A Monday for Anything: Killers and Demons II: They Return Blog Tour with A. F. Stewart

Today on the FlipSide, I’m hosting A. F. Stewart as she tours the internet in support of her new collection, Killers and Demons II: They Return. She’s written a very engaging guest post, but before we get to that, let’s get to know A. F. a little better…

AnitaA. F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada, and still calls it home. The youngest in a family of seven children, she has always had an overly creative mind and an active imagination. She is fond of good books (especially science fiction/fantasy), action movies, sword collecting, and oil painting as a hobby.

Ms. Stewart is an indie author with several published novellas and story collections in the dark fantasy or horror genres, with a few side trips into poetry and non-fiction. She has a great interest in history and mythology, often working those themes into her books and stories.

Twitter | Facebook | Blog

And without further ado…

Historic Settings for Horror

I love history, and I often use different historic eras as settings for my books or stories. So what do I see in the past that makes it such an effective medium for horror?

First, it’s fairly easy to establish a sense of drama and tension in certain historical settings. London in the Victorian Era for example, invokes an iconic image of gas lamps, fog shrouded streets and Jack the Ripper type terrors lurking in the alleyways, while medieval settings lend themselves well to a more supernatural dread, demons, witches and the like. History brings with it a built-in atmosphere and mood, which can be adapted nicely to fit into the horror genre.

The trappings of an era can establish a tone for the story, too. A reader expects a certain kind of behaviour from a top-hatted, finely dressed Victorian villain, actions far different from a rampaging, scantily clad, sword-welding barbarian, or an evil-minded alchemist in a black hooded robe. Clothes, especially period specific clothes, often make the character.

In my new book, Killers and Demons II: They Return, several of the stories have historic settings, and use the built-in ambience and characteristics to full advantage. I traipse to my favourite era for horror—the aforementioned Victorian era—in two of the stories, One Night in London, and Runner. The pair is a contrast in subject matter, with One Night in London having a straightforward historical background, and Runner bringing in a supernatural element, but both use the dark and surreal London streets and a less than savoury Victorian underworld to create a quality of menace in the story. However, my story How Do You Take Your Tea? does a bit of the opposite. It uses a Regency England setting as a contradiction to the villainy of its characters and plot. I mean, what could be more frightening and disquieting than evil in the world of Jane Austen? Be careful sipping your afternoon tea, poison may be lurking in that cup.

My last two historical stories, Suffer a Witch, and Up From The Ground, play with medieval locales and superstition. Suffer a Witch combines the unjust accusations of witchcraft with a bit of undead resurrection and revenge, leaning heavily on history to form its basis. Up From The Ground does much the same thing, using religion and a slice of medieval life as backdrop for a chilling paranormal horror story of possession. There is something decidedly perfect in the pairing of a medieval setting and a demonic invasion.

So that’s my take on history and horror. An ideal match made in heaven…or maybe in Hell.

Thank you A. F.! Now let’s take a look at Killers and Demons II: They Return… Don’t forget to click on the cover to be taken straight to Amazon!

K&DII MedEvil is back, with a greater appetite for death.

Killers.

Demons.

They lurk forever in the shadows, smile at you in the morning, and haunt your dreams at night. You can’t hide, you can’t run, and there’s no escape. You can only scream when they come for you.

Killers and Demons II:  They Return is a collection of thirteen tales, blending short stories and flash fiction, tales where the blood lingers on your tongue or spurts quickly from the swift cut.

The Villainous Roster:

Wade, every parent’s nightmare
Hannah and Mr. Greeley. Who is the victim and who is the villain?
Simon and Zoe, a married couple who are dying to be single again.
Norman and his “cookie” of a wife, Mabel.
Millicent and Jane, a delightful duo you shouldn’t invite to your Regency tea party
Amanda, who literally has a skeleton in her closet
Balthazar, the demon bounty hunter on the hunt once more.
Sarah, a young woman going through some changes and craving new tastes
Emmeline, burned as a witch, now back from the dead for revenge
Gabrielle, a woman haunted by shadows
The Dollmaker, she showers death, and an umbrella won’t help
Nightmare Demons, bent on driving a town insane
And then there’s Alice, a little girl locked in the basement by her Daddy…

Together they form a spine-chilling cadre of predators.

Did I mention there was a giveaway??

Rafflecopter

Click on theRafflecopter logo to be swept away to enter!

SUNDAY SPOTLIGHT: The Possession of Nina Grey

Maynard Blackoak’s The Possession of Nina Grey released last week by Phrenic Press

ThePossessionOfNinaGrey_MayNardBlackoak

Love is an obsession; possession it’s one true desire. If you found your lover to be unfaithful, what would you do? Would you seek revenge? Perhaps confront them reasonably to discuss the truth behind such infidelity? Or would you take matters into your own hands… or in Nina’s case, your own mind?

Where the heart beats the strongest, the psyche sometimes slips into abysmal madness prompting one to perform heinous, unthinkable acts. What drives Nina that one step too far? Perhaps the answer lies in the shadows that lurk between genuine adoration and insane jealousy – the grey areas.

Not all cheeks can be turned the other way, and not all truths are what they seem.

Click on the cover to be taken to Amazon! All Phrenic Press titles are exclusively available on Amazon for borrow and purchase!

SUNDAY SPOTLIGHT: Bent Metal

The lovely and talented Nina D’Arcangela saw the release of her short story Bent Metal via Phrenic Press this week!

PhrenicPress_BentMetal_NinaDArcangela_CoverWhere does reality end and dreamscape begin?

Woken each night by the sounds of screams and twisting metal, Lauren must relive the panic and fear of discovering her brother’s broken body on the asphalt. But each morning, she finds it’s only a dream… One she doesn’t want to keep having.

At what point does a dream become a nightmare, and what if the nightmare was more than a figment of her subconscious?

Click on the cover to be taken to Amazon! All Phrenic Press titles are exclusively available on Amazon for borrow and purchase!

SUMMER OF ZOMBIE 2014: John O’Brien Teaser!!

Have got a treat for you all today!! John O’Brien, author of the A New World series is touring the internet along with 32 other Zombie authors during the Summer of Zombie 2014 Blog Tour!

So without further ado, let’s get to this teaser!!

Seattle, Washington

Untold Stories large2Captain Sheldon Hendricks stands just outside of the cockpit door near the front entryway nodding at each passenger as they board. If his other duties don’t interfere, he likes to greet the passengers. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Mary, the lead flight attendant for the flight, is stunning. It’s not that he has any ideas about taking it further than talking with the occasional flirt thrown in. He just isn’t like that for a number of reasons. He has observed too many ugly situations arise when flirtation becomes more. He is one of the few that keeps his private life separate from his professional one. Anything that has the potential to bring drama into his life, he avoids at all costs, regardless of how attractive anyone is. He’d been bitten by that one a couple of times before the lesson finally sunk in. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t look though, or do a little friendly flirting from time to time. He is human after all.

Mary and he chat amiably between greeting the passengers and him checking the enroute weather reports. Sheldon enjoys flying the red eye flight out of Seattle to Minneapolis and feels a little let down that this is to be the last one for the foreseeable future. It just doesn’t support the decreased number of fares. Normally, this flight is filled with every available seat taken. Tonight, however, they are less than half full with fewer than a hundred passengers. The operations center had cancelled numerous flights in the last few days for the same reason. The Cape Town flu virus has taken its toll on the tickets sold; along with a vast number of crew ill and unavailable to staff the flights.

As a matter of fact, they are going to have a late takeoff due to having to call up an on-call flight officer and a flight attendant. He and the ticket agents decided to board the aircraft on time though in order to shave off a little time. The on-call flight crew members reported that they were on their way and Sheldon knows that he can cut some time off their flight with the jet stream on their tail.

Several of those boarding entered attempting to stifle coughs. Sheldon nodded at them in sympathy. With all of the hours he’s had to fill in, he hasn’t been able to get his flu shot even though there is a company mandate to get it. He isn’t sure when he’ll have time, perhaps the following day; he’s just been too busy having to fill in on other flights. There were days where he’s barely made crew rest and there was talk about the Federal Aviation Administration suspending that requirement for the short term. The same availability was affecting the controllers and was another reason for the cancellation of flights.

With the number of passengers boarding with flu symptoms, Sheldon worries that, with the enclosed nature of the aircraft, the virus could easily spread. He’s surprised that, considering the contagious nature of the flu, those exhibiting symptoms are even allowed to fly. However, the need for fares is apparently overriding any concerns along those lines. The CDC put out a warning about flying but there has yet to be a mandate prohibiting it.

The floor of the aircraft rocks as the baggage handlers close one of the compartment doors. The airliner is fueled and the flight route has been put into the nav computer. When the flight crew members arrive, they should be able to make a quick start and push back from the gate.

Sheldon checks his watch for perhaps the twentieth time in as many minutes. He’s proud of his on-time departure statistic and is a little annoyed that the virus has affected it. The number of passengers boarding slows to a trickle, allowing him to talk more with Mary, which he doesn’t mind and alleviates his annoyance to a large degree.

One of the late passenger arrivals rounds the corner of the walkway being assisted in a wheel chair. The woman, in her mid-twenties, has a blanket over her lap. Her pale face, with red-rimmed eyes, and constant runny nose makes it apparent that she is deep within the throws of the flu virus. Sheldon nods but the woman is too ill to raise her head and acknowledge his greeting. It’s the seventh passenger to require such assistance to board the flight.

Watching as the woman is assisted into her first-class seat, courtesy of Delta, Sheldon hears voices echoing down the walkway. Turning, he sees the on-call flight officer and flight attendant round the corner towing their wheeled luggage behind them. Following behind is one of the ticket agents.

Sheldon steps aside as the on-call members begin stowing their gear. The flight officer nods his greeting and heads into the cockpit get ready for the flight. Mary takes the final manifest from the ticket agent.

“Everyone has boarded so we should be ready on our end. Have a good flight,” the agent says, exiting the aircraft to assist with closing the door.

Sheldon informs Mary of their flight and arrival times, telling her that they’ll try to make up some of the time enroute.

With the door closed, Sheldon enters the cockpit and seals the door shut. In the cabin, Mary begins making her announcements for everyone to get settled in so they can push back quickly, apologizing for the late takeoff and gives their estimated enroute and arrival time into Minneapolis.

With clear skies overhead, allowing the multitude of stars to twinkle on a black velvet background, Sheldon looks to the lights shining in the mostly empty terminal buildings of SEATAC. He is reminded of why he likes the red-eye flights so much. It’s the peacefulness that they afford and the limited traffic flying the airways. The radio isn’t filled with the constant chatter of controllers directing traffic in and around the busy airports. It’s like they are the only ones aloft and it brings him back to his early days of flying, when he could actually enjoy the feeling of being airborne. He is able to forget feeling like a bus driver and allow himself to sink into the peace of the night.

Climbing steeply out of the basin of Western Washington, the twin engines of the 757 howling with their characteristic whine, Sheldon banks the aircraft to the east. The lights from the western corridor, from Seattle south to Olympia, shimmer under the night sky. Moonlight glitters off the waters of the Puget Sound fading behind, also reflecting off the ice fields of Mount Rainier to the south.

Levelling off at their cruise altitude of 35,000 feet, Sheldon sets the autopilot and glances at the lights of Spokane shining off their nose ahead. The glow of the city rises starkly amid the darkness surrounding it. Settling back into his seat, he wants to enjoy the last night flight that he’ll see for some time.

Looking at the approaching city, he reflects on the current pandemic sweeping across the world. Many of his friends have been stricken with the virus, but with advent of the vaccine, he hopes the contagion will be brought rapidly under control. He’s not sure just how much longer he’ll be able to function with the continuous flights and lack of rest. With Spokane sliding past the wing, he wonders how many below are currently lying on their sick beds. The lights continue to sparkle regardless of how many have been afflicted.

With a strong jet stream pushing them, they leave Spokane far behind. Entering the western edges of the Rocky Mountains, the intercom light from the cabin illuminates, letting him know one of the flight attendants is calling.

Probably to see if we want something to eat or drink, he thinks, answering.

“Captain,” Mary says, “I just thought you should know that the woman in 3A is out cold and looks worse. She’s one of those who had to be wheel-chaired in. We’ve been trying to rouse her without success. There are others in economy that are in the same condition.”

“Are you sure they aren’t just asleep?” Sheldon asks, knowing most of the passengers on red-eyes try to get whatever rest they can.

“That’s what I was thinking but they look really sick; worse than when they came in. They’re all very pale,” Mary answers.

“Do you think it’s bad enough that we need to divert?” Sheldon asks.

“I’m not sure.”

“Okay, make sure the door is clear. I’m coming out,” Sheldon states.

“It’s clear.”

Sheldon informs his co-pilot, a man he hasn’t flown with before, of the situation and that he’s going into the cabin.

“Be ready to divert us. We have Salt Lake City to the south and Denver ahead,” Sheldon says, rising.

Entering the cabin, he closes the door and is greeted by Mary. Looking over the dimly lit interior, he sees some of the overhead seat lights shining down, brightly illuminating a couple of passengers who can’t sleep and are attempting to catch up on their reading or work. He’s been on enough of these flights that he’s surprised that their neighbors aren’t complaining about the lights being on. There’s not much for the flight attendants to do on these flights as they usually suspend the in-flight service so as to not wake the passengers.

Under one of the shining lights in first class is the young woman in question, seated next to the window. Over the top of the seats, only her head is visible and is pressed against the cream-colored plastic wall with her eyes shut. Even from the front galley, he can see how pale the woman looks.

“I was worried so I’ve tried waking her several times,” Mary says, standing to the side in the galley.

“And the others?” Sheldon questions.

“They look in the same condition and we’ve tried waking them as well. They just aren’t responding,” Mary replies.

Sheldon nods and takes the few steps to the seat row. A series of very slight bumps rock the aircraft as they proceed through a small area of turbulence inherent over the Rocky Mountains. No one wakes to the slight tremors.

In the darkened cabin, the light illuminating the woman makes it appear as if she’s under a floodlight, the circle of brightness highlighting her pale face. Gazing at her, Sheldon observes dark circles under her eyes, giving them a sunken look. On her cheeks, there appears to be gray blemishes darkening her pale skin. He’s not sure if she had a pale complexion before, but it now looks waxy and almost translucent. Her skin seems clammy and looks as if it should be moist. There is no doubt in his mind that this woman is very ill and, considering how many people across the world have died from this pandemic, he knows she needs medical attention soon. Upon leaving the cockpit, there was a possibility of a divert. Looking at the woman, that now becomes a definite reality.

“Show me the others,” he states, looking to Mary.

They journey down the narrow aisle, working their way past sleeping passengers and doing their best to avoid the occasional elbow or foot poking out into the passageway.

The next ill passenger is just behind the exit seating over the wing. Seated in seat 28E between two resting passengers, is a middle-aged man wearing a light-colored sports coat. His head is tilted to the side, almost resting on his shoulder. His condition is similar to the woman in first class.

Sheldon knows he has a situation on his hands. He has no choice but to radio that they have an emergency medical situation as soon as he makes his way back to the cockpit. First though, he wants to see the remaining ill passengers. Mary and he meet with another of the flight crew as they make their way to the rear. All of the sick ones brought aboard are asleep and have the same gray tinges on translucent, pale faces. Near the rear of the aircraft, a young boy, about twelve years of age, is in the same condition. None of the passengers awake to the gentle ministrations of the flight crew. All in all, there are seven who appear to have taken a turn for the worse.

“Okay, we’re going to divert into either Salt Lake City or Denver,” Sheldon tells the flight attendants. “You’re about to become very unpopular and the passengers aren’t going to like it. Just be ready to make the announcement once I decide where we’re going and be prepared to deal with some irate passengers.”

“We’ll offer them free drinks if that’s okay with you,” Mary says.

“Yeah, that’s a good idea. I suppose it’s the least we can do. Except for the sick ones. They don’t get anything except water. If anyone gets too unruly, you know how to handle it. Call me if someone gets overly upset.”

Stepping around elbows and outstretched feet, Sheldon slowly makes his way back to the cockpit thinking that operations is not going to receive his divert well. However upset they may get, they also know that it will be a worse situation if Sheldon continues with his original flight plan and one of the passengers dies.

Pausing at the row with the young woman, Sheldon assesses her condition once again. The woman is panting but not heavily. He is startled as she abruptly opens her eyes. Turning sharply toward him, he sees a wild expression in her gaze. He takes her look for one of fear. Perhaps her illness and sudden waking is causing her to not understand where she is. With his frequent travels, he’s woken under those circumstances many times. Recovering and with her fearful expression, he seeks to reassure her.

“It’s okay, ma’am─” Sheldon begins.

The countenance of the woman that Sheldon first took to be fear immediately becomes one of a feral nature. She draws back her lips, a low growl coming from deep within. The woman snaps toward the man resting next to her. With her mouth opening, she tilts her head back. A high-pitched scream fills the interior of the cabin, jarring awake the man next to her, along with most of the rest of the passengers.

The shrill nature and volume of the scream causes Sheldon to jump backward. The man sitting next to the shrieking woman gasps deeply as he rapidly comes out of his slumber, jumping in his seat only held down by his lap belt. Mary, standing next to Sheldon, adds her scream of shock.

Sheldon recovers and, thinking the woman is in deep pain, bends forward, once again attempting to reassure the woman. With a speed belying her illness, she turns in her seat and lunges toward her seat mate. The man shies away but the seat belt fastened about his waist prevents him from escaping.

The young woman, her shrieks subsiding, snarls and grabs the man by the front of his dark, lightweight jacket. Before Sheldon can react, the woman pulls the man toward her, sinking her teeth into his neck. Shocked by the suddenness of her actions, and not believing what he is seeing, Sheldon watches as the woman’s teeth bite into the exposed flesh. Bright red blood sprays across her pale face and runs down the man’s neck.

Screaming from the intense pain, the man tries to push the woman away but her grip on him is firm. The man tries to pull away but only succeeds at stretching his torn skin. Sheldon, reacting to the brutality of the attack, grabs the woman’s head, trying to help the man push the woman away. Shaking her head, she rips a chunk of flesh from the man’s neck, sending more blood streaming.

Doing the only thing he can think of, Sheldon reaches down and unbuckles the man’s seat belt. Grabbing his neck and screaming in pain, the man tumbles over the arm into the aisle. Knowing the woman entered the aircraft alone, he can only think she is delirious from her illness. In all of his years, he has never witnessed such a horrific act.

The woman spits out the mass of flesh and begins shrieking once again. She lunges toward Sheldon but the lap belt holds her firmly in her seat. The woman is frantic in her attempt to get at him and he can only imagine what will happen should she remember to unbuckle. This is one moment when he wishes he had a sky marshal aboard. The wounded man is lying in the aisle, still screaming with one hand holding his neck, blood leaking between his fingers and staining the carpeting. The other passengers, fully awake now, look on with shocked expressions. Most are unable to see what is going on but can to see the man lying at Mary’s feet.

The woman wiggles and continues lunging, pulling against her restraint. Sheldon is at a loss as to what he should do. His training involved protecting the passengers and crew, and if the situation arose, subduing anyone threatening their safety by any means. Thoughts race through his head, trying to figure out a way to subdue the woman without posing a risk to the others. In her current state, he’s not sure how to go about that. They have no means to administer a sedative.

Knowing that he’s about to make the biggest mistake of his flying career, and going against his base moral character, Sheldon swings toward the lunging woman. His fist connects solidly with her upper jaw, snapping her head backward. Momentarily stunned, the woman ceases her frantic attacks and quiets.

That should have knocked her out, Sheldon thinks, hoping the punch will pull the woman out of her current state.

The woman, blood circling her lips and dripping down her chin, shakes her head and continues her attempt to get at Sheldon. Not believing that this is how he gets to spend his last night flight, he punches again, feeling a jolt of pain in his hand. The woman collapses sideways, falling across the middle arm rest. Drops of blood slowly drip from her lips, soaking into the seat fabric.

“Get the first aid kit,” Sheldon directs Mary, nodding toward the man on the floor. “And find something to tie her hands.”

The remaining passengers look on with shocked expressions. About to reassure them that the situation is under control, a shriek similar to the one the woman emitted comes from farther to the rear of the aircraft.

All heads, once focused on him, turn sharply toward the sound. Looking past Mary, who has halted in mid-step, Sheldon sees a man rise quickly from his aisle seat. In the gloom, he watches as the man lunges down the aisle. He can’t see much other than a flurry of movement due to one of the other flight attendants standing in the passageway near the exit rows. The on-call attendant, who Sheldon recalls flying with once before but can’t remember her name, has turned toward the scream.

About to call out a warning to her, he watches as the woman stumbles and falls heavily to the floor, the man on top of her. His shrieks filling the cabin, the crazed passenger begins tearing at her face and neck. Screams of fear erupt from those passengers near the flight attendant being ravaged. Brushing past Mary, Sheldon begins a headlong flight down the aisle. Even in the dim light, he sees the attendant looking at him with pleading, pain-filled eyes.

Before he can get to her, several other passengers leave their seats to help the woman. The man and attendant are quickly engulfed in a sea of bodies. A couple of the would-be rescuers are tossed back from the pile, some landing in the aisle while others are thrown into adjacent seats. The entire cabin is filled with cries of fear.

Sheldon loses sight of the attendant as several men punch at the crazed one, trying to subdue him and pull him off her. One man, standing to the rear of the pile, suddenly lurches forward and goes down, pushed from behind by another. The twelve year old boy claws at the man’s head and leans down to sink his teeth into the exposed neck.

Sheldon slows, seeing a woman climbing across the top of the seats and attacking the seated passengers. A red splash of blood passes through the stark beam of one of the overhead lights. The young boy stops attacking the man and begins an onslaught of another passenger seated nearby. Stunned, realizing that the sick ones have gone crazy, Sheldon is at a loss.

He is unable to get past the pile of bodies in the aisle, many of whom have ceased to move. The crazed man who pushed the flight attendant down emerges from the pile only to continue his attack on the people seated in the nearest row. Panic ensues with many rising from their seats and pushing toward the front. In the rush, Sheldon is forced backward, stumbling into Mary who is looking on at the brawl open-mouthed.

The entire cabin is involved in a fight with many rushing to get out of the way. In the dimness, dark stains begin coating the walls and overhead bins, lines streaming down from the thicker blotches.

With a rush of passengers approaching, Sheldon knows he won’t be able to stop them before being trampled underfoot. It’s a dilemma between protecting the passengers or his crew. He’s not certain how he can safeguard the passengers at this point. Stymied by indecision, he watches the approaching horde. Behind them, he sees others go down. The first man attacked lies at his feet. Sheldon can’t hear his moans above the chaos rolling through the cabin. The very aircraft threatens to shake apart from the screams of terror, the shrieks of the infected, and cries of pain. All of his other flight crew are trapped behind the passengers streaming for the front.

“Into the cockpit, now!” he shouts to Mary.

She remains standing, transfixed by the horror coming at them. Grabbing her shoulder and turning her, Sheldon pushes her toward the cockpit.

“Go!”

Stumbling over the prone, wounded man, she comes to her senses. With a quick glance behind, she starts for the cockpit with Sheldon following. Knowing he can’t open the door, he grabs for the attendant’s phone and punches the line for the cockpit.

“Everything alright back there?” the co-pilot asks.

“This is Hendricks. Open the door and be quick about it,” Sheldon responds.

Seconds later, although it seems like an eternity, the door opens a crack. Sheldon pushes Mary inside. Following, he closes it quickly behind. The screams permeating the cabin, become muffled. Leaning against the door, Sheldon becomes aware of his panting breath and pounding heart. The co-pilot, standing behind Mary, looks bewildered having heard the screams. His face tells of a hundred unasked questions.

“I’ll tell you in a sec. Right now, we need to get this aircraft on the ground,” Sheldon states, starting for his seat.

The cockpit door shakes from repeated fists hammering on the other side. His co-pilot turns to the door but Sheldon ignores it as he belts in. Looking at the nav display, he sees that Denver is the closest airport lying twenty minutes away to the southeast. As he sets in a new course, he briefly relates to his co-pilot what is happening. Sheldon has trouble telling it because he really doesn’t know what just happened. He sees the look of disbelief in the eyes of the flight officer. If it wasn’t for Mary backing him up, he would think he was the one going crazy.

He keys the mic. “Denver Center, this is Delta 1493 declaring a medical emergency. Requesting divert from present position direct to Denver International.”

“Delta 1493, Denver Center. Copy emergency. Turn right heading one two zero, descend and maintain two five thousand. State nature of medical emergency.”

Sheldon really doesn’t know how to respond to that. He knows if he tells them what he saw, they’ll think they have a lunatic pilot on their hands.

“Center, we have a number of passengers attacking the others. We have numerous casualties and we believe that most of the flight crew are down. The cockpit is secure.”

Sheldon can imagine the looks the other pilots on the frequency are giving one another right now.

Thank goodness we’re on a red-eye and there aren’t many flights airborne, he thinks, knowing it would be a hard one to live down should the world hear about it.

The pounding against the cockpit door continues with a frenzied pace and intensity. He can only imagine the fear that the passengers must be feeling. However, there is nothing he can do.

It’s not like they can go anywhere from here and we certainly can’t hold many in the cockpit. There’s no way I’m letting those crazed ones in here.

The long pause from Denver Center continues. “Delta 1493, state number of casualties and nature of attacks. Squawk appropriate code.”

Sheldon knows the message of his aircraft being attacked is making the controllers believe that he’s being hijacked. However, he can’t really say that, although those infected people may inadvertently bring down the aircraft.

Sheldon replies that their squawk is correct and that he has an unknown number of casualties on board. Denver Center tells them that they are cleared direct Denver and to descend at their discretion. They are giving Sheldon clearance to do as he deems appropriate.

A particularly hard slam against the door shakes the cockpit. All three turn toward the entrance with concern. Rising, Sheldon peers through the peep hole to determine what is going on. The expanded fish-eye view is startling. One of the pale-faced passengers is standing in the aisle. At his feet lie a number of bodies, some piled on top of one another. The man takes a run at the door. As the peep hole fills with his body, Sheldon flinches. The entire aircraft shakes as the man slams into the entrance with his shoulder. The hinges, although holding, vibrate.

Sheldon turns toward the front of the aircraft. Out of the windows, a few pinpoints of light shine from miles below. The lights from Denver and its surrounding cities glow from far away directly off their nose. The altimeter winds through 30,000 feet. His thoughts feel muddled, in shock most likely. Here he stands, on what was to be his last red-eye for some time, a flight to be enjoyed in peace. Instead, he is six miles in the air, flying over some of the most rugged, mountainous terrain in the world, a cabin full of dead passengers, with crazed sick people trying to get into the cockpit.

This all might be easier if we weren’t trapped miles high with nowhere to go. This is it. If they get into the cockpit, there isn’t anywhere to run.

Hoping the door does its job, and thankful, in a strange kind of way, for the need of it, Sheldon retakes his seat. Mary hasn’t moved from the side and is gripping her shirt, her eyes wide with fear. The co-pilot, who Sheldon still doesn’t know although they exchanged pleasantries, looks on with worry but without the fear he should be feeling, his not having witnessed what happened.

Another hard slam startles him. He never knew someone could hit the door so hard and he isn’t sure how long the entrance will actually hold under the onslaught. He informs operations of their predicament knowing he’ll be in for a psyche exam first thing in the morning.

Bang!

Another hard crash shakes the cockpit. Instead of weakening, as he would expect, the crashes against the door seem even harder.

Perhaps out of desperation.

His heart thuds against the wall of his chest. Not knowing if the infected in the back will start hammering against any door they see, Sheldon has the co-pilot and Mary go on oxygen in case of rapid decompression.

Denver Center continues to guide the flight, allowing for any deviations that Sheldon might require. He informs them that he thinks the entire passenger manifest might be either injured or dead. This will make the authorities treat the flight as a hijacking which will extend this long night. Sheldon doesn’t care as long as he can get the 757 on the ground before the infected break through the door. There isn’t an escape hatch built into the aircraft but he’ll feel better knowing they can’t fall miles to the ground.

Slam! The door shakes.

The lights of Denver are closer as they pass through eighteen thousand feet. Their voices and actions are shaky as they progress through their approach to field checks. It’s a race between the structural soundness of the door and the airfield. The cockpit entrance is meant to withstand tremendous pressures to keep potential hijackers out, but Sheldon doesn’t know if it was meant to handle the pounding its taking.

It feels as if the crashes against the door are timed with each couple of hundred feet they descend.

How can those infected sustain that kind of intensity without harm?

Twelve thousand feet.

They turn to the east, setting up for a long turn to final.

Bang!

The vibration sounds different. It has a ring to it as if the door is loosening. Beads of sweat break out on his brow. The race is going to be a close one.

Please let the door hold.

Although muffled from his headset, Sheldon hears Mary whimper with each slam against the door. Passing through eight thousand, with the engines in flight idle and speed break deployed to aid in their rapid descent, Sheldon turns to a long final. In the distance, he sees the strobes of the approach lighting system and the steady white of the runway lighting.

“It’s been a helluva night,” the co-pilot says, bringing the flaps down another notch.

“That it has,” Sheldon replies, adjusting their airspeed.

With the continued pounding behind them, almost in their sub-conscious, the gear is lowered. They forgo their normal announcements as, well, they just do, feeling the need for them to be rather moot at the moment. Three green lights flash on and remain steady near the gear handle.

Seven thousand feet, two thousand feet above the ground, and descending in a landing configuration. The pounds against the door continue. The aircraft shakes as it goes through turbulence stemming from the mountain waves. Sheldon applies small corrections to the controls to keep the aircraft aligned. The strobes from the approach lighting blink in rapid succession, pointing toward the runway.

Their bright landing lights illuminate the red metal towers of the approach systems as they flash underneath. Another bang on the door and Sheldon can definitely feel and hear the difference. He knows the door is giving way.

Six thousand feet and the strong beams of their landing lights begin picking up the runway markings. The red flashing lights from the responding emergency vehicles stand out near the runway along its length. Sheldon knows that some will chase the aircraft down the runway when it lands. Due to the nature of their emergency, they’ll stop and hold on the runway, awaiting further instructions.

Almost there.

*  *  *  *  *  *

The tower crew watches Delta Flight 1493 approach, their binoculars trained on the landing lights growing larger and brighter by the second. Due to the nature of the emergency, they’ve cleared the field and airspace around. Of course, it’s early in the morning so they don’t have much traffic to begin with.

With clearance to land given, it’s just a matter of waiting for the flight to touch down and then handing control off to the authorities. They are short-staffed due to the large numbers who have called in sick but, using on-call personnel, they have enough to manage.

The reports from center were sketchy. The pilot reported that the passengers were being attacked and that they had numerous casualties on board. How many there might be were unknown as the pilot was unsure. The latest report indicated that the pilot, co-pilot, and one other flight crew member might be the only ones left alive. They had also reported someone trying to gain entry into the cockpit. That means a hijacking and it may leave Denver closed for some time.

Staring at the approaching lights, the tower personnel note the occasional swing as the aircraft rides through turbulent air. The red flashing lights of emergency vehicles stand to the sides of the runway, the only real indication that something is amiss with the flight. Other than that, it looks like any other airliner approaching for a night landing. The runway controller holds a radio in his hands, ready to turn control of the flight over to the FBI agents who arrived a short while ago. Once the wheels touch the ground, it’s their show.

Over the approach lights, the landing lights break through the darkness. The aircraft experiences another wobble of turbulence which is almost immediately righted. The runway threshold begins to be illuminated under the intense glare. Going through another moment of turbulence, the 757 slews slightly to the side. Used to seeing the effect of turbulence from the wind passing over the mountains a short distance to the west, the controllers gathered together in the tower expect an immediate correction. They are taken aback, and then watch in horror, as the aircraft slides to one side of the runway and slams into the ground. Dirt, metal, and fuel are thrown into the air and off to the sides. Skidding across the ground, the aircraft begins coming apart. The fuel, thrown from ruptured tanks, becomes vaporized by the impact and ignites with a tremendous concussive explosion that lasts only moments before settling back down to a slow burning fire.

They were right about one thing; Denver would be closed for some time.

***

SummerZombie Shirt Front

The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2014, with 33 of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser…and pick up some great swag as well! Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them! #SummerZombie

Summer of Zombie 2014 Blog Tour

AND so you don’t miss any of the posts in June, here’s the complete list, updated daily:

Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author

 

Wicked Women Writers Challenge 2013

I’m one of the Wicked Women Writers for the 2013 contest and today at 12pm MST you can all listen to the podcast of all of the contestants on HorrorAddicts.net! I would love for you all to listen in and vote for me should you think my story is the best. You will also be able to read the stories on HorrorAddicts.net! Come out and support the Wicked Women Writers!

If you’re interested in coming to the Facebook Listening Party, you can join in the festivities here: 2013 Wicked Women Writer Challenge Podcast Airing!

wwwposter2013

Nine Questions with… Steve Vernon

Today I’m asking nine questions to fellow Canadian Steve Vernon. Welcome Steve, why don’t you take a moment to introduce yourself to the captive audience that you now have before you.

Author's photo, with beaverHi folks.

My name is Steve Vernon and I’m a writer and a storyteller.

I’m what some folks call a hybrid author – in that I write both for a traditional publisher as well as a line of my own independently published e-books.

I know. I know. Your Aunt Winifred has released her own e-book. So has her cat. And that ball of magenta yarn in her basket – has its own particular yarn to tell.

I’m not saying that I’m unique.

I started out my writing career writing short stories for the North American small press. Little tiny basement magazines – and some that I think were published in somebody’s sub-sub-sub-basement – for as much as one quarter of a cent per word.

I’m not saying I was making money at it.

In 2004 I pitched a collection of Nova Scotia ghost stories to a regional press up here in Nova Scotia. They liked my pitch and in 2006 they published my first official book Haunted Harbours: Ghost Stories from Old Nova Scotia. It’s a great collection of stories based on regional history and folklore that has gone on to sell about 10,000 copies – which is considered pretty good for a regional Canadian press such as Nimbus Publishing.

Only that wasn’t REALLY my first book.

My first book – a novella entitled Long Horn, Big Shaggy – A Tale of Wild West Terror and Reanimated Buffalo was released by Black Death Books way back in 2004.

Since then I have released SEVEN books through Nimbus Publishing – including four ghost story collections, one children’s picture book, one YA novel and a collection of historical murder tales from Nova Scotia.

In addition I’ve released about two dozen e-books and I am writing just as fast as my fingers can tackle the keyboard.

Wow… You really are a storyteller! Tell us about your writing process?

I get up every morning and check my e-mail. Then I check Twitter and I check Facebook. I have breakfast. I pet the cat. I look out the window and try to predict the weather for today. I check my day-timer and figure out if I have a shift at my day job to worry about or not. I bring my wife coffee. I pet the cat some more.

In between all of that elaborate procrastination I somehow manage to write a line or two.

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

I ought to be honest with you folks. I really wish I could write Fifty-One and a Half Shades of Grey – an unofficial sequel to the multi-multi-billion copy bestselling series.

Here’s a fun and/or depressing little fact. Did you know that one in five books sold in 2012 was a part of the Fifty Shades Trilogy? I tell you – if I could write something that would sell like that I would have to hire me someone to fold up my folding money for me.

But seriously, I really would love to make more headway in the field of young adult literature. There are just so many kids out there who are putting off reading in favor of texting and computer gaming and You-Tube and all of those other Borg/Dalek/hive-mind diversions that are rampant in today’s society. I would REALLY love to write something that would catch the mind of all of those reluctant readers and turn them around.

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

Wow!

Only five?

For starters – Dracula. My grandmother gave me a paperback copy of that novel way back when I was knee-high to a short knee bone. It was a battered old copy with a photograph of Christopher Lee looking all ominous and moody and gothic. That had to have been the FIRST horror novel I ever read and I loved it.

Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King, was another powerful inspiration. I read that when it first hit the market – alright, so it was after I read a comic book that showed Ben Grimm – The Thing from Marvel’s Fantastic Four – reading a copy of it. I read that novel and I said to myself I have got to grow up and start writing books like that.

Sharpe’s Tiger – by Bernard Cornwell. I read that after reading a recommendation by Stephen King and I still would like to someday sit down and write me a big military adventure series such as the Sharpe series.

Joe Lansdale’s work has inspired me a lot – no book in particular – but I truly admire his comfortable uncensored style of relating a story to the reader that both enlightens and puts a strong tug on your funny bone at the same damn time.

Robert Parker’s Spencer series also rocked my world – at least the first dozen or so books in the series.

I don’t know if that’s five or not. Math was never one of my strong points.

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

Let’s see – I would love to see Donald Sutherland and Gordon Pinsent cast in a movie version of my vampire and hockey novella – Sudden Death Overtime. Gene Hackman would probably fit as well – even though he’s not Canadian. Tommy Lee Jones would be another great pick – if he could learn how to skate.

I’d love to see what Ray Stevenson would make out of my tough guy anti-hero Captain Nothing. I really thought Ray did a great job in Punisher: War Zone – even though the critics and the box office tally would disagree with me.

And I can’t tell you about casting – but if some Canadian studio does not hurry and pick up the movie rights to my young adult novel Sinking Deeper OR my questionable (sometimes heroic) decision to invent a sea monster and start working on it I may break down and scream.

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 promptly pay off whatever bribe I had offered.

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

Coffee. Cold and black and strong enough to break a spoon off if you are foolish enough to attempt a stir.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I garden. I have a day job. I pet the cat. I have an addiction to old black and white movies and cheap cheesy horror flicks.

And in between all of that I think about writing.

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

Okay – so here are the opening lines of my upcoming YA novel – Big Hairy Deal.

Chapter One – The bear, the Bigfoot and Me

One moment I was standing here in the Cape Breton highlands – and why in the heck did they call them highlands, anyway? I mean, they didn’t look all that high to me. Everything I could see was all rocks and rolling terrain and it seemed more of a humpy-kind of hill country.

“This is Bigfoot country, Adam,” Warren told me. “So you had better keep your eyes open.”

Warren is my stepdad – which is another way of saying that he was a bit of a total dork.

I mean, just take a look at the guy. He’s about as thin as a skinny reed with an Adam’s apple that sticks out from the skinny of his neck and bobbles up and down like he was constantly trying to swallow a live bullfrog inside of his throat.

The man looked absolutely gorky.

“But Adam,” my Mom would always tell me. “He’s your stepdad. You’re just going to have to learn to get along with him.”

Baloney.

As far as I was concerned – all that him being my stepdad meant was that he had accidentally married my Mom six months after my real Dad was killed by that baby carriage.

Which sucked.

Was that more than nine lines?

I told you that arithmetic was NOT my strong point.

Now let’s take a sneak peek into Steve’s Sudden Death Overtime – A Tale of Hockey and Vampires

Sudden Death Overtime - final artMeet Sprague Deacon – one of the toughest old-time hockey players who ever skated upon a rink of hand-poured ice. Sprague was born and raised and he expects to die here on the Northern Labrador coast. What he did not expect was a tour bus full of vampires – none of whom glitter in the least bit – to pull into his town and begin lowering the population level – one corpse at a time. Sprague and his three best friends – an over-the-hill never-say quit bush league hockey team from Northern Labrador go toe-to-tooth with a tour bus full of vampires in an immortal-stakes showdown of street hockey? For the answer – throw Paul Newman’s Slapshot into a blender with Steven Niles 30 Days of Night and hit frappe!

Don’t forget that clicking on the cover will take you directly to Amazon!

I’d like to thank Steve for taking the time to answer my questions. If you’d like to connect with Steve you can find more information about him, including all of his novels on his website.

Nine Questions with… Matt Schiariti

Today I have the utmost pleasure of sharing an interview with new(ish) author Matt Schiariti. Matt has just released his first novel – Ghosts of Demons Past. Welcome Matt, why don’t you take a moment and introduce yourself to the captive audience that you now have before you. (Great place to inset your bio and expand on it)

MattSchiariti_pictureHi! I’m Matt Schiariti and I’m an Engineer by profession, guitar legend in my own mind, and would-be author, time permitting.  When I’m not writing, I’m reading.  When I’m not reading, I’m enjoying a beer sporting a fancy name on the label.  When I’m not enjoying a fancy-named beer, I’m most likely reading some more.  Sometimes I do all three at once, to disastrous effect.

I live in southern New Jersey, with my wife, two children, insane dog, curious guinea pig, and three reclusive hermit crabs.

I’m currently working on another novel (first one I’d ever written as a matter of fact—cleaning it up and getting it ready for beta readers as we speak) as well as several short stories.  Ghosts of Demons Past is my first full-length book, but not my last.

You have been warned

Tell us what is your writing process?

Prodigious outlining isn’t my bag.  To date, everything I’ve written has been by the seat of my pants.  A few of my short stories were written around bare-bone outlines, but for the most part I’m a ‘pantser’.  That being said, I always have a good idea of where the story starts, ends, and what happens in between in mind before I begin any story, no matter the length.  Not sure how long I’ll be able to get away with that because once I get into more complex stories, I’m going to need something to work from, something with more detail.  Will I be a pantser forever?  Time will tell!

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

  1. What?  Don’t look at me like that!  I’m not kidding.  Mostly.  Sorta kinda.  Hey, I need some way to pay for my editorial fees, right?  😉  Seriously, though.  I’m very much a ‘write what I feel like’ type of person.  If I think I have a good story to tell, whether it be contemporary, horror, sci fi, paranormal, urban fantasy, I’ll write it.

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

This is a difficult question to answer.  I read in just about every genre so nailing down specific influences would be next to impossible.  Funny thing is, some of my favorite books/authors aren’t even in the genres I’ve been writing up to this point!

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

I suck at this!  But, for Ghosts of Demons Past, my cast would consist of the following people:

Seth Gabriel: Hugh Jackman

Jamie: Tatiana Maslany

Sim Peters: Todd Lasance

Rene Gabriel: Joelle Carter

Mitch Gabriel: Dylan Minnette

Amanda Gallagher: Rachel McAdams

Evan Gallagher: David Tennant

Tom McKinty: I have no idea!

Great choice in cast, Matt! 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?

Ask my wife to pinch me.  Then, after determining I hadn’t been dreaming, I’d call my mommy!

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

  1. I smoke entirely too much when I come to a sticking point or a part that needs some serious thought.  (Pssst…don’t try this at home, kiddies!  Smoking is bad for you, the surgeon general says so.)

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I work a 9 to 5, but when I’m home and not in the midst of family stuff (changing poopy diapers, or badgering my 6 year old, etc) I read.  A LOT.  If I’m not reading I’ll be playing my guitar, watching TV, or hanging out with friends on the weekends.  I’m not very adventurous.  No skydiving or mountain climbing for this guy!  I’m happy relaxing with friends at each other’s houses, seeing movies, keeping it simple!

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

The following is from a book I’d written BEFORE Ghosts of Demons Past.  I’ve recently revisited and am about 60% through the cleaning up process, getting it ready for beta readers.  It’s not horror, it’s not urban fantasy, and it’s not a thriller.  This WIP is a complete and total departure from anything else I’ve released to date.  It’s a bit of a life story with a slight paranormal twist—a VERY slight paranormal twist:

Funerals.

Nobody likes a funeral.

Funerals are a necessary evil of life, kind of like paying taxes or waiting in the line at the DMV or going to a Chuck E. Cheese’s kid’s party.  For most people in the civilized world, they’re damn near unavoidable.

When you get to thinking about it they’re really a brutal ritual.  The bereaved, whether they are husband or wife, mother or father, son or daughter, are on display more than the deceased.  On the worst day of their life they’re forced to endure a barrage of sympathy from family and friends, coworkers and acquaintances, their naked grief and sorrow front and center.  Perhaps the last thing anybody wants to do when they lose a loved one is to shake dozens of hands, hear the words ‘I’m so sorry’ over and over again.

Fantastic Matt! Thank you! Now let’s take a quick look into Ghosts of Demons Past

MattSchiariti_Cover“Well, Mr. Gabriel. What do you know about…demons?”

For most people, that’s a question that never comes up. Medium Seth Gabriel isn’t most people and for him, it’s another normal day in an abnormal life.

It’s bad enough that his love life has seen better days but his personal problems are only the half of it. Seth’s ghost hunting business, SG Cleaning Services hasn’t seen a client in weeks and he’s desperate for a paycheck. Things look up when two potential clients seek him out.

Courtney Reeves hires Seth to investigate a paranormal disturbance in her home. On the surface it’s a run of the mill cleaning job but when you deal with the dead for a living, there’s no such thing as routine. The close of the case is the start of even bigger problems and Seth will find that, while there’s nothing to fear from the dead, the living are another story.

When the nervous and persistent Evan Gallagher enters his life, Seth sees the promise of a big payday. There’s only one catch. The wealthy lawyer thinks his wife is possessed by a demon. Seth doesn’t believe in demons…not anymore, but the money is too good to turn down. Is Evan crazy or is he one hundred percent sane? As Seth digs deeper, he’ll ask the same question of himself.

For a guy who’s coasted through life on not much more than Greek takeout, tequila, and attitude, Seth’s going to have to dig deep to survive what will turn out to be a very bad week.

Don’t forget to click on the cover to be whisked away to Amazon!

Thanks Matt for taking the time to answer my questions. If you’d like to connect with Matt, you can find him on his blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Nine Questions with… Lorne Oliver

Today I feature an interview with Lorne Oliver, a fellow Canadian and author of Red Island. Welcome Lorne, why don’t you take a moment and introduce yourself to the captive audience that you now have before you.

Author PhotoI always find writing about myself to be the hardest thing to do.  Hi, I’m Lorne.  I’ve lived in almost every region of Canada.  Currently I live in Saskatchewan.  If you ever get the chance to cross our great country this is the part where you hear things in the car like:  are we there yet?  Oh look, another field…and my favorite – am I being punished for something?  Geez, can you ever tell I’m not from here.  I have a great wife and two great kids.  When I’m not writing I’m cooking or watching crime shows on TV and movies…okay I’m probably thinking about writing while doing all of that.

Tell us about your writing process?

My writing process changes subtly, but is basically the same.  I’m one of those guys who always has a notebook at arms-reach so most of my first draft is done old school with pen and paper.  As I type it up I put it through a sort of rewrite.  For the second draft I print what I have and go over it with a pen editing what is there and often writing in completely new scenes.  In RED ISLAND I added some new scenes and polished a lot, but the bulk of it is what was first written.  In RED SERGE, my second novel to be released the end of August, I wrote a brand new chapter and completely changed the ending resulting in killing off a main character.  As for the inevitable outline or not outline question, every story I have ever outlined I have gotten bored with and never finished.  I do, however do a LOT of research for these books.

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

Two really.  I’ve written a couple of good “romance from a male perspective” books.  One I refer to as a mix of Nick Hornby’s, High Fidelity and Nicholas Sparks, A Walk to Remember.  I keep getting encouragement to polish them up and publish them but they are my first children so I’m a little protective.  The second genre would be something to do with YA.  Probably YA fantasy.

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

On Writing by Stephen King – It gave me insights into writing and publishing.

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby – This book showed me that we all have a voice and we can use that to tell our own story.  As long as the story is good people will want to read it.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton – The story is so simple and yet so grand.  There’s a good side and a bad side.  One simple action leads to a bigger eruption and in the end everything comes to a complete circle and everything is tied up neatly.

As for the rest, I can’t pick specific books.  Writer’s like Tess Gerritsen, Kathy Reichs, and Michelle Gagnon inspire my writing… Clive Cussler’s books are a great source of how to write action… there are too many.

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

In the past my main characters have always looked like a much better looking version of me.  When I wrote Red Island I pictured certain people in the roles of some of the characters.  For Reid I pictured Jason Wiles who played Bosco on the TV show Third Watch, for Deborah English I thought of Elisha Cuthbert, and the only other character who I thought of a real person for was the bad guy.  It’ll seem strange, but when I wrote his physical description I thought of the singer Michael Bublé.  I think he was on TV at the time I was writing it.

Bosco was one of my favourite characters on Third Watch and Jason Wiles has a great list of career credits! 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?

Go back to bed because I was probably still dreaming.  I’m not saying my books aren’t good enough to make the list, my Mom loves them, but the competition out there is amazing.

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

My wife would say that writing is my vice.  I wake and go to the kitchen with my notebook in my hand.  I take it in the car when we go out because you never know when something will spark an idea.  I get home from work and I sit in my corner with my computer.  And when I’m not writing I am talking about the ideas or characters or my latest blog tour, and on and on.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

There is such a time?  Ha,ha,ha I’m usually cooking or watching some favorite shows on TV.  I love crime shows like Criminal Minds and Law and Order, but I’m a geek at heart so I also love The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.  I also enjoy the time with my two kids and wife.

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

This is from a book titled THE CISTERN, hopefully out in December.  It’s completely different characters from the other two books.

Maeve scrunched her face as her teeth tore at the flesh of the other woman’s arm.  She chewed quickly and swallowed hard.  She tried not to think about what it tasted like.  Her stomach lurched wanting to reject what she was putting in her body.

She closed her eyes and tried to remember what daisies smelled like, what sun on her skin felt like.  She imagined the ocean’s water lapping against her belly.  She could almost feel the breeze coming in with each wave.

Her chest suddenly burned.  She felt the fire shoot up through her throat.  On instinct she turned fast.  The brick wall scratched hard against her forehead.  Pain and heat cracked through her skull.  Her body fell back.  Water splashed up over her naked skin.

Sounds great! Now let’s take a quick look at Red Island… (Clicking on the cover will take you directly to Amazon!)

Red Island CoverWas it the nightmare that woke Reid or the phone ringing in the middle of the night that brought on the dream? Sgt. Reid of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police moved his family to Prince Edward Island, “The Gentle Island,” to get away from crime and homicides. He had to get away from the nightmares and concentrate on his family.

It’s a lovely place to live. The sound of the ocean crashing against sandy beaches, sand dunes covered in tufts of dancing green grass…

…And then there is the young woman hanging from a tree. It isn’t a gentle island any more.

It’s Ben’s world. Whether we live or die is all up to him and Reid is going to have to play his game.

Thank you Lorne for taking the time to answer my questions. If you would like to connect with Lorne, you can find him on his website, Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, and his Amazon Author Page.

Nine Questions with… Daniel Sherrier

Today, on the FlipSide, we have an interview with Daniel Sherrier, author of RIP: Touch and Earths in Space Volume 1: Where Are The Little Green Men?. Welcome Daniel, why don’t you take a moment to introduce yourself to the captive audience that you now have before you.

DanielSherrier headshotHi, I’m Daniel, and I write science fiction, paranormal fantasy, and some comedy here and there. I launched my first e-book series at the end of last year and a second a couple of months later. They’re called Earths in Space and RIP. The former explores alternate human civilizations on other Earths throughout the universe, and the latter involves a guy physically beating up ghosts. (I don’t mind if you break away for a moment to plug those titles into your Amazon and B&N search engines for a quick download. Go on. No, really. I insist.)

Previously, people have deemed some of my play scripts fit for public performance. I graduated from the College of William & Mary with a degree in English and Theatre, so you can guess how rich I’m not. I’m getting ready to test for my black belt in Thai kickboxing. Also, I once jumped out of an airplane. That sure was something.

Thank you Daniel; tell us about your writing process?

I start with a tentative outline, and by “outline,” I mean rambling stream-of-conscious ideas pouring onto my word processor. In the midst of that rambling, I figure out a basic structure, and when I think I have a beginning, middle, and end in mind, I plot the early scenes in greater detail until I’m ready to face that dreaded blank page.

While writing, I break one of the “rules.” I edit as I go. Several reasons for this, but the big one is to build my own confidence by reassuring myself that I am indeed capable of smoothing out that horrific first draft.

Music is essential throughout the entire process, especially soundtrack music.

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

I’ve always wanted to write comic books. That’s actually why I started writing in the first place when I was nine years old. I’d be thrilled to write Superman in any medium. I’d also love to write a huge, sprawling X-Men novel, independent of official comic book continuity – I’ve even made some notes regarding such a concept. The ideas started coming to me, and they kept coming. Now if only I had the rights…

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

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut: Vonnegut showed me how to write outside the box and have fun with it.

The Diaries of Adam of Eve by Mark Twain: I loved the alternating first-person narrators. It got me thinking about point-of-view.

Daredevil: Born Again by Frank Miller: My favorite comic book storyline, and it’s much more than your typical super-hero fare. A man is broken down and figures out how to rebuild himself. It showed me how action-packed entertainment can be about something.

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling: A superb series, especially the middle three books. Rowling juggles quite a bit, and almost all of it is fun and addicting.

The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman: It’s a master class in imagination.

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

I’ll go with the Earths in Space cast, at least some of them. This is a tough one, and I wouldn’t mind casting talented unknowns, but here’s who springs to mind for some of the characters:

Amena…Gillian Jacobs (Community)

Kaden…Sean Maher (Firefly)

Sela…Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars)

Whit…Greg Grunberg (Heroes)

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 re-read that list to make sure my eyes aren’t going. Then I’d wonder what parallel reality I stumbled into.

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

A weekly ice latte gives me a nice boost. I’ve never been able to mix alcohol and writing. That kind of drink merely makes me lazy.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

General assorted stuff. I spend time with my three-year-old niece, and it was with great pride I introduced her to The Muppet Show not long ago. For exercise, I take a kickboxing class. I always enjoy a good play, TV show, book, comic book…I’m a sucker for great, addicting entertainment.

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

Here’s the beginning of the second RIP novelette, “Alone.”

Friday was deader than usual. Pamela felt the reason why the moment she stepped outside and started shivering. Her heavy wool jacket afforded her some protection, but her exposed face chilled in the breeze while her scarf sat uselessly on the passenger’s seat of her car. She had meant to bring it inside, but she had a lot on her mind.

Pamela shoved the wooden door into place while securing a stack of books beneath her other arm. She turned the key and gave the knob a pull to make sure it shut properly. Maybe someday the board of trustees would toss them the funds to get the thing fixed, but she expected to have said good riddance by then. As long as nothing broke off on her watch, she could live with the cranky old building’s stubbornness.

Thank you Daniel! Now let’s take a peek into RIP: Touch…

RIP 1 TouchOpening yourself up to a whole new world can leave you vulnerable — but it’s the only way to grow. That’s what Rip Cooper has to do when he learns he can perceive ghosts with his five senses as if they were flesh and blood people, and he’s just as solid to them — in fact, the only solid thing to them. This young loner has to overcome his fears and kill dead people to prevent them from corrupting the living. He works alongside an impure angel and his ex-best friend’s ex-girlfriend as they teach him how love can conquer fear.

RIP is a series of novelettes that tell one larger coming-of-age and redemption story.

In this premiere episode, “Touch,” Rip may be a successful freelance photographer making a name for himself in a new town, but personally, he’s in a rut. No friends, no goals, no greater purpose. He’s going through the motions…until the “angel” Serissa informs him he’s “one of the Seven.”

Don’t forget that clicking on the cover will whisk you away to Amazon!

If you’d like to connect with Daniel you can find him on his website, Facebook, Twitter, or his Amazon Author Page.

Don’t forget to join my next week when I will be interviewing author Lorne Oliver!

Nine Questions with… K.J. Wolf

Today I interview author K.J. Wolf to the FlipSide. Welcome K.J., why don’t you take a moment and introduce yourself to the captive audience you now have before you.

I’m K.J. Wolf from upstate N.Y. and I’m thrilled to be able to call myself a writer!  My days are filled with home schooling and working with the animals on our small hobby farm while my evenings are spent playing matchmaker for fictional characters.
I love to hear from fans.  Feel free to follow me on Facebook and Twitter (@writergirl72)

What is your writing process?

I’m a total pantser.  I have lists with character names, traits and any relevant information I might need to reference at a later point, but that’s it.  The story plays kind of like a movie in my mind.  I need to find my place, focus and get out of the way to let the characters do their thing.

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

It’s not too far out of my comfort zone, but I’d love to do romance with paranormal elements.

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

This is impossible to answer!  I remember reading my first romance novel when I was a young teen.  It was cheesy, sweet and so innocent.  I fell in love with the genre immediately.
Erotica just seems like a natural progression with age.  The older you get, the innocence can still be in tact but sex just becomes a natural part of life.

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

Christian Bale as Matt Day in Change of the Heart.

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?

The first contract letter I got resulted in bad dancing for hours around the house.  Something like the N.Y. Times Bestseller List would probably make me pass out.

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

Not really.  Some people like music but I can only handle classical.  I end up singing along and falling into my Grammy acceptance speech instead of writing.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Cook, hike, read and watch my guilty pleasures on TV.

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

Dara North fell on her butt. One minute she was trudging through the snow while stinging snow pellets whipped against her cheeks walking her dog, Max, and the next her butt ached like the devil. At least no one had been around to see it happen.

“Are you okay?”

She blushed at the sound of the deep, concerned voice coming from the doorway of the café she’d passed just a few seconds ago. Someone had seen her less than graceful slide onto her fanny.

Strong hands anchored themselves under her arms and hoisted her onto her feet with ease. Max circled her feet while yapping getting the leash wrapped around her legs.

“Well that’s not helping.  Let me get that for you.”

If you would like to connect with K.J., you can find her on Facebook and Twitter! Now it’s time for a sneak peek into K.J.’s novella Change of the Heart…

ChangeoftheHeartCoverOfficialMatt Day is a cab driver who was burned by the last person he let into his life and he lost everything because of it. Camilla White just got fired by her secret lover at the holiday office party and needs Matt to get her out of New York City.

On the way, a snowstorm hits and the two end up stranded in a snow drift. The only way to survive is to rely on each other. With two damaged hearts on the line, it might take a Christmas miracle to make it happen.

Change of the Heart is a story of hope, romance and healing. This spicy read might be set around the holidays, but it’s a great read any time of the year!

Don’t forget to click on the cover to be whisked away to Amazon!

I’d like to thank K.J. for taking the time to answer my questions!

Don’t forget to join my next week when my guest will be TR Stoddard!