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Hand Over Fist
by Michael Ross


GENRE: Thriller



When an old friend disappears, Martin learns nothing is what it seems…

Martin Russell can barely face the future. With dismal life prospects and an estranged family, he is at the end of his rope. When an old friend, Hannah, elbows her way back into his life, Martin’s luck begins to turn around.

Hidden within the shadows of evil, there must be some good…

Ex-policeman Bobby Tanner lost everything one rage-filled night. Now he runs a reading group for alcoholics where he meets a young drug dealer, Zack, who disturbs him in a way that’s hard to define. Bobby soon discovers the teenager is in over his head and has been dealing with a despicable individual known as The Chemist.

The roots of evil run deeper than we imagine…

Martin’s lucky streak begins to unravel when Hannah suddenly goes missing, and he turns to a friend of a friend, Bobby, for help. Thrust into an underworld empire of corruption and half-truths, he learns his friend may not be who he thought she was.

In a shadowed world of deception, stalkers, and despicable drug dealers, Bobby and Martin must uncover the truth, and fast…

Several lives depend on it.




…but there was something gnawing away at him; something about Zachary Jackson that was just not right. He seemed like a good kid, a good son to a troubled mother and a dying father. But now Bobby stood in the shadows watching Zack leave The Chemist’s house and he cursed his sixth sense.

The Chemist’s house was one of a pair of semis that were angled at the end of Shortcross Drive. The area was the roughest part of the city, an independent borough with its own self-administered terms of crime and punishment. The crimes that carried the heaviest forms of punishment were those that affected The Chemist negatively. Punishments ranged from being forced to cut his lawn for a month to having both your knees smashed by a crow bar. And even worse penalties if you failed to insist to A&E staff that you’d been hit by a car.

By the time the local police force had recognised The Chemist’s power, it was easier to leave him well alone than to face the cost of breaking down his power base. The semi detached council house was fortified more strongly than a clearing bank’s vault. Over the years, every door and window had been replaced and so heavily reinforced that it would take a tank to force entry into the property.



AUTHOR Bio and Links

It was a strange and twisting road that led to the publication of my first novel. From my humble beginnings, as an office clerk, to ownership of a multi-million dollar business I always maintained my love for literature.

Born and raised in Bristol, England. I spent most of my life in business, my companies turning over in the region of $500 million. The majority of that time marketing cars, eventually owning the largest Saab specialist in the world, before a bitter divorce forced me rethink my priorities. Particularly between 2003 and 2005 when I had to accept that I was no longer a millionaire but literally penniless. I avoided bankruptcy by the skin of my teeth and slowly rebuilt my life.

This led me to the life changing decision to leave the bustling city and move to live halfway up a mountain in the Welsh valleys. At the same time I started a part time six year English Literature course at Bristol University, and attended creative writing classes at Cardiff University. I left school at sixteen and this was my first taste of further education and an immense challenge.

I eventually adjusted my thinking to the academic life, and on 30 June 2015 had confirmation of my 2.1(Hons) degree from Bristol University. At the same time I also won the prestigious Hopkins Prize for my essay on Virginia Woolf and the unsaid within her text. Now the university courses are finished it will, with any luck, gives me plenty of extra time that I can devote to my fiction writing.

Thanks to the university experiences, my interest in English literature has flourished over recent years. Hopefully I have evolved as a writer from my earlier work in short stories (over ninety of them.) Although interestingly my first three novels have all been developed from a long forgotten short story.

Life is, once again, very good, and I live very happily halfway up a mountain, in the Welsh Valleys, with my wonderful partner Mari, and our rescue dog Wolfie.


Twitter @mikerosswriter



Michael will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter to win a $10 Amazon/BN GC! A Rafflecopter Giveaway

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:


Interview With ….

Michael, thanks for being here today. Tell us about you.
I was self employed from the age of nineteen, and in retrospect I was, what is called nowadays, an entrepreneur. I owned a finance company, an art gallery, an antiques centre, I was a director of a PLC, and of a professional football club, and several car sales sites and workshops. Turning over close to $500m in my lifetime. Before a bloody divorce I was a millionaire, after the divorce I was insolvent. In an eighteen month period my life went to sh*t.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
Leonardo da Vinci. Just to spend time in the company of that extraordinary brain would be mind blowing (I know what I’ve done there!)

What’s the story behind your latest book?
There is bits of my DNA in all my major characters, men who have hit rock bottom and survived. Two characters who against all odds are rebuilding their lives, and with the disappearance of a friend how their lives interact to overcome the odds. I have a couple of villains of whom I am really proud, Nash and The Chemist are the most vilest of creatures.

What is your writing process? 
I like to walk my dog Wolfie around the hills near where I live, and think about my stories without interruptions. My partner is a professional musician and she hates music being on in the house , so I have got used to writing with no background noise.

Tell us about your main character:
Bobby Tanner has hit rock bottom, he is an ex copper who has disgraced himself and served a prison sentence, but he is a really decent human being who grabs the opportunity to rebuild his life.

If your book was to be turned into a movie, who would play the lead role and why.
Tom Hardy – such a talented actor, who can dig really deep into a character

What are you working on next?
The third book in the Out Of Hand series (number two is already ‘in the bag.’)

What advice do you have for other writers who want to get the word out about their book?
Write for pleasure not money, accept it is a long arduous journey, take pride in your work, and type with your fingers permanently crossed.

What is your favorite book on your shelf right now?
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
I am a survivor. Over the years I got sick and tired of people saying that to me. “Don’t worry mike, you’re a survivor.” Ahhhhhh.

You are given the choice of one super power. What super power would you have and why?
Rather glib, but the ability to time travel and lurk around Dallas 11.22.63 and find out the truth of that day.

List 5 things on your bucket list:
I’ve done so much in my lifetime I’m struggling. Visit Peru. One more fall in New England, which is probably my problem, that most of the items on my bucket list would be repeating stuff that I have already done.

Any final thoughts?
Thank you so much for stretching the muscles in my brain.



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Serpents and Doves
by G. Lloyd Helm


GENRE: Literary Fiction



Stephen Mitchell did not know what he was getting into at a small church college in Tennessee. Sex, protest, friendship, and Civil rights. The title “Serpents and Doves” comes from the warning Jesus gave to his disciples as he sent them out to preach the gospel, knowing the dangers they were going into. He said “I send you out as sheep among wolves, therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Stephen Mitchell learns first-hand what that warning means when he goes to a Tennessee church college in the midst of the turbulent 60’s. He learns about friendship, war, protest, the sexual revolution, and civil rights.




Ethan’s suicide rocked the school, but not nearly as much as Stephen expected. The New Jersey and New York folks mostly didn’t know anything about Ethan or the BSU so they noted the suicide as a bit of news, but it didn’t effect them much. There was some anti-homosexual noise and the inevitable nasty jokes, but Ethan Patrick’s passing caused no more than a ripple for the most part.

There was some noise and protest from the Mason First Baptist Church when Billie Jo asked them to hold the funeral service, but finally they said they would bury him, but not in the church cemetery. They ignored the fact of his suicide and the reasons for it and held a small service. Stephen debated with himself whether he should go. He had about decided not to when Cathy Powell cornered him and asked if he would go with her. “I really don’t have the strength Steve,” she said. “I’m just a wreck. Can’t you please come with me?”

Stephen seriously thought about saying, Why don’t you go ask David Hall? But didn’t say it. “All right. I’ll meet you at the church.”

She smiled sadly, but Stephen thought he saw just the smallest glimmer of triumph in it.

The coffin was set across the aisle in front of the altar. Closed. It was silvery gray and looked more like a large tin can than a coffin. The congregation was small, mostly people from the BSU but a few from Beacon’s faculty including Dr. Conners and Dr. Marchant. Having the Pope there was no surprise. Probably here to make sure the sumbitch is really dead, Stephen thought, and then felt bad about thinking it.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Media Kit Author Picture

G. Lloyd Helm has been writing for 40 years, having published poetry in a wide variety of magazines and newspapers including “The New York Poetry Anthology,” “Stars and Stripes News,” “The Los Angeles Times,” “The Antelope Valley Press,” and “The Antelope Valley Anthologies,” among others.

… Has published short stories and memoirs both in the US and in England in such journals as “Pligrimage” which published the memoir “Football” in spring 2005, and a second memoir “4 April, 1968” in the winter of 2008. He has published short stories in “Citadel” the literary magazine of Los Angeles City College,” “Delivered Magazine,” which is based in London, “Short Story Library,” The University of S. Illinois’ “Eureka Literary Magazine,” “Tales as like as not,” and London’s “Black Gate Magazine.” Recently published “Even Up” a Civil War Ghost story at, an English on line magazine, and the short story “A Lovely Elephant” in “Delivered Magazine” an English fiction journal. “The Other Fellows Shoes,” Pulp Empire III, Metahuman Press, Cedar Rapids, IA Nov. 2010. Is being published in an on line experiment from Alfie Dog Publishing in England. May 2012.

…Has published three novels in the F&SF field, 1) OTHER DOORS, From MousePrints Publishing, and 2) DESIGN from American Star. 3) WORLD WITHOUT END from Rogue Phoenix Press,

OTHER DOORS, originally published in 1997, was published electronically by Rogue Phoenix Press in July 2010. Also Published a literary Romance novel called SOMETIMES IN DREAMS, from Siren’s call. Most recently a volume of short stories called TRAIN WHEELS, FLYING SAUCERS, AND THE GHOST OF TIBURCIO VASQUEZ. Many of these stories appear on the Alfie Dog site.

…Is in process of publishing an adult literary novel called SERPENTS AND DOVES with Rogue Phoenix Press, which will be out in May 2016.





G. Lloyd Helm will be awarding 10 paperback copies of the book to10 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. (international giveaway)

Enter to win a copy of the book – a Rafflecopter giveaway


Interview With…

Thanks for being my guest today. Tell us about you.
Me as a person is pretty much what you see is what you get. Unusual is that I spent twenty two years as an Air Force Spouse, which was pretty strange. When we went in there were less than half a dozen reversed couples in the Air Force, that is wife as active duty, husband as dependant. It’s pretty common now, but when we were in there were things like “The Enlisted Wives Club.” Because of me and a few others those are now called “The Enlisted Spouses club.” Other things are that I am rather a grouch. When I am out in public I usually keep my grouch-a-tude to myself but if you catch me at home and busy working you are liable to get your head bitten off.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
There are a couple, but I would love to hang out with Mark Twain. He seems like my kind of guy. He is witty and sharp but he can also be cutting and bitter. He’s a pretty good writer too.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
Serpents and Doves is me trying to sort out a piece of my life that was like the Chinese Curse, “May you live in interesting times.” They were interesting times OK, between the Vietnam war, the protests of same, the Civil Rights movement, and the Sexual Revolution the sixties were pretty hairy. I was somewhat shielded from it by being in a small church college, but not completely.

What is your writing process?
My process is pretty simple–get off your ass and go to work. That being said, the major difficulty with it is that sometimes defeating the inertia that infects me is pretty tough. I don’t know why it is sometimes so hard for me to actually work. I know it will make me feel better, less depressed, but I sometimes resist it like a baby fighting sleep. When I actually win the battle against inertia I like to listen to old time rock and roll radio. We have a great radio station for that here in the Antelope Valley. They play everything from the Fifties through the seventies.

Tell us about your main character
The Protagonist in Serpents and Doves is basically me. The situations into which Stephen goes are fiction but they are fiction with some of the colors of truth. He is a naive church boy who discovers how naive he is when he gets to college. He has some incipient prejudices about race, and church and sexuality which collapse in the face of reality as the story progresses.

If your book was to be turned into a movie, who would play the lead role and why.
I don’t really know. It would need to be a younger actor than there is out there right now. Fresh faced and open. Leo DeCaprio would have been good a few years ago but he is too old now, and I don’t really know any others at the moment

What are you working on next?
I am working on a couple of things right now. The main one is a movie script taken from my first novel Other Doors. It is a fantasy but of a very different kind. It is a story about a man who can stop war by simply saying STOP! It is set in a world of ancient war like ancient Rome where the battles are with sword and spear. But that world and this one resist peace and achieving more and more peace in that world causes the world to fall out of balance, nevertheless the peace grows and infects the whole world. When the book first came out there was resistance. So much that I finally had to put a publishing company together and publish it myself. Since it came out in 1996 I have sold hundreds of them on Military bases. I am proud to say that my little book about peace has gone to every war zone in the world. And I know it has because I am constantly running into uniformed strangers who greet me with “Peace be with you,” which is a tag line in the book. But at the same time I am both shocked and Proud that my little book about Peace has been banned from the federal prison system libraries. It causes “Unrealistic fantasization in the reader,” like that’s a bad thing.

What advice do you have for other writers who want to get the word out about their book?
That’s a hard one. Personally I am a huge bore when it comes to my books. I talk about them constantly and I always have copies at hand. I also do a lot of Book Fairs, and gift shows and swap meets and like that. The trouble is that a lot of writers are shy so they stay in the house and write, but if you want to actually get some books out there you gotta be bold enough to go out and offer it to people. If they don’t know about it they won’t buy it.

What is your favorite book on your shelf right now?
The Complete Ray Bradbury. It is a compilation of his short stories.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
No, though there are those who say I have a knack for getting myself into remarkably difficult situations and irritating even the most phlegmatic person in the world.

You are given the choice of one super power. What super power would you have and why?
Telepathy. To read peoples thoughts and send them my thoughts without necessity of saying or writing same. Actually in one of my books Design I list several super powers I would like to have, among them teleportation and telekinesis, as well as telepathy.

List 5 things on your bucket list:
My bucket list is pretty short really. I’ve been a lot of places and done a lot of things many of them bucket list worthy. The things I have left are mostly travel related. I want to go to Japan, and China. I’d like to do the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. I’d like to hike a pretty good stretch of the Pacific Coast trail and the Appalachian trail. Those might have been realistic goals once but I sorta doubt that the hikes will ever happen now.

Where can readers find you on the web?
I am on Face Book as G.L. Helm or under my publishing imprimatur Mouseprint. I answer most friend requests positively. Or those interested can e mail me at The books are available through Rogue Phoenix Press, as well as on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Any final thoughts?
No Valedictory, sorry. Thank you for allowing me to ramble on here. Feel free to contact me.

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Book Tour – The Last War by Alex Davis


Title: The Last War
Author: Alex Davis
Genre: Science-Fiction

Born from the genius of the Animex, the aliens of the Noukari seek to gain a foothold on a savage planet. But the greatest danger to their existence lies within them – a powerful gift of telepathy.

As the tension grows between idolatry and admiration of their creators, and the Noukari come to understand the latent powers within their own minds, a species created for peace are about to succumb to brutal violence.

In a galaxy torn by conflict, will the first battle between the Noukari also be their last war?

“The Last War is a remarkable study of reason and faith, morality and practicality, pragmatism and idealism. With sharp, unfussy prose, Alex Davis draws the reader into an endearing nascent civilisation, and then takes it apart before our eyes. Unpredictable, challenging and rewarding.” Gav Thorpe, New York Times Bestselling author of Angels of Darkness Deliverance Lost.

Author Bio

Alex Davis is an author, editor, publisher, creative writing tutor and events organiser based in Derby. His debut novel, THE LAST WAR, is out in July from Tickety Boo Press and is the first in a science-fiction trilogy following the aliens of the Noukari. He is co-ordinator for Derby’s annual Edge-Lit event – running this year on the 11th July – and also part of the management committee for this year’s Derby Book Festival. He also runs Boo Books, Derby’s independent press, aiming to promote regional talent along internationally known authors. Their latest release is The Electric, available in paperback for the first time. For more information, visit


Book Excerpt

Outside the temple, whose two walls have grown to four, a proud and lyrical voice carries across the clearing. Beneath the spell of its powerful tones a loose congregation has gathered, without seats, without rows, without any location worthy of such worship.

No matter, the Re’Nuck thinks. All of that will come in time.

He does not allow this simple thought to interrupt the rhythm of his speech. He has become expert in such matters – the words of the Book seem to have ingrained themselves into his memories, written there as large as they are on the crinkled pages at his hut.

‘And the Noukari arrived, borne within the sacred vessels crafted by the gods themselves. But those simplest of lifeforms did not resemble us as we are today, yet by the powers and craftsmanship of the Animex, we were able to rise from the simplest of forms to something more. It was within sunups that we first came to walk, to think, to speak.’

Apius pauses, taking a look at the rapt faces before continuing.

‘We know all this to be fact. All of these things are burned into our common history, and live within our memories still. There is nothing I have said to be disputed. But the question that some still ask is what this truly means for our people. What interpretations can we offer for this event? In this respect we talk about the beginning of life, an act of creation beyond any we have encountered. We are their people, and Genem – and all of Noukaria – is every bit as much theirs as it as ours.’

The crowd nods thoughtfully. Apius has swiftly become used to these public appearances, and the necessary flourishes of the spiritual leader. The means to instil his belief, to communicate in the name of the gods.

‘No act of nature nor of building can do such a thing. It is clear that we were made by the hand of gods – gods called the Animex! There is no other conclusion, and in time all of those who have yet to accept will come to believe. Rest assured, those in denial shall soon worship with us. And they will share the word in a temple that surely even the gods cannot deny, a building so grand in scale that it would be worthy for a god to set foot within.’

Apius bows his head for a moment, allowing his newly-embroidered robe to billow around him. The new vestment has come with the title, and sets him apart from those who hang to his words.

‘That is all. Go with these words, and spread them in the streets and fields of Genem. Much has been done, but there is a longer road ahead.’

One by one the followers of Apius drift away, carrying eager conversations with them.



Alex, thanks for being here today. Please tell us about you:
I’ve been involved in writing really actively over the last decade, some of which has of course been my own writing but also including event organisation, running my own small press, Boo Books, proofreading, copy-editing, mentoring and plenty more besides. It’s a pleasure to finally have my own book

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
In a practical sense, my daughter gets me out of bed every day. But beyond that I love being in the position I am and doing what I do – every single day it’s writers and writing, whether it’s gathering them together for an event, hopefully helping them along their way to publication or working on my own stuff.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
My two main interests beyond writing are really comedy and horror, so on those grounds it would either be Frankie Boyle, Patton Oswalt or Tom Six. I had the great pleasure of interviewing Tom at the UK premiere of Human Centipede 3 and he was a great guy.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
The Last War originally started life as a shared world novel written for an Australian publisher, who unfortunately went out of business between me writing the book and them publishing the book. So I was slightly left dangling with a project that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with, but having chatted with the editor he was happy for us to all try and get our work out as long as key names etc. were changed. So The Last War is now its own entity, and I’m delighted to be with Tickety Boo for this one – they’re a publisher really going places.

Tell us your writing process
I’m a great believer in simply cracking on, and I suppose an absolute non-believer in writers block. So for me it’s a matter of at least 1000 words per day, whether I feel vastly inspired or not. That way I can put together a first draft pretty quickly and leave me plenty of time to work on the editing process.

What advice can you share with other authors who want to get the word out about their book?
It’s a big job, so I suppose the first thing is to be prepared for as much work on promotion as there is writing, if not more! The other advice I’d give is just to give things a go – readings, workshops, panels, make yourself available for anything and everything. Even if you’re not talking directly about your book, they’re still really valuable opportunities.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Ever since I was tiny – in fact I can’t remember ever wanting to do anything else. My grandmother has stories from when I was four or five still kicking around.

Tell us about your main character:
There are a few in the book, but I suppose the real lead is Apius, who becomes the leader of a new religion and rather grows too much into the role of preacher. He’s a man of great belief, great conviction and great ambition. But he also has many opponents among his people, so the tension that grows from there is a key part of the story.

What are you working on next?
Book Two, what else? The Last Days is the second part of the Noukari Trilogy, and having had a couple of false starts I’m feeling on the right track with the latest plan and opening. I’ll be trying to keep the epic, formative feel of that first book but also adding in more from the universe more widely.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
I’ve always been a dab hand with word games and anagrams. I was on the UK quiz show Countdown back when I was 15, and then invited back again when I was 16. I got beat both times but still watch now!

Who are your favorite authors?
For me I’ve always been a big fan of SF which has a more character-driven/human angle. I’m a big fan of Kate Wilhelm and DG Compton, but my two faves would be JG Ballard and Ray Bradbury. Bradbury in particular has always been a massive inspiration – his Martian Chronicles definitely fed into the thought process for The Last War.

What do you like to do with your free time?
Like I said, I’m big into comedy and particularly like the animated stuff – Adult Swim has kept me entertained for many years. I’m also big into my horror films, and like some of the more extreme stuff out there – things that push boundaries has always been really interesting to me. Besides that, I’m very partial to my sport, mainly football and horse racing but also golf and tennis.

Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
The trilogy will be the main focus for a while yet, probably about the next year or so. Beyond that I have a couple of ideas for horror/thrillers that I’m excited to explore. I’ve also written a few short stories set in the world of the Noukari, so perhaps that’ll be something I can explore in the future.

Where can people find you on the web?
My website is at, and if you fancy checking out the small press I run Boo Books is at

Any final thoughts?
Thanks a lot for having me – I’m always happy to hear from people who’ve read the book, or anyone who enjoys this interview, so feel free to drop me a line at

Book Tour – The Creative Journal for the Inspirationally Challenged


It is a truth universally acknowledged that any writer, in possession of a beautiful idea, will have a bad day and need to mainline caffeine. Ok well, maybe not, but as writers ourselves we know that everyone has good and bad days. The most important thing is that you keep writing.


About The Authors

Monica Corwin


Monica Corwin is an outspoken writer who attempts to make romance accessible to everyone no matter their preferences. As a new Northern Ohioian Monica enjoys snow drifts, three seasons of weather, and disliking Michigan. When not writing Monica spends time with her daughter and her ever growing collection of tomes about King Arthur.


Decadent Kane


Decadent Kane, author of the trouble with elves series, writes paranormal romance with heat. She lives in Wyoming with a full house: 3 dogs, 1 cat, 1 guinea pig, 1 rat, 2 kids, and 1 fiance.

An elfess in human form, Decadent enjoys dipping her fingers into the human realm where she took pen to paper and began the tales of the trouble with elves. Her obsessions include reading, Dean Winchester, and honey.

She will devour your soul with glimpses of the feral ridden drow elves, with their dark skin and soul consuming. She’ll sneak morsels of naughty thoughts to you via goblins, and seduce you into stepping inside the elven realm where females disappear when lust takes over among other elfish troubles.

Beware the sprites.

Follow the wisps.

But never look a drow elf king in the eyes…


Author Interview

Thanks for joining me today. Please tell our followers about you.
Well, I enjoy spending time with my daughter, reading, writing, and repairing old typewriters. I mainly write paranormal romance and this book is my way of giving back to the writers of the world.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Just the promise of beautiful moments. Even simple things. Just a new experience.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
Benedict Cumberbatch (for obvious reasons) or Edgar Allan Poe if I can pick a dead person. They would both be so clever and fun to chat with.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
I just wanted to create something to help those suffering from a lack of inspiration.

Tell us your writing process
I don’t really have one. I start on typewriter then type that in my computer and finish it when I do. I don’t really have a process per se.

What tips can you give other authors who are looking to get the word out about their book?
Facebook or blog tours are a great way. Bookbub deals are also a good way if you want to spend some money.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was in high school English. I’ve always enjoyed writing.

What are you working on next?
Working on rewriting a old novella called, King Takes Queen, out in September.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
I sing rather well.

Who are your favorite authors?
That is too hard. Off the top of my head: Jack Kerouac, Anne Bishop, Megan Hart, Maggie Stiefvater, Karen Harbaugh.

What do you like to do with your free time?
Just read, write, fix old typewriters. Also spend time with my toddler.

Any final thoughts?
Thanks for having me!!

Book Tour ~ Astrid V. Tallaksen


About the Book
: At Death’s Door
Author: Astrid V. Tallaksen
Genre: Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance


The world is a pretty straightforward place. Even for medium Sara Stone things seem pretty simple, aside from the whole talking to spirits bit. But when the spirits get too hard to handle and Sara ends up admitted to a mental hospital, the world starts to seem a lot less straightforward. First her family disappears, including her four year old son. Then she gets the sneaking suspicion that not only are the staff at the mental hospital somehow connected, but they also have no intention of ever letting her leave the hospital.

Everything changes when Sara has her first visitor in three months. Daniel is handsome, friendly, and a complete stranger. When he promises to spring her from the hospital and swears that everything she’s experienced is completely real, Sara has no choice but to believe him. But once she reaches a run-down Victorian house in the tiny Alabama town her rescuer calls home, the last thing she expects to discover is that every memory she has is a lie.
Daniel reveals a world filled with angels, demons, and an impending war humans know nothing about. Sara wants to ignore her role in the whole mess – all that matters is solving the mystery of where her son has gone. But the forces of Heaven, Hell, and the Heart have other plans for her. Can she find her child before the world comes crashing down?


Author Bio

Astrid V. Tallaksen grew up with a heart for stories of creatures and places outside of this world. Her love of reading quickly became a love of writing. She spent several years creating content and helping writers to improve their craft on the online world of Althanas, a creative writing workshop in the guise of a roleplaying forum. A self-avowed nerd, Astrid loves science fiction, comic books, and eighties fantasy movies in the vein of The Princess Bride and Labyrinth. Her geekiness extends to annual volunteer work at the massive sci-fi convention known as Dragon*con every year in Atlanta, Georgia. In the odd times that she’s not immersed in geekdom or writing, Astrid loves to sing karaoke, crochet, and spend time with her family and pets.





Links to purchase At Death’s Door:
Barnes & Noble
Apple iBooks
Page Foundry



Astrid, thanks for being my guest today. Tell our readers about you.
Where do I begin? I’m the mom of an awesome and frustrating 11 year old boy, and happily married to my husband. I have a house full of critters – 2 dogs and 2 cats (and the 11 year old boy lol). Currently I’m back in school (someday I’ll have a degree – maybe by the time I’m 40), with a major in English Literature and a minor in Gender and Multicultural Studies. I hope it will help me in my writing and editing. I love karaoke, crocheting, and swimming.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I guess it depends on the day really. Most days it’s my crazy kid. Some days it’s because I have an amazing idea in my head that HAS to get down on paper. If I’m really lucky it’s because I’m traveling somewhere with my husband or having a girl’s day out with my mom or a friend.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
Probably Angelina Jolie (although Tom Hiddleston would be a close second). She’s just an inspiration to me. She’s a brilliant actress, but more importantly she’s a great person who does wonderful things in the world. She’s also a fantastic mom, with a huge heart.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
The Freefall Trilogy, which I’m working on the last book of, has a core theme of Free Will. Everything boils down to a person’s ability to make personal choices, whether good or bad, and face the consequences, whatever they are. It’s been an interesting journey as I navigated my own personal beliefs about it, and then compared them to some of the world’s major religions.

Tell us your writing process
I am kind of a freeform writer. I don’t do outlines or anything like that, because it just doesn’t work for me. Instead, I let the characters take charge, and write in a very chronological manner. I do keep a notebook where I take research notes, or write down quotes that inspire me or make me think of certain characters or relationships, or little pieces of plot ideas or dialogue I’ve had pop into my head.

What tips can you give other authors who are looking to get the word out about their book?
That’s definitely been a learning process, and honestly I’m still learning. Between Heaven & Hell just came out in March, and it’s only my second book, so I haven’t quite figured out the best way to navigate promoting yet. I try to make sure I keep up with my social media so people are seeing my name, which I feel is really important. Word of mouth is important as well, and I have no problem with wrangling my friends into putting the word out there. I’ve had a book signing, which was fun but I wish more people had come. I also have business cards and a website so that I can quickly get my information to people. I send out a lot of review requests, because I think reviews are a very important part of getting people interested in your book. And finally, blog tours like this are quite fun and helpful as well.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I don’t know if there was a realization. I’ve been telling stories forever. I wrote my first (very short) book in kindergarten, and just never stopped. I didn’t realize I wanted to do it, I guess in a way I was just born this way.

Tell us about your main character:
Sara. I love Sara. She’s bold and sassy, filled with snark, but she’s not fearless by any means. She’s strong but she knows she has to lean on people sometimes because she can’t do everything herself. She has a huge heart, which can be a bit of a weakness for her. In these books she starts out in a mental hospital because she sees ghosts.

What are you working on next?
Once I finish the Freefall Trilogy, I’ve got plans for a couple more projects. The most immediate one will focus on a character named Skyler, a girl who starts out rough and is trained as an assassin. Her adventures aren’t as world-changing as Sara’s, but she’s definitely going to have some pretty crazy things going on in her world, which will be full on fantasy.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents? 
I’m a decent photographer, and I’m also a pretty good singer. I used to be much better than I am now, at one point singing opera and classical pieces. Now it’s only karaoke now and then, which is kind of sad.

Who are your favorite authors?
My absolute favorite author is Madeleine L’Engle, who wrote A Wrinkle in Time among other books. I collect everything she writes, sometimes in multiple editions. She was almost like another family member for me and her words got me through some very tough times. My other favorites include Diana Gabaldon (Outlander), David Eddings (Belgariad), and Victoria Holt.

What do you like to do with your free time?
Sleep? It’s underrated if you ask me. Other things I like to do are karaoke, crochet, photography, and a bit of painting.

Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
I will probably be doing a bit more straight up fantasy, like the assassin books that will be next, as well as some about a fallen valkyrie. Who knows what else I’ll come up with after that.

Any final thoughts?
I’m very grateful for the opportunity to share my work and my thoughts and processes and loves. I suppose I could leave you with a quote from my favorite movie, Dream for an Insomniac: “Unless it’s mad, passionate, extraordinary love, it’s a waste of your time. There are too many mediocre things in life. Love shouldn’t be one of them.”

Interview With … Kelley Grant

The Obsidian Temple

Today my guest is Kelley Grant. If you are a follower of my blog, I had a spotlight with Kelley a few days ago.

Kelley, thanks for being here today. Please tell us about you. 
I grew up in the hills of Ohio’s Amish country and lived in books and my imagination. I majored in English in college and have swerved around on my path to publishing through politics, graphic design and teaching yoga. I love to read stories and to tell stories. The dog and I are owned by five finicky felines who rule us with iron claws.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Sunshine! I love to be outdoors and even take the laptop out to write. And my five cats waiting for breakfast poke their paws onto my face until I get out of bed and feed them.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. I would like to see what it is like to always be present. He is recovering from a debilitating stroke and is inspiring everyone with his courage, his happiness in the face of disability and his commitment to a practice of love. I want to learn how to persevere and have equanimity in the face of suffering and weakness.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
The Obsidian Temple is the second book in the Desert Rising series. Sulis and her great feline Djinn return, getting swept up in a prophecy and the secrets the desert contains. Her twin Kadar is entangled in the plight of his Forsaken love as the city of Illian erupts in turmoil

Tell us your writing process. 
I nail my butt down in my chaise lounge at 11am for either four hours or 1,500 words (whichever comes first) five or more days a week. I start by rereading and editing what I wrote the day before and then continue writing the story. At the end of the book I ignore it a couple weeks, then rewrite.

What tips can you can share with aspiring & upcoming authors to get the word out about their book?
It does not work to let other people monopolize your writing time. There is a myth that if you are a writer you can write any time you want, and you don’t need a set schedule. This isn’t true – your creativity will peak at certain times and that is when you need chain yourself to the laptop. No matter if a friend needs you to run an errand, or someone wants to do lunch – you must be the professional and say no. No one will take you seriously as a writer until you take your writing time seriously.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
In college. I’d always gotten praise for my stories in the lower grades, but I didn’t know anyone who was a writer and never saw it as a profession someone like me could do. In college I realized writers were just people with vivid imaginations and dreams like me.

Tell us about your main character:
Sulis is tempestuous and headstrong – but her confidence can be her downfall. She hates being forced into things and will resist even if it is what she really wants. Kadar, her twin, is much milder but loves strongly and isn’t willing to give up on those he loves.

What are you working on next?
I am working on the concluding novel of the Desert Rising trilogy and rewriting a comedic fantasy novel to send out to publishers.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
I can mesmerize people into relaxing deeply just by moderating my voice and speaking softly.

Who are your favorite authors?
I love Sharon Shinn, Lois McMaster Bujold, Lynn Flewelling, Ilona Andrews, Charles DeLint to name a few of hundreds of authors I read.

What do you like to do with your free time?
Read! Hike outdoors. Practice yoga and meditation.

Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
The Obsidian Temple is out July 21st in digital, with the paperback to follow in August. The third book in the Desert Rising series releases Spring 2016.

Where can people find you on the web? 
Twitter: @kgrantwrites

Any final thoughts?
Thanks so much for having me here today!

Book Tour – Vows To The Fallen by Larry Laswell

Vows To The Fallen Banner


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

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?”


“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?”


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
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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 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!


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 – A Taste for Mystery by KD Rose


KD Rose Author Pic

K.D. Rose is a poet and author who currently has published “Heavy Bags of Soul“, “Inside Sorrow“, “I AM”, “Erasing: Shadows”, “Anger’s Children: Three Shorts That Will Blow Your Mind“, “A Taste for Mystery: Two Novellas” and “The Brevity of Twit“.

Her poetry has been published in Candlelit Journal, the Voices Project, and showcased in the Tophat Raven Art and Literary Magazine. K.D.’s book, Inside Sorrow won the Readers Favorite 2013 international Silver Medal for Poetry.

K.D. has an eclectic mind and loves language, physics, philosophy, photography, design, art, writing, symbolism, semiotics, spirituality, and Dr. Who. KD Rose is an avid supporter of music, the arts, cutting edge science, technology, and creativity in all forms.

Buy Link



Follow private detectives Carolyn Woods, Jack Heart, and friends as they try to navigate murder, mystery, and romantic entanglements. Two novellas, two detectives, two lovers….what could go wrong?



He had six-pack abs, and I wanted to feel the carbonation.
This one dressed like the stereotype of a construction worker, down to the handkerchief he used to wipe sweat off his forehead. I don’t know if he or the hot day brought it out, but sweat poured off of me too. He had no interest in me as a person, though. I was invading his territory. Still, I enjoyed the view. For my part, I knew my clothes looked crappy. I didn’t have to wear uniforms anymore, but my street clothes, well they were very—street. So there I stood, a turd in the sun in front of this Adonis. Oh well.
He pointed to a small trailer up a muddy hill. The supervisor I asked to see apparently stayed in there. Stayed, as in never left. Great. Mud. Now I’d be a dried turd in the sun. Adonis went back to digging and I started the trek up the hill. At least I came with boots. Steel toed.
Once I made it to the trailer, I heard an argument going on inside.
“Look, I don’t care who you are. The plans are publically filed. Go get them yourself!” yelled someone.
Then I heard a voice I knew. Calm, cool, subversive. “Is there any reason you’re being so difficult? A man did die on your watch.”
An encounter I hadn’t planned on. Well, at least not until later tonight. I knocked loudly on the door and with my sweetest voice said, “Hello, boys. Am I interrupting something?”
“Great,” groused the supervisor. “A party.” He appeared to me like another stereotype, puffing on a cigar over a fat jowl line and rotund stomach that threatened to overturn the small desk he was behind. I guess there’s a reason for stereotypes. He looked about four hamburgers away from a heart attack.
On a wooden chair in front of the supervisor sat Jack. A fellow independent detective, an ally at times, a competitor…and my on and off lover.
“Well, well, well,” he said smiling, but I could tell he wasn’t happy to see me. Not here. It meant we were both working the same case. “Hello, Carolyn. Who hired you?”
“Girlfriend,” he answered back.
We stared at each other. Complications.

KD Rose’s Social Media Links
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Author Interview

K.D., thanks for being here today. Tell our readers about you
Belle of the pithy, acerbic ball. Eclectic. Harmless.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Writing or something to do with it usually inspires me. Seriously. Sometimes it’s breakfast.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
I’d say Jared Leto but I’m not sure I could keep up with his super spastic, intelligent, dramatic, player mind. So maybe Harlan Ellison, who I also probably couldn’t keep up with and since he’s known for drama too, I might get my ass beat, so maybe I’ll stick with Neil Gaiman. He’s a kind person.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
Mystery, suspense, romance…two novellas that relate to each other in time and whose characters cross over. The story is I wrote about two detectives who are on and off lovers and I’d like to write more installments. They each have a life and flair of their own.

Tell us your writing process
It goes something like this:

  1. Get a fabulous idea.
  2. Procrastinate
  3. Write some poetry instead.
  4. Write an unrelated article.
  5. Write a bunch of ideas down for other stories.
  6. Think a lot about how the actual book will go.
  7. Start on book.
  8. Throw out everything I thought about how the book will go.
  9. Write the book in spurts.
  10. Finish the book and never want to see it again.
  11. Edit, etc, publish, publicize.
  12. Wonder how the hell I can go through this process again.

What tips can you give other authors who are looking to get the word out about their book?
I’ve found some writers are receptive to reviewing books, especially if yours sounds intriguing (after all, we are readers too!). Sometimes this helps since review blogs, magazines and other places that specialize in reviews are usually swamped.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I started trying to write books when I was five (didnt get very far), loved creative writing in elementary school and English in High School and took as many writing courses as I could in college. So basically, since birth.

Tell us about your main character:
There are two main characters, Carolyn Woods and Jack Heart. Each novella features one more than the other though. They are on and off lovers, fellow detectives and both tough and weak at the same time. They like to spar but underneath they really care about each other.

What are you working on next?
Actually my “latest, latest” book is on Storyshift. It’s an adventure paranormal written on a platform that allows readers to vote on the choices at the end of each chapter. Then I have to write based on the outcome. That sounded like an exciting challenge and I’m writing it in a very different style. I wanted to do something different and this platform is a hybrid between gamers and writers. Readers can find that story (Kill Chain) here:

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
I’m stoic when everyone else would be freaking out. I freak out afterwards. By then of course no one understands and everyone’s like, “What the hell is wrong with you?”

Who are your favorite authors?
Old favorites. I can’t help it, I grew up with them and they continue to resonate with me. Madeline L’Engel for one, who was a children’s author. She was brilliant. Robert Heinlein, Harlan Ellison, Philip K. Dick. Many poets also because I am very much into poetry as well. I do find some new ones that I like. Malcolm Gladwell comes to mind and I enjoyed Leslie Jamison’s book of essays. I love groundbreaking books.

What do you like to do with your free time?
That goes to husband and family. Then free me time usually ends up back related to books somehow.

Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
I’m procrastinating writing a poetry book again because I want it to be so good. That perfectionist streak is really an idea killer. Next will probably be a book of short stories. Or essays.

Any final thoughts?
Imagination is more important than knowledge – Albert Einstein

Thanks for being here today K.D.

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