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Tuesday Teaser: Curious Incidents

Published August 8, 2017 by admin

So I haven’t been completely nonexistent during this past stretch of self-reflection. I’m way late on this, but hey, promo is promo, amiright? So one of the projects I had the challenge of working on is a paranormal Sherlock Holmes anthology called Curious Incidents: More Improbable Adventures.

 This was not the easiest story for me to write – I hadn’t read Sherlock since Jr. High, when I’d binged as much as possible during free time during homeroom, a trait that obviously made me insanely popular and all the cute dudes in my class fall at my feet. Obviously, I had to be careful, because the pure power in that knowledge is obviously very potent, so I kept it locked away for a long time.

And if you’re new to this blog, welcome to the sarcastic portion of the evening.

Anywho, I’ve seen the show, but was warned against doing anything too close to that. Besides, these were alternate universe adventures – put Sherlock and Watson in another time period, place, get them out of the comfort zone, anything but Victorian England, please!

And because I am an editor’s nightmare, I put Sherlock on a futuristic space station after the end of planet earth, and just to be a brat I added in a lot of Victorian England via holodecks.

Also, Sherlock is an AI. Kinda. And there’s a new medic character named Jane that has her own mystery to solve. And a monster shows up murdering people in the holodeck nightclubs because it’s me, so of course it does.

So it’s out and there are a lot of fantastic authors in this one. It’s gotten some great reviews, and I’m admittedly pretty proud of my contribution, which is titled Reborn.  And because I love you all and don’t feel like thinking up original content, here’s an excerpt:

curious incidents

The halls of the space station Reborn were pristine and bright, a maze of metal and plastic sterility. They were in sharp contrast to the illusion gardens in the various sectors, of which Clapham was one. Though it was late, enough people were still enjoying the night’s entertainment. The theme was Old England, so couples enjoyed quaint hologram theater shows and others, like Lucy Scaleton and Alsop Addison, soaked up the unusual experience of walking nighttime streets.

“Let’s move away from the urchins. I know they make things realistic, but they’re creepy,” Lucy murmured. “We need to find the exit before things shut down and the security mechs scan for the night.”

Alsop nodded and they increased their pace. “I’m almost glad we don’t have to deal with streets. The hall layouts are much simpler.” She hissed when her foot brushed through the long skirt, sending ripples through the false image that revealed her jumpsuit underneath. “Clothes today are easier, too.”

“It’s all so realistic, though. Especially with all the scents and sounds piped in, never mind the temp changes. Holo-tech has come such a long way.” Lucy took hold of her friend’s arm with a sheepish expression. “I know we’re safe, but…”

“Let’s get home before they turn everything off for the night and ruin the fun!” Alsop tugged her down an alley. “I think this shortcuts to the exit.” She trailed frowned when they hit a dead end.

“Al—”

“I could’ve sworn this was an exit.”

“’Scuse me, miss, but spare a quid on a cold night?”

The pair jumped, then shared an exasperated look. Alsop turned to address the fellow behind them, tossing her blonde curls. “Stupid programming,” she grumbled before addressing the image. “It’s late and we need to get home.” The looming form didn’t budge or disappear. “Hey, I mean it. Bugger off or we’ll just go through you!” The shadowed gentleman’s shoulders bobbed in a silent laugh.

“This isn’t Jack the Ripper night, is it?” Lucy whispered, hand clenched tight on her friend’s arm.

“Don’t be silly. It can’t hurt you. It’s just another damn hologram!” Alsop snapped and strode right into the moving shadow.

Silver flashed and rippled. The blonde jerked with the impact, her holo-costume fading away to reveal her slashed jumpsuit. She stared at the ripped fabric, dumbfounded. “What on earth?” The concept of actual danger was so foreign. Instinctively, still expecting the shadowed mass to dissolve into static and code, she struck at it and felt her stomach drop when it touched real fabric and something warm underneath.

The looming figure that was now too real, too threatening, too substantial pounced again. The shadowed figure grabbed the blonde and silver lashed out, sending crimson spraying right through the false images of the ancient London alleyway, spattering the metal projection walls underneath. The holograms couldn’t fully form with the intrusion, making the length of the alley a flickering, macabre trap. Alsop’s painful scream tore through the nighttime sounds and distant music.

Her friend screamed with her, the sound shrill and useless against the assailant. “No, no! Let her go, this isn’t supposed to happen! Security!” Lucy panicked as she struggled with her the other girl’s falling body, frantically looking for the cameras and police units. Unhindered, the thing shoved Alsop away. The gasping blonde fell back into her friend, sending them both to the floor, revealing metal underneath the cobblestones. Cold laughter prompted them to look up and when they did, the alley was nothing but screams and blue fire.

***

Want to find out more? How about stories where Sherlock and Watson deal with vampires or find themselves in other time periods? You can find all of that in Curious Incidents, available here on kindle or here in print!

Extracted by Tyler H. Jolley & Sherry D. Ficklin

Published August 22, 2016 by admin

Extracted Banner

It’s tour time! Today’s title delves into the world of science fiction and steampunk, so let’s take a look!

Extracted

Title:   Extracted

Series:   The Lost Imperials, Book 1

Author:  Tyler H. Jolley and Sherry D. Ficklin

Published:  August 15th, 2016

Publisher:  Clean Teen Publishing

Genres:  Science Fiction / Action & Adventure, Science Fiction / Steampunk, Science Fiction / Time Travel

Synopsis:

Two opposing factions of time travelers vie for control of the future in this thrilling steampunk series opener dubbed “Interesting” and “Unexpected” by Kirkus Reviews.

Lex and Ember—two time travelers with no memories of their lives before being recruited into the time war—are torn between the factions. When Lex accepts a mission that lands him deep within the heart of the Telsa Institute, he meets Ember, and the past that was stolen from them comes flooding back. Now armed with the truth of who they were, Lex and Ember must work together to save the future before the battle for time destroys them once again.

*This special edition contains expanded content and bonus material not found in the first release.

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My breath comes in short, shallow bursts. I can feel the warmth of Ethan’s body radiating like a tuning fork against my back. In front of me, there is only darkness. I strain, listening, waiting for the next wave of attack. The leather straps holding up my suede harness dig into the skin of my shoulders, but the ache only sharpens my focus. The urge to turn around is strong, though I know better. Months of training have taught me exactly what happens when I turn my back to the darkness. So I listen, honing my senses until I catch the sound of Ethan taking a small step forward, away from me. My eyes are useless, so I close them. Knowing my attackers are well paid for their ability to move in silence, there is little hope that they will give themselves away. We need another strategy. As if reading my mind, Ethan picks up the conversation we were having earlier.

“All I’m saying is, maybe you need the extra practice,” Ethan says, his tone mocking. Even without being able to see him, I can sense him moving, beginning to circle counterclockwise. I know he’s trying to draw them out, to bring the fight to him. It seems like a sound strategy, so I jump on board.

“Oh, yes, because it isn’t like she turned around and kicked the crap out of you, too.” I’m mimicking his movements now. My voice is flat, free from emotion, and my words are empty. I can’t see him moving, but I can feel him, as if we’re connected by a million invisible threads.

“How am I supposed to just punch a girl?” Ethan asks. “And I was tired from taking the guy out like five seconds earlier.”

“She isn’t a girl. She’s more like a pissed-off kangaroo in a top hat. She has a nasty right hook, I’ll give you that.”

I hear the sharp whip of air as a bamboo pole cuts through the darkness, headed toward my face. Even with our phony argument going on, I’m able to hear it coming before it lands. I bring up my hands and block the blow with my forearms. The impact stings, bruising the bones there, but better my arms than my face. With a movement perfected after one too many blows to the head, I grab the pole and pull it aside, dragging my attacker with it. As he closes in, I drop the pole and lock arms with Ethan. I flip over his back and kick out, knocking my attacker to the mat. As he struggles back to his feet, Ethan spins into my place, delivering a secondary kick that sends the man flying into the wall with a dull thud. “Yeah, but she’s scrappy,” he says.

“Scrappy? Is that boy code for you couldn’t stop staring at her rack?”

Behind me, I feel Ethan duck a blow, and then land one of his own before pressing his back against mine. “I… that’s not… I didn’t even… I mean…” he sputters.

I smirk. Busted.

Footsteps approach, but we keep sparring. I bend over, using my attacker’s own momentum against him as I put my shoulder into his gut and stand, propelling him over my head and onto his back on the mat. I don’t need to see my victory to realize what the maneuver has cost me. A muscle in my lower back seizes, and it’s all I can do not to drop to my knees in agony. I clench my fists until I feel my fingernails cut bloody crescents in my palms. There is no way I’m going to be the weak link—no way I’m going to let Ethan fight alone. Back to back, that’s how Rifters are trained to fight. And Ethan always has my back.

“Don’t feel too bad. She was pretty scrappy after all.”

Ethan mumbles, “It’s a girl thing.”

“Hold up, what’s that supposed to mean?” I ask, stiffly regaining my footing as my back screams in protest.

As usual, Ethan turns to check on me. “Nothing personal, Ember.”

Not wanting him to get slammed for it again, I grab him by the shoulder and pull, revolving us to our starting positions just as the first attacker flips back onto his feet and lunges. He would have taken me in the stomach, but I bring up my knee just in time to block his advance before kicking him in the face. There is a loud crunch that sounds like breaking bone. I hear him hit the mat with a groan. The lights flick back on, and Mistress Catherine blows her whistle.

Normally we spar with off-duty guards, since most of them have military training of some kind. They know how to take a hit and how to deliver one without doing too much damage. We might be lowly recruits, but Rifters are rare, and our lives are precious.

But as the man whose nose I have just broken pulls off his black ski mask, my heart falls into my shoes. Flynn is staring up at me, and his face is covered in blood.

“Nice hit, Ember,” he says as blood drips from his nose and onto his white shirt. Mistress Catherine hands him his horn-rimmed glasses and shoots me an amused smirk. Behind me, Ethan snickers.

Great. And here I was thinking this day couldn’t get any worse.

Reaching down, I offer Flynn a hand up, which he accepts with a smile.

“I’m so sorry,” I mutter, but he waves it off.

“Catherine told me you were really coming along. I wanted to see for myself.”

The others are shuffling out, so I turn to grab a towel and follow them, but Mistress Catherine closes the door behind a worried-looking Ethan, presses her back against it, and narrows her eyes at me. I used to think it was hard to look menacing in a knee-length pencil skirt and beige brocade top, but she radiates power. It might be the stern pucker of her thin lips, or the way her graying hair is knotted tightly at the nape of her neck. She resembles a librarian except for the long, jagged scar that runs from her left temple to the cleft in her chin. Well, that and the spider-shaped, iron shoulder harness permanently affixed to her upper arm.

Not sure what’s going on, I freeze, yellow towel in hand. Before I can say anything, I feel something moving behind me. I manage to move to the side just as a wooden staff comes slamming down against the spot where I’d stood a heartbeat earlier. I turn and see Flynn grinning, blood still dripping off his chin. He spits before whirling the staff like a windmill in front of him. “What I don’t understand,” he says, circling to my left, “is how that Hollow got the best of you. According to Ethan’s report, Kara had no problem with her. And Catherine here tells me that you mat Kara at almost every practice now.”

I have no idea what to say. Does he think I let her beat up on me? Just then, my legs are swept out from under me. I fall to the mat, but, rolling swiftly backward, I bounce up onto my feet. Catherine has a staff, too, and comes toward me from the right. I hold up my hands and back up slowly. In the corner of the room, a vent erupts in a cloud of steam, and Tesla’s image appears but says nothing.

“Look, I didn’t let her get away,” I say. “If that’s what you’re implying. She was strong. And fast.”

Catherine shakes her head. “You are strong. And fast. And clever.”

“I’m sorry!” I blurt out when my back hits the corner and they are still coming at me.

I don’t think Flynn would ever hurt me, not really, but Catherine, well…

Without another word, they both attack. I manage to duck one blow but take another in the ribs before I decide to make a break for it. Jumping as high as possible, I’m able to get a hand on the chain attaching one of the punching bags to the ceiling and hoist myself up. I leap over Flynn and roll as I hit the ground behind him. They’re quick, though, and have me surrounded again in seconds.

It’s easy to forget that they are trained Rifters, too. Catherine doesn’t rift anymore, but Flynn is still active and in really good shape. They aren’t holding anything back either. Flynn lands a blow to my lower back, but when Catherine moves in, I’m able to grab her staff and force it from her bad arm. Suddenly, time is moving in a blur. I’m not thinking about my next move anymore. My body is reacting of its own accord. I’m not sure how it happens, but I blink and Catherine is on her knees. Flynn is standing in front of me, and I have the two staffs crossed at his neck. He’s holding up his hands and saying my name.

I drop the sticks and step back. The muscles in my arms and legs are twitching like I’ve just run ten miles.

“That’s what we mean,” Catherine says, climbing stiffly to her feet. “You could have taken the Hollow girl. So, why did you hesitate?”

I close my eyes, calling the fight to the front of my memory. There was something about the girl. She was beautiful, for sure, but that wasn’t it. There was something else, too. Something I can’t put into words. I look up to find they’re staring at me, waiting for some kind of answer. I can feel Tesla glaring holes into my back, watching me like one of his little science experiments. “I don’t know what you want me to say.”

Flynn sighs and holds his hands out to me. I take them without hesitation. “Ember, I know it’s hard. I know you don’t like hurting people. It’s against your very nature to harm someone or let someone suffer. But you are too important to risk losing. Understand? Sometimes, you have to put someone down, let someone get hurt or even die, to save yourself and your team. You can’t hold anything back.”

I take a deep breath. “And what if someone dies because of me? Because, for some reason, my life is worth more than theirs?”

Flynn lowers his head, looking me in the eye. “That is a burden you will have to learn to carry.”

Sherry Ficklin and Tyler Jolley

Tyler H. Jolley was born in the era of the Star Wars and the Indiana Jones sagas. He has been enamored with science fiction and adventure stories ever since. In order to support his hobby of writing he decided to pursue dentistry. He graduated from Nova Southeastern University School of Dental Medicine in 2002. He then completed a four year orthodontic and periodontic residency at the University of Pennsylvania. In June 2006, he opened a private practice, Jolley Smiles, in Grand Junction, Colorado.Snowboarding, mountain biking, road biking, fly fishing, bird hunting, camping, hiking, and backpacking are the things he enjoys doing with his family. He also enjoys lecturing internationally on temporary orthodontic implants. Some of his journal articles have also been published in the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics. However, his true passion has always been fiction writing.When life gets stressful he escapes to unseen worlds to find relaxation. His career has been the vehicle to let him write without worry. He finds inspiration from most of his adolescent patients. He continues to dream up fun and thrilling books to this day.

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Blog

Sherry D. Ficklin is a full time writer from Colorado where she lives with her husband, four kids, two dogs, and a fluctuating number of chickens and house guests. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs. She is the author of several YA novels ranging from contemporary romance to science fiction. In her spare time she co-hosts the Pop Lit Divas radio show and is constantly trying to take over the world.

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

Book Blast: Evolution: The Revelation by Jim Reilly

Published February 29, 2016 by admin

Time for another book blast while I prep my other posts for this month!

Evolution-Blast-Banner

 

Evolution

 

Title:  Evolution: The Revelation

Author:   Jim Reilly

Published:  February 28th, 2016

Publisher:   Sayville Books

Genre:  Science Fiction, Fantasy, Religion

The Revelation is  Jim Reilly’s follow-up to his science fiction novel, Evolution. In The  Revelation cloaked Ancient Visitors plan man’s future enslavement for a  menacing purpose. Two groups, one in the present and one a thousand  years in the future, investigate a conspiracy thousands of years in the  making. In the present, Jennifer and David Cho’s son Cameron’s  investigation uncovers a plot to continue what Bishop Terapion started.  In the future, Steven Moran and his team combat the mysterious Prince  and the Ancient Visitor armada heading for Earth

The present and  future look at scripture for clues as they learn the battle is bigger  than all of them. Religion and science are once again at the forefront  and must work together to overcome the Ancient Visitors. Not only are  the people of Earth in peril, but the whole universe is in jeopardy of  eradication from existence. The present and the future discover shrouded  secrets full of mystery needed to be solved to save mankind, but will  it be too late?

The Revelation  explores mankind’s resolve to fight for its future. Will mankind’s fight  be successful or will the Ancient Visitors succeed in enslaving mankind  to supplement their army used for a battle for the heavens? Jim  Reilly’s Evolution explored mankind’s roots. The Revelation explores  where we are going from here

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31st Century.

 

“Thirty survivors?” asked Steven Moran. “It can’t be! There were only twenty-nine of us!”

He quickly jumped up out of his sickbay bed and grabbed the Super Homo sapiens nurse by the arm, “Can I see the list of survivors? Please, it’s important.”

The enhanced woman waved her hand and a virtual reality image illuminated the list of survivors.

The former Kansas wrestler with Midwestern rugged farm boy features and an impressive muscular physique, even for an enhanced Super Homo sapiens, viewed the list and asked, “Are all of them out of the sleeping pods?”

“Yes…” she replied, with wonder in her voice about his motives.

“That name there, Walter Sikes. He survived?”

“Yes, he’s resting comfortably on a lower deck two floors down.”

“Show me where I can find him?”

She showed him a diagram of the tremendous spacecraft traveling a great distance from Earth. “Why do you want to know about him?”

He dashed out of the ship’s sickbay room without looking back. “Because he died on the mission and shouldn’t be here.”

The nurse sounded the alarm, but Steven was already halfway down the hallway grabbing an orderly to take him on the lift system to get to the right floor and Walter Sikes’ room.

As the lift took him two floors below, a hologram of the ship’s captain, Commander Christine Carroll was projected in front of Steven. “I understand we may have a stowaway?”

“That’s right,” he responded, “I personally witnessed Walter being killed in the initial battle aboard the alien craft.  He was cut down by the mysterious entity ruling the Ancient Visitors, aliens or whatever they were. I helped set every one of the survivors in the sleeping pods when we escaped the Ancient Visitors ship’s destruction. I can, without any doubt, say that Walter was not one of them. Whoever that is, it isn’t Walter Sikes.”

“Well then, we’ll need to talk to Mr. Sikes,” said Commander Christine Carroll, an old by-the-book veteran leader, as she mentally linked the conversation to her security detail. “Please apprehend Walter Sikes for questioning and use extreme caution.”

When Steven reached Walter’s sickbay room, he and the arriving security detail found a pair of unconscious nurses lying on the floor next to the recovery bed.

The leader of the security detail tapped his earpiece linked to his mind and the hologram of the ship’s captain reappeared. “The target is not here and is on the run. He is also not showing up on our sensors.”

As security personnel attended the fallen nurses, Steven looked around at the empty sickbay room.  He detected the holographic screens that were used to scan patients. “How would he escape the ship?”

Without answering Steven, the Captain ordered, “All security personnel report to the transport docking bay immediately.” Images of Walter Sikes began showing in every corner of the ship.

When Steven and the security detail arrived at the docking bay, they were met by the Captain in person who ordered the door of the docking bay to be opened.  When the door wouldn’t open as requested, she ran to the large window looking into the bay. Many of her personnel were scattered along the floor, at the very least, unconscious. It was then that one of the transports powered up and fled the docking bay into space. Without the interior pressure, the transport glided up and out of the docking bay into space. The various unconscious bodies began floating up and out following the transport as the docking bay’s atmosphere was sucked into the darkness of space. Seconds later the wide metal doors shut; the Captain mentally initiated the containment field.

Steven, in all the confusion going on, wondered out loud, “We shouldn’t have come back. Look what we did. We brought one back, and it may be the worst of them all.”

Hearing Steven’s words, the Captain responded, “We’ve had to deal with them in the past, our ancient ancestors had been changed by them. Then there was Bishop Terapion during the Followers of Divinity conflict.  It didn’t stop there as there were others.”

Steven ran his hands over his face and through his hair then said, “There were others?”

As the Captain tracked the ship heading toward Earth on the computer in her mind, she ordered the helmsmen to set a course to intercept and then alerted her communication officer to warn Earth Command.  She then looked at Steven and repeated, “Yes, there were others…”

Jim-Reilly

 

Jim Reilly is the author of science fiction and fantasy novels, Evolution and Seaville. He is a married father of four, born and raised in Long Island. From an early age, Jim always had a fascination with science, religion, and science fiction. He now enjoys leveraging those interests to develop fascinating and unique stories.

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Excerpt: Across the Universe

Published September 10, 2015 by admin

Today’s excerpt is again from Lost in the Shadows, and it’s one of those stories where the idea hit me hard but it took me a while to give myself permission to write it. I’m not a hard sci-fi writer by any means, but I love the more emotional and literary work of Ray Bradbury. Plus, when I heard a radio report about how the song Across the Universe had been beamed into space, well, I couldn’t not write this. This is also one of those stories that prompted Susan to ask what the hell was going on in my head at any given moment, heh. This is only a small part of the story, but it’s very much a love letter to one of my favorite authors as well as my deep connection to music. In the story a group of select criminals with a generations-old grudge set out to obliterate a certain planet, but run into a rather odd communication signal in the meantime.

***

“Excellent,” Spaulding purred. “I don’t need to remind you all how important this is. Failure is unacceptable. If you fail the Coordinators attempt for any reason and live, I have permission to execute you myself.” It wasn’t an empty threat. Her own strength was that she’d come from a long line of murderers. While that wasn’t particularly atypical on Planet 1312, the Spaulding line had turned it into an art form. It wasn’t that she was sadistic, although she could be, or brutal, though she had been. It was that she knew when to use her gift and how to use it to the fullest ability.

That was the trait every one of them shared. They were the experts the inhabitants of Planet 1312 strived to be. After all, in a society populated entirely by descendants of criminals, it was still important to take pride in one’s worth and strive to be the very best.

Long ago, when Earth had just begun to get a handle on long-range space travel, its first uses hadn’t been for exploration or discovery, but exploitation. With NASA’s influence fading, private corporations had funded the technology in hopes of opening up a new vacation industry, not to mention the opportunities colonization could bring.

First, though, the shuttles had to be tested. Times being what they were, they had ben filled with the overflow from prisons, homeless shelters, and even a few of the more vocal dissident groups had been plucked off the streets to fill space along with a handful of daring, clueless scientists. Family members and friends had simply disappeared from their lives and work one day. Some of their relations had never found out that they weren’t dead, but in a stark metal box hurtling through space.

After a good year of travel, the shuttle landed on Planet 1312. It was further than the shuttle should have traveled, but those that had volunteered (or had been volunteered) to lead the expedition were well-aware that kinks in the system still had to be worked out. It wasn’t until they tried to arrange their return flight that they realized there wasn’t enough fuel to get back to Earth and thesupply logs had been doctored. Only then was the full scope of the plan realized by those stranded on the planet.

They were well out of reach of communication, but the planet was fortuitously habitable if one didn’t mind reverting back to primal instincts. Many died in the following centuries. Those that didn’t never forgot their hardened roots or their betrayal. Miraculously, through luck and sheer force of will, the little society adapted and evolved, eventually regaining some semblance of technology and standard of living. Now, nearly a thousand years later, their descendants were returning home to deliver a long-overdue thank you gift.

The captain smiled a cruel little grin, the only admission of pleasure she’d allow herself during such a serious mission. “And you’re certain we shall meet with no retaliation?”

“We shouldn’t. Our communications and data retrieval are slow, to be sure, but reports over the past ten years indicate that attention is focused inward. All surrounding colonies have been called back to help with the war that’s been going on,” Natalo replied, her lovely face turned stern as she focused on the readouts glowing across her screen.

“If they’re so desperate to destroy themselves, we’ll be happy to help them out,” Kirksan quipped. The others snickered and although the lack of focus irritated Spaulding, she allowed it. It wasn’t like there would be time for celebration afterwards if things went according to plan.

As expected, everyone went right back to what they were doing after their mirth was spent. There wasn’t time for wasted emotions. Anger and a long-taught need for vengeance had followed them all their lives. The story of their civilization and how they would make Earth pay was one of the first bedtime stories they all heard, the first school lessons, even the first Sunday School lessons. There was no room for empathy or titillation, just as it was too dangerous to get too angry or caught up in their eventual upper hand. Their entire planet had only the one ship, the one bomb, the one chance.

“Approaching now. Shall I bring us out of lightspeed, captain?” Godren asked.

“Go ahead,” she replied, her grey eyes as sharp and severe as the rest of her. “Weapons?”

“Locked and loaded,” Kirkan said.

“Any resistance detected?”

“None so far, but I’ll have a better idea in a few minutes when we slow down,” Natalo soothed.

“They’re too wrapped up in their own drama,” Godren muttered under his breath.

“Be that as it may, we cannot assume anything,” Kardra reminded them. They meant well, but they required a firm hand to keep total focus. Luckily she had always had an unwavering hand, whether it was holding a knife to someone’s throat or poisoning the water supply of the neighboring community when they’d kidnapped her brother over a supply battle. “Our systems are barely up to what we remember from Earth’s capabilities ages ago.”

“If they’re so advanced, then why weren’t we spotted and dealt with yet?” Kirkan pointed out.

It was a fair question. Captain Spaulding would have loved to come up on the planet, guns blazing, but a stealth approach was necessary. All they had was the one bomb, some basic laser cannons, and their ramshackle shields. Their speed was still not as advanced as the intel they’d gleamed on Earth’s fighter crafts eight years ago. She’d love to believe the whole planet was not paying attention, that the lunar and martian colonies were truly vacant and unable to warn the arrogant fools. She wouldn’t bet on it, though. The tendency for caution had not only kept her alive, but made her successful. It’s good to expect the other shoe to drop, she reminded herself.

A light on the console flashed and something pinged a tinny, sing-song of a noise. It was a quietly mocking noise.
I knew it, Karda thought, and her fist clenched, her mind swept up in black clouds.

Everyone’s breath in the little cabin caught and stopped.

The console pinged again.

“What is it?” the captain barked, straining to keep the tension out of her voice. Coolness and calm. You are the leader. Though if their whole society had worked so hard and so long only for them to be shot down now…
“It’s just a comm message,” Natalo reassured them. As one, the crew of the unnamed ship exhaled. “It’s that transmission we intercepted a while back. It’s finally coming through on our hunk of junk system.” She paused, scrolled through the readout, and hit a few keys. “Would you like me to play it? It looks fairly antiquated.”

Spaulding paused and considered. It would take their system a few minutes to fully slow and get into attack position and even antiquated information could prove useful. “Ready the obliterator. Lock in the coordinates and continue deceleration,” she ordered before addressing Natalo. “Go ahead. At the very least it will give us something to listen to while the obliterator is primed.” The crew followed her commands with utmost precision.

She was proud that her voice sounded as composed as it did. In less than thirty minutes, we’ll be dead and our names will be sung in future war anthems. Our faces will be painted in the Hall of the Brave in the capital. She said nothing of this or the sudden rush of violence and pleasure that their long-awaited victory gave her. If only I had time to spill blood one last time before the end…that would make it all perfect. The calloused fingertips that had strangled their share of the opposition felt fuzzy and awkward from the rush of adrenaline. Looking around the cramped space proved that although her crew was trying to keep poker faces in place, they were squirming and fidgeting from their own excitement. Although they kept on task their faces held the same hungry, feral feeling Captain Karda Spaulding felt echoing through her.

Natalo opened the comm frequency and cued up the signal they’d recorded while still in deep space. For a moment there was silence, then static. “I don’t know how great the quality will be,” she admitted. “It’s ancient and our systems aren’t the best—oh,” she breathed, then snapped her pouting lips shut tight. Her shoulders hitched and chest heaved a few times before she reigned herself back in check.

Patyn and Kirksan sat up straight with sharp intakes of breath. Even Godren drew himself to attention, as grizzled by hard living as he was. Spaulding herself let out a sharp gasp, as though the sound was a dagger blade that sliced straight into her soul.

Music. Of all the things to intercept, it was music.

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Kindle        Amazon Paperback      B&N Paperback

Various Speculative Genres/Short Fiction: Flash, Complete Shorts, Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, and others

Journey with authors Selah Janel and S.H. Roddey to a world where every idea is a possibility and every genre an invitation.

In this collection of forty-seven short stories, lines blur and worlds collide in strange and wonderful new ways.

Get lost with the authors as they wander among fantasy, horror, science fiction, and other speculative musings.

Shadows can’t hurt you, and sometimes it’s all right to venture off the path.

***

Reminder: I’ll be at the Imaginarium Convention all this weekend, so come on out to Louisville to meet me and some other amazing authors! I’ll even sign Lost in the Shadows for you right there!

Also, you have until Sept 17 to enter the Night Owl Book Reviews contest – be sure to check around my blog for a hidden entry word…(pssst, go look at my books!)

Juniper Grove Presents: Twists in Time Anthology

Published July 2, 2015 by admin

Twists-in-Time-Tour-Banner (1)

It’s a double blog tour week! I wish I had a drumroll sound effect that would make sense in a context like this…

Twists-in-Time-Antho

Title:  Twists in Time

Authors:  Various

Published:  June 16th, 2015

Publisher:  Clean Teen & Crimson Tree Publishing

Genre:  Science Fiction, Time Travel

Content Warning:  Some stories may include mild violence and language.

Synopsis:  What would happen if time, the fragile thread that both leads and binds us, could be unwound as simply as untying a knot? Would we go back, charging through our own history, changing and tweaking, plucking at that fragile thread until time itself unraveled all around us? Would we create countless universes through which we could live our fantasies—or would we become our own nightmares? Would we blaze ahead, reckless and wild, into our own futures? Would we become our own heroes, or would we become villains?

Join us for a series of stories that explore time, through the eyes of those bold enough to conquer it, and foolish enough to try to control it. From the award-winning team of authors at Clean Teen Publishing, Twists in Time will both entertain and challenge the way you see the world around you. Because when one finds a way to break the barrier of time, endless worlds of possibilities emerge.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GoodReads

I’ve hijacked asked one of the authors to join me here today to talk about the book and writing, so give a big bloggy hand for Amanda Strong!

SJ: Every writer has some sort of process.  Give us a glimpse into yours.  Do you meticulously outline?  Do you write depending on what calls are out there?

AS: I wish I outlined more, to tell you the truth! Probably would keep me from getting into trouble.  Sigh… Unfortunately, my process is a bit more unorganized.  Depending on if it’s a first book in a series for me, or a follow up novel, also determines how I approach it.  If it’s a first, brand new concept, I tend to let myself just go with it. (For about 50 pages.  Then I have to regroup and figure out what the heck I’m doing with the hair brained idea I just came up with 😀 ).  If it’s a second or third book in a series, I start out the gate with a vague outline of where I want to go with it.  Usually after 50 pages or so, I will firm that outline up quite a bit, getting the general idea of where the story is heading.  I really like to leave some things open, right up to the ending scenes.  I love when I can throw some unexpected twists at the readers because my characters threw some unexpected stuff at me.

SJ: Bonus question- Do you put on a cape and do a chant before hunkering down to work? Sacrifice anything?  Along with your process, what’s your quirkiest writing habit?

AS: Well, much to my husband’s chagrin and my children’s delight, I do wear a cape while writing.   I feel it really clears the mind, frees the hands, and warms my back 🙂  Okay, maybe I don’t sport a cape, I’m afraid I’m much more boring than that.  I usually make sure I have all my things handy before I begin a block of writing:  lots of water, chocolate of some sort, cell phone (on silent if I’m being really good), paper, pens, extra snack, empty bladder, and if it’s just one of them days, a big diet Dr. Pepper.

SJ: Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse?  Where do your ideas come from?  Do they filter in through your dreams?  Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head?  Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?

AS: Ahh…such great questions!  Where to start?  First off, you probably already can tell from my first answer, I’m not a meticulous planner.  I’m not sure if I’d call it a muse, but all my stories have come from different sources of inspiration.  Music plays a HUGE role in my writing.  I have literally reworked an entire characters, scenes, and even a few plot twists from songs I’ve heard.  I wish there was a way I could insert the songs titles after each chapter in my books!  With The Watchers of Men series, the beginning premise began with a dream.  I followed that up with tons and tons of research!  With Hidden Monster, I had a few of those wham-hit-me-in-the-head experiences 🙂

SJ: Bonus question- If your muse had a physical manifestation, what would he or she look like and how would she or he act? Is it a sexy superhero version of Callisto?  A sharp-tongued rogue?  A reptilian alien?  Do they have a catch phrase?

I had to answer this one with pictures.  Here are a couple of my muses 🙂

Dragonfly3   Gabriel 3

SJ Note to Self: Campaign for Amanda to let me hang out with her muses…

SJ: What’s the book/story that’s closest to your heart? Is there a piece that you clearly feel is a piece of you?  Do you play favorites?

AS: That’s such a tough question.  I recently did a radio interview where I was asked which of my books was my favorite. I only have three, so that made answering a little easier. (A little.)  Truth is, I love each of my books for different reasons. The more I thought about it, though, I told the interviewer Watchers of Men series will always be special to me.  Book one, The Awakener, will probably always be closest to my heart.  The main character, Eden, is so me in High School.  (Minus the amazing, supernatural abilities of course!).  I was extremely shy, terrified of boys, and socially awkward. If my few close friends didn’t show up that day, guess who ate her lunch in the library with a book (which these days doesn’t sound half bad 😀 )

SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?

AS: I would say Young Adult Paranormal.    I love all things fantasy, Sci-Fi, super natural, etc…  YA is all about firsts, and it’s so enjoyable to relive and recreate those moments through writing.

SJ: What’s your biggest frustration as a writer?  What do you consider the downside, or is there one?  Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?

AS: I’d say finding the time to actually write books!  Being a writer/author is lot more involved than just typing ideas out on the keyboard.  Finding a balance between marketing and writing is tough, plus throw real, everyday life into the mix, and you’ve got yourself running in circles at times!  I think as a writer, I need to refocus my energy now on just that, writing 🙂

Note from SJ:  THIS. SO THIS. Amanda, we need to form a support group together. 

SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or work mentioned?

AS: I hope they think of books which excite and surprise them, characters they can relate to and empathize with, and plots that keep them turning pages way past their bedtime.

SJ: Please tell us about your latest/favorite work, or a little bit about what you are working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!

AS:  I’m super excited about this Twists in Time Anthology!  I’m grateful I had the opportunity to collaborate with eight other amazing authors!  My own short story, Kiss of Time, was such a new concept for me to play around with.  Now I want to make it into its own series J  Right now, I’m working on Inner Demons, book two in Monsters Among Us series.  I can’t wait to get it out to my readers who have waited so patiently for the return of Sam and Blake.

Thanks for stopping by, Amanda! It was super fun to hear your answers, and your stories sound way interesting! Be sure to check out her tale in the book, folks!

Portrait of a beautiful woman with magical lights. Fantasy concept

Author Montage (1)

  Featured Authors and Stories:

“After Time” by Sandy Goldsworthy

“The Fall” by Holly Kelly

“The Kiss of Time” by Amanda Strong

“With a Grain of Sand” by Kathy-Lynn Cross

“The Before Sky” by Sherry D. Ficklin

“What You Wish For” by Kelly Risser

“Tides of Time” by Julie Wetzel

“It’s The Little Things” by Jon Messenger

“Romeo and Juliet Times Infinity” by Kasi Blake

There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:

  • A bookmark swag pack, winner’s choice of any Clean Teen Publishing eBook, and a $15 Amazon gift card.

Giveaway is International.

Enter Here!

JGBS Host

Juniper Grove Presents: Twists in Time Anthology

Published June 16, 2015 by admin

Twists-in-Time-Ant-Blitz-Banner

Time to see what’s new in the publishing world, and this time I’ve got a really interesting anthology for you to take a look at!

Twists-in-Time-Antho

Title:  Twists in Time

Authors:  Various

Published:  June 16th, 2015

Publisher:  Clean Teen & Crimson Tree Publishing

Genre:  Science Fiction, Time Travel

Content Warning:  Some stories may include mild violence and language.

Synopsis:  What would happen if time, the fragile thread that both leads and binds us, could be unwound as simply as untying a knot? Would we go back, charging through our own history, changing and tweaking, plucking at that fragile thread until time itself unraveled all around us? Would we create countless universes through which we could live our fantasies—or would we become our own nightmares? Would we blaze ahead, reckless and wild, into our own futures? Would we become our own heroes, or would we become villains?

Join us for a series of stories that explore time, through the eyes of those bold enough to conquer it, and foolish enough to try to control it. From the award-winning team of authors at Clean Teen Publishing, Twists in Time will both entertain and challenge the way you see the world around you. Because when one finds a way to break the barrier of time, endless worlds of possibilities emerge.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GoodReads

Author Montage (1)

Featured Authors and Stories:

“After Time” by Sandy Goldsworthy

“The Fall” by Holly Kelly

“The Kiss of Time” by Amanda Strong

“With a Grain of Sand” by Kathy-Lynn Cross

“The Before Sky” by Sherry D. Ficklin

“What You Wish For” by Kelly Risser

“Tides of Time” by Julie Wetzel

“It’s The Little Things” by Jon Messenger

“Romeo and Juliet Times Infinity” by Kasi Blake

Clean Teen Publishing Links:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

Plus, you could win a great prize by going to the Rafflecopter! Giveaway is for:

A bookmark swag pack and winner’s choice of any Clean Teen Publishing eBook.

Giveaway is International.

Juniper Grove presents Maia and the Secrets of Zagran

Published January 5, 2015 by admin

Happy New Year, everyone! I have a lot of thoughts and news on the matter, but today I want to lend some blogspace to a title that really has piqued my interest.

Maia Secrets of Zagran Banner

 

  Maia and the Secrets of Zagran

The Lightbound Saga #2

S. G. Basu

 YA Sci-Fi Fantasy

Maia-Secrets-of-Zagran

Thirteen year old Maia thinks she has seen it all.

She has survived an assassination attempt, she has been threatened by a chancellor, and she has faced off with saboteurs trying to bring down a nation. She lets nothing get to her anymore-not the ominous nightmares she has been having lately, not the fear of being targeted for another soul extraction, not even the memories of her dead mother’s terrifying communique.

More than ever, Maia wants the Initiative to resume. She longs to visit Zagran-the undersea capital of the Jjord. She wants to ride the underwater transport lines, learn about the Jjordic energy farms and most of all-she wants to goof off with her friends. But, around the charming city of Zagran, evil is gathering. Maia and her friends do not know it yet, this is just the beginning of a terrifying end.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GoodReads

 

SG-Basu

G. Basu is a telecommunications engineer by profession, but she likes to call herself a dreamer. Imagination, fueled by a voracious appetite for books, has been her steady friend since childhood. She discovered her passion for writing quite by chance and there has been no stopping her since then.

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Blog

There’s also a tour wide giveaway going on! Prizes include the following:

One signed copy of  Maia and the Secrets of Zagran

 Giveaway is open to the US, UK, and Canada.

 You can enter using the Rafflecopter Widget Link

 

JGBS Host