Tag Archive | Guest post

A Love Haunting by Suzi Albracht

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Title: A Love Haunting
Author: Suzi Albracht
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publication Date: December 23, 2017

 
0000 love 333 500Every woman needs a man who will love them to the end of time. A man who puts her needs before his. A man who takes her breath away with a single glance. A man who will do whatever it takes to have a last goodbye kiss.

What happens when a trio of ghosts from the 1800s and a skateboarding angel team up to help a newly-dead young husband spend one final goodbye night with the young wife he left behind? And what if a storm of the century threatens to get in the way?

Get your copy of A Love Haunting

 

Excerpt:

This short chapter in A Love Haunting begins Jordan’s existence as a Living Dead (LD). It appears a quarter of the way into the novel. It takes place after he feels he has lost his one true love and just before he meets Luke, a skateboarding angel, and the trio of ghosts from the 1800s who become his friend.

 
      Love… death… forever. That’s the story of my life apparently.
      So Emily had left the Banks. In my mind, I knew she had to go, but now I am lonelier than I’ve ever been in my life. Right after the accident, my world was devastated because of my loss of Emily, our baby and… my life.
      And then when Emily was in the hospital, I found a way to be near to her again, if only in a small way. Now she is gone and my life is really over. Now I have no one.
      Sure I could have hung around Allie, bugging her but it would not have been fair to her. Besides, she was on her way to being a nurse practitioner, and I knew she’d be a damn good one. So while Allie was in school, I was going to leave her be, but I did plan on helping her when she embarked on her new career. Besides, I wanted to convince Allie to shoot bigger and become a doctor. Being a physician was her real calling, she just didn’t know it yet.
      In the meantime, I made up my mind I was going to make the best of my new dead life, and that would require some hands-on research. Research had always been one of my strong suits. That and evaluation.
      And there was something else I wanted to research but didn’t dare until I figured out all the rules and restrictions of my dead existence. I didn’t want to lose my wife, so I was going to try to… do something.
      So since I had loads of free time on my hands, I would start by exploring to see what was what.
      
What am I supposed to do about my feelings now that I’m dead? My life can’t end like this. It just can’t.
      Wow, I hadn’t allowed myself to admit that I was actually dead until now. Dead and buried and the whole nine yards.
      Well, it’s true. I died a few feet off a highway in North Carolina, not far from my favorite vacation paradise – the Outer Banks.
      I am a ghost, and this is my love story.

 

Meet The Author:

Suzi_Albracht2My name is Suzi Albracht. I live just outside of Annapolis, Maryland which is in the Baltimore/Washington corridor. I mention the corridor because that is where all my books in The Devil’s Due collection take place. My book, A Love Haunting, takes place in the OBX, NC where we vacation every year. I prefer to write stories that take place in locations where I have spent time.

I typically write in the dark realm, that means Supernatural Horror Crime Fiction and most recently, Paranormal Romance/Ghosts. The horror books are Death Most Wicked, The Devil’s Lieutenant, and Scorn Kills. All three books are part of The Devil’s Due Collection.

My most recent release is A Love Haunting which is book one of my An OBX Hauntings series. It is a paranormal romance, a ghost story that takes place in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This book is so much fun to write. I am taking local lore and threading it through my story. And I get to write about love in a way that my other stories haven’t yet allowed me.

I am currently working on three more books – Her Deadly Intentions which is part of The Devil’s Due Collection, Lucifer’s Queen, also part of the collection, and a second book in An OBX Hauntings series. I also have a political thriller in the works.

My books are like my children so of course, they are all my favorites but if I am forced to pick one or two, I would say Death Most Wicked and my new novel, A Love Haunting.

I love Death because it introduces Mikael Ruskoff, my favorite character. It shows his love for his family, his hatred for the father who deserted him, and his devotion to his mother. At the same time, you get to know what a dedicated law enforcement officer he is while he risks his own life to stop a child murderer.

I am equally proud of my new book, A Love Haunting, because it allows me to show a softer side in my writing. I am free to show that silly love couples have in private, the yearning love of innocents. Plus I got to play with the whole ghost concept which pleased me to no end. I’ve always been fascinated with ghosts. It was also my first book with no profanity or violence. It was like a refreshing after-dinner drink.

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Guest Post by Suzi Albracht:

This is a character interview with Luke, the skateboarding angel.

I was pleased that Luke agreed to do an interview with me. I had read the book, A Love Haunting, and was anxious to get some insight into Luke’s role. We arranged to meet at the Dune Burger in Nags Head at ten p.m. I had never been there before but felt as if I knew it from reading about it. When I arrived, Luke was nowhere to be seen. I began to worry a bit that he was standing me up.

I decided to take a seat at one of the outdoor tables and go over my list of questions for him. I had just opened my note book and put it on the table. My pen was missing so I rummaged through my purse, looking for another. Suddenly my note book slid about six inches away from my hand. I pulled it back, looking around. I didn’t think it was that windy. Oh well, I thought.

I turned to look for that pen again but now my purse was gone. I immediately jumped to my feet. I fumbled around, thinking I’d call the cops but then I remembered my phone was in my purse. And then right before my eyes, my purse materialized where it had been. I heard a faint giggle. Frowning, I grabbed it. And then it came to me.

“Luke?” I looked around. Before I could even blink, he materialized next to me.

“Dudette,” Luke said with a grin on his face.

“Hi, I am very pleased to meet you.” I held out my hand to shake, hoping Luke would oblige me. He did, but it was a high-five.

I silently appraised Luke’s appearance. Holding a skateboard under one arm, he was wearing surfer shorts, a long sleeve skater tee shirt, black Chuck Taylors, black fingerless gloves, and a silver chain with a medallion. I was dying to see what was on the medallion but felt it was too soon to get that personal.

Luke, however, is very perceptive. In an instant, I realized that he noticed my interest.

“Dudette, you dig my jangles?” Luke asked fingering the medallion. I nodded. “One of my peeps gifted me.” He stepped closer to me holding the medallion so I could see it.

“When you say peeps, are you referring to souls you have transitioned?” I grabbed my note book and pen, preparing to take notes. Luke took one look at them and began to pop-lock dance in front of me. I was taken back. Why would he do that?

I don’t know if Luke saw the look of surprise on my face or not but after a few minutes, Luke sat down at the table and put a serious look on his face. “Allie said you had some questions for me. You’re probably on a deadline… please, ask away, dudette.”

Every time he called me dudette, I wanted to fall down laughing. But I had a mission to complete.
“When you help the newly dead to transition… can you describe the feeling to me that you get when you are able to get them to Heaven?” I asked.

Luke gazed into my eyes with those big eyes of his. He leaned toward me, his face was glowing, his eyes shining. I felt I was about to hear some celestial secret. Instead, he put his thumb and index fingertip on my nose and tweaked it. I know my mouth was hanging open with surprise.

The next thing I knew, he jumped up and took my hand, placing it on his shoulder. Then he put his arm around my waist and took my other hand in his. We began to waltz around the parking lot.

I have to say the guy has some smooth moves.

Luke turned his attention on me and said, “It makes me feel like this. Like all is right in the world.”

Then all of a sudden hip hop music blared out of a new Chevy Camaro that drove into the parking lot. I glanced at Luke but he was no longer there. I must have looked silly to the driver of the Camaro because he asked me if I was alright. I suppose I did look silly dancing with an imaginary partner. I looked behind his car and there was Luke skateboarding up the street.

I would have called out to him but I suddenly had the feeling that angels don’t like being interviewed.

 
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My Confession: The Meanest Daddy on Earth

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My guest post today has been written by the author of Rarity from the Hollow, Robert Eggleton.

As an abuse ‘survivor’ the post was emotional for me to read, but I would like to thank Robert for the guest post and for his continued support for abused children.

• • •

 

roberteggletonRobert Eggleton has served as a children’s advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. Locally, he is best known for his nonfiction about children’s programs and issues, much of which was published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from1982 through 1997.
Today, he is a retired children’s psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome maltreatment and other mental health concerns.
Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel. Its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines.
Author proceeds support the prevention of child maltreatment. For a complete listing of specific services, including the agency history and its mission, please see: http://www.childhswv.org/

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• • •

 

My Confession: The Meanest Daddy on Earth

Sexual abuse is a human behavior which, when discovered, evokes extreme reactions by many people. But like an EMT or ER nurse gets “used to” carnage, some folks are “professional.” Listening to children describe their victimizations was not supposed to get to me. Now that I’m retired, it’s time to fess up. It did from the first disclosure by a child to the last victim. I just got good at not showing my emotions at work.

Sexual abuse of children is not an occasional deviant act but instead a commonplace fact of everyday life. There’s an estimated 39 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse in America today – that’s a lot of people and growing daily. I bet that you know a few, but you may not realize it. Child sexual abuse has been reported up to 80,000 times a year, but that’s the tip of the iceberg. The number of unreported instances is far greater because children are often afraid to tell anyone (American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry).

Children are very easy prey. They are taught to be respectful and trusting of adults, especially within the walls of their own homes. Up to forty percent of child sexual abuse victims were abused by family members and many of the rest were abused by someone outside the home whom they knew and trusted. Only a small percentage was abused by strangers. I’m writing to tell you about the meanest daddy on Earth. Every six minutes in our country a child is sexually abused: http://www.mpnnow.com/x1306275961/Guest-essay-Child-sexual-abuse-The-epidemic-no-one-talks-about. So, for me to nominate this scum bag as the meanest of them all is saying something big.

After forty years in the field of child advocacy, having met zillions of maltreated children, I’ve never ceased being amazed at the resiliency of kids. Instead of introducing you to this man – believe me, he’s nobody that you would want to meet – let me tell you about Faith. She’s the best friend of the protagonist in my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow, an adult social science fiction adventure. Faith simply accepted her victimization as a fact of life. While the protagonist, Lacy Dawn, was also a victim of child maltreatment, her father never touched her in that most wrong way. Faith’s father not only repeatedly violated her and her sisters, but also had her locked up for her own good in a mental hospital when she was eight years old. You can read about her psychiatric hospitalization here: https://racheltsoumbakos.wordpress.com/2015/08/07/freebie-stainless-steel-by-robert-eggleton/. The summer before the fourth grade, Faith was murdered. That explains why I feel that her father is the meanest daddy on Earth. I didn’t give him a name. He doesn’t deserve one.

These girls are more real than not. In 2002, I accepted a job as a children’s therapist for our local mental health center. It was an intensive day program that served kids with mental health problems, many of them having been abused, some sexually. Part of my job was to facilitate group therapy sessions. One day in 2006 during a session, I was sitting around a table used for written therapeutic exercises and a little girl with stringy, brown hair sat a few feet away. Instead of just disclosing the horrors of her abuse, she also spoke of her hopes and dreams for the future: finding a loving family who would protect her. I named her Lacy Dawn because if her mother couldn’t buy her pretty things in life, she was determined to at least give her a beautiful name at birth. I’ve been writing about her ever since because the world would benefit from meeting these kids. I retired from my job last year to concentrate on writing fiction.

Yes, there is a mention of Faith having been murdered in Rarity from the Hollow. However, there is no scene and she plays a comical and annoying ghost most of the story. I told you that she was resilient. Here’s a finding by Awesome Indies to help you decide if this novel is too far outside of your comfort zone: “a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, only instead of the earth being destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass, Lacy Dawn must…The author has managed to do what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse, and written about them with tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…Eggleton sucks you into the Hollow, dunks you in the creek, rolls you in the mud, and splays you in the sun to dry off. Tucked between the folds of humor are some profound observations on human nature and modern society that you have to read to appreciate…it’s a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.” http://awesomeindies.net/ai-approved-review-of-rarity-from-the-holly-by-robert-eggleton/ The early tragedy in the story feeds and amplifies subsequent comedy and satire.

And, there are sexual references in the story. Lacy Dawn is a genetic manipulation by Universal Management. She began her trainings via direct download into her brain five years before the beginning of this story, so she has been fed information about every known human subject, including biology, reproduction, economics…(ET involvement is an opening chapter reveal). Faith, as a sexual abuse victim, has a sad and unhealthy awareness of sexuality. However, there are no sex scenes in the novel. Lacy Dawn vows not to have sex for the first time until after she is married — a traditional and now unusual family value. She is fourteen years old when the novel ends and has typical teenage interests but remains untouched, not even a first real kiss. And, the sexual references are presented as puns, nothing on screen, and are milder than most romance novels that I’ve read, such as by Nora Roberts.

The mission of Rarity from the Hollow is to sensitize readers to the huge social problem of child maltreatment through a comical and satiric science fiction adventure. Maybe I’ve retired from the field of child welfare, but I could never turn my back on these kids, and I hope that you won’t either. Half of the author proceeds are donated to a local child abuse prevention program where I used to work in the early ‘80s. Check it out: http://www.childhswv.org/

Before you think that my novel may be too much for you to handle, especially if you have a background of having been traumatized, the early tragedy in my story feeds and amplifies subsequent comedy and satire. Millions of American children spent this past holiday in temporary shelters. A lot more world-wide likely spent their respective “holidays” in worse conditions. Having once been the director of emergency children’s shelters in West Virginia, it is still heartbreaking to think about children not having a “real” family during Christmas. I remember the faces, the smiles and thank yous for the presents from staff, but….  If you decide to read my story, odds are that you will be laughing before it ends by tying the comedy to the early tragedy.

“Amusing at times, shocking at others, a touching and somehow wonderful SFF read.” Full review by Amazing Stories Magazine: http://bit.ly/2kbsAlV

The eBook is On Sale: http://amzn.to/2lF5BPS Please also check out this review which nailed the political parody of the story and connected the tragedy to the comedy and satire: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R2RAXNLSHTUDUF/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=190713395X

But, even if you still decide not to read my novel, please remain supportive of improving child welfare services in America, worldwide. These kids need all the help that they can get.

If you can’t face real-life horror, despite the general impact of desensitization to it among subsequent generations in our society, please don’t go to work in the local Emergency Room or read my novel. Everyday horror — harsh child discipline, child abuse, including the sexual abuse of children, domestic violence – must not be minimized. It’s reality.

• • •

 

Rarity from the Hollow

1 Rarity Front Cover WEB (2)by Robert Eggleton
 

Lacy Dawn’s father relives the Gulf War, her mother’s teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. She has one advantage — an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It’s up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn’t mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first.

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. A Children’s Story. For Adults.

Amazon | Lulu | Dog Horn Publishing

 

 

 
 

Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton – Just Books

 

The Shadow Rises by K.S. Marsden

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Title: The Shadow Rises
Series: Witch-Hunter #1
Author: K.S. Marsden
Genre: Urban Fantasy

 
26133552_522288051486089_1544278909_nWitches are real, and to be blunt, they’re all black-hearted, and evil. These are not wiccans; witches are a different breed that use magic with devastating effect.

Charged with stopping the witches, taking whatever measures necessary, there are witch-hunters, all reporting to the Malleus Maleficarum Council (MMC). For hundreds of years witches have been persecuted and when the powerful Shadow Witch rises again, they have their opportunity for revenge.

The best the MMC has to offer, the talented seventh-generation witch-hunting Hunter Astley has his own part to play. In his own way.

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Author Bio:

26134896_522288048152756_2122466870_nKelly S. Marsden grew up in Yorkshire, and there were two constants in her life – books and horses.

Graduating with an equine degree from Aberystwyth University, she has spent most of her life since trying to experience everything the horse world has to offer. She is currently settled into a Nutritionist role for a horse feed company in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

She writes Fantasy stories part-time. Her first book, The Shadow Rises (Witch-Hunter #1), was published in January 2013, and she now has two successful series under her belt.

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The Northern Witch’s Book Blog

 

 

 

Guest Post by Kelly S. Marsden:

THE STORY BEHIND HUNTER

12671741_10153640787618822_4666480751726479791_oYes, it’s hard to believe that it has been 5 years since my debut was released!

It has always been an ambition of mine, to be a published author, and these last five years have been an absolute dream. (An incredibly steep learning curve, but still a dream).

The Witch-Hunter books continue to draw in new readers and are my best-sellers; and it is still the story that I get most excited about.

 
What prompted the Witch-Hunter trilogy?

Despite the fact that this series pegs the witch-hunters as our heroes, and follows the famous Hunter Astley; the story actually started with the bad guy.

I used to practise Wicca when I was younger, and I wondered what would happen if you had a bad witch. One that broke all the wiccan rules, and inflicted pain for the fun of it. I decided the witches in my story would be a different breed, distinct from their wiccan cousins, and not restricted by human morals. And my main antagonist had to be the most powerful witch in history, naturally. Magic without limits…

Once I had my bad guys, it seemed almost too easy to create the people that would stop them: the witch-hunters working for the Malleus Maleficarum Council (MMC).

 
A witch-hunter named Hunter?

Yes, I know it’s cliche. I struggled to come up with a name for my main character. He’s the best the MMC have at their disposal; he comes from a witch-hunting family, and has some ridiculous inborn skills to deal with fighting witches.

So, I used “Hunter” as a placeholder until I found a name that suited him. And it stuck. And he’s enough of a pretentious git to pull it off.

It’s actually a bit of a running joke in the series – Hunter’s real name is George. Sexy, I know.

 
Fact vs. Fiction?

So… this might be a straight-up fantasy story, but a lot of it is based on real events.

The Malleus Maleficarum was a real book, published in 1487 as the guide for finding and persecuting witches, recommended by Pope Innocent VIII. (There’s a lot of contention surrounding the “authors” and how legitimate the papal bull is, but I won’t go into that here)

This book helped legitimise mass killings, persecutions, and the general witch-craze that swept the world.

Witch-hunters of questionable morals attacked people, regardless of gender or position. The incentive was often money, claiming the possessions of the “witch”, or even to enact a grudge they were holding.

The most common “witch” was female, and if you were a woman with any ounce of independence, intelligence, free-thought, charm…

My Malleus Maleficarum Council is based on the premise that they quickly saw the damage that was being done by the ignorant general public, and immediately started working in secret. The MMC employs real witch-hunters, who track down real witches.

Until our modern-day Hunter Astley.

 
Why witches?

When I was looking for a new project to start writing, I knew that I wanted to do something in Urban Fantasy.

At the time, I thought the literary world was inundated with vampires and werewolves, and I wanted to steer clear of these popular tropes. I wanted something I could put my own spin on, something that felt like it was mine.

In the end, I nervously started fleshing out a story about witches. I’ve always been fascinated by stories of magic and wicked witches, and I started to put to use all the random facts that I’d gathered.

The fascination with witches actually comes from a long-running family joke that all the women in my family are witches, and that my nanna would turn us into a toad if we misbehaved. Y’know, the usual silly stuff.

It felt weird, taking something that had been a family joke, and turning it into a bunch of books for everyone to read. I’m just grateful that it went down well!

 
Mrs Astley

Even though Mrs Astley is just a background character – as Hunter’s mother, she does little more than hang around the estate, and has nothing to do with witches – she is the one that leaves the biggest impression.

She is horrible to those around her. She doesn’t intend to insult everyone, she just doesn’t have a filter. She’s very entitled, and thinks that the people around her will benefit from hearing her opinion.

A couple of fun facts about this character: 

  1. She doesn’t have a first name. Well, she does, it is just never mentioned. Did you notice?
  2. Her husband died five years ago (although it was never a happy marriage), but Mrs Astley has been kept company by Charles, the butler. Nothing is ever said outright, but they do play “chess” (amongst some of my friends “playing chess” translates into relations).

 

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Smothered by M.C. Hall

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Title: Smothered
Author: M.C. Hall
Publication date: December 1st 2017
Genres: Adult, Mystery

SmotheredFifteen years ago, Kitty Holbrooke was set to be the greatest child star since Shirley Temple. Days after completing her debut film, the young girl was kidnapped from her home in the middle of the night. The next day, a rambling ransom note appeared in the family’s mailbox, but as the family scrambled to gather the money, police discovered Kitty’s body. Due to the media circus surrounding the case, changing testimony from key witnesses, and police missteps, lead detective Andrea Bennett was never able to bring Kitty’s killer to justice, and the case that rocked a nation went cold.

Today, an online tabloid has uncovered Kitty Holbrooke’s shocking case files including never-before-seen police interviews, confidential emails, secret text messages, and sealed grand jury transcripts. The Internet explodes as fans devour and comment on each piece of new evidence, desperately hoping that they, too, can help solve the mystery.

Loosely inspired by the Jon Benet Ramsey case, this unique, thrilling mystery is told through police transcripts and documents, and will keep readers guessing until the very end.

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Excerpt:

Interview: Katherine Holbrooke, January 26, 2002

Katherine Holbrooke: Did you need a picture? The other detective said you needed a recent photo. I hope these are acceptable. I also have two headshots, but in those, she has stage makeup on, and since she still has her baby fat, the headshots have been Photoshopped to make her look a bit thinner. This one is from a week ago. I printed it out for you. She looks so precious, doesn’t she? I hope we find her soon. [Cries]

Lieutenant Andrea Bennett: For the record, this is Lieutenant Andrea Bennett. I’m here talking to Katherine Holbrook. It is 11:28 in the morning on January 26th. Katherine’s nine-year-old daughter Katherine Holbrooke Jr., also known as Kitty, was discovered missing just over an hour ago.

Thank you, Mrs. Holbrooke. I’m sure these pictures will help. We’re doing a search of the neighborhood now, but we’ve put out an Amber Alert and the media will be on top of the story soon enough. They’ll want the description and the photos.

Katherine Holbrooke: The media. [Blows her nose] Do you think that’s really necessary? Ryan thinks she just wandered away somewhere. He said the other officer told him that’s probably what happened.

Lieutenant Bennett: The other officer said that? Son of a [Inaudible] I don’t know. She might have gone somewhere without letting you know. Lord knows, my own kids have done that enough times to drive me crazy. But we don’t want to jump to any conclusions. Her disappearance could be something else. Does she have a history of running away, or “wandering off,” as you put it?

Katherine Holbrooke: No. She’s never done this before. She’s such an intelligent little girl. I don’t know that she would… [Pauses]

What should I wear? Should I change now or wait?

Lieutenant Bennett: Excuse me?

Katherine Holbrooke: You said the media would be called in. I know how these things go, especially in California. They care more about appearances than they do about people. They wouldn’t give a damn about Kitty if we looked like you…

Lieutenant Bennett: If you looked like me? You mean if you were black? What exactly are you trying to say, Mrs. Holbrooke?

Katherine Holbrooke: No! Goodness no. That’s not what I meant at all. It’s just that you’re in uniform and you are sort of… Well, you have quite a natural look don’t you, and those shoes…

Lieutenant Bennett: These shoes are police issued, ma’am, and trust me, if I have to run after a suspect in this case, you’ll be glad I’m wearing them.

Katherine Holbrooke: [Sighs] Now I’m afraid I’ve offended you. All I’m trying to say is we don’t want to look like ragamuffins on TV. If Kitty’s really missing and the press are called in, I should try to look my best, shouldn’t I? Appearances matter. Thank goodness, she is… [Trails off]

Lieutenant Bennett: Thank goodness, she’s what?

Katherine Holbrooke: Nothing. Well, I only mean to say that she’s a very attractive girl. She’s famous, or she will be soon, anyhow. That should help, shouldn’t it?

Lieutenant Bennett: I see.

Katherine Holbrooke: I didn’t mean anything by it, Lieutenant. Only if she is missing, well, you know what people in Hollywood are like. God, listen to me. I don’t know what I’m saying or what I’m talking about. I must be in complete shock. God. My God! Who took my baby? Where is she? Why isn’t she in her bed? [Cries]

Lieutenant Bennett: You didn’t offend me, Mrs. Holbrooke. It’s understandable. You want to do whatever you can to find your child. You’re not wrong about the media, either. I might not care as much, but I would probably want to look my best too, if it were me.

Please stop crying, ma’am. I know this is upsetting, but it would help if you could try to calm down. Can you give me a description of the events leading up to the moment you realized your daughter Katherine had disappeared? Where were you yesterday?

Katherine Holbrooke: Yesterday? Yesterday, I woke the girls at around 7:00, their usual wake-up time. Then, we dropped off Ally at the middle school. Kitty and I went to her school. We got there around 8:00. I waited there while she completed her lessons for the day, and then at 12:30, I took her to the salon. She had an audition later that afternoon, and they wanted her to have a tan. Skin cancer causes wrinkles, especially if you start tanning when you’re young. So, we went to Sally’s over on fifth for the works—spray tan, leg waxing, eye lash extensions, and eyebrow plucking.

Lieutenant Bennett: Let me break in, just to get this straight. She was only in school from 8 in the morning to just after noon?

Katherine Holbrooke: Yes. [Sniffles] That’s correct. Don’t judge me, Lieutenant. I care hear the doubt in your voice.

I’m a good mother. Kitty was a child star. She has classes half days only. She misses a lot of school because of filming, not to mention auditions, and classes for acting, singing, and dance. Oh, and she has gymnastics. She goes to a highly recognized private school and she has a tutor on set when she’s filming. Her education is a top priority.

 

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Author Bio:

MCHall_Megan Cassidy Hall writes books for adults under the name MC Hall, and writes books for children and young adults under the name Megan E. Cassidy. In addition to writing, Megan works as an English professor teaching a variety of courses including Creative Writing and Children and Young Adult Literature. Megan’s novels include Always, Jessie, The Misadventures of Marvin Miller, and Smothered. Her poetry and short stories have been featured in numerous publications including Bete Noire, Pilcrow & Dagger, and Centum Press’s 100 Voices.

All of her short work can be found on her website.

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In 2016, Megan co-founded 50/50 Press with her husband Stephen Hall. You can visit their website or follow them on Twitter.

 

Guest Post by M.C. Hall:

Inspired By vs. Based On

 
When I was doing research for my novel Smothered, I came across an article by Lauren Bradford entitled “My Family was Traumatized First by a Murder and then by the TV Serialization.” In the article, Bradford describes her experiences with the media after her mother was murdered by her father and his mistress. In addition to living through the trauma of her mother’s death and her father’s imprisonment, Bradford also had to endure the publication of a book written about the case and a TV drama based on the book.
 
Both the book and television depiction were filled with errors. Bradford writes, “In the midst of trying to come to terms with the imminent release of the drama, our family endured the PR and social media build-up with sleepless nights and tearful days, while those responsible were being congratulated for a ‘brilliant’ production.”
 
It was articles like these that made me carefully consider how I wrote my novel. The murder case in my book involves a young girl who goes missing. A ransom note is sent to police, but a few days later, her body is found hidden in a shed on the corner of her family’s property. Because the book is set fifteen years after the murder, all of these details are given in the first five pages of the book.
 
Because of the premise of my novel, I’ve had several people ask me, “Is the book based on the JonBenét Ramsey case?” My answer is always, “No. Absolutely not.” I will admit that parts of the book were inspired by that case, particularly the detail of the ransom note I mentioned above. But other pieces of the novel were inspired by different cases throughout history, including the trials of Lizzie Borden, the Menendez brothers, OJ Simpson, and Casey Anthony.
 
As the victim in Smothered was a young actor, I also was also inspired by stories of various child stars such as Shirley Temple, Jackie Coogan, Drew Barrymore, Brooke Shields, and Lindsay Lohan.
 
But taking inspiration from real life is incredibly different than basing a novel on one person’s story. Books and movies “based on” true stories are often only thinly-veiled fictionalizations, sometimes changing only the names and a few small details, while keeping the rest of the case intact.
 
In contrast, in novels of films that are “inspired by”, the writer may take an idea from an actual event, but the rest is fiction. Nothing in the book or movie happened, and the writer does not claim, “this is what could have happened.”
 
In this way, the murder mystery I wrote isn’t that much different from my other novels. My first book, Always Jessie was inspired by my own struggle recovering from eating disorders. I wanted to depict a girl going through a recovery process that was similar to mine, but Jessie is nothing like I was at sixteen, and her story was not based on my own. My second book, a middle grade novel called The Misadventures of Marvin Miller was inspired by some of the humorous stories my father told me about his childhood. Again, Marvin is his own person and things like my father’s “fireworks story” took on a life of its own.
 
Similarly, in Smothered, I started with an idea, and then created wholly fictional characters and a plot that didn’t follow any actual events. I didn’t want Kitty Holbrooke to be just like Jon JonBenét Ramsey, Charles Lindbergh Jr., or Caylee Anthony. I wanted to start with an idea, ask “what if,” and let the characters dictate where the story went from there. I hope that’s what I accomplished, and I hope people enjoy the book as a fictional story that has just a few hints of real life.

 

Dream On by Stacey Keith

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Title: Dream On
Author: Stacey Keith
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Deep in the heart of Texas is a small town where secret wishes have a funny way of coming true . . .

DREAM ON Cover_400x600With a nine-year-old daughter, an overdue light bill, and a job slinging burgers while zooming around on roller skates, Cassidy Roby is not living the glamorous life. But Cuervo, Texas, has its charms: quiet streets, loving family, and the down-home familiarity of knowing which of your neighbors are mean as snakes. With Cassidy’s reputation, she knows what will happen if she steps a foot out of line. But how can she help it now that Mason Hannigan’s back in town?

As Cuervo’s high school quarterback ten years ago, Mason was all rock-hard abs and yes-ma’am manners. Now that he’s living the glitz and glory of the NFL, he’s all that plus a couple million bucks. The desire blazing between them is too hot to hide. Cassidy has some experience getting her heart broken by the hometown hero—and having the whole world watch her try to pick up the pieces. Will adding fame, fortune, and paparazzi be a playbook for disaster—or lead to the biggest adventure of her life?

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Excerpt:

With the flush that came from remembered embarrassment, Cassidy re-lived the numb despair she felt walking the halls of her high school, the times she had to jump up from her desk and run to the restroom because of morning sickness. By her eighth month, she couldn’t fit behind a school desk at all. Her teachers had to make space for her wherever they could. How she survived that year still mystified her. It felt as though every mistake she made, every humiliating misstep, was up for discussion at a town hall meeting she never got invited to.

But there were moments of grace. Friends like Beth and Darlene and Jessica Coleman who made her laugh; neighbors who brought onesies and burp clothes and Diaper Genies to her baby shower. And there was Lexie herself, in no hurry to be born, arriving at 4:14 in the morning. The second Cassidy held her, a tender, painful love came rushing up. She knew that her carefree days were over, perhaps for good. They’d been replaced by this single-minded devotion that made her want to be a better woman for her daughter, to finish school no matter what the cost. 

 

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About the Author:
StaceyStacey Keith is the award-winning author of the Dreams Come True series (Kensington Books), DREAM ON, SWEET DREAMS and DREAM LOVER, in addition to A WEDDING ON BLUEBIRD WAY with New York Times Bestseller authors Janet Dailey, Lori Wilde and the talented Allyson Charles.

Twice a Golden Heart finalist, Stacey has won a Maggie, two Silver Quills, a Jasmine, a Heart of the Rockies, and over fifteen other first-place finishes in Romance Writers of America contests.

An avid writer of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and short stories, Stacey doesn’t own a television, but reads compulsively—and would, in fact, go stark raving bonkers without books, which are crammed into all corners of the house. She now lives in Civita Castellana, a  medieval village in Italy that sits atop a cliff, and spends her days writing in a nearby abandoned 12th century church.

The two things she is most proud of are her ability to cook pasta alla genovese without burning down the kitchen and swearing volubly in Italian with all the appropriate hand gestures.

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Guest Post by Stacey Keith:

Why I Moved to Italy (And Never Looked Back)

When people find out I sold my car, quit my job, packed all my earthly possessions into two suitcases and moved to Italy, they tend to have questions. So I thought it might be nice to give a brief overview of the pros and cons of living here.

FAIR WARNING: I’m crazy about this country, so expect absurd amounts of gushing.
Let’s start with the cons:

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1. Things don’t always work in Italy the way they should. The ATM at the bank, for instance. It’s down a lot, especially when I’m really strapped for cash and in need of an emergency cappuccino. They say the wifi connection is slow, but I have my suspicions. In Italy, the afternoon pausa pranzo, or break, is observed with near-religious reverence, and if that means a bank employee can’t be bothered to reset a modem because he has to walk back to the house for a coffee, a cigarette, a home-cooked meal and a nap, you’re out of luck.

2. Every other day here is a national holiday, which means all the stores are closed. Stores are also closed daily for that pesky pausa pranzo, 1pm to 4pm, and on Thursdays for no reason other than they want to. You never know for sure when a store might be open, but for Italians, it’s fun to keep the foreigners guessing.

3. Italian pop music is ghastly. And Italian pop is all that’s played on Radio Subasio—and Radio Subasio is all that’s played in every coffee bar in or around Rome. Italians LOVE a power ballad, which is always wildly over-emoted, features the same three chord progressions, and is usually sung by some shockingly old pop singer from the early part of the last century.

4. Noise. Italians celebrate it. Marching bands, squalling babies, blasting car horns, blaring televisions (especially soccer matches)—but in Italian, even normal conversations sound like yelling. This serves to remind me of what a sadly repressed person I am, which is why I’ve learned to yell along with the rest of them and to swear volubly in Italian. It’s pretty impressive, to tell you the truth. I can teach you.

5. Italians don’t do good junk food. Most potato chips taste as though some clueless but well-intentioned individual took wood pulp, salted it, and then stuffed it in a bag covered in bad English. Crik Crok, for instance. Famous Italian potato chip company. Their national slogan? “Snack is fun”. It’s on everything, including their display cases. No one could be bothered to see if the English was right or not. Because #Italy.

Pros:

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1. It’s so beautiful here, you are tempted to remove your eyeballs, polish them on your T-shirt, and then pop them back inside your skull just to make sure you’re seeing things correctly. Twenty or thirty lesser countries were sacrificed in order to make just one Italy. Whether it’s the ancient artifacts, the old churches, the priceless paintings, the ramshackle farms, the clear-water beaches or the quaint seaside villages, you are never the same after you set foot on Italian soil.

2. The Italians are so patient with my attempts to speak the language. I can understand Italian, but I’m not a fluent speaker yet. Unlike the French ***COUGH*** your average Italian is kind and helpful even when you’re blithely mangling the tongue of Dante. Writing in English all day definitely hampers my efforts. But to be fair, Italian is a bitch to learn. Think: Times Square meets the Spanish Inquisition. It’s both a beautiful and expressive language, one that requires many florid-sounding syllables strung together in a way that promotes the use of hand gestures, which are needed to speed things along.

3. The food. In Italy, oranges taste like oranges. Grapes taste like grapes. The difference between what food tastes like here versus what it tastes like in the States is shocking. When I go back to Texas, I always smuggle a little fruit in my purse—and LIE ABOUT IT ON MY CUSTOMS FORM because hell, yeah, I’m that kind of badass—and give the fruit to people who’ve forgotten what fruit is supposed to taste like. Their reaction is always the same: “Holy crap, is that fruit? It’s DELICIOUS!”

4. Italy holds constant reminders that you are going to die one day, and that’s because you are rubbing shoulders with history every second that you’re here. When you gaze upon an ancient aqueduct that has existed for over a thousand years and has been seen by millions of people who are all dead now, you tend to value what time you have left. This death thing is why Italians are not only fatalistic, but seek constant religious and sexual confirmation with people who are not necessarily their spouses, just to remind themselves that they, at least for now, are alive.

5. There are hardly any chain stores in Italy, which really struck me (coming from strip-mall Texas). What you will find are a gazillion tiny coffee bars run by families. And the coffee in most of them, as you can imagine, is divine. The Italian middle class is still kicking here, thanks in large part to the compulsive thrift and mattress-stuffing money management of Grandma and Grandpa. Houses are multi-generational and it is customary for children to live in them until … well, forever, actually. A forty-year-old man who lives with his mamma is not considered too hopelessly dorky to date. Mamma still cooks for him and does his laundry. Family is both the strength and the curse of Italy. If you find yourself in a bit of an Italian pickle, family is there to bail you out. If you find yourself in trouble with the Mob … well, that’s another kind of family.

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I love this life. I love the church bells. As I sit here writing this in my little she-shed on top of the terrace, those bells are ringing now. I love the stuff that makes no sense to a non-Italian. I love the idiosyncrasies and even the dysfunctions. Italy is one of the most important love affairs of my life, and I am so happy to be able to share it with you.

Viva Italia!

 

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Marrying an Alien Pop Star by Kendra L. Saunders

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Title: Marrying an Alien Pop Star
Series: Alien Pop Star #3
Author: Kendra L. Saunders
Published by: Crimson Tree Publishing
Publication date: November 20th 2017
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Romance, Science Fiction

 
AlienPopStarDaisy and her alien fiancé Griffin are planning a big wedding, but not just any big wedding – the biggest wedding the universe has ever seen. Daisy has been settling into life on Griffin’s home world of Kalesstria, running her own intergalactic music shop and planning for the big day. But things hit a road bump when there’s a problem with Griffin’s father – and it’s a little more complicated than the usual disapproving dad drama. Looks like “save the date” is going to have to take a backseat to saving the universe…

Marrying an Alien Pop Star is the perfect laugh-out-loud romantic finale to the beloved Alien Pop Star series.

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Excerpt:

      “Daisy, are you alright?” Griffin shouts, pulling me to him. He peers at me with narrowed eyes, studying my face. “What’s wrong?”

      I shake my head, not sure I want to tell him. After all, it’s Griffin who has traditionally gotten panicky in crowds, thanks to a couple of traumatic events in his past. The worst, an attempt by a crowd of dissenting, angry Kalesstrians to drag Griffin into their midst and harm or kill him, is still especially prevalent in his memories. Bringing that up right now might trigger him in a big way, and the last thing I need is a panicked alien among a bunch of people with cell phones in hand.

      “It’s nothing!” I shout back to him. I look around for Kammie and spot her already grinding with Dev, lost to the joy of unapologetic, fun pop music.

      Griffin knows better, pursing his lips and pulling me closer. “Just look at me,” he says, without moving his lips. I shiver at the warm echo of his voice in my mind. It’s been a long time since we’ve communicated this way, using our special connection, and it feels just as strange now as it did the first time he spoke to me silently. “Just me, Wanda. And listen to the music, let it move you like it wants to.”

      I suck in a short breath and force my eyes to stop bouncing around from face to face behind Griffin. The actual beat of the music floods my ears, a catchy, simple pop beat that could have been one of any million pop songs in the last decade. And it feels great. It feels like home, it feels like dancing in your bedroom to a new song on the radio. It feels like getting up the nerve to dance with a stranger. It feels like dancing with someone you love, or dancing with your best friend, or just dancing by yourself and forgetting everything else around you.

      Relief floods my tense body, so I flick my gaze back to Griffin. I focus on the glow of his eyes, noting that even the contacts he’s wearing can’t do much to hide his origins. In fact, the glow’s only amplified by the myriad of light crashing around us in glittering beams from the dancing disco balls

 

Books In This Series:

3-Book

Dating an Alien Pop Star • Engaged to an Alien Pop Star • Marrying an Alien Pop Star

 

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Author Bio:
KendraKendra L. Saunders is a time-and-space traveling fashionista author who writes books about magical, dark-haired men, interviews famous people, and suggests way too many bands to you via whatever social media platform she can get her hands on. She writes with good humor because humor is the best weapon for a girl who can’t learn karate (or ballroom dancing). She’s the author of the Alien Pop Star series, The Unlove Spell, magic realism novel Inanimate Objects, the dark comedy Death and Mr. Right, and the poetry collection Geminis and Past Lives.

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Guest Post by Kendra L. Saunders:

Promoted by an Alien Pop Star

Pretty much anyone who knows me knows that I love music. And even more specifically, I really love the band Muse. Their music has inspired me for almost a decade, brought some of my best friends into my life, and sent me on crazy amazing adventures across America. Their Panic Station music video was also the inspiration starting point for what would become the Alien Pop Star series. The colors, wacky costumes, bonkers vibe, and fun settings of the video made me ask myself, “What if a beloved rock star like David Bowie really was an alien?” This started me off on the Alien Pop Star series, and introduced me to some of my favorite characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of writing.

In summer of this year (2017), my Muse friends and I gathered outside the famous Ed Sullivan Theater where Colbert’s show is taped, hoping to have a moment with our favorite band. Coincidentally, Jason Bateman was also appearing on Colbert’s show that day, and arrived before Muse. This was amusing for me, as he’d inspired a character in one of my earlier books.

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When Muse finally arrived, Matt Bellamy and his lovely girlfriend Elle Evans spent quite a while chatting with us, signing things (and people!), and taking pictures. When it was my turn to talk to Matt, I handed him a copy of Engaged to an Alien Pop Star (the second book in the series), and asked if he had managed to get a copy of the first book yet. He hadn’t, despite several attempts of wonderful friends of mine to get it to him. I mentioned that the series had been inspired by Panic Station, and he was so excited! We took pictures together with the book, and after Matt and Elle spent a bit more time with us, they headed away to get to their taping.

At this point, I was beaming in a manner that was probably visible from space. I turned around to try to remember how to breathe, and then felt my friend tugging on my arm. When I turned around, Matt was waving my book around to the paparazzi and telling them that I wrote the book! I definitely yelled, “Yesss! That’s my book! I wrote that!” As if all of that wasn’t amazing enough, I found out a few minutes later that the band’s best friend/media manager had been filming Matt looking through my book on Instagram live. And then, when I was trying to recover from that incredible news, my friend showed me that Muse had Snapchatted a picture of my book, along with the earrings I made Elle, and mentioned that it was inspired by Panic Station. Ahhhh!

I truly can’t thank Muse and Elle enough for their kindness. It really says something about people on that level of fame who will actually help out smaller, newer artists. It has been an amazing rollercoaster since that day, with BookBub picking up Dating an Alien Pop Star for a feature, the book being nominated for a RONE award, the book appearing on the Daily Mail’s website, and countless Musers contacting me from all around the world to tell me how much they loved the series so far.

I only can hope that someday I can help and inspire a new artist even half as much as Muse has helped and inspired me.

 

Call Your Steel by G.D. Penman

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Title: Call Your Steel
Author: G.D. Penman
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Azure Spider Publications
Publication Date: October 15, 2017

In the sky above there was no sun.

 
call-your-steelFor millennia beyond reckoning the Eaters of the Gods ruled over this sunless world, waging their secret war on each other through their Chosen, mortals granted a fraction of the Eaters in human powers in exchange for a life of servitude. Kaius counts himself among their hallowed ranks, devoted entirely to his brutal duties. Lucia is no more than a travelling minstrel, albeit one who found herself in the very worst place at the very worst time. How could mere mortals like them stand up against the vast alien power of the Eaters of the Gods?

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Excerpt:

 

Malius called his own steel, it rippled out from behind his back and engulfed him, settling into the familiar pointed visor over his face and a long straight sword in his hand. His voice came out of it, echoing ominously in the manner associated with the Chosen, “Repetition of the Forms is for these amateurs.” he gestured to his trainees, “Let us see if you can score a touch on me.”

They bowed to each other politely, eyes never leaving one another, then they moved blindingly fast to close the distance between them. In the beginning they were striking at each other tentatively. Neither was pressing their luck, both obviously had a wary respect for the other’s abilities.


Enhanced by the uncertainty of their years apart. They began to fall into a rhythm, parrying and swiping at one another, never over-extending or taking risks. Malius spoke softly, over the clatter of steel normal hearing would not have detected it.


“I hope you understand exactly how much I have done for you. Back when you were first selected for service I had to argue with the other Marked to get you a decent posting away from the city. I had to fight every year to keep them from recalling you. They thought that it was spite, that I held some grudge against you from your training but the truth is you do not belong in the city Kaius.”


They broke apart and circled each other slowly, legs crossing behind one another as they side-stepped. Then for an instant Malius called speed to close the distance and his strikes came in a shimmering flurry.


Kaius stopped thinking and kicked out under Malius’ relentless hammering strikes. The older man leapt back out of reach and set his blade in a high guard, leaving his legs conspicuously open to attack, he started speaking again as he probed Kaius defences with feints.


“You don’t belong in the city. You were born out in the dark and that is where you find your comfort. I saw that from your very first day here. You flinched from the light that the other children were drawn to like moths. I saw your purpose back then. I could see you raised up to the rank of Marked without you challenging my position here. No matter how skilled you were with the steel. How clever you were in your studies. You would never be a Master. Because that would trap you here with the civilised people.”


Malius spun forward and when he came around to strike he had a sword in each of his hands, he used them together, one striking after the other, calling strength and shattering the rhythm of defence.

 

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Author Bio:

g-d-penmanG.D. Penman writes fantasy fiction. He lives in Scotland with his partner and children, some of whom are human. He is a firm believer in the axiom that any story is made better by dragons. His beard has won an award. If you have ever read a story with monsters and queer people, it was probably one of his. In those few precious moments that he isn’t parenting or writing he continues his quest to eat the flesh of every living species.

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Guest Post by G.D. Penman:

10 Fun Facts About Call Your Steel

• Number 1: You Are What You Eat
The Eaters of the Gods are firmly in charge in the world of Call Your Steel. Their relative strength and the elemental powers that they claim dominion over depends on which of the nightmarish alien gods they snacked on before recorded history began. All of the surviving Eaters worked together to kill what is now known as “The Blacksmith” so that is why all of their minions can call on the power of steel to protect and arm them.

 
• Number 2: Rule 63 is Alive and Well
In the first draft of Call Your Steel, Kaius’ was female, but because the protagonist of my other books Heart of Winter and The Year of the Knife was a woman, I decided to switch things up a little and let a man experience all the joy of sexual harassment at the hands of his crusty old boss instead. Since sexism isn’t relevant in Call Your Steel, there wasn’t any specific gender coding to any given roles.

 
• Number 3: Let Me Get This Straight
There are no heterosexual characters in Call Your Steel. Not one. Kaius is our Asexual protagonist and everyone else is either gay or somewhere on the bisexual/pansexual sliding scale like Lucia. You can pretend that they are straight if it makes you feel better, or write fanfiction about it, hell you could write your own book with straight people if you want.

 
• Number 4: Everybody is a Rockstar
In the world of Call Your Steel, Kaius is a minor celebrity among the nobility because of his selection as one of the Chosen of Negrath. Out in the darklands where most of humanity subsists, a travelling minstrel like Lucia is one of the most exciting things to happen all year.

 
• Number 5: Kicked in the Ghuls
Named after the traditional Arabic monster that H.P. Lovecraft drew on to create his cannibalistic subterranean beasts, the Ghuls in Call Your Steel actually display some of the physical symptoms of long term cannibalism, including the beginnings of an outbreak of kuru!

 
• Number 6: Meet the Eaters
The four surviving Eaters all have faintly significant names. Negrath is named after Lovecraft’s Shub Niggurath. Vulkas is named after Vulcan, the Roman god of metalworking. Walpurgan is named after Walpurgisnacht, the “Witches’ Night” of myth. Ochress is named after the sandy colour, to signify his connection to the sea without getting too obvious about it.

 
• Number 7: Sing Along
The editor of Call Your Steel originally asked for me to write out the lyrics to the songs that Lucia sings. After receiving an email full of my appallingly rhymed lyrics, the subject was never broached again.

 
• Number 8: Political Writing
Call Your Steel is set in a dystopian autocratic society that the heroes want to overturn and replace with a fairer system of government. So, politics do creep into things a little. Having said that, please don’t assume that the character’s politics are mine or that the outcome is what you think it is going to be. There are subtle hints dotted throughout the book that the ending of this story is different from what it might first appear.

 
• Number 9: Firstborn
Call Your Steel was the first full length novel that I ever wrote and it took me years before I got the confidence to submit it, so by the time that it had finally done all the rounds of being submitted and returned and all the rest it had been so long that I barely remembered parts of it. It was full of surprises.

 
• Number 10: Apex Predators
The ecology of the world of Call Your Steel is totally different from earth due to the lack of sunlight. Insects have come to the fore, while mammals have died back. The apex predator out in the desolate darklands are actually owls which have grown to an immense size thanks to their ideal adaptation and a little help from Walpurgan.

 

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