More dishes, tap shutting off. His nostrils ceased puffing.


    Scissors tall as the building shot into motion, arms and legs swinging inky shades on the building, black to gray. Heavy steel toes tread out of the dank alley, fists encased in an unknown animal hide pumped forward. Unchanging pace resounding the mass of the man that stopped in front of the truck, opened the door, stepped, swung into the driver's seat in one fluid move. Shut it.


    Detonation shook the pavement, diesel engine knock-roaring to a steady thrum. The man's head appeared in the side mirror, block of pitch black with a slash of orange Illuminating his narrowed stare. The truck reversed, rumbled past the open kitchen exit, tires throwing water.


    The concrete wall amplified a halting, sharp screech. The corpse at its base vanished beneath a cloud, pink exhaust thrusting through the red flash of brakes.


    Setting the brake, he climbed out and grabbed the woman, strain absent from the lift. Trying not to focus on her cooling vitality, he held to the moment, the sudden charge of her life’s heat, death sensed… then snuffed. An exotic battery sucked dry in a wink of plasma.


    Her pants waist stretched, ass soft on knuckles, uniform collar tearing, as he hefted, tossed her into the back. The refuse compressed, enveloping her with a welcome, soft hiss.


    The big diesel revved. Clutch engaged. The truck freight trained back down the alley. Waste Management caught the lights towering in the plaza, the service truck accelerating into the turn. His nose puffed above the steering wheel. Gloves gripped wide. The engine cycled pings that deafened pedestrians, cab bumbling with a pulse unstoppable.


    The grime on the windshield absorbed yellow-white glares cascading down at precise intervals, failed attempts to penetrate the interior. Slits of amber sitting high in the darkness inside studied the road. The direction of the next job was the man's only thought.






    Chris Roy was raised in South Mississippi, in the midst of ugly Gulf Coast beaches and spectacular muddy bayous.


    Chris lived comfortably with the criminal ventures of his youth until a fistfight in 1999 ended tragically. Since January 2000, he's been serving a life sentence in the Mississippi Department of Corrections.


    Nowadays he lives his life crime vicariously, through the edgy, fast-paced stories he pens, hoping to entertain readers. When he isn't writing, he's reading, drawing or looking for prospects to train in boxing.




    Dark Fiction works by Chris Roy:


    Marsh Madness







    For more about the author, visit:




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    Tony Knighton's Three Hours Past Midnight Inspiration

    Laura has generously invited me to write about the inspiration(s) for my novel Three Hours Past Midnight from Crime Wave Press.

    In the Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia, near the Art Museum -- yes, the museum with the steps from Rocky -- there is a house, an impressive, well-kept three-story Italianate Brownstone, which many here mistakenly believe is the home of a notorious, real-life, long-time state senator (the man does own a house on the block, but it’s down the street). A corner property, this house immediately catches the eye.

    The senator was an important man in Philadelphia politics for decades until he went to prison for fraud. For a while, I had played with the idea of a crew breaking into the house and stealing something (as my friend, the writer Eryk Pruitt likes to say, “Some people just need to be robbed.”), but I couldn’t get traction. I could envision the planning, and I had a few ways figured out for them to get inside, but I couldn’t visualize the guys who would do the job. More importantly, I couldn’t hear them. They didn’t say anything.

    Around this time, I became acquainted with a woman who had briefly dated the real-life senator. I liked the idea of the job being initiated by an ex-girlfriend who might have an axe to grind. Coincidentally, I fought a fire in this woman’s apartment building (she got home after the fire) and now, being familiar with its layout, I decided this was also the character’s building. Important disclaimer: neither is my character anything like the actual woman, nor have I discussed any part of this woman’s dating history with her, only learning of this brief relationship third-hand.

    Then I wrote a short story titled “Mister Wonderful.” It was an odd story for me – rather than any sort of substantive idea, it started with a visual, a premise – an injured man, trapped in a car that has come to rest upside down in an icy, shallow stream bed at dusk. I worked out some of who he was and why he was there, miles away from home or help, as I got him out of the car and through the woods, away from the police. I finished the story but realized that I wasn’t finished with him. I imagined that once he was on the mend, he’d be anxious for work.

    Now, I had the house, the target, the inside person, and most importantly, the right guy for the job. Like I said, he was anxious to work – perhaps too anxious – which led me to make a critical change: instead of having the burglary be the centerpiece of the book, I have it take place in the first chapter. Things go bad quickly.

    Thanks for this opportunity, Laura.

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    When Inspiration Hits -- A New Series on Emerald Musings

    Hello All, and Happy Friday!

    First, let me apologize-- I haven't been keeping up with my blogs, Emerald Musings and Walking the Path as well as I should.  While I have a few very exciting reasons for it, there really is no excuse, and you have my heartfelt apologies for dropping the ball.

    As an aside -- be sure to take a look at the rest of the Writers Thread website in the coming month.  A lot of changes are coming; these are exciting times indeed!

    But onto the topic at hand.  A few months ago, I put out a call for one of my guest post series.  I wanted to know what inspired your latest work, or work in progress.  The response, needless to say has been fantastic, even if my timeliness on getting the posts published has not.  Though I'm still weeding through the various responses, and expecting more to come in, I've decided to get the ball rolling with a few of our old friends.

    Tony Knighton

    Next Friday, the twenty-second, our friend Tony Knighton is taking the stage to talk about his latest book Three Hours Past Midnight and the inspiration behind it.  Tony is a superb storyteller, and this is definitely not one to miss.

    Chris Roy

    The following week, on the 29th, Chris Roy is taking the reins and letting us know about what inspires his writing and point of view.  Trust me, it's a gritty, heartfelt, and a bit awe-inspiring all rolled into one.  Be sure to check that post out as well.

    After that, October opens up with a fantastic post by Elka Ray where she shares how living in a certain house inspired one of her latest stories, and the week after that I'll be sharing a bit about what inspired my latest two works in progress -- a mystery web comic with a hardboiled team of amateur and professional detectives on the hunt, and a cross-worlds fantasy where the hunters realize a little to late who the prey actually is.

    Elka Ray

    And of course, there will be more posts presented in the series as they come in, and I get the chance to get them posted.  So please stay tuned to Emerald Musings, and thanks for keeping the faith!

    As always, happy reading!


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    Review of Assassination at Bayou Sauvage by D.J. Donaldson

    Book:  Assassination at Bayou Sauvage

    Author:  D.J. Donaldson

    Publisher:  Highline Editions

    Availability:  Amazon  Kobo

    Author Social Media and Website:   D.J. Donaldson  Facebook  Twitter

    Overall Rating:  4.5

    Overall Summary:

    While enjoying a family picnic, the lemon-drop eating medical examiner extraordinaire for the city of New Orleans Andy Broussard witnesses his Uncle Joe being shot by a sniper, who then shoots himself and falls into the bayou.  Since the cause of the death in both cases is seemingly clear, it's up to Andy to determine the motive.  Unfortunately, as it usually happens, things are not always so clear cut.  When a detailed examination of the murders body determines that the real culprit may be alive and well, Broussard recruits the help of the New Orleans finest including Dr. Kit Franklyn to help him uncover the truth.

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    How Expensive is your Needle? Pricing Out Your Freelance Work

    So you've gotten started in the freelance world.  Great!  You've started to apply for jobs.  Wonderful!  You've decided on how much you will charge for your services.  Wait.  You haven't?   Well, it's time to fix that.

    Many new freelancers operate under the assumption that what they get paid is dependent on what the customer is willing to pay, and whether or not the customer can find it somewhere else cheaper.  And while budget considerations should certainly be a factor to consider, there are other ones to consider as well -- such as your time, your energy, and this little thing called being able to make a living as a freelancer.

    When it comes to pricing, most new freelancers fall into a few different "traps":

    1. Low Prices Make Me Competitive -- Umm, perhaps, but not in the way that you want to be.  Content mills, sites like Fiver, or other websites that sell your work for cheap do you absolutely no favors.  Why?  Simple -- when you deliver high-quality work for pennies on the dollar, your client will expect it, and you'll have to take on more and more work just to make ends meet.  That leads to burn out.  Not good.  Plus, there are literally THOUSANDS of people out there perfectly willing to churn out work for little or no pay.  I'm not entirely sure why, but there are.  Do you really, really want to compete in that type of market?
    2. Only Veteran Freelancers Can Go for the "Big" Clients -- Absolutely not.  Simply put, if you have the skills to get the job done, there is absolutely no reason why you can't go after the big fish.  Just make sure you can deliver on what you promise!
    3. If I charge too much, I'll price myself out of the market!  Well, that depends on which market you're aiming for.  Sure, if you want to try competing with the low-paying content mills, or other such websites or companies, chances are if you charge a reasonable rate, you will.  However, if you want to compete on a different level, dare I say on the professional level, having a reasonable rate is not only expected, it is encouraged.
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