Category: Guest Post


Guest Post: D. S. Smith

Alright, I’ve mentioned this blog tour before, but today’s the day my post goes live. This one’s about the inspiration behind Unparalleled. Enjoy!

Unparalleled coverThe inspiration for writing Unparalleled came to me during a visit to the zoo. I had been toying with the idea of writing a science fiction novel after reading other works in this genre. I was especially impressed by Michael Crichton’s novel, Timeline. In this story, a group of scientists are sent back in time to medieval France.

 

I loved the way Crichton crafted this story, using a combination science and technology with history and malevolence to create a gripping tale of conflict and wonder. As I strolled around the zoo, head buzzing with ideas for a tale of my own, I came across the tiger enclosure. A group of people gathered at the fence watching a keeper throw meat to one of the animals. The tiger did not seem interested in the scraps being thrown, but it did seem very interested in the source of food.

 

I marveled at the fact that the keeper and the tiger were only separated by a chain fence and a moat circling the enclosure. I imagined the carnage that would take place if the fence were to suddenly disappear, or what would happen if someone was dragged from the past, like a character from Timeline, materializing at the other side of the fence, face to face with one of these magnificent yet lethal beasts. The idea for a story started to take form and that night I wrote the prologue for Unparalleled.

 

Unfortunately, life got in the way of writing and the first few hand written pages of what was to become my first published novel were shoved into a shoebox and stored in the loft.

 

Ten years past before the creative juices started to flow again and the story progressed beyond the prologue. I had just finished reading ‘The Time Travelers Wife’ by Audrey Niffenegger. I enjoyed the way she used science fiction to create a love story with a modern day twist of Shakespearian conflict. I decided to use a similar method, not so much to create a love story but to try to place every day characters with real emotions into extraordinary situations. Situations that make them question everything they have ever understood about their existence and the world they live in.

 

Unparalleled is as much about the human condition as it is about the science fiction. It turned out to be a very different story to the one I thought of all those years ago. The whole novel stems from the original prologue which gained its own momentum as one idea lead to another. I hope the pace of the novel keeps the reader interested while the underlying plot, based on real science, leaves them wondering, what if…….

DSSmith Author pic

You can find Unparalleled here or here.

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Hey all, sorry for going radio silent again. Odd week. It’s Friday the 13th and I figured what better time to treat you all to an excerpt from a book that, as I hear it, does some really cool stuff with werewolves. The author, Dan O’Brien is re-releasing his entire bibliography, so if you’re interested this could be an awesome time to check him out. Either way, enjoy!

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Synopsis: A predator stalks a cold northern Minnesotan town. There is talk of wolves walking on two legs and attacking people in the deep woods. Lauren Westlake, resourceful and determined FBI agent, has found a connection between the strange murders in the north and a case file almost a hundred years old. Traveling to the cold north, she begins an investigation that spirals deep into the darkness of mythology and nightmares. Filled with creatures of the night and an ancient romance, the revelation of who hunts beneath the moon is more grisly than anyone could imagine.

An excerpt from Bitten:

THE CREATURE crashed into the sides of its space. Tearing broken, rusted objects from the shelves, it threw them to the ground in angry fits of rage. Tears streamed down its face and the guttural whimper that echoed in the oversized shed was the only shred of humanity that remained.

With each mashed piece of its life, it plunged deeper into madness; closer to the monster it was slowly becoming. The light of the day had all but faded. Reaching out and grasping a light bulb that hung dimly at the center of the shed, it crushed it, allowing the shards to rip apart its hands.

Blood dripped on the work table and the partial husk of Wayne Joyce’s mutilated face. It had stretched out the flesh, drying it and coating it with deer oil. Its cries were crocodile tears; there was no emotion left except rage, hatred. Remorse and guilt long since disappearing into the abyss that was its mind.

The winds howled.

It responded.

Black thread, spooled with a sharp needle, sat beside the human mask. It reached down with one of its mangled hands, lifting the needle and then the flesh. Pressing against its skin, it drove the needle into its own face, drawing blood and an angry snarl. Each time through, there was a growl and a pool of blood. The task was complete: the flesh attached to the monster.

Little folds lifted from its face. The wind whipped against them, drawing its attention. Reaching out to a staple gun, it pressed it against its face. The creature drove thick steel staples into its face, flattening out the macabre mask.

The table was a massacre.

Leftover pieces of the trophies it took were lifeless artifacts of its ascension to death-bringer. Reaching out for the long claw of torture it wore as a glove, the creature groaned. Language was lost. More and more, it felt like an animal, a creature meant to destroy everything.

The rage built like steam. It coursed through its veins, polluting every aspect of humanity that remained. The moon would rise soon––full and omniscient. That would be the moment of its ascension.

It would be its masterpiece.

 

If you love supernatural fiction, a good mystery, and a fun story, then you’ll want to give Bitten a look. Releasing in July as well is the follow-up novella, Drained. The third novella in the series, Frighten, will be released in early 2019.

What readers are saying about Bitten

“Bitten is an extremely well-balanced and engaging novel. It contains mystery, suspense, horror, romance, and best of all – a creative, genre-bending twist on werewolf mythology. The story is quick-paced and dark without being too heavy or overdramatic. The protagonist is a strong and courageous FBI agent who is able to assert herself without casting aside her femininity. She reminds me of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone and Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum…. If a sequel follows, I will definitely read it.”

“Author Dan O’Brien left his mark with Bitten. I’ve now read three books by O’Brien, but BITTEN is by far my favorite. It not only showcases his literary skills, but leaves the reader wanting more. What else could an avid reader ask for?”

Get it today on Kindle!

Dan OBrein author picture

Dan O’Brien has over 50 publications to his name––including the bestselling Bitten, which was featured on Conversations Book Club’s Top 100 novels of 2012. Before starting Amalgam Consulting, he was the senior editor and marketing director for an international magazine. You can learn more about his literary and publishing consulting business by visiting his website at: www.amalgamconsulting.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AuthorDanOBrien.

Mad Cat Franz and the Bomb cover

For me there has always been something a little weird about books. That someone you’ve never met, who may even be long dead, had an idea for a character, a place, a scene, a story form in their mind and translated it into lines of squiggles on pieces of paper. Years later you come along and pick up those pieces of paper and decipher the squiggles and in your mind the images re-form. You may say, well duh-huh stupid, that’s writing and reading! This I know, but there still seems a little magic involved.

Personally, an idea for a novel can quite literally trigger from anything at all. Something seen, heard, read, an event, a feeling experienced, a comment, a joke, an injustice particularly, a silly fact, a conversation overheard. There’s no end to the list really. Also this trigger can provide the missing links to let you chain together any number of ideas you’ve been carrying around for some time into a workable synopsis.

The idea-spark for my latest novel Mad Cat, Franz and the Bomb came from a quip, too vulgar to repeat here, made by a good friend of mine when he deranged a line from the musical Oklahoma. For some bizarre reason it combined with an image I’d had in my head for years that goes like this.

It’s a beautiful summer day and you’re sat at the beach gazing at a calm sea when you notice something moving in the water close in front of you. As you watch, the surface of the water is broken by the top of a blond head, a forehead appears, eyes, a face, shoulders until the figure of a German World War Two pilot in uniform steadily walks up out of the water bone dry. The beach is crowded but no one else sees him. Only you.

In the novel the ‘you’ concerned is a teenage girl, Catherine McEvoy, also known to one and all in the small seaside town as Mad Cat because as a young child she insisted she had three invisible friends who tormented her horribly. Franz is the German pilot and the Bomb in question, which maybe real or not, is used as a metaphor for what is happening to Cat.

The other main characters are two retired gay actors, Teddy and Perry, who are as good as family to Cat. Perry is calm and loving while Teddy is profane and raucous and also, in the story, dying. That these characters are polar opposites allows for the injection of humour at regular intervals to prevent the story becoming too sad or introverted. This wasn’t a conscious, contrived device on my part as the two characters occurred naturally alongside the initial idea, but I did find I enjoyed them as I wrote their scenes and so their interjections became more frequent as the story unfolded.

The world building for the novel was relatively easy given the geographical setting of the story. We’re all familiar with such small, seaside towns and the one I describe is an amalgam of a few I am familiar with. The houses and rooms are imagined to reflect the characters who live in them and are assembled with as much of an eye for detail as possible to try to bring them alive. It wasn’t as if I had to envisage a dystopian future world and I admire writers who are capable of that type of imagination.

I read somewhere Stephen King will sometimes begin writing a novel or short story with no idea how it will end and just let it continue not knowing where it will take him. Just writes. Amazing. Being a mere mortal and old school in comparison, as soon as I get the initial story idea I pretty much know most of the beginning and always the ending and much of the arc leading from one to the other, though as the story develops it can go off at tangents I hadn’t originally thought of at all.

This being in many ways three stories woven and linked together around the central character Cat, made keeping the events and scenes in the arc fluent a little complicated, rather like juggling at times. Also there was quite a bit of historical research involved which can be laborious but it does sometimes uncover unthought-of pearls that enrich the story. I shouldn’t say this but it also looks like you know what you’re talking about!

And as for characters, well, they can cause a real problem. I’m lucky in that they mostly come fully formed right down to the sound of their voice and their clothes  and once they are realised they are fixed as firmly as something ghastly you’ve seen and can’t un-see. Some very occasionally require a little polishing to make them, hopefully, memorable for the reader.

The problem being invariably when writing, other characters will appear which are great but ultimately not right for the particular story and so you have to, as Faulkner says, “…kill all your darlings.” That can be a tough call sometimes to know if it is the right decision or not and the upshot is you end up with a disgruntled mob in the back of your mind grumpily waiting to be employed in their own yarn. Likewise a scene you’ve written can be really on the money but it jars in the context of the overall story. You read and re-read looking for any excuse to include it but eventually and however reluctantly, you admit it just has to go.

Mad Cat, Franz and the Bomb is in essence a ghost story and the three invisible friends who torment Cat as a child I saw as perhaps, the horrid spirits of Victorian children who once inhabited the house where she lives. The concept of invisible friends is interesting to me too in that, in young children they are tolerated but in adults it’s labelled as delusionary or schizophrenia, which is something I explore in the story too. So are they real or is Cat indeed going mad as everyone believes?

Author Picture

Bio of Tony McAndrew:

Having what little education thrashed into him by nuns at the convent caned out of him by grammar school, Tony kept a promise to himself to begin writing when he finished doing tedious stuff like working full time. After a wander through psychiatric nursing, the Met Police and almost thirty years as a frontline paramedic the time seemed about right. He still works now and again in Primary Care somewhere in Wales and lives happily on the Gower indulging in writing, reading, talking with friends, drinking beer and floating in the sea with his wife.

Guest Post: Brendon Bertram

Hey all, I’ve got an awesome guest  post for you today from Brendon Bertram, the author of Moira Ashe: Enemy Within. He’s talking about secrets and what makes him want to write. Enjoy!

Moira Ashe cover

All of my secrets.

There were a lot of things that possessed me to write; the world, the characters, their relationships and stories, the perfect scenes in my head begging to be written. But it was the secrets that excited me the most.

Of course writing a scene that has been rattling around in my head gives me an immense sense of satisfaction, it’s thinking about all the clues, the foreshadowing, the patterns I’ve set up in the book series that compel me to dance for joy, and that is no joke, I literally do!

I was inspired to start my writing career when I delved into the world of the fan theory, people were generating the craziest theories about their favorite movies and books. Some were convincing, other probable, but most were outlandish beyond belief. It was all go fun though, but I had a thought, what if the theory was true? What if there were clues hidden throughout a story for people to find, a secret that could shake everything they thought they knew? So I wrote Moira Ashe.

My first series, Moira Ashe, has its ending already planned, it was planned before the first word was written. It’s been an ordeal coming up with over seven books of the story in advance, but it has been worth it. I have references scattered throughout about things the reader dosen’t even know exist yet. There are even clues that spoil the ending of the seventh book in book one.

As much as I’m enjoying the secrecy, I’m looking forwards to when the secret’s discovery. They were written to be found after all. I want my secrets will blow people’s minds, to have them realize that the answers were there all along and they never realized it. I want them to question everything they thought they knew about a character. That is why I write.

It continues to be great fun weaving these mysteries into my stories, and I hope you have just as much fun uncovering them.

Thank you to Lauren’s Bookshelf for hosting me and thank you for giving me your time today. Check out brendonbertram.com to find out more information on the Moira Ashe series.

If you want to try uncovering my secrets or just want a great read Moira Ashe: Enemy Within is available on Amazon.com.

 

Brendon Charles Bertram was born on May 28, 1994. Working on the family farm on PEI, it wasn’t until March 27, 2015, after the death of his father that he began pursuing writing. He continues to live on PEI, but now occupies his time with travelling the globe, reading texts on philosophy and psychology, and exploring a deep fascination and passion for storytelling.

Hey all, I’m taking part in Authoright’s Spring Reading Week this year. I’m lucky enough to get to both host the guest post here and to do a review of the first novel in this series, Devil’s Demise. That’ll be up later today. For now though here’s the author, Lee Cockburn. Enjoy!

Character development between books.

At the beginning I carefully chose the two main characters to feature in the novel Devil‘s Demise, they are Taylor Nicks and Marcus Black, I chose names that I like, ones I thought were pretty cool, names I would like for myself if I could choose, male or female.

I then thought about what they would be like, as people, their good points and their bad, Taylor striking to look at, intelligent, committed to work, but very flighty in her private life, unintentionally hurting others as she fails to commit to them, the explanation for this will come in the third book which will hopefully be out this year.  Marcus is a very handsome, kind, caring individual, clean cut, faithful, hard working, and loyal, everything a man could be, committed to his wife and son, and works very hard to provide for them, he’s intelligent and enjoys his work, and the team he works within.

These two main characters are featured heavily through all three novels, the books cover their working relationships and their private lives, the emotional turmoil of the harrowing incidents they deal with week in and week out.  The second book Porcelain Flesh of Innocents covers one of the most terrifying situations a parent will ever face, DC Marcus Black’s son is snatched from just outside their home, only being left for a moment.  The rollercoaster of fear and terror, their heartaches as the team work to try and get him back before it is too late.  Both novels delve deeply into their personal lives, as other characters dip in and out of the storyline and add to the ups and downs the main characters are involved in.

I like the freedom of writing you can and add and takeaway characters as and when required, new love interests for Taylor, their emotional problems, their personalities, their draw towards the main characters, especially Taylor, she tends to lure people into her life and then shuts the door as they get too close, when she deeply wants to change, to be different, but hasn’t managed, yet.

Taylor and Marcus are good friends as well as colleagues and share a relationship that many would crave to have, they are able to tell the truth to one an other, whether it will be liked or not, they have each others backs and are fiercely loyal to one another, and share a mutual respect, but don’t always see eye to eye, as their private lives differ greatly in the spectrum of life.

The main storyline will always change, along with the villain, so to speak, other characters will come and go, and others will feature throughout all three books, their part to play always simmering just below the surface, their presence almost as important as the main characters, with the depth of the parts they play, so the reader will also wonder about what will happen to them too.

I don’t know if I’ve really explained how all the characters roles develop, it just happens, when you are writing the story moves in varying directions and the characters just fold into the mix and their importance in the grand scheme of things, is just like a piece in a jigsaw, it can’t be completed without every little bit, some a piece of sky, the same as many others and non descript and the others a face, or special feature, but all required to complete the task.

Hopefully if and when the reader finishes the novels, they will be satisfied the way the story has kept the characters parts running, explaining what is going on in their lives and leaving them wanting the characters to do the right thing and wanting things to work out for them, and of course, wanting more.

 

Devils Demise cover

Devil’s Demise

A cruel and sinister killer is targeting Edinburgh’s most powerful women, his twisted sense of superiority driving him to satisfy his depraved sexual appetite. He revels in the pain and suffering he inflicts on his unsuspecting victims but a twist of fate and an overwhelming will to survive by one victim ruins his plans for a reign of terror. His tormented prey will need all her courage if she is to survive the hunt.

Purchase from Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Devils-Demise-Lee-Cockburn-ebook/dp/B00OKQB900/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1509620984&sr=1-2&keywords=lee+cockburn

Lee Cockburn Photo

About Lee Cockburn

Lee Cockburn has worked for Police Scotland for sixteen years including as a police sergeant in Edinburgh for seven years and also as a public order officer. Before joining the force, she played for Scotland Women’s rugby team for fifteen years, earning over eighty caps for the Scottish ladies and British Lionesses teams. She also swam competitively for twelve years, successfully representing Edinburgh at the age of fifteen in the youth Olympics in Denmark in 1984. Lee lives in Edinburgh with her civil partner Emily and their two young sons Jamie and Harry. Her first book Devil’s Demise was published by Clink Street Publishing November 2014.

Follow Lee Cockburn on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lee_leecockburn

Guest Post Susan-Alia Terry

Alright, I’ve got a guest post for you today as part of the Coming Darkness blog tour. It’s about world building, which is always an awesome topic. Again, this is one of the early posts in a blog tour, check out the other stops on the tour. And, as always, enjoy!

Coming Darkness Banner

I think world building is the best part of writing. Molding a world to fit a story is both creative, and challenging. The best way I know to talk about world building is to give you a little insight as to how I went about building the world in Coming Darkness.

When I started writing Coming Darkness, I was new to writing and still feeling my way around. I gave zero thought to world building, didn’t even know it existed! I was busy thinking about the characters and what they were doing and how they were feeling. I had plans to include supernatural beings, like vampires and angels, but I didn’t plan beyond that.

It wasn’t until I began to get deeper into the story that I started questioning the nature of those beings. I was unaware that those questions were my first steps into world building. Before then, I had been following pretty standard rules of paranormal fantasy. Vampires are undead. Werewolves are ruled by a male alpha. And so on. But I was finding that I wasn’t satisfied.

For instance, I wanted my vampires to have their own characteristics. I loved what Anne Rice created with The Vampire Chronicles. I also loved what White Wolf created with The Masquerade and what J. R. Ward created with The Black Dagger Brotherhood. So along those lines, I started thinking about specific characteristics and abilities my vampires could have. I wanted them to be an old, primal species—pre-human civilization. And that lead me to the idea of the elements fire, earth, air, and water.  I separated my vampires into clans and the abilities of each clan fell into symbolic sync with the elemental name. Clan Earth can fast travel through earth. They have mastery over the body, and the ability to shape shift. Clan Air can fast travel through shadows. They have mastery over what senses perceive, and the ability to produce powerful pheromones that can beguile and seduce. Clan Water can fast travel through water. They have mastery over the mind, and the ability to charm. All the clans are descended from the first vampire clan: Clan Fire. They had red skin, all of the abilities of the other three clans, and the ability to walk in the sun.

The werewolves were re-imagined next. I was going to include them in the story for balance, but I was doing it reluctantly. I’ve never liked werewolves because of the hyper-masculine alpha pack leaders. So you can imagine how delighted I was when my werewolves presented themselves with a matriarchal social structure! Wonderful! They have alphas, but the matriarchs are stronger and could defeat one easily. I think I can thank hyenas for giving me the subliminal inspiration for that.

In all, I was happy with the beings I adapted, but I needed to tie them together. To be specific, I needed to tie their existence together because of the angels. What I was chafing at was a world where gods, angels, vampires, werewolves, etc. existed without a reason for them all to exist together. I needed to be able to explain not only how they came to be, but also how they shared existence on the planet.

Enter The Purge: The angels were sent to earth to clear it of Darkness and pave the way for humans. Creatures that posed the most threat to human life were killed off. Others, knowing they would soon succumb to forced extinction, used all of their magical and biological skill to live on in the form of hybrids. So all vampires, werewolves, etc. are human-other hybrids. Humans became the dominant life forms and the angels allowed the hybrids to live (for reasons) only if they kept their populations low and did not interfere with human development.

Probably the last big thing I did was change standard vampiric nature. I could see no way that angels would allow anything “undead” to exist. If I created a world in which the angels cleared the earth of serious and unnatural dangers to humans, undead would have been wiped out as soon as they appeared. That goes for zombies, and ghouls as well. In my universe, there are no dead men walkin’!

I did other things as my world took shape, and I will say I found that world building was as integral to the story as the motivations and actions of the characters. As both framework and universe, it supports the characters as they sort out their challenges, as well as providing challenges themselves. I love stories with rich worlds supporting them, and I’m tickled beyond belief that I created a world that is already planting seeds of different stories within it. I can’t wait to explore and see what comes next!

Happy Reading!

Coming Darkness Cover

Coming Darkness

Archangel Lucifer lives a comfortable life of self-imposed exile with his vampire lover, Kai. When the other Archangels come to him with a problem — Heaven is gone and their Father is missing — he refuses to get involved because not only is it not his problem, but it’s probably some elaborate ruse they’ve cooked up to lure him back into the fold. When he’s personally attacked, he finds that he’s wrong on both counts. There are other powerful gods at work, gods who believe the current creation is flawed and must be destroyed.

Kai is thrown off balance when Lucifer disappears, and his life begins to spiral out of control. In the past, he never cared that he was looked down upon and called Lucifer’s pet. But with Lucifer absent, he’s left to navigate a world that doesn’t respect him. Since the only true currency is respect, he must gain it the only way his enemies will understand, through blood.

Purchase from Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01D7MM5IM/

Coming Darkness - Author pic-cropped

Author Bio –

They say it’s never too late to find and pursue your passion. Turns out they’re right. Although Susan loved to read, she didn’t start writing until she was in her late 40’s. A stint in grad school helped her hone her craft, and now she happily spends her days making up stories and figuring out how best to emotionally (and sometimes physically) torture her characters.

Social Media Links –

Website  Facebook  Twitter  GoodReads  Creativia Author Page

Guest Post: Aja James

Hey all, I’ve got a guest post for you from Aja James, author of the Pure/Dark Ones romance novel series. This was a pretty fantastic read and I hope you all enjoy it.

World Building – Pure/ Dark Ones series by Aja James

What I love most about writing fiction novels is the organic development of the characters, their interactions, and the story.

Each story is always inspired by something specific in my life or imagination. The scene forms in my head and I start writing. And then it just flows naturally from there as if the story has a life of its own. I have a general sense of where things are headed, what the characters are like, their personalities, etc., but I’m always surprised along the way by how the story unfolds as I write it. I love the unpredictability of the process. I feel like I’m just a narrator in a movie who tells a story that’s burning to be told by characters who are worth knowing. At the same time, I’m also like an invested movie watcher who’s rooting for her favorite characters and who just wants to find out how things end.

The world around the characters evolves organically as well. I am influenced by many things. First, my personal interests in history, myths, religion, science, science fiction, paranormal and fantasy factor into what I write. Second, I like to draw from my own experiences given my multi-cultural upbringing, interracial family unit, and “citizen of the world” mentality, having lived, studied or worked on all seven continents except Antarctica. These influences include the Chinese ethos for romance and legendary sagas and heroes, inspiration from Japanese manga and anime, contemporary Korean dramas, British and American blockbusters, Indian, Greek, Roman, Scandinavian, Celtic, Medieval, etc. legends, lore, myths and religions. The point is, I’m not just interested in one, I’m fascinated by all. I want to write about it all.

So in the back of my mind, all of these thoughts and ideas and influences are working together, using me as a conduit to give them expression. Thus, in the Pure/ Dark series, the reader will experience modern and ancient worlds, many different cultures, elements of both paranormal and fantasy, a complex world in which nothing is strictly black or white, right or wrong, good or evil. Nor is it a static world where good is always good and bad is always bad. Because real life isn’t like that; history is all a matter of perspective.

In this sense, the Pure/ Dark series creates a world that is very unique, very different.

OK, so why specifically the Pure and Dark Ones? Where did they come from?

The inspiration actually originated from an unlikely source: one of my pet peeves. In the Romance genre (and I read everything romance, from historical to fantasy to contemporary to paranormal), if you want to be a successful novelist who gets picked up by publishing houses, you have to stick to a pretty strict formula so that you fit your work for their target audience. This formula requires a faithful, virginal or equivalent (definitely no more than a few lovers) heroine, while the hero can sleep around as much as he likes. The “more experience” the better.

Why is that? So he can have more practice and be an expert lover before he meets The One? So he can demonstrate his virility and sexual prowess? Because everyone loves a bad boy or alpha male and having lots of sex is a prerequisite? I find it annoying and overdone. Let’s at least remove the double standard if we’re going to create such an alpha. Plus, I don’t think a man has to be a sex addict and hump anything that moves to be macho.

So I created the Pure Ones to even the playing field. Everyone is hyper sexually aware and many of the characters adventurously toe the line. But they have to exert good judgment and self-control. Whereas the Dark Ones, the vampires, are the opposite. They can indulge in all things carnal and sinful as much as they want; their challenge is finding meaning, something real and true, amongst all the excess. In addition, I created matriarchal races in both the Pure and Dark Ones, because, come on, women are more suited to rule than men anyway. J

I’m on book 5 now in the Pure/Dark series, tentatively titled Pure Rapture. For the readers who will follow me through the journey, they will finally get a very good look at some of the events that started it all—this epic struggle between Pure and Dark Ones. As a bonus, the Prologue and Epilogue, which is always narrated by one of the key characters in the series (though never the main character in the story being told), will be narrated by (one of) the bad guys!

I think the Pure/Dark series has a very long runway, as long as there are readers out there who enjoy it. Just when you think something is solved or resolved, two other loose ends or questions appear. I can go many different directions with this series—it combines multicultural, historical and contemporary, fantasy and paranormal, maybe even a little science fiction…there is no limit. So, I expect to be building this world out and telling tales of True Love for many years to come!

Guest Post: Pete Likins

Hey all, not a ton to say here. I’ve been meaning to host another guest post and was lucky enough to be approached with the opportunity for this one. Enjoy!

After a long and fulfilling career in such serious jobs as spacecraft engineer, college professor, and university president, I found pure joy in writing the whimsical murder mystery ACADEMIC AFFAIRS:  A Poisoned Apple.

I had published other books previously:  three engineering textbooks, a family memoir and a literary novel, each book a satisfying achievement that required real intellectual labor, but ACADEMIC AFFAIRS was just fun to write.  I’m told that it’s also fun to read!

Most of the plot twists and many of the characters in ACADEMIC AFFAIRS came to me in my swimming pool.  If I didn’t let my mind pursue such fantasies, my morning hour in the pool would be mindless exercise.

In sharp contrast, every other publication began as a serious effort, each uniquely motivated.  Every book began as something else and somehow a real book emerged.

Although every book is a different experience for me, I have always enjoyed the act of writing.  Probably the underlying pleasure is reading, which has enriched my life since childhood. In the sixth grade I was taken under the wing of the school librarian, to whom I dedicated my first novel.  She guided me through the classics before high school brought sports and the girl I married sixty-two years ago.

As my academic interests turned to science and engineering my reading narrowed accordingly, as did my writing when Stanford and MIT led me to faculty life at UCLA, where teaching projects led to an undergraduate textbook, two advanced treatises on spacecraft dynamics and fifty technical papers.  As my faculty life evolved into roles as dean, provost and (twice) university president I simply had no time to luxuriate in the pleasures of creative writing.  My family memoir and two novels were written only after my retirement at age seventy.

The memoir began as a love letter to my wife of then fifty years, a journal of some fifty pages.  Only after the Obama election did we decide that our six adopted children, black, white and brown, had a story for the world to hear.  We called it A NEW AMERICAN FAMILY:  A Love Story.   The response was gratifying, as reflected in fifty opportunities to talk to interested assemblies or television audiences about the changes in American society that are so visible in our family.

In my mid-seventies, I began to wonder if, as an old spacecraft engineer, professor and academic administrator, I had the creative capacity required to write a serious novel.  I wanted to challenge myself in my retirement to do something different and difficult, with no assurance of success.  I worked hard to write COYOTE SPEAKS:  Cross Country Run, a novel that brought me great personal satisfaction.  I felt that I had done my best and would never write another novel.

Then, with no serious intentions, I found myself playing with characters and stories during my morning swim, as I confessed above.  I had no plans to write another novel, but this was just too much fun to stop.  I couldn’t resist the birth of ACADEMIC AFFAIRS:  A Poisoned Apple.

Academic_Affairs_Cover

Author Bio:

Perhaps an unlikely author of a whimsical murder mystery novel, Peter Likins is President Emeritus of the University of Arizona, former president of Lehigh University and, while at Columbia University, first dean of engineering and then provost or executive vice president for academic affairs (a title that led to the title of his most recent novel!) Now happily retired in Tucson, Arizona with his best friend and wife of more than sixty years, he has free time to write as his heart desires.

Peter Likins - Author photo

Guest Post: Lesley L. Smith

Hey all, not a lot to say here, but I’ve been looking forward to this. Enjoy!

Lesley L. Smith writes about her new science fiction novel Conservation of Luck:

 

I find being a writer is a long, and sometimes surprising, journey. When you start out on the path, you never know where you might end up. This is true for a career as a whole and for individual books. You also never know what you’ll learn along the way. Hey, this is also true for life! 🙂

 

In recent years, I’ve been fascinated by the mysteries and ideas associated with quantum physics and have drawn on them for inspiration.

 

My last novel, A Jack By Any Other Name, included a Faster-Than-Light drive that enabled Jack’s spaceship to travel across the universe in the blink of an eye. It was based on the spooky action-at-a-distance that Albert Einstein complained about when he discussed quantum physics. For fun, in Jack’s adventure some of these high improbabilities leak out of the spaceship and give him a sort of luck super power. As you can imagine this led to some interesting situations. It was so fun I thought it would be neat to explore this idea as the main premise of a book.

 

My new novel Conservation of Luck addresses the whole intriguing concept of luck. What exactly is luck? Is it chance? Fate? Some kind of force? Or is what we consider luck just coincidences? What if it could be transferred? What if it had to be conserved? It’s all very fascinating. I love addressing big-picture mysteries in a novel.

Once I decided on the premise, I had to decide on the main character. Who would have the most on the line in a book about luck? It was obvious: someone with a gambling problem. Imagine how difficult it would be to avoid gambling if you knew you would win…

 

When I read, I enjoy getting lost in the adventure. So, I try to write novels that are entertaining and engaging, with sympathetic characters in challenging situations. I like humor. I like romance. I like (spoiler alert) happy endings. So, I put all of that in my books.

Recently, I went to a workshop on author branding and we had to go through a bunch of exercises. My brand ended up being ‘Science Fiction with Heart.’ If you get a chance to check out Conservation of Luck, does that brand fit?

(Photo by  Patrick Campbell/University of Colorado)

Author Bio:

Lesley L. Smith has collected a plethora of degrees including a Ph.D. in Physics and a MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. She has published seven science fiction novels including The Quantum Cop, A Jack By Any Other Name, and her latest, Conservation of Luck. Her short science fiction has been published in several venues including Analog Science Fiction and Fact. She is an active member of the Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She is also a founder and editor of the speculative fiction ezine Electric Spec.

She has had a variety of scientific jobs including investigating quarks, dark matter, extrasolar planets, clouds, atmospheric chemistry and global warming. She has worked for a variety of research institutions including the University of Kansas, Argonne National Laboratory, the Department of Energy, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, NASA, and the University of Colorado.

 

conservationofluck_cover

 

Short Book Blurb: Conservation of Luck

 

For every good fortune, there’s an equal and opposite misfortune.

As a brilliant young computer scientist working on her master’s degree, Ella Hote doesn’t believe in luck. But when bizarre accidents, insane coincidences, and weird encounters with improbably handsome strangers start to happen all around her, even hardheaded Ella has to change her mind.

She comes to realize she’s inadvertently created a luck generating computer that can make even the longest of long shots pay off.

Unfortunately, for every stroke of good luck, someone else pays the price in bad luck.

Ultimately, when lives are on the line, how far will she go?

 

Website link: http://www.lesleylsmith.com

Buy link: http://www.amazon.com/author/lesleylsmith

Guest Post: Michael Okon

Hey all, I’ve got a guest post for you today. I’ve got a review for this author’s book coming up Wednesday, so that should be fun. Any way, from the very cool Michael Okon here’s a bit about monsters and books. Enjoy!

My All-Time Favorite Monster

 

My all-time favorite monster is…is…is I actually have no idea. Choosing a favorite monster is like choosing children, you simply can’t do it.  When the spark of my book Monsterland came to me, I called my brother immediately and told him, “I’m going to write a story about a theme park with zombies.” He replied with a quick, “No.” He said, “You have to tell a story about a theme park with werewolves, vampires, AND zombies.” I started writing that night.

 

What I learned about writing books, specifically about monsters, is not limiting yourself to one type of monster to scare the audience. Werewolves, vampires, and zombies. Having the three most globally recognized monsters in the world, all on display at a massive theme park. What could possibly go wrong?

 

How would the story had turned out if I would have chosen one monster? I honestly don’t know. What would happen if Led Zeppelin only released one song on an album? The results probably would have been disastrous.

 

As of now, Monsterland 2 is scheduled for a May 26, 2018 release. I have three, actually four monsters in that one, with other monsters being alluded too.  As for Monsterland 3 which I just started, there are three monsters named just in the first three chapters alone. What happens after that? Well, there are going to be more. Many more monsters in this interesting universe I’m creating.

 

But…if I had to choose one monster, just one superior monster to terrorize us lowly citizens, I would choose The Invisible Man.  I’m incorporating The Invisible Man in an upcoming Monsterland novel. I say this because watching the original classic with Claude Rains…well…I was terrified.  A zombie? Just shoot it. A vampire? Shine a light. A werewolf? They come out once a month and will fall with one little measly silver bullet.

 

But The Invisible Man is scary. A madman you cannot see. I’ve seen every classic horror movie, Dracula, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Blob, but nothing stayed with me like The Invisible Man.  I guess that falls in line with ghosts, but again, a ghost can’t touch you? Right? Only the invisible man can. I believe when a monster cannot be seen, well, that’s the scariest type of monster I can think. It’s a primal thing, a monster always lurking and watching, and you have absolutely no idea. 

 

Well, Jaws is really scary too. And Pennywise the clown is too. And Leatherface from…oh, nevermind. I can’t choose a favorite.