Thursday, November 29, 2012

Interview with novelist Jennifer L. Fry

Today's guest is novelist Jennifer L. Fry as she makes a stop along a virtual book tour for her debut novel A Part to Play.

Jennifer will award 2 of each 8x10 autographed print of an original illustration of one of her characters to randomly drawn commenters on the tour, and a grand prize of an 11x17 autographed set of all three main characters in the book. (US/Canada only). Enter via the form below, and also comment here and at other tour stops. The more times you enter, the better your chances of winning.

Jennifer L. Fry is a writer, artist, and teacher in Marin County, California, where she lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable dogs, and orange tabby cat. Though she has been writing since she was young, A Part to Play is her first novel.

Welcome, Jennifer. Please tell us about your current release.
A Part to Play is about fifteen-year-old actress Lucy Carter who is sent away to a prestigious performing arts boarding school to escape the complete breakdown of her family; she is lost without the support of her parents, until she meets a mysterious musician whose talent, passion and own insecurities teach her to rediscover her love of being on stage and more importantly that she holds the key to her own identity.

What inspired you to write this book?
In planning A Part to Play, I started with the emotional journey I wanted my main character to experience. I knew immediately I wanted to write a young adult story, and I wanted my story to have a strong message – that is, the importance of believing in oneself. Then, to develop my plot, I thought of my most favorite stories of all time from movies, plays, and books. One of these happens to be The Phantom of the Opera. I didn't want my book to be a retelling of that classic story, but rather I wanted it to draw inspiration from what I considered the most captivating parts. I loved the mystery and the powerful role that music played in the story; I also found the dark side of the Phantom intriguing.

As Lucy sat down in the graveyard against an aging oak tree, she caught her breath and thought of all the ways Kate had helped her to be stronger. She thought of how hard her sister pushed her to go to ESPA because Kate believed in her so much. Lucy knew she'd disappointed her sister when she decided not to go to the school. She told herself it was because it was too expensive for her parents and she would miss her friends and family too much to go, but deep down, she knew it was because she was afraid that she wasn't talented enough and she would embarrass herself and her parents.

Imagining her life going forward without Kate, all she could see was a vast emptiness ahead. A throbbing pain started in her head, her stomach, everywhere all at once. Lucy hugged her knees to her chest and let the tears come as hard and fast as possible. She stamped her feet and pounded her fists into the moist dirt at the base of the tree. It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair!

Her life came down to a before and after. Before accident, the bright world full of laughter, and after accident, the muted world through fogged up glass. Just when the glass started to clear up, something reminded her of all that she'd lost.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I'm working on several ideas at the moment, but nothing concrete enough to share just yet. I am playing with the idea of writing a book that follows the male lead character in A Part to Play because I feel his story isn't over yet.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
According to my parents, I've been telling stories since I was old enough to talk, and writing stories since I learned to put pencil to paper. Writing is very much a part of who I am and how I experience the world, so I would say I have always had an innate passion for writing.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don't write full-time, and I'm not sure that I ever will because life is full of so many interesting things to do and experience. My other passions are art and teaching, both of which I do professionally. Most recently, my husband and I started our own business teaching after school and summer digital media arts classes, so that keeps me really busy. Finding time to write is a challenge, especially while promoting my current book. There are just not enough hours in the day. What I try to do is set aside time to write in the morning before anything else gets in the way. I set a goal for each writing session; anything from writing a specific number of words to completing a certain scene. And I eliminate distractions by turning off my phone and closing my email – it's just me and my imagination. 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I hate sitting at my desk to write. It makes it feel like work. Instead, I prefer to find a comfortable place to sit such as the big leather chair in my library with a laptop and a cup of tea. That makes writing feel more like something I do for enjoyment rather than a chore. I also need complete silence when I write, which means no music; I find that a little quirky since music plays an incredibly important role in my current book, and in my life in general. But any outside sounds distract me from getting inside of the story, which is where I need to be in order to write at my best.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was sick pretty often as a child so I was determined to become a pediatrician. I wanted to find new ways to perform uncomfortable medical tests so kids wouldn't have to be afraid to go to the doctor's office. But my talent and passion for writing presented itself early on, and there was a time when I couldn't imagine doing anything else. All of my high school friends expected me to become a professional writer. I found I didn't have an interest in journalistic writing, so when it came time to pick a college major, I decided to pursue graphic design, which was another interest of mine. I never expected to be an art major because I had a negative experience in a junior high art class that had me convinced I had no artistic ability, but that just wasn't true. I even put my writing aside for many years while I trained as a designer, and then as an art teacher. And now, I'm back to writing, where I've always felt completely at home.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Many people don't know that I designed my own book cover for A Part to Play. As a professional graphic designer, I had a very specific idea of how I wanted the cover to look, and what I wanted it to symbolize, so I worked hard to make that happen. In the same vein, I created my own book trailer with the help of my husband, who is a professional 3D computer graphics artist. Art and design are as much a part of me as writing is – all just forms of creative self expression.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Interview with mystery author Michael Meyer

Today's guest is suspense, thriller, and mystery writer Michael Meyer. He's currently touring his novel Covert Dreams and is here to give us a little peek behind the covers.

Welcome, Michael. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a retired English professor. I literally taught at universities throughout the world: Thailand, Saudi Arabia, the Virgin Islands, and I spent the last twenty-five years of my forty-year career at a California community college. I live in Southern California wine country with my wife, Kitty, and our two other cats. I love to write, read, and travel the world. I am delighted that I now have the luxury of time to devote to all three of my lifelong passions.

Please tell us about your current release.
Imagine waking up remembering intimate details about a country in which you have never traveled and fluently speaking a language that you have never spoken. B.J. is living the ideal life. He has a great wife, a wonderful job. And yet he is experiencing life-like vivid dreams of Munich, a city he has never visited.

Stan Halsey is a professor in Saudi Arabia, who sends for his wife to join him. She arrives, and, in the blink of an eye, she vanishes, leaving no trace of ever being alive in either the United States or in Saudi Arabia.

Covert Dreams is a fast-paced international suspense thriller that moves from Munich to the burning sands of Saudi Arabia. What is real, and who is responsible for the terrifying nightmare?

What inspired you to write this book?
I have always been intrigued by the relationship the United States has had with Saudi Arabia, one of the most restrictive societies in the world. As a college professor in Saudi Arabia, I was witness to the fact that life here and life there is as different as being on two separate planets. What we take here for a given is nearly always a no-no there.

The area of parapsychology has always intrigued me, and where better to deal with something such as this than in a very hidden-from-the-rest-of-the-world location. The mixture of live and let live as practiced in Bavarian Munich, coupled with the fervent zeal of Arabia, enhanced by American involvement—and the plot just seemed to thicken, drawing me into it as I wrote, without my ever knowing precisely where or how it would end, but loving every minute of it.


The Munich all around her was bustling with activity. She could hear it from all directions. Munich was a wonderful city, a fun-loving place, the live and let live ebullience of the city emanating from its every nook and cranny. She had had a lovely stay here. All of it had been so adventurous, so new, so unlike life back home in Arizona. She could vividly recall the first time she had ventured into a Munich beer garden, where the liter mugs had been so huge that she had had to lift hers with both hands, and the giggles, from him, until he too had had to use both hands.

The fumbling noises he had been making came to an abrupt halt. He began stroking her cheek again. Gus looked so happy, so young, so full of life. It was so hard to imagine that he could be so heavily involved in all this horror.

Gus smiled at her once more. His eyes were soft, so gentle, so caring, so loving.

Maybe this was some kind of huge mistake. Maybe he wasn't going to kill her after all. Maybe everything would turn out happily ever after. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

But then suddenly she saw it clearly. It was no fairy tale. There would be no maybe. This was real, as real as the mixture of sadness and fear that now flooded her brain.

And then she died, with her eyes wide open, challenging, piercing his to the end.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am currently working on something quite different from anything that I have ever written before. It is a memoir of my journey from grieving widower to the once-again happily married man I am today. It is entitled The Three Kitties that Saved My Life, dedicated to my rescued stray cat, my inspirational three-legged cat, and my wonderful new wife, Kitty.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I became fascinated with books at a very young age. I must have read every Curious George book out there. At the age of ten, I self-published my first book, a short synopsis of California history. My parents bought the only copy, but I was a published author, and I was hooked. I have always been good at writing. In fact, all through the school system, my teachers would compliment me on my writing. I have written stories, essays, poems, novellas, and novels, but it wasn’t until I retired, in December of 2010, that I gave my writing itch a good scratch. I am not out for money. As a retired college professor, I have a nice pension. Rather, I want to write until I die. I love creating characters and plots. Writing to me is like reading. I never know precisely where things will lead. I am in good health, and my doctor told me that writing is a very healthy avocation for someone in my situation: a retiree. I love his advice.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I am retired English professor. I devote my time now to my family, to my writing, to reading, and to travel, both nationally and internationally. I love to travel. I have lived abroad many times, and there are few countries in the world that I have not had the privilege to visit. My international travels have helped me become a better person and a better writer. When I decide to write, I do so. I am not out to make a lot of profit. I want to have fun, and creating plots and characters in the exotic places I have lived is very enjoyable. The minute my mind has to struggle with what is to come next, I promptly get up from my computer and do something else. I want to ensure that writing is always pleasurable for me instead of being hard work.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I come up with my greatest ideas when I jog in the morning for my daily exercise. I will often find myself running home as fast as I can, so that I can jot down a great idea that popped into my mind before I lose it. I look forward to my daily walks. They are healthy for me, and they also provide me with new ideas for my writing,

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be just like my father, a college professor, and that is precisely what I became, for over forty years. I loved every minute of it.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
The locales I write about are real. For instance, Covert Dreams is set primarily in Munich and in Saudi Arabia. I have lived and studied in Germany, and I know Munich as well as I know the back of my own hands. Also, I was a college professor at the University of Petroleum and Minerals, in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. I have traveled extensively throughout the Middle East. In addition, my Caribbean murder mystery, Deadly Eyes, is set on the island of St. Croix, where I was a professor at the University of the Virgin Islands. The Famous Union is a humorous look at college life, and I was a professor for forty years, so I know the territory well. The Survival of Marvin Baines is a semi-humorous look at midlife, something that I personally have lived through.

Thanks, Michael. Happy touring!

Readers, here are some ways you can connect with Michael:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Interview with paranormal romance author Shelly Holt

Today is a tour stop for paranormal romance author Shelly Holt as she tours her novel Tasting Fire. She's also going to be giving away a Starbucks gift card to a lucky commentor. Details are after the interview.

Welcome, Shelly. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Shelly Holt and I live in the middle of the harsh and unforgiving Mojave desert. I write my stories looking out of a window that shows sweeping desert views. Outside is a barren and severe landscape, yet inside my head lives a world filled with exotic shape-shifters come to life, pulled from the pages of myth and legend, ready to entice and seduce any reader brave enough to take them on.

It's funny, I never wanted to be a writer! In 7th grade English, we were given an assignment. We were told to write an original poem and turn it in the next day. I was determined to turn in not a good poem, but a great poem. I spent the whole night working on it instead of watching my favorite show, The Waltons. (Hey! it was 1980.) I turned it in the next day. Apparently, I succeeded a little too well and was accused of copying it from a book. (1980 remember, no Internet yet). The teacher stated, and I quote, "this is too good for a seventh grader, where did you copy it from?" 

Well, I didn't write for 30 years after that. In my 40's, after a life-changing move to rural Nevada as a caregiver to my father, I realized I needed a way to earn a little money on the side. I did some research (on the Internet) and read all about a certain little book, about a certain little college student and a handsome billionaire with some ahem! (issues.) I decided after reading that book, I could do that, and Tasting Fire was born. I'll admit it's been strange revisiting a talent buried deep inside for so long, forgotten, but apparently not lost. It's been an important journey and one I am quite thankful for and excited to see where it takes me.

(P.S. Mr. Jordan, I really did write that poem!)

Please tell us about your current release.
Tasting Fire is a sexy, adventure filled paranormal romance unlike any other. Due to an infection caused by bacteria that lives in hot springs all over the planet, shape-shifters have always walked the earth. They exist due to a merging of human and animal DNA caused by the infection. For self protection over thousands of years they have allowed their very existence to become the substance of only myth and legend. Advances in modern genetics are now about to reveal them to the world. Kai Tenzin is the self appointed leader of the Pari people. He and his kind evolved from the most reclusive predators on earth, the Asian Snow Leopard. They live and hunt in the most fearsome and rugged terrain known to man, the Himalayas. Kai leaves his small village where the mountains touch the heavens, determined to do anything to protect his people. He is forced by circumstances to enlist the aid of the beautiful American scientist Dr. Rae Hales, the last thing he expects to find is a woman who will ensnare his heart and endanger them all.

What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to stand out from the thousands of other writers climbing on the paranormal bandwagon. As a reader, I was wary of so many writers using magic rather laxly in explaining how shape-shifters came to be. I feel that by not allowing myself to use a (magic lollipop) as I call them, I forced myself to write a much stronger plot and develop my characters much more fully, yet still put them in a situation far different than a standard contemporary romance would have allowed.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Book two in the Tasting Fire series. It will take place roughly 30 years after the first book. It will include all new characters. This time I will explore the mythology of the Naga (snake shape-shifters) from India. Still no magic lollipops, but hopefully adventure and passion.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
 (laughing) when I get my first check from Amazon. This is my debut novel after all.

Do you write full time? If so, what's your work day like?
 Yes, I do. I've spent the last six months writing Tasting Fire. My day? It depends on where I am in the process. These books require a ton of research. While I was working on the formatting with the company I hired to professionally format the book (who did a fantastic job by the way) I was also working on the research for book two. My desk right now is filled with pages of info on the Nagas and Hindu mythology. Right now I did have to stop the research to promote Tasting Fire. I have a feeling it will always be like this, juggling research, writing, and promotion on several books. That's the joy of being self-published, you get to wear all the hats. On the flip side of that, I have a lot more control over my books too!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I really started to empathize with my characters a little too much. I would feel guilty when I killed somebody off.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an air traffic controller. I was dissuaded from that during a job fair in high school when an actual air traffic controller told me no union would ever hire a woman for the job. This was the mid-80s and I was young enough to buy that load of c...ahh magic lollipops.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
You can purchase Tasting Fire right now on And you can follow me on Twitter.

Thanks, Shelly!

Readers, if you'd like a chance to win a $20 Starbucks gift card, remember to leave your e-mail address with a comment below (and at any of Shelly's other tour stops to increase your chances of winning). One randomly drawn commentor will be chosen during this tour. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Interview with novelist Gledé Browne Kabongo

Today's guest is Gledé Browne Kabongo who has written a psychological thriller called, Conspiracy of Silence.

She's currently visiting different blogs each Monday for 16 weeks. Gledé will be awarding an Italian leather journal to a randomly drawn commenter (US/Canada Only) during the tour. For a chance to win, leave an email address with a comment below, and if you'd like more chances to win, visit other tour stops and leave a comment there. The more times you comment, the better your chances of winning.

Gledé Browne Kabongo began writing at the age of fourteen when she covered soccer matches for her hometown newspaper. She has also written for the Patriot Ledger and Metrowest Daily News, two Massachusetts based metropolitan newspapers. She earned a master’s degree in communications from Clark University, and once had dreams of winning a Pulitzer Prize for journalism. These days her dreams have shifted to winning the Pulitzer for fiction, and a Best Screenplay Academy Award. For the past decade, Gledé has worked in senior marketing roles for organizations in the Information Technology, publishing and non-profit sectors. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons.

Welcome, Gledé. Please tell us about your current release.
Conspiracy of Silence is a psychological thriller set in Boston. The protagonist Nina Kasai has it all: stunning looks, Ivy League pedigree, a successful career, and an adoring husband. She’s the kind of woman who outwardly makes other women envious. But she’s been telling lies and keeping secrets about her past. When she lands the cover a prestigious business magazine however, she can no longer hide from the powerful enemy she escaped. Wealthy philanthropist Phillip Copeland wants to be the next Governor of Massachusetts and warns Nina to remain silent about the secret they share or else. She’s a woman on the edge because she’s kept her past hidden for her own reasons and to expose Phillip Copeland would cost her everything, including her husband. How does she become unstuck? Her one shot at reclaiming her life hinges on a dramatic courtroom battle where nothing is as it seems. Can Nina survive the final verdict?

What inspired you to write this book?
Everyone has secrets and sometimes, tough decisions have to be made about whether or not to reveal those secrets. I had a conversation years ago with someone close to me and I was shocked by what she told me. That sowed the seeds for Conspiracy of Silence. I decided to focus the story on a beautiful, Ivy League educated executive who is forced to confront a secret she buried many years ago, and the consequences that follow. The book ends with a dramatic courtroom showdown, which ironically, sets her free psychologically.

Marc paced back and forth on the living room floor, his face laced with anger. It didn’t take long for Nina to discover the source of his wrath. He held up a photograph of Nina and Sonny Alvarez.

“Are you having an affair?” he asked, his jaw twitching.

Nina took two steps backwards, as if the damning photograph would cause her physical harm if she got close. She knew who had sent it and she berated herself for underestimating how low he could sink. By her way of thinking, Phillip figured if her marriage fell apart, she would come running to him and he could get her to do whatever he wanted. It’s the way he manipulated people: get them in a vulnerable state and then swoop in for the kill or make some grand sweeping gesture that would get you all happy, and before you realized what was happening, it was too late.

“That’s a strange question, Marc. When have I ever given you reason to think I was being unfaithful?”

“Never. Until now.”

“Babe, you’re getting worked up over nothing,” Nina said calmly. “Sonny and I are old friends from Stanford. I met him for lunch to discuss business.”

“On a Saturday? You said you were spending the weekend with Charlene. Look at the date on the bottom.” He shoved the photo into her hands.

“It was a quick, unplanned trip. Sonny works for a research company and Jack came to me with the idea of hiring his firm. I told Jack I would take care of it because of my connection to Sonny. I wanted to get it out of the way—one less thing on my plate during the work week.”

“Why haven’t I heard about this Sonny until now? And if there’s nothing going on, why lie to me about going to Charlene’s?”

“I already explained that, Marc. I told Jack I would take care of it because I knew Sonny personally.”

“So your boss called you on a Saturday, mentioned this research firm and you just decided to hop on a plane to Baltimore, just like that?”

Nina wiped her sweaty palms on her skirt and took deep calming breaths.

“Marc, I swear I’m not having an affair with Sonny or anyone else.”

“Then can you please explain this? It came with the photographs.” He pulled out a white sheet of paper from his back pocket and handed it to her.

Your wife is a liar. You deserve the truth.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am very excited about my next book tentatively titled Swan. It’s the story of research scientist Dr. Shelby Cooper who receives a mysterious phone call with a shocking ultimatum: leave her family forever or take the rap for a murder she didn’t commit.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Although my first article was published when I was fourteen, I never really considered myself a writer. I wrote for my college newspaper and had newspaper and TV news internships. After college, I freelanced for a few months. But even when I was writing Conspiracy of Silence, I never really considered myself a writer. Now that it’s published and I have my next three books in the pipeline, I now legitimately feel that I’m a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like?  If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I wish I could write full-time. That is my ultimate goal but I have a day job as a marketing director for a non-profit and a family. I typically write on the weekend or stay up late during the week if I’m really in the writing zone.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Most writing advice says you should write every single day and though I’m struggling to gain that discipline, I don’t operate that way. I can go weeks without writing and then once I get going, it’s hard to stop. I go through a few rounds of sporadic writing and at a certain point in the manuscript, I become obsessed where it consumes me day and night. Not good for my family but that’s how I get it done.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a banker and my second choice was to be a doctor. I hate math so the banker thing wouldn’t have worked out and the doctor choice was only fleeting. By the time I was eleven years old, I got bitten by the journalism bug and I’ve been writing on and off ever since but my biggest dream has always been to write novels that people can’t put down.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I have some fun facts up on my author website but I would say the weirdest one might be that I’m still annoyed that Matt Damon wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for the Talented Mr. Ripley and I don’t understand why Jude Law was. I know. Totally random.

Buy links

Thanks, Gledé.
Readers, just a reminder that Gledé will be awarding an Italian leather journal to a randomly drawn commenter (US/Canada Only) during the tour. For a chance to win, leave an email address with a comment below, and if you'd like more chances to win, visit other tour stops and leave a comment there.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Live critique chat at Writer's Chatroom - 11/25/12

Sunday, November 25, The Writer's Chatroom will have a critique chat. Would you like a crit from the entire chatroom? Then follow the guidelines EXACTLY.

E-mail 200-300 words from your work. Paste your submission into the e-mail.
Copy this list and put it at the beginning of the email, with your answers:

Format (short story, novel, etc):
Section: (beginning, middle, or end of piece):
Name you intend to publish under:
Name you use in the chatroom:

Submissions that follow the guidelines will be used in the order they are received. I don't know how many we will get through, but the queue starts when the first correct submission is received.

Submit polished work! Most of our chatters are aiming for publication. To get there, you have to be able to handle honest critiques. I will not allow personal attacks, but problems in the writing will be openly discussed.

If you are not in attendence, your submission will be skipped. It's a waste of everyone's time to critique something if the author isn't there to hear it.

Fiction, nonfic, essay...doesn't matter. I recommend trying to get an entire scene into 300 words. Full scenes get better crits.

Why only 300 words? More than that will scroll off the screen too quickly. People need to be able to read it, to give a good crit.

Please be on time for this chat. Crosstalk, including greetings, will be kept to a bare minimum. 

Make sure you have floated and enlarged your screen in chat, so you can keep up. Here we go...let's see how many of you have learned to write well and follow submission guidelines. First submission up for crits is...  


Sunday, November 25, 2012
Eastern USA Time.....7 PM

Not sure what time that is wherever in the world you are?


The Writers Chatroom at: 

Scroll down to the Java box. It may take a moment to load. Type in the name you wish to be known by, and click Login. No password needed.

Please note: The chatroom is only open for regularly scheduled chats. 

Don't forget the topic chats on Wednesday nights, 8-10 pm EST!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Interview with sci-fi author Christian Porter

Christian Porter is in the house today to talk about the first novel of a contemporary sci-fi trilogy, Shadow Precinct.

Welcome, Chris. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: I am a Howard University alum from New Orleans. I worked in the video game industry for a few years after I graduated. The story of Shadow Precinct began as a video game design document. I was enjoying fleshing out the ideas and the characters so much that I amassed a nice amount of material. I met Rochelle Levy (President of Aziza Publishing, LLC) through a mutual friend. She convinced me to try writing as a creative outlet and the rest is history as they say.

Please tell us about your current release.
Shadow Precinct is my first novel, the first in a trilogy of books. It takes place in an alternate reality United States where firearms are heavily restricted. Because of this, a new hybrid law enforcement organization is developed that supplants the police force. Members of this group are called zealots and they are trained from childhood in all manners of hand to hand combat and covert operations tactics. The story focuses on Everett Santeaux, the best zealot to ever come out of the program, and his family history.

What inspired you to write this book?
I grew up immersed in “nerd culture,” I guess you could say. I loved reading books, comics, watching anime, playing video games, and listening to hip hop. That’s a quick synopsis of what made young me tick. After I made the decision to turn my notes into a novel, I wanted my love for all of these things to be reflected in the story. Of course, I’ve been inspired by life experiences as well. My time at Howard University was definitely instrumental in me putting pen to paper so to speak. Time with family and friends was and continues to be an inspiration for me to keep writing.

Sitting on the sun...

Sitting in a lava waterfall…

Sitting at the center of the Earth…

Sitting in a dragon’s lair…

Sitting in acid rain…

Mind over body…

Mind over body…

Mind over body…

Mind over body…

Mind over body…

Everett was in his second year at the zealot training facilities in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. At this moment, he was participating with other students in a training exercise. They sat just outside of a large cave with torch lined walls, the cold air rushing in through the mouth of the cave making the flames on the torches leap wildly. This grueling task was designed to help them endure extreme pain, a trait that every zealot must develop. Lines of students sat cross-legged in a meditative position, outside in the blistering cold wearing all black cloth training kis. The elevation made drawing each breath difficult. The sub-freezing temperatures made it impossible for many of the potential zealots after the first hour. Overseers and Xi Wang Xi were pacing the lines, removing those that were clearly not going to pass this exercise. Thirteen young boys had already been carried out to the infirmary after going into hypothermic shock, collapsing to the hard, snow covered ground. In the third hour, another boy collapsed dead. Halfway through the fourth hour, two more would die, one with tears frozen to his face. Everett continued to sit. Had he opened his eyes, he would have seen just how many students were failing. As his focus intensified, time became relative. Inside of Everett’s mind, he was meditating in the center of an exploding star. Everett continued to sit, his skin beginning to turn blue, oblivious to the pain. Three shift changes of overseers had come and gone, the only constants were the students and Xi Wang Xi.

Mind over body…

Mind over body…

Mind over body…

A young overseer walked up to Xi. Like all of the others that were keeping watch of the training exercise, he was actually adequately dressed for the elements. He spoke through a heavy wool facemask.

“Master Xi. This has been the longest that this exercise has ever gone. It is beginning to cut into other areas…”

He was interrupted by the aged voice of Xi, his English accent having faded over the years, “Let it continue. You and the other overseers can return to the main building. I will watch the remaining students.”

“Yes sir.”

“Answer me this overseer, who are these last two students?”

“Master Xi, one is Everett Santeaux. The other is Olufemi Anyogu.”

They both gazed at the two young boys in astonishment, both of them sitting perfectly still unaware that they were the only ones left.

“Master Xi, it is quite amazing that they’ve lasted this long. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

“Nor have I.”

The young man followed his orders and helped to gather the other students. Some whose extremities had become black with frost bite, requiring amputation and subsequently ending their zealot training. The two students remaining continued to sit for another half an hour. Everett’s focus was finally derailed by the feeling of a large fur blanket being thrown around him. His eyes were frozen shut, and as his mind and body began to rejoin, he started to feel the pain that he had dismissed for an ungodly amount of time.

“Everett is it? Try to breath or you will go into shock. I have overseers here to help you to the infirmary. Move very slowly, your joints have probably locked into position.”

Xi saw that Everett’s mouth was moving, but he could not hear any words. His lips were chapped and turning bluish. He leaned closer and could make out a faint question.

“How…how long?”

Xi chuckled, “five and a half hours.”

The overseers helped Everett up and placed him on a stretcher where they carried him back in doors to the infirmary. He was placed in a bed and administered an IV. As he began to fade into unconsciousness, he could hear the overseers speaking with the onsite doctors.

“No, I don’t think you understand. Both of these boys should have died hours ago. Normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees, a couple of degrees below that is considered extremely dangerous territory. These boys had temperatures hovering around 90 degrees.”

“Jesus Christ.”

“Tell me about it. They also don’t exhibit any signs of frost bite, I’ve been a doctor for over 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like this out there. And the fact that they are kids? It’s incredible.”

“Incredible is quite the understatement, doctor.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am working on the second part of the three-part story of Shadow Precinct. I joke all the time and say I’m writing my Empire Strikes Back. We’re shooting for Fall 2013 to have Part II out there.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It’s hard to say. Honestly, I considered myself a writer since I wrote my first short story way back when I was in like the third grade or something. I compare it to people who enjoy taking pictures and people who are legit photographers. I enjoyed writing, but I never thought that it would be a potential career path or ever be anything more than a hobby. I definitely didn’t consider myself an author. It wasn’t until I was literally holding the finished product in my hands that I was like, “Damn, wow. I guess I am an author now.”

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do not write full time. I have a job that can get pretty demanding at times. The writing for me was always therapeutic in a way. After a long day, it was as much a relaxing thing as it was fun to flesh out the story and the characters. For me, the writing process is not confined to any time, though. If I have an idea for some cool setting or action set piece, I pull out my phone and make sure I document it so I can revisit it later and refine it. It is a balancing act, but very manageable especially if you really have a desire to see your project through.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Ha, that’s a good question. I think I just go into a zone with my headphones on. Music is a large part of the creation process for Shadow Precinct. The references in the story and the nods to different albums and songs, they act like, in my mind, the soundtrack or what the main character has in his iPod or something like that. If possible, an infinite supply of peanut M&Ms.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a kid, I wanted to make video games. I was, and still am, a gamer for sure. I literally grew up with them. My degree is in computer science, and like I mentioned, I did get the shot to work in the industry for a little while. It’d be cool to return to it in a design capacity, come up with a cool idea to convert to that medium. Maybe even adapt Shadow Precinct to that form.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I just want to thank them for reading about Shadow Precinct. I hope it sounds cool enough that they want to explore it further, please hit the site up ( or follow me on twitter (@ShadowPrecinct).

Thanks for joining the blog, Chris. The artwork with your novel is impressive. I'm a fan of black, white, and shades of gray. Write on!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Virtual Blurb Blitz tour stop for Matthew D. Ryan

Today is a virtual book blurb blitz tour stop for dark fantasy author Matthew Ryan and his novel Drasmyr.

As part of this blitz, Matthew will be awarding a set of metal miniatures: 3 Nosferatu Vampires (US only) to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. To be entered to win, please leave your e-mail address with a comment below so you can be contacted if you win.

For more chances to win, you can visit Matthew's other tour stops and leave comments there.

We vampires do not make easy prey. Our weaknesses are few, our strengths many. Fear is something we do not know, and death but a distant memory. So tread softly, pray to your god, and gird yourself with silver when the moons arise and night’s dark prince awakens. We fear not the wizard, nor the warrior, neither rogue, nor priest; our strength is timeless, drawn from darkness and we know no master save the hot lust of our unending hunger. We long for blood, your blood and no blade, nor spell, nor clever artifice, can keep us long from our prize. Feel our teeth at your throat, your life ebb from you, and know as darkness comes to claim you that the price of your folly is your everlasting soul.
In Drisdak, the city on the Sea of Sorrows, the citizens have much to dread. Unease and foreboding has always been associated with the local wizards guild; peasants have an innate distrust of magic and those who use it. But now, something else is on the rise. A mysterious fire at the guild has left two men dead and a third missing. A small matter, you say? Well, one of those men was the guild master, and his successor wants to know what happened to him. Enter Coragan of Esperia, the renowned bounty hunter. If anyone can unravel this mess he can. But is even he prepared to challenge the horrible evil that lurks at the heart of the mystery? An ancient vampire by the name of Lucian val Drasmyr.

Regecon strode purposefully toward the center of the room, the flames dancing around him as he walked. Shortly, he stood before the two burning crates like a devout priest before the sacred statue of his god. Placing his finger on the highest of the two crates he uttered a single word. He retreated three steps, then spread his arms wide and called out in a loud, powerful voice.

With a surprising suddenness, order appeared amidst the chaos. No longer did the flames flicker and blaze in the random fashion accorded by their nature, but rather each began to dance in harmony with the others to a strange and silent tune. While Regecon began to chant, a pulsing light filled the room, like the beating of a gargantuan heart. The fire, caught in his magic, thrashed and convulsed like a living thing filled with rage, bent on consuming everything in its path. Its fiery will locked with Regecon’s forcing the mage to grunt from the strain. But he delved deep. He channeled torrents of magical energy, using his own body as a conduit to guide the fire and direct its movements. Slowly, sluggishly the flames responded. No longer wild and rampant, they became a guided force with purpose. Around and around they crawled, spiraling in toward the two crates beckoning from the center of the room. The flames embracing the crates grew brighter and stronger as their myriad brethren tumbled in to join them. And
as the flames continued to pour in, those which were first to arrive were pushed further and further inward, until at last they were smothered under the continuing onslaught. The outer most edge of the fire diminished, leaving a trail of charred and smoking debris.

Author Bio:
Matthew D. Ryan is a published author living in upstate New York on the shores of Lake Champlain. He has a background in philosophy, mathematics, and computer science. He also has a black belt in the martial arts and studies yoga. He has been deeply involved in the fantasy genre for most of his life as a reader, writer, and game designer. He believes he saw the legendary Lake Champlain Monster (a.k.a Champy) once and he has a cat named Confucius.

Related links:

The book is available on Smashwords, Amazon, BN, and elsewhere for free.

Remember! As part of this blitz, Matthew will be awarding a set of metal miniatures: 3 Nosferatu Vampires (US only) to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. To be entered to win, please leave your e-mail address with a comment below so you can be contacted if you win.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Interview with YA sci-fi author Melody Dempsey

Young adult science fiction/fantasy author Melody Dempsey is here today as  a stop during her virtual book tour for her novel The Forest Portal.

She's raffling off a signed paper copy of her novel to a lucky winner. You can enter via the raffle copy form at the bottom of the interview.

Bio: Born in Chelsea, MA, Melody has two grown daughters, and seven "furry babies." Three cats, two dogs and two pet mice. 

She's enjoyed writing ever since she was in elementary school. Melody can remember the feeling of excitement she would get whenever her English teacher wanted the class to write a story. Once, in the third grade, the teacher wanted all of the class to write a short story of any topic of their choosing. Melody wrote a comedy about a dog and a cat. Unable to remember all of the story now, she does remember reading it and the class loved it! Melody also remembers the story was about the comedic antics of one dog and a mean cat. The story ended with the dog being chased up a tree. That image is still funny and it got her the first place blue ribbon! 

Melody actually started to write seriously when she was around 14 years old. During the summer months she found that she had more time on my hands, loving to read more in her early teen years. After reflecting back on the materials read, she would find herself with pen in hand, paper in front of her, (there were no home computers back then), and she would start to create her own stories. 

Melody has always been very fond of fiction, adventure, human interest stories, mystery, and thriller novels and also enjoys comedies, and of course, stories about animals. 

Welcome, Melody. Please tell us about your current release, The Forest Portal.
This book tells of three teens as they embark on a time traveling journey into the past. They are swept up in an unknown world where they save the life of a rapist, obviously not knowing it at the time. Chaos ensues as they also save a young woman from being raped by the same man they saved from certain death, but they inadvertently end up ruining the life of the young woman as well as wiping her entire family off the face of the earth! The three teens end up wreaking havoc, not only in their lives and not only in the life of the young woman they save, but in the lives of others they touch in the past as they probe deeper and deeper into the past. 

What inspired you to write this book?
I love Science Fiction, Fantasy and Mystery books. I wrote this book at first, for my own enjoyment, but as the story progressed, I was inspired to actually challenge myself to see just exactly what I could create. During the process of completing my manuscript, I entertained the possibility of publication, but naturally, I was hesitant about actually submitting it after I finished it. Well, I decided to go ahead and send in my manuscript. I sent it in to 3 different publishers. To my total surprise, they all accepted my work! I could not have been happier! I decided to go with Publish America because I thought that was the best choice at the time. I felt I made the right decision.


Karen moved uncomfortably in her chair. “That no good scum bag came after my daughter about three months after you kids rescued her. He didn’t come around here again. No, this time that scuz bag saw her in town and dragged her behind a building and.…he.…raped her! Oh God!” she cried as she buried her face in her hands.
Collette felt as if she couldn’t breathe hearing what had happened to her friend, but she quickly went over to where Karen was sitting, placing a comforting arm around her and started to cry.
Taden spoke up. “That sorry Bastard!.” he growled between clinched teeth.
Cam turned very pale. “Oh my God! I never thought.…I mean the beating that we gave him.….”
Karen looked up, wiping her eyes. Cam came over to her and hugged her tightly.
“I’m so sorry Mrs. Delco.”
She shook her head. “No one could predict what that evil no good was up to.”
Collette wiped the hot stinging tears from her eyes. “Where is Sabrina at now Mrs. Delco?”
Karen glanced at her trying very hard to hold back the burning tears in her eyes. “She’s here, in her bedroom,” she replied, almost in a whisper.
Collette noticed the tears starting to stream down Karen’s face. She put her arm around the middle aged woman’s shoulder. Karen was silent for a few moments. She wiped her eyes.
“Kids, I have to tell you something. Since this horrible thing happened, Sabrina has changed. You see, when she was raped she became pregnant. We didn’t know until she was a couple of months along. She was still reeling from the rape, then finding out that she was carrying that freaks baby made things worse. Sabrina became very depressed. She wouldn’t eat hardly anything; she stopped going places with her friends. She lost the baby a month later, which was a blessing, but she was so devastated by everything that happened, she just shut down altogether.”
Karen sighed. Her eyes, red from crying, “Since then, she just sits and rocks back and forth. She doesn’t talk and she doesn’t seem to recognize anyone.”
Taden and Collette looked at each other; horror etched on their faces.
“Oh my God! That poor sweet girl!.” Collette cried as she sat beside Karen.
Cam clinched his fist. .“That sorry son-of-a-bitch!”
He walked over to the window. .“I’m sorry Mrs. Delco, I.…..”
Karen rose from her chair and walked over to him. It’s ok son,” she replied as she put a comforting hand on his shoulder.
“We tried to contact you all after Sabrina was attacked, but no body seemed to know where you were or where you lived. Where do you live anyway?.” she asked. Cam closed his eyes, rubbing his forehead. “We live across the big field near the Maine residence.
Taden spoke up. “Yeah, we haven’t been there too long.”
Collette shot him a cautious look, then looked at Karen.
“Well, actually we’ve been there over a year now.”
She felt terrible for having to lie to this sweet lady.
Cam sighed. .“Mrs. Delco, I feel terrible about not being accessible to you and your family.”
The middle aged woman gave him a weak smile. .“It’s ok son. These things happen.
Collette made a fist. .“Somebody ought to kill that sorry bastard!” She growled.
Karen cleared her throat. “Oh, I have to tell you, everybody wanted to string him up by the neck! That coward left town as far as we know. No one has seen him since he attacked Sabrina.”
She fell silent for a moment. Everybody felt the sad awkwardness that filled the room. Taden nervously cleared his throat.
“Mrs. Delco, I’m wondering if Sabrina sees us, do you think she would recognize us?”
Karen looked at him. “Son, I’m not sure.”
She managed a weak smile. “I suppose anything is worth a try.”
She led the threesome down the hall. They reached Sabrina’s room.
Karen slowly opened the door. Sabrina was sitting in a large overstuffed chair upholstered with a patchwork quilt. She just sat there rocking back and forth. The kids were shocked at what they saw.
Collette drew a breath, putting her hand over her mouth. “Oh my God,.” she gasp, in a hushed voice as tears started to stream down her face.
Cam felt as if his legs were going to turn into water. Taden felt a huge lump starting to form in his throat. Cam closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead in disbelief. Collette tried to fight the urge to keep from crying.
She lost the battle. Taden put his arm across her shoulder doing his best to comfort her. Karen took her hand and gently squeezed it.
Taden decided to walk over to Sabrina. He knelt down beside her doing his best to smile, but it didn’t come easy for him.
“Hello Sabrina,” he said, still feeling that lump in his throat.
He feared he himself may start to lose his composure. Tears started to well in his eyes.
Collette swallowed the lump she had in her throat, dried her eyes and walked over to Sabrina. She stood to the side of her and gently gave her a hug. Sabrina did not respond. Collette felt the tears coming so she and Taden walked back over to Karen, who was wiping tears from her eyes.
Cam stepped in to the room, hesitated a moment, then walked over to Sabrina, kneeling down in front of her.
He took her hand in his. “Sabrina honey, do you remember me?”
Sabrina looked at him with sad, empty eyes. She looked back down at her hands and continued to rock back and forth. Tears sprang in Cam’s eyes. He looked away to avoid letting her see his tears as they started to fall on his cheeks. He wiped them away as he turned to face Sabrina. He gazed at her sad, sweet face.
“I’m sorry Sabrina.” He whispered in her ear. “I’m going to fix this. You will have your life back, I promise you that.”
Cam got up and walked back over to the doorway. Collette was sobbing.
“I know sweetie, I know,” he said softly, trying to comfort her.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am currently working on the sequel to The Forest Portal.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Well, actually it wasn’t until I wrote The Forest Portal that I saw myself as a writer. My very first desire to write came about when I was 14 years old.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Unfortunately right now, no I do not write full time. I would like to eventually be a full time Author. 

I am currently working in the Health Care Field. In my spare time, I am working on promoting my book and working on ideas for my upcoming sequel to The Forest Portal

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I would say that my writing quirk would be that I absolutely have to have my manuscript typed with my sentences double spaced. Typing in single space drives me nuts and really messes with my eyes! lol! 

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an English Teacher.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I have always enjoyed writing and expressing what is on my mind, whether it be about something going on in my life, or if I had a story in me that I wanted to get down on paper. 

Ways to connect with  me: 
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Goodreads

Thanks, Melody!