Monthly Archives: December 2018

Spotlight – Die Back

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About the Author

Richard Hacker

Richard Hacker is a longtime resident of Austin, Texas who now writes and lives in Seattle.

His writing has been recognized by the Writer’s League of Texas and the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. In addition to his writing, he provides editing services to other writers and is the editor of an online science fiction and fantasy journal, Del Sol Review. His three published humorous crime novels ride the sometimes thin line between fact and fiction in Texas. DIE BACK, his first fantasy thriller novel, has been published by Del Sol Press.

When not writing he’s singing in a vocal jazz ensemble, cooking with a sous vide and a blow torch, or exploring the Pacific Northwest with his wife and his springer spaniel, Jazz.

Website Link: http://www.richardhacker.com

Twitter Link: @Richard_Hacker

Facebook Link: http://www.facebook.com/RWHacker

About the Book:

Title: DIE BACK (Book One of the Alchimeia)
Author: Richard Hacker
Publisher: Del Sol Press
Pages: 332
Genre: Fantasy/Thriller

Die Back

BOOK BLURB:

In 272 AD Egypt, an enemy thwarts an attempt by League Inkers, Thomas Shaw and Nikki Babineaux, to obtain the Alchįmeia, a document holding alchemical secrets. Sensing his impending death, Thomas secures Nikki’s promise to keep his son, Addison, from the League, an organization defending the time continuum. After his father’s death, Addison inherits a mysterious pen, accidentally inking himself into the consciousness of a man who dies on a muddy WWI battlefield in France. Hoping to make sense of his experience, he confides in Nikki, his best friend and unknown to Addison, an Inker. Keeping her promise to Thomas, she discounts Addison’s experience.

Fixated on the pen, Addison inks into a B-17 bombardier in 1943. The pilot, whose consciousness has been taken over by someone calling himself Kairos, gloats over killing Addison’s father and boasts of plans to destroy the League. As Kairos attempts to wrest Addison’s consciousness, Nikki shocks Addison out of the Inking. She confesses her knowledge of the League. When Kairos threatens to steal aviation technology, she she sends Addison and his partner, Jules, to an Army test of the Wright Flyer in 1908. Believing they have succeeded, they return to find the continuum shifted and Nikki knowing nothing about the League.

Inking back to his father’s mission in Alexandria, Addison and Jules hope to get his help in returning the time continuum to its original state. Instead, Addison’s father gives him the Alchįmeia to hide in a crypt at the Great Lighthouse on Phalos. On their return to the present a Kairos agent murders Jules, her consciousness Inked into the past. Addison follows the clues, Inking into Pizarro in 16th century Peru. He finds Jules in the child bride of the Inca emperor. His plan to find the technology and save Jules without destroying the Inca civilization is thwarted by a fleet of Inca airships. Captured, he is taken to Machu Picchu. With Jules help, they find the stolen schematics, but are confronted by Kairos. He stabs Addison, forcing Addison’s consciousness back to the present and traps Jules in the 16th Century. Addison returns to another altered world. Nikki no longer exists, the world is at war with the Inca, and Manhattan lay in ruins.

Addison Inks his father, learning the origins of the League. Thomas urges Addison to uncover their enemy with the help of his colleague, Maya. Putting suspicion on another inker, Cameron, she insists he must be killing Inkers and acquiring Pens. In a final attempt to stop him, they entrap Cameron, only for Addison to discover Maya is Kairos, his enemy. She kills Cameron, also wounding Addison. He chases Maya, who intimates that she holds his mother’s, Rebecca’s, consciousness. Confused he delays, giving her time to scrawl a name with her pen before shooting her dead.

Inked away when Maya died, Kairos finds himself, not in his intended host, Hitler, but in a German infantry soldier POW in the Ardenne during the Battle of the Bulge, WWII. Hoping to repair the shift in the time continuum, Addison brings the League Pens together with the fate of the world and everyone he loves at stake. He awakens to a dissimilar world, but Jules and Nikki exist. And with life there is always hope.

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Book Excerpt:

After hanging up, he recalled Maya, a woman his father had dated a few years ago. I guess they stayed in touch. Flipping through the contents of the file, he found a piece of paper, folded in half with a date and a name written by hand, circled with a felt tip marker. This must be one of the MIA’s.

Died in the Battle of Cantigny on May 28, 1918

Emmett Earl Pike

All he had to do was fill in a form and this had the bonus of a paycheck at the end. I’ll never get another chance to help Dad complete anything. Addison rarely used pens, opting for his laptop and the tablet his father had given him as a Christmas present. However, it seemed a good time to give his inheritance a road test. After finding the form Maya mentioned in the file, he lifted the fountain pen from its resting place once again. Where do I put the ink? He fumbled with it a bit, then found he could unscrew the bottom, revealing a small chamber. Opening one of the bottles, the ink moved as if alive, a green vaporous fog hovering just inside the neck. A small glass eye dropper lay nestled beside it. He placed the dropper’s glass tube into the ink, squeezing and releasing the bladder to draw the green liquid. He squeezed the dropper again, releasing ink into the chamber. Screwing the bottom of the pen back on with his now green ink-stained fingers, he wiped the pen with a soft cloth he found by the ink bottle.

No wonder the ballpoint was a big hit.

As the mantel clock struck noon, he turned back to the page. Placing pen to paper he scratched the nib across the surface, copying the date from the slip of paper he had found in the file. Addison then scribed the name:

Emmett Earl Pike

He scanned the papers on the desk for the second name, when his body violently seized, as if he’d been given deadly neurotoxin. His stomach caught in his throat squelching any scream over a deafening jet-like roar. Ice cold air froze him to numbness, the world a vast kaleidoscope of color and pattern, his mind exploded into billions of particles, until he lurched from the chair face first into the muck.

God, the stink of rotting flesh. Throat dry, goddamn smoke. What is that foul stench? Thunderous detonations like the footfalls of mighty giants slam into the ground, shaking the earth. Rats scurry, but nowhere to hide. A whistle blows in the cool, moist dawn air. I’m…in a trench? Men, their drab uniforms stained with mud and blood, rock anxiously, morning light reflecting off mounted bayonets.

Where in God’s living hell am I?

Sarge shouts, “Over the top!”

I don’t want to move, but I’m not in control. Up and over the mud wall of a trench, the weight of a pack straining my back, the rifle heavy in my hands. A man to my left flies backward as if jerked by a cable, his cry muffled by explosions, his chest ripped open, organs spilling into the muck. I, we, plod forward through mud. A rhythmic takka-takka-takka, tat, tat, tat in the distance and more explosions vibrating through my feet.

Sarge yells again, “Stay together! Look sharp!”

A battlefield? But how? A slap on my shoulder. I look to my right to see a kid my age with blue eyes and a dirty face shadowed beneath a WW I doughboy helmet.

“Emmett, this is it! We’ll show these Huns!”

I hear words tumble from my mouth. “Yeah, Jake. Don’t get your arse shot off.”

A scowl crosses his face like I’ve never seen from my friend before. “Not to worry, Addison. You won’t be here for long.”

Addison? Who…?

Bayonet in hand, Jake slices a deep gash across his palm. He steps in toward me. “Time to say goodbye, Addison.” His bloodied hand races toward my face.

What the hell—

A fiery white blast, like a blow of Thor’s massive hammer, slams me to the ground. My insides hurt, my head throbs. I try to get back up, but, oh god, my legs. Gone. God. Jake? I see his blue-eyed face, the remaining half looks startled, his shoulder and arm and part of his torso ripped off. The mud smells of death. Falling back I see blue sky with large billowing white clouds floating like great ships at sea. So peaceful, so calm, so…

My body’s an empty shell. Matter flows into me—each corpuscle and vein, tendon and bone, organ and muscle. Am I dying? Or coming back to life? Like the wax of a spent candle, I am fallen to a puddle of life.

***

Addison gasped, acidic vomit rising in his throat. Flailing, he fell backward, his chair crashing to the floor. He clawed at the carpet, in a blind panic, slamming into a wall. A caustic taste of death and cordite lingered in his mouth. He reached for bloodied stumps, but found legs, the agonizing pain gone, but still a memory. He pulled himself up, his back to the wall. Clammy and cold, his green ink-stained hands shook, each shallow breath struggling to keep up with his racing heart.

The mantel clock in the hallway chimed. How much time have I lost? Addison looked at his watch, both hands at twelve. The clock continued, the twelfth strike reverberating through the room. Noon? Of the same day? He found his cane, leveraging himself into a standing position by his desk. The fountain pen rested innocently on the paper, a small green smudge at the end of Emmett Earl Pike. He tried to screw the cap back on, but his shaking hands made the task difficult. After several attempts he succeeded, weaving the fine threads of pen and cap together. He laid the pen back into the safety of its box and placed it in the bottom drawer of the desk, which he locked. Still light-headed and trembling, he limped out of the study, closing the door behind him.

In the kitchen, he tossed open the refrigerator door, pulling out a PowerJolt.

What the hell was that? Jesus. You’re losing it, Addison.

He struggled with the can. Losing his grip as he thrust the push tab down, the can spun away, PowerJolt splashing across the island counter. Reaching for the errant object, he hurled it across his kitchen, the can banging and clanging against cabinets and pots.

He didn’t smoke, but the urge for a cigarette, a Camel, consumed him. Hell, I’d take a Navy Cut off a Tommy in a heartbeat. He rifled through the back of a drawer at the end of the counter until he found the cigarettes and matches his father thought had been hidden. Marlboros. No Camels? This would have to do. Fumbling with the box, he slipped one between his lips, lit it, inhaling, only to choke and cough as the smoke burned his throat.

It felt so goddamn real, like I was actually there. The artillery fire, the stench of the place, and Jake. I knew Jake. We trained together, drank together.

He took another tentative drag, coughing up another puff of smoke. In his dreams he walked and ran. But this experience didn’t feel like a dream. He had run across a damn battlefield.

And those two girls we met before we shipped out. I married mine. Esther. Esther Lawrence. We made love my last night of leave. God, I remember her. The soft skin, the curve of her hips.

Addison floated in the memory of Esther, a woman he couldn’t know, a woman old enough to be his great-great grandmother. He tamped out the cigarette on the granite counter, and grabbed a loaf of bread and some peanut butter. Something normal. Something he did every day. Something unlike whatever just happened.

There’s got to be an explanation. If I’m having a hallucination, it’s one realistic multi-dimensional hallucination. I must be stressing out. PTSD, that’s what the shrink said after I killed Beth. Maybe with Dad dying and all, it’s coming back.

He lit another cigarette, this time taking a long drag, the smoke rising, twisting and turning away. A moment of calm flowed through him. He knew the feeling from playing baseball and soccer prior to the accident. Standing on a field, the game turning into a righteous shit storm, all hell breaking loose, his body strong, his mind sharp, his determination hardened like forged steel. In that moment of calm, his father’s words emerged.

“You, my son, are an Inker by calling.”

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VBT – Oasis

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Bharat Krishnan will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Once, there was a truce. Desperaux controlled the west with magic, and Desire claimed the east with steel and science.

But now magic has disappeared, and the world has changed.

The kingdom of Desire will stop at nothing to maintain the new world order. On Juno’s wedding day, their Mengery soldiers came marching through the Nine desert to rip his world apart. Now he journeys east with his adopted brother, Trey, in search of revenge after the murder of his family. Along the way, the two face bandits and the magical creatures of the Nine. When they finally reach Desire, Juno and Trey will face something even deadlier – their own fears and ambitions.

This is a tale of brotherhood, a revenge story that will remind you that everything has a cost – a cost that will be paid to Desire and to the inner demons that govern us all.

Read an Excerpt:

Trey and Juno had found a shack to rest for a few hours, but when they woke Juno realized what a grave mistake they’d made. The shack was a cursed place, he said. Trey scoffed, but Juno had been learning from a monk in Nox and said he could smell it in the air – like sour milk. Fear gripped his shoulders, turning him into a statue. Unable to act. Paralyzed. Like he had been on his wedding day, Trey thought. Perhaps Drea would still be alive if he had done something. The frustration drew bile in Trey’s throat.

Though Trey didn’t believe in curses, he knew something was off about the town. Desperate for sleep, he hadn’t noticed it when he snuck into the shack. Now, though, he saw the abandoned saloon with its worm-eaten wood. They were all alone. Stepping outside the shack, the two watched as the sun rose and drew close to them. Dzoavits stood several yards from the door of the shack. The demon’s muscular body reflected sunlight, and when he brought his hands above his head, his triceps bulged to the size of watermelons. When the sun drew close enough to Dzoavits’s hands that he could seize it, the demon swallowed it whole. With that, the Nine was plunged into darkness and a chill running through Juno’s back compelled him to retreat to the shack and abandon Trey. From the uncovered roof of the shack, Juno watched Rangda approach Trey and extend a tongue that was over a foot long. Trey tried drawing his laser pistol out to shoot it off, but Andhaka jumped down from the shack and grabbed him, holding him still.

About the Author:

Bharat Krishnan is a philanthropic consultant in Columbus, Ohio. After ten years in Democratic politics, he wrote a memoir about his life on the road as a political campaign manager and just released a fantasy novel called Oasis. He refers to himself as a professional storyteller and amateur cook.

https://www.amazon.com/Bharat-Krishnan/e/B01KSCZ1ZS

https://twitter.com/bharatkrishnan9

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15640359.Bharat_Krishnan

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07JFG7BZ5/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

Bharat Krishnan will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

VBT – THE COMPANY OF DEMONS

TourBanner_TheCompanyOfDemons

THE COMPANY OF DEMONS
by Michael Jordan

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GENRE: Thriller

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BLURB:

The brutal murder of a friend leaves lawyer John Coleman stunned and sends shock waves through the city of Cleveland. The technique of the killing recalls memories of the Torso Murderer, who dismembered at least twelve people decades ago and vanished–eluding even the legendary Eliot Ness. Jennifer, the victim’s beautiful daughter, hires John to handle her father’s estate, and romantic feelings for her soon complicate his already troubled marriage. When John finds himself entangled with a cold-blooded biker gang, an ex-cop with a fuzzy past, and the drug-addicted son of the dead man, he struggles to make sense of it all. But he cannot escape a growing sense of dread.

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Demons book cover JPG

Excerpt

There was never any trouble at the Tam O’Shanter, even on a rocking weekend night, even when one of the Tribe smacked a homer for a go-ahead run. Tim and Karen ran a tight joint, the perfect hideaway to lounge beneath faded posters of ‘70s rock bands and sip a cold one. So when Karen screamed from the seedy alley behind the bar, our little oasis was shattered. Tim bolted for the back door.

I rushed after him and squinted in the bright sunlight. Tim was cradling his wife in his arms. She stared at me vacantly, then broke away and retched. Huddled over the rough asphalt, in her thin T-shirt and faded jeans, Karen reminded me of a fragile little girl. The wastebasket she’d intended to empty lay near her, paper napkins and discared receipts fluttering in the humid breeze. Tim waved a hand toward a Dumpster, its lid flung open, wedged tight against the crumbling brick wall. “Don’t look.”

But I did.
The sight of a naked body, sprawled across plastic, garbage bags, was impossible to miss. Or part of a body, really, because the head was gone. So was everything below the waist. The hairy torso had been split down the middle, and I didn’t need to be a pathologist to know that someone had scooped out the guts and the lungs and the heart. Flies droned incessantly and, in the summer heat, the stench of rancid meat wafted to me. I backed away.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links

Author Photo_The Company of Demons

Michael Jordan obtained his undergraduate degree from Ohio Wesleyan University, with highest honors, and his law degree from George Washington University, where he was a member of the Law Review. A trial lawyer and arbitrator for over three decades, he has been recognized as an Ohio Super Lawyer and named to Best Lawyers in America. A member of the International Association of Crime Writers, The Company of Demons is his first novel.

An avid traveler, Michael has climbed Mt. Fuji, swam in The Devil’s Pool on the cusp of Victoria Falls, trekked a glacier in Patagonia, and visited numerous other countries. Yes—an international thriller lies in the future! He has also acted in several theatrical productions and his experience on stage is helpful in creating characters for his novels. He is currently working on his next book, a thriller set during the closing stages of WWII.
A native of Saginaw, Michigan, Michael and his wife, Linda Gross Brown, a soft pastel artist, divide their time between homes in Rocky River, Ohio, and Longboat Key, Florida. They enjoy traveling, pleasure boating, and very cold martinis.

Website: http://michaeljordanbooks.com/
Twitter: @mjordanauthor (https://twitter.com/mjordanauthor)
Facebook: michaeljordanbooks (https://www.facebook.com/michaeljordanbooks)

Buy links:

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1626344515/ref=cm_sw_su_dp
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-company-of-demons-michael-jordan/1126494375?ean=9781626344518
IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781626344518
Books-A-Million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Company-Demons/Michael-Jordan/9781626344518?id=7108487229546
800 CEOREAD: https://800ceoread.com/products/company-of-demons-michael-jordan-english?selected=807542

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RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY

Michael Jordan will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner.

Enter to win a $50 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thanks for being here today Michael. Tell us about you.
I have been fortunate to travel extensively and have met interesting people all over the world. My wide range of interests has given me the opportunity to enjoy a variety of experiences, and I’m always ready for another adventure!

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
Leonardo Da Vinci, because I am amazed by the depth and range of the man’s talents.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
Years ago, the notorious Torso Murderer slaughtered at least twelve victims, eluded legendary lawman Eliot Ness, and vanished without a trace. What if the killer returned today for one final act of vengeance?

What is your writing process?
I like to be alone in a quiet space, preferably one with a view of something pleasant. When I hit a roadblock in the writing, contemplating the view helps me focus and figure out a fresh approach.

Tell us about your main character.
John Coleman is a troubled, conflicted man who often fails to take responsibility for his actions. Can he set aside those weaknesses and do what must be done to save those he loves?

If your book was to be turned into a movie, who would play the lead role and why.
I picture Bruce Willis as he could capture the underdog, cynical, and difficult John Coleman.

What are you working on next?
A thriller set in the closing days of WWII.

What advice do you have for other writers who want to get the word out about their book?
To make certain that the book is absolutely top quality. If the book attracts readers, momentum can be built through many platforms—signings, websites, Facebook, etc. If the book is not a quality read, it may attract word, but not the type that you want.

What is your favorite book on your shelf right now?
All the Light We Cannot See

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
I enjoy acting and have appeared in several amateur theatrical productions.

You are given the choice of one super power. What super power would you have and why?
Flight, because how utterly cool would that be?

List 5 things on your bucket list:

  • Visit all 50 states (46 to date)
  • Travel throughout China
  • Learn to speak at least intermediate level Spanish
  • Visit Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
  • Publish three novels

 

Spotlight – Every Moment and Not a Second More

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Book Blurb
:

In 2012, scientists used the world’s largest machine to slam matter together and discover ‘The God Particle’. At the same time the universe sends Emily, a dysfunctional middle-aged woman, crashing into three strangers.

She arrives at her parents’ apartment to help out after her mother’s death, but struggles to escape the shadow of her famous father.

Emily meets an airplane machinist turned drag queen in a battle over dripping bathtub. A scientist on the brink of discovery and destruction. And a young man running from his past who believes he has no future.

Science and love collide as Emily uncovers the secret that binds them all together.

Title: Every Moment and Not a Second More
Author: Natalie Hanson
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Lit, humor

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FBMTMGV

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40764873-every-moment-and-not-a-second-more?ac=1&from_search=true

Author’s Website: https://nataliehardy9.wixsite.com/author

Spotlight – Radio Underground

Radio Underground banner

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:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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.

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

VBT – EYES BEHIND BELLIGERENCE

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. K.P. Kollenborn will be awarding a physical copy of Eyes Behind Belligerence to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Told in five parts, this novel unravels the challenges between two unlikely Nisei friends, Jim and Russell, into adulthood during the Second World War. As restrictions are imposed, (even in the safe, rural community of Bainbridge Island,) as harassments escalate, (including the F.B.I. invading their homes and deporting their fathers to Montana for espionage trials,) the fated day arrives: evacuation of all Japanese civilians. Rounded up like cattle, tagged, they are hauled to the fringes of Death Valley: Manzanar. Together they must survive racism, gang violence, and the harsh elements of the environment. Together they must prove their loyalty, especially after a tragic riot on the eve of Pearl Harbor’s anniversary. While Russell enlists in a segregated army, becoming part of one the most decorated units in U.S. history, Jim is sent to a different camp for the “No-No” boys: those who are marked disloyal. Removed from their families, they are forced to reevaluate their identities and discover, most importantly, what it means to forgive.

BookCover_EyesBehindBelligerence
Read an Excerpt:

Russell gawked at the barrack, appalled. No walls. No furniture. No kitchen. No radio. What kind of place was this? It looked like some sort of solitary confinement. He walked over to one of the cots and pressed down. It felt firm and rigid. No pillows. No mattresses. Everyone frowned; except the twins who were more interested in the stoves‘ bellies by swinging the doors. Gertrude slapped both their hands, and complained about their unruly behavior.

Meito removed his hat, brooding over their bad luck. He sold his twenty acre farm, not knowing if he could afford the taxes without income, in exchange for this? He left his house, his possessions, and his pride for an empty space in the middle of nowhere? If he had known it was going to be this disgusting he would had loaded his shot gun and fought like hell! But no. He packed his bags instead, feeling obligated to protect his family. He knew his actions would embarrass them by provoking the authorities, and possibly make things worse. A good citizen never defied leadership; even if the men in charge were terribly wrong.

Gertrude shrieked. She began to gag, her face turning red, pointing to George. In between his fingers George held the tail end of a scorpion. Meito flew to his son, dropping his hat. He instantly grabbed the scorpion and catapulted it out the door. Then he sprinted to the door to slam it shut.

“That was a big no-no!” he barked, his voice trembling. “That was a very dangerous creature! When you boys see it again, run away! Do you boys understand?”

Horrified, both nodded their heads, not fully comprehending why their father hollered at them. George started to sniffle. Gertrude went to him, draping her arms around her confused son. She rocked him back and forth, telling him that everything was alright, and that Daddy didn‘t mean to yell at him. That he was only protecting them.

“Let‘s see if we can get some sleep,” Meito wearily sighed. Turning to his mother, he spoke in Japanese, “Mama, do not worry. The sun will rise higher tomorrow.”

About the Author:

Currently I have three books published, two historical fiction and one children’s book. Although I’ve been writing since childhood, I have a BA in History. I love studying history as much as wanting to evoke stories. I like to believe that after decades worth of introspection we have learned, hopefully more wisely if not conscientiously, what happened yesterday with a critical eye. Aside from a history degree, I also have a graphics art degree. My husband and I once owned a music store, a pizza delivery business, and several internet businesses. I also have dabbled with real estate and am grateful I got the heck out right before the crash! Sadly, history tends to repeat itself in important ways. Currently my family continues to live outside of Kansas City and will always have roots tied to Kansas. I am in the process of working on two more books, another historical fiction and one non-fiction.

https://www.kpkollenborn.com

https://www.facebook.com/kollenborn

https://twitter.com/KPKollenborn

http://kpkollenborn.blogspot.com

https://www.amazon.com/Eyes-Behind-Belligerence-K-P-Kollenborn-ebook/dp/B0067QWWTS

K.P. Kollenborn will be awarding a physical copy of Eyes Behind Belligerence to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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