Menagerie Book Tour: Day Eight with Craig Boyack

Hey, Readers. Welcome to the eighth stop on the Menagerie blog tour. Each day I talk about a different story in the collection and tell what inspired the idea. Today’s featured story is titled Storm Rider. Like some of the others, this one is set during the late 1970s – a great time to have lived.

Today, I’m visiting with another of my fellow Story Empire colleagues, Craig Boyack. I’ve often said I don’t know anyone with a more vivid imagination. His books have a cast of characters that will astound you. While I’m a big fan of his Lizzie and the Hat series, I’m still fond of his root monsters in the Lanternfish trilogy.

Speaking of The hat, Craig released the sixth book of the series last fall. Be sure to check out The Midnight Rambler on Amazon.

Below is a list of the stops. Links will be updated as each post goes live. Comments are closed here, but I hope you’ll hop over to Craig’s site to visit with me.

This Week at Story Empire

It was another busy week around the Hall household. I’ll not bore you with the details of needing a new car battery or the parts place first telling us the battery was good, but the alternator was bad. Suffice to say we had a busy and “interesting” day Tuesday. But all is now well, the car is fine (so was the alternator), and we were able to replace the battery at no cost.

Today, I plan to have lunch with my former co-workers. Wanda, the person who retired the same day as me, is also joining us.

But enough about me. Time for this week’s Story Empire links:

  • On Monday, Jan Sikes continued her series on marketing. This week’s post cautioned readers to beware of Marketing Scams.
  • C. S. Boyack took the stage Wednesday with another Expansion Pack post. He had an interesting view of writing specific types of scenes. Be sure to check out Writing From the Side.
  • Wrapping up the week with today’s post, Harmony Kent continues her series on Prologues.

Another week in which I didn’t take any new photos. Since I’m thinking of autumn, and our trees are just starting to turn, I thought I’d share a shot I took in 2009 with my first digital camera. It was only a little 8-megapixel Sanyo point-and-shoot, but I was still able to capture some nice images with it.

Hope you enjoy the weekend.

Guest Author C. S. Boyack #New Release

Hey, Readers. Everyone knows how much I enjoy good music – especially classic rock. Today’s guest author, C. S. Boyack does as well. He’s no stranger to this site, having been a guest several times. It’s always a pleasure to host him. Craig is not only a friend but also a contributor at Story Empire.

He has a new release, another in the Lizzie and The Hat series. These books are always fun and highly entertaining, so if you haven’t already done so, you should pick up a copy of not only the latest release but all the books in the series.

And now, let’s welcome back Craig.

It means a lot to me, Joan, that you’d lend me your space today. This is one of my favorite things about the indie community, and I hope you’ll allow me to return the favor one day.

Seems like Joan always gets the musical post, but her love of music is why I earmarked this one for her.

The new book is called The Midnight Rambler, and it’s just in time for the Halloween season. Grab something pumpkin flavored, or a hot cider, then dig in for a fun afternoon. I’ll let the cover and blurb finish whetting your appetite for more.

Today, I want to talk about music. A big part of this series is the small cover band, Lizzie and the Pythons. They originated back in the first volume, creatively titled The Hat. I needed Lizzie and the hat to get out at night if they were going to amount to much as monster hunters. This kind of meant Lizzie was either a barfly or a performer in my mind, and here we are.

The band gets her out at night, and after her gig work, that’s when the fun begins. I try to pepper the stories with music of a certain style. The band has a bluesy feel that dives into rock, country, and a few eclectic styles as long as they fit the mold.

I also try to make the music fit the story being told. I had them play “Run Run Rudolph” at Christmas time. They played “Bad Things” when chasing vampires and “Clap for the Wolfman” when hunting a werewolf.

There really isn’t much that’s spot on for The Midnight Rambler, (Well, except for one song.) but the whole thing goes down during a major flood event. The Pythons finally get to play a much anticipated venue and their final set is all about floods. It’s amazing how many songs are about rain or floods, and I really enjoyed the research.

I include fun graphics in the stories as section breaks. Sean Harrington prepares these for me, along with that awesome cover and a few Lisa Burton promo posters for each publication. This time I even had Sean complete the lyrics in one of his graphics. Lizzie starts off singing, then the graphic pops up and concludes the lyric. I thought it was kind of fun.

Check out the book, and if you have to pause to update your playlist after reading some of the titles, I don’t mind. Fun is what we’re after here. I’ve added so many songs from this series to mine, that I had to make a special playlist for Lizzie and the Pythons.


Something evil is after the hat. The ageless enemies have battled many times, but this time Lizzie is wearing the hat. She’s also up against a ticking clock, in that if she can’t find the maker of her new friend’s medicine he will die.

The Rambler has kidnapped the only witch capable of making Ray’s medicine in an attempt to make the hat sloppy in his efforts. He’s also flooded the streets with deadly minions to impede any progress our heroes might make.

As if that weren’t enough, Lizzie is facing more of life’s struggles, both financially and mechanically. This all goes down in the middle of a huge flood event that she’s ill-equipped to handle.

Join Lizzie and the hat as they battle the elements, the paranormal, and a being of pure evil. Lizzie might be battling some personal demons along the way as she and Ray grow closer.

Purchase Link

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April Book Reviews Part One

Wow! We’ve almost reached the month of May. I read several books during the month of April, so like last month, I’m splitting my reviews into two posts. Here’s part one.

Mercy Falls

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Many of you know I’ve gotten hooked on the Cork O’Connor series. I actually finished reading Mercy Falls in March, but I had a reason for withholding my review until now.

I won’t say I’m totally disappointed in this book, but the ending left me frustrated.

Mercy Falls is the fifth book in the Cork O’Connor series. The story takes place several months after book four leaves off.

Cork O’Connor has been reinstated as sheriff of Tamarack County. He’s lured to the nearby Ojibwe Reservation to investigate a domestic disturbance. Upon arriving at the residence, a sniper fires at Cork and Deputy Marcia Dross.

Not long afterward, Cork is called to the scene where a mutilated body is found near the waters of Mercy Falls. The victim is Eddie Jacoby, a Chicago businessman who is trying to negotiate a contract with his employer to manage the Iron Lake Casino.

Eddie’s wealthy father hires a private investigator to assist with the case. Cork also learns his wife Jo once had a relationship with Eddie’s brother.

Is the sniper’s attempt to kill Cork related to the murder? Can Cork trust the private investigator? Who is out to get him and why?

Like most of Krueger’s books, this one kept me turning the pages. I honestly didn’t know who to trust. Although Eddie Jacoby gave plenty of people a reason to kill him, I wasn’t sure about the killer’s identity until the latter part of the book. So far, so good.

Then came the end.

I like series fiction, but I’m not a fan of serial fiction. Mercy Falls leaves readers with a cliffhanger ending. Hopefully, everything will be resolved in book six, Copper River. It’s a good thing I bought both books as part of a collection, otherwise, I might be tempted to skip the next one.

Amazon Link


Rating: 4 out of 5.

After reading Rebecca Zanetti’s You Can Run late last year, I knew she was an author I wanted to read again. The book releases on June 7 and is available for pre-order.

Unforgiven is the fifth book of Zanetti’s Deep Ops series. Although I’ve yet to read the first four books, this one easily read as a stand-alone novel.

Gemma Falls is on the run from her abusive former fiancé, Monty. She’ll do anything to keep her daughter safe. So far, she’s managed to protect Trudy, but when she takes a job at a Washington, DC university, things begin happening to make her believe Monty has finally caught up with her.

Jethro Hansen is a former MI6 agent who is working as a philosophy professor. Troubles arise when his psychotic brother Fletcher, a hired killer, escapes from prison. And Fletcher is out for revenge.

Sparks fly in more ways than one when Gemma and Jethro meet. And both of them are in danger. Jethro takes Gemma to a safe house where members of the Deep Ops team become involved in trying to track down a killer while protecting Gemma and her daughter.

The book is well-paced with plenty of action and a touch of romance. It’s a page-turner, and I found the ending satisfying. It goes without saying I’ll be catching up with all the books of the Deep Ops series.

Amazon Pre-order link

Good Liniment

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Next on the list is another in C. S. Boyack’s highly entertaining Hat series.

Good Liniment is the latest entry in The Hat series. Author C. S. Boyack brought back characters from other books including the stuttering vampire Kevin, Detective Joe Yoder, and Patty Hall from Will O’ The Wisp. New characters come on board as well that add to the story.

Lizzie and the Hat are on the search for a killer who is targeting a coven of witches. This time the killer is human, a bit of a twist from the villains in the other hat books.

The banter between Lizzie and The Hat is always entertaining, and the Hat is his usual snarky self. (Would we love him any other way?)

I’m always impressed by the author’s vivid imagination. If you’re looking for a quick and fun read, this is it.

Amazon Link

Copper River

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

After Mercy Falls ended on a cliffhanger, I was curious to see if the mystery would be solved in Copper River.

Book Six of the series picks up immediately where Mercy Falls leaves off. Sheriff Cork O’Connor is on the run after Lou Jacoby placed a half-million-dollar bounty on his life. Jacoby believes Cork is responsible for the death of both his sons.

Cork narrowly escapes death and takes refuge with his cousin Jewell DuBois in a small town on Michigan’s upper peninsula. Jewell is a widowed single mother, raising her teenage son.

Instead of lying low, Cork gets involved in helping Jewell’s son Ren and his friend Charlie (Charlene). Charlie’s father was murdered and she’s on the run. One of their friends was seriously injured by a hit and run driver after word got out the three of them may have seen a body floating in Copper River. Then, the body of a teenage girl washes up that has connections with Charlie.

Cork has his own problems, and former FBI agent, Dina Willner, shows up to help. Like the other books in the O’Connor series, there was plenty of action in this one. I missed some of the familiar characters from the other books, particularly Henry Melloux and Cork’s family. At the same time, it was nice to see new characters introduced. I wouldn’t mind seeing some of them make appearances in later books.

While I didn’t enjoy this one as much as some of the other books in the series, it was still a good read. The focus was on the current crime in Michigan, but there was a satisfactory conclusion to the cliffhanger Krueger left us with at the end of Mercy Falls. However, I hope there aren’t any more cliffhangers in the rest of the series.

3.5 stars rounded up to four for review purposes.

Amazon Link

I’ll post the second part of my April reviews next Tuesday.

New Release: Wreck of The Lanternfish by C. S. Boyack @virgilante

Hey, Readers. I’m pleased to welcome friend and fellow author C. S. Boyack today. He’s no stranger to this site, but he has a brand-new release—the third and final book of his Lanternfish trilogy.

I haven’t read this one yet, but I’m sure it will be as exciting as the first two books. Craig welcomes back a cast of characters— including Captain James Cutler, Don Velasco, Serang, and of course the beloved Root Monsters.

Now, here’s Craig to tell you all about it.

Thank you for having me back. I’m here to talk about the concluding volume in my Lanternfish Trilogy called Wreck of the Lanternfish. Specifically about Diego and Camila Palumbo.

These two are a husband and wife team that were introduced in HMS Lanternfish. They ran a scam where Diego sold curses in one shop, and she sold cures in a competing shop. (None of which actually worked.) By working together they could pit the locals against one another for their financial benefit.

They wound up as a byproduct when James rescued Serang from the gallows. They didn’t officially join the crew but wound up on the ship anyway. (With their own necks intact.)

The Palumbos have a way of spreading misinformation, learning things nobody else should know and prove quite useful in the final volume of the trilogy.

By planting themselves in the right location, spreading a few coins around, and pretending to be seers, they wind up in the heart of the enemy command center. Locals are sympathetic because the war has moved into their country and headquarters is on enemy land.

They wind up playing an important role in the conclusion, but because of their natures, I’m not going to spoil it for you. If a pair of not-quite reformed cons sound interesting to you, pick up Wreck of the Lanternfish.

Wreck of the Lanternfish purchase link

Trilogy link


James Cuttler created a peaceful spot for he and his wife to settle down. Far from the war that ravages their homeland, far from the reputation he earned as the notorious pirate Captain Bloodwater, and far from responsibility.

A royal Prelonian houseguest is a constant reminder of what’s at stake half a world away, of the friends he put ashore to fight the war. He lives in a dream world that’s temporary, at best. It’s only a matter of time before his guest is identified and the black assassins come for her.

He mortgages his precious vineyard to pay for repairs to his ship. If nothing else, Lanternfish will be one of the most powerful ships in the war, if he’s not already too late.

James will have to merge the skills of commander and con man into something new to make this work. He’ll need to avoid those on his own side who would hang him for piracy.

Serang is half a world away, leading her army of mercenary swordsmen toward the Fulminites. Mistrusted by both sides of the war, she appears as a third combatant on the battlefield. She may eliminate the mysterious order, only to succumb to the demons of her own tragic past.

Strap on your swords and hoist the colors one more time as the thrilling Lanternfish Trilogy comes to an end.

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