An Excerpt: Gifted Trust by John Paul Allen

John  Paul Allen is touring around the internet these days, drumming up support for his book Gifted Trust. I have the distinct pleasure of providing you with an excerpt, but there are a few things that need to be taken care of first!

John Paul Allen PicJohn Paul Allen refers to himself as a Semi-Complete Unknown. That said, his popularity seems to be growing. “It’s all material.” Allen says when asked where his ideas come from. “Life is the best source, and nothing is off limits.”

What He Writes: Stories without borders. John Paul Allen is known for crossing lines and warns readers, “Nothing is off limits, if it edifies a story. If you want safe, there’s a lot of that being offered. I expect my readers to go beyond the content, in order to enjoy the story.”

John Paul Allen is originally from Michigan, but served in the US Navy in Cuba and on board the USS Brownson, USS Wainwright, USS Frank Cable and USS Dewert. He’s lived in Florida, South Carolina, Virginia, Texas and now Tennessee. He lives near Nashville where he spends his time with his girlfriend enjoying being Paw Paw to one-year-old Makenzie and his new born granddaughter, Zoe.

Now let’s talk a little bit about the Gifted Trust and the giveaway that Biting Dog Press is undertaking!

Gifted Trust CoverIn 1930 Max Belote, a Dallas literary agent, heard the voice of Virago. “Tell her, just be good,” it whispered and he’d repeat before mutilating or killing his victim. Wanting to stop the evil entity inside him, Max ended his life. In 1970 convicted serial murderer Jeffrey Michael Roberts also heard the words, and until his execution he fulfilled its desires. In 2003 Virago spoke to Edward Paine, a high school teacher, who sought help to destroy the creature within. One soul, three lives, and the evil entity that commands them.

Death is not the end… It’s a brief interruption.

And now the giveaway!

Win a complete John Paul Allen digital library from Biting Dog Press!

And here is the excerpt – read and enjoy!

Chapter Three…

Everett felt the heat, and if able he would have rubbed his hands together. He’d caress his fingers individually then flex the digits until the sting subsided. If he could crawl to them he would place his mouth over each finger and blow temporal warmth. Instead he collected his thoughts of the final words spoken before being left alone. What plans do you have for the rope, Randolph? He’s got nothing left to tie.

Everett moved his arms and remembered all below each elbow was gone. He could not explore the empty holes that once held his eyes and as the dizziness progressed he wondered if his fate was to burn or bleed to death. He smelled the smoke seeping upward through the floor as his thoughts slipped to Clément’s instructions. Do not make a fire. If someone spots smoke you may be discovered. Light the lantern, find blankets and extinguish it. His mind drifted to the torch he saw in the distance as he dismounted the carriage. He assumed travelers preceding him on the road would pass the cottage, give note to the shuttered windows, and continue on. They will not stop, he thought. He was wrong.

I’m going to die, Everett thought. The fear dissipated as the pain climaxed. His only concern was that Celeste might continue her plan and find him in the morning. Maybe she knows. If told, what reason would she have to come? He began to pray then lost track of his thoughts, as the seepage from his empty sockets increased. Even this could not hold his attention, as his mind took him to his last moments whole.

Hours earlier Everett wished Pierre a safe return and turned his attention toward Lever de Soleil. The house was comparable to yearly homes of Quebec’s moderately successful gentlemen, built by Clément to begin his life with Lorraine. He wanted many children, but only his wealth grew and eventually he and his daughter moved to their final residence.

Everett circled the structure and entered the rear entrance where staff carried food across the whistler’s walk from the kitchen quarters behind the main residence. Few rays of light found their way into the cottage, so he located the lantern and Lucifers inside the doorway. He passed through the dining room, continuing down the hallway until approaching stairs, and ascended to the second floor where he viewed four closed doors. Three to his right faced the river. The fourth, Celeste’s room, was to the left and gave sight to those approaching from the road.

Entering the room Everett set the lantern on a table covered by a white embroidered doily and crossed the floor to a chest. Opening it he discovered a comforter, which he removed and placed on the unmade bed. Here he would spend his night wrapped in the cloth that many times kept his lover warm. Built near the Quebec River, screening was placed along all outer windows in late spring to allow the breeze from the water to keep in-house temperatures mild. At the beginning of autumn the same would be replaced by wooden boards to protect against the cold until they departed for winter.

Everett moved to the window and attempted to view between cracks in the shutter, but outside darkness made it impossible. He assumed those spotted earlier had passed quietly and he turned the knob at the base of the lantern to deaden the glow before securing himself within the bedding. He imagined all that happened between Celeste and Varnwell. Tomorrow she’ll come and we’ll be off, he thought.

As Everett drifted to sleep he envisioned the confrontation, assured Celeste would manage the path of least resistance. If the Colonel knew too much she’d accept his anger and beg forgiveness, but would expect none. She would be credited for the break and never again be considered a choice partner. If he believed her, she’d bid him good eve and retreat to her bedroom to wait for the night’s silence. Either scenario ended with her coach, guided by moonlight, setting out to their union. He estimated her arrival to be before dawn. She’d awaken him and they’d instruct her driver to continue to the Port of Quebec where they would seek passage to a destination yet determined. Celeste’s possible condition made him think Philadelphia or Boston the best choices. Giving thought of their future Everett’s mind clouded then passed into dreams and in the heaviness he found difficulty separating sleep from those moments leading to his end.

“He sleeps like a babe, does he not?” The voice gave no owner as Everett’s eyes opened. “Hope we weren’t rough in your waking.”

Everett threw his covers off and swung his feet toward the floor, as the barrel of the long gun pressed against his chest. A match was drawn to the lantern and he saw them surrounding the bed.

“I wouldn’t try rising,” said the soldier.

Everett turned and took note of the man who was obviously the leader of the patrol and attempted to make conversation. “What are you doing here? I’m a guest of the owner of this property.”

“Sir, I’m not here to discuss such matters,” said the soldier. “It appears you’ve sided wrongly with my superior.”

“I am in Colonel Varnwell’s service,” Everett said. “This cottage is property of his …”

Everett couldn’t recall finishing his testimony before the blow came, but he remembered pulling on the bindings connecting his arms and legs to the head and foot boards when he woke. Seven men he counted, three on each side and the one who orchestrated their movements stood at his feet.

“Who sent you?” Everett asked.

“Quiet, no need to converse,” said the soldier. “You already know.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about. I insist you release me,” said Everett. “This is all a mistake.” The blow of the stock came down upon his chest and the sound of a rib cracking was followed by his cry.

“Again, there is no need for us to talk,” the soldier said. His voice, a deep and graveled whisper, spoke without emotion. His hair, long and dark, paired well with his black eyes. The corners of his mouth hitched upward into a meaningless smile. “Still I will do you the courtesy of an introduction. I am Phineas, of Colonel Varnwell’s command. You may have seen me before. I know I’ve observed you many times. My duty is to tend to special assignments given by the Colonel. He tells me what he expects and I comply.”

“Please, let me explain,” said Everett.

“I’m sorry, but you hold little worth bargaining,” said Phineas. “I am expected to make this last as long as possible and your talking hinders my work. I will ask you once to not put up resistance. Now, prepare to section him.”

Phineas nodded to another in uniform, who set his weapon against the wall and moved to the table holding the lantern. A gloved hand was placed on the base, as the other lifted the glass freeing the flame.

“Permit me to introduce Watson to you, Mr. Everett,” Phineas said nodding to the man standing next to him. “Could you please briefly share what you do?”

“I’m a physician,” Watson said.

“Watson, please …” Phineas said.

“I’ve assisted many doctors,” said Watson as he pulled something out of his coat. Everett looked into the shadow created by the soldier’s body and realized the man held several short pieces of metallic rock, which he placed next to the lantern before continuing to speak. “I’ve had many opportunities to partake in field medical procedures. What I speak of is the occasional amputation.”

“No,” Everett cried. His eyes widened as a rifle fell upon him again.

“Mr. Everett, as much as I’d enjoy a debate, my men have gone without rest for more hours than I care to count because of you,” Phineas said. “Do not interrupt again.”

“Thank you,” said Watson. “As I was saying, I have assisted in a number of operations and as you might imagine the loss of a limb is followed by a considerable amount of bleeding. It is this that leads to deaths more often than the cause of the wound itself.” He paused to lift the wire and a surgical clamp displaying them before Everett. “These will aid in ceasing the flow of blood. What we are about to do is remove various parts of you in whatever order Mr. Phineas directs, beginning with your tongue. As each piece is detached I will follow by searing the wound. Doing so will form a crust and hinder the flow. Clamps will enable me to stop blood released from severed arteries. Unfortunately we are without proper cutting instruments, but Randolph has spent considerable time sharpening his knife and finding substitute tools. Now, I believe we can begin.”

Watson, a smaller and much older man than the others, nodded at Randolph. The soldier nearest Everett’s head on the opposite side of the bed unsheathed a hunting knife and grinned. He held it before the prisoner and ran his thumb across the blade, allowing drops of blood to fall onto the quilt. As Everett turned away, hands grasped his head and forced it to face the steel. Fingers were planted onto his cheeks and pressure was applied to force his jaw open. Randolph took hold of Everett’s tongue, extended it out of his mouth and slit it at its base. Blood flowed and his head was turned to allow drainage. His screams grew as Watson placed the glowing wire onto the stub.

“Maybe I should have asked if you had a last statement, Mr. Everett. I apologize,” Phineas said, “but we have no time for sentiment. Watson, I wish you would do something to stop his crying. Could you remove his eyes?”

Everett was thankful that the haze of the shadows left the bayonet’s sharpness a mystery until it was upon him. A soldier stepped forward and plunged the blade between the left eyeball and the edge of the socket popping it loose. As it dangled Randolph’s knife cut the nerve that attached it to the head and the steps were repeated without hesitation to the right eye.

“This is an act of kindness,” said Phineas. “I wish I was able to avoid witnessing what I’m forced to observe, but I suppose that is the price of duty. Now I’ll have to ask you for your patience for we must modify to accommodate you.”

Everett listened to footsteps leaving and he could hear pounding, as if someone was hammering. When it ceased he heard the men returning and he felt hands moving beneath him. Wooden boards were being slid between him and the mattress. The shutters, he thought.

“I believe we’re prepared to continue,” Phineas broke the silence. “As Watson conveyed earlier, we lack certain medical instruments. He mentioned not possessing a surgical tool for your limbs. Thus we had to devise a replacement.”

Please, Everett thought. Haven’t you done enough? His arms and legs pulled on the restraints and he attempted to protest. “Oow… peesh…” Don’t please. “I’m soree,” I’m sorry.

“We’ll be removing your legs first, Mr. Everett. Randolph, are you ready,” Phineas said. “If you hold still this may go quickly.” He nodded at the soldier who raised the ax over his head and brought it down upon the left leg below the knee. The cut failed, as upper and lower segments remained united by tissue. “I want it off.”

Randolph stretched the sections to create a gap then cut the resisting ligaments. The lower leg rolled and fell off the side of the bed, still attached to the rope. A soldier braced the thigh as Watson attempted to cauterize the stump with the metallic rock, but realized immediately the effort would be fruitless.

“This isn’t going to work,” Watson said, “and I won’t have enough clamps for both his arms.”

“Then we must move faster and get by with what we have. I want him alive when we leave,” said Phineas as he turned to a soldier next to him. “Go begin the fire, hurry. Randolph, the other leg, cut it.”

Randolph moved closer to the bed forcing the ax into the air and down in one motion. This time the blade struck the kneecap splitting it in two. A second swing was needed to part the limb.

“Eesse… Eesse…” Everett screamed. Celeste… Celeste… he wanted unconsciousness to take him and thoughts of her to be his last.

“You cry for the girl? Such a coincidence,” said Phineas. “Fear not Mr. Everett, you’ll be joining her soon. The Colonel’s entourage had their way with her earlier and though it didn’t go as planned I am here to equalize matters.” He looked at Randolph, who stood holding the ax to his side. “Do I need to tell you everything? Pick an arm.”

“Hold the right one to the board,” the soldier shouted at Watson as he took aim. The blade did the work with one stroke and all noticed the fingers flexing after separation. “Now hold the left one still.” Again he swung the weapon, and upon release the limb dangled from the restraint.

“Do you smell the smoke, Mr. Everett? I would distinguish that ability, but you might not appreciate your predicament,” Phineas said. “Now we must leave you to face your end. Bleed or burn, those are your options.” He looked at Randolph, who dropped the ax and now held a segment of rope as he stared at the torso. “What plans do you have for the rope, Randolph? He’s got nothing left to tie.” The soldiers laughed as one grabbed the lantern and they exited the room.

He thought not of the pain or the fire, but only of Celeste as he imagined her calling to him. Everett … Everett, he heard her cries. It was then that he knew she would not compromise to survive without him. He wished to sleep until they were together again and prayed the end would come quickly. He felt the bed give way as flames ate the wood beneath him. As the floor weakened the frame tilted until he slid, dragging the blankets with him. His clothing and hair caught fire and his last thoughts were of his own burning flesh. Days later his blackened remains would be discovered, as his soul watched from another world.

FREE! This Weekend Only! ‘The Venus Club’ & ‘The Song of the Moth’ by Katie M. John

The Venus Club and The Song of The Moth (2 Fairy Tales of horror) are available FREE on Amazon over the Easter weekend FRIDAY – MONDAY

KatieMJohn_banner

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Also Available on all International Amazon platforms.

Winner of the indie horror spring 2011 award, The Venus Club is a dark little tale about revenge. When Eleanor flees the horrors of her upbringing in a violent and brutal abattoir based in the London The Rookeries, she is saved by a mysterious woman, Kate, who offers her riches beyond her wildest dreams; all Kate’s establishment caters to almost every possible taste, including the bizarre and the weird, but nothing tastes quite as sweet as revenge.

The Song of the Moth, set in Edwardian London is a twisted tale of obsession and desire. A traditional style fairy tale is given the high gothic treatment. With Nemo’s mother incarcerated in London’s infamous ‘Bethlam Hospital’, the strange young boy is raised amongst the squalor of the poorhouse until he ‘accidently’ bumps into the wealthy gentleman Edward Smithe-Williams. Edward offers Nemo a new life in return for one small favor. Little does Nemo know that Edward’s kindness is a thin veneer that hides his true nature as Prince of a realm that only exists in the imaginations of the insane.

As an extra bonus, the first four chapters of Katie’s novel Beautiful Freaks are also included. The short story The Venus Club was the genesis for Beautiful Freaks after several readers wrote to Katie to ask her to turn the darkly, decadent world of Victorian London into a full length novel. Beautiful Freaks explores the dark and destructive relationship between Evangeline Valentine (Owner of No.7, a Gentleman’s club and home to The Palace of Beautiful Freaks) and Kaspian Blackthorne, an impressionable and doomed young man. Their love affair is set against the backdrop of the violent underworld of Soho and The Haymarket at the time of a series of terrible, paranormal murders. Weaving classic feminist fairy tales into a classic Holmes style detective story, Beautiful Freaks is a delicious mash-up of genre, style and stories.

KatieMJohnKatie lives in the London suburbs. Her time is divided between writing, teaching English to teenagers and being mummy to two daughters. She started writing seriously after the birth of her first daughter five years ago. She has gone on to have four of her YA novels published and numerous short horror and fantasy stories published by several press houses, including Nexus Press and Winter Goose.

Her series The Knight Trilogy is an Amazon.UK number one best selling Fairy Tale series and has been consistently in the top 100 of several categories.

In October 2012 she released her fourth novel, Beautiful Freaks, a gothic paranormal detective novel set in Victorian London.

She is currently working on a seven book series called the Meadowsweet Chronicles, a series about witchcraft in a sleeping English village. Book One is due for publication in the summer of 2013. All of her books are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones and WHSmith.

CONNECT WITH KATIE!

www.katiemjohn.com

www.theknighttrilogy.com

www.beautifulfreakskatiemjohn.com

www.littlebirdpublishinghouse.com

Follow Kate on Twitter @KnightTrilogy

Nine Questions with… Anne Michaud

Today I welcome Anne Michaud, a fellow Canadian, to The FlipSide. For those of you who haven’t read anything by Anne, let’s take a quick moment to acquaint everyone. Welcome Anne, why don’t you take a moment and introduce yourself to the captive audience that you now have before you.

Anne_MichaudI’ve always loved to freak people out, either by dressing all in black or with stories tending to be of the darker side of things. I’ve studied filmmaking, written, directed and produced three short films before realizing it wasn’t for me: I like to be alone and write, not be on a set with neurotic people. So there, my fury friends and I enjoy reading, music, antiques and ghosts – and writing.

Tell us about your writing process?

Sadly, I do not control when inspiration strikes, so it either visits me in my dreams or right when I’m about to fall asleep, in the shower, in the car, anywhere my mind wanders. Then it anchors into my brains, developing a life on its own until I write down dialogue bits, characters’ names and goals, a rushed outline. I have to let it simmer a bit then write down a first draft, send it to betas then work at it until it feels right.

Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?

Well, not really.

That’s an honest answer. What are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?

L’Écume des Jours by Boris Vian: my first dip into the world of the absurd and it left a deep imprint on how I approach my own ideas. Never be afraid of the crazy and always embrace what sets you apart. I read the book at ten years old, but the story never really left me.

Everything by Neil Gaiman: I love his voice, how he perceives things, the way he carries a story. I remember the first time I read Sandman, how I wished to step into that world and become someone coming from his imagination. A true poet, I just love him.

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins: I never thought of writing YA before I read about Katniss, how it didn’t matter what age, anyone could identify to an amazing character. Plus, I’ve loved dystopian plots since 1984, which leads to…

The complete collection of novels by George Orwell. So dark, gritty and sad, the man knew how to write a story dragging you down the gutter, eating you up and spitting you out. I wish I could have a tenth of how he understood human nature and how he explored its dark side.

Guy de Maupassant. This old French dude knew how to make us gasp with original twists, and even if I’ve only read his short stories, I always go back to that first time I read The Necklace – my jaw dropped and I couldn’t get over it for a week. Go read it, it’s free on the internets!

If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?

I’ve been thinking about this script perfect for Johnny Depp, if he ever wants to go back to his indie ways…does that count?

I think that definitely counts! What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?

I’d find a frame for it.

Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?

Not really, but when a big project is done, I do treat myself to the best thing in the world: brownies in a cup. Oh hell, I treat myself even when I don’t. Like right now. Yum.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

The work that pays the bills is a transcription position for documentaries and courthouse sessions. It can be really interesting, depending on the subject/case, but one thing is for sure: I have learned about speech patterns and characterization. Oh, and how our world can be so sad, too.

Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.

“She smelled of rotten leaves and cold stone.” Taken from Killer Girl, my YA thriller.

Short and sweet! Thanks Anne! Okay let’s take a quick look at Anne’s YA Thriller Girls & Monsters

girls&monstersDeath Song: Liz is in love with Joe, but the monster of the lake has other plans for them.

Black Dog: Scarlet is engaged in a struggle for her sanity, but according to the voice in her head, she may be too late.

A Blue Story: When Katherine’s beloved dog goes missing, she fears her strange new neighbor might be involved.

Dust Bunnies: Christiane faces her childhood arachnophobia and ends up confronting even greater fears in this test of sisterhood.

We Left at Night: Brooke and her family must abandon their home and their lives to make it out of a disease-plagued town overrun by zombies.

Just click on the cover and you’ll be whisked away to DarkFuse.com! If you would like to connect with Anne, you can find her on her blog, Twitter, or on Facebook.

There’s also a chance to win a Girls & Monsters soft cover with The Monster Collection Skellies of 5 pieces, handcrafted by Anne! Click here and fill up the form. The winner will be announced on release day, April the 30th at 9pm (east) during my LIVE CHAT at Darkfuse!

Nine Questions with… Sara Brooke

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Sara Brooke back to The FlipSide. At the moment, she is touring to support her most recent novel Cursed Casino and she has graciously answered all of my probing questions. Let’s take a moment to get you all reacquainted…

sara brooke (1)Sara Brooke is a horror and suspense novelist living in South Florida. A lifelong avid reader of all things scary, Sara’s childhood dream was to write horror books that force readers to sleep with their lights on.

Her first novel, Still Lake, was released Spring 2012.

Sara’s influences and favorite authors include Bentley Little, John Saul, William Blackstone, and Joe McKinney.

She is presently working on her next novel.

Welcome back Sara, tell us about your writing process?

First, the idea has to generate.  Sometimes the idea comes to me while I’m in the shower or having a vivid dream.  Once the idea is in my head, then I work out an outline of where the story should “generally” go. Then, it’s basically “off to the races” and time to write.  In order to really concentrate, I’ve got to turn on some relaxing music and focus.  Once the novel is written, then it’s time to review and edit – usually with the help of several people (pre-readers, editors, etc).

Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?

It’s not easy to write in different genres as each contains its own set of challenges.  However, I do enjoy comedy. So perhaps, a romantic comedy – Woody Allen style.

What are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?

The first would have to be The Fall of the House of Usher from Edgar Allan Poe.  I first read that book in grade school and it was so terrifying that I had to hide the book under a stack of photo albums in the living room.  It was actually scary to have the book in the same room as me.  But, in essence, I was intrigued by the strange and macabre.

The Resort by Bentley Little.  By the time I read this book, I was already familiar with Mr. Little’s work.  This novel encapsulates everything good about horror writing. It’s also a book I tend to read when my mind needs to be filled with juicy horror and excitement. You’ll never look at a luxury resort the same way again.

The Ignored by Bentley Little. This is the first book of Little’s that I read and it is not typical horror, but rather what happens when someone who is so dull that they’re regularly overlooked, begins to get “truly” overlooked – and becomes invisible. The story takes you on the journey of a group of people who are all basically the same, dull variety and how they take over the world; wreaking havoc and having the time of their lives.  The reason this book is so fascinating is that it is true-to-life.  How many people in your life do you see regularly, but they’re so uninteresting that they just seem to fade into the background?  It is a harsh reality, but a truth that can be horrific if you’re one of those who becomes a part of the background and never really seen or appreciated.

Usher’s Passing by Robert McCammon.  I found this book at a used bookstore many years ago.  It takes the reader behind the history of the Usher family and is set deep in the woods, at their palatial estate.  With such expectant content, McCammon had a big task ahead to make this novel as interesting and creative as the original Poe tale, and he does succeed.  I know that the author has written more popular novels such as A Boy’s Tale and Swan Song, but I find this one to be his best by far. And that worn paperback still sits in my house.

Apocalypse of the Dead by Joe McKinney.  Not normally a fan of zombie books, I decided to read this one a few years ago.  It is a fast-paced book that reads like a movie and is very well-written.  It is also the last book I read, before I decided to start writing myself and I thank Joe (who has also become a friend) for all of his encouragement along the way.

That’s a very interesting list. I haven’t read The Ignored by Little yet, but now I want to pick it up. Thank you! If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?

Cursed Casino is probably the most commercial novel for film. Would cast Sandra Bullock as Darla and Michael Fassbender as Jackson.

What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?

Probably take the day to celebrate by going to a great movie or sleeping.  I know, that’s not very exciting, but the busier I get… the more I appreciate 8-10 hours of sleep;)

Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?

The biggest vice I can think of is Facebook. Don’t want to get started on my soapbox here, but many writers I know get sucked into Facebook and post things all day long. I often wonder how they get any writing done when they are constantly posting photos and phrases. One in particular, spent the entire political season posting her views… every few minutes or so. But, I do understand the pull.  It’s like a drug.  So, I make sure to keep away unless I’m just bored and killing time (which doesn’t happen often).  I’ll check in once or twice a day to answer emails and postings. But that’s about it.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Live life. Spend time with the people I care about. Eat. Sleep. Go to the gym. Read.

Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.

The rain fell in heavy drops, pelting the ground with wet bursts.  Overhead, dark clouds hung deep within the sky and successfully blocked out any rays of the soaked half moon.  The constant onslaught gathered in the dirt below and small rivers were born in the darkness of the muck.

The shed, despite being constructed years past, was able to withstand the rain.  Despite a few leaks along the roof, it was dry inside.  Dust gently shifted along the ground, subtly nudged by the cooler winds seeking refuge from the moist night.

In the center of the sheds sat a large wrought iron bed.  It had no mattress or box spring.  But it was ornate, despite its nakedness.  Black arches rose on either side like spikes, the tips glinting from the small vestiges of light that had miraculously found their way inside.

Thank you for sharing that Sara – readers will certainly have to be on the lookout for this when it publishes! If you would like to connect with Sara, you can find her on Twitter or Facebook.

Now let’s take a look at Cursed Casino… Don’t forget to click on the cover – it will whisk you away to Amazon so that you can purchase a copy!

Cursed CasinoThe Van Vincent Hotel is ready to reopen. 

It sits along the Mississippi coastline, welcoming tourists with its lavish shops and a vast casino that’s home to sparkling slot machines and elegant gaming tables.

A group of friends is gathering for a reunion and a chance to experience the luxury of the Van Vincent before it officially opens, but a night of gambling turns into a night of hell. 

Because when darkness descends on the Van Vincent, the dead don’t always stay underground. And the phantoms of the past like to play for keeps.

Just in case you want to try the hands of fate at winning a copy, you can enter the Rafflecopter contest for a chance to win a complete digital version of all of Sara Brooke’s book from Biting Dig Press!

Win a Complete Sara Brooke Digital Library from Biting Dog Press!

Don’t forget to come back next week – I will be interviewing Anne Michaud!

Red is for Rage Blog Tour: An Interview with Connie Corcoran Wilson

Today I bring you a special treat. Connie Corcoran Wilson is touring the blogosphere with her newest novel Red is for Rage and she has stopped by to answer some questions for us. For those of you unacquainted with Connie, let’s take a moment and delve into her world…

Connie 'Press Pass' ImageConnie Corcoran Wilson is a University of Iowa grad and college professor with 55 years of writing experience. She has written for 5 newspapers and 7 blogs; founded 2 businesses; plays 4 musical instruments; and has 2 children born 20 years apart. Connie followed the ’04 and ‘08 presidential campaigns “live,” wrote for Yahoo, and is sometimes referred to as T.Q. (Trivia Queen). She also has 2-year-old twin granddaughters who are great fun.

Welcome Connie! Tell us about your writing process?

I find it helpful to create believable, three-dimensional characters and have them start interacting with and talking to one another. The plot—which I have loosely planned out while discussing possible developments with fellow writers and friends—is well-served by the dialogue my characters produce. I also follow John Irving’s advice of knowing your first line and knowing where it may end, but more the former than the latter.

Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?

As far as I’m concerned, I am already writing suspenseful thrillers, but, as a member of ITW (International Thriller Writers), I see myself heading in that direction more. I also would like to do a “true crime” novel. I still write humor and children’s books (for my granddaughters) so those are areas I’ve already explored, and I’ve written nonfiction since the age of ten so I will continue to do that when the spirit moves me, usually as a Christmas gift for the girls (my twin granddaughters Ava and Elise). I wrote “The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats” for them, and I’ve written “The Christmas Cats Chase Christmas Rats,” which I hope to have out at Christmas this year for them.

What are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?

As a Literature major with no minor, I read extensively. I would find it impossible to point out just 5 books from the many I’ve read both as a student, a teacher, and an avid reader.

If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?

Interestingly enough, I pointed out Tom Holland’s photo to my blog girl (Allison Levine) to represent Tad McGreevy, the hero of “The Color of Evil” and “Red Is for Rage.” [Tom Holland is the young star of “The Impossible” movie and he also starred in Britain in “Billy Eliot.”] The nice thing about the rest of the major characters (Stevie Scranton, Janice Kramer, Jenny SanGiovanni) is that the parts could and should be played by unknowns who are, in reality, teen-agers. Therefore, I’d expect unknowns to play the parts, with the possible exception of young Tom Holland.

What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?

Well, first of all, it depends on what you mean by “one morning.” I try not to do anything before 10 a.m., which is a direct response to the years I spent teaching 7th and 8th graders. I would be very grateful and happy, of course, and, were my parents still alive, I’d want to share the news with them. Since both are deceased, I’d probably call up some close family members and friends and then go back to work writing. I might treat my husband to a special dinner or buy something I had always wanted but never gone out and obtained.

Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?

I write late at night. I might write all night and watch the sun come up over the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. I am not the disciplined “write 300 words a day and you’ll have a novel in a year” person that writer Neil Gaimon recently cited as being Stephen King’s advice to him. I’m often compared to King—which is flattering but most likely undeserved—but, while I’m disciplined when I get down to writing, and I do set deadlines for myself, I don’t have the kind of discipline that those two wonderful writers obviously have. I’m more of a streak writer and I’m a perfectionist who is probably driving my staff people (Donnie the web guy; Reno the trailer guy, Alli and Phil the website people) crazy, as I keep tinkering long after they’d like me to be “done.” My E-book conversion guy—(who is wonderful, and a writer, himself)—finally said, “You know, at some point, you have to say, ‘This is the final draft.’ Donnie (Light) is absolutely right. That is a vice I wish I didn’t have: constantly wanting to make what I have written better. I once shut myself up in my Chicago Writer’s Lair for a week during a blizzard to write. I’ve written a book in one week (a short book—only 18,000 words plus pictures) in a week on 3 separate occasions, but that was “work for hire” and I’m very persnickety about my own lengthy novels and short stories.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I’m writing you these answers from Sydney, Australia. Last week I was on a cruise ship floating around New Zealand. I was in New Orleans in December for Writers for New Orleans and I’ll be in Cancun (Mexico) for 2 weeks in April and potentially back in New Orleans (the Stokers and WorldCon) in June and in New York City (ITW) in July, so it would appear that I like to travel. I like warm weather, beaches, conversation and meeting up with good friends, film, music, reading and writing—not necessarily in that order. When we return from this one-month trip, we will head for our friends’ in Des Moines, Iowa, for our annual Oscar party, complete with predicting the awards and a traveling trophy, and lots of good food and good times. I used to throw fantastic parties, but the guests never reciprocated, so I quit in 2005 after throwing 3 really good ones.

Please share us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.with us.

I’m sharing the first 9 lines of KHAKI = KILLER, the third book in THE COLOR OF EVIL series.

***SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read these first 9 lines if you don’t want to ruin the suspenseful ending of RED IS FOR RAGE.***

Having said that, there are many other suspenseful surprises within Book #3.

Chapter One, December 26, 2004

No Christmas This Year

It was the day after Christmas, a Sunday, when they disconnected the heart-lung machine that was keeping Melody Harris Carpenter alive. A fierce internal struggle broke out both between and among the Harris and Carpenter families.

Some, like Sean, her new husband, and Melody’s parents were in denial. Sean and the Harrises kept insisting, “Everything’s going to be fine.”

Others, like Sean Carpenter’s mom and dad, said little, but looked grim. A week was spent this way, before a final decision was made.

The ambulance ride to Cedar Falls Memorial Hospital had been full of barked commands and frantic actions by the paramedics, actions designed to save the life of the gravely injured Melody.

Where do you find your inspiration?

At the back of my short story collection Hellfire & Damnation II, I explain how, where and why I wrote each story. I’ll probably continue to do that in future books.

If you’ve read the book (and if you haven’t, check it out at www.HellfireAndDamnationTheBook.com), you’ll know that the inspirations are as far-ranging as an article about the sale of human organs on the black market in the Philippines to a real-life celebration dubbed the “Frozen Dead Guy” festival in Nederland, Colorado. I also was inspired to write a story set in Cancun by being a regular visitor there every Easter for the past 18 years and having just read Jaycee Dugard’s story of kidnapping and captivity. Check out the “From the Author” sections at the end of that book or at the end of future books.

As for my novel series THE COLOR OF EVIL, I taught 7th and 8th graders for nearly 20 years, had 5 students on Death Row in Illinois (when Illinois still had a Death Row) and was told that our district had “the worst cases of child abuse in Rock Island County, Illinois” by the Sheriff one year during teacher orientation, so that has had something to do with my writing.

Thank you Connie for taking the time to answer my questions! Now it’s time for a sneak peek inside Red is for Rage

Oh and there’s a Rafflecopter giveaway!!!

Win a copy of Red is for Rage!

Wilson_RAGE_Covercon_7RED IS FOR RAGE is the second book in the award-winning THE COLOR OF EVIL series by Connie Wilson. THE COLOR OF EVIL won the E-Lit Gold Medal for Horror (Jenkins Group) and the Silver Feather (IWPA). Three evil-doers rise up to wreak havoc on a small, mid-western town in this hot follow up.

When Stevie Scranton goes missing, best friend Tad vows to do everything he can to find him. Even if Stevie is dead, his family craves closure. Tad enlists the help of retired policeman Charlie Chandler and a team of volunteers, including Charlie’s old partner, Evelyn Hoeflinger. This rag-tag team of detectives continues searching for Stevie Scranton, the runty misfit of Cedar Falls’ Sky High. In their search, they discover a monster every bit as dangerous as Pogo the Killer Clown.

Michael Clay (the serial killer Pogo) escapes custody. On the loose again, Pogo’s actions restart a vicious cycle of violent nightmares for Tad McGreevy. Pogo has one main goal: kill Tad McGreevy so that Tad cannot disclose Clay’s location. Pogo doesn’t realize that, up until now, Tad has been unable to harness the paranormal ability he possesses. Now, Tad McGreevy must try to learn to use his unique gift. Stevie Scranton’s fate hangs in the balance. Tad’s power, if precognitive, could save everyone he loves.

Jenny SanGiovanni returns from her father’s home in Boulder, Colorado, to finish her senior year with her old classmates. She brings home a new set of problems. Jeremy Gustaffsson, the fifth-year senior boyfriend in Jenny’s junior year, graduated. But Jeremy is still in town, still obsessed with Jenny, still dangerous. When Jenny broke up with Jeremy, it made Jeremy mad. Bad things happen to good people when Jeremy Gustaffsson gets angry and descends into a red rage.

All Jenny’s cheerleader friends from her junior year are back and have problems of their own. Jenny deals with adolescent issues such as self-esteem and self-worth, problems that tax her soul. But Jenny is not alone. Another Sky High student is driven to the brink. Will that individual plunge into the abyss of despair?

Interested in buying a copy of Red is for Rage? Just click on the cover to be whisked away to Amazon!

Open Submission: Flowers are Overrated!

Sometimes sorry just isn’t enough…

Open Submission: FEAR: Of the Dark

Are you afraid of the Dark??

The Sirens Song

Fear, it seems such a simple word, a common word; one syllable that can be applied to almost anything. Well, we’re applying it to our new series.

There is always something to be afraid of in the dark; just the dark itself can paralyze some. Is it really quite as simple as it seems?

We don’t think so, and we’re pretty sure you’ll agree.

There is plenty to fear in the dark. Perhaps something lurking unseen in the shadows, a place so foreign no human mind has return from it unharmed, paranoia so pervasive it can drive the most sane individual over the edge.

Or maybe you are the dark; maybe you are what we need to be afraid of…

Elementary in concept? Maybe, but so much more complex when told with the finesse of a wordsmith. Tell us your tale of why we should be afraid of the dark…

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Open Submission: FEAR: Of the Water

It’s not safe to go in the water…

The Sirens Song

Not afraid of the water, are you? Maybe you haven’t thought about what might be down there… Write us something original; tell us what is so terrifying about two Hydrogen atoms bonded to one Oxygen atom forming a single molecule. Should we be afraid of the water itself, or what it might be hiding below its surface? Shallow murky depths, clear hot springs that are deceptively deep, or underground caverns holding secrets yet to be discovered.

Think about it. Don’t just spin an average yarn – we want the reader to wonder if the next time they dip their toes into the water, it be their last.

The series is called FEAR, that should fairly well define the parameters, and remember – we publish fictional tales, not scientific journals.

Submission Period:  April 1st to May 20, 2013

Complete guidelines can be found here.

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Nine Questions with… Jeff Hollar

Today I welcome Jeff Hollar, author of the YA short Keldane the Cursed. Hi Jeff, why don’t you take a moment to introduce yourself to the captive audience that you now have before you.

Born and raised in Lima, OH, I left home in 1980 at the age of 18 for the US Army and served 14 years as a Russian linguist and set foot on six continents. Following the Army, I spent a dozen years doing everything from lawn inspections to emergency dispatching to mainframe computer operations to telephone customer service in St Louis, MO. I returned to my home town in 2007 and work as a uniformed security officer. I met my wife Lisa on the job and married her in 2009. With two stepdaughters and a 3-year-old son around the house, life is never boring.

I can certainly imagine that life is never boring. Tell is about your writing process?

I would love to claim that I am an incredibly organized, prolific and dedicated writer but that would not be the case. Writing for me happens around a full-time job and family and such so the plain and simple fact is I write what I can, when I can.

Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?

The genre I currently write in is…whatever. I have published a YA fantasy collection, a horror/zombie anthology with my wife Lisa and a collection of dark-themed holiday tales so far. My current works-in-progress include: science fiction, paranormal thriller, vampire western, fantasy and dystopian horror. I have written flash pieces in romance, erotica and humor. So, I have written successfully in quite a few genres and can’t imagine a stone I have left unturned.

What are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?

Only 5? Hmm. Ok here goes:

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak: This is, to my best recollection, the first book I ever owned and the first book I was able to read all by myself.

Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: I recall reading this when I was about ten and loving it. I was something of a cold, logical, analytical child and so Holmes showed me that wasn’t always a bad thing.

Conan/Tarzan/Doc Savage: I know this is three in one but they were wonderful pulp fodder for a young boy and may be responsible for my own desire to write serialized collections.

The Hobbit/Lord Of The Rings: I first encountered Tolkein in 7th grade and these books helped to reinforce and cement my life-long love of epic fantasy.

I am keeping an open slot for book 5. I read prolifically and would always like to think somewhere out there will be an immensely enjoyable read that will deserve my adulation but that I just haven’t read yet.

Great choices! If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?

I don’t know that any of the things I have worked on so far could be easily cast. I don’t have a lot of respect for the acting chops of most of the folks out there right now. I suspect, should any of my books ever come to needing cast, I would have to go J.K. Rowling and introduce complete newcomers to my audience.

What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?

I would, knowing me, consult a calendar to figure out just how darned long I’d been asleep. To date, I’ve enjoyed very little commercial or critical success with my writing and I obsess about checking stats on such constantly. So, for something to make the NY Times list, I would have been frantically tracking its ascent and wouldn’t be especially surprised.

Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?

Not so much anymore. When I first returned to writing a bit over two years ago, I couldn’t write much unless I had a good beer buzz going on. I’ve grown beyond that now and actually don’t write much when I indulge. I do probably smoke a bit more than usual when I’m writing as I take thinking breaks.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Please refer to the remarks about my creative process. Between work and family and such, I play some online MMORPG games, watch some TV and probably sleep too much. I may not lead quite the exciting life but I like it.

Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.

I am going to cheat a bit here and include ten lines. I’m doing that because I routinely post to a group called Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday Snippet where authors post ten-line snippets of a work-in-progress. So, it was easily available to post here. It is from a serialized science fiction collection called The Blackstone Rings:

Little was known of the Blackstone Rings. That they were vastly ancient and manifested portals to other places was known. Where those portals connected to was unknown.

Explorer VII, transited the Kiev Ring, into unknown space. Two days of mapping and he returned to the ring to wait for a known portal home.

He whooped when sensors identified the Space Needle near the Seattle Ring. He lined up his approach carefully. Waves of nausea and horripilation washed over him as transit began.

He never had a chance to react as the Ring cycled mid-transit, slicing Explorer VII neatly  in two.

Thank you Jeff for taking the time to answer my questions. At the moment, Jeff is touring the bloggosphere in support of Keldane the Cursed. Let’s take a moment to take a sneak peek on the inside… Don’t forget to click on the cover to be whisked away to Amazon!

Did you ever wish you had the ability to use magic and cast spells to do anything you wanted to? Well, so does Keldane. Unfortunately, just being the son of the most powerful magic user the world has ever known doesn’t come with any guarantees. It’s not without very good cause he’s known to his classmates as Keldane the Cursed.

If you’d like to connect with Jeff, you can find him on Twitter.

Don’t forget to join me next week when I welcome Sara Brooke!

Nine Questions with… Dina Rae

Today I welcome Dina Rae to The Flipside. For those of you that have yet to run across Dina, let’s take a moment to introduce her to everyone.

Dina Rae Amazon PicDina Rae is a new author here to stay.  As a former teacher, she brings an academic element to her work.  Her three novels, Halo of the Damned, The Last Degree, and Bad Juju weave research and suspense throughout the plots.  Her short story, Be Paranoid Be Prepared, is a prequel of sorts to The Last Degree, focusing on the James Martin character.  In the spring of 2013 her latest novel, Halo of the Nephilim, will be released.  Dina also freelances for various entertainment blogs.

Dina lives with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs outside of Chicago.  She is a Christian, an avid tennis player, movie buff, and self-proclaimed expert on several conspiracy theories.  She has been interviewed numerous times in e-zines, websites, blogs, newspapers, and radio programs.  When she is not writing she is reading novels from her favorite authors Dan Brown, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Brad Thor, George R.R. Martin, and Preston & Childs.

Welcome Dina! What is your writing process?

I write anywhere and everywhere, especially places with a lot of downtime like dentist, doctor, softball practice, school pickup, etc.  I keep a notebook in my purse.

Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?

I am currently writing a nonfiction book with a writer friend, Jeff Bowles.  He wrote a series of health books.  Together, we are researching Big Pharma.

What are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?

The Stand by Stephen King – Love how King illustrates The End.

Left Behind series by LaHaye and Jenkins – They brilliantly break down how the Tribulation could play out.

Joel Rosenburg’s The Twelfth Imam series – He educates about ongoing tension reporters are too afraid to report.

Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons and DaVinci Code – Puzzles that come to life while history, conspiracy, and art guide the plot.

If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?

Bella Thompson – Scarlet Johannson

James Martin – Ryan Gosling

Dan O’Leary – Ed Harris

Karen Arnold – Halle Berry

Karl Scott – Adrian Brody.

What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?

S&*t my pants and pinch myself.  No, really, I’d invite my nearest and dearest friends over for a Botox party!  Have no idea, but it would be a happy day.

Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?

I like to type with Google minimized for quick access to information.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Play tennis, walk dogs, teach chess, and hang out with family.  Boring, but that’s how I like it.

Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.

From Halo of the Nephilim

The Nephilim were in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them: the same were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown.

Genesis 6:4, ASV

This obscure passage has long been the subject of debate among scholars. Some believe the ‘sons of God’ were angels who set out to populate the earth with a new species, the nephilim.  God counters their plans with His wrath, the Great Flood.  This passage infers that the nephilim came back.

Intriguing Dina! Since Dina is currently touring in support of her novel The Last Degree, let’s take a moment and check it out! If you want to purchase the book, click on the cover and that will take you directly to Amazon.

TheLastDegree_MEDThe Last Degree is a fictionalized account of how Freemasons and other secret societies set up the world for takeover. Ancient writings foretell a ‘Shining One’ who emerges as the world’s prophet. A murder of a Most Worshipful mason resembles a secret oath. A cop gets too close to solving the crime. Paranoid preppers go underground, preparing for war.

Headlines such as the Norway massacre, meltdown of the European Union, unscrupulous media, animal die-offs, Middle Eastern unrest, and U.S. shrinking power make the plot relevant to present day. This book is an ode to Christians, Birthers, 2012ers, Truthers, preppers, and/or other conspiracy junkies who enjoy Dan Brown, Jesse Ventura, Brad Meltzer, Alex Jones, Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye. A sequel will soon be available.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions Dina! If you would like to connect with Dina you can find her on her website, blog, Pinterest, or Facebook.

Please join me next week when I will feature an interview with Jeff Hollar!