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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!

Season’s Readings: Holly and Ivy

Published December 13, 2015 by admin

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And of course, it wouldn’t be the holiday season without a magical Christmas/fantasy mashup with a hint of sweet romance. Not that I’m biased or anything, ahem…

This title is a little atypical for me, but it combines a lot of elements that I love about the holidays: natural settings, family, friendships, the folklore elements of the stories I love. However, it also adds in a real-world element. Not all holidays are going to turn out perfect or even completely happy. I’ve been there, and I wanted to reflect that in this story. The romance aspect is mostly alluded to, but you do get some cute scenes that you’d probably never believe I could write. Plus you get to find out what happens when you inadvertently get a dryad with your Christmas tree…

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After losing her job and her boyfriend, Holly returns to her parents’ farm. Embarrassed and hopeless, she doesn’t expect to bump into a forgotten childhood friend that wasn’t supposed to exist. Ivy is not only a dryad, but she lives in the pine trees Holly’s family grows to sell at Christmas. As the old friends reconnect, Ivy not only shares her strong oninions, but gives Holly a charm that will change both their lives. As days melt into weeks and the seasons change, Holly’s life magically turns around. Christmas not only brings surprises, but a choice for the human woman. What’s more important: stability, success, and love, or keepinga promise to an old friend?

***

She paused and took a long breath, much longer than I or any other human could possibly inhale. Before my eyes her skin became greener, infused by the crisp clean air. “You need to be in the trees, Holly. Mortals refuse to understand that they must live where things grow. Now that you’re home, let’s play!” She leapt over my head and landed effortlessly beside her home tree, staring at me expectantly.

Maybe it was being back home or maybe it was just being back in the good fresh air, but her suggestion made me giddy. It suddenly sounded like the exact prescription I needed, the one thing I’d been missing through all those frustrating years. My fragile mind and heart demanded an escape. They couldn’t take any more disappointment, any more expectations or responsibility, and they especially couldn’t take any more reality. I nodded and tucked the strange clover deep in my pocket. The breeze had dried my tears and the heavenly scent of grass and pine put the sudden urge to run in my feet. Suddenly the heavy air and the blazing sun didn’t matter so much and my anxieties were willing to take a momentary backseat to the chance to goof off for an afternoon.  “Are you sure you’ll be okay?” I hesitated, hand still at my pocket.

Ivy flashed a bold grin and stretched up on her toes; her fingers wiggled over her head, making her resemble an odd, scrawny plant. “With you here? Of course! Just remember to come look after my tree when the murderers come around the winter harvest time. You can even help me choose which tree will be my final home so you’ll know where I’ll be.” The words were no sooner out of her mouth when she tore off, dodging branches and bark as quick and swift as a deer. I groaned as I pulled myself to my feet and tumbled after her, muscles screaming at the sudden exercise. Still, I found myself laughing the entire time.

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Season’s Readings: Under the Mistletoe

Published December 12, 2015 by admin

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Today’s title is by Siobhan Kinkade. If you like Military romance with heart, you’ll love this story.

UnderTheMistletoe

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Military widow Rhea Blackmon is forced by her late husband’s best friend Sebastian to attend Fort Mitchell’s Christmas party, much against her will. All she wants is to go home and be alone but Sebastian has other plans. He has a present for her; one that she will not soon forget.

***

Rhea hated parties. Particularly parties where she was forced to stand around and watch other couples dance and be happy. She hated the happiness and the carefree attitudes. She despised the laughter and the gaiety. She couldn’t stand to see the things she would never have again.

Ever since Major Bryan Anderson appeared on her doorstep eleven months ago with that small manila envelope and his sincerest condolences, she learned to hate large gatherings. Rhea had learned to hate pretty much everything, truth be told. She hated the sun because it was bright. She hated people because they vacillated between condolences and pity. She hated laughter because it meant other people were happy, and she would never be happy again.

 

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Season’s Readings: It’s Christmas, Cupid!

Published December 11, 2015 by admin

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Along with the Mistletoe Dreams Bundle, Drea Riley has a new one out, and I know this has been anticipated, too! So if you want something to curl your stockings and melt the marshmallows in your cocoa, you should check this one out!

ItsChristmasCupid

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With Nick and Jessica cooling their heels in Key West the Klaus children are tasked with running Christmas. Nothing but shenanigans could come from this arrangement. Or murder if Jaq has to spend winter babysitting the son of Cupid.

Amur knew Jaq would rather kill him that speak to him. And he’d stand still and let her do it, but he’d prefer it to be  Ранняя смерть/Rannyaya smert’. Or as the French say “petite mort”. He’d willingly die a thousand times as long as it was between her thighs

***

“You are so beautiful when you smile like that.”  His deep voice washed over her…she hadn’t seen him approach her car, let alone noticed that he’d opened the back door and was tossing his bag in.

“Amur, you startled me!”

Jaq twisted around and meet his blue gaze. She was all prepared to blast him with chilly indifference, but once her eyes locked on to his, she was lost. His broad shoulders filled the back of her SUV, making it feel more like a compact economy car than a large off-road capable truck.

“Breathe,” he whispered.

Jaq blinked several times before taking a breath. Until he spoke, she hadn’t realized she wasn’t breathing. She felt her face flush, and immediately spun away from his eyes. What the hell was that about?

“Hurry up and get in,” she groused, barely waiting until he folded his large frame into the front seat before pulling away from the curb.

***

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blogs on the hop as well as the rafflecopter link to win some great prizes!

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Season’s Readings: Mistletoe Dreams

Published December 10, 2015 by admin

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One of the things Mocha Memoirs Press is offering this year is a holiday bundle – so if you like your romance on the steamy side for the cold winter, then you should definitely check this one out!

 

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Amazon link http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018EP9EDQ

MMP book page link- http://www.mochamemoirspress.com/mistletoe

There’s no time like the holidays for love—whether you are rekindling an old love, finding love in strange places or just expressing a love of the ages. Follow these tales of love, laughter and holiday spirit in Mistletoe Dreams…

Winter’s Guard. . .

Five years after a broken engagement, Vicky and James have met again. Forced to work together, Vicky hopes to show James that what they had wasn’t all broken. All she wants is time to prove that their hearts hadn’t lied five years ago—they may have fallen in love during a dark moment in their lives, but that doesn’t mean they don’t belong together.

A Trick of Frost. . .

Two days before Christmas with her ex-husband, Rick, harassing her parents, Jaycee Froste needs a gift to lift her spirits. She stops in at her favorite restaurant, and it brings more than a hot meal. Jaycee finds herself seated across from one of the most annoying and handsome men she’s ever met. She would even consider letting him taste her stew, if he hadn’t stolen her reservation. With the holidays upon her, Jaycee decides the thing she needs to lift her spirits is J.C., a man who offers her so much more than she ever could have hoped.

Naughty Klauses. . .

Jessica and Nic have always loved the holidays and this year they are most definitely going to be on the naughty list. When you’ve got eternity on your side, it’s nice to living things up with a little spice. You’ll never look at Mr. and Mrs. Klaus the same way again…

Remember to check out the rest of those taking part in the hop and the Rafflecopter!

 

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Season’s Readings! From Mocha Memoirs Press

Published December 9, 2015 by admin

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It’s that time of year! Admittedly, I kind of get a little hesitant in December. It’s one of those months where things are not only hectic, but if something weird is going to happen, it’ll save it for December.

No, seriously. I’ve been sick, been sick to the point of being a medical mystery, had major breakups, nearly been mugged, had relatives die right before the holidays, had a pet die on Christmas, dealt with some precarious weather situations (as in nearly had to hold a car door shut while trying to drive home in a raging snow storm), been hit on by a Santa’s helper an uncomfortable amount of times, and been set on fire during a Christmas Eve service (accidentally). Plus I have more strange tales from holiday gigging than is probably healthy.

Yep.

And yet…I still love this time of year. As I get older I’ve had to re-align my expectations so I don’t drive myself crazy, but there’s just something about a little bit of light and hope in the dark of winter. I love the symbolism, I love the music, I love the stories…

And I love curling up with holiday fiction.

Mocha Memoirs Press has some great titles available for the season, so I’m going to be taking a look at those this week!

Be sure to check out everyone involved in the hop in the meantime!

And don’t forget the Rafflecopter to win some great stuff!

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What do you do to keep yourself sane and upbeat during the holidays? What’s your favorite part of the season?

Theme is the Hairy Spider Hiding Inside Your Pumpkin by Adrian Cross

Published November 10, 2015 by admin

I’m pleased as punch to be bringing to you a book with a great theme and a great collection of stories today. You might even say they’re improbably good… (okay, yeah, I know, I’ll shut up and get to it…)

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When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Sherlock Holmes is one of the most recognizable characters in Western literature.  Conan Doyle’s inimitable detective has been the subject of literally thousands of books, movies, television shows, plays and even songs.  With the rise of the BBC series and the release of most copyrights, the beloved character has found a new life among modern audiences.   In An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 14 authors of horror and mystery have come together to create a unique anthology that sets Holmes on some of his most terrifying adventures.  A pair of sisters willing to sacrifice young girls to an ancient demon for a taste of success, a sinister device that can manipulate time itself, and a madman that can raise corpses from the dead are just a few among the grisly tales that can be found within these pages.  Curl up with a warm cuppa and leave all the lights on.  This is not your grandfather’s Sherlock Holmes.

***

Joining us today is contributor Adrian Cross with a guest post and an excerpt from his story, Time’s Running Out, Watson

***

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Theme is the hairy spider hiding inside your pumpkin.

By Adrian Cross

It’s almost Halloween. I’m allowed to stretch a metaphor, right? But remember that spider and pumpkin. I’ll explain later.

So who am I and what am I talking about? I’m a new author, with my first published story, Time’s Running Out, Watson, coming out in An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes (woo hoo!). In the last month, I’ve also earned an honorable mention in the very competitive Writers of the Future contest, and I spend a lot of time on the OWW (online writing workshop) boards, critiquing other people’s work and getting my own work beaten up. So I feel like I’m starting to get a handle on writing short stories and what makes them gel–not that any story is easy to execute well. But if there is one weakness that I think plagues a lot of short stories, including my own early efforts, it is a lack of cohesiveness and professionalism, even if the idea is a decent one.

One way to get better at this (although not the only one) is to consider theme. Theme is the big picture stuff, the moral question, interesting concept, or emotional flavor you’re trying to leave the reader with, whether you realize it or not. And I know that as an early writer, I cringed at the very mention of it. Ooops. J

At first glance, Time’s Running Out, Watson (the story mentioned above), which pits Watson and Holmes against a deadly inventress with a time-twisting device, may not appear the strongest example of a theme-driven piece, partly because I’m stepping into a well-worn world and characters, with its own appeal. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have any theme, or that finding it didn’t add value. I’m convinced it did.

The big picture idea in that story was time, not surprisingly. And I also realized that I could deepen that theme by working in some small details. So I added a puddle of water that faded from sight, leaving no sign behind. I gave Holmes a closing line that played on the word ‘time’. And I changed a sheathed dagger on the table, which played no real role in the story, into a desk clock with a pendulum, realizing as I did that I could incorporate that into the plot itself.

The more tangential elements that you can tie into the themes of your short story, the more powerful and professional its impact. It’s the little details that impress, even if the impact is almost too subtle to notice. It’s not the candle-lit pumpkin on the window that scares the jaded trick-or-treater.

It’s the hairy spider crawling up their leg.

See, I got there eventually. 😉

All the best in your Halloween treats, and writing efforts. If you’d like to peruse more of my writing musings, feel free to visit at www.adriancross.ca.

Happy Halloween!

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When Adrian Croft was a teenager, his mother told him in a hushed voice that she’d talked to her hair dresser and learned an unfortunate fact: that reading fantasy and science fiction wasn’t a phase that you grew out of. All those assassins and dragons decorating his bookshelf might be… permanent. Adrian didn’t see it as unfortunate at all and has since then enjoyed many more speculative stories. More recently, he’s expanded into writing and illustrating fantasy as well. ‘Time is Running Out, Watson’ is his first published piece, but hopefully not his last. You can find him at http://www.adriancross.ca

From “Time’s Running Out, Watson” by Adrian Cross

A woman took form from the shadows beside the hearth. I realized that Holmes, through coincidence or design, had faced her the entire time. Thick-bodied, with hard fingers and eyes and a smock that still glistened with rain, she held a small device in her hand. It was twin to the one that Holmes had shown me, except that no bullet hole marred it.

“Lower your pistol,” she ordered, her voice deep and commanding.

I tightened my grip. “I surely will not. Drop the device and step away.”

She chuckled.

A hot flash of pain slashed my wrist and the pistol fell from it, but skittering away before it ever touched the rug, as if kicked by an invisible foot. All I’d seen was a dark afterimage, as if my eyes had registered a movement too quick to be seen.

The woman hadn’t appeared to have moved. She smiled.

“You are not in control here, sir.”

My wrist ached. I rubbed it. “Who are you?”

Holmes answered. “Mrs. Angela White. Is that not correct?”

She looked surprised. “How did you know that?”

“It was hardly difficult. Reynold White obviously didn’t design the object in your hand. No, the handwriting of the plans was feminine, bold and patient, with no quaver of age. He had no sister, and a grandmother would be too old, although that may not have been absolutely out of question, given the circumstances. But the papers also mentioned that Mr. White’s father was an engineer of wide renown, who in turn credited his greatest achievements to his wife, Angela White. So Reynold’s mother. Not much of a gamble in the end.”

“Caged mice,” she snarled. She took a step closer and a fire burned in her eyes, a banked rage that made the hair on the back of my neck rise in response. “None of the other measly intellects in the government’s offices could hold a candle to me, but still they refused to see my value. Mr. Holmes, you may be a great detective, but your deductions will not save you tonight. You should never have tangled with my family. You are as guilty of my son’s death as if you’d pulled the trigger yourself. You will both suffer greatly for that.”