That’s right. Sometimes you can find a truly surprising deal—like the one I am offering. For the entire month of October, you can purchase TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD: The Complete Trilogy at Amazon for a cool ninety-nine cents!
So, if you haven’t gotten into the dark, twisted world of Dave Pulaski yet, I suggest you skip the Cinnamon Spice Tic Tacs and buy this book instead.
Oh, and one last thing—when you’ve completed the journey, please leave a review. Good or bad—doesn’t matter. Reviews count.
There is a fantastic book from my favorite reads shelf that hit movie theaters this weekend, Pride & Prejudice and Zombies. If you liked that book, or if you like face-paced zombie thriller/horror novels you might very well like the Steven Ramirez’s Even the Dead Will Bleed.
My Initial Thoughts:
When I was given this book as an option to review I was hesitant at first because it is the third book in the Tell Me When I’m Dead Collection by Ramirez. I worried that I would be put into the middle of the story and have no idea what was going on. The back of the book blurb intrigued me so much I thought I would go ahead and see if the book could be picked up and read without reading the other two books first. It does not disappoint and can definitely stand on its own without its predecessors.
Quick Plot Summary:
Dave is a man on a mission to kill the man responsible for the deaths of his wife, friends, and many others. He has lost everything and believes he has nothing else to do but take the bad guy down with him if it comes down to it. He has prepared to carry out his suicide mission, and yet the undercurrent of something coming. Things don’t always work out the way you imagine, hope, or plan. Dave finds this out first hand and finds himself thrust into the role of bodyguard for a Russian girl who escapes the very person who Dave is hunting. The hunter becomes the hunted and Dave finds him mission changes. Will Dave find something to live for after losing everything? Will the Russian girl evade those that are hunting her? Can faith and determination help you survive genetically modified super zombies? You’ll have to read Even the Dead Will Bleed to find out.
Just a quick note to let you know that my horror thriller series TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD is coming to Kindle Unlimited. I’ll be talking more about this development in a future post.
What does this mean for readers now? Well, the main thing is, the books will now be exclusive to Amazon. No need to fret, though! If you are a KU subscriber, you can read all three books as part of your subscription. And if you aren’t, I will be offering occasional discounts on the series.
You can check out the series here. Looking forward to connecting with more readers.
Check out this Facebook event, which is happening on Friday, November 6, 2015. This is just one incredible day in the week-long Virtual FantasyCon, which runs November 1—8. Why am I excited about Urban Friday? Because I will be there, chatting with authors, artists and fans about edgy, urban horror thrillers. Oh, and I will be giving away copies of Books One, Two and Three of TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD.
Come meet all the fantasy authors who write Urban Fantasy as well as the bloggers and artists who take part in this genre. Participants include …
Jaq D Hawkins
Jason P Crawford
Jen Leigh – Fantasyworks Publishing
Kara Ashley Dey
Lu J Whitley
Victoria Foster – Artist
And if you can’t make it Friday, there are still two more days of fun!
I can see why this book is popular—and why it’s headed for the big screen. (Supposedly, it went into production this past summer.) I’m sure with the right cast, the movie could be a lot of fun. Oh, how I wish Roddy McDowall were still alive to play Dr. Olivet! Never mind. Maybe Brian Cox is available.
I only had a couple of quibbles with the story. Mattie sure has a lot of guys in her life who she thinks are “the one.” Hey, maybe that’s sixteen-year-old girls. Who am I to judge? That, and the ending is a little convoluted. No spoilers here, but I thought the reveal was a bit messy. These are minor points, though, so please don’t let them stop you from reading this very entertaining book.
Cherry blossom lipstick: check Smokey eyes: check Skinny jeans: check Dead kid in the mirror: check
For sixteen year old Mattie Hathaway, this is her normal everyday routine. She’s been able to see ghosts since her mother tried to murder her when she was five years old. No way does she want anyone to know she can talk to spooks. Being a foster kid is hard enough without being labeled a freak too.
Normally, she just ignores the ghosts and they go away. That is until she see’s the ghost of her foster sister … Sally.
Everyone thinks Sally’s just another runaway, but Mattie knows the truth—she’s dead. Murdered. Mattie feels like she has to help Sally, but she can’t do it alone. Against her better judgment, she teams up with a young policeman, Officer Dan, and together they set out to discover the real truth behind Sally’s disappearance.
Only to find out she’s dealing with a much bigger problem, a serial killer, and she may be the next victim …
Will Mattie be able to find out the truth before the killer finds her?
I grew up in the 80s. It was a magical time when bug-eyed, glowing-fingered aliens crashed in suburban back yards, when heroes rode luckdragons, when David Bowie danced with goblin puppets, when nightmare creatures battled for the fate of a flawed purple gemstone … well, you get the idea.
For me, the creatures of science fiction and fantasy are just as compelling as the main characters in the story. Anybody writing in the genre knows how important world-building is. Part of good world-building is creating believable creatures for your distant planet or magical realm.
Here are some things to consider when designing your monsters from the claws up:
Magical or Cryptozoological?
Is your creature born or conjured? Did it hatch from an egg, or did a rabbi scoop some mud together and slap a sign on its head? The way a creature comes into being tells a lot about what its habits will be like, where it lives, what it subsists on, etc. Magical creatures don’t have to be as convincing from a biological standpoint—or stand up to close scrutiny at all, for that matter:
Don’t feed a mogwai after midnight. Um, isn’t it technically always “after midnight”?
How the hell does a Pegasus fly? Does it have hollow bones like a bird?
What about Beholders? How do they—ahhh, you know what? Never mind.
As magical creatures, it’s part of their charm. But if we’re talking about an animal that is born or hatched, this takes a little more thought.
What Is Your World Like?
What is your world’s climate like, its ecosystem, its culture? Animals adapt to their environment to survive. Consider how the animal might have evolved in relation to where it lives. Is the animal native to the area you’re writing about or did they come from someplace else? If they’re not native, how did they get there? How do they interact with other species?
Some of my favorite fantasy beings are the elephant-like Mulefa from Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass. Now, it helps that he was writing them from the point of view of a scientist who made keen observations regarding their anatomy, habitat, social behavior, etc. But Pullman obviously put a lot of thought into their ecology. A species of pod-bearing tree combined with some solidified lava beds gives the Mulefa the means to move—and I don’t mean that in the sense that they use pods for transportation. I mean they have evolved in such a way that they now require the pods to peregrinate, attaching them to spurs on their legs and zooming around on them like Tony Hawk.
I was blown away by the level of detail, planning, imagination and originality the Mulefa required. How in the world did someone dream something like that up?
Real Creatures, Alive or Extinct
Start with real critters. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but coming up with good, convincing and memorable creatures for your book has to be more than a Horse of a Different Color (enchanting though that rainbow-hued equine was, he was still just a horse with a dye-job).
I co-author a series called The Order of the Four Sons with Coyote Kishpaugh. It takes place across multiple dimensions. In the second book, the heroes find themselves marooned in an inhospitable, desert world called Carcosa. Keeping the Mulefa firmly in mind as we began to design the world, we gave a great deal of thought to what sort of flora and fauna could thrive under its harsh conditions. We researched animals and plants that live in the Australian and Saharan deserts, as well as Death Valley. To give the animals an otherworldly bent, we turned mainly to creatures that have gone extinct like the Tasmanian tiger for inspiration.
We also took into consideration the symbolism of the place. We have stranded the heroes in a world where everything is either aggressive or toxic. We looked at some of the fiercest-looking desert dwellers we could find, like the Solifugae, an order of desert spiders that can get quite large and look like an ungodly mixture of arachnid and scorpion, with pale, segmented bodies and pincer-like mandibles. They’re not terribly threatening to humans, but the point is, they look scary.
Another type of creature we looked at was some sort of animal to transport people around our deadly fantasy desert. Ultimately, we found our way to tapirs, an endangered South American animal with a prehensile snout (maybe Pullman influenced me even more than I realized!). Related to horses and rhinos, tapirs are decent runners, so with some alteration, we thought they would make fine pack animals. In the course of researching them, we found out that tapirs appear in Asian folklore. In Korean, their name is maek, so we named the creatures “meks.”
Finally, there are the real, live animals that share space with you. I can’t tell you how many creatures in my oeuvre have been influenced by an ugly, runty, squinty-eyed, foul-tempered little cat I found by the side of the road one day and decided to bring home. She has way more attitude than a five-pound bundle of dirty-looking orange-brown fur ought to have, but she’s my little beast, and I love her. Without her, I wouldn’t have stories full of dragons, mermaids, ehlems and man-eating blobs. At least once a day, I pay homage to my little feline muse with offerings of tasty treats. She seems as pleased with this arrangement as I am.
So all those hilarious pet stories you love to tell at parties? Yeah, turn those into fantastical adventures.
Barring that …
Tap into Some Folklore
There’s an entire world of myths, legends, fairy tales and folklore from which to draw inspiration. From kitsunes to skin walkers, from djinn to Baba Yaga—there’s always some creature or entity begging to be remade into a new story.
Obviously, you have the perennial favorites: vampires, werewolves and zombies. Personally, I find those to be a bit tired, but even they can have new life breathed into them—reanimated, if you will. (I know, I know. Feel free to throw things.)
To use another example from our books, in The Order of the Four Sons, we have an Eastern European sorceress who practices necromancy. Eastern European folklore is rich with blood-suckers and the undead. We came up with creatures called eretics, a sort of zombie en flambé. The amount and type of magic it takes to raise and sustain them burns their flesh, so they’re blackened, red and quite disgusting as they lumber about, flaking off patches of skin and doing their mistress’ bidding.
Another resource is the good ol’ D&D monster manual. I’m not saying to blatantly rip something wholesale from the Eberron or Forgotten Realms playbooks or whatever. What I am encouraging you to do is a monster mashup—create composites. Synthesize. It’s amazing what sort of literary Frankenstein might emerge. A fang here, a bit of drool there, some galvanic action and voila! Your creature will be up, wreaking havoc on a poor, unsuspecting populace in no time.
I hope you find my thoughts on monster-making helpful. Thanks for reading, and best of luck dreaming up your own ghoulies, ghosties and three-legged beasties!
For centuries, two ancient, magical sects, the Order of the Four Sons of Horus and Starry Wisdom, have battled for possession of the sacred, powerful Staff of Solomon. Whoever possesses the staff can open doors to other dimensions—or rip open the very fabric of existence.
The staff was broken into pieces and scattered across the cosmos.
Now, a member of the Order, Fernando Rios, has disappeared in a small Missouri town.
When a team is sent to investigate, they discover that Rios was close to finding one of the lost segments.
The problem is, he wasn’t the only one.
The Order of the Four Sons by Coyote Kishpaugh and Lauren Scharhag is a classic tale of good versus evil. An epic, magical journey of fantasy and adventure.
Join members of the team, Colonel JD Garnett, novice mage Kate West, Detective Ryan Murphy, scholar Doug Grigori, and field techs Bill Welsh and Cecil Morgan, as they race to stop evil from destroying not just Earth, but a myriad of worlds.
About the Author
Lauren Scharhag is a writer of fiction and poetry. With Coyote Kishpaugh, she is the co-author of The Order of the Four Sons series. She lives in Kansas City, MO with her husband, two cats and a squinty-eyed beastling. You can find Lauren on Twitter, on Facebook and on her blog, www.laurenscharhag.blogspot.com.
… and give them an “education with a world of possibilities.”
Are you ready to take to the skies? Then welcome to Angelic Airlines! Come join the adventures of Captain Frankie and the Angelic Airlines flying angel as they travel across the world to some of the most popular, entertaining and educational places in the world. Captain Frankie is waiting for you to book your ticket, safely stow your bags and open your eyes to the beautiful places created for all of us to visit in My First Travel Book.
About the Author
Anna Othitis lived and was raised in the beautiful land and country of Zimbabwe, Africa (home will always be home. She left all of her life long memories, endless charity work and good people behind vowing that she will continue supporting the needy children in her land Zimbabwe, Africa and beyond. After traveling long and short distances from the East coast to the West coast twice she and her family eventually found their sense of belonging and final settling destination in New Jersey, USA. You can find Anna on Twitter, at Goodreads, on Facebook and at her Amazon author page.
Simon Oneill is one of my favorite authors. I’ve been trying for years to figure out how his brain works. Forget it! His books are always fresh, funny and full of surprises.
So, I’m thrilled to let you know about his latest novel, Flip Side, which will be published later this month. Here’s the scoop …
Dead gangster returns to living world to correct his mistakes only to cause more problems for the ones he loves.
Johnny Knight is on top of his game as kingpin drug lord. His enemies are either dead or licking their wounds. Now tired of all the killing, he wants to live his dream in the Caribbean with his family.
Johnny’s dream turns to a nightmare when the ghost of his father appears, causing chaos and mayhem. His Old Man must correct a mistake he made and this means Johnny’s dream will never be fulfilled.
The ghost shows his son the error of his ways, making Johnny weak in the eyes of his enemies. Johnny’s empire crumbles around him. All he has is his dream.
This is ‘The Sopranos’ meets Scrooge meets ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ full of sex and violence and Jimmy the wise ghost who must do his best to set things right or return time and time again until his family’s problems are resolved. Only then can he be happy on the Flip Side.
Tough gangster Jimmy Knight is a ghost sent back to the living world to sort out his family problems that he left behind. These problems have festered in his soul making him unsuitable for the Flip Side where peaceful spirits can live out their dreams. The biggest soul crusher for Jimmy is getting revenge on the hitman that snuffed him out and to do this he must reveal himself to his youngest son, mob boss – Johnny. But there are certain rules to adhere to in the Flip Side. A ghost can enter a family member’s mind and use memories and words of wisdom to alter the course of their life or imminent death. But the closer that person gets to death the more visible the ghost becomes and when they can touch their beloved dead family member they are ready to flip.
Ten years ago, Jimmy is on his deathbed, a bloody bullet hole in his chest. Standing over him are his two sons, Johnny and Chalky. With his dying breath, Jimmy chooses his younger son, Johnny, the more stable, the man with the savvy. The look on Chalky’s face says it all – the drugs business was his to have as he is the oldest. Jimmy flipped, but his baggage was heavy not knowing who killed him, it gnawed at him not knowing. Now he has to return to his chosen offspring and fix the mess he has left behind.
Ten tough years later Johnny has stayed on top of his drugs empire. His enemies are either dead or licking their wounds and in no fit state to harm him. But of late, Johnny has been having strange dreams, annoying flashbacks to the days when Jimmy ruled the roost and even worse he has heard that haunting music more and more often – LA BAMBA – music played at his wedding! Chalky has been inside since their father’s wake, since he beat to death some geezer for not paying his respects to the old man’s remains. Chalky loves to use his hands, he’s a real genuine hands on kind of guy. Johnny accepts the Old Man’s intrusion in his head and shows signs of weakness when talking to himself. Jimmy uses La Bamba to warn Johnny of imminent death.
Chalky’s hatred of his brother sets in motion traumatic events as he does a Clint Eastwood on Johnny’s cool rat-pack gang and his most ruthless enemy – Rosa, Queen of the Ganja boss of The Yardies. The gangs go to war each side manipulated by Chalky’s devious tactics.
There are plenty of situations where Jimmy uses his music of chance and wise words to alter the inevitable course of Johnny’s life. He shows Johnny what might have been and also what could possibly be in the near future with swift acts of ghostly magic to prevent that bullet with Johnny’s name on it finding the target. But with each attack on Johnny’s life, Johnny gets closer to his father, seeing him, having a joke with him until finally touching him. Johnny learns what it is to be a loving father even when his love falls on hatred and vengeful family members.
Families are ripped apart by death and betrayal, plans within plans, greed and avarice fueling a war that can only end one way for Johnny, unless his old man’s magic can save him.
About the Author
Simon Oneill resides in South Wales UK with his wife Shirley Anne. He is a writer of all things paranormal fantasy in both the YA and Adult categories. He loves to collect fossils when not writing, and will often be found combing the local beach for fossils and shells. Or he can sometimes be found in a local pub enjoying a pint of real ale. You can find Simon on Twitter, on Facebook and at his Amazon author page.
Today, I’m pleased to have as my guests Peggy Williams and Mary Joy Johnson, who together write under the pen name M. J. Williams and are the authors of Books One and Two of the “On the Road …” mystery series, On the Road to Death’s Door and On the Road to Where the Bells Toll.
Q. Welcome to you both. Mystery is a genre that seems to appeal to both young readers as well as adults. Personally, I love them, though I haven’t written one myself. So, tell us what’s unique about your stories.
A. Our “On the Road …” mystery series features a retired couple, Emily and Stan, who travel in an inherited, second-hand RV. The most frequent comments we get about our main characters are that they are the kind of people our readers would “love to sit and have a drink with.” We’ve sort of flipped traditional roles and put Emily in the lead when it comes to investigating, because of her law enforcement background. Stan, a retired history professor, is research oriented and more contemplative than his action-oriented wife. They are also grandparents, and in our second book, On the Road to Where the Bells Toll, which takes place in Boston, reviewers have consistently mentioned enjoying the interaction between Emily and Stan and their granddaughters, one of whom is a typical—if moody—teenager.
Q. That’s funny. So, it sounds like you are really contrasting the two generations which, I’m sure, makes for some interesting conflict. Since there are two of you, can you tell us a little bit about the writing process?
A. The process of writing is actually an evolving process of learning how to write as a team. We do all our initial brainstorming and plotting together, something we happened onto while writing our first book, On the Road to Death’s Door. We depend hugely on outlining—using a day-by-day and scene-by-scene outline format that we’ve designed. And we’ve just started using Google docs so that we can work simultaneously side-by-side or from wherever each of us happens to be at the moment. However, once we have a detailed enough outline, we each take a chapter and begin writing solo, often leapfrogging one another from one chapter to the next. When the first draft is done, we sit down together again and our individual voices pretty much automatically meld into one voice as we revise and edit subsequent drafts, just as we’ve done for this interview.
Q. Wow, you’re both way more disciplined than I am! In terms of the theme, what are the one or two things you are hoping the reader will come away with in each book?
A. Because we set our stories in colorful, current-day settings with the mysteries having historical connections, we hope the reader comes away with a deeper curiosity of a time and place, as well as the satisfaction that comes with a good whodunit. Relationship is another important theme for us. We find ourselves exploring the transitions that come later in life. However, readers of all ages can empathize with the interactions between Emily and Stan and between the couple and their friends and family.
Q. What are you working on now, and is it in the same vein as your current mystery series?
A. We are hard at work on the third book in our series, On the Road to the Deadly Apostles, which takes Emily and Stan and their RV up to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Lake Superior, just off northern Wisconsin. There they become ensnared in a sting involving Native American artifact trafficking. We are not quite sure how it all turns out yet.
Q. That sounds exciting! Best of luck to both of you, and thank you.
In this second book in the “On the Road …” mystery series, Stan and Emily pack up the RV and head to Boston for some R & R with the grandkids and a chance to immerse themselves in colonial history. But their Fourth of July celebration comes to an abrupt halt when they stumble over a body on the Boston Esplanade and then another hanging in the tower of the Old North Church. Now the couple must unravel a tangle of forged clues and flush out the perpetrator before their own untimely epitaphs are written onto the historical landscape.
About the Authors
M. J. Williams is the pen name of sisters-in-law Peggy Joque Williams and Mary Joy Johnson (nee Williams). Peggy is an elementary school teacher and freelance writer. Mary Joy is a retired college professor and professional quilter. Their “On the Road…” mystery series features RVers, Emily and Stan Remington. Both writers live in Madison, Wisconsin.