Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016 Go Bananas for the Year of the Monkey! Contest #1

Hey everyone!
HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

I'm going to try something silly this year! Okay, fine. Sillier than usual. I've decided that I'm bucking normal conventions for advertising and marketing and just doing a whole bunch of giveaways, free book promos, and other crazy stuff.

Each month, I plan to host a giveaway using either Rafflecopter, or Amazon instead of another Goodreads giveaway. The idea is that I can be more flexible in my prizes and I can also add on extra 'instant win' type items in the way of free ebooks and the like.
Below is the entry widget for the first contest, which is a chance to win a signed paperback copy of Kind of Like Life, my YA sci-fi adventure. Do enter and do tell others to enter as well, but note that the Rafflecopter giveaway is open only to US residents over the age of 18.

Additionally, make sure to check my author page every Saturday in January to see which of my books I'm giving away for free in kindle format!

Well, what are you waiting for? Enter!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Look Both Ways: the Obligatory Year End Blog Post

2015 is nearly over. Aside from being fifteen years deep into the era known as "the future" and me being firmly supplanted in middle age, what does this even mean? Loads of things, I guess, but I'm going to focus on a few things as they pertain to me because I am completely selfish that way.

On a personal level, 2015 had its ups and downs. I had some personal triumphs as well as setbacks. Though I am not one to talk about my personal life in a public setting, I would consider it a dishonor if I did not mention the most difficult moment of 2015 was losing Penny, our oldest dog, back in October.

I can only hope to look as pretty at 98

I wish I could say we've found a balance since then, but I'm still coming to terms with the loss and I know I'm not the only one who notices the imbalance. She was certainly one of a kind and she is missed.

Sorry for the downer, but life doesn't always give us sunshine and roses. Which is why I will continue my full metal assault on negativity. On both a personal and professional level, I plan to go out of my way to spread positivity, peace, and balance, even when doing so is difficult.


As an author, this has been a wonderful year in that I've finally found a community of like-minded individuals over at SupportIndieAuthors who are as tired of the negativity in the world as I am. Together, we have carved out  a positive space for all Indie Authors to meet and help one another. I can't say enough great things about this group and I'm looking forward to growing with them as we reach our first anniversary.

In my own writing, hoo boy! 2015 seems to have been the year of impatience. I managed to complete and publish three books in my current series, Rise of the Discordant, as well as reformatting the entire Eyes series for print. Yet even as I worked, other ideas were knocking at the door.

That is why going forward into 2016, I have no plans to promise anything besides the final book of the Rise of the Discordant series. At some point, not even going to spitball when, I will publish Frack You. But beyond that, 2016 will be the year that I work on what is most important and to me,what is most important is writing the best stories that I can.

In the works are a romantic sci-fi about a woman who finds out she is heir to the throne on an alien world, a young adult sci-fi thriller about a girl who finds out she was part of a secret experiment and is now being hunted, and an 18+ space opera about a woman who joins a group of underdog vigilantes not because she is a hero who believes in their cause, but as a means to get revenge against her tormentors.

I'm looking forward to giving status updates on whichever project I happen to be working on, obviously, but don't hold your breath. The last two years have been fun, but these next projects are going to hearken back to the style of the Eyes series and Kind of Like Life, which means much longer, more thought out ideas that will require a lot of planning and revising.

Of course, this does not mean that you won't hear from me or that you won't find new material. I will continue to update you all here on what path the robot apocalypse will take next and I even have a short story that I plan to post soon. And as always, I will continue to highlight amazing Indie Authors, so you will always have something to read, even if it isn't from me. ;)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

SIA Presents: The Ghost of Christmas Book Blast! Meet the Authors!


Happy Holidays! Tis the season when once again, the good folks over at Support Indie Authors are hosting another free book event. On Saturday, the 19th of December, forty authors will be offering more than fifty books in a wide variety of genres absolutely free! What better way to de-stress, decompress, and take a well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of the holidays than to curl up with a good book? Once again, all of the free books will be listed on the official Book Blast website:

www.freebookblast.com



As is our tradition, each of the authors participating in the book blast has told us a little about themselves. Each name links to the author’s Goodreads profile, so feel free to give them a follow if you like what you see. Below are interviews for ten of the forty participating authors. At the end of this post are links to three other blogs with the additional thirty authors. Please be sure to visit each and thank you for continuing to #SupportIndieAuthors! 


What could he possibly be reading???

What is your name?
What genre or genres do you write in?
Superheroes
Have you been naughty or nice this year?
Nice
Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.
The life of a superhero is not all glamour and fame. The truth is that they just want to live as close to normal lives as they possibly can, and they’ve found a man who they believe can offer that to them. Not only does he promise to find cures for their “powers,” but he offers a retirement plan as well!
What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?
My mother and I make trays and trays of Christmas cookies and candies every year, but my favorite is probably the fudge or the chocolate covered peanut butter balls. In addition, no Holiday Season is complete without white almond bark covered oreos, homemade snickerdoodles, and my mother's homemade sugar cookies (the best EVER!)
In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.
My grandmother always used to give to the ASPCA, so that would probably be mine as well. I've always had a heart for animals and it breaks every time I see an animal purposefully neglected or injured. https://www.aspca.org
Where can readers find out more and connect with you?



What is your name?
What genre or genres do you write in?
Science Fiction
Have you been naughty or nice this year?
Nice
Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.
A jihadist trained for a suicide mission on the moon, begins to question his own beliefs when he falls in love with a coworker, a cat-like bipedal alien named Quenby and realizes that he must choose between his mission or love. At once a poignant human/alien love story, a science fiction thriller, and a foray into the realms beyond the veil called death, this novel explores the questions of what is truth, the power of love, and what lies beyond this present life.
What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?
Curling up with my three Maltese dogs in my lap.
In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.
The Salvation Army. I never pass by their little red baskets without putting something in. http://www.salvationarmyusa.org
Where can readers find out more and connect with you?



What is your name?
What genre or genres do you write in?
Romance
Have you been naughty or nice this year?
Nice
Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.
Cassie Stockwell's one night stand throws her into a world of wolf-shifters, their Guardians, and the menace out to destroy them all. It's up to Jace Miller to keep her safe and convince her he's worth more than one night - he's worth forever.
What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?
Candy Cane Cookies
In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.
Where can readers find out more and connect with you?



What is your name?
What genre or genres do you write in?
Fantasy
Have you been naughty or nice this year?
Naughty
Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.
A story of magic, monsters, cabbage-fairies, jester-pirates, earth born Gods and fated love.
What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?
I can only list one? Oh no, now I have to make choices :( !
In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.
The National Autistic Society - http://www.autism.org.uk
Where can readers find out more and connect with you?



What is your name?
What genre or genres do you write in?
Fantasy, Teen & Young Adult
Have you been naughty or nice this year?
Only a Sith thinks in absolutes.
Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.
 My books are young adult fantasy. Two are swords and sorcery, the other a dystopian future with a powerful female MC.
What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?
Nothing is underrated in my world, but lemon sugar cookies are a MUST!
In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.
A local group called Union Relief which gives Christmas presents to kids whose families can't afford them.
Where can readers find out more and connect with you?



What is your name?
What genre or genres do you write in?
Science Fiction, Religious, Paranormal
Have you been naughty or nice this year?
Naughty
Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.
 "The Picture of the Ghost" is a novellette about a team of ghost hunters that get it all wrong. "Gretchen's Shoot" is about two sisters have to work through a serious misunderstanding. "The Empath" is about a young man with a amazing ability.
What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?
Wassal. I am always so pleased when someone offers it to me. I need to learn to make it.
In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.
Big Brothers / Big Sisters www.bbbs.org
Where can readers find out more and connect with you?



What is your name?
What genre or genres do you write in?
Fantasy, Erotica, Humor & Satire, Elfrotica
Have you been naughty or nice this year?
Naughty
Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.
Do the novels you read contain naked elf protagonists, magical sex powers, steamy Minotaur orgies, and no regard for the fourth wall? If your answer is no then perhaps you are reading the wrong novels. *Contains m/m content and vigorous monster banging.*
What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?
Stocking Stuffing (Giggle)
In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.
The Ovarian Cancer Society of Canada
Where can readers find out more and connect with you?



What is your name?
What genre or genres do you write in?
Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Dystopian/Apocalyptic, Teen & Young Adult
Have you been naughty or nice this year?
Only a Sith thinks in absolutes.
Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.
The Eyes of The Sun offers action, adventure, a little bit of romance, and a whole lot of genetically enhanced vampires. Kind of Like Life is a YA sci-fi thriller with one hell of a twist. And Going Green is the most lighthearted romp through the zombie apocalypse you will ever read.
What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?
I really like fruitcake and I can't figure out why it's got such a bad rep.
In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.
There are so many great charities, but one that sticks out is Hope for Paws. This is an animal rescue based in Los Angeles that finds and rehabilitates animals that are suffering either on the streets or in kill shelters. They also document every step of the way and host videos that would make even the hardened of hearts cry. Check them out at http://www.hopeforpaws.org
Where can readers find out more and connect with you?



What is your name?
What genre or genres do you write in?
Science Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Have you been naughty or nice this year?
Nice
Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.
Join the adventures of alien scientists Quigbat and Zort, with their accidental companion from Earth, Marcy. "Aliens in the Gift Shop" follows their first and disastrous science mission to Earth. "Aliens and the Race to Earth" continues their exploits as the three try to save Earth from a deadly weapon.
What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?
Peppermint Mocha
In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.
World Vision provides child sponsorship and humanitarian relief for the poor and needy of the world. www.worldvision.org
Where can readers find out more and connect with you?



What is your name?
What genre or genres do you write in?
Literary Fiction, Historical, Time Travel
Have you been naughty or nice this year?
Only a Sith thinks in absolutes.
Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.
Time travel is a naturally occurring phenomenon. Every four and five years, invisible, time travel doorways open and close. Any person or creature caught within the magnetic, gravitational pull awakens incoherently to a future world.
What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?
I think holiday treats are pretty much on even footing, but my favorites are fruit pies, especially my mom's peach cobbler. It's my all-time favorite. The holidays are that much more grim without it.
In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.
The Dawn Saves Wildlife campaign. It's the only brand I buy. http://dawn-dish.com/en-us/dawn-saves-wildlife
Where can readers find out more and connect with you?




And that's just the beginning! Learn more about all of our authors by visiting the links below!



Want in on the next round of Book Blast Madness? 
Join the S.I.A!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Unconventional Wisdom

Continuing with the theme I began in my last post, and in response to the need for yet more positivity in the world, I'm going to break from my whimsical musings of robotic shenanigans. You see, it's December, which means that you can't watch TV,browse the internet, or even leave your house without being bombarded by advertisements for the latest and greatest consumables. Ads are everywhere. It's a fact of life. People have things to sell and December might as well change its name to Consumber.

Which is why I'm going to stop all advertising of my products for the month.

Well, full disclosure: I am going to stop advertising for products that people will need to *pay* for. Very soon we will be having yet another Book Blast and yes, I will promote the heck out of those free books.

But I am not going to ask anyone to spend money. I've replaced the pinned tweets on both of my Twitter accounts with messages of joy for the season . This is not a marketing stunt and I fully expect to suffer an economic loss, but that is okay.

I'm not asking others to join me and I know damned well that no major retailer is going to follow suit, but wouldn't that be amazing if they did? If we woke up one day and all of the sidebar, header, and footer ads were gone? If we turned on the TV and all of the commercials were for free puppy snuggles?

Perhaps one day, after the robots have knocked out our communications network, we might finally have a break from our commercial breaks, but what would it matter at that point? So instead of waiting for the robots to destroy everything that makes me happy, I'm just going to spread the word of joy, happiness, and peace, and leave the solicitation of profit for another day.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thinking of Others

Tis the season. What season? The stress filled season of course! It happens earlier and earlier each year. People begin to be inundated with forced happiness, which brings about the very opposite. Tempers flare, blood pressure goes up, stress eating happens, and throughout it all, we are constantly reminded that there are those in the world that are less fortunate than us.

Let's take a look at that last part for a minute. Yes, while you're getting upset at the fact that Starbucks took the minimalist route this year or that the mall is already playing Christmas carols, there are people who are starving, getting sick because of the environment that they live in, are living under the oppression of a militaristic regime, have to deal with the stress of being killed by land mines, soldiers, IEDs, or any number of awful things.

Ugh! You're thinking. The world is effed up! So what? What can I do? I'm one person! I can't stop corruption in government. I can't end world hunger. I can't single handedly clean up the environment. I can't I can't I can't...

Except that... You can.

Start with your own back yard. I know, you're probably sick to death of hearing me talk about having a positive impact in the world around you but it seems to me that now, more than ever, this is important. In the past month alone, I've seen so much hate pouring out of people that I have come close to taking the low road. In fact, there was one incident that very nearly caused me to have a very public meltdown. I'd just gone through what was one the most difficult and traumatic moments of my life when someone decided to direct their misanthropic attitude in my direction. No, there was no way that they could have known what I was dealing with, but that's the point. How often do people act on their negativity without considering others?

Xenophobic attitudes, casual racism, snarky internet comments for the sake of tearing others down, and the righteous indignation when others show signs of having a bad day are sadly more common than random acts of kindness.

Think about that for a moment. This is the time of year that stress and tensions are running high in everyone, not just you. Think about that retail worker who was short with you. Wow! How rude! What gives them the right to treat me that way? Well, honestly, sure, they should be nice, however, you try being nice when you are making minimum wage, have to deal with the entitled public, know that you are not going to get a day off to spend with family because people feel that shopping is the best way to show our gratitude... Yes, retail work sucks and YOU, are part of the problem.

So what can we do to help? Well, first of all, don't shop on Thanksgiving. For that matter, don't shop on Black Friday either. Countless studies have shown that you are not going to get a better deal and the fact that there is a website that tracks Black Friday deaths should be a warning. Perhaps if enough people stayed home or went out and did something else (like watching a movie or having a post holiday drink with friends) Corporations may realize that it is not in their financial best interest to open their doors and invite chaos in on what should be a holiday meant for reflecting on what we already have.

But Christina, everyone else is going to be out there. So what if Big Store Inc doesn't get my money? I'm just one person.

That's the attitude I'm talking about. So what? You remember back when you were a kid and you tried the 'everyone else is doing it' argument in your parents? What do you think you're doing right now? Yes. You're one person and no, it may not seem like much, but trust me. If enough 'one persons' comes to the same conclusion, it will make a difference.

Now, I know you can't avoid shopping for the whole season, so let's try something else. It's very simple. Ready?

Remember those retail workers with their minimum wage and angry faces? You don't know their stories. Just as you probably get upset when someone tells you to smile or be happy, they are likely to have stab-murder thoughts if you were to remind them that they are supposed to be the cheerful face of CorporateMart. Don't be that guy. Instead, YOU SMILE. You say thank you, wish them a good day, and be grateful for what they do. You know why? Because it's contagious. Your genuine positivity will make a larger impact that you know.

Now, while we're on the subject, let's talk about making a difference. This is also the time of year when it seems like every store wants you to give something to someplace. Whether it's a food bank at the grocery store, the Red Cross looking for disaster relief, the local pet shelter, or Toys for Tots, so many people think you are made of money!

It's okay if you aren't. Personally, I try to donate wherever I can, but I'm an author and my name is not JK Rowling, so I can't personally end world hunger. Also, I rarely have cash in my pocket, so walking past that kettle can be difficult, but sometimes it is necessary. You know what makes it worse? Acting like you don't see them or making some sort of derisive face or comment. The people who are standing out there looking for money are human and more often than not, not getting paid one red cent for their work. They understand that you may be broke or that you might just not have any cash on you. But they are no less deserving of empathy and kindness than anyone else.

And finally, I understand that'shop local' is an easier said than done prospect. Most towns don't have mom and pop's 'Ye Old PlayStation Emporium.' But that doesn't mean you should abandon all ethics and just shop at the big chain store that everyone knows is ruining the economy of several national including ours. There are options. Explore them.

So there you go. You have been preached to by one person who is on a crusade to make the world a better, happier, cleaner, more open, loving, and positive place for all, who won't stop just because she may be the only one.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Write On! Indie Author Spotlight Week: Time for the Lost Cover Reveal

And finishing off my week of Write On! Indie Author Spotlights, we have a very exciting Friday (and not just because it's Friday the thirteenth)). Today, I am honored to be able to bring you an exciting first look at the cover for Chess Desalls' third installment of her series, The Call to Search Everywhen: Time for the Lost. Absolutely stunning! Read on to learn more about this series and it's amazing author.

TFTL Cover Reveal


Calla's disappearance leads her family and friends to suspect that she’s lost. In a desperate attempt to find her, Valcas seeks help from a man he betrayed. A new search begins, one that sounds promising, even if it forces Valcas to confront his past. The travel team reunites for a mission they never saw coming: a journey to a world caught between life and death, and hidden within the deepest recesses of time. Ivory rediscovers a friend and Ray learns the meaning behind his tattoo. But the connections they make between travelers and the lost may twist the core of the Time and Space Travel Agency inside out. Time for the Lost is the third installment in The Call to Search Everywhen serial series. Catch up with Calla and Valcas' adventure before the third book releases in February 2016!
series graphic



About the Author
chessChess Desalls is the author of the YA time travel series, The Call to Search Everywhen. She's a longtime reader of fantasy and sci-fi novels, particularly classics and young adult fiction. Her non-fiction writing has led to academic and industry publications. She’s also a contributing editor for her local writing club’s monthly newsletter. The California Writers Club, South Bay branch, has awarded two of Chess’ stories first place for best short fiction. When she's not reading or writing, she enjoys traveling and trying to stay in tune on her flute.
Connect with Chess on:

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Write On! Indie Author Spotlight Week: Series Spotlight: The Regeneration Chronicles

Today's spotlight is on the works of author Ellison Blackburn. Her Regeneration Chronicles fall into the fascinating and oft overlooked category of literary sci-fi. As such, this is series that will appeal to a wide variety of readers, not just those of us on the science fringe. Regeneration X is the first in the series (you can read my review here) and Progeny, the second book, has just released on November 5th. Read on to discover more.



Regeneration X is a story about having choices and dealing with the consequences; creating new memories and letting others fade; and making sacrifices in pursuit of happiness.

Regeneration X (Regeneration Chronicles #1)


To be or to have been …

If Charlotte Rhys Fenn could do it all over, knowing what she knows now, she would be different.
Charley leads a comfortable life with her best friend and perfect match, Michael, a man with whom she shares two lovely pet children (canine and feline), and a home in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She’s fortunate to have a caring and supportive family, and two amazing friends, Inez and Becks. Professionally, she holds a secure position as editor of a respected healthcare magazine. Her life is settled, as is her future.
Acquiring this existence of hers hadn’t been easy. For at least twenty years she felt like a wind-up toy, methodically following preprogrammed rules—step one … step two. She even imagined herself as a minuscule, but essential, cog inside a big machine with the mechanical brain. No matter what she tells herself, it hasn’t helped since another thought flutters through her mind as frequently: Going through the motions is the same as coasting toward nothingness.
It is 2025, the time is right. Technology, in a rapidly advancing world, makes it possible to reimagine the future by recreating the past or, more aptly, by creating another past.
Charley must either embrace her well-earned, sedate lifestyle, or invite a change that could alter her future irreversibly. It’s a difficult decision, one that could destroy all she has endeavored for, turning their life not only upside down, but backwards, forwards, and inside out.




The Regeneration Chronicles continue with a story about a legacy bestowed, an inheritance claimed, and each individual’s responsibility to him or herself and mankind.
The future can change for the worse, lest we forget to honor the past.

Progeny (Regeneration Chronicles, #2)


One of a Number …

Nineteen-year-old, Emery Kidd is one of two historians for her community. As a Chronicler, she is aware of the minute details of a society dramatically changed in the course of the two hundred years since cellular regression began. However, it is only now, after one of her lifetimes has passed, Emery discovers an important fact about her own heritage. She is the daughter of the most famous of regeneratives to have ever lived.
Consequently, Emery is also quietly learning just what it means to be the daughter of a martyred woman. Undoubtedly, she bears a strong resemblance to her mother, but more than auburn hair and expressive facial features, Emery would like to believe she’s inherited the same strength of character as well. And yet, believing and knowing are entirely separate matters.
Since everything changes with time—in varying degrees—and destiny often unfolds a plan unforeseen, Emery may just find the opportunity to test her belief. In fact, the entire human population will come face to face with their true inheritance.
The question is how this legacy will be received. For the future is inevitable, this much is certain. Lest we forget, the mere passage of time does not come with it the entitlement to life. To live and prosper is a path that is earned, but mankind has seemingly forgotten this. Can Emery remind the world that survival requires conscious effort? Will Emery and her friends, Cassidy, a fellow chronicler, Liam, a brilliant engineer, and Aiden, a reserved mediator be enough to save the oblivious many?

About Ellison Blackburn


Ellison Blackburn has been a web designer/developer for over fifteen years. Next to writing fiction and poetry, her passions include painting and collecting vintage thingamabobs. She is the author of Regeneration X and Progeny, books 1 and 2, respectively, of the Regeneration Chronicles.

Raised in Chicago, Ellison relocated to the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their three beastly, furry children.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Write On! Indie Author Spotlight Week: New Release: Dreamvision

Today we have a new release from SL Bynum, author of Grim Crush (you can see my review here). Her latest work, Dreamvision, is a slight departure from her previous work, but promises to be quite exciting. Read on for more information.


Description


 Dreams do come true, but in Abigail’s case, she wishes that were anything BUT true. 

Eight years ago, when people still used landline phones and desktop computers, sixteen-year-old Abigail had everything a happy teenager could ask for—a loving family, two best friends, and a sexy prom date. But all of this blows apart when her dreams, which involve terrible accidents, start to actually occur in her hometown. Soon Abigail’s life consists of putting together vague clues from her dreams to save the lives of those she cares about, but she isn’t always successful. As she sinks into isolation, paranoia, and heartache, she resolves to stop the nightmares altogether, relying on someone who is not what they appear to be. 

DREAMVISION is filled with horror and suspense at every turn, and is told in the form of a blog from Abigail’s perspective during the year 2007.

Excerpt

Warm wind rushed past me as I ran to the end of our street and across another street. Trixie’s house was about a mile from mine. I was athletic, so the distance was barely a problem for me.
When I reached Trixie’s gray, one-story, ancient house, I rang the doorbell three times. Then I stood and waited, trying to catch my breath. My heart was hammering against my chest, as though it wanted to burst out of it. I had a bad feeling for some reason.
Trixie opened the door, to my great relief.
“Abby? What are you doing here?” she asked.
“I need…to tell you…something,” I panted.
“Did you run here?”
“Yes. Is…your mom home?” I didn’t want anyone around when I told Trixie what I learned. Trixie didn’t have any siblings, or a dad. Her dad had run off before she’d been born.
“Yeah,” Trixie answered. “What–?”
“Then can we go for a walk? I have something important to tell you. And I want you to listen.”
“You can come in. My mom’s just upstairs taking a bath so she can’t hear us–”
“She is?!?” I pushed past Trixie into the house.
“Hey–! Abby!” Trixie protested, but I didn’t pay attention to her. I ran down the hallway to the first bathroom, the one next to Trixie’s room. It was empty. I continued on to Mrs. Vander’s bedroom, and the bathroom door in there was closed. I heard music playing inside, and Mrs. Vander was singing along with it.
I lightly knocked on the door. I didn’t want to seem too urgent. But what excuse would I give her?
Trixie came into the room. “Abby, what the heck is going on? Why are you bothering my mom?”
From the bathroom, Mrs. Vander yelled, “Trixie, what do you want?”
“Get your mom to come out,” I told Trixie, pushing her up to the door. “Tell her anything!”
“Why–?” Trixie began.
“Just do it. She’s the one I dreamt about!” I had a terrible feeling in my gut.
“Mom!” Trixie yelled through the door. “I have something to show you! Come out please!”
I heard the splashing of water. After a few more seconds, the door flew open. Mrs. Vander stood before us wrapped in a pink towel, with her short brown hair dripping wet. The music I heard was blaring from a boombox, sitting on a shelf beside the tub of water. From it, a country singer was crooning, “It’s not ooooverrrrr…”
“What is it, Trixie?” Mrs. Vander asked irritably. Then she spotted me. “Oh, hello, Abigail.”
“Hi,” I said.
“I didn’t know you were here. Well, Trixie, what did you want?”
Trixie looked to me for help. “Umm…”
Before she could come up with an excuse, there was a tremendous crash behind Mrs. Vander. A gasp escaped from my throat, and Trixie let out a scream.
We all turned to look, just in time to see the boombox splash into the tub of water, sending a wave of it onto the floor. Sparks shot up into the air, and smoke furled up from the water. The boombox let out one last garbled cry of “…ooo…ve…errrrrr…” and died out.

About SL Bynum

S. L. Bynum fell in love with writing at the age of twelve, when she wrote a rendition of The Three Little Pigs for her little brother’s homework assignment. Her dream has been to be an author since she was sixteen, and she now has two books out, Grim Crush and Dreamvision. Besides books, she loves desserts, fashion, dancing (when she’s alone), warm weather, and playing video games. She lives in Greensboro, North Carolina with her family.


Connect:


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Write On! Indie Author Spotlight Week: Coming Soon: Friends without Benefits

Hey, who's this? Who let Christina McMullen in? Aw geez! There goes the neighborhood! Yes, I'm sneaking my own book into Indie Author Spotlight week because well, truth be told, I had four authors scheduled and I happen to have a book coming out at the end of the month myself, so my somewhat obsessive need for order demanded I fill out the whole week. Friends without Benefits is the fourth book in the Rise of the Discordant series. Read on to find out more, but first, look! A cover!

Yes, I am pretty proud of this one.

* * *

Description


Donna's love life is at an all-time low. Despite breaking her family curse (ensuring she would not give birth to the demon spawn destined to bring Chaos to power), she still can't get a date. Worse, the incubus who was supposed to sire the all –powerful demon spawn won't leave her alone. But instead of keeping her up all night with passionate dreams, he just wants to talk.

Meanwhile, the fissure that appeared under the site of the old mill grows wider each day. Desmond is running himself ragged trying to prevent the weakening of the barrier between realms. As such, he accidentally lets slip Seth’s identity from a previous life, bringing about rift of a different sort. This one between the two agents of Order.

As winter approaches, it is no longer a question of if the Discordant will rise up and try to claim Blackbird, but rather how soon? Will the agents and mystics be able to put aside their own personal issues long enough to vanquish Chaos or will Order crumble? And perhaps the most pressing question of all: Is Big Royal Burger even open yet?
  

* * *

Excerpt

Donna sat up and blinked. She was no longer in her bed, or in her room, or in Blackbird, for that matter. The bright, sandy beach was nowhere she had been before. Reclining back on his elbows just a few feet away was her incubus. She was growing used to his lack of clothing and modesty, but still marveled at the fact that living within a dream made him impervious to things like sand being wedged into uncomfortable places. 
“I brought you something.”
Donna raised her eyebrows. 
“You did? I don’t see anything.”
Between the lack of clothing and expansive, empty beach, there wasn’t much of a place that he could hide anything. Unless it was something very small… 
She stomped down hard on that line of thinking and chastised her heart for the sudden flutter. What had gotten into her? 
“Don’t you?” he asked, stretching in a practiced way that was meant to seem effortless and draw her attention.
“Oh, so are you saying all of this is for me?”
“Of course,” he said with a wink.
“To do with as I please?”
At that, he gave a wistful sigh.
“If only we could.”
His words were like a bucket of ice water that stopped the fluttering and sent her waterlogged heart plummeting.
“I see,” she said tersely and got up to walk along the edge of the surf, determined to get at least some pleasure out of the artificial paradise. She’d barely taken two steps before he appeared at her side.
“Where are you going?”
“For a walk.”
“Okay, I can do that,” he said, falling into step beside her. She did her best to ignore him, but it wasn’t long before the combined silence and his unwavering gaze began to drive her mad.
“So, do you have a name?” Donna purposefully looked out over the setting sun and the beautiful fiery rainbow it made on the water’s surface, determined to stay strong and not give in.
“Like clothing, Fa Be’yoh doesn’t seem to believe that there’s a need for names.”
At the reminder of his nakedness, her head turned on instinct. Donna was sure she saw a smug smile ghost across his face.
“Well that’s just stupid,” she huffed. “Names don’t cost anything and he gets to have one.”
“Your mother named him.”
“Really?” Donna snorted. Suddenly, her father’s odd name made sense.
“Really,” he nodded. “There’s magic in names, you know.”
“Yeah, tell me about it,” she grumbled, wondering, not for the first time, why her mother had to choose to give her a name that clearly meant virgin. “Whatever. I’m tired of calling you hey you, so I’m going to call you Inky.”
“Inky?” he asked, scrunching up his nose.
“Inky, as in short for Incubus.”
“You can’t do any better than that?”
“Oh I see how it is,” Donna said and rolled her eyes. She had thought the name was quite clever. “You’re fine to have no name and then as soon as I give you one you become a name critic. Okay then, you’re now Blinky.”
“Blinky? Blinky’s worse than Inky”
“Pinky?”
“I don’t think-”
“Fine! I’m calling you Clyde, no more objections!” 
“But that doesn’t even-” he began to protest, but Donna held up her hand.
“You are Clyde. Get used to it.”

* * *

To get the celebration started, I've got a Goodreads giveaway starting on Sunday the 15th for a paperback copy of Past Life Strife. This will run for two weeks. On the last day, November 29th, the Kindle edition of that title will be free. Friends without Benefits will be available around the same time, so keep up by following this blog or connect with me on social media:



Monday, November 9, 2015

Write On! Indie Author Spotlight Week: New Release: GR3T3L-1

Hey everyone! All week I'm going to be featuring new and upcoming Indie books and authors for your reading pleasure! Up first, we have the latest release from the very talented VM Sawh. GR3T3L-1 is the fourth installment in his Good Tales for Bad Dreams series of re-imaged tales we all thought we knew. GR3T3L-1 is the first sci-fi of the series and you can see my review of it here. Read on to learn more about this fantastic series!


~Description~
When they are stranded on the surface of a hostile alien world, two sentient robots H4NS3L-671, the military-minded combat drone, & GR3T3L-1, the advanced surveyor prototype, find themselves with neither memory nor mission. 

With no resources and no one to count on but each other, the robots must learn to work together in order to endure the brutal landscape, unlock the mystery of their missing memories, and plan their own rescue, all before their power runs out. 

What they don’t know is that the dangerous planet holds a terrible secret that could ruin their chances of ever escaping alive... 

This is “Hansel & Gretel” told like never before. This is "GR3T3L-1."


~Excerpt~
As the last of the light faded, and the surface fell into darkness, GR3T3L registered a temperature drop of 12 degrees. Its sensory lights sprang to life automatically cast beams over the sandy ground. Gravity was lighter here, meaning they could cover ground quickly. Still, with the storm looming to the North, GR3T3L knew they were running out of time. An objective analysis of the situation indicated that their chances of finding sufficient cover in time were less than 23%. GR3T3L’s recovering database indicated that throughout human history, there were many examples where humans had persevered when the odds were against them. How did humans do this? GR3T3L cross-referenced the search results with a methodological analysis and came to a single conclusion. HopeThe concept appeared to mean a great deal to humanity. Hope for an end to disease. Hope for an end to suffering. Hope for salvation. GR3T3L paused in its analysis as trillions of images and videos flooded its mental display. One of the videos playing depicted an operation from the United Africa campaign wherein a group of combat drones were advancing toward a group of children huddled behind the ruins of a blasted building. GR3T3L immediately understood the children to be members of the same family; they clutched the mangled remains of their dead parents. The drones took aim with the automatic weapons and with efficient bursts shot each of the children three times in the head. Blood and brain sprayed the wall behind them, obscuring green graffiti which read: We were born free. One of the drone’s radios crackled, transmitting its message. “Enemy combatants: zero.”
Given their present situation, GR3T3L was interested in how humans responded to similarly dire conditions. Its HUD referenced another video where dozens of Africans were depicted kneeling inside a mosque. From its files, GR3T3L came to understand that humans had often used religion as a guiding set of principles for living their lives. It often required strict adherence to a set of text-based rules of conduct. Compliance with said rules would result in a reward, promised in the life after death. As GR3T3L perused through its files, the robot concluded that access to the reward was determined by the accumulated metaphysical weight of a human’s perceived good or bad actions. Thus when a human was subject to adverse conditions beyond their control, religion could be used as a means of generating hope. GR3T3L found this curious, wondering if such a thing could ever be experienced by someone who wasn’t human.
“Warning: increased air mass detected,” H4NS3L declared. “Orbital beacon indicates planetary atmosphere has become dangerous. Wind speeds in excess of 100 KPH. Airborne debris has increased in size and mass.”
GR3T3L cast its sensors toward the oncoming wall of sand. “Crystalline matter from the surface has been swept up by the air mass. The particles pose a physical threat to shell integrity.”
The bank of wind-blasted particles rushed toward them with all the force of a hurricane. Electric arcs from the angry clouds danced down into the oncoming sandstorm, crackling into a filament web that made the crystalline particles sparkle. GR3T3L could already feel the first bits of crystalline particles ricocheting off its metal skin. If they didn’t move quickly, the cumulative force would rip them to shreds. GR3T3L quickly mapped their surrounding area.
“Head West-Southwest! Take cover under the escarpment!”
GR3T3L reconfigured its motors for speed, shutting down all non-essential systems to conserve power. It could hear H4NS3L doing the same, even though the drone possessed a much larger power source. It was now a matter of survival. 
GR3T3L ran across the surface that was rapidly accumulating a dense layer of sand. A rush of air blasted particulates against its skin. The wind roared. A wave of sand crashed down upon GR3T3L’s shoulders, pushing the robot to its knees. The sand was turning the ground into a thick soup. GR3T3L braced itself with its hands and tried to haul itself up. Its servos strained with the effort, but could not move. Another heavy wave thundered down on GR3T3L’s back. Sand had gotten into its joints. A wind shear sliced through the metal skin of its shoulder. Its alarms blared. Rounded semi-silicate grains had gotten inside its shell. The wind blasted again, from another direction this time, making GR3T3L’s skin crack. It looked down and saw that the tear in its skin had ripped further, exposing more of its sensitive systems to the onslaught.
Re-routing systems, its mind raced ahead, trying to contain the damage before things became catastrophic, activating secondary systems. Calculating distance to escarpment.
Its internal display flashed.
[100 meters]
GR3T3L raised its head. Servos in its neck were starting to seize. The wind rattled against its back.
Not good, it thought, activating its radio. Before GR3T3L could send a cry for help, its motion tracker pinged. There was movement to the left— H4NS3L? GR3T3L turned its head, but its servos jammed halfway. Switching to a heat-based thermal tracking view, GR3T3L focused on the bright outline. The shape, just at the edge of GR3T3L’s field of view, was several degrees warmer than the surrounding sand-storm.
“H4NS3L!” GR3T3L called through the radio, “H4NS3L, can you see me?”
The shape shifted sideways, moving almost like a liquid despite the maelstrom. GR3T3L saw that the shape was large, but appeared hunched with a tall extension protruding from the main body.
GR3T3L froze. That wasn’t H4NS3L. Instantly reactivating its full sensor suite, the robot directed all of its power toward scanning the shape. Amorphous and ill-defined behind the shearing winds, the shape appeared to be sliding closer every minute. GR3T3L kept its gaze trained on the encroaching form, all the while calling for H4NS3L on the radio.
The shape loomed large, moving slowly and smoothly around GR3T3L, as if making a cautious examination. The robot tried to change its position, but the powerful winds forced it back down. Suddenly, GR3T3L registered a sensation on its back.
Contact. 

~About VM Sawh~
V.M. Sawh didn't always know he was going to be a writer, but from the age of six he's been putting pen to paper, creating serialized fiction. Hailing from the humid jungles of South America, Sawh crossed oceans to arrive on Canada's snow-covered shores at age nine. He continued writing, creating serialized fiction year after year until he challenged himself to write a novel. His first trilogy of novels was completed by age sixteen, but despite encouragement from his Writer's Craft professor, never published, as the publishing industry was as intimidating then as it is today. He continued writing poetry and fiction for the next decade and a half until an open call for fairy-tale submissions changed everything.

V.M. Sawh resides in a small town north of Toronto, with his beloved wife and two cats. He continues to spin fairy-tales that will haunt your dreams. 

Here are some interesting facts about me. 

 i) As part of the launch for "Cinders", I was featured in the January 2014 issue of the Toronto Sun newspaper.

ii) Announced as winner of the Ontario Writer's Conference Story Starters Contest.

iii) "Cinders" and "Hontas" have made it to #1 on Amazon's Hot New Releases List.

iv) "Anastasia" has over 12K reads on Wattpad, Toronto's free story-sharing website and is currently featured on the Historical Fiction front page.

v) Completed my first trilogy of novels by age 16.

vi) Decided to publish "Cinders" after a face-to-face meeting with Guillermo Del Toro (Director of Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim & Crimson Peak). 


~Connect with VM~


Website: vmsawh.com (for The Official)

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/VMsawh/ (for The Pretty Pictures)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vmsawh (for The Issue Discussions)

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/VMSawh (for What Readers Think)

Twitter: @VMS_author (for the Random & the Immediate)

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/ (GR3T3L-1 Exclusive)