Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March Freebies, Going, Going...

There's still time to download some great speculative fiction for free from the SpecFic Authors Collective team. Check out these offerings but hurry. At midnight on Friday, free goes poof and pops into not-free but still worth your dollar. The Last Prayer

Inspired by Hugh Howey's world of Wool, Lyn Perry's The Last Prayer tells the story of a different Silo, a different threat.

In the post-apocalypse, society continues in underground silos, kept safe from the toxic world above by a simple hatch door and a strict set of rules, but when a young girl starts speaking of heaven as if it were just outside, the rigid caste system begins to crack.

"Set in the post-apocalyptic world of 'Wool,' 'The Last Prayer' tackles its themes with a slant toward the spiritual. Without spoiling the plot, it provides a powerful contrast between how believers in God and unbelievers can view the same world."
 —Amazon review by S. M. Setzer
The Armageddon MachineSimon Kewin's The Armageddon Machine a SciFi novella in the golden age tradition.

The last, battered remnant of the feared Draconian starfleet limps through space, shadowed by ships of the victorious Million Star worlds. But the Draconian ship is still a terrible threat: it is the Draconian's final weapon, a device that can trigger the cascading collapse of space/time itself.

"Encompassing time, space, the philosophy of immortal ancients and the moral uncertainties of short-lived man, 'The Armageddon Machine' is itself a compact particle of extraordinary mass."
—Amazon review by TT
Captain Bartholomew Quasar and the Fastest Thumbs on Zeta Colony FourMilo Fowler's Captain Bartholomew Quasar and the Fastest Thumbs on Zeta Colony Four continues the hilarious adventures of Captain Quasar. This time, his heroic services are requested by the governor of a backward moon colony terrorized by a local bully. After brushing up on his westerns and practicing a smooth quick-draw with his Cody 52 Special, Quasar transports to the surface to find out he was told only half the story.

Available for free on Smashwords with this coupon code: ZN85H.

"This western spoof is hilarious and Quasar is at his befuddled best."
—Amazon review by Jeff Chapman
Welcome to Moon HillAnthony J. Rapino's Welcome to Moon Hill collects nineteen stories, and a couple of surprises.

Moon Hill is a forgotten place that few purposely visit, and even less leave. Once you arrive, the deep dark of the forest creeps into your mind and will not relent. Strange flowers that grow from deer carcasses, murderous lunatics, talking ravens, wriggling parasites that induce eruptive confessions, and demons of every variety: they all live here too.

"Each story deals with a different horror, and yet they seem connected, whether by the mysterious town of Moon Hill, or by the dark, shadowy mind of the author."
—Amazon review by Laurita

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Book I in the Saul Series Published

Saul Book I: ForgivenessBook I in the Saul series is finally out. Seems like I've been editing this one forever. Saul Book I: Forgiveness is a revision of my first story publication. The editors of Mindflights thought it worthy of electronic print back in 2009. Sadly, Mindflights closed its doors a few months ago.

Here's the description from the Amazon page:
In the not too distant future, the state imposes Christian uniformity and vigorously roots out and destroys any form of heresy. The shadowy Bureau of Unorthodox Religion and Nonbelief (BURN) carries on a clandestine war against dissenters, relying heavily on state-sponsored assassinations. Saul Book I: Forgiveness tells the story of one BURN assassin and his life-changing, supernatural encounter with a heretic courier before and after death.
The series will follow the life of Martin Husser, the assassin I introduce in Book I. The story will be free on Amazon from March 25 to March 29.

In other news, I've revamped the blog with a new layout and color scheme. The old layout was becoming a bit cramped.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Next Big Thing

Fellow writers Lyn Perry and Keanan Brand tagged me and a few others for The Next Big Thing: "a blog hop initiated six months ago by Toby Neal, who tagged five other writers." I'm finally getting around to this post after being tagged months ago.

I became acquainted with Lyn through submissions to Residential Aliens. I later worked for Lyn as a slush reader along with Keanan at Fear and Trembling.

The rules of the blog hop:
1. Mention who tagged you, and link to their post.
2. Give the rules.
3. Answer the ten questions below.
4. Link to several more people.

1) What is the title of your next book?

Highway 24

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

I spent the early years of my life in a small town in Kansas out in nowhere. The roads passed through farm and pasture land and outside the artificial lights of town, you entered a very lonely darkness. If you're alone and in the right mood, that darkness creeps you out like the best horror films. The town in the story is a thinly disguised version of my hometown.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

It falls squarely in the ghost story genre and bleeds into the creepy horror category.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

That would require me to know who some actors are. I have no idea. The female lead has to play a convincing dead person.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

An accident on a lonely highway brings a young travelling salesman face-to-face with a dark secret from his father’s past.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Highway 24 is a novelette (about 13,000 words). MuseItUp Publishing has scheduled a June 2013 release.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

That's a good question. I wrote part of this story, abandoned it, and then later came back to it. That draft went through some critic groups. The story was too long to submit to most journals so it languished in a folder until I took it out, revised it again, and submitted it to MuseItUp. It's hard to say how long the first draft took or how to even identify the first draft. My best guess is two months.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Highway 24 has similarities with many if not most ghost stories.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

See my answer to question two concerning lonely roads and the darkness that envelopes and transforms them. Also, the idea of guilt and inherited guilt has always intrigued me. Hawthorne made a career out of passing guilt from one generation to another.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

There's a creepy ghost girl on a highway, a long lost shoe, and an exhumation. You'll also meet a strange, not-quite-of-this-world character known only as the preacher. The focus of the story is the unraveling of the mystery behind the death of the girl who haunts the highway and how that death has taken a toll on those involved.

That's it for me. The Next Big Thing moves on to the next set of writers who will remain hidden until they post their answers.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Story of the Week: Beyond the Veil

Horror stories often talk of hideous beings coming from hell. In Beyond the Veil, we go to hell, literally, and ultimately encounter something worse.

The story centers on Sir Richard of Aquitaine. Yes, that's Richard the Lionheart. He's spent over seven hundred years in hell when Yoshi, a man from modern-day Japan, drops into the midst of a battle. Richard drags Yoshi to safety and immediately though unintentionally insults the newcomer, calling him an Oriental.

“Yoshi,” [the newcomer] said finally. “An Oriental, really? What century are you from? And how come you speak perfect Japanese?”

Richard sighed. Oh well, better to get it over with as quickly as possible.

“We normally let one of the more experienced and empathic women do this, but, unfortunately, we never know when—or where—a new penitent will arrive. I really hate to be the one to tell you this, but you’re dead.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Yoshi replied, indignantly. “First you beat me to a pulp, and now this. I want to know what’s going on!”

Yoshi learns that Richard leads a band of people from various ethnic groups and time periods who are struggling to break through the wall of a huge black cone from under which new land emerges. Richard is convinced that heaven, or something better than their current situation, awaits them on the other side. Richard's "people" (he can't stop being a king) are opposed by an army of zombie-like creatures who used to be people but have given up their individuality to submit to a mob mentality. They are huge, hulking creatures but not very smart individually. Somehow they know of Richard's plans to punch a hole in the cone wall and are desperate to stop him. Plenty of zombie-style hacking awaits as the two groups come to blows in battles of ever increasing numbers (on the zombie side) and ferocity.

Richard I the Lionheart, King of
by Merry-Joseph Blondel
To their credit, Bondoni and Perry manage to convey the humor and ridiculousness of this horrible situation. The newcomer Yoshi acts as a foil to Richard and gives him an opportunity to explain their plight and answer questions the reader (also a stranger to this version of hell) might ask. My favorite scene comes when Yoshi sees Richard run through with a spear in one of the battles, but Richard appears none the worse for wear. Yoshi has a difficult time with the dissonance this scene creates and protests that "if somebody decides to poke me with a spear, I would most certainly feel it, and would probably have the decency to die." Richard explains with all the patience he can muster that their bodies in hell are like flesh and blood but are not. As Yoshi discovers, it takes time to wrap your head around the idea of being "dead."

Beyond the Veil comments on the human condition, which after death is not all that much different than during life. There's a ferocious war between us and them; a maniacal single-minded leader convinced beyond a doubt in the truth and ultimate success of his campaign; and a celebration of what can be achieved when vastly different people come together. But, Beyond the Veil is a horror story, and it works on an inversion. What if the dumb herd is right? What if all that Richard celebrates and represents leads to a horror beyond hell?

To learn more about Gustavo Bondoni, check out his website Gustavo Bondoni Writer.

To learn more about Lyndon Perry, head over to Bloggin' Outloud.