N.J. Tanger’s “Ascension”: Masterfully Written Science Fiction

ascension

This intriguing and suspense-filled tale intricately describes what it might take to reach an interstellar destination, both in the way of motivation as well as technology, to say nothing of the type of individuals who would assume such a feat.

Nathan Beauchamp, a member of the writing team known as N.J. Tanger, is the sole author of this episode in the Universe Eventual series which expands upon the workings of the interstellar vehicle, Chimera. The ship is designed to support a population comparable to a small city for years to come through hydroponics and other self-sufficiency techniques. It provides holographic scenery reminiscent of Earth; possesses a sophisticated power system; and includes a political structure drenched in intrigue.

The conspiratorial reason for leaving Earth is fascinating and smolders with much of what is seen in today’s corporatism-saturated world. Colonization is motivated by their destination’s rich deposits of ecomire, which I assume to be the next generation of uranium, i.e., it represents a powerful energy source rarely found elsewhere and motivates a power hungry (both literally and figuratively) corporation to finance the venture. Furthermore, they intend to maintain their tentacles in those making the journey through whatever means necessary. Some colonization efforts are about survival, others about profits, this one possessing elements of both.

New but intuitively familiar terminology provided a unique and convincing environment. For example, referring to the enforcement arm as “regulators” was cold and effective. The personal agenda of various characters provided plot complexity, but without over-populating the story. Yet, the massive dimensions of the ship, the number of those onboard, and their evolving culture and social strata were conveyed effectively. The main character, Ashley Samuelson, was credible and relatable, personalized further by the first person narrative point of view and the intimate details of his personal life and relationships, including a romantic one.

One of the most clever sci-fi elements serves as the mainstay of the plot and that is the means by which the Chimera is guided by its navigator with the support of a few assistants, one of which is Ashley. To travel through the esoteric, paranormal dimension described as “fractal space”, “stitches” are laid to form a connection between Earth and their ultimate destination through “The Everything”. Once this pathway is laid, other ships will traverse it more quickly, so the implication is that they are creating a wormhole. This is accomplished through the combined efforts of the navigator, who’s enclosed in a mysterious spherical work station, where he or she is psychically entangled with the ship’s artificial intelligence. This combination of thought energy provides the creative power to chart its course, stitch by stitch, an interesting play on the apparent consciousness/matter interface implied by quantum theory. Navigator assistants deal with resolving any paradoxes encountered along the way.

Not just anyone can perform this critical navigating function, so when their existing navigator dies unexpectedly of mysterious causes, it presents a significant threat, not only to their mission, but their very survival. The quest to find a new navigator combined with investigation into the death of the original one provides various provocative insights into the risks of AI as well as allowing it to interact with a human.

This complex tale is presented via a masterful style that demonstrates some of the most delicious prose I’ve seen. As a writer myself, I savored numerous vivid descriptions, such as a look of “distilled hatred”; “her angry, beautiful, treacherous eyes”; “stumbling my way into the truth”; “fear masqueraded as anger”; as well as several others.  I suppose the fact such jewels jumped out at me as exceptional descriptions could be considered throwing me out of the story, but for me it was in a good way. Some of the imagery was nearly blinding, which is not easily achieved without slowing down the story. However, the literary precision was such that the descriptions integrated with the action and increased the suspense, which made various scenes play out like a movie in my mind. The author’s skill itself made this tale a joy to read.

This story is part of the Universal Eventual series, yet stands alone. However, if you’ve read any of the other stories, it helps fill in a few of the gaps. It has been a while since I read Chimera and this makes me want to read it again. If you enjoy meaty hard science fiction with plenty of advanced technology and intrigue while maintaining a strong human element with philosophical implications as deep as you care to go, all of which is packaged with strong, skillful writing, I highly recommend this story.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.

“The Terra Debacle: Prisoners at Area 51” Release!

2064947 - area 51

I’m happy to report that my latest novel has finally been released! If you’re a fan of UFOs, Area 51, or have read Beyond the Hidden Sky and/or A Dark of Endless Days, volumes I and II, respectively, of the Star Trails Tetralogy, you’ll enjoy this one.

Writing this story, which is a spin-off from the Star Trails Tetralogy, was quite a trip. Every time I thought it was done, I’d realize there was something missing. Usually that entailed more research, which took more time than the actual writing.

Nonetheless, it was an adventure and fun, especially getting to know a new character, Gabe Greenley, after spending so much time with the Brightstar clan.

For those of you who don’t know the premise of the story, here’s the Book Blurb:

In May 1978 a UFO lands at Hill AFB in Ogden, Utah. NASA astrobiologist, Gabe Greenley, is called in to investigate a strange plant found onboard. Psi-sensitive, he quickly learns the specimen is highly intelligent and potentially dangerous. Taunted by a ground-breaking discovery he can never share, his security oaths eventually result in an ethical dilemma with treasonous and deadly implications.

More information, including the promotional video, are on the Star Trails Tetralogy website.

I’m grateful to the author/bloggers who have given me of their time and talents in both reading, offering feedback, and ultimately reviewing the story, particularly Stephen Geez of Fresh Ink Group, who did a tremendous job editing, both the book and the video. You can read the blogs as well as some excerpts and find buy links to several online retailers  below. A button to add the story to your Goodreads TBR list is there as well. Remember reviews are always welcome and the best way to thank an author if you enjoy their work.

Reviews and Blogs

tdpa51-chauvinist copy

From Scott Skipper’s Blog

John Reinhard Dizon’s Blog

Elle Klass’s “Troubled Oyster” Blog

Scott Skipper’s Blog

Ceri London’s Blog

Excerpts on Bublish

“An Alien Lifeform”

“Mutual Scrutiny”

“Experiment Ethics Present a Dilemma”

Buy Links

The Terra Debacle: Prisoners at Area 51

Guest Post from Author Elle Klass!

A little over a year ago I released Zombie Girl, a short story in the Once Upon a Zombietale Anthology. You can still buy the anthology and read the original story as well as all the other fabulous zombietales in the book.

 
Readers came to me after reading asking about the story which ends on a bit of a question. I write series so naturally leave a story open for possibilities but hadn’t planned on expanding it. 
 
Zombies were something I never really planned on writing about even though I’ve watched Dawn of the Dead, the Resident Evil movies and 28 Days Later series countless times. In fact all the movies are in my collection.
 
I’m not a stranger to zombie horror or the fun movies like Zombieland and Warm Bodies. In my own series, Zombie Girl, I incorporated both horror and silliness.
 
Premonition, the first book just released!
 

Buy Links:

 Amazon Kindle

Apple, Nook, Kobo, 24 Symbols, Inktera, Indigo 

Blurb: 

Maddie’s parents flip when they find out she’s failing science. That’s her worst problem until she wakes up and finds they’re zombies. Now she must escape them and her house. With nowhere else to go, and the keys to her parents’ sailboat, she makes her getaway. Finding Bryce was a fortunate circumstance and the two take on zombies and set sail for parts unknown.

Excerpt from Premonition

Annoyed and scared, I cranked the motor and pressed the gas
pedal to the floor. The car plowed forward, hitting the lead zombie. It
thumped, flew, and slid beneath the car. More zombies hit the car; body parts and blood covered the windshield.

I fumbled with the dash, depressing buttons, looking for the wipers. Once I found them and turned them on, they swiped away the blood, leaving streaks on the windshield. Stuck in the pasty, bloodied streaks were little black dots. I looked closer, squinting my eyes. They were lovebugs; horrible little insects rumored to be created in a lab at the University of Florida to control the mosquito population in the state. Twice a year, spring and fall, they marred every vehicle on the road and were a complete nuisance.

I was thinking science again! And the thoughts kept coming. The heart pumps blood throughout the body. Did the zombies’ hearts still work? Did I kill them?

Slamming on the brakes, I wanted to know. I turned the car around, hitting the side of a truck’s bumper as I did. I drove by slowly. The body parts were still moving, and a couple whole zombies struggled to get to their feet. So how do I kill them?

With the car running, I considered my options and owned up to my morbid curiosity about them. I rifled through the contents of my mom’s car. No weapons. Disappointed, but not stupid, I turned and ran over the zombies struggling to get up and turned around again, the car thumping over
their wriggling bodies and crunching away at their bones. I got back onto I-95 and headed towards the Marina.

Infection, the second book releases July 10! Pre-order it now. The .99 price tag won’t last.

Buy Links:

Blurb:

When Maddie and Bryce touch, she knows her zombie dream wasn’t simply a dream but a premonition. It’s up to her and Bryce to save the world from the doomsday sickness that will kill everyone – in a manner of speaking. They soon learn the zombies aren’t the only horrors that await them in the new fight-or-die world. They battle by each other’s side as the infection spreads globally.

Excerpt from “Infection”

Bryce and my father were in trouble. I had to do something, so I grabbed the gun, twisted in my seat, and brought it to my face. I’d never shot a gun other than in video games, but I’d seen tons of movies. It couldn’t be that difficult. I clicked the lever thing on the topside of the gun. I knew that was the safety.

“Maddie, your father can handle him” she said, her voice quaking. I imagined her wringing her hands together like a dishrag.

From the corner of my eye, I watched Sarah lift her eyes off the cat and stare towards me. I met her gaze and she nodded her approval then mouthed, Be careful.

The men drew closer to the boat with each second I wasted. I pushed the door open, snuck around the side and observed my surroundings. I felt like a hunter in the wild carrying the big shotgun, but acted more like a detective on a cheesy cop show. As I moved around the van, I spotted a crate identical to the one where I found Bryce in my… our dream.

I scurried towards it, doing my best to step over and around the large puddles so as not to make splashing noises that would catch the creepy bald man’s attention. Upon reaching it, I crouched. Placing my back against the wet wooden side, I slid around it and onto my knees and peeked out.

Bryce and my father stepped onto the boat, I used the man’s shining head as a guiding light. He was still behind them. Taking a deep breath, I moved back around the side and out of their view. The nose of the shotgun rose over the top as I held it straight and fired. Its recoil hit my upper thigh and I screamed as I doubled over, the gun hitting the ground. My leg throbbed and I knew I’d have a nasty bruise.

Disclaimer:

Both stories end with a tad of a cliffhanger.

 

I Don’t Love Zombies but Loved this Story

premonitioncvr

I’m not a big zombie fan in that I’ve never been drawn to shows like “The Walking Dead” and so forth. I’m prone to look upon zombies and vampires as analogies. To me, zombies represent those around us who simply go from day to day in a daze, missing what’s really going on around them, lacking joy and enthusiasm, and trashing those around them who have a life. Vampires are even more obvious, being the bloodsuckers that expect others to take care of them emotionally or financially. Since I’m not amused or entertained by such individuals, I’m likewise not usually attracted to such stories.

However, as a writer myself I enjoy a well-crafted story, regardless of genre. I especially enjoy award winning author, Elle Klass’, tales because they’re populated with well-developed, intelligent, gutsy, and engaging characters while her plots are original and full of surprises. Thus, for her books I’ll always make an exception. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed her “Bloodseeker” stories and now Zombie Girl because they’re well-written with lots of action involving memorable, believable characters as well as surprising and often intricate plot twists.  A dose of Elle’s creative genius is the ultimate prescription to escape the figurative zombies and vampires in your own life.

I recently finished “Premonition” where the heroine, Maddie, is in trouble with her parents because she’s flunking science. Pressured to improve her grade, she reluctantly agrees to study more diligently. That night she experiences a vivid dream in which her parents have turned into zombies, so she flees her home. She meets a boy named Bryce, the two of them battling zombies, trying to survive.  When she wakes up to a normal Saturday morning, she realizes it was only a dream, yet remains troubled. Not only was the dream itself far too real, a physical object Bryce gave her in the dream is still in her possession.

Huh? How could it be?

This physical evidence tells her for certain it was more than a dream–it was a warning. Nonetheless, months pass, and everything seems normal. Until another vestige from the dream becomes reality.

Elle knows how to build nail-biting suspense and “Premonition” is no exception. The story is relatively short, but sets the stage for what you know is going to be an exciting adventure with a generous sprinkling of dark humor. Fortunately, the sequel, “Infection,” is coming soon.  Preorder now so you don’t miss it when it comes out in July!

Pick up your copy of “Premonition” here.

Preorder “Infection” here.

infectioncvr

“This website may contain affiliate links which means if you click on a link and ultimately invest in something, that I may get a commission. If the item is one of my own books, that should be intuitively obvious.”

“The Monster Upstairs” –Another YA Paranormal Hit from Elle Klass

themonsterupstairs

Elle Klass fans will undoubtedly love “The Monster Upstairs”,  latest in her “Bloodseeker” series set in historic St. Augustine, Florida.

This heart-stopping sequel to the first book in this series, “The Vampires Next Door”, provides a wild ride (some onboard a rather hot werewolf) as the lethal conflict between Bloodseekers and Slayers intensifies. Slayers aren’t alone in their quest; in case you haven’t already guessed, werewolves are likewise engaged in this timeless battle, as well as Light witches and Dark witches, their mysterious ties revealed in this suspenseful Young Adult thriller.  I’m not normally a vampire fan, but Elle’s have a slightly different twist and culture, that makes them more interesting. Especially the Slayers, tasked with keeping them under control or, better yet, eliminated, through individual powers endowed through their amulets.

The author continues her enviable ability to bring vivid and memorable characters to life, as she has with all of her series. In this story we meet teenage Mandy, who’s suddenly confronted by unexpected and daunting challenges associated with her fated destiny. Previously unaware she’s the product of a forbidden liaison, she discovers family secrets in a shocking turn of events that change her life forever. Whisked away to Wolf Manor, she discovers the true nature of the mysterious man named Joel and his mother as well as the fateful roles they’ve played in her life.

Each supernatural entity has its own fascinating agenda as the forces of good and evil battle for dominance. The author brings refreshing new twists to classic supernatural beings you only thought you knew and understood. Their respective cultures and the relationships between them, both as individuals and groups, are nicely developed, bringing depth and credibility to their intriguing world.

Alison and Rodham, along with the other amulet-wielding Slayers you met in “The Vampires Next Door”, return, their fates converging with Mandy’s and Joel’s, as this clever tale gathers momentum and complexity, ultimately converging in a clash between powerful supernatural forces in historic, mystery-laden Saint Augustine. And there’s more in this series to come!

This Teen/Young Adult thriller is a fast read, but in spite of the paranormal subject, not overly graphic or so scary you can’t read it at night. I’m a real coward when it comes to such stuff, but had no problems being creeped out. I recommend reading “The Vampires Next Door” first, if you haven’t already, so you can follow more easily how the two books and characters fit together.

You can preorder your copy here.

While you’re waiting, get your copy of “The Vampires Next Door” here.

VampiresNDCover

New Thriller in Elle Klass’ “Ruthless Storm Trilogy” Just Released!

The Mind boggling conclusion to the Ruthless Storm Trilogy. Release date October 14, 2016.

My characters are fictional but crime, murders and serial killers are real. No crime is victimless. Buy In the Midst of the Storm during October and every cent Elle receives will be donated to victimsofcrime.org to help real victims.

Amazon

Nook

Apple

Google Play

Smashwords

Kobo

The thrilling conclusion is filled with suspense! Here’s an excerpt:

The cold air chilling her to the bone, she walked swiftly towards her apartment. Her mind cloudy from too many beers. A trail

through the woods surrounding her apartment complex opened up to her left. If she stayed the course of the street-lit sidewalk, it’d take her longer to get home than if she took the path through the woods that led almost directly to her door. Her body shivering, she decided to take the chance and cut through the woods. Really, it was just a small chunk of trees with a well-worn path that most people used for walking their dogs.

Halfway through the shortcut, she heard voices talking. She slowed her pace and listened but assumed it was a couple walking their dog.

“What the hell are you doing?!” yelled a male voice.

She jumped and on instinct plastered herself against a large tree and scanned the area. Hoping she was fully camouflaged by the thick trunk. She peeked her head around it and spotted two young men. One had jeans sagging past his buttocks and a red jacket. The other wore all black and he held a glinting silver object. Her mind flashed back to the shining object and black eyes that chased her within her nightmares. She breathed deeply, trying to stay calm, and considered her options. The last time she’d run through woods didn’t fare well for her and she ended up in a coma for a week.

Running was out of the question. Going forward was out of the question. She felt the cool metal of the pendant against her chest and remembered its soothing qualities. Taking a deep breath, she

crouched, using the trees for cover and squat-walked towards the next tree. She couldn’t avoid the piles of leaves littering the ground, but hoped her steps were gentle enough the guys would consider them an animal.



The voices moved closer to her and she went into near panic mode. Breathe, breathe. They’re probably just smoking pot and mean no harm, she soothed herself, but the feeling in her gut sent shivers of horror flying through her body. Bad memories resurfaced and she saw his face, the monster, Evan’s face. She closed her eyes, attempting to gather her courage.

Leaves rustled beneath their pounding footsteps, growing closer with each one. No longer able to control her fear, she took her chances and ran.

“Who’s there?” called one of the men, as Eilida sprinted through the woods. Not watching where she was going, she ran smack into broad shoulders and a rock hard abdomen. Waves of horror shuddered throughout her body.

Listen to the In the Midst of the Storm Soundtrack!

It’s sexy!

He wanted to make all the bad in her life disappear and he wanted her. The vibes bouncing off Eilida suggested she desired him just as much. Setting his plate on the table, he turned to face her and cupped her face in his hand. Then he brought his lips to hers. His sexual hunger matched by hers.
When they released the kiss, she set her plate beside his and brought her body closer to his, melting in his arms. Their mouths met again as their hands explored the other’s assets. His hand lingering on her perky breasts as he lifted her shirt and drew his tongue closer to them for a taste…

Why I’ve Been Off the Blogmobile

terradebaclefronttI’ve been off the blogmobile for a while, as you may have noticed. Why? Because I’ve been doing what authors do, which is, in case you’re not aware, write. I’m in the process of finishing up my latest novel, “The Terra Debacle: Prisoners at Area 51” which chronicles what happened to Thyron and Aggie while they were at Area 51, which occurred in Star Trails Volume II, “A Dark of Endless Days.” I thought it would be another short story like “The Sapphiran Agenda” but, as it turned out, it became a novel, though only about half the length of the books in the series. It’s in the final phases at this point with my planned release date December 1. I’ll let you know when it’ll be available for pre-order on Amazon.

Meanwhile, here’s a peek at the cover as it currently stands and a short excerpt. If you haven’t read the series, then you need to know that Thyron is a flora peda telepathis, or telepathic walking plant. You can learn more about him in “The Sapphiran Agenda” which is free on Smashwords. You can pickup a copy in the ebook format of your choice here:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/575910

Onboard Impounded UFO

Hill AFB

Ogden, Utah

May 28, 1978

1445 MDT/2045 GMT

Thoughts cloaked, Thyron sat perfectly still on the bench occupying the Cerulean Nimrod’s lower deck where Creena had witnessed him tromp the ‘troid in a tysa game during their journey, one of his most cherished moments of botanical victory. Before him, a bearded man with dark hair teased with grey straddled the bench, scrutinizing him with curious, green eyes while a small group of uniformed humans clustered around.

“Clearly it’s a botanical lifeform,” the man stated, removing a small light source from one of many pockets in his tan jacket.

Invisible within his carefully arranged, multi-faceted leaves, Thyron rolled his eyes. Classifying these people as morons was far too generous.

“Strange,” he went on.. “It looks like an oxalis palmifrons – gigantea hybrid. A type of wood sorrel. Quite common in Brazil. South Africa and Mexico, too, as I recall. I wonder if it was brought here or harvested?”

“What do you suggest we do with it, Doctor Greenley?” asked an older soldier of considerable rank, judging by the plethora of decorative patches and dangling metallic ornaments on his chest. His uniform, unlike the others, was a shade of blue similar in color to coagulated Sapphiran blood.

“We need to secure it in a sealed environmental chamber to assure its safe arrival at the Nellis lab, Colonel. It looks rather hardy, but we don’t know what its heat tolerance level is, which could be exceeded during the trip across the desert, and it shouldn’t be exposed to contaminants like molds, fungi, bacteria and such, that could prove lethal. Fortunately, I brought along an environmental control chamber on loan from NASA’s Life Sciences Exobiology Branch.”

“Great. Let’s do it. We need to get this vehicle off the tarmac. The crane’s ready to load it up on a flatbed and secure it in a hangar until departure tonight at oh-three-hundred.”

Greenley removed a small, notched strip of metal from one of his pockets and handed it to the nearest soldier who had hair the color of iron-rich dirt, which Thryon found rather pleasing. “Here’s the key to my rental car, airman. It’s in the trunk. Two of you should be able to handle it.”

Airman? Thyron thought. Odd. He didn’t look as if he could fly.

“While you retrieve the ECC, I’m going to take a sample to study in the astrobionics lab when I get back to Houston,” the botanist continued, reaching into another pocket. “Then I’ll be able to determine conclusively whether it’s a native species or extraterrestrial.”

Take a sample?

Instantaneously, an ancestral defense mechanism lurking in his DNA activated that Thyron had never experienced before. His cytoplasm tingled as it gathered sulfur dioxide stored deep within his primary bulb and started to combine it with water stored in his lush, divided leaves. Fortunately, the burning sensation tipped him off to what was happening just in time, preventing a toxic cloud of sulfuric acid fumes from injuring and possibly killing everyone within ten meters.

The mental concentration required to perform this humane action precluded cloaking his concurrent mental response, however. As soon as the thought escaped, all he could do was hope that no one within range was psi-sensitive.

He was wrong.

The botanist’s eyes widened and jaw dropped, hand gripping the cutting device frozen in midair.

“What’s wrong, Dr. Greenley?” the officer asked, stepping closer. “Are you all right?”

The scientist closed his mouth, blinked a few times, then turned his head in the speaker’s direction. “Holy guacamole! It just refused. Rather adamantly. I swear. To be exact, I had the distinct impression it said, and I quote, ‘Like hell you will.‘”

Several more mouths fell open amid a few chuckles of disbelief.

“What’s that smell?” one of the airmen asked.

“Well, it wasn’t me,” Greenley stated, somewhat defensively. “Whatever this species is, Colonel Jenkins, I suspect it’s intelligent, perhaps even dangerous.” He straightened and stepped back, returning the cutting tool to his jacket’s hip pocket and securing the flap. “I’ve seen thousands of botanical species, from the tropics to Antarctica, from mountain tops in the Andes to the depths of the Mariana Trench. But this specimen’s entirely different from anything I’ve ever encountered anywhere on Planet Earth.”

The colonel took a deep breath and blew out his cheeks. “Yeah. I’d say that’s intuitively obvious, doc,” he said. “Intuitively obvious.”

* * *

The Star Trails Tetralogy Box Set is available at most online retailers through the links below.

For more information about individual books and reviews visit the series’ website at http://www.StarTrailsSaga.com.

Start the Star Trails adventure with “Beyond the Hidden Sky” for FREE!  http://startrailssaga.com/a-family-saga-at-warp-speed-2/get-beyond-the-hidden-sky-for-free/

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1kAJxRn

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/550675

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/star-trails-tetralogy-box-set

iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/star-trails-tetralogy-box-set/id1007498996

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/star-trails-tetralogy-box-set-marcha-fox/1122157702

Interview with Multi-genre Author John Reinhard Dizon

smokyring3 copy

John Reinhard Dizon is one of my favorite authors and definitely one of the most versatile. His literary repertoire includes thrillers, family sagas, historical settings, steampunk, sports, suspense and techno-horror to name a few.  His latest release, Both Sides Now, is a romantic comedy, and I must say that I have a bit of a personal interest in this book since I designed both the interior and the cover plus my daughter is the model on the back. While formatting the interior, I gleaned enough of the story’s basics that I’m looking forward to reading it properly in the near future.

I interviewed John a few years back, but in view of this new release, I thought it was time for a rerun with some specific questions directed at him about this latest work. While he dubs it a romantic comedy, it struck me as much more substantial, especially with its unique setting and situations. So let’s see what he has to say.

MF:  The protagonist in your latest novel, “Both Sides Now”, is an intellectual wrestler. You are a highly intelligent person and were a wrestler in a “previous life”, which explains the authentic feel and terminology of the sport. How much of this story is autobiographical?

JRD: Actually it’s far more biographical. Hans “The Great” Mortier was one of my mortierWorld Wide Wrestling Federation childhood favorites. There was a major roster change when Vince Mc Mahon bought the Company from his father at the end of the Sixties, and the stars from the old regime were swept under the rug. Mortier was not a German professor, so that is all ‘what-if’. However, a large portion of the story is going to be instantly recognizable to fans of the era. The novel is as much a testament to the era as it is to Hans Mortier.

MF: Ray Karpis, quite a shady character from the early 20th Century, has made an appearance in two of your books, this latest one as well as “The Triad.” What do you find most appealing about him?  Did you ever meet him?

TheTriadCover1 copyJRD: As a criminologist, I have to say that Alvin Karpis is my favorite gangster. He was the last of the Public Enemies but was so elusive and shadowy that hardly anyone knows of him. I wrote Both Sides Now before The Triad and paid homage to Karpis by naming the Lou Thesz-based character after him. Outside of his autobiography and the Public Enemies biography and movie, there is almost nothing out there about Karpis. Hence The Triad. I think I did a good job of bringing his personage to life. He was considered a genius, loyal and generous to a fault, and very much in touch with the modern world and technical developments. Like most of the great gangsters, he would have been a tremendous success in society and the real world had he not gone the wrong way.

MF:  You do a great job of capturing the flavor of other eras as well as places.  You’ve lived through quite a few yourself, but when you get beyond your experience, what’s your favorite research method for your stories?

bothsidesnowcover6.jpgJRD:  The Internet usually helps you find the resources you need to make your story work. Only in this case, as you mentioned, I lived through most of this. Ergo, it was mostly a matter of documenting my recollections. I spent a lot of time in the NYU neighborhood, Soho and Greenwich Village, so most of what I did was pull up addresses. I read hundreds of wrestling magazines so was familiar with the old-time arenas. I was also a paralegal, so that helped me make the courtroom drama all the more realistic.

MF:  You’ve certainly held a wide variety of jobs, which undoubtedly contributes to your writing. Authenticity is important if you want to be taken seriously as an author and when you can say, “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt” the details bring the story alive. As far as the plot itself, do your stories reveal themselves as you write or do you know what’s going to happen, start to finish, when you first sit down to write them?

JRD:  Many times the characters end up helping write the stories, as Sabrina Brooks does in the Nightcrawler series. She just makes things happen around her. In this story, Ray Karpis greatly influenced the conflict in the storyline (pun somewhat intended). He becomes the voice of reason, letting Lucien clearly see all the possibilities if he chose that direction in life along the road to wrestling superstardom. I think it also lets the reader see ‘both sides now’ and will stimulate discussion as to whether or not Lucien makes the right choice.

MF: Ethical dilemmas make great material because the reader is forced to think.  You have a huge list of published work. How long does it take you, on average, to finish one of your novels?

courthouse1JRD:  It varies, considering how complex the story is. The action/adventure stories move along pretty quickly as there’s the adrenaline rush that keeps you writing. Historical fiction such as this takes a bit longer because you have to authenticate your work. Getting names, places and events wrong will leave your story dead in the water. The courtroom storyline in this novel took almost as much research as all the wrestling background. It probably took the better part of a year to put it all together.

MF: Wow! That’s so true, though, if you want to be taken seriously as an author. When a reader stops to roll his or her eyes because something is inaccurate it pulls them out of the story, which is the last thing an author wants to do. Of the numerous books you’ve written, do you have one particular character who’s your favorite? Why?

JRD:  I’m having to go with Sabrina Brooks, aka the Nightcrawler. Every one of her novels is an adventure in itself. She’s a beautiful woman who moonlights as a crimefighter, who seems to target the Russian Mob. She’s the CEO of a chemical company, which means she doesn’t have to do this but does anyway. She’s very compassionate and is a churchgoer, which makes her all the more unique. Her personal relationships suffer greatly as she gets beat up, and the Nightcrawler’s successes come at the expense of her personal life. I enjoy writing her story as much as people love reading it.

MF:  Multi-dimensional characters are essential to a good story.  So what’s your favorite part of the writing process? Which part is the most difficult?

JRD: It’s the dialogue. It may be my strong point as a writer, and it helps me develop the characters and give the reader the best insight as to the speaker’s personality and motivation. The reason why reality TV shows get over is because people want to see their heroes behind the scenes. In literature, the author allows readers to listen to the characters giving up their innermost hopes and fears. The most difficult part is bringing it all together, making the story plausible. You do your homework, you authenticate your background, you flesh out your characters, but your audience has to buy your story. That’s the make or break part, and I think I make that happen every time.

MF:  Yes, you certainly do! When did you decide you wanted to be an author?

JRD: I was writing dialogue for my stick-figure cartoons when I was six. I was fascinated by TV and the movies and wanted to tell my own stories. Many people will say my entire life was about turning my fantasies into reality.

MF: So obviously you were born to write, which isn’t surprising considering how prolific you are.  You’ve worn a variety of hats over the years in a wide variety of jobs and places. What can we expect from you in the future? At what stage is your next novel and when do you expect it to be out?

JRD:  The Blight is about a decorated fire team of Navy SEAL commandos working as an elite unit for the St. Louis PD. They are taking on a mass murderer intent on destroying the ‘social blight’ plaguing the city. Kirsten Streicher is a typical JRD bad-ass female protagonist. Only her team is heavily impacted by the madman known as X, and the writing is on the wall as their group is slowly disbanding. Kirsten is forced to move forward with a whirlwind romance beckoning, though she feels compelled to bring the killer to justice before her career comes to an end. As usual, there’s lots of social issues and moral conundrums discussed, and the standard JRD reflections of current-day controversies. I’m hoping to release it by Summer 2016.

MF:  Sounds like another winner! Is there any particular author or authors who have inspired you the most?

JRD:  Shakespeare, Ian Fleming and Robert E. Howard. The Bard for his conciseness and verbal dynamism, Fleming for his ability to take the reader to a myriad of locations, societies and situations, and Howard for his gift of lurid description and breathtaking action. I hope my readers see my work in a favorable light in comparison.

MF: From what I’ve read, I believe you can rest assured that they will.

You can pick up a copy of Both Sides Now on Amazon here.

Connect with John Reinhard Dizon:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/johnreinharddizonUSA

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/John-Reinhard-Dizon/e/B00DU9JNUQ/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/JohnRDizon

 

 

Blog Tour: Annie Douglass Lima’s Latest YA Adventure Tale

I’m excited to be part of Annie Douglass Lima’s blog tour to announce her latest young adult action and adventure novel, The Gladiator and the Guard, is now available for purchase! This is the second book in the Krillonian Chronicles, sequel to The Collar and the Cavvarach.

The Collar and the CavvarachFirst Things First: a Little Information about Book 1: 

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire’s most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie’s escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time.  With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?

What is the Collar for, and What is a Cavvarach?

The story is set in a world very much like our own, with just a few major differences.  One is that slavery is legal there.  Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone.  Any slave attempting to escape faces the dilemma of how and where to illegally get their collar removed (a crime punishable by enslavement for the remover).

Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil.  It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with “have a rack”), a weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge.  Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades.  You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.

Click here to order The Collar and the Cavvarach from Amazon for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through May 30th!

And now, The Gladiator and the Guard, with another awesome cover by the talented Jack Lin!

The Gladiator and the Guard

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is just one victory away from freedom. But after he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he is condemned to the violent life and early death of a gladiator. While his loved ones seek desperately for a way to rescue him, Bensin struggles to stay alive and forge an identity in an environment designed to strip it from him. When he infuriates the authorities with his choices, he knows he is running out of time. Can he stand against the cruelty of the arena system and seize his freedom before that system crushes him?

EXCERPT:

“Hey, it’s the new guy,” someone said, and heads turned. “What’s your number?”

“My number? Oh, um, I think they said I’d be Fifty-Eight.” A tasty-looking bowl of chicken and potatoes came within reach, but someone else picked it up, scooped some onto his own plate, and then passed it away down the table before Bensin could get any.

“So, you beat Ninety-Nine,” a Skeyvian gladiator across from him commented, his dark skin laced with pale jagged scars. “Soon as he gets out of the clinic, you better watch out. He’ll be out for blood.” He set down the vegetables he had just served himself, and Bensin picked up the dish, but the guy next to him plucked it out of his hands and sent it in the other direction.

“I didn’t actually mean to hurt him,” Bensin began, looking around for another dish of food. He was interrupted by derisive laughter from everyone within earshot.

“Fifty-Eight didn’t mean to hurt him! Ha! What kind of gladiator are you, kid?”

Bensin couldn’t think of an appropriate response. “Hey, could somebody pass me the chicken?”

“Dude, you better start meaning to hurt people if you want to make it here,” the burly Tarnestran beside him advised. “You can’t manage that, Gile will plan a blaze of glory for you sooner rather than later.”

Bensin wasn’t sure what the man was talking about, and his stomach was still rumbling. Everyone around him was eating now, but the serving dishes had all been passed down to the other end of the table.

“Gile won’t have to plan a blaze of glory for this one,” another gladiator predicted. “At this rate, he’s gonna starve to death first.”

* * *

Click here to order The Gladiator and the Guard in Kindle format from Amazon for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through May 30th!

 Click here to order The Gladiator and the Guard from Smashwords (for Nook or in other digital formats) for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through May 30th!

About the Author

Annie Douglass LimaAnnie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published twelve books (two YA action and adventure novels, four fantasies, a puppet script, and five anthologies of her students’ poetry). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.

(See my previous interview with Annie here.)

Connect with the Author Online:

Email: AnnieDouglassLima@gmail.com

Blog: http://anniedouglasslima.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnieDouglassLimaAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/princeofalasia

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnGoodreads

Amazon Author Page: http://bit.ly/AnnieDouglassLimaOnAmazon

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/AnnieDouglassLima

LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnLinkedIn

Google Plus: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnGooglePlus

Now, enter to win an Amazon gift card or a free digital copy of The Collar and the Cavvarach!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway