Category Archives: Author Interview

Interview: JT Sawyer, Author of “First Wave” – A Post-Apocalypse Novel

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It’s not often I highlight an author with such an imposing bio – so today is a special treat.  J.T. Sawyer is a survival expert who not only writes thrillers based on a post-apocalyptic world but also includes information on his website that might help you endure a real-life disaster. Keep reading because after the interview, I’ve included an exciting excerpt from Book One of the First Wave series.

You’re about to meet a most fascinating man . . . J.T. Sawyer.

I’m intrigued by the premise of your First Wave series – a man emerges from a wilderness, off-the-grid trip only to find the world infected by a biogenetic virus. It’s even more relevant since the Ebola threat headlines our news almost daily. How do you feel about the eerie connection of your story to current events? Is there anything you would change about the plot if you were writing it today?

First, thanks for having me on your blog, Deb! I had been mulling over the idea for this story for several years and published the first book in January of this past year so the timing with the current Ebola outbreak is indeed bizarre. Over the years, I’ve had numerous ER doctors and even a few epidemiologists in my survival courses and have been able to pick their brains about the threats humans have faced with pandemics. The insightful book, The Great Influenza, by John Barry was also helpful in understanding the global ramifications in the 1918 virus that swept the globe. All of this figured prominently into the plot of my books as well as too many late nights watching zombie flicks as a teenager eons ago.

As a survivalist guide and teacher, I’m sure you’ve encountered some interesting situations. Tell us about one incident that left its mark on you –  an experience you’d rather not repeat. (We all have a tale to tell. I suspect yours is much more intriguing than most!).

Well, I’ve had close encounters with bears, a puma, scorpions, and even flash floods but the most harrowing event in recent years was the time I poked my head into a small prehistoric cave to look around. Due to the excitement of exploring, I wasn’t paying much attention as I crawled through the narrow entrance only to hear the loud rattle of a snake off to my right. Slowly turning my headlamp, I saw an immense Diamondback Rattlesnake coiled on a ledge beside the entrance, about sixteen inches from my head. My exposed neck felt like it had a bulls-eye painted on it. Despite the desert heat, I’m pretty sure I have must have had a frost-bitten expression.

My future was in the scaly hands of, what I prayed was a seasoned old-timer who was more interested in packrats than a woefully unaware traveler. His agitated rattling continued and I spent ten (or maybe it was sixty?) minutes performing a Tai-Chi like extraction from the interior. His rattling only slowed once my shaken form was back outside in the sunlight. I collapsed on the nearby ledge, gulping in the fresh air.

My hiking partner, who was coming up the trail, asked why I was so pale and suggested that maybe I was low on water. I remember feebly sputtering out the words, “Me, not thirsty.” My friend and I still joke about that day since I ignored my own advice about not sticking your head or hands where you can’t see!

OMG . . . I’m still shuddering, part laughter, part terror. So glad it was you and not me!

Zombie apocalypse aside, what do you consider the most probable instigating factor for a SHTF event . . . an EMP/terrorist attack, a solar flare similar to the Carrington event, invading forces from a foreign entity, civil war or other? And why?

My formal academic background is as an anthropologist and it seems like humans throughout history have mostly had their numbers reduced through either disease or warfare. Yes, a meteor could pulverize our planet or something else environmentally catastrophic could occur but I would venture to say that it would be something of human construct.

I think there would be more concern with the hysteria and panic-buying of supplies associated with the potential threat of something (pandemic, rumor of an EMP, etc…) than an actual widespread disaster. The fact is, we, in western society are used to a certain level of comfort and so I see the threat of that lifestyle being disrupted of greater concern, short-term at least, than an actual catastrophe. For instance, there are many, many other threats to worry about besides Ebola but if a few more people get infected in the U.S. that could create this wave of panic-buying goods (and creating ripple-effects in the supply chain) along with people staying at home from work/school. So, my point is not to downplay the current concern with Ebola, but the human social dynamic has, historically, always been more of a chaotic variable than the actual disaster itself.

I was very pleased to see a page on your website www.jtsawyer.com listing items for a “bug-out” bag and offering suggestions on disaster preparedness. You also mentioned you’ve trained both military and community groups in survival techniques. Which do you enjoy the most – government or private sector – and why?

I always give priority to the military when they contact us. The men and women in our armed forces are some of the finest warriors I’ve ever worked with and they are highly motivated to learn the skills we teach so they can add another tool to their arsenal for getting back home. That being said, those courses are physically intense and we are often out in grueling weather for weeks on end. I only do a handful of those each year and the rest of our schedule is devoted to offering fieldcourses in practical skills to the general public. I like the balance of teaching both.

Okay, I have to ask this . . . indulge me.  When you chose your pen name, did it have anything to do with Tom Sawyer? I noticed the “T” and “Sawyer” and wondered if there was a connection. If not, how did you choose your name?

I am a fan of the show LOST and enjoyed the complex character of Sawyer (and his snarky attitude) the most. The “T” is from my first name, Tony, and my wife suggested the “J” to round things out. Though, I have to say, I am a sucker for the adventures of Tom Sawyer and anything penned by Twain.

You’ve spent many years testing survival skills under extreme geographical and weather conditions. But when you’re not trying to keep yourself or your clients alive, where do you like to hang out for fun? Mountains? Desert? Beach? And what attracts you to the area?

I can’t get enough of the Southwest. Where I live in Flagstaff, I can be in the mountains, canyons, or desert within an hour. Plus there are endless prehistoric ruins and caves peppering the landscape. I am in heaven. I originally grew up in Michigan and love the North Woods in the Fall but ever since I started teaching survival courses in the desert back in 1988, I’ve found where I belong. I believe we all have our physical birthplace and then the other setting or environment that we were born to. I found the latter many years ago and the love affair is still going on. My wife jokingly refers to the Grand Canyon as “Tony’s mistress,” and I reckon that’s the case at times.

Ahhh…I completely understand. I was hooked by the lure of the Southwest years ago. Hoping to migrate back there in the next year or so. 🙂

Could you share some of your future projects? Will there be more installments to the First Wave series or are you working on another novel with a different story line?

I have a fourth book that I am working on the First Wave series that will be out in late winter. It will focus on the hero Travis Combs once more and the broader picture of the pandemic.  It will be a longer book and reunite him with some of the characters in the story.

Besides that, I have just finished the first book in a new post-apocalyptic series about a female Secret Service Agent who finds herself in over her head when the world unravels from a deadly virus.  I’ve also got two non-fiction narrative books nearly done that assemble many personal stories from life-on-the-trail over the last twenty years. My teaching season just ended so I will be immersing myself back into navigating through the keyboard jungle for the next six months until I head out again.

Last question . . . if you had a magic rock which could transport you to any time in history, where would you go and why?

Since I was about eight years old, I have digested everything I could find on the Apaches and the Southwest. I would sure like to go back in time to the 1870s or so and get a glimpse into the indigenous people and their traditional lifeways before it was largely curtailed. There were a lot of interesting players here during that period. Most people are familiar with Geronimo but he was really a lesser figure in the broader picture. Apaches like Victorio, his sister Lozen, Cochise, and others, not to mention the US Chief of Scouts, Al Sieber, were all pivotal figures in the unfolding of Arizona’s early history.

Thanks for letting me pick your brain today, and a big note of gratitude for sharing your expertise on survival and preparedness skills.

Thank you, Deb. I sure appreciate your interest and wonderful questions.

Take care,

JT

WOW! Did I not tell you JT Sawyer is a fascinating man? His First Wave series is also intriguing and to prove it, I’ve included an excerpt. It’s a series you’ll not want to miss. Make sure you add it to your Christmas wish list! And if you can’t wait, just click on the Amazon link below. 🙂

First Wave

Travis Combs Thrillers

Volume 1

JT Sawyer

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Fiction, zombiesFirst Wave New Author WEBSITE USE

Publisher: JT Sawyer

ASIN:  B00IHQAYYQ

Number of pages: 192

Word Count: 57666

Cover Artist: Melody Simmons

Book Description:

Special Forces veteran Travis Combs just wanted to forget his weary years of leading combat missions while taking an extended rafting trip through the Grand Canyon.

As he and his group complete a 22-day trip on the Colorado River, they find the world has unraveled from a deadly pandemic.

Now, he has to show his small band how to live off the land and cross the rugged Arizona desert, while evading blood-drinking zombies, gangs of cartel bikers, and a rogue government agency.

Available at Amazon

EXCERPT:

Prologue

August 26, Ten Days before the Pandemic

Doctor Robert James Pearson lowered the silver-rimmed glasses on his nose as he gazed at the clear vial before him. His technicians in the research lab next to his office had gone home for the day. The only noise came from the hallway outside, where he could hear the comforting footfalls of security personnel doing their evening sweeps in the high-security facility on the outskirts of Albuquerque, New Mexico. He stroked his thin gray goatee while marveling at the precious substance in the vial.

After thirty-eight months of toil in his lab, his research for the Department of Biodefense was complete. The viral load he and the other scientists had perfected in the modified avian flu strain had passed the initial series of animal testing and the antidote was ready to use, if necessary. They had painstakingly taken the original 1918 virus and magnified its replication capabilities. This super virus dramatically increases the onset of necrotizing bronchiolitis while instigating diffuse alveolar damage. The subject will typically perish from internal hemorrhaging within twenty-four hours of exposure, he had proudly stated in a recent briefing to his funders.

The Biodefense officials had assured him that his research in neurophysiology and virology was critical to arriving at an antidote before terrorists could complete their own strain of the new virus. Now, over three years later, he could wrap up this voluminous project and resume his work at Stanford. Pearson was part of a six-man group of researchers who conferred through daily videoconferences, comparing research data. They were the brilliant minds behind the resulting antidote that could potentially save millions of lives.

As he pondered the accolades he would receive from his contemporaries in the scientific community, the landline phone on his desk rang, jolting him back to the present. Very few calls ever came in on this phone, and he picked up the receiver, squinting his eyes and tensing his lower lip.

The trembling voice on the other end was his colleague, Doctor Emory from Chicago. “Are you alone?”

“Yes. It’s a little too quiet in here, to be honest,” Pearson said. “Only the security guards and maintenance staff are around at this hour.”

“There isn’t much time. You need to leave now,” the other man said hurriedly. “Take your notes, laptop, and the vaccine with you. Somehow, the virus has been unleashed in Europe. Soon it will be on our doorstep.”

Pearson interrupted his friend’s hurried exclamations. “What are you talking about? How do you know?” said Pearson, clutching the phone and thrusting his shoulders forward over the edge of the wooden desk.

“That new agency we met with last week…and that woman…they came to my office looking for me a few hours ago. They killed my assistants and took everything.” He paused, his breath racing over the phone. “I escaped, but the others…they’re coming for us all. Get out of there now. You have to disappear. Go to your fallback location.”

“Wait, what…what do you mean….why would they….” Pearson paused, and his eyebrows scrunched together as he heard the sound of muffled gunfire coming from the hallway. His eyes darted to the brown door leading into his small office. He tried to dismiss the noise as a janitor’s cart tipping over, or another sound—anything other than what he had heard. Then the rhythmic pattern of gunfire shuttered through the hallway again as he heard people shriek and collapse to the floor.

Pearson’s face looked frostbitten as his world constricted. He placed the phone down and grabbed the vials of vaccine from the desk, along with his laptop, and thrust them into a compact metallic briefcase. He could hear the password keypad being activated for the exterior lab wall across from his office, and the sound of a woman’s voice issuing commands. The familiar swishing sound of the first set of air-locked lab doors opening followed next. With a white-knuckled grip on the briefcase, he pried open his office door to see three armed men and a woman with a black vest enter the lab. The first series of doors closed behind them.

Pearson swung open the office door and bolted in the opposite direction, heading for the stairs. His tan blazer fluttered like a cape as he ran down the stairs to the emergency exit. He entered the security code, and the pressure-sealed door opened to a dimly lit parking lot. After the door slammed, he stopped and turned around, then activated the biohazard alarm for the building. He didn’t wait to see if his actions were successful in sealing the intruders inside as he sprinted for his black Volvo. As Pearson sped towards the security gate, he could see the door ajar on the checkpoint booth. The security guard, a portly man he had greeted each morning for years, was lying face down atop a blood-sprayed console.

As he raced away, he kept waiting for the roar of police sirens heading to the facility, but there was only the expanse of the lonesome desert road enveloping his car. On the seat beside him was the silver briefcase containing the vials of vaccine.

His constant furtive glances in the rearview mirror matched his racing thoughts. If the virus could be contained in Europe then there might still be hope of preventing it from turning into a catastrophic pandemic. But how long had it been? If quarantine was unsuccessful, then widespread fatalities would commence within two weeks. He reflected on the recent meeting that Emory had mentioned. That icy-eyed woman with the neck scar said her employer would be overseeing vaccine distribution in the event of a bio attack. How was she involved? What was she doing at the lab?

Twelve miles later, the remote two-lane highway ended at a T-section as the last glimmer of sunlight streaked across Pearson’s pale cheeks. The faint lights of vehicles driving on the interstate could be seen in the distance. A hundred yards down the road, a green sign indicated Albuquerque to the east and Flagstaff to the west. Reluctantly, he edged towards the west entrance ramp. This would be the safest direction for now, and perhaps offer a chance to salvage humanity’s future.

Chapter 1

Travis Combs was brushing flecks of sand from the side of his face as he sat up on his thin bedroll by the shoreline of the Colorado River. He turned and looked over to his left, where the rest of the passengers were still sprawled out asleep. To his right, the rafts were tethered to a row of cottonwood trees alongside the camp kitchen and coolers. Even with the sun having risen an hour ago, the inner walls of the Grand Canyon were painted in an orange-and-red hue, silhouetted against an indigo sky.

The morning silence was penetrated by the voice of a canyon wren, whose melodic song floated down the cliffs. The last few days had been quiet, with very few rafters on the river. The warm night had hardly required entry into his sleeping bag, and Travis had slept in faded khaki shorts and a cotton t-shirt that was nearly threadbare in the shoulders. His faint black beard was well groomed—one luxury he afforded himself on this trip.

As he stood, he caught the movement of three bighorn sheep making their way up an incline a few hundred yards away across the river. The clamoring of their small hooves on the rocks echoed off the canyon walls. All my years of rappelling cliffs and traversing mountains around the globe and I could never walk with that kind of grace, he thought.

Travis rolled his shoulders around in an effort to loosen them up. At thirty-four, too many airborne jumps and arduous missions in third-world settings had taken their toll on his otherwise fit body. He had achieved the rank of staff sergeant in the 5th Special Forces before serving the last three years as a SERE instructor, teaching others the skills of survival and evasion. Now, with his discharge a few months behind him, it was time to unwind and live without a schedule, and with no one to command.

AJTbout the Author:

JT Sawyer is the pen name for the author who makes his living teaching survival courses for the military special operations community, Department of Homeland Security, US Marshals, FAA, and other federal agencies throughout the US.

He has over 25 years of experience testing long-term survival skills in the desert, mountains, and forest.

http://www.jtsawyer.com

https://www.facebook.com/JTSawyerbooks

https://twitter.com/authorjtsawyer

 

 

 

 

 

Interview With Author Sabrina Sumsion

. . . And a preview of her exciting new Urban Fantasy novel, Saving The Hero

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Interview:

SAVING THE HERO is quite different from your sweet YA trilogy, ALIENS ARE REAL. What made you decide to write about vampires and embrace the “dark” side?

A: Saving the Hero started out as a writing exercise that was supposed to take an hour or so. I developed the idea after reading an article about a scientist studying the affect parasites have on the human body. Somehow, my brain made the connection to vampirism. I thought maybe it’s not a mythical, lose your soul thing. Maybe it’s chemical changes within the body all caused by an invader. Kassy, the main character demanded at least a short story. After I took it to my writer’s group, they helped me realize it was more than that. Kassy needed at least a book.

As a former literary publicist and author of a non-fiction guide for writers, PRODUCE, PUBLISH, PUBLICIZE (which I have bought and look forward to reading) was it difficult to follow your own advice? Have you learned anything new by experiencing book publicity from an author’s perspective?

A: It is very difficult to follow my own advice. For me, it’s simple to promote others. Promoting myself is harder. It really pushes me out of my comfort zone. Also, it’s so hard to stay in one genre. I want to explore everything!

It sounds like you live a busy life – from creating jewelry to role playing games with your family. When do you find time to write? Is there a particular time of the day when the muse is stronger i.e. mornings or evenings?

A: I find that early mornings when everyone is asleep is the best time for me to write. I used to write at night, but I find that by the time I have everyone in bed, I’m exhausted and it’s more difficult to get the creative juices flowing.

What writing projects are you currently working on or have planned for the future? Can you give us a teaser?

A: Well, there’s the sequel to Saving the Hero. I have Aliens Are Real: Part 4 about 1/3 written. I also have a fantasy called Girls Can’t Do Magic about 1/3 written. In addition, there’s a mystery series percolating in my brain. That won’t be for several years though. I have too many other projects to finish first! I find that I need several projects going at once to keep me happy. Some mornings, I just can’t work on the same project. I need something new.

Here’s a sneak peek into the first chapter of the sequel. (Mind you, it’s not completely polished!)

I shouldn’t have gone back.

The pit below me appeared smaller than when I was trapped in it three months ago. A mere eight feet or so instead of the twenty feet it had felt like when sitting at the bottom. Kneeling at the side, I pushed a handful of soil over the edge to hear the impact of the bits below.

Standing in the dim, fluorescent lit basement of the slaughter house where I missed the chance to kill the head vampire who happened to be my dad brought no closure or peace. It brought frustration and anger.

I’d watched this slaughter house while the police cordoned off the area. The crawled through the place like ants carrying bits and pieces of computer equipment and files out. Perched from the roof of a building away, I couldn’t see exactly what they took, but they had been thorough. Very thorough.

I’d watched as much as possible, but I couldn’t stay from Mike long. Well, I could have. It wasn’t like he was stopping me from doing anything anytime soon. He was still strapped to the bed like Hannibal Lecter. Being away from him was difficult. Putting aside my fondness for him, he had nothing to do but stare at a television and couldn’t even change the channels himself. I made sure to go home every night and lay in his bed beside him. The lab workers finally gave up trying to stop me a month or so ago. It might be the fact that I put my Desert Eagle gun in one of their faces. Either that or Tyrone stepped in and convinced them to avoid ticking me off.

Tyrone had walked through each of the rooms with me once the police tape was removed and the surveillance cars left. His deep voice had rumbled through empty rooms. The cavernous meat processing room had echoed eerily. At least the cops had left the air conditioning on. The smell of rotting meat would have been unbearable. It had been night so he was almost invisible in his black clothing and his dark face. I was probably glowing like a ghost because of my Scottish pale skin. Id’ kept my hair short although my red roots were showing underneath my sloppy dark brown hair dye job I’d given myself those months ago.

I fingered a curl and missed being able to pull it into my mouth. I’d tried gum, suckers, hard candies, you name it to replace chewing on my hair. Now I caught myself chewing on my nails. It wasn’t healthy, but it kept me semi-sane.

A noise like someone clearing his throat caused me to whirl about and pull my hand away from my face. It was him.

“You are an impressive one, Kassy Lassy.” Harold stood in front of a concrete pillar, his arms folded in front of him, leaning back against the support like he was some sort of cool dude from a 60’s movie.

“You son of a –“ I reached for my gun. The big one that, in the last few months, was always strapped to my back so I could hide it under my jacket. I’d taken the jacket off and laid it beside me in the basement because of the humid air down here.  I felt the holster, but it was empty. The Desert Eagle wasn’t there.

“You lack manners, but I suppose that’s to be blamed on your upbringing.”

“Considering the fact that my father is a sadistic psychopath, I’d say I turned out pretty well.”

Many readers are also writers. Since you hail from the publishing world “trenches”, what marketing/publicizing advice can you offer authors?

A: First, create a clear picture of your goals. There are so many options out there and not all options will take you to the same place. How much time do you have? How much money can you invest? Are you building a support group to help you create the best product you can? Knowing what you can bring as well as your limits will help you make honest decisions about how to pursue your career.

Next, keep writing. When you’ve finished a book, do some promotions, but then write the next book. Then the next. Then the next. The success stories you read about in the writing world come from people who have a back list. One hit wonder stories are nice, but the regular people who are making a living from their books spend several years writing at least 10 books. Just keep writing!

Which book format do you personally prefer – eBook or paper? And why?

A: To read, I prefer to have the paper simply because the most enjoyable reading is in the bathtub soaking in scented Epsom salts. I’m too paranoid that I will drop my Kindle in the bathtub, so I rarely will take it in there. It’s perfect for long trips, though. I can pack several books in one tiny space.

If you had the opportunity to spend one hour with any person from the past, who would it be . . . and what would you discuss?

A: The easy answer would be Jesus. I can’t even imagine how amazing that would be. Other than Him, I think Shakespere would be interesting. He had to have told the best stories!

Thank you for letting me be your guest today!

Saving the Hero

Book One

Sabrina Sumsion

saving-the-heroFINALGenre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Sanguine Publishing

Date of Publication: 8-8-2014

ISBN: 9781500569693

ASIN: B00LWTO9K0

Number of pages: 248

Word Count: 67,000

Cover Artist: Victorine Lieske

 

Book Description:

Two and a half weeks. That’s all the time he has left.

When loner vampire hunter Kassy is interrupted by nosy veteran, Mike, he ends up bitten, and infected with the vampire parasite. The warrior becomes her prey as she fights to find him before powerful vamps. A couple kidnappings later, she’s hiding in a cabin with him chained to the floor, and an eight-year-old girl in her care.

Death? Inevitable. When the parasite takes control, he’ll do or say anything to get non-infected blood—including seducing her. But, as they spend time together, she finds her resolve weakening. A kiss won’t fix him, but it might mend a deep hole in her heart.

Kassy is too practical to believe in miracles, but if he survives eighteen days without ingesting human blood, there is a chance he could be the hero she’s been looking for.

Odds are he’s a dead man.

Excerpt

Chapter 1: Bite, anyone?

 “Vampires don’t lose their souls after turning. That folklore is easy to disprove without venturing into religious debate. In the days of medieval medicine, doctors wouldn’t have known how to find or identify the vampiric parasite.”

Journal Entry, Mark McDougal: April 3, 2005

I stalked a woman through side streets and dimly lit alleyways. Her name wasn’t important. I preferred not to know what to call the victims just like I don’t want to know a rabid dog’s name. It’s easier to stay unattached that way. Easier to do my job.

Keeping up with the vampire in the making wasn’t hard. She meandered. The problem was the heat wave and the black trench coat I wore. Noticing it, a few people shook their heads as I passed. They probably thought I was a little crazy, but harmless. Without it, people would call the cops when they spotted my gear.

A bead of sweat slid from my hairline behind my ear, tickling my skin and irritating me. I brushed it away, my fingers momentarily tangled in my frizzy locks, the strands I was chewing on yanked out of my mouth. Once again, I considered shaving the mop I called hair. It wasn’t the lovely auburn tresses that men fantasize about. Mom used to call the orange-red jarring. I’d been told that my hair made me too memorable. Maybe that was so, but it took attention away from the scar that ran from my top lip to my temple. Besides, if I hacked it all away, I wouldn’t have anything handy to gnaw on. I snagged a new small curl and pulled it to my mouth. Mom used to bat my hand away. Now, there was no one to stop me.

Half a block behind the woman, she set the meandering pace. Normally, I’d keep more distance between us. I’d be concerned about the still air making me into an olfactory billboard. I could almost hear Uncle Mark’s voice in my head. “Kassy, the new ones can smell you even if they don’t know what they’re smelling. Keep your distance.” Tonight, this woman was blinded by her hunger. I could have hung back farther, but I didn’t see the point.

Around a corner, garbage cans lined the street. Good for hiding behind; bad for breathing. The muggy weather made the smells more pungent. Who was I to complain? The odor would mask my scent.

The sound of a group of people chatting and laughing echoed down the street. We’d passed a club two blocks back with bass so loud my chest vibrated. By the group’s outfits, I guessed they were heading there to dance. The woman I followed turned her head as they strode by. Her right hand reached over and unconsciously rubbed her left shoulder. The shoulder some psycho had bitten three weeks before. It had healed quickly. Miraculously fast according to doctors.

One of the guys stumbled over a trashcan, knocking my prey against the side of a brick building. She inhaled deeply as he apologized. He and his companions watched their step to avoid the trail of refuse he’d strewn. No one noticed her wrapping her arms around herself, her steps following them, or her abrupt turn into the alleyway. No one but me.

Wisps of steam from storm drain vents filled the narrow passage with an eerie aura. The dim lights reflected off the suspended water, creating a halo around the vampire’s head. The irony wasn’t lost on me. One could argue that she retained her innocence – for now.

I slipped behind a commercial dumpster filled with decaying Italian food and spotted a large box farther on that would be my next hiding spot. Before I moved, she stopped in the middle of the alleyway about thirty feet away. She squeezed her head between her hands. I sucked in a quick lung full of rancid air and waited. She paced, kicking bottles, cans and other debris in her path. She walked over to a wall, rested her head against it, and then hit a few times with her palms. I could almost see the cracks forming in her self-control.

She stopped, sniffing the air.

Busted. The billy club strapped to my right thigh reassured me and I brushed my fingers along its length to find the handle. Muscles taut, I waited for her to draw near. I still had the element of surprise and she had no clue what she could do.

How could she? It’s not like someone had handed her a pamphlet that said, “You’ve been infected: 10 ways to survive turning into a monster.” She didn’t know what her cravings were. She didn’t know why the pickle jar lid popped off so easily. She couldn’t understand why she healed quickly. The guy who had bitten her hadn’t whispered in her ear the secrets to avoiding a guard like me.

She stumbled more than walked to a pile of boxes against the wall across the alley. A drunk or homeless person was trying to sleep there. With her attention averted, I crept closer. The timing had to be just right. I couldn’t let her bite her prey, but she needed the chance to resist the siren call of blood coursing through the body in front of her. Uncle Mark insisted. “Kassy Lassy, they’re still human. Just infected. We have to find one who can survive without human blood. It’s humanity’s only hope.” It was his last request, so I honor it.

He would have tried to take this woman in. Tried to save her. How many people had he tried to help over the years he cared for me? Twenty? Fifty? He’d failed every time. The parasite always ravaged the host body without human blood. I couldn’t stand the sight of the emaciated remains. I figured that a quick death was less cruel. I didn’t kill the newly infected right away, just in case the magical immune savior would appear, but mostly I grant them death. An escape from the monster they will become.

The woman dropped to her knees, sobs echoing through the alley. Legs stuck out of an old dishwasher box before her. The odor of piss and alcohol gagged me. Maybe the stench is what helped the woman hesitate.

Maybe, but not for long. The sobs stopped and I moved closer.

No one ever made a sound before their first kill. None of them ever thought to bring a knife the first time either. She knew what she wanted. I could almost see her thought process written out like a thought cloud in a comic book. How do I get a taste? How do I get to the blood?

I pulled the billy club out of its holster. We hovered at the point of no return. My silent steps drew me closer as she lowered herself down. Brown roots showed against her dyed blonde hair. My heart thumped. Another human, lost to the parasite. One quick crack to the skull and I could drag her off somewhere secluded then finish disposing of her body in peace. One breath, then strike.

“Hey!” someone shouted from the end of the alley.

It startled me. Threw off my rhythm. She looked up. Crap. There went my element of surprise. I swung down, but she ducked out of the way. Adrenalin surged through my body. She needed to go down fast. I put too much into the swing, and stumbled off balance. She leapt at me, her face set in a determined grimace. I matched it with one of my own. Did she have any clue what she could do? I raised my billy club and deflected her to the side. She spun and lunged again. She was fast, but that time, I was ready. I smacked her in the head while stepping to the side. She fell hard and didn’t get back up. I hefted the billy club again to crack open her skull.

A body crashed into mine from behind and hammered me to the ground. I tried to counter with ground fighting tactics, but my lungs were screaming for my attention. All I could do was suck air in. For some reason, my body was stuck and refused to exhale. I’d never felt that sensation before. Normally, I’d tell myself to take deep breaths to calm down. That was worthless advice when you can’t breathe out.

A masculine voice shouted in my ear. “Leave her alone!” This guy was a special kind of stupid. Trying to play the hero. Probably saw a pretty blonde and hoped to score her phone number.

I squirmed under his weight and managed to flip myself onto my back and gasp for air. He grabbed both of my hands and held them above my head. That made breathing even harder.

“Police are on their way. Stop fighting me.” His face was close to mine, a hint of alcohol drifting by. Just what I needed, an inebriated do-gooder poking his nose where it didn’t belong.

My wind wouldn’t come back, so I couldn’t yell at him. The air would only go one way. I needed him off. The idiot was in danger, and I was flopping on the sidewalk like a fish – as helpless as when Uncle Mark died. I stared into his black eyes and wished I could communicate telepathically. He wouldn’t like what I would say, but maybe we’d both survive the night.

The blonde’s face came into view over his shoulder. Fear stilled my struggling against the man. I’d had a feeling she wouldn’t be out for long since the vampire parasite caused elevated adrenalin levels. A smile crept up at the corners of her lips. Crap. The look in her eyes. She figured out a little of what she could do. She was committed to biting, and the fool on top of me would be her first meal if I don’t do something.

The guy looked over his shoulder. “I’m glad you’re okay miss. I have her pinned. The police are on their way. Can you go flag them down at the end of the alley?”

There was no fighting him even while his attention was diverted. Sure, he was strong, but it was the effort to breathe that crippled me. He turned back, and I shook my head, eyes wide, trying to choke words out.

The monster behind him put her finger to her lips in a silent gesture for me to be quiet. She tip toed up behind him. I fought the man, trying to get him to pay attention.

“Stop struggling!”

He thought I was the bad guy. If I could have, I would have laughed.

She leapt on his back. Her eyes gleamed in the dim light, face contorted in a wild expression of glee. My stomach churned. Let me go and pay attention to her!

He tried to shrug her off and hold me at the same time. The ineffectual move appeared to delight her.

“What the hell are you doing?” The timbre in his voice belied his wavering confidence. Finally, this guy was getting a clue that the blonde was not all she seemed.

She giggled in reply then bit his shoulder near his neck. He bellowed in agony, but her sucking noises were louder. Now, she had his attention. He let go of me and pried at her head. Her death grip wasn’t loosening, so he punched her in the face. At the third blow, she fell back. Blood sprayed from her mouth onto my jacket and the ground. She crouched, a grin on her face, scarlet rivulets running down her chin. She ran her finger along her cheek and lips, wiping the blood into her mouth. “You are delicious,” she said with a satisfied moan. She had watched too many vampire movies. I hated the ones who thought they had to fit the stereotypes.

I scooted back, finally exhaling. Although my heart raced, I forced myself to take even breaths, changing from desperate gasps to a quick, adrenaline-driven pace. The woman loomed over the man, whose hand was clamped over his wound. I grabbed my billy club, hoping she was too blood-crazed to notice me. The iron scent of the man’s blood filled my nostrils. I’d have to go past him to reach her, but he made a good distraction.

When she lunged again, I aimed my billy club at her forehead. With a satisfying crack, the blow landed. She fell. I was pretty sure she would be out for a while, but I wasn’t taking chances. I smacked her on the top of the head again. It wasn’t a death blow, but if I let her live, she would probably have brain damage.

“What is she on?” The man’s voice shook as much as his hands. After a few deep breaths, he looked as though he might be okay again. Most people would have been on the ground crying. He warranted a second glance.

He was taller than my five-foot, ten-inch frame, muscular and dressed as if to pick up women at a bar. He had almond-shaped eyes, dark hair and a slight yellow hue to his skin. His rugged good looks convinced me he would have been successful picking up a woman had he not seen the altercation and come to investigate. Now, he was infected with the parasite. He was another vampire in the making. I would have to kill him, too.

I pushed my hair from my face, wiping the perspiration away –trying to drag my ugly reality with it. My fingers wrapped around a lock and pulled it to my mouth. The chewing helped me relax. Would gum have the same effect? I wished I had money for a luxury like that. I felt stupid with hair in my mouth in front of him. A glance revealed he wasn’t even paying attention to me. He was staring at the blonde.

What was going through his mind? I don’t remember my thoughts from the first time I’d witnessed a vampire succumb to the blood lust. Probably best I didn’t. I doubted that people stayed sane if they lingered in that moment. I stuffed those memories back and focused on the matter at hand.

Time to get out of here. I grabbed the woman’s arms and start dragging her down the alley.

“Where are you going?” he demanded, following.

Not only does he mess up a clean vamp hunt, he has to ask questions. I ignored him. It was easiest to do what I did when I didn’t talk to them. When I knew a victim, it made it harder to remember that they were turning into vicious killers. The last thing I needed to know was if he had a family or even his name. When they had names, it was harder to put them down. I dragged the woman another ten feet.

“You can’t leave. The police will be here any minute!” He shouted as if the police could fix the situation. Poor fool.

We stood about three quarters of the way down the alley. I knew the guy had been traumatized, but he didn’t know what he walked into. It was better for me to leave with the vampire and let the authorities spin this however they might. The headlines would probably say something like a drug crazed female attacked him. The real story would never come out. The government wouldn’t let that happen.

He grabbed my arm, putting his face in mine. “Stop, now!” My muscles tensed. I forced myself to relax. He was obviously used to being obeyed. His grip was strong, and I could tell through my jacket that his hands weren’t soft and manicured. This guy worked hard and gave orders. Military maybe? Possibly a boss at a construction company?

I had a spark of admiration for him that I immediately tried to stomp out. I couldn’t respect him. He was going to become a killer. I’d be back to stalk him after I finished dealing with her.

Right then, if he made much more noise, there would be more spectators. Ones that weren’t hurt. Ones without alcohol on their breath. The authorities who weren’t in the know could write off this guy as in shock and a poor witness. Any more people telling the same story and I’d have a harder time evading the cops.

I dropped the vampire’s hands and faced him. He had a look in his eyes like he was thinking “finally, she’s come to her senses!” The guy’s shoulder wound was bad. His hand was firmly clasped over it, but the blood seeped past his fingers. When I reached for it, he jerked his shoulder back like I would hurt him more.

“You’re bleeding.”

He sneered. “You think?”

“You need to apply pressure.” I reached into my Sash purse hung underneath my leather jacket and found the medical pads and tape I kept there. He snatched them out of my hand and slapped them on the wound. “You were going to drag her away and not give these to me?”

With a shrug I said, “You look big enough to handle yourself. I didn’t realize you would be an idiot and follow me while bleeding everywhere.”

A glare was his only reply. Maybe it wouldn’t be so hard to kill him after all.

Retrieving the woman’s hands, I dragged her further away from him.

“What the hell are you doing?”

Man, he irritated me. “Walk away. You don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into.” We were almost to the end of the alley. There was a sewer access by my foot, but I couldn’t go there with him watching. He’d rat me out.

He grabbed my arm again. “She attacked me. She needs to be arrested. I don’t know what the heck you were doing in this alley.” He pointed his finger in my face. “But you tried to attack her. You should probably be in jail as well.”

Obviously, he wasn’t good at convincing people to turn themselves in. I stared at his bandages. His efficient wraps told me he probably had field medical training or something. However, blood was still seeping through. I pointed to his shoulder. His glance was the amount of time necessary to catch him flat-footed. I used my billy club to pop him with a brachial stun, and he went down with a groan. The strike had been careful since I wasn’t ready to kill him, yet. He wasn’t unconscious, but I was sure he was seeing stars. Too disoriented to notice where I was going. I only needed a minute to disappear.

I didn’t like to attack people when they were still in control of themselves, but time was running out. Police response wasn’t fast in this neighborhood, but we’d been dallying about 15 minutes. I needed to leave.

I flipped my jacket back and grabbed the pry bar hanging from my belt. A quick jab and tug later, I had my escape route. I shoved the woman’s limb body through the hole. She slid over the lip and crunched onto the cement below. If she wasn’t dead before, she was now. Her body lay in a crumpled mess below. The dry spell in the city helped me with my job. No slogging through cesspool tides and a quick way to end things. One bright side to my dark task.

The next tool I pulled from under my coat was a whiskbroom. Sweeping back and forth, I obscured the drag marks starting ten feet from the manhole and moving towards my escape. I went around the vet. As he struggled to recover, he’d conceal everything beneath him. When I reached the hole, I scrambled half way down the ladder. The lid was heavy and awkward as I dragged it back to the opening while balancing precariously.

I heard the guy moan again. He rolled a bit as though he was trying to regain his feet. Luckily, he rolled away from me. He didn’t see as I nestled the lid back into place.

The thought of returning to pick up his trail caused my stomach to drop. If my life had been normal, maybe we would have gone to the same club. I’d have spotted him and tried to catch his eye. Probably would have danced too close and drunk too much, then woke up at his place in the morning. Now he was another prey to stalk and kill when he succumbed to the parasite.

About the Author:

sabrinaI’m a ninja disguised as a homeschooling mom, former literary publicist, craft-aholic and all around reading diva.  Really, I kick down doors –no, wait, that was my husband when I locked us out of the house . . . Well, I engage in combat on a regular basis –online when I play MMORPGs with my children . . . OK, maybe I’m not a real ninja but my husband says I stole his heart.  Does that count?  No?

Shoot.  Well, I love reading and I love writing.  I think imagination is the biggest advantage a child can get in life and I try to allow my children many opportunities to expand theirs every day.

I love teaching authors how to avoid publishing traps and scams as well as how to market themselves and their works.  There is nothing better in life than giving someone information that helps them become successful.

I also take a few hours each week and create jewelry, make lotions or paint something.  I have little creation stations scattered through the house.  My daughter gets into it a lot and scatters things which drives my husband crazy but remember how I mentioned that he says I stole his heart?  Yeah.  I’m not giving it back.  He’s stuck with me forever.  Bwah ha ha ha!

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Interview With The Author: ROBERT POULIN

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You may have viewed my earlier post announcing the release of Robert Poulin’s new book, DEATH TOLL. Today I’d like to introduce you to the inspiring man behind the novel. Robert is legally blind but continues to write intriguing tales that are consistently well received by fans. Enjoy the interview and be sure to scroll all the way to the end to enter the drawing for a $25 Amazon Gift Card. 

INTERVIEW:

I’ve heard you are a Hobbit fan. Who is your favorite character from Tolkien’s Middle Earth novels and why?

Gandalf of course. He was the first wizard I’d encountered in any form. He was mysterious, confident, knowledgeable, and in command. He fired up the imagination from the start with his fireworks and magical smoke rings. He was also the revealer of lost lore and frightening secrets.

What made you decide to write paranormal/horror stories based in a Philadelphia setting instead of a fantasy world? How do you manage to maintain realism in an other-worldly themed tale?

Paranormal fantasy has become my favorite genre in the past decade or so. I am really drawn to the idea of merging fantasy with our modern world….its like mixing chocolate and peanut butter, you can’t go wrong. I maintain reality when I’m writing the parts that occur in Limbo by keeping the characters real. You can go pretty crazy with the fantasy elements as long as the characters still feel like real people.

I’ve read you are a gamer and love role playing games. What is your favorite role/game? Does this activity help you develop characters? If so, how?

Currently the RPGs that I play include Shadowrun, Star Wars, and Pathfinder. .I am typically a gamemaster which I do believe feeds my love of telling stories. I always tell big stories, I’m not a one-shot GM. Some of the names in my books do come from both tabletop RPGs, and MMO video games. Mhors Morta was a character I played in City of Heroes. RPGs are definitely a big influence on my writing

You have been legally blind since birth. I applaud your mother for raising such an independent, forward thinking child who has not let his disability impact his growth. My father had one arm and was amazingly adept at what he could accomplish.  That being said, what obstacles have you encountered as a novelist and what would you say to others who may have similar issues to overcome?

Patience and a hard working ethic help me in all that I do. You have to know your limitations and accept them. Don’t let other people limit you however, where there’s a will, there’s usually a way. Be creative and flexible. My eye sight makes me a slow reader, as a writer this means that everything I do is going to take me a considerable amount of time, especially the revision phase. I need to be disciplined, patient, and persevering in all I do. I also rely on amazing people that help me all along the way.

Tell us about what inspired the plot for Wail of the Banshees & Death Toll, the first two novels in your Ghost Wars Saga. What can we look forward to in the future?

When I wrote Wail of the Banshees, I was thinking of The Matrix meets a ghost version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. For Death Toll, I wanted to introduce the Cthulhu Mythos into my world. The third book, Echoes of Madness  will have Veronika sharing point of view time with the troll Alrik, who was introduced in Death Toll. I’m also planning to co-write an urban fantasy YA with my editor Jaimee Finnegan. Eventually, I’d like to do some epic fantasy too.

Every author has penned a character who remains in their head and refuses to leave. An invisible entity that still maintains a voice long after the final word is written. Who is your favorite character from The Ghost Wars Saga series, and why?

Veronika Kane is my favorite character. Right from the start she is dealt a difficult hand to deal with. She doesn’t whine about her circumstances or bad luck, she deals with it. She doesn’t give up no matter the odds and she doesn’t accept the status quo, doesn’t look the other way when presented with evil. She is a fighter, an agent of change and a person who empowers others. Veronika is selfless and idealistic.

You are Executive Director of North Country Center for Independence, a disability rights and advocacy organization. What do you like most about your “day” job, and what do you like least?

I like the people that I work with. They are a dedicated group of selfless people who are trying to remove barriers so that people with all kinds of disabilities can live independently in the community. The staff makes my job easier and they make me look good, I appreciate them all. I like hiring and firing the least. Hiring because I have to pick between a lot of qualified people who really want and need the work. Donald Trump may like to fire people but I hate it…I always think of the humiliation, the loss, the potential hardship that the person goes through, its not something I do lightly.

If you found a stone that could magically transport you to any location at any point in time, where would you visit and why?

I think it would be interesting to visit America prior to the arrival of the Europeans. The land was pristine and the native population lived in harmony with nature. They didn’t own land, they used it to fulfill their needs but moved on before they used up a whole areas resources. They didn’t despoil the land, they didn’t waste what they had. It must have been so peaceful, the closest thing to true paradise that I’ve ever heard described.

Thank you for this interview and your time. 

Death Toll

Ghost Wars Saga

Book 2

Robert Poulin

death tollGenre:  Urban Fantasy

Publisher:  Ghost Watch Publishing

Date of Publication: June 2014

ISBN:  978-0-9894469-3-8 

ISBN:  978-0-9894469–4-5 

Number of pages:  324

Word Count:   96,000

Cover Artist:  Hannah Carr

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Book Description:

What started out as a routine call led to so much more…

My name is Veronika Kane, and I’m the Captain of the Ghost Watch in the reborn city of Shadow Philadelphia. After we disposed of the city’s previous master and his minions, things were looking up, but in war things are never that easy. A routine call with Detective Frank Cooper blew the cover off of an elaborate scheme to plunge the city of brotherly love into chaos. When Necromancers, Were creatures, and the horrors of Chaos come together it can’t mean anything good.

With new and old enemies joining forces against us, I’m going to need all the help I can get. Lucky for me, my old friend Frank Cooper will be there to lend a hand, along with Brianna, a strong willed were-ferret, and the stormy eyed wizard Nathaniel Carter. I just hope it will be enough to save everyone.

This time, our enemies aren’t just attacking us in Limbo; this time, they are taking the battle to the streets of the living world and its unknowing citizens. If the Old Ones rise, I don’t think there will be anything anyone can do to stop them.

My name is Veronika Kane, and this war is far from over.

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About the Author:

Robert Poulin was born and raised in the New England state of Connecticut. After spending his late teenage years in Boca Raton Florida, Robert moved to upstate New York where he lived with his uncle Wilbrod Poulin and attended the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. After earning a Bachelor’s in Political Science and a Master’s in Teaching, Robert went back to Florida where he taught Social Studies for a few years.

After returning to Northern New York, Robert took a job with the North Country Center for Independence: a disability rights and advocacy organizations. Robert has worked for NCCI for thirteen years and is now the Executive Director. Wail of the Banshees is Robert’s first novel; he has been a huge fan of fantasy and science fiction since second grade when he discovered The Hobbit.

Urban fantasy in particular has become Robert’s favored genre in the past decade. Robert has been legally blind since infancy, but thanks to a mom that encouraged independence, hard work, and a healthy dose of dreaming, the disability has mostly just been an inconvenience.

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Interview With The Author: Robyn Bachar

Dear Readers . . . I had so much fun interviewing author, Robyn Bachar, creator of the intriguing BAD WITCH series and I can’t wait to share it with you! But first . . . as a special treat, I’ve included an excerpt from her recent release, POISON in the BLOOD following our Q&A. Also, keep scrolling to the end for details on the fabulous tour wide contest with some prizes you won’t want to miss!
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Now . . . on to the interview!

What made you decide to combine witches and vampires with a Chicago setting? How do you maintain realism in a fantasy/paranormal tale?

I live in the area, and I have a vivid imagination. It’s easy to look at an old house and wonder if a vampire lives there, or if the strange next-door neighbors are witches. I imagine my characters as normal people with extraordinary abilities. Magic is a danger to them as much as it is a benefit.

I’ve read you are a gamer and love role playing games. What is your favorite role/game? Does this activity help when you are developing characters? If so, how?

My favorite rpg is Dragon Age: Origins. It’s a fabulous, complex game with adventure and romance. I think being a gamer has helped me in my writing. It’s definitely helped me to map out battle scenes.

Rock, paper, scissors . . . which one will you most likely play first? (I’m scissors!)

Rock, unless I have the bomb and win on ties.

Tell us about your books. Correct me if I’m wrong . . . you have two “Bad Witch” series, one defined as The Emily Chronicles, the other Bad Witch Books. Are their characters or plots connected?

Poison in the Blood is part of the Emily Chronicles, which are prequels to my modern Bad Witch books. The plots and characters are connected. One of the nice things about writing vampires is being able to show them throughout history. Emily causes trouble in the past and in the present. She would make a good Doctor Who companion.

Could you provide some details about your trilogy, Cy’ren Rising? What inspired the story line?

Cy’ren Rising is my spicy space opera romance series, and it has action, adventure, laser gunfights and epic space battles. I have a lifelong love of sci-fi, ever since my dad introduced me to classic Star Trek. Cy’ren Rising has its roots in everything from Star Wars to Firefly to Mass Effect.

Of your three novel sets, which did you have the most fun writing and why?

They’re all fun in their own way. 🙂 The Cy’ren books are really fun because they’re so over the top, but Emily has a special place in my heart. She always has new entertaining ways of politely yelling at people.

I’m an amateur Paranormal Investigator so I was intrigued by your comment that you believe the English building at UIUC is haunted. Tell us why you feel this way and describe any “ghostly” experiences you may have had.

I do have a homage to the TAPS team from Ghost Hunters in my book Fire in the Blood… The legend is that a girl drowned in the English building’s swimming pool when it was a dorm, and her spirit haunts the building today. There are stories of hearing footsteps and seeing shadows, but I never had personal experience. The building just felt wrong to me. It was the only building on campus that I would instantly lose my sense of direction in.

If you found a stone that could magically transport you to any location at any point in time, where would you visit and why?

This is one of those scenarios that can bite a character if they don’t choose carefully. Would I like to see original Shakespeare at the Globe? Yes. But unless said magic stone also transforms my clothes and translates Elizabethan English, I’d be in trouble. (Well, the language wouldn’t be too bad, but you get the idea.) Maybe I’d go back to 1908 to see the Cubs win the World Series, because though I am a Cubs fan, I don’t see them winning again anytime soon.

Poison in the Blood

Bad Witch: The Emily Chronicles

Book 2

Robyn Bachar

PoisonintheBlood72webGenre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

E-book: June 18, 2013

Print:  June 3, 2014

ISBN: E-book 978-1-61921-587-0

ISBN: Print 978-1-61921-916-8

Number of pages: 272, Word Count: 55,711

Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Book Description:

She is honey to his throat…but one sweet taste could part them forever…

Banished from home while her husband adjusts to life as an immortal, blood-drinking chronicler, Emily Black is homesick, heartsick and struggling under the constant sensory barrage of a city drenched in ancient magic. When an old friend asks for her aid in solving a string of murders, she welcomes the distraction, despite the danger.

Justine Dubois is grateful for a seer’s help, and more understanding than anyone of Emily’s plight. As a guardian, Justine commands respect; as a woman, her magic is considered inferior. Together, they are determined to prove their worth to London’s magicians, starting with solving these murders—with maybe a bit of matchmaking on the side.

Long before he met his soul mate, Michael Black made a commitment to join the Order of St. Jerome. He will live forever, forced to watch the woman he loves age and die. As Emily hunts the murderer, Michael struggles to protect her. But if he loses control of his hunger, the greatest threat to her safety could be Michael himself.

Warning: Contains tortured soul mates, scheming faeries, vampire debauchery, deadly parasols, illicit blood-drinker relations, and adorable plot moppets.

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Readers can receive 30% off the ebook of Poison in the Blood from the Samhain Store by using the coupon code POISON14 at checkout.

Excerpt:

Normally stepping into a garden would soothe me, but we were still within London, where there was no comfort whatsoever. I looked up at the night sky and wished I were with Michael.

“You have the soul of an artist, Miss Rose. It is a rare gift.” Mr. Paris stroked my hand, and I tugged it free of his arm. I folded both hands before me primly and smiled.

“Again, that is very kind of you.”

“I consider myself a patron of the arts.”

“So you attend gatherings such as this often?” I asked.

“Of course. I am always on the lookout for new talent.”

“I see. Did you know Mrs. Harding?” I tried to examine his aura to determine his reaction, but his magic continued to be so overwhelming that my eyes watered. Mr. Paris must be unspeakably powerful, and I found myself both worried and intrigued. Perhaps he was a sorcerer? One who specialized in darkness?

“I did. Poor girl. What a terrible thing to have happened to her and her family… Tell me, are you working on a second collection of your work?” he asked, quickly changing the subject.

“I am, though I am afraid the subject matter is quite a bit darker.”

Mr. Paris smiled a predatory grin, and my pulse leapt with a thrill of fear. “I am not afraid of the dark, Miss Rose. Are you?”

He stepped closer, but I held my ground, studying him with a curious tilt to my head. “What are you?” I asked.

He blinked, startled. “I beg your pardon?”

“What sort of magic do you practice?” I clarified.

“Oh. I am a librarian, of course,” he replied, and I laughed, unable to help myself. “What’s so funny?”

“You are most certainly not a librarian. Do people truly believe that lie?”

The smile slid from Mr. Paris’s face as his expression hardened. He stepped forward and tried to grab my arm, but Miss Dubois was suddenly between us, a shining silver blur. With a snarl he turned and ran, and the guardian chased him out of the garden and into the street.

Uncertain of what to do, I followed. I stood hesitant at the garden gate, wondering which way they went. My vision shifted, and I followed Miss Dubois’s blazing footsteps. I paused next to a blur traced over the high brick wall of another garden. It was another magical doorway, rather like the one I had discovered near Mrs. Harding’s body outside the Undiscovered Country. Foolishly I raised my hand to touch it, despite knowing full well that doing so could trigger another vision, but a hand emerged from the brick wall and grabbed my wrist.

Overwhelmed with shock, I barely managed a strangled gasp as Mr. Paris stepped through the wall and glared down at me. “Who are you?” he demanded.

“You first.” My voice trembled, and Mr. Paris grinned. He tightened his grip and snapped several small bones in my wrist, and I screamed.

“Who are you?” he repeated.

Something bubbled up within me, a bright plume of prophetic magic that became my answer. “I am your end.” That time my voice did not tremble at all, but was filled with terrible certainty. I would cause Mr. Paris’s death, and I knew it with as much confidence as I knew the sun would rise in the morning.

Something in my gaze must have worried him, because he snarled. Scowling, he grabbed my forearm with both hands and twisted. The bone snapped like dry kindling, and I screamed again. Before he could torment me further Miss Dubois arrived and bashed him with a round silver shield. Mr. Paris vanished into thin air, and the guardian stood near me. One arm bore the shield, while in her other hand she held a sword. How cunning of her. I wanted a sword as well.

“Are you all right?” she asked.

My knees wobbled and began to buckle, but then two dark blurs streaked up to us, and I was suddenly swept from my feet and cradled close in Michael’s arms.

“Darling! What happened?” he asked.

“You caught me.” I blinked—however had he moved that fast? Simon sighed and shook his head at his student, and I sensed that Michael and I were both in for a scolding.

“Of course I did. I will always catch you. Are you all right?”

About the Author:

RobynBacharRobyn Bachar was born and raised in Berwyn, Illinois, and loves all things related to Chicago, from the Cubs to the pizza. It seemed only natural to combine it with her love of fantasy, and tell stories of witches and vampires in the Chicagoland area. As a gamer, Robyn has spent many hours rolling dice, playing rock-paper-scissors and slaying creatures in MMPORGs.

 

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Author Sidney Stone: Bringing Brilliance, Fire and Sparkle to New Adult Fiction

You’re in for a real treat today as I interview the amazingly talented and witty Sidney Stone, author of Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War. We’re discussing everything from sex to wine to movies.  If his novel were romance, that order of topics might be reversed but since Jennifer Ainsley is a delectable blend of top notch New Adult Fiction and deliciously macabre horror, I think the topic list will stand. 🙂

Be sure to read to the end where you’ll find a contest entry link for the Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War virtual book tour. You won’t believe the wonderful prizes offered to a few lucky readers. I’m talking quality SWAG!

Now, on to the interview . . . 

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Let’s talk sex. I realize “Jennifer Ainsley” is a horror/fantasy thriller with a great deal of violence (and some seriously dark humor) but I was intrigued by your blog post about how much attention the ONE sex scene garnered from readers. Why do you suppose that is? Because six pages is a LOT of sex? Or perhaps the fact a male wrote such erotically charged content and may have totally crushed our argument that men will never know how we feel? Or . . . (fill in your own thoughts here. LOL)

Ha! Ha! Ha! Awesome! Lets start the Author interview with sex 😉 Just add wine and dark chocolate and we have perfection!

And first, where does this argument come from that men cannot understand what a woman feels in bed? 😉 A good lover knows what a women feels and the lover who recognized the scenario that played out in my scene as one that she participated in, I think she would agree I know what a woman feels and how to get her there 😉 Hey, is it getting hot in here?

The thing with that scene is that it is actually very important in the story, more than just a titillating aspect.  It is my heroine’s first time making love and it has to illustrate the incredible connection and love these two characters feel for each other.  You have to believe their love and that they would die for each other. The first people to read my manuscript were a few trusted friends who I called my Gorgeous and Intelligent Readers. And yes, they are four beautiful and literate women who I could also count on to give me the honest truth about my book.

Regarding that scene, the beginning drafts they felt did not accurately describe how someone’s Jennifer’s age would feel about that experience or how she would act while lovemaking even if she was deeply in love with him. They felt I had to tone it down while making it a bit more playful. So that scene was edited repeatedly and sent back to my group for comments and finally, I think the version that is now in the book is as “correct” as I could make it while still serving the story in the way I needed to.

Of course other friends read it and commented that they could only visualize me acting this scene out while writing or they were impressed with my hero and his mad skills 😉 Ha! Ha! Your readers can judge if I was successful 🙂

This is a lengthy novel by today’s standards. Did you plan it that way or did the story just evolve? How long did it take to write the completed manuscript?

I outlined the story from the start.  I could see from the number of chapters it was going to be a substantial first novel.  Looking at word counts for debut novels, Stephen King’s Carrie came in under 80,000 words, as did Harry Potter.  That was my goal and yet I busted through it with 102,000 words. One of my Gorgeous and Intelligent Readers though felt the book should have been another 50 pages longer.  Another friend gave me a similar comment as did my Kirkus reviewer.  There is just that much “stuff” and detail in this novel.  It is hugely ambitious and the second one even more so.

I did 7 drafts of this manuscript.  The first “take” was 239 pages in manuscript form and sucked tremendously 😉 No one will ever read that draft.  It took 8 months to write. The second version was 260 pages and only sucked without the tremendous.  I let my Readers critique that one.  Third draft was 300 pages and my first editor helped me with the troublesome beginning. 4th draft came in at a substantial 350+ places and was submitted to my CreateSpace editor. We had graduated to mediocre at this point.  By the final draft, we were at 354 pages but that included new formatting and such and was actually pared a bit from the later versions. I hope we ended with a tale far beyond mediocre 🙂

I know so many books these days, and a lot of entertainment in general, are created as a disposable commodity to be forgotten.  In novels, they are written as just one of many generic and similar “series”. This book is not meant to be disposable and the readers who have given it a chance have been surprised at how much they have been drawn in to this world and these characters. 

What persuaded you to become an author after a career in creating affordable housing?

I have actually had several careers.  First in Customer Service when I worked myself through college (the first time) then in outside sales…then obtained my Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from University of California, Irvine which helped transition me to the public service side.  But I’ve always enjoyed writing having written 4 screenplays in the 90’s since everyone in Southern California is either an actor, director or movie writer J This story, Jennifer’s story, grabbed me though and wouldn’t let me go. It was time to go back to writing but not a screenplay.  Jennifer’s tale, while certainly movie material, deserved to be fleshed out more as a novel.

Any future writing projects in the works? If so, would you share a little information about what we can look forward to?

My next novel is the sequel to Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War.  It will be titled: Jennifer Ainsley: This Time We Really Mean It, The Final war (Just kidding). The next book is Jennifer Ainsley: The End and the Beginning.  Even more epic and encompassing, if I can pull this off it will essentially be my The Stand. Only with more humor and emotion. And maybe more severed heads…

You had me at “deer whisperer” in your bio. Actually you had me at living in California because I’m an East coast transplant and miss my old California haunts. So three questions regarding the first line in your bio: “Sidney Stone is a hiker, deer whisperer and non-pretentious wine connoisseur.”

  1. Where is your favorite place to hike?

Such a great question!  I will start by saying, since I live in both areas, Northern California has Southern California beat on hiking (and a few other things too like wineries!)  The Redwoods, Big Sur, the wild Northern California coast; very few areas are comparable.  One that is though is the island of Kauai.  It is my favorite Hawaiian Island and a place where I “found” myself at 17. Depressed and suicidal, two weeks on Kauai changed my life forever (that plus just one encouraging sentence from my running coach Chuck Taylor. You never know when what you say will have an impact so choose your words thoughtfully). The Na Pili Coast in particular is a place where my soul is at rest. It has been too long since I’ve been back and I think another journey may be needed soon.

  1. What are your suggestions for a moderately priced red AND white wine? You tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine 🙂

Define moderate 😉 Ha! Ha! I will go with two selections that are excellent choices right now: Meomi Pinot Noir (usually found between $17-$25) and Tangent Sauvignon Blanc (Usually found between $11.99 and $15 although I just bought a six pack for $9.49 each at a local grocery store). As a bonus pick, the Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc – Viognier for under $15 is my other everyday drinking white.

  1. Clarify deer whisperer and how you gained such a title.

Ha! Ha! Another awesome question!!!  Until very recently, I was a prolific reviewer on Yelp – http://www.yelp.com/user_details?userid=NGcH1lvIvrzgzCTPca3DEQ

Unlike most people though, I take photos of my hikes, not what I eat. Invariably, I always spot a deer (and usually wild turkeys and cows when I’m hiking on ranches). So that’s where the nickname came from (although with my cow shots I have been called the cow whisperer too). 

You mentioned being a fan of movies, Field of Dreams and An Officer And A Gentleman. I love both and give a thumbs-up to the soundtracks, as well. The genre of these films is far removed from the dark theme of Jennifer Ainsley – The Final Demon War. Do you watch horror flicks and if so, what is your favorite and why?

I enjoy a good scare but not the gore fests of slasher or horror porn (in spite of the fact my book, especially the banquet hall scene, tears hundreds of limbs apart and decapitates a few hundred heads too). I love films that imply horror more than show it like Psycho, Halloween, Alien (only the stomach scene is really graphic in that film), Carrie (which earns the blood with the psychotic coming of age section), Silence of the Lambs (um, okay I guess the Hannibal escape scene is the exception to my rule), Blair Witch Project, Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining (yeah, I guess there are buckets of blood there too), 28 Days Later (perfect performance by Cillian Murphy who was also so good in Danny Boyle’s Sunshine).

From this list, I have to go with Silence of the Lambs.  I enjoyed the Thomas Harris books very much, both Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs (Hannibal was disappointing), and this film may have been one of the best book to movie translations ever.  Perfect performances and writing, great visuals and soundtracks plus Chris Isaak as a SWAT sniper. Just a great film (one in which I took a first date to who unsurprisingly never called me again afterwards).   

If you could visit any time period from creation to 1950, where would you go and why?

Easy…Year 0-33AD give or take a few years. When Jesus walked the Earth…I need to know what is true and false about that time period. And am I going to hell for using Matthew 10:34 the way I did in my book 😉

Thank you for highlighting and featuring my book!  This was the best author interview yet 🙂

Jennifer Ainsley

The Final Demon War

Sidney Stone

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Suspense/Horror/New Adult757.-Sidney-Stone_coversV5

Date of Publication: December 2013

ISBN: 1491200960

ASIN: B00HFYK99Q

Number of pages: 308

Word Count: 102,400

Cover Artist: Pencilbox Studios

Book Description:

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” – Matthew 10:34

Demons are preparing to launch the Final War to destroy humanity.

Can one young woman wielding the Sword of Jesus ensure our survival and redemption?

Will she lose both her love and her soul in the process?

Available at Amazon in Paperback and Kindle formats

 

Submitted for Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest 

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword”

– Matthew 10:34

Jonathon Tait, whose demon-enhanced 170-year-old life has helped make him the richest man in the world, secretly renounces his alliance with demons in order to save his twins and redeem himself in the eyes of the two women he loved and lost. Jonathon has visions that his beautiful college-aged adopted daughter, Jennifer Ainsley, may be the key to humanity’s survival and works with an underground movement to fight back against both the demons and the human leadership that is guiding our civilization towards total annihilation.

Can Jennifer wield the Sword of Jesus to fulfill her destiny even as the planet hurtles towards its destruction? Is she mankind’s only hope and can Jennifer save everyone that she loves; including her destined soul mate Andrew Walker, or are we all doomed?

Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War is a gripping, fast-paced fantasy/horror novel grounded in the contemporary world. The characters are extremely likable and engaging, and a great deal of humor is successfully incorporated into the book, despite its often grim and macabre themes.  There are several action packed tour-de-force chapters including “Scenes from the End” and “Kasey and Tracey’s Amazing Adventure”.

The book deftly tackles issues of greed, humanity’s neglect for its weakest members, the race for power among individuals and nations, and the ability of love and courage to transcend personal weaknesses. It is a tale that combines horror and fantasy to tell a story of love, loss, sacrifice and redemption. It is the first chapter of an exciting new trilogy that deserves to find a wider audience.

EXCERPT:

Heather

Heather couldn’t believe she was going to die in front of her peacefully sleeping twins, who were oblivious to the unspeakable acts occurring in their nursery. These infants, this life, were all she had wanted, and in those lonely nights before sleep overtook her, she admitted to herself that she had been groomed for this since birth. She had been groomed to be a beautiful, nurturing wife to a wealthy and powerful man and she had been groomed to care for his children and teach them to take their rightful place in the world while she also maintained this lovely home—with a slew of maids, servants, and other staff of course. She threw the best dinner parties and had a special banquet hall included in the new Napa Valley estate just for that purpose. She knew all the right people to invite, and they raised all the right money for all the right charities.

Yet here she was in midair, swaying back and forth, seeing herself reflected in the rectangular Craftsman-style floor mirror she personally had picked out for the nursery. The demon Palvakia held Heather by her strawberry-blonde hair, a mane her husband Jonathon Tait called “gorgeously luxurious,” while her lithe and toned, almost split-in-two body, spilled her blood and guts onto the new Berber carpet (a lovely light blue she also had personally picked out for the nursery). How important Heather had thought every design detail of this room was. She had placed so much importance on the mundane materials that now meant nothing. She was escaping into the blackness now, the dark abyss whose passage she hoped ended with a consummating light. Was there light beyond death and beyond this horror?

It was insane, Heather thought, that her husband, the man she loved and admired, was watching this scene unfold with an expressionless face as Mordock, a repulsive and despised demon, stood next to him. Mordock was in human form right now, unlike the demon who had torn her in half, but Heather still felt the evil lurking underneath. She had tried to banish Mordock from their lives and had pleaded with her husband to stand up to him. Yet Jonathon had done nothing to remove him from their lives or to stop Mordock from carrying out her murder. If there was a light at the end, how could the Keeper of Light cause this to happen or not prevent it in the first place?

And what of the twins? Alexander and Sophia were so beautiful and full of life, with old-soul eyes, even as infants. My lovely babies, Heather thought with her last bit of consciousness. Who will keep you from harm? Can your father somehow be your guardian angel? Will he succeed with you where he failed with me? The darkness with the light behind it is approaching. Will I see you in heaven? How long will I have to wait? Hopefully a long, long time…

Heather took her last breaths just as Palvakia began to devour her. To her horror, though, death did not come instantaneously. A morbid trick of the demons is to keep their victims on the cusp of dying so they can witness themselves being eaten. Heather couldn’t even scream as the pain ripped through the ever-decreasing parts of her body.

When Palvakia was finished, not one ounce of the physical being that once had been Heather Tait was left in the room. Even the carpet was clean…and the twins continued to sleep peacefully.

About the Author:

IMG_2068Sidney Stone is a hiker, deer whisperer and non-pretentious wine connoisseur. An addicted reviewer on Yelp, he is also creator of affordable housing (although technically he is homeless part-time), thinks The Replacements are the best band of the Eighties and loves to boost his LinkedIn count with people he doesn’t know.

He lives in both Northern and Southern California while constantly traveling to Orange County to visit his son, who can now beat his father at ping pong and chess rather easily (and is charmingly arrogant while doing it). A graduate of UC Irvine and Pepperdine University, Sidney wishes he chose at least one university to attend that had a college football team to root for.

The first scene Sidney thought of for Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War included a rather large massacre (take that for what it is worth). However, inspired by the works of Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Clive Barker; the book’s violence is offset by dark humor and deep human emotion just like in real life where Sidney’s darkness is offset by creatively placed sarcasm and an overwrought romanticism. For example, while Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War is a Fantasy-Horror novel, Sidney also still tears up at the end of both Field of Dreams and An Officer and a Gentleman.

Contact him at www.sidneystone.net  or https://www.facebook.com/sidneystoneauthor

https://twitter.com/SidneyStoneAuth

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1360070.Sidney_Stone

www.amazon.com/author/sidneystone

 

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TOUR WIDE GIVEAWAY

$25 Gift card- winner’s choice of Starbucks or Amazon 
1 signed print copy open to US Shipping 
2 ebook copies

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ba112f591 

Converging Fates – Spotlight on Author Jonathan Cortez

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Converging Fates

Reagent Universe, Book 1

Jonathan Cortez

Genre: Science-Fiction 

Publisher: Fresh Publishing

Date of Publication: 03 June 2013

ISBN: 9780957606814

ASIN: 0957606818 

Number of pages: 376 p

Word Count: 133,750 words

Cover Artist: Jen Detchon

Amazon

 

Book Synopsis:

When an old and dangerous scientific project is revived by scientist Anleanlute, cybernetic humans and elves have to join forces to stop him from destroying two universes. They have to put age-old differences between their species behind them, and work together to stop the scientist.

They track him to the remote Undervalley. But Anleanlute is waiting for them and so are his allies – orcs, dinosaurs that should be long-extinct, and various monsters. But as the task force fight through hostile terrains to reach the scientist, they also bring the key to the whole situation.

Mahavir is a young human who was ripped away from his own universe when Anleanlute first opened his portal. He is unique because, unlike the cybernetic humans of his adopted universe, Mahavir is a fully organic human. Now, his very existence is the key that will allow the scientist to reach his ultimate goal. Mahavir’s death could prevent the destruction of two universes. But he has no intention of sacrificing himself.

Interview:

What is the best piece of advice you ever received? Who gave you that advice?

Life is too complicated for any one piece of advice to be the best piece of advice. I can throw out some quotes that mean the most to me though:

“Become what you are.” -Nietzsche

“The struggle to free myself from restraints becomes my very shackles.” -Meshuggah

“When you are in pain, that is when you focus sharp as the point of a knife.” Number Six in Battlestar Galactica.

“Got to have problem solving skills.” -my high school track coach

How did you become interested or get started in your craft? Did/Do you have a mentor, special teacher, or any other important influences on your work?

I’ve had a strong interest in reading and writing since I learned how to do those things. Great Illustrated Classics, a series of classic novels adapted for children, formed the basis of my imagination. And playing with Legos. Before I could write well, I had the power to create my own worlds with Legos.

Specifically for fantasy and science fiction, I did not get heavily involved until high school. Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, and World of Warcraft are my favourite franchises.

My favourite works of fiction are:

1. Bright Starry Banner by Alden R. Carter. This is a historical fiction book about the Battle of Stones River in the American Civil War. I love the way Carter blends facts, details, emotions, and thoughts to create a surreal nightmare.

2. Paradise Lost. Lucifer is my hero, because he refuses to accept an unjust status quo based on divine bullshit.

3. The Bible. I have read the Bible since I could read. I find the story of King David particularly good. War, political struggles, rich characters, family treachery, foreskin collecting. Those are elements that make good stories.

4. 1984. Because it destroys the things I value the most: trust in those closest to you and trust in yourself.

5. The Lord of the Rings. If you write high fantasy, and don’t like the Lord of the Rings, you must be insane.

6. World of Warcraft. It’s merit has yet to be appreciated, but I think people will one day recognize how amazing it’s story is.

7. Star Trek. I like all five series. The franchise knows how to use characterization, plot, and science-fiction to present subjective meaning, unlike a lot of current literature which has nothing except contrived meaning.

8. Heavy metal. Science fiction is epic, and often dark. So is heavy metal. And there’s hundreds of metal bands with speculative fiction song topics.

9. My absolute favourite works of fiction are Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, both of which share Ronald D. Moore as a main writer. To me, they have the perfect combination of plot, character development, action, themes, and darkness.

I have no mentors. I am largely self-taught. I take what I can get from people I meet, but there are no specific individuals who particularly stand out.

What do you find most enjoyable or rewarding about what you do?

People enjoying my work. And being my own boss.

Were you ever discouraged in your craft? What did you do to turn yourself around and start again?

It is extremely difficult to get established in the field, and that is discouraging. I have a little bit of a head start now that I’m published, but it’s far from what I desire.

I heard from someone (not verified) that there are more people making a living as professional baseball players than freelance writing, but more people trying to make a living off of professional freelance writing than sports.

I stick with it, because a life of working a traditional job with set hours, breaks, and protocol for 40 plus years is not acceptable, and I feel it is my dharma to write.

What do you do in your spare time? Any hobbies or something else you’d like to share?

I used to read a lot, but college course readings drained my enjoyment for the time being. Now, mostly I watch science-fiction shows since that takes less energy than reading. I’m big into World of Warcraft and some other PC games, but I’m not an avid gamer.

I try to exercising regularly. I’m a big fan of the outdoors, but not in the winter. Heavy metal, but I have yet to learn to play an instrument. Other than that, between college, work, and writing, I try to be social.

j cortezAbout the Author:

Jonathan Cortez is a graduate of Penn State Behren, with an Associate of Arts degree.

He was an avid reader and writer from a young age, but even before that his story-telling and world-building skills blossomed while playing with Lego. He largely developed his writing craft on his own.

Jonathan is a big fan of science-fiction and fantasy, although he only started reading the genres during high school. When not reading or writing, he enjoys watching TV and listening to heavy metal.

He is currently still studying at Penn State. He is also working on the sequel to Converging Fates.

https://www.facebook.com/jonathancortezru