Thursday, July 23, 2015


BLACK MAGIC AND MOJITOS; a Zyan Star novelette, is now available for pre-order on Amazon for $.99 (free to Amazon Unlimited subscribers). Official release date is August 7.

Zyan Star’s latest job is turning into a real nightmare.

When supernatural bounty hunter Zyan Star jets down to Rio to meet a prospective client, everything goes as planned initially. That is, until she finds out the person hiring her is Raoul Cabrera, the half demon/half faery supernatural overlord of Brazil, who rubs elbows with Lucifer himself. And that he’s hired another bounty hunter, Donovan McGregor, to work with her.

Their target is a herd of Nightmares, horse spirits that torment people with visions of their worst fears before devouring their flesh. Zy and Donovan head out on the hunt, but it quickly becomes apparent that their client hasn’t given them all the facts. There’s a pissed-off, powerful witch summoning the Nightmares, and she’s out to exact some serious revenge on Raoul. Zy soon realizes she’s caught in the middle of a lover’s spat between two immensely powerful supernaturals, and it’s not clear whose side she should stand on. As if that weren’t enough, pulling off this job is going to require her to relive her worst fears and summon her own long-suppressed magical powers.

Let the supernatural Carnival begin.

A.A. Chamberlynn lives in Florida. When she's not writing or reading, she can be found playing with horses, drinking wine, traveling to the next place on her global wish list, or maybe doing yoga. Visit her blogsite here for more information about Alexia and her upcoming novels of magic and paranormal romance.

Monday, July 20, 2015

DANCE ON FIRE, by James Garcia Jr

Please welcome author James Garcia Jr, the son of a Kingsburg, CA police officer, which is the setting for his DANCE ON FIRE vampire horror series. James was a junior in high school when he "discovered horror novels - books by Stephen King, Clive Barker and Michael Slade, to name a few - , as well as hard rock music. These influences began to form a spark of creativity within me. I began to play guitar and pen song lyrics, but soon found myself confined in that tight medium, desiring to do longer works. After high school, I moved on to the local community college where I met my wife. By this time, I had written a handful of short stories, a couple of novellas and had begun writing the novel that would become, "Dance on Fire".  (read more about the author).

James has written an intriguing post about the genre of crossover horror and how DANCE ON FIRE became his first published novel. After his post, stick around for my review of the novel.

Crossover Horror?

Okay. Just what in the world is crossover horror? I would suggest to you that it is a Christian’s take on scary fiction, or perhaps a spiritual person’s take on it, if nothing else. But first, how did I get here…

I discovered horror fiction in my teens; i.e., Uncle Stevie King, Michael Slade, Clive Barker – to name a few. It was also at this time that I began to grow my hair long and listen to 70’s and 80’s heavy metal. Now, one might begin to form an image in their heads about someone who might look and act extreme. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m not suggesting that every fan of those subjects end up looking like a negative stereotype. There are many who aren’t – and I was one of those.

Having said that, I did go through a phase where I thought that perhaps I shouldn’t read those kinds of books. Certainly not write them. When I abandoned the notion of being a musician and embraced the calling to write fiction, I did start with heavy R-rated subject matter. I grew up on Jay Anson’s The Amityville Horror and slasher films like Friday the 13th, John Carpenter’s Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street, so one could see how that might happen. At some point after I followed the pretty girl to her church and became a Christian, I began to feel led away from horror; that perhaps I was supposed to continue to be a writer, but to instead write about Biblical topics. Eventually, I came to realize that I liked horror fiction much like people enjoyed the thrill of riding roller coasters. You just walk away when the ride is over.

I never intended to write crossover fiction. That was entirely by accident – or perhaps divine intervention. *laughs* My first novel, Dance on Fire, started out simply being a crime drama. When
the evil vampire Vincent stepped out of the shadows in the beginning to confront two police officers I was as mystified as anyone. Even back in 1990 when I first began writing this story I thought we needed another vampire story like a hole in the head. Little did I know! It was then that I began to consider something crossover. If I was going to get myself noticed, I need uncharted territory. I hope you see that I didn’t hunt for that new land, but simply found myself standing on it. I do realize that I wasn’t alone there, but I did recognize that there weren’t many of us.

Still, why a crossover? For me, horror fiction can sometimes go too far with gratuitous sex, language and violence. On the other hand, Christian fiction – in my opinion – could be laughable, and not frightening in the least. I wanted something that scared the crap out of you and held you down on the edge of your seat while it’s doing it! I wanted a writer to scare me. I wanted to feel that there was a chance that the victim might die, or that the killer might not be caught. I wanted to feel those chills that only a good ghost story could provide.

I do understand that “there is a time and place for everything under the sun.” That means that unless I see some blood I won’t be afraid. I’m thinking the witch in The Chronicles of Narnia or in “The A-Team” television series where ammunition flew, but no one was ever wounded. I also understand that a victim is not going to exclaim “shoot!” and “Darn it!” while being chased by a homicidal madman.

But language has to have strength; isn’t it extreme exclamation? When it’s every other word it doesn’t do that. In fact, it does quite the opposite. When Indigo Montoya says, “You killed my father” and then adds: “You sonofabitch” toward the end of the movie The Princess Bride the audience erupts. It’s got power! Is there foul language in my writing? You bet there is; however, it’s salted in there. I feel the words are perfectly placed and not gratuitous in the least.

That’s why I write crossover fiction.

What came next in the story of that first novel is a book unto itself. I married that pretty girl and we started a family. Once that second son was born, I found myself kicked out of my bedroom office and without the necessary discipline and maturity to find a way to continue writing. Nearly two decades passed without me doing anything but dream of what might have been. I just turned 46, but when I turned 38 I really began to feel the regret that I was facing if I didn’t try one last time to complete that first novel. I dusted it off, fashioned that crossover that embraced edge of your seat horror with Biblical themes, and eventually finished it.

I managed to stumble upon a small publisher that wanted anything vampires, saw it published and then got out of the way as the sequel wrote itself in eight months. Unfortunately that publisher closed shop. I had a pity-party for a day and then quickly realized that I couldn’t stop now. I self-published and am now finishing my fourth novel. It is book three in my Dance on Fire series that explores
whether a vampire can be used for good. I also have a stand-alone paranormal with romance called Seeing Ghosts. It was a much needed breath of fresh air that I craved between books two and three of my vampire series.

When I’m not writing or networking I manage a Cold Storage facility for Sun-Maid Growers of California. Do you like raisins and dried fruit? The lady on the red box? That’s us. I typically work between ten and twelve hours a day with a company cell phone that I take home, so you understand what that means. *laughs*

Is it easy? Absolutely not. However, whether you’re a frustrated writer like me, or pursue some other endeavor, my advice to you is: have no regrets. The old folk’s home awaits us all. Let’s not stare out of those windows, wishing we would have tried harder.

Will I always write crossover fiction? I think I might. There’s an awful lot of territory here to chart.

Thanks so much for your interest.
Now wasn't that an interesting journey to a genre and publication? James speaks to my heavy metal and scream horror soul! Well, when I was young, back in the '80s.

The vampire concept in Dance on Fire was truly appealing. Vincent is a true villain; evil, selfishly arrogant, unapologetic, a ruthless killer. His protégé Nathaniel, on the other hand, is unsure of his purpose, questioning his unholy existence since the Vincent slaughtered his family, took him captive for several years, and finally turned him in a moment of rage. Nicholas has been on the run from Vincent for over 200 years. Vincent has finally caught his scent in the pre-holiday town of Kingsburg, CA, and has set his torturous sights on the family of a police detective that Nicholas has pledged himself to protect.

As Vincent wreaks a trail of carnage through the police force, leaving Nicholas' name as the obvious perpetrator, Nicholas is making friends with Detective Michael Lopez's wife, Barbara.  They share a religious connection, both exploring what God's plan for humans is, and more importantly, which humans he may bestow His Mercy upon, and which he sets up for tribulations.

I am a longtime fan of vampire horror, with authors Stephen King and Anne Rice as two of my favorites. Both authors blend themes of good vs evil within the story and character plots; and it is this  crossover concept that drew me to James Garcia Jr's writings. Dance On Fire has a strong theme of faith, hope, and family values that ultimately determine the moral fiber of each character - vampire or human. The story starts a bit slow with a wide world view as Garcia builds a small town vibe, drawing the reader steadily into the lives, loves, and tragedies of his main characters: Nathaniel the unwilling vampire victim/hero; Michael Lopez, a morally upstanding police detective and devoted family man; Mark Jackson, Michael's stalwart partner and long time family friend; and Michael's wife Barbara, a devout christian and mother to their twins and 10 year old son.

As the story progresses, Barbara becomes more of a focal point, the pace picks up as the victims overwhelm the small police force and shatter the trust of the small town community, and Barbara and Michael are forced to make hard decisions about their beliefs. Overall, this was an excellent vampire horror story with well developed, complex characters, an intriguing premise, well written and intense action sequences, sufficient violence without gimmicky gore, and a satisfying resolution to the character and story plot issues. I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy vampires that are monsters, heroes who triumph by using skill and intelligence, understand violence is bloody, and appreciate a philosophical exploration of God and his creatures.

That said, the book has its share flaws. The story is told through an omniscient narrator in a near poetic, stream of consciousness cadence reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe. The narrator discloses the intimate details of every character's thoughts and lives, regardless of whether the character's scene is three sentences or three chapters long. While the perspectives are not quite head-hopping, most scenes are replicated through several characters perceptions in the same timeline, and there is a dream sequence that completely reprints three previous conversations. The prologue is repeated during a couple flashbacks, and the narrator uses a multitude of pronouns and descriptive adjectives to refer to relationships and as dialogue tags. The consistent use of similes throughout the action and descriptions also made it difficult to focus on the specific characters and their activities, many times creating confusion whether the setting was in present, flashback, or was merely merely a dream or fanciful thoughts.

Had I not been committed to reading Dance on Fire, the confusing and unexpected perception and setting shifts would have kept me from attaining the connection I needed to the characters and story that did not happen until the perspective clarified at about 40 percent of the reading. It was hard to continue on at the 17 percent mark, when the auto reader advised I had an hour and fifteen minutes left in Chapter 1! Still, I was intrigued by the vampire concept, so persevered, and was glad I did.

The writing considerably tightens after the 60 percent mark, proving Mr. Garcia's writing and storytelling skills, and I was fully engaged in the characters and action at that point. I am glad I stuck with the novel; it was a good horror story and gave me much philosophy regarding good and evil for thought. I look forward to reading more from James Garcia Jr as an upcoming horror novelist and watching his skills progress.

Of the 21 reviews posted on Amazon, 67 percent gave the book a five star rating.

DANCE ON FIRE is available for free and the paranormal romance SEEING GHOSTS is 50% off at Smashwords through the month of July.  Click here for purchase links to all of James Garcia's works.

Friday, July 10, 2015

BoTB results and Book review

Long, slow month. Is it only the tenth? All this waiting I'm doing in my day life makes the days feel sluggish. Not that I'm normally at a decent pace . . .

I was surprised by the results of July 1 Battle of the Bands results: Lee Greenwood 26, Beyonce 6. I was sure Beyonce would steal the show. Go figure!

I'm not sure I will be posting anything on the 15th; might be out of town for the week and I don't like using my cell phone for blogging. If I don't go - its been my experience that if you lay out money for a possible job you usually end up just losing your money - I will likely chain my ass to a chair and try to make headway on that new story idea. It may end up being left as unfinished as the rest of the ideas, but at least I will have something written. Regardless, I have an itch to write, or edit.

During this latest sluggish  period I read two books, and finished reading one more. I'm hoping to complete James Garcia's DANCE ON FIRE over the weekend.

First completed book is the short story anthology THE DRAGON CHRONICLES, compiled and published by Samuel Peralta. From his author page at Amazon: Samuel Peralta is a physicist and story teller. As well as his own work, he is known as the creator and driving force behind the Chronicles short story anthologies - including the Future Chronicles - whose titles hit as high as #6 on the Amazon Top 10 Bestsellers list. Recognized in Best American Science Fiction, he has ranked as one of Amazon's Top 5 SF Authors, Top 40 Authors in e-books, and Top 100 Authors overall.

If you are a fan of Dragons you'll love this anthology. The stories range from YA to adult in fantasy, sci fi, urban fantasy. The personalities include teaching Dragons, fierce dragons, changelings, young martyr's, to wise old philosophers. Dragons are magical in all their forms with abilities that range from time travel, fire breathing, precognition, and a twisted form of addiction when eaten. This anthology was an adventurous read, reminding me of earlier stories by authors such as Anne McCaffrey, Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman, Robert Jordan. The human heroes were every bit as engaging as the Dragons they fight or partner with.

Some of the submissions appeared to be segments of larger works, and others were companion short stories that explore certain characters. All stories worked well as shorts, however, and I did like reading the author bio's and how the stories came into being. Several of the author's intrigued me enough to want to read more of their writings. Let me repeat: if you love Dragons and adventure, you'll want to add this anthology to your well read list.

Then I moved on to Lorelei Bell's first Sabrina Strong novel ASCENSION (formerly titled Vampire Ascending. From her Amazon author page: Lorelei has always rooted for Dracula/vampires to be the romantic hero in books and movies before it was "cool". Now an Indie, Author of the Sabrina Strong (Urban fantasy) series, Zofia Trickenbod (fantasy) series, and an assortment of short stories available, Lorelei has been writing for over 40 years and is looking forward to her retirement years so that she can devote more time to it. Baby Boomer, avid bird watcher, naturalist, and member of Writers of Mass Distraction, lives on a prairie reserve in the Midwest with husband of 26 years and three feral cats.

Sabrina Strong is a 22 year old touch clairvoyant who answers an ad for an employer looking for a clairvoyant. She can tell over the phone the employer is a vampire, but this does not scare her off. Being essentially jobless and penniless, she is desperate enough to suspend disbelief that her skills could actually earn her a living. She is bitten by a werewolf as she arrives at the interview, and her potential vampire employer arrives at her rescue and sucks out most of the werewolf venom. The experience leaves her fainting into the arms of the most handsome male she could ever dream of meeting, and of course he and his minions are smitten by her sweetly tasty blood and alluring aura. She wakes in her vampire rescuer's bedroom, although he has not acted upon his desires as he needs permission from his vampire master to make her his. As the story progresses, Sabrina is consistently the target of lust from each alpha she meets (vampires, shifters, were's, but not the Fae) and each is more gorgeous and powerful than the last.

This is a simple urban fantasy, populated by all manner of paranormal creatures. Sabrina is a poor, young, innocent girl, thrust into the clutches of the billionaire vampire leader Bjorn Tremayne to solve the mystery of who murdered his life-mate by using her previously untested clairvoyant powers. She is offered a sign on bonus too large to refuse, a yearly salary bigger than she could make working part time for her sister in law's thrift store, and perks such as a car and cell phone of her very own. Plus, every hot guy in the Tremayne Towers lusting after her blood, both for eating and sex.

For me, this story was a combination of Fifty Shades and Charlain Harris' Dead And . . series. Lorelei is skilled at crafting a mystery and leaving subtle clues to point the reader to the obvious conclusion, and the development of the world and its rules was well paced and at times unique. Her characters were engaging with interesting back stories and continuing character plots. The novel stands alone, but leaves a number of unanswered questions for sequels to fill in.

While the story concept itself was interesting, and the writing style easy to read; the story was over written, sometimes repeating information (and mystery clues) as much as four times as the main character Sabrina, frequently forgot details and had to be reminded by other characters; and the step-by-step mannerisms and descriptions used a lot of unnecessary word count. There were also an extreme amount of misspelled and misused words, and prolific and inappropriate use of commas that consistently pulled me out of the story; even during the most action and sexual scenes. The ending rushed through a summation of events after the climax, leaving an unfinished vibe to the characters.

This genre is not my normal reading - I won the book in a giveaway - but I would recommend this book, and the series, to anyone who adores HOT, alpha vampires and shifters, a sexy female protagonist, and billionaire play boys.

Finally, I finished reading George RR Martin's GAME OF THRONES, A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE book 1. It has taken me about two months to read the entire book of 807 pages, but not because the story was uninteresting or too long. My son gave me the complete set of five books for Mother's Day after I watched a marathon of the HBO seasons 1-4, and the HBO episodes follow the book quite closely, so when I put down the book to do other things it did not feel as if I was missing out on reading the next event. But of course, the book is much much better than the TV!

Most of the male actors tend to look alike in the show (beards, armor, and lots of attitude) and it was hard for me to keep track of which house the fighters belonged to in the first few episodes. Reading the book, with its maps and appendix (which I studied before reading the first pages) allowed me to fully immerse in the world. Mr. Martin does not need my review, so all I'll say is FABULOUS.

The story itself is inventive, unique, well told; the characters well developed and engaging. The thing I like most about Martin's writing though is his excellent use of voice. The voice of each perspective character is so unique that even without the heading, I know who's perspective I'm in as the story progresses. This is a valuable writing lesson for me, as I struggle with creating a unique voice for my characters in my own writing. Probably why I use only a single perspective, but I do need to stretch my writing ability and learn to successfully write multiples.

It may take me most of this year, but I am looking forward to reading the other four novels. Does anyone else speculate that Jon Snow is not Eddard Stark's bastard; but is actually Lyanna's son, the product of being raped by Rhaegar Targaryen?

Well, I'm off to start reading Dance On Fire; my Kindle will appreciate me actually reading on it instead of just charging and letting the battery slowly die with disuse. I hope ya'll have a great weekend. And if I don't see ya for a week or so, wish me luck in getting some writing done.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

IWSG and Battle of the Bands July 1

Hey ya'll! Happy July 1-4! Lots of excitement in my off-line life this week/weekend, and I apologize in advance if I miss posts and visits, in particular the two bloghops I'm participating in today: Insecure Writers Support Group, and Battle of the Bands.

Insecure Writers Support Group is the creation of Alex J. Cavanaugh as a safe haven for writers in all stages of the journey, with all manner of fears and insecurities, to find commiseration, support, advice, encouragement from those who have been through and/or experiencing the same writing struggles. AND it is also a place to brag/self congratulate :)

Today is the day to release those pent up struggles/frustrations or squee-worthy triumphs to those who understand you best. And along the way, perhaps you will make some new friends/connections. Today's co-hosts are: Charity Bradford; S.A. Larsen; AJ Lauer; Tamara Narayan; Allison Gammons; Tanya Miranda.

My own writing has been pretty much non-existent lately. I have this shiny new idea which I am taking the time to write some plot points as the ideas come to me, but I've been trying to catch up on my TBR list and write some reviews for the authors. And critiquing for my online writers group. Aside from the continuing frustration of not completing any WIP, my insecurities are more about my reading abilities than writing ambitions. Every story needs a reading audience!

I am a slow reader; I have this sort of obsesssive desire to read EVERY WORD of a story, even when I am not totally engaged in the world or with the characters. As an extremest, I'm all in or putting it down, and I don't easily give up. If I am asked to read a book/story for review or critique, I will finish - eventually. (Although I have had a couple occasions to e-mail authors and beg to be excused for personal reasons.) This can make me quite cynical/judgmental/sarcastic in my comments; which means I have to edit my feedback, and that takes more time energy.

The biggest reading frustration lately has been a suspension of belief, usually with stories set in contemporary/historical worlds, but sometimes Urban Fantasy will be equally unbelievable. If the story is an all out comedy or spoof style, then I accept pretty much anything; but if it is meant to depict serious subject matter (even if it is humorous), then I cannot wrap my mind around the discrepancies.

Perhaps my blog header should have a description that reads "Writer beware: red pen reader raves within." Or maybe I should be Book Slasher instead of Book Lover?

Anyway, that's my complaint this month: I'd like to be a more generous reader. And quicker. I only finished one of the three books I intended to read for review over the last two weeks. After some waffling between a 4 and 5 star I finally decided on a 5 for short story anthology The Dragon Chronicles. Now I just gotta get the review written and posted. We won't discuss the beta read with full critique that the slasher completed out of sympathy for the savaged author.

Oooh look! IWSG t-shirt at the NeatO shop. Wish it came in a v-neck.

Today is also the first day for this month's bi-monthly BATTLE OF THE BANDS competition; where two bands play the same song, and you get to vote on which is your favorite rendition (or the one that irritates you least). This bloghop is brought to you by the enigmatic Stephen T McCarthy and inexhaustible Far Away Series.

So, I'm an American, and unapologetically PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN, especially on this Independence Day weekend. HooRah! I am sure many of the BoTB participants will be posting some sort of 4th of July songs today with more indepth July Fourth write ups about the songs and the date; but I decided to just keep my post simple in support of the IWSG members that will be rushing by. You can learn all about the song GOD BLESS THE U.S.A. and its songwriter, Lee Greenwood, here if you are interested.

To simplify your voting (in case you have no time to listen to the video's), I chose two popular artists: country music singer/songwriter Lee Greenwood: and former Destiny's Child, modern-day feminist Beyonce Knowles.

Lee Greenwood


Happy Fourth of July everyone. Enjoy your weekend.

Be sure to visit the IWSG link here , and the list other Battle of The Bands participants. Don't forget to to say hey! to the hosts and co-hosts of both blog hops.