Jack Cannon's American Destiny

Rachel Thompson

Friday, February 28, 2014

Christina George's #WriteTip on How to Find a Publisher @PublicistGal #Romance #AmReading

How to Find a Publisher
I’ve been in publishing for almost 20 years. When I first started as a publicist, out there on my own things were very different in publishing. You had to have an agent to get a publisher and back then, it was pretty easy to sell a book. Well, easy is relative of course, and perhaps easier than it is now.
The big paradigm shift has come from a few places: the shrinking bookstore shelves, Amazon which sort of swept up the playing field when it came to online purchases of books, and readers buying fewer books. Then came the authors who were willing to self-publish, and did so very well, climbing to huge success and ready for a publisher to snap them up. All of this changed the dynamic of what publishers want.
Authors wanting to find a traditional publishing house need to know a few things. First, all of the above has resulted in publishers who are pretty risk-averse. They want to buy books they know will sell which is why so many of them snap up self-published titles that have found a market. If you aren’t willing to self-publish your book, then consider raising your own author profile even before you’ve signed a deal. This means getting a website, starting to blog and getting on social media. If speaking is your thing, you may consider that, too. Second, publishers want to know that the author can sell their own book and is willing to do so. Having an author who is already marketing by having a website and social media presence is pretty attractive to most publishers. Third, and perhaps most important, you need to know your markets. I’m speaking of the market you are writing in as well as the publishing market in general. Getting to know who is buying what, what publishers are looking for in terms of books and what changes are happening in the industry will set you ahead of most of your competition. Wondering where you can learn about publishing? Well, start by subscribing to a few free sites like Publishersmarketplace.com and the DigitalBookWorld.com newsletter. Both are free, both offer daily tidbits on publishing and authors.
Another surprising way to increase your chances of finding a publisher is by having a clean manuscript. I know when our editors decide to take on a book, this is something they look for, too. Believe it or not, they want something that’s been edited. Don’t send them something half-assed because unless it’s the most unbelievable piece of literature ever, they won’t take it. Keep in mind, however, that if a publisher decides to take you on, you will likely have to rewrite certain portions of it and the original manuscript you sent them may go through a lot of changes. It’s part of the process; to get the book to commercial levels there is a lot of work involved. Rarely does a manuscript arrive at a publisher commercially ready to go. Most, if not all, need work. But the more attention you can show to detail from the start, the better your chances of finding someone to publish your book.
Many ask me if they need an agent. Here’s the thing, agents are fantastic but like everything else in publishing, their world is changing, too. Agents are a necessity for many seeking a publisher, so yes, you should submit to agents when needed, though some publishers (such as the Love Swept line from Penguin) accept unagented works.
Finally, is there a market for your book? This is a very tough question to ask yourself, I know. We all want to think that our books are marketable but often many aren’t. So, how do you know? Well, research will tell you where there is a market for what you’ve written. Check out your local bookstore and see what other titles there are similar to yours. If there aren’t any, there may be a reason why. Next, have someone who can be objective give you some solid feedback. When I say objective I mean no one you know. You may have to pay for this advice but it can be really worth it. Find someone in publishing, a coach or a marketing person, but beware that they don’t try to sell you some publishing package or something you hadn’t planned on. Start with straight coaching or editorial feedback so you know if you have a solid book and a one that has a market.
Publishing has changed, many say for the better, and  I would tend to agree. Digital books, self-publishing, and authors willing to do the work have brought in a tsunami of change into a pretty old-guard world. Publishers must evolve or die and, despite the fact that they aren’t willing to take the risks they were say, ten years ago, they are still looking for books. Who knows, yours could be next.
Publishing: An industry of out-of-control of egos, unrealistic expectations, and books with the shelf life of milk. This is Kate’s world, but for how long? When one of Kate Mitchell’s star authors is carted away in handcuffs, she thinks it’s only the beginning of her troubles. As her world crumbles around her, Kate desperately looks for anyone to hold onto but finds that happy endings are truly works of fiction. When her career and love affair hit their expiration date, Kate sets off on a new adventure….
Starting over in California is easy, but Kate soon learns that leaving her old life behind isn’t. Nicholas Lavigne is eager to help her forget, but two things still own her heart, the dream of discovering the next great American novel, and MacDermott Ellis. As Kate tries to rebuild her life she finds a surprising gift that reboots her career in a new and unexpected direction. Suddenly her name becomes synonymous with one of the biggest bestsellers publishing has seen in ages and she's welcomed back with open arms. At the height of her success the ghosts of her past come back to remind her of the world she'd been trying to forget and the man who never let go of her heart. Behind the book, there’s always more to the story. Welcome to Publishing, the ego has landed.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Contemporary Romance
Rating – R
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Connect with Christina George on Facebook & Twitter

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Fool for Love by Merry Farmer @MerryFarmer20

Chapter Four

The Majestic rose up out of the water in its Liverpool dock with all the glory of its name.  Amelia held one hand to her hat and stared at its iron sides, its two dun-colored funnels and three tall masts.  The ship was a strange thing to her, a mixture of old and new, progress with hints of the past.  It had sails that could be unfurled in a pinch, but with its powerful new engines, the ship could cross the ocean in a week.

Seven days to a new world.  It was an exact description of everything her life had become.  It was every bit as daunting.

“What am I doing?” Amelia whispered, staring at the hopeful monstrosity in front of her.  It was one thing to accept an offer for a new life.  It was another thing entirely to go through with it.

She turned away from the ship, swallowing the nausea that had plagued her since she’d left her mother’s house.  This time it wasn’t morning sickness.  That was long past.  At the moment, the baby was the least of her worries.  Her stomach rolled over the idea that she was about to board a ship heading for a new life at the mercy of a stranger, a man, no less.  The last time she had trusted her life and her future to a man had been a disaster.

She paced, purse clutched to her chest, scanning the busy dock in search of her American savior.  Men, women, and children crowded the gangplanks, eager to start their journeys, excited and hopeful.  Many of the third-class passengers carried bundles that indicated theirs was a one-way trip as much as hers was.  Eric had left her there to go buy her ticket, but there was nothing stopping him from running off and leaving her stranded.  Like her father.  Like Nick.  She was a fool to agree to this.  She pivoted and marched away from the ship.

No, she stopped herself after a handful of steps, this was the best decision she could have made.  She may have felt small and lonely standing by herself, waiting, heart and stomach fluttering, but she was as much a part of the intrepid adventurers seeking a new life in America as any of her fellow passengers.  This was right.


“Well, we got a minor problem on our hands.”

The twang of Eric’s accent shocked Amelia from her worries.  She spun to face him as he approached her with wide strides, scratching his head and looking as guilty as a schoolboy.

“A problem?” she asked, voice fluttering.

“Yeah.  I went to buy you a ticket, but they’re plumb sold out.”

Amelia’s chest tightened and her tender stomach lurched.  “Oh.  Oh dear.  Well I suppose….”

She lowered her eyes, heart aquiver.  As quickly as it started, her chance for a new life was over.  All that worrying for nothing.

She squared her shoulders to face her fate.  “I … I thank you for your efforts on my behalf regardless, Mr. Quinlan.”

Eric’s brow crinkled into a curious frown.  “Regardless?”

“I suppose I could find work here in Liverpool,” she explained.  “Surely there must be a shop somewhere that would look the other way from….”  She lowered her hand to the mound of her stomach.

Eric’s lips twitched.  The morning sunlight caught in his eyes.  “I didn’t want to have to put you in third-class, so I told them you were my wife.”

Amelia blinked.  “You what?”

“I told them we’re newlyweds.  I reserved my stateroom in first class last year when I came over.  Good thing I paid for it then too, ‘cuz after this fiasco of a trip I’ll never ride first-class again.  Anyhow, when they said they didn’t have any more rooms, I told them you were my wife and that we would be staying in the same stateroom.  They sold me a ticket for that.”  He handed her a fresh, clean ticket with her name written as ‘Mrs. Amelia Quinlan’.  “Sorry.”

Amelia held perfectly still on the outside, but on the inside her heart pounded and her stomach rolled with guilt for questioning him.  He wasn’t abandoning her.  He had gone out of his way to help her.  Her heart squeezed as it never had before.  She took the ticket from him with a trembling hand, hardly noticing when her fingers brushed his.  She was rescued after all.

“Thank you, Mr. Quinlan.  You have no idea how much this kindness means to me.”  She had to concentrate on breathing, standing straight, and looking up into his handsome eyes with a smile to keep her tears at bay.

“You don’t mind sharing then?” he asked her.


Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Western Historical Romance

Rating – R

More details about the author and the book

Connect with Merry Farmer on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://merryfarmer.net

5 Rules for New #Authors by Kevin Sterling @KSterlingWriter #WriteTip #AmWriting

“5 Rules for New Authors” 
When I meet new people, and they find out I’m an author, it’s amazing how many of them say, “I have this great idea for a book, but I just haven’t had the time to sit down and write it yet.” Usually I just say “you should” and leave it at that. But if we get into a deep conversation on the subject, I’ll try to gently let them know that writing a book is not as easy as it sounds.
Constructing a full length novel is a lot of work, and for many people the first book takes years to finish. That’s probably because storylines have a way of going into unexpected directions, so they get complicated very fast, and eventually the manuscript is such a convoluted mess that it gets set aside for weeks or months before the author has the stomach to tackle it again…if ever. Very often, he or she intends to work on it at some point every day, but it’s much easier to put life’s necessities first, and there’s never time to get back to that book.
So, if you’re working on or intending to start a first novel, here are a few basic rules to follow if you hope to have a finished and marketable manuscript at any point in the foreseeable future.
  1. Schedule a regular time to write. Make it every day, week or weekend, but stick to it. Tell your family and friends that this time is important to you, and they need to respect it.
  2. Use an outline. If you want to “wing it” with later books, that’s fine. But once you realize the value of an outline, you probably won’t. The key is to ensure that your outline and manuscript are in alignment at all times. Modify the outline every day if necessary to correspond with any changes you’ve made to the book. Allowing the two to get out of sync will be a nightmare. Believe me. I’ve been there.
  3. Understand POV. If you’re writing in third person, read everything you can about point of view (POV), and get the rules down before you start. For example, every chapter or section should be written from a single POV, and you cannot describe any other character’s thoughts or feelings. You can only write what your POV character’s observations or beliefs about the other person’s feelings may be. Nothing more.
  4. Pick a tense and stick with it. Most third-person narrative is written in past tense, but you’ll see first-person in present or past. I’ve read manuscripts as a favor for people, and it amazes me how often the two are mixed together. The only exception, of course, is dialogue, which is always in present tense because you’re regurgitating what was said at the time.
  5. Use an editor. No one – not even the best-selling writers in the world – can produce a viable manuscript without an editor. Ideally, this is an industry professional who not only points out story plot failures, inaccuracies and awful passages that simply must go, but who also identifies typos, grammatical mistakes, repetitive words, passive versus active descriptions, etc. Not everyone can afford a professional at first, so at least find someone who is very proficient in English like another budding writer, but they must be brutally honest with you. Then, trade favors or see if you can get by with taking them out for a nice dinner. You do NOT want to self-publish or submit a book that is littered with mistakes. It’s the surest way to kill a writing career before it even starts.
Of course, there are dozens of other practical rules and industry standards out there, which is partly why writing novels is so challenging. But it’s just a matter of time before they become second nature.
Happy writing!
Kevin Sterling

The Jack Lazar Series has it all from mystery and suspense to action, humor and romance

Jack heads to Egypt to investigate a crash-landed World War II fighter plane that was recently discovered in the middle of the Sahara. But something remarkable was left onboard, and people will stop at nothing to possess it.

An Egyptian Girl with Blue Eyes? Just Stunning.

But Jack soon finds himself in the middle of a hornet's nest as he becomes enthralled with Dalia, an exquisite woman of Egyptian and English descent whose father is the Egyptian Head Consul to the UK, not to mention a formidable ex-agent with the Mukhabarat. The man's skills and weapons come in handy as he and Jack join forces to battle a faction that has plans to kill millions of innocent people and subject the world to their twisted ideologies.

A Race Against Time

The trail leads to Northern Europe as all hell breaks loose. And before long, it's up to Jack and Jack alone to cheat death as he struggles to save Dalia, her father, and scores of unsuspecting people from the plot of a deranged madman.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Action, Mystery, Suspense
Rating – R
More details about the author
Connect with Kevin Sterling on Facebook and Twitter

Saturday, February 22, 2014

#WriteTip from Sandy Nathan on Making Characters Believable @SandyONathan #SciFi #MustRead

How to Make Your Characters Believable
“Characters you’ll want to hang out with—where does Sandy Nathan find these people? They live, they breathe. You love ’em. You hate ’em. And, you care about them. That’s what makes their story so engaging.” — Laren Bright, award-winning writer and three-time Emmy nominee
I was thrilled when the testimonial above came in. Others have said similar things about my characters. Where do I get them? How do I write them? What techniques do I use?
In truth, I have no idea where they come from or why they seem real or how I write good characters. This isn’t very helpful, so I contemplated this question and came up with the following insights to share with you.
The bottom line is: my characters are everything I’ve done, everything that’s happened to me, all of my feelings and reactions and pain, and my situation in life as I write. They’re everything I’ve learned about writing, a collage of all of my past work, and what bothers me in my deepest gut. My characters are created from what I’ve experienced in every meditation retreat or spiritual event in my life: my dreams, my fantasies, archetypes, and personal depths. They are also my verbal IQ.
They’re all of me and, as such, are non-transferable. If you’re planning on writing the way I do, you’ll have to delve into yourself and find the deep inner currents that carry memorable characters.
Let’s get a little more precise about the origin and development of my characters.
How did I come up with Eliana, the exquisite visitor from another planet, and Jeremy Edgarton, the sixteen-year-old genius revolutionary, the main characters of The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy?
As I discuss in the Author’s Note in The Angel, Eliana came to me hours after I had a totally unexpected mystical experience. As I slept, I experienced a brilliant golden light hovering over my bed. It exuded love, acceptance, and joy. It took away pain. The light lowered itself onto me as I lay in bed and merged with me. I got to feel the state of the angel: total goodness, purity, kindness, and love. The state went with me into my day, gradually declining until I was my normal self.
Shortly afterward, I experienced something like a tear in the fabric of the universe and Eliana was there. Jeremy followed soon after. The outlines of their stories were present in my mind and soul. The rest of the book followed in the next few days.
Why did I have that transcendental experience? Was it the phase of the moon? The alignment of the stars? A past life experience?
No. My younger brother died tragically and unexpectedly. I loved my brother dearly. He had a very difficult life. My heart was breaking––and that angelic presence came to me.
That is how an intuitive gets a story and characters. Do you know what an intuitive is?
The famous Swiss psychiatrist and psychologist Carl Jung developed a theory of personality types to explain differences between the ways he and his buddies, Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler, viewed the world. This has extreme relevance to writers. Here’s a blog article I wrote about Jung’s typology and why it matters to you.
The article talks about finding your Jungian type and about readers’ probable Jungian types. This is important: people who have the same Jungian type as you will like what you write. They are that tribe who all the consultants say you should find.
But some types are more numerous than others. In my article, which you really should read, you’ll find that just two types comprise almost 80% of the market. Those are the feeling and sensate types. If you are an intuitive (like me, yay!) or a thinking type, you’re fighting for a lousy 21.5% of the population from the outset.
As an example, I’m an intuitive. We like detail. We want to know everything that’s happened to our characters, every feeling and thought and fear they’ve had since birth. We also want to know about our characters’ personal growth trajectory and that of their dogs. And cats. Goldfish. We write long books.
But does everyone––the two types that make up almost 80% of the population––like long books? No. You have to modify your basic writing tendencies to attain a wide readership. There’s a lot more in the article.
The best way to make your writing more palatable to the population is edit the sucker. A good content editor will turn a 240,000 word monster manuscripts into a svelte 120,000 word novel that people will love to read. That’s what my editor did. It hurt, but I’ve got all this short story material now.
What does this have to do with creating realistic characters? You have your Jungian type. You’ll write a certain way because of it. That’s a curse or a blessing. Thinking and sensate types are probably going to have a hard time creating deep characters. They will be great at thrillers, mysteries, action adventure tales, and textbooks. Feeling types create the romance industry. Intuitives write visionary stuff, sci-fi, fantasy, and related. The Feelers and Intuitives like deep characters. They understand emotions and complexes and personal conflicts.
If you’re a Feeling type or Intuitive, you’ll have the basic requirements of writing believable characters, but you still have to learn to write. This means working with coaches, editors, and writing groups. Going to conferences. Reading about writing skills. Reading everything all the time, developing an ear for what’s good. It means tearing your work apart a zillion times. Being compulsive about every little word.
I’ve done the above since 1995—eighteen years, with no end in sight. But I’m learning to write. Learning, not “have learned.” It’s a lifelong process.
Writing believable characters means living with the way your work is presented to you. I have the big, uplifting blast offs that my personality presents me with.
Since you know that I got the inspiration for the Earth’s End series from my brother’s death, does this mean that someone has to die every time I start a book? No. The tear in the fabric of reality that allows my books to come stays open. If I use what’s given to me and write the book, more books flood out, in the same way that more toothpaste comes out if you squeeze the tube with the cap off.
Something even worse than my brother dying happened to me in the 1990s. I got the Bloodsong Series from that. Two books from that series have been published and maybe ten more bang from inside my hard drive, wanting out. What happened was so horrendous that I’m still inspired. Books flutter around me like moths. I just started a new one about a seven-year-old girl who is a bounty hunter––and a witch.
Anyway, characters. A big inner event happens. My whole life and soul gets activated from the gritty dregs to transcendental heights. Characters appear. And not all are from a single burst. They come to me as I’m standing at the vegetable counter at the grocery store. Walking to the barn. Taking a shower. Eventually, I end up in front of a computer with words pouring out of my fingers.
I write as inspiration moves me. I sit at my computer like a director creating a movie, playing all of the parts. When I’m writing my characters, I am the characters. I become them. I know how they think and feel. What they look like. They reveal more of themselves to me as I get to know them better.
For instance, I was writing one character and realized she was phobic. Afraid of everything. Saw a shrink, took medication. Another guy lived in Florida and went out airboating on the Everglades pretty often. He couldn’t swim and was afraid of water, but he really liked the birds on the ‘glades. I didn’t know that about those “people” when I started writing.
Glimmers of intuition give me the characters. Sitting with them, and letting them talk, reveals who they are. Feeling the characters in his or her body, hearing them breathe and talk, that’s how I do characters.
They come to me. I write them.
Tomorrow morning at 7:35 AM, a nuclear holocaust will destroy the planet. Two people carry the keys to survival: Jeremy Edgarton, a 16-year-old, tech genius and revolutionary; and Eliana, the angelic, off-world traveler sent to Earth on a mission to prevent her planet's death.
Welcome to a future world only heartbeats from our own. 
By the late 22nd century, the Great Recession of the early 2000s has lead to a worldwide police state. A ruined United States barely functions. Government control masks chaos, dissenters are sent to camps, and technology is outlawed. War rages while the authorities proclaim the Great Peace.
It's New York City on the eve of nuclear Armageddon. 
Join Eliana & Jeremy as they begin a quest to save two doomed planets . . . and find each other. 
Buy Now @ Amazon
When the earth blows up at the end of The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy (Earth's End 1) that was it, right? The characters go off in all directions, nevermore to be seen.
Not exactly. In Lady Grace, a few survivors of the nuclear holocaust make their way back to Piermont Manor, Jeremy Edgarton's ancestral estate. The radiation is gone and it's finally safe to go home.
What awaits them makes their worst dreams look like Bollywood frolics. Right away, they find out that evolution can work for evil as well as good. Going home requires a battle more deadly than any they've fought.
The returning characters appear from everywhere, in ways you'd never believe. Some of them you've met before; some are new to Tales from Earth's End.
Bud Creeman and Wesley Silverhorse, characters from author Sandy Nathan's novel, Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money, drop in from the year 2015, thousands of years before the time of Lady Grace. Bud and Wes provide needed Native American skills and spiritual power.
Shining through it all is Lady Grace, a phoenix rising from the devastation of her civilization, unrecognizable as the person she once was.
It was a new world, 
but was it one that permitted love?
Buy Now @ Amazon
HE KNEW HER WORK WAS MURDER Sam Baahuhd has been the village headman for twenty-two years. Like all the headmen in surrounding villages, he has powers. But Sam's powers are greater than any headman's, anywhere, ever. He controls others with his speech and heals with a touch. Even with what he can do, Sam has survived only because he's kept his fellow villagers from murdering him. They're a gang of thugs who spend most of their time drunk or stoned. Sam and the villagers live on Veronica Edgarton's estate. Or they do until nuclear Armageddon forces them into a huge underground bomb shelter. When Sam carries a naked stranger into the shelter, he knows what she did before the war. Her work was murder--murdering people.
She tortured people until they broke, or died. She was a federal agent in a police state. Nuclear radiation traps Sam and Emily and the rest of the village's residents in an echoing cement cavern three hundred feet beneath the earth's surface. There is no escape from the underground. Not for them. Or their children, or their children's children . . . Sam has no idea Emily will ignite his heart and change his world. The lovely outsider carries deadly secrets. Only Sam with his village headman's power can heal her. Only Emily can make Sam the man he was meant to be. Passion explodes between them. Passion that brings joy and pain, ecstasy and remorse. Passion that can kill. Join Sam & Emily for a legendary love story you'll never forget.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Metaphysical Science Fiction
Rating – R
More details about the author
Connect with Sandy Nathan on Facebook and Twitter

Friday, February 21, 2014

RJ Blain's #WriteTip for Forging Connections Between Readers & Fans @rj_blain #AmWriting #Fantasy

Many authors have a dream of making a stable living and income from their writing. This dream is difficult to accomplish. The very first step towards being able to become a successful writer is having the ability to forget a connection between readers and fans. Readers and fans who feel that intangible connection with an author are more likely to purchase every book in your backlist, buy new releases, and spread the word about your writing to their friends.
This connection is a key part of building a fan base and readership.
This process is a lot easier said than done, unfortunately. You have to first be noticed by potential readers. From there, you need to catch their attention. Finally, you need to forge that connection with them. It’s hard enough to get noticed by potential readers, let alone keep and hold their attention. There are ways that you can encourage them to remember you, however.
Be a Friendly Internet Presence
A lot of readers connect with writers on the internet. Be a real, fun, and interesting person on the internet, and people will remember you. Engaging with readers and fans is a great way to help build a connection with them. Sure, it takes a little time away from your writing, but the rewards far outweigh the initial investment.
Be Unique
Readers are people too. Never forget that. They want to form relationships with people they’re interested in. Be interesting. Be unique. That doesn’t mean you have to do crazy, wild stunts, either. It just means you have to be yourself. Embrace the things that make you, well, you. If you enjoy photography, take those photographs and share them with your friends and fans on the internet. Let your passions show.
Who knows? Maybe someone who likes your photography, your art, or you other passions will become a fan of your writing as a result. Don’t be afraid to show your true colors, even if you end up painting yourself as a geek, nerd, or someone unusual.
Unusual can be another word for inspiring and interesting.
Be Careful How You Reply to Fans
When a fan or potential reader talks to you on a social media network, take the time to say hello or even a simple thank you if they love your books. That said, be classy when you reply to your fans. Some authors melt down when they receive a negative review of their books. Your writing isn’t you, and scorning readers is a good way to turn your current readers and fans into people who would rather read books written by someone else.
Your About The Author Blurb and Photo 
Most people will meet you for the first time through your ‘about the author’ blurb and your photograph. Use a professional image and write a blurb that matches your style and personality. This will help readers forge their initial connection with you.
Just remember, when you write your blurb, your new fans and readers want to know a little bit about your life, so don’t forget to add it in, even if you think it’s boring – it isn’t to those people who want to learn a little more about you.
Kalen’s throne is his saddle, his crown is the dirt on his brow, and his right to rule is sealed in the blood that stains his hand. Few know the truth about the one-armed Rift King, and he prefers it that way. When people get too close to him, they either betray him or die. The Rift he rules cares nothing for the weak. More often than not, even the strong fail to survive.
When he’s abducted, his disappearance threatens to destroy his home, his people, and start a hopeless and bloody war. There are many who desire his death, and few who hope for his survival. With peace in the Six Kingdoms quickly crumbling, it falls on him to try to stop the conflict swiftly taking the entire continent by storm.
But something even more terrifying than the machinations of men has returned to the lands: The skreed. They haven’t been seen for a thousand years, and even the true power of the Rift King might not be enough to save his people — and the world — from destruction.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Fantasy
Rating – PG - 13
More details about the author
Connect with RJ Blain on Facebook and Twitter

Floats The Dark Shadow by Yves Fey @YvesFey #excerpt #historical #mystery

Excerpt from Deleted Chapter at a strange Paris shop.  Fun, but it didn’t further the mystery enough.

Dark gleaming eyes watched her.

Black lips parted to show fearsome fangs.

Mesmerized, Theodora stared at the snarling leopard crouched and ready to spring.

Laughter erupted nearby.  Paused on the threshold, Theo fought the answering smile that quivered at the edge of her lips.  Instead, she pressed one hand to her heart, the other to her brow, and faux swooned against the doorjamb.  “Save me.  I will be devoured.”

“Save you from such a unique death?”  Paul exclaimed.  “Never!”

“Indeed, what poet would spare you such a devastatingly delicious experience?” Casimir  inquired.

“Delicious for the leopard,” Theo scoffed, stepping into Deyrolle’s taxidermist shop.  Underneath bowls of potpourri exuding rosemary, lemon, and lavender, she breathed a musty aroma of fur and feathers, a hint of chemicals.  Kneeling in front of the leopard, she felt its sharp fangs and stroked its rough, spotted pelt.  She wished she could feel the muscle ripple beneath the hide.  How wonderful that would be—to stroke a live leopard.

Despite all the praises Theo had heard, this was her first visit to Deyrolle’s.  She loved living animals and had had little desire to visit a shop full of dead ones, however unusual.  Now that she was here, to her surprise, she felt caught in its spell.  There was a strange blending of cruelty and in love the preservation of these creatures.  Violation and honor. 

Still kneeling, she looked about her.  Hovering above the crouching leopard, a crane soared on outstretched wings.  A passageway opened to either side.  In one, a baby elephant lifted its trunk as if sniffing the air.  In the other, a huge king cobra rose, spreading his hood.  Beside the winding staircase stood a mannequin in a dapper suit and striped cravat, topped with the head of a gazelle.  Deyrolle’s managed to be at once charming, sad, and unnerving.

Theo stood and went to join the Revenants who had responded to Averill’s request to meet here.  Casimir, Paul, Jules were gathered around a glass case near the elephant.  They were dressed in descending degrees of elegance, aristocratic, professorial, and shabby country church mouse.  Also present were les trois Traits—the three Hyphens, as Paul had dubbed them—three slim, dark-haired poets named Jean-Jacques, Pierre-Henri, and Louis-LeRoi, professor, student, and fledgling lawyer …

There was a bucket with three bottles of iced champagne on the floor beside them, and a fancy basket held crystal flutes.  An attendant waiting behind the cash register had a towel draped over his arm, as if champagne were de rigueur on such occasions.  Theo looked around for Averill and saw him descend the curving staircase that led to the next floor.  Her heart trip-stepped at the sight of him.  At first he seemed freshly scrubbed, almost boyish.  His hair was smoothly pomaded, his linen gleaming white, and his suit neatly pressed.  When he came close to greet her, she saw dark circles under his eyes.  Too much studying—or too much absinthe?


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Genre – Historical Mystery
Rating – R
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Once Humans by Massimo Marino @Massim0Marin0 #scifi #excerpt

From Dan Amenta’s Journal

We had the perfect life in the French-Swiss countryside until that mysterious windstorm in February. No one realized anything unusual has happened, but the next morning, while driving Annah, my daughter, to school, I discovered that vehicles littered the highway, with their dead occupants still inside.

Returning home, no one answered the phone at any of the emergency departments nor could I or my wife, Mary, reach our relatives and friends. Checking on the neighbors, I found them dead.

We soon realized we might be the only survivors of a global catastrophe. We stock up on emergency supplies, turn the house into a stronghold, and collected food and medicines. The Internet still worked so I launched a large, online campaign to find other survivors with the hope of learning more about what we were facing. While waiting for any response at all, I managed to befriend some neighborhood dogs and we armed ourselves with survival gear.

At first, it felt weird and disturbing to go into stores and take things without paying but, of course, there was no one to pay. The whole world had become a ghost town.


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Genre – Science Fiction
Rating – PG-13
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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Goodnight, Gustav Klein by Elliot C. Mason @ArthurRay44 #Romance #Travel

Goodnight, Gustav Klein
Chapter I - Change

Stark parades of wintry air pounded the reddened face of Gustav Klein. He was unadorned, not bothering to notice the skilfully rehearsed tricks of the Scottish wind; he was lost in a burning recollection, sketches of the past inside his mind hurling from one side to the other, dipping a steady toe into consciousness, ablaze and frantic. A crack expanding between ruptured stone, the dam burst and a flood of memories enthralled the wayfarer, whose hair jittered in the gale, who considered the season of intrepid sadness, lust and turmoil which had brought him to this point, to the peak of his sorrows, where the only way now to go is down.

              He was standing atop a small mountain near Aviemore, in the Cairngorms. The air was not warm, but it never is. And the fatigued rambler looked down, back to his trail of hope, drenched in the blood of reality, at the slopes and crevasses of his journey.

              To wind back through the broken ruins of history, the scratched dance floor: the ballet pumps of time stretch outward, arms fixed parallel with the ground, holding a tendu: he remembers a woman behind a window, sunlight glaring off the glass, turning her eyes into red dots and her cheeks as pale as the clouds. The left leg is raised, holding a firm countenance, leaning forwards into an arabesque: he remembers the sound of the fireworks, the celebrations, the cheering euphoria which brought him into the current year, and forgets why. The slender body of memory gracefully peeling away from its core, balancing a perfect adage: he remembers a round of applause, remembers the miserable beat of the train rolling through sodden tracks. And the dancing clock stretches farther, reaching down to the distant floor, allongé, allongé: he remembers grey clouds; remembers the sun endeavouring to break through, or hide away; remembers not being able to tell which.

The strings of space grow, forceful plucking and an ominous ring, the hands of the conductor ravaging the air; the left leg beating in unison, the grand thump of a balançoire: he remembers a beautiful woman in a splendid city, and enjoying it for a while, before the Christmas lights were put up. Turning, tightening, the dancer of memory, rolling in, the plié lifting with heavy breath, and turn, turn, a pirouette into the past: he remembers tears and arguments and the stains of red wine. Bending at the knee, the ballerina who whisks the memories into a flamboyant concerto for the pensive thinker, the sweat of the conductor drowning the orchestra, the deafening blow of horns for the final soubresaut: he remembers saying goodnight to the journey that tantalisingly slipped through his heart like a fresh blade, and saying hello to the reflection of Mr Klein’s face, the single man who tried to escape, through the window of a train.

Time leaps. It hauls the body through the cesspit of regret. It silences the past and darkens the future. It guides with a rough hand, leading the memory to where it all began; the descent to the top of a mountain. The misty confusion of the mind is cleared, and all that is left are the dim, yellow lights of a small budget hotel in Munich switching off, the radiators crackling as they cool, the ‘For Sale’ sign twitching in the wind, the discarded rubbish blowing through the car park as the last car leaves. And the driver winds down the window, leaning out into the mild night of Bavaria, and his lethargy conquers each speck of his existence. He stares blankly at the building, the empty rooms, the moribund memories, and then he drives on.

              Time patters through the gloom of the memory in bourrée, and Gustav Klein merely thinks, hauling thoughts back to the foreshadowing bitterness of autumn.


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Genre – Travel, Political, Dystopia, Romance
Rating – PG15
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