Parker Williams on Writing, Romance, and The Spirit Key (author guest blog, excerpt, and giveaway)

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The Spirit Key (Lock and Key #1) by Parker Williams

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Release Date: January 15, 2019

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press  |  Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Parker Williams here today on tour with his latest release, The Spirit Key.  Welcome, Parker.

 

~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Parker Williams ~

How much of yourself goes into a character?

As with all my stories, a little piece of me goes into each of the characters I write. It might be something as simple as a desire to own a store, like George, or to see spirits, like Scott (though I could do without some of the ones he sees.)

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

Normally research plays a part in my stories, but since this one is a paranormal, it was a little harder. I had to write something, then ask my beta readers if it made sense to them. Putting things from my head onto paper sometimes doesn’t translate like I thought it might.

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

Ooh, the cover for this one is from Reese Dante! She’s done a lot of the covers for me over the years (she’s my absolute favorite, you know), and this one? She slammed it out of the park for me. When I told her I had no idea what I wanted, and gave her carte blanche, she said she wanted to try something and asked if I was feeling experimental. When she gave me this cover, I was head over heels in love with it.

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

What’s next for you as an author?

That’s like asking a parent if they have a favorite child. (Of course they do!) I love Runner, but there’s another book coming called Stained Hearts that will give it a run for my affection. I even made another author cry when I showed her the first chapter, and that made me super-happy!

My next book is called Galen’s Redemption, and is the second book in the Links in the Chain series (Lincoln’s Park was the first) and Stained Hearts will be the third and final one.

If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

To be honest, I’m not sure. I mean, it depends on what the author does with them. Galen has a lot of learning to do in his book, so he’s got a lot of little moments where he has self-doubt. In Spirit Key, Scott does something he thinks is right, but in the long run, he realizes that it wasn’t.

Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

Drunk, no. On Ambien? Yes. Let’s just say when I looked at it the next day, I have no freaking clue what any of it even said.

  

What’s next for you as a writer?

I just finished edits for Galen’s book, and expect to start Stained Hearts soon. Currently I’m working on a shifter book titled ‘The Night Wolf’, and then I’m going to start in on my writing goals for 2019, which will include book four of the Secrets series, ‘On the Same Page’.

 

Blurb(s):

Lock and Key: Book One

When he was eight years old, Scott Fogel died. Paramedics revived him, but he came back changed. Ghosts and spirits tormented Scott for over a decade until, thinking he was going mad, he did the only thing he could.

He ran—leaving behind his best friend, Tim Jennesee.

Scott’s had five normal, ghost-free years in Chicago, when the spirit of Tim’s mother comes to him and begs him to go home because Tim’s in trouble and needs him.

He isn’t prepared for what he finds when he goes home—a taller and sexier Tim, but a Tim who hasn’t forgiven Scott for abandoning him… a Tim whose body is no longer his own. The ghost of a serial murderer has attached itself to Tim, and it’s whispering dark and evil things. It wants Tim to kill, and it’s becoming harder for Tim to resist. To free the man who has always meant so much to him, Scott must unravel the mystery of the destiny he shares with Tim.

Pages, Words, or time (for audiobooks): 74,439 words

Book Categories: Ghosts/spirits/paranormal

Excerpt:

SUMMER, 2002

 

WHAT MEMORY stands out most in your mind from when you were a kid? For many of my friends, it was getting a good grade on a test they were sure they’d fail, making a catch during a football game, or finding out the person they were crushing on liked them back. For others, it was more physical, like their first kiss or having sex for the first time.

For me, the one that topped that list was in the summer of 2002. The memory? Me dying. Well, almost dying. I mean, technically, I was dead for twenty-seven minutes, at least according to the paramedics and doctors.

See, I had gone down to the quarry with my brother and some of his friends. I was eight at the time, and to be invited to go along with the “big kids” was a heady thing.

Okay, fine. My mom told them they had to take me, but they weren’t supposed to let me know.

That’s not the point of the story, however. Still, between us, when your brother tells you that Mom said he had to take you and that you ruined his day by dying? That kind of sticks with you.

Anyway. The whole week had been hotter than hell—upper nineties, heat index topping a hundred, with no breeze at all. What made it worse was the humidity. Everyone complained their clothes stuck to them, and we all would have given anything for a bit of cool air. Those were the days you wanted to do nothing more than stretch out in front of the air conditioner and fantasize about being in the arctic.

Of course, those are also the times that drive Mom mad, like when we’re there, whining about how hot it is, and my brother announces he’s going swimming with his friends, and she tells him to take me along to the quarry with him.

Fine. I’m a little hostile over that memory, but in my defense, I died, so I think I have a right to be a tad grumpy.

Moving on….

There were a few old trees that stretched out over a pit of water. In the seventies, the place had been used to mine rocks that were crushed to use in gardens and the like. When the company that owned it shut down, it left a huge hole in the ground. Over time, it filled with water, which attracted kids from all over, wanting to swim. That was our destination for the day.

By the time we got there, all of our T-shirts had soaked with sweat. I distinctly remember looking at Cole Turner and seeing wisps of dark hair on his chest and wondering to myself what it would look like once he took his shirt off. I wasn’t sure why that thought flitted through my head, but it was gone just as quickly, because I saw Tim Jennesee sitting on a rock, taking off his shoes.

“Tim!”

He turned and smiled at me, waving like a freak. I took off running. Tim had been my best friend forever—which at the time was probably a few months, but in my eight-year-old mind, that qualified as a really long time—and seeing him there was a surprise. Normally he preferred to stay inside and play on the computer, indulging in game worlds like the Sims. Later he graduated to MMORPGs like EverQuest, with the promise that one day he would be creating them instead of playing someone else’s.

I got to where he sat and took my spot at his side. He nudged me with his shoulder. “I didn’t know you were going to be here!”

“Ryan asked me to come along.” See? I thought my brother was all cool and stuff. Shows how much I knew.

“Really? My mom said I had to get out of the house. I figured I’d come swimming for a while. I tried to call, but—”

“We were already on our way here.”

I hadn’t thought to call him, and I felt bad… for about three seconds. I was with Tim and the day had gotten a thousand times better. His dark hair shone in the sun, and his brown eyes sparkled. Being with him was enough to make me smile, and having him there with me made the day perfect.

Okay, here’s where things go to shit, so you’ll have to indulge me a bit. I don’t often discuss my death with people, because they ask all kinds of inane questions, and I’m so over that shit.

There was a big tree that stretched out over the watery pit. Someone had climbed it, tied off a rope, then knotted it at the other end. See, the idea was to grab hold, push off, and soar out into the nothingness, then arc high in the sky before letting go and plunging into the water, sinking, then rising once again until you broke the surface, then rushed to have another turn.

Doesn’t that sound idyllic? Like a Norman Rockwell painting or something?

Yeah, you’d think that.

It was my turn. I’d hedged about it all day, because I hated the idea of being so high in the air and falling. Ryan openly mocked me, and his friends teased me to no end. When Tim got up and announced he was going to do it, well, that raised the bar right there. How could my best friend do it, while I was too chicken?

Wrapping his hands around the rope, Tim ran and leaped off the edge, soaring into the air with a loud cry. Then, as he reached the apex of the arc, he let go. For a moment everything stopped, as he rose a little higher, then hung in the air before he dropped like a stone, laughing all the way.

When he broke the surface of the water a few seconds later, my heart started beating again.

“So, nerdy Tim can do it, but little Scotty is too much of a baby.”

It’s funny how you don’t remember how much of an ass your brother was when you were a kid, isn’t it?

“I’m not a baby!”

“Then prove it, chicken.”

“Fine!”

I stormed over to the rope and took hold of it. I glanced down into the murky pit, and my heart stuttered once more.

“Come on, Scott. It’s fun!”

Tim came jogging over, water sluicing down his chest, his hair matted to his forehead. Weirdly, that stray thought about Cole? Yeah, so over it. Now it was Tim that I was staring at.

“Okay.”

I was going to make Tim proud of me. I didn’t understand why, but thinking of him running over and hugging me, telling me how great I’d done? It became the only thought in my head at the moment.

I turned back and set myself, ready to do it. One quick glance at Tim, who nodded at me, and I rushed to the edge, jumped, and flew.

It was amazing. One second gravity has been conquered, and you’re flying up, up, up. Then you remember that everyone is gravity’s bitch, and you’re jerked back down. I hit the water, flush with pride over having done it.

When I flapped my arms to go back to the surface, though, that was when shit got real.

I couldn’t move my foot. Something had wrapped around it and held me below the surface. In my mind, a shark had grabbed me and was dragging me down. I struggled, trying to swim up, and my lungs burned.

You have to know, at this time, my mind had refused to believe I was going to die. It kept screaming for me to fight, to do whatever the hell I had to in order to get back to the surface. And I fought as hard as I could. Only….

At one point, I thought I’d gotten free, and my struggles to swim back to the surface intensified. I pushed hard against the water, trying to get up, back into the sun, but then I knew I was still stuck, and I had no more breath in my lungs.

I remember opening my mouth to scream for Tim to help me, but the murky water rushed in, and I choked, which led to more water being drawn into my body. Everything sort of went hazy and then shifted to black.

I’d died.

 

About the Author

Parker Williams began to write as a teen, but never showed his work to anyone. As he grew older, he drifted away from writing, but his love of the written word moved him to reading. A chance encounter with an author changed the course of his life as she encouraged him to never give up on a dream. With the help of some amazing friends, he rediscovered the joy of writing, thanks to a community of writers who have become his family.

Parker firmly believes in love, but is also of the opinion that anything worth having requires work and sacrifice (plus a little hurt and angst, too). The course of love is never a smooth one, and happily-ever-after always has a price tag.

Website: http://www.parkerwilliamsauthor.com

Twitter: @ParkerWAuthor

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/parker.williams.75641

Email: parker@parkerwilliamsauthor.com

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42934300-the-spirit-key

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

 

Giveaway prize offered: Signed Paperback copy of The Spirit Key delivered anywhere in the world.

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A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: The Spirit Key (Lock and Key #1) by Parker Williams

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

This starts with a long, detailed first person recap of the past from Scotty’s POV. After he died at age eight, he started seeing ghosts but didn’t tell anyone. This is really the crux of the whole book. By the time he was eighteen, it was overwhelming, unrelenting. The stress of everything made his family implode. Through it all his best friend Tim was always supportive, but it wasn’t enough and Scotty ran away. The farther he got from Milwaukee, the sparser the ghosts became so he lived his life normally for five years in Chicago until a visitation from Tim’s mom.

If you like the idea that there is one person meant to help the main character as they fullfill their destiny, then you might like this. There are parts of this book that remind me of me of Kris Bethke’s Requiem Inc. series (or even Mary Calmes’ Warders), although there are parts that are completely original and there is no organization that helps these ghosts cross over. In fact, the support team is not fully fleshed out. I think this is meant to set up a series, but for me this felt like the complete story.

There are several times when I feel the execution could have been better. Scotty is going home after five years when no one knew if he was even alive and Tim just throws them into a sex scene with power dynamics after a day? It was a hot scene, but the emotional impact could have been greater if they had a chance to build trust first; it doesn’t quite work as angry make-up sex either. Tim’s mood swings are jarring and confusing because this is in Scotty’s first person POV and he doesn’t know Tim is possessed, but the audience already knows from the blurb, so this is not quite successful. There is a scene where it is supposed to be first person, but Sophia talks to Scott, about Scott, as if talking to someone else, which is confusing. I am hoping that gets fixed before publication. Then, Scotty does the most colossally stupid thing, without consulting Tim, which endangers himself and breaks what little trust is left between them. I know these guys are in their twenties, but the bad judgements and lack of honesty between them is what causes all the anguish in the first place, although there is plenty of parental/adult bad judgment that contributes to the circumstances Scotty finds himself in. I think the author is showing everyone trying to do the best they can. Because of these story-framing choices, there are things that just seem to come out of nowhere…at least it’s told through dialogue and not narrative.

The book is at its best as Scotty actually tries to figure out why he sees ghosts and if he can help them. The flashes of the past Scotty sees are good additions to the story. As Scotty and Tim figure out who they are to each other and how they fit into this paranormal role, they also have to take care of themselves emotionally and physically, as well as each other. What they are doing, what is happening, is dangerous. Although this could have been frightening and quite atmospheric, the author doesn’t go this route so if you dislike horror, don’t worry. There are flashes of what the killer sees, but they are short and are only detailed enough to show his character. However, there is some violence that could be upsetting. The flashes of humor and love between Scotty and Tim are a nice counterbalance. Overall, the story is supposed to be about them but their whole lives are told through a recap and in their present Tim is not really Tim; this makes connecting with them a bit of a challenge. We are told they are best friends and in love, but only shown a few days of it when they are hurt, angry, and in danger. I liked so many ideas in this book, but I feel the way it was written constrained the story.

The cover art by Reese Dante captures the dark, tortured, paranormal feel well.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 210 pages
Published January 15th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781644051214
Edition Language English
Series Lock and Key #1