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VBT – THE EXILED OTHERKIN

TourBanner_TheExiledOtherkin

The Exiled Otherkin

by D. Lieber

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GENRE: Fantasy Romance

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BLURB

Exiled from Faerie when her father dies, half-Fae Ember is surprised by how much the human realm has changed since she was there last. She takes a dangerous job on a merchant airship, hoping a life on the move will keep her well-hidden. Sure, she misses her brother, but years of apathy have numbed her emotions.

When the optimistic and naïve Reilley follows her, it’s annoying to say the least. But when she starts feeling responsible for him, long-stifled emotions crack the ice around her heart.

Faeries, pirates, and traveling players meet in this steampunk fantasy adventure as Ember tries to cope with feelings long forgotten and a past that pursues her.

BookCover_TheExiledOtherkin

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EXCERPT

Men and women dashed around the room, gleaming with sweat and smudged with black smears. The fires burned low. A large furnace at the center of the room had a thick chimney leading from it into the ceiling. Some people were moving piles of what looked like coal, while others tended a huge machine. It consisted of a number of large metal coils attached to gears. Some of the coils were wound tight while others were loose. The gears attached to the coils were meshed with gears that had magnets on them. Ropes, made of a material I couldn’t identify, were threaded through the center of the magnet gears.

We passed through engineering and climbed to the main deck. The wooden deck sprawled before us. The chimney from engineering came up through the floor and reached toward the cloth bubble above us.

Shy pointed to a cabin on the left. “That’s where you’ll bunk with the rest of the deckhands, Ember. I still have inventory to do. I trust you both can get settled?” He disappeared below deck.

I walked toward the cabin, and Reilley followed.

“I wish we were bunking together, Ember,” he said, slumping his shoulders. I didn’t respond and entered the cabin, shutting the door in his face.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links

AuthorPHoto_TheExiledOtherkin

D. writes stories she wants to read. Her love of the worlds of fiction led her to earn a Bachelor’s in English from Wright State University.

When she isn’t reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, crafting, watching anime, Korean television, Bollywood, or old movies. She may also be getting her geek on while planning her next steampunk cosplay with friends.

She lives in Wisconsin with her husband (John), retired guide dog (Samwise), and cat (Yin).

Links

Website: www.dlieber.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/dlieberwriting

Google+: www.google.com/+DLieber

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15163863.D_Lieber

Book Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zM2fewELAj0

Publisher: http://www.blackrosewriting.com/sci-fifantasy/theexiledotherkin

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0779C96ZZ/

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-exiled-otherkin-d-lieber/1127108556

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RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY

D. Lieber will be awarding a fancy homemade bookmark (US ONLY) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter to win a fancy homemade bookmark – a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Q&A With… 

Tell us about you as a person. 

I’m a bit eclectic. You can find me equally at home at a museum of natural history as walking through the woods or at a baseball game. I love learning about different cultures, traveling, learning foreign languages, watching foreign television, or listening to foreign music. I’m the type to get excited about little things, and my goal is to make real connections with people in this life.

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

I’m hesitant to choose a famous person I admire. I mean, what is he or she turns out to be a jerk? I’d rather experience a specific time period or place. I’d like to spend a day on Montmartre during the Belle Époque or maybe go to a historical world’s fair.

What’s the story behind your latest book?

After getting into steampunk, I really wanted to write a steampunk story. I don’t recall why I decided to put faeries in it, though I remember thinking very hard and the idea hitting me like a smack on the head. Once I had the two main characters clearly in my mind, it flowed fairly easily with not too many bumps in the process.

What is your writing process? 

It depends on the story I’m writing. I like to write by the seat of my pants with only a vague idea of where the story is heading, but that only works with certain stories. For instance, that was fine for The Exiled Otherkin, but I had to plot everything ahead of time for my detective story. I prefer to be alone in my house with absolute silence and no interruptions when writing, though again there are exceptions. If I need to evoke a certain mood in a scene, I may listen to instrumental music of different genres.

Tell us about your main character.

My protagonist, Ember, is a half-Fae who is exiled from Faerie when her father dies. When readers first meet her, she is an apathetic sort. She has actively tried to cut off her emotions for many years in order to protect herself and those around her. The only person she’s really close to is her younger brother, Pika. She’s not opposed to being close to men physically, though emotionally is out of the question. She’s a strong person, able to take care of herself in most situations. It will take a soft, nonthreatening presence to catch her off guard.

If your book was to be turned into a movie, who would play the lead role and why.

I don’t believe in choosing an actress before auditions. The best person for the role may be someone unknown.

What are you working on next?

The next story readers are likely to see is called Intended Bondmates:

Vampires may feed on humans, but nothing is as irresistible to them as fae blood.

Runa has long given up on being content with her life. Her only goal is to protect Mikhail until he awakens and gains his full magic. For the last thirteen years, ever since tragedy struck when they were children, she has protected him as was expected of his werewolf guardian. Though she has started looking for a mate, she can’t imagine what will happen once she’s free of Mikhail. But when he requests to be unbound from her before his awakening, she’s given the chance to return to her intended bondmate.

She expects a warm welcome from Konner, not foreseeing his bitterness at having been abandoned. Konner isn’t the only one who is bitter. His brother’s guardian, Rowan, has had to protect both faelings while she was with Mikhail.

It’s up to Runa to find a way to soothe these two demanding males if she hopes to make up for her past betrayal.

What advice do you have for other writers who want to get the word out about their book?

Stay active. Go to conventions, interact on social media, and support other authors.

What is your favorite book on your shelf right now?

My favorite book is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. I’ve never read anyone who could weave so many plot yarns together in such a colorful tapestry as Dumas.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?

Talents? Probably not. There are a lot of things I work to be good at. I love to sing and knit.

You are given the choice of one super power. What super power would you have and why?

I’d want to be able have a way to make people understand each other’s intentions, almost like a universal language. I think the world would be a lot more peaceful if people tried harder to understand each other.

List 5 things on your bucket list:

In no particular order:

  1. Climb Machu Picchu on a llama
  2. Mount the Glastonbury Tor
  3. Meditate under a tree at a Himalayan Buddhist monastery
  4. Bathe in a hot spring in Japan
  5. Get access to the Vatican Archives

Where can readers find you on the web?

They could go to my website, www.dlieber.com, and subscribe to my newsletter. They can also connect with me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/dlieberwriting or Google+, www.google.com/+DLieber. And I always love to hear what they think on Goodreads, https://www.goodreads.com/dlieberwriting.

Any final thoughts?

Purchase links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Exiled-Otherkin-D-Lieber/dp/1612969534

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-exiled-otherkin-d-lieber/1127108556?ean=9781612969534

Book Tour – Vows To The Fallen by Larry Laswell

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About The Book

Vows To The Fallen

Title: Vows to the Fallen
Author: Larry Laswell
Publisher: Marshell Publishing
Publication Date: August 14, 2015
Format: Paperback – 277 pages / eBook  / PDF
ISBN: 978-0986385322
Genre: Historical Fiction / Military / Sea Story

Buy The Book:
Publication Date: August 14, 2015
Pre-Order The Book: July 1, 2015
Amazon

Book Description

Vows to the Fallen
An Officer’s Journey Through Guilt and Grief
Another techno-thriller from the author of The Marathon Watch
 

August 9, 1942, 01:42 hours
USS Green on patrol off Red Beach, Guadalcanal
Bridge Officer: Lieutenant Patrick O’Toole

Lieutenant O’Toole’s goal is simple: someday he wants to become an admiral. But in a few moments, his life will change . . . forever. Yesterday, the marines stormed the beaches of Guadalcanal. Today, the Japanese Navy will strike back. The sudden and horrific carnage scars O’Toole for life and throws him into the abyss of survivor’s guilt and posttraumatic stress.

The Pacific War does not wait for O’Toole to heal. Duty calls, each new assignment brings more responsibility, and the roll call of the fallen grows. At the Battle of Mujatto Gulf, O’Toole faces a superior battle-hardened Japanese fleet and discovers the strength within him to climb from the abyss and find his true life’s mission. To the fallen, he vows never to abandon that mission no matter how high the cost.

Book Excerpt

Chapter 1
August 8, 1942, 2346 Hours
USS Green; 45 nautical miles northwest of Red Beach, Guadalcanal

Lieutenant Patrick O’Toole considered himself a career naval officer, and someday he hoped to be promoted to admiral. At Annapolis, his teachers had taught him the horrors of war, but he had never experienced combat. That was about to change and it would change him forever.

The steel ladder rattled as he clambered to the wheelhouse deck to assume the midwatch. On the wheelhouse deck, the port fifty-caliber gunner slouched with his back to the sea and chatted with the lookout on the flying bridge one level above. The helmsman faced the starboard bridge wing and had but one hand on the wheel. Dim red lights above the chart table and the polished brass compass binnacle added little illumination to the wheelhouse, and the men, gray smudges in the dark, seemed unconcerned. O’Toole’s concern bordered on anger, but he remained silent.

Find out what’s going on then fix it.

A man on the flying bridge lit a cigarette. This was way out of bounds. “Snuff your butt. The enemy can see that for miles,” O’Toole said, hoping his voice had a bark to it.

O’Toole had seen this before. Captain Levitte ran a relaxed ship, but this wasn’t peacetime. They were at war in enemy waters. O’Toole read the message dispatches, the captain’s night orders, and the chart. None of it good news, especially the report of a Japanese battlegroup headed south.

He located Lieutenant Karl, the officer of the deck on the port bridge wing. Karl’s life jacket vest was open, revealing a sweat-soaked khaki shirt, and sweat beaded on his brow.

Karl slouched on the bridge railing as O’Toole approached “What’s your status?” O’Toole asked.

Karl rubbed his day-old stubble. “At Condition III. Fire in all four boilers. Superheat lit, and the plant is cross-connected. Starboard steering motor, port steering engine” Karl droned as he went through the standard litany of the watch change. “On course zero-seven-zero at ten knots. Straight line patrol between points Able and Baker on the chart as per the captain. You have about ten minutes before you turn around and head back to point Baker. Received a report of Japanese ships headed south five hours ago. Told the captain, and he said Intel couldn’t tell the difference between a cruiser and a sampan. Besides, nothing will happen before dawn. Aircraft overhead, told the captain, he says they’re from our carriers. That, and the captain said to cut the crew some slack; they’re tired. I just ordered the cooks to make a fresh batch of coffee; you’re gonna need it. That’s about it.”

“Why aren’t we zigzagging?”

“Captain’s orders. Straight line patrol between points Able and Baker is what he wanted.”

“With an enemy force headed south we should be at Condition II at least.”

“I don’t know about that, but the captain wants to give the crew some rest.”

“Do we have star shells loaded or at the ready?”

“No.”

“Which gun mounts are manned?”

“Mounts 51 and 55.”

“Only two?”

“Yes, and before you ask, one-third of the anti-aircraft batteries are manned, and I told those gun crews they could sleep at their stations.”

“Are the crews in Mounts 51 and 55 asleep?”

“Probably.”

Out of professional courtesy, O’Toole didn’t challenge Karl, even though he would have been justified in refusing to relieve Karl of the watch until Karl corrected the battle readiness of the ship.

O’Toole saluted Lieutenant Karl and said, “I relieve you, sir.”

Karl nodded. “This is Mister Karl, Mister O’Toole has the deck and the conn,” Karl said to the bridge crew.

“This is Mister O’Toole, I have the deck and the conn,” O’Toole replied.

Karl handed O’Toole his life jacket, helmet, and gun belt and walked to the small chart table in the forward port section of the wheelhouse to complete his log entries. O’Toole brushed back his flaming red hair and put on the helmet, life jacket, and gun making sure all straps were cinched tight.

“Boats, over here,” O’Toole said to the boatswain mate of the watch as he headed to the starboard bridge wing. It was a lazy night: clear sky, high overhead clouds, calm sea, a slight breeze, and the ship plodding forward at ten knots. A night like this could dull the senses of the best of men. He couldn’t let that happen.

“Boats, square your watch away. We are in enemy waters, and there are reports of a column of Jap cruisers headed our way. I want everyone on their toes.”

“Aye, aye, sir.”

“Messenger, over here,” O’Toole said, beckoning the watch messenger.

“Go below and wake up the chiefs and tell them there are enemy ships in the area. I want them to make sure their watches are alert and ready. Tell the gunnery chief I want him on the bridge.”

“Yes, sir,” the messenger said and headed for the ladder.

A few minutes later, the gunnery chief appeared barefooted and in a white T-shirt. “Yes, sir, you wanted to see me?”

“Jap ships are headed our way. Check your gun crews; I want them alert with their eyes to the sea. Bring six star shells to the ready with one round in the mount. If we come under fire, I want Mount 51 to fire three star shells in a 180-degree spread without orders from the bridge.”

“What’s up, sir?”

“Not sure, chief, except we are in dangerous waters and the crew is asleep.”

“Will do, sir. Should I stay with the gun crews?”

“Wouldn’t be a bad idea, chief. Do what you think is best, but be aware things might get worse at dawn.”

“Yes, sir.” The chief trotted to the ladder and disappeared.

Lieutenant Karl finished his log entries and left the bridge. O’Toole stood next to the quartermaster at the chart table in the forward port section of the wheelhouse. He retrieved the sighting report. Five Japanese cruisers and four destroyers headed south at thirty knots. O’Toole plotted the ten-hour-old sighting location on the chart and walked the dividers across the chart to estimate the current location of Japanese forces. They would have passed the Green an hour ago and would now be on top of the northern defense line around Red Beach.

The receding drone of an aircraft off the port bow caught his ear. They were too far from the Japanese airbase at Rabaul for them to have planes this far south at night. It didn’t make sense: he didn’t think the carrier aircraft could operate at night, but spotter planes from a cruiser could.

Nothing had happened. Maybe the Japanese column had slowed or diverted. Naval doctrine taught officers to avoid night attacks since it complicated the battle, and everyone knew you couldn’t shoot at an enemy hiding in the darkness. Still, everything added up to a night counterattack against the Guadalcanal invasion force.

“Get the captain up here on the double. I’ll be on the flying bridge,” O’Toole said the watch messenger.

He felt better on the flying bridge where he had an unobstructed view of the sea and sky. He swept the horizon with his binoculars: nothing but a black night.

The crew was exhausted from the invasion of Guadalcanal the prior morning. The shirtless bodies of a hundred sleeping men escaping the oppressive heat and humidity of their berthing spaces lay on the dark main deck. Not regular navy, O’Toole thought, but he couldn’t object because the crew needed the sleep.

“What’s up, Pat?” Captain Levitte asked as soon as his head popped above the flying bridge deck level.

“I think we have trouble, Captain. The Japanese column sighted in the intelligence report should be on top of the northern defense line right about now. We should be at general quarters or at least Condition II and be zigzagging. There could be subs in the area.”

Levitte rubbed the back of his neck, then put his hands in his pockets, and walked in a tight circle with his eyes on the deck. “Look, the Japs aren’t that smart, and you should know not even the Japs are dumb enough to attack at night. Nothing will happen until the sun comes up. In the meantime, cut the crew some slack; they’re tired and need their sleep.”

“I’m sorry, Captain, but that doesn’t make sense. The sighting said the Japs were at thirty knots. They wouldn’t do that and then slow down to wait for the sun to come up.”

“No matter what happens we’ll kick their ass,” Levitte began. “We kicked their ass in the Coral Sea and Midway. Now we’re kicking their ass off Guadalcanal. The marines ran the Jap garrison into the jungle before lunch. They can’t stand up to us no matter what, so there’s no reason to get worked up about it.”

“To be safe, let me take the ship to Condition II and zigzag. It won’t hurt anything.”

“No, lieutenant. My night orders said to cut the crew some slack, and there is no need to waste fuel zigzagging. You read my night orders, didn’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. Follow them, and let me get some sleep.”

The shirtless lookout stiffened. “Sir, light flashes, port beam.”

Both men turned. Staccato bursts of light above the southern horizon illuminated the sky.

Another voice called out, “Flares off the port beam.”

The night erupted. White-golden flashes close to port blinded O’Toole. Captain Levitte’s chest exploded into a mist of blood. Shells exploded against the mast, and men dove to the deck.

On his stomach, O’Toole fought his life jacket as he rolled to the starboard edge of the deck. Crawling under the railing, he let himself over the side. He was about to let himself drop the last three feet when a jolt catapulted him to the deck below. His head hit the deck, and despite his cinched helmet, the blow stunned him to the precipice of unconsciousness. O’Toole fought to bring himself back to the present as he wobbled to a crouched position.

Concussions from explosions aft the wheelhouse punched at his chest and abdomen. He had to go through the wheelhouse to the port side to see the enemy ship. In the wheelhouse, only the quartermaster was up, crouching in the corner by the chart table. Sparks and flashes of incoming fire covered the aft bulkhead and enveloped the wheelhouse in smoke, shrapnel, and debris. Broken, screaming bodies littered the deck.

He fought his way through the wheelhouse across shattered glass that slid like ice across the blood-drenched deck. The Green’s guns hadn’t returned fire.

He turned to find the phone talker. A flash memory of the phone talker’s body falling next to the captain made him stop. The phone talker was dead along with most of the bridge crew. He was alone; he had no bridge crew, and there was no one left to command. To anyone who could hear, he yelled, “Tell the gun crews to return fire.”

On the port bridge wing, he peered over the railing. A thousand yards away, two searchlights blinded him, and a torrent of tracer fire arched toward the Green. Muzzle flashes from the enemy ship’s heavy guns ripped at the darkness, and spasmodic explosions on the Green followed each flash.

On his stomach looking aft, he tried to understand the hell erupting around him. Black smoke spewed from golden fires, and smoke boiled across the fantail near the depth charge racks. Antiaircraft rounds raked the Green’s main deck, tearing men apart; the lucky ones leapt overboard.

In the forward boiler room, the port bulkhead ruptured three feet below the waterline in a flash of light, wrenching the keel. Shrapnel pierced the two Babcock & Wilcox boilers, which exploded upward, shredding the main deck overhead. A half-second later, a second explosion severed the keel, and a third tore the shattered hull of the Green in two.

Sheets of water vaulted into the air, and the explosions pushed the Green hard to starboard and lifted it upward in a death spasm.

Torpedoes. The word lingered in O’Toole’s mind until he understood, then it vanished. He pulled himself to his feet. Ruptured boilers roared beneath clouds of steam.

The Green hinged aft the deckhouse. The stern rose and began its slide beneath the surface. When the cool seawater reached the aft boilers they blew a ten-foot mound of white water to the surface. The mound collapsed into a steam haze low above the water. As the first wisps of steam dissipated, they dragged O’Toole from his stupor.

The gunfire stopped. The searchlights were gone. Screams, moans, and the sound of rushing water welled up to fill the silence. He strained his eyes for an enemy invisible in the night. They had vanished. The battle was over.

There was no time for thinking or words; the conclusions flashed through his mind fully formed.

When the armed depth charges on the sinking fantail detonated, anyone in the water would suffer intestinal hemorrhaging and a slow, excruciating death.

To the men below he yelled, “Stay with the ship! Don’t go in the water; depth charges! Get everyone in the water back aboard!”

O’Toole took inventory. The forward part of the ship, though sinking, seemed stable. The wheelhouse was a confusing mass of shadows cut against golden fires, and the smell of blood and noxious nitrate gasses filled his head.

He entered the wheelhouse and stumbled. His knee landed on something soft. He looked down at the chest of a headless body. O’Toole’s stomach wrenched.

A figure appeared. “Sir, we took three torpedoes. No water pressure to fight the fires, no power, and we are flooding forward.”

One by one the sinking depth charges designed to sink submarines began to detonate, sending tremors from each concussive blow through the ship. When the explosions stopped, O’Toole took a deep breath, and the acid-laced air burned his lungs. “Get below. Pass the word to abandon ship.”

O’Toole turned his attention to the main deck, and released the one remaining life raft stored just below the bridge railing. Not waiting for orders, shirtless survivors leapt overboard. It seemed to take hours, but soon the decks were empty and the survivors were off the ship. With nothing left to do, he wondered if radio managed to send a message. He doubted it. He turned to the quartermaster and said, “Let’s go.”

The quartermaster collected the ship’s logs and joined O’Toole.

As he prepared to jump the last ten feet into the ocean, the quartermaster yelled, “Stop! Your helmet, sir.”

O’Toole had forgotten he was wearing it. Going overboard with a cinched helmet would break your neck. He tore it off, and they jumped together.

There was no past and no future, only the immediate need to survive. O’Toole swam from the sinking bow section, demanding his muscles move faster before her sinking hulk sucked him under. His muscles grew tired from the frenzied effort until a voice yelled, “She’s going down.”

He stopped and turned to what remained of the Green. Out of breath, he bobbed in the one-foot swells and coughed to clear the salt water from his lungs. The Green’s prow swung skyward while the hulk of the remaining bow section backed into the depths. The sea extinguished the fires as she slid under.

She died a silent death. After the tip of the bow disappeared, his eyes lost focus and he stared at the empty sea for several seconds, unable to grasp the meaning of this moment.

He linked up with a small group of survivors, and they linked up with other groups. They located two floater nets, lashed them together, and placed the injured in them. They found several of the watertight powder canisters used to protect the five-inch brass powder casings while in the magazines. The crew used empty canisters to stow stable dry food and water with the floater nets. He ordered several men to attract scattered survivors by yelling into the night.

At first, groups of four would swim toward them. Now an occasional lone survivor would show up. O’Toole gathered the surviving officers and chief petty officers. The group of seven rolled with the lazy sea, clutching the floater net to stay together. Three wore life jackets; the other four relied on the floater net.

“Someone said there is another group with a floater net south of us.” Pointing to Ensigns Carter and Fitch, O’Toole said, “Swim to the south floater net, if there is one, take a count, and tell them to swim their way to us and lash-in. While you’re at it, round up volunteers to scavenge for debris we can use. The men should also collect all the powder canisters and bring them here.”

Turning to Chief Brandon, he said, “Make sure the injured are wearing life jackets, and get those with serious wounds in the floater nets.” Brandon swam off.

To Ensigns Parker and Adbury, he said, “You two make the rounds and get a head count of the healthy, injured, and critically wounded. After you report back, take charge of the injured. Collect the morphine ampules from the crew.” O’Toole reached into his trouser pocket and handed over two morphine ampules. “Bring the wounded together, especially those with bleeding wounds. Get them in the floater nets and get the bleeding stopped; the sharks will show up soon enough.”

To Chief Zies, O’Toole said, “Chief, make the rounds, talk to everyone, and make sure their heads are on straight. Find anyone who might lose it and buddy them up with someone. We don’t want panic or men going nuts.”

Chief Zies swam off, and O’Toole reached underwater to remove his shoes. He tied the laces together and draped them over his neck.

Chief Zies made his rounds and returned to O’Toole’s position.

“You get a head count yet?” O’Toole asked.

“My count is fifty-seven, including you.”

“Just fifty-seven?”

“Lieutenant, the aft two-thirds of the ship sank like a rock. From the time the Japs attacked to the time the stern sank wasn’t more than a minute. I’m surprised we have this many left.”

O’Toole’s chest went hollow, and his mind went blank. Visions of shattered bodies and blood-soaked decks, the sound of dying men flashed through his mind. His gut radiated the hollowness of failure.

The dark corners of his mind whispered, “You’ll never be the same.”

“Three-fourths of the crew is missing,” O’Toole said.

“There has to be more out there,” Zies said.

“Yeah, there has to more out there,” O’Toole said.

As the deck officer, he was responsible for the safety of the ship and crew.

He had scanned the horizon, and he had jacked up the lookouts and the bridge crew. It hadn’t been enough. Either way it was his responsibility. It takes three minutes to get a torpedo firing solution, and one zigzag might have destroyed their firing solution and saved the ship. He hadn’t seen his options; the wall had blocked him again. His grandfather’s words stabbed at him.

You’re not adequate.

It was the story of his life; he always fell short of adequacy. There was always one more thing he might have done, but he could never see it until it was too late. The wall was always there to stop him and hide the solution. His wall had damned him to failure again. The wall was always there blocking his way a single step short of success.

Ensign Parker swam over to him. “Got the head count. Fifty-seven men. Twenty-one wounded. Six critical. That includes the south floater net we got lashed-in.”

“We’ll wait till dawn to find the others,” Zies said. “What the heck happened, sir?”

“Wish I knew,” O’Toole began. “A column of Jap ships were headed to Guadalcanal to counterattack. I suspect they left a destroyer behind to ambush us once the fight off Guadalcanal started.”

“That means they spotted us, but how did that happen without us seeing them?” Zies asked.

“That part is easy. We weren’t looking, but I still can’t figure out how we missed them once we did start looking. I should have zigzagged despite the captain’s orders.”

Zies looked at O’Toole for a long minute. “You’re not blaming yourself for this, are you?”

O’Toole didn’t answer.

“Are you?”

The question tore at O’Toole, but he had to look forward, and swore the wall would not stop him. “For now, we’re not losing any more men, Chief. Keep the men together. They’ll start looking for survivors tomorrow; they’ll find us.” O’Toole said.

Voices shouted. Zies turned. A searchlight from an approaching ship probed the surrounding sea. When it reached the far end of the floater nets, gunfire erupted. Spikes of water shot up around the Green’s survivors.

Both O’Toole and Zies screamed, “Everyone down!”

O’Toole shed his life jacket, took a deep breath, and dove. He figured five feet would be enough. He pivoted his feet beneath him and tried to maintain his depth. When the burning in his lungs became unbearable, he kicked hard to reach the surface. When his head cleared the water, he sucked in a chest of air, preparing to dive again, but the gunfire stopped.

The searchlight now centered itself on his small group, and a Japanese heavy cruiser loomed over them. With his hand, he blocked the searchlight so he could see the bridge. He studied the bridge and a man with a patch over his left eye. By his position on the bridge wing, his carriage, and the separation between him and the other officers, O’Toole guessed he was the captain.

They locked eyes. Neither man flinched. After several seconds, the Japanese captain walked away. The cruiser picked up speed and disappeared into the night.

Zies asked O’Toole, “What was going on between you and the guy with the eye patch?”

“I wanted the bastard to know we weren’t defeated,” O’Toole began. “The Japs won this battle not with equipment but with smarter officers and sharper training. How they pulled it off was brilliant: at night, torpedoes first, guns second, no star shells. They mauled us with their guns, but knew that wouldn’t sink us. Once the Jap ship saw the torpedoes hit, there was no need to continue a gun battle and endanger their ship; they knew they had sunk us, so they vanished into the night.”

O’Toole shook his head; he would have to figure out what happened later; he put it out of his mind.

“Okay, Chief, have the men with life jackets chain up. Make sure they lash in each chain to a floater net. As you make the rounds, make sure everyone is secure for the night. By God, we’re not losing any more men.”

“Aye, sir.” Zies swam away, yelling, “Everyone chain up and lash in!”

Men formed spiral chains. One man would loop his arm through the hole below the high collar of the next man’s life jacket, burying the arm to the shoulder. The chains provided security, extra buoyancy, and a way to sleep without drifting away.

About The Author

 

Larry Laswell

Larry Laswell served in the US Navy for eight years. In navy parlance, he was a mustang, someone who rose from the enlisted ranks to receive an officer’s commission. While enlisted, he was assigned to the USS John Marshall SSBN-611 (Gold Crew). After earning his commission, he served as main engines officer aboard the USS Intrepid CV-11. His last assignment was as a submarine warfare officer aboard the USS William M. Wood DD-715 while she was home ported in Elefsis, Greece.

In addition to writing, Larry, a retired CEO fills his spare time with woodworking and furniture design. He continues to work on The Marathon Watch series, an upcoming science fiction series titled The Ethosians, and an anthology of over eighty humorous sea stories titled A Ship-load of Sea Stories & 1 Fairy Tale.

 
You can visit Larry Laswell’s website at www.larrylaswell.com
Connect with Larry Laswell:
Author Blog:  larrylaswell.com/blog

Poetry Contest

Win a dinner for two, a night on the town, or whatever you want to do with $250!

Enter Larry Laswell’s Vows to the Fallen Poetry Contest!

Pre-release sales of Vows to the Fallen will begin on July 1, 2015 for release on August 14th. One of the characters in the book has a habit of reciting excerpts from classic poems. If you are the first to correctly name all of the poems you win! $150 for second place and $100 for third place.

Here are the rules:

1. Order Vows to the Fallen in Amazon’s Kindle store.
2. At midnight (EST) download Vows to the Fallen and read it to find the poetry excerpts.
3. Leave a review on Amazon (How you rate the book has no bearing on your eligibility to win.)
4. Go to http://larrylaswell.com and click on “Contest.” In the form tell Larry under what name you left the review, and then list the poems by name and author. (Watch your spelling – it must be exact!)
5. The first correct entrant who left a review wins a dinner for two, a night on the town, or whatever they want to do with $250!
6. If Larry cannot identify the entrant’s review they will be disqualified (don’t use an anonymous name!)
7. If Larry receives more than one entry at the same time stamp, Larry will hold a drawing to determine the winners.
8. Any organization, or individual who received an advance review copy, their employees or family are ineligible.
9. Larry is the contest judge, and his judgment is final.
10. Larry is not responsible for delivery delays in the Amazon Kindle system.
11. Larry will post the winners on his website at 8AM EST on September 1, 2015.

Pre-order Vows to the Fallen today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Larry, thanks for being here today. Tell us a little about yourself.
My working life is an eclectic collection of jobs. I’ve been an assembly line worker, a forklift operator, a theatrical technical director, a computer programmer, and a business executive. In between all that I enlisted in the navy, and eight years later I left the navy as an officer.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Huh? What’s the difference between inspiration and obsession? Inspiration seems a bit highfalutin’ to me. I’m just a normal person with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

There is always something I’m obsessed about, but what that is depends on what is going on. I design furniture and do woodworking. Once I get a design project started, it owns me until it is done. I am self-employed as a consultant for some really great clients. If something is going on with them, I can’t wait to get up and help them solve their problems.

None of that is to say I don’t get obsessed with my books. I write for a while every day no matter what. Sometimes I have to force myself to “get into” a book, but once I get there, I can’t put it away—I have to write it.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
Tough question because there are so many great choices, but I think it would be Nelson Mandela. He was a game-changer and someone who left his mark on history. His impact was the product of his intellect, worldview, and philosophy. If I could spend a day with him, I would ask him to talk to me about anything that came to his mind. I would sit quietly and absorb every word.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
Vows to the Fallen is a prequel to my previous novel The Marathon Watch. In The Marathon Watch, I introduced a crusty, irascible, navy captain named Patrick “Terror” O’Toole. O’Toole symbolized the best of naval tradition: duty, honor, and country. O’Toole’s feared college professor character was a tough taskmaster devoted to making his charges think.

My readers made O’Toole their favorite, and I felt compelled to write a book about how O’Toole became the leader he is. Vows to the Fallen is O’Toole’s story. As readers will find out, his character and life’s mission were forged in the horrific South Pacific battles of World War II.

Tell us your writing process.
At the macro level, I will mentally play with a book idea for a year or more. I call this the composting period. During that period I may write notes or characters and dramatic scenes to get a feel for the book. When I am ready to start writing, I create an outline grid for each character and subplot. From there I will create a scene-by-scene outline that can run ten thousand to fifteen thousand words. This process may take two to three months, but I’m not working on it full time.

When I’m happy with the outline, the writing process begins. My writing process is either chaos bordering on order, or order on the verge of chaos. There are many do-overs because of the organic growth of the story. For example, I am working right now on my next novel and have drafted the first two chapters. I have redrafted them multiple times trying to find the tone, or style of writing, appropriate for the story. I will keep at this until the style sings to me.

Next I will write the middle chapter and the last chapter. With those done, I pick up my outline and start serious writing. This is where everything gets chaotic. The story grows and morphs organically. This requires revisiting the outline and everything else I’ve written. Sometimes, I feel that I have to write two hundred thousand words to achieve the final ninety-thousand-word manuscript.

I have a love-hate relationship with writing. I write novels about people; my books are not just action and suspense. Writing about complex characters is difficult, and I hate the grinding work it takes to do it right. But I love writing because the word crafting required to develop nuance, emotion, and foreboding is so fascinating. When I’m done, I feel that I have accomplished something worthwhile, and one reader review is all the payment I need.

What tips can you give other authors who are looking to get the word out about their book?
Buy a rabbit’s foot. There are thousands of great novels with four- and five-star reviews waiting to be found. As of yet, no one has found the magic formula that can guarantee a well-written novel will take off. I have personally spoken with several successful authors, and they all say it begins with luck. If there is a trick to it, it’s being persistent and having a social platform ready to go when the fates bless you with good luck. It will happen sooner or later.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
When people ask me how I got into writing, I suggest that they should be asking how writing got into me. I think I inherited the itch from my mother, who was also a writer. The Star Trek maxim should have been “A life-form has to do what a life-form is.” That’s the way it is with me—I have to write because that’s who I am. I’m happiest when I’m writing.

Unfortunately, career aspirations kept getting in my way, and I never took the time to write. In about 1990 I wrote my first short story. It was so bad that the garbageman threw it back when I put it in the trash. I started studying the writing craft and writing for my own enjoyment. About three years ago my friends really got in my face and told me to publish. The rest is history.

Tell us about your main character.
In Vows to the Fallen, O’Toole, the crusty navy captain from The Marathon Watch, starts out as a mere lieutenant. O’Toole is an unorthodox, independent thinker and tactical savant. His childhood at the feet of an impossible-to-please grandfather broke down his self-confidence. His self-doubt compounds the emotional trauma he feels when he has to make life-or-death decisions for his men. He has to find a way to deal with his emotions positively.

What are you working on next?
The third book in the Marathon series is in the composting stage, and I expect it will go to outline in the next few months. I am currently working on my next series, The Oracle, a science fiction thriller series. This series will be fun with cliff-hangers and plot twists mixed with a bit of mysticism.

As with all of my books, there will be a serious message in The Oracle series along with significant character growth. I can’t bring myself to write a purely plot-driven book. I want to ask my readers questions that they can ignore or ponder as they choose.

Now that I’ve said that, there is an exception. I have published a collection of satirical essays on navy life titled A Ship-load of Sea Stories & 1 Fairy Tale in installments of eight to ten essays. That collection is just for fun, seriously.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
Duh! I don’t know. Let me text my wife.

She says, and I quote, “You have a deep, complex, analytical mind like a steel trap that doesn’t snap shut until you have the big picture. Because of that, you’re a great problem solver and designer and totally incapable of writing a simple book. Other than that, you are a klutz and a hazard to household navigation.”

Who are your favorite authors?
I have been heavily influenced by John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Tom Clancy, and Douglas Adams. I have also enjoyed James Michener, Orson Scott Card, and Ayn Rand.

Currently, I am going through a phase of grazing through the current crop of independent authors, such as Michael Grumley, Joshua Dalzelle, Matthew Mather, Veronica Roth, Jennifer Wells, and A. G. Riddle. I take some risks in reading new authors, but for the most part I am pleased far more often than I am disappointed.

My wife and I belong to Kindle Unlimited and between us, we finish over ten books a month, so I spend a great deal of time reading.

What do you like to do with your free time?
Free time? What’s that?

Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
I expect to publish the first installment in The Oracle series early next year and follow that with the third book in the Marathon series. Just to spice things up, I publish a volume of A Ship-load of Sea Stories & 1 Fairy Tale about every six months. Ultimately, I want to get my writing better organized so I am releasing three new novels a year.

Any final thoughts?
I would like to give one of your readers a night on the town or whatever he or she would like to do with $250–$300. I am running a contest associated with the launch of Vows to the Fallen on August 14. In Vows to the Fallen, one character has a habit of spouting off classic poetry at all the wrong times. The first reader to identify all of the poetry quotes wins. It’s a tough contest, and if no one gets them all correct, I will award the prize to the earliest and best response. Contest details are in all of my current Kindle books and on my web site, and Vows to the Fallen is available for prerelease purchase at a discounted price.

Also, between now and August 14, all of my books will be available free on Kindle from time to time, so keep watching, download, learn about the contest, and enjoy.

Book Tour ~ The Shiva Syndrome

The Shiva Syndrome Book Banner

Title: The Shiva Syndrome
Author: Alan Joshua
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Science Fiction
Format: Kindle

A secret Russian mind research laboratory in Podol’sk erupts, annihilating thousands and leaving a monstrous, one-mile deep crater in its wake. Beau Walker, parapsychologist and reluctant empath, is coerced into joining a research team, code-named SHIVA, to investigate the enigmatic event.

Walker must fight his way past political and military deceptions and a host of deadly adversaries to unlock the riddle of the SHIVA syndrome. Will he have the physical, emotional, and spiritual strength to defy the dangers he faces…or will they destroy him before he can come to a new, challenging understanding of the nature of reality?

Purchase The SHIVA Syndrome:
Amazon.com
B&N

Reviews:

1.    Surprising, suspenseful, and utterly superb read….Any attempt to describe the book in a single statement is difficult, but the book mixes uncommon palettes and manages a masterpiece with it.” Self-Publishing Review.

2.    [The SHIVA Syndrome is] very highly recommended, indeed; especially for thriller and sci-fi readers who have become deluged with too much predictability and who seek cutting-edge action, believable protagonists, and action that is solidly intense throughout. Midwest Book Review

3.    “…a unique mixture of paranormal, science fiction, thriller and mystery. The story was amazingly developed to keep the reader attentive and on their toes constantly and always guessing where the plot is heading up until the very end.” LittlePinkCrayon

4.    “THE SHIVA SYNDROME rewards the reader with a return to intelligent speculative fiction writing in the vein of Crichton, Rollins and Cussler.” darkmediaonline.com

5.    “Bottom line: “The Shiva Syndrome” is a very intense and detail rich novel – a book I could easily see being made into a film (Christopher Walken as Grimes?). I do recommend this book to sci-fi fans, and readers who love a well-written book packed full with action.” Around the World in Books

Alan Joshua

As a native Philadelphian, Alan Joshua (pen name) has the appropriate fondness for soft pretzels and cheesesteaks. He is married, has two grown children, and lives in the suburbs. He is currently a practicing Clinical Psychologist with a background in Forensic Psychology.

His diverse background includes working in a State penitentiary and mental institution, a sleep laboratory, and a pain management center.

Joshua has published many nonfiction journal articles. The Shiva syndrome, his debut fiction novel, is a science fiction/paranormal mystery and thriller.

Always curious about the unknowns of human experience, he is fascinated with creativity and paranormal abilities. This led to his involvement with Psychology and research into Parapsychology.

He has explored paranormal abilities using hypnosis and in-depth interviewing of a wide range of practitioners. Among his prized possessions are a shriveled, mummified banana (a product of one healer’s biopsychokinesis) and a small, curled Austrian teaspoon produced by a German healer while six people sat around him. (see http://alanjoshua.com/biopsychokinesis )

The Shiva Syndrome incorporates his knowledge of Parapsychology and experiences with healers, intuitives, “psychic” sensitives, etc.

Unsurprisingly, he is a science fiction fan and has been influenced by such writers as Asimov, Bradbury, Crichton, Heinlein, Serling, and the extraordinary genius of Phillip Dick.

As an avid Star Trek fan, he is fond of contradicting Gene Roddenberry, believing that human consciousness and its potentials are “the final frontier.”

If you have questions for me, I would be glad to answer them–time permitting. I’d like to hear from you if you’ve had any paranormal experiences.

For More Information

Visit Alan at his website

INTERVIEW:

Thanks Alan for being here today. Tell our readers what inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The infinite possibilities each day holds. Will inspiration strike? Will the book go viral? Will Spielberg or Ridley Scott call? Just kidding of course.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
Tough question. Mahatma Ghandi, among many, many others. He was a courageous and non-violent man of transcendent wisdom—and he had a sense of humor.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
It was inspired by real research I did into paranormal healing. In the story, science opens the door for humans to reach God-like powers of creation and destruction. A secret Russian mind research laboratory erupts, annihilating thousands and leaving a monstrous, one-mile deep crater in its wake.

Beau Walker, a psychologist and reluctant empath, is coerced into joining a research project, code-named SHIVA, to investigate the catastrophe. An ordinary scientific investigation leads Walker and the research team into alternate realities. To my delight, Dr. Stanley Krippner, a leading parapsychologist, endorsed it.

Tell us your writing process:
For the most part, it’s driven by inspiration coming from who knows where? Honestly, much of the story was directed by the characters who led me, sometimes grudgingly, in a certain direction. At least that’s through much of the first draft. Amazingly, in rewriting I found depths and surprises that were jaw-dropping. As a psychologist, familiar elements began to gel in ways I’d never considered before. Now, I was conceptualizing them through the minds of characters.

What promotional efforts has worked for you that you can share with other authors?
I find it very awkward giving advice. I wrote a page on my website at http://alanjoshua.com about creativity and the writing process. Forced to give at least one suggestion, it would be to ready yourself for writing blocks. Have more than one project going and “change horses” when you hit a persistent block. Sometime the conscious mind becomes, say, log-jammed. Putting the one project on the backburner can free up the subconscious. Trust it to continue working for you.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Of all places, in a mental institution. I desperately needed another reality beyond the confines of my limitations as a social worker. Drawing or writing my imaginations became a bona fide need. I produced, “Father of the Sun,” an unpublished book on cloning (before it became well known) while there.

Tell us about your main character:
Beau Walker is a complex man. With an African-American mother and Mohawk father, his upbringing was, at the least, complicated. But he also has innate paranormal abilities—including healing and empathic unions with people–that made his early life even more difficult. I’d rather not give away any more. Beau really should be discovered in the pages of The SHIVA Syndrome. A one blogger put it, “whatever you’re thinking, think again.”
One important aspect of Walker is that he’s set into as real a world as possible according to parapsychological research and physics theory. I guess that’s why one Amazon reader said, “None of This Is Real! Really! I Hope!” His acceptance of the possible reality was a pleasure.

What are you working on next?
I’ve toyed with two or three. One reader pleaded for a sequel and prequel, so they’re viable ideas. Another is a paranormal murder mystery.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
The one spoken of the most by mentors in education is intuition. I consider that an extension of imagination. It’s almost a feel that something is probable. Admittedly, my logical mind does battle with it. When it’s tied in with a strong gut reaction, that overrides logic.

Who are your favorite authors?
Oh, there are so many. Asimov, Bradbury, Crichton, Clarke, Heinlein, to name a few. Shakespeare, however, has it all. In his collected works, he covers virtually every type of human experience in the most delicious phrasings, including the paranormal: Macbeth, Hamlet. If he were writing sci-fi today, no doubt her would reign.

What do you like to do with your free time?
Watch film after film, except for occasional TV gems, like Hannibal. Give me vacation time and I love cruising and snorkeling.

Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
I’ve already mentioned possible ideas in development. It’s too soon to say any more.

Where can people find you on the web? 
My website is http://alanjoshua.com ; Alan Joshua on Facebook. Twitter is @alan_joshua414.

Any final thoughts?
Only the hope that other readers will enter the world of The SHIVA Syndrome. I believe the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads speak for themselves. While the novel is considered by some to be science fiction, other call it a mystery or thriller. What is most important is that readers realize that there is a world of real paranormal abilities that has been researched since the 1920s. It’s far more exciting and rich with possibilities than anyone could realize. That’s what I tried to bring to the table.

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