Monday, April 30, 2012

Maddie's Floor by Dale Mayer: Excerpt

Supernatural Mystery/Thriller

Maddie's Floor
Book #3 of Psychic Visions
Medical intuitive and licensed MD Madeleine Wagner thought she'd seen every way possible to heal a diseased body...then patients start dying from mysterious causes in her long-term facility.

The terminally ill fight to get into her ward. Once there, many miraculously...live. So when her patients start dropping and she senses an evil force causing their deaths, she calls on her friend and mentor, Stefan, for help. Together, they delve beyond the physical plane into the metaphysical... Only to find terror.

She wants to save everyone, but are some souls not meant to be saved?

Detective Drew McNeil has two family members in need of Maddy's healing care, but his visits to her facility leave him wondering - who cares for Maddy? Bizarre events on her floor raise his professional curiosity. And the more time he spends with Maddy, the more personal everything becomes. When the deaths on Maddy's Floor intersect with one of his cold cases, he realizes an old killer has returned - and Maddy's standing in his path.

How can these people stop something that no one else can see, feel or even believe?

Amazon Edition Copyright 2012
Discover other titles by Dale Mayer at Amazon.com:
Tuesday's Child, Book 1
Hide'n Go Seek, Book 2

Kindle   |  Goodreads

Personal Comment:
I have read Tuesday's Child and also Hide'n Go Seek, and Maddie's Floor is in my TBR pile.  Each book was quite different from the other and Maddie's Floor promises to be even more different from the first two.  The books in the series each stand alone just fine on their own - What connects them are the female protagonists who are all strong psychics, though with different, unusual strenghts.





MONDAY


When you believed in the goodness of life, why did darkness always nudge up against you – test you – try to make you change your mind? Late afternoon sunshine poured through the window of The Haven casting warm rays across Madeleine Wagner's spacious office on the top floor of the long-term care facility. The early part of August had been hot and humid. Now, entering the last week, the dead heat had cooled to a comfortable temperature. She stared at the paperwork stacked high on one side of her desk, then at a smaller mountain on the other. Groaning, she leaned back and rubbed her throbbing temple. Why had she wanted to become a doctor anyway? Although, today her career choice wasn't the problem; it was her other skills. The skills no one mentioned but everyone knew about. Dr. Madeline…was not only a brilliant doctor, b ut a medical intuitive. And her unorthodox skills were the reason Dr. Johnson, from the second floor, had asked her to look at Eric Colgan. He wanted Maddy to try to find out why Eric's condition was deteriorating so rapidly – for no apparent reason – when all his tests were coming back negative. She'd gotten her first inkling something wasn't right while Dr. Johnson had been explaining the case. Then he'd sent her an email with more details. As she read, a weird twinge settled at the base of her neck. A sensation something was wrong. That feeling had grown until just the sight of her colleague's email brought goose bumps on her arms. She'd immediately printed the page off, dug out a new folder and buried it under a dozen others. It made no difference. It pulled at her. Sitting there. Waiting. She sat up straight and forced herself to continue through the large stack of paperwork, until the pull refused to be ignored. Crap. She pushed the open file off to the side and dragged the email out. Maybe she should take a quick peek. See if there was anything she could do, and if not, then she'd pass the case back – quickly. She wasn't able to help everyone.
 

She quickly accessed Eric's file on her computer. With his information displayed in front of her, she eased back from the heavy mahogany desk and mentally distanced herself from her emotions. She took several deep breaths to calm her energy. On the next breath, she opened her inner eye and focused on Eric's energy. Almost instantly, the outline of a young man's body formed; it stood upright in the center of the office, as clear as if he actually stood before her. Sometimes the person appeared in street clothes, as if they'd just walked into her office, and she'd see the energy moving through them and over them. Other times she saw only a vague shape pulsing with colors. This time Maddy saw both the physical and the energetic forms of Eric. Now the shell of Eric's body teemed with a swirling darkness as energy poured outward in hundreds of dark red and purple ribbons. Hugging the outside edge, his aura hung lanky and dark, missing the vitality of someone in good health and good spirits. Colors swelled and receded in a grotesque dance. Stretching away from the body, they faded outward, filling the small office. Maddy rose and circled the desk to get a better view of this apparition. She reared back slightly and blinked several times. The energy still twisted and stretched in its macabre dance. She rocked slightly on the balls of her feet. She'd never seen anything like this.
 

Angry energy had one appearance. Hatred had another. But this…this defied description. Maddy needed more information. Letting the vision dissolve, she walked back to her desk and laid one hand flat on top of the printed email. Eric's energy reached out and grabbed her by the throat. She coughed and choked – tears filled her eyes. She snatched her hand back and bolted to the far end of the room. Christ. Maddy paced around the small office trying to calm herself. Another 'first.' In the middle of the room she stopped, her hand on her chest. She took three deep breaths, and frowned. His energy was incredibly strong. Maddy's mind stalled…reconsidered. Was it his energy? She'd assumed it was his, but did she know that for sure? Not really. Frustrated, she returned to her chair to flip through the online information. Changing tactics, and with her finely tuned control locked in place, she released a small amount of energy outward in Eric's direction. It normally took a moment or two to see the pattern, feel the pain and locate the regions of distress in an unhealthy body. Not this time. This time, tidal waves of anger washed over her. Whatever had happened to this young man, she knew he hadn't come to terms with it. That didn't surprise her. Few people came to terms with imminent death, whether it was their own or that of friends and family. Anger was an understandable reaction to learning you had less than three months to live. But what she'd experienced just now was so much more than anger. Maddy hugged herself to ward off the unearthly cold now permeating the room. She tried to focus on Eric's physical condition, but emotional trauma blasted at her, disturbing her balance. This man was beyond angry. He'd moved into panic. Confusion and pain agitated his space. His outrage – palpable. So was his terror. Tapping into her inner eye, she brought up the same energy vision as before. The aura had thinned until it was snug against his body. Leaning forward, she studied the color patterns, searching for the origin. Energy swarmed throughout the different layers of the young man's body, refusing to stay contained. It was as if the shell were too small to hold it all. The colors darkened, the energy slowed – as if heavy – engorged. Static energy filled the small room, strong enough to cause loose strands of her hair to quiver. The image was painful to observe. It reminded her of the aftermath of a feeding frenzy. One energy feasted on the other. Then it hit her. Clearly. There wasn't a single energy spinning endlessly inside this body – there were two. Two separate and distinct energies fought a battle within him as he stood before her.



Freelance writer Dale Mayer lives in the beautiful Okanagan valley in British Columbia, Canada. She's multi-pubbed in nonfiction and is currently writing The Essential Series including The Career Essential Series(The Resume, The Cover Letter, The Interview), Lifestyle Essentials (Ergonomics for today's world, Raising the dyslexic child, etc.), and the Gardening Essential Series, (Beginning with Bulbs, Urban Farming, Gardening for Seeds, etc.).

Stay tuned as she adds to these and several other proposed series. For the last decade, she's written on all of these topics either under her own name or as a ghostwriter. As a researcher and technical writer, Dale has a wealth of knowledge she can't wait to share!
However, fiction is her passion. Here, she writes taut psychological suspense with romance and paranormal elements. She has recently branched out into writing both mystery and urban fantasy books for young adult with the occasional vampire book thrown in just for fun.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Nephilim: Genesis of Evil by Renee Pawlish Guest Post

Horror
A dark power described in Genesis revisits the small mountain town of Taylor Crossing. After witnessing an evil presence in New York City, Rory Callahan comes out West in search of answers, and finds a town succumbing to supernatural forces. Now, an evil prophesy may be fulfilled by the Nephilim.

Goodreads  |    Amazon  |   Paperback 


Click here to hear Renée read the prologue.


It has been said that there are only a certain number of plots, somewhere between 20 and 40 (theme might be a better word, but that’s a different debate).  So there are only so many ways I as an author can tell a paranormal story.  This creates a challenge for an author: how can I make my stories unique?  This is even harder now as there are so many paranormal stories available.
Originality is the key.  What can I do to make my characters, plot and storyline unique?  I love reading book blurbs on Amazon.  I come across so many where I think: wow, I wish I would’ve thought of that!  I actually had a bit of difficulty with originality when I first got the idea for my supernatural thriller, Nephilim Genesis of Evil.  The main character is a writer.  Not unique (read Stephen King and see how many times his main character is a writer).  So I put a twist on this and made my writer a journalist who spends his time debunking the paranormal.  Rory Callahan doesn’t believe in ghosts and ghouls and things that bump in the night.
To make things more interesting, I threw Rory into a situation where he witnesses a paranormal incident that he can’t explain.  Now you have conflict, which drives all good stories.  Rory, the guy who doesn’t believe all this crock about the paranormal, has to figure out what this entity he’s seen is, and he finds himself thrust into a town where more strange things occur.  To build on the conflict, I have the townspeople suspicious of Rory the newcomer.  More conflict.
Creating fear is key in paranormal stories.  When I wrote Nephilim, I specifically did not want a story with gore in it.  I wanted to build a subtle fear, where the suggestions of fear are there and the readers’ imagination takes it from there.  And (except for one reviewer) it seems to have worked.  I also wanted a different kind of bad guy.  I wrote Nephilim in 2005 and very few people at that time knew of the Nephilim.  The ones that did mostly thought of the Nephilim as aliens.  I took a different twist and kept the Nephilim as the biblical creatures mentioned in Genesis 6.  They were the perfect bad guys.
It’s also important that you keep things as plausible as possible.  When reading paranormal stories, readers have to willingly suspend their disbelief.  They have to buy that these paranormal things can actually happen.  What makes this work for your readers is having everything else in your story as realistic as possible.  Your characters have to be real and consistent.   So does your setting and your bad guys.  If you achieve this, then your readers will keep turning pages.
Nephilim Genesis of Evil has been a resounding success for me.  It’s the first in a trilogy, and now the challenge for me is to make the second and third books in the series as compelling a read as the first one.  Not an easy task, but it certainly is fun.


 
Renée Pawlish is the author of the bestselling horror book, Nephilim Genesis of Evil, the Reed Ferguson mystery series (This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies, Reel Estate Rip-off and the short story Elvis And The Sports Card Cheat), The Noah Winters Adventure Series, Take Five, a short story collection, numerous other short stories, and The Sallie House: Exposing the Beast Within a non-fiction horror book about a haunted house investigation in Kansas.


Renée was born in California, but has lived most of her life in Colorado. When she’s not hiking, cycling, or chasing ballplayers for autographs, she is writing mysteries and thrillers. She also has some middle grade novels waiting to be published.

Renée loves to travel and has visited numerous countries around the world. She has also spent many summer days at her parents’ cabin in the hills outside of Boulder, which was the inspiration for the setting of Taylor Crossing in her novel Nephilim: Genesis of Evil.


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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Magic High by Christina G Gaudet: Interview & Excerpt

YA Science Fiction/Fantasy

Welcome to Andrew High, a school for mages...

That is, until its doors are opened to the non-magical, or “normie,” population. That means no more magic allowed on school property. For Tabetha Long, whose powers are directly related to emotions, hiding her magic is difficult. When her mother is hired as the new gym teacher, and her father comes back to town with is reality television show, difficult becomes impossible.

Now her every move is being caught on video and everyone else at school wants in too. All Tabetha wants is to become invisible.

But then the mysterious and cute new guy, Eric wouldn’t be able to see her either...







Yellow tights? Really? Seriously? She's going out in yellow tights? In public? This couldn't be happening. It really couldn't be.
Oh no. She actually wanted me to stand beside her while she wore yellow tights. Without even a skirt over them. Just some faded pink t-shirt with a brand name that I've never even heard before. It was probably some company that went out of business before I was born and she's kept the shirt ‘cause it was just so “cool” at the time.
Yellow tights? Ugh.
“Hurry up,” Mom said. “We won’t make it before lunch at this pace.”
Of course I was dragging my feet. I had to walk to school with my mom and gym teacher who just happened to be wearing yellow tights. Bright yellow. No dingy, dull, slightly less noticeable yellows for my mom. Nope. She had to go bright.
I was going to die of embarrassment.
“Hey, Tab! Hey, Ms. Long!” Of course Eleanor saw us. How could anyone miss us?
Eleanor's now blond hair was in curly pigtails and she had a bounce to her step that was frankly annoying. She was also wearing a plaid skirt. A very short plaid skirt. Something that was reminiscent of what Liz had been wearing yesterday. Except she could get away with it, ‘cause she looked like some model or actress, while Eleanor…didn't. Not that she wasn't cute. She just didn't really have the legs to pull off a short skirt. Or the butt.
At least she wasn't wearing yellow tights.
“Wow, Ms. Long. You look amazing!” Eleanor said.
She was really good at lying when she was dressed like she was. People actually thought she was telling the truth. If I hadn't been there, staring at the same outfit, I might have even believed her. Luckily I had two eyes and a brain. Unlike my mom.
“Hi,” an emotionless voice greeted us.
I should not have recognized that voice. I mean, he hardly even used it, how could I possible recognize it? And what was with this guy? Why was he everywhere?
“Oh! Hi,” Eleanor said in her sing-song voice. She gave me a funny look before turning back to Eric. “Um, I’m Eleanor.”
Right, they hadn’t actually met before other than the pen thing when he had run away before saying anything.
Eric stared first at Eleanor then at my mom for a minute before simply saying, “Eric.”
Did he ever say more than one word at a time?
“Good to meet you, Eric,” Mom said. “Did you just start at Andrew High?”
Eric didn't even bother speaking this time. He just scuffed the sidewalk, making a loud squeaking noise.
“So, do you live around here?” my mom asked in an attempt to get the boy to speak. It didn't work. He just nodded and pointed his thumb to one of the twenty houses that were to the south of our own. He couldn't even be bothered to tell us the number.
“How do you like teaching at our school?” Eleanor turned to Mom after waiting an awkward amount of time for Eric to say more.
YA Science Fiction/ Fantasy
“Oh, look. There's the school!” I interrupted.
I grabbed Eleanor's wrist and dragged her away. If there was any decency in the world, we would be able to get away without being seen with my mom.
“Yo!”
John, the hottest and most popular guy in school, paused right beside us and waved to a friend who was across the lawn. When John spoke the entire school stopped to listen. And look. Of course, along with staring at his super sexiness, they ended up staring at me… and Eleanor… and my mom. Stupid yellow tights. Stupid luck. Stupid world.
The only good thing was that John didn't seem to notice me, or my mom's yellow tights. Everyone else did. And they were snickering. Some were even pointing. I wished I was dead. At least then I wouldn’t have to deal with the whispering.
“You all right?” Eric whispered to me. Three words. The world must be ending.
“Yeah, why?” I didn't mean to be snappy, but I was.
“You’re pale.” He looked me over, his sand-coloured eyebrows furrowed with something… concern? “And not breathing.”
I checked. I wasn't. Stupid magic.
“I'm fine,” I told him while waving him off and trying to gain some control over myself. “Just…peachy.”
“Whatever,” he said.
I glanced at him to see if he was still watching me and was relieved to discover he wasn't. Relieved. Was that how I felt?
Control. Control. Keep the stupid, useless, annoying, always-in-your-face magic under control. Must not be dead.
“Are you dead?” Eleanor whispered to me. It wasn't like her to whisper. Well at least not when she was playing the part of a “Bring It On” extra. Not that I had ever seen that movie. Or its sequels. Several times.
“No, I'm not dead.” I was lying of course. I hadn't breathed for several minutes, and I was beginning to smell like rotting flesh. Perfect. Just perfect. I was a zombie and it wasn't even nine yet.
“You look like you're dead,” she told me way too cheerfully.
Eleanor had just lost her best friend status. Your best friend should not be cheerful about you being dead. Then again, she had also told my mom she looked good, so obviously Eleanor had forgotten to bring any sense with her to school today.
“I'm not dead,” I said a little too loudly. “If I were dead, I would be trying to eat your brain.” Mmm… brain.
Oh, no.
“Sweetie?” Mom whispered in a way only mothers know how. “You really shouldn't be going to school if you're dead. Perhaps you should go home and rest up?”
“No!” What was I saying? Of course I should go home. And hopefully never return to the wretched place called school. “I'll be fine. Fine, I tell you!” There sure were a lot of people around. A lot of people with large juicy brains. Juicy, juicy brains… “Ok. Not fine. Elly. Help?”
Eleanor smiled and placed a hand on my shoulder to send a wave of calm through me. The thought that everything was going to be okay kept going through my mind until eventually I stopped being dead.



It's my pleasure to welcome Christina Gaudet today.  Hi Christina! I can tell you're anxious to get started.....so let's start with Plotter or Pantser? Why?

When I first started to write, I was entirely a panster. I’d write whatever came to mind. When I finished, I’d have tons of scenes and not a whole lot of plot. After writing a couple of novels that way, I realised I needed to start thinking things through a little more. However, my favorite part of writing is discovering the story as I go. I love when I figure out something about a character three quarters of the way through the first draft that completely changes the story. It makes things move a lot slower than if I plotted out everything in advance, but it also makes writing a book as much of an adventure as reading one.

Do you have critique partners or beta readers?

For the past year I’ve been lucky enough to be part of a great group of writers. We meet once every two weeks at a small restaurant where we’re always the most rambunctious group in there, so much so that we’ve been banished to the back room. Well, we banished ourselves.

One of my favorite things about the group is that everyone writes something different, from memoirs to fantasy to children’s picture books. I love having an excuse to read other types of work and it helps my own writing in ways that reading stuff that’s very similar can’t.

Plus everyone in the group is awesome. It’s always so much fun to meet with them and talk about books.

What songs are most played on your iPod?

I mostly only listen to music when I’m writing, so I tend to listen to stuff that works well with the tone of the book or a specific scene. I usually avoid songs with words because I tend to sing along and get distracted from what I’m trying to write. A lot of my music is soundtracks from movies and television, my favorites being Doctor Who: Series 5, Star Trek (the new movie), and Moulin Rouge. The most played song on my iPod is definitely the closing credits from Moulin Rouge, Bolero. I almost always start writing by listening to that song.


What is it that you like to do when you’re not reading/writing?

I tend to split my time fairly evenly between writing and drawing. I draw a lot of comics because it allows me to do some storytelling while creating (hopefully) pretty pictures. However, I rarely think the stories of my comics through and instead focus on having fun drawing the characters expressions and reactions. Often this ends with me having a lot of half finished comics. Since I started seriously working on finishing up my next novel, I haven’t had much time to draw. Both writing and drawing require a ton of creative energy and confidence and trying to do both at the same time can become pretty exhausting.

Do you have a website or blog?

ChristinaGGaudet.com is where you can find out a little bit more about me and my work. Along with being the home for my work as an author, you can also find my comics there as well.

Thanks so much for taking some time out today to let us find out a little more about you and your life.  It's been so much fun.  Thanks for everything!



The author of the young adult novel, Magic High. When I'm not writing, I am usually reading, drawing, or working at some odd job or another. If you want to contact me, I'd love to hear from you at christinaggaudet @ gmail.com
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Friday, April 27, 2012

Mooner by Selah Janel: Interview & Excerpt


Like many young men at the end of the 1800s Bill has signed on to work in a logging camp to earn a fast paycheck to start his life. Unfortunately his role model is Big John, the camp's golden boy known for blowing his pay as fast as he makes it. On a cold Saturday night they enter Red's Saloon to forget the work that takes the sweat and the lives of so many. Red may have plans for their whiskey money, but something else lurks in the shadows, something that badly wants a drink that has nothing to do with alcohol. Can Bill make it back out the shabby door or does someone have their own plans for his future?

Word count:  8,143
Nook  |  Goodreads  |  Kindle







For a moment, Bill thought he was imagining things or was having a particularly bad reaction to the rot gut. Blinking a few times refocused his tired gaze and proved there was, indeed, a moving pile of…something at a table close to the other end of the bar.

Nancy shuffled back towards the bar, casting a wary look over her shoulder. “Red, he’s back,” she breathed as she scooped up another tray and fled to the other side of the room. Upon closer inspection, the youth realized it wasn’t a pile of something, but a figure draped in a patchwork of skins then cloaked with half-torn, moldy furs. Most who passed his way quickly avoided him, though whether it was because of his odd looks or his smell, it was hard to say.
Red hissed through his teeth and ran a sweating hand through his thick mane. “Tom Haskins,” he mumbled under his breath for the benefit of those crowded round him.
“I thought he lived on the edge of town,” Jack replied as he glared down the length of the bar.
“He tried to start a dry goods store, and it didn’t go over too well. He had it in his mind he could make up his loss with fur, though he ain’t no trapper. He moved out to the woods weeks ago and comes into town every so often to hang round and get his fix. Just when I think he’s finally died out there, he comes round again.” Not once did the saloon proprietor take his eyes off the body hunched over a table. Every breath made Tom’s ragtag cloak shudder, and every moldy hair on him quivered.
“You want me to kick him out?” Jack offered, already shifting his weight across the room.
“Nah, let him warm up at least. He doesn’t do much; just pesters everyone for drink now that he can’t afford it for himself. Give him time, and he’ll be up to his tricks.”
Bill couldn’t stop looking away. The pile of sloughed animals slumped as the man’s head rose. His skin was a cold grey and stretched taught across his face and hands. His hair had all but fallen out, but what was still left of it hung in clumps of long, ragtag strands that were paler than dried straw. His thin-lipped mouth was open and he sucked in air in painful, erratic pants.
“Look at ‘im! Actin’ like a piglet pulled away from its ma’s teat!” Big John sneered. “I bet his clothes are fulla maggots!”
“It’s too cold for maggots,” Ben snorted. “His clothes are thin. Wonder how the hell he stands bein’ out in the woods in weather like this.” “We do it,” Bill muttered. The recluse’s head jerked at the sound of his voice; the young man immediately snapped his mouth shut.
“Yeah, but we’re used to it! And younger’n he ever was!” John’s voice was purposefully loud and carried the haughty tone that won him admiration from the other loggers. “He’s durn crazy, that’s why he don’t notice.” He cocked his head Tom’s way with a sneer. “All that time on your own turn you yaps, man?”
Tom’s head very slowly shifted towards them, and Bill shuddered. There were days he’d survived the logging camp and the extreme conditions by will power and prayer alone, all the while wondering in the back of his head what it would be like if he didn’t have even that. Looking at the vagrant, he knew.
Ben was cursing behind them. “I saw him not more than a month ago and he didn’t look like that. Solitary life don’t turn a man in that short a’ time! Maybe he’s got rabies or fever n’ ague.”
Tom’s eyes sat so far back in his skull, it was impossible to tell what color they were, though they harbored a steady, unsettling gleam. They roved over the huddled group, searching hungrily for an easy mark. Bill’s heart plummeted to his boots when the hollow glitter locked onto him. He was suddenly as cold as he was when a seventh-year blizzard hit. All the frustrations and hell he’d endured since joining the logging team, all his good intentions and reasons, all he was trying to move forward to, swelled and jumbled together in a brief, howling wind of thought. The two distant stars in Tom’s eyes were the only thing that pegged him as a stable man in his otherwise rotting and dozy appearance.
All around the little group, the saloon’s weekend life went on. The distant sound of swearing and dice clattering across the floor mixed with discordant harmonies and a half-hearted mouth organ. But in the area by the bar, all was muffled and still. It was like the snows had come without warning over the forest, smothering everything in their path with chilled silence. Bill shuddered, and out of the corner of his eye, noticed Red do the same.
“You want I should knock his ears down, Red?” John’s bravado was the sudden yell that knocked the snow from the treetops, for better or ill. He had the relaxed look of a man who’d been in his cup just enough to throw caution to the wind. “I’ll toss him out and give ‘im a pat on the lip he won’t forget!”
“Leave be, John,” the barkeep muttered. His hand never stopped wiping down the bar. Though his head was tilted down towards his task, his eyes were set on their target across the room.
“What…what you want me to do for a drink?” At first it didn’t register that that thing, that man, had actually spoken. His voice was high and reedy, and cracked the way the thinnest ice along the river did.
“Pardon?”
“What you want me to do for a drink?” His lips cracked when his mouth moved. A thin trail of spittle dripped off his lower lip and was quickly caught up by the tip of the derelict’s seeking tongue. The distant gleam in Tom’s eyes burned as his mouth formed the last word. Otherwise, it was hard to even say how he’d made it into the saloon; he looked more than a little dim.





How did you start your writing career?

I’d been writing stories for years but had scared myself out of submitting. A year and a half ago I had a health scare and didn’t have much to do while trying to figure out what was going on. I suddenly realized that I could keep putting off submitting and writing the stories I really wanted to be working on, or I could take a chance and embrace something that would make me really happy. I promised myself that I’d try for a full year and submit something every week. If I got a rejection letter I forced myself to take it with a grain of salt and resubmit the story somewhere else within forty-eight hours to a week, depending on if I wanted to edit or restructure a piece. I took away any excuse I could give myself and just focused on producing and editing good work and finding publishers that I wanted to work with. I would’ve been happy with one acceptance during that time but after a lot of work I ended up with acceptances for three e-books, two short stories in magazines, a story in an anthology, and a kid’s poem for an e-zine! 


Tell us about your current release.
 

It’s a horror story that’s set in a late 1800s American logging camp. It combines my love of history with my love of that ‘other’ element, that creepy creature that lives in the woods even though it’s not supposed to exist.


Tell us about your next release.
 

I’m finishing up edits on an upcoming e-book called In the Red. It’s a modern re-imagining of the folk story The Red Shoes that puts similar themes and archetypes in a modern, rock n’ roll setting. It’s a dark, gritty urban fantasy piece full of questionable magic and temptation. I just got my cover for it and it’s gorgeous – I’m so excited for this release! I love music and I love fairy tales, so getting this one published makes me really happy.
  

Here’s the blurb I’m working with for In the Red: 

What kind of a rock star lives in a small town in the middle of nowhere and plays at weddings and funerals? That’s what Jeremiah Kensington is thinking after an unsuccessful bar gig one night. When a sympathetic farmer with musical interests offers to help launch his career Jeremiah is desperate enough to accept. It’s only in hindsight that he realizes he’s just as stuck as before. But then Jack Scratch comes into his life, ready to represent him and launch him to stardom. Jack can give him everything: a new band, a new name, a new life, a new look, and new boots…although they aren’t exactly new. They once belonged to The One, a rocker so legendary and so mysterious that it’s urban legend that he used black magic to gain success. But what does Jeremiah care about urban legend? And it’s probably just coincidence that the shoes make him dance better than anyone, even if it doesn’t always feel like he’s controlling his movements. It’s no big deal that he plunges into a world of excess and decadence as soon as he puts the shoes on his feet, right? 

But what happens when they refuse to come off?


How do you describe your writing style?

I tend to change my approach depending on what I write. A good writing friend of mine pointed out that I write in a lot of different styles, so you never quite know what you’re going to get. I think I stick with similar themes: I like exploring how people relate to each other and their own emotions. I love throwing in fantasy or horror elements to complicate and enhance things. I like playing with that what-if factor and I really like getting into my characters’ heads. But other than that, I’m not really afraid of exploring different ways of doing things. It all depends on the genre and the audience’s age level. I think I do tend to look at things a little sideways, so I usually have a unique angle on an idea or type of character. I’m not really interested in working with specific formulas and I love it when I can be zany and throw bizarre wrenches into my own plots.


What are you passionate about these days?

I’m really passionate about women’s roles and portrayals in genre fiction and film. I love dark fantasy, horror, and a lot of genres that have become associated with male writers and personalities, and there are times when that can get really frustrating. I’ve become really curious about how as women we’re portraying ourselves in what we read and watch and what that actually translates to. It’s been a fascinating journey and I’ve been lucky to be able to write about it in a column for Fandom Scene. I’ve discovered that there’s a lot of good to go with the typical or one-dimensional female characters. I’d also assumed that I’d just be blasting everything I came across and really I’ve developed a much more middle-of-the-road point of view. I’m finding I’m able to see all sides to a character. I may not like certain popular female characters, but I can see why a lot of young girls or women are drawn to certain franchises. The whole thing fascinates me and my hope is that if enough people start having this conversation we can start moving genre fiction away from clichés towards new territory. It’s really exciting.


At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always loved stories. I grew up surrounded by tales about family members and local legends, and I lived at the library during the summer. I also design costumes and perform, but I’m always looking for the story behind anything. I’m so fascinated by what motivates people and the ‘what if’ in any situation. There are so many directions any little situation can go in – and that becomes exponentially so when you add in things like magic or fantasy elements. Plus, I think that having so many different personalities in the world is magical in itself. There’s so much to learn about, so much to work with! I absolutely love having all that possibility all around me. Ever since I was a kid I’ve written little stories or come up with imaginary adventures. It was the natural progression to start writing them down and learning how to develop them into things that other people would want to read.


Do your friends think you are an introvert or an extravert? Why?

A lot of my friends feel this is a topic up for panel discussion. I honestly feel that I’m pretty shy. I’m fine if I have a project or something to focus on, but put me in a crowd of people without a mission and I feel a little lost, especially if I’m on my own. However, when I’m comfortable I can be pretty silly and vocal about my opinions. I also tend to confront the things I’m afraid of and I like learning new things, so I’m always getting into new activities and classes. It’s hard to convince a lot of people that I’m more of an introvert that I let on, but I’m much more comfortable around a small group of people or fussing with my ideas than I am in a crowd. I just try really hard to not let it be an issue.

Is there a piece of advice that you have received that has really stuck with you? If so, what was it?

I was at a horror con a few years ago and got drawn into conversation by the actor Billy Wirth. We were talking about different things and I happened to mention that I was frustrated with where I was at creatively at the time. And I’ll never forget it; he told me that all I really needed to do was to ‘Just keep working.’ At the time I’ll admit that his good intentions ticked me off and unsettled me, though he’s such a great guy that I’d never admit that to him. It seemed way too easy and too cliché – the typical thing someone who’s had success would tell someone who was still aspiring to do something. After I got the chip off my shoulder I realized that he was absolutely right. At the end of the day perseverance is what separates people. If you don’t keep at something you can’t network or let people know what you’re up to, plus you can’t get better at your craft. It’s such a simple little thing, and because of that I’ve not forgotten it. Hands down, it’s some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten. When I got frustrated during the year I forced myself to regularly submit, I kept that piece of advice in mind and it’s definitely proven fruitful. I’m still very grateful for that conversation; it was exactly what I needed to hear even if I didn’t want to hear it at the time.



Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little when she wondered if fairies lived in the nearby state park and worried that vampires hid in the old barns outside of town. Her appreciation for a good story was enhanced by a love of reading, the many talented storytellers that surrounded her, and a healthy curiosity for everything. A talent for warping everything she learned didn’t hurt, either.  

Although she’s always enjoyed inventing stories and penning tales her creativity has filtered into many interests over the years including studying classical voice, a degree in theatre at the University of Southern Indiana, and work as a costume designer and costumer for various theatres, companies, and events. But behind every part she’s played, behind every costume and monster she’s created, behind every random idea is a story. 
She gravitates to writing fantasy and horror but has a deep love of children’s and YA literature and can be convinced to pursue any genre if the idea is good enough. Often her stories feature the unknown creeping into the “real” world and she loves to find the magical in the mundane.  Her first title ‘Mooner’ is a historical, vampire-centric horror story that is coming soon from No Boundaries Press. When she isn’t working on one of ten thousand projects she can be found at the following places – though be warned, she’s an old soul and is still learning to use most of these…
She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to hold their own.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Unrequited by Jay Merin: Interview & Excerpt



Mason has a past. Having fled his home he now lives out a lonely, isolated existence, doing his best to remain invisible, while watching the world pass him by with an increasingly cynical detachment. At least until a remarkable young woman captivates his attention.

Shayla has a future. With a career, good friends and a fiancé she adores, she loves her life and really wants for nothing. But for some time now something has been watching her, drawn to something about her that makes her unique.

When Mason's world violently collides with Shayla's, his past threatens to destroy her future. To set things right Mason must come to terms with and atone for what he had done while Shayla must find an inner strength she never knew existed within her. And the only thing either of them can rely on is each other.

Publication Date:  Aug 29 2011
ISBN/EAN13:  1466265957 / 9781466265950
Page Count:  252

Binding Type:  US Trade Paper

Trim Size:  5.25" x 8"

Language:  English

Related Categories:  Fiction / Fantasy / Contemporary

Amazon  |  Paperback  |   Goodreads


Get a FREE PDF copy of Unrequited





Chapter 4

 
He dreamed of Cordelia.
Of Cordelia's end.
Mason always dreamed of Cordelia's death.
Somehow this time the dream had changed. Instead of her being ripped apart and shredding into nothingness, Mason watched as Cordelia was devoured whole by a roesied.
And then it wasn't Cordelia. It was Shayla.
And Shayla was reaching out to him...


Mason woke screaming. He sat bolt upright, a cold rag that had been on his forehead dropping into his lap. Quickly regaining his composure he found himself on a couch, his jacket lain across its back, with an afghan placed over him. The room around him he did not recognize, though it was probably someone's apartment as he saw the TV, DVD movie collection, photos in frames on the walls, magazines on the coffee table next to him, and so on.
Someone had brought him inside. He had been hurt, now it came back to him. Mason remembered fighting the roesied, though he wished it had been just a dream.
Movement caught his attention, bringing him back alert to his surroundings. Rushing in from a doorway that looked to lead to a kitchen came Shayla, a steaming mug of something in her hands.
“My god, are you ok? That scream... maybe I'd better call an ambulance after all...” Shayla had put down the drink and was reaching for her cell phone that rested on the coffee table on top of a copy of a travel magazine featuring a picture of the Parthenon. Mason's hand moved to stop hers, holding it gently but firmly.
“No, I'm sorry, my apologies... please,” he faltered, looking at his hand holding hers and feeling a rush of heat on his face. Stoically he gathered himself, moving his legs off the couch to sit up fully, and letting go slowly of Shayla's hand as she watched his hand's retreat. “I am better, it was just a bad dream.” He looked at her face, this being the closest the two of them had ever been, and he saw it in her eyes. She recognized him, not just from their passing encounters, though surely she knew she had seen him before.
No, Shayla saw him. Knew him. Deep inside, who he was... her eyes had seen into the depths of Mason and he couldn't stop her. He didn't want to stop her.
He had to stop her.
“You...” she started to say, unsure of what she was saying, but Mason stood up, grabbing his coat.
“Thank you for bringing me in and watching over me. You really shouldn't have, taking a stranger into your home isn't safe in the city.” Mason couldn't help but scold her... it had been a dangerous thing she had done, even with her fiancée with her.
Mason started. Where was Richard Sommerset?
And then he forgot about Richard entirely as Shayla took his hand in both of hers, a distant but penetrating look on her face.
“I know you.”
Mason could barely shake his head no. “I think you are mistaken, ma'am.”
“Don't,” she said, her eyelids lowering, nearly closing completely. “Don't lie. You have watched over me.”
Mason wanted to pull his hand free, to jump back, to demand what she knew and how she knew it. He wanted nothing more than to take her hands in his and forget who she was, what he was, and just be in the moment. In the end, he could do nothing but look at her.
“I've felt you. I knew you were there, somewhere inside I always knew. I just... I didn't know who you were.” One hand came up and fingertips barely touched his cheek so gently it burned him. “I do now.”
And then, after a moment or an eternity, her eyes opened wider as if she had come out of a trance. “I'm sorry, what were you saying?” Slightly confused, she let go of his hand and moved back a step. “Were you leaving? Are you sure that you are alright? Richard should be back shortly, he's talking to the police about his car, and he can give you a ride if you need one.”
That's where the fiancé was... taking care of his vehicle. Somehow that both angered and amused Mason. Mason breathed easier... he had collected himself enough, despite whatever perceptions Shayla had surprised him with, to will his shimmer into being just enough for her to lose her full awareness of him. Regardless of Randall's admonishment, Mason was quite good at staying unnoticed and unremembered when he focused his will upon the task.
“I will be fine. The car that hit me barely clipped me, honestly, and it was more shock than anything,” he lied too easily. It shamed him, but he knew it was for her own good. He could not be part of her life... even in the smallest of ways. This, too, she must forget.
******
Shayla shook her head. Looking around her apartment she tried to remember what she had just been doing. And where was Richard? Her gaze fell on the cold cup of herbal tea on her coffee table. When had she made that?
Before she became too lost in her musings the door to her apartment opened and her fiancé walked in, scratching his head. She thought he looked as puzzled as she felt.
“Strangest thing... someone or something hit my car, but there were no witnesses.”
Shayla moved over to him, concerned. “Oh my... how bad is it?”
“Mostly cosmetic, but the windshield on the passenger side needs to be replaced. Funny,” he looked at her blankly, then back at the door. “I could have sworn that there should have been someone in here with you.”
The couple both looked at the couch, Shayla guessing that, like her, Richard was trying uneasily to shake the feeling that they were forgetting something important.






Tell us about your current release.

Unrequited is my first completed novel as well as my first published piece of writing. I put it up on Amazon August of 2011, so it's been nearly a year since its release. I'm currently working on a non-related high fantasy novel, but am still in the very early planning stages of that despite having, more or less, been working on it since about January.

The story to Unrequited is about two people who are drawn to each other that, on so many levels, are not meant to be together. Even more specifically it is speculation on the question “if you truly love someone would you really do what's best for them even if it goes against your own self interest?” When I first came up with that main concept of the book in 1997, I half-joked to a friend that I was planning on writing the anti-romance novel.

It reached roughly seven thousand words at that time before it was put aside. I didn't touch it again until about 2010.

Anyway, there's a hidden world behind our own, the world of Irrean. It's a place of pure will, where those who live there, the Others, can shape themselves and their home to meet their needs and desires. Others share experiences and knowledge with each other as they are all connected to each other and to Irrean itself. Interactions between humans and Others, any travel by one people to the world of the other, is forbidden.

Mason is an Other, but one who's living an existence of both self-exile and hiding, from his people and from Irrean, in the human world. He's been on Earth for a long time, but recently has fallen in love with a human woman named Shayla. From a distance, that is – he feels he is a curse upon any who know him, and refuses to contaminate Shayla's life with his nearness. And, besides, Shayla is happily engaged to a man she adores... and more than anything Mason wants Shayla to be happy.

Shayla's wedding is near and Mason has planned to move on, stop watching her, once she is married. But before that date can arrive events unfold that force him into her life, and their meeting, combined with horrors they find themselves facing, change both of their lives forever.

I think that's probably more than enough information about the story. :)



At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

The simplest answer to that would be to say that a couple teachers in elementary school redirected my interests, and Marion Zimmer Bradley cemented it.

In more detail...

In grade school, from kindergarten until about fifth grade, I drew comic books. At the end there I had a “company”, as in I had collaborated with five other kids and we were drawing and selling comics to the rest of the kids in school... and it was that level at which the school itself shut us down as we were being “disruptive.” One of my favorite teachers actually had taken aside one of my cohorts and told him he was “wasting his time” on something “so meaningless.” That got back to me and crushed me. Then, in sixth grade for a small throw-away assignment in spelling class, I turned in about ten hand-written pages about a week late for what was supposed to be a one page story and it really impressed my teacher. Another student told me he overheard the one teacher talking to another sixth grade teacher about how she would have accepted that story much later because it was so good.

So, effectively, one teacher's condemnation of drawing comic books backed by a school's attempt to keep order followed shortly thereafter by effulgent praise of my non-drawn writing shifted my young focus from drawing to writing.

A high school writing class had me submit one of my stories to Marion Zimmer Bradley's magazine... it didn't get published, but I did receive a quite long and complimentary letter from Mrs. Bradley. It was personalized enough and encouraging enough that I decided, then and there, that I was probably a decent writer and maybe I could do it for a living.  

How do you react to a bad review of your book? 

Curiosity, mostly. I mean it certainly depends on the quality of the review, and as I only have the first novel out right now I'm rather short on the number of reviews to look at. But there have been negative critiques.

First off, you have to take it in stride. On the one hand no book is going to be loved by everyone who reads it. Not one. So it isn't the end of the world if some people don't like yours. If it's well-written, you like what your wrote and believe in it, then there's likely an audience out there for it. Finding that audience is key. Romance novel fans aren't likely to enjoy graphic horror stories, and Tom Clancy's audience isn't likely to react positively to J.R.R. Tolkien's work. You get crossover fans, surely, but my point is that people like different things and to write well you have to write your book the right way for the story you are trying to tell – and doing so will by default eliminate potential readers by simply being the kind of book those readers aren't likely to enjoy. You can't write a story for absolutely everyone, and the more you try the weaker and more watered down it'll become.

I've always rebelled at the notion of “writing to an audience” because often that was used to say you should look at what is popular and fit your work to the mainstream of the moment... but if you take it to mean that what you are writing fits a certain genre, even more importantly a specific sub-genre, that then you need to write the story so that it fits well into that style of story. It's the style of story you are already telling and you want the people who enjoy those kinds of stories to enjoy yours, after all.

Of course, even science fiction fans might like Clarke but hate Asimov, so even a paranormal romance fan who dislikes your paranormal romance novel doesn't mean it's bad – just that said fan didn't enjoy it.

Secondly, there are jerks. People trolling you. People who are jealous that you finished something, put something out there for others to criticize, that they are unable to do but, deep down, they really want to. Their critiques are usually very easy to spot – they are short, very generic, don't mention specifics of your story, and tend to use emotionally charged, ad hominem attacks on the work or you, the author. These it's best to just ignore and move on.

But back to the curiosity – I want to know what it is they didn't like. I had one person read my book, Unrequited, who said she couldn't get into it partly because I had a group of people referred to as “the Others” (generic, I know – it was meant to be, but yeah... generic) and to this reader the term was “owned” by George R.R. Martin via his A Song of Ice and Fire novels. I'd never read them, though I intend to at some point in the future (I really want to watch the HBO series, mainly, but also because David Gaider of BioWare said those novels were a big influence on one of my favorite computer role-playing games of the last decade or so, Dragon Age: Origins.) So I found that interesting.

I've had a few people tell me the beginning of the novel is much slower paced and feels really different than the rest... namely the part that is all of the Amazon preview plus maybe another chapter or so. And I've had a few readers tell me that the main female protagonist, Shayla, feels too “perfect” at the beginning as well. No “Gary Stu” mentions yet, which I'm happy about (I think that gets tossed out WAY too much), and so far other than a couple very undetailed Good Reads “reviews” my book has gotten very high praise.

I'd love a lot more critical reviews, however. You can't fix your mistakes if they aren't pointed out to you... and you grow as a person by learning from your mistakes, not by basking in praise. More reviews overall would be great. 

I'll take positive ones, too, you know, if people want to give them. 

If I came to visit early in the morning would you impress me as being more like a chirpy bird or a grumpy bear?

Grumpy bear. So very much not a morning person. My wife got me a t-shirt that reads “Keep out of direct sunlight.” So, yeah.

What would you consider to be the best book you have ever read? 

That's a tough call, but I'm going to bite the bullet and say The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I love that book, and Adams is my favorite author bar none.

What are your favorite TV shows?

Above all else, JMS's Babylon 5 is my absolute favorite TV series. The intricate story-arcs, the well fleshed-out characters, the focus on story-telling over big set pieces and action sequences... I cannot think of another show that comes close to the perfection that this little low-budget syndicated gem reached.

Closest to B5 would be Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I've found in life that people either love or hate Whedon's dialog... me, I love it. The characters are strongly written, the themes of the episodes and seasons are strongly compelling, and some of my favorite characters in all of fiction come out of this series – Xander, Willow, Angel, Faith...

Following very closely behind BTVS is the Bruce Timm / Paul Dini animated series Justice League / Justice League Unlimited. I'm a comic book geek, and am not ashamed of my love of super-heroes. Cartoons (non-Japanese animated shows, at least) tend to not be a favored source of entertainment for me, however, since so many cartoons are clearly aimed solely at children. Timm and Dini did a great job with their TAS shows for Batman, Superman, etc., but I hadn't really watched them. Justice League, for whatever reason, hit at the right time to catch my attention. And it's easily better than most shows on television, period, in my opinion. Great plots, excellent characters, a serious show that never quite took itself TOO seriously – there isn't another super-hero series that comes even close to this, not even the recent crop of excellent Marvel movies.

To round this out I'll drop in an old favorite, a formative series for me – the Carl Macek “re-imagining” of three separate anime series, Robotech. This series, more than anything else, generated my interest in Japanese animation as an art form. But more than that it came at a time in my life where I was swearing off all animated works as being too childish. Understand that at the time I saw Robotech the contemporary cartoons on American channels were the likes of Care Bears, He-Man, G.I. Joe … and worse. Even an eight year old can notice and grow cynical about reused animation cells and sequences, not to mention people fighting with machine guns, missiles and even swords but no-one ever getting hurt. Robotech depicted a war in stark terms, and, while soap opera-y and science fiction, it was far more realistic than many live-action shows on prime time. People died. Relationships fell apart. Two-thirds of the way through the first third of the series the entire Earth is all but destroyed. To say I had never seen anything like that before would be an understatement. I understand there are anime purists who hate Macek and only will watch the original Macross, and that's fine... and I am painfully aware of how bad, at times, the dialog and story-telling can be in the series. But the overall experience is something that reaches a B5 level meaning to me.

What are you passionate about these days?

New media, methods of distribution, niche markets and creator – fan connections.

I've long been a fan of the internet and the world wide web, specifically how it allows people of similar, non-mainstream interests to get together and share what they love as well as how creators can have more control over their creations by targeting directly at niches that big publishers or investors would never think profitable enough to pursue. Web sites and forums were the start, followed by blogs and social media and the like – but now we are getting even more into it with sites like Amazon allowing authors to self-publish and sell with no real middle-man, and especially things like Kickstarter which allows creative people to raise money from their audience instead of from bean counters or other big money people looking at profitability and not final product.  Add to this the rise of interest in open source and Creative Commons, that rise being intricately tied to the internet I might add. Open source is based on the thought that if you allow more people access to the source code of programs then the programs can only get better, stronger, more robust as many, many minds work at fixing bugs and improving performance. And since open source let's ANYONE work with the code, everyone can profit from the efforts and works of everyone else. Creative commons, on the other hand, is sorta the anti-copyright... especially the kind of copyright espoused by corporations like Disney. People who create works and put it under Creative Commons are, in varying degrees decided by the creator(s), allowing others access to their work – free distribution sometimes, other times allowing people to alter or include the work in their own efforts with no financial gain, and some may even let others produce derivative works for profit as long as attribution is given. I firmly believe that a creative mind should stand on his or her work, not on popularity of one idea or by preventing others from also using his or her idea.

If you make a good product and let people sample it, many will still pay you afterward. Sometimes just because they appreciate what you made, and even more often because they want to support you in making more. I feel THIS is the model that truly creative works grow from... not the established model of publishers, focus groups, marketing and investors getting majority control.



Do you have a Website or Blog?

My author blog is jaymerin.com. There isn't much there yet as I tend to keep it only about my writing, but as I continue to work on my next novel more posts will appear there on a somewhat regular basis.

I do also run a genre entertainment website called In Genre at ingenre.com.




Jay Merin has had a life-long love affair with fiction. He loves when a story can take him somewhere, make him feel, and he especially loves those moments when reading a book or watching a movie where something so amazing, so well-crafted, so moving happens that he has to stop and just bask in how great experiencing that moment was.

Jay wants to share that moment, to give that moment to others. He wants his stories to hook readers, draw them into fascinating worlds and make them never want to leave. In the end, if Jay can give one person out there one of those moments with his work he will consider himself a success. The more people who experience those moments the better, of course.

For a very long time he has written various different kinds of stories for a myriad of mediums, from comic books to movie scripts. But Unrequited is the first novel length work he has finished. It is a labor of love and he dedicates it to his family who supported him so much in making sure that it got finished.