Monday, June 30, 2014

Sisters of Wind and Flame by Jennifer Ellision

Sub Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: June 30, 2014

ABOUT Sisters of Wind and Flame:

A short Threats of Sky and Sea prequel—
Once, Lady Katerine was simply Ekaterina. Once, she was not a countess, but a girl who cleaned fireplaces. And once, she had a sister...

~ Excerpt ~

After passing sixteen summers, I know not to expect that life will promise me any more.

The city’s watchmen thunder past me, clouds of dirt billowing behind them. Tiny grains fly into my eyes and I blink at their intrusion, but I’m accustomed to it by now.

The watchmen have slapped red onto the back of a man who struggles to keep his feet beneath him, wrists bound by ropes strung to the steeds’ saddles. The horses won’t slow for him if he fails to keep up.

Others in the market avert their eyes, knowing the man’s trespasses. Knowing his fate. The red he wears tells us all we need to know. He’s spilled the blood of another. Taken a life.

But I don’t look away. My sore eyes stay locked on the man’s stumbling path until long after his steps lose the battle. In the distance, his figure sails over the dirt and rocks like a limp rag doll until he disappears into the dust, the clouds swallowing him whole. I can’t summon pity for the man—or his victim.

The only promise life fulfills is its end.
Jennifer Ellision spent a great deal of her childhood staying up past her bedtime with a book and a flashlight. When she couldn’t find the stories she wanted to read, she started writing them. She loves words, has a soft spot for fanfiction, and is a master of the fangirl flail. She resides in South Florida with her family, where she lives in fear of temperatures below 60 Fahrenheit.
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Friday, June 27, 2014

Eleanor by Jason Gurley

Sub Genre: Magical Realism, Time Travel
Release Date: June 27th 2014

ABOUT Eleanor:

Time is a river.

1985. The death of Eleanor's twin sister tears her family apart. Her father blames her mother for the accident. When Eleanor's mother looks at her, she sees only the daughter she lost. Their wounded family crumbles under the weight of their shared grief.

1993. Eleanor is fourteen years old when it happens for the first time... when she walks through an ordinary door at school and finds herself in another world. It happens again and again, but it's only a curiosity until that day at the cliffs. The day when Eleanor dives... and something rips her out of time itself.

And on the other side, someone is waiting for her.

Eleanor is the novel Jason Gurley has been writing for thirteen years. Some things take a very long time to come together. The best things, usually.

~ Excerpt ~

The Keeper rocks in a handmade chair on her porch. Another black cigarette rests between her fingers, lit and burning toward her knuckles. She has been thinking of building a new cabin, not a replacement for this one, but a second one, at the northernmost end of the valley, so that she has a place to rest her feet during her long walks. The valley stretches for miles, and she often is too worn out from the journey to make it back to this home.

A dash of cigarette ash falls onto her burlap pants and she brushes it away.

She can see her shadow approaching across the field, the low afternoon mist parting around it. It moves stealthily, as if it is playing a game with her, but the keeper is never fooled. The shadow moves closer and closer until it slips on the porch and reattaches itself to her feet.

"You're back," the keeper says. "What did you find?"

Her shadow does not speak, but she can feel its memories pass into her, icy cold. She takes them into herself, absorbing them into her own collection of thoughts. She reviews them quietly, eyes closed, and nods to herself. She sees the gash in the treelike from the shadow's vantage point, as if a wrecking ball has dropped into the middle of her forest. She sees the lumbering clouds, the rich wet soil. She sees everything her shadow saw, and—

The shadow found the intruder.
Jason Gurley is the author of The Man Who Ended the World, Eleanor, and the bestselling novel Greatfall, among other books and short stories. His work has appeared in a number of anthologies, including John Joseph Adams’s Help Fund My Robot Army!!! He lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

S. Elliott Brandis Talks About How He Writes

Original Post
1. What are you working on?

I just published my debut novel, Irradiated. It's a dark post-apocalyptic novel set in Brisbane, Australia. Now, I'm working hard on the sequel, Degenerated. I have recently finished the first draft, and am now in the process of tweaking and refining. I'm quite a slow, deliberate writer so my first draft tends to be the bulk of the work. Degenerated is set five-years after the events of Irradiated. In my series, the environment has degraded severely and the sun's radiation has the power to mutate the genes of our children. Thousands of people live underground, in a road tunnel that runs under the Brisbane River. Irradiated focuses on the struggles of two sisters, one of them irradiated, living outside of the tunnel, scavenging to survive. With Degenerated, I wanted to explore life in the tunnels, so I've introduced a new character, Flynn, who lives in their depths. Flynn is a closet-irradiated, living with abilities he doesn't know how to explain, and in a world where difference means death. It also sees the return of Pearl from Irradiated, and her quest for a better life amongst all the wildness.


2. How does your work differ from others in its genre?

I'd define my main sub-genre as 'post-apocalyptic fiction'. When I sat down to write in this genre, I asked myself a number of questions.
  • Will the fall of society be fast or slow?
  • How do you think it's most likely to happen?
  • If it's slow, will people in the future even know what happened?
  • In Australia, is it reasonable to expect that the post-apocalyptic landscape will be filled with cars and guns?
The result? A gritty, low-technology post-apocalyptic novel. Environmental degradation has worn down the city, leaving most of it inhospitable. No petrol, no guns, no easily won resources. There is no focus on what happened. When you're struggling to survive, only the now matters. Welcome to Australia. I am also proud to feature two sisters as my protagonists. Science fiction is historically quite chauvinistic, and we've seen over the past couple of years that sexist ideas still exist. I wanted to write two characters that refused to be the victim. They're strong, gritty, and goddamn bad-ass. We should refuse to accept stereotypes, and open up fiction to the stories of all. The love the two sisters have for each other ties the whole story together, and provides a counterpoint for the harsh realities of the world. I also focus heavily on the words that I use. I want to write intelligent, literary fiction. It's all too easy to look down on us as mere 'genre' writers, but I think the best literary fiction has always been Speculative Fiction. Slaughterhouse-Five, Oryx and Crake, The Road, and now Wool. Writing style matters, and I strive to make my novels the best they can be.

3. Why do you write what you do?

I write the stories that I want to write, and the stories that I'd want to read. When I write a character, I have a few rules:
  • Everybody has reasons for doing the things they do. The more extreme their actions, the more compelling the reasons.
  • Nobody sees themselves as the villain. If they act in ways that we see as 'bad', that's only because their motivations compel them to. Everybody is the hero of their own story.
  • But, there are no real heroes. Everybody makes mistakes and has weaknesses. Even the best of us sometimes do bad things, no matter how much we strive not to. The greater the pressure, the more we err. Fortunately, to err is human.
In this way, I want to create complex and interesting characters. I find my 'villains' as interesting as the protagonists. In fact, my favourite character in Irradiated is the worst of them all. So why do I write what I write? Because it's the type of fiction I think needs to be written. Readers are incredibly smart. We don't need easy answers, simple characters, and clear-cut Hollywood story lines. Readers deserve better than that.

4. How does your writing process work?

This is quite a simple question. I wake up at 5:15 in the morning, before the sun. I make a coffee, and sit down on the couch with my laptop. Then, I write. I'm a real person. I work a full-time job, live with my partner, and do all the things that us real people have to do. Waking early gives me the space and time I need to write my stories. Doing it every day gives me the structure I need to follow them through. My morning brain is uninhibited, creative, and a little bit twisted. All in all, it works quite well.
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~ Giveaway ~

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Girl Who Believed in Fairy Tales by Heidi Garrett

Sub Genre: Magical Realism
Release Date: June 17, 2014

ABOUT The Girl Who Believed in Fairy Tales:

Author Heidi Garrett has written a lyrical collection of short stories woven with the threads of three very poignant fairy tales that pull this literary tapestry together to create a shimmering picture of love and acceptance.

THE GIRL WHO WATCHED FOR ELVES desperately needs to find her elf—it’s her only hope for happiness and, ultimately, survival.

THE GIRL WHO DREAMED OF RED SHOES is slowly dying inside until she learns that nothing is right until it’s the right fit—and in vivid, living color.

Lastly, THE GIRL WHO COULDN’T SING has to step out into her dream or she’s going to die with her song hidden inside her heart.

Anyone who misses these tales, will miss the experience—no, transformation of a lifetime. It’s time for everyone to get their real on!

~ Excerpt ~

“I’m going to sing ‘The Little Drummer Boy’,” she announced.

She thought she detected a nod from Carol and an encouraging smile from Bill.

Heather shifted her feet, angled the neck of her guitar, and played her best D chord. The first line out of her mouth was mystical—it often was as she sang out full warm tones from her lower register. Chills chased her spine, and invisible vibrations awakened the empty hall. Unfortunately, her performance didn’t ascend with her climb up the vocal ladder. By the third “pa rum pum pum pum” things scratched, and by the fourth, they squeaked. From there, everything rolled downhill with astonishing speed—each measure gathering strength for the final collision like the Abominable Snowman turning somersaults down the Alps.

A person more sympathetic to their audience might have cut the song short, but not Heather. Her powerful imagination stepped in, winging her off to some higher plane where she heard something very different than what Carol and Bill heard.

By the time she’d sung her last note and played her last chord, her heart was ablaze. She interpreted Carol’s and Bill’s stunned silence as admiration. Under the circumstances, who but she would have persevered?

Heidi Garrett is the author of the contemporary fairy tale novella collection, Once Upon a Time Today. In these stand-alone retellings of popular and obscure fairy tales, adult characters navigate the deep woods of the modern landscape to find their Happily Ever Afters.

She's also the author of the Daughter of Light series, a fantasy about a young half-faerie, half-mortal searching for her place in the Whole. Heidi's latest project is a collaboration with B. J. Limpin. They're cooking up a yummy paranormal romance!

Signup for Heidi's newsletter for discounts on all new releases!

Heidi was born in Texas, and in an attempt to reside in as many cities in that state as she could, made it to Houston, Lubbock, Austin, and El Paso. She now lives in Eastern Washington state with her husband, their two cats, her laptop, and her Kindle.
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Friday, June 20, 2014

Elle Chambers Talks About How She Writes

1. What am I working on?

I have several things going at the moment. First, I need to finish one final story for a new short collection (Grindhouse, release TBD) I’ve been working on since November (!). All three stories in Grindhouse are very different from anything I’ve ever written. For starters, they’re more violent. They also have a ton of graphic language and explicit sex – it’s like a 1970s B movie in print. Or a Tarantino film. Same diff.

Then I’m getting back to my roots with an erotic horror novella. I’ll be tackling a second zombie novella, and of course, I’m always trying to craft the best pieces I can for my Dark Tales series. eVolume Three needs to be released soon and I kind of want to mine classic horror tropes again since eVolume Two was more thriller/suspense.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I like to think my work is different, but maybe it’s not – maybe it’s incredibly derivative. I’ve been heavily influenced by film and television, oddly enough more so than books. Maybe a lot of what I put in print is something Carpenter or Craven or Argento have already done. I don’t know; I haven’t seen every film they, or their peers, have made. But I know I take inspiration from them, as do many of my peers, so I can’t claim to be a special snowflake in that regard.

I would also say my stories are darkly humorous, but again, that’s not unique to me. Stephen King does dark humor better than just about anybody. He’s the first author I can remember reading so of course some of his style would rub off on me.

When I read this back, I’m like, “Damn – I’m not original at all.” This realization would probably bother me if I didn’t know there are only something, like, seven plots in literature and they’ve all been done before. Hell, even Shakespeare cribbed things from writers who came before him.

So maybe the point isn’t to try and be original. Maybe the point is to give audiences tropes they’re familiar with, but do it in such a way that it feels fresh and new. Context is everything. If you tweak and twist a trope enough, it becomes something else entirely. Throw in interesting, vivid characters, sparkling dialogue, and a killer hook and ending, then voila! You’ll have a kickass story that nobody else has (assuming you can tell a good story to begin with). I think I do a decent job of this. I’m always striving to improve my craft, though, always pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and always trying new things.

For instance, I never thought I’d write about zombies. I love zombies as much as the next person, but I thought, “God, that’s so played. How many ways can you tell a post-apocalyptic zombie story?” Turns out, there are an endless number of ways to do it, some of which have been brilliant. Others…not so much. Still, I knew I couldn’t do it. If I was going to write about zombies, I had to do it on a more intimate level. So I wrote a novella called Good Eats and took the zombie myth back to its Haitian roots. There’s no virus, no survival camps, no bullets to the brain. It’s all hoodoo and dark magic. I wanted to write a novel about grief and loss; how those two things can drive seemingly rational people to do unspeakable things in the name of love – and the devastating consequences that occur once those wheels are set in motion.

Like most things I write, most people either love Good Eats or hate it. Some folks thought it was just “eh.” I’d never written a novella before so I thought I did a decent job of it my first time around. Plus, I love the story. It resonates with me; it’s one of the few things I’ve written where I’ve been physically moved while pounding out a scene. And the rising action all the way through to the denouement was wicked fun times.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I’ve said it once before, but it bears repeating: I love to be afraid. It’s perverse, I know, but facing Big Bads in fiction and coming through it (relatively) unscathed makes me feel I can do anything in real life. I like to think there are others who feel that way too, so I write for them as well.

4. How does my writing process work?

Okay, this is the part where things will probably be nonsensical (note: you were all warned at the top this was coming).

I don’t have a process per se. If I did, it would probably look something like this:

- turn on laptop

- stare at blank screen and flashing cursor on white page for twenty minutes

- stare at the ceiling and count how many cracks are in the old plaster

- stare out the window at all of the fancy rich people going in and out of the private club across the street from my apartment

- wish I drove an Audi or Jaguar like those fancy rich people

- go back to staring at my blank laptop screen until I go cross-eyed

- slam the laptop shut and turn on old Buffy episodes and wish I could write anything half as inventive and witty

- two hours later, weep because I’ve made zero progress on my WIP

See? This is why I dread questions like this because that’s legitimately how my actual “process” works. At some point, I’ll get hit with enough inspiration/energy/luck/whatever to get off my lazy ass and put words to page, but for the most part, the above is how I spend my evenings when I’m supposed to be writing.

Hey – maybe if I am dead, I can be reanimated as a more efficient, more disciplined version of me?!

Ah, who am I kidding? I’d come back even slower, and more brain dead, than I already am.
Original Post

Elle Chambers writes dark and erotic fiction. She currently lives in the Midwest where nothing of note happens. The mundane setting of her life inspires her (sometimes disturbing) work.

~ Giveaway~

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Stars and Other Monsters by Phronk

Sub Genre: Urban Fantay/Horror
Release Date: June 12, 2014

ABOUT Stars and Other Monsters:

Stan Lightfoot is the perfect paparazzo. His dog, Bloody, can track down anybody, anywhere, which comes in handy whenever a celebrity involved in a juicy scandal tries to avoid public attention. He’s about to get the perfect picture—a real privacy-invading winner—when he runs into a vampire who ruins his life.

From the dark and vulgar mind of Phronk—author of Baboon Fart Story—splashes a neo-vampire trip through nightmare America, full of mind-numbing romantic comedies, a Wal-Mart in every town, celebrities, and other soulless monstrosities.

When the vampire reveals a movie star crush of her own, Stan finds a way to keep her from eating him. Helping a murderer screw a movie star wasn’t exactly what Stan had in mind when he got into photography, but it’ll buy him a few days. Can he find a way to escape a creature with god-like power before she reaches her destination?

Probably not.

~ Excerpt ~

He paused outside his apartment. He could hear Bloody sniffing at the other side of the door. “It’s kind of a mess in there.”

“Oh!” she said. “Oh, no worries, hun. I can’t very well judge you; you’ve already outed me as a crazy ninny who obsesses over a celebrity.”

“Guess we’re not so different then. Hey thanks for telling me all that, even though you already knew, you know, what I do for a living.”

He got out his keys. His hands were shaking. He hadn’t been with a woman in a long time, and she seemed to be—what? Flirting? He couldn’t really be sure what was going on in her head.

She smiled at him. He pushed his glasses up on his nose, tried to smile back, then turned to unlock the door. It took a few tries to get the trembling key in the lock. “You know, I wasn’t sure what to make of you at first,” he babbled. “Kinda thought you might even be, you know, dangerous.”

“Oh, honey,” she said, her breath on his neck. “Dangerous doesn’t even begin to describe me.”

He turned his head. Those eyes, those lips, they were inches from his.

Suddenly, she tossed her purse halfway down the hallway.

“Why did you—” he began.

“It’s Michael Kors. Don’t want to get blood on it.”

Phronk wrote Stars and Other Monsters.

Phronk writes a lot of odd things, actually. He wrote a PhD dissertation about the psychology of horror films. He gets paid to write about technology and abuse words like “synergy,” “leverage,” and “utilize.” Buy enough of his novels and he’ll stop inflicting that on the world.

Phronk also wrote Baboon Fart Story, an experiment in publishing. Here is some nice stuff that famous people sarcastically said about Baboon Fart Story:

“Its artistry in the face of ‘normality’ is awe-inspiring.” — Alan Baxter

“Arguably the highest achievement of humanity. […] A bot could not have done a better job!” — John Scalzi

“Let’s just say I like the idea of self-publishing even less now.” — Adam Christopher

“A master of modern Dadaism.” — Daniel Abraham

Phronk is also the creator of Putting Weird Things in Coffee, which is a blog about putting weird things in coffee.

He has four nipples and doesn't care about fonts.

~ Giveaway ~

Monday, June 16, 2014

Spectra's Gambit (Lost Tales of Power) by Vincent Trigili

Sub Genre: Space Opera
Release Date: June 13, 2013

ABOUT Spectra's Gambit:

An old ally of Grandmaster Vydor comes to him for help because an enemy, perhaps as old as the Empire itself, has turned its sights on his Cathratinairian race and means to wipe them out. Spectra and Dusty are sent to find and stop this new threat, while Spectra begins her plan to change the balance of power for the entire known multiverse. Dusty must decide to follow Spectra as she uses this mission of mercy for her own gain, or stand with the Wizards Kingdom, which could put him in direct opposition to his wife.


As we approached the windows she asked, “What is it like out there?”

“Surely you have been out there?” I asked.

“Oh, of course. I have extensive training in operating in space, but it is always in my armor, so I am not really out there,” she said. “It’s like we take a bit of inside with us when we go.”

“Good thing, too. You might find it a bit chilly,” I said.

“Surely it’s not cold for you?” she asked.

“No, it's not,” I said as I leaned against the view port and looked out. “It's not cold, and it's not hot – it just is.”

“What if you get close to a star? Surely the radiance of heat from it would be something you felt?” she said.

“No, not really, at least not in the same way. I don’t know how to describe it,” I said and was quiet for a while. Then a thought struck me. “What does air feel like?”

“Air?” she asked.

“Yes, you are surrounded by air your entire life. What does it feel like?” I asked.

“It … well … I guess I don’t know,” she said.

“Neither do I know what space feels like. When you have been with something your whole life, you tend to filter it out.”

“Yeah, I guess so, but you travel from one to the other. Surely you notice a difference?”

“Yes, air is heavy, so very heavy,” I said quietly.

Before she could respond we heard an alarm go off, and she called out, “Come on!” and ran toward the sound. I followed after her, unwilling to let her run toward trouble alone. As we turned a corner we saw some big men yelling at Doctor Hawthorne and waving blasters in his face.

Saraphym clicked her helmet on and sent a call to the others for help but did not slow her charge.

“Back off!” she yelled.

The men looked up and saw her running toward them and laughed. “What are you going to do about it?”

I drew my blasters and said, “I think you better listen to her.”

I would have stopped there and found cover, but she launched into the air and flew impossibly far, right over Doctor Hawthorne’s head, and slammed into the leader. She spun off that blow and suddenly had a staff in her hands that I had not seen before. It swung and connected hard with the head of the second man, who collapsed.

I finally reached Doctor Hawthorne and sent him running. “Get help!”

Saraphym spun again after that blow and was now surrounded by attackers. They spread out, obviously respecting her staff. They had not fired their weapons yet and it concerned me how close we were to the airlock. A misfire could put a hole into the exterior, and that would be bad.

“Now, I suggest you get off the station and do not return,” she said. There was ice in her voice that I had never heard before.

I could not get a clear shot on any of them without risking hitting Saraphym, so I drew my swords and moved in, ready for the fight that I knew was coming.

The leader laughed, threw his gun down, and said, “I think you need to learn some manners, young lady.”

He just barely started to reach for her when Saraphym’s foot connected with the side of his unprotected head. There was a loud crack as she connected and he went down. The others looked in amazement as Saraphym completed her spin and said, “Anyone else need a lesson in the proper way to treat a lady?”

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This week only get the first three full length novels in the Lost Tales of Power series for only $1.99! 

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Vincent, father and husband of nearly two decades, holds degrees in both Math and Computer Science. In addition, he has published an astronomy journal and anchored popular blogs, along with publishing numerous articles, poetry and other works.

He got his start in writing fiction as a small child, losing himself in the worlds he dreamed up in order to escape the doldrums of normal life. Now, using his formal education and extensive career experience, he excels in creating fictional worlds of depth and rich fantasy, while maintaining a foundation of reality based on science and technology.

~ Giveaway ~

Friday, June 13, 2014

Bound in Blue: Book One of the Sword Elements by Heather Hamilton-Senter

Sub Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy
Release Date: June 13, 2014

ABOUT Bound in Blue:

Gods walk among us—all you have to do is See.

High school senior Rhiannon Lynne couldn’t get noticed even if she walked stark naked into the cafeteria and started playing the ukulele. While tap dancing. As if that weren’t strange enough, Rhi has synesthesia—she feels in color. It takes being almost drowned by a Celtic river goddess for her to discover she’s been bound by a spell that has hidden her from the world and her own mysterious heritage.

As Rhi starts to see that her colors belong to magic, she finds herself at the center of a conflict between gods, humans, and the lost world of Avalon. She’ll need to figure things out fast if she wants to be a player in the coming conflict and not a pawn. Each side has a claim on her loyalty, but each one could decide she’s the real threat.

Hopelessly attracted to a god of thunder; deeply connected to a boy with no memory of his past; irresistibly drawn to a creature with a taste for flesh—Rhi’s choices could decide the fate of worlds, but their choices could decide hers.

Maybe not being seen wasn’t so bad after all.


A mermaid found a swimming lad,
Picked him for her own,
Pressed her body to his body,
Laughed; and plunging down
Forgot in cruel happiness
That even lovers drown.

―William Butler Yeats

Fear is white and thickly veined with sea-blue.

I reached over the bed rail and touched Mom’s cheek. The industrial clock on the wall ticked once, loudly. Jerking my hand back, I rubbed the tips of my fingers against my jeans.

She was cold.

I reminded myself that her skin was always cool. Except for her black hair, everything about Mom was cool and pale, even her eyes.

They were cloudy now and staring at the ceiling. I couldn’t make myself close them the way people always do in movies. I couldn’t touch her again.

I gripped the sides of my chair as the color of fear washed over me. When it passed and I could see again, I was ashamed and lines of moldy blue wiggled across my vision like worms.

The only thing Mom was ever afraid of was a man with silver hair. I saw him once when I was little, across a busy street. We were driving, but Mom stopped the car and pulled me down to the floor. As she held me close, the sound of her heart was a wave crashing against rocks.

Rhiannon, listen to me. We cannot be seen. Hide in the shadows and be still and silent.

As I listened to her, I imagined a blue shadow covering me, protecting me from whatever it was that she was afraid of. My own fear broke apart like ice on a churning ocean and the colors of all my emotions erupted out of me for the first time, dashing themselves against the blue like they were trying to break free. I wrapped the shadow closer and my colors calmed and dissipated. I wasn’t sure how much of that was a real memory, but the man didn’t see us.

I’d been seeing colors ever since.

I once tried to tell Mom about the colors I felt, but she just smiled and looked away. I didn’t try again. It would have been nice to talk with someone about it. I’m sure my colors would be a nice break for some psychiatrist bored with the usual budding Unabombers.

But fear is white and cold and veined in a wet and moldy blue that echoes the color of the hospital walls.

A sudden vibration made me jump and startled pink sparkled across my vision. Fumbling in my pocket, I nearly dropped my phone as I pulled it out. My fingers were as numb as if I’d pressed them against ice.

“How is she?”

It was Peter. I stared at the screen a moment before shoving the phone away. I couldn’t answer him. If I did, it would make the nightmare true.

The chair made a vicious scraping noise against the floor as I stood and I froze, heart pounding, imagining the corpse popping up like they do in bad horror movies. Of course, it didn’t move.

Mom didn’t move.

I backed away to the door to look for someone to come and tell me what I was supposed to do. The nurse on duty had left to give me time to say goodbye, but there wasn’t anything here to say goodbye to.

A woman walked past me into the room and strode up to the bed. She wasn’t young, maybe mid-thirties, but she was the most stunning person I’d ever seen. With a mass of dreadlocked, white-blonde hair, and wearing a skirt that looked like a cascade of expensive rags, she was Goth Barbie’s slutty older sister. Touching a black-lacquered finger to Mom’s forehead, the woman whispered, “Viviane, you stupid fool.”


I couldn’t think of anything to say after that. Don’t call my dead Mommy stupid?

A strange impulse to laugh bubbled up inside me, but I shoved it back down and only a strangled squeak escaped.

Good thing. Laughing over the body of my dead mother will probably buy me a one way ticket to a psych eval.

The woman turned at the sound and seemed surprised to see me standing there. “You must be Rhiannon. We have never met, but my name is Morgan.” I stared at her and she gestured to the bed. “Viviane was my sister.”

I shook my head. “Mom didn’t have a sister.” The woman didn’t respond and a flash of violet impatience made me blink. “If you’re her sister, how come you didn’t come when she got sick? Why didn’t Mom even tell me about you?” Crackles of red across the violet surprised me—surprised me at how angry I was that I’d been forced to endure all this alone. A long-lost aunt would be a relief, but how could it be possible?

I glanced out the door to see if I could catch one of the nurses’ attention, but they seemed to be busy with some emergency down the hall.

The woman was still staring at me. Despite the eccentric clothing, she held herself straight and rigid with her chin lifted slightly and her arms held a little away from her sides like a ballerina.

Just like Mom.

“Why didn’t you come?” I whispered, hating the weakness in my voice.

The woman sighed and looked down at the bed. With a graceful motion, she brushed her fingers across Mom’s arm. “Viviane made her own choices—choices I knew would be her undoing. I saw no reason to force my witness upon them. Still, for the sake of the common cause that once bound us, and for the love I bear her still, I would have come if she had asked it of me. She never did. Any emotion felt for my sister was always a one-sided thing, and she was ever of her own mind.”

Morgan talked funny—strangely formal like Mom did—but this refugee from a heavy metal music video couldn’t be my aunt.

Because that would mean Mom lied to me.

Anger was coming in red streaks now and I walked over to the bedside table and reached for the emergency call button. In one swift movement, the woman was in front of me, grasping my hands hard enough for me to know that she could stop me if she wanted to.

“Do not be afraid. I mean you no harm.”

I pulled back and after a brief resistance, she let go. “I don’t know you,” I muttered.

Morgan raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms. “Viviane and I have walked different paths for so long that we could no longer meet in the space between them, but I felt her passing. I would have taken her to rest where she belonged, in the free air under the moon. She shouldn’t have been here, hidden away from the sky.”

There was an accusation in her voice and my cheeks went hot. As we stared at each other, I saw that her eyes were pale—so pale you might think you were looking at a blind woman. I’d never seen anyone with eyes like that before.

Except Mom.

I slumped down into the chair by the bed. I’d been up all night waiting for the end. I didn’t have enough energy left to be suspicious.

After a few uneasy seconds of silence, the woman spoke and her voice was gentler. “What did they say was the cause?”

I shrugged. “Lupus. Maybe. The doctors weren’t sure. Some auto-immune thing that made her organs shut down one by one. They didn’t know how to stop it.”

“The doctors of this world are fools.”

I didn’t disagree. I rubbed my eyes, but they were dry and gritty, as if all the tears in them had turned to sand.

Morgan stiffened and made a hissing sound between her teeth. “Be still. Others are coming.” And then she walked up to me and poked me hard between the eyes.

“Hey!” I yelped. “What the hell?”

Morgan leaned in close. “Stay still. Be quiet. Do not move.” Familiar commands I couldn’t help but obey. Her fingernails dug into my shoulder as she pushed me down into the chair as if somehow she could make me sit more deeply and decidedly than I was already sitting.

Auntie Morgan is crazy.

And then the stream of truly crazy filed into the room.

A young woman sporting a red mohawk who shopped at the same stores Morgan did, but in the blisteringly neon department.

An older woman with a long braid of white hair wrapped around her waist like a belt.

A huge, dark-skinned man with a lip ring connected to a gold chain threaded through a piercing in his ear.

There were more, all as strange as the first three. A curious nurse peered into the room with wide eyes, but a glare from Morgan sent her away.

I was abandoned to the freak show.

Some of them touched Mom’s forehead with gentle fingers. A few whispered soft words to Morgan. I just sat there as they ignored me—as good as invisible—while the numbness spread from my fingers up into my body and the white of my fear went black and dirty on the edges like snow on the side of the street.

“Hello, Morgana,” an amused voice drawled. A good-looking guy leaned in the doorway and smiled at Morgan. Longish hair with a hint of ginger poked out from under a red baseball cap and he had the kind of five o’clock shadow that’s grown on purpose.

She didn’t smile back. “I prefer to be called Morgan now, as you well know, Thomas Redcap.” She made his name an insult.

The man’s smile widened. “Ah yes, you’re all modern and casual now. I’d heard. Love the outfit by the way. Did you join a band?” He sounded Irish or something. Miming a tip of his cap, he sauntered into the room and leaned forward as if to kiss her on the cheek.

“Don’t. You. Dare.”

He gave her a mocking bow. “Well you can’t blame a lad for trying, Morgana the Fair and Perilous.” As he approached the bed and didn’t even glance in my direction, orange irritation crackled along the edges of my vision. It faded to grey shame when he closed Mom’s eyelids with gentle fingers.

“Poor Viviane,” he murmured. When he looked back at Morgan, his face was serious. “Do I have your leave to continue?”

She grimaced. “Get on with it.”

Redcap nodded and then quickly—so quickly I almost couldn’t understand what I was seeing—his hand shot out and a sharp fingernail dragged down Mom’s arm, peeling flesh from it in one long curl like the skin off an apple.

Heather Hamilton-Senter grew up in a family where books of myth and legend were used to teach the ABCs and Irish uncles still believed in fairies. Raised with tall tales, she has always told stories too- first as an actor and singer, then as a photographer, and now as a writer.

Heather lives in rural Ontario, Canada raising Summer, Holly, and little Stephen to tell their own stories, cheered on by her biggest fan, her husband Steve.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

William D. Richards Talks About How He Writes

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1. What Am I Working On?

At the foremost, I am working on Aggadeh Chronicles Book 2: Dragon. It makes sense; you start a series, people expect multiple books in the series. When you don’t, potential readers tend to hold back from reading your series because they don’t want to have to wait until your next book comes out. Even I am guilty of this. It makes me wonder how J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series would fared if she didn’t already have the first couple of books in the series written when it was introduced in the United States.

I’m also working on a hard science fiction called Privateer. It’s about a man marooned in space after his ship is destroyed by marauders trying to steal his cargo. His lifeboat detects a rescue beacon and drops out of hyperspace into a remote star system. There, he comes across a derelict spaceship that will either become his prison or his salvation.

It’s dangerous to jump genres. It is jarring for a reader to read a fantasy by an author and come across a hard science fiction written by that same author. People who love the soft organics of magic in fantasy might not like the hard technology of science fiction. There are authors who have pulled this off. I want to be one of them.

That being said, I have other book ideas that step outside the traditional definitions of science fiction and fantasy. Naturally, that statement brings us to the next question…

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Aggadeh Chronicles differs from others in the genre in that it doesn't rely on tensions between magical races. Magic is integral to how life works in the story, not the focus of the story.

I have no good or evil forms of magic in my story. There are safe types of magic and dangerous types of magic. It is the actions of the characters in the story and how they use their abilities that define anything as good or evil. There are beings that align with negative and those that align with positive. They are not pure existences of good or evil, but simply it is how they choose to approach the world.

There are differences between magic and sorcery in this world, even though they seem to accomplish the same thing. Sorcery is the dangerous type of magic, as it deals directly with the manipulation of energy in the world. Magic is less dangerous as it is more controlled and deals with guiding energy indirectly, making it the safe kind of magic. Think of it as Physics and Chemistry.

I did try to maintain some true scientific facts in this world. It helps with the believability in a story of fantasy. It shows how in a world where not everyone can use magic effectively, there must be other tools people can use to get work done. A sword or a cannon can kill just as effectively as a magic spell can. I tried to maintain realistic travel times when the characters move about in the story, even when the methods of travel are magical such as by cloudships or dragon. The horses Nem and Bors use to travel aren’t majestic quarter horses, they are smaller, stockier horses like the Icelandic Horse, not much larger than a pony. These horses have an ambling gait that allows them to travel very long distances quickly and comfortable for a rider. The Jennet was a popular small horse in Europe during Medieval period for the this purpose, used by merchants and gentry to travel long distances in a hurry. A quarter horse might be able to gallop faster for a short distance, but it can’t match one of these ambling horses for speed and distance over time.

I want my stories to be as plausible as possible for the reader. To have details in them to which the reader can easily relate and help them to take that further step in suspending their disbelief and accepting the fantastical elements of the story.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I love stories. I love telling stories. I’ve always been this way. For me, writing a story is the same process as reading only backwards. Rather than look at the words on a page and watching the scenes play out in my head, I watch the scenes play out in my head and try to keep up as I write the description of what I’m seeing.

What is most important to me is that the story be enjoyable to read.

Why I write in the genres that I do is fairly easy to explain.

I loved rocket ships and dinosaurs as a child. I saw Neil Armstrong take the first step on the moon and followed every rocket launch with rapt attention. My favorite TV shows were Lost in Space and Star Trek (a LOT scarier than Lost in Space at times). My mother always complained about us watching the Saturday afternoon monster movies with Godzilla and King Kong, that watching those movies would give us nightmares. (They did, but we watched anyway.)

I always loved the old fairy tales. I loved them even more when I discovered that there was far more to those fairy tales than children’s books reveal. There were fairy tales from other cultures that the Brothers Grimm never touched on. There were fairy tales that don’t get top billing because they weren’t exactly appropriate for children. They were such simple stories, but they spoke of complex things hidden inside that simplicity. They were simple stories that one could take and expand upon and create a new story.

I was a science fiction and fantasy fan even before I started reading. Even before I knew what those terms meant. I love stories that step a little or a lot outside the reality we know. Forcing my imagination and mind to work harder and stretch to the limits.

It’s only natural the same applies when it comes to my writing.

The subject matter of each story is a bit harder to explain.

Often, an idea of a story comes to me because of a piece of music. Something in a given passage will invoke an image or a scene and the story explaining that will evolve in my mind. I’ll have that particular scene in my mind and the next step is to explain what lead to that scene and where the story goes from there.

Other times, I will get an idea for a story from some news item I hear. An exciting new discovery, a tragedy needing a different outcome– These all lend themselves to new stories.

There are some stories that come directly from my dreams. The imagery was just so fascinating, I had to find some way to describe and explain it. The only way to do that is to write a story about it.

What I find interesting in my writing is how the written story differs from the imagined story in my head. Often what I imagine in my mind is a fluid thing. Writing down the story crystalizes it and gives it solidity. What was just a bunch of related scenes in my mind now shows where and how these scenes must be connected to give them continuity in a narrative. Sometimes the story has to change, because without that change there is no way any given two scenes can exist with each other. There are also the occasional ideas that just won’t fit in the story and get removed. I do recycle ideas and scenes that get cut. There are some ideas that can become stories in their own right. And this makes a good segway to…

4. How does my writing process work?

One thing you learn is what process works for one writer doesn’t necessarily work for another. On the other hand, another person might read how some random writer works and find a resonance with that writer’s approach. The beauty of this blog tour is being able to see how other writers work and consider how that compares to one's own approach.

Getting started is usually the hardest and the easiest part of writing. It’s hardest, because after daydreaming about writing a book, it is wholly another thing to sit down and actually produce the words for that book. It’s the easiest, because all you have to do is start writing the words of the story.

I tell people, just write down the description of the story to yourself:

“This is a story ‘bout a man named Fred,
Out-of-work engineer, barely kept his family fed.
Then one day Jed was shootin’ up some food,
When out of the ground came something really rude:
Zombies that is. Mindless undead. The House of Representa–”

By golly, the story will just start flowing as you describe it!

The first step is the germ of the story idea.

I write quick notes describing the scene or idea I imagined. It’s rather random what these notes may cover because it is whatever is in my head at that moment that made the idea so interesting. If I’m already working on another manuscript, the note is as far as it gets until I’m done with the first story or I need a break and want to write something different for a while.

When it becomes time to actually begin the manuscript writing process, this is where it gets blurry and messy. I generally write a story in a linear fashion, from beginning to end, just like reading it. Now and then, a new idea comes to me and I may go off on a tangent. This can be bad for productivity, but good for the story itself. This is where I refer to the outline to see if this idea really does fit. If it is better than what the outline set, then I'll change the outline. There are occasions where I may be stuck and decide to jump ahead to a more interesting part. Then I'll return and try and write the bridge between the the written scenes where I had gotten stuck.

To me, an outline is a skeleton rather than scaffolding. It needs to be able to move and adjust as the story evolves rather than remain rigid and unchanging. At the same time, it must hold the story to its proper form.

During all this, the story is gelled rather than crystalized. It’s soft and flexible. Easy to change and adjust. It’s in blobs and chunks and doesn’t have very strong continuity.

There are other times when I get an idea and just sit down and start writing furiously. I write and write and write and write and write until several weeks later I stop, look up, and discover I’ve just written a manuscript. Or rather, a pseudo-manuscript. My story, Music on the Wind, is just this sort of writing. It is a lot of passive description of the story, littered with actual narrative and in other places notes to myself to use this idea or that idea to cover a given part. (Yeah, MotW needs a lot of work to turn it into a readable book.)

Once I’ve declared the manuscript complete, I set aside for a couple of weeks to a month. I will go and do other things. Read some really good books. This is actually a vital part of my writing process! After reading something, I go back and read my own manuscript.

Reading other books and seeing well-written and edited examples helps make my own errors really stand out. I fix those errors as best I can, and only then is the manuscript ready to be seen by the eyes of others.

From there, it enters the editing stage and goes out to my editors. Truth is, at this point the “book” is still a piece of crap. After the manuscript has been through a round or two of editing, I start seeding it to proofreaders. New proof-readers usually go into a panic as they read it and see errors and mistakes, or find a part in the book that is just terrible. Editors sometimes don’t catch everything. That’s why you have proofreaders.

You don’t so much write a book as you refine it. It’s a back and forth process twisting and turning the various pieces until they fit together and flow smoothly. Between the “blob” manuscript and the “release” manuscript, I may go through four or five versions.

Because I have a lot of downtime as a writer during the editing phase, I use this time to take care of the business-side of writing the book. Filing the copyrights, preparing the entries on the various distributors so that all I have to do is upload the finished manuscript in click on the “PUBLISH” button. It’s also during this phase that I turn to creating the cover art for the book. I’m a firm believer that the cover should reflect a scene from the story and not just be a generic image. The temporary cover I created for Dragon uses the painting that was the inspiration for the city of Balon in the story. I’m at the point where I’m looking for an artist to help me create the covers for the series.

I always send out the book for one last round of proof-reading before release. In my opinion, this is the most important activity of the process. This is the last shot at catching errors before I release the book for sale. I choose certain people for this because they are good at catching incongruities and small errors. When an author asks you to proofread a book, this is not a small request. It’s vital that there be no more errors. Errors can ruin a book’s chances in the market.

When I’m satisfied my team has caught what we can, then I simply construct the ebooks and send them out to the distributors.

The actual process of creating the ebook file and distributing it is outside the writing process, even though it is part of the publishing process. Generating the file is not difficult. But it is fairly technical when it comes to making sure everything is right. My blog entry here is long enough. This can be covered at another time.
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Monday, June 9, 2014

Deep Breath Hold Tight by Jason Gurley

Sub Genre: Short Stories
Release Date: May 13, 2014

ABOUT Deep Breath Hold Tight:

"Jason Gurley will be a household name one day." – Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of Wool

A new father on a forever-long journey in the wrong direction. The last stowaway at the end of the world. A woman who witnesses mankind's last day. A man whose breath is ice-cold, though it's the depths of summer. An agent hunting for a woman at the edge of the solar system. A reluctant widower who leaves his home to become an astronaut. A boy who turns into a wolf as civilization crumbles around him.

Deep Breath Hold Tight is a collection of powerful short stories about humans facing the end of everything.


I caught her.
The doctor gave me a textured blue wrap. Frannie looked alarmed and said, “No, no, skin — skin-to-skin, I want skin-to-skin,” and the doctor assured her that this was only for me, so that I wouldn’t drop her. I lost track of what I was supposed to feel, and I bent over the bed, only dimly aware of Frannie’s feet near my head, her toes splayed wide as she fought. I heard her scream like I’d never heard her do anything before. It was primal, and I felt like a hunter on the savannah, standing over my kill, like a warrior, head thrown back and the taste of blood in my mouth.

And then she came to me, like a child on a water slide into my arms, slippery and dark and blue, and I caught her, and her tiny face looked like the wrinkles of my knee, almost featureless in her surprise, and she bawled rapidly. She pierced my heart and my ears with her cries, and a nurse clamped and clipped the cord, and I carried her to Frannie and laid our daughter on her breast.

She wailed and clung to her mother, her tiny fingers opening and closing against Frannie’s skin, and Frannie breathed heavily and said, “Elle.”

I didn’t want to look away from either of them — Frannie dripping with sweat, her hair in damp rings on her face, and Elle, pushing against her mother’s skin like a fresh piglet — but the movement at the door caught my eye, and I did, I looked up, and for the rest of my life I wished that I hadn’t.

Frannie saw, and looked, too.

The man in the doorway smiled regretfully, and waggled his fingers at me, and nodded.

I met Frannie’s dark eyes, and watched the tears well up, and I felt my heart pull out of my chest and stay behind in that beautiful room, the most wonderful place that had ever been made. I kissed Frannie, but she kissed me back, harder, and then I nuzzled Elle’s tiny soft ear with my nose, and kissed her head everywhere, and her small hands. I would have stayed in the room forever if I could have.

But I followed the man out of the room, my ears ringing with sadness, an enormous hole in my head and my heart, and that was that. We both knew that it had to happen, but we pretended it wasn’t going to. And then it did.

I followed his dark suit through the hospital corridor. I couldn’t feel my hands. My feet moved on their own.

He said something, but I don’t know what it was.

We stepped out of the building and into the light, and the cold wind turned my tears to ice.

Elle taps the camera, and I watch her fingertip, large enough to crush worlds, grow dark and obscure my view. I laugh, and she giggles, and this makes her laugh harder, and then she begins to hiccup wildly. She rocks back on her bottom and puts her hands on the floor behind her, and reclines and stares at me, hiccuping and laughing, and I laugh with her.

“You’re silly,” I say to her. “Silly, silly Elle.”

She babbles at me, and in the stream of muddled sounds I hear something that sounds like a-da, and I say, “Frannie!”

Frannie turns the camera on herself, and her smile is big and bright and threatens to push her eyes off of her face. “We’ve been working on it all week,” she says. “She can’t quite make the sound work, so all we’ve got is, except, you know, it’s more like atha, atha.”

I turn away from the camera and wipe at my eyes.

“Daddy’s crying,” Frannie says. I look back to see her turn the camera to Elle, who thinks this is hilarious. She pats her round tummy and laughs harder, and then the hiccups take over in a big way, and a moment later Elle burps up breakfast.

“Oh, uh-oh! Uh-oh!” Frannie sing-songs, and she says to me, “We’ll be right back, Daddy!” and puts the camera down.

I watch Frannie’s feet, then she scoops up Elle and whisks her out of frame.

I sigh and push off of the wall and turn in a slow flip, waiting.

Sarah comes in through the research wing hatch and sees the camera and says, “Oh, shit — I mean — oh, goddammit, I — fuck! Shit.”

I laugh at her and tell her it’s fine. “Elle spit up,” I say. “Commercial break.”

Her face relaxes. “Whew. Okay. I don’t want to corrupt your little girl or anything.”

“Did I forget to flip the sign?”

Sarah turns around and leans out of sight. “Well — nope, no, you did,” she says, leaning back in and holding up the little handwritten recording sign. “I wasn’t even looking, I guess.”

“What did you need?”

She looks around, scatter-brained, gathering her thoughts. Then Frannie comes back into the room with Elle, singing a bit, and she sees Sarah on the display and says, “Sarah! Hi!”

Sarah looks up at the screen and smiles sheepishly. “Hi, Francine,” she says. “Everything okay?” Frannie asks me.

“Everything’s fine,” I say.

“I was — I shouldn’t be in here,” Sarah says, making a slow turn towards the hatch. “I’m sorry. Nice to see you, Francine.”

“Bye, Sarah,” Frannie says. She lifts Elle’s small hand and flaps it at the camera. “Say ‘Bye, Sarah!’”

Elle yawns.

“Bye, sweetie,” Sarah says, then shakes her head at herself and looks at me. “Really, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I should’ve checked first.”

“Not a big deal,” I say, and then Sarah floats back into the research module and presses the hatch shut behind her.

“It’s not like we were having phone sex,” Frannie says, chuckling. “Make sure she knows it’s fine.”

I look at the readout beside the screen. “Time’s up anyway,” I say.

Frannie’s frown is adorable. “Oh, I’m sorry, dear,” she says. “We wasted so much time cleaning Elle up — I’m so sorry.”

I smile, but I know it’s a sad smile, and I know Frannie can tell. “Kiss her for me,” I say.

Frannie kisses Elle, a big playful smooch that sets Elle’s giggles off again.

“Love,” I say.

“Love,” Frannie answers, and then she squeezes Elle and coos, “Love! Love!”

The screen goes dark, and I sigh, and look around the module. It’s cramped and small, but it’s private, at least until Sarah bumbles in again. I point my hands at the floor and push off with my feet, just enough to reach the lights, and I snap them off. The module goes pitch-black, and then my eyes adjust to the faint light from the porthole. And then I cry, the way I always do. The tears stick to my face like film, and when I’ve cried enough to feel better, I sop them up with my sleeve, and turn on the lights, and get back to work.

This is the way it has to be.
Jason Gurley is the author of The Man Who Ended the World, Eleanor, and the bestselling novel Greatfall, among other books and short stories. His work has appeared in a number of anthologies, including John Joseph Adams’s Help Fund My Robot Army!!! He lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest.

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Cat Amesbury Talks About How She Writes

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1. What am I working on?

In contrast to the thousand different things going through my mind at any one time, I am very focused in my writing projects. Right now, I am working on the second book in the “Tales from the Virtue Inn” series, With Honor Intact. I am having so much fun finishing this story. It has action, deep friendships, live squid, and naked glassblowers. These are all things that are tremendously fun to write.

Besides its fluffier components, With Honor Intact deepens the mystery surrounding the Virtue Inn and its inhabitants. I love creating and solving puzzles. I have high hopes that my readers will be as fascinated as I am with the little pieces that fit together in the larger plot. Everything is well on track to the story being released at the end of June/beginning of July and I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to share it with everyone else.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I didn’t have a television or a non-work-based computer as a kid. If we wanted entertainment that didn’t come from playing “The Ground is Lava and So Are the Walls”, we had to read.

So I read.

A lot.

There are very few genres I haven’t at least touched on in my lengthy reading career and I have favourites that I read and re-read in most of them.

The thing that all of my favourite books had in common was that they made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up at some point in the story. Other things were negotiable, but that was not.

I wanted to write that.

More specifically, I wanted to write stories that drew inspiration from, as one reviewer put it, “‘The Wizard of Oz’, C.S. Lewis, Dr. Who, Harry Potter, Dr. Seuss, ‘Alice in Wonderland’, and Aesop”. I’d add to that The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, T.S. Eliot, Sun Tzu, Agatha Christie, and a massive dose of world history and mythology.

In spite of what looks like a Frankenstein monster of influences, the core of my writing is very simple.

I want you to care.

I want you to care about my characters, about my world, and about the sad, funny, strange things that weave my stories together.

In the end, my stories are about people. They are about family and friends and the ways we come together and move apart.

They just have a hundred percent more sentient household objects and naked glassblowers than anything else in the genre.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I’ve partially answered this question, but I’m going to dig a little deeper here than the previous answer.

It’s no great secret if you look at my list of influences that I am a deep lover of classic children’s fantasy. One of the saddest moments for me as a grown-up was the difficulty of finding books for adults that gave me that same sense of wonder I experienced when I read good children’s fantasy.

I thought about it for a while and I realized that my problem was that I wanted to read contemporary fantasy adventures that were, at their core, joyous. There are tragedies and trials in those classics and in my own story as well.

But there is also a breathless sense of discovery, of wonder, of determination, that I wanted to try and capture in some small part.

I don’t know if I have succeeded, but the pleasure that the writing has brought me has helped me to recapture some of that joy in my own life.

4. How does my writing process work?

I dreamed.

In my dream, a woman with a golden, mechanical bird on her shoulder and a fox in her arms stood in front of a strange-looking inn.

She looked straight at me and said, “Tell my story.”

I listened.
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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Benton: A Zombie Novel by Jolie Du Pré

Sub Genre: New Adult Romance/Zombie Apocalypse
Release Date: May 18, 2014

ABOUT Benton: A Zombie Novel

Zombies have killed everyone in the Benton household--all except twenty-something Jennifer. She's escaped her bedroom, but what now? Waterbank, Illinois is overrun. Where can she go?

A chance encounter with seven other young survivors points her toward Texas. A charismatic, handsome young man named Mark says he can lead them all to his family's ranch. He's sure they'll be safe there. Jennifer wants to trust him, with her life and possibly her heart.

There's no place else to go, there's no way to escape the zombies but through, and there's no telling if Jennifer and Mark will live long enough to act on the emotion building between them.


A zombie is a reanimated corpse that feeds on living flesh. Before this all happened, I’d seen them in TV shows or in the movies. But now I know they’re real.

The day my mother turned into one is a day that will stay with me for as long as I can survive this. It was six weeks ago, the same day I turned my bedroom into my home.

She’s never seen me in my bedroom since she became a zombie. I make sure of that. But my instinct tells me that she knows I’m in here.

Zombies don’t sleep. At least the thing that used to be my mother doesn’t. It’s like they go dormant and then come out of it when something gets their attention.

She’s stood in that spot, swaying from side to side, night and day, for weeks and weeks. If she ever breaks the window, if she and the other zombies ever manage to knock down the wood, you’d better believe I’m history without my rifle.

My name is Jennifer Benton. I’m twenty-three and I’m from Waterbank, Illinois. I’m the only person left in the Benton home.

Jolie du Pre is a full-time, published author, editor, article writer, and blogger. She has short stories in over 15 books; she’s the author of a novella, and she’s the editor of three anthologies. Today, Jolie’s focus is on her new adult/romance/zombie apocalypse series – BENTON. Jolie is a married mother of two who loves writing, reading, traveling, cooking, running, pole dance fitness, and monsters, especially zombies.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Outage (Powerless Nation: Book One) by Ellisa Barr

Sub Genre: Young Adult/Post-Apocalyptic
Release Date: May 13, 2014

ABOUT Outage:

When fifteen-year-old Dee is left at her grandpa's farm in rural Washington, she thinks life is over. She may be right.

A high-tech Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) attack destroys the country's power and communication grids, and sends the U.S. hurtling back to the Dark Ages. Can Dee learn to survive without the basics: electricity, clean water... even her cell phone?

The chaos caused by the EMP isn't her only problem. The town is in collapse, disease and lawlessness run rampant, and a corrupt sheriff will stop at nothing to seize power over whatever is left. Dee will have to fight if she wants to survive in this hostile new world.

Written for all fans who love apocalypse stories, Outage is a Young Adult survival novel that mixes useful prepping tips with an action-packed story.


“Starve?” said Pete. “No one's going to starve. Everyone's just going to have to hunker down for a few weeks until the power companies can send in some crews to repair the lines.”

“Listen,” said Jennifer. “You saw what happened to the transformers today. Imagine all the transformers in the country blowing out like that. Without any power, how are we going to get them replaced?

“Hey, this is America. We’ll figure something out.”

“Look at me, Pete,” Jennifer put her hands on his cheeks and stared him in the face. “This is for real. In all likelihood, electricity and communications across the whole country are down. No one's coming to turn the power back on. People are going to starve, and they're going to get sick, and they're going to die. I need you to take this seriously. It’s the big one. This is it.”


“The apocalypse.”

Ellisa lives in southern California with her family, where she knows just enough about prepping to prolong her suffering when the SHTF.

~ Giveaway ~