The Story Behind the Story

How The Black Song Inside came to be published by the renowned Thomas & Mercer is an unusual story. I posted a guest blog at Raven Reviews telling how it happened.

Thank you, Raven Reviews, for inviting me to your blog.

To my readers: Click below to read my guest post.

http://ravenreviewer.tumblr.com/

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Guest Post at Ice Fairy’s Treasure Chest

Thank you kindly, Ice Fairy, for allowing me to post at your fascinating blog site! I enjoyed sharing my thoughts on how Stephen King influenced my writing.

Also, to my followers, click the link below to read my post, but also for a chance to win $100 gift card from Amazon.

http://www.icefairystreasurechest.blogspot.com/

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The Apocalypse Gene, My First Co-Written Novel

Poster_CoverIn 2011, my wife, Suki Michelle, and I co-wrote our first olivya_x1novel. It’s a young adult urban fantasy called “The Apocalypse Gene“, (Parker Publishing). Most of our readers adored the story because of its complexity and unparalleled weirdness. Others didn’t like it for exactly the same reasons. It’s not for everyone, but we think it’s a damn good book, and Kirkus agreed!
olivya_poster

Olivya is a teenager who lives on Hospice Row with her mother. Olivya is gifted with “sight”. She can perceive psychic auras and it’s driving her mad. Why? Because her world is in the throes of a global pandemic (far more than a mere disease), and the colors of all the terrifying, dismal emotions around her are bringing her way, way down.  Micah is a boy who lives in a cloistered setting with the mysterious Kindred. They are hybrid beings with genetic roots in antiquity. mikah_poster Micah is an empath with a nifty trick of tossing balls of etheric matter at his enemies.

Since the world has deteriorated into chaos, it’s no longer safe to go to brick and mortar schools.  Olivya and Micah meet in virtual school via their holo-sims, avatars that olivya_x2they direct to attend online classes.  They decide to meet in person, knowing they too could fall ill at any moment, but they want to really live while they can.

When Olivya’s mom gets sick, Olivya reaches out to Micah.  He tells her he believes the Kindred have links to the pandemic, and if they could solve some mysteries in Kindred circles, they might be able to stop it. The two teenagers set out on a quest to, what else? . . . wait for it . . . SAVE THE WORLD!

LOVIESuki and I had a fabulous time co-writing The Apocalypse Gene. We’re hard at work on our second co-written novel, Red Destiny. Once that’s complete, we’ll write the sequel to my thriller, The Black Song Inside.

If you’re interested in checking out our first co-written project, here’s the link!
THE APOCALYPSE GENE

And if you want to see how I go it alone (albeit with Suki’s invaluable input), here’s another link for you to click-click: THE BLACK SONG INSIDE

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REVIEW OF “THE FIFTH KNIGHT” by E.M. Powell

The_Fifth_Knight_V5_RedTHE FIFTH KNIGHT, E.M. Powell’s debut medieval thriller, reached #1 on Amazon and with good reason.

The Fifth Knight is an “intimate” thriller, which focuses on a handful of characters, good and bad, that you get to know very well, instead of dozens as one might find in continent or globe spanning thrillers, historical and contemporary. Being so delightfully focused, The Fifth Knight does not require an extensive dramatis personæ for the reader to keep track of, who works for whom or who begat whom. This allows for excellent character arcs and, in the case of the villains, character(less) revelations.

Speaking of villains, Powell’s main antagonist, Sir Fitzurse has the three “Rs” one always wants in a thriller – he is resourceful, relentless, and ruthless. His mission is allegedly to Arrest Archbishop Thomas Becket and abduct the mysterious Theodosia, a young naïve anchoress who has spent most of her life willingly dwelling in a prison-like cell as she strives to make herself worthy to serve God as a nun. The arrest goes awry and, as we know from history books, Thomas Becket is killed.

Sir Fitzurse’s scheming was nearly flawless, his only mistakes being the enlistment of Sir Benedict Palmer and allowing the young knight to hear of the diabolical torture that Sir Fitzurse has planned for Theodosia. Though desperate to receive the pay that Fitzurse promised, Palmer’s conscience won’t allow him to be a party to Fitzurse’s evils. In fact, Palmer aids Theodosia in making a daring escape.

Romance blossoms between the headstrong anchoress, Theodosia, and the tarnished knight, Sir Palmer, as they are forced to their wits’ end to elude capture by Fitzurse and his minions. All the while, they struggle to determine the secret Theodosia unknowingly holds. The hope is that learning the truth that Fitzurse so desperately desires just might save them.

The Fifth Knight is highly recommended for those who want a thrilling read with protagonists you can root for and watch grow.

THE FIFTH KNIGHT AT AMAZON
E.M. POWELL’S WEBSITE
E.M. POWELL ON FACEBOOK
E.M. POWELL ON TWITTER

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And Now, A Word from My Cat

Me, Koniferous Clark

Me, Koniferous Clark

That strikingly attractive creature on the left is me, Koniferous Clark, known as Kona to humans. I might resemble an ordinary tortoise shell housecat, but I’m actually a member of the species Impus Demonicus. I worship the mischievous and merciless Goddess Mawroo.

The Oaf and his Mate

The Oaf and his Mate

I have two Familiars who do my bidding. I am fond of them, as long as they stay in line, though I often dream of how wonderful their livers must taste. I refer to my male Familiar simply as “the Oaf”, though his given name is Carlyle Clark. The Oaf and his mate make offerings to me in the form of fragrant fish-meat and hard fish pellets they retrieve from a bag. It’s not as good as antelope heart, rat blood, or rabbit brain, which I was born tasting, but it is acceptable fare.

The Obese One

The Obese One

There is another cat living here, an obese orange and white thing that pays no mind to spiritual matters. It cares only for hard fish pellets and long naps. I want to kill it, but Mawroo has forbidden this. She is partial to all felines, whether they worship her or not.

My voice is beautiful when I call Mawroo’s name. It is a bit baritone, a low-pitched plaintive wail. “Mawroo? Mawroo!” I say, and the Goddess answers in a voice only Demon Imps such as I can hear. The Familiars seem to enjoy this worship. They draw their lips back, show their teeth, and stroke my silken coat, saying “shhhh, shhhh, goooood kitteeeeee”.

I AM KONA!

I AM KONA!

I position myself each night by the moving glass wall in the Familiar’s place of food and plead to Mawroo. I long to roam the sacred hunting grounds in the wetlands behind this dwelling. The Familiars don’t understand. They never open the wall to let me out, well . . . almost never. Once the Goddess Mawroo presented an opportunity. She compelled the Oaf to leave the glass wall open. I was gone for three days. I brought back a gift of prey, a valiant mouse killed by my own two paws. The Oaf’s mate made a screeching noise, and the Oaf put the offering in that sweet-smelling can filled with something they call “garbage”. I will plunder that can, once I figure out how to open it, and offer its contents to Mawroo.

Mawroo has rules, which I follow relentlessly. For example, if an unattended cup filled with liquid is NOT knocked over, this is blasphemy. All bottle caps and other small objects must be batted into cracks and crevasses or beneath the large white box where the Familiars place open containers of fish-meat. Mawroo doesn’t care where I bat these offending objects as long as they are rendered irretrievable.

"The Book"

“The Book”

I sometimes overhear my Familiars speaking about something called “a book” the Oaf wrote. He calls it “The Black Song Inside”, which I’m certain was inspired by my own irresistible wail. I’ve heard the Oaf mention beings called “Atticus” and “Rosemary”. Evidently they are Pee Eyes, a term I find repulsive. The Goddess Mawroo is not mentioned in this “book”. If the Oaf had made Mawroo’s presence known to humans, I would be duty bound to suck his soul out as he slept and offer it, humbly and with great terror, to the Goddess herself. Thankfully, he did not, which is a relief. A good Familiar is not easy for a Demon Imp to come by. I am glad I can let him live.

NOTE: If you are human and own a mouse (oh how I envy you!), click it to purchase THE BLACK SONG INSIDE AT AMAZON

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The Black Song Inside Debut!

After much anticipation, The Black Song Inside, e-book and paperback, are finally available! The audio book is scheduled to debut on December 3, 2013.

What’s it about? Atticus Wynn and Rosemary Sanchez, newly engaged private investigators, have seen the dark and violent side of life. Nothing, though, has prepared them for an explosive murder investigation that threatens to tear their relationship apart as they struggle to solve a case that could leave them in prison or dead.

Atticus’s manipulative ex-girlfriend bursts back into their lives wielding a secret about Rosemary’s family that she exploits to force the couple into investigating the execution-style slaying of her lover. The case thrusts Atticus and Rosemary headlong into the world of human trafficking and drug smuggling, while rendering them pawns in Tijuana Cartel captain Armando Villanueva’s bloody bid to take over the cartel.

The Black Song Inside is a vivid crime thriller rife with murder and madness, melded with gallows humor and the heroism of two flawed and compelling protagonists who, if they can save themselves, may learn the nature of redemption and the ability to forgive.

Praise for The Black Song Inside

A great thriller, murder-mystery novel for anyone who isn’t turned away by violence, bad language or the gritty realism that comes from telling a story filled with drug rings, human trafficking and murder.” —Need to Read, Got to Watch

On balance, this is a well-written, lively read, which I enjoyed. I’m looking forward to the next Atticus and Rosemary tale. I’m giving it 4.7 stars. Recommended.” —JJ Toner, From The Kindle Book Review

This book is worth reading, just for the writing alone. But on top of that, the storyline and characters are so compelling, it’s hard to put down. If you like vivid description, well-crafted characters, and a dark & intriguing story, you’ll love this book.” —Audra Middleton, author of Watcher

A great read. If you are looking for a fast-paced read, this is the book for you. The characters are well developed and very likeable. Clark uses just enough humor to keep you from getting bogged down, and has quite a way with language. This story keeps you wanting more…and what an unexpected ending!” —LSchwarzman

This author mesmerized me with this story. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down. The relationship between Atticus and Rosemary was very well described throughout.” —Fred Newtz

Clark infuses The Black Song Inside with intelligent, wry and deftly integrated comment on a society where the breakdown of the state makes everyone a combatant, willing or no…The action is fast and furious. The writing is vibrant, expressive, sometimes even lyrical. Clark has a way with metaphor—his are just as they should be; creative, unexpected juxtapositions, working hard to describe and deliver on physical threat and emotional tension.” —Libris Reviews

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Why I Want to be a Writer

I’ve always wanted to be a writer because my head is crowded with characters, and they want out. No, not just want – demand! They are ever-morphing beings whose actions and adventures are constantly being imagined and re-imagined. This makes them restless and unhappy inside my head. Who would want to exist like that? Not my characters. They want to live.

They want to experience the world, travel strange new settings, and face compelling conflicts. They are not content to be idle, filled with angst, to bemoan their fate. The characters that populate my brain yearn to take their fate in hand. They will not be denied, and so I write – for them – for their freedom, so they can live.

But here is the most incredible thing about being a writer, a spinner of tales, a teller of stories. If you tell them well enough, strangers will want to read them. In fact, they will pay you for the privilege. Every writer’s dream is to spend every waking minute bringing those characters to life and share them with others who will love them as much as the writer does. A skillful writer has that rare ability to enthrall and entertain no matter what the genre. What a feeling! To touch people in this way, make them cry, laugh, bite their nails, and wipe their brows with anticipation, and to ask the question all writers hope to inspire – what happens next?

I want nothing more than to be welcomed into your life so we can continue to do just that. To paraphrase the great and prolific master, Stephen King, “We want your hearts”.

How does a writer touch a heart? By designing the cleverest of plots? By making up fantastical settings? These things are wonderful, but they are not enough. There is only one element, if skillfully executed, that has that magic power. It lies with characters, you know – the ones that occupy that cramped and bustling space in my mind.

Think of the stories you love, be they books, or movies, or mini-series, sure there are some that you are awed by and enjoy because of some aspect or another, a Sixth Sense twist, or a fascinating DaVinci Code type mystery, but I will wager the vast majority of the tales you cherish are because you love the characters. You care what happens to them. You truly care.

That is why I’ve always wanted to be a writer. It’s about love. We bring the characters we love to the page, but that’s not enough. We inspire you to love them too. Just look at all the love we offer to the world!

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Eolyn: An Unpredictable Epic Fantasy,

Eolyn, Karin Gastreich’s debut novel, is an excellent example of the other breed of Epic Fantasy epitomized by the works of Guy Gavriel Kay, which is to say, not the traditional “unlikely but fated and/or prophesied hero must face the dreaded return of dark lord.” Instead, Gastreich’s Eolyn focuses on the emotional, political, and physical conflicts between powerful and three-dimensional characters. You don’t have any villains who do villainy because, well, that’s just what villains do. Each character has compelling reasonable motivations. The action sequences are executed wonderfully and are unpredictable in that the character who “normally” triumphs doesn’t always triumph.

Gastreich launches her characters on unavoidable collision courses and with her tendency to avoid stereotypes– or use them to her advantage to create a surprising turn of events–the climatic sequence is thrilling because, for once, you really don’t know how it will end.

The beginning of Eolyn, a clearly intentional nod to the fairytales of the Brothers Grimm, may give some readers pause as it feels young for an adult fantasy, but sticking with the story is amply rewarded and Gastreich does something with Eolyn in 328 pages that many fantasy authors fail to do with twice that page count: tell a complete and satisfying tale as the first novel of a trilogy. Readers of the aforementioned Guy Gavriel Kay and Robin Hobb will definitely enjoy this novel.

“Vigorously told deceptions and battle scenes will satisfy fans of traditional epic fantasy with a romantic thread.” – Publisher’s Weekly

Eolyn at Amazon
Eolyn at Barnes & Noble

Look forward to the sequel to Eoyn, High Maga, to be released in Spring of 2014.

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RACING the DEVIL by Jaden Terrel: Excellent Neo-Noir Mystery Novel

Jaden Terrell’s excellent debut mystery novel RACING THE DEVIL provides freshness to the niche genre that is the noir male private eye, while still giving the readers of niche everything they look for. Characters with troubled pasts, women with ulterior motives, sudden violence, but unlike much of noir, the protagonist, Jared McKean is far from a loner and has rich and interesting relationships with is family, child, roommate, friends and even horses.

Racing the Devil starts with the novel’s protagonist, Jared McKean, having an amorous encounter with a woman in a bar only to wake up two days later and discover he’s been framed for the murder of a woman he doesn’t know and it’s a doozy, witnesses, fingerprints, DNA, etc..

If that wasn’t bad enough, his personal life is maze of difficult relationships: his brother, who abandoned a promising dream career to raise Jared, is having issues with his Goth son; Jared’s roommate has AIDs; a duplicitous local hotshot reporter who had once been Jared’s girlfriend is all over the murder case; and the woman Jared loves is married to another man and she has custody of his beloved son Paul who has Down Syndrome. He also owns and loves horses, which plays nicely into the storyline. While Jared rushes to prove his innocence, his personal life is imploding.

The only weakness would be is that some of the action, though realistic and character revealing, was not tied tightly into the storyline. The strongest part of the novel is the way Terrell weaves in Jared’s murder case with his personal problems and tells the story in forward motion using only short, pertinent, and compelling back-flashes sparsely, and saving backstory for when you need to know it. Terrell also rarely relies on clichés and that makes her prose is richer and more engrossing.

Highly recommended for those who like mysteries and/or characters that have strong emotional connections to others.

(This review is based on an Advanced Review Copy provided by the publisher)

Racing the Devil at Goodreads
Racing the Devil at Amazon
Racing the Devil at Barnes & Noble

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Fresh & Funny–The Grateful Undead: They’re So Vein

Susan Stec’s THE UNGRATEFUL DEAD: THEY’RE SO VEIN, is a rip-snorting satire on all things vampiric and paranormal. If comedy lurks on the other side of any societal boundary, you can be certain Susan’s characters will sashay across it without a backwards glance.

Rather than following the current convention of brooding immortals, Susan gives us a zany family of middle-aged and elderly women suddenly returned to the prime of their youth (albeit an undead youth), with the bonuses of being gorgeous vampires. Rather than whining about it, they glory in it, but their outrageous behavior has not gone unnoticed. There’s hierarchy and rules for paranormal beings, and as the girls have been adjusting to their undead lives, they’ve tromped their stiletto heels all over them, and unfortunately, the Lords of the Undead are not the forgive nor the forget type.

As someone who’s overdosed on the vampiric saturation of the entertainment industry, I was hesitant to give this a shot despite recommendations from friends, but I’m very glad I did because Susan has breathed freshness into genre that needed it badly.

Highly recommended for fans of Charlaine Harris’s “Sookie Stackhouse” novels, and Christopher Moore’s BLOODSUCKING FIENDS, or basically any of his work.

The Grateful Undead: They’re So Vein at Goodreads
The Grateful Undead: They’re So Vein at Amazon
The Grateful Undead: They’re So Vein at Barnes & Noble

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