Interview with Author Shauna Packer

A couple of months ago, I had the distinct honor to review and help share the word on an important novel called Destroying Their God: How I Fought My Evil Half-Brother To Save My Children by Wallace Jeffs, Shauna Packer and Sherry Taylor. You can read the full review here.  This book is an extremely important look at the FLDS cult and the impact it has on it’s members and their families. I am now fortunate to be able to share an exclusive interview with one of the authors, Shauna Packer. Here is what she had to say about her experience writing this story and how she views the events related in it.

 

1: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you meet and eventually collaborate with Wallace Jeffs and Sherry Taylor?

Sherry and I have known each other for years as we volunteered in leadership positions through the League of Utah Writers. Sherry became acquainted with Wallace from a business networking group in the Salt Lake area. Wallace was in the movie, Prophet’s Prey, and a big-name producer/director (won’t name drop here) approached him and said he wanted to make a movie based on Wallace’s life story, but first, he wanted a book written. Wallace approached Sherry to co-author the book, but at that juncture, the timeframe for completing the project was only six months, so she asked me if I would like to join so it could be fast-tracked. As a professional writer for many years, I have been asked to collaborate on multiple books and, though I find all ideas interesting, have always refused. But when I heard Wallace’s story, of almost dying in order to protect his daughters from spiritual slavery, I knew this was one opportunity I couldn’t pass up! I believe strongly in a commitment to family, and the loyalty and sacrifice Wallace made for his children proved a theme that resonated deeply with my core values. I am continually grateful I had a chance to work on this project with Sherry and Wallace. After four years of co-authoring together, we get along well and enjoy a friendship and strong team commitment to each other individually as well as to our book.

 

2: What was the process like working on Destroying Their God?

Sherry and I would go to Wallace’s place and interview him as he told his life story. Or, sometimes we met at a restaurant or bookstore (nearby patrons were often quite intrigued by our conversation!). Some evenings there were things he wanted to speak about in particular; sometimes we had questions and we directed the interview. Then, I would come back to my home office and write the chapters and send them to Sherry for her feedback and addition/deletions. Quite often, we would have a lot of additional questions as we started laying out chapters and sections, so there was a great amount of follow up and digging down to do. We also had to make sure we put things into the correct historical context, sometimes that proved a challenge because access to FLDS records can be spotty or completely unavailable. Personally, I was super interested in the everyday life of an FLDS family. As a mother of children myself, I marveled at how you would even go about cooking meals for the sixty-five-plus children. So, alongside the details of Wallace’s life, Sherry and I asked a lot of questions about family dynamics. From a reader’s perspective, the feedback has been interesting: some of our readers felt like we included too many day-to-day details and some were quite frustrated that we did not include a whole lot more! But that’s the great thing about reading, it is a personal experience and preference.

 

3: What message do you hope this book sends to readers who are unfamiliar with FLDS or who don’t realize the affects both physically and psychologically on those who escape destructive religions? 

 

The truth of what happens in the FLDS and the reality of Wallace’s life is shocking to a lot of people. It certainly was to me. As a writing team, we genuinely strived with this book to illuminate, without hitting people over the head with the message, that being raised in the FLDS lifestyle demands certain behaviors and compliance or you doom yourself to destruction. It can be easy when reading about another’s life to become somewhat of an armchair psychologist. However, although highly suspicious to an outsider, this lifestyle literally represents life and death to people who are in the midst of the madness. If Wallace, or any other faithful FLDS member, would have chosen to leave, they would be banished from their family, their homes, their livelihood, their friends, and ultimately, in their minds, their salvation. Leaving the priesthood people and land equates a total loss of everything and utter destruction. This is especially a heavy reality when your own father, the prophet, and your mother represented this as absolute truth from birth. It is a culture of control and fear. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Wallace’s healing and ability to operate in a world he was raised to believe was wicked. I hope that the book not only educates, but also allows people to examine their own personal values. Wise individuals with sound moral compasses can indeed be manipulated by a parental and religious culture.

 

4: What would you say was the most difficult aspect of writing this novel?

There is some really raw information included in the book. In order for the reader (and Sherry and I) to understand why Wallace was willing to die to protect his children, we had to spend a lot of time with dark and gritty subject matter. This included listening to many hours of audio tapes made by Warren of his degradations. As a woman and mother to daughters myself, I can still scarcely believe what these women had to endure in order to attain salvation. However, I believe that writing should be about truth and we need to stand in that truth. Some publishers were interested in the story, but wanted us to remove some of the more challenging subject matter. We agreed as a team that as much as we found what happened repugnant, we had to recount it in truth, without allowing it to become gratuitous.

 

There is also a building up to extreme cruelty toward Wallace. Warren is a master of creating custom-made punishments, tailored to the individual “sinner”. I don’t want to give away too much of the book, but after Wallace defied his brother, Warren customized a punishment that is every parent’s worst nightmare. The night we discussed this event was a somber one indeed. I waited until I got to my car, because Wallace doesn’t like to see women cry and it seemed disrespectful to get rattled about something so personal to him, but how the tears flowed when I was alone! I even traveled down to St. George, Utah (about five hours from where I live) because I wanted to see the house where these painful events occurred and I also wanted to see where Wallace’s accident took place. Even though I have read this book dozens of times, I still get choked up when I read certain parts. I always have to call Wallace or text him to say, “I’m so sorry you had to go through this!” His reply is generally, “Thank you, but it’s what made me the man I am today.”

 

5: If you were able to reach out and talk to those still living the FLDS life, what would you want to say to them? 

That there are people and resources available to help them leave this cult. I do not believe it is God’s wish for families to be torn apart and for a prophet to constantly preach a message that says members are not worthy of the blessings of heaven. I would also share with them the many audio files Warren recorded, which are actively withheld from the FLDS people by leadership, and his own jail confession that “I am not the prophet”. They don’t have to lead a life based completely in fear, there are many who will help them discover the truth and find their own path!

 

6: What was the process like working with Wallace and diving into the ins and outs of FLDS and their practices?

Fascinating! I wanted to know everything and could still spend hours asking questions. When we are interviewed as a team, I never tire of listening to what Wallace has to say. The reality of growing up FLDS is a little hard to wrap your mind around. I really admire Wallace’s bravery; he always has an open and forthcoming attitude. Wallace has had a lot of things happen to him in his life, but he never wants to be seen as a victim. To write a book such as this, you really need to crawl through the cobwebs and challenge, probe, examine and then examine some more. There is a lot of digging into emotions and difficult memories. However, we chose to write the book in a more journalistic tone to match Wallace’s personality and so it wouldn’t seem overly emotional, as if he felt sorry for himself for the life events he experienced.

 

7: What’s next for you personally as an author? Any other projects on the horizon? Would you want to work on a memoir similar to this in the future?

I am always open to discussing future book ideas. If another project like Wallace’s came along that captivated me with a story of courage, love, and triumph, yes, I would definitely consider working on another memoir. I think Wallace has a few more books in him as well, and we have discussed further collaboration. I have my writing business, consulting with executives, corporations, and fiction authors on their content and editing needs. That keeps me happily occupied as I work on new books. Currently, I am in development on another non-fiction project. I also have a fictional short story that I wrote years ago and would and like to turn into a novel. It’s more of a happy story about redemption and it feels right at this moment in my career to work on something a little more upbeat. I have two completed novels I am in the process of marketing to agents. One is historical fiction called The Shadows of Plain Sight, set in post-Civil War Nevada, and the other, Ways To Go, is a women’s fiction novel.

 

Thank you for your time. It was an honor to speak with you and thank you for sharing this important story with the world. 

 

Shauna Packer

Shauna Packer Headshot

 

Shauna Packer has been a professional corporate and freelance writer, researcher, and content editor for over twelve years. She is a multi-award-winning fiction and non-fiction author. Shauna has been published in several commercial anthologies, including Angels to Bear You Up, Utah Voices: A Literary Annual, and Mother’s Messages in a Bottle. Though she has crafted a great deal of non-fiction over the years, Destroying Their God is her first full-length non-fiction book. She resides in the Salt Lake area with her family, including two cats named after candy bars.

 

Find Shauna Packer at:

 

https://www.instagram.com/shaunapacker/  

https://www.linkedin.com/in/shaunadansie/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17815620.Shauna_Packer

https://twitter.com/spackerauthor

https://www.facebook.com/Shauna-Packer-210939476157092/

http://www.destroyingtheirgod.com

 

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Release Day: Caledonia Destiny by Lexi Ander

http://www.lexiander.com/index.htmlIt’s release day for Lexi Ander’s new MM historical fantasy/paranormal book, Caledonia Destiny:

A twist of fate changed both their destinies.

The wyrbears, once a long-lived species, were being lost to the forest in their prime. A people borne of a curse, their abilities not a gift but something wrongly taken, they nonetheless live in harmony with their animal spirits. But over time the curse they lived under changed, mutated, and now what once was a refuge from the world when they became too weary is culling mathan in their prime.

Ewen mhic Friscalach, the leader of his peoples, lost his father too early and is now a widower with four children. The vow he made as a youth to break the curse afflicting wyrbears has been buried by grief and responsibility.

Roi mhic Alric, a priest of Cerridwen and seer, watched his fellow priests slaughtered and his temple desecrated. The only thing that kept him going the last three horror-filled years was the vision Cerridwen had granted him of his emancipation. If freedom came at the cost of his life, well, he was more than ready for the Otherworld.

A fated meeting upon a bloody field of battle. A wrong done long ago. Their choices could save a people… or send them into extinction. Either way, their love will be legend.

Caledonia Destiny started out as 31k short story that had a happy for now ending. Now, years later, I have rewritten and expanded the original to 111k.

Buy Links Coming Soon


Giveaway

Lexi is giving away three $10 Amazon gift cards with this tour – for a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:

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Excerpt

The next morn Ewen rose early and stoked the fire. Roi wandered into the forest to release his water. When he returned, Ewen bade him sit atop the furs. With an unsure countenance, Roi sat and watched Ewen approach with a wary eye. Ewen took Roi’s hand and used the warm, wet linen to wash it. He rinsed the cloth in the crock of water and repeated the motions with the other hand, gently touching the abraded flesh and each of the scabs where Roi had injured himself climbing the tree.

The camp was utterly quiet as he administered to Roi afore the gazes of his kin. He did not glance into Roi’s eyes until he took the cloth to Roi’s face, cleansing the dust of the road from Roi’s forehead and cheeks. Roi’s eyes were large and round with his confusion, but he did not stay Ewen’s hand which gave Ewen hope. He unlaced Roi’s boots and pulled them from his feet and began to wash them as well. He had not imagined he would be so nervous declaring his intentions in front of his kinsmen, but this moment was important, mayhap the most important declaration Ewen would make in his lifetime.

“Roi mhic Alric, I, Ewen mhic Friscalach, would have it known that I hereby put forth afore my kinsmen my petition to court you. I humbly ask that you consider my request and if you accept, allow no other to court you until the time you decide either to accept my hand or decline it.”

Roi turned pale as milk. Apprehension pooled in Ewen’s gut as he awaited for Roi to shun him. He deserved no less for what he had done, avoiding Roi only to succumb to his desires, waking Roi from sleep to beg Roi to touch him. Whilst Roi spoke truth, Ewen had bestowed upon him harsh words instead of Ewen’s own truth in return. He should have confided in Roi, given him the story of his people’s lineage. Roi’s lack of faith in Ewen might yet be Ewen’s own doing.

Roi placed his hand over Ewen’s where he washed the dirt from Roi’s feet. “Ye be of noble blood, ye do not have to do this.”

He captured Roi’s hand betwixt his palms. “Then tell me how to win back your trust.” Roi’s visage hardened, but not afore Ewen beheld the brief flame of longing in Roi’s eyes. “I shall find a way back into your confidence, Roi, and when I do, you shall never have reason to throw me out again.”

After placing Roi’s hand in his lap, Ewen returned to cleansing his feet, then slipped his boots over his calves and carefully laced them up. Ewen had brought over a square of knotted linen, which he gave to Roi afore he rose to his feet with the crock of dirty water. Roi untied the cloth and stared down at the food Ewen had gathered for him. The offering was not much: the last piece of flat bread, some pine nuts, and the best slices of their dried meat.

Donn grinned and nodded as Ewen passed by on his way to the stream to rinse out the crock. Kneeling at the edge of the water, Ewen then splashed the cold water onto his face, growling at the way his hands trembled.

Bear chuffed with mirth. “Good.”

With that one single word, Bear soothed Ewen’s frayed nerves. For the first time that he could recall, Bear rubbed gently against his skin as if to console him. Crouched at the water’s edge, Ewen held still in shock, able to sense Bear’s emotions without Bear saying the words. When Roi was with them, Bear came alive, naught showing of the violent creature Granda had warned Ewen of. Bear now spoke to, and even interacted with Ewen, all thanks to Roi. Ewen wiped the dripping water from his face with a new clarity.

“Ewen.” He glanced over his shoulder to behold Roi standing at the edge of the trees. Anger still pinched the corners of Roi’s lips but his hands twisted with uncertainty. “I shall not allow another to court—” his brows dipped into a hard V as if he could hardly believe his own words “—me until I either decline or accept yer… yer…” He huffed. “I know not what ye be thinking courting a man, Ewen. Everything ye do confounds me no end, and my mind counsels me to leave ye be but—” Roi rubbed at his left breast, his palm pressing into his chest as if he attempted to soothe an ache “—I find I cannot deny yer request, regardless of how unseemly it be. I never thought ye to be a daft man afore.” The last was said under Roi’s breath.

“I thought you would deny me,” Ewen confessed.

“Yer declaration caught me off guard, and when ye walked away without waiting for my answer I found meself at the mercy of others who vied for my attention. Ye have much to explain, Ewen. No others be as accepting as yer people.” Roi shook his head in a disbelieving manner afore turning to leave, moving around the four men who had followed him to the stream.

Donn, Arailt, and two other cousins watched Roi go. Bear and Ewen growled. “You heard him. He has agreed to my courtship.” Ewen’s kinsmen dispersed, Donn chuckling into his fist but hurrying away afore Ewen caught him.


Author Bio

Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.

Author Website: http://www.lexiander.com/index.html

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/lexi.ander.9

Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LexiAnder1

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6521302.Lexi_Ander

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/lexi-ander/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lexi-Ander/e/B009PT22GM/

 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FBLCD6G/

Payhip: https://payhip.com/LexiAnder

Books2Read Universal Link: https://www.books2read.com/u/mVBaVM

Blog Tour: Mourning Dove by Claire Fullerton (Excerpt)

Hi there everyone!

I am excited to share with you today an exclusive excerpt for author Claire Fullerton’s novel Mourning Dove.

About Mourning Dove:

Mourning Dove Cover

“An accurate and heart-wrenching picture of the sensibilities of the American South.” Kirkus Book Reviews

The heart has a home when it has an ally.
If Millie Crossan doesn’t know anything else, she knows this one truth simply because her brother Finley grew up beside her. Charismatic Finley, eighteen months her senior, becomes Millie’s guide when their mother Posey leaves their father and moves her children from Minnesota to Memphis shortly after Millie’s tenth birthday.

Memphis is a world foreign to Millie and Finley. This is the 1970s Memphis, the genteel world of their mother’s upbringing and vastly different from anything they’ve ever known. Here they are the outsiders. Here, they only have each other. And here, as the years fold over themselves, they mature in a manicured Southern culture where they learn firsthand that much of what glitters isn’t gold. Nuance, tradition, and Southern eccentrics flavor Millie and Finley’s world as they find their way to belonging.

But what hidden variables take their shared history to leave both brother and sister at such disparate ends?

And now here is an exclusive excerpt from the novel:

In winter, Finley tried out for the Woodhill Country Club hockey team because Dad, in his day, had played a regionally lauded center.

One good look at the eight-year-old Finley, and anybody would have said he didn’t have the stature for a contact sport. But Dad took Finley seriously and shepherded us to the rink, where he coached Finley into membership while I skated figure eight into arabesque. Mom had no interest in skating but she loved standing on the ice socializing in her fabulous full-length beaver coat, deeply engaged in gossiping, which was the only contact sport that ever truly held her attention. Chuck Dudley was part of the parents’ crowd that stood on the ice unshielded in Minnesota’s ungodly winter temperatures.

The grown-ups huddled in a cluster, drinking Schnapps from plastic glasses after smearing Vaseline on their children’s faces to abate the whipping wind. I didn’t like Chuck Dudley from the first moment I saw him. There was something smarmy about him, something slick, wormy, lax-muscled, and weak-shouldered, but my mother sure liked him.

I couldn’t tell why.

He had a mousy wife he ignored and a nine-year-old son named Derrick, who was just as unsavory as he. The attention Chuck Dudley slathered on my mother made me uneasy, yet for some reason it made her shine. She became animated in his presence, laughing and charming and fluid, as if Chuck were the most captivating person in the world. Every time we went to Woodhill, Chuck was there laughing and grinning with his big white teeth and blond receding hairline.

The women at Woodhill vied for his attention because they subliminally subscribed to his self-image, which he cast about like a net designed to ensnare. Chuck Dudley got my mother’s competitive nature riled, and it was clear he had his sights set on her now that his three-year affair with Sandra Hardwicke had ended. He’d preen and strut under my mother’s encouragement, and they flattered each other’s vanity like pleasure-seekers in need of a high.

I didn’t know if Finley intended it or not. I didn’t know if he presciently intuited disruption brewing and wanted to rail against it, or if Derrick Dudley was just a pansy in the wrong place at the wrong time. I leaned down to tie my skate laces. When I looked up, I saw Derrick on his back, crying and bleeding from his forehead, with Finley at a T-stop standing over him wearing a scowl.

Even though they were on the same team, Finley had managed to head-butt Derrick with an impact that started on the ice, landed in the hospital, and wove its way into the fabric of our lives.

About the Author:

I’ve always known I’m a story teller. Having been born in Wayzata, Minnesota (the homeland of my father) and transplanted at the age of ten to Memphis, Tennessee (the homeland of my mother,) I learned early that the art of observation can be an acclimating life saver.  My mother told me that as a child, I would sit and watch people. I was thirty years old the first time she said this, then she added,“You still do.” If what is known as “the writer’s eye” is the ability to see the world from the outside in, then I am happily guilty.

Although I now live in Malibu, California, I’ll always consider myself a Southerner: a card carrying member of the last romantic culture on earth. When I was growing up, Memphis was a hot-bed of social and cultural change. In this atmosphere, I embraced popular music, for the city that sits on the bluff of the Mississippi is a musical mecca, and I wanted to be in its middle.  I found my niche in music radio as a member of the on-air staff of five different stations, during a nine year career.

Music radio led me to the music business, and the music business led me to Los Angeles, where I worked for three years as an a1rtist’s representative, securing record deals for bands. From Los Angeles, I took a trip to the west coast of Ireland and ended up staying a full year. An uncanny twist of fate directed me back to Los Angeles, where unbeknownst to me, my future husband waited. Three weeks after my return to the United States, I reviewed the journal I kept, while living in Ireland, and knew I had a good story. I started the draft of what became my second published novel, but years intervened between its beginning and publication.

During those years, I wrote a creative, weekly column for The Malibu Surfside News, and submitted to writing contests and magazines as I focused on developing my craft.  I wrote a paranormal mystery about a woman who suspects she has lived before, and titled it A Portal in Time. Vinspire Publishing published the book, so I decided to show them the manuscript of my Irish novel. Vinspire Publishing published it under the title Dancing to an Irish Reel the following year.

My third novel is titled Mourning Dove. It’s a sins-of-the-father, Southern Family Saga, set in 1970’s and 1980’s Memphis, and  I’m thrilled to report that Firefly Southern Fiction will publish it in June of 2018.

I love the lifestyle that writing affords. I write daily, on one project or another, and like many writers, I have an inexplicable urge to interpret the world around me, in hopes that readers will not only be entertained and have something to think about, but be able to see themselves.

https://www.facebook.com/clairefullertonauthor

https://www.instagram.com/cffullerton/

https://www.clairefullerton.com/

Blog Tour: grydscaen: dark by Natsuya Uesugi

grydscaen darkNatsuya Uesugi has a new book out in his dystopian sci fi series grydscaen:

A clandestine meet occurs in the Echelons under cover of darkness where Top Secret intel on the stock market changes hands. The insider tip gets the gothic hacker Jester engaged in a high tech game. Parliament votes to lower harsh stock market regulations fueling the Corporation’s bottom line, a payoff from ministers who were propped up by illegal corporate campaign donations. Ordered by Jester, the teenage hacker Rom infiltrates the largest high volume brokerage house causing wild gyrations in trading. When Jester triggers an insidious stock market payload, all hell breaks loose threatening the pristine City. Will Zoon, the leader of the Triumvirate, get roped into the fray? Can Raven, the government hacker, put the cryptic clues together before the market crashes? Find out in grydscaen:dark. Whose side are you on?

Series Blurb:

Lino just wanted peace. All he got was war.

In the year After Colony 2055 there was the Great War. SenseNet government scientists harnessed their knowledge of nuclear weapons and created a new form of energy. This kedek energy was a natural found occurrence that existed in pools far inside the planet. Harnessing this energy into weapons called kedek bombs, scientists warned these weapons were unsafe and should never be used.

The draconian Atlantea Federation conquered more than half of the world’s territories. A group of islands and nation states formed the Pacific Territories and in a single brave act retaliated in a battle known as the Blood Red Incident. The Atlantea Federation responded with wrath releasing the kedek-based Dionysis Effect nuclear bomb stolen from the SenseNet. The untested weapon’s radioactive fallout created Codesswhich manifested as psychic powers.

Pacific Territories’ society was segregated into citizens and non-citizens. Only citizens could reside in the pristine City. Non-citizens were left with poverty and strife in the Zone where the bomb had gone off, or in the Echelons with the Red Light District, drugs, and crime.

A group of hackers rose up to combat government oppression and injustice by the Zone Police. Enforcement squads rounded up psychics nightly taking them to work camps in the toxic kedek mines. The Terror Hack used guerrilla warfare to fight the Elite government. The Packrats, a cyber terrorist organization vowed to regain control and free society through cyber revolution. Run by the elite hacker Faid Callen, he created the Packrat Sprawl and set up the Runners, Wastes, Acolytes, Hosts, Prophets and Mobile Command. Each faction possessed deadly skills and laws in the Packrat Code that ruled their actions. Civil war ripped at the heart of society.

The son of the Viceroy, Lino Dejarre had psychic power. All he wanted was peace. He joined the Psi Faction as a clandestine psychic operative and was tasked to capture Faid Callen and quell the violence. When the Atlantea Federation attacked the City, Lino found himself once more answering the royal edict and forced to become Sub Viceroy and rule as war raged around him.

Separated at age nine and banished from the royal family, Riuho Dejarre’s hatred for Lino grew as he tried to scrape out a life in the slum level Echelons while Lino lived in the pristine City. Stripped of his citizenship, Riuho vowed he would get revenge and did everything in his power to thwart Lino’s every move. From his first encounter with the Atlantea Federation, Riuho found his place and the resources to get what he desired.

The Atlantea Federation attacked brutally on the ground and also threatened the Pacific Territories’ space colonies. Lino and his Psi Faction team were roped into global diplomacy, inter-colony politics, covert missions, battleships, and space battles where they encounter the Atlantea Federation head on. When Riuho once more enters the fray, the high stakes game threatens to destroy everything for which Lino has worked.

Intrigue, psychic powers, clandestine operations, treaties, politics and a hacker revolution. From space battles, to kidnappings and assassinations, and battleships off the coast, grydscaenis filled with in depth characters and richly detailed storylines that peak your interest and keep you coming back for more.

Buy Links Coming Soon


Giveaway

Natsuya is giving away eBook copies of two of his other works – grydscaen: tribute and A Storm’s Coming one shot manga – with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4719/?


Excerpt

“Not here. Hide the data till we are off the street. This way,” Toapfyl hurriedly motioned to the data messenger in the blue military coat, dark cargo pants and combat boots who followed him off the sidewalk and down another alley. He was wearing the typical garb for a data messenger which made Toapfyl comfortable when he met the stranger in the alley leaning against the wall, easily identifiable.

Toapfyl, a Level 3 hacker, was wearing maroon jeans and a zippered black hoodie pulled over his ebony half shaved head, exposing a slap of dirty brown dreadlocks gathered in a ponytail at his forehead hiding his right eye.

A prostitute wearing a pink miniskirt and fishnet stockings kissed a businessman in a black suit under a sickly yellow streetlight. Toapfyl and the data messenger were once again shrouded in shadow by the derelict buildings as they passed leaving the two to their pleasure.

Toapfyl pushed in a dilapidated door at the end of the alley, grime from the street creating a dusty haze in the air leaving a putrid stink. They entered a staircase. There was no light as they descended. Toapfyl sparked up his aegis to his hand, the manifestation of his psychic power, and lit a path to the basement.

He pushed in the door onto a dimly lit room and revealed Jester, the leader of the Jester hacker guild sitting in a rickety folding chair in the center of the empty room smoking a cigarette from a long black holder. A soft haze filtered over him from a light fixture dangling precariously from ceiling wires, the glass cover filled with dead moths that had happened their way inside and lived out their final days circling the artificial sun. The wan flickering light cast shadows that danced at the corners, the bulb swinging back and forth, moved by the basement door opening.

Legs crossed, Jester was wearing black patent leather platform boots, a shiny mahogany lace skirt, skintight black denim jeans, and a slick dark vinyl blouse with embroidered crimson roses, He sported an elaborate olive short coat with a high collar and dark cuffs and epaulets. A monocle optical sensor over his right eye, he was wearing a green top hat with a scarlet rose perched at the brim. His pink straight, shoulder length hair shined in the light.

He made an irritated gesture with his hand. “Don’t keep me waiting. Where is it?” Jester took a long drag from the cigarette and blew out a puff of smoke. He waved as Toapfyl closed the door.

“Not until I get paid.” The shocked data messenger prompted pulling out a red etched credit sized data card shaking it.

“Do the needful,” ordered Jester raising an eyebrow. He turned his back to them as he continued to smoke his cigarette taking a long drag.

Toapfyl pulled a platinum credit card out of his back pocket. The data messenger pulled his. They locked the two cards at the long end, pins embedded in the technology. Toapfyl typed out the amount of 55,000 credits on the virtual keyboard appearing on the face of his card. The cards chimed signaling the encryption key matched and the credits transferred from Toapfyl’s account.

The data messenger released his card and ran it through a handheld confirming the amount. He nodded stashing the handheld in his chest pocket.

“Done,” responded Toapfyl.

Jester turned back around not witnessing the exchange purposefully and stuck out his hand with his black lacquered fingernails in the knitted fingerless gloves. The stitching was coming apart at the seams on the thumb and index finger, the gloves covered in little white pills. Where everything about Jester’s appearance was immaculate, the gloves gave away an underlying confusion or sloppy disregard for his perfect veneer.

Jester was one of the hacker guild leaders who almost never showed his face in public. It was well known that Jester did not make meetings with data messengers or low level hackers, like a Level 3. He couldn’t be bothered with them. The fact that the data messenger insisted, and that Toapfyl made it happen, kept the data messenger on guard. He placed the red card in Jester’s palm and turned to leave.

Toapfyl jerked raising a gun to the data messenger’s temple. He touched skin. “No one leaves until the data is confirmed.”

Rom, the teenage Level 9 hacker, emerged from the shadows behind Jester. Eyebrow raised, he was annoyed with Toapfyl. Rom pulled a handheld out of his tan trench coat as he came into the dim light. His dull blonde unkempt hair gleamed with a blue streak at the front. He took the data card from Jester and swiped it in the port on the handheld reading the file as the system ran the security check. He typed on the deck triggering an encryption key prompt as the handheld’s computerized female voice spoke the request.

“The data is encrypted? Why didn’t you mention that?” questioned Toapfyl suspicious. He pushed the gun barrel closer taking a step in and made the data messenger move his head back.

“No problem,” interrupted Rom. “Most data messengers are Packrat Runners smuggling data from the City into the Echelons. It should take a Packrat decrypt key. I have access to the Packrats’ archive of one-time, pre-shared obscure keys. What I need for this, right?”

“That is why I wanted Jester at the meet. Toapfyl, all data messengers use encryption. If you don’t know that, you are an idiot. No self-respecting hacker attached to Jester would even ask the question you did just now. Only a Level 9 can penetrate. Jester would know a Level 9. Rom is one of the best in the business,” the data messenger revealed his disgust with Toapfyl and yanked the gun out of his hand pointing it back at the hacker.

Toapfyl blanched confused how he had been disarmed and lowered his eyebrows at the disrespect. Rom shot him an angry glare silencing him.

Jester smirked giving Rom permission to engage and waved the data messenger off. The messenger lowered the gun handing it back to Toapfyl.

Toapfyl opened the basement door and motioned the data messenger out accompanying him up the stairs leaving Jester in the room with Rom.


Author Bio

Natsuya UesugiNatsuya Uesugi is a systems analyst and ethical hacker by day and a manga artist and a writer by night. With an MBA in International Management and a minor in Japanese, Natsuya insists on showcasing diversity in his writing using his Japanese, Native American and African American heritage.

He studied animation and game design in art school and has published the grydscaen manga “A Storm’s Coming” which features the LGBT teen Rom from “grydscaen: dark,” and two manga in the yaoi series “graphic noiz.” Two episodes of the short anime “A Storm’s Coming” is available with a third episode planned. Four counseling centers are currently using the “A Storm’s Coming” novelette to help LGBT homeless youth and troubled teens with self esteem.

He is author of the dystopian cyberpunk “grydscaen” series, the dark fantasy trilogy “”The Seer of Grace and Fire,” and the yaoi novels and manga “graphic noiz.” He enjoys skydiving, cosplay, watching anime in Japanese, watching French news, World Cub futbol, eating ramen and anything with matcha, and writing poetry.

Author Website: http://www.grydscaen.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/natsuya.uesugi

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/Grydscaen/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/natsuya_uesugi

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4558587.Natsuya_Uesugi

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/natsuya-uesugi/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Natsuya-Uesugi/e/B00J6EDQQ6/

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And now here is a fun Interview with Rom one of the main hacker characters from grydscan: dark by Natsuya Uesugi

 

Tell me a little about name. Is that your real name?

My name is Rom, only Rom. If I have a real name I don’t know it. The government wiped my memory it is hard for me to remember stuff.

Are you a citizen or do you have a cit card?

No, I live in the Echelons. I have no money, there is no way that I am a citizen.

Where do you live?

I live in an abandoned subway near the Red Light District in the Echelons. It is my squat. It is safe from the elements and it is shielded from the nuclear fallout. I have a sleeping rig and a lantern and some rations still left over. Reminds me I hope I have enough money to buy water free of radiation, I am almost out.

What is your favorite food?

You can’t be picky when you are dumpster diving. There is a dumpster behind the eatery Tram and one behind a noodle restaurant that always has good haul. They put out trash after lunch and dinner and I wait around for the good pickings. Saturday evening is always a treat.

Do you have a job?
Well, not really. I do hacking sometimes for the Packrats and I am trying to officially become a Runner which means I deliver messages and data throughout the Echelons. I am not a full Runner yet as I still have a lot to learn but I am getting there.

What got you living on the streets if I may ask?
I was arrested by the government for hacking into the Parliament and they erased my memory and threw me out on the streets. It is hard for me to even remember my name some days.

Isn’t living on the streets hard?

I would say living on the streets is hard most days but you get used to it. I have been out here over 9 months, it is fine. A little cold at night but it works for me.

Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?

Oh, don’t make me blush. There is this trans girl I like but I don’t think she would even talk to me again if I told her I liked her. For now we stay friends. She is also homeless. I might get the courage up to ask her out one day. I would like to bring her to the Packrat Sprawl to get her off the streets but we will see.

What is that device you have with you?

This handheld is a piece of crap, well actually it is state of the art hidden in a crap package. It can hack, compile, do just about anything. I have had it a while now. I keep it safe so no one steals it. Don’t want to get into it too much.

What do you think of the government?

Down with the Elite government. Hackers Unite. Hack Till Your Dead!

How about the Zone Police?

Rounding up psychics and delinquents after curfew and sending them to die from hard labour in the kedek mines. I make sure I don’t get caught on the streets after curfew. The Zone Police are insane.

What did you do yesterday?

Dumpster diving, panhandling, hacked a cash register, wandered around the Red Light District, got some free electrolytes at the Office of Affairs, went to the Hack Tech and Ware nightclub and surfed the gridscan, downloaded a new script that steals cash from a hacked account – just need to find a machine and some sucker to infect now.

Sounds like you enjoy hacking. Do you find it fun/difficult/exciting?

It is what I do. It is fun enough. I just need a rig and I hope the Packrats will let me use their machines.

Do you have any friends?

I have a host friend who works out front of The Hole X-rated magazine shop in the Red Light District. He is gay and picks up Johns nightly to pay his way. Keeps him busy and he makes a pretty good haul. He is one of those pretty boys. I could never be a host. And my other firned that trans girl I was talking about. Her name is IIn. Other than that I keep to myself.

What about family?

Maybe, I don’t remember. I have flashbacks of this girl Elena but I forget my relationship to her. She may be my younger sister but I don’t know. I had another sister who was older than me. She stayed with me squatting in the Echelons but I couldn’t afford her iodine pills to combat the radiation and she got radiation sickness and died recently. That was my fault. There is no way I can make up for that. I stay on the streets as part of my punishment for failing her.

Tell me something no one knows about you?

I am gay and think that the hacker Jester, leader of the Jester Hacker Guild is hot. One day. I can dream.

The Fifth To Die (4MK Thriller #2) by J.D. Barker Review

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

Today is a special treat my friends. I was recently sent an advanced copy of the highly anticipated sequel to one of my favorite thrillers in the last few years, The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker. This time around the author has published The Fifth To Die, a thrilling ride that explores the continuing hunt for the deadly 4MK. Here’s the synopsis:

In the thrilling sequel to The Fourth Monkey, a new serial killer stalks the streets of Chicago, while Detective Porter delves deeper into the dark past of the Four Monkey Killer.

Detective Porter and the team have been pulled from the hunt for Anson Bishop, the Four Monkey Killer, by the feds. When the body of a young girl is found beneath the frozen waters of Jackson Park Lagoon, she is quickly identified as Ella Reynolds, missing three weeks. But how did she get there? The lagoon froze months earlier. More baffling? She’s found wearing the clothes of another girl, missing less than two days. 

While the detectives of Chicago Metro try to make sense of the quickly developing case, Porter secretly continues his pursuit of 4MK, knowing the best way to find Bishop is to track down his mother. When the captain finds out about Porter’s activities, he’s suspended, leaving his partners Clair and Nash to continue the search for the new killer alone.

Obsessed with catching Bishop, Porter follows a single grainy photograph from Chicago to the streets of New Orleans and stumbles into a world darker than he could have possibly imagined, where he quickly realizes that the only place more frightening than the mind of a serial killer is the mind of the mother from which he came.

This book was incredible. Of course as with all my reviews this will be a spoiler-free review. However I can honestly say that author J.D. Barker has mastered how to write the perfect sequel, upping his game greatly to create an even more intense, thrilling and engaging story than The Fourth Monkey. Delving deeper into the killer’s past, Detective Porter finds himself drawn into the twisted world of 4MK in ways no one can ever imagine, unless of course you’re J.D. Barker.

The way the story takes readers into the minds of everyone involved in the case, from new investigators and the team you came to know and love in the first novel to the killer himself and the newest victims who have to face the very heart of darkness and evil alone. It’s a powerful and explosive story from the first page, showing the way everyone was affected by 4MK’s surprising actions in the first novel and how just when you thought you knew the limits of this killer, he takes things so much further. By the end of the story your heart will be racing and you’ll be on the edge of your seat, gasping for breath because you got so enraptured with the twist ending that you forgot to breath.

Overall I loved this story. It was so fun and thrilling to take part in, and the entire time I was reading it I kept asking myself when someone is going to make a movie or show about this story. The tale of 4MK and those hunting him is the modern day serial killer story we’ve been waiting for, and makes for the perfect summer thriller read. In J.D. Barker we’ve found a spiritual successor to the incredible Stephen King, taking the characters of the everyday man and transforming their lives into one of a kind adventures and thrill rides that only these one of a kind authors could come up with. If you haven’t preordered your copy yet, be sure to do so now. The Fifth To Die by J.D. Barker comes out July 10th, 2018, so grab your copies today!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0544973976/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0544973976&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

ABOUT J.D.

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Barker was born January 7, 1971 in Lombard, Illinois and spent the first fourteen years of his life in Crystal Lake, Illinois. A staunch introvert, he was rarely seen without a book in hand, devouring both the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series by the age of six before moving on to classics such as the works of Dickens and Twain. The discovery of Shelley, Stoker and Poe fueled a fire and it wasn’t long before he was writing tales of his own which he shared with friends and family. These early stories centered around witches and ghosts thought to inhabit the woods surrounding their home.

At fourteen, Barker’s family relocated to Englewood, Florida, a climate better suited to his father’s profession as a contractor. He attended Lemon Bay High School and graduated in 1989. Knowing he wanted to pursue a career in the arts but unsure of a direction, he enrolled at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale where he later obtained a degree in business. While in college, one of his writing assignment found its way into the hands of Paul Gallotta of Circus Magazine. Gallotta reached out to Barker and asked him to join the staff of 25th Parallel Magazine where he worked alongside the man who would later become Marilyn Manson. Assignments dropped him into the center of pop culture and by 1991 Barker branched out, interviewing celebrities for the likes of Seventeen, TeenBeat, and other national and local publications. In 1992, Barker syndicated a small newspaper column called Revealed which centered around the investigation of haunted places and supernatural occurrences. While he often cites these early endeavors as a crash course in tightening prose, his heart remained with fiction. He began work as a book doctor and ghostwriter shortly thereafter, helping others fine tune their writing for publication. Barker has said this experience proved invaluable, teaching him what works and what doesn’t in today’s popular fiction. He would continue in this profession until 2012 when he wrote a novel of his own, titled Forsaken.

Stephen King read portions of Forsaken prior to publication and granted Barker permission to utilize the character of Leland Gaunt of King’s Needful Things in the novel. Indie-published in late 2014, the book went on to hit several major milestones – #2 on Audible (Harper Lee with Go Set a Watchman held #1), #44 on Amazon U.S., #2 on Amazon Canada, and #22 on Amazon UK. Forsaken was also nominated for a Bram Stoker Award (Best Debut Novel) and won a handful of others including a New Apple Medalist Award. After reading Forsaken, Bram Stoker’s family reached out to Barker and asked him to co-author a prequel to Dracula utilizing Bram’s original notes and journals, much of which has never been made public. The novel, titled Dracul, sold at auction to G.P. Putnam & Sons, with film rights going to Paramount. Andy Muschietti (IT, Mama) is attached to direct.

Barker’s initial indie success drew the attention of traditional agents and publishers and in early 2016 his debut thriller, The Fourth Monkey, sold in a series of pre-empts and auctions worldwide with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt set to publish in the U.S. and HarperCollins in the UK. The book has also sold for both film and television.

Barker splits his time between Englewood, FL, and Pittsburgh, PA, with his wife, Dayna.

http://facebook.com/therealjdbarker

https://twitter.com/jdbarker

https://www.instagram.com/jdbarker_author/

http://jdbarker.com/

Smashwords July Summer/Winter Book Promotion: 50% Off And Free eBooks!

Hello there!

I hope everyone is having a fantastic summer thus far! As I continue preparing for the upcoming release of novella #2 in my YA series Nightmare Academy, I thought it would be a great time to start sharing my books with you all. That’s why I’m excited to share that my books I Was An Evil Teenager: Remastered and Welcome to Nightmare Academy are taking part in Smashwords annual Summer/Winter promotion! Throughout the entire month of July, I Was An Evil Teenager: Remastered is going to be 50% off (that’s $1.50 for an entire novel), and Welcome to Nightmare Academy will be completely free! Yes, the first entry in the series is now free for the entire month. So click the link down below and get both a marked down, scary horror novel about a teenage killer and get a free copy of a highly reviewed and engaging upcoming YA series. If you enjoy these stories then I would love for you to leave a review on any site you are able to and also preorder your copy of Freshman Hunt: A Nightmare Academy Novella today! Thanks everyone, and enjoy your summer!

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https://bit.ly/2IKOtiA

Interview With Author Thomas Neviaser

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

I’m a retired orthopedic surgeon who opted for the “good life” after 33 years of practice in Virginia. I decided to trade in my scalpel for a word processor.

In theory, I’ve been writing for decades, but all of that work has been in the orthopedic field of medicine. I have authored over 40 peer reviews articles, written chapters in orthopedic textbooks, presented at symposiums and instructional courses, but did not start writing for fun until I retired in 2000. Mm first endeavor was an informative yet humorous book, Man’s Unofficial Guide to the Use of His Garage, followed by a collection of short stories, The Comb in the Urinal and other Perplexities of Life, about everyday objects we all see in very unusual places and how they got there. Some stories are fictional but some of the stories actually happened to me.

At the encouragement of family and friends, I published (2016) my non-fiction orthopedic manuscript, THE WAY I SEE IT: A Head-to-Toe Guide to Common Orthopaedic Condtions, a guide for the layperson and orthopedic patients so they could educate themselves to their conditions and be able to converse with their doctors in intelligible manners. There are 90 conditions discussed as well as 80 diagrams/photos/x-rays included. Medical terminology is phonetically spelled and explained in easy to understand language.

What inspired you to write your book?

My first novel, YOU DEAR SWEET MAN (2017), was inspired by a digital photo in a subway car advertisement poster while I was traveling into Washington, DC. It was so vividly clear and almost three dimensional, I thought the woman in the ad would move if I stared at it long enough. Hence, the idea for the book was born. A blue-collar worker is seduced into the unsavory world of advertising by an attractive but evil woman whose alter-ego poses as a model in a most unique subway car ad, becomes his living fantasy, and ultimately defines his destiny.

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

I think this book illustrates how easily people can be swayed from their lives and think that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.

What drew you into this particular genre?

I always loved books and TV shows that were somewhat out of box, made me think, and yet surprised me with the ending.

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

I would choose Samantha, the antagonist in YOU DEAR SWEET MAN. The question would be, “Sam, why in the world would you use your exceptional extra-sensory abilities for evil rather than good?”

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

I have never been interested in social media until I started writing. I’m still not a fan, but found it necessary to have some platform for myself, my orthopedic guide, and all of my books. I would have to say, Facebook, but as I said, I’m not that enthusiastic about it. I’m not on Twitter and a novice at Instagram. I guess I’m old school to the core.

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

Write what comes to your mind and keep writing. Correct all the mistakes later. I found that if trying to write grammatically correct, one loses concentration and tends to grind to a halt quickly. It one of the reasons for “Writer’s Block!”

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

I have just finished my second novel, THE MYSTERY OF FLIGHT 2222, a book I’ve been writing for sixty years, believe it or not. When I was in high school, I wrote this short story about a plane crash and the subsequent trials and tribulations of nine passengers as they endure stresses well beyond one’s imagination leading to physical and mental decline, paranoia, death, sharks, bad weather and open seas pirates. Their subsequent rescue only initiates another trip from which they can never escape.

I finally decided to expand the story that had been in the back of my mind for six decades, and now:

THE MYSTERY OF FLIGHT 2222 will be launched on July 25, 2018 on Amazon. It should soon be on the Amazon’s pre-order list, and I hope all your readers will read and review it.

Thank you so much for asking me to participate in your blog interview,

Thomas Neviaser

 

Man’s Unofficial Guide to the Use of His garage: