Into the Dreaming Imaginative Fiction from Author, Reviewer, and Writing Coach Christine Amsden

Category Archives: Author Interviews

Cover Reveal: Hungry as a Wolf

MBB_TourBanner_HungryAsAWolf copy

HUNGRY AS A WOLF

by Elizabeth Einspanier

BLURB:

Wolf Cowrie is back in his second adventure! In the Black Hills of the Dakota Territory in 1865, tensions run high between white settlers looking for gold and the Sioux people who consider this region their holy ground. When Wolf is hired to find out what happened to the workers of a mining outpost in the area, the general theory in Goldwater is that they were slaughtered by the Sioux. Wolf discovers something far more sinister lurking in the Black Hills, an ancient evil whose unending hunger drives sane men to ghoulish extremes.

 

And now … the COVER REVEAL

MediaKit_BookCover_HungryAsAWolf

Looks spooky!

Excerp:

It was a young woman of perhaps nineteen years of age, with auburn hair and brown eyes. She was well-dressed in a white blouse with leg-of-mutton sleeves and a narrow column of ruffles down the front. A dark blue skirt respectably covered her ankles and black boots, and her hair was pulled back in a style he could not readily see from this angle, with wisps curling delicately around her face. She was a pretty little thing as well, and Wolf wished he could have made her acquaintance under better circumstances—like, say, fully-clothed, rather than stark naked with only his hat to conceal his shame.

The two of them stared at each other for maybe half a minute—him in a state of poker-faced, heart-pounding embarrassment, her in open-mouthed shock. Wolf’s heart and his stomach had lurched in opposite directions when he saw her—his heart upwards to lodge in his throat, his stomach downwards to gurgle in low panic somewhere around his knees. He swallowed hard to try to clear the lump of nerves behind his larynx. Somehow, Wolf was the first to find his voice.

Ordinarily, miss, I’d be the first to tip my hat to a lovely young lady like yourself,” he said as politely as he could manage, with a glance down at the hat in question. “But I don’t think either of us wants that right now.”

She blushed bright scarlet and whirled out of the bathroom without a word, revealing the bun that secured her hair and slamming the door behind her. Wolf put his free hand over his face.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Elizabeth Einspanier is the self-published author of the Weird Western novella Sheep’s Clothing and the upcoming sci-fi romance novel Heart of Steel. Her short stories have been published in Down in the Dirt and Dark Fire Fiction. She is a member of the St. Louis Writer’s Guild and an associate member of the Horror Writers of America. She lives in St. Louis, but frequently spends extended periods in worlds of her own creation.

Links

Website: http://elizabetheinspanier.com

Blog: http://calliopeskiss.blogspot.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GeekGirlWriter

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ElizabethEinspanier/

Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/elizabetheinspanier

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FREE on Amazon and Barnes and Noble Today: SECRET BLEND + $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

SBB_TourBanner_SecretBlend copy

 

BLURB:

When longtime courtroom rivals Rachel Richards and Brady Craft get appointed to the bench in Bourbon Springs, Kentucky, tempers flare as they are forced to share chambers.

Working closely with the obstinate-yet-sexy Brady is not an attractive idea to Rachel—although she has to admit that Brady himself is pretty damned attractive.

Rachel doesn’t have to run for office to keep her judgeship, but Brady does. He draws a formidable opponent, Hannah Davenport, a wealthy co-owner of Old Garnet Distillery, where some of the finest Kentucky bourbon is crafted north of town along Old Crow Creek and near the historic springs which gave the town its unique name.

And Hannah just happens to be Rachel’s best friend.

As the judicial race heats up, so does the relationship between the judges—so they decide to keep it a secret.

But can any secret be kept in little Bourbon Springs, Kentucky?

SECRET BLEND is the first book in the Bourbon Springs Series, an upcoming nine-book series of smooth, sensual, sexy, slow-burn contemporary romances set amidst the lush and rolling Land of Bourbon and Bluegrass of central Kentucky.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

EXCERPT

“I believe congratulations are in order,” Brady acknowledged as Rachel arrived in his midst. He offered her his hand, and she shook it.

Rachel couldn’t remember the last time she’d shaken his hand or touched him at all. He had a very strong grip, but his hands were remarkably soft. She considered him; even with that five o’clock shadow he still looked pretty damn good that late in the day, and his tousled dark hair added to his allure. He had a latter-day Greek-god quality about him that Rachel had always found a bit too attractive, just a shade too distracting and unnerving.

“Thanks,” she said, feeling herself blush. “I was surprised.”

He nodded, and she figured he had to be thinking you weren’t the only one, sister.

“Look,” he said, placing his drink on a nearby table, “I’ll tell you straight out, but this shouldn’t come as an unexpected revelation.”

“Tell me what?”

“Well, that I plan to run for the seat myself.” Her mouth dropped open. “Oh, come on, Rachel,” he said in a mocking tone. “You can’t be that shocked.”

The pure exhilaration of the day had been destroyed by his pronouncement. She should’ve realized he would run for the bench against her and felt stupid for her naiveté. Taking a deep breath, she stiffened, and stood up straighter.

“Well, that’s good to know,” she said in a flat tone. “Thank you for telling me yourself.”

She nodded to him, turned on her heel, and left. As she walked away, she thought she actually heard the jerk laugh at her.

But then she felt his hand gently pulling on her arm.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_SecretBlendJennifer Bramseth is an attorney in the active practice of law in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. A Kentucky native and life-long resident, she lives within ten minutes of the state’s oldest bourbon distillery and works within five minutes of two others. A graduate of Centre College and the University of Kentucky, she loves a good Kentucky bourbon with water and ice.

http://www.jenniferbramseth.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jennifer-Bramseth
http://www.tsu.co/jennbramseth

@jennbramseth (Twitter)
jenniferbramseth (Instagram)

BUY Links:

Buy links not yet available; no Amazon author page as yet
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Buy Links

 

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

The author will award a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter.

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Time is Relative for a Knight of Time: Giveaway + Excerpt

Blurb:

Meet Rolland Wright – a seventeen year old orphan living out of his car in rural Woodland Hills, California. Aside from grappling with the fact of being abandoned by his drunken father two years previous following his mothers mysterious murder, his life mostly revolves around finding a warm place to sleep at night. When one day he is attacked by men claiming to have killed his father, Rolland discovers a strange ability to slow the flow of time around him, beginning a journey that takes him to places outside of time, space, and eventually to the early 19th century to fight the sinister General Andrew Jackson. With the help of a rag-tag group of historical and mythical figures with various supernatural abilities of their own (Joan of Arc, Jesse James, etc) known as the Knights of Time, Rolland solves the mystery behind his mother’s murder, falls in love, battles the evil Edward Vilthe – reaper of souls, and finds a home of his own in the paradise known as Eden.

The Time is Relative series chronicles the origin story of the mythical figure Father Time, beginning with the award winning first novel, Time is Relative for a Knight of Time. All dates and events are historically accurate. The participants… maybe not.

Excerpt 

 

“What do you think, then?” came Judah’s voice, as Blaisey zoned back into their conversation.

Blaisey looked at him and saw him staring back at her. To her astonishment, Blaisey realized that Judah was asking for her opinion. Aside from his rather informal introduction, this was the first time that Judah had addressed her directly. Her surprise must have been evident to him, as Judah’s lips crept into a thin, lopsided smile around the cigarette.

“I knew a man once,” Blaisey said, in a calm, soothing voice. Her father, Nahoy – leader of the Nabawoo, had told her that white people prefer when natives speak in a calm, slow, relaxing tone. He believed that it goaded the white man into a false sense of superiority that their people could use as an advantage.

Blaisey had seen this as slightly sneaky and underhanded, but those were thoughts from before the days of Jackson’s terror, before the days of people falling out of the sky at daybreak and being kidnapped by American soldiers in the middle of the night.

“This man, he rolled and smoked his tobacco, like you,” Blaisey continued.

“Oh, yeah?” Judah asked, the cigarette in his mouth bobbing between his lips as he spoke. “What brand? I’m a Luckys man myself.” He sniffed and lifted his head proudly, his chin held high.

“This I do not know,” Blaisey said, smiling out of politeness. “And we cannot ask him, for he is dead.”

At this, Judah stopped his search for the lighter and looked at Blaisey head on, giving her his full attention for the first time. “From smoking tobacco, right?”

“No,” Blaisey said with vigor. “He was an ass like you, and somebody shot him.”

 

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

Brett Matthew grew up with a passion for both film and history. He began his career fresh out of high school as a Production Assistant/ football player on NBC Universal’s television series Friday Night Lights (of which he can often be seen in the first two seasons as a member of the championship team – Go Panthers!). He quickly moved on to serve as an Original Series intern with the USA Network in Studio City, California. Following work on shows like Monk, Psych, and Burn Notice, Brett returned home to Texas to continue his education, graduating with his degree in History from Texas State University. A proud Master Freemason, Brett thoroughly enjoys fantasy fiction, watching Netflix, running, baseball, Shakespeare, and spending time with his family and critters.

Website: http://www.brettmatthewwilliams.com/
Twitter: @Time1sRelative
Blog: http://www.brettmatthewwilliams.com/blog/
Book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Time-Relative-A-Knight/dp/1470029456/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1430360645&sr=8-1

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Red Tide Rising: $25 Giveaway + Excerpt

MediaKit_BookCover_RedTideRisingBLURB:

What good is immortality when every moment is agony?

The vampire Ash has returned from his watery grave, proving that death is merely a minor inconvenience. Picking up where he left off? That might not be as easy. Because someone else is vying for Sami’s attention – the last person he ever would have expected.

Fulfilling her desire for immortality seems the surest route to winning her favor. But for Sami, this gift will come at a terrible price. One simple lie of omission is all it takes to send her spiraling into a terminal state of madness. And as the last remnants of her sanity slip away, Ash can no longer deny that her maniacal behavior is putting them all at risk. His perfect angel has become a perfect liability.

But can he find it in his heart to destroy her?

RTR - Playlist

EXCERPT

Haven’t you ever been in love?” She didn’t say not counting Ash, but the implication was there. His impalpable presence, even when left unmentioned, remained a tangible constant hanging in the air between them.

I’m not sure such a thing exists.”

Ah, c’mon. In all these years, you gonna tell me you never had a solid healthy relashumship?”

Tristan snorted a laugh. “You don’t even know what you’re saying. Look at you, drunk off your ass trying to talk to me about relationships.”

I’s just askin’.”

What would you know about a healthy relationship anyway? You seem to gravitate toward the toxic. There is nothing remotely healthy about any of the decisions I’ve seen you make.”

So forget relashumships, Mister Grouchy Pants. Izz all about sex then, right?”

Apparently.”

Okaayyy…” Sami pursed her lips, trying to hide a smirk. “Then why don’ you tell me ’bout the guy from Comic-Con. What’d you say his name was?”

I don’t remember.”

Oh, sure ya do.”

I don’t.”

I don’ belieeeeeve yoouuuu…”

I don’t caa-aaare…”

But see, now I gotta know. Gimme the lowdown. Were you gettin’ it on with the comic book guy? Did Superman put it to you?” For some reason, the whole idea struck her as screamingly funny. Clutching both hands to her stomach, she began to giggle uncontrollably. “Did he wear his cape? Wuzzee faster than a speeding bullet?”

Raising an eyebrow, Tristan shot her a derisive look.

Wuzzee more powerful than a locomomo…locomum…” She tried to stifle the next eruption of giggles and failed. “…choo choo train?”

You’re pushing it, little miss.”

No, I really wanna know! I’m totally serial. Whassit like to get pounded in the ass by th’man of steel?”

In barely the time it took for her to blink, he rolled over on top of her, trapping her between his arms as his silvery gray eyes glittered down at her defiantly. She stared back at him in wide-eyed surprise, her urge to laugh instantly squelched. There was something decidedly wrong here. And that something was pressing against her nakedness with rock hard force.

His mouth mere inches from hers, he whispered, “Would you like for me to show you?”

Huh?” she squeaked.

Well, you just asked…” Never taking his eyes off hers, he moved his lean hips to grind against her slowly and rhythmically. “…what it was like to get pounded by the man of steel. I took that as a request to find out. Or did I misunderstand?”

H-huh?” she echoed.

It’s possible that I did. But no, I don’t think so.” Transferring all his weight to one arm, he slid the other hand beneath her to grip her bare ass. “I think that was an open invitation. So…should I turn you over on your knees and demonstrate? Hm?”

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_RedTideRisingAllie fell in love with books from the moment she was issued her very first Sally, Dick and Jane reader. Born and raised in Alabama, she now resides in the sunny panhandle of Florida with her own blue-eyed Prince Charming and two fat, obnoxious cats. When she’s not busy obsessing over the lexicon of her latest project, she can usually be found watching B-movie horror (the cheesier, the better!), reading or playing online computer games while indulging her unhealthy Pepsi addiction.

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Holiday Parade: The Case of the Dispatched Detective

Today I’m featuring another great gift idea by author Stephanie Osborn, fellow Twilight Times author.

This is not your father’s Sherlock Holmes…

The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival is a science fiction mystery in which brilliant hyperspatial physicist, Dr. Skye Chadwick, discovers there are alternate realities, often populated by those we consider only literary characters. Her pet research, Project: Tesseract, hidden deep under Schriever AFB, finds Continuum 114, where Sherlock Holmes was to have died along with Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. In a Knee-jerk reaction, Skye rescues Holmes, who inadvertently flies through the wormhole to our universe, while his enemy plunges to his death. Unable to go back without causing devastating continuum collapse, Holmes must stay in our world and adapt. Meanwhile, the Schriever AFB Dept of Security discovers a spy ring working to dig out the details of – and possibly sabotage – Project: Tesseract. Can Chadwick help Holmes come up to speed in modern investigative techniques in time to stop the spies? Will Holmes be able to thrive in our modern world? Is Chadwick now Holmes’ new “Watson” – or more? And what happens next?


“…This is a really bad time for me to leave console at the moment, hon.”

Caitlin shot her a hard, annoyed look.

“You can’t be considering it,” she said flatly. “All hell is breaking loose here. I don’t care if the President needed you five minutes ago! You have to stay here!”

“Chill, Cait,” Skye tossed an aside to her friend, phone held absently to the side of her face with her shoulder as she tried to read the scribbled note Timelines handed her, around annotating her clipboard. “I’ve got more to do than I can shake a stick at now. I’m…what?” she said, staring at the note. “Software! Check the focus subroutine! Make sure it’s initiating at the correct point in the program! The last thing we need now is a software glitch causing a delay in timing. If that’s happening, no wonder the induction element’s hosed! Hardware, make sure the circuit’s clear! Holmes, I’m sorry, I can’t make it right now. I don’t have time to catch my breath down here.”

* * *


Holmes listened closely, not only to Skye’s direct comments, but also to her asides and commands, and to what he could hear of the remarks made to her. He covered the mouthpiece with his hand and informed Jones and Smith.

“It appears matters are not going well in the Chamber.” He punched the speaker button on the phone so the other men could hear. Then he returned his attention to the sounds coming from the phone. “Skye, what is happening?”

* * *


Skye watched as her teammates fought with the recalcitrant apparatus. One of the Hardware console members, Chad Swann by name and a longstanding friend of Skye’s, moved into the center of the room to check the circuitry of the monoliths. Skye grabbed her clipboard, flipping to the malfunction shutdown checklist, where she scanned the list, trying to determine the seriousness of their
situation.

Vaguely she heard Holmes’ query, but didn’t have time to devote to it. Still, she managed to find two spare brain cells to rub together, and replied abstractedly, “We’re having a malfunction in the induction element system. We can’t keep it focused…”

“Skye, we need you to make a call! Shut down, or put it in a holding pattern and troubleshoot?” Caitlin interrupted. Skye juggled phone and clipboard, trying to assess the checklist for priority red malfunction modes.

“Holmes, I’ve gotta go,” she said into the phone. “I need to figure out how serious this is—”

“DR. CHADWICK! We’ve got a GRAVITON SPIKE!” Sequencing shouted.

* * *


Smith and Jones watched as Holmes’ expression grew more and more grave as he listened to the sounds on the other end of the line. They heard Skye’s attempt to break the conversation, and Holmes was about to answer in the affirmative when they overheard the exclamation from Sequencing.

Holmes paled as they heard Skye shout, “Chad!! Get out of there! NO! EMERGENCY SHUTDO—”

The line went dead.

Instantly the entire building shuddered hard enough to knock books off shelves and send Skye’s chalk tumbling from its rack on the blackboard, smashing into dusty white shards on the tile. The three men grabbed for heavy furniture to avoid being flung to the floor.

* * *


When the quake subsided, the three men sat staring at each other, shaken. Holmes felt almost lightheaded, his grey eyes wide.

“What happened?” Jones demanded. “Did that earthquake have anything to do with Project: Tesser—”

“Emergency shutdown,” Holmes snapped out, leaping to his feet. “Graviton spike.” He didn’t fully understand the significance of the graviton spike, but from his reading of Skye’s quantum mechanics text, which perforce contained a significant amount of particle physics, he knew what a graviton was, and strongly suspected it was connected to the quake. “I am going down to the Chamber,” he declared in a tone brooking no argument. “The two of you may come, or stay.”

* * *


“Is your authorization in?” Jones turned to Smith.

“Your duty officer entered it into the system when I arrived this morning,” Smith observed.

“Good. We’re coming, Holmes,” Jones declared.

But Holmes was already out the door and down the hall, headed for the elevators at a dead run.

Jones and Smith sprinted behind.

~~~

The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival is available in print and ebook (all formats), and the first four books of the series have been released in a collected ebook edition, The Case of the Displaced Detective Omnibus. Book 5, A Case of Spontaneous Combustion, is a 2014 new release. All of them are suitable for gift-giving!

Holiday Parade: Dragon Fire by Dina von Lowenkraft

Today, in preparation for holiday gift-giving, fellow author Dina von Lowenkraft will tell you all about her book, Dragon Fire!

 

Some choices are hard to live with.

But some choices will kill you.

When seventeen-year-old Anna first meets Rakan in her hometown north of the Arctic Circle, she is attracted to the pulsing energy that surrounds him. Unaware that he is a shapeshifting dragon, Anna is drawn into a murderous cycle of revenge that pits Rakan and his clan against her best friend June.

Torn between his forbidden relationship with Anna, that could cost them both their lives, and restoring his family’s honor by killing June, Rakan must decide what is right. And what is worth living – or dying – for.




The Story Behind Dragon Fire



The funny thing about Dragon Fire is that it didn’t start out as a book on its own. It started out as a subplot in another manuscript. After writing Call, the first book in a planned four book series, and thinking it was market-ready, I began to query it. And no one was interested. All I got, if I got anything at all, were form rejections. I gathered my courage, read several craft books, and re-wrote it before querying it again. But my second batch of queries had no better results than the first.


Frustrated and a bit stumped as to how to improve my manuscript, I once again stocked up on craft books. A few months later, after reading Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel and analyzing several YA books with his ideas in mind, I began to understand where tension was lacking in Call.


Unfortunately, I still didn’t know how to fix it — especially since it would mean cutting about 40-60 thousand words. And yet I wasn’t ready to leave the world I had created and loved. So I decided to pull out a subplot fromCall’s sequel and write that. That subplot, about a young shapeshifting dragon named Rakan and the human he falls in love with named Anna, became Dragon Fire.


While writing Dragon Fire I signed up for Jordan Rosenfeld’s class, ‘Building Tension’. Taking this class was essential to my growth as a writer and it made Dragon Fire a better manuscript. I would take scenes from my work-in-progress and apply the lesson to it, improving it a first time. Then I’d get feedback and I’d re-write it again, improving it even more. All of this before rewriting one final time to produce the ‘first’ draft.


Once Dragon Fire was complete, I queried it and got several requests for fulls. In the end, I had the good fortune of being able to choose between three publishers, and I chose Twilight Times Books. And now, finally, I’m ready to go back to Call and re-write it!

~~~


Born in the US, Dina has lived on 4 continents, worked as a graphic artist for television and as a consultant in the fashion industry. Somewhere between New York and Paris she picked up an MBA and a black belt – and still thinks the two are connected. Dina is currently the Regional Advisor for SCBWI Belgium, where she lives with her husband, two children, three horses and a cat.


Dina loves to create intricate worlds filled with conflict and passion. She builds her own myths while exploring issues of belonging, racism and the search for truth… after all, how can you find true love if you don’t know who you are and what you believe in? Dina’s key to developing characters is to figure out what they would be willing to die for. And then pushing them to that limit.


Dina is now repped by the fabulous Kaylee Davis of Dee Mura Literary Agency.

Holiday Parade: Barb Caffrey

My holiday parade continues today with another fellow Twilight Times author,  Barb Caffrey.

Like fantasies? Like mysteries? Like comedy? Put ’em together and you have Barb Caffrey‘s An Elfy On The Loose. Bruno is a young Elfy, a creature from another dimension, and he’s been dumped into our dimension with little to no preparation. While here, he encounters young Sarah, a human who is not what she seems, and Sarah’s parents, who are not nice people at all…

Excerpt

Bruno watched Sarah run through the grass while still carrying the backpacks, and wondered why she had so much energy when he had none. Could Roberto have been right? Could she be draining my energy and using it for herself? Although if she is, she can’t possibly know it…maybe she needs training. Although he didn’t know how Elfy girls got their training in magic, much less how a Human girl would get any.

Bruno knew that girl and boy Elfys were sent away to separate schools at the age of twelve. Bruno himself had been held back and home-schooled by his parents, not for being slow, but rather because they hadn’t trusted the school system. Bruno had never been sent to a segregated, all-boy Elfy school until he turned sixteen. That was right after his parents had died in a fiery aircar crash, after he’d become a ward of the state.

Many Elfys used magic frivolously, almost as if it was going out of style, and they didn’t want to use technology. Yet his people had aircars, while Sarah’s realm, the Human-Earth Realm, didn’t. Elfys would use toasters, light rail, and buses, when they wouldn’t use electricity to heat their homes (why pay for electricity if the magic was free?) and only used modern plumbing for elaborate, sybaritic layouts. He wondered if the Humans had those, too. He simply hadn’t had enough time on Sarah’s Earth…he needed to know more!

If the Elfy High Council was going to just send him out, why allow him to be so woefully unprepared? This was just silly!

Bruno rubbed at his head, and frowned. He felt a headache coming on; surely, this meant he should stop thinking so hard. He vowed to ask as many questions of Roberto, providing Roberto found them anytime soon (wherever they were), as he needed in order to make the headache go away.

This avowal immediately made him feel better.

But he still had no idea where he was. He didn’t recognize anything, except green grass, yet he had the oddest feeling. He wasn’t sure, but he thought they somehow had made it back to the Elfy Realm after all, and the not-knowing made him dizzy.

Sarah had stopped and appeared to be weaving on her feet. Bruno jogged the equivalent of three city blocks to get to her, hoping she’d not fall before he made it.

“Bruno, I feel…sick,” she gasped when he was only a few steps away. He sprinted toward her and turned her around; her greenish-white face was alarming. He told her to let the packs fall, then gently helped Sarah lay down on the ground.

“Will you two help me? I need a pillow for Sarah,” he asked the backpacks. Before he could feel too silly about asking backpacks, of all things, for help, a fluffy white pillow appeared in the air by his right hand. Maybe the packs had more power here for some reason? Bruno reached out and caught it before it hit the ground. “Thanks,” he said over his shoulder to the backpacks, as it never hurt to be polite.

He went to Sarah, knelt on the grass, and put the pillow under her head.

He started stroking her long, black hair, just to soothe her. He remembered, distantly, that his mother had used to do the same thing when he was a wee small Elfy and ill from eating some herb he wasn’t supposed to…anyway, he stroked. He talked, mostly nonsense, and tried not to think about the two of them in the middle of nowhere, one very ill and one mildly so. After all, considering Sarah’s sudden illness and his own headache and dizziness, wasn’t it more likely than not that they’d both been exposed to something? He wasn’t a completely stupid Elfy.

“Sarah, hold on,” he said as he continued to stroke her hair. “Somehow, Roberto will come. I know he will!”

“Why are you so sure, Jonny-wonny?”

“Please don’t call me Jonny-wonny, Sarah, or I’ll start calling you Daisy again,” he threatened, smiling to take the edge off his very real threat.

“All right…Bruno,” she gasped, and tried to smile. It was a feeble thing, like to her real smile as a tiny birthday candle on a cupcake was to a candelabrum.

“Don’t try to talk, Sarah,” he soothed, and continued to stroke her hair. This was very like petting a cat, he mused. Except Sarah didn’t claw when she was done with the petting.

He tried not to panic, but he had no way to treat her illness, and no way to get her any help. He felt completely useless, as he had no healing magic…very few did outside of the clerical orders, and even Roberto himself had very little.

He propped the backpacks behind him and asked them to stay put. They did. Then he fell asleep, her cradled on his lap (with the pillow between) and his arms around her. Lost on a sea of too-green grass, with no way out in sight.

~~~


An Elfy On The Loose would make a great gift for anyone — adult, young adult, or older child. Check it out for YOUR holiday gift-giving!

Holiday Parade: Special Shuttle Explosion Edition

In honor of the recent shuttle explosion (thankfully unmanned), Stephanie Osborn is selling her own shuttle-disaster scifi book at a discounted rate. For a limited time, the ebook is FREE if you buy the print book. After November 7, that deal ends, but the ebook will be 99 cents.

From Stephanie …

How do you react when you discover that the next Shuttle disaster has happened…

…right on schedule?

 

Burnout is a science fiction mystery about a Space Shuttle disaster that turns out to be no accident. As the true scope of the disaster is gradually uncovered by the principal investigators, “Crash” Murphy and Dr. Mike Anders, they find themselves running for their lives, as lovers, friends and coworkers involved in the investigation perish around them. What happened to the Shuttle? Who is responsible and why? Why is the government calling it an accident? Why is someone willing to kill to keep it a secret? And how big is the conspiracy?

 

They say, “Write what you know,” and I did. I finished the first draft and gave it to my writing mentor, Travis S. Taylor…and then Columbia went down. And I found that I pretty much nailed it in my fictional disaster scenario: orbital inclination, incoming trajectory, overflown states, intended approach to the Cape, region of breakup, debris field, I nailed it all. The only difference was a slight extension of the debris field into the Gulf of Mexico off the Texas coast, and this was due to the fact that my fictional scenario was no accident.

 

And right now, Burnout is on sale in all ebook formats! More, if you buy the print book at Amazon, for a limited time you can get the ebook too, for only $0.99! 

 

Why is this happening, you may ask? Simple. The December issue of Analog magazine, on store shelves right now, carries an article I co-authored with my partners, detailing our SPEARED concept and materials research — a concept that was inspired by the Columbia disaster, killing a friend of mine aboard her, and my having just completed the Burnout rough draft when the disaster occurred. 

 

So in honor of my friend Kalpana Chawla, and SPEARED, which I hope will prevent anyone else from dying like she did, Burnout is on sale until the end of November.

 

Here. Have a “taste.”

 

~~~

 

 

 

…Overhead, the sky was a deep, rich, star-spangled Prussian blue; along the western horizon could be seen the faintest hint of deep teal. “Lessee…” he glanced at the TV, to the ground track Mission Control was displaying on the big front screen, then looked at the night sky, trying to correlate the two. “She oughta show up… somewhere over in there.” He waved a hand heavenward, in a vaguely northwestern direction.

 

Conversation in the back yard of the ranch house ceased as everyone clustered together in the darkness, searching the west-northwestern sky. The only artificial illumination came from the TV screen, and the NASA Public Affairs Office Commentator could be heard in the background as he delivered general remarks about the landing.

 

“…and this is a somewhat unusual re-entry pattern over North America, due to the successful efforts to retrieve the multi-million-dollar Next Generation Tethered Satellite, dubbed NexGen or NTS, which was co-manifested on STS-281 with the Mission to Planet Earth payload, Gaia-1. This nighttime landing will make for spectacular observations by residents of California, Nevada, southern Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Coastal residents of the Gulf States may also be able to observe…”

 

“Hey, big brother,” Jimmy remarked curiously, “isn’t the commander of this flight an old friend of yours?”

 

“Yup,” Crash replied, still scanning the star-strewn, blue-black sky. “Lawrence Jackson. Jet. He and I flew in the same squadron in ‘Nam. Been buddies ever since. There’s almost nothing we wouldn’t do for each other—except give up a slot in the astronaut corps.” Crash pulled a wry face.

 

“Yeah, that’s right,” Ham Carter remembered. “He beat you out for the slot, didn’t he?”

 

“Uh-huh, he did—only because Jackson comes before Murphy in the alphabet.”

 

“Look! There it is!” Sally exclaimed, pointing into the western sky, and all but jumping up and down. “Crash! Isn’t that it?” she urged her brother-in-law.

 

“Yeah, Sally, I—” Crash did a double take and surveyed the blazing spark as it shot through the black velvet sky, then gave a swift glance at Hamilton Carter. “Ham, have they got a re-entry DTO on this flight?”

 

“No, Crash—I see it, too,” Ham acknowledged, forehead creasing with worry. “Listen… can I use—”

 

“Cell phone right here,” Crash scooped the instrument off the corner of the picnic table and shoved it into Carter’s hands as he looked back up. “Damn, Jet, get it in gear, old buddy!” he exclaimed with increasing concern.

 

“What’s wrong, Crash? What’s happening?” Jimmy asked his suddenly worried brother, as the flaming speck, growing larger and larger, flew almost straight overhead. Smaller sparks could now be seen peeling off the main object.

 

“Dammit! Jet, flare out, man! Shit! Break it out! NOW!!” Crash began shouting into the sky. Tracy, the “fourth team” relief FAO, was frozen, staring upward in shock, and Ham stood stiffly, head tilted back, listening to the cell phone he held to his ear. They all watched dumbly as the white-hot streak shot by overhead and disappeared behind the house, trailing flaming sparks in its wake.

 

Crash ran around the house to the front, trying to keep the airborne conflagration in view, and the others followed. “Damn, Jimmy, she’s comin’ in hot,” he belatedly answered his little brother. “Jet’s not bleeding off velocity in the roll reversals like he’s supposed to…” Crash paused, horrified. “Not that it looks like it would do much good, anyway…”

 

The gathered celebrants watched in stunned disbelief as the fireball plunged toward the southeastern horizon, flickered, and burned out.

 

~~~

 

Interested? Have a go at it on Amazon, then! (Here’s Barnes-Noble and Books-A-Million too, if you’d rather.) Remember, I spent over two decades working in the civilian (NASA) and military (DoD) space programs, and put my knowledge to good use in this book. 

Holiday Parade (Halloween Edition): Stephanie Osborn

Today’s Holiday Parade features an excerpt from a paranormal horror novel by Stephanie Osborn — perfect for Halloween! But of course, it would also make a great gift idea. 🙂

Interlude: El Vengador, by Stephanie Osborn

by Stephanie Osborn
http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

Deputy Sheriff Michael Kirtchner gets an “unknown disturbance” dispatch call to a remote house trailer in the swamp. There, he discovers an old woman and a dog, terrorized by a mysterious beast, which he takes to be a bear. But when he contacts Game Warden Jeff Stuart to come trap the animal, Stuart tells him to get out if he values his life – this is no ordinary animal. Is Kirtchner up against a Swamp Ape ― a Florida version of Bigfoot – or something more…sinister?

 

Based on a true story.

~~~

 

“Ma’am?” he ventured. “Ma’am, could you please put down the shotgun?”

“What? Oh ― oh, yeah. Ah’m wavin’ it ever’where, ain’t Ah? Ah’m so sorry. Ah know better. Ah…it scared me, ya see, and Ah didn’…”

She put the shotgun aside, just inside the doorway. It was then that Kirtchner noticed she was weeping.

“Ma’am… are you okay?”

“NO! Ah’m not okay! Ah’m scared out of muh mind, officer! Why do ya think Ah called ya?” she exclaimed in a thick rural accent.

“Why are you crying?”

“’Cause Ah’m just so glad you came! Somethin’ attacked mah house, an’ Ah thought Ah was gonna die!”

“What was it?”

“Ah dunno. But it was big, an’ it was fast. An’ it stunk t’ high heaven!” Her voice, already pitched high from stress, cracked and became whiny halfway through this speech, and upon its completion, she began trembling. Kirtchner came to her, sat her on the steps, and worked on getting her calmed down.

“Shh, it’s okay. I’m here now. I’ve got my gun,” he patted his holster, “and you’re safe. What’s your name?”

“Elsie Moore,” she sniffled, glancing about in apprehension, studying the foliage past his squad car in considerable trepidation. “Uh, Missuz. Ah’m a widder-woman.”

“Do you prefer Mrs. Moore, or Miss Elsie?”

“Ah dunno as it matters. Don’t nobody ever come out here nohow.” She shrugged. “Call me Elsie, Ah reckon.”

“Fine, Elsie. So, someone attacked your mobile home?”

“NO! Weren’t no some one! It were a something!” she blurted.

“Shh. It’s okay. How long ago was this?”

She glanced at a battered old men’s wristwatch, then muttered, “’Bout an hour, hour-fifteen, afore you showed up, Ah reckon. Ah called right aft’r Ah shot at th’ thang. It musta run off inta th’ woods.”

“And what happened?”

“Ah be damned ‘f Ah know,” Elsie answered, running the last three words together. “There’ uz this turr’ble smell, wild animal smell ya know, like a skunk, onliest it ‘uz worse’n any skunk Ah ever heared tell of. Ah got plumb nauseous, an’ lost mah dinner inna trash can. Then there ‘uz a horrible ruckus right a’most up unner me ― unner th’ trailer, that is. Metal skreechin’ an’ bendin’ an’ somethin’ roarin’ an’ howlin’ fit to kill. Ah looked out th’ nearest winner, an’ there ‘uz a big ol’… thing… clawin’ at th’ back.”

“A thing? What did it look like?” Kirtchner wondered.

“Ah couldn’ tell ya,” Elsie tried to explain, “on ‘counta it ‘uz half up unner th’ trailer. Ah could only see its hind end.”

“…Which looked like?” Kirtchner prodded.

“Like a big ol’ furry butt,” Elsie retorted. “Long shaggy brown, or maybe black, fur, with some green.”

“Green?” Kirtchner straightened up, raising an eyebrow.

“Green,” Elsie reiterated, a hint of defiance in her tone now. “Like… you ever read ‘bout them jungle critters, them whadda they call ‘em… sloths?”

“Oh. Yeah, I think so.”

“Ah caught part of a show on th’ tee-vee,” she said. “Th’ sat’lite dish ain’t worth much, an’ Ah didn’ see all of it. But they showed ‘em, an’ th’ fur ‘uz kinda green, an’ ‘ey said it ‘uz ‘cause moss an’ algae an’ shit grew in it.” She nodded sagely. “It ‘uz like ‘at.”

“Oookay,” Kirtchner remarked, pulling out his tablet and swiping across its pad, taking notes. “Do you think you’re settled enough now to show me where it was?”

Mrs. Moore drew a deep breath, then popped to her feet as if launched. She reached inside the door of the trailer and retrieved her shotgun. It was a Winchester model 1897, he noted absently; a 16-gauge, to judge by the barrel length, and anything but new. It looked to need cleaning, too. He restrained a frisson of anxiety with an effort.

“Yeah,” she averred, “but we ain’t goin’ nowheres until you git yer shotgun, too. Ah knows as yew po-lice types carry ‘em, so yew jus’ go gitchers right now.”

“You don’t need that. And I have my pistol.” Kirtchner was less than thrilled with this development. If she gets antsy and shoots that thing, no telling what will happen, he thought. It doesn’t look like it’s been maintained in a couple of decades. I wonder when this husband of hers kicked it.

“’At little pop-gun? Agin the beast what attacked mah trailer?” She gestured at his holster. “Ah don’ think so.”

“It’s a forty-five,” Kirtchner pointed out. “It’ll handle the situation. Please put down your weapon.”

“Ah ain’t puttin’ it down, mister. Yew ain’t seen ‘at monster. Ah did. Now, yew git y’r shotgun, or Ah ain’t a-goin’ nowheres ‘ceptin’ inta th’ house, an’ lockin’ th’ door behind me. Yew kin take yer chances.” Elsie tilted her head up, setting her jaw, determined to stare him down.

So to placate the woman, he got his Mossberg, set up for 12 gauge, out of the cruiser. He made sure the magazine was fully loaded with magnum shells, and followed Elsie around to the back of her trailer.

* * *

The scene that greeted him when they got in the back yard looked like somebody had attacked the rear of her trailer using some kind of giant, multi-pronged steel fork. The heavy gauge aluminum siding was torn to hell and back, and it was peeled away in several places starting from the bottom of the trailer and curling up its side. There were great long gouges, some longer than 2 feet in length, which looked like nothing so much as giant claw marks torn into the aluminum siding of the trailer. Even the insulation had been pulled out in places. Some of the gouges had what was obviously fresh blood smeared along the edges.

Holiday Parade: Aaron Paul Lazar

I’m doing a new feature this year — the HOLIDAY PARADE! Basically, each week between now and the holidays (choose your own favorite variety), I’m featuring an author whose books would make excellent holiday gifts.

The first one is a particular favorite of mine, who writes mysteries with a dash of paranormal. He’s been at this for a while and has quite an inventory, so check him out! If you like his stuff, you’ll have reading material to entertain you for months. 🙂

Aaron Paul Lazar!

~~~

 

So I Broke the Rules – Go Ahead and Shoot Me!

 

©2014 Aaron Lazar

 

I didn’t intend to write a series when I created the rather kooky and slightly paranormal mystery, For the Birds. I knew it would feature a pretty little red bird on the cover (see below), because I’d just had a vivid dream about her. Out of the wild blue yonder, Ruby came to me and insisted on a book of her own. I’d never owned a bird, never even known anyone with a feathered pet, but this dream was so vibrant I couldn’t get Ruby out of my mind.

 

Marcella and Quinn “Black Eagle” Hollister came upon the scene as Ruby’s owners, and Marcella’s mother, Thelma, popped out of nowhere. Before I knew it, I had created a dynamic and diverse family and their pets. True to my dream, I set the story in the Adirondack Mountains, which set me craving for the mountains, woods, lakes, and rivers that I’d come to love. I just had to get up there again.

 

Fortunately, or unfortunately, as the case may be, I was laid off from my engineering job at Kodak right around the same time. So, with lots of free time on our hands, we headed up to the mountains and discovered the cabin where the story takes place. Tall Pines is a rustic, wonderful cabin situated on seven acres of pines above the Sacandaga River in Hope, NY. We fell in love with it, and it has become the center of the series that grew from For the Birds.

 

When Marcella Hollister’s prize parakeet gets zapped by a wayward power line in the same pool as her mother, the ensuing psychic link helps Marcella chase her mother’s kidnappers through the Adirondack Mountains, where she unearths a fifty-year-old secret about her dear father with shocking links to a hidden treasure.

 

I really didn’t plan to include paranormal or spiritual elements in For The Birds, either. I just went ahead, guns blazing, and let the story blast out of me.

 

You can’t exactly call me a planner. But I have a hard time trying to keep up with myself. I know, that sounds nuts. But it’s how I write.

 

When I finished this book, I was in love with the characters. My readers wanted more of Marcella and her gorgeous half-Seneca husband, and they seemed to enjoy our jaunts to the Adirondacks. At the same time, I’d recently become infatuated and obsessed with essential oils. There was no question that my characters would also discover them, and it came as no surprise that I used the healing power of essential oils as one of the main themes in the second Tall Pines book, Essentially Yours.

 

Strangely enough, however, this book was a bit different. Although it’s dubbed a mystery, it had more suspense and action than the first book. If I had to give it a genre on its own, I would have called it romantic suspense.

 

Hey! Where’s the consistency?

 

If push came to shove, I’d say it’s in the characters and the telling of a great story set in the same locale.

 

Marcella’s first love has been MIA for eighteen years. Callie, her best friend and Sky’s sister, flips out when a mysterious package from Sky arrives on her doorstep. Inside his old backpack are bottles of precious essential oils, a memory stick, and a bag of emeralds. Are these his final effects? Or is Sky alive?
Drug company goons want the data on the memory stick, because it links a newly discovered essential oil with a leukemia cure. They kidnap Callie, hoping to lure Sky into the open. Marcella and Quinn track her to the wilderness of the Adirondack Mountains, where against all odds they fight to save Callie and preserve the proof that could change the world.

 

The characters screamed at me to write more, especially Marcella’s newly introduced old flame, Sky Lissoneau, and his damaged, but adorable, sister, Callie. I thrived on the tension between Marcella’s husband and her first love, who showed up after eighteen years with a whole gang of villains chasing him through the Adirondack woods. Quinn—usually a quiet and passive soul—is insanely jealous of Sky. After all these years, Sky still adores Marcella, and can’t get that look of desperate heartache out of his eyes. I let all hell break loose in Marcella’s family and in the mountains where the scientific medical studies were being held to prove that a common lake week held the key to curing leukemia. Mix together some nasty drug company thugs and a bit of mysticism with crystals, oils, and the love of a big old Bernese Mountain Dog, and you have Essentially Yours.

 

When I wrote Sanctuary, book three, I was obsessed with what I called “my Indian soul.” With the help of a Cherokee historian friend, I wove substantial elements of Native American traditions into this mystery/suspense. Using mystical elements of crystals, smooth river stones, essential oils, and a haunted mountain top, I pushed the psychic barrier a bit here and allowed a bit of mind-melding.

 

This doesn’t belong in a mystery, does it? You’d really expect it more in Star Trek. But hell, like I said, I didn’t care. I just forged ahead.

 

Marcella’s husband, Quinn “Black Eagle” Hollister, severed ties to his family and friends on the Seneca reservation years ago. He rarely mentions his past—until his young cousin Kitty collapses on the couple’s doorstep in the dead of a rainswept night. After two Seneca men break into their home with intent to kill, the Hollisters flee with the mute and injured girl to Tall Pines, their cabin in the Adirondacks. Marcella, unable to bear a child of her own, unleashes her motherly instincts caring for Kitty. As the girl slowly recovers, they start to piece together who wants them dead, and why.

 

When it came time to write Betrayal, which flowed out immediately afterSanctuary, I wanted to create a winter mystery full of threats, sexual upheaval, and plenty of chase scenes. I didn’t expect to introduce a pair of serial killers who left bodies on the icy shores of the Sacandaga, but that’s what happened.

 

I also introduced some pretty dark relationship issues into Marcella’s marriage. She feels Quinn betrays her, and flees to Tall Pines to escape for a while. Trouble is, Sky is waiting there for her, and it’s all she can do not to let herself fall into his arms. The old passion is still there, and it tortures her to look into his sea green eyes.

 

Marcella Hollister realized a lifetime of hopes and dreams when she was given custody of a child. A cousin of her half-Seneca husband, Quinn, the baby’s mother was murdered in a political plot—and Marcella, who’s never been able to have children of her own, formed an instant bond with little Kimi. Then a distant relative comes forward to claim Kimi—and Quinn, who Marcella thought understood her pain better than anyone, allows them to take the baby without a fight. Confused and deeply wounded, Marcella takes off for Tall Pines, their secluded Adirondack cabin. She hopes the peace and natural beauty of the mountains will help clear her head and decide whether to forgive Quinn…or leave him. But the situation at Tall Pines is anything but peaceful. Her high school lover, Sky, arrives to help out—and Marcella discovers her old feelings may not be as distant as she thought. Worse, a serial killer is stalking young women in the area. And when a teen girl whose mother works with Sky goes missing, Marcella and everyone she cares for wind up dead center in the killer’s sights.

 

If I were to read Betrayal on its own, I might classify it as a romantic thriller.

 

Uh huh. Not a kooky, paranormal mystery like For the Birds. Not a romantic suspense, like Essentially Yours. Not a Native American spiritual mystery, likeSanctuary.

 

I know, I know! Where’s my consistency? Where’s my platform planning?

 

That said — I must tell you my Tall Pines fans and readers don’t give a darn into which official genre my books fall. You could certainly still classify them as mysteries. But they don’t care, and frankly, neither do I. It’s the characters we care about, and they are going to be here for the long haul.

 

So, yeah. I broke the rules. Please don’t shoot me.

 

 

Aaron Paul Lazar

www.lazarbooks.com

~~~

 

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. A bestselling Kindle author of 22 books, including three addictive mystery series, writing books, and a new love story, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website athttp://www.lazarbooks.com and watch for his upcoming release, UNDER THE ICE. Aaron has won over 18 book awards for his novels and finds writing to be his form of “cheap therapy.” Feel free to connect with him on Facebook or his website; he loves to connect with readers!