Monday, January 16, 2017

A Conversation with Abby Bardi, author of 'Double Take'



Abby Bardi is the author of the novels The Book of Fred, The Secret Letters, and Double Take. Her short fiction has appeared in Quarterly West, Rosebud, Monkeybicycle, and in the anthologies High Infidelity, Grace and Gravity, and Reader, I Murdered Him, and her short story “Abu the Water Carrier” was the winner of The Bellingham Review’s 2016 Tobias Wolff award for fiction. She has an MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Maryland and teaches writing and literature in the Washington, DC, area. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, the oldest railroad depot in America.

Website & Social Links:

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About the Book:

Set in Chicago, 1975, Double Take is the story of artsy Rachel Cochrane, who returns from college with no job and confronts the recent death of Bando, one of her best friends. When she runs into Joey,
a mutual friend, their conversations take them back into their shared past and to the revelation that Bando may have been murdered. To find out who murdered him, Rachel is forced to revisit her stormy 1960s adolescence, a journey that brings her into contact with her old friends, her old self, and danger.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Thanks for this interview, Abby Bardi. Can we begin by having you tell us about yourself from a writer’s standpoint?

Thanks for having me! I love talking about writing, which is my passion and addiction. Most of my life is about writing: I teach writing, and I write every day, even if it’s only in my journal. And sometimes my writing gets published. Double Take (HarperCollins Impulse) is my third novel; my previous novels are The Book of Fred (Washington Square Press) and The Secret Letters (also HarperCollins Impulse). I’ve also published short fiction in some journals and in a few anthologies.

When not writing, what do you like to do for relaxation and/or fun?

When I’m not writing, I’m probably dancing or walking my dog. Sometimes both at once.

Congratulations on your new book! Can you give us the very first page of your book so that we can get a glimpse inside? (Just the first page please)

1975
I recognized his voice from across the room. When I handed him a menu, he looked up absent-mindedly and went on talking to some guys, then did a double take.
“Cookie?” he said.
I tried on the name like an old article of clothing to see if it still fit. It felt like a suede fringed jacket. “Yep,” I said.
“Wow. You look so different.”
“I cut my hair.”
“Everyone did.”
“I’m older,” I said.
“Everyone’s older.”
“You look exactly the same,” I said. He was wearing a beat-up leather jacket over a green T-shirt, maybe the same jacket and T-shirt he had always worn. His thick black hair was shorter now and curly, skin still tan from summer, small mouth with perfect teeth. He still looked tough and handsome, but in a creepy way, like someone you couldn’t trust.
“Cookie, what the hell are you doing here?”
“I work here. I’d rather you didn’t call me that. My name is Rachel.”
“I thought your name was Cookie.”
“Nope. Do people still call you Rat?”
He laughed. “Nowadays I go by Joey.”
“Okay, Joey,” I said, since this was nowadays.
“Miss?” a voice called from a nearby table. The voice brought me back to where I was standing, in Diana’s Grotto, a Greek diner on 57th Street, with ten tables full of customers. For a moment, I had thought I was in Casa Sanchez.

Would you say it’s been a rocky road for you in regards to getting your book written and published or pretty much smooth sailing?  Can you tell us about your journey?

This book had a very long and often tortured journey. I first jotted down notes for it in the year it takes place, 1975, then put it away and forgot about it. Then every so often over the years I would pick it up and write a little. I’ve worked on it off and on for literally decades while I went on to other projects. Then recently I went back and finally finished it.

If you had to summarize your book in one sentence, what would that be?

When Rachel, an arty waitress with no career or life skills, graduates from college in 1975, she is forced to confront her shady past in the Sixties to understand the death of one of her best friends.

What makes your book stand out from the rest?

I think few people writing today about young people in the Sixties and Seventies actually lived through that time. They say that if you can remember the Sixties, you weren’t really there, but I do and I was.

If your book was put in the holiday section of the store, what holiday would that be and why?

It would probably be a combination of Christmas and Hanukah because Rachel is half-Jewish and half-Catholic—with maybe a little Winter Solstice thrown in because while the book is very dark at times, there is always a promise of returning light.

Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done?

Not exactly, but in my latest novel, which is almost finished, I’ve returned to the Chicago setting of Double Take, as it is in the past (1893) and the future (because: time travel).

What’s next for you?

I think I’m going to go have a sandwich. Oh, you mean the writing! I’m editing the time-travel novel and hoping it doesn’t take me as long to finish it as Double Take did.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Announcing SUPER SIMPLE QUICK START GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING Release Day Blitz!


Hot off the presses! SUPER SIMPLE QUICK START GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING by award-winning bestselling author E.J. Stevens is available now!


Title: SUPER SINGLE QUICK START GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING
Author: E.J. Stevens
Publisher: Sacred Oaks Press
Pages: 105
Genre: Nonfiction

This simple introductory guide will give you the basic information you need to begin self-publishing.

Whether you are writing your first novel or looking to breathe new life into your backlist, this guide will give you the tools you need to successfully self-publish. Useful information, direct links to resources, checklists, and step-by-step tutorials will help you create a professional quality book.

Simple tips will save you time that you can spend on writing, publishing, and promoting your next bestseller.

This book provides an introduction to:
  • Building a Writing Template
  • Copyright
  • Beta Readers and Editors
  • ISBN and Barcode
  • Font Licensing
  • Book Covers
  • ARCs
  • Ebook Formatting
  • Print Book Formatting
  • SEO, Keywords, and BISAC Categories
  • Retail Product Pages
  • Pricing
  • Audiobooks and Narrators
  • Translations and Translators

Each chapter will take you one step, leap, or bound closer to successfully publishing your book. Grab your cape. It's time to be an indie publishing hero!

Looking to improve book sales? Check out the Super Simple Quick Start Guide to Book Marketing by E.J. Stevens.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble |  Kobo |  iTunes


Book Excerpt:

Welcome to the Super Simple Quick Start Guide to Self-Publishing.  Whether novice or experienced writer, I hope you find this book helpful as you embark on your publishing journey.  My goal is to provide you with an easy-to-follow guide that will save you time and money through tips and tricks I’ve developed during my writing career.
This guide is arranged in the order in which I publish my own books.  Each chapter will take you one step, leap, or bound closer to successfully publishing your book.  Early chapters introduce concepts vital to getting your book published, and give a simple tutorial on how to complete that step, saving you valuable time.  Pro tips and publishing life hacks will highlight ways to avoid common pitfalls.  Later chapters provide information on what to do after your book launch, including how to make your book available in additional languages and in the increasingly popular audiobook format.  At the end of this guide, you’ll also find a publishing checklist and a list of useful resources.
I have successfully published 15 fiction books, including the award-winning Spirit Guide young adult series, the bestselling Hunters’ Guild urban fantasy series, and the award-winning, bestselling Ivy Granger, Psychic Detective urban fantasy series.  In 2017, I will release my first works of nonfiction, the Super Simple Quick Start Guide to Book Marketing and this Super Simple Quick Start Guide to Self-Publishing.  In addition to my 2017 nonfiction releases, I will be publishing two more books in the Ivy Granger series and two books in the much anticipated Whitechapel Paranormal Society Victorian Gothic horror series.
In recent years, my books have won numerous awards.  I am a BTS Magazine Red Carpet Award winner for Best Novel and Best Book Cover, SYAE finalist for Best Paranormal Series, Best Novella, and Best Horror, winner of the PRG Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Paranormal Fantasy Novel, Best Young Adult Paranormal Series, Best Urban Fantasy Novel, and finalist for Best Young Adult Paranormal Novel and Best Urban Fantasy Series.
My novels and novellas have been translated into multiple languages, including German, Italian, Spanish, and Dutch.  I have also had the pleasure of working with world famous voice artists in the production of over a half dozen audiobooks.
My books have flown to the top of the Amazon bestsellers lists in numerous categories.  I have repeatedly hit the Amazon top 100, and have hit #1 in a variety of categories such as the Mythology & Folktales > Fairy Tales category and the Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Psychics category in Amazon stores worldwide.
I am a guest at conventions and book signings around the world.  Recent conventions include Dragon Con, Boskone, Imaginarium, Readercon, and World Fantasy.  I frequently speak on panels and teach workshops on a wide range of publishing, writing craft, and literary topics.  I have been a guest speaker alongside such notable figures as Charles Stross, Catherynne M. Valente, Orson Scott Card, Rachel Vincent, Paul Tremblay, Maria Snyder, Leanna Renee Hieber, David Coe, Kit Reed, Peter V. Brett, Jacqueline Carey, and Max Gladstone.
It’s important to remember that I did not start out as a publishing hero.  I’ve made mistakes, ones that you don’t have to make if you follow the steps in this guide.
When I started publishing my books in 2009, there were limited resources in libraries and online.  I was frustrated by conflicting information, outdated books and websites, dead links leading to 404 errors, and false information posted by people with no industry experience.
Today there are hundreds of books, videos, and websites on how to publish and market your book.  This wealth of resources is great in theory, but it means that it has become more difficult to find useful information than ever before.  With my years of publishing experience, I can shine a light on the most important tasks, help you set clear goals, and provide tips to ensure you achieve those goals.
The Super Simple Quick Start Guide to Self-Publishing will give you the basic information needed to independently publish your book, while providing terminology and resources that will help if you wish to learn more advanced publishing skills.
Grab your cape.  It’s time to be a publishing hero!



About the Author

E.J. Stevens is the bestselling, award-winning author of the IVY GRANGER, PSYCHIC DETECTIVE urban fantasy series, the SPIRIT GUIDE young adult series, the HUNTERS' GUILD urban fantasy series, and the WHITECHAPEL PARANORMAL SOCIETY Victorian Gothic horror series. She is known for filling pages with quirky characters, bloodsucking vampires, psychotic faeries, and snarky, kick-butt heroines. Her novels are available worldwide in multiple languages.

BTS Red Carpet Award winner for Best Novel, SYAE finalist for Best Paranormal Series, Best Novella, and Best Horror, winner of the PRG Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Paranormal Fantasy Novel, Best Young Adult Paranormal Series, Best Urban Fantasy Novel, and finalist for Best Young Adult Paranormal Novel and Best Urban Fantasy Series.

When E.J. isn't at her writing desk, she enjoys dancing along seaside cliffs, singing in graveyards, and sleeping in faerie circles. E.J. currently resides in a magical forest on the coast of Maine where she finds daily inspiration for her writing.

Join the E.J. Stevens newsletter and learn about news, events, and ghosts. Monthly news updates, tour photos, and exclusive reader perks (FREE reads & giveaways!). Great resources for authors on E.J.'s "Author Resources" page on her official website.

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Book Tour: Never Go Alone by Denison Hatch


Hot off the presses! NEVER GO ALONE by Denison Hatch is available now! Please a comment below and say hi!


Title: Never Go Alone
Author: Denison Hatch
Publisher: Lookout Press
Pages: 300
Genre: Thriller/Mystery/Police Procedural
A rash of elaborate cat burglaries of luxury buildings in Manhattan has the police and mayor panicked. When a group of social media obsessed millennials—a loosely organized crew that call themselves “urban explorers”—are suspected in the heists, NYPD detective Jake Rivett is assigned the case.

Already undercover with one foot on each side of the blue line, Rivett is ordered to infiltrate the group and discern responsibility. Battling against both his own personal demons and misgivings regarding his superiors, Rivett dives deep into the urban exploration scene in pursuit of the truth. But what, and who, he finds—deep in the sewers, up in the cranes above under-construction skyscrapers, and everywhere else in New York—will change not only Jake, but the city itself.

Purchase at Amazon.

Book Excerpt:
Two feet hammered the pavement. With movement as rapid as it was controlled, the explorer’s muscles tensed for what was to come. The target, all twenty stories of unabashedly neo-classical splendor, towered across the street. Infiltrating the building would be easy, but the next step was difficult. And the rest? Brilliant meets impossible.
The explorer was wearing a small camera on his chest, which captured his viewpoint with slightly shaky but high-definition clarity. A parking post stood ahead—cement poured into a strong iron tube. The man sprinted forward and vaulted onto the post. He maintained his momentum, springing off the top of the post onto an enormous industrial air-conditioning unit. Now eight feet in the air, he had only one stride before his next jump. He sailed through the empty air, arms outstretched, fingers tensing—a twelve-foot-high brick wall ahead. Just reaching the wall, the explorer’s fingers grasped the edge. His right hand couldn’t find traction. His fingernails scraped desperately as he started to fall. But two fingers on his left hand did their job. He hung on, swinging precariously before centering himself and pulling his body up and over the wall.
The explorer dropped down on the other side. His body contracted into a tight ball as he careened toward the construction gravel below. At the last moment, he rotated and achieved a rolling landing—lessening gravity’s impact. He came to a stop. Breathing heavily, he took a brief respite from the task at hand. His chest heaved as he peered around the construction site that he’d just infiltrated. He knew that a lone security guard sat in a booth on the other side of the block. But he also knew the guard was engrossed in his cell phone, only stopping occasionally to gaze onto an adjoining street. As long as the explorer was quiet, the guard would be none the wiser. The coast was clear. He reached for a mic attached to the side strap of his backpack.
“All silent. Only one clown in the circus,” the explorer whispered into the microphone. Still out of breath, he reached for his hydration tube and took a long sip of water. Then he rotated and watched as three more compatriots covertly slid over the top of the tall brick wall.
They each hit the ground in the same rolling manner, limiting trauma with expert precision. The entire crew was clad in dark outdoor technical clothes, breathable shirts, top-of-the-line Gore-Tex pants and trail runners with all reflective surfaces blocked out by black Sharpie. Their faces were covered by bandanas or ski masks. Respirators, climbing gear, knives, and cameras were both hanging from and strapped to their belts and backpacks.
The crew split in three different directions, acting as lookouts for any errant guard or construction manager onsite in the middle of the night. It was unlikely, but their plans called for extreme caution. That’s what had made them so successful—their secret sauce was not daring; it was preparation. After confirming that the others were in position, the explorer focused on the mission at hand.
An enormous tower crane stood against the edge of the construction site. Built like a towering T, the machine’s base was a concrete shithouse holding up three hundred feet of crisscrossing steel. The explorer expertly grabbed the side of the crane. Instead of heading for the control booth at the bottom, he simply began to ascend up the latticework that made up the sides—hands followed by legs on an upstream ladder.
Stopping midway to catch his breath, the man couldn’t help but look down. Vertigo’s tendrils reached out like forbidden fruit. His foot wavered to catch hold of a one-inch bar of the latticework. But he controlled the panic, centered himself, and continued climbing.
A few minutes later, the explorer reached the top of the crane. He pulled himself over the T’s edge and gazed along the hundred-and-fifty-foot-length atop the long horizontal span. Instead of traversing in the direction of the construction site from which he’d originated, the explorer headed the opposite way. Careful with the placement of his feet, he headed towards the side of the crane that extended halfway across the street below. It was a slow process. The latticework consisted of both ninety-degree and diagonal pieces of steel, like a series of bars with a crosshatch pattern strung across it. And between the pieces of the crane’s structure was nothing—a dark void. One misstep, one hesitation, one dash of grease and the explorer would plummet over twenty stories through thin air and become one with the blacktop of the city. It was not a pleasant thought, making the already difficult process deeply nerve-wracking.
“You will not bust.” The man talked himself through the fear as he reached the far end of the crane. He was now extended as far across the street below as the machinery would take him.
The explorer gazed down the gleaming city from the Upper West Side, all the way through Midtown and into Chelsea. It was more than a place now, more than a landscape. By this point at its evolution, Manhattan represented a geospatial-and-social coordinate on the razor’s edge of modernity. It was no longer what the future could be. It was the future itself, right now, happening in front of one’s eyes and reaching the stage of infinite singularity. As the years had gone on, the surfaces of the metropolis had become smooth, the lights perfect, the façades utterly complete. It no longer beckoned for the masses humbly—it repelled them. The construction site the explorer had ascended from would soon consist of glass, marble, and sex. That was all, and that was everything, and if one was rich enough, one could buy it. The new culture didn’t care for culture itself. It did not bow to subtlety of argument or freedom of soul. It only knew money—astronomical levels of money. The only people who could afford to live here would be the progeny of sovereign wealth fund managers, tech moonshot winners, and industrial titans. Nothing was free, for anyone—not even the views.
Except for our explorer—right now. It was his, alone. He admired the panorama of New York. Yes, there was the mission, but this was deserving of a photograph. He pulled the camera off his chest harness, activated selfie mode, and turned it towards himself. He lined up, framing the background of the city behind him. Click. The camera’s flash erupted. He flipped his hand down, as if to form an upside down V slogan. Click. Another flash—another selfie—his face shrouded by a hood throughout the entire process.
Having finished memorializing the scene, the man ducked down towards the crane. As he secured something to the crane, he gazed away from the construction site and towards his target.
A sharp contrast to the modern structures popping up like weeds, the limestone apartment building across the street was built during the turn of the century—the last century, not this. Its hulking body did not undulate as it rose. Instead the building consisted of strong vertical bands that ran up to form elaborate choragic arches and support the pointed top of the roof. Four large penthouse balconies graced each corner of the building, easily visible to the explorer who stood above them on the crane. He breathed deeply, then jumped off the crane into the darkness below.
Suspended by a climbing rope, the man careened from the top of the crane and over the street, until he was positioned directly above the penthouse balcony of the old building. The pendulum continued, however, and he swung back.
The second time he was ready. His toes landed lithely on the penthouse’s balcony. He paced towards the enclosed glass greenhouse. One of the small windows of the greenhouse was unlatched, exposing a sliver of access.
The explorer carefully maneuvered the window open.
He climbed into the penthouse.
And the city’s lights twinkled as if nothing had happened at all . . .



About the Author

Denison Hatch is a screenwriter and novelist based in Los Angeles. Although he lives in the proverbial desert now, he is originally from Delaware—land of rolling hills and DuPont gunpowder. Denison has a number of feature and television projects in development, including his original screenplay, Vanish Man, which is set up at Lionsgate. A graduate of Cornell University, Denison lives with his wife and big dog in a little house in Hollywood. Never Go Alone is the second novel in the Jake Rivett series.

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Book Feature: Kali Kucera's 'Unawqi, Hunter of the Sun'



We're happy to have with us today Kali Kucera, author of the mythical realism book, UNAWQI, HUNTER OF THE SUN. Please leave a comment to let him know you stopped by!



Title: Unawqi, Hunter of the Sun
Author: Kali Kucera
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 218
Genre: Mythical Realism

In a time when supernatural and industrial worlds are staged to collide, an Andean boy finds himself in the center of an epic struggle between the cosmos and the earth. Unawqi is born with both insurmountable power and a fate of certain death, both of which are challenged by his hunt of the emperor, Aakti, the Sun: the very force that desires to abandon the earth unless Unawqi can overcome him.

Premise: How easily we take the Sun for granted. We are conditioned to its rising and setting on time, and assume it enjoys doing so, or more likely is indifferent. Unawqi, Hunter of the Sun reveals a more perilous tale: the Sun, Aakti, is a being who is a reluctant player in providing light and warmth to our world, and even more has always desired to leave us to die if he didn’t have certain personal complications standing in his way. Aakti will stop at nothing to get what he wants, even if that involves murder of his own kin or annihilation of an entire living planet. Ironically, what holds him back is the very life he is creating; the family from which he tries to but cannot wrest control, and among them a young intrepid boy emerges, a hunter who sets out on a journey, not to stop the Sun, but to overcome him with a force we also take for granted: our humanity.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Book Excerpt:

THANKSGIVING


Beware the empty chair. 
It was the only one unclaimed in the room of hungry diners in the basement of St. Rita’s church in Tacoma.  The legs were slightly turned out, as if an invisible waiter had pulled it back to let me slide in.  

Guilt had gotten the best of me to be there in the first place.  It was Thanksgiving morning, and a day earlier, my neighbors, who were never ones to shirk a promise, came to me with panic on their faces.  Their son’s house had burned down, they said, and they needed to leave immediately.  

I gave them my sympathies, but something else was bothering them still.  They had obligated themselves to help prepare free breakfast at St. Rita’s in the morning, an annual tradition for the city’s homeless.  I tried not to wince at the pious sound of it all, but I could sense what they were leading up to and I remembered the many times they'd watered my garden when I was out of town.  I knew my morning would be free before needing to drive to my aunt’s house for our family dinner, so, of course, I told my neighbors I would be glad to fill in for them and they should think no more of it.
Never having even been to St. Rita’s, I was loathe to socialize and threw myself into the work, but after a couple hours of scrambling eggs, I was impressed by my neighbor’s commitment to do this year after year.  My feet felt like two ends of a barbell, and I was just about ready to grab a plate myself and take a break.

If I had not been so tired, my finicky nature would have guided me to pass up the solitary chair and look for a less conspicuous corner of the room where perhaps there were fewer people.  The less forgiving angel on my shoulder bit me with the words: “You hypocritical, insincere, lazy ass.” It was right.  The people were streaming in through the door. Most had no home, no job, and no money.  Their bodies told their stories of broken dreams, crippling work, and damaged minds.  And here I was, fancying an emperor’s throne somewhere, so I could separate myself off to swallow my grits and baked apples?    

The lonely chair in front of me could have been reserved for someone else, so I asked the person sitting on the opposite side of the table if it was taken.  He said no, gestured for me to claim it, and I sat down with my plate and coffee without giving it another thought. 

It wasn’t until I looked back up that I noticed something about him seemed out of place.  I glanced at him across the table as he salted his eggs, observing how his right hand moved gracefully to the shaker.  He had none of the typical displays of mental edginess.  He was not disheveled, or weary on the brow.  His hair was combed, and he wore a leather jacket that didn’t bear a single tear.  His eyes were calm, like having emerged from a prayer, and he was happily occupied with his own thoughts. 
But his left hand remained fixed in place on the table, appearing to be hiding something underneath his palm.  

I must admit, it was also plain to me how strikingly handsome he was.  His jet black hair, and his face with the sheen of a brown eggshell suggested he was Latino, and I wondered what had brought him here, far from where he might have been born.

Normally, it’s prudent in these settings not to ask.  People are scarred enough by their circumstances and they don’t want to be interviewed as the price for their meal.  I wanted to protect his privacy and let him eat in peace, and in my own defense, didn’t want to unleash an emotional outbreak.  But still, his appearance challenged me, and his seeming self-confidence broke through my etiquette, and I asked him that inadvisable question anyway:  “So, what’s your story?”

His face sprung up like a soldier’s salute and he gave me a smile, wide with contentment.
“I am Unawqi.  I am hunting the Sun.”

It was such a terse thing to say, and he was so oddly composed in saying it, that I could only smile and nod back, disguising my disappointment, sure he was just as crazy as the rest, albeit happily crazy.  

I thought some more about the strangeness of his name, sounding out the phonemes in my mind.  Was it Finnish or Japanese?  Apache, perhaps?  A second later I thought again that maybe he was making a clever joke in order to break the ice.  After all, Tacoma has plenty of days of being overcast with gloomy clouds refusing to budge, and talking about the weather is indeed how we all usually start a conversation.  So I returned to him again and said, “Yes, the Sun has a lot of good hiding places in November.”

Unawqi dropped his fork on his plate and his eyes bore into me as if I had just given him the key to paradise.

“So you have seen him?” Unawqi beamed.

Regretting, now, that I had not taken the warning sign of the empty chair, I searched my mind for an excuse to get up and return to the kitchen.  But before I could finish my breakfast, Unawqi had lined out enough of his story that I found myself not only glued to my seat, but devoid of any fatigue or hunger but for the feast of his very next word.

I fell in love with Unawqi instantly, as I imagined everyone did.  In the first thirty minutes he made me laugh more than I had over the course of a year.  It puzzled me how such an energetically positive young man could end up in a basement of broken heartedness, but this only compelled me to listen all the more.

I wouldn’t be telling you this story if Unawqi was, in fact, merely making a joke about the weather.  His opening line was literally and plainly what he'd meant: he was a hunter, the Sun was his prey, and his extraordinary pursuit, which had begun ages ago, had finally brought him here, to Tacoma, of all places.  And it was here, in Tacoma, that he was just as zealous as he had always been to see his hunt come to an end.

Naturally, I had to ask why would one hunt the Sun, and this was when his story grew more complicated, his face showing pain, at many points, as he struggled to justify the emotional struggle of his journey.  

He set his plate aside, for the heaviness in his heart overtook any appetite he had left, and he reached out and took my hand, asking me to listen.

“Think back, if you will, to the first time your father took you for a walk in the night.  The darkness, how it horrified you.  It swallowed you whole, and the only link you had to the light was the touch of your father’s fingers in your palm.  So small and tenuous a wall, you remembered, separating your life from your death.  

"For a brief second he let go of your hand, to, instead, put it on your shoulder, and in that moment you felt what it was like to be forsaken.  You cried out in terror, and even when his hand returned, you realized it could leave again, throwing you into the vastness of space to be on your own.
"Still, he urged you to continue, to go further, deeper into space, farther away from home.  So you trusted him again, and you walked together until you shivered from the cold.  

"But for some reason still a mystery, imagine that he truly chose to let his hand go, and his voice to go silent.  You would pray it wasn't true, that he must soon return, and yet he would not.  No matter how many times you called, he would not answer.  He just left.

"This time you would be all alone, a boy, abandoned to face the boundless night, led to the loveless abyss, rejected by your own genesis, without a compass or line to find your way  back.

"No greater a cruelty can be imagined than this.  But this is just between one father and his son.  How much greater is the cruelty when the father casts a million sons, indeed, the whole world, to the abyss?

"That is the crime.  That is why I'm here.  

"But there is more, for now the father is no less the boy, and the boy no less his father.

"We are all in danger of casting each other out.”

Unawqi told me he was not hunting for sport or pleasure.  He was a bounty hunter of sorts, and the Sun had committed a crime against humanity, a preconceived crime that had not yet come to pass, but still could, if the right conditions were met.  It was a crime that Unawqi said he himself needed to overcome. Indeed, that we all must do the same, at some point or another.

My mind came around again to his left hand, which still had not moved. 
 
“And what is this you’re keeping?” I asked.

“Oh, this,’’ he answered with a little chagrin and lifting his palm.  “This is a gift.  A little silk worm I hope will bring me good fortune and make things right.”

The tiny insect was crawling around in a nest of straw, making spindles of silk that played with the overhead light.  This smallest of living things, manufacturing the miraculous in the middle of such a somber place, enchanted me to no end.  

Unawqi, of course, wanted to protect it, which is why he kept it covered so securely.  His hand was its shelter, its mighty fortress, and he would be certain to never abandon this creation for as long as he lived.

His story would not have come from Finland or Japan or the mesas of Arizona.  His beginning belonged to a patch of green, high in the Andes, where farmers herded goats, and unearthed potatoes, when they were not dancing to the sounds of their magical flutes.  It was a peaceful place, and he longed to return home, as soon as he was able, but only if he could bring the whole world home with him.





About the Author

Kali Kucera is an American lorist and short story writer living in Quito, Ecuador, where he also rides and writes about bus and train travel. Since he was 9 years old he has been composing plays, operas, short stories, and multi-disciplinary experiences. He has been both a teacher and performer as well as an arts mobilizer, and founded the Tacoma Poet Laureate competition in 2008.

His latest book is the mythical realism novel, Unawqi, Hunter of the Sun.

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Friday, January 6, 2017

Author Interview: Malia Zaidi, author of 'A Darker Shore'





Malia Zaidi is the author of A POISONOUS JOURNEY. She attended the University of Pittsburgh, and studied at English at Oxford University. Having grown up in Germany, she currently lives in Washington DC, though through her love of reading, she resides, vicariously in countries throughout the world. A POISONOUS JOURNEY is her first book in the Lady Evelyn mysteries series. The sequel, A DARKER SHORE, is her latest novel.

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About the Book:

1926: A year has passed since the events of "A Poisonous Journey" and Lady Evelyn has made a home for herself in Greece, living with her cousin, Briony, her husband, Jeffrey and Daniel Harper.
Disturbing this island idyll is a letter, which arrives from France with troubling information about the Daniel’s long-believed-dead brother, Henry. A new journey awaits! With the shadows of the Great War reaching out, Lady Evelyn and Daniel voyage to Amiens in Northern France with the aim of discovering the truth behind the ominous letter. Upon their arrival, they are met not with clarity but rather with crime. Murder, to be precise. Is it linked to their presence in France, or even worse, to Henry himself?  Evelyn and Daniel must confront their history as they try to make sense of the present before the killer can strike again, and the secrets of the past are lost forever.

PURCHASE AT:

Amazon


Thanks for this interview, Malia.  Can we begin by having you tell us about yourself from a writer’s standpoint?

Thank you! I am the author of the first two books of the Lady Evelyn Mysteries: “A Poisonous Journey” and “A Darker Shore”, historical mysteries set in the 1920s.

When not writing, what do you like to do for relaxation and/or fun?

I love to read when I’m not writing, which makes me sound like the least sociable person, doesn’t it? I also love to spend time with friends and family, traveling and painting. My travels have definitely influenced my writing, so I can try to call it researchJ

Congratulations on your new book! Can you give us the very first page of your book so that we can get a glimpse inside?

Near Pozières, France 1917

            We came here to die.
            My heart beats the rhythm of the shell blast. Boom. Boom. Boom. Ready to burst, ready to break. Boom. Boom. Boom.
            "Get down!"
            An explosion of earth, light, and fire twenty feet beyond our trench.
            "Close one that?" McCragh bellows into my ear.
            I only manage a nod. Too many sounds echoing through my body, the steady pulsing of my heart, the tinny ringing in my ears. But silence can be just as bad I have learned. Silence can be death. My discovery weighs heavy on my mind. What will I do? Do I have a choice?
            "What are the orders?" asks a young man, whose name I cannot remember, standing at my other side, leaning heavily against the dirt wall of our trench, his feet squelching thickly in the mud underfoot.
            "Awaiting orders," says McCragh with a sneer. "Won't do us much good, waiting 'ere much longer, better get out, better to be moving."
            The nameless young man shies away from us, from the bitter words of the burly Scot
            Before I can respond, another man, the Runner, comes catapulting into the ditch. I help him right himself. His face is smeared with dirt and dust, but this mask cannot conceal his tender age. I shudder. We will all die here today.
            "Orders are to stay. Enemy" he gasps for air, "enemy is showing signs of retreat."
            "Retreat?" McCragh frowns. "Bleedin' cowards!"
            "Are you certain?" I ask, feeling the quiver in my voice.
            "Yessir, orders from above. Told us to wait it out."
            "Right, well done, son," I say, though the boy could be my brother. "Go on, then. Best make the rounds." I try to sound calm, reassuring, to keep my voice steady, while I know I fail and only hope my fear is disguised by the screams and blasts from above.
            "Yessir." He takes a breath and sets off at a brisk trot, as fast as the bodies crowded into this tight space will allow.
            "Another day to live in hell, then. Lovely." Lewis, a Cornish fellow with a missing left ear comments wryly as he materializes at our side.


Would you say it’s been a rocky road for you in regards to getting your book written and published or pretty much smooth sailing?  Can you tell us about your journey?

It’s definitely had its challenges. The writing part is the one I enjoy the most, and which I feel goes the most smoothly. There is a great satisfaction in typing those last words of the first draft. Then starts the rather tedious process of editing and rewriting, maybe you can tell it’s not my favorite, but very important nonetheless. Like many other authors, I think the greatest challenge tends to come once you are ready to think about publishing, writing queries, taking to a publisher, and endless email exchanges with them trying to get the cover and formatting just the way I imagined it. When I first started writing, I thought the hardest part and the one that would be the most time-consuming was the writing, but after two books, I’ve found everything that follows much more overwhelming, especially for my first book. The marketing and trying to sell the book to readers comes very unnaturally to me, someone who prefers to sit quietly and read or write. That being said, I have been so positively surprised by the encouragement of bloggers and readers, which makes it so worthwhile and for which I am very grateful!

If you had to summarize your book in one sentence, what would that be?

Lady Evelyn Carlisle gets caught up in a murder investigation, which forces her to confront the past, to understand the present and prevent another death.

What makes your book stand out from the rest?

I hope that it is the characters. I try my best to make them real, not caricatures of 20s guys and dolls. Evelyn is a person like all of us with a past, who is trying to makes sense of it and her place in the world. There is adventure, a dash of romance and humor, friendship and a dose of philosophy, which I think could appeal to many readers who are looking for a slightly deeper kind of escapism in their crime caper. The settings, too, are exotic and rich in history, which I like to think adds a quality of armchair travel to the books.

If your book was put in the holiday section of the store, what holiday would that be and why?

That’s a good question with the holidays coming up! I think it might be Easter, because both books are set in spring, and I think the concept of rebirth and hopefulness would appeal to Lady Evelyn.

Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done?

They are a series, and I had always planned for that. Hopefully Evelyn will have many more adventures!

What’s next for you?

I am just finishing up my Nanowrimo book, not a part of the series, rather a contemporary psychological thriller. It’s different for me, but I thought I’d try to challenge myself with a new genre. We’ll see where it goes. When that’s done, I will return to Evelyn.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Tigress and the Yogi Book Blast



Hot off the presses! THE TIGRESS AND THE YOGI by Shelley Schanfield is available now! Sign up to win a paperback copy of her book or one of 5 ebooks!



Title: THE TIGRESS AND THE YOGI
Author: Shelley Schanfield
Publisher: Lake House Books
Pages: 382
Genre: Historical Fantasy
A talking tigress.
A wandering yogi.
A young woman's harrowing journey through an ancient land where chaos threatens gods and mortals alike.

A tigress speaks to the outcaste girl Mala, and as she flees in terror, she encounters an old yogi. She offers him hospitality. As an untouchable, her very shadow may sully the holy man, but he accepts, repaying her kindness with stories that awaken her hunger for forbidden spiritual knowledge. Soon after he leaves, she is orphaned and enslaved, but the warrior goddess Durga appears in a vision and offers her hope. 

Thus begins her quest for liberation, on which she meets gods and goddesses, high-born Brahmins and lowly keepers of the cremation grounds, outlaws and kings, and young Prince Siddhartha Gautama, who is prophesied to become the Buddha. She finds happiness for a brief time, but when she loses everything, her quest goes terribly wrong. She becomes an outlaw warrior, worshipping the dark goddess, Kali. She masters occult powers but descends into madness, misusing the supernatural gifts the goddess bestows, and when she again encounters the old yogi, she must decide whether to continue on the path of bloody vengeance or seek transcendence through the power of yoga.

The Tigress and the Yogi is an historical fantasy that brings to life the vivid mythical world of ancient India and transports the reader to the Buddha's time in a story filled with love and fear, anger and desire. This visionary novel creates a memorable portrait of a powerful woman, her extraordinary daughter, and the men they challenge and inspire. It examines the yearning for spiritual transformation and inner peace, and the ways in which the pursuit of wisdom and compassion can go terribly wrong.

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Book Excerpt:

Fragrant trees shaded the grove, though open patches among the leaves admitted some dappled sunlight. After the thick, dense forest, this place was like a spacious and cool green temple. There was a tall, slender stone pillar set in a circle of stones in the very center. The snake-loving Nagas, the most fearsome of the hidden forest tribes, must have sacrificed here once. Nagas had not been seen near the village in years, but everyone still feared them. Sometimes when a village man disappeared, people whispered that the dark ones had sacrificed him to their Great Mother, She who was ancient as the earth.
Mala shrugged off a whisper of unease. It was so peaceful and beautiful, there could be no danger. She crawled to a tree trunk and curled up against it to rest awhile. The birds and insects remained silent. Her own breathing was loud in her ears. It felt good just to rest her hand on her belly as it rose and fell. Soon she was aware of nothing else.
Her back against the tree and her head nodding, Mala slipped into a strange new place of lights and sounds. The tree’s roots cradled her and the earth’s coolness was like a soothing caress. Light fell from the leaves above like drops of water. Then she gasped.
On a tigress’s back, a many-armed, beautiful goddess appeared in radiant splendor, waving hands carrying weapons. One hand the goddess held before her breasts in a strange gesture, thumb and forefinger touching. The other she held out toward Mala, and from its upward-facing palm shot a beam of light. Mala prostrated before the vision.
Om, Divine One,” Mala said. Om!”
The bejeweled goddess dismounted from the tigress and with her two free hands lifted her ruby and diamond garland from around her neck, smiling as she did so.
I am Durga, Mala. Durga held out the garland. One day this will be yours. As Mala reached for the sparkling necklace, the red jewels began to drip blood. Mala cried out.
She woke. The vision flitted at the edges of consciousness like a wild animal hiding in the forest’s shadows. Dusk was approaching. In the distance, there was something or someone: a horse whinnied, human voices called and laughed. Or did she imagine it? Was Durga only a dream?
No. The warrior goddess was real. Warriors had strength and courage. It was a sign. Mala must be strong and courageous, too. But what did the jewels dripping blood mean?
That when a warrior fights for justice, blood is shed.


About the Author

Shelley Schanfield’s passion for Buddhism and yoga arose sixteen years ago, when she and her son earned black belts in Tae Kwon Do. The links between the martial arts and Buddhist techniques to calm and focus the mind fascinated her. By profession a librarian, Shelley plunged into research about the time, place, and spiritual traditions that 2500 years ago produced Prince Siddhartha, who became the Buddha. Yoga, in some form, has a role in all of these traditions. Its transformational teachings soon prompted Shelley to hang up her black belt and begin a yoga practice that she follows to this day.

Because she loves historical fiction, Shelley looked for a good novel about the Buddha. When she didn’t find one that satisfied her, she decided to write her own novels based on the spiritual struggles of women in the Buddha’s time. She published the first book in the Sadhana Trilogy, The Tigress and the Yogi, in 2016 and will publish the second, The Mountain Goddess in early 2017.

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Giveaway Details:

Shelley is giving away one autographed copy of The Tigress and the Yogi PLUS 5 ebooks!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Six winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter.
  • This giveaway ends midnight January 27.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on February 1.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!