7 Questions with Michael Robertson

Today on the FlipSide I have the pleasure of featuring an interview with author Michael Robertson. For those of you not quite acquainted with Michael, let’s take a moment to get to know him…

470365_216438441825908_1453459540_oMy name is Michael Robertson and I have been writing for about twelve years now. My life as a writer started when I had aspirations to be a drum and bass MC in my late teenage years. It was embarrassing, I was rubbish, and I gave it up very quickly. However, what stayed with me was the writing. I wrote lyrics that I turned into poems. I had several of them published but had to accept, when my poems started spanning pages, that longer stories were waiting to come out.

Ideas have never been a problem for me. At present, I have at least fifteen fully formed novels and novellas queuing up in my head. More are knocking on the door all the time. However, a misspent youth meant that I’d had a poor education and I needed to learn how to write. Over a period of over ten years, I’ve tried to write most days. I have several process novels sat in a desk drawer. None of them are suitable for release.

Winning a competition to have a short story published in a special edition of The Jerusalem Puzzle by Laurence O’Bryan gave me the final push that I needed to put Crash out in the world. Having HarperCollins accept my story gave me the confidence to put my work out there. Having a little boy has also given me the push that I needed to follow my dreams and give him a dad to be proud of.

Welcome Michael. Now let’s get to the questions… Using ten words or less, tell me about your book.

Crash is a story about money failing and society collapsing.

Sounds interesting. What song would you want to play during the opening credits of your book were it made into a movie? Why?

Lamb – Till the Clouds Clear – I love the lyrics of this song and the build up. It goes from calm and tranquil to insanity. Although Crash doesn’t have the calm, it certainly has the insanity. (Crash is very dark – darker than my normal writing and has offended some people) – I just wanted to put that warning out there.

Who would you want to direct the story of your life? Is there anyone specific you’d like to play you?

Sean Penn to direct it. Johnny Depp’s pretty cool. He’ll do as the actor!

What is your writing process? Are you a planner or a pantser? Do you prefer to hand write your works or type them directly into your word processor?

Planner. Without question. I write beats – often as random ideas for each chapter – I then try to organise them into handwritten notes and write the chapter from there on my Mac. The story often strays from the plan, but I plan every time.

What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself: something you wish you knew then that you know now?

While it’s nice if they do, you don’t need anyone else to believe in you.

That’s great advice! What are the three books that really inspired you to become a writer?

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. The Road by Cormac McCarthy. The Sandman by Neil Gaiman.

Now it’s time for the Rapid. Fire. Questions.

  • Coffee or tea? – Tea
  • Cats or dogs? – Dogs
  • Snow or sun? – Sun
  • Print books or eReader? – eReader (unless it’s comics)
  • Nachos or potato chips? – Potato Chips
  • Baked or fried? – Baked
  • Candy or chocolate? – Chocolate
  • Comedy, Romance, or Horror? – Horror
  • Action, Science Fiction, or Animated? – Animated Sci-Fi?
  • Classics or Modern? – Modern
  • Old World or New World? – New World
  • Sweet or spicy? – Spicy
  • Comfort or Speed? – Comfort

Thank you for answering my questions Michael! If you’d like to connect with Michael, you can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or his website.

Now let’s take a look at Crash… Don’t forget that clicking on the cover will take you to Amazon!

Crash Final Cover - Resize 2mbChris’ life of luxury is gone, devastated by the collapse of the European economy. Gas, water, and electricity are all cut off. Food is running out. Even his wife and daughter have gone. Huddled in the smallest room of their lavish house with his petrified and dirty eight-year-old son, Chris has made the decision to stay put. A small army of psychotic scavengers is outside, hell-bent on making the once-privileged pay. Chris now knows that not leaving when he had the option was the worst decision of his life.

Cowering in his home, he watches as his neighbours are dragged into the street and brutally executed. The scavengers have one more house to go, and then it will be his turn. He has to act fast, or he and his son will meet the same fate.

Driven by the need to survive, Chris has decided to keep secrets from his son. Secrets that will make all of the events up until this point seem trivial. Secrets that, one way or another, will come out before the day is done.

*** Warning – This is a horror book and contains scenes that may be upsetting for some readers. ***

7 Questions with Natasha Ewendt

Today on the FlipSide I have the pleasure of featuring an interview with author Natasha Ewendt. For those of you not quite acquainted with Natasha, let’s take a moment to get to know her a little better…

me headshotNatasha Ewendt is a lifelong word obsessive who has been writing crazy fiction since she could hold a pen. She works as a journalist at the Port Lincoln Times newspaper and also runs Port Lincoln Copywriting Services. After dabbling in literary pursuits with a self-published children’s book Dragontide and various short stories in publications such as Woman’s Day, she penned her first novel, paranormal horror This Freshest Hell. Often (rather rightfully) compared to Daria of the eponymous animation, she is reluctantly addicted to coffee and The Walking Dead.

Welcome Natasha! Now let’s get to the questions… Using ten words or less, tell me about your book.

Two misfits, one spell, and the bloodiest of consequences …

Sounds very interesting! What song would you want to play during the opening credits of your book were it made into a movie? Why?

Ooh, great question. Either “Closer” by Kings of Leon, “Dead Souls” by Nine Inch Nails or “Vampires Will Never Hurt You” by My Chemical Romance.

I love ‘Closer’ by KOL! Great choice! Who would you want to direct the story of your life? Is there anyone specific you’d like to play you?

Gosh, now you’re making me think. One of my favourite filmmakers is Sofia Coppola so she could perhaps be a contender. As for someone playing me, clearly it would have to be a supermodel of some kind… 😉

Definitely a supermodel! What is your writing process? Are you a planner or a pantser? Do you prefer to hand write your works or type them directly into your word processor?

I both handwrite and type, and unfortunately, I’m a pantser by far. I get an idea and then strap myself in for the ride – I write whatever ‘bits’ come to mind and whatever I’m inspired to write, and of course, neither ever happens in sequence. So I end up with bits and pieces everywhere and I tie them all up later in a rather messy, shambolic fashion, then edit profusely until the seams are ironed out.

What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself: something you wish you knew then that you know now?

I’d tell myself to stop putting off my writing career. My first ambition at 3 or 4 was to be an author. Over the years I got waylaid with school, social life and work, and didn’t get around to even sending off one of my stories for publication until I was 22. That story was published in Woman’s Day, a major Australian magazine, but I still didn’t get around to doing much else writing-wise until I had the idea for my novel This Freshest Hell in 2007. When it didn’t get picked up immediately, I put in on the backburner for a few years with the usual claim, “I just don’t have the time”. Now I’m glad I finally made the time and if I could go back, I’d slap myself upside the head and tell myself to get cracking – time waits for no one.

What are the three books that really inspired you to become a writer?

The three books that had the biggest impact on me were 1984 by George Orwell, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and Contact by Carl Sagan. I wouldn’t say they were the books that inspired me to write, as writing was a compulsion from a very early age, but those books inspired me to write better.

Now it’s time for the Rapid. Fire. Questions.

  • Coffee or tea? Coffee
  • Cats or dogs? Cats
  • Snow or sun? Living in sunny Australia I’ve never seen snow, so I’d have to say sun.
  • Print books or eReader? Print
  • Nachos or potato chips? Nachos
  • Baked or fried? Baked
  • Candy or chocolate? Chocolate
  • Comedy, Romance, or Horror? Horror
  • Action, Science Fiction, or Animated? Sci-fi
  • Classics or Modern? Classic
  • Old World or New World? Old world
  • Sweet or spicy? Both!
  • Comfort or Speed? Comfort

Thank you Natasha! If you’d like to connect with Natasha, you can find her on Twitter, Facebook (Personal Page and Fan Page for This Freshest Hell), and Google+.

Now let’s take a look at Natasha’s novel This Freshest Hell… Don’t forget that clicking on the cover will take you straight to Amazon!

CoverWhen the new goth girl in town Maggie befriends town misfit Lily, they discover more in common than their taste in alternative music: a disdain for the “popular” and “normal”, psychic abilities, and the same dark secret.

United in their struggle against society’s rules, Lily frequently wishes for death while Maggie wants a better kind of existence — and revenge.

When a dark spell performed in teenage despair is invoked years later, they are plunged into the demon world, a world that has its own rules, family bonds, and mortal enemies they never even knew existed.

Suddenly the darkness within, the victim’s desire for power over aggressors, and blood lust become literal matters of life and death. Lily and Maggie are forced to question what they really value — including each other.

An Aberrant Mind Blog Tour: Guest Post from Ken MacGregor

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Ken MacGregor has been traversing the internet talking about his quirky horror collection titled An Aberrant Mind. Today Ken talks about stuff up—writing to many of us—so without further ado, here he is…

Step Right Up, Folks!

Ken MacGregor

I’ve heard – well, mostly read a lot of people say that writing is a lot of work. That it’s excruciating and a horrible way to earn a living. That it’s agony to put words to the page.

I don’t think so. Well, okay, maybe it is for them, but not me. I enjoy writing. I love the process—from when the idea rattles around in my head to the first tentative words all the way through the editing.

All right, sometimes the editing is a pain in the ass, but the end result makes it pretty cool.

I love making stuff up. It’s fun.

Now, there’s this whole other part of being a writer that I didn’t really think about when I started. If I’d had the foresight to see it coming, I might have just kept writing for me and not submitting to publishers. I’m talking about the part where I have to try to sell my work.

Obviously, I don’t mind being paid to write. What kind of lunatic would complain about getting money for doing something they love, something they’d be doing anyway? But, no – that’s not what I mean. I’m talking about that thing where I try to get people interested in reading my stuff. The ‘Hey! Look at me!’ of self-promotion. This is how it feels to me:

I’m standing on the midway, clad in red, white and blue stripes with matching top hat, barking at the mothers, fathers and children whose mouths are caked with spider webs of cotton candy residue.

“Step right up, folks! See the amazing MacGregor pull ideas from thin air. Watch as he creates real human beings – and kills them!”

Or if you prefer a more urban analogy, I feel like a pimp (still with a big hat) sending my girls (and boys – this is the 21st Century after all) out to do filthy things with strangers while I sit back and collect the money. Sometimes the stories don’t sell and I have to slap ‘em around a little.

I don’t like this aspect of being a writer very much. It feels dirty to me, cheap and tawdry. I think this is probably the whole reason writers seek agents. So they don’t have to sully their hands with self-promotion. Any agents reading this might like to know that I’m not currently represented. Just sayin’.

You know what do I love, though, aside from the writing itself? Connecting with a reader. That moment when you log on to social media and someone you’ve never met has left you a note saying how much they enjoyed a story you wrote. That’s the best feeling. Knowing I made an impact in someone’s life, the way so many authors have in my own, is astounding to me.

So, if I can experience that, every once in a while, it’s worth having to hawk/pimp my stuff. More than worth it.

Thanks Ken! Now let’s take a look at An Aberrant Mind, tell you about the giveaway, and let you read an excerpt…

KenMacGregor_AnAberrantMind_FrontCoverABERRANT is defined as unusual, abnormal or different. The stories in this book not only differ from most of what you read, but also wildly from each other. A retired school teacher takes on an elder god and his minion; a werewolf picks fights with sea creatures; a neighbor’s lawn may be eating people. Twenty-two stories: scary, funny, weird and different.

In these pages, you will find darkness and fear, revulsion and terror. Mixed with it, however is quite a bit of humor. Sometimes both happen at the same time. So, open it up, join Jim as he fights off zombies with a potato cannon; witness the bloodbath reunion of the first man and his homicidal son; enjoy the monsters, the demons and the deranged.

A word of warning, though: you may never eat a bagel with lox again.

Available for purchase at:

Amazon:

US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | India | Brazil

CreateSpace

Smashwords

***

KenMacGregorABOUT THE AUTHOR Ken MacGregor’s work has appeared in over fifty anthologies, magazines and podcasts. Ken is a member of The Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers and an Affiliate member of HWA. You can find Ken on Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, and at ken-macgregor.com. Ken’s the kind of guy that, if he found himself stranded somewhere with you, would probably eat you to survive. Ken hopes you enjoyed the stories in this collection and that you sleep just a little less well because of them. Ken lives in Michigan with his family and two unstable cats.

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

***

 GIVEAWAY!!!

Sirens Call Publications will be giving away digital copies of An Aberrant Mind by Ken MacGregor to 5 (five) lucky winners! Follow the link to enter for your chance to win!

Win 1 of 5 (five) copies of An Aberrant Mind by Ken MacGregor

***

An here’s the excerpt we promised you…

Killer Bagel

Carl woke up hungry. He rolled out of bed and into the shower, stale smoke and beer sweat sluicing off him and down the drain. As he dried off, the church in the next block rang the bell, as it did every hour. He counted them. Ten. He felt each one like a blow to the head.

“I am never drinking again,” Carl mumbled. It was his mantra.

Carl lurched out the front door; the sunshine lancing into his brain as he hustled to put on the sunglasses. Avoiding human contact, he made his way to Max’s Deli. His stomach craved bread, and his brain coffee. Thank god ten am was a slow time for Max. Early mornings and around lunchtime, it got very loud in there. Max himself was at the counter. He looked up and beamed.

“Mr. Carl!” Max always used “Mr.” or “Ms.” with his customers’ first names. It was oddly endearing. Carl gave Max a weak smile and ordered a large coffee and an everything bagel.

“So sorry, Mr. Carl,” Max said, regret clear on his face. “We had to 86 the everything bagels. Garlic and onion we still have; that’s as close as it gets. I give you the coffee for free, to make up for it, okay?”

“No, no,” Carl said. “Garlic is fine. I’ll pay for the coffee. Things run out. It happens. Don’t worry about it.”

“Thank you,” Max grinned. He yelled to the kitchen. “Drop a garlic! You want cream cheese and lox with that?” Carl’s stomach did a backflip when it heard cream cheese, but lox would be good. He ordered it that way and sat down on the cushioned bench, sipping the too-hot coffee in the to-go cup.

“Order up!” Carl’s head whipped around; he had been woolgathering, and the movement hurt him. Wincing, he got up, paid and left the deli, coffee and bagel in tow. A tiny wisp of steam rose from the sipping oval in the lid. This time, he remembered to wear his shades before he got outside.

Carl found an empty wooden bench in the park nearby. He sat down, set his cup next to him, making sure it was level and wouldn’t tip over. He opened the bag, removed the bagel; the lox were wrapped separately. Carl pulled the halves of the warm, crispy bagel apart and slid the pink fish inside. He brought the food to his mouth and took a bite.

When it hit his taste buds, he was shocked. Carl had never tasted anything so good! Ravenous, he wolfed down the rest. Carl sat there, stunned for a moment. That was delicious.

Mechanically, he lifted the coffee to his lips and drank some. It was cold.

The church bells down the street rang once. One o’clock? How could that be? He had been sitting there for two-and-a-half hours. Carl shifted his weight, and realized both legs and his butt had fallen asleep. The pins and needles were excruciating. But they were nothing compared to what came next.

Carl’s stomach clenched. He doubled over. It felt like a spear was in his gut, a big one. The pain migrated. It went lower. The pressure was awful and intense. Carl lifted his shirt to look at himself. Something was pushing against his abdomen. He could see it, bulging under his skin. Watching and feeling it move inside him made him puke. He lurched to the side, but a lot of it got on him.

The thing inside Carl moved again and the pain almost made him pass out. He fell to the ground, writhing, groaning. He was distantly aware of a voice nearby. A man was talking to Carl, asking him if he needed help, if he needed a doctor.

“Get it outta me!” It was all he could manage. The stranger put a hand on Carl’s shoulder. His other hand pulled out a cell phone and dialed 911.

“Oh god! Oh my fucking god!” Carl ripped at his belt buckle, tore it open. He pulled his pants down as fast as he could. The bystander backpedaled, worried that this man might be crazy.

Carl bucked off the ground, screaming. Blood flecks flew out of his anus and the other man gasped and backed even further away. Carl’s whole body went rigid. He screamed once more and passed out.

The other man approached Carl, morbid curiosity forcing him to look. There on the ground lay a blood-covered lump. It was round, bumpy and looked too big to have been passed by a human being. The man looked closer, leaning in.

“What the hell,” he said. He recognized it. A bagel. A bagel that had been chewed and swallowed. Somehow, it had put itself back together inside this poor bastard’s stomach and forced its way out. “Jesus.”

Sirens approached the park, followed closely by police and an ambulance. The man told them what happened, nodding when they looked at him like he was crazy.

“I know what it sounds like,” he said. “But, that’s what happened. I’m not going to make something up just ‘cause the truth sounds crazy.”

He tried to show them the bagel, but it was gone. Of course it was.

The EMTs loaded Carl into the ambulance. Before the doors closed, the man heard one of the EMTs shout, “He’s flatlining!”

The man looked at the blood on the ground. There was a lot of it. Still no sign of the bagel. He shook his head. Maybe I’m losing it, he thought.

Then, he saw it.

The bagel was sitting on the bench, next to paper cup with a plastic lid. The lumpy circle of toasted dough was still wet with blood, but there seemed to be less of it. How did it get there? What the hell is going on?

He took a step toward the bench, never taking his eyes off the bagel. He squatted in front of the bench, leaned in for a closer look.

The bagel moved. The man flinched, but stayed where he was. He couldn’t take his eyes off the thing. It moved again, a little. The man watched, fascinated. He was pretty sure no one had ever seen anything like this. The bagel was inching its way across the bench in his direction. The whole event was surreal and captivating. The man noted that it left a trail of blood on the wood and wondered how long the bagel would take to reach the edge.

Then, Bang! It flew into his face, covering his nose and mouth. He couldn’t breathe: garlic and another man’s blood and feces filling his nostrils. He pried at it with his fingers, but it was already forcing itself into him, filling his throat and sinuses.

The man choked and gagged and clawed at his nose and mouth; he had time to think, Well, this is a stupid and absurd way to die. Then he was gone.

***

Max looked up as the bells on the door chimed. He grinned.

“Ms. Jessica!” he gave her a friendly wave. “So nice to see you.”

“Thanks, Max,” Jessica Saunders said. “Do you have any sesame bagels left?”

“Oh no,” Max said, full of regret. “I’m so sorry. We only have garlic left.”

“Okay,” she said. “I’ll take one of those. Toasted with lox, please.”

***

7 Questions with C.S. Kane

Today on the FlipSide I have the pleasure of presenting an interview with author C.S. Kane. If you’re not quite acquainted with C.S. yet, here’s a little more about her…

IMG_3772C.S. Kane is the author of SHATTERED. Her debut horror novella has been published by DarkFuse. She lives in a village just outside Belfast, Northern Ireland. With a passion for the paranormal and a desire for all things dark Kane also contributes features to DarkMedia Online. Kane loves old movies, good food, the odd tipple and spending time with both her sinful soulmate and their faithful minion, Dexter.

Welcome C.S.! Now let’s get to the questions… Using ten words or less, tell me about your book.

Shattered is a modern take on the haunted house tale.

What song would you want to play during the opening credits of your book were it made into a movie? Why?

Wow, great question. It would probably have to be the Pixies, Where is My Mind? This is the question the protagonist constantly asks throughout the story. I think the prospect of losing your mind is the most frightening things anyone can face. Radiohead’s Paranoid Android could possibly be another contender.

Who would you want to direct the story of your life? Is there anyone specific you’d like to play you?

Ooh, I’d love to say Spielberg because some of his movies look like they’d have been great fun to work on. In terms of the story of my life though it’d probably have to pick Martin Scorsese. I like the drama he creates. He could try to make my life look a little more exciting.

I haven’t really thought about who would ever play me in a movie. I’d probably like someone like Jennifer Lawrence because she appears to be really dedicated to what she does and seems to have a great down-to-earth attitude.

What is your writing process? Are you a planner or a pantser? Do you prefer to hand write your works or type them directly into your word processor?

My writing process is evolving all the time. I started out just winging it. Now I’m trying to be a little more structured. I’d like to get more done so I’m getting organised. I use the laptop. Generally I just do a rough outline then write flat out. Finally, I go back and try to decipher what the heck I meant to say during my fevered typing sessions. It can be tricky because if I’m fatigued or going too fast I can leave the ends off words or write the wrong words completely. At the moment I am trying to train myself to self-edit as I go along but really the most important thing is getting the words down.

What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself: something you wish you knew then that you know now?

Don’t worry so much.

What are the 3 (three) books that really inspired you to become a writer?

1984 – George Orwell

Tales of Mystery and Imagination – Edgar Allan Poe

Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

Now it’s time for the Rapid. Fire. Questions.

  • Coffee or tea? Tea
  • Cats or dogs? Dogs
  • Snow or sun? Snow
  • Print books or eReader? Print
  • Nachos or potato chips? Nachos
  • Baked or fried? Fried
  • Candy or chocolate? Chocolate
  • Comedy, Romance, or Horror? Horror
  • Action, Science Fiction, or Animated? Action
  • Classics or Modern? Classics
  • Old World or New World? Old World
  • Sweet or spicy? Spicy
  • Comfort or Speed? Comfort

Thank you C.S.! If you’d like to connect with C.S., you can find her on Twitter, her website, and Facebook.

Now let’s take a look at Shattered… Don’t forget that clicking on the cover will take you straight to Amazon!

shattered-1Stacey’s fiance Liam has just landed a new job in the city, and the young couple is forced to move into a low-budget flat in a seedy neighborhood. It’s not the the dream house they imagined, but it’s well within their price range and a short distance from Stacey’s graduate school.

Soon after they move in, however, Stacey begins to experience terrible nightmares, vivid hallucinations, cold spells, and frequent panic attacks. As she spirals deeper and deeper into what appears to be a physical and mental breakdown, putting her university career and relationship in jeopardy, she befriends the reclusive old woman next door who tells her chilling stories of the house’s former occupants.

Is Stacey going mad or is the dark history of Claremont Street something that can’t and won’t be be ignored?

Essence Blog Tour: Guest Post from Ela Lourenco

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Ela Lourenco has been touring the internet in support of her debut novel Essence. Essence is a paranormal fantasy with romantic twinges and I asked Ela about the world she created…

Essence: The Creation of a New World Order

Ela Lourenco

One of the greatest aspects of writing paranormal/fantasy is the artistic freedom that comes with it. The characters can be outlandish, otherworldly… Nothing needs to be based on the ‘real’ in terms of who, why, where, and when as long as the characters are credible in their interactions with each other.

I spent many a happy hour (paper all spread across the living room floor in disarray!) creating the various supernatural races that star in Essence – their backgrounds, their histories their individual magical powers… Even their religions and philosophies of life. In all honesty, I think I spent more time creating my world than writing the novel itself. The different races’ pasts and interactions with each other helped me add a depth and flavour to the main story while allowing me to keep the suspense going as new information was slowly trickled down to the reader. The many different rituals of the various races helping me to make the world in Essence a more credible place.

Creating my own worlds and races allowed my imagination to run wild and free and to become absorbed into the story myself – I was the mother, they my children in a sense. The more intricate and complex the details of my world became, the more I bonded with what I wrote – invested in what would happen to my characters next. The fact that I got to depict the world as I would like it to be in my own fantasies was an added bonus though… Who wouldn’t enjoy the omnipotence of that, even if only in writing?

Thank you Ela! Now let’s take a closer look at Essence… And there’s a giveaway and an excerpt to follow as well!

Essence_ElaLourenco_front_coverKatra is a Fae Hunter in a world once ravaged by a terrible war. Having lost all memory of her childhood and rightful identity, her duty is now to protect the tentative peace brokered by the varying races of the supernatural world.  When an evil darkness begins to spread, draining young witches of their power, Katra must find a way back to her true past in order to save the future.

Enduring many trials as ever-increasing powers awaken within her, Katra must also struggle with the mixed emotions her new partner, Blade – a Black Dragon – is rousing within her. Together they must battle the shadows that plan to devour the world they know and prevent its decent into another thousand-year war.

Can Katra hold onto her strength as the truth of her very being begins to unravel? Can she bear the weight that ancient prophecy has placed on her young shoulders? Or is her destiny to regain her true self, only to lose the world she is sworn to protect?

Available on:

Amazon: US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | Italy | Spain | France | Japan |India | Brazil | Mexico

CreateSpace

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

iTunes

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ELA_ESSENCEABOUT THE AUTHOR – Ela Lourenco lives in sunny Scotland with her two daughters and husband. She has a passion for reading and all things supernatural, particularly where there is a whodunit involved! Ela can often be found in the kitchen baking yet another cake as she ponders her next story.

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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And there’s a giveaway!

Sirens Call Publications will be giving away digital copies of Essence by Ela Lourenco to 5 (five) lucky winners! Follow the link to enter for your chance to win!

Win 1 of 5(five) copies of Essence by Ela Lourenco

***

And here’s the excerpt of Essence you’ve been promised…

From –

Chapter 1

Katra

Maya worried about Katra when she was hunting, despite knowing how tough she was. Katra was part elemental, part fae and already a powerful witch. It wasn’t a lack of faith in her abilities but the unanswered questions that niggled at her. Elementals and fae both matured magically at eighteen, but Katra was almost twenty-one and her powers were still growing, and at a speed Maya had never seen before. That, together with Katra’s inability to remember anything before the day they met, was a constant source of worry. Something had obviously happened to her, but what? And who was involved? Despite her trust in the council Maya had never registered Katra as an official hunter, she didn’t want anyone to find out about her yet. There would be too many questions, especially if they saw her violet eyes and silver hair. Not greying hair, pure liquid silver… Maya had never seen anything like it, and neither Katra’s fae nor her elemental heritage could justify the colour. She had taught Katra how to glamour the day after she arrived and as far as the world knew Katra was just another brown-eyed brunette. A gorgeous one, no glamour could change that, but at least she stood out less.

***

“Ouch,” Katra rubbed her sore hand as the backlash from the spell hit her fingers. She smiled at Maya, “I’m ok I just wasn’t prepared for the kickback.”

“Your powers are growing too fast,” Maya spoke, as if talking to herself, “they should have stopping growing by now.”

Katra released another fireball spell. This time the ball of fire grew as big as a basketball when she lobbed it at the dummy in the training room. With her other hand she drew an ice spell which covered the fireball and neutralized it before she set something on fire, again.

“Well done!” Maya clapped, “At least your control is growing too… but I still think we need to figure out what’s happening here. I don’t know what any of this means…”

“It’s not a problem Maya,” Katra shrugged. “The more power I have the better I can do my job. You should be less worried not more.” She grabbed a towel and wiped off the beads of sweat on her face. “I should grab a shower before I head out, and I have to get my stuff ready,” she called over her shoulder as she went back up the stairs. Maya went into the back of the shop. They didn’t keep regular shop hours as most supernaturals were nocturnal. Not because they couldn’t go out in daylight or anything as Hollywood as that. They just simply preferred coming out at night, and they didn’t need as much sleep as humans so the day could feel quite long. In fact, vampires didn’t need sleep at all if they fed regularly.

Once she was sure that Katra was in the shower, she pulled out a box from the back of the bottom shelf. Inside was a large grey pearl. She closed her eyes and placed her fingers on it.

“Maya?” a deep voice whispered in her head.

“It’s me Antonio,” she thought back at him as the pearl linked their minds together.

“Is something wrong?” he sounded worried, “We were not due to talk until next week.”

“I don’t know… I have a bad feeling, there is a darkness coming. I’m worried about Katra. She has been having those nightmares again. She tries to laugh it off but I can see the shadows in her eyes.”

“When did she start having them again?” Antonio asked.

“She has been having them for a month, they are getting more vivid and her powers are growing so fast I can’t keep up. I think it’s all connected… Antonio, I have to tell her the truth.”

“You cannot!” he burst out in her head, “It is not safe! You don’t know what it will do to her!”

“She has lived with me for over two years! I know her; she is strong, and she will handle it! I know the dangers, but isn’t it worse if she remembers by herself?”

“What about Jessie?” he asked. “Don’t you think she will look for her once she knows?”

Maya shook her head. “Antonio, Katra is a smart, independent young woman… of course she will want to find her, but Jessie is almost eighteen. She is almost fully matured, once she is, it will be safe.”

“What about Katra? You keep telling me that she is still growing in power even though she’s older.”

Maya sighed. “I don’t know Antonio… there is much we don’t know, but we owe them what we can tell them. I’m tired of lying.”

“Maya, she will be twenty-one in a week, and Jessie will be eighteen. Please wait until then at least. I hate lying to them too…” Antonio sighed. “I’ll speak to you next week.”

Maya took her fingers off the pearl and dropped it back into the box.

Thank you Ela!

7 Questions with Quincy J. Allen

Today on the FlipSide I have the pleasure of featuring author Quincy J. Allen. Quincy and I share pages in Linger—7 tales featuring ghosts from 7DS Books, but for those of you not quite acquainted with Quincy, let’s take a moment to get to know him…

cocktail copyWell into a mid-life career change, Quincy Allen been published in multiple anthologies, online and print magazines as well as one omnibus. His steampunk version of Steampelstiltskin is under contract with Fairy Punk Studios, and he’s written for the Internet radio show RadioSteam.  His novel Chemical Burn—a finalist in the Rocky Mountain Writers Association Colorado Gold Writing Contest—was first published in June of 2012. His new novel Jake Lasater: Blood Curse, is due out by summer, and he’s started work on a new off-world steampunk series titled Paragon. He works part-time as a tech-writer to pay his bills, does book design and eBook conversions for Word Fire Press, and lives in a lovely house that he considers his very own sanctuary.

Welcome Quincy! Now let’s get to the questions… Using ten words or less, tell me about your book.

Clockwork gunslinger saves world by saving 500-year-old vampiress.

Interesting! What song would you want to play during the opening credits of your book were it made into a movie? Why?

“Children of Sanchez” by Chuck Mangione… or at least something that sounds a lot like it.

It has the right feel and even lyrics to match up to a wild steampunk western fantasy where the hero has and values the quality of those unwilling to bend to tyranny and deprivations against the human spirit.

Who would you want to direct the story of your life? Is there anyone specific you’d like to play you?

Director: Sydney Pollack, because he directed “Jerimiah Johnson,” and I can’t think of anyone who I would select to play me.  I think I’m too close to the source material.

What is your writing process? Are you a planner or a pantser? Do you prefer to hand write your works or type them directly into your word processor?

Like my choice-of-genre, I like to mix and match. I usually start writing a novel based on a specific scene, idea or “gag” I want to convey. I wrote Chemical Burn without any sort of outline but used a skeletal outline for “Blood Curse” as well as “Paragon” (unfinished.) I’m working with a friend on a 10+ book series that we’re outlining pretty heavily. I think some of it is based on the nature of the work and what I want to accomplish.

What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself: something you wish you knew then that you know now?

“Don’t listen to the bandits.  It’s okay to risk being a starving artist.”  You have to read the bio on my website to get that one.

What are the three books that really inspired you to become a writer?

“Time Enough for Love” by Robert Heinlein

The entire “Pliocene Saga” series (all 10 books) by Julian May

“The Chronicles of Amber” by Roger Zelazny

Now it’s time for the Rapid. Fire. Questions.

  • Coffee or tea? Yes
  • Cats or dogs? Yes
  • Snow or sun? Sun
  • Print books or eReader? Yes
  • Nachos or potato chips? Chips
  • Baked or fried? Yes
  • Candy or chocolate? CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Comedy, Romance, or Horror? Sci-fi mixed with fantasy (comedy if you insist)
  • Action, Science Fiction, or Animated? Yes
  • Classics or Modern? Yes
  • Old World or New World? Yes
  • Sweet or spicy? Sweet for dessert and spicy for the entree
  • Comfort or Speed? Comfort for resting and speed for damn near everything else

Thank you Quincy! If you want to connect with Quincy, you can find him on his website, Twitter, his Amazon Author Page, and Facebook.

Since Quincy’s Jake Lasater: Blood Curse isn’t available yet, let’s take a look at Out Through the Attic… Don’t forget that clicking on the cover will take you to Amazon!

out-through-the-atticThirteen fantastic tales from the cavorting, twisted mind of Quincy J. Allen, Out Through the Attic covers everything from steampunk and fantasy to sci-fi and horror. It’s a cross-genre smorgasbord that’s sure to hit the right spot, with a dose or two of straight-up genre fiction for the meat-and-taters appetite.

Dusk and Summer Blog Tour: Guest Post from Joseph Pinto

DuskAndSummer_JosephAPinto_PostCard

Joseph Pinto has been touring the internet, supporting his novella Dusk and Summer. Dusk and Summer was written as a tribute to his father, whom he lost to cancer in 2007. The following is a guest post that Joseph penned where he talks about losing his father and the resulting novella that came out of that loss. Without further ado, I’ll turn you over to Joseph…

Dusk and Summer

A Tribute To My Father; An Unforgettable Fantasy Journey

Joseph A. Pinto

One of my biggest thrills for me as a writer is experiencing the growth of a story, even one that began as painful as the tribute fantasy I wrote to honor my father, Dusk and Summer.

For me, a story needs to find its own set of legs, run its own course and be true to itself. No matter the image or emotion that comes to me, I take it, examine it from all angles, then carefully hone it until it becomes large enough to begin its journey.  There needs to be an element of evolution that will continually spark my imagination, fuel my need to follow its twists and turns, and ultimately allow it to reveal its own organic ending.  If I try to force a story to follow a specific course, it ends up feeling flat and stale with no genuine passion infused into it.

A prime example of the fuel behind my writing, heart wrenching as it may be, is my latest release: Dusk and Summer.  My father loved the ocean; at one point in his life, he’d been an avid scuba diver.  As a kid, I remember the various trinkets he’d bring home after a diving excursion and the stories my mind would conjure surrounding the mysterious ‘life’ and ‘watery demise’ of each piece.  The diving association he belonged to had given him a sweatshirt, every inch of it covered with patches detailing the shipwrecks he’d explored.  They were badges of honor in my eyes, and I’d lose myself in thought for what felt like hours while admiring it.

One day, completely out of the blue, my father told me that when it was his time to die, he wanted to be cremated and his ashes scattered across the sea.  I never took his comments seriously, and we never spoke of the matter again.  I don’t mean that as a callous remark, but if you had known my father, you’d know he was a bull of a man – and when you’re young, you simply don’t ever think of your parents dying.  He was larger than life to me and honestly, I thought he’d live forever.

I believed it right up until the day he passed away after a fifteen-month battle with pancreatic cancer.  When he was initially diagnosed, his prognosis was a life expectancy of three months.  But not my dad, he wouldn’t accept that; he’d be damned if someone else was going to tell him when to die. Fifteen months… an unbelievably long struggle for a man who had been given only a few months to live, but he did it – he fought with every ounce of will power he had.  As painful as it was to watch, it also became a gift; one I will forever be thankful for.

As I said, a story needs to live its own life.  Nearly six years ago, a voice inside my head told me ‘write for him’ and I did just that; what followed was an unexpected and bittersweet tribute to my father.  I took his passion for the sea and immortalized him in his own myth.  The story that evolved surprised even me and to this day, its message and revelations speaks to all who read it.

Thank you Joseph. Now let’s take a closer look at Dusk and Summer…  There will be an excerpt to follow as well!

DuskAndSummer_JosephAPinto_FrontCoverOnlyDoes Heaven await beneath the waves? One man needs to know.

When his dying father whispers a cryptic message to him, he has no choice but to summon his courage and begin the quest of a lifetime. It’s a race against time to realize his father’s wish and fulfill his own destiny; it’s a discovery of the unbreakable bond between father and son. It’s a journey of the heart that unfolds where only the Chosen exist – in the moments between Dusk and Summer.

“A poignant, metaphoric conversation between son and father. A story that will warm your heart.”

–Yvonne S. Thornton, M.D., bestselling author of The Ditchdigger’s Daughters

The author will be donating a portion of the proceeds from this book to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.

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Purchase Links:

Amazon:

US |UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | India | Brazil

CreateSpace

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

iTunes (Apple)

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JosephAPinto_HeadShot_3x4_9702_SeaLightAqua_5contrast_borderABOUT THE AUTHOR – Joseph A. Pinto is the horror author of two published books and numerous short stories; he is a member of the Horror Writers Association as well the founder of Pen of the Damned, a collective of angst and horror driven writers. Indulge in his unique voice on his personal blog josephpinto.com and PenofTheDamned.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JosephAPinto. Joseph hails from New Jersey where he lives with his wife and young daughter.

Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Goodreads

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There’s a Giveaway too!!

Sirens Call Publications will be giving away digital copies of Dusk and Summer by Joseph A. Pinto to 5 (five) lucky winners! Follow the link to enter for your chance to win!

Win 1 of 5(five) copies of Dusk and Summer by Joseph A. Pinto!

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An now an excerpt from Joseph Pinto’s Dusk and Summer…

The Good Fight 

I lost my father between dusk and summer.

Perhaps he left me long before I care to admit, long before he refused his last meals, long before his spent eyes flickered like candles behind cracked panes of some forlorn, abandoned house. Before his neglected muscles jellied into the folds of his stark white hospital sheet, and the rise of his chest grew shallow and weak. Maybe it was plain selfishness on my behalf; sitting at his bedside all those times, soothing his ears with encouragement as I squeezed his hand, desperate to impart the very courage and determination he had infused into me over my years. Even as he relied on me to raise a flimsy plastic cup of ice water to his parched lips. Had I become too scared to realize or just too blinded to ask: whose fight did this now become?

“…find me… from Tolten…”

I could have dismissed the words from his cracked lips as merely disoriented chatter, but his mouth pursed them too purposely, his tone too firm. Still, my father’s words jolted me from my bedside vigil. I bent over his thinning form, promptly taking his hand into mine.

“…go… now,” he croaked, his strength fading.

I held my breath, dared not speak. Gently, I massaged his fingers, marveling how thick and calloused they remained; my own always a child’s within their clasp. Typical blue collar hands, fearless of toil and grime. My father squeezed back, eyes widening. His candlelight flared, sparked brilliantly a moment before blinking away. I knew then I had been wrong. Someone remained home inside that deteriorating body after all. My father hung on, refusing to surrender. But what little had spilled from his lips now hung heavy between us. The message became clear. My father would not leave me.

Not until I finished his business.

My throat constricted as a terrible heat swelled within my chest. I gritted my teeth, blinked furiously and choked back the tears best as I could. Eventually, I eased him into continuing. A corner of his mouth curled. It gained momentum, spreading across his lips, his smile warming me. From within his cocoon of pillows, my father nodded his approval.

I leaned close, carefully straightening the air tube dangling from his nose. Caressed his cheek, returning his smile as his short, white stubble tickled my palm. Swallowed another blistering lump deeper into my throat. “Tell me what you want me to do, Pops,” I whispered.

***

I listened very intently to the scarce words my father pushed from his lips. Go. 141 Sea Cargo Drive. Manasquan. You’ll know. Go now. He did not tell me what I would find or even what I needed to do. He held the obvious trust that I would just as soon figure it out, and I was not about to question or let him down. I kissed his forehead, told him I would leave, that I would see him later. From the moment my father became sick, goodbyes no longer existed. Only see you laters. As I forced myself from his sallow room, he cleared his throat. Must find me… she… come back from Tolten. I froze, deluged with fear and for the very first time a sense of hopelessness as I questioned, but for a moment, the sanity of his words, the tenuous grip he maintained upon his own reality. No; I would have none of that. I squared my jaw, turned and measured my father. I did not see a sick and dying man. The matted wisps of white hair that returned after his last bout of chemotherapy were gone, transformed into thick, luxurious curls of chestnut locks brushed back in heaps. The sagging skin of his arms now tight, bulging with muscle, the tattoos acquired while stationed in the Air Force as crisp and fresh as the day they were etched. Shoulders squared, again capable of carrying the world as he had done so many times before. Chest, wide and broad—within, the power of a Titan, the pride of a lion. Skin so vibrant and pure. His sickness did not diminish his stature. My father grew before my eyes, every day becoming more the man I had known. I nodded, determined to accomplish what he needed of me.

I nearly collided with the nurse as I left his room. “Oh, I’m so sorry!” she exclaimed.

“No, it was me. I should’ve watched where I was going.”

Her thoughtful eyes washed over me. “How are you holding up?”

My father’s nurse was one of the better ones and tended to him with sincere compassion. Painfully, I had encountered too many who believed my father was just another room number. I regarded her nameplate, my gaze lingering. Dawn. Normally I would have little difficulty remembering. I had seen enough of her—every day for the past week, too many, many times over the past months. All that while, I found it easier to address her with simple hellos, with downcast, fleeting glances. I disassociated myself from the moment she entered his room. For my own self-preservation, I could not bear to voice her name. I had no choice. To do so would have thrown me under the remorseless incandescent glare of reality and I liked it where I was, alone, lost within ignorant shadows. There I could disguise life; the curtained obscurity made things not so real. It took all I could do from dropping my head upon her shoulder and weep. The shrug I managed in response drained all that remained of me.

Hesitantly, Dawn lifted her hand, carefully rested it along my arm. Gave me a soft but reassuring stroke, then slowly pulled away. “The morphine drip you requested is working as well as it could right now. Your dad has been unbelievable, you know. Joking nonstop, up until…”

My features shifted. She read it well. No luxury of morphine existed to mask my own pain. Dawn stole a look down the hall. No one approached. “Has the doctor seen you recently?”

“No more than he needs to, I guess.”

She offered a sad smile. “You should know your father’s kidneys are failing. His… the truth is his entire body will eventually shut down. That’s why his arms… they flop when he tries to raise them. His speech—”

“Incoherent,” I interrupted. Tolten. Tolten. Come back from Tolten. “That is, when he can speak.”

An uncomfortable moment passed. An eternity gutted my soul. “We’ve done all we can. But this is… you need to know this is the last stage. We’re keeping him as comfortable as we can right now.”

She must have believed I was strong enough to handle it. Wise enough to see the writing upon the wall. She knew little of my father’s resolve however, nor of the spirit I lent him all these months, and I was not about to quit.

Eventually, even a fool must realize when one’s own hand cannot bend fate. No matter how hard you try. “I appreciate all you’ve done. I really do.” I gritted my teeth. “That’s a tough sonofabitch in there.”

She nodded. “And a good son out here.”

Tolten. Come back from Tolten. My father’s words haunted me. It was time for me to go. “Can I ask a favor of you?” I said.

“Yes, anything.”

“You have my cell phone number in your contact list. Call me first should… should you need to. But not my mother. Please, spare my mother.”

“Of course,” she answered slowly.

Shuffling away, I whispered, “Thank you, Dawn.” It was at that moment I was dragged from the shadows. Things suddenly became all too real.

Thank you Joseph!

7 Questions with Tracie McBride

Today on the FlipSide I’m pleased to feature an interview with author Tracie McBride. For those of you not quite acquainted with Tracie yet, let’s take a moment to get to know her…

profile 2013 colourTracie McBride is a New Zealander who lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in over 80 print and electronic publications, including Horror Library Vols 4 and 5, FISH anthology and the Stoker Award-nominated Horror for Good. Her debut collection Ghosts Can Bleed contains much of the work that earned her a Sir Julius Vogel Award in 2008. She helps to wrangle slush for Dark Moon Digest and is the vice president of Dark Continents Publishing. Visitors to her blog are welcome at http://traciemcbridewriter.wordpress.com/.

Welcome Tracie! Now let’s get to the questions… Using ten words or less, tell me about your book.

Speculative fiction short stories in varying shades of black.

Sounds interesting! What song would you want to play during the opening credits of your book were it made into a movie? Why?

“Happy Phantom” by Tori Amos. As one internet commenter observes, “It’s just a light little song about death.”

Who would you want to direct the story of your life? Is there anyone specific you’d like to play you?

Ooh, Peter Jackson (that’s Sir Peter Jackson to you), because he’s the greatest director ever to come from my homeland New Zealand. He’d probably have to spend a lot of time in Tracieland (inside my head), a la Beautiful Creatures, because my real life is rather ordinary. I’d like one of my daughters to play me, because of the physical resemblance and because they’re both aspiring actresses (they’d have to do Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who got the job).

What is your writing process? Are you a planner or a pantser? Do you prefer to hand write your works or type them directly into your word processor?

I like to sketch a rough outline before I go in – experience has taught me that if I try to pants right from the get go, I’ll end up writing myself into a corner with little hope of producing a satisfying ending. I like to hand write my plan and type the first draft, mainly because I tend to edit as I go.

Sounds similar to how I operate some of the time. What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself: something you wish you knew then that you know now?

Start sooner. Don’t wait until you’re mid-thirties to fulfil that childhood promise to yourself of becoming a writer.

What are the three books that really inspired you to become a writer?

Only 3? OK. If I have to narrow it right down, I’d have to go back to my childhood.

One of the first books I can remember reading was “The Trouble With Jack” by Shirley Hughes. I identified very closely with the poor, put-upon Nancy, and every time I read it, I nearly cried with the cruel injustice of it all. To move another reader to tears…yeah, I wanted to be able to do that. Another childhood favourite was “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster. The cleverness, the inventiveness, the surrealism of it…I wanted to do that too. And then there was “The Hobbit”, which was the gateway drug to every fantasy novel I ever read from that date on.

Now it’s time for the Rapid. Fire. Questions.

  • Coffee or tea? Tea
  • Cats or dogs? Dogs
  • Snow or sun? Sun
  • Print books or eReader? eReader
  • Nachos or potato chips? Potato chips
  • Baked or fried? I know I should say baked, but I’m gonna say fried.
  • Candy or chocolate? Chocolate
  • Comedy, Romance, or Horror? Horror if I’m reading it, comedy if I’m watching it
  • Action, Science Fiction, or Animated? Science Fiction
  • Classics or Modern? Modern
  • Old World or New World? New World
  • Sweet or spicy? Spicy if I’m hungry, sweet if I’m tired.
  • Comfort or Speed? Comfort

Thank you Tracie! If you’d like to keep up with Tracie, you can find out more information about her on her blog.

Now let’s take a look at Ghosts Can Bleed… And don’t forget that clicking on the cover will take you straight to Amazon!

GhostscanBleed4TracieAlien landscapes and mythic societies…creatures of the night and the more terrifying monsters of the human psyche… Be warned: Ghosts Can Bleed… but it’s not just the blood you should be worried about…

Last Chance To See – what if you had a chance to attend your own funeral? A reincarnation facility offers this opportunity, but you won’t be quite as your family remembered…

House Arrest – Angela misses the social event of the year when she realises that there’s no place like home- and no dietary aid in the world like it, dahlings!

Killing A Goddess – The Goddess demands a sacrifice, and Laura is a willing volunteer. It is a great honour for the five young men chosen to assist in the ritual. But do they really know what they are letting themselves in for?

Ghosts Can Bleed – Maurice knows, because he is one.

DreamCatcher – will prevent bad dreams coming through to you. But what do you do with the nightmares that are caught in it? What if you could return them to their owners?

Rush Hour – Virgil retreads Dante’s Inferno, twenty-first century style. Wasps, tornadoes and dirty nappies block his path – and that’s before the motorway…

Marked – being scarred by lightning is like being touched by the hand of God. This divine spark is essential, because only the Marked can see the creatures that hunger for us…

Blue Screen of Death – Sara’s dead. Again. With Heaven’s computer system failing, and God on holiday, it’ll take a genius hacker to fix it. Problem is, he’s not on Heaven’s database…

Diagnosis – all aspects of human health can be scientifically measured, analysed and assessed. But there’s one measure Dr Chad has neglected to notice…

By turns terrifying, darkly comic, surreal and stomach-churning, these forty one stories and poems from award-winning author Tracie McBride open the veins of the world to show humanity in a different – and much darker – light.