Friday, July 15, 2016

International Author's Day Blog Hop & Giveaway!

Good morning and welcome to Ann's Afterthoughts. This is the place where I can be myself. The place where I expound on anything and everything. The place where I promote my writing and that of other authors. Today's post is sponsored by Debdatta Dasgupta Sahay, a wonderful blogger/reviewer in India.  For today's post I wanted to give a nod to some of my favorite authors from years past.

As a child I read a lot. I discovered Poe's short stories when I was very young--they terrified and delighted me. I also loved Ray Bradbury and Mary Stewart. Bradbury's speculative fiction and Stewart's fantasy fiction transported me to other worlds. In addition to my books, I grew up watching The Twilight Zone and Star Trek on television. It wasn't until I discovered Nathaniel Hawthorne that I came back down to earth so-to-speak. Later there was Stephen King. I could write an entire post on my love/hate relationship with his work (maybe I'll do that later, suffice it to say I've read almost everything he has published).

For now let me direct you to the remainder of the hop (see the link at the end) and to my own giveaway, a digital copy of Memories from Maple Street, Pawprints on My Heart (an anthology of true stories about beloved pets from best selling authors), OR a digital copy of Takers: Apocalypse in Eden, my latest speculative fiction novel. TO BE ENTERED IN MY GIVEAWAY, SIMPLY LEAVE ME A COMMENT WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS. will choose the winner on July 19th.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Pawprints on My Heart

Wonderful Pet tales to tug at your heartstring and your funny bone! Stories about pets we rescued and those that rescued us. My story is about Snakeman, my furry, four-legged sibling. I based the dog in Takers on old Snakeman. After all these years, I still miss him. 

Available at Amazon and elsewhere in print or ebook. Digital review copies are available for a short time (they're going fast), just comment on this post with your email address if you are a reviewer.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Goodreads Winners: Oh, the Horror!

Yay! Goodreads Giveaways are complete.  Out of 1, 014 entries, FIVE readers won autographed copies of TAKERS: Apocalypse in Eden. I hope you all like Jack and Snake -- if you do, please leave me a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. You can say you won the book, it doesn't have to be a verified purchase. Check out this cool review from NetGalley:

This is a fast moving, bloody, and dark book – and it’s got some awesome musical references. Aside from the aforementioned underlying mysticism, there’s a religious aspect to it. It’s not a preachy book, but the religious aspect plays a very direct role in what happens here. Note further that, even though our main character is a kid not yet in high school, this is by no means a kid’s book or even YA. This is Horror/SF for adults.
Only $2.99 Amazon

Here are the names of the lucky winners: Heather Cooney, Doug Brown, Scott Parker, Rachel Burke, and Jennifer Lorenz - Congrats to all, the books are in the mail! Next time, I'll list the winners of the COPPER LAKE giveaway.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Story Hop

Hi there, thanks for stopping by.

For this 2nd Annual Goodreads B2B CyberConvention Story Hop, at least fifteen authors have written stories of every genre just for your entertainment.

My story will follow this post, so sit back, relax, and fire up your computer or other reading device while we fire up your imagination as you hop from story to story.

The link will go live on April 8th as the convention begins, so stay tuned and please, when you read one you like, let the author know in a comment. It means so much . . .

The Soft Onslaught of Snow

© Ann Swann

            He thought he’d be the first to go, him with this affinity for pasta and Guinness Stout, carrying that spare tire all these years as a testament to her fine cooking and his lack of will. Every time he’d indulged in a stogie down at the club, she had frowned and given him that look. She said he was a walking advertisement for how to die without really trying.
            Instead, like a cruel cosmic joke, it had been her, his Martha, the salad eater, Robert Frost reader, power walker, barely-social-drinker, smoke-detester; she had gone first. After forty wonderful years, the stroke had taken her as surely and swiftly as if she’d been right there beside him all those years—indulging all the way.
            Her death had nearly killed him, too. But he’d held on, for the children, for the grandchildren. Even though he felt like a walking apology for not going first. He still held on. He didn’t know what else to do.
            Eventually, he even went back to the club. His old pals, Jake and Ira, kept after him until he gave in. There was no one else they could beat so handily on the golf course, they said. No one whose money they could take so easily. They were good friends. So he’d returned. Sometimes, he would even tip a glass to Martha; stub his stogie out early.
            Tonight, after he’d stubbed out his cigar and the last spark had died away, he was certain he’d heard the tinkling sound of her laughter. It had sounded like harness bells.
            That’s when he knew it was time to go home.
            The trek to the house felt like magic. He kept his eye on the sidewalk, as if a yellow brick road might suddenly appear beneath the finely falling snow.
            His house—really Martha’s house, her stamp on it so evident he could’ve mailed it across the sea—stood like a sturdy sentinel against the grief of everyday life.
            He fit his key into the lock, reassured by the heavy clunk of the tumblers inside the ancient mechanism. Some things don’t wear out. Some things last a long, long time. Maybe forever.
            He smiled at the thought that his house, their house, with this same complicated, antique, door lock, had been here before he was born, and would probably be here long after he was gone—long after they were both gone—provided it was properly maintained.
            Stamping the snow from his good shoes, he hung his coat on the rack and went straight to the corner table in the den where they kept a bottle of Rémy Martin in a crystal decanter. The sound-memory of the sleigh bells at the club brought a smile to his face as he removed the cut-glass stopper and tipped a bit of cognac into a snifter. A nightcap would warm him from the inside out, and a fire in the fireplace would warm him from the outside in.
            He pressed the button on the remote control and a gas log bloomed with flame. A chuckle rose in his throat as he recalled Martha’s insistence that a fire made that easily was hardly worth having, and then he lowered himself into his customary easy chair. Placing his glass on the ever-present coaster near his elbow, he rested his feet upon the tufted footstool, and closed his eyes.
            But he couldn’t relax. Something was off. Something big. He got up and wandered about, drink in hand, checking doors and windows, looking for anything out of the ordinary.
            He found nothing amiss, but the chair no longer beckoned so he turned off the fire, sipped his last sip of cognac, and rinsed his glass in the kitchen sink the way Martha had taught him. Placing it carefully in the red drain board on the counter, he turned out the light and proceeded across the room by the bright reflection of moonlight on new snow.
            A pocket of darkness waited in the hallway.
            Was that a footstep on the stair, on that one squeaky riser he’d never been able to conquer? He hesitated, waiting to hear it again, breath aching in his suddenly-too-tight chest.
            Hand over his heart, he made his way upstairs, where he peered out at the night from between their navy and gold bedroom curtains. His eye found the humped up shape of her snow-blanketed privet hedge. It defined the western boundary of the pristine yard. Beyond was only forest. A vast wooded National Park Preserve.
            The park was one of the main reasons they had fallen in love with the place when they were newlyweds. Try as they might, they had never been able to explore every nook and cranny. Martha had dubbed it “the forest of the poets.” She joked that she could easily imagine a little horse stopping by.
            To him, it was more like Narnia.
            He took a final survey of his home. All the doors were locked, windows secure, lights doused . . . except for the reading lamp over his chair. He could see it from the landing. The Victorian lamp glowed cozily. He’d left the ball stopper off the decanter of cognac. Martha’s favorite book of poetry still lay beside her chair. He only allowed Mrs. L to move it on cleaning day. She knew to put it right back when she was done. Even the bookmark was still in place. He liked the way it looked there, as if his dear Martha had simply marked her place and gone upstairs ahead of him.
            Peering down at his chair, beneath the cozy light, the tightness in his chest eased. Nothing was amiss. All was well.
            He treaded lightly back down to the kitchen, consciously stepping on the squeaky riser, but it made no sound.
            Opening the back door, he gazed out upon the bright, bright night.
            The snow had been falling for hours now. The trees wore white shawls and icy beards. The privet hedge only appeared when he neared it.
            He glanced back at his footprints, wondering what the children would think, if they noticed them at all. Wondering if Martha had left prints he hadn’t known to see.
            Past the privet, she took his hand. This time, he definitely heard the gentle shake of harness bells. Whose woods are these, I think I know . . .
            She handed him a stogie and he smiled at her lovely, beloved face.
            “It’s still snowing,” he said.
            She stuck out her tongue to catch a flake.
            He squeezed her hand, contentment flooding him at last.
            Her fingers were warm as toast, even in the frigid air. “I think the tracks will fill in,” he said. “I’m not expecting anyone until tomorrow.”
            Together they turned and strolled into the Robert Frost woods. “Narnia,” he said. “Maybe the talking beasts will appear.”
            She laughed her tinkly laugh and led him through the trees.
            Behind them, his solitary footprints grew shallower and shallower under the soft onslaught of snow.

The end

Now, hop over to the next story by clicking this link

Monday, March 14, 2016

Luck of the Irish $250 Cash Giveaway

It's all about the GREEN - $250 Cash - Enter over and over again. Good luck! Luck of the Irish Luck of the Irish $250 Giveaway March 17th to 31st $250 Gift Code or $250 in Paypal Cash   Thanks to this Awesome Group of Authors & Bloggers have joined with me to bring you this fabulous prize!! Sponsor List I Am A Reader Magical Cool Cat Mysteries Kimber Leigh Wheaton Author MK McClintock Jennifer Faye - Romance Author EskieMama Reads Theresa DaLayne Melissa Haag - YA Author Glistering Bs Blog Simple Wyrdings Why Not? Because I Said So!(Sheila Staley) Lisa Wainland, Author Aubrey Wynne: Romantasy Through the Ages Prism Book Tours Krysten Lindsay Hager author Books R Us Ann Swann Nikki Jefford D.E. Haggerty Lori's Reading Corner Heather Gray, Author Author Deb Atwood Poppy Lawless Coupons and Freebies Mom Melanie McFarlane Books Everly Frost, YA Author Leora Krygier author Vicki L. Weavil Beck Nicholas Jennifer Bardsley Stacy Claflin, Author Diana's Book Reviews J.L. Weil Joshua David Bellin Bella Street Time Travel Romance Bonnie Blythe Christian Romance Rockin' Book Reviews Lonna @ FLYLēF Book Reviews Author Inger Iversen Lise McClendon Annie Cosby, YA Author Katy Haye Paisley Piranhas Giveaway Details $250 in Paypal Cash or a $250 eGift Card Ends 3/31/16 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the authors, bloggers and publishers on the sponsor list. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 29, 2016

Carry On, Jack, Carry On

Excerpt from TAKERS, and this classic song. I can't wait to see them in concert in two weeks!

Where is everyone?
I raced down the hallway toward the gym. The powerful hum had lessened, but it was still so loud I could hardly focus. I wiped a trickle of blood from below one ear. A whistling sound echoed deep inside my head. Did my eardrum burst?
A muffled scream yanked my attention toward the front of the school. At least I thought it was a scream. With the vibrations threatening to rattle the flesh off my bones, I couldn’t be sure.
Heart pounding in rhythm with the hum, I came to a halt, trying to decide what to do. Shelter in place. Hide until the police come. That was our school policy. It had been drilled into us every time another nut with a gun made the headlines somewhere. But where is everyone hiding?
I looked for an open door. The floor shook beneath me. I knew I should hide, but my feet kept moving toward the empty foyer. Soon I found myself running. I had to find someone, anyone. Maybe they’re outside.
Slowing to a trot, I held my breath, listening. The hum had been replaced by something else, something worse.
Not one scream, but many.
I stopped in front of the cracked glass entrance doors.
My mouth fell open in disbelief.
The sky appeared as tattered as a paper snowflake
. “The fabric between our
dimensions is shredding—” Dr. D’s words echoed in my head as I stared through the window. Many of the sky holes were little more than slits. Others were huge, ragged,

gaping. Through each opening elongated globules of matter oozed down like strings of cloudy rain. The matter fell harder and faster until the ground was covered with slick, writhing puddles. From those puddles strange humanoid creatures arose, hissing. When they left their pools of muck, the sound was like a thousand leeches being pulled from wet skin.
As they emerged from the glassy soup, the area was flooded with watery-gray, garnet-eyed creatures. Everything in sight dripped; even their black-slashed mouths and jagged silver teeth oozed with slime.
Dr. D was right. I had to get underground. Back to the basement!
I wanted to run, but my feet felt glued to the floor. The syrupy downpour coated power lines and broke branches from the sycamores as surely as if they’d been covered with ice. I saw people crumpled on the pavement, dead. Others hung from stalled car windows, moaning. As I watched, one of the gray creatures picked up a man and dragged him, screaming, across the street.
As quietly as possible, I backed away, determined not to attract attention. I wanted to turn and run, but I was terrified, afraid to turn my back on the huge, naked creatures that were now headed toward the school. The sound of their bare feet sliding across the wet ground matched the shushing sound of the rain.
I blinked and rubbed my eyes as they came closer.
Strange blue-black tattoos pulsed beneath their glistening skin.
I spun around and sprinted down the hallway toward the basement. Yanking open the

doors, I tripped back down the stairs into the darkness. 

In this chapter, Jack is on the run, but when he stops to take stock, Kansas blasts their iconic song into his head. "Carry On, Wayward Son."

Does anyone know why the title of the song is "Carry on Wayward Son," when they obviously sing "Carry on MY wayward son ..."  I really don't know. Do you?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I Miss You - Excerpt from COPPER LAKE

Played this song a lot while writing scenes like the one below:

Kendra Goes Missing

Amazon Link
He strode to the kitchen and immediately noticed the coffee maker still on. He turned it off and opened the door leading to the garage. Try as he might, Woody couldn’t dispel the feeling of ghosts looking over his shoulder—the living ghosts of her children as they’d been at Thanksgiving. It was as if they were all there with him, urging him to hurry and find their mom.

Her pickup was in the garage, the engine as cold as the coffee.

He dashed back into the living room, grabbed up her handbag, and dumped out the contents. When he spied her key ring, he plucked it up and hurried back to the garage to make certain she wasn’t slumped over behind the wheel of her truck. The tinted windows made the cab seem like a cave. Woody unlocked the driver’s door and climbed inside.

The clean, crisp smell of her perfume lingered in the fabric of the seats.

Woody inhaled deeply, remembering how he’d once breathed in her whispered words in the hallway of a Holiday Inn.

His heart thrummed inside the cage of his ribs.

She’s off on a hike, his mind insisted. She went for a hike and went farther than she intended. She’ll come bursting through the front door any minute and proceed to chew my ass from here to Kingdom Come for jumping to conclusions.

But that idea didn’t ring true.

Ken would never go hiking and leave her phone at home, and the front door unlocked. Especially not at night. Not when she was supposed to meet me over an hour ago. No way.

He closed and relocked the pickup and made his way through the rest of the old house checking every room, every closet, and under every bed.

He even checked the attic.

Still nothing.

Nothing out of place, nothing overturned. No sign of a struggle. No sign of life.