Friday, September 23, 2016

SPOTLIGHT - Still Crazy by Diana Rubino

Can an obsession continue from beyond the grave?

Clay Lynch is obsessed with his ex-girlfriend Alyssa Tyler. Convinced they’re destined for each other, he stalks, pesters and torments her…he creeps up to her bedroom window, he follows her onto planes, he wrecks her wedding by abducting her. His arrest and prison sentence assure her he’s finally out of her life… until his remains are found in the Arizona desert. On the anniversary of the day they met, she receives a haunting text message. Is he now stalking her from beyond the grave?

Where did STILL CRAZY come from?

It went through many incarnations over the last 26 years! In 1989, I took a detour from my romance genre and wrote a thriller about a stalking ex. It was set in the present, then, but I updated and revised it many times. Back then there were no cell phones, no internet, no GPS’s, and none of those songs or bands existed!

Is there anything specific that inspired you to write Still Crazy?

Yes, the media has provided the public with a lot of useful information about stalkers, and we now realize what a serious problem it is. I also added an essential dimension to Alyssa's personality: she can't understand why she's attracted to certain types of men who abuse her in different ways. Then she sees a television show about codependent people, which hits her like a ton of bricks. Knowing what her problem is, she finally gets the help she needs. I'm hoping this will make readers aware that codependency is also a serious issue.

If this book was made into a film, who would you cast in it?

I visualized Greg Kinnear as Clay, for no particular reason. He just seemed to fit my image of Clay. For Alyssa, I see Dakota Fanning.

An excerpt from STILL CRAZY:
She brought her car in for servicing the next morning, parking in his lot next to a red and white taxi. Her mechanic called her a little after two. “Your car is ready, Alyssa. Hey, do you know you have a GPS tracking device attached underneath it?”
“What?” She shook her head, baffled. “I have a GPS in the dashboard, but not under the car.”
“Oh, yeah, you do. This is a tracking device. Somebody has a GPS and a dot will flash on the screen to show your exact location, as long as you’re within range. You want me to take it out?”
She instantly knew who this ‘somebody’ was. She felt as if a ton of bricks clobbered her square in the face.


About Diana
My passion for history and travel has taken me to every locale of my books, and short stories, set in Medieval and Renaissance England, Egypt, the Mediterranean, colonial Virginia, New England, and New York. My urban fantasy romance, FAKIN’ IT, won a Top Pick award from Romantic Times. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America, the Richard III Society and the Aaron Burr Association. I live on Cape Cod with my husband Chris. In my spare time, I bicycle, golf, play my piano and devour books of any genre.

 Contact Diana at:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Marie Piper talks about her series, Maidens and Monsters

Making the Old West More Gothic
By Marie Piper

I came up with MAIDENS & MONSTERS while bed-bound. Terribly dramatic, right? 

Back in February, Chicago had a bitter cold winter, and I was down for the count for a few weeks with a one-two punch of bronchitis and a terrible sinus infection. All I could do was lay around, and so I figured I could at least write something. 

For months, I’d been thinking about adapting THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA to the old west. The Opera House/Music Hall comparison made sense to me, and I liked the idea of finding the “Wild West” counterparts to the well-known characters from Gaston LeRoux’s novel (and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, if we’re being honest.) So I did it. 

(Now only 99 cents)

The result was CHRISTINE (Book #1) –

an adaptation of PHANTOM set in 1880 in a small Kansas town awaiting the coming of a railroad branch. Along the way, the book became more than just a straight-on adaptation. I’m a big believer in writing female friendships, so of course Christine got some friends. Four of them, in fact—and I decided they would be the leading ladies of four other horror/gothic novels-DRACULA, THE STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, and FRANKENSTEIN. Together, these five young women became the Maidens of Mapleton, and the series took off.

I’ve always loved adaptations, and I’ve read a lot of great ones. I’ve seen Jane Eyre set in the old west, and recently have fallen in love with Caroline Lee’s EVERLAND, EVER AFTER series—fairy tales in a small town. 

But horror? Was I nuts? It turns out I’m not! (At least, I don’t think so…)

For starters, though these books are mostly considered horror, as I delved deep into them I came to realize that four of the five books don’t really contain any supernatural/paranormal elements. 

Grandly, I declared a rule for the series: No supernatural elements. 

And then I sort of kicked myself because that meant I had to figure out what to do with DRACULA. Because, you know, he’s a vampire.

In writing  MINA (Book #2), there was so much good stuff to work with – Lucy’s three suitors, the disappearance of Jonathan Harker, and a big scary asylum. I don’t know if you’ve ever done any research into asylums/mental health treatments in the last few centuries, but it’s dark stuff.  

Still, the looming spectre of the most well-known vampire in literary history stood waiting. I decided to make my Count (Count Dalca, which means lightning in Romanian) elusive and mysterious, sure. But I decided to explain his condition and quirks in a very (I feel) logical and time-appropriate way. I can’t spoil it here, but it comes down to money and what we knew of medicine at that time, and of course vice.

Three of these books are about medicine, and scientific discoveries. The 1800’s were a time of huge discovery and innovation in those fields, and so this town needed a doctor.

Enter Dr. Henry Jekyll.
LUCY (Book #3) will come out October 25th. Though the Jekyll & Hyde story is hugely famous and gives me a fantastic jumping off point, it’s also notably absent of female characters. The original 1886 novella features a maid or two, but no women characters of substance or even name. By 1887 when it started to appear onstage as a play, the character of Jekyll’s proper society fiancee appeared, and she’s been a part of the story in most film/tv/musical adaptations since then. So I decided to give her a book and a voice of her own.  

Did you know that in 1880 scientists had figured out that Indian tribes chewed willow bark to alleviate pain, but hadn’t yet figured out and isolated the specific element in the bark that we would come to know as aspirin? Or that, in this same time period, it wasn’t uncommon to boil morphine into heroin and use it to treat patients? Me neither—but these kinds of discoveries came into play as things Henry Jekyll would be interested in. LUCY also takes place in December of 1880, which was right after the election of President James Garfield, the closest election in US History. Of course,Garfield would be assassinated by Charles Guiteau the next summer/fall.

All of this science and history has a place in MAIDENS & MONSTERS. I love history and research, finding tiny tidbits I can work in to enhance the book. Despite momentary quirks, it’s proving surprisingly easy to take and set these “horror classics” in my chosen time period and locale. These are books about science and architecture and religion and greed, themes which fit perfectly and are prevalent in the creation of America.

I hope MAIDENS & MONSTERS delights readers as a mystery romance series, but I also hope people will enjoy the liberties I took. I love the original books, and hope I did them justice.

Happy Reading!
Marie Piper

To find out more about myself and my books come visit me anytime!

Twitter: @mariepiperbooks

Sunday, September 18, 2016

It's Everybody Reads YA Sunday - the Bearded Dude in the Puzzle

Many years ago, in the land of kings and knights, Dozer, a powerful wizard, casts a spell over Scartin, and changes him into a tiny toy wizard and puts him inside the box of a puzzle.

Centuries later, Shelly Taylor, and her two kids, Bobby and Andrea, find their lives in turmoil. They are uprooted from their home and friends and moved to a small town in Idaho.  Their parents’ marriage falls apart, and to make matters worse, for some reason the kids at their schools are shunning them.

Shelly, once an advertising executive, starts cleaning houses to make ends meet.  It is in one of these old homes where the ancient puzzle is found.

As the family works on the puzzle, strange things start to happen.  An evil presence is making its way to the Taylor house, intent on making sure that puzzle never gets put together, no matter the cost, and it’s up to Bobby and Andrea to make sure that it does!


Miss James turned to look at the two kids in the backseat.  “Andi – that’s a name you don’t hear everyday.” 
When there was no reply, Steve jumped in.  “It’s short for Andrea.”
“How darling,” the woman said, smiling at Steve.  She turned her attention again to the back seat.  “So, how do you like our little town?”
Oh no!  Bobby groaned inside, squeezing his eyes shut.
Andi sat up a little straighter, smiling.  “Oh Miss James, my mom, brother, and I are just loving it here.  We are living the dream.”  The woman smiled; apparently not having a clue sarcasm was being thrown in her face.  “Picture this,” Andi continued, “My mom has a fabulous, great paying job, but because our dad loved us so much he talked her into giving up her career to come to Smallville, USA.”
“Andi,” her dad said in a low warning tone.
“Not only that, Miss James, Bobby and I were in schools we loved and we both had so many friends, but what was important was our family being together. You know, a loving family, everyone being a team member, so dad could have his chance.”
The woman’s eyes darted nervously around the car.  “Well…uhm…that’s just lovely Andi.  Now if we…”
Andi wasn’t through.  “It is a lovely story, isn’t it?”  She leaned forward, as if to tell the woman a secret.  “But the love didn’t stop there,” Andi said, putting her hand on Miss James’ shoulder.  “Bobby and I were nervous about going to a new school, yet excited to meet new friends.  You can surely understand that, right?”  Andi’s stare demanded the woman’s eyes to stay trained on her face.  Miss James, her mouth partly opened, slowly nodded.  “Can you imagine Bobby’s and my dismay when the kids, all but shunned us?  We didn’t understand.  We are nice people.  Why would the kids, at a new school, who have never even met us, give us dirty looks and talk about us?”
            Miss James, wide-eyed, shook her head back and forth.  “Why would they?” She asked.
            “That’s what we wanted to know.”  Andi sat back in her seat.  Her voice changed from sugary sweet to matter of fact.  “Imagine our surprise when we found out our father felt the need to shag the neighbor’s wife.”
            “Andrea!” Her father snapped.  “That’s enough!”
            .  “And who could have guessed that the lady’s family that our dad destroyed, had two kids that are the same age as Bobby and me?  Yep, John Slater, who is extremely popular, has apparently told everybody in my sophomore class that it’s my fault that his family life is in the toilet.”
            “I’m warning you, Andrea,” her father threatened.
            The sugary sweet voice was back.  “What?” Andi purred.  “Seriously, dad, how could you have known that mom wouldn’t understand about you screwing around with another woman?  The nerve of her telling you to get out!  Now, Miss James, she is working two jobs.  An up and coming advertising expert is now answering phones at a real estate company, part time, and cleaning houses for a management company.  Isn’t that priceless?” Andi’s voice dripped with sarcasm.

I write for all ages, from the early reader to adults.  My books range from pictures books for the little ones, to fantasy, time-travel adventures for ages 9 to 13. I also write adult stories, including a family drama and contemporary, paranormal and historical westerns romances, under P. A. Estelle.

I was a school secretary for 21 years.  My husband and I moved to our retirement home in Kingman, AZ, on very rural 54 acres, living on solar and wind only. 
More about my books can be found in the following links: