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lizzi_author_pix (1)Ken Lizzi is an attorney and the author of an assortment of published short stories. When not traveling – and he’d rather be traveling – he lives in Portland, Oregon with his lovely wife Isa and their daughter, Victoria Valentina. He enjoys reading, homebrewing, and visiting new places. He loathes writing about himself in the third person. Connect with Ken on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Book:

In the tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars, Under Strange Suns brings the sword-and-planet novel to the twenty-first century. War is a constant, and marooned on a distant world, former Special Forces soldier Aidan Carson learns there is nothing new Under Strange Suns.

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Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, “Under Strange Suns.” To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?  

A: “Under Strange Suns” is the story of a burned-out, former Special Forces soldier hired to search for the lost inventor of the Faster-than-Light spaceship drive. You can blame this one on Edgar Rice Burroughs. ERB popularized the sword-and-planet genre with his “A Princess of Mars” back in 1912, the first of the John Carter stories. But what cut it with readers in 1912 might raise some eyebrows a hundred years later. So when I decided to dip my toe into the sword-and-planet genre, I knew that getting my characters to another world would require a bit more heavy lifting on my part. The resulting novel, “Under Strange Suns,” works the mechanism of space travel into the narrative itself, driving the plot (in addition to driving the characters to their destination.)

Q: What do you think makes a good science fiction novel? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: As with every story, the primary consideration is to entertain. With science fiction, a secondary requirement is novelty, or at least some twist on a familiar theme. And finally, the story must entertain. Yes, I used entertain for two slots. That factor is twice as important as any other.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: I worked out a moderately detailed outline, broken down into chapters and describing the events each chapter must cover. Once I began writing, the outline became more of a mission statement or list of suggestions. But most of the events described in the outline made it into the novel in one form or another.

UnderStrangeSuns_medQ: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: Since the impetus for “Under Strange Suns” was “A Princess of Mars,” I knew the main character would be a soldier. Other than that, his character owes little or nothing to John Carter. I spent some time in uniform, many years ago, and did have the opportunity to train and hobnob with members of the Special Operations community. Aidan Carson’s personality is based to some extent on my foggy memories of those unique people.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: My villains are fanatics, true believers. The primary step required to make them realistic was reading the news. Other than that, I needed to show sincerity, that the villains truly believed their actions were not only justified, but moral, even laudable.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: Know when to end the chapter. Cliff-hangers never go out of style, because they work. Try to leave the reader with a desire to find out what happens next.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: With an alien landscape as a setting, I tried to reinforce the novelty and unique aspects of the place. I used frequent repetition to reinforce the unearthly lighting that two suns would provide. I also employed intermittent description of alien flora and fauna to occasionally remind the reader he’s no longer in Kansas.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A: I considered theme at the outlining stage and stuck with it. The theme, or related aspects, have cropped up in my other work, yes. But theme is secondary to the obligation to (say it with me) entertain.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: There’s a question for you. Something to hash out over a pitcher of beer. I’d suggest that from traditionally published debut writers up through the ranks of mid-list authors, craft predominates. Art dominating craft, for better or worse, is found among either the self-published or the best-selling traditionally published authors. In between those two poles, editors are going to push conventional narrative voice and technique. And in most cases, I’d guess, rightly so. But I’m just speculating here. And without that pitcher, damn it.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: A firm grasp of craft, perseverance, and the ability to entertain.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

A: No one ever paid me to do homework. I like this writing gig better. Less math.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A: Any book on craft is useful. I’ve read several. The good advice stands out by repetition from multiple sources.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: Pay close attention to your editor. Even if you don’t agree with a suggestion, consider the reason for it.

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2014 WINNER for the EPIC eBook award for Science Fiction!

 

Excerpt for Aquarius Rising: In the Tears of God, by Brian Burt

 We were born in the tears of God.

When the First Creator wept at the fate of His Creation, His tears fell like burning rain to melt the polar ice and swell the seas, the cradle of all life.  His grief swallowed the mighty human cities of the coast and gave them over to the realm of Mother Ocean.  Humanity, who did not aggrieve the Maker out of malice but out of ignorance, wished to atone for their sins against the Earth.  We are that atonement.  We are Humankind’s offering to the First Creator, the Maker of All.  The Great Father — a man, and nothing more — crafted his transforming virus and infected his own kind, so that we might be born as the children of Man and Mother Ocean.  Humanity became the Second Creator, Aquarius the Second Creation, and we the stewards of its bounty.

We owe much to Man, who is our father and our brother.  We must honor our debt to him.  But we must always remember this: he who has the power to Create also has the power to Destroy.

— Delphis, Third Pod Leader of Tillamook Reef Colony, from a speech to commemorate the Fiftieth Aquarian Birth Day

 

CHAPTER 1—BIRTH DAY

 Ocypode dove through the turquoise waters of Tillamook Reef toward the fringes of the celebration.  Revelers floated everywhere.  Strings of limpets, whelks, and periwinkles glittered around their necks, clicking when they moved.  Brightly colored pigments stained their skin of blue and gray and silver with pictograms symbolizing the history of Aquarius.  Ocypode ghosted through the crowd in silence.  His own flesh bore no ornaments.

Ocypode of Tillamook had no desire to draw attention to himself.

He slipped through the window of an ancient building, its barnacle-encrusted frame long devoid of panes, and hovered in the opening like a misshapen eye thrust into the socket of a skull.  Birth Day throngs made him want to flee toward open ocean.  He preferred to watch from the shadows.

The surface shimmered overhead as sunlight filtered down to paint the reef.  The drowned Human city had been reborn, bones of steel and concrete covered with a growth of corals. Fish darted between caves marked by crumbling doors and windows, danced across the reef like fragments of a shattered rainbow.  Waves soughed beneath the chatter of the crowd.  When he listened, Ocypode could almost grasp the secrets hidden in that ceaseless whisper.

Ocypode hated secrets.  They had ruled his life for far too long…but not today.

 

SYNOPSIS
 
AquariusRising-510On an Earth ravaged by climate change, and a disastrous
attempt to reverse it, human-dolphin hybrids called Aquarians have built
thriving reef colonies among the drowned cities of the coast. Now their world
is under siege from an enemy above the waves whose invisible weapon leaves no
survivors. Ocypode of Tillamook is an Atavism: half-human and half-Aquarian,
marooned in the genetic limbo between species. Only he knows why the colonies
north and south of Tillamook Reef have been destroyed, literally turned to
stone. Ocypode knows that Tillamook will be targeted next, but sharing the
reason might prove as deadly to Aquarius as the Medusa plague itself.
Ocypode and his Aquarian and human comrades flee into the
open ocean to escape Medusa, until another Aquarian’s treachery leaves them at
the mercy of a killer storm. Ocypode must pass through the Electric Forest,
where he faces nightmarish creatures and a legendary sea witch who becomes an
ally. Finally, he must confront the cyber-ghost of the human he most despises:
Peter Cydon, the Great Father who bioengineered the mutagenic virus that gave
birth to the Aquarian species. These unlikely allies provide the only chance to
stop the Redeemers, rogue scientists who are determined to resurrect the land
by slaughtering the sea. Even these allies will not be enough, and Ocypode must
decide whom to trust with a secret as lethal as any plague.
Where to Purchase Aquarious Rising
 
 

The Author
Brian’s Website / Goodreads / Facebook 

 

Brian Burt works as an information security engineer in West Michigan, where some of his most bizarre flights of fancy wind up in threat assessments.  He’s been blessed with a wife and three boys who tolerate his twisted imagination and even encourage it.  He enjoys reading, cycling, hiking, horseplay, red wine, and local micro-brews (so hopefully the virtues balance the vices, more or less).  At every opportunity, he uses his sons as an excuse to act like an overgrown kid (which is why his wife enjoys rum, school days, and migraine medication).

Brian has published more than twenty short stories in various markets, including print magazines, anthologies, and electronic publications.  He won the L. Ron Hubbard Gold Award in 1992 for his short story, “The Last Indian War,” which was anthologized in Writers of the Future Volume VIII.  His story “Phantom Pain” received an Honorable Mention in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, Tenth Annual Collection, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling.  He’s a card-carrying member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.  His debut novel,Aquarius Rising: In the Tears of God, won the 2014 EPIC eBook Award for Science Fiction. Book 2 of the Aquarius Rising trilogy, Blood Tide, is scheduled for release from Double Dragon Publishing in 2015.

 
Follow the entire Aquarious Rising tour HERE
 
 
 

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 ** CHECK OUT THE HUGE GIVEAWAY TOO – $200 in Gift Cards! **

SYNOPSIS

 

childrenSome codes are best left secret.

What if I told you there existed a bible code. Not just any bible code but one capable of turning the Book of Genesis into the most technologically advanced epics ever told; would you believe me. Well thanks to one of the Cold War’s best kept secret, such a code does exist.

The Talon Project is an original bible code discovered by the world’s best and foremost scientist. This unique code turns the Book of Genesis and other ancient creation stories into the most technologically advanced epic ever conceived.

Not everybody is happy with the project going public. Will you believe in the code!

 

 

Purchase Children of the Gods

About The Author

Darryl’s Website / Facebook / Twitter

Darryl Olsen is a writer who lives in Sydney, he was educated on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales and after leaving school joined the Australian Regular Army. Darryl Olsen now writes part time, and when he is not finishing off his latest novel, you can catch Darryl at the gym lifting heavy weights, but still avoiding all forms of leg work.

Darryl Olsen is the author of the Purgatory series with the first title, Purgatory, Soldiers of Misfortune- now available. Stay tuned for the second novel titled, “Purgatory Origins” He also wrote “Children of the Gods-The Talon Project.”

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The Second Lives of Honest Men Tour & Giveaway!!

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A “Philosophical Odyssey touching on Faith, Hope, Love, Morality and Redemption.”

Synopsis

On the evening of April 14th, 1865, a flawless duplicate replaced the 16th President an instant prior to his assassination. Two centuries later, Honest Abe opened his eyes to a world in desperate need of guidance.

THE SECOND LIVES OF HONEST MEN is a prescient vision of where society’s dependence on technology could be taking us. It’s a character driven story about love, redemption, and hope, with deep philosophical underpinnings related to how we think, feel, and reason in a world where it’s ironically easy to feel disconnected.

second lives

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About The Author

My family often drives me to the brink of madness; not a difficult thing to do, considering how close to the edge I already am. My daughter is a hellion. At the age of six, she’s both bright and bold, obstinate, and pushes every button I have. My wife blames my genetics: “I was never like that,” she claims. I deny it, despite knowing that I was also an uncontrollable child.

I’m a teacher, but I consider myself a modern philosopher. I’m very worried about the current state of education. I’m concerned about the future, in general. I don’t think we all necessarily need to be alarmists, though I do believe that if you look at the world around you and aren’t a little worried, you and I probably aren’t going to agree on much. (I’ll pretend not to look while you navigate elsewhere. There’s plenty of other entertainment on-line. Crushing Candy, and so forth…)

I’m currently working on a couple of new short stories, and on the sequel to The Second Lives of Honest Men, which I’m writing under the working title of The Old Crow.

Visit his site at http://www.embracetheirony.com/

To follow the entire tour and view the schedule, Go HERE

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Allison M DicksonAllison M. Dickson lives in southwest Ohio and has been writing since she could hold pencil to paper. It’s only in recent years that she started treating the craft as a career. After earning a few small publishing credits, she started selling her stories online, where she gained a decent following with such dark tales as “Dust” and “Vermin.”

She soon caught the attention of author and visionary Vincent Hobbes, and her relationship with Hobbes End Publishing solidified with her two contributions to the second volume of The Endlands (volume 2), and finally with their recent acceptance of her upcoming science-fiction novel, The Last Supper. She is also scheduled to have another release by Hobbes End Publishing, a horror novel titled Strings.

http://www.AllisonMDickson.com

http://www.HobbesEndPublishing.com

Q: Welcome to the Dark Phantom Review, Allison! Tell us why readers should buy your upcoming novel, The Last Supper.

A: Because I think it has something for everyone. There is fear and adventure and love and magic and heartbreak. The story has a very organic feel to it that I think will please readers of all stripes, be they fans of hard sci-fi, contemporary fantasy, or mainstream. It’s basically an amalgamation of everything I ever loved as a reader and what I want to be as a writer.

Q: What makes a good science-fiction book?

A: The same thing that makes a good horror book and a good romance book and a good anything book. Characters. As a reader, I think you just have to care enough about the characters to see them through. Of course, in stories of this type, I think a healthy amount of speculative thinking is also good. You have to build a world that is exciting and believable in some way. But don’t get too hung up on the details, because that can be discouraging and an excellent reason to stall on the actual storytelling. Readers will forgive you a few trespasses in the world-building department if they love the characters you’ve drawn.

Q: What is a regular writing day like for you?

A: I don’t think I would call any of my writing days regular. My routine is subject to change at any given moment for any given reason. But on most days, I get up relatively early, see my kids off to school, and then set about waking up for the next hour or so. This may or may not involve a happy cup of coffee or two and spending some time on the social networks.  Then I will get some writing done for the next couple hours. After that, I break away to take care of necessary household chores or perhaps feed myself. Often I won’t return to the manuscript until the evening hours. But it really depends on how hard the story is holding me. I’ve had days where I wrote for nearly eighteen hours straight. I’ve had days where I wrote until my fingers were numb and my eyeballs felt like prunes. I’ve also had days where I wrote two sentences and called it good, or decided that blogging was going to be my form of writing for the day.

Q: What do you find most rewarding about being an author?

A: It’s the readers. It’s watching your kids tell people with a shine of pride in their eyes that their mom is a writer and then watching them start to explore their own creative spaces because they feel comfortable doing so. It’s getting a letter from someone who said your story stuck with them for a long time. It’s a lot of things. I think a lot of us choose career paths based on how much of an impact we can make in other people’s lives, whether we’re doctors or engineers, presidents or musicians. So seeing that effect actually happen is the greatest reward ever.

Q: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received that you’d like to pass to other authors?

A: Talent alone isn’t going to get you anywhere. You have to be willing to do the work. In fact, the people who work the hardest, even if they aren’t as talented, get further than people who are monumentally more talented but hang back. People always like to snivel and snicker over how people who can’t write wind up making millions of dollars. Take Twilight, for instance. A series of books that’s as much loved as it is ridiculed. Do you think that Stephenie Meyer got where she got on the strength of her writing talent? I can’t say for sure, but what I can say is this: she was willing to do the work. She wrote her ass off and got her manuscript in to the right person at the right time. Don’t rest on your laurels thinking publishers are “only looking for mediocrity.” They aren’t. They’re looking for people who don’t think they’re too good to do the work.

About The Last Super:

After a massive agricultural cataclysm leaves the world a weed-eaten wasteland, a theocratic regime known as the Divine Rite rises to power and brings the remainder of humanity to its knees, forcing them to test yearly for the right to continue living. John Welland grew up in this world and never knew any different, at least until his wife died due to this murderous bureaucratic policy. He soon embarks on a quest of rebellion and revenge that takes him far outside the protected borders of his town of God’s Hope and into a landscape more treacherous and haunted than he ever could have expected, where people possess unworldly powers, and the weeds own all.

Allison’s novel, The Last Supper will be released by Hobbes Ends Publishing this summer. In the mean time, check out her stories in The Endlands (volume 2), an anthology containing 17 mind-bending stories in genres ranging from horror, to dystopian to science fiction.

The Endlands picture

Purchase The Endlands on Amazon.

Check out Allison’s other stories on Amazon.

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Amanda McNeil is an energetic, masters degree educated, 20-something happily living in an attic apartment in Boston with her shelter-adopted cat.  Her day job is a medical librarian, and her hobbies (besides writing and reading) include cooking, fitness, and exploring everything from museums to dive bars.  She writes horror, scifi, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy.  This is her first novel, although she has previously published short stories and a novella, Ecstatic Evil.

Book description:

What is normal?

Frieda has never felt normal. She feels every emotion too strongly and lashes out at herself in punishment. But one day when she stays home from work too depressed to get out of bed, a virus breaks out turning her neighbors into flesh-eating, brain-hungry zombies. As her survival instinct kicks in keeping her safe from the zombies, Frieda can’t help but wonder if she now counts as healthy and normal, or is she still abnormal compared to every other human being who is craving brains?

Purchase link:

Amazon

Interview:

Thanks for being my guest today, Amanda! Would you call yourself a born writer?

Absolutely.  I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t telling stories.  One of my earlier creative projects as a child involved writing, drawing, and binding my own story about a grasshopper at around the age of four.  I’ve been writing ever since.

What was your inspiration for Waiting For Daybreak?

I was walking home from the public transit stop in Boston during a Thanksgiving holiday.  Boston is one of those cities where almost everyone goes out of town for Thanksgiving, but I had to work.  The streets were deadly empty, and it was foggy.  It suddenly struck me that this was what a post-apocalyptic Boston would look like, and naturally I almost had myself convinced that zombies were going to come get me.  I had also just happened to be reading articles at work that day about fMRI imaging of the mentally ill demonstrating that their brains are made up differently.  That led me to wonder if that might make them immune to a zombie outbreak, and the rest just flowed from there.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

My writing always revolves around women.  Women trying to figure out their place in the world.  How to function and be a happy, whole human being in a world not necessarily designed for us.  I want to give readers the chance to see a woman’s perspective of events more typically described from a male perspective in scifi and horror.  I also am keen on exploring issues of ableism, classism, and sexism.  I hope that my writing will help people relate to and see things from groups traditionally underrepresented in genre fiction.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

One and a half years.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I am not a disciplined writer. At all. I wish I was more disciplined, but, as for all of us, life happens!  I can’t really explain a typical writing day, because that’s too narrow of a time-frame for me.  I’d say it’s more like I have a typical writing week.  I’ll squeeze it in on my lunch break at work and hopefully twenty minutes or so on work nights.  The bulk of my writing happens on weekends though.  I wake up, make a nice breakfast, then sit down with tea and write for a few hours in the late morning.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

There are a couple of scenes that were emotionally difficult for me to write, particularly toward the beginning of the book when Frieda is not in a particularly healthy or functional place.  Forcing myself to go to that dark place was far scarier than any zombies could ever be to me.  It led to me putting things off periodically, even though I knew this was a story I needed to tell.  Sometimes as a writer you just have to kick yourself in the pants and say, do it.

What do you love most about being an author?

Probably most of all when someone says that a character who is a strong, independent woman bugged them at first but they grew to love her.  That shows me that someone’s perspective changed from reading what I wrote, and that is what I value most as someone who loves books.  The ability of books to help us understand each other as human beings.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

I self-published!  I “practiced” the first time with a novella in July 2011.  I’m glad I did that, because it was a difficult process to learn.  Not intuitive at all!  Since that time, though, better software has come out for assembling your work into a book, so it was much easier this time around.  I am incredibly happy with being self-published.  Everything from the cover to the plot to the dialogue gets to be exactly the way I envisioned it as the artist.  I like how self-publishing and ereaders give the power to the people.  Letting the people choose what they want to read and not read and not have some editor somewhere standing there saying yes or no.  I follow other indie authors who I think are very talented who were turned down by publishing houses, and it shocks me that I never would have been able to read their work without the advent of ereaders.  Participating in this culture of independent art makes me incredibly happy.  Plus, it lets me write and publish at my own rate. Which we hope will speed up now, lol.

Where can we find you on the web?

I have a blog, twitter, and GoodReads.

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The Eden Paradox, by Barry Kirwan, is an enjoyable read that will be relished by fans of science fiction.

Fifty years into the future, the earth has been maimed by war and is near collapse from heat exhaustion. Scientists have already found the vaccine for AIDS and robot soldiers have quelled rebel invasions. The 3-year long World War between the United Secular Nations and the ‘Big Five’ Religious Front countries has left half a billion dead and a shortage of food (beef has hit $300 a kilo), power and fuel.

Then a new planet is discovered: Eden, a green-purple world bathed in blood-orange sunlight, a planet filled with virgin lakes and forests, a place so beautiful it could be compared to pre-war Switzerland.
Now, the Ulysses, a faster-than-light ship carrying a crew of four astronauts, is on its way to Eden. The venture has given one last hope to mankind. If Eden fails, all humanity will see is an abyss.

Then one of the astronauts begins having strange nightmares about a desert-filled Eden and a horrific creature. The nightmares put the astronauts on edge. After all, there’s reason for concern: Ulysses isn’t the first mission to Eden. There were two before which failed miserably under mysterious circumstances. One stopped transmitting after an hour of arrival; the other one exploded five days before landing. Do the nightmares have any substance or in any way predict the future? What, in reality, is going on in Eden?

The Eden Paradox is a well-written, action-packed, suspenseful novel. Told in multiple points of view separated by chapters, the story moves mainly between two characters: Micah, analyst at Eden Mission Control on earth, and Blake, lead astronaut at the Ulysses. Micah feels he’s being thrust into a vortex of murder, deception and conspiracy; he feels coerced into a probably fatal role in a game he doesn’t understand nor cares about. Blake, on the other hand, is intend on protecting his crew, find out what’s really going on in Eden, and return to earth successfully. In spite of all the action, there are a lot of exposition and backstory in the first few chapters. There are also a lot of characters and it took me a while to identify with any one of them.

However, I have to say that the scenes are very film-like in nature and I felt as if I were watching a movie. Although the plotline is different, the pace and tone reminded me of the Alien series, which are one of my favorites. The author uses a lot of detail to bring his fictional world to life, and in this aspect he was quite successful. In short, even though I’m not an avid fan of sci-fi, I enjoyed the novel and would definitely recommend it to readers of the genre.

A native of Farnborough, England, author Barry Kirwan grew up watching planes at the annual air show. Unable to become an astronaut, he did the next best thing—become a science fiction writer. When he’ not working in air traffic safety, he can be found writing his Eden Trilogy and other stories. Visit him at www.barrykirwan.com.

The Eden Paradox
By Barry Kirwan
Summertime Publications Inc
http://www.summertimepublications.com/
summertime.publications@gmail.com
ISBN-10: 0982369840
ISBN-13: 978-0982369845
Science Fiction Thriller
Paperback, 476 pages, $16.99
October 15, 2011

Author’s website: www.barrykirwan.com

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