I left You Alone For a Week and You Did WHAT??? – Anne Barwell

Those words were what one of my beta readers said to me when I went back to work after taking a few days’ annual leave so I could get some writing done.

So what did I do?

I signed up for the 2016 Virtual Fantasy Convention in October. Or rather Lou Hoffman/Lou Sylvre and I signed up for it together. As we both write fantasy it seemed like a wonderful opportunity to get out there, meet new people, and network. We figured doing it together would be a great idea and after all, we do have a co-authored project called The Harp and the Sea which sits in the genre.

Hi, it’s Anne Barwell. It’s the 30th of the month so time to pause between chapters and write my post for Authors Speak

It wasn’t until I had my first book published that I realised just how much time goes into promo. I’d known I’d need to do some, but didn’t realise just how many opportunities were out there. Now I put aside at least a week or so with each new release to write blog posts, and update my website etc.

Given that I’m only able to write about 1-2 books a year, I also make sure I sign up for various events and blogging in between books. After all, I can’t expect readers to pick up my books if they’ve never heard of them. A few authors/review sites have regular slots put aside for backlist promo, or events such as flash fiction spots. Those are a great idea, and I try to sign up for at least a couple each year.

I’ve also just discovered that the Romance Writers Association (RWA) in New Zealand have their yearly workshop convention in Wellington next year so I’m already making plans to ensure I get there. Meeting and networking with other authors is a big part of writing. I’ve met several people I now think of as friends by either offering them a blog spot on my site Drops of Ink or signing up to visit theirs. Unfortunately there’s not much in the way of conventions etc in New Zealand, so not making the most of the RWA meet in Wellington would be crazy.

Some days when I’m busy writing and trying to meet deadlines, and then have to stop and make time to work on promo as well, it can all seem a bit much. Often I feel as though I’m working two full time jobs, but although I might stress at times, I must admit I do enjoy it.

So now this post is written, it’s back to WWII for me. I have some not very happy characters wanting me to hurry up and get past the nasty stuff and give them their happy ending.

I’ll leave you with an excerpt for Shadowboxing, book 1 in my Echoes Rising WWII series. Winter Duet—book 2—is being released from DSP Publications in December, and I’m 62K into book 3 which is called Comes a Horseman.

Blurb:
Echoes Rising: Book One
Berlin, 1943. An encounter with an old friend leaves German physicist Dr. Kristopher Lehrer with doubts about his work. But when he confronts his superior, everything goes horribly wrong. Suddenly Kristopher and Michel, a member of the Resistance, are on the run, hunted for treason and a murder they did not commit. If they’re caught, Kristopher’s knowledge could be used to build a terrible weapon that could win the war.

For the team sent by the Allies—led by Captain Bryant, Sergeant Lowe, and Dr. Zhou—a simple mission escalates into a deadly game against the Gestapo, with Dr. Lehrer as the ultimate prize. But in enemy territory, surviving and completing their mission will test their strengths and loyalties and prove more complex than they ever imagined.

Buy Link: https://www.dsppublications.com/books/shadowboxing-by-anne-barwell-261-b

Excerpt:
Michel froze when several gunshots pierced the quiet Berlin night. “Kristopher…,” he whispered. No. Please no.

Beside him, Matt’s head jerked up. He swore loudly. A few moments later, another lone shot followed the first couple.

Walker and Palmer skidded to a halt, doubling back from where they’d gone on ahead.

“Elise’s Kaffeehaus.” Walker panted, trying to speak and catch his breath simultaneously. He and Palmer appeared to be much younger than their companions; Michel wouldn’t be surprised if this was their first assignment in the field. “Gestapo….”

“Matt….” Ken’s previous harsh timbre was replaced by something much gentler, but Matt ignored him and shook his head.

“No.” His voice shook, his words partly echoing Michel’s thoughts. “Not Elise. Please, not her, not now.” Matt leaned heavily against a nearby lamppost, his eyes glazed over.

“We don’t know who fired the shots, sir.” Palmer took over the explanation. At least he could pass for German if he stayed quiet and kept his head down. Hopefully it wouldn’t come to that, but there were no guarantees as to which way a particular mission might go. Michel had had that fact reinforced on more occasions than he cared to remember, but too many lives depended on them with this one. It had to succeed. “The Kaffeehaus is swarming with Gestapo, but there is no sign of anyone else.”

“We need to ascertain precisely what has happened before we move in. In order to do that, we will have to get closer.” Ken took charge—although Matt was the ranking officer, he appeared to be in no state to give orders. Whatever his relationship to Elise, this was not the time for him to be dwelling on what might be happening in the Kaffeehaus. Getting Kristopher and the plans to safety was still their priority.

“It’s damn obvious that someone’s been shot.” Matt visibly pulled himself together, although his voice hitched slightly before the word “shot.” “We need to get in there quickly in order to minimize damage. Gabriel, take Walker and Palmer and secure the back entrance. Lowe, Zhou, you’re with me. We’ll secure the front.”

“What if there’s another exit?” asked Liang, disengaging the safety on his handgun.

Matt shook his head, his matter-of-fact tone verifying prior knowledge of both the Kaffeehaus and its owner. “There isn’t. Not unless Elise has done some major renovations, which I doubt.”

“We’re probably more than outnumbered by Holm and his men.” Michel pointed out the inadequacies of the plan. “It would be more sensible to size up the situation first, as Lowe suggested, before we move in. The shot might be merely a warning. We don’t know for certain that someone is injured. If Dr. Lehrer and Elise have been captured, it would pay to wait until….” His voice trailed off, a grotesque image entering his mind—Kristopher lying on the floor of the Kaffeehaus, his fair hair stained red with the blood dripping from a single bullet hole to the temple. Michel quickly pushed it away. Holm needed Kristopher. He wouldn’t risk killing him. Elise could be used to ensure Kristopher’s cooperation. It made more sense that they were both still alive.

“I don’t care.” Matt’s previous calm was replaced by an edge of desperation that made him both unpredictable and dangerous. “I’m not just sitting here and waiting. To hell with procedure.”

Bio:
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.

Anne’s books have received honorable mentions four times and reached the finals three times in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical.

Blog: http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com/
Website: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/anne.barwell.1
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/115084832208481414034/posts
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4862410.Anne_Barwell
Dreamspinner Press Author Page:
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/anne-barwell
DSP Publications Author Page:
https://www.dsppublications.com/authors/anne-barwell-49

Take Note – Anne Barwell

Hi, it’s Anne Barwell back for my monthly blog on Authors Speak. Thanks again, Lou, for hosting me.

Last week a few of us at work took a Myers-Briggs personality test. I can’t remember exactly what four letters I came out with, but the end results were spot on: Reader, writer, and musician. I’m very much a reader, and work in a library, am a writer, and a musician. I taught music for ten years, it’s my minor in my BA, and one of the subjects in my BTeach. I played piano for church for many years, and also play violin for a local orchestra.

I usually write with music playing in the background, and often I’ll look up from what I’m doing and think that a particular song or piece of music reminds me of either a character or a story I’m writing. When that happens, I’ll jot the title down. The music I listen to isn’t usually a soundtrack to what I’m working on, but sometimes it’s more the feel of it to get in the right mood. For example I like listening to Michael Bublé when I write my WWII Echoes Rising series. Although he’s not a singer from the 1940s, he sings a lot of older songs, and it puts me in that mindset. Every time I hear ‘I See Fire’ by Ed Sheeran I think of dragons and A Knight to Remember, and Dancing in the Moonlight reminds me of Simon and Ben of The Sleepless City.

Music also tends to be a reoccurring theme in my writing. Several of my characters are musicians, and it’s played a part in a few of my books too.

I’m about to start the final copy edit for the 2nd edition of Winter Duet book 2 of my WII series Echoes Rising from DSPP Publications. Both Kit and Michel in that series are musicians, and I used quotes from Schubert’s Winterreise as part of the code phrases exchanged between members of the Resistance. I also love the idea of code in music, and played with that in the story too. Reese Dante did a wonderful cover for Winter Duet with the outline of a violin against a winter forest backdrop, and sheet music in the background.

Music also features quite extensively in On Wings of Song which begins with the Christmas truce in 1914 during WII, and then continues through to 1920. One of the main characters, Aiden, is a singer, and his music is an integral part of the plot. TL Bland caught the feel of the story perfectly with the sepia cover, and music in the background.

Here’s an excerpt from the story when Aiden sings during the Christmas Service during the Truce:

“I’ve seen it,” Aiden said quietly. “I wish to God I hadn’t.” He looked directly at Jochen. Jochen met Aiden’s gaze. He’d seen an echo of Conrad’s fire in Aiden when he’d talked about his music earlier that afternoon.

“Don’t die on the wire, Aiden.”

“I’ll try not to.” Aiden’s words were an empty promise. They both knew it, but what else was he going to say?

The red-haired man Aiden had spoken to about arranging the burials walked over to him. He too held a shovel, and he wiped perspiration from his brow despite the cold. “There’s going to be a combined service for the dead,” he told them. “In about ten minutes in no man’s land in front of the French trenches.”

As they made their way over, men were already beginning to gather, soldiers from opposite sides sitting together, conversation dwindling to a respectful silence. A British chaplain stood in front of them, a Bible in his hand, a German beside him. Jochen recognized him, although he didn’t know his name. The young man was only a few years older than Jochen and was studying for the ministry—would he ever get the chance to complete those studies?

Jochen and Aiden found somewhere to sit a few rows back from the front and joined the company of men. The German spoke first. “Vater unser, der du bist im Himmel. Geheiligt werde dein Name.

The British chaplain repeated the words in English. “Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.”

They then spoke a few words each, some from the Bible, the rest from their hearts. Their congregation was silent apart from a few quiet “amens.” Jochen saw a couple of men wipe tears away. He was close to it himself.

Finally the chaplain bowed his head in prayer. When he’d finished, he spoke quietly to the man who had come to stand next to him. It was Captain Williams. He nodded and looked over the crowd, his gaze fixing on Aiden.

Aiden must have guessed what Williams wanted. He inclined his head in response and then stood. Jochen glanced between the two men, confused. What did Williams expect Aiden to do?

“Aiden?” Jochen asked softly.

Aiden smiled at him and began to sing. “O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining….” He lifted his head, his voice strong and clear, each note building on the last to create something truly beautiful, something angelic. Aiden’s eyes shone; his body swayed slightly in time with the music. He was the music.

His audience sat in awe. Jochen could feel the emotion rippling through the men around him, tangible, as though he could reach out and touch it. He felt something inside himself reach out, wanting to be a part of it, to be carried along the wave of pure music, to grab it and never let go.

Although music isn’t reflected on the cover of Slow Dreaming the song of that name drives the storyline of my New Zealand set time travel novella. Jason, a time traveller, is haunted by a song almost remembered from a dream, but finds the truth behind it almost too late, when he meets Sean, a musician and songwriter who quickly becomes far more than just an assignment.

Finishing this post with an excerpt from that story:

“You’re a musician?” A familiar not-quite tune whispered to him. He ignored it.

“Yeah, although more of a songwriter than a performer.” Sean shrugged. “I doubt you’ve heard of me, although a couple of local bands are willing to play my stuff. I play keyboards for them on the occasional gig, too, when the usual guy is off sick or whatever.” He glanced toward his pile of papers, his mouth twisting into a half grimace, half-shy smile. “I’m working on a new one but having trouble getting it quite right. That happens sometimes, then when it’s the right time, it all falls into place. It drives me crazy until it does, though. I swear I eat, drink, and sleep the thing.”

“I’d love to hear what you’ve got so far.” Jason could have kicked himself for not taking the time to listen to the sound files attached to Sean’s dossier. However, it was Sean’s role at the café that was the focus of the assignment, not his music.

“That settles it.” Sean grinned. “I knew you were crazy with all your talk of hotness. Now you want to hear music composed by a guy you’ve only just met.” He schooled his face into a solemn expression. “I think that’s about the fourth sign of madness isn’t it? After all, for all you know my music could be really bad. How do you know you won’t lose your hearing and good taste for the rest of eternity?”

“And here I was thinking the fourth sign was being a true believer of the sanctity and healing properties of coffee,” Jason deadpanned.

Bio:
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.

Anne’s books have received honorable mentions four times and reached the finals three times in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical.

Links:
Blog: http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com/
Website: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/anne.barwell.1
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/115084832208481414034/posts
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4862410.Anne_Barwell
Dreamspinner Press Author Page:
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/anne-barwell
DSP Publications Author Page:
https://www.dsppublications.com/authors/anne-barwell-49

Anne Barwell – It Takes Two

Hi, it’s Anne Barwell back for my 2nd monthly post on Authors Speak. Thanks again for hosting me, Lou.

A week or so ago a library patron asked an interesting question. “What does it mean when a book has the names of two authors on the cover?” He had no clue how two authors could write one book, hence the question.

Co-writing can be approached very differently. In some cases one person has the idea—and perhaps even the outline—of the story, but another actually writes it.

In others, two authors write the book together. This can be done in several ways, but for this post I’ll share how Lou Sylvre and I approached it.

When Lou asked me if I was interested in co-writing a story for Dreamspinner Press’s ‘World of Love’ series, I thought it was a great idea. Lou and I are already co-authoring a longer project—a novel called The Harp and the Sea which is an historical with an element of fantasy in it, set on the isle of Skye in 1746. Although this has been put on the backburner for a while because of one thing or another, we’re hoping to complete it and sub it next year. We’re already a good way into the story so it’s not going to take long to finish.

Anyway, back to our ‘World of Love’ story. We started with the idea that we wanted to set the novella in Wellington, and that one of the MCs would be a local, and the other from the US. As with Harp and the Sea, we’d each take one character and write the scenes which are from their POV. Much discussion followed as we needed not only defined characters, and but also a plot!

Ideas flowed back and forth across google chat, and email, until a few days later we had a plan in place. A detailed outline followed with chapters, scenes, and which of those was going to be from what point of view. We also needed to send a proposal synopsis to the publisher to secure our ‘claim’ for New Zealand, and this needed to be far more detailed than usual so that Lou and I were sure we were on the same page. The proposal was handy for us too, as it and the outline worked well together, with the proposal expanding on the bullet point outline. As this is a novella we had a one page outline and a three page proposal.

The Harp and the Sea being a longer project has a much longer bulleted outline – thirteen pages!

But I’m digressing. With our claim for our novella, Sunset at Pencarrow secured, it was time to start writing. We decided early on, as well as keeping in touch by email, to have weekly google chats. I really enjoy these, and we often go off on tangents that have nothing to do with the story. The chats and emails are important as often stuff changes as we write or the story diverts from the outline and we need to ensure we’re both happy with those changes.

It’s fun taking turns writing a story. When I’ve finished Nate’s scene, I send it to Lou, and wait to read what happens next once she’s finished the next part from Rusty’s point of view. Writing each other’s characters, as well as our own, is an interesting experience and I love seeing her perspective on these guys grow alongside mine. Once we have the first draft finished, we’ll go through and tweak the little things to make sure everything meshes, and that Nate sounds Kiwi, and Rusty, American.

The important thing with working with another author this closely is to be open to each other’s ideas, and be ready to compromise to reach agreements that we’re both happy with. Having worked with Lou before, I knew that wouldn’t be a problem. We also both have other projects on the go as well, so it’s not as though we’re both sitting twiddling our thumbs while we wait for the other to send the next scene over.

As I write this, we’re over 30K into the story and the end is quickly approaching. Naturally now we’ve got this far, our MCs, Nate and Rusty, have started misbehaving somewhat and doing a lot more things that aren’t in our carefully planned outline.

However, with both of us having several novels under our belts, we’re used to this kind of behaviour from characters, and agree that it is better to let them do their thing. It makes for a better story, and we can stick to our protestations that it really wasn’t our fault!

I’m finishing with a raw sneak peek from the opening scene of the story when Nate first meets Rusty:

Blurb:
Kiwi Nathaniel “Nate” Dunn is in a fighting mood, but how does a man fight Wellington’s famous fog? In the last year, he’s lost his long-time lover to boredom and his ten-year job to the economy. Now, he’s found a golden opportunity for employment where he can even use his artistic talent, but to get the job he has to get to Christchurch today. Heavy fog means no flight, and the ticket agent is ignoring him to fawn over a beautiful but annoying, overly polite American man.

Russell “Rusty” Beaumont can deal with a cancelled flight, but the pushy Kiwi at the ticket counter is making it difficult for him to stay cool. The guy rubs him all the wrong ways despite his sexy, rough, working-man look, which Rusty notices even though he’s decided not to even look for a man to replace the fiancé who died two years ago. Yet when they’re forced to share a table at the crowded airport café and Nate reveals the kind heart concealed behind his grumpy façade they find themselves on a slippery slope that just might land them in love.

Excerpt:
Why the hell had the fog decided to pick today of all days to turn up. Beautiful weather for weeks, and the only day he needed to fly out of Wellington, and the bloody stuff had foiled his plans. His flatmate, Amy, had warned him to be prepared for it, but he hadn’t listened to her. Sure, he couldn’t see the airport from across the harbour, but it didn’t mean the stupid stuff had to hang around. Typical. Windy Wellington and there was no wind to blow it out.

It was a conspiracy.

Much like the rest of his life. One could only take so much of pretending everything was hunky-dory, and plastering on a false smile. He was sick of it. Bad enough that Glen—who he’d thought was the ‘one,’ the guy he’d be with forever—had dumped him, but to find out his job of the last ten years was finishing as well?

“Next please,” Heather repeated.

“Excuse me, sir,” a man said in an American accent, from behind him. “There’s a line here, and I’m sure the lady has done all she could to help you.”

“Yeah, whatever,” Nate mumbled. He moved to the side, but didn’t walk away. Although he knew he was being difficult, once he’d got started he couldn’t stop. He was a roll and this shitty morning was the icing on a very shitty year.

A year that was supposed to be better than the last one, but so far had started off way worse.

Maybe he should have given into his initial urge to curl up into a ball and ignore life, the universe, and everything. But then that would have been boring, wouldn’t it? And heaven forbid he let that arsehole, Glen, be right about anything.

Nate would give Glen ‘boring.’ He wasn’t boring. He was the least boring person he knew. Wasn’t he?

Oh God.

What if Glen was right? While Nate knew he wasn’t the most exciting person in the world, he’d always been comfortable with his existence. What if this was a sign he shouldn’t be going for this job?

Then why would they give him an interview? The guy he’d talked to seemed to think Nate might be exactly who they were looking for to run this new gallery. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, not to mention one hell of a move up from his current job—the one that was about to disappear out from under him. Opportunities like this didn’t come up often, but the rebuilding in Christchurch after the quake offered him the chance to be involved in something right from the beginning, to put his mark on it, and make a name for himself. But it wasn’t the only appeal. He’d sent them some of his sketches when he’d let it slip that he was an artist, and they had got really excited by those.

The whole thing was a dream come true. Nate had spent the last ten years watching others have their art celebrated, while pretending it didn’t hurt, that it would never be his on display.

Except now it was all turning into a nightmare. It didn’t matter how good he was, or how well he could wow the interview panel. None of it this made a damn bit of difference if he couldn’t get there for the interview. His life was going to custard—no, it had already done that, this was just the encore. The extremely sucky icing on the top.

“I hope this unfortunate incident doesn’t mar your experience of our country, Mr. Beaumont.” Heather’s words to the American standing next to Nate disrupted his train of thought. “I can assure you this doesn’t happen often.”

“Bullshit,” Nate mumbled. “It always happens this time of year.”

“Listen, man,” the American—Beaumont—said politely. “I know this is a drag. But she can’t fix it, right? Your pack looks heavy. Why don’t you find a place to sit down? Take a load off.”

“What a good idea,” Heather said brightly. She handed a slip across the counter to Beaumont. “I’m sorry we can’t offer more, but this food voucher is valid for today only and you can use it at the food court. Once the fog lifts, we’ll make announcements about the available flights over the loud speak system.”

Food voucher?

Nate pushed past Beaumont. “You didn’t offer me a food voucher!” he said indignantly.

“Oh, no I didn’t, did I?” Heather gave him that annoying smile again. “My apologies, Nathaniel.”

Nate winced. He hated being called by his full name, especially as it usually meant he was in trouble. Perhaps he was being a bit rude? “Sorry,” he mumbled. “Apology accepted.”

“Here’s your voucher.” Heather handed him a piece of paper. “Have a nice day.”

“Yeah, sure.” Nate began to walk away then glanced at the voucher. “Bloody typical,” he grumbled, remembering there was a reason he always had a good meal before his flight. Given the prices they charged here, he’d be lucky if he got a decent cup of coffee for it.

Anne Barwell – Juggling Deadlines

Hi, I’m Anne Barwell, and I’m thrilled that Lou has asked me to write a regular monthly blog post here at Authors Speak.

This month I’m blogging about something I find myself in the middle of a lot. I have a new release on 31 May—Shadowboxing, which is book 1 in my Echoes Rising WWII series. I’m also the middle of writing two books—Comes a Horseman, which is book 3 of Echoes Rising, and Sunset at Pencarrow which I’m co-writing with Lou Sylvre, and is a contemporary for Dreamspinner Press’s World of Love series.

Both have deadlines. Trying to juggle promo, writing, and edits and all the other fun stuff leading into a new release has been busy. More than busy, pretty much insane really.

Add to that working full time, family commitments and a couple of orchestra concerts.

With limited time for all of this, I’ve tried several ways to fit everything in. I start work at lunchtime and so I set an alarm and write before I have to leave for work. It’s a good time to focus on writing as I don’t want to start a long involved job and go in to work an eight hour day already tired. I work in a library so it’s quite a physical job, with a lot of time spent on my feet.

My weekends are my best time to write as I can get a few hours in at a stretch, although those are often full of interruptions such as grocery shopping, messages and housework. I love lists and always have a written to do list numbered by priority and due dates. I’ve also recently split these lists into two—long term and short term.

Usually I start my day with whatever needs to be done first on the list and get closer towards my goals each day.

But with two books deadlined, and promo posts still to write, and taxes due, all around the same time… I worked out how much I had to do and the time I had to do it in and came up with a plan. I figured out what needed to be done by when and broke it down into mini-deadlines, and gave myself a little extra time by taking annual leave from work and will take some time off from orchestra as I don’t play for the weekend workshop we’ll be practising for after this next concert anyway. I’ll work on blog posts, and taxes before work as leaving those mid-point isn’t as frustrating as not being able to finish a scene. I’m already doing website maintenance and updates—including hosting other authors—after work as that doesn’t take the same amount of creative energy. As I don’t get home until after 9pm, I’m too tired to write then. Until the blog posts and taxes are done, I’ll write on the weekends.

I’m looking forward to getting back to just focusing on the books I want and need to write. I have detailed outlines for both of them, and am ticking off scenes and chapters as they’re done.

Wish me luck, and I’d love to hear about the strategies you have in place to deal with this kind of thing….

I’m finishing with an excerpt from Shadowboxing to celebrate its 2nd edition from DSP Publications releasing 31 May.

Echoes Rising: Book One
Berlin, 1943. An encounter with an old friend leaves German physicist Dr. Kristopher Lehrer with doubts about his work. But when he confronts his superior, everything goes horribly wrong. Suddenly Kristopher and Michel, a member of the Resistance, are on the run, hunted for treason and a murder they did not commit. If they’re caught, Kristopher’s knowledge could be used to build a terrible weapon that could win the war.

For the team sent by the Allies—led by Captain Bryant, Sergeant Lowe, and Dr. Zhou—a simple mission escalates into a deadly game against the Gestapo, with Dr. Lehrer as the ultimate prize. But in enemy territory, surviving and completing their mission will test their strengths and loyalties and prove more complex than they ever imagined.

Buy Link: https://www.dsppublications.com/books/shadowboxing-by-anne-barwell-261-b

The light on top of the confessional blinked off, and an old man walked out, a dazed expression on his face. He muttered something under his breath too low for Michel to hear, glanced behind him, rapidly made the sign of the cross, and then repeated it. He then, to Michel’s surprise, prostrated himself in front of the altar and called out in a loud voice, “God, I beg your forgiveness for leading such a boring life.”

Someone snorted. Michel turned in time to see the brunet he’d observed earlier roll his eyes. Whoever was in the confessional masquerading as the local parish priest had an interesting sense of humor. He wondered idly who was in charge of this mission. The brunet certainly didn’t seem surprised by what had just happened.

Michel tentatively opened the now-empty confessional and entered, wondering what he was getting himself into. Whatever the priest had said to the old man, it was definitely atypical of the penance Michel remembered receiving in the past, courtesy of the clergy of the Catholic Church. Surely they couldn’t be condoning this behavior, although he was sure Father Johannes would have agreed for someone to temporarily use the confessional as a meeting place. He’d helped the Berlin Resistance on more than one occasion.

Playing the part of a priest would be the safest way of doing this for the person on the other end of the confessional, especially if he were caught. Father Johannes too, despite his protestations, knew to deny knowledge of anything or anyone if that happened. He would do his people more good here than in a Gestapo cell or a camp.

Michel knelt as the priest opened the small mesh window dividing the two compartments. Searching his memory for the correct phrasing, Michel spoke the precursory words for the sacrament. Confession might be good for the soul, but in his occupation, some things were better left unsaid, even to a priest.

“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned,” he began. “It’s been two years since my last confession and—”

A bored-sounding voice interrupted him. “Just get on with it, will you? I hope your sins are more interesting than the last person’s. I damn well hit my head when I started to drift off….”

The priest paused to catch his breath, and Michel spoke quickly, before the man could continue his tale of woe. “I’m homesick, and I’m often tempted to click my heels together and say ‘there’s no place like home.’”

There was a moment’s silence, followed by what sounded suspiciously like a very loud sigh of relief. “The answer to your problem is to follow the yellow brick road.”

Michel arched an eyebrow in the half darkness. Was this his contact? “Toto?” he asked.

“In the flesh. What took you so long? You’ve no idea what I’ve been through in here.” There was another moment of silence. “How can I help you, my child?” The man snickered. “Sorry, I’ve always wanted to say that.”

A loud creak was followed by the sun streaming through the now open confessional door. Michel blinked rapidly at the sudden change in light. The “priest” standing in front of him proffered his hand in greeting, although he was careful to keep his voice low so they couldn’t be overheard. “Matthew Bryant. Matt.”

“Gabriel.” Michel considered giving his name rather than his codename, but he didn’t trust this man or his team that far as yet.

Bio:
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.

Anne’s books have received honorable mentions four times and reached the finals three times in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical.

Links:
Blog: http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com/
Website: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/anne.barwell.1
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/115084832208481414034/posts
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4862410.Anne_Barwell
Dreamspinner Press Author Page:
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/anne-barwell
DSP Publications Author Page:
https://www.dsppublications.com/authors/anne-barwell-49