Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Drabble Wednesday: Portal Power

Today on Drabble Wednesday we’re off to lands bizarre and places strange via the ever handy magic portal. I've dug deep into my vault, and produced three more stories for your enjoyment.

Adventures in Comic-Con World

This is not why I went to Comic-Con!
I thought it would be fun, I’d check out the panel discussions, get some autographs, maybe dress in costume as a superhero. Then I run across this odd booth. Next thing I know weird guys in glasses are doing a sparkly wham bang on me, I’m a foot tall and whisked through some dimensional portal gizmo.
Now I’m stuck in this stupid comic book world as some low-rent version of Antman, with a miniature sidekick named Scarlett L'Amour, and Dr. Catastrophe as an arch enemy bent on world domination.
Stupid, fraking portals!

Falling Through

I’m staring down a snarling dingo, holding a pudding in one hand and a doubloon in the other, wishing I had a shotgun loaded with buckshot instead.
The day started innocently, with a walk by a stream, and then, bam, I’m tumbling through the underground like Indiana Jones. I landed hard in some room housing a chest of coins, a fridge full of pudding and “Property of the Pilfering Pudding Plotters” scrawled on the wall.
Maybe I should have heeded, kept my hands off the goods, but how could I know there was a guard dog? I am so screwed.

Through the Gotham Looking Glass?

Holy Willie Nelson, Batman!
This isn't a dream—as much as I’d like it to be—and I’m in major trouble.
I’m standing on a road made of Corn Flakes in a strange version of Gotham City—I swear the Joker just ran past me. Strains of “On the Road Again” float to my ears, strummed by the country music banjo band cavorting on the Cheerios sidewalk.
Oh, why did I indulge my curiosity and investigate that wizard’s bubbling pink portal? What was I thinking? I should have known better than fool around with wizards, especially one named Lewis Carroll.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Book Spotlight: Breath

I have a book spotlight today, for the dark fantasy romance Breath by Jean Lowe Carlson, the first book in the Three Days of Oblenite series. Plus there's an excerpt, so enjoy...

Breath by Jean Lowe Carlson
Three Days of Oblenite - Book 1

Gryffine Toulunnet is cursed. She lives for one day a year, the heady festival of Rollows, where the dead dance their bones back to life. Born to a pious mother and miserable because of her curse, Gryffine sneaks out upon Rollows-eve to dance and drink with the Beast and his demons, and set herself free. Until she encounters dashing Gypsun barman Jessup Rohalle in his masque of the Immaculate Lust, and Gryffine’s strange curse marks them both in a single night of passion. Six years later, Jessup and Gryffine meet again, tempting fate with Gyrffine's curse, a kiss that steals the very breath of life from any lover. But Gryffine is linked to another besides Jessup, a tortured soul with a dark gift of his own, bitterly cursed just like she. And as the lamplit streets of Julis darken into winter, the curse comes to claim its own.

You can find Breath on:

ABOUT THE SERIES - Three Days of Oblenite (3 novels) 

The City of Julis in the Onvittaine is rife with superstition, piety, and the devious nature of the mystic. Three lives collide, swept up in the torturous undercurrents of three desperate curses, from which there is no escape. Desire, lust, power, obsession, addiction, fervor, desperation, and death flow in the darkness of Julis and in the seedy Gypsun Quarter at the edge of the Saints Commons. And not even the blessings of Saint Sommes herself can save those who become lost in the mystery, depravity, darkness, and permission of the Quarter. They can only save themselves.

The three books take place in a fictional, dark version of Paris in the late-Victorian era, and feature three characters cursed with the gifts of a miracle-working saint who died five hundred years prior. The first novel, Breath, is about a young woman cursed to celibacy because her breath when she kisses draws the vitality of any living thing, all except one night a year. The second novel, Tears, is about a young man cursed to feel bliss when he suffers physical pain from the lash, and the religious conflict he feels about his curse as he finds himself in a new M-M relationship with the man who brings him release. The third novel, Blood, is about a brilliant surgeon cursed with blood that heals. His life falls apart as he descends into the desperate underworld of Julis, gradually becoming addicted to using his blood to work miracles among the whores and the diseased.

Excerpt From Breath:

Jessup chewed his lip a moment. “Some of the old stories are true, Gryffine. And I think yours is one of them. Though I admit… it’s a very strange version of what I traditionally hear.”
Gryffine frowned. “What have you heard?”
“The tale of the Boy and the Bones. It’s the traditional story of Rollows. A young boy touches some bones and is cursed with the Kiss of Death, with which he kills his own mother. It’s where the Rollows toast comes from.”
“I’ve heard the story.”
Jessup looked at her oddly. “You have?”
Gryffine nodded. “The evening we first met. I was with my mother at the Gypsun market that afternoon, and I heard an old raglady telling it to a group of youths at one of the bonfires.”
“So you know how it goes.”
She nodded again. “But I’m a woman. And my curse didn’t start from touching some old bones.”
He shrugged. “Other than that… don’t you think the story describes your situation perfectly?”
Gryffine lifted an eyebrow.
“Come on.” Jessup pinched out the incense and stood. “Let’s have dinner in the Gypsun Quarter. I’ll take you to Aeshe and then we can find Rennet and talk to him about your manse.”
Gryffine took his proffered hand and stood, then made for the outer door of the sepulcher. “This way. I’ll show you the backyard before we go.”
They pushed through the heavy stone door and into the sunlight, flooding down on what was turning out to be a perfect spring afternoon. The air was moist and refreshing after the dry musk of the sepulcher, and Gryffine’s mood lifted to the radiant sun and the bright-tempered man at her side. They shoved the stone door shut and traipsed the gravel walk through the verge to the back porch. She was already tripping up the steps with a much lighter heart when a small pull came at her hand from Jessup.
“Hold on a tic. What’s that?”
“What?” Gryffine glanced over, then followed his gaze to a small fenced-off area with a wrought-iron railing that contained a fixture of the manse she had come to accept as one of its many oddities. Inside the railing, upon an extra side-swath of the stone back porch, sat an ancient wrought-iron coffin, its vellum gone and the bones inside long turned to dust under the protection of the gables and eaves. But as Gryffine glanced at it, she, too, noticed something about the coffin that made the hair of her neck stand on end.
Within the confines of the wrought-iron, right where a corpse’s chest would once have been, grew a single, perfect yellow day-flower, nodding its sunburst head to the light spring breeze.
Gryffine blinked.
Jessup grinned at her. “Should I sneak through the bars of the railing and go touch it?”
But a rush of alarm went through Gryffine just then, and she hastily gripped Jessup’s arm, drawing him back. “No! Leave it alone.”
“It’s just a day-flower. They probably grow there every spring.”
Gryffine shook her head. “There have never been any flowers there. Mother tried every spring to grow some. She hated the coffin but was too superstitious to move it. She sprinkled lenou-seeds in the bone-dust, flush-horn seeds, pennybright. Everything she could think of. Nothing ever grew.”
“Huh. Must have sprinkled day-flower seeds at some point and one finally took.” But even Gryffine could tell that Jessup’s teasing tone had gone to one of wary caution. “I’ll speak to Rennet about getting that whole thing off the porch and putting it in the sepulcher where it belongs.”
Gryffine swallowed and nodded. “That would be best, I think.” She tore her eyes away from the nodding yellow flower and tugged him up the porch, trying to put it from her mind.


Author Bio:

Jean Lowe Carlson is a Naturopathic Doctor and writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and holds a B.A. in Biology and B.Mus. in Opera from Oberlin College and a medical doctorate from Bastyr University. A keen observer of nature and human behavior, Jean writes genre-bending epic, romantic erotic, and dystopian fantasy fiction, and maintains a blog on Esoteric Buddhism (Tantric Practice). As a medical doctor and practitioner of Tantra, yoga, pranayama, Reiki, Craniosacral Therapy, and Emotional Freedom Technique, Jean pulls from her deep knowledge of psychology and energy interactions to paint vivid scenes and emotionally complex interactions between her characters.

Mixing a keen and often gritty blend of erotic and romantic content into her epic, dystopian, and dark fantasy, Jean creates sensual, raw worlds that remind one of Jacqueline Carey, Clive Barker's Imajica, Anne Rice, and Robin Hobb. Jean's characters are human and complex, their interactions set amidst the broader scope of nations in turmoil or societies with riveting secrets. Not afraid of exploring all kinds of relationships, including LGBTQ and BDSM, excitement and passion combine in Jean’s novels to create rich, lush worlds where death and life are always precariously balanced. Jean Lowe Carlson lives with her delicious husband Matt in Redmond, Washington, and desperately wants a cat.

For more on the author and her books check out these sites:

Sunday, 17 May 2015

The Movie Inspiration for Reconquest: Mother Earth - A Guest Post

Today a guest drops by the blog, author Carl Alves, to chat about the cinematic inspiration for his sci-fi book, Reconquest: Mother Earth.  Enjoy.

The Movie Inspiration for Reconquest: Mother Earth

I like to describe my novel Reconquest: Mother Earth as a combination of the movies Independence Day, Red Dawn, and Gladiator.  Admittedly, that’s a strange combination.  In this post, I discuss how these three movies relate to my novel. 

Independence Day

I remember when Independence Day came out, the trailers and promotion for the movie were tremendous.  The buildup of the movie was so great that instead of releasing the movie on July 3, 1996, they released it a day earlier, which coincided with when the movie starts.  The buzz was huge, and the movie became one of the all-time biggest blockbusters. 
            It’s not the deepest, most thoughtful movie ever made, and you had to suspend your disbelief in many places, but it was a lot of fun.  I enjoyed the portrayal of human spirit that the movie displayed, when against all odds, in an impossible situation, the humans used intelligence and ingenuity against a far more powerful enemy. 
            Those are elements that I adopt in my novel Reconquest: Mother Earth.  In my novel, I incorporate a very different kind of large scale invasion that the movie uses, but that is a small part of the novel.  The much larger part of the novel is the response by former Navy SEAL Mitch Grace, who wakes up from a coma five years after the initial invasion.  He personifies that same never-say-die attitude that even though the humans are badly overmatched, they can still find a way to defeat the alien conquerors.  Mitch must do so in a planet conquered by the aliens, where humans are used as slaves in mine, but much like in Independence Day, he will not stop fighting the aliens as long as he is still breathing.

Red Dawn

            I was in the fourth grade when Red Dawn came out in theaters.  As a kid, this was an amazingly cool concept for a movie, and I was psyched to see it.  I didn’t get to watch too many movies in the theater when I was a kid, so it was a few years later by the time I finally watched it.  Despite some of the silliness in the movie, I thoroughly enjoyed it. 
            Admittedly, the execution in this movie didn’t always work.  There are many aspects of it that aren’t particularly believable, and there were many testosterone filled scenes in the movie, but as long as you don’t delve too deep, it’s a fun and enjoyable film.  It fit the attitude of the time well, but it doesn’t particularly hold up many years later.
            My novel, Reconquest: Mother Earth, shares some elements with Red Dawn.  In my novel, aliens take the place of the Soviets, and they have now overrun the planet.  Mitch Grace is devastated to find that most the world’s population has been decimated, and humans have been thrust into slavery in mines working for the aliens.  He can’t accept this and gathers followers to start his own guerilla war against the aliens.  They have vastly superior technology and weaponry and he must go into hiding, but much of that never say die feeling is captured in the novel. 


            Gladiator is simply put one of the best movies I have ever seen.  It is epic in scope, the story of Roman general Maximus Meridius, played by Russell Crowe.  Maximus is loyal to the emperor, but is thrust into slavery when Commodus, expertly played by Joaquin Phoenix in one of the greatest acting roles I have ever witnessed, kills his father and seizes the throne.  Through his incomparable skills as a warrior, Maximus becomes a renowned gladiator with one thing on his mind – vengeance. 
            When I first came up with the concept of my novel Reconquest: Mother Earth, before I even started writing it, I had an image in my head of my main protagonist, former Navy SEAL Mitch Grace, in an arena battling it out with aliens.  I didn’t know how I was going to incorporate this into my book, but one thing was certain, somehow, someway it was going to be part of it. 
            In my novel, Mitch Grace, during his guerilla campaign, is captured and enslaved much like Maximus.  He becomes an intergalactic warrior, even taking the moniker of “The Gladiator”.  He becomes an intergalactic sensation, a human that can kill aliens in single combat.  Much like Maximus, he is single-minded in his focus, which is to reconquer the planet.

Reconquest: Mother Earth by Carl Alves

SEAL Mitch Grace was among the first humans to see the aliens when they landed at the naval base in Coronado, California.  Like the other humans, he was powerless to stop them.  
Five years later, he awakens from his coma under the care of an alien physician to find that the aliens now control the planet.  After Mitch heals himself physically and mentally, he starts a resistance movement to take the planet back from the alien conquerors.  After his capture by the aliens he is forced to become an intergalactic gladiator, fighting for the human species and the redemption of Mother Earth.

You can find Reconquest: Mother Earth at: Amazon

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Interview With Author Briane Pagel

Today I have an interview with talented author Briane Pagel. He stops by to chat about his books, including his newest, the sci-fi thriller Codes, and his writing. Enjoy...

Interview With Author Briane Pagel

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

Here is my biggest, and possibly only, regret in life: that I never became a pole vaulter. I wanted so much in high school to be a pole vaulter on the track team. Being seriously overweight and unathletic was a big impediment to that; when I tried out for the team, they put me into shot put and discus, where I failed to excel. I do still remember (kind of) how to shot put, but that hasn't been terribly helpful and isn't awe-inspiring the way it would be if I could say “Oh, yeah, I was a pole vaulter.” 
Other than that, my life has progressed more or less exactly the way I have intended: I spend most of my time being a consumer protection litigator, and the time I don’t do that I spend with my family (5 kids, ages 8-27, and a grandkid already, too!). My hobbies (aside from writing) are pizza (You read that right. Just: pizza), music (I play guitar and piano but haven’t done either in a while) and trying to learn to draw.

Can you tell us a bit about your latest book, the sci-fi novel, Codes?

Codes is easily the best book I have ever written, and I’m not just saying that because it’s true.  Codes is a thriller with enough twists and turns in it to make it as a carnival ride.  Set in the near future, it focuses on Robbie, who has a run-in with a beautiful blonde woman that results in a murder (or is it?) outside his apartment. Suddenly everyone seems to be after him, and he keep seeing posters and website with mysterious code-phrases, and having strange encounters. Eventually he learns that both a corporation that has learned how to clone humans and imprint them with computerized personalities, and a group trying to stop that, are all looking for him. None of them are sure why Robbie’s so important, but they all know he is important, and whoever figures it out first is certain they’re going to have the upper edge in this fight.

You've also written several other books. Care to share any tidbits about them?

My favorite book, after Codes, is Eclipse. Also scifi, it’s the story of Claudius, an astronaut who wanted to go into space, but might have gone mad instead.  It’s the literary equivalent of a hall of mirrors, and I enjoy people guessing in their reviews as to what really happened.  (I won’t tell.)
Also, I really like the After, which is about a woman named Saoirse who dies in a plane crash, then finds herself in a strange sort of afterlife where William Howard Taft asks her to help him find a way out.  It sounds like a silly setup, but the way it works out it’s surprisingly touching. 
I've also written some humorous scifi, and a collection of horror stories, as well as one well-received literary novel.

As well as novels, you write short stories. Do you prefer writing short fiction to penning novels, or do you find they have equal merits?

I like writing both, and I never really set out to write one or the other. I start writing a story, and it’s over when it’s over.  Codes, for example, I meant to be a short story originally, or at least I thought it would be. I started writing it, figuring it’d end up being about 10-15 pages.  At page 50 I thought Well this just kept on going.
I think a story needs to be as long as it ought to be, and no more. If there’s a lot to tell, tell it. But I have begun experimenting with writing short short stories, too, as a way to practice writing.

When did you realize you wanted to start writing professionally?

I wrote some short stories in college in the 90s, but then didn't do much writing for about 10 years while I finished law school and got going on my career.  When I went back to writing, it was as a hobby and I posted stories on blogs.  I sent some stories to publishers from time to time, but got tired of rejections.  Once indie publishing came along, with the Kindle and Lulu, I decided to try to sell my books myself.  I've been doing that for a few years now, but when I wrote Codes I thought it deserved wider dissemination than I've been able to get for my own books, and so I decided to find a more traditional publisher for it.  Golden Fleece seemed a perfect fit for me. 
I know that doesn't answer the question very well. I guess to shorten it up: Codes is the first thing I've written that I think engages my own interests in unique storytelling, and yet has commercial potential. Before I wrote Codes, I never gave much thought to selling books. But Codes seemed like it might be the breakthrough. So I would say: I first began thinking I might do this as a profession about as I finished the first draft of Codes.

Has anything surprised you about the process of writing your books? Any characters or plots that took unexpected turns?

EVERYTHING has.  I usually start out with a slim idea for a story, sometimes just a quick thought or a line I found catchy, and then start writing and see where it goes.  Or I will take a theme and write a bunch of stories about that, like 10 short stories in a row about robots, or the time I wrote a series of shorts each based on a different noble gas in the periodic table of elements. 
I like writing that way: I never really know where a story will end up or where it will go.  I just pick up an idea and begin spreading it out in every direction, mulling over all the interesting parts of it. Writing, to me, feels like exploring.

What is your greatest challenge as a writer?

Focusing on one thing at a time. I have so many ideas that I’d like to try, but I have to be disciplined and finish them.  So I've developed a system: each day, I work about 30 minutes or so on my current project, and then if I have more time (I usually do my writing from about 8-9 at night) I might tinker away at a side project. That lets me finish one project while still messing around with writing short stories or coming up with new novel ideas, or blog posts or the like.

Having now published both as an indie and with a more traditional publishing company, do you have any advice for writers looking to be published?

Persistence.  And rewrites. When I finished the first draft of Codes, I decided that I would send it to a minimum of fifty publishers before putting it out myself.  While I was going through the process of sending it out – one a day, usually--  I was editing and rewriting the book. So by the time I got to Golden Fleece Press, the book was already well into a second round of (re)writing, which was at the time unusual for me, as I hate editing and rewriting. What was different here was that, , like I said, this was a book I really believed in and knew could be very well-received, but it needed that extra push. So the extra push came from within, through the rewriting, and from without, through help from Golden Fleece Press. 
In the end, I didn't even get halfway to fifty, because Golden Fleece was pretty quick to say yes. (So quick that I got a few rejections from people who were slow to respond, after Golden Fleece Press had already accepted it. It stings less to get a rejection for a book you know has already been published.) They helped me re-edit and make the book even better, which I found an excellent tool to improve the story even more. 
Having indie published some books before going the traditional route, too, I knew what I was looking for from a publisher. My goal wasn't just “get this book on the shelves,” since I knew I could do that on my own. Instead, I wanted help reaching a broader audience and improving the quality of my book.  Those are tough things for a solo writer to do. 
Knowing those were my goals, I was able to focus on looking for publishers and agents who could help me further those. By going with Golden Fleece Press, I got an editor and publisher who were invested in making my book the best, and helping to sell it. I don’t think I would've gotten that at one of the bigger publishers, where I’d be dumped into a pile of other small authors to die on some bookshelf somewhere.

What’s next for you?

I've begun working on a sequel to Codes, tentatively titled The Watson Protocol; like most sequels, it expands on the first by adding more villains and changing the main characters a bit, as well as building on the events of the first. I won’t say who’s in it, because that might spoil what happens in Codes. Codes can still be read as a stand-alone, but I figured there was more to tell, in that world.
I've also got a collection of short stories, written over the course of a year, one per day. Each story is one word shorter than the one prior, so the first was 365 words, the second 364, and so on. 
There’s a lot of other ideas I've had, but those two will take up the bulk of that first 30 minutes of writing each night.
Then, who knows? Maybe I’ll see if there are any adult pole-vaulting clubs around Middleton, Wisconsin.

For more about Briane Pagel and his books you can check out these sites:

His Blog - Thinking The Lions:

You can find Codes at:

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Book Spotlight: The Secrets Of Yashire

A book spotlight on the blog today, the YA fantasy novel, The Secrets of Yashire: Emerging From the Shadows by Diamante Lavendar. Enjoy!

The Secrets of Yashire: Emerging From the Shadows by Diamante Lavendar

The Secrets of Yashire: Emerging From the Shadows is a young adult fantasy adventure that occurs within the framework of a young girl’s subconscious mind. The main character, Brianna, finds herself thrown into a world called Yashire where she is forced to deal with circumstances that are threatening Yashire’s existence. Against her will, she is sent on a journey to restore unconditional love back to the land while also contending with the evil force in the land, Zolan. Brianna is sent on her mission by Libban, Keeper of the Land. Along the way, Brianna travels with the mystical tiger, Angelos; a huge, whitish-tan tiger with thick black stripes who sings only the purest songs of love, and the wondrous little one-eyed bird named Abiba. During the journey, Brianna is also preparing to meet her soulmate—the one she longs to be with and the one who will bring complete healing back into her life. Together they travel through fantastic lands filled with magical creatures that could only exist in the wildest of imaginations. Through her treacherous brushes with danger and heartwarming experiences of love and acceptance, Brianna discovers many things. It is here, amidst the powers and phantasms of the mind that Brianna receives life lessons and virtues to help her. Will one of her greatest triumphs be achieved as she learns to believe in herself? For only then can she truly see all of the wondrous things that life has to offer.

The Secrets of Yashire: Emerging From the Shadows  is available at Amazon

Author Bio

Diamante Lavendar has been in love with reading since she was a child. She spent many hours listening to her mother read to her when she was young. As she grew older, she enjoyed reading novels of all genres: horror, fantasy and some romance to name a few.
She began writing in college and published some poetry in anthologies over the years. After her kids were older, she wrote as a form of self expression and decided she wanted to share her stories with others.
Most of her writing is very personal and stems from her own experiences and those of her family and friends. She writes to encourage hope and possibility to those who read her stories.
Diamante believes that everyone should try to leave their own positive mark in the world, to make it a better place for all. Writing is the way that she is attempting to leave her mark—one story at a time.