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Note from the author:

The Goodread’s Paranormal and Horror Lovers BOOK OF THE MONTH is now up for voting BUT JUST UNTIL OCTOBER 5! PLEASE vote for my EVIL STALKS THE NIGHT-Revised Author’s Edition. I would so appreciate it. VOTE HERE:
http://www.goodreads.com/poll/show/72294-book-of-the-month-small-press
Warmly, author of 16 novels, 2 novellas and twelve short stories, Kathryn Meyer Griffith rdgriff@het.net

*****

Evil Stalks the NightRevised Author’s Edition is special to me for many reasons. It was my first published novel in 1984 and as it comes out again on June 1, 2012, rereleased from Damnation Books for the first time in nearly thirty years, it’ll bring my over forty year writing career full circle. With its publication all fourteen, and one novella, of my old books will be out again for the first time in decades. Sure, it’s been a grueling, tedious two-and- a-half year job rewriting and editing these new versions but I’m thrilled it’s over. I have my babies reborn and out in the world again…and all in e books for the first time ever. Now, perfectionist that I am, I can finally move forward and write new stories.

I’ll start at the very beginning because, though Evil Stalks the Night was my first published novel, it wasn’t my first written one.

That first book was The Heart of the Rose. I began writing it after my only child, James, was born in late 1971. I was staying home with him, no longer going to college, not yet working full time, and was bored out of my skin. I read an historical romance one day I believed was horrible and thought I can do better than that!

So I got out my borrowed typewriter with the keys that stuck, my bottles of White-Out, carbon paper for copies, and started clicking away. I’d tentatively called that first book King’s Witch because it was about a 15th century healer who was falsely believed to be a witch but who was loved by Edward the Fourth. At the library, no computers or Internet back then, I did tedious research into that time in English history: the War of the Roses, the poverty, the civil and political strife between the Red (Lancasters) and White Rose (Yorks); the infamous Earl of Warwick and Edward the Fourth.  Edward’s brother Richard the Third.  A real saga. Well, all that was big back then. I was way out of my league, though. Didn’t know what the heck I was doing. I just wrote page after page, emotions high believing I could create a whole book. So naïve of me. Reading that old version now (a 1985 Leisure Books paperback) I have to laugh. Ironically, like that historical novel I’d thought in 1971 was so bad, it was pretty awful. That archaic language I’d used–all the rage back in the 80’s–sounds so stilted now. Yikes! Yet people, mainly women, had loved it.

And so my writing career began. Over 40 years ago now. Oh my goodness, where has the time gone? Flown away like some wild bird. It took me 12 years to get that first book published as I got sidetracked with a divorce, raising a son, getting a real job and finding the true love of my life and marrying him. Life, as it always seemed to do and still does, got in the way. The manuscript was tossed into a drawer and forgotten for a time.

Then years later I rediscovered it and decided to rewrite it; try again. I bundled up the revised pile of printed copy pages, tucked it into an empty copy paper box and took it to the Post Office. Plastered it with stamps. I sent it everywhere The Writer’s Market of that year said I could. And waited. Months and months and months. In those days it could take up to a year or more to sell a novel, shipping it here and there to publishers, in between revising and rewriting to please any editor that’d make suggestions or comments on how it could be better. Snail mail took forever, too, and was expensive. But eventually, as you shall see, it sold.

Now to Evil Stalks the Night.

In the meantime, as I waited for the mail, I’d written another book. Kind of a fictionalized look back at my childhood in a large (6 brothers and sisters) poor but loving family in the 1950’s and 60’s. I started sending that one out as well. Then one day an editor suggested that since my writing had such a spooky ambiance to it anyway, why didn’t I just turn the story into a horror novel…like Stephen King was doing? Ordinary people under supernatural circumstances. A book like that would sell easily, she said.

Hmmm. Well, it was worth a try, so I added something scary in the woods in the main character’s childhood past that she had to return to and face in her adult life, using some of my childhood and my young adult life–my heartbreaking divorce, raising my young son alone, my new love–as hers. It was more of a romantic horror when I’d finished, than a horror novel. I retitled it Evil Stalks the Night and began sending it out. That editor was right, it sold quickly to a mass market paperback publisher called Towers Publishing.

But right in the middle of editing Towers went bankrupt and was bought out by another publisher! What terrible luck, I remember brooding. The book was lost somewhere in the stacks of unedited slush in a company undergoing massive changes as the new publisher took over. I had a contract, didn’t know what to do and didn’t know how to break it. Heaven knows, I couldn’t afford a lawyer. My life with a new husband, my son and my minimum-wage assistant billing job was one step above poverty at times. In those days, too, I was so clueless how to deal with the publishing industry.

That was 1983, but luckily that take-over publisher was Leisure Books, now also known as Dorchester Publishing. A publisher that quickly became huge. Talk about karma.

As often as has happened to me over my writing career, though, fate stepped in and the Tower’s editor, before she left, who’d bought my book told one of Leisure’s editors about it and asked her to give it a read. She believed in it that much.

Out of the blue, in 1984, when I’d completely given up on Evil Stalks the Night, Leisure Books sent me a letter offering to buy it! Then, miracle of miracles, my new editor asked if I had any other ideas or books she could look at. I sent her The Heart of the Rose and, liking it, too, she also bought it in 1985; asking me to sex it up some, so they could release it as an historical bodice-ripper (remember those…the sexy knockoffs of Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss’s provocative novels?).  It wasn’t a lot of money. A thousand dollar advance each and only 4% royalties on the paperbacks. But in those days the publishers had a huge distribution and thousands and thousands of the paperbacks were printed, sent to bookstores and warehoused. So 4% of all those books over the next couple of years did add up.

Thus my career began. I slowly, and like-pulling-teeth, sold ten more novels and various short stories over the next 25 years–as I was working full time, raising a family and living my hard-scramble life. Some did well, my Leisure and Zebra paperbacks, and some didn’t. Most of them, over the years, eventually went out of print.

And twenty-seven years later, when publisher Kim Richards Gilchrist at Damnation Books contracted my 13th and 14th novels, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons, an apocalyptic end-of-days-novel, and The Woman in Crimson, a vampire book, she asked if I’d like to rerelease (with new covers and rewritten, of course–and all in ebooks for the first time ever) my 7 out-of-print paperbacks, including Evil Stalks the Night–I gave her a resounding yes!

Of course, I had to totally rewrite Evil Stalks the Night for the resurrected edition, as well as my other early novels, because I discovered my writing when I was twenty-something had been immature and unpolished; and not having a computer and the Internet had made the original writing so much harder. Also in those days, editors told an author what to change and the writer only saw the manuscript once to final proof it.  There were so many mistakes in those early books. Typos. Grammar. Lost plot and detail threads. In the rewrite I also decided to keep the time frame (1960-1984) the same.  The book’s essence would have lost too much if I’d updated it.

As I finished the final editing I couldn’t help but reminisce about all the life changes I’ve had since I’d first began writing it so many years ago. Though it was actually published in 1984, I’d started writing it many years before; closer to 1978 or 1979. I’m as old as my Grandmother Fehrt, my mother’s mother and who the grandmother in the story was loosely based on, was back then. While I was first writing it so long ago, I was a young married woman with a small child holding down my first real job and trying to do it all. Now…my Grandmother, mother and father have all passed to the other side. Many other family and friends I’ve left behind, too. I miss them all, especially my mom and dad. It’s strange how revising my old books reminded me of certain times of my life. Some of the memories I hid from and some of them made me laugh or cry. This book, though, is the most autobiographical of all my novels as it contains details of my childhood, my devastating divorce, and what my life was like when I first met my second husband, Russell, who’s turned out to be my true love. We’ve been happily married for thirty-four years and counting. Ah, but how quickly the years have clicked by. Too quickly. I want to reach out, at times, and stop time. I want more. I have so much more life to live and many more stories to write.

So Evil Stalks the NightRevised Author’s Edition (http://damnationbooks.com/people.php?author=79 ) republished by Damnation Books/Eternal Press will be out again for the first time in nearly thirty years on June 1, 2012, and I hope it’s a better book than it was in 1984. It should be…I’ve had over thirty more years of life and experiences to help make it so.

Written this 1st day of June, 2012 by the author Kathryn Meyer Griffith

***

A writer for over 40 years I’ve had 14 novels, 1 novella and 7 short stories published with Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, the Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press since 1984. And my romantic end-of-the-world horror novel THE LAST VAMPIRERevised Author’s Edition was a 2012 EPIC EBOOK AWARDS FINALIST NOMINEE.

My books(all out again from Damnation Books http://damnationbooks.com/people.php?author=79 and Eternal Press http://www.eternalpress.biz/people.php?author=422): Evil Stalks the Night, The Heart of the Rose, Blood Forge, Vampire Blood, The Last Vampire, Witches, The Nameless One short story, The Calling, Scraps of Paper, All Things Slip Away, Egyptian Heart, Winter’s Journey, The Ice Bridge, Don’t Look Back, Agnes novella, In This House short story, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons, The Woman in Crimson, The Guide to Writing Paranormal Fiction: Volume 1 (I did the Introduction) ***

You can keep up with me on my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1019954486, my Author’s Den www.authorsden.com/kathrynmeyergriffith  or my My Space www.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith

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I’ve been asked why I write about the darker side of life, involving subjects like drugs, personality disorders, abuse, neglect, and violence. My work is fiction but it’s based on a lot of things I have personally experienced, and the characters in “Vida Nocturna” come from vampires I have known.

I wrote “Vida Nocturna” in a two-year graduate workshop at the University of Chicago, where people from the industry sometimes visited to show us how publishing worked. It became clear to me that books weren’t getting published because they were good. They were getting published because they were predictable sales and the publishing companies could go back to their stockholders to report that they’d placed safe bets, which very often meant that they closely resembled earlier work. Books were chasing the market in a death spiral of creativity.

My daughter was reading “Twilight” at the time, and this, to me, was a prime example of what was happening in publishing. Vampires sell, and romances are half of the fiction market, so it wasn’t surprising that publishers were climbing all over each other trying to put out the next series about vampires in love. Meanwhile, the book my daughter was reading seemed to be telling her to date the spookiest, creepiest guy she could find.

My book, “Vida Nocturna,” is a response to that. Sara’s narcissistic father and borderline personality disordered mother left her helpless, drained and afraid, turning to horror and fantasy stories to escape her real life. In college she fantasizes that her spooky new boyfriend is a vampire because he’s pale and slender and stays up all night with a strange dark energy. By the time she realizes he’s a cocaine addict, she’s been “bitten” by the drug and become addicted, herself.

Sara has always escaped her real-world fears by reading fantasy and horror stories. Now, as a social-phobic college freshman, she enters a dark world where horror is not supernatural and fantasy is a trap.

Evil is contagious. Victims become predators, and every predator was once just like Sara. Imagining she’d be different was her first step toward them. Now, draped in the decadent ‘80s subculture, she’s rendered helpless by powers she never imagined.


Mark D. Diehl has lived and worked in five countries. He met his wife Jennifer in South Korea and was chased out of the country by her powerful family and the police, and together they were stranded in Hong Kong with no income and no way home. (Read about this in the “Our Story” section of his blog at http://www.markddiehl.com.) Eventually he became a trial lawyer at a multinational law firm in Chicago, escaped that pitiful existence by attending a fiction writing program at the University of Chicago, and now lives and writes in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. 

http://www.markddiehl.com

http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/1463554060/ref=sib_dp_pt#reader-link

http://www.amazon.com/Vida-Nocturna-Mark-D-Diehl/dp/1463554060/ref=la_B008XKQ1NO_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346174233&sr=1-1

More videos of author reading in Freeport, ME, with 40 attending:
ttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNsUP-MqehU&feature=plcp

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWgboqL0KP0&feature=plcp

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Leland studied Creative Writing and Ethnic Studies at San FranciscoStateUniversity where he discovered the enormous possibilities of poetry, experimentation, and critical theory. He eventually earned an MFA in Writing from ColumbiaUniversity on a merit fellowship. He has published fiction in Open City, Fence, Dark Sky Magazine, Drunken Boat, and Monkey Bicycle, among other literary journals. He is also the project director for an upcoming literary event series, Phantasmagoria: Language and Technology of Suffering, for which he received fiscal sponsorship from the New York Foundation for the Arts. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

About the book:

Is Epstein a despicable man?

He’s certainly trying desperately at something. When his wife disappears he’s frantic to talk to his daughter. But what can he tell her? There must be a reason and he’s all but sure about the gruesome answer. Can he protect Sylvia from the truth, from her terrible lineage and, ultimately, from himself?

Off-beat and sordid, The Blood Poetry is a twisted, yet honest look at our desire to connect with others and the ways in which we are often stymied by our own efforts to get closer. Epstein is a curious mix of monster and romantic struggling to maintain a shred of dignity in his dingy, beat down world.

Interview 

What was your inspiration for The Blood Poetry?

The title of my novel, The Blood Poetry, came to me quite a while after I finished several drafts.  I plucked the title from a line in the novel where an evangelical preacher of a church led by conjoined-twins who date back to the Civil War, refers to his sermon as “blood poetry.”  That seemed very fitting to me as a title.  The novel literally and symbolically revolves around “blood”—as nutrients for the undead characters; the blood of explicit and implicit violence; and, perhaps most importantly, blood as the central metaphor for “family and lineage” which, for the main character, is the source of his suffering.  Also, as a fiction writer and reader, I’m very drawn to voice and adroit uses of language—not simply lyricism, but the odd ways one can craft language to demonstrate a character’s state of mind; the manipulation of cadence and tempo to convey tension rather than relying on plot; and, when it comes down to it, I like reading other writers who invent bizarre ways of narrating because it feels like I’m being invited into a really strange and, maybe, dangerous place.

Tell us something about your hero and/or heroine that my readers won’t be able to resist.

I don’t think there are any true heroes in my book.  The protagonist ultimately transforms into an “anti-hero.”  He’s our narrator, our vehicle into the novel’s world, and the character with whom a reader may feel very conflicted empathizing.  I hope he’s more complicated than simply being despicable—he is, in fact, empathetic, too; pretty funny, vulnerable, and victimized; and really does have a sincere interest in the wellbeing of his daughter, Sylvia.  The question is: Can he overcome all the uglier elements of his personality?

Is there a villain or villainess in your story? Tell us about him/her.

Although I just described Epstein as an anti-hero, the villain that he reveals to us as the epitome of evil is Professor Applebaum—his mother’s boyfriend during Epstein’s childhood.  Professor Applebaum—as a bloodsucker and stand-in for forces which terrify us most as children—transforms Epstein’s mother into “a monster.”  He observes—and is complicit—in the suffering that Applebaum imposes on victims.  Although our main character was a child during that time, the fact that he was complicit in the pain of other people devastates him.  Epstein is not, at his core, an evil man.

Who is your favorite character in the book and why?

I think my favorite character in the book is the daughter, Sylvia.  As the writer, I was able to develop a lot of empathy for her; plus, in the beginning, she’s very rambunctious and rebellious, morphs into someone who is more introspective, but still has a lot of verve.  Sections which involved her were a lot of fun to write because I allowed myself the freedom of messing with the language, as well as mimicking her internal voice.  She seems to be the smartest, most empathetic, and most humane character in the novel.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?

I’m not totally sure, but I’ve always liked the opening.  It begins immediately with Epstein sprinting toward Sylvia’s school—the set-up is tense, and I hope the language reflects that.

What do you love most about being an author?

I really, really like making things up—characters, worlds, and voices.  And it’s always exhilarating to affect people who appreciate dark fiction in a meaningful, impactful way.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

Thanks for still finding wonder in the world of words.

Author’s twitter: @lpitttsgonzalez

Author’s facebook: www.facebook.com/TheBloodPoetry

Link to excerpt: www.goodreads.com/book/show/15727062-the-blood-poetry

Link to purchase page: www.amazon.com/gp/product/1935738259

Link to book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheBloodPoetry2012

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I thought it might be fun to share some of the lore that ties in with the world building in my Immortyl Revolution novels.  Although most vampire myths were spawned in Eastern Europe, a lot of evidence points to the legends first arising out of India.  When I was developing my series, I became fascinated with Indian religions, mythology, and folklore.  Indian myths and folklore give us many examples of vampire-like spirits and deities.  In the various regions are found a plethora of demons that inhabit cremation and burial grounds.  These bear a striking resemblance to the vamps of Eastern Europe.  Many of these are said to be the spirits of those who died an unnatural death, or a woman who died in childbirth.  Others are succubus-like creatures that drain men of energy, yet leave them with a feeling of euphoria.  It is likely that traders along the Great Silk Road and the gypsies carried these stories west.  In Greece, the tales gave inspiration to the Lamiae, or female vampire-like spirits.

One deity sometimes associated with vampirism is Kali, a fierce form of the mother goddess (Shakti).  Like her husband, Shiva, she both creates and destroys.  She’s often shown standing on his body, symbolizing that in the scheme of the cosmos the male principle is subordinate to that of the female.  Kali is usually depicted with dark blue or black skin and a third eye.  She wears body parts as jewelry and has a tongue that sticks out in defiance.  Her favorite places are battlefields and burial grounds.

Kali is often misunderstood in the West.  She is the goddess of time, not death as many think.  She slays only evil demons.  Symbolically, she annihilates the selfish impulses and ego that bind us to our material bodies.  Her aspect is fearsome, but she is called Kali Maa (Mother Kali) and is revered in many parts of India.  Kolkata (Calcutta) is sacred to her and named for the goddess.

Tantric cults often focus on Kali.  Tantrism is an older religious tradition than Hinduism, dating back to the time before the Aryan tribes migrated into India.  These groups center on Shakti worship and sometimes use sex and even blood in their rituals.  The idea behind this is to gain control over the body to capture divine energy and gain blessings.  The adepts of the ancient arts in my novels practice a form of tantra.

In my reading, I’ve come across only one group associated with Kali that was violent.  They were known as the Thugees.  This is the root of our word thug.  These devotees would waylay travelers and use them as blood sacrifices to the goddess.  The Thugees inspired the Kali worshipers in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  They are by no means representative of the vast majority of her devotees.

Kali is the great mother, who protects her earthly children.

***

Denise Verrico is giving away a free ebook of shorts to every commenter at the blogs.  

She is also doing a tour wide grand prize basket consisting of a trade paperback of Servant of the Goddess, a Cara Mia t-shirt (XL), a set of posters (one from each book), a pen, a keychain, vampire notepaper and some other small items US entries only. 

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Hello everyone! I’m Thomas Winship, author of Væmpires: Revolution and Væmpires: White Christmas. Both books are part of a new ongoing vampire series that explores the question: what if vampires evolved?

I’m very excited to be a guest blogger at The Dark Phantom Review! This is my first official blog tour and I’m simply amazed by the support I’ve received from the community of bloggers, reader, and fans—so, thank you very, very much for joining me today.

This is the fourth (and final) week of that tour. Looking back, I realize that I’ve written guest posts about reading, writing, varied opinions about reading & writing, and even random musings … but I have yet to write a post about væmpires. Since it might be prudent to rectify that situation before it goes any further, I’m going to explain more about the world of væmpires than the information collectively offered by book descriptions, promos, and/or reviews.

So, here goes …

The Background:

Væmpires (pronounced “vempires”) takes place several thousand years in the future. Sometime in the late twenty-ninth or early thirtieth centuries, humans triggered WWIII. The resultant nuclear winter lasted for hundreds of years and wiped out the vast majority of the population. Water levels rose. The face of the world changed.

When the world recovered from the Great Devastation (as it’s called), the Atlantic Ocean was gone, creating one immense continent surrounded by water. Antarctica and Australia were uninhabited. The few island groups that existed were in constant danger of being swallowed by the remaining oceans, so efforts to inhabit them were quickly abandoned. The peoples of earth spread throughout the continent and grew roots. The calendar was reset at 1 AD (After Devastation).

The new world recovered at an exponential rate. Scientific and medical advancements eradicated most sickness and disease. In less than a thousand years, the human population soared to an estimated thirty or forty billion people.

But the geography wasn’t the only thing that had changed. Vampires, beautiful beings with an inescapable need for human blood, crawled out of the radioactive miasma to settle in dark places. For years, they hid by day and hunted by night, feeding at the fringes of civilization.

Their discovery, delayed yet inevitable, sparked the H-V (Human-Vampire) Wars. For hundreds of years, neither side gained a decided advantage—vampires were physically superior, but were greatly outnumbered and had difficulty reproducing.

In 1000 AD, the creation of synth-blood (synthetic human blood) changed the world once again. Vampires were no longer slaves to their hunger and humans no longer needed to fear their genetically-superior brethren. Vampires emerged from the shadows and the underworld, cautiously at first, but with increasing enthusiasm as humans welcomed them with open arms.

Understanding that their time as the dominant species was ending, human leaders suggested a series of agreements designed to broker a lasting peace between the two races. Earth was rechristened Tarados (Earth Two) and carved into seven provinces—North & South America, North & South Atlantica, North & South Africa, and Aurasia. Four provinces were placed under vampire rule, a bold concession that nevertheless ushered in a true golden age of peace and prosperity.

The first væmpires appeared around 1500 AD. The creatures—warm-blooded with a hunger for cold vampire blood—were quickly dismissed as anomalies; poor, unfortunate victims of some horrible new mutagen or, perhaps, lingering atomic contamination. As the situation not only persisted, but grew, world leaders stubbornly refused to acknowledge that any problem existed.

Eventually, the truth became clear: væmpires were former vampires. And each væmpire was a bigger, stronger, faster version of its former self. There was no rhyme or reason as to who morphed—male or female, old or young, from one end of the world to another—no vampire was safe.

No one could determine why the mutations occurred or how to avoid them. New synth-blood variants failed to quell væmpire hunger. The væmpire population grew to a point where they demanded rights and representation on a par with humans and vampires. Instead, their leaders were summarily ignored, discredited, or otherwise rendered impotent. Væmpire gangs formed, menacing neighborhoods in major cities.

The gangs became increasingly violent as diplomatic endeavors proved ineffective. With all three races at odds, the largest gangs evolved into terrorist cells intent on fulfilling a new agenda: the eradication of humanity; the enslavement of vampires; and the ascension of væmpires as the new world leaders.

This is where Væmpires: Revolution begins.

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Væmpires: Revolution

It is the morning of Princess Cassandra’s sixteenth birthday. Everyone’s attention is focused on the heir to the vampire throne. World leaders, the rich and famous, and VIPs from every corner of the globe have gathered in the nation’s capital to celebrate the momentous event.

Cassandra’s boyfriend, Daniel, is late for the party. He’s still outside the city when all hell breaks loose. What he believes is an act of terrorism proves to be a full-fledged revolution. Væmpires have launched coordinated attacks across the globe.

The vampire and human leaders are killed. Cassandra is missing. Daniel is the acting king. Desperate to find the princess, Daniel and his friends fight their way across the besieged city. With the hopes of the free world resting on the shoulders of four vampire teenagers, væmpires unleash their secret weapons: a new breed of væmpire that is far deadlier than any ever seen before.

What can four teens do against an enemy that can shape-shift, fly, and walk through walls?

Væmpires: White Christmas is set six months prior to the events described above, but was designed to be read after Væmpires: Revolution.

Væmpires: White Christmas

It’s almost Christmas. With the global holiday days away, the people of the world should be turning their attention toward celebrating peace and goodwill, but tension between humans, vampires, and væmpires is at an all-time high. Desperate for solutions, King Brant schedules a secret summit deep in North America’s Northern Forest. Along with Queen Anne, Princess Cassandra, Daniel’s family, and the human president and First Lady, the vampire leader seeks to reaffirm the ties between humans and vampires, while brainstorming ways to respond to the growing hostility among væmpires.

Meanwhile, Daniel and Cassie’s relationship is at an all-time low. The princess is still reeling from her breakup with Vielyn, and Daniel doesn’t know what he should or shouldn’t do to help. Little does he know that the summit will be flooded with surprises—guests, allegations, accusations, proposals, and even Christmas Eve revelations—but not all of the surprises will be pleasant.

So, there you have it—the Væmpires saga in a nutshell. It’s an urban fantasy/dystopian series, combining fantasy, sci-fi, horror, action, and romance in bite-sized chunks for your enjoyment!

I hope you enjoyed my guest blog. I’d love to hear what you think of it. Comment here, stop by my website, or even drop an email. I’d also love to hear from you if you check out Vaempires. Below are some links where you can find me:

Website

Email

Facebook

Twitter

YouTube

Goodreads

Books on Amazon.com

Books on Smashwords

Books on iTunes

As a final note: I’d like to thank all of you (one more time) for stopping in and offer a very special “thank you” to Mayra for allowing me to be a guest blogger at The Dark Phantom Review today.

Take care,

Thomas Winship

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To win an ebook or print copy of this book, simply leave a comment! (Print copy US shipping only.) Thanks!

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I don’t intentionally read books to drool over hot muscular men. It’s just what happens to me sometimes. I’m enjoying the story, loving the plotline, and then out of nowhere a gorgeous guy steps on the scene, capturing my heart. I have plenty of book boyfriends, but we’re all busy with things to do, so I’ll just give you my top five drool-worthy hotties!

1- CURRAN, The Beast Lord of Atlanta
(Ilona Andrews- Magic Series)
This blond hair and grey eyed Were-lion is funny and dangerous all at the same time. If you would like to date this guy, I would tread carefully because his girlfriend Kate knows her way around a sword.
Any Curran POV that Ilona Andrews puts out I devour within seconds!

2- JERICHO BARRONS , The Sociopath we love to hate!

(Karen Marie Moning- Fever Series)
Most of the series you have no idea what species Barrons belongs to, so I’m not going to say it, just in case some sad person out there has not had the pleasure to meet my sexy sociopath. Let’s just say he is an exotic looking guy with dark hair. There’s a pretty sizzling POV sex scene that Karen Moning recently published this month. Check it out!

3- RICHARD, The Wolf King
(Laurel K Hamilton- Anita Blake Series)
This tall, dark, and handsome Boy Scout is an unwilling member in Anita Blake’s harem. Many see him as a whiner, but I love his desire to stand up for what he believes in.

4- BONES
(Jeaniene Frost- Night Huntress Series)
This Vampire is a devoted and loyal lover who loves to bite interesting parts of the body. I think that’s what really sticks out to me the most about him.

5- KISTEN
(Kim Harrison- Hollows Series)
I just love my Vampires! Many people are probably saying, “Kisten? Who?” This hottie is in the earlier part of the series. To avoid giving away any spoilers I won’t say anymore, but after a certain book in the series I must admit I sent some horrible emails to Mrs. Harrison. I was so upset.
(In fact… I don’t know if I am quite over the trauma…. Or if Mrs. Harrison has stopped that restraining order.  )

Honorable Mentions

MeShack and Zulu, OF COURSE!!
(Kenya Wright- Habitat Series)

MeShack
A half Black and Iranian Were-cheetah that purrs when he is. . . happy. He’s also the lead singer to Mahogany Groove and considered a playboy around the Santeria habitat.

Zulu, The Heart Ripper
He organized Mixbreeds For Equality. He’s called The Heart Ripper because when he discovers a drug dealer is selling to kids in his neighborhood. . . he rips their hearts out of their chest.

Fire Baptized
By Kenya Wright

Since the 1970’s humans have forced supernaturals to live in caged cities. Silver brands embedded in their foreheads identify them by species: a full moon for Vampires, a crescent moon for Shifters, a pair of wings for Fairies, and the list goes on, for each supernatural species has been tagged and categorized by humans.

Lanore Vesta is marked with a silver X, the brand of Mixbreeds, second-class citizens shunned by society. She stays to herself, revealing her ability to create fire only during emergencies. All she wants to do is graduate college and stop having to steal to survive. But when she stumbles upon a murder in progress, she catches the attention of a supernatural killer. Now all she wants is to stop finding dead bodies in her apartment.

Enlisting help from her Were-cheetah ex-boyfriend Meshach and a new mysterious friend named Zulu, she is steered through the habitat’s raunchy nightlife. But their presence sometimes proves to be more burden than help, as they fight for her attention.

While the corpses pile up, and the scent of blood fills the air, Lanore is left wondering: will she find the psycho or die trying?

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Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/a28T5HzpGJ4

About the Author:

Kenya Wright always knew she would be famous since the ripe old age of six when she sung the Michael Jackson thriller song in her bathroom mirror. She has tried her hand at many things from enlisting in the Navy for six years as a Persian-Farsi linguist to being a nude model at an art university.

However, writing has been the only constant love in her life.

So here we are Kenya is publishing her first book, Fire Baptized, the urban fantasy novel she always wanted to read. This novel is the first book in a series.

Will she succeed? Of course.

For she has been coined The Urban Fantasy Queen, the Super Iconic Writer of this Age, The Lyrical Genius of Our Generation. Granted, these are all terms coined by her, within the private walls of her bathroom as she still sings the Michael Jackson thriller song.

Kenya Wright currently resides in Miami with her three amazing, overactive children, a supportive, gorgeous husband, and three cool black cats that refuse to stop sleeping on Kenya’s head at night.

http://kenyawright.com

https://twitter.com/#!/Firebaptizedd

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Bill Swears calls himself a service brat. He was born in Great Falls, Montana. He’s lived in England, Iran, Germany, and nine states. Bill flew military helicopters for twenty-two years, seven in the Army and fifteen in the Coast Guard. He sold his first short story while he was a Coast Guard rescue helicopter pilot, and immediately began writing a book. He finished that manuscript ten years later, after retiring from active duty.

On November 15, 2003, Bill broke his back while ditching a homebuilt experimental airplane 100 NM out to sea from Maui, Hawaii. He retired from the USCG in 2004, after spinal fusion surgery and rehabilitation. He says that there is an upside to that, because he shows up on Google searches: http://starbulletin.com/2003/11/18/news/index4.html. Although he does show up on Google searches, Dark Phantom suggests that there are better ways to do that and Bill agrees. 

Bill met his wife Teri in high school in 1978. They married in 1982, but didn’t get around to having children for seventeen more years. They have two kids, thirteen year old Alexa and eight year old Michael, and will celebrate their thirtieth wedding anniversary in July. Bill claims that they lost track of time.

The Swears family lives in a beat-up old log home on a ridge line in Peter’s Creek, Alaska with a brace of rare breed Eurasier dogs and a pair of cats. Bill earned his MA in English and graduated on Groundhog Day 2010, the year he turned fifty. He works as a technical writer and editor for a little known federal bureau. He has a spanking new webresidence and blog at www.BillSwears.com, and blogs at http://wswears.livejournal.com/.

About the book, Zook Country:

Metamorphic plague has swept the globe over the last five years. Victims become rabid non-sentient zooks, immensely strong and so fast that a normal person can’t see them move. A third of humanity has died, but people are fighting back, balanced on the razor’s edge between survival and apocalypse. Jake Chestnut and Gary Landon, both ex-army, are partners in Seraglio, an independent Kent, Washington based zook hunting firm. Both lost their families to plague and are part of the less than one percent of humanity with the innate ability, ESP, reflexes, and willingness to shoot where the zook will be next that are necessary to combat feral zooks. Zook-hunters are charged with hunting down and killing plague victims. These battle scarred men and women have been on the front line with no reprieve for five years, and the survivors have developed an esprit de corps similar to that of a WWI Aerosquadron.

Killing zooks for a living is tough, but the alternative is worse; eight months after infection, zooks metamorphose into non-corporeal ghasten, who live in collectives, herd zooks, kill with energy discharges, and create rifts in the fabric of reality that have swallowed cities. While working a contract to clear a first of its kind community/safe enclave for the elite, somebody tries to kill Jake, Gary, and their crew. With Gary badly injured, Jake must untangle a web of conspiracy to complete Seraglio’s contract and seek vengeance. What he discovers may lead to civil war.

 

 

Interview:

From Coast Guard rescue helicopter pilot to apocalyptic science-fiction adventure writer. How did that come about?

I was reading science fiction in grade school. A lot of it. I read through all of the science fiction in the city library nearest my house when I was eleven, and in every school library from the time I left fourth grade until I graduated from high school. I couldn’t be forced to study my school-work, but that science fiction stuff my mother so disapproved of? I never really stopped. Before I joined the military I wrote a couple of science fiction short stories – really bad stories, but with a core of humor that my friends (and other people I was able to intimidate into reading my stuff) noticed. So I guess the question is more, “How did a budding young writer end up flying Coast Guard helicopters?” Now that was a long road. I knew I wanted to write, I knew I wanted to be a pilot, and I knew I wanted to be the world’s first independent cargo dirigible captain. But I really wasn’t ready to write in my early twenties, and I banged my head against that, until one day Teri pointed at one of the then popular commercials that said “The Army; the only service that will take you straight from high school to flight school.”

She still claims that she was joking, but nine months later, with an impressive battery of tests behind me, I was swearing into the Army for rotary-wing flight school. I thought initially that I’d like to follow in Dad’s footsteps,  join the Air Force and become a jet pilot, but after I’d flown helicopters for a few years I realized that I was just having too much fun to give up the rotary-wing lifestyle. Flying seems like a young man’s career, and I stayed with that for my first career, moving to the Coast Guard when I realized that saving lives fit me better than taking them (training to take them. I’ve never been in combat). So, it seems like I’m breaking into a whole new gig, writing fiction, but really, I’m taking time to do something I’ve always loved. And now, I have a bunch of sea stories that I can weave into my writing!

What was your inspiration for Zook Country and how did you come up with the concept of ‘Zook’.

Believe it or not, I started writing about Jake and Gary while I was talking about using voice in dialogue at rec.arts.sf.composition. I threw out a snippet that was very close to the opening you can read today. I liked the characters and started to write, not knowing where they’d go. I got about two chapters in before I began to feel the shape of the novel to come. That’s when I wrote a rough story-arc that I followed for the rest of the draft.

As I originally wrote it, the story was mostly contemporary dark fantasy, with zooks being part of an attack on the human race by evil dragons. A good dragon had found his way to earth as well, and became a major character in my earlier draft. I was picked up by an agent almost immediately, but he convinced me to take out the fey/magical aspects and give it a more down to earth explanation. I miss Thomas the dragon even today, but the novel that came out was much tighter and easily visualized. The agent? He left the publishing industry entirely, though we’re still friends.

I remember when I first started to develop the zooks that I was thinking about vampires, and that I wanted to write a guy version of urban fantasy. At the time I was thinking that I wanted a new monster because I didn’t want to be stuck in somebody else’s pigeonhole, but that I also wanted to borrow from known monster archetypes so that readers wouldn’t be completely alienated. It seemed like burning up in contact with silver and being able to heal almost instantly would be recognizable as monster traits. Becoming non-sentient and apelike came from my prejudices about what happens to rabies victims in the later stages of the disease. After that, I just let the story flow and Ghasten came along as if that’s what is supposed to happen to hyperspeed feral apes.

I came up with the name zook as an integral part of the world I was imagining (and beginning to dream about). At first I didn’t know where the name came from – I finally posted a longer section with RASFC and asked my friends there to comment about zooks, especially the name, which worried me a little. Ric Locke (Temporary Duty: available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble) said that it was clearly a mashup of Zombie and Gook, and that made complete sense to me. Soldiers find ways to dehumanize their enemies so that they can get on with the business of killing them. I don’t really think of zooks as being zombies, but the parallels are obvious, so maybe my hind-brain was already making the connection.

I understand you first self-published the novel before it was picked up by Twilight Times Books. I love success stories like that. Can you share with my readers how that happened?

I’m proud of my writing, but promotionally, I’m a real neophyte. After five full years in one publisher’s recommended pile (I checked in with her every few months and was always reassured that it was in her pile, and that she’d eventually get around to looking at it), while gaining and losing two agents from a rather famous F&SF centric literary agency, I gave up on waiting for the industry to get around to looking at me. I spent some months prepping the book for self-publication, setting up ISBNs, buying cover art, getting a copy/line edit from somebody I trusted, and running the whole book through several members of my writers group. Then I put it up on Amazon Kindle and nothing much happened. Apparently Amazon is releasing so many e-books that their market is glutted with new titles (or, just maybe, I’ve been lost in a sea of voices shouting “Buy me! Buy me!” and if I can get the right attention, some few people will want to face a new monster in their darker nights). While I thought about whether to expand my markets to other e-book providers or join Kindle Select, I sent promotional messages to each of my Facebook friends, and everybody I ever traded e-mail with, asking for reviews. Stephanie Osborne suggested that I friend Lida Quillen and offer the book to Twilight Times Books.

Sending individual messages to each of your Facebook friends is terribly labor intensive, but it netted me a few promises of reviews, and the name of a promising publisher. Here was this small but growing press with authors that I recognized, and here I was, starting to get a really good notion of just how time intensive and pricey it was to promote myself, so the idea really had a shiny glow. I queried Lida, she read the book and liked it, and then suddenly I was barreling down a road I thought was closed to me.

The road has been bumpy, but I went from 2007 to 2012 with the book in a big publishing house but no action at all, then was picked up and published in 11 days. I couldn’t decide whether ecstasy or head-desk was the correct response. I settled on muted excitement with a sense that the other boot would soon drop.

I understand Zook Country wasn’t the original title

I originally wrote the book under the title Seraglio, because Jake and Gary named their company that, and because it has an uncomfortable resonance with something the bad-guys have done. Nobody at all liked that title, so I was casting around for a better one when my German publisher told me that he’d publish the book only if I renamed it Zookland. I like Zookland quite a lot, but thought that here in the US it came too close to the names Zombieland and Zoolander. In fact, for the longest time, if I Googled Zookland I got the Ben Stiller movie.

Anyway, Zook Country as a term is reminiscent (to me!) of Injun Country, which I hoped would have meaning to some part of the US crowd. 

The novel was also published in Germany. Is it still available there and was it published there in German?

Yes it is, yes it was. Zookland was translated to German by my friend Dirk Van Den Boom, and is available in hardback or trade paperback at http://www.atlantis-verlag.de/, or in trade paper or kindle from Amazon.com here in the U.S. – for anybody who speaks German. Really, anybody who speaks German should buy both books and compare them. Yeah, that’s the ticket. 😉

Tell us a bit about your writing process. Are you a morning bird or a night owl? How long does it usually take you to finish a book?

I’m a morning bird by ingrained habit, but a night owl by inclination. Before joining the military, Teri and I thought nothing about watching the sunrise before going to bed. Now, I’m awake between 4:30 and 5:00 am whether I like it or not, and whether I’ve been asleep for three hours or seven. I’m probably most productive in the mornings, and on my days off from work, which is why it was so useful to be able to take this interview at such an early hour here in Alaska.

I’m not an outliner exactly.  I usually start with a group of characters and a situation, then write a few chapters and decide who and what I like.  Then I write what I call a chapterboard, which is sort of like an outline.  I write a brief description of what I think will happen in each of twelve chapters.  That description is sometimes a sentence, and sometimes two or three paragraphs about what I have in mind.  The length of the description and the length of the chapters have absolutely no relationship, as far as I can tell.  In one chapterboard from another book, “Tanos and Carolyn get married” was the description of three long chapters that involved an assassination plot and a vastly overcomplex royal wedding.  The twelve chapters I write my chapterboard around have never come out in fact.  Zook Country had a twelve chapter board, and came out to 33 chapters and an epilogue. Sometimes my characters disapprove of a planned action and go off to raise their own Cain.  I do, generally, get to nudge them back toward my preferred ending.

I don’t know that I have a “usually” when it comes to finishing books. My first book took almost a year to write.  Zook Country took less than three months in its original form.  Now I have a high demand day job, so things are taking longer.

What is your favorite scene in the book?

Chapter 17, when Jake smells apples and tastes mocha. Anything more would be a spoiler, IMO.

Seriously though, having “favorite” scenes in a book that shivers between dark and light is difficult.  I like the moment toward the end when Donna ends up out of bullets with her men dead or dying around her, defending herself with nothing but a stiff silver wire and mad martial arts skills. Donna is way cool and a far better character than I ever deserved to dream up – and like some of the best characters, she wasn’t intended to be there.  She created her own space in my head and broke out onto the page without the least regard for my feelings.

At the other extreme, there is a scene when Jake and Gary take down a two year old zook that hurts every time I read it, and that cost me a lot of sleep when I first wrote it.  In a way, I guess you could call that a favorite.

What did you find most challenging while working on Zook Country?

During the first draft? Getting to sleep at night. Zook Country came off my fingers almost as quickly as I could type. I woke up ready to write and had itchy keyboarding fingers all day. Of course I had to do other things, like eat, and chase people down in the street to get them to read snippets, so that wasn’t mindlessly easy. But then, I found a couple good first readers, and they kept hounding me for more chapters, so I could focus more on getting the next thing written.

I thought that writing the book would be the hardest part. When I got a call a few weeks later from an agent, I thought my authoring world was made. But when that agent friend asked me to reimagine the book without fey elements? That moment comes in a close second on the challenge scale. I felt so challenged that I wanted to fly to New York and have a loud chest to chest discussion with this fellow I’d never met. Then he arranged for his boss to visit me in Anchorage during BoucherCon 2007, to tell me that I had no idea what I was doing with dragons. I didn’t really believe the agency’s advice until I’d finished and smoothed the sans magic version, and even then I was pretty mad. I was really “challenged” when the agent I’d started with up and left the industry just as I was turning in Zook Opus mark deux. More challenged yet when the boss that hadn’t liked my dragon also turned out not to like my monsters, metamorphic plague, or anything except the characters, which he thought should be in an infantry based space opera out in the Zagravian sector. We dinked around for another two years before realizing that without the first interested agent, the boss was never going to be satisfied with an Earth based adventure.

What’s on the horizon for Bill Swears?

I’ve promised to write Rogue Country, a sequel to Zook Country next. It’s set in the Oregon wine country near the River of the Rogue. I’ve got two other novels in progress. One is a straight up space opera that I’m calling Mutiny on Hellespont, and the other is high fantasy, or maybe swords and sorcery, and an immediate sequel to my first (so far unpublished) book, Split Affinity. The sequel, which is currently at 80K words, will be called Growing Affinity, and is part two of three. I can’t let myself finish it until I’ve fulfilled my promise to Dirk Van Den Boom, who wants to exhaust himself translating the next zook story.

And, my day job. Ouch.  Somebody find me a very wealthy zook enthusiast to pay my bills while I punch out the next book, please!

Author’s facebook: http://www.facebook.com/wswears

Link to excerpt: http://twilighttimesbooks.com/ZookCountry_ch1.html

Link to purchase page: http://twilighttimesbooks.com/ZookCountry_ch1.html. Buy it at the excerpt in any e-format, or link from there to Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007J6DPPA), or Barnes and Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/zook-country-bill-swears/1108892461).


Originally published in Blogcritics Magazine.

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