May 30, 2014

Old Hermits Die Hard: a review of Jonathan Janz's "Savage Species Part 5: The Old One"

Savage Species Part 5: The Old One
by Jonathan Janz
Samhain Horror (2013)
95 pages

After four installments of blood-soaked carnage, Savage Species reaches its end. And it should come as no surprise it does so in bloody fashion.

Peaceful Valley is practically a distant memory for the survivors of the Children's massacre, as they've sought shelter and safety inside the labyrinthine caverns underground. Although the number of survivors has dwindled drastically, and shelter and safety are kind of false hopes with an innumerable horde of Children and other baddies lurking underground. Oh, and the Old One.

Tapping into my old Nintendo memories of scratching and clawing through game levels only to come face to face with a gigantic boss, Jonathan Janz's Old One is epic in scale and pure of bad-assery. Granted, there are a couple supernatural elements to the humongous horror that had me scratching my head, but if nothing else those traits helped keep the pace of this climactic conclusion in the red zone.

A pretty good capper to the whole adventure. Just shy of spectacular, but heck, it was still a fun thrillride the whole way through. It's bundled together as a complete novel now, so if you're going to get this book, you're probably better off going that route.

May 29, 2014

Meanwhile at I Smell Sheep: Sharon and I interview Alex de Campi, the brain behind "Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight"

If I you didn't already know, I review comic books over at I Smell Sheep, and one of the great discoveries by reading comics for the blog is Dark Horse Comics' Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight series. They just had an eight-issue run and I have my fingers crossed that even more are on their way later in the year.

On top of all the reviewing, Sharon Stogner and I had a chance to interview the writer and champion for the series, Alex de Campi. You can click here to check out the interview, then go out and find these books. There's a little bit of awesome in each one.

May 28, 2014

$50 Blast Giveaway – American Ride with Stan Ellsworth

American Ride

Host of AMERICAN RIDE, Stan Ellsworth breaks the mold of the stereotypical High School history teacher.

Former history teacher Stan Ellsworth tours the country on a Harley Davidson for the television show “American Ride.” Ellsworth’s approach to American history in AMERICAN RIDE removes the “bow tie and sweater vest” of history professors, puts on the “skull rag and denim vest” and breaks down stereotypes. His adventurous spirit and love for the United States is contagious and engaging. His approach is more like an invitation to walk (and ride) with him through the footsteps of history. He hopes the stories and “postcards” from the highways and byways of the country will make American history relevant to today’s audiences, and motivate them to take an active part in the preservation of the values this country was built upon.

Now in the sixth season, Stan takes you across the world to see how the clouds of war gathered once again and what led America to enter WWII. New episodes air each Monday 9PM ET/ 7PM MT on BYUtv. If you've missed any episodes, you can catch up with all of the previous seasons online anytime at


The 6’ 2”, 300-lb muscle-clad Harley Davidson-riding host of BYUtv’s acclaimed American history program, American Ride, would like nothing better than to inspire the next generation of George Washingtons, Susan B. Anthonys and Thomas Jeffersons. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and raised in the Carolinas, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and Pennsylvania, Ellsworth was steeped in the landmarks and stories of American history throughout his formative years. His family lineage includes such historic luminaries as Revolutionary War patriot Ethan Allen; both Generals of the Cival War, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant (also the 18th president of the U.S.); and American folk heroes Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett.

Ellsworth’s goal—both when he was in the classroom, and now in his weekly television program—has always been to “wake people up” to the stories of our founding fathers and mothers, and to the sacrifices they made in creating this nation. In his gruff baritone voice, he speaks eloquently of our heritage and extols the wisdom and bravery of those who came before.

“LET’S TAKE A RIDE” ~ Stan Ellsworth
book blast button

Blast Giveaway
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 6/17/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the publisher. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

May 27, 2014

Water, Earth, Wind, and Sci-Fi: an interview with Suzanne Church, author of "Elements"

About ELEMENTSCanadian SF author Suzanne Church's cast of unique characters ask "What if?" in this whimsical collection of science fiction, fantasy, and horror short fiction.
Androids, aliens, zombies, and humans - Church's unforgettable characters ponder upon such concepts as "Can humanity survive an ice age? Will the storm man steal Wanda's baby? When will Bob and Sebbee escape the relentless march of the Lost Circle? What is the cause of the taint in Faya's courted ice? If you can't escape hell, can you at least afford a trip on a teleporting couch?"
These are but a few of the mind-twisting tales found in ELEMENTS, Suzanne Church's first collection of science fiction, mythic fantasy, and festering horror short fiction and features a suitable tale for every temperament.
This collection includes 21 stories and an introduction by award winning author, editor, and poet, Sandra Kasturi.
(Info courtesy of Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing)

How would you classify ELEMENTS? Horror, SF, Fantasy, Other? A mix?

ELEMENTS is definitely a mix of Horror, SF, and Fantasy. From the first story, "Coolies" which is an SF story with horrific aspects, the stories blend the genres together.

I suppose I'm more of a casserole writer than a meat-and-potatoes author. At heart I'm a horror writer but I enjoy exploring dark ideas with a broad speculative fiction lens.

Plus I throw in some humour to provide the reader with lighthearted breaks. The Couch Teleportation stories are a few examples of my twisted idea of what it would be like to visit the armpits of the galaxy.

Why did you choose a short fiction collection as your first book-length project?

My fiction has been published in some higher-profile locations as well as some obscure anthologies and magazines that have passed into the ether of publication. A collection of my short fiction allowed me the opportunity to reach a broader audience of readers.

Tell us about your 52 Writing Tips project in 2012

Every year I set Writing Goals during the first week of January, and one of my recurring goals is to submit 52 times each year (either short fiction, novel queries, poetry, etc).

For the 2012 goals I decided to incorporate blogging as a way to increase my online footprint. I used to be a high school teacher, so the writing tips became a way to blend my writing skills with my teaching skills.

To appease the teacher in me, I included a bit of homework. That's why at the end of each post I include the "Do It Now" exercises. Thus the reader can immediately use what they've learned in a practical way.

The majority of the tips touch on the usual writing suspects like beginnings, endings, dialogue, characters, editing, critiquing, etc. However, I wanted to touch on EVERY topic for aspiring writers so I also included posts on tax preparation, attending conventions, using tracking spreadsheets and the like.

What exactly do you mean when you call yourself "fiercely Canadian?"

Ha! That's complicated.

First, I've been known to apologize for a variety of missteps, some of which don't actually require an apology. In other words, yes, I've actually apologized to a parking meter for bumping into it. I am THAT Canadian.
Second, I love all the quintessentially Canadian clichés. I follow the Toronto Maple Leafs (even though I know better) and I love hockey with an irrationally intense passion. Even though I write at Starbucks, I do plenty of writing (and eating and drinking) at Tim Hortons. I can paddle a canoe, ice skate with hockey or figure skates, and complain about the weather during any of the four seasons.

Third, I've spent much of my career attending workshops and conventions outside of my home country (in the USA and Australia) and have represented Canada to the best of my abilities. For that reason, my internet name has been CanadianSuzanne since 2004, hence my twitter handle @canadiansuzanne.

You've appeared at Chiaroscuro Reading Series (also known as ChiSeries) in Toronto and are scheduled to appear again soon. What is ChiSeries like? 

I love the ChiSeries reading nights. The atmosphere is so laid back, and the readings are always entertaining. ChiZine Publications certainly knows how to rock an event.

At the Toronto readings, Kari Maaren usually keeps us entertained between readings, playing her ukulele and singing songs so funny, you might spit your drink out your nose.

Many of those in attendance are local authors, so the ChiSeries readings also provide a chance to catch up with colleagues and hear about the latest writing news.

The ChiSeries readings have expanded to Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Ottawa. Although I've never been able to attend one of them, I've added the events to my must-do list.

You're blogging about the evolution of each story in ELEMENTS. Should readers be wary of spoilers? Or can they read the posts before they read the collection?

I'm very careful about spoilers so readers can read the posts before they read the collection.

Even though I reference the characters and settings, the content is mostly about story evolution; an answer to "Where do you get your ideas?"

Any reader could peruse the posts safely without worry of spoiler-trouble. On the other hand, the backstories that I tell would certainly resonate more with the reader after they've digested the story. Either way, it's a great place to learn more about the fiction in ELEMENTS.

I will continue to add more content over the next few months. Watch for interviews with some of the characters in the stories, or brief teaser-excerpts from the collection.

What's next for you?
I'm always writing short fiction. I've got a fantasy short story on the go right now, and I'm plotting out a novel that takes place in the universe that I developed for "Destiny Lives in the Tattoo's Needle."

Recently I began a short story with hockey theme. Then I realised I'd need to build a full roster for the team including coaching staff, a GM, dedicated press, etc. So I have a feeling that the story will blossom into a novel.

Thanks for the interview opportunity!


Suzanne Church juggles her time between throwing her characters to the lions and chillin’ like a villain with her two sons. She writes Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror because she enjoys them all and hates to play favorites. Her award-winning fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Cicada and On Spec, and in several anthologies including Urban Green Man and When the Hero Comes Home 2. Her book ELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction is available at bookstores (April 1 in Canada and April 30 in the US) and Amazon from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

May 26, 2014

Cold Blooded Killers and Those Who Love Them: a review of Joe R. Lansdale's "Cold in July"

Cold in July
by Joe R. Lansdale
Tachyon Publications (2014)
288 pages
ISBN 1616961619 

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of someone breaking into your home? It's a question that has kicked off a lot of murder mysteries, both in books and on screen, but I can't recall any story starting at this point and veering so wildly the way Joe Lansdale's Cold in July does.

Richard Dane is just your average Joe. He's got a wife, a son, and a small business. He's not a bad-ass, and he's definitely not a hero. When he confronts the young man in his living room and the guy pulls a gun on him, Richard fires back, killing the burglar. That terrifying experience ought to be traumatizing enough, but it winds up serving as a catalyst for the most harrowing experience of his life.

Enter Ben Russel, the father of the slain burglar. When Richard goes to see the burial of the man he killed, hoping for some closure on the ordeal, he meets the man's father, and judging by the cold hatred radiating off the grizzled old man it looks like the apple don't fall far from the tree.

Now, if you think the story boils down to a by-the-numbers revenge tale, you're dead wrong. The big blow-out between Richard and Ben happens fairly quickly in the book, and the aftermath sees the story take a wild and unexpected turn. I could probably go into better detail that that, but I surely would not want to spoil the story for anyone one little bit.

Richard's point-of-view offers up all the fears and frustrations of a family man trying his best to keep his family from falling apart one way or the other. An intriguing consequence of the break-in is Richard's reckoning with his feelings towards his young son. He loves the little guy to pieces, but he also gets angry and annoyed at his son more times than he'd care to admit. Throw in the fact he lost his own father early on in his life, and the worries of how he measures up to his father--for good or bad--and Richard's mind if a hornet's nest through the vast majority of the novel. And I haven't even touched upon the strained relationship between he and his wife as his obsession with the man he killed, and subsequently Ben Russel, deepens to the point of endangering his family further.

I've read that this is one of Joe Lansdale's personal favorites among his own works, one that he's most proud of, and while the prose is so lean it'd make a butcher blush with envy, there are moment when it feels like the bones have been picked clean. Lansdale doesn't mess around though, he keeps the story moving, he keeps each character wholly in the moment and working like cogs in a well-oiled machine.

There's a film adaptation out this summer, even hitting Cannes, but I gotta wonder if it can capture all of the visceral suspense contained in this book's pages. Heck, if it can translate half the magic of this thriller to the screen, then I'll be happy. And if not, there's still a damned good book to be read.

May 23, 2014

Chasing Tale [5/23/14]: Never Trust a Gal Raised by Wolves

Did you hear about Misha Defonseca? She's the writer whose memoir, Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years, turned out to be a total fabrication. And now she's been ordered by a judge to repay the more-than-twenty million dollars she supposedly earned over the years. It's insane. Did she even earn that much in royalties? If so, bully for her.

I mean, I'm no fan of fake memoirs--I'm no fan of memoirs, period--but even I find such a beyond-the-pale judgment to be stymieing. Were people just so outraged by learning she wasn't raised by wolves--yes, that was one of the linchpins to her tale--that they felt the need to publicly humiliate and destroy her?

Look, she bullshitted her way through a memoir. It's not like she's the first, and quite frankly it's not like the entire genre of memoirs isn't founded on writers steering clear of the "autobiography" tag so that they can exercise some creative license? Okay, she basically wrote a novel and passed it off as her life story. Fine. Slap her on the wrist or whack her on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper, but this judgment is obscene.

Ah well, enough of that. Here are a bunch of books to arrive on my own bookshelves recently. I'm pretty sure they are all fiction, but it would be kind of neat if one or two got passed off as memoirs. Take a look.

Donnybrook by Frank Bill - This is a novel I first heard about through the Booked.Podcast. Just imagine a raw-boned, slobberknocker of a tale about a backwoods free-for-all with a big jackpot to the winner. Like Cannonball Run for street fighters and meth heads.

Uprising by Sarah Cawkwell - Here's a new one coming out from Solaris Books that asks the question: what if King Richard hadn't died at Bosworth Field and had instead won the day? I have an interview coming up in the near future with Sarah, so watch for that, too.

The Colony: Genesis by Michaelbrent Collings -Apolcalypse, baby. This is the first volume in a serialized set of novels that have gotten some good praise online. Hey, it was cheap.

The Narrows by Michael Connelly -Can't say as I've ever read a Michael Connelly novel, so when I saw this paperback at my local library's fundraiser a couple weeks back, I scooped it up.

BEAT to a PULP: Superhero edited by David Cramner and Scott D. Parker - I'm so used to the crime and western stories from the BEAT to a PULP gang that this scifi/fantasy riff feels like a big change of pace, but it's got a cool-looking table of contents, so I'm up for it.

The Passage by Justin Cronin - I remember this novel getting a lot of hype when it first hit shelves. A lot. To the point that I wondered if it was over-hyped. Well, either way, it's hit the point of popularity that a lot of copies are littering used book shops and such. I got mine at the library fundraiser.

Bewitched, Body and Soul: Miss Elizabeth Bennett by P.O. Dixon - I tried reading Pride and Prejudice once, but it didn't take. I have tried a couple adaptations by modern authors though that have been palatable, so this one I won from Dixon could be enjoyable too.

L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy - Another grab from the fundraiser book sale. I liked the movie, but it's been ages since I saw it and I've never read the book. Hey, perfect time to buy it and add it to the TBR pile.

Dahlia's Feast by Milo James Fowler - Out of the blue I won this short story from Milo. His short fiction is primarily what I read and enjoy, so I expect this is more of the same.

Those Who Hunt the Night by Barbara Hambly - Here's a writer I hear mentioned now and again, and this book gets recommended to me since I'm a horror hound, but it's never in the shops. But I did find a copy of it finally, so some historical vampire murder mystery goodness shall finally be read.

Shadows & Tall Trees 2014 edited by Michael Kelly - The latest incarnation of one of the best literary horror journals out there has hit shelves. It's more of an anthology this year, but that has no bearing on the great looking table of contents with some impressive contributing authors.

The Way Down by Barry Napier - A novella from Barry that I managed to snag for free during its first week of release. Yay me.

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips - I heard about this book years ago on CBC Radio. Basically Greek gods living in the modern world and trying to get by with their daily lives. Kind of like American Gods, but not really.

Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth L. Powell - It's a cigar-chomping war hero ... in talking monkey form. Oh yeah, this might be awesome.

Femme by Bill Pronzini - The Nameless Detective meets his match with the quintessential femme fatale. I wound up buying this mystery novel direct from Cemetery Dance when they had their spring cleaning sale.

Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin - The last of the gems I found at the library fundraiser. Everywhere I turn, Ian Rankin is lauded as the king of crime fiction, so I should probably have even more of these Rebus novels on my bookshelf.

Home and Hearth by Angela Slatter -This is the latest chapbook from Spectral Press. No idea what it's about, and that's fine, because all I need to know is it's from Spectral Press. British, literary horror of a high quality, I reckon.

Once a Warrior by Anthony Neil Smith - A brand new novel from Smith, this time a followup to his thriller, All the Young Warriors, which features a terrorism component with smalltown America. Gotta get started on this series, but I also have another series of his I need to read.

The Red Shoelace Killer by Susan Sundwall - I won a copy of this one from Sundwall a week or two ago. Sounds like it's a bit cozier than the mysteries I tend to go for, but I dig the premise and it's got a cool cover, too.

The Door in the Mountain by Caitlin Sweet - A new one from the Chizine gang. This time Caitlin Sweet has a bit of a fantastical tale involving some ancient mythology with what looks like a modern tie-in, so that should make for an interesting read.

Slingers: One Fall to a Finish by Matt Wallace -This is the second installment is Wallace's serial series. I won the first part from AISFP podcast, but got this one straight from the Kindle Store.

Damascus by Jad Ziade - A fantasy novel with a Syrian twist. Neat. I don't read a whole lot of this epic fantasy, high fantasy, or whatever you want to call it, but this one does look pretty cool.

May 22, 2014

Bitten By Books Is Celebrating Its Six Year Blogaversary with Some Giveaways!

Rachel Smith started Bitten by Books six years ago, and the review site with bite is going stronger than ever. To mark the occasion there are a few extra giveaways on top of the usual features regularly appearing on her blog. Below you'll find all six entry forms to the various giveaways she is hosting this week. Check them out and and be sure to visit her blog and wish her well.

BBB 6 Year Blogaversary Contests Day ONE!

BBB 6 Year Blogaversary Contests Day TWO!

BBB 6 Year Blogaversary Contests Day THREE!

R.G. Alexander Release Party & $100.00 Amazon GC Contest 5/20/14

Author Billi Jean Release Party and $75.00 Amazon GC Contest 5/21/14

Author Selah Janel Release Party and $30.00 Amazon GC Contest 5/21/14

May 21, 2014

Romance Is Dead ... and Undead: a guest post by Jason Sizemore, author of "Irredeemable"

Shakespeare might be the undisputed king of tragic romance, but director Brian Yuzna’s Return of the Living Dead III is the champ when it comes to zombies, romance, and film. The film has even inspired me to try my hand at horror-romance a couple of times in short story form.
RotLD3 came out in 1994 and is a sequel to the classic Return of the Living Dead (one of my favorite tragi-comedies). The US government continues their work on re-animating the dead for military use via a toxic gas.
Colonel Reynolds, whose son Curt is in love with Julie (an extremely vivacious Melinda Clarke), heads the research lab doing the experiments. Julie asks Curt if he can take her inside the compound, and being a good boyfriend he agrees. Zombies escape, there is total chaos, and Curt and Julie hop aboard his motorcycle to escape.
Curt crashes the motorcycle, killing his beloved Julie.
I’m sure you can see where this is heading.
He takes Julie back to the compound and uses the gas to bring her back to ‘life’.
What follows is tragic, heartbreaking, and downright horrific. I won’t spoil the rest of the film, but I will say that Curt goes to great lengths to protect Julie, and Julie does her best to fight her brain-eating urges.
It is true love.
The way I see it, the film explores the scary lengths we will go to in order to protect our loved ones. It also makes a statement about how our intelligence drops when we’re in love. Other facets the film covers include the naivety of youth, a standard ‘government is evil’ warning, and perhaps a nod to the pleasures of S&M play.
Outside our two leads (Melinda Clarke and J. Trevor Edmond), the acting is atrocious. But the core of this story is Julie and Curt, and the two actors do a fantastic job and exhibit real chemistry. They carry the film.
Okay, I admit, even as a horror film, RotLD3 isn’t quite good. As mentioned, the acting is terrible, the set design is terrible, and even some of the zombies are less than impressive. There’s even a bit of old-fashioned racial insensitivity when Julie and Curt encounter a gang under a bridge. But the plot has some surprises and you have to have the cold dead heart of a zombie to not feel bad for Curt and Julie.
My personal attempts at writing horror-romance have mostly turned out…less impactful. Horror is tragedy. Romance often ends tragically. But I’ve found it challenging to combine the three (though they are themes I visit several times in my collection Irredeemable). I have nothing but the highest respect for director Brian Yuzna, Melinda Clarke, and J. Trevor Edmond for the film they made. Perhaps Yuzna is no Edgar Allan Poe, but RotLD3 does show that you don’t need perfection to create an entertaining and meaningful work of art and horror.

Jason Sizemore is a writer and editor who lives in Lexington, KY. He owns Apex Publications, an SF, fantasy, and horror small press, and has been nominated for the Hugo Award three times for his editing work on Apex Magazine. Stay current with his latest news and ramblings via his website and his Twitter feed handle @apexjason.

Thanks to Jason for stopping by the blog. Jason's new collection of stories is out now, courtesy of Seventh Star Press, entitled Irredeemable. Here's the write-up on it via with a slew of links by which to purchase it: 
Flowing like mists and shadows through the Appalachian Mountains come 18 tales from the mind of Jason Sizemore. Weaving together elements of southern gothic, science fiction, fantasy, horror, the supernatural, and much more, this diverse collection of short stories brings you an array of characters who must face accountability, responsibility, and, more ominously, retribution. 
Whether it is Jack Taylor readying for a macabre, terrifying night in “The Sleeping Quartet,” the Wayne brothers and mischief gone badly awry in “Pranks,” the title character in “The Dead and Metty Crawford,” or the church congregation and their welcoming of a special visitor in “Yellow Warblers,” Irredeemable introduces you to a range of ordinary people who come face to face with extraordinary situations. 

Whether the undead, aliens, ghosts, or killers of the yakuza, dangers of all kinds lurk within the darkness for those who dare tread upon its ground. Hop aboard and settle in, Irredeemable will take you on an unforgettable ride along a dark speculative fiction road.

Amazon —USUKCA
Seventh Star Press
Kindle — USUKCA

May 20, 2014

Chicks Dig Houseboats ... Apparently: a review of John D. MacDonald's "The Deep Blue Good-By"

The Deep Blue Good-By

by John D. MacDonald

Gold Medal Books (1964)

144 pages

Gin-soaked philosophy is fine--in moderation--but it can wear a little thin after a while. The hero of John D. MacDonald's invention, Travis McGee, lives aboard a houseboat that he won in a card game. He's a vagabond with a vigilante's heart and a propensity for spouting his worldview at nearly every turn. Some just plainspoken common sense, the rest is an embittered cynicism that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. But, hey, everyone has their faults.

I scrounged up this novel while on a sixties pulp kick earlier in the year, and considering the author is the man behind Cape Fear, I figured this would be a good one to pick up. Heck, this is the first of twenty-one Travis McGee novels for crying out loud, so MacDonald must have been doing something right.

Turns out Travis gets by hiring out his services to people who have lost one thing or another and want it back. Travis finds what they want and keeps a cut for himself. I think it's referred to as "salvage consulting" in the novel. In The Deep Blue Good-By", Travis is coaxed by one of his lovely lady friends, a dancer with nothing better to do than luxuriate aboard his cozy houseboat between gigs, to help out a gal she knows who's been done wrong by one mean hombre named Junior Allen. Travis isn't terribly convinced, even with the promise of a payday, but when he meets the utterly pathetic creature for himself, he's drawn to find the bastard who ruined her and reclaim what he can of the money Junior stole.

The story has its share of twists and turns along the way, but it never felt terribly suspenseful and ultimately very predictable. Travis had a mission and a gameplan, and then he did it. No big surprises that he couldn't really handle and no real peril that wasn't overcome in quick fashion. Now, I haven't read a Jack Reacher novel--yet--but I wouldn't be surprised to find out Travis McGee served as a bit of a template or inspiration for Lee Child's own iconic ass-kicker. But, while I may have found Jack Reacher to be a likable enough character in the movie adaptation I saw, Travis McGee can be detestable at times in his attitude towards the world, and especially the women who pass through his life. He's got a meanstreak underneath all his too-cool-for-school bravado, and might even be a sociopath by today's standards.

The Deep Blue Good-By wound up a fun distraction for an evening, but if the other twenty novels in the series are just like it, I'm not so sure I'll be able to endure more than a couple more of them before I grow weary of Travis McGee.

May 19, 2014

RJ Blain's Inquisitor Book Blast & Blog Tour (Win $50 Amazon GC or Paypal Cash)

inquisitor cover

Inquisitor by R.J. Blain

When Allison is asked to play Cinderella-turned-Fiancee at a Halloween ball, the last thing she expected was to be accused of murder on the same night. She has to find the killer and quick, or she'll be put to death for the crimes she didn't commit. To make matters worse, the victims are all werewolves.
On the short list of potential victims, Allison has to act fast, or the killer will have one more body to add to his little black book of corpses.
There's only one problem: One of the deaths has struck too close to home, and Allison's desire for self-preservation may very well transform into a quest for vengeance...


Caroline was either the best actress I’d ever seen, or she was really dead. I crouched next to her, torn between touching her neck to feel for a pulse and running away before the sweet scent of a fresh kill overwhelmed my restraint.

A clock chimed ten. The power of the full moon slammed into me, tugging at my heart, and tightening my chest. The need to embrace my inner beast and become one with the night quickened my breath.

Scents flooded my nose. Strong perfumes mingled with cologne, and the sweat of hot, living bodies stirred my hunger. I licked my lips, and for one brief moment, imagined the salty sweetness of fresh blood on my tongue.

There was another hunter in the room with me, and they taunted me with their kill. Their prey was either dead or left to die. It was a challenge to the scavengers, to the hunters, and a warning to the prey.

“What do you think?” Mark’s mother asked.

“I think she’s an amazing actress,” I replied, careful to keep my tone light. I rose to my feet. If I grew a tail, I could only hope my gown would hide it long enough for me to slip from the party and find a place to gain control over myself.

Or complete the change and go on a rampage.

Another minute passed in silence. I shook my head. “This would be why I’m not a police officer.”

The Wicked Witch of the West giggled. I shivered at the sound. “I see. Very well, Cinderella. Shall we mingle with the other guests and learn about this terrible, terrible deed?”

“I thought this was when Mark was supposed to come rescue me from a fate worse than death,” I muttered.

Oops. So much for keeping civil. I guess it was inevitable. Bodies brought out the worst in me. Especially when the body wasn’t one of my making. To make matters worse, I couldn’t exactly raise the alarm.

If I did, I’d reveal to those who knew the truth about werewolves and witches that I wasn’t just some human girl after a wealthy boy. Then the Inquisition would find silver old enough to kill me or reduce me to ashes to make certain they purged the world of one more rogue werewolf.

“Why can’t you be wealthy?” Mrs. Livingston lamented.

The old woman’s question caught me by surprise. Had she heard me? Did she think it an amusing quip?

Was it possible the woman actually liked me? Confused at the question, I answered honestly. “Ma’am, who says I’m not? I’m your son’s accountant. Do you really think he’d trust someone who didn’t have access to at least some money with his money?” I glared at the old woman. At least the brewing fight between us distracted me from Caroline’s body a little. “Don’t forget I know exactly how much he makes a year, where he transfers his funds, who owes him how much, and whom he owes. I know how much he’s paid in taxes, and I know how much I saved him last tax season.”

The witch’s mouth dropped open. “Just what—”

“I paid more in taxes than he did last year. I’ll let you do the math. Unless, of course, he learned how to count from you.” I pivoted on a heel and stalked my way towards the refreshment stand.

BlainAuthor RJ Blain
RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.
When she isn't playing pretend, she likes to think she's a cartographer and a sumi-e painter. In reality, she herds cats and a husband. She also has a tendency to play MMOs and other computer games.
In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Should that fail, her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until she is satisfied.

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Blast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 6/10/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

May 16, 2014

Real Life Influences of the Fantastic: an interview with Leanne Waller, author of "Choice"

About CHOICE by Leanne WallerEscaping from a domineering relationship, Danni is glad to rekindle old friendships. But there’s something odd going on. Her best friend’s boyfriend is unbelievably strong and never eats with the others, and there’s something not quite right about her new landlady…

When Ella tells her about becoming a ghoul and using superhuman strength to fight evil, Danni thinks her friend has gone insane. But the more she finds out, the more she sees that they really are doing something vital.

Shocked at her own decision, she joins the group. Soon their town is the centre of a battle. The new recruits witness rough justice against informers, and are assailed by doubt. Are they doing the right thing? Do they still have a choice? Are they really fighting on the right side?

Gef: How 'bout you tell us a bit about Choice? Sounds like it might fit in the urban fantasy genre, yes?
Leanne: Choice is set in a town very close to reality with the only major difference being that ghouls do exist. It is about the main character who's called Danni coming out of an abusive relationship and rejoining her old group of friends only to find out that they are becoming ghouls and would like her to join them so that she can help protect others. It's written from her point of view as she finds out what is really going on with the ghouls whilst at the same time trying to find herself again.

Gef: Choice is your second novel, if I'm not mistaken, and quite a departure from your previous work, Life's Consequence. I take it you're not one to be pinned down by a specific genre?

Leanne: Choice was the first book I wrote but is the second one to come out. I couldn't have written Life's Consequence if I hadn't already written Choice as I had to much going through my head at all times. My mind has never been something that I can pin down as it wants to be fed all the time like Audrey, the plant in Little Shop of Horrors, but thankfully it likes different forms of information and not blood. I can't see myself ever sticking to one genre because of that but I would love to write more Fantasy in the future when whatever is going on in my mind fits.

Gef: Life' Consequence was inspired by real life events, at least its inception was, but what about Choice? Any real life influences there?

Leanne Waller
Leanne: Choice was written with a lot of real life influences. I have grown up in a life with a lot of problems and I have always felt the pull of it being easier to just sit back and look out for myself but that would never work for me and so I have spent my life trying to sort through problems in a way that allows me to understand why they are there and how I can at least try to change them. My choice has always been to try to be good but there have been a lot of times that my actions haven't solved the problems that I intended them to. Writing Choice was my way of making sense of the mayhem that comes from trying to do the right thing and helped me to understand things that I hadn't even thought were a problem for me anymore. The ghoulish element of it helped me to write what I wanted to in a shorter time span then things would normally happen and I like the idea of having this stronger species watching over us. Fantasy has always been my favourite genre due to how much one story can tell because of the otherness quality of it. When I started writing Choice I had no idea what it would turn out like other then it would be fantasy and I didn't think there would be so much of myself in there but it felt right when I wrote it and turned out to be very entertaining at the same time so I wouldn't change it.

Gef: Since becoming a published author, what has been the biggest preconception proven wrong for you?

Leanne: On a personal note I never believed that someone like me could be a published Author as I was too ill to go to college when I left school and so have no further education after my GCSEs and I have always been poor which tends to take away any hope of your dreams coming true. Once I did have a contract for my book to be published the biggest preconception to be proven wrong for me was the saying that the hardest part is to write the book, I had never thought of how much work there is in completing a book in order for it to be sold or what goes into publicising it.

Gef: We are inching our way towards Summer Reads season, when it apparently becomes fashionable among the general public to read books. Are you a proponent for summer reading, beach reads, and the like? If so, what are you looking forward to reading this summer?

Leanne: I have read all through the year since I was nine. I used to use books to help get through things and at some points would be reading twenty-seven at a time. Now I use them to relax but I still have eight on the go at the moment including one comic book. My daily read book for now is Night World by L. J. Smith which is a YA book. I only started to read young adult books again recently and have found that these books even when compared to the thousand page ones I have been reading for the past five to ten years can still be hugely entertaining even though I'm thirty and previously thought I was to old to be reading them. My travel book at the moment is The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf which has been lent to me by a friend because she thought I would find it interesting and I do although it does makes me prone to rants whenever I read it. As far as my future reading goes I never know what mood I am going to be in so all I can say is I'm looking forward to buying new books when I have the chance to.

Gef: You're a bit of a comic book nerd if your blog is to be believed. Got any favourites you'd care to recommend?

Leanne: I wouldn't say I am a comic book nerd but if I had the money I would be as I do love them. Marvel Comics are my favourite at the moment but I am always up for reading something new. For now my second favourite comics are Thor because I love Thor and Loki's relationship and the issues that are dealt with within the story lines and my favourite is Deadpool because he is an extremely entertaining character. I can't say specific comics as I don't believe I've read enough to do that. I have bought Deadpool comic books when I didn't have the money for it really so I have been staying away from comic book shops for a while now due to needing to be able to eat but it will be my first stop once I have enough spare money again.

Gef: What projects do you have lined up for the future and where can folks keep up to date on your writing?
Leanne: I am working on a book based on depression at the moment which so far is being called Anita. I have dealt with depression for a long time so it is interesting for me to write about although what it will turn into by the end is not something I could say yet. I have ideas for a more choice based book going on in the back of my mind but very little has been written down on that idea as of yet. I would love to try out a high fantasy book one day but mainly I like tackling real world issues in whatever way they like to come out which doesn't seem to be up to me in a weird way.

As far as keeping up to date on my writing I have a blog called Life’s Ways, one on Goodreads on my author page and an author page on Amazon which I use to write what I'm up to, how I'm feeling and short stories when I have ideas or problems that don't fit but won't leave me alone whilst I'm writing a book.

May 15, 2014

Thrilling Thirteen: a guest post by Gary Ponzo

Gary Ponzo lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife Jennifer and two children, Jessica and Kyle.  His short stories have appeared in numerous publications, including Amazing Journeys Magazine and Potpourri.  Two of his short stories have been nominated for the very prestigious Pushcart Prize.  His first novel, "A Touch of Deceit" won the 2009 S.W. Writers Contest, Thriller category.
Gary is currently working on Nick Bracco thriller #5 as well as other projects. When he's not busy trying to find a solution to the problems in the Middle East, he enjoys running, golf and spending time with his family.

Ever wonder why so many musicians end up singing duets together?  Do they just like each other so much that they want to work together?  Sometimes.  Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin-of course. Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow?  Hmmm.
More times than not, however, the incentive is usually money.  How?  Well, it's all about crossover sales. The band or singer's fans are introduced to an entirely new group of listeners who hadn't know much about that band until that big duet together.  Think Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty's "Stop Dragging my Heart Around."  You think that didn't help those two artists reach over and capture the other artist's fans?  You bet it did.
Now why would I bring up collaboration?  Because writers have been collaborating for as long as musicians have.  James Patterson publishes ten books a year. You think he's doing all that writing by himself?  The reason I bring this up is because I've just been invited to participate in a collaboration myself.  Ty Hutchinson, Ethan Jones, Frank Zafiro, and seven other quality authors have invited me to contribute my first Nick Bracco thriller into a collaboration titled, Thrilling Thirteen. Some of these authors are Amazon and USA Today Bestsellers. This collaboration has thirteen thrilling books for one ridiculously low price of .99 cents. Yes, it’s only available as an ebook and will only be sold for a short time then taken off the market.
So is this all about the money? No, we’ll make a few bucks, maybe, but this is all about expanding our reach as authors and crossing over our fan base. No different than Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty. Is this a good thing? For readers, you bet. Can you imagine getting over $30.00 worth of books for less than a buck? You don’t have to because it’s here and it’s real. In the future you’ll see more and more writers doing the same thing--a short promo to boost their readership. Keep an eye out for these deals and gobble them up, because as a reader myself I’ve done just that and have enjoyed hours of entertainment for pennies.
If you’re interested in seeing the deal, here’s the link to the book page on Amazon:
Gary Ponzo