Daily Archives: December 11, 2018

Spotlight – Radio Underground

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About the Author

Alison Littman

Alison Littman lives in San Francisco where she’s a writer by day and standup comedian by night. A former journalist in New Mexico, she covered politics and education while also contributing articles on John F. Kennedy and The Beatles to various specialty magazines. Her feature stories focus on listening to rock ‘n’ roll behind the Iron Curtain and Cold War politics. Radio Underground is her first novel.

Website Address: https://www.readalisonlittman.com/

Twitter Address: https://twitter.com/AliMcShpiel

Facebook Address: https://www.facebook.com/readalisonlittman/

About the Book:

Title: RADIO UNDERGROUND
Author: Alison Littman
Publisher: Last Syllable Books
Pages: 354
Genre: Historical Fiction

Radio Underground

BOOK BLURB:

After years of suffering under the communist regime in Cold War Hungary, Eszter Turján—fanatical underground journalist—would sacrifice anything, and anyone, to see the government fall. When she manipulates news broadcasts on Radio Free Europe, she ignites a vicious revolution, commits a calamitous murder, and is dragged away screaming to a secret underground prison.

Her daughter Dora, then a teenager, cowers in her bedroom as the secret police arrest her mother. Haunted and hurt, Dora vows to work against everything Eszter believes in. But, it’s not that simple.

After nine years, Dora meets a strapping young fan of Radio Free Europe and is unwittingly drawn back into Eszter’s circle. She finds her mother, driven mad by years of torture, is headed for death.

On the brink of losing Eszter again, Dora must decide if she should risk her life to save the mother who discarded her—or leave it to fate.

“A propulsive read and a timely reminder that maintaining our humanity requires courage as much as love.”- Kim van Alkemade, New York Times best-selling author of Orphan #8 and Bachelor Girl

“Littman’s debut novel is a delectable blend of history and heartstrings, sure to please the palates of literature lovers everywhere.”- Selene Castrovilla, award-winning author of Melt and Luna Rising

5 out of 5 star review from Readers’ Favorite

Radio Underground reads like a movie…A revolutionary tale written with style.”- Readers’ Favorite

ORDER YOUR COPY:

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Book Excerpt:

A black Zis-110 idled ahead of me, the car’s curtains drawn on its passenger windows. I shivered at the sight of the secret police’s hallmark car, thinking of all the friends who had disappeared for no reason, taken away by henchmen in the middle of the night, never to return. It was no coincidence the Zis looked just like a hearse. I scurried onto a side street, dodging the car and the poor captives I assumed sat, trembling, inside of it.

I tiptoed past the Ministry of Interior, where red geraniums lined the building’s windows. In the secret prisons below, police tortured people with whips, limb crushers, nail presses, and scalding and freezing baths. Or else they just executed them. But the geraniums were always fresh.

I slid my fingers across the building’s dusty exteriors, imagining I could somehow transfer my nerves onto the cold, unfeeling brick. I had snuck through the streets after curfew for years, but tonight was different. I could feel the regime sensing our newfound courage, like a dog pushing its nose high into the air, catching the subtle perfume of a rabbit nearby.

After walking several blocks, I spied smoke unfurling in the path before me, like a languid snake expanding as it digests a fresh kill. Following it, I found Antal, his eyes closed, relishing in a cigarette.

“Antal, it’s me,” I said, coughing on the smoke now choking me.

Antal smiled and opened his eyes, his cataracts reflecting the glow of the street lamps. “Eszter, it’s good to see you.”

“It’s good to see you too.” I kissed Antal on both cheeks, feeling his dry skin against mine and wondering how long he’d been outside waiting for me in the cold.

“Tell me, what information do you have for me today?”

“It will happen tomorrow,” I said. “Today, technically.”

It was already past midnight.

“So it’s here, isn’t it?” Antal said.

“Yes,” I said. “I went to their meeting. The students decided they’re going to march. I heard them talking about gathering arms.”

“How many people are participating in this … this march?” Antal asked as he stamped his cigarette into the ground and lit another one.

“Hundreds, thousands, maybe. I can’t be certain.”

“It doesn’t take a genius to predict how Gerő will react.”

“Gerő will slaughter them,” I said, feeling dizzy as I said aloud what we both knew. Hungary’s leader, Erno Gerő, was a Soviet puppet with an arsenal at the ready. “Without enough people hearing about it and organizing, it will just be a bloodbath.”

Antal fell back against the brick wall, suddenly losing his breath. He was always so levelheaded, so much so it often drove me to even greater heights of anxiety as I tried to compensate for his indifference. His fingers, still clutching the cigarette, quivered as his eyes searched the space behind me.

“The state radio will probably ignore this and just keep spewing out its propaganda,” he said.

“Exactly. We’re going to print with this too. But Realitás won’t reach enough people in time. An announcement on Radio Free Europe is the students’ only hope.” I held on to Antal’s shoulders to steady him. “It has to happen first thing in the morning, so people will have time to plan.”

The closest Radio Free Europe outpost was in Vienna. If Antal left now, he would get there by four in the morning.

“I already have meetings scheduled in Vienna for today,” he said. “I’ll visit our Radio Free Europe contacts as soon as I get there and cancel my other meetings to get back in time for the march. Gerő will think I cut short a routine visit to be by his side.”

Our lives by day were lies—Antal’s more than most. He served as the regime’s Deputy Interior Minister. After being forced to coordinate the executions of his friends—communists who threatened the power structure when they became too popular—he resolved to undermine the regime in any way possible. He began relaying intelligence to the American-run Radio Free Europe. With the freedom to travel at will and deep knowledge of the government’s inner workings, he also became an asset to Realitás, the underground newspaper I ran.

“It’s already one in the morning,” I said. “What will you do when they ask you why you’re crossing the border so late?”

“This is normal for me. I go to Vienna at all times of the day and night, just to keep them guessing. Just in case I run into a situation like this.”

“Smart. Well, you better leave now before Gerő tries to get in touch.”

We both knew Antal’s phone could have been ringing right then. I wondered what it would cost him—or his children and grandchildren—if he wasn’t there to answer it.

“I’ll be back,” Antal said, coughing into his hands, still shaking from what I knew was the fear we all shared.

“Wait.” I pulled out a tattered piece of paper, wincing as the cuts in my hand protested the sudden movement. “Take this with you. A student gave it to me yesterday. It’s a coded list of meeting points and times for the march. You have to get this on air too.”

Antal nodded as I slid the paper into his coat pocket, making sure to secure the meticulously crafted plans of the brave, hopeful students. They probably didn’t even realize that at this moment, Soviet troops were almost certainly readying their tanks at a base nearby.

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Spotlight – Jack Jetstark’s Intergalactic Freakshow


Jack Jetstark travels the universe to seek out the descendants of superpowered freaks created long ago by VesCorp scientists. The vibrations encoded in a particular song transform the members of Jack’s crew into a firebreather and an angel, a wildman and telepathic conjoined triplets, so they hide the truth of who they really are with the theatrics of a carnival.
The song plays every night through the receptor Jack carries with them, but when one night it has a different ending and their temporary powers become permanent, Jack believes the change is a signal from the woman who sent him on this quest in the first place. He and his freaks must navigate a universe at war to protect the love of his life.
But does the ruler of VesCorp really need protecting?

Buy Links:     Amazon     Barnes and Noble     iTunes     Kobo


Author Jennifer Lee Rossman is a disabled and autistic freak, and proudly so. Her work has been featured in many anthologies and her debut novella, Anachronism, was published by Kristell Ink in 2018.

She blogs at http://jenniferleerossman.blogspot.com/ and tweets @JenLRossman.

“First thing you’ve got to know,” I said, brushing my hair from my face as the wind began to pick up, “is that we’re all freaks. Everyone in the whole universe, for one reason or another. Most try to hide this fact. A few of us embrace it, not so much because we want to but because there’s nothing else for us. So we show people the terrifying and unseemly parts of us no one wants to see, and we charge ’em good money to see it.”
Lily stepped forward and knelt to display her shoulders and back, all bare, featherless skin down to the dangerously low neckline of her sequined dress. “See? No wings.”
“But you flew,” Cara insisted. “If it isn’t costumes and harnesses, then what?”
I held up the receiver, a small wooden box the size of my hand with a speaker on one side and images of galaxies and solar systems carved into the others. Not the most advanced technology, but I wouldn’t have anything else.

I checked the time. Soon.

I debated how much to tell her. No matter how many times I tried to explain it, it never sounded remotely plausible, but I had to warn her. Seeing the end result was one thing; seeing it happen before your eyes was another matter entirely, though the complete truth was an ancient burden none of them deserved to be saddled with.

“The music plays,” I said. “Same song, same time every night, and it triggers something inside us. That feeling you had, like you were made of magic? That’s what it feels like when your DNA recognizes a song, even if you’ve never heard it before.”

She stared at me in eager anticipation, nodding slowly. Whether she actually believed me or was just humoring me, I couldn’t say, but it was a nice change from the usual interruptions of “that’s impossible” and “science doesn’t work that way.”

I cast a sideways glance at Theon, who had given me more trouble than the others, and continued. “Makes you feel alive, like there’s a purpose to your existence and you can do the impossible, and that ain’t just in your mind. We’re all freaks, but we—” I motioned to my crew. “Well, we’re different. Our bodies hear that song, and it triggers our genes to change, to grow into… I don’t know, the true selves that live in our heart or some sentimental crap like that.”

“How poetic,” Lily said with a laugh. She looked up at Cara. “I know it’s hard to understand. It happens to me every night, and I still have no idea how it works, but I can fly, Merulo becomes the feral wildman, Parthen and the boys really can read each others’ minds and feel each others’ pain… Jack breathes fire and gains the ability to give impassioned speeches without sounding like an uninterested jerk.”

I checked the time again.

“So what changed in you?” Pneuman asked with earnest interest. “During the music, I mean?”

Cara hesitated, almost like she was afraid of hearing the absurdity out loud.

“I turn into a wild beast,” Merulo pointed out quietly. “And these three grow into one, psychic organism. Whatever you’re about to say will probably be the most normal thing we’ve heard in months.”

After another moment’s thought, Cara rolled up her sleeves. Her arms, though pale peach and freckled like her face, gleamed in the diminishing sun.

I reached out to touch her. Cold, almost metallic. That explained how she opened the lock.

“You’re a cyborg,” I said, tapping my nail on her forearm to hear the clinking sound. They just couldn’t get the texture right, no matter how hard they tried.
Her moon didn’t seem like the type of place to have a neurologist trained in bio implants, and I doubted anyone there could afford to travel to see one.

“Fancy. Who wired it into your brain?”

“I did it all myself.” She held up a hand and demonstrated the various functions and attachments installed in her fingers, glossing right over the fact that she had just admitted to performing brain surgery on herself. She yanked her sleeves down. “And I’m not a cyborg,” she clarified. “I’m just good with electronics and I like gadgets. My dad says it’s bad to be a cyborg.”

“Well, I tell you what, kid. You can’t make a person change by pointing out their flaws, but you can be the one person who doesn’t try to.”

“I’ve always had a connection to electronics,” she said, shyly extending a hexagonal wrench from her forefinger, “like I could talk to them. But when I heard the music… something happened.”

I checked my watch. Not long now. “Yeah, something always happens. What matters is what happened to you, kid.”

“They… talked back.” Her words came slow at first, her reluctance to being different still holding her back, but as she talked, she grew more excited, more animated. “I could hear the messages stored on the phones of everyone around me, could see the last videos that played on their contact lenses. I could see the blueprints of your ship in my head. She’s an Aldebaran cargo ship, Highwire model. Superluminal capability, more weapons than she came out of the factory with, and she has a capacitor that should be repaired soon. And I felt like, if I wanted to, I could touch any source of power on the ship and control everything remotely.”

“Ready to feel that way again?” I asked, holding out the transmitter as showtime approached.

And passed.

It was time, but the music didn’t play. The music didn’t play.

Why didn’t the music play?

 

Tell us about you

I’m a disabled and autistic geek from upstate New York, and I’m basically like if Dr. Temperance Brennan from Bones was a Disney Princess.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

All of the fun things I have to write.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?

I feel like I would get along with Neil deGrasse Tyson, because I too annoy people by pointing out scientific errors in movies.

What’s the story behind your latest book?

I was inspired by two of my favorite shows, Firefly and Heroes, to put people with superpowers in space. They work in a traveling carnival ship, and they might be the only ones who can save the universe from war.

Tell us your writing process

The first draft, I don’t edit at all. It’s full of plot holes and notes that say [research this]. Then I read through the whole thing, making notes about what needs to be changed. Repeat about ten times.

What tips can you give other authors who are looking to get the word out about their book?

Make friends with other writers. I think my friends promote each others’ books more than their own.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I realized my disabilities were going to make it hard for me to pursue a career in paleontology. So… around the age of ten or so?

Tell us about your main character:

Jack Jetstark. Firebreather, Han Solo wannabe, hopeless romantic.

What are you working on next?

A time travel novel about a girl who can’t remember when she’s from, teaming up with people who can’t get home to make sure time travel is invented.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?

I can say the alphabet backwards and am really good at memorizing long lists.

Who are your favorite authors?

Seanan McGuire, Sarah Gailey, and  Douglas Adams.

What do you like to do with your free time?

I cross stitch and crochet.

Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.

I have stories coming up in a few anthologies, but I’m not sure I can talk about them yet.

Where can people find you on the web?

My blog: https://jenniferleerossman.blogspot.com/

My Twitter: https://twitter.com/JenLRossman

Any final thoughts?

I hope people enjoy my book. I’ve tried to make it as inclusive and welcoming as possible for people of all races, genders, orientation (or lack thereof) and abilities.

 

VBT – Song of the Boricua

Song of the Boricua Banner

About the Author

AuthorPhoto_SongOfTheBoricua

Olivia Castillo is a New York native. After going to the prestigious Fiorello H. Laguardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, she went on to study graphic design at Otis Parson’s College in Los Angeles. Along with being an entrepreneur, she is the mother of three children, and grandmother of two. When not writing or spending time with her family, she travels the world and paints. Song of the Boricua is her first novel.

Website Address: www.oliviacastillo.org

Blog Address: https://www.oliviacastillo.org/blog

Twitter Address: https://twitter.com/oliviacauthor

Facebook Address: https://www.facebook.com/songoftheboricua/

Goodreads Address: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14629912

About the Book:

Title: SONG OF THE BORICUA
Author: Olivia Castillo
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 335
Genre: Fiction

BOOK BLURB:

Puerto Rico an island of contradiction, serves as an enchanting backdrop following three generations of women.

Elena: Resilient and ambitious, but trapped by duty to her children.

Maria: Passionate and headstrong, but married to a man she does not love. Josephina: Optimistic and romantic, but in love with an alcoholic.

Isabella: Clairvoyant and spiritual, but denies her heritage and roots.

Like the land these women are held hostage, unfulfilled and unable to find their happiness. Each generation like the land is cursed. Can they defy the powerful bond of the curse and free themselves to find love everlasting?

New Author, Olivia Castillo, like the jibaros of the past weaves a tale of sorrow and joy. Castillos’ fiction is timely, offering a glimpse into the islands rich history and offering insight into the story that has plagued women for all of time, the search for true love and acceptance of self.

BookCover_SongOfTheBoricua

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

Book Excerpt 

            Catala wanted her Elena to be educated and help fight for the revolution—for the independence of Puerto Rico. She firmly believed the tiny island should stand on its own two feet. She would read to her from many books, and as Elena grew older, she occasionally read from the Journal of the Liga Feminina, the Feminist League of Puerto Rico. The journals were published by the league to address issues faced by women and promote women’s right to vote. La Liga Feminina was a feminist organization founded by Ana Roque de Duprey in 1917, who was also one of the founders of the University of Puerto Rico. “A Puerto Rican woman, if educated as a man, is capable of intervening if it is God’s will, in the workings of her country’s government,” Catala would read aloud to Elena passionately.

            Elena also belonged to La Treinta, a group of the Creole elite that consisted of writers, professors, and intellectuals that had a base at the University of Puerto Rico. Catala, had joined La Treinta a few years back and had encouraged Elena to join: La Treinta wanted Puerto Rico to have its own identity and to keep its connection to Spain, the mother country.

            She had met some of the writers when they came to visit the University of Salamanca, Spain. Catala also read to Elena from the books handed to her by her own mother from Spain, favorites like El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha, by Miguel Cervantes. Elena was committed to arming her daughter with knowledge and power to better herself, and one day, her country.

Book Trailer:

https://youtu.be/RQIEu0r2apk

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