Fright Night Film Festival

For those of you who don’t know, I will be at the Fright Night Film Festival in Louisville, KY this weekend – June 29, 30, and July 1 – signing copies of my fantastic paranormal novels  A TOUCH OF DARKNESS and  A TOUCH OF MADNESS.

This is one of the biggest horror and pop culture events of the year. Doors open at 5 p.m. (eastern) on Friday, 9 a.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. on Sunday. Guests of honor include:

  • Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, Army of Darkness, Burn Notice)
  • Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings, Encino Man, Goonies)
  • John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones, Sliders)
  • Peter Davidson (Dr. Who)
  • Gareth David-Lloyd (Dr. Who, Torchwood, Warehouse 13)
  • James Marsters (Torchwood, Smallville, Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
  • Nicholas Brendon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
  • Norman Reedus (Walking Dead, Boondock Saints)
  • Sean Patrick Flanery (Boondock Saints)
  • Colin Fergusen (Eureka)

I hope to see lots of people there. Having the chance to share a venue with these awesome stars is fan-fucking-tastic!

FREE BOOKS!

In honor of our nation’s birthday, I am participating in The Blog Hop Spot’s free stuff giveaway. (And who the heck doesn’t like free stuff?!) Here you’ll find dozens and dozens of authors who are giving away everything from autographed book marks, to free ebooks, to (like me) free print copies of their work.

So, without further ado, my contest extraordinaire!

Follow the Rafflecopter guidelines and you will win:
(Make sure to leave a comment below so I have your email address to contact the winner regarding shipment of winnings!)

  • 1 autographed print copy of A TOUCH OF DARKNESS
  • 1 autographed print copy of A TOUCH OF MADNESS, and 
  • 1 autographed print copy of FRACAS: A COLLECTION OF SHORT FRICTION

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

And, again, click over to here to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day by winning!

Good luck!

BC Brown ~ Paranormal, Mystery, Romance, Fantasy
“Because Weird (and FREE) is Good.”

Blog Tour – MaryLynn Bast – No Remorse & One Bite to Passion

 

No Remorse Blurb:
Due to her unusual birth, Amber has abilities no other werewolf has ever possessed. On the run since childhood, the lone wolf avoids contact with other werewolves at all cost, continually moving, constantly looking over her shoulder and always alone. Everything changes when Amber saves a werewolf from the mere brink of death, Blake, the only werewolf to ever protect her. Love blossoms, but not without tribulations when Amber realizes she must help her new pack rescue a member who is being held hostage by a rival pack. Warring with emotions of going from lone wolf to the pack leader’s mate, Amber must decide if she is willing to risk Blake’s life to know true family and friendship despite the fact that the Council is hell bent on locating her and will stop at nothing until she is found. Will Amber’s special abilities be enough to keep everyone safe?
 
No Remorse

Excerpt:
Amber recalled the night vividly. She stayed in her room while her mother and Byron argued over them leaving. She had listened intently when her mother warned Byron that Tommy would not believe that Amber was his daughter.
At the time, it hadn’t made sense to Amber what she was hearing. Her mother had been raped by multiple werewolves and that any of them could be her father. Amber shook her head to clear her thoughts. Maybe her mother meant that he couldbe her father, not that he was.
Byron and Winona were still arguing about them leaving when Tommy returned later that night with reinforcements. Byron had called his brother Jason to come in for support, but that was not enough.
Amber listened as Tommy’s crew stormed the house behind the bar. Fists were flying while bodies hurtled through the air smashing furniture throughout the room. Winona screamed loudly as Tommy grabbed her. His men had knocked Jason unconscious and held Byron’s beaten and bloodied body to the floor.
Amber stood behind the closed and locked door of her room. She could hear everything. The words that Tommy snarled burned into her brain.
“By Council’s orders, I am here to return you, Winona Gray Hamilton, runaway pack member, back to the den. Council leader Isaac Whiting has ordered that your daughter be brought before the Council. You are a disgrace to your bloodline and your mutt will be dealt with by the Council.”
Amber heard her mother’s screams for her to run. She couldn’t let that man take her mother back to that place. Instead of running, she reached for the door to unlock and jerk it open when she was grabbed from behind. The arms were like a vice and the hand that slid around her mouth secured her scream. His grip didn’t falter when she struggled violently to escape, biting at the hand that was held firmly across her mouth. She hadn’t heard the man that had slipped into her room; she was so intent on listening to what was happening in the living room.
“Stop!” At the commanding sound of the voice Amber ceased struggling, but stood stiffly in his arms. The words didn’t make sense to her. “Don’t scream or they will come. You have to get out of here.”
At her nod in agreement to not scream, the large hand was removed slowly from her mouth. She whispered, “What do you want?” She was terrified but stood still.
“I want my granddaughter to be safe,” the big man whispered in a broken voice.
Amber gasped, realizing that this was her mother’s father. He slipped something into her pocket and turned her towards him. She stared into the chocolate brown, sad eyes of her grandfather.
Tears were streaming down her face. Amber shook her head and tried to speak, to say something, but nothing came out. This was her family and her grandfather was sending her away? Amber couldn’t wrap her brain around the fact that the pack wanted her mother to come back home, but they didn’t want her.The Council was going to deal with her. She shook her head in denial that this could be happening. She could still hear her mother screaming in the next room. Her grandfather rushed her towards the other door that led to the back hallway and to the back porch.
She pushed against him, to turn back to her mother.
“Don’t fight, little one; you will die if you go back there. You must get out now. Go and don’t look back,” he told her, hurrying her out through the darkness to the waiting car. He pushed her gently into the back seat, quickly and quietly pushed the door shut, tapping the top of the car. The driver didn’t say a word to her, but took off and left the small restaurant bar behind. She was leaving her mother and the only family she had ever known.

One Bite To Passion Blurb:
On a business trip to Japan, Paige has just found happiness with Casey, an exciting, young man with a passionate interest in Paige.  After a night of wild sex, she feels like a new woman. Drawn to Casey, Paige can’t refuse him even though he says he wants to possess her and she learns he is a vampire. Then Paige’s unfaithful husband, Dalton, shows up. He has supposedly broken off his affair, but Paige suspects he is still seeing his mistress. Soon, Paige begins to notice disturbing things happening around her and discovers she has become the center of a battle between covens who consider her The Chosen One. But when she faces the greatest peril of her life, and Casey shows up to help, Page realizes she is willing fight the covens side-by-side with him, if it means the chance of a future with this vampire she has come to love.
ONE BITE TO PASSION
Excerpt:
Leaning against the door, she took a deep breath to calm her pounding heart. Why was she having such a reaction to a man she had barely met, not even twenty four hours ago. “Yet you slept with him.”She grumbled to herself and released a sigh. Slipping quickly into her undergarments, she slipped on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and headed back out to the living room.
Casey sat on the loveseat by the window, but Rosa was gone. He responded to her questioning look. “She went back to her room, said she had to get something for you.”
Paige remembered a package was supposed to be delivered. But that quickly left her mind when Casey patted the seat next to him. She shook her head no, deciding it wasn’t a good idea to snuggle with him. She leaned against the bar that separated the kitchen from the living area.
“I won’t bite.” He smiled and wiggled his eyebrows at her. “Too hard.”
Paige laughed nervously. “Uh, Casey, about last night.” She couldn’t bring herself to look at him.
“I told you Paige, I wanted you and I still do.” He lounged back on the seat, one arm thrown casually across the back.
“I, uh. I’m married. I shouldn’t have done that.” She inspected her manicured nail.
“I also remember telling you that your husband was a lucky man. So, yeah, I’m aware you are married and I don’t care.” He spoke softly. He patted the seat once again.
She heard the honesty in his words, and once again shook her head, but this time she stared at him. She had to end this. She was in Japan to work, not have an ongoing affair with a younger man. She opened her mouth to speak, before she could, the look on his face stopped her.
“Paige.” Casey stood and walked over to where she was. His hand rose up to her face, his fingers slid gently across her cheek, his eyes looked haunted. “I can’t stop thinking about you. I know you are married and I know I should feel bad about that, but I don’t. He should respect you and he doesn’t.”
How in the world would he know that! Paige stared at him, wondering if she had gotten herself into something she wouldn’t easily get out of.
“I want to be with you.” He continued staring at her, but he made no move to touch her any further than the caress on her cheek.
“But that’s impossible Casey. I can’t do this. I love my husband.”
“You love your husband because it’s the right thing to do. But how long has it been since he has told you he loved you and really meant it? How long has it been since he loved you the way I did last night? If ever?”
Closing her eyes she didn’t know what she was going to do. Dalton had never made her feel the way Casey had. But that had been about sex. She and Dalton had twenty years together and couldn’t throw that all away for one night of great sex.
“I…” She didn’t know what to say, His lips descended and grazed hers and she melted against him. Her brain screamed at her to stop, but her body said the exact opposite. The kiss deepened and he pulled her to him. Their tongues battled for a moment before she pulled away and buried her head in his chest.
“I know you are going to think I’m crazy, but Paige, I think I’m already in love with you.” He pulled her close, his voice barely above a whisper. 
 
  MaryLynn Bast moved to Las Vegas in 2012 from Texas, where she grew up. She works as a consultant with a contractor for the US Military, traveling from base to base across the US and around the world. Whenever possible, MaryLynn enjoys spending time with her husband, children and friends. In her free time she writes paranormal fantasies, loves to read and travel. 

Tools for Inspiration – Closer Than You Think

As writers we’re always looking for ways to be inspired. There is nothing worse than searching for the motivation to work on that latest project. Like any author, I suffer from this from time to time. I have an array of inspirational pictures and quotes to help kick my butt in gear. But, in the long run, I usually only need one thing: my family.
My mother, R, inspired me as a child. She gave me a great yard stick to measure up to. Sometimes it seems like an impossible yard stick to measure against, but it’s still a good one. Mom is a direct, tough-talking, don’t-hold-back brassy bitch who taught me a few very important lessons. 1) Anything can be done on your own, without the assistance of others. 2) As women, the world is expected of us. So we better deliver. And, 3) ‘Weird’ is a good word. My mother is wildly proud of her weird daughter – the writer. 🙂
My mom celebrated her 60-something birthday in May. (If you think I’m going to tell my mom’s real age, then you must be nuts. I have no desire to commit suicide. Thank you. lol) It’s 60-something years the world has been privileged to have her contributing to it. And I thank her for the 30-something years she chose to share with me so far.
The day after my mother’s birthday, my sister, B, also celebrated her 40-something birthday. B gave me a completely different yard stick to measure up to as a child. And now as an adult. B taught me several things growing up as well. 1) Quiet does not equal non-opinioned or uninterested.  2) A small, sincere gesture is a thousand times more powerful than an over-the-top scene. And, 3) Simple things in life are the best. So keep it simple. This is a powerful message I’ve taken with me into my writing.
Both my mother and my oldest sister are large advocates of my writing. Neither are big readers, but that doesn’t seem to phase them when I publish something new. They are the first in line. In light of my mother’s and sister’s birthdays I wanted to write this article to show my appreciation for the constant inspiration they give me. I’m not normally much of a sappy person, and this is about as sentimental as I get. But I felt it was important to celebrate my families’ birthdays and to showcase the impact they’ve made on me as a writer.
Keep it simple. Weird is good. (Sound familiar? lol)
(And, yes, I do have one more sister, M. But, since her birthday isn’t until July, I’ll save a post specifically for/about her until then. Especially since her oldest child, A, is turning 18 that same month. Nothing like celebrating mother and daughter at the same time.)
BC Brown ~ Paranormal, Mystery, Romance, Fantasy
“Because Weird is Good.”

“We saw Silence; at the end of all things, we fled…”

C. Hope Clark, author of Lowcountry Bribe and founder of Funds for Writers, had a wonderful spot on her blog last month that I wanted to share. I whipped off an email to Ms. Clark for permission to share her post, and she agreed. Following will be the brilliant words of Hope. If you’re a writer, I think you’ll agree. If you’re not, it’s great insight into a writer’s mind and emotions. Make sure you check out all of Hope’s sites, while you’re here. She has great advice for writers and is an excellent writer for those readers looking for something new. 😉
(And, yes, my fellow Whovians, my blog title is a quote from Series 5, Episode 6: Vampires of Venice. I couldn’t resist.)

***
I walk away from many writing events exhilarated . . . at other times crushed. And it scares the be-Jeesus out of me not knowing which emotion will rule me when I finish and leave.

And it frustrates the hell out of me being so uncertain of myself.

Each time I step behind a podium, a mic, even a telephone if the interview is long-distance, I have a plan, a rehearsed plan. I have passion, no doubt about that. I’m doing what I love to do, often wishing there were more hours in the day so I could do more, perform better, deliver more profoundly to those I hope to serve. Write more.

There aren’t enough hours, days, or years to complete the stories I wish to write, or deliver my passion to the world to such a a degree that everybody I touch “gets it.” I find that so important . . . passion. It pains me when I don’t connect, and it pains me more to see writers going through the motions instead of jumping, dancing arms wide, being writers with something to say, wanting people to read their work so badly that they sometimes make fools of themselves. I would rather buy a book or read an article from somebody who trips on his feet, stumbles his words, or mixes a metaphor, and then laughs at himself, than I would the person who stoically follows the rules, shows the way to their book, then leaves the room, leaving nothing of themselves behind.

However, I think the worst pain of all to a writer is silence.

The silence of no questions from the room. The silence of no comments on a blog post. The silence of no ReTweets. The lack of likes on Facebook. The lack of reviews. Less than stellar sales. We all know some of these.  Hopefully nobody knows them all. That’s sad when you try and wait . . . and are left waiting. Maybe that’s why some leave quickly, afraid to see nobody has questions.

Such silence can make a writer choke on self-doubt, even shove them toward quitting. Why do writers feel ashamed when others don’t read them? It’s failure on an extremely high level, and we often quietly “disappear into that good night.”

We’d rather be rejected, have something  proactively to address, gnaw on, or refute. Even booing is a response. Give us a bone, for God’s sake.

But that silence . . . oh God that silence.

Writing should be my voice, the page my podium.

But it’s not. Not in this world where noise is required before you can be seen and then make your point. So just remember this:

== When you read a book, write a review . . . somewhere. Leave your thank you for the writer who dared expose his heart and oh-so-sensitive soul to you.

==When you read a blog post that is smart, touching, witty, or informative, leave a comment. Or forward it, Tweet it, FB mention it. Again, thank the person for daring to show personality to a very critical world.

==When you hear a writer speak, watch him, follow him, then clap madly at the end. Ask a question, just so he knows you listened. Thank him for being there . . . for being him . . . for giving to you.

Some may wonder what’s brought such a melancholy post, but the fact is, I’m writing for so many who’ve confided in me about one of these points or another. Maybe the latest email just pushed me far enough. So many silently hurt, almost physically, at the platform effort, dog-and-pony show we’re forced to endure, even if only online.

I want to tell them to DARE!
I want to tell them to APPRECIATE DARING in others!

I want people to feel better, try with passion, and know that every time they receive silence in response to their effort, thousands others understand. Keep trying.

Dare NOT to be silent, no matter which side of the podium you’re on. Appreciate each other. The passion, talent, and success spewed into the world would be astounding.

***
A killer wants to make certain she buys the farm.

Threats, a missing boss, a very dead co-worker, a high-level investigation and a sinister hog farmer: Lowcountry Ag Department manager Carolina Slade is a bean-counting civil servant in hot water.

Carolina Slade is a by-the-book county manager for the Department of Agriculture—a civil servant who coordinates federal loans for farmers in the coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina. When one of her clients, a hog farmer named Jessie Rawlings, offers her a bribe, Slade reports Jessie to her superiors. The next thing she knows, she’s besieged by Resident Agent-In-Charge, now a Contract Investigator, Wayne Largo from the Feds’ IG Office in Atlanta. He and his partner have come to investigate Slade’s accusations, and if possible catch Jessie in the act of handing over money.

However, the IG isn’t telling Slade everything. The agents are also investigating the disappearance of Slade’s boss the year before in connection to possible land fraud. And when the sting on Jessie goes bad, the case is put on hold and Wayne is called back to Atlanta, leaving Slade to fear not only for her life and job, but for her children’s safety.

A Little Bit of Nothing

I’m stuck. My latest paranormal novel is recently released, and my next WIP is looming. I find myself organizing a blog tour, doing some networking on a massive scale (the likes of which I’ve never attempted before), and trying to decide if the next two WIPs are worth the time and energy I’m putting into them. How am I doing this? I’m kicking the fuck back and reading. Especially since I can’t seem to find my way back into the stories I have set up at the moment, I need a little bit of nothing on my plate. So, like many blog authors out there, I want to share the re-charge stuff I’ve been reading lately.
Oh, yeah, and for fun I want to share a sample of one of my WIPs as well: two excerpts from my upcoming short fiction anthology.

MAMA DOES TIME by Deborah Sharp :  Meet Mama: a true Southern woman with impeccable manners, sherbet-colored pantsuits, and four prior husbands, able to serve sweet tea and sidestep alligator attacks with equal aplomb. Mama’s antics — especially her penchant for finding trouble — drive her daughters Mace, Maddie, and Marty to distraction.
One night, while settling in to look for ex-beaus on COPS, Mace gets a frantic call from her mother. This time, the trouble is real: Mama found a body in the trunk of her turquoise convertible and the police think she’s the killer. It doesn’t help that the handsome detective assigned to the case seems determined to prove Mama’s guilt or that the cowboy who broke Mace’s heart shows up at the local Booze ‘n’ Breeze in the midst of the investigation. Before their mama lands in prison — just like an embarrassing lyric from a country-western song — Mace and her sisters must find the real culprit.

While I haven’t yet finished this book, I find I’m delightfully caught up in the quirky writing style. The heroine, Mace, might seem a little stereotypical of female leads these days, but the character interaction and dialogue is witty and clever. Sharp also does a great job of developing side characters, not only her leading roles, in this plucky charmer. I’m looking forward to the ending.

BRIGHT OF THE SKY by Kay Kenyon:  Kay Kenyon, noted for her science fiction world-building, has in this new series created her most vivid and compelling society, the Universe Entire. In a land-locked galaxy that tunnels through our own, the Entire is a bizarre and seductive mix of long-lived quasi-human and alien beings gathered under a sky of fire, called the bright. A land of wonders, the Entire is sustained by monumental storm walls and an exotic, never-ending river. Over all, the elegant and cruel Tarig rule supreme. Into this rich milieu is thrust Titus Quinn, former star pilot, bereft of his beloved wife and daughter who are assumed dead by everyone on earth except Quinn. Believing them trapped in a parallel universe–one where he himself may have been imprisoned–he returns to the Entire without resources, language, or his memories of that former life. He is assisted by Anzi, a woman of the Chalin people, a Chinese culture copied from our own universe and transformed by the kingdom of the bright. Learning of his daughter’s dreadful slavery, Quinn swears to free her. To do so, he must cross the unimaginable distances of the Entire in disguise, for the Tarig are lying in wait for him. As Quinn’s memories return, he discovers why. Quinn’s goal is to penetrate the exotic culture of the Entire–to the heart of Tarig power, the fabulous city of the Ascendancy, to steal the key to his family’s redemption. But will his daughter and wife welcome rescue? Ten years of brutality have forced compromises on everyone. What Quinn will learn to his dismay is what his own choices were, long ago, in the Universe Entire. He will also discover why a fearful multiverse destiny is converging on him and what he must sacrifice to oppose the coming storm. This is high-concept SF written on the scale of Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld, Roger Zelazny’s Amber Chronicles, and Dan Dimmons’s Hyperion.

Since I’m too few pages into this book to give an accurate description, I’m going to refrain at the moment. All I can say is the imagery presented so far is believably vivid.


WHAT ZOMBIES FEAR by Kirk Almond:  When Victor Tookes went to work that beautiful spring day, he never expected to see a man eaten alive in the street in front of his office. After convincing himself that they really were zombies, he makes a trip from his house in Pennsylvania to his family home in Virginia, battling zombies all the way. His three and a half year old son was bitten on the leg, but doesn’t turn into a zombie. Instead, he turns into something more than human.
Victor quickly discovers that everything he knew about zombies was wrong. Not all of them were mindless, uncoordinated, rotting ghouls; some of them were bigger, faster, stronger or smarter than when they were human.
A small percentage of humans are genetically immune to the parasite. Instead of turning these humans into mindless shamblers, they gain enhanced abilities. These new abilities will be pushed to their limits in their quest to carve out a safe haven to call home.

So far, this novel is interesting. The initial Prologue at the beginning had me concerned. I usually avoid books beginning with a Prologue. Since starting to read I’ve found a few typos. This irritates me but has not put me off from the book yet. It’s fairly tongue-in-cheek writing so far. And there have been instances of unrealistic portrayals. However, I’m still not willing to put it down yet. The concept behind this book is fairly unique – shambling zombies are joined by smart, weapon-wielding zombies. The concept of super-humans fighting against the mutant zombies…? Not so much. The storyline seems more intended for YA audiences than adult readers, which I don’t think was the writer’s original intention but that’s okay. For now, I’ll keep reading.

IRISH MOON by Amber Scott:  A deathbed vow he cannot forget….

Murder for magick. If she can master her powers before they master her….

A fierce–undeniable–passion that threatens to unravel it all under an Irish Moon.

Picked this novel up as a freebie, although I can’t say it really grabbed my attention. The blurb was a little vague, but I thought I’d give it a shot. It’s free, right? How can that hurt. I’m not saying I don’t like the book at this point. I’m not really that far into it at the moment to say one way or another. But I can say that the author really likes to lay the brogue on thick. I wholeheartedly enjoy my Irish/Scottish burr in dialogue, but this author goes further by using it in the story prose as well. It’s a bit like she’s trying too hard. Also an intelligent woman getting “too old” to marry off and the people responsible for her deciding her fate is a little tried and true. Oh, yes, and she seems to be learning forbidden knowledge as well so… Again, this tale hasn’t put me off it yet so I’ll give it a little more time and see what it gives me new and fresh.

NOW…for the piece de la resistance! A snippet of what I’ve been working on recently.

BLOOD OF MY BLOOD:

 

Jessie sat trembling, not outwardly, not visible enough for the rest of the soldiers in her unit to see it, but deep down inside the marrow of her bones, as she sat within the false security of her foxhole listening to the bombs and mortars whistling over her head and impacting with the earth all around them. The rest of her men huddled around her in the foxhole, most of them sitting patiently with vacant, empty stares, waiting for the bombardment to cease or their reinforcements to arrive. Their orders were clear; they would hold their current position until one of two things happened: they all died, or their men came in to save them. That the former was more likely to happen first was a distinct possibility.
Nothing in this battle was going their way, but no one had really thought that routing the vampires from their daytime retreat would be an easy task either. The walking dead had had a long time to fortify their fortresses, and the human resistance had only had a short time to prepare for this attack.
Her bosses, the commanders of the Human Comeback Society, or HCS (pronounced “hicks”), had received intelligence from a supposedly reliable source within the fortress itself from one of the vampire’s cows (their human food sources). The information had contained detailed schematics of the complex’s layout, including blueprints and hidden entrances and exits, plus dead ends and turnabouts. It had also come complete with an itinerary of their deads’ daily regimes. Apparently, they’re all sticklers for detail and routine. Several hundred years of meticulous planning of the rout of humanity can cause a monster to pay attention to detail. Special detail and planning.
Despite all the information and the cow’s access cards into the complex, the HCS soldiers faced a monumental challenge breaching the perimeter of the complex. The cow had reported that most of the walking dead within the facility were old, but not nearly as powerful as they made out to be when in the public eye. Most of their abilities were mind tricks and the result of careful planning and set up. There were, however, several monsters that were centuries old currently sleeping within those walls, and those few vamps could lend strength and ability to the lesser vamps and ghouls, the vampires day-time protectors. Those ancient dead were the real obstacle; and they were currently the reason for the stalemate in the battle.
So Jessie sat, along with her fellow human’s at arms, waiting for the turret guns on the complex to run out and the good little monsters manning them to begin the reload process. Then she and her unit would be able to fire back, hopefully nailing some of the bastards before they began firing once more. A bomb exploded dangerously close to her position, and she felt her spine trying to crawl out of her skin, as Marks, a private under her command, crawled toward her in the foxhole. His young face was covered in soot and dirt from their trip through the ancient tunnels leading up to the complex. Their plan for getting into the complex had depended upon the monsters’ own emergency tunnels. The bad guys had equipped those same tunnels with sensors, however, and the resistance had encountered small fires and smoke grenades within. Thankfully, the insider had thought the monsters might use the humans’ own lungs against them and had advised on bringing breathing apparatus. Otherwise the battle would have finished before it had even begun, and the HCS would have lost a great deal of soldiers.
“Report.”
“Still too hot, sir; orders are to wait longer before engaging the enemy.”
Jessie swore under her breath, but she caught Marks’s smile as he caught her explicatives. “Why the hell should we do that?”
“Command says so.”
Of course, it ain’t their damned asses in this hole, now is it? Wecan’t hold any longer. It’s engage or die, plain and simple. Did you tell them that?”
Marks just nodded as he answered. “Answers the same. We hold until reinforcements arrive, Lieu.” Jessie was his lieutenant, but he never bothered to use her full title, unless he had a point to stress to either her or those around them.
Jessie swore again, only this time not so quietly. “Marks, you go to the rest and tell them that hen those railguns stop we’re heading up the hill and to the outer wall. The freaks won’t fire on their own outer defenses.”
“Command won’t like it.” His response was calm, as were his green eyes, and he never betrayed a hint of anything he might be feeling about her statement, or the HCS’s orders. Marks was her best soldier. He never questioned and he followed orders to the letter. It was a good thing for Jessie that he followed her orders more often than he followed command’s.
“Command can kiss my sweet Georgian peaches for all I care!” she swore profusely. Marks’s eyes never left her face as he awaited her confirmation of orders. “Get talking to the men, Marks; my orders stand.”
PEOPLE ON THE BUS:
 
I didn’t know the woman I sat next to on the bus. Sure, we’d ridden next to each other four days a week on our way to and from work, but I didn’t know her anymore than I knew most people. What little I did know was that she was a night nurse, she was in her early twenties, and she had a daughter who was still in elementary school. I know she got on the bus two stops before I got off for my night job at Big’un’s Buns, a local donut shop. I assumed she got off at the next stop down, the one half a block down the street from the hospital, but I never knew that for certain.
What else I knew was that she didn’t work on Mondays because that was the only day of my work week she and I didn’t ride beside each other. What other day off she had out of the week must have been one of the two days I was off from Big’un’s, either Tuesday or Thursday. Unless, of course, she had three days off and was off both Tuesday and Thursday as well as Monday. But I didn’t think so. She struck me as a “worker”.
I say that not as a derogatory statement. My mother had been one of those women I termed “worker.” And I was damned proud of that fact. She had been the type of woman that, come rain or shine, sickness or health, went to work. She put her position as the breadwinner in the family more seriously than her own personal being. While a hard worker, I wasn’t one of those people; and I didn’t think I ever would be.
The woman on the bus whom I sat next to had the same look as my mother, the look of a “worker,” someone who would put her family’s needs above her own at all costs. Her blonde, curly hair was cut simply and had an easy style, like she needed to be able to don it in a hurry in the mornings. Her makeup, while expertly applied, was minimal; and her uniform, while clean and crisp, often showed signs of wear, mending, and the occasional carefully matched patching. Her shoes appeared to be the only splurge the woman allowed (even her purse and coat seemed well-looked-after but old), but that made sense to me since she was a nurse.
To me, these were all indicators she was a “worker.” They made me like her immediately. Since my own mother had been similar to her, and I had adored my mother while she lived, I suppose I was pre-dispositioned to think fondly of the woman on the bus. This fact was probably why I’d decided to take the seat beside her over the surly looking woman one seat before the nurse on the day I’d given up my seat to an elderly man at the front of the bus.
I’m sorry,” I’d said. “Would you mind if I sat here?” She’d shook her head and offered me the barest of smiles. I slid in beside her.
I’m Sammy,” I’d said by way of simple introduction. She’d answered me simply enough as well, offering, “Judy.”
And, with that exchange, we were introduced.
I’d ridden twice more in the seat I’d usually sat in at the front of the bus, each time, giving up my seat to the elderly gentleman whom I’d given it to when I’d met Judy. And, each time, I’d choose to sit beside Judy rather than the sour-faced woman in front of her.
For months, we’d ridden in relative silence, other than my asking her permission to sit beside her on the somewhat crowded public transit. From time to time, she or I would comment on the weather or some scene that caught our fancy in the world outside the bus’s windows, but little conversation occurred.
Until one day, Judy’d asked, “Do you have children?” I shook my head. Judy frowned and glanced out her window, effectively turning away from me. I assumed the end of the conversation, but then she turned back to me.
“I do. My daughter is ten,” she’d said. I nodded. “Tonight I woke up to find Jocelyn had pierced her nose sometime this evening!” She didn’t raise her voice, but I could hear the frustration in it. I made some noncommittal sound, not sure if Judy was the type of person who wanted a comment made in return or was just a “talker.”
“Talkers” were people who struck up conversation with you, intent on never letting you actually converse with them. But she only looked at me in exasperation. Clearly, Judy wasn’t a “talker.”
“I take it a nose piercing is a bad thing?” I’d asked. My eyebrows raised on my face. Judy frowned again. “No, they’re ok. Actually, I really like them. Just not on my ten year old daughter, you know?”
“I see,” I’d said. I wasn’t a parent, so I wasn’t really sure how one would respond, but I did have a nephew who was ten once upon a time. “Did you ever tell you she couldn’t have one?” Judy shook her head no. “What did you say when you saw her tonight?”
“She was sleeping; I didn’t wake her.” She sighed. “What was I supposed to say?”
I thought back to the time when my nephew had gone through his “goth” phase and come home wearing a dog collar and black lipstick, his nails painted blood red. My brother had panicked.  He hadn’t known how to respond, so he’d grounded the kid.
“I guess you could go two ways with it,” I’d said. “Either freak out or ignore it. I’ve found with my nephew that any time my brother freaked, he’d up the ante, so to speak. If he ignored him, the kid usually reverted pretty quick to his old ways. Except when it came to skateboarding, but that’s not a piercing.” I shrugged.
“I’m probably overreacting,” Judy said. “But she’s
ten, and she’s the prettiest little thing with red hair like her grandmother’s and my green eyes.”
“Well, that explains it,” I said, thinking of my own childhood growing up with red hair. “Most of us can’t wait to look like anything but ourselves. Let’s face it, everyone may think gingers are adorable, but we feel like the only person wearing plaid at a black-tie affair.”
Look for both of these items full-length in my upcoming short fiction anthology coming late Fall 2012. Now, back to finishing the books I’m reading. They’re my guidepost to my break. However long it takes to read them, that’s how long a break I get. (And let’s hope they’re enough to re-charge my seriously depleted batteries or I’m so humped!) But I have to remember not to drag my feet. I’m the queen bitch of procrastination when it comes to my own writing. I’d let these books consume the rest of my year if given the chance. Thank everything I have fans who refuse to let me do that.
 
BC Brown ~ Paranormal, Mystery, Romance, Fantasy
“Because Weird is Good.”
 
 
 

Guest Post by J. Travis Grundon – Who The #*&@ is J. Travis Grundon

Who The #*&@ is J. Travis Grundon?
I am J. Travis Grundon.
When I was a little boy, I wanted to be a tattoo/comic book artist. I wanted to ride a motorcycle and drink beer. I followed that dream until I actually became a tattoo artist. I didn’t find what I was looking for and I turned my attention to drawing comics, BUT I still wasn’t happy. I wasn’t happy because I couldn’t tell enough story by just painting or drawing. I wanted to tell the whole story of each character. That was when I decided to start writing comic scripts and short stories.
Around the time I really got into writing my friend B.C. Brown was getting published, under her old name. She talked to me a bit about the process and I was ready to take on the world. I had zero clue just how unprepared I was.
 
I got a mess of rejection letters and feedback that made me doubt myself a lot. I was writing horror. That was my first mistake. It didn’t take me long to learn that nearly everything that can be done in horror has already been done and re-imagined. I was just about to give up when I wrote a couple stories that I wanted to write, just to get them out. I wasn’t, and am still not, the best writer. I also wasn’t good at telling another person’s story. The only thing I really had was a personality and a voice that I put into my stories and my characters.
The other thing I had was the balls to take my stories to anyone who would read them. It was my personal style and those balls that got me published twice in the Silven Trumpeter. It was my first publishing credit and minor success, and like most cocky pricks, I let it go straight to my head.
After I got so wrapped up in myself that I turned into a pretentious jerk, I had a dry spell on being published. It gave me a lot of time to just keep writing and to try to get better. It also gave me time to read more and learn just how much better I could be.
When I got into reading Chuck Palahniuk, Bret Easton Ellis, Charles Bukowski and eventually Jack Kerouac, Kurt Vonnegut, and Earnest Hemingway, I changed a lot about myself and my writing.
I’m still not the best. I may never be but I learned how to capture my voice and pull people into the jacked up places my characters were sucked into. I learned how to walk down the path to be the writer I want to be. I even stopped writing straight horror and started focusing on telling stories about my characters.
I have been told that my stories are very character driven. I’ve also been told I have a bleak out look on life and that my stuff is too gritty and weird for most people. I don’t know if that’s true but I’m thankful for everyone of those comments.
At this time in my life I am a very proud father. I have been published more than a few times. My work has made its way into Twisted Dreams and The Monsters Next Door magazines. I have also served as an editor and a contributing author on Forrest J Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead and Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction, a book that co-stars my friend, B.C. Brown.
I also have had two of my short story collections (Eclectic Collection and Happy Hour Blues) published by Glorious Bastards Press. I have enjoyed touring all over the states with these books and it has given me the chance to meet great people and has opened up even more opportunities. Happy Hour Blues is even being made into a Collective of short films from JABB Pictures.
I’ve done well for a kid that just wanted to ride a motorcycle and drink beer. I even had a chance this past November to write the script for a movie called TERMS. I am very happy for the chance to work with people like JABB Pictures, Joshua Hull, Mike Dobrzelecki, and I look forward to turning TERMS into a novel that people will love as much as they love the movie.
There are many good things going now and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. I plan to keep writing books, scripts and doing what I love. I would do this shit for free BUT one day I hope to be good enough to support my family with this stuff and get that motorcycle.
You can help…Buy my stuff! Check out my work! Buy my stuff! Follow me on Twitter or Facebook! BUY my stuff and don’t forget to check out JABB Pictures (http://www.jabbpictures.com/), the TERMS movie (@TERMSmovie) and my pages!
– J. Travis Grundon
@jtravisgrundon
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=J.%20Travis%20Grundon&search-alias=books&sort=relevancerank

UPDATE: J. Travis Grundon has published a full length novel entitled Mr. Bad Example since this article first ran. You can find that book here.

Guest Blog by Natascha Jaffa – Up The Stakes

Up The Stakes
by
Natascha N. Jaffa
Want to keep your readers drooling for more? Then you need suspense and conflict. Doesn’t matter if you write thrillers or suspense, romance or fantasy, these two elements are the heart of your book. According to Debra Dixon, author of Goals, Motivations and Conflict, “Your book is only as good as your villain”. So let’s break it down. What can you do to up the stakes in your novel?
  1. Kick up the suspense. In this step, external conflict is king. This is where something physical prevents your character from achieving their goal(s). Author Avery Flynn says it best in her blog post, What Are You Looking At—Writing Conflict: “It’s the big, bad thing forcing the hero into action.” This is the guy who wants to stop your hero or make them pay, but is he really doing everything possible?
Let’s say the bad guy has kidnapped the hero’s mother and won’t free her until the hero robs a bank for him. Only problem is, if caught, he’s going to prison and the hero’s family would suffer. If the hero doesn’t do what he’s told, things could get ugly. That’s suspenseful, but we’re missing out on some bigger opportunities by leaving it at that. So let’s see how you can make a bad situation worse.
What if the bad guy decides not to wait for the hero to make up his mind and decides to kill his mother anyway? The bad guy has won. The hero is distraught and now his mother’s death is on his hands. Now what is he going to do about it?
By making bad situations worse, we’re taking the suspense just a little bit further for the reader. These are the types of situations that will keep them turning the pages and since we’re writing fictions, you can make the impossible believable.
  1. Make it personal. Use internal conflict to make your readers care about your characters. They want to be personally invested, they want to root for the good guy. Develop those inner conflicts and emotional issues.
So when we have a bad guy holding the hero’s mother hostage, of course the hero will be distraught. But what if we change out his mother for his wife or son (or romantic interest in romance)? If your hero/heroine has a fear of heights, guess where they’re going to end up—on a cliff or a really tall building. By challenging your character to face their fears, you’re keeping the suspense continuous and upping the stakes.
  1. Keep it short. Use short sentences to make your reader not only see the suspense, but feel it as well. Let’s take the following passage as an example:
A set of knuckles connected with his jaw.
The punch to his face forced him back into the wall.
This last sentence reads almost passively, with a slow narrative feel to it. Now to “keep it short”, we’re going to change it to make us feel the suspense.
                        A set of knuckles connected with his jaw.
He slammed into the wall. Hard.
Not only have we cut five words while giving the same information, we’ve intensified them to deliver just the right amount of suspense and life.
  1. Give your characters a deadline. Consider Patrick Lee’s novel, Deep Sky. Lee’s main characters, Travis Chase and Paige Campbell, have only 24 hours to decipher a message to save the world. Doesn’t that alone make your character’s heart race? From this deadline, you can imagine just how many obstacles are going to work against them and how on edge your readers will be.
  1. Have bad guys worth rooting against. Not every novel has a bad guy. Situations are used as conflict too. However, if your conflict takes the form of a person or a group, consider Tami Cowden’s Villain Archetypes.
In order to make the ultimate villain, however, your bad guy needs to have believable motivations. Dennis Palumbo’s article, [title] in this month’s The March of Crime newsletter, explains readers are less likely to believe your bad guy is psychopathic “just because” than they will when they discover he’s been abused, his loved one was murdered or he wants power and money.
For suspense, use psychological aspects alongside the violence. Your antagonist can kill a lot of people, he can torture and maim, but psychological attacks have a lasting impression.
By integrating these five elements into your manuscript, you’ll keep readers drooling for more and leave a lasting impression with the heros and heroine who overcome such obstacles.
Natascha Jaffa dedicates her experience to helping writers grow through her editing firm, SPJ Editing, which she considers the best job in the world. When she isn’t editing, you can catch her snowboarding, rock climbing, or training for her first Ragnar Relay. She’s an active PRO member of Romance Writers of America, an editor for SoCal’s Mystery Writers of America chapter and is published in suspense and romance as Nichole Severn. Writers can find her on Facebook, Twitter, www.spjediting.comand LinkedIn.

Check It Out!

Naturally, I know you all can’t get enough of me. So, with that said, you need to click over and see my latest post on Lindsay’s Romantics Blog. There is an exclusive excerpt from my paranormal novel, A TOUCH OF DARKNESS, not found anywhere else except in the book itself. While you’re there, show me a little love and leave a comment. If you do leave one, until June 8th, you will be signed up to win a BIG, FREE surprise!!