Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The "Meet My Character" Blog Hop

One of the reasons behind the creation of this blog was the Speculative Fiction Writing Process Blog Hop, in which speculative fiction writers answer a few questions about their writing process and what they're working on. Jessica Rydill has collected all posts to date on her blog.

Now another blog hop is going around, in which speculative fiction writers introduce their characters. Here is a list of all posts so far, so prepare to meet some fascinating, albeit fictional people:

And here are some coming attractions: 
  • October 26, 2014: William D. Richards
  • November 2, 2014: Landon Porter
  • November 9, 2014: S. Elliot Brandis
  • November 16, 2014: Izzy Hunter
  • November 23, 2014: Randall Boleyn
  • November 30, 2014: Ruth Nestvold
  • December 7, 2014: Robert Dahlen
  • December 14, 2014: free
  • December 21, 2014: free
  • December 28, 2014: free
As you see, we still have some free dates. If you're interested in taking part in the "Meet My Character" blog hop, please contact Cora Buhlert.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wave Links by Randall Boleyn

Sungenre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult, Paranormal Psychic
Release Date: October 21, 2014

ABOUT Wave Links:

They feared how the truth might alter Llad Fleck. No one ever told him about his talented ancestors, their extraordinary heritage, or how they died. He never learned that a powerful research institute in London considered him a lethal threat. Other than the need to move on to the safety of a another big city every few months, the only thing Llad knew for sure was that the men he played ball against said he had “mad skills not suitable for a fifteen-year-old.”


When Llad meets an eccentric parapsychologist, Dr. Jemma Rask, she explains that she has waited decades just to teach him how to expand his mind and utilize the unique traits she thinks he inherited. Even though Dr. Rask and her stories come across as way too weird for Llad, he begins studying her techniques. He quickly realizes that just because the link might be there, it doesn’t mean he actually has the talent or the patience to develop his abilities.


After multiple killings shatter Llad’s life, he still doesn’t know who is behind the brutal murders or why he’s involved. He knows now that he’s fighting for his life against a fanatical enemy and that he needs to discover more about his family-tree to learn the secrets on how to control his psychic gifts―if he has any. Alone with his grief, Llad takes off searching for clues about his cryptic lineage while being haunted by reoccurring dreams of a mysterious girl trying to help him master the bizarre talents he needs to survive.

Excerpt:

They said sadists created this ritual to humiliate overachievers, but Lad Fleck felt certain that all these so-called adults concocted this deal just to bust his stones. Lad raised his hands in surrender, “I can’t believe I’m going to do this.” Lifting his right foot, he rested it on his other knee and untied the laces. After tugging off his mud-spattered rugby boot, he stood gripping it from under the cleated bottom with the toe pointed at the crowd.

Seventy-five thirsty revelers spread out into a semi-circle around the pool table in middle of the old bar to watch their unanimous MVP suffer through his award. The players waited for Lad to get this last party started, but as he continued ignoring their razing, they began a slow cadence of loud insistent claps.

Locked in a rigid stance of attention and holding his chin high, Lad stared beyond the crowd at the seven nicotine-stained beer signs hanging above the tattered dartboard awash in their yellowed glow. Grimacing that he held the sweaty old shoe too close under his nose, he pushed the shoe farther away while tipped his head back and thinking... I’ll never get through this without spewing!

He glanced across the throng and spotted his mentor laughing at him. Lad yelled out over the din, “Ian! You’re a freaking doctor; you are supposed to have some sense. Who the hell does crazy crap like this?”

Ian pushed his hands up over his head continuing to clap in time with the group as he shouted back. “Only the best, Lad, only the best. And winners! You are both. Cheers!”

Lad smirked shaking his head and looked back into the crowd again, locking onto his friend who would be most affected by all of this. “Yo, Bubbles?” He shouted. “This is going to ruin your shoe that I borrowed. Tell me not to do this and save these good cleats! ”

“Those spikes never enjoyed a game like you had today. And they were never voted to be the boot to shoot. They can die proud. Fill’em up, Lad. Drink it down, then throw’em away. And do it now—everybody’s thirsty as hell!”


When those first few novels transported Randall into the intrigue of other cultures and the complexity of foreign lands, his life changed forever. He wanted to experience those kinds of adventures and ended up traveling the world doing international business while living his own bizarre experiences. Realizing he wanted to create the same kind of stories he loved to read, Randall coaxed the Muse by writing, studying and learning the craft. After years of toiling with the words, the stories suddenly just seemed to happen. It was startling! It was the same joy and surprise he had relished as a reader in guessing how a plot might unfold affecting the characters’ lives. He now writes with the eye and passion of creating that next great story like he would want to read.

Randall now lives in the hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and is focused on completing the Powers Meant for Gods trilogy to publish by December 2014.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Wizard of Ends (Book 1) by Vanessa Finaughty

Release Date: October 9, 2014
Subgenre: Heroic Fantasy, High Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, Magical Realsim

ABOUT Wizard of Ends Book 1:

A powerful sorceress wants the Queen of Ends dead, hoping her demise will render the king unable to defend his crown. Only the wizard Lashlor Leaflin is in a position to protect Queen Narraki Dragonsbane, but he avoids using magic – at almost any cost. With creatures of darkness hunting the queen, however, he may be left with little choice but to call on the power he holds within.

Excerpt:

Lashlor asked to go home, and King Lanaran agreed. “But first, I must ask you… I’m told Assassa cursed the queen. Do we need to be concerned?”

Lashlor scrutinised the queen. He’d been so angry and caught up in defending himself that he hadn’t noticed… dark magic clung to Queen Narraki, almost unnoticeable as it merged with her aura.

“Wizard?”

Lashlor held up a hand. “Give me a moment.”

Try as he might, he was unable to see exactly what the dark magic was intended to do. It could be anything from causing mild depression or making her suicidal or homicidal to a death or disease curse, or anything in between. Assassa had hidden her intentions well.

“What was it Assassa said before she died?” Lashlor murmured to himself.

Queen Narraki said, “The Queen of Ends is cursed. She will be but the first. A rabid bitch is she, and a creature of darkness all will see.”

The king smiled. “She has a better memory than all of us put together.”

Lashlor nodded. “Dark magic surrounds the queen, but I cannot see what harm it’s intended to do. However… ‘she will be but the first’ – I suspect that means that every future Queen of Ends will suffer the same curse at some point. As for the rest…” He didn’t want to say it. It was unthinkable.

“Am I to turn into a creature of darkness?” the queen asked, calmer than Lashlor would have been had it been he Assassa had cursed.

Lashlor hesitated. “It would seem so, My Queen.”

“Undo it,” King Lanaran ordered.

“I cannot, My King. As I said, I cannot see exactly how the curse was created. Meddling with a curse when one doesn’t know the method used to cast it has the potential to make matters far worse.”

“What could possibly be worse than turning into a creature of darkness?” Queen Narraki asked. “And a rabid one, at that! If that happens, I will most likely kill my beloved! Remember Assassa said if she cannot have Ends, no one will.”

“What could be worse?” Lashlor shook his head at her ignorance. “Worse could be cursing the king to the same fate, or myself, or anyone else in the vicinity. I cannot meddle without more information.”

“You mean you will not,” Lanaran growled.

Vanessa Finaughty is an author of many genres who now focuses on fantasy and science fiction. She’s published 15 books, of which 6 are fantasy. Vanessa grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, and still lives there with her husband of fifteen years, her baby daughter and plenty of furry, four-legged ‘children’.

Vanessa has always been passionate about books, and knew from a young age that she wanted to write them one day. She loves animals, coffee and the smell of wet grass, and hates liars, sweltering weather and long queues. Her interests include reading, photography, the supernatural, mythology, aliens and outer space, ancient history, life’s mysteries and martial arts, of which she has five years’ experience.
Website | Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | FacebookSmashwords | iBooks | Barnes & Noble

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Moons of Solsticia by K.A. Madison



Release Date: October 24, 2014
Subgenre: Science fiction

ABOUT Moons of Solsticia:

K.A. Madison’s The Nether Chronicles began with The Awakening.  The eagerly anticipated Moons of Solisticia continues the epic saga.

Ten years ago, humans created machines so powerful that they became aware of the world around them. The bots improved themselves until their intelligence far surpassed all of humanity’s. They used this intellect to take over everything. Their awakening ushered in a time of darkness for all mankind.

Now, Aiden is determined to find a way to help the resistance infiltrate the bots’ network. Working with his soul mate, Kyra, he must find a way to harness the unimaginable power of the Nether for his fight against the machines.

The fate of two worlds hangs on their shoulders. They must not only face an unbeatable foe on Earth, but race to find a traitor on Solisticia that will stop at nothing to do the unthinkable.


Excerpt:

Aiden watched in horror as the explosion expanded in a circular ball of destruction that consumed everything in its path. He watched as Kyra’s eyes of steely determination instantly turned into a look of terror before they closed, understanding her imminent demise.

He forced his concentration away from Kyra and back onto the terrain in front of him. Two choices presented themselves. The roaring and spinning black tower or the nebulous white light on the horizon. Again the black one called out to him, stronger than before. It was the right choice, he knew, and it was a siren song that he could not turn away from. He had to touch it, consume it, become one with that boiling, raging, torrent of power.

Aiden stepped out onto the desolate ground. Distance was irrelevant here, but the physical act of movement made sense to him. He took that understanding and moved his sense of self to the raging inferno. But something blocked his way. He tried again, but an invisible force prevented him from getting any closer to the black tempest of power. He tried harder and pressed his body against the shield, but it held. Despite his efforts, it even repulsed him back. The feeling was no different from a fish that swam into the hard glass of a fishbowl. The harder he pushed, the farther it retreated away from him. He staggered and flailed at the shield, but it didn’t budge.

The line of fire approached Kyra. The explosion seared everything in its path and was now only inches from her body. Aiden had to do something. She meant so much to him. He could not watch her die. Not again, damn it. Not again.

Aiden closed his eyes and reached deep within himself. He was not going to fail. He would not let it happen, not this time. He placed his hands in front of him on the invisible barrier and felt for a weakness. But he found none. He refocused on the darkness and willed the pulsating blackness to come to him while, at the same time, he moved his mind into its midst. He picked a random spot within the darkness and saw himself there. There was no shield, nor was there a barrier. Nothing was there except his essence, and it existed at the spot where he willed it to be.


About the Author:



K.A. Madison lives in Brambleton, VA with his wife and two children.  Although he has told stories to his children for years, The Awakening was the first published novel that he’s written.  Moons of Solisticia, Book #2 in the Nether Chronicles series, is the second.  Much of the inspiration he got for the series came to to him after he read The Singularity Is Near, by Ray Kurzweil.  He was fascinated by Mr. Kurzweil’s scientific explanations of why he thinks humanity will eventually reach an inflection point that allows machine intelligence to surpass ours and become self-aware.  He read that book quickly and found himself thinking, What if?  What would happen if machines became self-aware and began to realize how much smarter and more powerful they were than their human creators?  He decided it would make a great sci-fi story.  When he isn't writing, he's working as an IT Manager at a large financial services company in McLean, VA.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for October 17, 2014


  Here is our weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web:

Speculative fiction in general:

Writing, publishing and marketing:

Interviews:

Reviews:

Crowdfunding:

Con reports:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Author interview - H. S. Stone



Today's interview is with H. S. Stone, whose new release Gifted is featured on October 13th.

Apple or PC?
PC. Old habits die hard, but I'm becoming more of a Mac user every day.

Do you use Scrivener or Word?
Word. Part of the reason why I use a PC. It came with Word. :-)

Would you rather see your stories on the big screen or the little screen?
Since my eyesight isn't so good, I'd like to see them on the big screen.

Do you own copies of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings DVDs? The extended version? Do you ever watch them?
Yes, I do own the extended version. How did you know? I've watched The Fellowship of the Ring, my favorite of the three, a few times but rarely make it past that.

Have you seen the first two parts of the The Hobbit? Are you planning to see the final installment?
Despite my continued bewilderment as to why they had to turn The Hobbit into three movies, I've watched the first two and will watch the final installment.



What kind of foods do you eat? Are you a health-food-nut or is it strictly junk?
I eat a little of both, depending on my mood and what's available. Some days, I'll eat healthy, but on other days, I really crave that burger. When it comes to food, I don't believe in denying myself. Whoever said that a way to a man's heart is through his stomach knew what they were talking about.

Have you ever heard of or had a green smoothie? If you’ve ever had one, what did you think about ?
I think I've seen one on Star Trek. Never had one though and I probably won't since there are too many other smoothie flavors that I prefer.

Have you ever been to Starbucks?
I admit that I go into Starbucks every now and then. I'm not particular about where I get my coffee from, and there are just so many Starbucks that I can't avoid going there once in a while.

Coffee or Tea or Water? Espresso, Drip, Instant, or French Press? Bag or Looseleaf? Bottled, Filtered, Tap or Rainwater?
Coffee. I'm not picky about how it's made or where it's from, as long as I get my one or two cups a day.

Do you wear socks?
Yes. There's something comforting to me about the feel of socks on my feet. I'd even wear them with open-toed shoes.

What are you wearing right now?
My standard outfit, which consists of a T-shirt and jeans.

Does life fascinate you?
Yes. Oh, you mean my life?

Do you recycle?
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. It's basically a law to recycle everything here.

Do you consider yourself a slave to the muse?
My muse is more like a backseat driver than a controlling master. Since I have a day job and can't write during most of the day, I have to keep my muse under control until I need it, but it still speaks to me when I'm not writing.




About H. S. Stone:
Even before he could read, H.S. Stone wanted to write a book. Fascinated by the stories that seemed to leap from his kindergarten teacher's books, he went home and wrote his own book, with illustrations and bound by staples. Of course, since he didn't know how to read or write yet, the book was full of gibberish.
Undaunted, H.S. eventually mastered the ABC's and continued to write throughout his grade school years, adolescence, and into adulthood. Despite earning a degree and working in a field not related to writing, he continued to pursue his writing passion.
H.S. Stone's publications include novels aimed at Young Adult and Middle Grade readers as well as several short stories. He currently lives with his family in the San Francisco Bay Area.



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Consumption by Michael Patrick Hicks

Release Date: October 14, 2014
Subgenre: Horror

ABOUT Consumption:

You Are



Reclusive chef Heinrich Schauer has invited six guests to a blind twelve-course tasting menu.

What You Eat

While snow blankets the isolated Swiss valley surrounding his estate, the guests feast eagerly, challenging one another to guess at the secret tastes plated before them.



Meat Is Murder



As they eat, each guest is overtaken by carnal appetites, unaware of their host’s savage plans...or of the creature lurking below.

One thing is clear: There is more on the menu than any of them have bargained for.


Consumption is a 12,000 word (approx.) short story. It contains graphic depictions of sex and violence, and is intended for mature audiences.

Excerpt:

Heinrich Schauer drew the blade across the smooth, silky flesh, his face set with concentration. His eyes were narrowed in focus as the knife’s tip found thick bone, slicing down at an angle and then across, separating the soft tissue. His fingers pressed into the fatty outer layer, holding the meat still, as his blade sliced with surety and carved free a long strip of meat.

Marveling at the ugly creature lying prone before him, Schauer promised that not a bit of it would go to waste. He had a generous menu planned, the courses incomparable to anything he had ever created.

Setting the meat aside, he turned his attention to the network of tentacles along the beast’s flanks. They, too, were smooth, unlike those of, say, an octopus. While it lacked suckers, the heavy musculature was striated into narrow but pronounced gills. Moving away from the base, the flesh tapered to a jagged point, the thick tentacles ending in a jagged, vicious array of stingers.

Again, the knife bit in, piercing the hide and releasing a milky fluid as he separated the stingers from each long appendage. When he was finished, twelve evenly cut stingers stood atop the counter, their gray skin glistening beneath the white lights. While he doubted their digestibility, the stingers would make for a rather dramatic element in the main course’s plating.

He took stock of the rest of the monstrosity, formulating plans for each of the evening’s dishes, giving new weight to his previously fluid ideas.

The creature was fatty, but well-muscled. Its meat would be nicely marbled, and the back fat would be excellent for pan-frying. Tentacles lent themselves to numerous methods of preparation, and he immediately found himself mentally flicking through dozens of recipes: battered and fried, stewed with saffron and smoked paprika, or perhaps a preparation more classically Asian, with coconut milk and ginger, or stir-fried with scallions and ginger. He smiled as he struck upon the ideal recipe, one that he had always found to be charming with squid. The recipe would work rather nicely, and even provide a bit of levity as the meal got underway.

Yes, that was it, then. Hors d’oeuvres of deviled…devil? He smiled tightly at the small bit of humor as he wiped his hands clean on a dishtowel.

He prepared the broiler and oven, his ingredients neatly arranged, ready to begin.

Michael Patrick Hicks has worked as a probation officer, a comic book reviewer, news writer and photographer, and, now, author. His work has appeared in various newspapers in Michigan, as well as several The University of Michigan publications, and websites, such as Graphic Novel Reporter and Leelanau.com. He holds two bachelor’s degrees from The University of Michigan in Journalism & Screen Studies and Behavioral Science. His first novel was the science fiction thriller CONVERGENCE, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarterfinalist and a Kobo Next Read selection.