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Winterstone is not having a good night. She wakes up in a dumpster.
Her neck hurts where her date used her as a meal. Vampire hunters
chase her, and the other vampires think she is the real queen,
especially since she is a day walker, eats food, drinks almost no
blood, and stands up to Zophia, the psycho vampire queen.
problems have just begun.
Her mother has
kept a couple of major secrets from her, the two men who make Ember
drool refuse to claim her, and the psycho vampire queen decides Ember
The night I died, I
woke up into a world I thought only existed in the warped minds of
screenwriters in Hollywood and romance authors who wrote about the
dark, tortured soul looking for his or her soul mate. I mean, get
real. Vampires and werewolves are stuff of myth and legends.
Vampires are REAL.
How do I know this?
The night I died, I
woke up as a vampire. But of course, leave it to me to screw up the
Okay, I am rambling.
Sorry about that, and I am sorry for apologizing, and I—you get the
By the way, I’m
Ember. Ember Winterstone.
I know what you’re
thinking. Ember the Vampire. I guess you are waiting for me to burst
into flames. Ha. Ha. The jokes are not funny. I did not pick my
name. That honor is my parents’ fault; or rather, it was my mom’s
fault. I do not know much about dear old dad. Mom doesn’t have any
pictures and she never said much about him other than he was special
and he had duties that came before their love, but he loved us very
much and wanted us to be happy.
I guess it was her
way of making excuses for a deadbeat dad.
Then, my mom married
Henry Taylor when I was ten.
She said I wasn’t
happy because I didn’t have a father and it was her job to make
sure I had one. I think mom was lonely. Memories don’t keep
you warm at night. Anyway, I ended up with a weird stepfather and an
even weirder, older stepbrother.
I don’t have a lot
of time this afternoon, lots of things to do to prepare for the
Halloween Ball, but I need to get my story down on paper.
First, I am a
reporter. My job is to tell stories, to get the facts into print so
people can read it. Second, I want to be the one telling my story so
it is accurate. So many biographies have errors or they make the
person sound more heroic than the person really was. Third, it gives
me a way to sort out the details and make some sort of meaning from
everything that has happened to me. Call it a therapeutic activity,
if you want.
Rayne Rachels lives in
Texas with her husband and two very demanding cats. When she isn’t
creating stories, she can be found reading and honing her photography
skills. Rayne enjoys taking road trips, especially to the coast where
she fishes every chance she gets. She also enjoys visiting flea markets
and playing poker.
What does one say when they realize their
child is gone? Better yet, what does one say when that child returns,
but is different? This is the question Pryor must ask himself after his
daughter, Lily, is dragged into the woods by a wolf and her body is
never found. It isn’t until he sees a wolf in the woods with eyes that
resemble Lily’s that he feels hope. And then something is whispered from
deep within the woods, a promise for him to see Lily again.
But which day and for how long?
And then Pryor meets Ned, a silversmith who
brings out desires that Pryor hasn’t felt in years and helps him hatch a
plan to keep Lily with him.
Now the question isn’t about how much time Pryor will have with Lily, it’s about how far he’ll go to keep her with him.
smelled her. I knew that sweet smell, the smell of her hair, wild and
white—blonde. I would never see it turn darker, she would always be
golden to me. I flung myself from my bed and dressed quickly. “I’m here,
I’m coming, baby!”
remember tripping over my damn sneakers and cursing violently as I
stumbled over something else on the stairs. I’ve learned that in
instances like these, one remembers horrible little details like the
sneakers, like the stairs, and a wild, beautiful smell I knew but
instinct, I opened the blinds and threw open the sliding doors, then
made my way out into the backyard. Lily wouldn’t be anywhere else.
have a large weeping cherry tree in the backyard and in June, it is at
its most magnificent. The smell coming off the tree was lurid and the
flowers rained down in a pink shower when an errant breeze moved through
the branches. The moon was stark and white, sending shivering silver
light onto everything it touched. The night was alive with so much
excitement that it was almost too much to bear. The woods appeared to be
moving, a great looming mass of shadow and scent. The insects chorused,
calling out in honor of what I hoped was my daughter.
I ran down the deck stairs. She had to be there! My eyes darted from
one end of the yard to the other. The silver light of the moon cast
everything in a strange glow that begged a ghostly encounter.
I said again, and this time looked to the trees where I thought I had
heard ragged breathing; human, and yet not. There was movement, quick
and furtive, a padded whisper of something pacing, searching, and then I
saw eyes staring up at me from the darkness of the woods. Eyes that
burned like a thousand fires, they were as blue as I remember, but now
translucent and lit from behind.
was then that I heard the call, chilling and ancient, that brought
clouds to the sky as if they ached to protect the moon from such a
I whispered, “baby, it’s your daddy, your father.” I held a hand out,
wanted to go toward whatever it was that had my daughter’s eyes. Before I
could move, I heard a voice, odd and quick; a fast whisper that sounded
like the undertone of the trees, as if the forest was speaking to me.
But those eyes, I knew those eyes.
will return for one day. One day.” The voice stopped. There was the
sound of movement nearby. The ragged breathing stopped and the eyes
When, Lily? I know it’s you, please tell me when you will come back.
Why not now?” I was trying not to yell. I could feel her presence—the
smell was still there—she was close. I ran forward, but stopped when I
heard her voice again.
“The day that I was taken will be the day I return.”
was alone. Where there had been eyes, there was darkness; where there
had been movement, there was nothing; and where there had been clouds,
there was only silver light.
felt a helpless rage swell within me until it erupted into the still
night air in a primal scream that, once expelled, forced me to the
ground, muscles shaking as I clawed at the earth.
As I struggled to my feet, I could still hear the voice echoing in my ears, fighting against my furious pulse.
Xavier Axelson is a writer living in
Los Angeles. Xavier’s work has been featured in various erotic and
horror anthologies. Longer written works include “The Incident”,
“Velvet,” and “Lily.” www.xavieraxelson.com
Virtual Book Tour Dates: 7/9/14 – 7/23/14 Genres: Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, SciFi Series: Graham’s Resolution, Book 2 Tour Promo Price: $.99 Countdown Deal: 7/10/14 – 7/17/14
What the world dreads most has
already happened. Now, there is only survival. In
her dystopian and post-apocalyptic bestselling novel, The China
Pandemic, A. R. Shaw created a realistic world after a much too
plausible pandemic event. Now, the remaining must not only survive
but thrive or risk complete extinction. The story moves forward
with... The Cascade Preppers Graham
is back in book two of the Graham's Resolution series. In the tiny
town of Cascade, Washington, the members of Graham's camp endure a
severe winter season. Meanwhile, The Prepper community remains
dedicated to isolation and maintains their benevolent relationship.
Tensions rise when tragedy strikes. The human traits of
community and compassion are pitted against instincts to survive.
Will they be doomed by their own efforts to coexist? Read the ongoing
saga of Graham's Resolution, Book 2, The Cascade Preppers, for the
early winter sky cast in vibrant lavender led to piercing blue north
of the horizon. It was as cold as hell is hot, if you can imagine the
heat of hell as freezing. Graham pulled in the weighted line, hand
over hand. He wrapped the twine from hand to elbow while staring down
the murky blue ice hole of the frozen lake. The brown trout came
squirming its way up the ice tunnel towards him, till it met its last
reached out and grabbed the greedy guy that currently hung in midair.
Tearing the hook from its mouth, he dropped the frigid fish into a
pail with its brothers. They went for quantity over size when fishing
in the shallow waters beneath the ice, but the chore of getting
enough to feed them all had taken a little longer than usual this
morning. The sky had already gone from deep plum with a moon
encircled in a fine mist to daylight so intense, eye protection and
extra layers of fur to contain the fleeting warmth were called for.
they’d caught enough for everyone’s breakfast, they silently
gathered their gear to make their way back up the trail to camp. Like
any two men who’d worked the same routine, they would perform their
job without uttering a single word with regards to the task. “Get
your nose out of there, Sheriff,” Graham gently warned the dog in a
worn, low voice as he caught him peering into the bucket. “You’ll
get your share.” He tousled the dog’s head and picked up their
morning haul. Sam came up behind him with the other lines after he’d
covered the ice holes with spare plywood to keep them from freezing
over too much.
crunched along the reliable crust as their boots echoed in the vast
open until they met the trail between the trees. Mark had recently
finished clearing the paths from that night’s continuous onslaught
they walked up into the clearing, Bang, dressed in his snow gear from
head to toe, tossed scraps to the chickens as they scampered all
around him eager for their meager delicacies. Sheriff ran up ahead to
help out his young friend. Amused that the dog didn’t understand
why they kept the birds caged, nor why he wasn’t allowed to visit
with them inside the coop, Graham laughed. The hens often ran away
and rudely, collectively, scurried to the other end of their
enclosure when Sheriff came to greet them each morning.
called out to Bang, “Make sure you give them fresh water.”
always do,” Bang replied looking put out by the unnecessary
reminder, then his expression changed. “Mark told me to tell you,
Ennis isn’t up yet.”
right, thanks. I’ll give him a hand.” The two men walked in
silence past the front of the cabin. Sam seemed to be pondering
something which wasn’t unusual for the man. After spending the
entire day with him, other than a nod or an occasional word, he
didn’t say much, but Graham always suspected Sam was either
thinking ahead or mourning his daughter. Whether he’d ever let
another in on his thoughts, was anyone’s guess, so it surprised
Graham when he spoke up.
know, he won’t see another winter. You might want to be prepared
for that, Graham.”
spoke softly. “Yeah, I’ve pretty much figured that out.” “We’re
losing him a little each day. He rarely talks, but when he does it’s
always warnings. Like, he’s trying to give us as much as he can
before he goes.” Graham stopped in mid-stride and scuffed his boot
at the ice, sending crystals a few feet forward. “I’m thankful we
had him for as long as we did.”
clapped him on the back in understanding. He liked Ennis too. The old
man had even shown Sam a thing or two about carving the little wooden
figurines he made for Addy, the daughter he could see and hear, but
never again touch. If a man taught you something useful in life, he
was a keeper in Sam’s book.
A. R. Shaw, born in south Texas, moved
to Washington State in the late eighties. Always writing quietly in
what little spare time available while participating in the U.S. Air
Force Reserves as a Radio Operator and business owner. Only now
embracing a writing passion full time and finding a place in the
author's community, Shaw has found a following of avid readers along
After reading your blurb, the first thing I have to ask is how much
of your story is true?
and thanks for taking the time to interview me. I know this is a hell
of a way to start off an interview, but I’ll have to dodge this
first question a little bit, at least until after the whole book is
released. I’d be happy to re-visit this question then, haha. For
now I will say that the story is a combination of things—the true
events mingle with the songs, the book, and even all the promotional
efforts and related web sites. I wish I could say more, but for now
I’ll just re-iterate what I’ve said elsewhere and what many have
said before: All stories are true.
did you come up with the title?
question. The story is at least in some part about ruins, both
metaphorical and literal. It’s about learning from the past and
building upon foundations both known and unknown. “Tropicalia,”
besides being the name of the place where some of the story takes
place, is a term that refers to the way many Americans casually lump
tropical tourist destinations in Central America and elsewhere into
generic “vacationlands”, without understanding the culture or
I see that you're part of a band. How did your band members
feel about you writing a book? Have they contributed, too?
band was actually on hiatus for about a year. When I returned from
Central America, I knew I needed to write about the events there,
both in prose form and in some way in music. It became a reason or us
to start playing and writing music again. So the other guys in the
band—Drew Weikart (lead vocals/guitar, co-songwriter), Chris
Childress (bass) and Shay Byington (drums)—were very supportive.
They didn’t contribute to the actual book, but they’re referred
to occasionally within it. And we all worked together to write and
record the music in our usual way.
a book a week is amazing. How are you staying motivated?
I’m not actually releasing a book per week, per se. It’s
serialized, so I’m releasing two chapters/episodes per week (on
Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting 6/24). When all is said and done it
will be about the length of a typical novel. However, there are
easter eggs buried throughout the text which link to whole other
stories—separate but sharing themes and plots. So there’s really
a whole world to explore if you’re so inclined.
After completing your book, who was the first person to read
my fellow authors/conributors (Regina Porter and Elizabeth Troy), and
then my copy editor haha. After that, it went to various friends for
Can you give us some background on your band?
like to say we’re striving to be everyone’s eleventh favorite
rock band. We play indie rock n roll, influenced by indie, blues,
classic rock, and alternative. We’ve been together about four
years. Although we often write music as a whole unit, our lead
singer/guitarist Drew Weikart and I are the primary songwriters.
We’re based in Colorado and we’ve toured the US. We’ve gotten
some good critical press, and a dedicated fanbase who we really
appreciate. We’ve recorded two studio albums prior to the songs for
can stream or download those albums for free here:
books have most influenced your life?
a lifelong, voracious reader so I could go on and on. As a kid I
started off reading scifi/fantasy novels, and the first book that
really broadened my perspective on what literature could be was 1984.
It made me realize that literature could be more than a simple
escape—it could be a force for change, or a warning against
continuing down dangerous paths. I wrote a guest post on another blog
about the books that most influenced TROT,
but I’ll list them again here without the added context:
Big Book of Adventure Stories,
edited by Otto Penzler
by Kelly Link
by Ernest Hemingway
by Richard Brautigan
Haunting of Hill House/We Have Always Lived in the Castle,
by Shirley Jackson
by Malcolm Lowry
by Philip K. Dick
Labyrinth of Solitude,
by Octavio Paz
My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers,
by Larry McMurtry
in Bad Decline,
by George Saunders
of H.P. Lovecraft,
edited by Joyce Carol Oates
was your biggest challenge when it came to writing The
Ruins of Tropicalia?
everything into a cohesive whole, and deciding on and building the
infrastructure to distribute it. By this point, I’m comfortable in
my role as a writer and a musician, but I had to learn a lot of new
skills in order to build the system to distribute TROT.
I wanted to follow our band’s usual ethic of doing everything
ourselves. So that meant building web sites, apps, designing covers,
and everything else involved.
do you find the time to juggle your band and your writing?
was tough, and a bit schizophrenic. One day I’d be working on a
song with the band, and the next day I’d be locked in my room
writing a new chapter. What made it doable though was the fact that
both—though different art forms—were more or less about the same
thing, and pointed towards the same goal.
Do you have any plans for another series, after this one?
definitely have plans to continue writing in general. And without
giving too much away about the verisimilitude of TROT,
by the end of a story you see just the exposed tip of a much deeper
mythology, which I would like to further explore, both in real life
and in writing.
Virtual Book Tour Dates: 6/24/14 – 7/22/14
Genres: General Fiction, Literary, Thriller, SciFi, Musical Tour Price: Free Release Date: 6/24/14
The Ruins of Tropicalia is a serialized, pulpy adventure story, accompanied by new music by indie rock n roll band The Amends.
Expanded Plot Summary: In early 2014, a group of
Americans gathered on a remote Central American peninsula to experience
the last days of an unsullied tropical paradise before its development
into a corporate retreat for the world’s biggest tech company. Many of
them believed they were there accidentally, but none of them were. This
is the story of how a group of restless, indecisive idiot discovered who
brought them there, and what they could be. This is the story of a
country and a civilization few remember ever existed. This is the story
behind the most mysterious mass Disappearance of the 21st century. This
is a war story. And when things get bad, you rescue what you can…
Details: Two new chapters/episodes of TROT
debut each week from 6/24/14 until its completion at the end of August,
available for free in multiple formats (mobi/Kindle, EPUB, PDF, etc.)
both online and on a mobile app. A new single from The Amends will premiere each Wednesday throughout TROT’s run at the above locations as well as http://theamendsband.com. A trailer for the book can be viewed on Youtube.
Sam Merard doesn’t recognize the station
names any more, but they must be deep into Queens. They’re out of the
underground, elevated. He checks the time on his phone. This isn’t
right. They should have been to JFK at least fifteen minutes ago. He
considers crossing the car to check the subway map, but he doesn’t want
to chance Liz spotting him.
“Approaching Utnapishtim station,” a female voice announces through the rattly speakers. Utna-what? The announcer’s voice was different, too. The
train slows and screeches loudly to a stop. The doors slide open. Liz
steps outside. Sam pauses his iPod, slips the earbuds back into his
pocket, waits a few seconds again, and follows. The train rolls away
behind him. The platform stretches endlessly northeast. A solitary heat-lamp
illuminates the stairs down to the street. Beyond that, darkness and
infinity. Without looking behind her, Liz walks into the gloom. He
follows. Sam hears nothing but her footsteps. No car horns, no breaks, no
drunken shouts, no anything. He peers over the edge of the platform, but
has trouble seeing anything more of the city than dark, blurred
outlines of buildings. This part of the city produces no light. No
illumination behind the windows, no streetlights below. Nothing but
shadows beyond the train platform. He walks gingerly on the sides of his feet for what must be a mile.
The platform continues on past the point of credulity. Liz is not
concerned with making noise. Whenever her faint outline disappears into
the murk, he is still able to follow the sounds of her heels clicking
against the wood. A faint white light appears in the distance. Liz continues walking
towards it, never altering her pace. The light splits into three
distinct shapes. He makes out the profiles of three men— two wear white
bio-suits and gas masks, the third dons a long white lab coat and
surgical mask. A dim fluorescence emanates from their clothing. Liz stops walking. Sam’s heart thumps, and he ducks behind a trash can. He peers over its edge. The man in the lab coat approaches Liz. His coat is open, and an
oddly-shaped, octagonal stethoscope bounces against his chest. Liz
unfastens the top two buttons of her blouse. She offers him her chest.
He places the diaphragm against her neck instead. The scientist murmurs something to his colleagues, who stand side by
side four feet behind him. One of them scribbles a note on a pad. Sam
hears their exaggerated breathing through their masks. The lead
scientist reaches into his coat pocket and withdraws a portable blood
pressure monitor. He straps it around Liz’s forearm. He pumps it, checks
his watch, and mutters to the others again. “Satisfied?” Liz asks. “Somewhat,” the scientist answers in a gruff, muffled voice. “Then give me what you promised,” she says. Sam can’t help but notice again the lack of noise and smell and sight. It’s as if there is no city surrounding him. One of the other scientists steps forward. He places a small
cylindrical object to his throat, beneath his gas mask. When he speaks,
the words come out robotic, metallic. “After one more test,” He She or It says. The second scientists pulls what looks like a neatly folded piece of
paper from his back pocket. He unfolds it, bends down, and places it at
Liz’s feet. It too gives off a faint glow. She steps upon it. The second
scientist glances at the paper, checks a watch-like device on his
wrist, and places the cylinder to his throat again. He says to the note-taker, “Thirty-seven pounds. A new record.” “Would ya look how special I am?” Liz says flatly. The scientist in the lab coat asks, “Have you noticed anything different? Have you taken flight yet?” Liz shakes her head. “Just give me the powder,” she says.
Photo of The Amends, including TROT’s “curator”, Tyler Taylor (wearing the shark shirt).
After taking a temporary leave from his Colorado-based rock n roll band
The Amends, Tyler Taylor was among the group who went to Central
America, and witnessed the events described in The Ruins of Tropicalia. He edited and compiled the accounts of his fellow travelers into the main text of TROT.
He and Amends lead singer/guitarist Drew Weikart worked to put some of
the events to music, and the entire band (including bassist Chris
Childress and drummer Shay Byington) recorded the eight new songs in
April and May.
The author is giving away: (5) The Amends T-Shirt (Multiple Sizes
Available), What We Could Be Studio Album (3), and The Amends Studio
Album (3) on The Ruins of Tropicalia Book Tour! Open internationally, enter through Rafflecopter!