Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Special excerpt from dark fiction novel Lost in Wonderland by Nicky Peacock

Today I have a special excerpt for the first book in the new dark fiction YA series, The Twisted and the Brave. It's called Lost in Wonderland, by Nicky Peacock.

During her virtual book tour, Nicky will be awarding a $10 Amazon gift card, an e-copy of Lost in Wonderland, an e-copy of the Battle of the Dead series, books 1, 2, & 3 to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Nicky is a published author of both YA and adult urban fantasy, paranormal romance and horror fiction. She lives in the heart of the UK, where she has run a writers' group for over 4 years to help new writers find their feet on the path to publication. A member of both the Society of Authors and the British Fantasy Society, Nicky has had over 30 stories published in various anthologies. She loves to talk to readers, so please feel free to either get in touch with her through her blog, or on any of the social media below.

A little bit about the book:
Monsters, serial killers, and imaginary friends— being a Wonderlander can be murder...

Once upon a time, Kayla was lost. Then she found Wonderland, but not the one you know. Run by ex-government agents and funded by an eccentric Silicon Valley billionaire, this Wonderland is the name of a collective of highly trained vigilantes who hunt serial killers. Now Kayla, aka Mouse, works tirelessly alongside her fellow Wonderlanders, Rabbit and Cheshire, baiting dangerous murderers. But even her extensive training hasn’t prepared her for the return of her older brother…

Shilo has spent most of his life in an insane asylum, convinced his mother was abducted by a sinister Alaskan monster who lures the lost away to feast upon their flesh. And now he’s certain that his sister is in the same monster’s crosshairs. But if Shilo is going to save what’s left of his family, he’ll have to convince his sister that maybe, just maybe, we’re all a little mad.

14+ due to violence and adult situations

Excerpt from Lost in Wonderland:
Before I can scream, he stuffs me in his trunk. It is dark, smelly, and contains an empty plain black plastic bag and a dirty shovel; these are not good signs. I put my hands to the top of the trunk and push. It is locked. I wasn’t getting out till he wanted me to. I resign myself to curl into a ball, the acidic-smelling sweat of his palms still imprinted on my bare, narrow shoulders. I should be listening out for the car engine, hearing when it slows for corners or revs on open roads. I should be testing the resilience of all the sides of the black space around me. I should be doing all the things they tell you to do, but I don’t. I simply stay in my little ball, quiet and patient.

The car bounces up and down and I realize we’re not on the main road anymore. He’s taking me somewhere remote…

We come to a soft stop. The slam of a car door shivers through the metal of the vehicle. I know what is going to happen. It’s so inevitable that it’s almost laughable. Death comes to everyone at some point; what is that saying, “No one can avoid death and taxes.” Funny the things you remember when you’re in danger. I suppose your brain tries to distract you with all sorts of useless crap, anything to keep you from shutting down and freaking the hell out. I grab at my forearm, an almost robotic reaction, feeling down it to check that my tracking chip is still there. The hard edges beneath my skin make me smile. My small, metallic friend never lets me down, never abandons me.

The lid to my dark place is pulled up and I see him. His face is blank. There’s no hint of emotion or even intent other than what can be derived through his actions. His hands are sturdy as he pulls me from the trunk and stands me up before him. Being barely five feet tall, I only stand to his chest. I look down to the ground between us and see the cheapest sneakers in the world, ones probably made by enslaved third-world children. Man this guy is pure evil.

“Don’t worry, girl.” He puts a hand on my cheek and graces me with a twitchy smile that doesn’t reach his eyes. The hand lingers longer than usual polite social circles would allow. My eyes widen. I know that I am one of many girls he has brought here—one of the many that he planned to rape and strangle, then leave used and vacant by the side of the road, a hollow tangle of floppy limbs. How do I know this? Because I know him. I was looking for him. I’m not who, and what, he thinks I am. I’m not a fourteen-year-old girl, scared by the death sentence before her. No, I am something else entirely.

I smack his palm from my cheek and use the momentum to reach over with my other hand to grab his wrist. I position myself in front of him and use his own body weight to pull him down and over my now bent back. He hits the ground so hard he cries out. I keep hold of his arm and twist it around and under. He moves his body, angling it in the same direction in an attempt to ease the tension I’m creating.

“Stop!” he yells, those crappy sneakers frantically pumping to find enough purchase to get him to his feet.

I push harder till I hear the bone snap. He screams, but thanks to the remote location he has taken us to, no one hears him. I let go of his wrist and turn to retrieve the shovel from the trunk. I take a minute to loom over him. He is trying to get up, but the weight and pain of his broken arm is putting him off-balance. Funny how fragile the human body actually is, even one that belongs to a sick serial killer.

I raise the shovel and smack it over his knees. He howls and tries to shield himself with his good arm. An arm that is not intact for long, as I turn the shovel and this time use the edge to dig into his flesh. Blood pools on the ground and he begins to crawl. I’m not sure where he’s trying to go. I think his goal is just to get away from me. I walk the few steps to where he’s managed to drag himself to then bring my weapon down hard onto his skull. The splintering sound of bone meeting metal is my cue to get on with the operation. I pull my cell phone from my pink sparkle-covered jeans and dial the only number on it. An automated message greets me. “Off with their heads.” I take a breath and look over at the mangled mess of the serial killer they knew as the Doll Maker. “Here, here,” I say. The call rings off and I know that I have to make my exit now. They will come and clean up the mess. No one will ever know that the Doll Maker was an accountant with really bad shoes, and I mean really bad. It’s not till they’d stopped moving that I see peeling luminous go-faster stripes adorning their sides. Yeesh. The blood splatter does little to hide their ugliness.

I stoop and check for a pulse, finding none. His skin is already clammy and I could swear slightly rubbery, but in truth it is probably just my imagination.

I throw down the shovel and begin the trek back to civilization. The night air is bitter and cruel, so I pull up my lilac hood against it. An unmarked black car zooms past me. They were quick tonight. I rub my hand up my forearm and feel the comfort of my chip. My chip is a constant friend, albeit a chatty one; they will always be able to find me, know where I am, where I’ve been. Not that I’m complaining. I was lost once, when I was very little. And although that fear bubbles in my mind every day, I beat it back with my chip. I’ll never be lost again; or at least that is what my adoptive parents tell me. Wonderland doesn’t lose its operatives.


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Monday, May 30, 2016

Interview with mystery author Gerald W. Darnell

Mystery author Gerald W. Darnell is chatting with me today about his new mystery/detective novel Murder and More.

A Florida native, Gerald grew up in the small town of Humboldt, Tennessee. He attended high school and was a graduate of HHS class of 64. Following graduation from the University of Tennessee, he spent time in Hopkinsville, KY, Memphis, TN and Newport, AR before moving back to Florida - where he now lives. During the early 70’s the author actually worked from an office in the Memphis Peabody Hotel. So many of the events about the hotel in Carson Reno’s stories are real as well as many of the characters you meet.

His fiction books are what he calls ‘Fiction for Fun’. They use real geography and include pictures and characters some readers might recognize. The Carson Reno Mystery Series features adventure mysteries set in the early 1960’s time period. The primary geography is Memphis and West Tennessee, but Carson’s stories take the reader across the United States and occasionally to foreign countries. Each story is considered light reading and is rated PG for everyone’s enjoyment. You are invited to pick your character and put yourself in the ‘play’. You might find it fun!

The reader will experience character continuation through all the stories and enjoy the growth of the core characters with each new adventure.

Current published Carson Reno mysteries include Murder in Humboldt, The Price of Beauty in Strawberry Land, Killer Among Us, Horse Tales, The Crossing, Sunset 4, The Everglades, The Illegals, Dead Men Don’t Remember, Fingerprint Murders, Reelfoot, Justifiable Homicide, Dead End, and Murder and More.

Gerald’s non-fiction book Don’t Wake Me Until It’s Time to Go includes stories and events spanning time from pre-high school to his now retirement in Florida. As an avid hunter and fisherman, many of the events involve activities and stories from his personal outdoor adventures. As a business executive, and extensive traveler, he gives us some playful observations accumulated from the millions of miles he traveled across the US.

As someone who loves animals and adventure, he offers thoughts and observations that are probably outside most reader’s imagination. Not a ‘tell all’ narratives, real names and real people are included. If you know the author, you might find yourself - or one of your adventures - included. If not, I’m certain you will find a real familiarity with the stories and the times chronicled in the book. A must read if you enjoy hunting, enjoy humor and can laugh at yourself - while others are also laughing at you.

Welcome, Gerald. Please tell us about your current release.
Murder and More is the 14th book in my Carson Reno Mystery Series. Although a series, each novel is stand-alone and it is not necessary for readers to have read other books. Each novel is self-contained and characters appropriately introduced in each story.

What inspired you to write this book?
My previous novel, Dead End involved the death of a main character. My fans were…well, they were upset by her death. This book introduces another character to replace the one who died.

Excerpt from Murder and More:
  The gray limousine parked in the alley at the side entrance of the Belvedere; Henry asked the driver if he could please wait for a moment while they got settled into Olivia’s downstairs bungalow.
“Pay the driver,” Olivia argued, snuggling up to Henry. “He’s been such a nice man, don’t make him wait unnecessarily. I’ll take the champagne inside and find some glasses. You bring the flowers.”
        “Are you sure?” Henry suggested with a huge smile.
      “Yes, I’ll get a vase for the roses, just don’t take too long!” she said, giving him a kiss and getting out of the limo.
      Olivia disappeared into the shadows and Henry removed his wallet before opening the passenger door to speak with the driver. Henry never spoke a word.
      Tap…tap, tap. Three silenced bullets came from somewhere near the rear of the limo. The first smashed into the back of Henry’s head, spilling his blood and brains all over the driver and front seat. The second two slammed into the chest of the shocked and surprised driver – neither he nor Henry ever realizing what was happening.
       Milo Fish, a local bookie and a second floor resident of the Belvedere Apartments was out of cigarettes. It was late, but his phone was still busy and would remain that way until daylight when bets were cutoff for the weekend ballgames. The phone and his clients would have to wait for a few minutes while he ran across the street to the local convenience store.
       Rushing out his door, and almost reaching the bottom of the steps, he caught a glimpse of something moving in the shadows and paused for a moment. A limo was parked in the driveway with the passenger door open and appeared to be delivering a late night customer. He didn’t see anyone else.
      A silenced bullet entered his right ear, traveled through his brain and stopped just behind the left eye – death was instant. The impact of the shot threw Milo’s body sideways, before tumbling down the remaining steps to the sidewalk.
Then there was quiet.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Another Carson Reno Mystery Series novel called Deadly Decision.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In college I wrote for the Fraternity and several other organizations – nothing serious. Later in life I wrote for a few outdoor magazines, highlighting some hunting or fishing adventure. Then I got a real job and worked for 30+ years before writing again.

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?
Writing is a hobby, I am retired.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I am a conversation writer. Most of my stories are told through the voices of my characters.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
James Bond

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
‘Don’t write to get rich, but to enrich others’.


Thanks for being here today, Gerald!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Interview with A.J. Flowers about "A Guide to Writing Your First Novel"

I’m wrapping up the week with an interview with A.J. Flowers about her book, A Guide to Writing Your First Novel.

A.J. Flowers is a book blogger and fantasy author. Originally from an island about a mile and a half wide named Sugarloaf key, A.J. discovered new lands and culture through books. Life has drastically changed since her childhood, and she currently resides in Detroit, Michigan as an Automotive Body Designer, which has given her the opportunity to travel the world and experience regions and cultures that she incorporates into her work. During her free time, she saves the world from annihilation on her favorite video games side-by-side with her Dutch husband and princess Blue Russian kitty named Mina.

Please tell us about your current release.
This book release is the culmination of five years of work. I’ve been on a journey to discover how to write a book people will want to read. Eventually I started a blog to share what I’d learned. Once I realized I had enough material to make a book, I got to work and took the best tidbits I’d uncovered into one easy guide. Because of my blog’s feedback, it was easy to judge what information was the most useful to aspiring writers.

What inspired you to write this book?
I had no intention of creating a writing guide, especially before I even published my own novels, which are still in my obsessive-editing mode. But through my love of literature and desire to learn, it was natural to end up with a mountain of data just waiting to be shared. Putting it into an organized book format was fun and I got to pick out the best of what I’ve learned over the years.

Excerpts from A Guide to Writing Your First Novel:
Put your manuscript down, I'd recommend at least two months. Six would be ideal. You really need to get away from it long enough to change your mindset. Unless you have a photographic memory, this technique will work. You'll transform into the one thing you crave feedback from: a reader.

When you were born, did your parents shove a book of world history in your face? No, absolutely not. They gave you what you could handle, and that's exactly how you need to treat the reader.

While every chapter should have goals to further the plot and delve our readers deeper into our world, there must be one goal above all else: Emotional Impact.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve written five novels and more flash fiction and short stories than I can count. I’ll be published in a literary magazine called Bards and Sages Quarterly for flash fiction come July 2016 and I’m stoked for the professional credit! (Writers need constant validation to convince ourselves we’re not frauds.)

While I wait for publishers to respond about their interest in my ‘angels aren’t as pure as you thought’ novel titled “Fallen to Grace,” I’m currently rewriting a ‘soul-parasite fantasy’ titled “Sanctuary.” I’m hoping to be query-ready in about six months!

Unfortunately, I have no future writing guides planned, but who knows. If I find I have a second mountain of delightful data just sitting around waiting to be shared in another five years, I’ll be sure to share it with the world.

When did you first consider yourself a writer? I considered myself a writer when I was six and wrote a poem about the loss of my beloved pet. It was the first time I used words to express what I was feeling, and I realized how great that felt.

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 write during any downtime I get. My day job is an automotive design engineer. Quite the stark difference, I know. But most writers have day jobs. That’s just how it goes! Writing isn’t as profitable as you’d wish it to be, and honestly I love my day job. It’d be hard to give up too.
That said, I write 7,000 words a week. That means at least 1,000 words a day. It sounds tough unless you know where to squirrel away time. It takes about an hour to write 1,000 words if you aren’t dilly-dallying. We all can find an hour in our day if we try hard enough.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I will honestly fit writing in wherever I can. So my writing quirk is that I have no qualms about driving to a parking lot during my lunch break and writing for 45 minutes. If I tried to write at my desk people would stop by, apologize profusely, and then ask me to do something work related. Gotta do what you gotta do!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A veterinarian, until I found out unicorns weren’t real. :(

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
If you’re an aspiring writer, I encourage you to pursue your dreams. Writing is a lifestyle, a marathon; it’s not a sprint. It’s something that’s a part of you and you do it because you can’t imagine life without it. I feel that writers forget that and rush into their work. Even though I’ve written so many books, I am not publishing until I feel ready to publish. That’s why the first book I technically published was a writing guide of all things, but that’s because I knew exactly what needed to be said and how to say it. When you feel that way about your work, you know you’re ready.