• Tag Archives paranormal
  • Zombie Walk 2014

    IMG_7119 (768x1024)A couple of weekends ago, I participated in the Zombie Walk Lebanon 2014. This was the 5th annual, but the first for me. The theme was 50’s Sock Hop and there was a dance afterward. Clearly I didn’t follow the theme nor did I attend the zombie dance, but the walk was awesome!???????? SONY DSC

    ???????? IMG_7165 (1010x1024)
    And here is some of my best shambling in action!

    Want to walk? The next walk is July 18, 2015 and the theme is Hollywood. Like their page at Zombie Walk Lebanon so you don’t miss out.

    Know what else you won’t want to miss? Reap & Repent.

    AMAZON | B&N  | KOBO 

    Reap & Repent blurb

    Reap & Repent final revised (647x1024)They see death. Can they share a life?

    Ruth Scott can read the energy of every person she meets. Then she meets Deacon Walker. She can see his ice-blue eyes, his black hair, and his gorgeous face. But this beautiful stranger has no aura.

    Deacon is just as unsettled by Ruth—and, having spent more than two hundred years ushering souls to Purgatory, Deacon is seldom shocked by anything. As he helps Ruth to understand her true nature, she awakens desires that he decided long ago a Reaper can’t afford.

    A demon invasion forces Deacon to confront the darkness in his own past even as he fights to save the human souls he’s charged to protect. When he’s taken captive, his first concern is for Ruth. But Ruth just might be able to save herself—and the Reaper she can’t live without—if she can learn to wield her newfound powers.

     

     

     

     


  • Grave Discoveries: Pine Hill Cemetery – A Haunting We Will Go

    This week’s offering is a hidden treasure I discovered thanks to David E. Harkin’s book Haunted Graveyards of the Ozarks. I was thrilled to learn several of the cemeteries he mentioned were within my day job territory. So this week as I was visiting St. James for blood drives, I wandered out to Pine Hill Cemetery. And by the way…it’s haunted.

    Within this fence, you’ll find the Goat Man’s grave, witches and more.

    IMG_7034 (1024x768)One does not simply happen upon Pine Hill Cemetery. It is well off the beaten path about five miles outside the St. James city limit. I wandered down a long, winding blacktop road outside of St. James down County Road 3450 (AKA Spook Hollow Road. Not making that up!).

    It was a hot day and the lush greenery encroached across the road making it increasingly eerie even in the daylight. I prayed Google Maps was up for the challenge and the cell signal held. At one point there was water over the road from the previous night’s storm. Now, I drive a Ford Fusion. It is not an off-road-adventure-worthy mobile so I was a little concerned I might be getting in over my head but trudged forward.

    The large limb over the road was the the second deterrent,  but I managed to skirt around it as well. I was starting to get that little tingle of foreboding in the hollow of my chest that perhaps this wasn’t such a good idea. Maybe I should turn back.

    After all, no one even knew I was OUT on this little side trip.

    Ignoring common sense, I trudged forward.

    And then the road narrowed and devolved to gravel.

    Seriously?

    Several long minutes later, I was relieved to finally arrive.

    Of course there was no actual signage but Google Maps declared our adventure a success.

    Here’s what I found:

    IMG_7047 (1024x768)This one was especially creepy to me, like it was clawing itself up out of the ground. Pretty sure that’s a lichen covered “Lamb of God” at the top.

    IMG_7051 (1024x768)It is shady cemetery for the most part and there were indeed some pine trees. This grave was just a pile of rocks. Efficient. I like it.

    IMG_7046 (1024x768)I found these rock garden graves interesting.

    IMG_7045 (768x1024)One thing we have in abundance in Missouri is rocks.

    IMG_7037 (768x1024)Another melting Lamb of God on top. They don’t age well.

    IMG_7036 (1024x768)

    Broken and haphazardly placed…just how I like it.

    IMG_7039 (1024x768)Can’t get much simpler than this one.

    IMG_7040 (1024x768)All Hand of God and no name.

    IMG_7041 (1024x768)More shade-tree graves.

    IMG_7052 (1024x768)

    IMG_7050 (768x1024)This one was a new combination for me. The hand pointing Heaven and to the crown according to Grave Addiction symbolizes victory or triumph over death.

    IMG_7049 (768x1024)And finally a bird nest. Beginnings and endings right there.

    Want to know more about the Goat Man and the witches of Pine Hill? Go get David E. Harkin’s book Haunted Graveyards of the Ozarks. It’s full of haunted graveyard goodness. Also…join me right here this Friday, Aug. 1 for an interview with David E. Harkins to learn more about him and his paranormal research.

    Sign up to receive post updates in your inbox at the top right of this page so you don’t miss out on future posts from the Grave Discoveries series.

    Speaking of cemeteries. Did you know that reapers travel from consecrated ground to consecrated ground through and invisible network called the consecrated subway? It’s true. Just one of the amazing details of the the Reaper Series.

    Want to know more? There’s still plenty of time to read book one and join in on the fun. Reap & Repent is available now at all ebook retailers. 

    AMAZON | B&N  | KOBO 

    Reap & Repent blurb

    Reap & Repent final revised (647x1024)They see death. Can they share a life?

    Ruth Scott can read the energy of every person she meets. Then she meets Deacon Walker. She can see his ice-blue eyes, his black hair, and his gorgeous face. But this beautiful stranger has no aura.

    Deacon is just as unsettled by Ruth—and, having spent more than two hundred years ushering souls to Purgatory, Deacon is seldom shocked by anything. As he helps Ruth to understand her true nature, she awakens desires that he decided long ago a Reaper can’t afford.

    A demon invasion forces Deacon to confront the darkness in his own past even as he fights to save the human souls he’s charged to protect. When he’s taken captive, his first concern is for Ruth. But Ruth just might be able to save herself—and the Reaper she can’t live without—if she can learn to wield her newfound powers.

     

     

     

     


  • Author Interview with D.A. Roberts – Missouri Zombies Take the City

    This is an opportunity to go behind the scenes, get into the nitty-gritty of the many paranormal worlds and enter into the fertile imaginations of authors I love. Bring a flashlight. It’s sometimes dark in here, but so worth the trip. Remember, monsters need love too. Otherwise, how would we ever have baby monsters?

    Think on THAT a while…

     

    Welcome, DA Roberts! You’ve just released Ragnarok Rising: The Crossing.  Tell us a little bit about your story. 

    ragnarok rising

    Well, that might take a bit of set-up. Ragnarok Rising: The Crossing is actually the third book of my Ragnarok Rising Saga. My series is a Zombie Apocalypse tale, set in the Mid-west city of Springfield, Mo. Although the farther along you get in the series, the farther they branch out of the area. The saga really focuses on a core group of people who are doing their best not only to survive the apocalypse, but trying to save as many people as they can along the way. It shows the best and worst in us all against the backdrop of the living dead. A reviewer on Amazon once called it a Roller Coaster ride through the Zombie Apocalypse. I think that’s a great way to sum it up. Fast paced and dangerous, you get to follow these men and women through hell and beyond. The concept of Ragnarok is from Viking times. Ragnarok is literally the end of the world. A Viking Armageddon, if you will. With a Norse twist on the genre, the Ragnarok Rising Saga is unique in that it approaches the Zombie Apocalypse in a different way. Grab your ticket and get on the roller coaster, and then buckle up. I think you will enjoy the ride.

    Do you consider your book(s) urban fantasy, paranormal or something else? What attracted you to the genre?

    I consider my series to be Paranormal / Apocalyptic fiction. Although it is a zombie story, there’s more going on there than you normally see in the zombie genre. As the series progresses, you will find more twists to the genre. I like to think of my books as being horror, but they may be something more…or at least different…by the end.

    Let’s talk beasties. Do any monsters make appearances in your novels? If so, tell us about a few of them. Do you have a favorite? Don’t lie. Every parent…erm…author…does. Spill it. If not, what makes your book paranormal, urban fantasy or science fiction?

    Well…there are zombies. I mean a lot of zombies. Initially in book one, I broke them down into five basic categories but as the series progressed there were more. Book three introduced a new type of zombie that I am particularly fond of. I call them Stalkers. Without spoiling too much, they are something new. Not only have the characters never encountered anything like it, but I think the readers will see something new here too. As one of my Beta Readers put it when she called me in the middle of the night, “I loved your first two books, but book three is going to give me nightmares.” I really knew I was onto something when she told me that. I hope you all feel the same way.

    Is this a series? Stand-alone book? If it is a series, what does the future look like for this series? How many more books to come? What can we expect and more importantly…WHEN!

    The Ragnarok Rising Saga is definitely a series. The Crossing is book three and I plan to have book four finished and released by end of summer. If everything goes as planned, that is. I plan to do six books in the series before I move on to my next project.

    What else are you working on?

    I have several projects in the works. I’m not sure where to start. I have a Werewolf series in the works as well as a fantasy novel that could become a series of it’s own.  I have other projects that I’m not quite ready to announce. Needless to say, I have a full plate at the moment.

    Of all the characters in your fictional word, which one or couple would you most like to hang out with over a long weekend? What would you do together? What actor or actress would play him/her in a movie?

    I think I would like to spend some time with the two main characters, Wylie Grant and Cassie “Spec-4” Wilder. I’d like to have a few drinks and talk about where they feel the story has taken them. I’d also like to see if they are upset with some of the things I’ve put them through. Wylie, in particular, might want to have a few words about just that. I’ve put them through the ringer, more than once. If they were to make a movie out of my series, I think I’d like to see Karl Urban play Wylie. I love Urban. I think he’d bring so much depth to Wylie. As for Spec-4, I think I’d like to see someone like Scarlett Johansson take that role. She has a wonderful depth as an actress and can really be convincing on the action sequences. I’d love to see the ideas my readers have, as well. Heck, come on over to my facebook page or website and tell me your fantasy casting choices. I’d love to hear it.

    Let’s talk about craft. Are you a plotter or pantser? What are the first steps you take before diving into the writing of the next book?

    I’m a plotter, definitely. I plan out the direction of the story, but I leave enough room that things can change as I write it. Sometimes even I’m surprised how far things have changed from my original plan. I know well in advance where I want the story to go, but sometimes the characters have other plans. Sometimes they write the story and I’m just recording it all in print. To me, that’s half the fun. I have always loved writing and I dreamed of one day being an author. It’s such an amazing feeling to see that dream come true. The first things I usually do is research the elements I need for the story, then I bring up as much information as I can to keep it in tabs to fall back on as I write. I even like to us Google Maps as I write to keep me focused on the actual locations that I am describing. That will work for my horror stories, but I’ll have to take a different approach for my fantasy writing. I’ll have to play that by ear, I suppose.

    How long does it typically take for you to write a novel?  Best case scenario? How about editing? How long will you pick at it before setting it free to the world?

    I don’t write short books. I average about 500 pages, when it seems the average download on the market is only 200 or less. I think that the story is just getting started at 200 pages. Still, I can do the 500 pages in about six months, if everything goes well. Sometimes less, if the muse really flows. Editing can take anywhere from one to two months, depending on re-writes and fixes. That’s almost daily work on the editing. I like to work directly with my editors, as much as possible, so all the changes, fixes and edits can be done quickly. So, start to finish, I think I can do two books a year. If my writing ever takes me to a place where I no longer need my “day job”, then who knows. If I could be a full-time writer, the sky might be the limit.

    Do you have any advice to new authors or anyone considering writing fiction?

    Absolutely. I love to help other writers, any way I can. I’ve never felt that writing was a competition. There’s room on our bookshelves for multiple authors and books. I don’t know anyone who only owns books by one author. I’m more than happy to encourage and help writers become authors. It’s only good for us all to encourage more stories to be told and people to read them.

    I think that the best advice I can give an aspiring author is to do your research. Getting the details wrong can kill your story. Know your facts and it will show through in your work. Readers will tear you to pieces if you get it wrong. Do your research, no matter what the topic. The more you know, the more depth you can bring to the story.

    I’m always happy to exchange ideas and advice with other writers. Check out my blog. I have posts that deal specifically with author tips. Send me an e-mail or a message on facebook, too. I’ll be more than happy to give you any help that I can. By sharing our experiences and knowledge, we help not only the aspiring authors…we help ourselves too. I’ve learned new things simply by researching an answer to a question from another writer.

    Can you give us a taste of what to expect?

    Excerpt from book three of the series, Ragnarok Rising: The Crossing

    Slipping into gear, I started slowly towards the edge of the water. Just as I reached it, I stopped completely. I thought I had seen movement out of the corner of my eye.

    “Wilder,” I said, “hand me the binoculars.”

    “What did you see?” she asked, handing them over.

    “I’m not sure,” I replied. “I just caught a glimpse of something moving.”

    I took the binoculars and started sweeping the area where I had seen it. It was right near the restrooms, so I focused in and swept slowly from left to right and then back again. I still didn’t see anything, but the knot in my stomach had doubled in size. It was still and quiet, with no sign of movement whatsoever. Not even so much as a squirrel.

    Handing the binoculars back to Spec-4, I turned back to the water ahead of me. It looked no more inviting than it had before, but now I was looking for anything at all that might be out of place. Nothing seemed wrong and nothing was moving. With a heavy sigh, I took my foot off the brake and started into the water.

    I felt my way in, slowly. Water was coming steadily up the sides of the Humvee and starting to splash up onto the hood. I knew we would be fine so long as I didn’t let off of the gas. The raised air intake on the Humvee would keep us running as long as I didn’t let the engine flood out.

    We made it across without incident, and I was glad to see that I had been high on my estimate of the depth. Although we were in over the wheels, it never made it over the doors. It was less than three feet deep across the concrete bridge. As we safely pulled out of the other side, I reached for the radio mic.

    “All clear, Chuck,” I said, keying up. “Take it slow and steady. Stick to the right.”

    “Copy that,” he said, and began his run.

    Less than two minutes later, we parked side by side in the parking area next to the bathrooms. I decided that I wanted a closer look at the bullet holes along the walls, just to see for myself. When I climbed out of my Humvee, Spec-4 followed me and readied her weapon. Becca stayed inside the vehicle, but watched us intently. Southard and Elliott climbed out of their vehicle, weapons in hand.

    “What’s next, dad?” asked Elliott.

    “I want to take a closer look at the bullet holes on the wall,” I said, pointing. “Something about it just doesn’t seem right.”

    The four of us headed around to the side of the building, away from the entrances to the bathrooms. Behind us, I heard the door of a Humvee open and close. I turned around to see Jensen standing beside the vehicles, adjusting his weapon.

    “Don’t wander off,” I said.

    “I won’t,” he replied. “I just wanted to stretch my legs.”

    We headed around the corner and I could see the numerous bullet holes that pockmarked the wall. There was also quite a bit of blood on the wall and the ground beneath it. In the grass, I could see expended brass. Kneeling down, I picked up a piece and examined it. It was 5.56mm NATO. That meant it came from either an AR style weapon or the military. I selected a number of other rounds to check, just to be certain.

    “Multiple shooters,” I said, looking at Southard. “Firing squad deployment. Military, I think.”

    I was about to say more when I heard the scream. It came from around the corner in front of the buildings. We all spun and sprinted around the corner. Jensen was on the ground right in front of the men’s room entrance, his legs still inside the door. He was lying on his stomach, clawing at the ground trying to drag himself out of the bathroom. Before we could reach him, something dragged him back inside and the screaming began, again.

    Read more in the Ragnarok Rising Saga!

    Where can we find you and your books online? 

    Facebook | Twitter | Linkdin | Amazon  

    da roberts bio pic

    Author’s Bio:  D.A. Roberts

    D.A. Roberts was born in the small town of Lebanon, Missouri. Growing up on the farm gave him plenty of opportunities to cultivate a fertile imagination. Encouraged by his mother, he dreamed of one day becoming a famous writer. An avid reader, D.A. enjoys reading more than watching television.

    A diverse career path has given him a unique view of the world. From soldier to factory worker, from bouncer to lab technician, and from Security Officer to Corrections Officer.  Having worn many different hats evolves a very different perspective. He draws on all of these experiences to bring his writing to life on a very human level.

    He married Annette in the summer of 1993 and has been happily married, ever since. Three teenage sons keep them both busy. Nathan, Nic and Noah are his pride and joy. They have an English Mastiff named Xander, who is a big part of their lives.

    D.A. loves to camp, hunt, fish, hike and Geocache. He also enjoys old-school pen and paper role-playing games. When not writing or on duty as a Corrections Officer, he enjoys spending time with his family. A good cup of coffee, a warm fire and a good book are his guilty pleasures.


  • Interview with Zombie Apocalypse Writer Ben S. Reeder

    This is an opportunity to go behind the scenes, get into the nitty-gritty of the many paranormal worlds and enter into the fertile imaginations of authors I love. Bring a flashlight. It’s sometimes dark in here, but so worth the trip. Remember, monsters need love too. Otherwise, how would we ever have baby monsters?

    Think on THAT a while…

    You KNOW I love zombies. Know who loves them more?

    Ben S. Reeder.

    Welcome, Author Ben S. Reeder! You’ve just released Zompoc Survivor: Exodus.  Tell us a little bit about your story.  

    zompoc survivior

    ZS: Exodus starts off as your basic zombie story. Our hero, Dave Stewart is immediately faced with the challenge of getting himself and his loved ones home as chaos and death spreads throughout Springfield, Missouri. Nothing is ever simple, though, and Dave also finds himself on the wrong end of a mysterious conspiracy.

    Do you consider your book(s) urban fantasy, paranormal or something else? What attracted you to the genre?

    Well, Amazon considers it science fiction, since it technically falls under “post-apocalyptic” but since it involved zombies, I would say it was more paranormal with a touch of horror added in.

    Let’s talk beasties. Do any monsters make appearances in your novels? If so, tell us about a few of them. Do you have a favorite? Don’t lie. Every parent…erm…author…does. Spill it. If not, what makes your book paranormal, urban fantasy or science fiction?

    Of course, there are zombies. In ZS: Exodus, we see three different kinds. Since I hate to limit my options, I have both fast AND slow zombies, along with reasons for why they are the way they are. I also have a completely new kind, what is labeled as Patient Zero. Patient Zero is unlike any zombie you’ve ever seen before, and all the more frightening because of the ways it’s different.

    Monsters of the paranormal kind are always fun, but I think the most frightening monsters are the ones inside us. In my book, it isn’t the scary looking, undead monster you have to fear, it’s the one that an otherwise ordinary person lets off the leash when the world goes crazy around them. That is the one that scares me the most.

    Is this a series? Stand-alone book? If it is a series, what does the future look like for this series? How many more books to come? What can we expect and more importantly…WHEN!

    Zompoc Survivor is a series. I’m working on the second in the series, ZS: Odyssey, which picks up almost the same moment Exodus leaves off.  The Zompoc Survivor series is currently open ended, and it will see Dave focusing first on getting his family to safety, and then, discovering that there’s a bigger fight for him to be a part of. We’ll also discover the truth behind the zombie apocalypse, and who is actually behind it.

     What else are you working on?

    I have several projects right now. The one most likely to see print after the Zompoc Survivor series is a gritty superhero story, followed by a portal fantasy story. I have a dystopian novel that is stuck in limbo that might also see the light of day at some point, too.

    Of all the characters in your fictional word, which one or two would you most like to hang out with over a long weekend? What would you do together? What actor or actress would play him/her in a movie?

    In the Zompoc Survivor world, I’d obviously hang out with Dave over a weekend, because we share so many interests. We’d probably grill bratwursts and steak, and binge watch Dr. Who and a whole lot of sci-fi movies, game and try to outdo each other on the shooting range (Dave’s actually a better shot than I am.)

    It’s funny that you ask who would play Dave in a movie made from my books. Someone recently asked me if I had thought of having the book turned into a movie. Personally, I would want it to be a TV series, because you can do so much more in twenty episodes than you can in two to three hours. As to who I would want to play Dave, hands down it would be Eddie McClintock from Warehouse 13. He has that everyman quality to him, but he can also go from light-hearted to dead serious in a heartbeat, and that is an important part of Dave’s character.

     Let’s talk about craft. Are you a plotter or pantser? What are the first steps you take before diving into the writing of the next book?

    Truth is, I’ve become a plotter, at least mentally.  I may not have an outline written down, but I always have a general idea of how the story is going to end before I write the first word. I usually have the climactic scene in my head and a general structure of how things will get there. I also do a ton of research before I start writing. Locations, people, and because I’m writing zombie fiction, lots and lots of gear all get thoroughly looked up.

    How long does it typically take for you to write a novel?  Best case scenario? How about editing? How long will you pick at it before setting it free to the world?

    It seems to get shorter every time. My first novel took me four years to write, my second just under one, and Zompoc Survivor was done in just under six months. ZS: Odyssey is looking like it will be ready in four to five months. I don’t think I’d want to do it much faster than that.

    As far as editing, I usually give a work three passes for content, and three for line editing. In the Zompoc Survivor, series, I actually have three beta readers. One for general plot, and two for technical read throughs. My general reader also runs it through for spelling and grammar.

    After that, it’s usually ready to go. I’ve learned that no matter how many times I go through a story, I’m never going to be completely satisfied with it. I’m always going to want to make changes. But, stories are like kids. At some point, you have to let them go out on their own.

    Do you have any advice to new authors or anyone considering writing fiction?

    Read like an addict, write like a lion, edit like a surgeon and never, ever give up.

    Reading is how we find our voice, by hearing those voices that resonate with our own and seeing how authors who are better than we are do what they do. Anyone who refuses to read because they don’t want to “contaminate their voice” or be “influenced by anyone else’s style” needs to remember how we learn to talk: by being exposed to other people talking. We learn to write the same way. If you limit your exposure to other writers, you limit yourself as a writer.

    Write boldly. Give yourself permission to write BADLY. Give yourself the order to edit LATER. And get outside your comfort zone.

    Edit afterward, and become a slave to the story. Operate without anesthesia, and be willing to get rid of stuff you might have liked when you wrote it.

    Finally, persist. It only took me twenty years to have my overnight success.

    Can you give us a taste of what to expect?

    Here is a blurb from Zompoc Survivor: Exodus:

    Dave Stewart is a man with a plan for almost everything. But the zombie apocalypse taxes even his skills as he tries to get his family and friends out of Springfield, Missouri. Caught at work, all he has to help him survive is his normal “everyday carry” gear, the contents of his get-home bag and, most importantly, his wits to keep himself alive as chaos and death reign around him. As Dave struggles to reunite with his family and friends and fight his way clear of the city, he will discover that the dead aren’t the only enemies he will have to deal with. Some of the living are just as deadly, and he discovers that a sinister element in the US government may have a plan of its own for the zombie apocalypse, and that it includes the estranged wife and son of his friend and benefactor, Nathan Reid.

    As he makes his way to his homestead outside of town, Dave will see the best and worst of humanity, and will be pushed to his limits and beyond.

    Can Dave overcome the dangers posed by both the living and the dead, and survive his exodus from Springfield?

    Here is a blurb from my upcoming book Zompoc Survivor: Odyssey:

    In Zompoc Survivor: Odyssey, Dave must make his way out of the zombie filled hell that Kansas City has become in the wake of the zombie apocalypse. With two Marines and his girlfriend’s daughter at his side, he must overcome a power-mad zealot and face new and more terrifying zombies in his journey out of the city.

    Finally an excerpt from the upcoming book:

    I was awakened by a whimper in the darkness. Instantly, I came up on my right elbow and listened. Another soft mewl came from behind me, and I rolled to my other side and reached out in the darkness.

    “Amy,” I whispered. The whimpering stopped, and I felt Amy’s hand brush mine. As soon as her fingers touched my hand, she grabbed my arm and pulled herself to me.

    “I keep seeing him fall,” she whispered to me. “I try to hold onto him, but I can’t and he falls, he always falls.” The sobs came after that, quiet at first but hard enough to wrack her whole body. Finally, she couldn’t keep silent any more, and I felt my chest vibrate as she bawled into my shoulder.

    “I’m sorry, Amy,” I said to her, over and over again, wishing every time I knew something better to say, but never finding anything else to tell her. Eventually, even that faded, and she fell quiet again, and laid her head on my now damp shoulder. Her breathing became slow and even, and I held her quietly. It was all the comfort I could offer her, and even if my arms went numb and fell off, I’d give her every second of it she wanted. I wished for a thousand things in the indeterminate time that I held her, but it all kept coming back to two things, one I could never give her, and one I could only hope to. I wanted to give her Karl back, but in the end, my prayer was simple: let me be a good dad for her. Yeah, simple. Just not easy.

     

    Where can we find you and your books online? 

    You can buy Zompoc Survivor: Exodus here.

    Facebook |Twitter | My website 

     

    Ben ReederI’ve been writing since high school, and reading since I could reach the bookshelf. I was born into a military family, spent four years in the Air Force after high school, and books have always been my friends, my escape and my window to other worlds. When I wasn’t exploring other worlds via words, I was exploring some of the more interesting nooks in the real world. I’ve been a gamer since D&D came in a cardboard box, played in the Society for Creative Anachronism on and off for two decades, and worked in everything from video game arcades to poultry farms to a New Age bookstore (best three years of my life).

    My own reading tastes run to urban fantasy and the occasional steampunk story.

    I love my readers, and extend my thanks to each of you. Every writer owes their success to their fans.


  • Interview with Harlequin Author Emmie Meers

    This is an opportunity to go behind the scenes, get into the nitty-gritty of the many paranormal worlds and enter into the fertile imaginations of authors I love. Bring a flashlight. It’s sometimes dark in here, but so worth the trip. Remember, monsters need love too. Otherwise, how would we ever have baby monsters?

    Think on THAT a while…

    The Masked Songbird_FC (2)

    Welcome, Author Emmie Mears! You’re about to release THE MASKED SONGBIRD.  Tell us a little bit about your story.  

    Thank you, Lisa! THE MASKED SONGBIRD is a superhero novel, but its main theme is that strength isn’t something you’re born with; it’s something you build. The story is about Gwenllian Maule, an oft trod-upon accountant who accidentally gets superpowers after drinking something meant to cure her boss’s daughter of cancer – and through that, she has to learn that superpowers don’t make a superhero.

    Do you consider your book(s) urban fantasy, paranormal romance or something else? What attracted you to the genre?

    We pitched it as urban fantasy, but superheroes are kind of hard to genre. Some would say sci fi (and I lean toward that a bit now myself), and Harlequin called it paranormal, but honestly, I don’t know. It’s urban. Superheroes can be considered fantastical or science fiction-y, so…sure?

    Let’s talk beasties. Do any monsters make appearances in your novels. If so, tell us about a few of them. Do you have a favorite? Don’t lie. Every parent…erm…author…does. Spill it. If not, what makes your book paranormal, urban fantasy or science fiction?

    The only monsters in THE MASKED SONGBIRD are of the human variety, but in my other books there are all manner of beasties. The first two and a half manuscripts I ever completed were full of vampires, shapeshifters, witches, and even dryads. Out of all of them, I think I loved the wildness of the shapeshifters and the otherworldliness of the dryads, because they were so unexpected. Those manuscripts might end up getting a polish this year and could end up seeing the light of day…

    Is this a series? Stand-alone book? If it is a series, what does the future look like for this series? How many more books to come? What can we expect and more importantly…WHEN!

    I’d originally envisioned THE MASKED SONGBIRD as a standalone, but when Harlequin asked for a sequel, I realized that there was more story there. It’ll end up being a duology, though I reserve the right to return to Gwen’s world for more if the muses lead.

    What else are you working on?

    I’m currently working on a witchy urban fantasy that I’m really excited about. I ran into some snags with a dual timeline, so I’ve been trying to figure out how I want to play it, but the premise is something that gets me all revved up. I’m also working on an epic fantasy, which is something I’ve wanted to do for ages. It’s been a stretch, but it’s something I’m very passionate about, and I can’t wait to delve into it once I’m past my deadlines!

    Of all the characters in your fictional world, which one or couple would you most like to hang out with over a long weekend? What would you do together? What actor or actress would play him/her in a movie?

    I’d love to take a nice mini-break to the western isles of Scotland with Gwen and Taog. Gwen’d probably spend most of her time roaming about, seeing how high she could jump – and Taog would likely enjoy hanging out and painting.

    Let’s talk about craft. Are you a plotter or pantser? What are the first steps you take before diving into the writing of the next book?

    I used to be a die hard pantser, but in the past couple years, I’ve become much more of a plotter. Whenever I’m about to dive into a new book, I sit down and work through character motivations, plot points, pinch points, and the structural girders of the book to make sure I have enough of a story for a novel. After that, I sometimes outline a few scenes. Other times, I’ll plunge into the words and see where they get me.

    How long does it typically take for you to write a novel.  Best case scenario? How about editing? How long will you pick at it before setting it free to the world?

    It usually takes me about two months of full on work to finish a novel. That can change a bit depending on circumstances – last year I wrote 80,000 words of a magical realism in January and didn’t have time to finish it until this January – but for the most part, it takes me eight weeks. I put each manuscript aside for a month or so as soon as I finish it, because I don’t like to read it immediately. I want fresh eyes when I look at my own work. After that, I’ll do one “pass” (which usually consists of at least three read-throughs for structure, plot, character, etc.) before sending it to my betas. Once they send me their notes, I try to compile everything into a readable document so I can see if they said similar things or where they differed and how I want to utilize their feedback. After I go through my next stage of revisions, it goes to my agent.

    Do you have any advice to new authors or anyone considering writing fiction?

    Learn to love criticism. There isn’t a single stage of this game that is free from it, so you’d best learn to not only deal with it, but to filter out what you need to hear and use it to make you better at your craft. Rejection is a rite of passage  — one that keeps on happening over and over again. If you let it tear you down, you won’t get far in this business. It’s easier said than done, but learning that criticism of your writing and rejection are not personal reflections on you as a human is one of the most important things that you can do if you want to make a career of telling stories in print.

    Can you give us a taste of what to expect?

    Mildly hapless Edinburgh accountant Gwenllian Maule is surviving. She’s got a boyfriend, a rescued pet bird and a flatmate to share rent. Gwen’s biggest challenges: stretching her last twenty quid until payday and not antagonizing her terrifying boss.

    Then Gwen mistakenly drinks a mysterious beverage that gives her heightened senses, accelerated healing powers and astonishing strength. All of which come in handy the night she rescues her activist neighbour from a beat-down by political thugs.

    Now Gwen must figure out what else the serum has done to her body, who else is interested and how her boss is involved. Finally—and most mysteriously—she must uncover how this whole debacle is connected to the looming referendum on Scottish independence.

    Gwen’s hunt for answers will test her superpowers and endanger her family, her friends—even her country.

    Excerpt:

    Chapter 1:

    Days Until Referendum: 24

     

    That’s the sound I imagine my boss’s head making when it explodes.

    Or maybe BLAM. A comic book noise, written in all-caps in a jagged bubble at the top of the panel while I dance a jig and pick bits of her out of my hair. As Annamaria de Fournay speaks into her mobile, not facing me, the back of her head displays no outward indication of an imminent explosion.

    She toys with a white card, eyes fixed on a bouquet of purple-blue flowers in a fluted white vase. “I appreciate the flowers,” she says without a hint of irony. “Interesting choice.”

    I wait for her to notice me, but her gaze remains locked on the angular petals. After a beat, she goes on.

    “The research has been completed? You’re certain, then.” She pauses, a hint of a smile hovering at the corner of her mouth. “You’ll have to work out what to put it in. Something sweet would work.” She turns her head away from the bouquet and starts, seeing me. The almost-smile vanishes. “I’ll ring you back.” She drops her mobile on the table and looks at me as if I’ve walked into the loo to find her on the toilet with her knickers around her ankles.

    She says nothing for forty-seven seconds. I cough. “Ms de Fournay, you wanted to see me?”

    “Took you long enough to get here.”

    I’m not going to remind her that she was on the phone when I arrived. What research was she talking about? A momentary picture of de Fournay at a chemistry set blowing up beakers of bright green liquid intrudes, and I shake it away before I crack a smile. She’s probably just researching the top ten habits of highly effective arseholes.

    The Queen swivels in her chair and turns her green eyes on me. I instantly pity the bouquet for having to endure forty-seven seconds of that stare.

    Her hair falls in exquisite curls to her breasts, and her nose rises toward the ceiling when I fail to apologise at once, and I look at my hands where they sit clasped in my lap, focusing my gaze on the small ruby ring Mum gave me when I turned eighteen.

    De Fournay laces her fingers on the table. Not one of her nails is smudged or chipped. Even if I made her salary, I don’t reckon I’d get a manicure every day. I refuse to accept that she keeps them so perfect without daily upkeep.

    “The financial you ran on Francis Duck’s merger lacked any glaring errors. He was very pleased, and he requested that I tell you personally of his…esteem.” Annamaria de Fournay’s lip quirks as if someone has tugged at a marionette string.

    I stare at her, waiting for her to continue. I don’t trust myself not to squeak or belch or scream if I open my mouth, so I nod with as much grace as I can muster.

    “Additionally, he asked that you be responsible for his summaries for the foreseeable future. I trust you understand the value of his continued loyalty to our company and conduct yourself accordingly.”

    I nod again, not sure if de Fournay just praised me or if I fell through my mirror this morning into Wonderland. Or Bizarroworld.

    For one shining moment, I think she’s going to let me go without a thrashing.

    Instead her lips, top and bottom, as even and calculated as the rest of her, flatten into a line. She gestures to the chair across from her, dropping a folder on the table.

    I sit, cupping the arms of my chair with both hands and trying to absorb the coolness of the plastic as a buffer against the verbal flamethrower she secrets away behind those lips. Her eyes are stony jade, her chin high, her skin smooth as a morning loch.

    One immaculate French-manicured fingernail lands on the file folder that bridges the mahogany conference table between us. The white crescent of the nail’s tip reflects the fluorescent light from the ceiling, and as she leans forward, I smell the rosewater she dabs at her temples every day at two-thirty.

    It might be a friendly gesture if I hadn’t seen it every day for three years. In spite of the compliment she just paid me, something in that file is my fault, and those even lips are about to part in a searing tirade against my character, my work ethic, my mum’s Welshness, my parochial highland crofter upbringing and the ethical conundrum of Mum allowing me to live past birth. Most days, Annamaria de Fournay believes my mother ought to have shrouded me in white linen and fed me to the selkies.

    She opens the folder. A rush of rose scent crests over the table like a breaking wave. Pushing one sheet of paper toward me, her lips manage to stay in formation even as she speaks.

    “Do read this date for me.”

    I blink, following the line of her finger down to its gleaming, polished end and read aloud. “Nineteenth of August.”

    “Do you not find that curious?”

    I find her accent obnoxious, but the date looks mundane enough to me.

    Annamaria de Fournay came to Edinburgh from Cambridge, but if you ask her about it, you’d think she came straight from Buckingham Palace. While I don’t doubt that she’s English, the way she pushes every vowel out through the bridge of her nose makes it sound as though she’s thanking her subjects in St James’s Court rather than pointing out a discrepancy in an accounting report.

    I shift my shoulders in response to her question.

    “This report was due the ninth of August, Ms Maule. Not the nineteenth, though I see how someone who squints as much as you do could imagine a one in front of the nine.”

    Och, aye. That. Truth is, the report was turned in on the eighth of the month, but telling her would just make her set me aflame.

    My eyesight is fine. I squint because her rosewater makes my eyes burn.

    I used to try to argue my case with her. At least until it resulted in her dragging me into her office every day to flay me with words. Bringing up Francis Duck’s account will only make her angrier. Now I shut up, try to tune her out, and hope she’ll let me return to my blissfully unscented office.

    I settle in, painting my face with an expression I hope radiates contrition and humility. I likely just look constipated, but she prattles on, and I wait for her mobile to beep for her next meeting. Two-thirty, rosewater scratch and sniff. Three o’clock, humiliate Gwenllian Maule. Three-thirty, fawn over clients and water them with expensive single malt.

    I’m a part of her schedule now, as surely as the rosewater.

    “We are Edinburgh’s finest accountancy firm, and the go-to resource for businesses in the northern United Kingdom. Our clients expect more than a crofter’s level of professionalism, Ms Maule. Sheep and accountancy are not bedfellows. You will submit a revised report by Friday. And,” she continues with no change in tone, “I will not tolerate any more careless mistakes of this nature. Do it again and I won’t wait for your annual review to fire you—and no number of compliments from Francis Duck will keep you in this office.”

    Fired. I can almost see bills popping up above my head in bubbles. Rent. Mobile. The university loans I make just enough to pay monthly. Credit cards. Car repayment for a car that doesn’t even run. My shoulders curl in, and the air I draw into my lungs feels thick, heavy. I’m glad I’m already sitting down, because I feel wobbly and lightheaded. My annual review is coming up in a couple short weeks. The review is just the excuse she needs to get rid of me, contract or no contract.

    De Fournay waits for my response, her eyes trained on my face.

    My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. I force the words out so she’ll stop looking at me. “It won’t happen again, Ms de Fournay.”

    I almost sound sure of it.

    Just my luck. One of our best clients picks me to do his reports, and she still finds a way to remind me that nothing I ever do here is good enough.

    Her eyes drop back to the desk, and I uncurl my shoulders, waiting for the air in the room to thin without her unblinking gaze to thicken it. Her fingernail scans across the report like a heat-seeking missile, searching for more mistakes she can throw in my face. Finding none, she returns to the subject of my idiocy.

    I stop listening and watch Annamaria de Fournay’s head, looking for signs of it going POOF. If only I could press a red button and make it so.

     

    Where can we find you and your books online?

    Twitter |  Facebook Goodreads |Amazon 

    IMG_7228

    Emmie Mears was born in Austin, Texas, where the Lone Star state promptly spat her out at the tender age of three months. After a childhood spent mostly in Alaska, Oregon, and Montana, she became a proper vagabond and spent most of her time at university devising ways to leave the country.

    Except for an ill-fated space opera she attempted at age nine, most of Emmie’s childhood was spent reading books instead of writing them. Growing up she yearned to see girls in books doing awesome things, and struggled to find stories in her beloved fantasy genre that showed female heroes saving people and hunting things. Mid-way through high school, she decided the best way to see those stories was to write them herself. She now scribbles her way through the fantasy genre, most loving to pen stories about flawed characters and gritty situations lightened with the occasional quirky humor.

    Emmie now lives in her eighth US state, still yearning for a return to Scotland. She inhabits a cozy domicile outside DC with two felines who think they’re lions and tigers.

     

     

     

     

     


  • Cara Bristol Author Interview: Breeder

    It’s Author Interview Friday. This is an opportunity to go behind the scenes, get into the nitty-gritty of the many paranormal worlds and enter into the fertile imaginations of authors I love. Bring a flashlight. It’s sometimes dark in here, but so worth the trip. Remember, monsters need love too. Otherwise, how would we ever have baby monsters?

    Think on THAT a while… Welcome, Author Cara Bristol. You’ve just released Breeder, a sci-fi erotic romance with a twist.

    Tell us a little bit about your story and what makes it different.  

    CB_Breeder_coverin Thanks, Lisa. Thank you so much for having me today. Breeder is about love thriving in an alien, hostile male-dominated world. Women are relegated to the role of breeding slaves. Men and women are forbidden by law to pair up. One of five ruling Alpha Commanders purchases a female to produce his progeny—but he falls in love and violates the law he’s charged to uphold. Breeder mixes many genres in one: sci-fi romance, dystopian sci-fi, domestic discipline, and a touch of M/M—although the story is primarily M/F.  What attracted you to the genre? I conceive the story and then decide which genre to plug it into. I like the liberating nature of sci-fi (and that’s true of paranormal also) in that I am not bound by contemporary limits of what is possible. Let’s talk world-building. Where and when is your novel set. What, if anything, makes your setting unique. Breeder takes place on Parseon, a planet that resembles its ally Terra. It is populated by humanoid aliens (hero Dak is quite the sexy dude), but their culture is totally different from Earth. Breeder blends futuristic elements (lasered weapons, advanced communication, sky tram travel, contact with alien species) with anachronistic ones (travel by beast-drawn conveyance, fighting with daggers). But what’s truly unique is the degree of misogyny in which love manages to bloom—I don’t think I’ve run across that in any other sci-fi romance book. Let’s talk beasties. Do any monsters make appearances in your current or other novels you’ve written. If so, tell us about a few of them. Do you have a favorite? Don’t lie. Every parent…erm…author…does. Spill it. If you don’t have any monsters making appearances, what makes your book paranormal, urban fantasy or science fiction? There is one super creepy alien that makes a cameo appearance in Breeder, but other than that, all the characters are humanoid. The villains are monstrous enough without them being actual monsters. I didn’t pull any punches—and by the way, neither do my villains. As to monsters in general, I’m partial to vampires—the sexy kind—and did feature one in my short story, A Scent of Longing, published by Decadent. However, I’ve come to realize that vampires are so yesterday. I hear reapers are new trending paranormal creature. Is Breeder a part of a series? Stand-alone book? If it is a series, what does the future look like for this series? How many more books to come? What can we expect and more importantly…WHEN! Breeder is part one of a trilogy. Book 2, Terran will be published mid May 2014. I’m writing the third book Warrior in hope of a fall publication 2014 date. I am toying with the idea of doing a “prequel” to the trilogy called Seer, which would tell how the Parseon society came to be so dominated by males and/or a “sequel” called Progeny, which would follow the stories of the adult children of Breeder characters. Although all the books are part of a series, they can be read as stand-alones. What else are you working on? I am in editing with my publishers on Terran (May release), and Long Shot (June release), a spanking romance novella. This year I also have to produce Warrior and want to finish the fifth Rod and Cane Society domestic discipline novel. Of all the characters in your fictional word, which one or couple would you most like to hang out with over a long weekend? What would you do together? What actor or actress would play him/her in a movie? I would like to meet Mark DeLuca, the deputy chief of police from Body Politics and take a tour of the Rod and Cane Society mansion. Oh. My. God. Mark is sexy. But he’s hooked up with Stephanie, the heroine, so I’d need a time machine to travel back before he meets her. Then again, maybe I could just rewrite the book and make Stephanie dump him for a plumber. Oh wait, I’m married. I guess I’ll just meet with both of them for dinner. As to who might play him in a movie, I need that time machine again, because a young Sean Connery would be a perfect choice. I daydream most of my plots. I have a sketchy idea of major plot points and then fill in the details day by day as I write. It’s the sky diving approach to writing a novel. Hm…should I have checked the parachute before I jumped? How long does it typically take for you to write a novel.  Best case scenario? How about editing? How long will you pick at it before setting it free to the world? I write the first draft at a speed of 30k to 40K per month. It takes me as long to edit/proof as it does to write a first draft. So I can whip out a polished 30K novella in two months. I did write 50K of Terran for Nanowrimo, and then took another nine days to wrap it up with another 12K. But that was humping it. Do you have any advice to new authors or anyone considering writing fiction? There is so much that they need to know, but I’ll limit my advice to two things. No. 1, if you do nothing else, eliminate “was” from your manuscript. That alone will result in stronger writing. Rule of thumb: no more than an average of three wases per page. No. 2, get socially connected before you try to publish. Start a blog, build Twitter followers and Facebook friends, open a Goodreads account, get chatty with other authors, read strategically (in your genre). Can you give us a taste of what to expect? Breeder blurb To secure his legacy, Commander Dak, a ruling Alpha of planet Parseon, purchases Omra, a breeder slave. He intends to impregnate her, produce a son, and hand her off to his anointed beta partner. As Dak and Omra discover a sexual bliss banned by law, he begins to question the traditions and ways of his people, causing him to jeopardize his command and endanger the life of the woman he has come to love. Breeder explores the concepts of gender roles and social prohibitions against deviant behavior. It includes nonconsensual domestic discipline and M/F and M/M sexual practices. Breeder excerpt If not for the sneeze, Dak would have exited the musty, dank corridor. But the muffled sound caught his attention. When he squinted into the darkened cell, he spotted a female crouched on a straw mat in the corner. He hadn’t noticed her on his way into the Breeder Containment Facility; the habitation unit had appeared empty. Dak turned to the BCF director and sighed. “What about her?” The beta’s already crooked mouth drooped farther in distaste. “My apologies, Commander. You don’t want that one.” Sival’s disparagement piqued Dak’s interest. The director’s opinion had proven worthless; none of the breeders he’d preselected for inspection had rated close to satisfactory. “I would like to see her,” Dak insisted. “Very well, Commander.” Sival saluted and opened the habitation cell with a master entry card. Dak stepped into the small enclosure. The director followed, and the metal gate clanked shut. The naked female drew into a tighter ball and tucked her face deeper into the crook of her arm. Other breeders had preened as soon as they’d noticed him and his chest-insignia identification. He wasn’t just an alpha. He was the Alpha. This breeder’s lack of respect and failure to adhere to Protocol by acknowledging his presence struck him as odd. Dak frowned. “Is she mentally deficient?” Sival tightened his lips. “No, stubborn, ill behaved. She would not befit an Alpha Commander.” He nudged the female’s hip with the toe of his boot. “Rise to your feet.” She did not respond, and he moved to prod her again. Dak forestalled him with a wave and grasped the female’s arm. “You will stand.” He hauled her upright. She averted her face, so he grabbed her chin and forced her to look at him. Tangled hair the color of black heating stones fell back from an oval face to reveal eyes like the Parseon moon. The glimmer of intelligence that sparked within the violet depths aroused his interest more than anything else he’d seen so far. Nature had bestowed the Parseon people with an exceptionally strong immune system so that they rarely required medical intervention, but breeders by nature were weak, and so many of the ones he’d seen had seemed dull or ill or both. This one’s skin, when unsmudged by grime and dirt, probably glowed like the pale sands of the Ospian Sea. He supposed, as breeders went, she wasn’t unattractive, although the stench emanating from her was. His beta would throw a fit if he dragged such a creature into their domicile. “Why is she so filthy?” he asked. “She refuses to bathe.” As Dak scrutinized her facial features for shape and symmetry, he noted little imperfection or dysgenics other than her lack of hygiene and her gender. When cleaned up, she would please the eye, but to bear his sons, it mattered more that she be healthy and strong. He released her face, stepped back, and assessed her from head to toe. He exceeded the height of most males, alphas included, while she stood smaller than the average female. The top of her head failed to even meet his shoulder. She was thinner than other breeders too, although her chest bore an abundance of fatty breast tissue. In the chill of the cell, her nipples had puckered to hard points. Despite the coolness, he was experiencing a rise in temperature. A dormant lust chose that moment to kindle, causing heat to coil in his abdomen and groin. He could not remember the last time he’d experienced such a spontaneous reaction—if he ever had. With the pads of his fingers, he probed the sides of her neck for swollen areas. The way she trembled under his touch aroused a sliver of sympathy. Breeders lacked courage, and uncertainty frightened them. Not all alphas and their betas treated breeders well. If he chose her, she would be adequately fed and housed. His command consumed his time and energy, which left his beta alone for long stretches. A breeder would relieve Corren of household chores and provide him with a physical outlet as well. “What is she called?” Dak asked. “Her sire named her Omra.” Peace, it meant. He parted Omra’s lips with his fingers and slipped a digit into her mouth, running it along her upper gum line to check the solidness of her teeth. At a flash in her eyes, he jerked his hand away a centisecond before she snapped her jaws together, so that her incisor only grazed the tip of his finger. Sival’s face reddened. “Commander, I apologize. I will have her flogged.” “Unnecessary. I will take care of it.” He unclipped the sudon from his belt.   Where can we find you and your books online?  Amazon Buy Link BN Loose Id Buy Link ARe Buy Link Author website Amazon Author Page Twitter  @CaraBristol Facebook

    Cara Bristol

    Cara Bristol has written everything from mainstream long and short fiction to nonfiction magazine and newspaper articles. She sold her first erotic romance in 2009. Now multi-published, she has ten erotic romances and three anthologies to her name. The author of the popular Rod and Cane Society domestic discipline series, Cara writes spanking fiction most often, but her published works also include contemporary and paranormal erotic romances. Breeder is her first science fiction novel and the start of a series. She lives in the Midwest United States with her husband. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, traveling, and watching reality TV shows.