The Mixtape Manifesto: A Pop Culture Confessional by SW Hammond

Published August 18, 2016 by admin

The-Mixtape-Manifesto-Banner

It’s that time again! Today, I have a little something different for you that I think you’re going to like…

The-Mixtape-Manifesto-225x300

Title:   The Mixtape Manifesto: A Pop Culture Confessional

Author:   SW Hammond

Published:  August 23rd, 2016

Publisher:   Surf Star Media

Genre:   Non-fiction / essay / relationships

Recommended Age:  16+

Synopsis:

A compilation of articles spanning more than a decade woven together to create the misguided anti-love story of a young man learning about relationships and the opposite sex through music, movies, and television.

From music industry professional, SW Hammond, comes The Mixtape Manifesto: A Pop Culture Confessional, a collection of provocative short stories on his life as a Lost Boy in search of Winnie Cooper.

Raised on rock n’ roll, Hammond blends an unparalleled view of pop culture and philosophy that follows him from his early twenties through his early thirties. The Mixtape Manifesto is filled with rich photography that captures Hammond’s days as a tour manager on Warped Tour and working for Sony Music Entertainment, as well as bringing to life the music, movies, and television that has plagued his rational sense of love and relationships. From childhood viewings of Full House leading to his lifelong hatred of John Stamos, his introduction to the Riot Grrrl movement and Kathleen Hanna, and to a questionable infatuation with The OC’s Summer Roberts—each story blends a reflective Kevin Arnold-like inner monolog with Wild Turkey.

The Mixtape Manifesto is the byproduct of one too many romantic comedies. Inspiration, enlightenment, and delusion fuel Hammond’s quest as he searches for a bit of meaning to life and someone to share it with.

Amazon | GoodReads | SW Hammond Store | Apple iBooksKobo

The Blunder Years

Whatever happened to predictability? The milkman, the paperboy, evening TV? Casual drives over the Golden Gate Bridge and neon windbreakers to protect us from that brisk Bay Area sea breeze? Back when times were simpler and the world had three fathers—and by no means am I referring to the Holy Trinity. I’m talking Danny, Jesse, and Joey. All were miserable failures with personality dysfunctions, but somehow were able to pull themselves together to raise America’s favorite girls. What this country’s fascination is with “three men and a baby” is beyond me.

Aside from the horrible acting and Afterschool Special “the moral of the story is” writing style, Full House was mashed potatoes and gravy to my generation. When the theme song kicked on, you felt good because “everywhere you look there’s a heart and a hand to hold on to.” I always acted as if I was bored while I watched the show, though; even at an early age, I was aware that it wasn’t socially acceptable for a dude to like chick flicks. And that’s what Full House was—a weekly soap opera for young girls.

I watched habitually, though, especially once Rebecca became a regular. I’m not afraid to say it: Lori Loughlin was hot. She still is. In 1989, I didn’t even really know what hot was, but whatever Rebecca was, I liked it. And so began my lifelong hatred for John Stamos. The guy makes me sick. He’s too fucking cool. His gelled-up hair, scruffy metro shave (before the world even knew what metro was), black Italian boots, a rock n’ roll attitude but with a sensitive and understanding side… What a prick. Moreover, he was briefly married to a supermodel. Still, Romjin aside, the only Rebecca that really mattered to me was the one on Full House.

I remember sizing up Stamos on every episode. I’d sit there and scowl at the TV as I’d watch his performance. The majority of my Full House viewing was around the age of 10, so looking back, that must have been quite the sight. Back then, I didn’t know what it was, and I couldn’t clearly put my feelings into words, but I certainly knew that Uncle Jesse was a pretentious asshole. The Elvis impersonations are eventually what did me in. One too many “Teddy Bears” made Rebecca’s love for Jesse unforgivable and I eventually had to move on. I learned early on that chasing after women who were attracted to Jesses was fruitless. I’d never be that guy.

I tried to seek solace in DJ, but she just didn’t have what made me tick. Kimmy was way too easy, so I figured I’d give Steph a shot and maybe try someone my own age. I appreciated her wit and subtle vulnerability, but the fact she shared a roof with Stamos was a deal breaker. I finally had to part ways with the San Francisco family and I found myself becoming best friends with Kevin Arnold. His lifestyle was much easier to swallow than three misfit dads living in the gay capitol of the world. He rode his bike, played football with Paul, thought way too deeply about the world around him, and had a crush on Winnie Cooper—the single greatest young female character up to that point in television history.

Kevin and I got along great, primarily due to our strikingly similar inner monologue. Yes, that’s what it sounds like in my head all day. Winnie was off-limits, however. I admired her from afar, but the show taught me trust and loyalty, one of the lessons that always seemed laughable coming from Jesse’s mouth. Winnie was everything a 12-year-old boy could ask for. She had her own set of wheels, enjoyed milk shakes, and was never afraid to make the first move. In the grand scheme of things, that doesn’t sound too bad to someone in their mid-twenties.

Kevin was my boy though, even through their on-again off-again late adolescence. We shared a comradely, an understanding of sorts. Kevin always ultimately did the right thing, learning life lessons along the way. I took notes and mentally never had an affair with his girl. That’s how it all went down until the final episode.

That night, I turned on my TV, half-depressed. I was anxious to see the big finale, but I felt like my childhood was ending just as Kevin’s was. The suspense ate me alive as I slurped from my juice box. The show ended by flashing forward to present day. Winnie got off a plane from studying art in Paris only to be greeted by Kevin, his wife, and new son. Those fuckers. I dropped my fruit-flavored beverage and let it seep deep into my favorite childhood blanket.

From that moment on, it’s been nothing but Guns n’ Roses, cheap strippers, Wild Turkey, and an immense Winnie Cooper void I’ve never been able to fill. Rebeccas are a dime a dozen, just like the Jesses they date. But not Winnie Cooper. Only a Winnie can make you… melt.

SW-Hammond-225x300

 

SW Hammond, short for Sean William, is the author of The Mixtape Manifesto: A Pop Culture Confessional and The Final Book fictional series. He is also a freelance writer contributing to countless music zines, athletic, lifestyle, and technical magazines and websites across the world.

SW’s writing style, particularly within his commentary, is often compared to Chuck Klosterman-esq with countless references to pop culture, especially music. His brazen and honest approach creates camaraderie with the reader, then tests the boundaries with sensitive subject matter. Philosophy, ethics, and nobility square off against a materialistic society driven by instant gratification, with Hammond treading water directly in the middle.

His fictional writing makes a conscious effort to blend perception, rumor, and fact leaving the reader to question reality. His stories often taking place in historical settings or playing on modern headlines, Hammond uses common themes to drive home critical points about the human condition. Though often grand, epic, and futurist, the backbone of his novels hinge on honor and virtue, or lack thereof.

Hammond has a very unique background as a music and sports industry professional. He has worked for Major League Baseball as a Marketing Coordinator, was an Assistant of Arizona Operations in the Kansas City Royals farm system, and a Stadium Manager of the Los Angeles Angels Spring Training facility. He is also credited as a Marketing Representative for Sony Music Entertainment, a Senior Tour Manager for the Vans Warped Tour, and an intern at WAR Records / United Interests Management.

SW was born just outside of Denver, CO and hasn’t stopped moving since. Aside from Colorado, growing up Hammond also lived in Maine, California, Utah, and Hawaii. As an adult he returned to Colorado and Utah, also adding Arizona and Nevada to the list. He currently resides in Las Vegas. Hammond has never been married and has no children.

 

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Website

NEWSLETTER

 

 

The Spirit of Grace by Terry Lynn Thomas

Published July 30, 2016 by admin

The-Spirit-of-Grace-Blitz-Banner

 

Time for another look at a stellar new book! This week, we’re taking a peep at The Spirit of Grace by Terry Lynn Thomas.

Spirit-of-Grace

Title:   The Spirit of Grace

Author:   Terry Lynn Thomas

Published:  January 16th, 2016

Publisher:   BlackOpal Books

Genre:  Historical Gothic Mystery

Synopsis:

Sarah Bennett doesn’t remember the night her mother tumbled down the stairs at Bennett House, despite allegedly witnessing the fatal fall. There was talk of foul play, dark whispers, and sidelong glances, all aimed at Sarah, prompting her family to send her to The Laurels, an exclusive asylum in San Francisco, under a cloud of suspicion. Now, on the one-year anniversary of her mother’s murder, Sarah has been summoned home. Convinced of her innocence, she returns to Bennett House, hoping to put the broken pieces of her life back together. But when another murder occurs shortly after her arrival, Sarah once again finds herself a suspect, as she is drawn into a web of suspicion and lies.

In order to clear her name, Sarah must remember what happened the fateful night her mother died. But as she works to regain her memory, the real murderer watches, ready to kill again to protect a dark family secret.

The Spirit of Grace is similar to the Gothic style of Victoria Holt and Phyllis A. Whitney.

Buy Links:

Amazon  http://smarturl.it/SpiritGraceJG

GoodReads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28634142-the-spirit-of-grace

Barnes and Noble  http://tinyurl.com/hsuld33

I had just put the silver away and was in the process of laying the used dish towels near the stove so they could dry overnight, when I saw Zeke in the back corridor. Something stopped me from speaking to him or asking what he was doing back here. He must have gone upstairs and come back down again on the servant’s staircase, which no one ever used except Anca and me.

I ducked behind a huge parka and watched as Zeke bent over Grace’s camera bag, unzipped it, and slipped out a black canister of film, all in one quick fluid motion. After he did that, he took another canister of film out of his pocket and slipped that into the camera bag in place of the film he had taken. He didn’t see me standing in the shadows spying on him. He headed back up the stairs, his footsteps quiet as passing time.

I walked back into the foyer and up the main staircase to my own room. Once inside, I locked the door behind me. I changed out of the black dress, fumbling with one hand. The image of Zeke switching the film in Grace’s camera bag ran over and over in my head. I tried to convince myself that he hadn’t been doing anything harmful. Maybe he just needed to borrow some film. But I knew what I had seen. I knew what I had heard this afternoon—Zeke speaking flawless German on the telephone.

The magic I had felt earlier, the possibility of a future with him had been clouded now. Our future together wouldn’t be a happy one. How could it be? I had fallen in love with a spy.

Terry-Lynn-Thomas-300x296

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Terry Lynn Thomas married the love of her life, who promised to buy her a horse if she relocated to Mississippi with him. Now that she has relocated, she has discovered that she can be happy anywhere as long as she has her man, her horse and time to write. Terry Lynn devoured novels by Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, and Daphne Du Maurier as a child. These gothic mysteries captured her imagination, never let go, and influence her writing today. When she is not writing or riding her horse, she visits historical houses and cemeteries, hunting for story ideas.

Amazon Author Page  http://tinyurl.com/h77mc8a

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/terry.thomas.908579

Twitter  https://twitter.com/TLThomasBooks

GoodReads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14324807.Terry_Lynn_Thomas

 

 

Author Interview: Dan Jolley and Gray Widow’s Walk

Published July 21, 2016 by admin

I’m really excited for today’s interview. It’s always fun to talk to someone whose work you’re already familiar with, and Dan is just an awesome, talented guy. I always enjoy what I read by him, and I always walk away from a conversation with him feeling positive. He’s one of those artists who knows how to listen and relate to people, which is golden, people. I cannot stress that enough. Be articulate like Dan.  Plus he’s one of the few people I can talk to about visiting Poland who gets half of what’s coming out of my mouth, so there’s that, too.

But today we are talking about his new book!

As an aside, just picture how many times I have to remind myself that it’s spelled gray because apparently somewhere I have a recessive British spelling gene. It’s killing me over here.

Gray Widow_s WalkCOVERFINAL

Amazon    Kindle  B&N  Nook

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?

DJ: In the whole plotter-vs-pantser debate, I come down as far on the side of the plotters as you can get. This is not just personal preference; when you’re doing any sort of writing for hire, as I’ve done my whole career, you have no choice but to be a plotter. No publisher is going to pay you to come up with stuff as you go. You have to submit an outline, or a summary, or both, and once that gets approved, you generally have to stick to it. That’s one of the things I learned very early on — never tell an editor, “And you’re going to love the ending!” No. No, they won’t. Or at least, they won’t take the chance that they will. That approach has carried over into everything I work on, whether it’s on spec or not.

Also, there are writers who, like Dean Koontz, go into their office every day and write for hours and hours and hours, draft after draft, until they’re satisfied. Then there are the writers who spend days or weeks or months thinking about a story, and when they’ve thought enough, they write it all down in a whirlwind. I’m in that second camp. I do most of my “writing” driving around listening to loud, aggressive music, or working around the house, or showering, or brushing my teeth. I get the whole story worked out beforehand, and then write it all down in bursts. I have a reputation in some circles for being a very, very fast writer, but most of the time, all the heavy lifting has been done before fingers touch keyboard.

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?

DJ: I have a couple of writing habits, but they’re kind of boring. If I’m working on a comic book, I draw the outlines of all the pages of the comic on one page of a sketchbook, and do a very basic form of storyboarding; by the time I’m done drawing twenty-two little rectangles representing the twenty-two pages of a standard comic, my brain is fully in comic-writing gear. When I’m doing prose, I have a walking desk set up, and by the time my blood gets moving (around five minutes at two miles per hour), I’m totally in the prose-writing groove.

I used to write in a zero-gravity recliner, and my cat, The Minkus, would get in my lap, so I’d rest the laptop directly on him and work away while he slept. That had to stop, though, for two reasons. First, he doesn’t like my new laptop. I think it’s too heavy. Second, I had to take the old one in to the shop several times to get all the cat hair vacuumed out of it.

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?

DJ: I am a very meticulous planner, as I mentioned earlier. If I had a muse, her name would be “Deadlinika,” and she would whisper things in my ear such as, “Your mortgage payment is due in two weeks,” or “You really need to get that transmission looked at,” or “The editor is expecting your first draft Monday morning,” and I’d shout, “I’M WRITING! I’M WRITING!”

As far as where ideas come from…they come from everywhere. Stories I read in the news, snippets of conversation I overhear in line at the grocery store, anecdotes my 13-year-old niece tells me…it never stops. Sometimes (not as often as I’d like), a fully-formed idea will just drop into my head out of nowhere. I wish I knew how to make that happen on a regular basis.

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?

DJ: I’m afraid Deadlinika would look like a really stern, matronly grammar school teacher. She’d just stand there and stare at me, arms crossed, a ruler in one hand, tapping her foot.

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?

DJ: In comics, my creator-owned series Bloodhound is closest to me. In video games, my work on Transformers: War For Cybertron came out really really well, though I’m also proud of the work I did on Dying Light. In novels, my answer used to be Alex Unlimited, the trio of YA sci-fi/espionage books I wrote for Tokyopop. But right now, the answer to the whole question is definitely Gray Widow’s Walk, the book that just debuted from Seventh Star Press. It’s what you might call “superhero noir,” and it’s the first time in my entire career that I’ve been able to take the gloves off and write anything and everything I wanted to. I am intensely proud of it. Everything I’ve ever written contains at least some of me, but Gray Widow’s Walk in general, and the characters of Janey Sinclair and Tim Kapoor in particular, are very very much me. Janey is even more me than Tim — which isn’t all that surprising, I guess, since I’ve been told more than once that my inner child is actually a 14-year-old girl. (My wife tends to agree with that assessment.)

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

DJ: I’d have to go with science-fiction. I love the genre, I grew up on it, my whole life changed the day I saw Star Wars in 1977. (I was six.) But the reason I’d choose it is that it’s so freaking broad. You can write almost anything in science-fiction. Space opera? Sure. Dystopian future, zombie apocalypse, rogue A.I.? No problem. Time travel? Of course. Superheroes? Almost all of them qualify. Even the epic fantasy saga I’m working on behind the scenes is, technically, science-fiction, in the way The Dragonriders of Pern is. I used to consider myself a horror writer, but I think I’ve really been a science-fiction writer all along.

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?

DJ: The downside to being a freelance writer, which I’ve been for years and years, is the unpredictable nature of the business. I’ve actually been noticing a lot of similarities between what I do and what my sister-in-law and her husband do: they own and operate their own machine shop. We’re all self-employed, we’re all entrepreneurs, and when you’re self-employed, it’s always feast or famine. You’re either covered up with work (the good times) or you’re scrambling to get work (the shitty times). Sometimes I wish I had learned to do something useful, that would pay well, for the stretches when little or no work was coming in, like welding. Something I could just go do for a week or two or three until the next contract showed up. But then I think, if I hadn’t taken the whole throw-your-hat-over-the-fence, burn-your-ships approach, I wouldn’t be as far along with things as I am now. And I do love where I am now.

SJ:If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?

DJ:I’d probably choose to be in Gray Widow’s Walk, because it’s set in modern-day Atlanta, and you could live your whole life in that book and not realize people were being targeted by unknown parties and having their DNA forcibly rearranged. Of course, if you did get pulled into that process, it would get a lot less pleasant in a very short amount of time, but 99.9% of the people in the city don’t realize what’s going on. Of any of my books, Gray Widow’s Walk would probably be the (relatively) safest, so that’s where I’d put a loved one, too.

I’d stick an enemy in Harran, the Middle-Eastern city overrun by zombies in the video game Dying Light. No one stays happy there.

SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?

DJ: I think some people have tapped into the (forgive me for using this word) zeitgeist in a way that lets them create success after success. Stephen King. Neil Gaiman. For that matter, Aaron Spelling. And y’know what? If I could do that, I TOTALLY would. Because that would mean I would have the freedom to write anything I wanted to. Collect the millions and millions of dollars from my super-popular creation(s), and then just retire to a villa in the south of France or something and write whatever I wanted to write, with no pressure. It’d be like winning the lottery.

SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?

DJ: Marry someone with a steady job that provides good insurance. I wish I were joking about that.

SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.

DJ: I’ll make a case for every genre, and it goes back to a tried-and-true bit of wisdom: it’s not the story, it’s how you tell it. Good writing is good writing, no matter what genre it’s in, and it’s that fact that has led to a few of my projects (if I may toot my own horn for a moment) getting reviews that proclaim, “This is way better than it has any right to be.” I especially enjoyed those reviews when I got hired to reboot Voltron in comic book form, back around 2002. A lot of writers would have sneered and turned up their noses at that kind of job, but I dove into it head-first, and turned it into an action-packed space opera with intense character relationships and overtones of interplanetary politics.

The same concept holds true for anything, really: witness the rise of My Little Pony, built on the series’ outstanding writing. Or, from several years ago, the TV show Girlfriends. I happened to catch an episode one day, flipping channels, and while I didn’t think I would have all that much interest in a show about four young African-American women in Los Angeles, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The writing on that show was razor-sharp, and I loved it.

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing magical-girl manga, or gritty military science-fiction, or a story about a bitter rivalry between two old men in a retirement home. Good writing will elevate any genre, just as much as bad writing will damage it. Is every genre for everyone? No, of course not. But no genre is inherently “inferior.” That’s elitist bullshit.

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

DJ: Hmmm…that’s a tough one. But I guess it goes back to when I was working for DC Comics, and was doing a signing at the DC pavilion at the San Diego ComiCon. I ran into one of their big-time, heavyweight writers, a guy who’d done multiple blockbuster books for DC and racked up walls full of awards. I hadn’t ever met him before, but he shook my hand and said, “Y’know, I always pick up your books, because I know when I see your name on the cover it’ll be top-quality.” (I eventually pried the stupid grin off my face.) Now, that was just one guy, of course, and he could’ve been blowing sunshine up my ass. But ideally? I’d love to instill that kind of confidence in all my readers. I’d love for people to see my name and, whatever medium it’s on, in whatever genre, for them to think, “Okay, I know this is going to be good.” Like virtually every creative type, I’m rife with insecurities, and I’m not saying I am that good. But it’s something to strive for.

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

DJ: Well, I’ve already said a few things about Gray Widow’s Walk, so I’ll just put the blurb right here on the page:

Janey Sinclair’s ability to teleport has always been a mystery to her. She tried for years to ignore it, but when tragedy shatters her life, Janey’s anger consumes her. She hones her fighting skills, steals a prototype suit of military body armor, and takes to the streets of Atlanta, venting her rage as the masked vigilante dubbed “the Gray Widow” by the press.

But Janey’s power, and her willingness to use it, plunges her into a conflict on a much grander scale than she had anticipated.

Soon she encounters Simon Grove, a bloodthirsty runaway with a shapeshifting ability gone horribly wrong…

Garrison Vessler, an ex-FBI agent and current private defense contractor, who holds some of the answers Janey’s been searching for…

And Tim Kapoor, the first person in years with a chance of breaking through Janey’s emotional shell — if she’ll let him.

But as Janey’s vigilantism gains worldwide attention, and her showdown with Simon Grove draws ever closer, the reason for her augmented abilities — hers and all the others like her — begins to reveal itself. Because, high above the Earth, other eyes are watching. And they have far-reaching plans…

Gray Widow’s Walk is book one of the Gray Widow Trilogy, to be followed by Gray Widow’s Web and Gray Widow’s War.

That’s from the back of the book, which debuted May 13 at StokerCon in Las Vegas. The following two books will come out one per year, unless I get them done sooner than that, which is entirely possible.

I’ve been trying to decide on the perfect way to sum the book up, and I’ve got a couple of possibilities. You could say that it’s like the Netflix version of Daredevil meets Red Sonja. You could say that it’s a sci-fi/action/horror story, since the principal antagonist, Simon Grove has been responsible for more than one reader’s nightmares. But really, it’s what happens when I get to tell a story entirely my way. No word count restrictions, no age-related language restrictions, no limits on the subject matter. Gray Widow’s Walk is the purest story I’ve ever told, and I’m beyond thrilled finally to have the chance to show it to people.

DanBeachHiRes

A Georgia native, Dan Jolley is an American author who writes novels, video games, and comic books, collects unmotivated felines, and should really go to the gym more. His first original novel trilogy, the YA sci-fi/espionage “Alex Unlimited,” was published in 2007. In 2016 he launched two new series, the superhero noir “Gray Widow Trilogy” and the Middle Grade urban fantasy series “Five Elements.” His comics work includes DC Comics’ Firestorm, Eisner Award nominated JSA: The Unholy Three, and TokyoPop’s The Lost Warrior, an extension of the Warriors novel series by Erin Hunter; his video games include Transformers: War For Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron, Dying Light, and Chronos. Dan and his wife, Tracy, live somewhere in the northwest Georgia foothills.

Website: www.danjolley.com
Twitter: @_DanJolley
Facebook: www.facebook.com/dan.jolley1

Juniper Grove presents Shadowed by Ken Hughs

Published July 7, 2016 by admin

Shadowed-Blitz-Banner

It’s book blitz time again, so let’s check out a new title!

Shadowed

Title:  Shadowed

Author:   Ken Hughes

Published:   February 6, 2012

Publisher:   Windward Road Press

Genre:  Paranormal Thriller

He can hear a whisper a block away… and can’t remember why.

Open your mind, to a city where mystery chases up and down office back stairways, turns brother against brother, and plays out on frozen sidewalks where lives may be shattered if the enemy even looks at the ragged man passing by in the crowd—and even that man cannot guess what memory will be next to batter his mind.

Paul was no detective, no thief, only a student trying to get some distance from his father and brother. When he found himself marked by the power to enhance his senses, he had only that treacherous gift and what few tricks he dared to teach himself, to search for some explanation—or at least the chance to give it meaning by exposing a few petty corruptions.

Paul thought if he lived in poverty to keep his existence secret from the world, at least nobody could force him to use that gift as a weapon against others. But just when he thought he was untouchable, the last thing he expected shakes his world and drags him into the perils of his family, his power, and two women who each have a different claim on his life.

As Paul begins to play cat and mouse with enemies he can’t even name, he must break every rule that’s kept him alive, in every frantic chase and every gamble he makes to break his family free. And all the while, he knows his greatest enemy may still be what lies behind his own secrets.

If you think you know everything a paranormal thriller can do, take a closer look.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GoodReads

***

Paul gritted his teeth. Gripping the metal piece as firmly as he could through the glove, he Opened to the shape in the shadows along the window, fighting to ignore the two memories so he could just see the wires, know the distance…

In one move, he reached down through the broken pane to stab the metal’s edge into the wood below, pressing its length between the sensors at just the proper angle. Nothing snapped, no alarm blared… and he yanked his hand back up as the dog snapped at him.

The metal stayed in place. He tried to Open his hearing to follow if the electrical path had changed, but all he heard were Quinn’s words and the dog’s thwarted growls.

Time to find out.

The dog watched his every motion now, so he took the last pigeon from his box and slid it through the hole. The dog barked as the bird fluttered by, but this time, it turned right back to the window as Paul reached in again to flip the latch.

He pulled his hand back in time, but the dog kept barking, and Paul could only hope the guard was still sick of false alarms. And that the other alarm here…

The window slid up, just three inches for now. No bells rang, but the dog snarled and snapped just beyond that gap.

And Paul raised the pet store’s spray bottle and squirted cleaning fluid into its face.

The dog yelped and pulled back, giving Paul a moment to fling the window up. As the dog started toward him again, he gave it another spray, then caught up the bird net and flung it over the beast.

Paul grabbed the bottle again and leaped through, into the room.

A few desks and cabinets stretched around him in the dim light. He turned back to see the dog already shaking off the thin net, as expected. He stepped back and pumped the spray as the dog charged—but it squirted once and then the trigger clicked in without pumping any liquid. He back-pedaled and pumped more slowly, but now the spray only made the dog flinch back a moment.

The inner door’s this way—Paul took a step, and his hip bashed the edge of a desk. The dog lunged.

He spun around the desk and threw himself at the door. For one frozen moment, he wondered if he’d ever heard the guard open it. What if it’s locked? Then he seized the handle and wrenched it open, which sent a spasm through his injured arm.

As he stepped through, the dog came up behind him. Paul ducked sideways and gave the spray bottle trigger one hard squeeze. The spray drove the dog back only a step, and Paul pumped wildly, felt the trigger catch on nothing—He smashed the bottle into the animal’s head, knocked the dog away, then leapt back out through the door and slammed it shut.

Gasping for breath, he listened to the dog’s muted barking for a moment. The spray bottle had split open in his hand, and he set the its remains quietly on the floor.

Paul looked past the desks to the office’s little file cabinet and then marched back to slide the window shut and gather up the net. That left him in the space between the alarms, with the dog trapped, and the guard tired of checking out all these noises.

“Alright, what now?” the guard growled, as the outer door’s lock clicked open. Paul dropped flat, behind a desk just as the light came on.

Ken-Hughes-Author

Ken Hughes is an urban fantasy writer living in Los Angeles, author of Shadowed and the upcoming The High Road. He’s also done technical writing for missions to Mars, and blogs about writing and genres at www.KenHughesAuthor.com.

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Newsletter

 

 

Juniper Grove Presents: Chasing Rabbits by Erin Bedford

Published June 2, 2016 by admin

Chasing-Rabbits-Blitz-Banner-1

It’s book blitz time, and I’ve got another fantastic title to share with you this week!

Chasing-Rabbits

Genre:  Supernatural Fantasy

Recommended Age:   16+

Synopsis:  Alice was wrong – Wonderland wasn’t so wonderful after all.

Kat never expected to be back in her hometown, but when house sitting turns into a mad rabbit chase, Kat finds herself with a whole new set of problems.

A two-headed bird with a Game of Thrones obsession, a party full of tea addicts, and a Cheshire Cat who could seduce the pants off her grandma? And if the citizens weren’t bad enough their prince was off his rocker.

This wasn’t your run of the mill Wonderland. This was the Fae world, where rules are rules, and some things are exactly as they seem.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GoodReads

Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited!

Join the Facebook release party on June 2nd for the chance to WIN prizes from multiple authors! A Kindle Fire is even up for grabs! Join HERE.

***

 The feeling of his mouth on mine made me lightheaded in the best of ways. In an effort to stay afloat, my hands gripped on to his vest, pulling him closer. I admit I was more than a little bit disappointed when my movement caused him to pull away.

My chest heaved as I tried to regain my breathing. He leaned his forehead against mine, his own breath coming out in pants. At least I wasn’t the only one affected.

“What was that for?”

A crackling sound broke our little moment up and Chess took a step back. The billowing fog from the forest leaked in under the wardrobe door. All thoughts of Chess’s kiss fled my mind as terror began to overwhelm me. I didn’t want to know what lie behind that door.

“You need to go now, Kat.” He ushered me to the mirror before turning back to the door.

“Wait!” I tugged on his arm. “What about you?”

“Who me?” Chess gave a coy smile that didn’t reach his heated eyes.

“I’m just a cat.”

“Are you mad? Come with us!” My voice became desperate as the door banged open and then there was silence.

The light from the bedroom was gone. Inside the door lay only darkness. It was the kind of darkness you were afraid to look into for fear of someone looking back. I knew I didn’t want that darkness looking at me.

Chess turned to me once again, brushing his lips against my ear. My eyes were focused so much on the approaching darkness that I almost didn’t hear what he said. I frowned in confusion, but before I could question him he shoved me through the mirror’s surface.

Erin-Bedford-1

Erin Bedford is a new fantasy romance author, a computer programmer by day, and a hobby hoarder.

Creating fantastical worlds has always been a secret passion of hers and she couldn’t imagine writing any story without some kind of lovey-dovey or smexy goodness in it.

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Newsletter  | YouTube

 

Juniper Grove Presents: Mirror Image by Michele Pariza Wacek

Published May 27, 2016 by admin

Mirror-Image-Blast-Banner

It’s book blast time! Let’s see what new title we’ve got in store for us today.

Mirror-Image

Author:   Michele Pariza Wacek

Published:  May 27th, 2016

Publisher:   Love-Based Publishing

Genre:  Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

Synopsis:

Which would be worse: knowing that your dead sister has come back to life and is now a serial killer, or that someone else is the killer… and that person is you?

Six months after Linda’s sister Elizabeth killed herself, Linda has finally gotten her life back to some semblance of normalcy. Until a killer appears who is stalking men … a killer who resembles Elizabeth … a killer who seems somehow familiar to Linda.

And to make matters worse, Detective Steve Anderson, her old high school crush, is assigned to the case. He’s asking Linda all sorts of questions – questions she couldn’t possibly have an answer to.

There’s no reason for him to be investigating Linda. She couldn’t possibly have anything to do with this.

Could she?

AmazonGoodReads

When Elizabeth was born, her mother knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the hospital had made a mistake.

It had been a difficult pregnancy. Marie spent most of it in bed, nauseated, uncomfortable, exhausted. She barely kept anything down, subsisting mostly on tea and saltine crackers. When the time came to deliver, the doctors performed an emergency Caesarean section, so she wasn’t able to actually watch the birth.

She couldn’t explain it, but the first time the nurses presented her with Elizabeth, she refused to even hold the baby. “There must be some mistake,” she insisted.

“There’s no mistake,” the nurses said, their approach firm and no-nonsense.

Blond and pale, Elizabeth looked nothing like the other dark haired members of the family. But it was more than that. Elizabeth felt wrong. Marie sensed it every single time she looked at Elizabeth, touched Elizabeth, smelled Elizabeth. The baby was alien to her. Elizabeth was not her baby.

But she could do nothing about it. Her husband hadn’t seen the birth. He had refused to attend any of his children’s births. The nurses kept assuring her that no one had made, could possibly have made, a mistake. So Marie had little choice but to bring her home.

Elizabeth was different, always — strange. Marie hated to use that word about any of her children, especially her youngest, but she could find no other word to describe her. Elizabeth was strange. Period.

From birth, the baby kept quiet. Rarely fussed. Hardly cried. She started talking at six months, much earlier than the rest of her children, and started forming full sentences at just over a year old.

She spent most of her time alone or, once she learned how, reading. In fact, Elizabeth remained such a quiet child, Marie could easily forget about her. It made her nervous. Elizabeth was too quiet.

Even her scent was all wrong. Babies smelled warm and sweet, of milk and talcum powder. Elizabeth’s scent reminded her of meat just beginning to spoil: thick and rotten.

But there was something else wrong with Elizabeth, something more serious than her near silence, her behavior, her scent. Even more serious than that alien feeling, which Marie had tried to dismiss as simple post-partum depression, although it never did go away entirely.

When Marie was really being honest with herself, which didn’t happen often, she could admit what really disturbed her most about her daughter.

Her eyes. Elizabeth had silver eyes.

Not always. Most of the time they looked gray. But sometimes, they changed to silver. Occasionally, Marie even thought she could see them glowing, like a cat’s. Especially at night. There Elizabeth would be, lying on her back, perfectly quiet in her crib, her eyes strangely open, shining faintly in the darkness. Marie would tell herself that Elizabeth’s eyes merely reflected the nightlight in a bizarre fashion. After all, none of her other children’s eyes ever glowed. But it still didn’t make her any easier to face, late at night, as silver eyes stared at her from the darkness. They seemed so old, so ancient. Eyes that had seen thousands of years and hundreds of lifetimes. Those eyes peered out from her newborn’s face, watching her every move, strangely calculating, full of adult understanding and knowledge. She felt afraid, if she were being honest … all alone in the room with those peculiar silver eyes watching, watching, always watching.

Nonsense, she reassured herself. Surely, she could not be afraid of her own infant daughter! What would her husband say? Plenty probably, and most of it with his fists.

Still, she found herself checking on Elizabeth less and less. She argued with herself: Elizabeth didn’t fuss much anyway. Marie didn’t need to check on her so often — not like she did with her other, noisy, “normal” babies.

Her other children. Such a joy they were, her four boys and other girl — Peter, Mark, Mike, Chad and Linda. All healthy, regular children, with coarse dark hair, brown eyes and a little bit of baby fat on their bones. They looked the way children should look, the way her children should look, like their parents. But more importantly, they acted the way children should act — loud, boisterous, rough, needy. Marie loved them for it, loved how she couldn’t get a moment’s peace when they played together. Even when their play turned to fighting, she still preferred it to Elizabeth’s silent, eerie presence.

But Marie loved Elizabeth, too. Loved her fiercely, with the same passion she felt for her other children. Marie knew she did. She told herself she did, time and time again. The fact that she felt relief when Elizabeth wasn’t around meant nothing. She just needed time away from her children, after all. Almost all mothers welcomed the time they had away from their constant, children-related responsibilities. It didn’t mean she loved them any less. It didn’t mean anything at all.

Michele-Pariza-Wacek

When Michele was 3 years old, she taught herself to read because she wanted to write stories so badly.

As you can imagine, writing has been a driving passion throughout her life. She became a professional copywriter (which is writing promotional materials for businesses), which led to her founding a copywriting and marketing company that serves clients all over the world.

Along with being a copywriter, she also writes novels (she’s published two psychological thrillers/mystery/suspense novels “The Stolen Twin” and “Mirror Image” so far) plus, she is also the author of the “Love-Based Copy” books, which are a part of the “Love-Based Business” series and cover both business and personal development.

She holds a double major in English and Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently she lives in the mountains of Prescott, Arizona with her husband Paul and her border collie Nick and southern squirrel hunter Cassie and is hard at work on her next novel.

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | GoodReads

 

 

 

 

 

Southern Haunts 3: An interview with Alexander S. Brown

Published May 8, 2016 by admin

SouthernHaunts3TourBadge

It’s blog tour time! Today I have an interview with not only a fantastic editor and author, but one of my favorite people and podcasting co-host. But first, ze book.

SouthernHaunts3Cover_1200X800

Amazon           B&N

Genres/Subgenres: Horror, Short Story, Paranormal, Occult, Folklore/Southern Regional

Deep within the South, read about the magickal folk who haunt the woods, the cemeteries, and the cities. Within this grim anthology, eighteen authors will spellbind you with tales of hoodoo, voodoo, and witchcraft.

From this cauldron mix, readers will explore the many dangers lurking upon the Natchez Trace and in the Mississippi Delta. They will encounter a bewitched doll named Robert from the Florida Keys, and a cursed trunk that is better left closed. In the backstreets of New Orleans, they will become acquainted with scorned persons who will stop at nothing to exact their revenge.

These hair raising tales and more await you in Southern Haunts 3: Magick Beneath the Moonlight. Read if you dare.

Authors:

Alexander S. Brown

Angela Lucius

  1. H. David Blalock

C G Bush

Della West

Diane Ward

Elizabeth Allen

Greg McWhorter

John Hesselberg

Jonnie Sorrow

Kalila Smith

Linda DeLeon

Louise Myers

Melissa Robinson

Melodie Romeo

J L Mulvihill

Robert McGough

Tom Lucas

***

SJ: Tell us about SH3.  What makes it unique compared to 1&2?

ASB: Actually, each vol. of Southern Haunts is unique, as the subjects vary with each book.  Vol 1. Spirits that Walk Among Us, focused on ghosts.  Vol 2. Devils in the Darkness, featured on demonic entities.  Vol 3. Magick Beneath the Moonlight, regards witchcraft and cursed objects.

SJ: Why witches?  What attracts you to the theme?

ASB: I have always been attracted to the occult.  I find the whole subject fascinating and since Spirits that Walk Among Us was published, it was only a matter of time before we released an anthology about magickal persons.  But for this to happen, I had to wait.

For vol. 3 to be about witches, there is a great significance to the vol. number and the subject matter.  In the occult, there is the belief that what one puts out into the world comes back to them in triple abundance.  Also, in paganism, the maiden, the mother and the crone are recognized and honored as a trinity. These reasons are specifically why this vol. could be none other than occult related.

SJ: What makes for a good southern horror story?

ASB: Multiple elements can make a good southern horror story, such as elaborating about the habitat, cultural development, history, verbiage, and so forth.  But personally for me, what makes a southern horror story great, is the way that it is told.

Many times during childhood, I had found myself at family gatherings and I would overhear elderly relatives speak of infamous legends from the region.  The richness of their slang and phrases, made their ghost stories all the more horrifying, because it seemed more personal.  It seemed like the story tellers weren’t utilizing proper words and phrases to identify something infamous, they were using an age old southern dialect that seemed even more tangible.

SJ: Why do you think readers gravitate to themed horror like this, especially in short form?

ASB: I think the majority of readers are under attack from having a short attention span.  Because of life being so hectic, short stories can allow readers to enjoy complete stories in minimal time.  With the subjects being themed, it lets the reader know immediately what they are in store for.  This can result in a quicker purchase.  For example: Southern Haunts 3 is about witches, the title and cover image are self-explanatory.  If the reader loves witches, they are more likely to purchase.  If that reader is not a fan of magickal themed stories, then perhaps Southern Haunts vol. 1 or 2 is more their preference.

SJ: What are the benefits of anthologies?  Any downside?

The biggest benefit for an anthology is that it presents readers with a diversity of authors who they may not have read before.  This works well for the author because it can help them gain new fans.

The downside to anthologies is that no one really makes money, as book royalties are normally split between 15 to 20 creators.

SJ: Was it different wearing the editor hat compared to being an author?

ASB: It was quite different.  After finishing Southern Haunts vol. 1, I had a new respect for editors.  To me, writing is simple and relaxing, editing is time consuming and feels like work.  Although I prefer writing more than editing, editing the Southern Haunts series has improved my writing skills.

SJ:What is the best thing about putting a book like this together?  The most difficult?

ASB: The best thing about constructing an anthology is seeing likeminded authors come together and submit their creativity.  It is a good feeling to know that other names in the profession want to work with you and contribute stories that might have been stuck in their head for quite some time.

The downside is when I have to reject stories.  I can understand how an author might think that it’s so easy for an editor to dismiss a story, and this isn’t the case.  For me, sending a rejection email, hurts me just as much as it does the author.

SJ: Any advice to authors who are interested in submitting to anthologies?

ASB: First, research the publisher before you submit.

SJ: Second, follow the guidelines.  Sometimes guidelines are overly specific with their requirements, even down to spacing, font, and letter size.  Obey all of these rules.  A lot of times, editors will use these demands as ways to see if the author payed attention, or cares about their work.

SJ: What’s next for Southern Haunts? For you as an author?

ASB: For Southern Haunts vol. 4, we are anticipating creature stories.  We haven’t decided on a title yet, but it will follow the theme of its predecessors, but with monsters.

I have a few books that are in the works.  One of which is in the final edit stage, and is being published by Pro Se Press, this will be a collection of Halloween stories called The Night the Jack O’ Lantern Went Out.  I have one story left to write before Traumatized pt 2 is complete, and The Looking Glass Creatures is currently undergoing a massive edit.

AlexanderSBrown

Alexander S. Brown is a Mississippi author who was published in 2008 with his first book Traumatized. Reviews for this short story collection were so favorable that it has been released as a special edition by Pro Se Press. Brown is currently one of the co-editors/coordinators with the Southern Haunts Anthologies published by Seventh Star Press. His horror novel Syrenthia Falls is represented by Dark Oak Press.

He is also the author of multiple young adult steampunk stories found in the Dreams of Steam Anthologies, Capes and Clockwork Anthologies, and the anthology Clockwork Spells and Magical Bells. His more extreme works can be found in the anthologies Luna’s Children published by Dark Oak Press and State of Horror: Louisiana Vol 1 published by Charon Coin Press.

Visit Smashwords.com, Amazon.com, and Barnesandnoble.com to download his monthly short stories known as Single Shots. These are represented by Pro Se Press and they are known as stories that will be featured in the upcoming book The Night the Jack O’Lantern Went Out.