Posted in book news

Book Announcement: Identity by Anthony Avina

Hello there everyone. This is Author Anthony Avina, and today I am thrilled to be able to announce the upcoming release of my novel, Identity. This will be the first book published through the amazing team at Sirens Call Publications. I first and foremost want to thank the amazing team of editors at Sirens Call Publications for taking the time to work with me to get this book to the place it’s at today. 

The link will take you to the official eZine for Sirens Call Publications, where I share my book announcement and the first two chapters of the novel on pages 129-140. I talk about what inspired this story, what the story is about and what readers can expect. It was my most challenging yet rewarding writing experience to date, and after all this time I am so thrilled to be able to share this story with you all. 

The book is due to be released in early 2020, possibly within the next few months. I will be sharing more with you all as the book finalizes and we begin moving forward with the publication. This is a dream come true, and I want to thank everyone who has supported me over the years on this journey. From the authors who encouraged me and the readers who took a leap of faith on my early works, to my amazing family for always sharing their love and support for me over the years. I hope this is the first step in a long career, and no matter what I want to thank Sirens Call Publications for taking a chance on my story and to you, the readers, who take the time to purchase your own copies and read my novel. I hope you all enjoy it, and I can’t wait to share this journey with you all in the months to come. Enjoy this book announcement and the collection of wonderful stories featured in this month’s eZine!


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Posted in Book Related Blog Posts

Best Books Of 2019

Hello everyone! This is Author Anthony Avina, and today I am here to share with you all the top reads of 2019 on my website. I’ve reviewed over 160 books this year, and as we close out not only 2019 but the decade, I thought it appropriate as we head into 2020 to look back on 2019 and see what were the top books of the year. So without further adieu, here are my top picks of 2019! 


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Best YA Romance: Again, but Better by Christine Riccio 

A beautiful story from emerging author Christine Riccio about the choices we make in life, and what we would do if we could go back and change things. A story of following your dreams, living the life you want and finding love, and how hard a person is willing to fight to hold onto that dream and that love. 


Best YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy: Nexus (The Androma Sage #2) by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings

This exciting concluding chapter to the Androma Saga duology was a whirlwind sci-fi adventure in the YA genre. Authors Lindsay Cummings and Sasha Alsberg did a wonderful job closing this story out, creating a universe under the forced rule of a pair of siblings that seek control, but as a young outlaw turned hero seeks to save her makeshift family and stop this threat, the siblings find they are more pawns than true rulers in this quest, and an even greater threat is set to emerge on the galaxy. A must read sci-fi adventure! 


Best Fantasy: The Second Life of Eddie Coyne by Louis K Lowy

A brilliant fantasy driven narrative from author Louis K Lowy, which showcases the downfall of a father and husband and the journey he takes to find the true meaning of life and a life well lived. Finding what matters most in life and holding onto it as the protagonist struggles to find their way back home again, this is a fantastic read for 2019. 


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Best Mystery/Crime: A Shattered Lens: A Detective Preach Everson Novel by Layton Green

If you are looking for a great murder/mystery series to sink your teeth into, then the Detective Preach Everson series is for you. Author Layton Green’s second novel is a masterpiece of the genre, expertly crafting a murder mystery that pushes the protagonist to their limit both professionally and personally. This book serves as both the perfect continuation of the series and a great book for newcomers to enjoy as well.


Best Comic Book/Graphic Novel: Spider-Geddon by Christos Gage

While there were many great comic books in 2019, and many that I still need to read, out of all the comics I read that were published this year, my all time favorite had to be Spider-Geddon. A great sequel to the epic Spider-Verse storyline, the return of the Inheritors and the imminent threat they pose to the Spider-heroes of the Marvel Multiverse make this a thrilling read. Spider-Man is an essential hero to the larger Marvel Universe, and the comic book industry as a whole, and so exploring not only his story but the story of several other spider heroes in the multiverse is always a thrill. Add the terrifying and powerful threat of the Inheritors to the mix, and this storyline makes for a wonderful read. 


Best Contemporary Romance/Fiction: If Only by Melanie Murphy 

One of my all time favorite reads of 2019, Melanie Murphy’s debut fiction novel was a brilliant novel. The characters were engaging, the fantasy element of seeing various lives if the protagonist had made different choices was a great addition to the plot and yet it didn’t overpower the overall theme and romance of the story whatsoever. Its a story many people our age can identify with and the author’s voice and tone in the novel is entertaining, engaging and refreshing to read, making this a must read of 2019. 


Best Dystopian Thriller: A Single Light (The Line Between #2) by Tosca Lee

A great ending to another brilliant duology, author Tosca Lee has created a wonderful dystopian thriller that showcases the continued struggle for survival in the face of a massive breakout. Months after surviving the events of book one, the protagonists must fight for survival in a crumbling society, and as secrets threaten to tear them apart, they must find that which makes life worth living in the face of great danger once more. A must read novel of 2019!


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Best Science Fiction: Hybrid by Rebecca Henry

My all time favorite sci-fi read of 2019, my good friend author Rebecca Henry has created a fantastic story that delves into the best aspects of the sci-fi genre. Secret government operations, powerful aliens who have influenced society, time and space travel and so much more. It’s a sci-fi fans dream read and I highly recommend reading my full review to get a sense of this amazing novel. 


Best YA Historical Fiction: The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young

If you are a fan of History’s Vikings or the legends of Norse Mythology mixed with historical settings then you will absolutely love Adrienne Young’s “The Girl The Sea Gave Back”. The novel is a sequel of sorts to “Sky in the Deep”, and expertly crafts a story of a young girl considered an outcast her entire life and burdened by knowledge of fate, and a young man striving to make a better life for his people years after the end of a decades long war. Its a great way of continuing the story of the original novel while focusing on new characters and a new period of time in this wonderful world the author has created. 


Best Mystery Crime Thriller: The Sixth Wicked Child (4MK Thriller #3) by J.D. Barker

The exciting final chapter in one of the best crime thrillers of the decade, author J.D. Barker’s “The Sixth Wicked Child” is the brilliant concluding story in the 4MK Trilogy. The shocking game of cat and mouse between the protagonist and 4MK is taken to new heights in this novel, as readers are forced to examine whether or not the series protagonist is the hero they’ve been led to believe, or will he turn out to be the villain all along? A twisted tale that pushes everyone to their limit, this was a phenomenal read and one of the top books of 2019 for me personally.


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Best Nonfiction: Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley by Carol Es

Last but certainly not least is author Carol Es’s book “Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley”. A heartbreaking and emotional journey, this non-fiction read was one of the best of 2019, and took readers through the author’s life as well as through the harrowing journey of being caught in the midst of a cult. It’s a gritty and realistic novel that will catch the reader off guard at times, but is well worth the read. Highly recommend! 

Posted in reviews

The Heartless Divine by Varsha Ravi Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

The past bleeds into the present as reincarnated lovers bring back a history of tragedy, pain and blood in author Varsha Ravi’s novel “The Heartless Divine”. 


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The Synopsis

In this unexpected twist on mythology inspired by Sangam India, reincarnated lovers find themselves bound together, connected to their past by a centuries old tragedy that only one of them remembers.

In the ruthless martial empire of Naja, Suri is the crown’s unfailing blade. But the princess dreams of a life exploring the lands beyond the borders, unshackled by blood. The king and queen offer her freedom, at a price: marriage to a king she’s meant to kill, and the death of Athri, a kingdom her family once nearly destroyed.

Her only obstacle lies in the mountains above the Athrian capital of Marai, where a young prophet sees a world struck by catastrophe—a world where a girl lies dead in the temple of the fire god, and the city lies burning below.

Centuries later, Suri lives with no recollection of her past lives. Haunted by her family’s deaths eighteen years ago, Suri sees the boy bleeding gold on her doormat as an opportunity to unravel the mystery of the car crash that took their lives. But not all gifts are created equal, and the boy soon proves to be more trouble than he’s worth, a dangerous link back to a world of gods and wishes.


The Review

A well written deep dive into ancient mythology and incredible character development, author Varsha Ravi has created a masterpiece fantasy novel set in the mythology and folktale genre. From the book’s first pages, the author immediately draws the reader in, setting up the mystery of both characters while introducing the air of myth and legend into the narrative. 

The author seamlessly runs the narrative back and forth between the past and the present, between myth and the novel’s reality as readers are given a deep dive into a mythology that is rarely explored in modern day literature. A great story that speaks of love, blood and heartbreak, the novel introduces a great cast of characters that showcases the duality of the protagonists history and their present. 


The Verdict

An evenly paced read filled with action, romance and heavy doses of legends, author Varsha Ravi has created a fantastic modern day fantasy novel that will give fans of mythology a narrative to deep dive into with ease. A wonderful read that keeps the reader engaged throughout every chapter, this is a must read novel of 2019 that readers should grab their copies of now as we head into 2020. Don’t forget to check out Varsha Ravi’s novel “The Heartless Divine” for yourselves now!

Rating: 10/10


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About the Author

Varsha Ravi is a senior at California High School. She was born and raised in Illinois, before moving to North Carolina. She is currently living in the Bay Area, California.

As a kid, she read voraciously, encouraging her to attempt writing her first stories at a young age. Even as she grew older, creative writing continued to be a passion of hers.

The Heartless Divine is her first novel.

www.varsharavi.com

Posted in reviews

Payback – Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge by Steve Bassett Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Two homicide detectives in the late 40’s find themselves in over their heads when three victims tied to Hitler sympathizers are found with their bodies mutilated, and tensions begin running high both personally and professionally for the detectives in author Steve Bassett’s novel, “Payback – Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge”. 


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The Synopsis

Payback – Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge, the second book of the Passaic River Trilogy, is a drama so intense that it would be improbable anywhere but 1946 Newark. Across the country millions were dealing with the loss of loved ones, and horrible memories were being buried for the greater good. But not in Newark. Two mutilated bodies were pulled from the putrid Passaic River, and the sawed-off arm of a third man was found neatly wrapped and tied at the city dump. The three victims were members of the German-American Bund, Hitler lovers who had to pay the price for supporting a murderous madman. Someone was sending a message that only revenge could clear the mind and free the soul.

It didn’t take long for Police Lieutenant Nick Cisco and his partner, Sergeant Kevin McClosky, two veteran homicide cops [first introduced to readers in “Father Divine’s Bikes” the first book of the Trilogy], to realize they were in over their heads as they grappled with ambition, greed, racial tension, international intrigue, and a powerful church on the take. The three murders could not have come at a worse time for Cisco. His wife, Connie, had left him, and his close-knit Catholic family had disowned him because of his affair with his lover, Grace.

To add to the chaos, Cisco learned that he could have another homicide on his plate. Father Terry Nolan cornered Cisco at the city morgue and demanded his help. The senior counsel for M.L. Kraus, manufacturer of the poisonous gas Zyklon B, and his German wife were severely beating a Catholic orphan they were seeking to adopt. The Archdiocese had weighed Kraus’ huge cash contributions against a helpless girl’s plight and did nothing.

Kraus, facing a host of war crime indictments in Germany, was fighting for its massive pre-war chemical holdings in New Jersey. A federal court in Newark would soon decide Kraus’ fate. The outcome of the case would have a bearing not only on the company’s future, but Europe’s as well. Watching it all from the banks of the Passaic River was the dark specter of a murderous madman seeking further revenge.

The Review

A phenomenal story of grisly murders, tensions from a long fought and gruesome war, and so much more take center stage in this truly wonderful novel. The story echoes the great days of crime fiction and noir style storytelling, highlighting an era of upheaval and change in the United States and around the world in the wake of the Second World War. 

The novel focuses heavily on story through characterization. The book is filled with rich and diverse characters, each bringing their own set of problems and history that enhance the overall story and make the ongoing investigations and actions of other characters have much more emphasis on the overall story. Combined with the theme and genre of the story, this characterization draws the reader in immediately and gets the reader hooked on the action of the novel throughout every chapter. 

The Verdict

This is a must read crime fiction read of 2019. A high octane drama with in-depth character development and edge of your seat thrills, this novel is the perfect winter read for any fan of the crime thriller genre. Those who love the classic noir style storytelling will absolutely love this novel, and despite it being the second novel in a series, the reader will find this novel stands on its own and is easily able to be absorbed. An evenly paced read overall, be sure to grab your copies of “Payback – Tales of Love, Hate and Revenge” by Stephen Bassett today!

Rating: 10/10


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About the Author

Born and raised in Newark’s crime-ridden Third Ward, although far removed during a career as a multiple award-winning journalist, Steve Bassett has always been the proud sobriquet Jersey Guy. He has been legally blind for almost a decade, but having this hasn’t slowed him down.

Bassett has written two nonfiction books, The Battered Rich and Golden Ghetto: How the Americans and French Fell In and Out of Love During the Cold War. Continuing with his newest fiction release, Father Divine’s Bikes (a Finalist in the 2018 International Book Award in the Cross-Genre Fiction category), readers share in his insights that earned him three Emmys for investigative documentaries, and the California Bar Association’s first Medallion Award for Distinguished Reporting on the Administration of Justice. He now resides in Placitas, New Mexico with his wife, Darlene.

https://mobile.twitter.com/SteveBassett19

https://www.facebook.com/stevebassettworld/

https://www.instagram.com/stevebassettauthor

Posted in reviews

Things Undone: A Collection of Horror Stories (The Shattered God Mythos) by Travis Liebert Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Gods and monsters beyond comprehension drive people to madness in author Travis Liebert’s novel “Things Undone: A Collection of Horror Stories (The Shattered God Mythos)”. 


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The Synopsis

All things unknown and unknowable are coming to light…

Creatures that never should have existed in the first place return to our world.

Children harbor broken gods, spirits prey on the weak, and men are subject to their most base instincts as madness overtakes them.

Everything comes undone as the world is picked apart by gods and monsters beyond fathom.

Get this collection of 18 horror stories now and discover the terrors that lurk within. 

The Review

This collection of horror stories is wonderfully presented. A chilling mixture of suspense, scares and creature feature storytelling, the collection brings some of the darkest and scariest tales to life in expert detail. 

The author does a fantastic job of bringing well rounded characters to life in a very short amount of time, as each tale delves into new creepy avenues that readers will be shocked to read. From the first pages where a serial killer’s tale takes an even darker turn, to a young boy who discovers a local legend may hold more weight than he could have imagined and much more, this collection does a great job of creating a spine-chilling atmosphere with every story. 

The Verdict

This is a must read anthology for any horror fan! One of 2019’s top anthologies, author Travis Liebert’s “Things Undone” is a whirlwind read for horror fans everywhere. A fantastic blend of character development, a well built mythos and plenty of horror filled endings that will scare and shock readers, horror fans should grab their copies of this book immediately for the holiday season. 

Rating: 10/10


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About the Author

Travis Liebert is a 20 year old Louisville native and member of the widely invasive species “Homo sapiens sapiens.” His hobbies include reading, writing, and anything else that indicates he’s intelligent and literate. He went to Trinity High School where he openly brandished his repertoire of useless knowledge as captain of the quiz bowl team. He is now a perpetually absent student at the University of Louisville. You can find him on instagram as @travisliebert.

His email is travismliebert@gmail.com. Please refrain from sending him hate mail, as he would prefer to just meet you in person and get punched in the face. If you would like to kick his teeth in, please contact his agent to arrange a meeting.

Posted in reviews

The Kill Club by Wendy Heard Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman trying to save her brother’s life discovers a dark secret in author Wendy Heard’s The Kill Club. 


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The Synopsis

Jazz will stop at nothing to save her brother.

Their foster mother, Carol, has always been fanatical, but with Jazz grown up and out of the house, Carol takes a dangerous turn that threatens thirteen-year-old Joaquin’s life. Over and over, child services fails to intervene, and Joaquin is running out of time.

Then Jazz gets a blocked call from someone offering a solution. There are others like her—people the law has failed. They’ve formed an underground network of “helpers,” each agreeing to eliminate the abuser of another. They’re taking back their power and leaving a trail of bodies throughout Los Angeles—dubbed the Blackbird Killings. If Jazz joins them, they’ll take care of Carol for good.

All she has to do is kill a stranger. 



The Review

The tension and action that makes a great thriller is present from the first page, jumping out at the reader and introducing this new world that truly tests a person’s morality. The question of whether taking a life to save another is justified really comes to life as the reader dives further and further into this world. 

The character development and relationships are what really make this novel so great, highlighting the tough reality of the law being unable to prove the harmful acts people inflict on one another, and those who take the law into their own hands as a result. The desperation to save those individuals that people love from harmful individuals can drive them to do the most chilling things, and is showcased throughout the entirety of this novel. 


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The Verdict

A must read thriller during this holiday season, The Kill Club by Wendy Heard is filled with suspense, fantastic character arcs and a shocking twist that will change the nature of the novel moving forward, leaving fans on the edge of their seats. Be sure to grab your copies today!

Rating: 10/10



About the Author

Wendy Heard, author of Hunting Annabelle, was born in San Francisco and has lived most of her life in Los Angeles. When not writing, she can be found hiking the Griffith Park trails, taking the Metro and then questioning this decision, and haunting local bookstores.

Buy Links:

Harlequin

Apple Books

Barnes & Noble

Books-a-Million

Google Play

Indie Bound

Social Links:

Author website

Twitter: @wendydheard

Instagram: @wendydheard

Facebook: @wendydheard



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Q&A with Wendy Heard

• Do you plan your books in advance or let them develop as you write?

I plan them for a long time before I start writing them, and I’m constantly revising my outline, but the plot and characters do develop quite a bit along the way.  

• What does the act of writing mean to you?

It means everything to me! I have been writing for a really long time, since childhood. Words and story have always been the way I’ve made sense of things. I’m constantly making up narratives for people and events around me. 

• Have you ever had a character take over a story, and if so, who was it and why?

Jazz held THE KILL CLUB hostage for months because I couldn’t get her to talk to me! She just kept crossing her arms across her chest and glaring at me. She did NOT want a book written about her, and I really needed her inner monologue for that first person POV! Eventually I started mentally arguing with her, and then in fighting with her and hearing her side, I started to get ALL of her IM. It was an interesting experience, trying to engage with a character in different ways until they cracked open. 

• Which one of The Kill Club characters was the hardest to write and why?

Sofia. Her story is so much like so many others I’ve known. It’s quietly and invisibly tragic, her pain at the loss of her child so sharp.

• Which character in any of your books (The Kill Club or otherwise) is dearest to you and why?

Jazz! By far, Jazz is my favorite character. In my mind, she’s kind of the spirit of Los Angeles. She’s been through so much, and her sense of humor and lack of entitlement gets her through it all. She just continuously makes the best of every hand she’s dealt, moves forward, and doesn’t engage in self-pity. 

• Do you have stories on the back burner that are just waiting to be written?

Let me get out my banjo. YES. I have so many. I have a YA that’s waiting to be written after I finish this current work in progress, which I’ve stopped and started a bunch of times, really honing the concept to get it just where I want it. But I’m constantly coming up with book ideas and having to tell them “not right now, darlings!”

• What has been the hardest thing about publishing? What has been the most fun?

Publishing is not for the faint of heart. For me, the beast is always self-doubt, and in a business that is full of rejection, that can really eat at you. It’s so easy to get out of balance and give our creative projects the power to define us. It’s important for anyone selling their art to remember to nurture a healthy life away from it, because art is a fickle master. It will come and go over your lifetime, and it won’t always be kind. You have to accept the rules of the game, but you don’t have to let the game play you. 

• What advice would you give budding authors about publishing?

You’ll hear this a thousand times, and you won’t believe it, but: the most important thing is writing a good book, and more than that, the right book. If you let the market and external forces tell you what to create, you’ll resent and blame them when it doesn’t go well. That said, keep an eye on the market, find a way to love something you think can sell, and then put your personal spin on it. No one can tell your story but you. Prerequisite skills for publishing: The ability to revise without having a tantrum; an interest in book marketing and publicity; professional written communication; the ability to hold your freakout moments and vent them far away from a public or professional setting; an addiction to caffeine. And for God’s sake, if you’ve been working on something for years and it hasn’t sold and you’ve revised it forty times, write a new book. 

• What was the last thing you read?

All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban. It’s a 2020 book and has a fascinating timeline craft thing that you’re going to love. 

• Your top five authors?

This is not fair because I have at least seven thousand favorite authors! How about this–here are some crime fiction authors doing some innovative things in the genre. Kellye Garrett, who’s doing sharp-witted, LA-based mysteries and winning a ton of awards. John Vercher, who talks about social issues while keeping it gritty and plotty. Rachel Howzell Hall, an LA native who does these rad investigative mysteries. Tori Eldridge has a recent and very feminist take on the action thriller with her recent The Ninja Daughter, which I highly recommend. Gabino Iglesias’ award-winning Coyote Songs is this incredible genre mashup, part folklore, part horror, all commentary, and I can’t recommend it enough. One more one more. Carmen Machado’s recent In the Dream House. It’s memoir told in all different genres, it’s chilling, engrossing, dense, and fascinating. Did you read Her Body and Other Parties? Just wow. 

• Book you’ve bought just for the cover?

Wilder Girls. Because holy crap.  

• What did you want to be as a child? Was it an author?

I was torn between the visual arts and writing, and I always vacillated between them. I have a degree in art, and I wrote a book, then did my painting degree, then wrote some nonfiction, then got my art teaching credential. I was trying things on for size. I do wish I still had time for painting. I never intended to abandon it completely in favor of writing books, but there are only so many hours in the day. I hope to come back to it in a future existence in which I have some spare time. In the meantime, I try to write about artists and art as a means of hanging onto it. 

• What does a day in the life of Wendy Heard look like?

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Just kidding. I wake up at five, do publishing stuff, go to work at my day job, get my kid, come home, arm-wrestle her into doing homework, go to the gym, etc. On the weekends I wake up at five (yes I’m serious), write for a few hours, maybe record or edit an episode of the Unlikeable Female Characters Podcast, and then, you know, parenting and life stuff. Whenever my daughter is on a playdate or doing something away from me, I’m writing. 

• What do you use to inspire you when you get Writer’s Block?

I dive into the DMs and torture some writing friends, make them brainstorm with me until I feel better and I have a plan. Or I just step away for awhile. I actually have come to trust writer’s block. If I can’t move forward, I need to stop and consider. There’s something wrong, and my brain is trying to get me to stop and gather up the threads. We’re so obsessed with productivity and daily word count, but I actually find I finish books faster when I don’t force myself to write things I know are wrong and waste weeks undoing things. 

• What book would you take with you to a desert island?

I have a massive volume that contains all the Sherlock Holmes stories in one. I’d take one of those collection type of books. See, it’s technically ONE book.  

• Favorite quote?

“If you work hard enough, you don’t need luck.” Hell yeah. 

• Coffee or tea?

COFFEE.

• Best TV or Movie adaptation of a book?

The Neverending Story.

• Tell us about what you’re working on now.

I’m doing a final round of revisions on my 2021 YA thriller, She’s Too Pretty to Burn. It’s loosely based off Dorian Gray and is about a teen photographer who takes a life-altering picture of her introverted girlfriend, sending them into a spiral of fame and danger in an underground San Diego art scene. It has a character who’s basically a fine art Banksy and lots of art crimes. 


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Excerpt From “The Kill Club”

THE CEILING ABOVE the crowd sparkles with strings of golden lights. They twinkle just bright enough to illuminate the faces. I adjust a microscopic issue with my toms and run my fingers through my bangs, straightening them over my eyes. The guys are tuning up, creating a clatter of discordant notes in the monitors. When they’re done, they approach my kit for our usual last-minute debate about the set list. Dao humps his bass in his ready-to-play dance, black hair swishing around his shoulders. “Dude, stop,” Matt groans and readjusts the cable that connects his Telecaster to his pedal board.

“Your mom loves my dancing,” Dao says.

“You dance like Napoleon Dynamite,” Matt retorts.

“Your mom dances like Napoleon Dynamite.”

Andre raises his hands. “Y’all both dance like Napoleon Dynamite, and so do both your moms, so let’s just—”

I wave a stick at them. “Guys. Focus. The sound guy is watching. We’re three minutes behind.” I have no patience for this shit tonight. This all feels extra and stupid. I should be doing something to help Joaquin. His dwindling supply of insulin sits at the front of my brain like a ticking clock.

The guys get into their spots, the distance between them set by muscle memory. Andre leans forward into the mic and drawls, “Arright DTLA, lez get a little dirty in here.” His New Orleans accent trickles off his tongue like honey.

The room inhales, anticipates, a sphere of silence.

“Two three four,” I yell. I clack my sticks together and we let loose, four on the floor and loud as hell. I’m hitting hard tonight. It feels great. I need to hit things. My heart beats in tempo. My arms fly through the air, the impact of the drums sharp in my joints, in my muscles, the kick drum a pulse keeping the audience alive. This is what I love about drumming, this forcing of myself into the crowd, making their hearts pound in time to my beat.

Dao fucks up the bridge of “Down With Me” and Andre gives him some vicious side-eye. The crowd is pressed tight up against the stage. A pair of hipsters in cowboy hats grabs a corresponding pair of girls and starts dancing with them. I cast Dao an eye-rolling look referring to the cowboy hats and he wiggles his eyebrows at me. I stomp my kick drum harder, pretending it’s Carol’s face.

The crowd surges back. Arms fly. A guy in the front staggers, falls. A pair of hands grips the stage, and a girl tries to pull herself up onto it.

Matt and Dao stop playing. The music screeches to a halt.

“What’s going on?” I yell.

“Something in the pit,” Dao calls back.

Andre drops his mic and hops down into the crowd. Dao and Matt cast their instruments aside and close the distance to the edge of the stage. I get up and join them. Together, we look down into the pit.

A clearing has formed around a brown-haired guy lying on the floor. Andre and the bouncer squat by him as he squirms and thrashes, his arms and legs a tangle of movement. Andre’s got his phone pressed to his ear and is talking into it urgently. The bouncer is trying to hold the flailing man still, but the man’s body is rigid, shuddering out of the bouncer’s grip. He flops onto his back, and I get a good look at his face.

Oh, shit, I know this guy. He’s a regular at our shows. He whines and pants, muffled words gargling from his throat. Some of the bystanders have their phones out and are recording this. Assholes.

The man shrieks like a bird of prey. The crowd sucks its whispers back into itself, and the air hangs heavy and hushed under the ceiling twinkle lights.

Andre is still talking into his phone. The bouncer lifts helpless hands over the seizing man, obviously not sure what to do.

I should see if Andre wants help. I hop down off the stage and push through the crowd. “Excuse me. Can you let me through? Can you stop recording this and let me through?”

I’m suddenly face-to-face with a man who is trying to get out of the crowd as hard as I’m trying to get into it. His face is red and sweaty, his eyes wild. “Move,” he orders me.

Dick. “You fucking move.”

“Bitch, move.” He slams me with his shoulder, knocking me into a pair of girls who cry out in protest. I spin, full of rage, and reverse direction to follow him.

“Hey, fucker,” I scream. He casts a glance over his shoulder. “Yeah, you! Get the fuck back here!”

He escalates his mission to get out of the crowd, elbowing people out of his way twice as fast. I’m smaller and faster, and I slip through the opening he leaves in his wake. Just before he makes it to the side exit, I grab his flannel shirt and give him a hard yank backward. “Get the fuck back here!” I’m loose, all the rage and pain from earlier channeling into my hatred for this entitled, pompous asshole.

I know I should rein it in, but he spins to face me and says, “What is your problem, bitch?” And that’s it. I haul back and punch him full in the jaw.

He stumbles, trips over someone’s foot and lands on his ass on the cement floor. His phone goes clattering out of his hand, skidding to a stop by someone’s foot. “The hell!”

“Oh, shit,” cries a nearby guy in a delighted voice.

“Fucking bitch,” the guy says, and this is the last time he’s calling me a bitch. I go down on top of him, a knee in his chest. I swing wild, hit him in the jaw, the forehead, the neck. He throws an elbow; it catches me in the boob and I flop back off him with a grunt of pain. He sits up, a hand on his face, and opens his mouth to say something, but I launch myself off the ground again, half-conscious of a chorus of whoops and howls around us. I throw a solid punch. His nose cracks. Satisfaction. I almost smile. Blood streams down his face.

“That’s what you get,” I pant. He crab-shuffles back, pushes off the ground and sprints for the exit. I let him go.

My chest is heaving, and I have the guy’s blood on my hand, which is already starting to ache and swell. I wipe my knuckles on my jeans.

His phone lights up and starts buzzing on the floor. I pick it up and turn it over in my hand. It’s an old flip phone, the kind I haven’t seen in years. The bright green display says Blocked.

Back in the pit, the man having a seizure shrieks again, and then his screams gurgle to a stop. I put the phone in my pocket and push through the onlookers. I watch as his back convulses like he’s going to throw up, and then he goes limp. A thin river of blood snakes out of his open mouth and trails along the cement floor.

The room echoes with silence where the screams had been. A trio of girls stands motionless, eyes huge, hands pressed to mouths.

The flip phone in my pocket buzzes. I pull it out, snap it open and press it to my ear. “Hello?”

A pause.

“Hello?” I repeat.

A click. The line goes dead.

A set of paramedics slams the stage door open, stretcher between them. “Coming through!” They kneel down and start prodding at the man curled up on the concrete. His head flops back. His eyes are stretched wide and unseeing, focused on some point far beyond the twinkling ceiling lights.

Next to him on the concrete lies something… What is it? It’s rectangular and has red and—

It’s a playing card.

Excerpted from The Kill Club by Wendy Heard, Copyright © 2019 by Wendy Heard. Published by MIRA Books.  

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Faramond Frie

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I have always written, short stories and small standalone scenes just for myself and as storylines for artwork projects that I undertake but after my friend, author Jhedron Luckspar published his novel, Revenge of the Hrym, I was inspired to publish my own book and started with the short story Yankai’s Skull which I was writing at the time.


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2) What inspired you to write your book?

I had recently visited the Ashmoleon Museum in Oxford, UK which is like Indiana Jones’s locker. There are all sorts of random exhibits from all over the world and jumbled together in such just such a way as to make it seem as if it were collected by groups of adventurers from a more romantic age. In one exhibit, there was a human skull that had been taken as a trophy after a brutal fight, the writing on the skull describes it as the skull of Yankai of the Nienching tribe somewhere in the Himalayan region. The story is my take on why Yankai’s Skull was removed from the rest of him and how it ended up in a museum.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

That’s easy. If you look at the dark side, it looks back. I think that may have been a quote from Yoda but that is essentially the message of the book. Even those with good intentions who study the dark side of the world will end up getting corrupted.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

The story unfolded itself and it turned out to be a mash up. I had no idea how to pigeon hole it but horror seemed closest and if you look at what Yankai experiences, that really is a horrific experience for him. Forget blood and guts, true horror likes in human behaviour and the demons that drive it.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I would sit with The Poet and ask him about his experiences with Buddha. I would ask him what kind of man he was and what it was like to be around him.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I have not done any traditional social media advertising as of yet so I can’t answer that but looking at them all, I would say Facebook seems to be the best way to develop a targeted readership. My current approach is to send copies of the work to people who may say something good about it and I hope old fashioned word of mouth, on whatever medium will lead to a growth in readership. It may seem counter intuitive but I’m going to see what happens in this approach, it allows me more time to be creative.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Write for yourself as an artist. It may not seem like it but there are people in the world who will love your work and that will connect with what you are doing. How they connect to it in the first place is a dfferent thing entirely but I believe that if you are writing from a place of truth, then the story will resonate as a truth and its core message or experience will shine through.


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8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I have just come back from the Gothenburg Book Festival which was a huge success for many independant authors and publishing houses so judging by that, the future is exciting. Creatively, there are a combination of art projects and more stories that I will continue to advertise in weird and wonderful ways. Astrum, has also been published and is available on Amazon and there are 3 more stories just waiting to be published once the proofing and art have been finalized. It’s all very exciting.


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www.faramondfrie.com

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Azariah Scott

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?


My love for writing started when I was in elementary school. It happened after years of pushing by my mom to get me to read. I hated reading because I couldn’t read. She had to work really hard to teach me to read. We would practice. She would take me to a tutor. I would cry. She would push. Once I learned to read I fell in love with reading and would get into trouble for reading too much. I had to go to special reading classes until 6th grade, though.


Anyway, I wrote all kinds of stories. The stories, at that time, I wrote the most were ones that included my friends as characters. 


Everyone I knew was part of the story from us all being superheroes to murder mysteries about how one of my friends died and one of us did it. I would write a little bit every week and they would want me to read it to them because they got a kick out of it. It was like a TV series. 


Later when I was a waiter, I did the same thing. I wrote a stories with the people I worked with as heroes and villains. I also did that on a forum I spent a lot of time on. I took the people that frequented that form and wrote a huge epic superhero tale. 


I wrote poems, silly lyrics, short stories, and movie reviews. Then I decided to write a novel like story about sheep. I called it a fairy fable. Then I wrote Jeremiah Jericho: Allowance. 


Writing allows me to create a world with words. I like to read out loud when I read, so the sound of words creating worlds or displaying ideas or sharing a story is just without parallel. When I read an article, a book, or a simple post that elicits a feeling, I take note, because I think, wow, that was great writing. I can only hope my writing moves people as much as I am moved by other people’s writing. 


I like talking about how I couldn’t read and how hard it was for me to learn to read (it was frustrating for me and my mom) because it shows that hard work and pushing through does achieve something great. If she didn’t push me to read I could’ve been left to not knowing and I wouldn’t be where I am with how much I love to write and read. 


But I don’t like to (despite how long this answer is) talk about me because I would rather my writing be more famous than me. If my work could become famous and leave me in the dark, I would be quite happy with that.


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 2) What inspired you to write your book?


This is a dark answer because it’s one of the darkest moments in the book. I don’t want to spoil it, but since it is referenced in the first chapter I can mention what the scene is about without spoiling too much. 
I wanted to create a scene that was so dark that would be a terrible thing for someone to be part of at a sensitive time during their life and them choosing to be better than that moment. It was a rape scene that begin the idea of this book. I thought what kind of person would be created because of that? I came up with Jeremiah’s personality after that.  


That’s as much as I can say about that scene without ruining the significance of it. 


I never wrote something like that and I wanted to see how difficult it would be to write it without being pornographic. I wanted to write something displaying evil without glorifying evil. It’s a fine line as is writing this answer. I couldn’t just say well a rape happened because that didn’t explain how terrible what happened was. 


What I wanted to create was a reluctant hero. Someone that didn’t want to be one, but is put in the position to be because of circumstances that just won’t leave him alone. The pushing and the prodding that would set people off to be bad, but making it where Jeremiah would pick good despite how tempting bad would make itself. Also, giving him so much power that he could create a path to win so easily, but chooses not to because morally it’s not right to take someone’s free will away.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?


When we read books or short stories for class, I disliked when we would give an answer and the teacher would be like, well that’s not what the writer meant. This happened with Shakespeare’s work a lot. 


I touched on this already, but I made the villain in this book pure evil on purpose. There is not a single redeeming quality about him. Maybe he’s really good at his job, however, it’s at cost. I wanted a villain that was just evil. I was sick of reading how certain villains have redeeming qualities and how if you don’t write one like that, that your villain is going to be bleh. 
There has to be a reason why your villain chooses to be this way and maybe, maybe that reason will have your readers sympathize with him and at least undrstand why he’s the way he is. Not what I wanted.


I wanted there to be a good vs evil feel to this. But in reality it’s more like a well mannered boy vs evil. Proving you don’t have to be pure good to defeat evil. Which is the theme I would like people to see. There’s this monster that’s just out to ruin everything, who could stop this? Well just this average boy that just rather not be bothered can do it, anyone can do it. 
Sure he has abilities no one has, but it’s the power of the mind. He has to fight through many mental things to accomplish anything and anyone that has to deal with anything mentally understands how exhausting that is to do. 


I think that whatever the reader pulls from reading my book is valid. My idea may not be what anyone sees. It may be what a few see. It may be that the reader sees a totally different theme all together. That’s fine. I hope when they read my book they laugh, they cry a little, and they walk away thinking how cool it would be to have someone like Christopher talking to them in their head.


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4) What drew you into this particular genre?


This is a really good question because I don’t have a specific answer. I’ve thought about why I was drawn to YA. I can’t totally clear it up. 


SciFi is easy. I love Star Trek. I’m not that smart in the sciences. I had to do a bit of research for what I did in this book. I didn’t go into this wanting to be super accurate with scientific things outside of the normal storytelling. I didn’t want to get detailed as to why the chip worked. But I didn’t have magic or anything that would label this a fantasy. I like SciFi because it is grounded more. It’s not super factual on every account, but it’s good enough. 


As for Young Adult, I guess that has to do with how interesting that time period is. I had a hard time as a teen for multiple reasons. It allows me to write about someone that isn’t well put together, but at least can go about life better than I did. It gives me a chance to do things better, but not perfect. 


Jeremiah goes about things differently than I did in high school, but he’s going about it in a way I wish I had done. He is braver than I was. He’s not more sure than I am, though. I think that that’s what I like about YA. The characters are more unsure because they are less experienced than their adult counterparts. I like writing characters that are young, inexperienced, and such. It’s fun. It’s like I know where they could go because I’m older than them. I think it keeps my mind young writing characters like this.
I wanted to make sure that my adult characters were treated with respect to their age and knowledge and not treated like secondary characters that were dumber than my main character. I dislike that about certain YA stories. 


Jeremiah is all of these negative aspects of that age and some good ones, but he is ultimately a teenager that respects adults to a point that they don’t cross a line. 

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?


I like all of my characters except for one. I purposefully made him someone not to like and I dislike him so much I wouldn’t wanna even talk to him let alone be near him. 


I would love to speak with Christopher and he was my initial answer. Then I thought about Jeremiah. He went through a lot prior to even getting to the first line in the book. I would ask him what he thought the difference between a villain and a hero is. I’d ask him that because his past could be the past of a villain, instead he became a reluctant hero.  

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?


I don’t have an answer for this.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?


I went to a writers group every week for almost two years. Then I had a writers group that split from that one that I went to for every week for 9 months. Then I had an online writers group that we met on Google Hangout for almost 2 years. 


Those groups helped a lot. The unique formatting in my book came from a suggestion from a writers group. A lot of suggestions came from every writers group that helped form my novel into what it is now. I did do a lot of editing myself, but the help of other people was significant. 


The face to face contact matters and it works in helping you take criticism and to learn not to defend your writing. I witnessed other people defending their writing and it’s not pretty. It feels personal, but most people want to help and they are giving suggestions to strengthen your writing. 


Even if you think the suggestion is the dumbest suggestion the world over (and I thought this often) don’t reply. Just listen and think about it for a day before you form a thought on whether or not that was a good suggestion. Sometimes you realize that the suggestion was pretty awesome.


Most of the time the person that gave you the suggestion you end up not liking will never know if you implemented it. Therefore, there is no need to tell them their suggestion is stupid. You can just not use it.


As a writer you have to understand everyone isn’t going to like what you wrote and you have to have the ability to split from your writing and learn to accept suggestions, dismiss trash, and not take any of it too personally. If, while you’re in a writers group, you cannot take criticism from a few people, how are you going to be able to stand a book review that just tears into your book? 


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8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I am going through Jeremiah Jericho: Forty-Two (Book 2) at the moment. Once I go through it, then I’ll send it to get professionally edited and then work with the edits. 


Goodreads link

 Amazon link

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Chandra Lahiri

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Purely by accident! I have always enjoyed writing the odd freelance article for a newspaper or magazine, but never even thought about writing a book – until now! I have spent over 45 years working for a variety of companies, from transnational giants like Unilever and Nivea, to small family-owned ones like the luxury perfumer Amouage. For a third of that time, I led those companies and, eventually, specialized in turning around sick companies. I have run businesses in over 40 countries around the world, dealing in a wide variety of products. However, all my life, I have had an inexplicable passion for the Native Americans, and read, researched and watched a mountain of material. Perhaps, the Great Mystery was gently preparing me, all my life, for this odyssey and the vicarious experience of re-living parts of their history, participating in their heritage. As is my habit, I made extensive notes in my diary during the trip – not least because I wrote a daily column from the road, for the leading English newspaper in the Sultanate of Oman. On my return home, I realized I had so much material that I simply had to try and turn it into a full-length book. And, I desperately wanted more people to know the real story of these remarkable people.


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2) What inspired you to write your book?

The people I met, and their story. People like Carney Saupitty, Lisa Snell, Vernell White Thunder, Peter Catches, Mark St.Pierre and so many others. Theirs is a story of quiet heroism, of fighting impossible odds to regain their identity and proud heritage, of an elemental daily struggle. I realized they, perhaps more than anyone else, deserve a voice for the unborn generations. They must never be allowed to be forgotten or marginalized, but brought into the American mainstream instead.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

The thing that strikes me most powerfully is the sheer apathy (at best; frequently it is outright discrimination) of America, and the world, to them. The downright untruths of Hollywood created a fantasy savage, not even a noble one, while the media stereotypes present them as hopeless, violent, suicidal substance-abusers on miserable Reservations, subsisting on Government money. I hope my book will contribute something to showing people just how shamefully untrue and unjust this portrayal this is of a truly noble people winning small triumphs on their way to recovering their civilization from genocide. History cannot be true if written only by the victors.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Strangely, it was not a conscious choice! Looking back now, it seems some sort of cosmic Force seems to have guided my life to this experience and the decision to write about it. The whole effort is as mystifying and intriguing to me as was my completely unexplainable experience on their very sacred Bear Butte. To me, it seems to be more important than anything else to disseminate a knowledge and awareness of the Native Americans, so they are never consigned to the footnotes of history.

5) For those who aren’t as well acquainted with the history of the Native American people and their history, why do you think it’s so important to understand the history of the Native American people and what they endured during the formation of the United States? What are some of the biggest misconceptions people have from a historical standpoint from that time period and the history of the Native American tribes overall?

If even a part of humanity is destroyed, all of humanity is damaged. The creation of the United States was, without doubt, one of the greatest achievements in human history, creating the most powerful military and economic entity in just a couple of centuries, something never achieved before. While admiring the people, and effort, that made it possible, it is equally vital not to lose sight of the disastrous cost of that effort. And, above all, the fact that the genocide was, in reality, completely unnecessary.
People usually think “the West had to be won” because the “savage Indians” stood in the way of “civilization”. The truth is exactly the opposite. The Pilgrims survived only through the generosity and welcome shown them by the Wampanoag. In return, the settlers enslaved these friendly people, killed their chief, and sold his wife and children as slaves for thirty pieces of silver. In later years, the children of Native nations were forcibly removed to distant Christian schools to be “civilized” – under such terrible, abusive conditions that well over half of them actually committed suicide.
Perhaps the biggest misconception is that the West was “won” through the strength of American arms. In reality, the US Army lost most battles and frequently spun massacres of defenseless civilians into stories of victorious battles. Custer is the most famous such fantasy hero. In reality, about an equal number died on both sides, despite the overwhelming superiority of firepower and manpower with the Army. What actually defeated the Native Nations was the terrible scorched earth policy of General Sherman which almost entirely wiped out the buffalo, their only source of food, shelter, weapons, occupation, toys and everything else. Starvation, not bullets, brought them to their knees.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Its early days yet, but so far I think Facebook and Instagram have been useful in getting the word out. I have also been fortunate to benefit from the massive distributive reach of Ingram. My social media links are:
www.dawnvoyager.com
www.facebook.com/redroadacrossthegreatplains
www.twitter.com/RoadPlains     
www.instagram.com/redroadacrossthegreatplains     
www.pinterest.com/redroadacrossthegreatplains 
www.youtube.com/channel/UCUcBgnPnoXltv0baXWAM8Qw/featured?view_as=public

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

This is one of the steepest mountains you will ever climb, with huge amounts of pain – but it is worth it! Don’t lose heart and bash on. If you have something worth telling, there are people out there who are keen to hear it – it’s just a hard road reaching them! The only thing to do is enjoy the ride!


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8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Whew! After working on this book for well over a year, I am now going to pause for breath and see how it works out. I would, ideally, like to do another book on the same subject, as there is such a wealth of history and heritage to write about, and so many incredible misconceptions to try and uproot. Fingers crossed!

About the Author

Chandra Lahiri is an “Indian from India” who lives in the Sultanate of Oman. After many years as a global CEO, he now focuses on his lifelong passion for Native American heritage. His wife is a Special Needs Educator in Oman, and his two sons live in the USA. He loves hearing from like-minded readers, at www.dawnvoyager.com

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