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Excerpt from Darkroom – Day meets her soulmate

The Dangerous Darkroom tour is drawing to a close. If you hurry, there’s still time to enter the drawing for special prizes including a $25 gift card and autographed copies of Talion and Daemon Seer. Darkroom will also be on sale for $s0.99 through this coming weekend.

Meanwhile, I hope you’ll enjoy this brief excerpt from Darkroom. The story centers on assistant art curator Kelly Durrell’s search for her friend Day Randall, a talented bipolar photographer who mysteriously goes missing. This section relates how Day meets Gregory Tyson, the dangerous man who becomes her lover.

At the top of the stairs, Day stopped and listened to the voices. They boomed in the open space above the white geometric walls of the museum. The building’s shape molded the sound. A blind person could hear it and know the height of the ceiling and the steepness of its vault. Another kind of sight. But Day was all eyes. Give her scaffolding and she could shoot the maze of gallery walls, the sophisticated rats nibbling snacks and sipping chardonnay. Not her kind of shot, though. She was more the up-close-and-personal, whites-of-their-eyes, breath-to-breath type, going for that flicker of an instant before the lens fogged.

She kept standing there, breathing funny. She couldn’t be scared of those fools. Not her, the woman who’d flipped Baba and lived.

She’d felt sorry for one of his child whores and called the girl’s parents. He chased her through the house with a blade until she locked herself in the bathroom. He slammed the door, yelling that he would cut her throat, bleed her in the tub and carve her like a chicken, wrap the chunks in newspaper and toss them in a dumpster behind the supermarket with the other rotten meat. She was too scared to feel herself, like her body had turned into air. Baba had a way with threats. He might have carried them out except for Shawn, his half brother. Shawn calmed him down and told Day to get the fuck out, warning her that if she stuck her hook nose into their business again, he would personally waste her skinny ass and save Baba the trouble.

That was an occasion for terror. This was just a crowd of art snobs. No blades here. Just voices, diamond-sharp.

“Going to the party?”

Day whipped around, startled.

Stocky guy in jeans and a lumberjack shirt, not much taller than her. Dark hair streaked with gray. Life stamped in his face, deep impressions around his mouth and eyes. Irony in his smile but no trace of cruelty. He held out a gnarly hand. “Leonard Proud.”

She reached out with caution. Not that he seemed like the type who gave women crushing handshakes, but he looked strong. “Day Randall.”

His hand closed over hers—no squeeze or shake, but firm—and then let go. “Kelly says nice things about you,” he said.

“You’re her friend?”

“More like colleague. I’m on the board of the museum.”

She reached for the scuffed Pentax hanging from her neck, the first and only camera she’d owned, her longtime crutch and trusty third eye.

He waved his arm. “No.”

“It’s, like, official. Photos for the newsletter.”

“Even worse.” But he squared his shoulders and turned his face to stone. Ready for his close-up.

“Dude. I’m not a firing squad.”

Leonard clamped his mouth to keep the laughter in. His cheeks puffed a little and his eyes crinkled in amusement. She saw the moment and took the shot. Snap, snap. What she did best. Kelly would never use the photo in the newsletter—members of a board were supposed to look more dignified—but Day might add it to her portfolio if he agreed.

“Let me send you a print,” she said. “What’s your address?”

He gave her a business card, a plain one with a block font.

“You make Native American art? What kind?”

“Weaving and painting.”

“I’d like to see it.”

“There’s a couple of my pieces back there.” Leonard nodded toward the rear of the museum.

“Show me.”

“Some other time. I wanna get the meet-and-greet over with.”

Day followed him into a gallery of Inuit art. “Would you, like, do me a big favor? Point out the other board members so I’ll be sure and get shots of them. You and Joyce are the only ones I know.”

“How much is Joyce paying you?”

“She’s not.”

He snorted. “A new low, even for her.”

A glass case imprisoned several small totem animals carved from stone, including a curled-up seal so smooth and dark Day yearned to feel its coolness and weight in her hand. “It’s for Kelly. I mean, I’m not paying rent or anything, so I try to help.”

“You live with Kelly?”

“Yeah, for almost eight months. She’s in Chicago at a conference for curators, so I’m, like, helping her. It’s a surprise.”

Leonard raised his eyebrows. “You’re here without an invitation.”

“Do I need one?”

“Hell, no. You’re with me.”

Day followed him into the reception area, drafting in his wake like she sometimes drafted behind a semi in her Corolla to save fuel. She needed his forward energy to make her entry. She hated coming uninvited among these people wrapped in cashmere. Not hated—feared. You have to tell yourself the truth because these people are going to lie. Their smiles were rubbery, like masks.

Leonard veered toward the refreshments, tidbits of food on trays and glasses of wine lined up on the tablecloth beside them. Wine the color of pee after you drink way too much water. Day stopped. Too many people were crowded around the refreshments. She would catch Leonard after he got his food.

She felt something, turned, and caught Annie Laible staring from across the room. She smiled and waved and got a sour smile back. Annie had new and wilder hair, hennaed and spiked. Months ago, Day had asked permission to hang a few photographs for sale in her gallery—she needed money bad—and Annie had blown her off. Just a blunt “No” without saying why. Now it was like Annie still blamed her for asking.

Joyce was talking with two men in their forties. Older than Day, but not by much. Day was thirty-eight, though she tried hard to forget it. The short guy was wasted, face bright pink, eyes shining and empty. The other was tall and gaunt. His cheekbones drank the wind. She remembered the line from a poem she read growing up. She forgot what poem. Anyway, it described this guy. He turned his head as if he felt her stare. Their eyes met. Locked. She recognized him. Not personally. More like she was an alien species who finds another of her kind among strangers.

She lifted her camera, zoomed in, and took his picture. Then zoomed out and got the whole group. They were probably important if Joyce was talking to them.

He walked over to her. “You’re Day Randall. I bought two of your prints.”

Day knew which ones. Soon after she came to Boulder, she submitted her portfolio for an exhibit at the museum. Joyce turned down the portfolio but said she had a buyer for the prints at $350 each. A fortune for Day. Of course, Joyce never gave up the buyer’s name. She wouldn’t want Day selling to him and cutting her out of a commission. Now here he was, this guy whose cheekbones drank the wind.

“What’s your name?”

“My friends call me Gee.”

She grinned. “Am I your friend?”

“I don’t know. Are you?”

“I feel like we’re the only ones from another planet.”

Gee reached out and stroked her cheek. His fingertips set off a tingling that reached down to her core. “Let’s play Find the Magic.”

“What’s that?”

“This exhibit is called Magic and Realism.” He pointed to a painting. “What’s magical?”

The painting showed a bird and a cat, the tension between prey and predator. The bird’s beak was open in frozen song. The iridescent feathers, intense cobalt and silky green, burned into her mind. “It’s like a window into someone’s dream.”

“We’re doing analysis,” Gee said. “Notice how the details aren’t realistic. The color of the feathers, the way they glow. Not like any finch in the real world. And the proportions are skewed. The finch is ten times bigger than the cat. It fills the whole room.”

“But it’s afraid of the cat anyway.”

“How do you know?”

“I just do.”

“Maybe because the finch is hunched and the cat’s kind of batting at it. Check out these claws. The tips are red.”

“Yeah, like with blood.”

“Exactly.”

Day shook her head. “I don’t have to take things apart. I see them whole.”

“There’s nothing whole. Everything is pieces.” Gee’s gaze played over her face and started her tingling just like his fingertips had. “The universe blew up a long time ago.”

Darkroom Cover

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Join the Dangerous Darkroom Blog Tour

The moment finally comes. The first copy of Darkroom arrives from the printer. Excited and anxious, I tear away the cardboard shell and behold the cover. It’s even more striking and sinister on the paperback than on the computer screen.The colors are deeper . The man lurking at the cover’s edge looks more compelling and mysterious. The designer has done a terrific job. I run my fingers over the glossy surface. Oh, it feels good.

Darkroom

I feel a bit shaky as I open the book. The interior is entirely my work, and although the PDF has been proofed by a professional and I’ve been over it  a dozen times, I fret that I’ve overlooked something so blatant and stupid that I’ll want to crawl into bed and hide beneath the covers. I thumb through the pages. The margins are right. The chapter headings look exactly as I’d envisioned, and none of them is out of place. The headings haven’t mysteriously vanished from any of the spreads.

Finally, my anxiety dies down. There’s probably an error lurking in there somewhere, but not a major error. I can relax and celebrate the launch of my newest novel.

Be sure to join me for the Dangerous Darkroom Blog Tour May 2-6, organized by the lovely people at Novel Publicity. You’ll get sneak peaks of the novel, interviews with me, and exclusive insights to the story and characters that make Darkroom a novel you won’t soon forget.

Enter the blog tour drawing for a shot at winning these special prizes:

  • A paperback of Larry Clark’s famous photo essay Tulsa. Darkroom features a talented photographer whose photos, like Clark’s,”uncover the secret of a face, its elusive life, so it becomes the portrait of an intimate you have yet to meet.”
  • A set of 10 custom note cards with envelopes, featuring a photograph of Boulder’s iconic Flatirons by moonlight. Photograph by Charles Pfiel.
  • Autographed copies of my dark fantasy horror novels Talion and Daemon Seer.
  • A $25 Amazon gift card.

Darkroom is a suspense thriller with a noirish atmosphere and unexpected twists. Art curator Kelly Durrell goes looking for her missing roommate, talented photographer Day Randall, and becomes entangled in a demimonde of powerful people who will stop at nothing to protect their secrets. Here’s what advance readers and reviewers have to say about Darkroom:

“. . . tight, compelling, and convincing writing.”  — Jon A. Jackson, author of Hit on the House and No Man’s Dog

“A thriller with unexpected plot twists and suspenseful action.”  — RT Source

“Kelly Durrell is a deftly-drawn, intelligent, and likable heroine.”  — Daiva Markelis, author of White Field, Black Sheep: A Lithuanian-American Life

“A solid mystery that involves a satisfyingly diverse range of characters.”  — D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

“[Maddox’s] prose flows with beauty and clarity.”  — Tahlia Newland, author of The Locksmith’s Secret

The paperback is now available through Amazon and will soon become available through other online sellers. The Kindle edition is coming May 3, and you can preorder a copy right now at the special launch price of just $0.99. The price is going up at the beginning of next week, so don’t wait too long!

dark fantasy, suspense, transgressive fiction

Sin Eater Episode 1 available now

You’ve heard rumblings about it, now it’s finally here. SIN EATER by Pavarti K. Tyler and Jessica West is available now on Amazon.com. Check out the excerpt and giveaway at the end of this post!

Episode 1.1 is FREE 9/25 & 9/26 so grab your copy NOW. After that it will be $0.99 or free on Kindle Unlimited: Amazon.com

Episode 1.2 is available now for $0.99: Amazon.com


SinEater1.1

From Award-Winning Author Pavarti K. Tyler and Speculative Fiction Author Jessica West, comes a Dark Urban Fantasy serial about evil, and the next step in its evolution.

**This is Episode ONE in a seven part urban fantasy/horror serial**

A Sin Eater who battles demons for souls

A Priest who must protect what he most desires, even from himself,

A rogue Romani mortician with an attitude, a secret, and a powerful weapon,

And a Secret Order of the Church who knows more than they’re saying…

Nikolai Grekh is the last Sin Eater.

Born into a world rampant with demon possession, Nik Grekh struggles to keep Hell’s hordes from consuming the world, but he grows weary of the constant battle against sin. Evil grows stronger as more souls are lost. With each new possession growing increasingly violent, Nik fears he may be losing the war.

When Nik confronts a demon he can barely defeat, he reaches out to the only man who can save him. The only man he trusts. The one man he can never have…

Evil has resided alongside humanity since the beginning of time, feeding on our weaknesses, our vices. Our sins. It hungers for our souls, its demonic offspring possessing humans, corrupting, manipulating, using us as unwitting pawns in a supernatural chess match for the ultimate price: life.

The Crucifixion of Christ saved humanity once. What will it take to save us this time?

*contains mature content, offensive themes, and general deviance*

Sin Eater 1.1 is approximately 10,000 words or 45 pages, and is the first of seven episodes in the first season of the Sin Eater serial. If you don’t enjoy serials, you can pre-order the full Box Set on Amazon.


A Note About Serials: These are not stand alone books, however, if that drives you crazy, you can PREORDER the full box set now:

Season1Box

For those reading alone as each episode is released, here is the full schedule:

Sin Schedule

Episode Publication Date
Episode 1 9/25/2015
Episode 2 9/25/2015
Episode 3 10/9/2015
Episode 4 10/23/2015
Episode 5 11/6/2015
Episode 6 11/20/2015
Episode 7 12/4/2015
Box Set 12/15/2015

Read an Excerpt

Nik’s hand dripped blood and his forehead throbbed.

“You can’t kill this man and that’s the only way you’ll get rid of me. You can’t take an innocent life without opening yourself up to my kind. So go ahead, kill him, and then I’ll wrap myself in your shell and consume your soul.” The monster licked its lips.

“Bullshit.”

The leaky, red eyes of the demon’s host displayed the first real signs of fear. It was all but beat. He was almost finished.

“Behold and obey. By the power of Christ, invested in me by the Kingdom of Heaven and its mighty King, I command you to yield. For this vessel is a child of God, sacred unto him.”

Beads of sweat popped out on the brow of the man before him, now crouching and glaring up at Nik. One side of his face had melted away, leaving only sinew and bone. He curled his arms and fists, making his biceps bulge with effort.

His voice, empowered by his birthright and emboldened by experience, rang clear in the night. “I exorcise thee, every unclean spirit, in the name of God,” Nik pressed his bloody palm against the demon’s forehead, “and in the name of Jesus, and in the name of the Holy Spirit!”

Nik drew the sign of the cross on the demon’s flesh with his own blood.

“Tell me your name! The blood of Christ compels you!”

The man’s bulging muscles shook. He ground his teeth, trying his best to stop from revealing his name and giving Nik the only thing he needed to destroy him. He screamed, a long and low furious yell that revealed the only thing that might have kept him safe: “Naamah.”

Nik slapped his wet palm onto the man’s sweaty forehead. “I exorcise thee, Naamah, in the name of God, and in the name of Jesus,” Nik’s hand burned the man’s flesh, but he couldn’t stop, “and in the name of the Holy Spirit.” He pulled his face close until the two were eye-to-eye.

The black from the demon’s eyes receded into its head, traveling the surface of the man’s skin and turning it gray. He opened his mouth and a black cloud rushed out, choking its former host as it was expelled.

The monster let out a shriek as the last of its hold on the man was ripped out, sliding out of his human host’s mouth and into a black glob on the street.

The man came to his senses. Confusion showed in his eyes as his mind was once again able to access his body. As the evil left the man’s body, he slumped to the ground and Nik lowered with him. Nik stayed just long enough to make sure the man’s pulse was stable. His job was to get the evil out, not to worry about what happened after.

Nik’s head spun, he was too exhausted, sick, and confused to reason it out. He’d exorcised the demon. That’s all that mattered. He’d figure out the particulars later.

The blood on Nik’s hand glowed a deep red in the darkness as he reached out and grabbed the evil before him. With a silent prayer, he picked it up, black sin wrapping around his fingers like tentacles. Bile rose in his mouth at the thought of what he needed to do next. Twice in one night.

The throb in his head began again and Nik stuffed the evil into his mouth, swallowing its slick putrid essence in one gulp.

Nik stood, but he swayed and leaned heavily on the wall to his left, unable to see through the dark haze that descended over his eyes. He felt like someone had snuffed him out. Cold gripped his body, seeping into his bones, pulling him down, crushing him in its icy fist.

He instantly regretted treating this one as he had every other. He should have known better. There was nothing about this possession that had been like the others. After everything he went through to beat this thing, he came right back around to the same thought as before. This would be the one that killed him.


And now the fun part!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Spiderworld – thought-provoking sci-fi

Looking for something different?

AIA Publishing has just released its fifth book, and in line with previous fiction titles, the book has a unique voice and a metaphysical bent. Spiderworld by Richard Bunning turns the tables on humans and spiders, and makes you think about humankind’s relationship with animals and with each other.

Not even the time-lord, Orlando Oversight, knows everything. But speculation can turn into a real future, and the Lush Star system, where spider-like beings treat humans as we do animals, isn’t such a distant dream away.

Do Jack Baker, the self-styled ‘Spartacus’, and his followers have a future as more than meat and slaves? Will Athalie have the life she hopes for with her hero? And will the ‘spider’ Boklung hold his business together while funding and organising the Arcraft’s voyage across the Milky Way?

Spiderworld is another of Richard Bunning’s quirky, speculative, science fictions.

Is it any good?

Of course it is. It’s published by AIA Publishing, a selective publisher with high standards in quality control. It’s also Awesome Indies Approved and has been nominated for an Awesome Indies Seal of Excellence in fiction.

Will I like it?

Here’s what the Awesome Indies review says:

This is a unique read in so many ways, and I loved it. Eight-limbed “spiders” rule the Multiverse. Humans (yeng) are an enslaved species, and also provide delicious meat to the Aranians. This was a book that pulled me into its pages. If you love sci-fi, alien worlds, even a bit of romance, then you’re bound to love this book.

Where can I buy it?

Your local Kindle Store

Smashwords.

Who is Richard?

Richard is a citizen of the United Kingdom and New Zealand, but currently resides in Switzerland. He has seven substantive books published, plus one gift-market book written with few words and many short stories appearing in a number of anthologies. His novels are all speculative science fiction while his short pieces cover many genres. He’s also written ‘modern’ English language versions of French neoclassical plays that spouted from some quite different region of his author personality.

Details on all Richard’s writing, including free stories and ‘bloggins’, plus his reviews of many other writers’ works, can be found at:- http://richardbunningbooksandreviews.com

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Interview with David Litwack

Today I’m pleased to interview author David Litwack. I loved his novel The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky (see my review of it here) and jumped at this chance to ask him about his books and  views on writing.

David, it’s a pleasure to have you on Ancient Children. What led you to become a writer?

The urge to write first struck me at age sixteen when working on a newsletter at a youth encampment in the woods of northern Maine. It may have been the wild night when lightning flashed at sunset followed by the northern lights rippling after dark. Or maybe it was the newsletter’s editor, a girl with eyes the color of the ocean. The next day, I had a column published under my byline, and I was hooked.

Which part of the writing process do you find most enjoyable? Which do you find most challenging?

The best part is opening the box and clutching the finished book in my hands, especially staring at the gorgeous cover my artist, Mallory Rock, has produced. Far and away the most challenging part is writing the first draft. I have to keep reminding myself that no matter how awful it seems, the primary purpose of a first draft is to understand what the author is trying to say. I quiet my doubts and order myself to finish the draft. Then I put in the months of hard work to smooth it out and make it better.

Which books and authors have influenced you the most?

There are so many I love that have influenced my writing. I have always read cross genre. When I became an avid reader in my teens, I devoured fantasy and science fiction, but also literary fiction. I loved the works of Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimo , and of course, Tolkien, but also of Hemingway and Steinbeck.

If you forced me to name a book I wish I wrote, I think it would be a composite of Clarke’s The City and the Stars and Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls—a story beautifully written, with a fantastic alternate world, lofty themes, and intense characters who believe passionately in their cause.

I love The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky. Kailani is an endearing and memorable character. In the novel you create a world in which there are two hostile nations, the Blessed Lands and the Republic. In the Blessed Lands, people of faith have rejected reason and science. As a result they live primitively. The people of the Republic embrace reason and have developed a technology that gives them comfortable lives, but a sadness hangs over them, a kind of ennui. One theme of the novel seems to be that we need both faith and reason to be completely human, but their opposition creates tension — both within individuals and between groups. Can that tension ever be resolved? Should it be?

That’s a really hard question. I think an author’s job is to pose the really hard questions, to make people think, but not necessarily to provide the answers (there may be none).

The question highlights one of the primary benefits of reading novels—the ability to get inside another person’s mind and see the world through different eyes. The more you read, the broader your perspective. The broader your perspective, the more you can accept other points of view. Your thoughts become more nuanced and less polarized. At the very least, you become able to understand other ways of thinking, at least enough to not make war.

I haven’t yet read The Seekers: The Children of Darkness, but the description suggests it may have a similar theme. Does it?

The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky is about a world divided between two peoples with very different belief systems and world views, a situation that has led, in the past, to tragic wars. To solve the problem, the powers that be have separated the two and provided a limited mechanism to transfer between them, thereby keeping the peace. While both sides may have gone too far in enforcing their beliefs, neither is really a dystopian society.

The Children of Darkness takes a different tack. One side dominates in order to maintain the peace, but over time, power corrupts. The best intentions have led to a dystopia (dystopia comes from dysfunctional utopia—good intentions gone bad). The first book in the trilogy asks the question: how do some, after a thousand years of controlled thought, come to question the rigid beliefs of their society, and what sacrifices are they willing to make to change their world.

I think you’ll find as the trilogy progresses, the lines blur. The main characters confront the good and bad of both belief systems. In the end, all they want is for each individual to be free to choose what they believe and to be allowed to fulfill their potential. Can this be done without constantly recreating the problem? Stay tuned,

How does writing a series such as The Children of Darkness differ from writing a stand-alone novel?

I’ve found that the more time an author spends with his characters, the better he knows them. That’s why I moved from third person perspective in the first book to Orah’s first person in the subsequent novels. I’m much more comfortable inside her head, and as the moral dilemma intensifies, I’m better able to show the reader how it affects her.

Any advice for writers just starting out?

If you love it, never give up. If not, find something easier to do.

If you still insist on writing, take to heart the words of Justice Louis Brandeis: “There a no good writers, only good rewriters.” If you want to become a better writer, read lots and rewrite until no unnecessary word remains.

Assess every word, phrase, sentence, paragraph and scene objectively. Remove what’s not necessary, even if you love it. I have a favorite quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery (author of that gem of a novel, The Little Prince): “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Polish each and every word until all that’s left sparkles.

Thank you again for the interview. I’m looking forward to reading The Children of Darkness.

The Daughter of the Sea and the SkyThe Children of Darkness - Cover

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Speculative Literary Fiction – Guest Post by David Litwack

It’s finally here! Children of Darkness – Book One in The Seekers Series is available NOW. Check it out on Amazon.com. FREE for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. GET YOUR COPY

“A must-read page turner.” Kirkus Review

About the Book:

The Children of Darkness - CoverThe Children of Darkness

The Children of Darkness is about a society devoid of technology, the result of an overreaction to a distant past where progress had overtaken humanity and led to social collapse. The solution—an enforced return to a simpler time. But Children is also a coming of age story, a tale of three friends and their loyalty to each other as they struggle to confront a world gone awry. Each searches for the courage to fight the limits imposed by their leaders, along the way discovering their unique talents and purpose in life.

“If the whole world falls into a Dark Age, which it could plausibly do, who could bring us out of it? According to David Litwack in The Children of Darkness, the only answer is us, now, somehow reaching into the future.” – Kaben Nanlohy for On Starships And Dragonwings

Publication Date: June 22, 2015 from Evolved Publishing
Purchase Link: http://smarturl.it/Seekers1
FREE WITH KINDLE UNLIMITED
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23485495-the-children-of-darkness

Speculative Literary Fiction

Someone recently asked me why I use the term “speculative literary fiction” to describe the genre of my novels. While both terms are used frequently on their own, they are not often paired together.

Speculative fiction is a term coined by Margaret Atwood in an effort to avoid the hard-core sci-fi label (she said she needed a category that meant sci-fi without Martians). It has been used to describe a number of sub genres—space opera, techno-thrillers, dystopian, post-apocalyptic, even fantasy—basically anything that is not “real world.” The key to speculative fiction is the what-if aspect. What if the world as we know it was different in one or more ways? While this what-if, alternate history/alternate world approach can be used to explore future technology or just spin a good yarn, it also enables an author to focus on some theme by altering an aspect of the world as we know it.

Literary fiction is usually understood to mean quality writing, deeper characters and an exploration of universal themes.

So why combine the two? The primary purpose of declaring a genre is to set the expectation of the prospective reader.

Using the term speculative fiction by itself can misrepresent a book. Readers might expect Star Wars or the Zombie Apocalypse, or an emphasis on some hypothetical technology such as faster than light spaceships or time travel. Literary fiction tends to imply real world, such as The Help or The Secret Life of Bees.

Many great books have speculative premises, but are literary in nature. Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is a good example, or the works of Usrula LeGuin. Even a novel like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road might fit. While it’s certainly post-apocalyptic–we find out little about the cataclysm that brought about the current state–the author dwells on the relationship between the man and the boy, and the power of love. Another example might be Never Let Me go by Kazuo Ishiguro. While the what-if of this world is the use of cloning to grow organs, it’s told from the viewpoint of the clones, and shows much more about relationships and the human condition than about technology.

I use speculative literary fiction as a term to distinguish alternate history or alternate worlds, where the emphasis is not on whiz-bang technology, aliens, space travel or the like, but more on deeper characters and universal themes, brought to the fore by the unique difference in the imagined society or world.

Get Your Copy of The Children of Darkness Now!

 About the Author:

David Front PageThe urge to write first struck when working on a newsletter at a youth encampment in the woods of northern Maine. It may have been the night when lightning flashed at sunset followed by northern lights rippling after dark. Or maybe it was the newsletter’s editor, a girl with eyes the color of the ocean. But he was inspired to write about the blurry line between reality and the fantastic.

Using two fingers and lots of white-out, he religiously typed five pages a day throughout college and well into his twenties. Then life intervened. He paused to raise two sons and pursue a career, in the process becoming a well-known entrepreneur in the software industry, founding several successful companies. When he found time again to daydream, the urge to write returned.

After publishing two award winning novels, Along the Watchtower and The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky, he’s hard at work on the dystopian trilogy, The Seekers.

David and his wife split their time between Cape Cod, Florida and anywhere else that catches their fancy. He no longer limits himself to five pages a day and is thankful every keystroke for the invention of the word processor.

Website: www.davidlitwack.com
Facebook: David Litwack – Author
Twitter: @DavidLitwack

Giveaway

 

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More Reviews!

“Litwack’s storytelling painted a world of both light and darkness–and the truth that would mix the two.” Fiction Fervor

The Children of Darkness is a dystopian novel that will stay with you long after you finish reading it.” C.P. Bialois

“This is a satisfying exploration of three teens’ journey into the unknown, and the struggles faced by all who seek true emancipation – both for themselves, and for the people they love.” Suzy Wilson

“Litwack’s writing is fresh, and Nathaniel, Orah and Thomas come to life in your imagination as you frantically flip (or click) the pages of this book.” Anna Tan

“…many profound themes, lovely characterizations and relationships” R. Campbell

“I was enthralled and intrigued by the authors creation of this society… David Litwack has an enjoyable and captivating writing style.” Jill Marie

“…a perfect story for young adult readers, but its underlying theme and character development will keep any adult engaged.” Kathleen Sullivan

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Spotlight – The Children of Darkness

It’s finally here! Children of Darkness – Book One in The Seekers Series is available NOW. Check it out on Amazon.com. FREE for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. GET YOUR COPY

“A must-read page turner.” Kirkus Review

About the Book:

The Children of Darkness - CoverThe Children of Darkness

The Children of Darkness is about a society devoid of technology, the result of an overreaction to a distant past where progress had overtaken humanity and led to social collapse. The solution—an enforced return to a simpler time. But Children is also a coming of age story, a tale of three friends and their loyalty to each other as they struggle to confront a world gone awry. Each searches for the courage to fight the limits imposed by their leaders, along the way discovering their unique talents and purpose in life.

“If the whole world falls into a Dark Age, which it could plausibly do, who could bring us out of it? According to David Litwack in The Children of Darkness, the only answer is us, now, somehow reaching into the future.” – Kaben Nanlohy for On Starships And Dragonwings

Publication Date: June 22, 2015 from Evolved Publishing
Purchase Link: http://smarturl.it/Seekers1
FREE WITH KINDLE UNLIMITED
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23485495-the-children-of-darkness

Book Description

The Children of Darkness, book one of the dystopian trilogy, The Seekers

“But what are we without dreams?”

A thousand years ago the Darkness came–a time of violence and social collapse when technology ran rampant. But the vicars of the Temple of Light brought peace, ushering in an era of blessed simplicity. For ten centuries they have kept the madness at bay with “temple magic,” eliminating forever the rush of progress that nearly caused the destruction of everything.

Childhood friends, Orah and Nathaniel, have always lived in the tiny village of Little Pond, longing for more from life but unwilling to challenge the rigid status quo. When their friend Thomas returns from the Temple after his “teaching”—the secret coming-of-age ritual that binds the young to the Light—they barely recognize the broken and brooding man the boy has become. Then when Orah is summoned as well, Nathaniel follows in a foolhardy attempt to save her.

In the prisons of Temple City, they discover a terrible secret that launches the three on a journey to find the forbidden keep, placing their lives in jeopardy. For hidden in the keep awaits a truth from the past that threatens the foundation of the Temple. If they reveal that truth, they might release the long-suppressed potential of their people, but they would also incur the Temple’s wrath as it is written:

“If there comes among you a dreamer of dreams saying ‘Let us return to the darkness,’ you shall stone him, because he has sought to thrust you away from the light.”

“A fresh perspective on our own society…[an] enjoyable read that will make you wonder just how society will judge us in the future.” Lexie

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About the Author:

David Front PageThe urge to write first struck when working on a newsletter at a youth encampment in the woods of northern Maine. It may have been the night when lightning flashed at sunset followed by northern lights rippling after dark. Or maybe it was the newsletter’s editor, a girl with eyes the color of the ocean. But he was inspired to write about the blurry line between reality and the fantastic.

Using two fingers and lots of white-out, he religiously typed five pages a day throughout college and well into his twenties. Then life intervened. He paused to raise two sons and pursue a career, in the process becoming a well-known entrepreneur in the software industry, founding several successful companies. When he found time again to daydream, the urge to write returned.

After publishing two award winning novels, Along the Watchtower and The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky, he’s hard at work on the dystopian trilogy, The Seekers.

David and his wife split their time between Cape Cod, Florida and anywhere else that catches their fancy. He no longer limits himself to five pages a day and is thankful every keystroke for the invention of the word processor.

Website: www.davidlitwack.com
Facebook: David Litwack – Author
Twitter: @DavidLitwack

Giveaway

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More Reviews!

“Litwack’s storytelling painted a world of both light and darkness–and the truth that would mix the two.” Fiction Fervor

The Children of Darkness is a dystopian novel that will stay with you long after you finish reading it.” C.P. Bialois

“This is a satisfying exploration of three teens’ journey into the unknown, and the struggles faced by all who seek true emancipation – both for themselves, and for the people they love.” Suzy Wilson

“Litwack’s writing is fresh, and Nathaniel, Orah and Thomas come to life in your imagination as you frantically flip (or click) the pages of this book.” Anna Tan

“…many profound themes, lovely characterizations and relationships” R. Campbell

“I was enthralled and intrigued by the authors creation of this society… David Litwack has an enjoyable and captivating writing style.” Jill Marie

“…a perfect story for young adult readers, but its underlying theme and character development will keep any adult engaged.” Kathleen Sullivan

The AI Chronicles launch – join the party

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. Even today, machines that mimic human thinking surround us. As the intellectual feats of computing machines grow more and more astounding, will there be a day when their apparent intelligence approaches, or even surpasses, that of human beings? And what if these machines then become conscious, self-aware?

Get this latest title in the acclaimed Future Chronicles series of speculative fiction anthologies.

AI Chronicles

Thirteen authors confront the question of the Singularity: at and beyond that point of time when A.I. becomes more than simply a human construct. From first awareness to omniscience, these original short stories explore that territory where human intelligence comes face-to-face with what is either its greatest hope, or its greatest threat.

How can you join the party?

Join us TODAY, March 13th, in celebrating the launch on Facebook from 5 to Midnight EST.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1535855083368828/

Get your copy of The A.I. Chronicles here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00TUIBHL4/

Enter the Giveaway!

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Lessons learned from broken characters

Discover Authors

Today’s guest, Laurie Boris, makes a strong case for creating characters that are less than perfect. 

I’m a bit different from some authors. Instead of outlining and building a character from scratch, I let one fall into my head. I follow him or her around as we find the story together. So sometimes (oh, who am I kidding; it happens nearly all the time) I get to work with characters who are a little broken, a little damaged, or who don’t always make the choices I want them to.

This means I often hear the same comment from my early readers: I wanted to SLAP her!

If it’s any consolation to them, sometimes I want to slap her, too.

Yet to write a book any other way, for me, would feel wrong. It would feel like I’m forcing a character to do something contrary to his or her nature. Readers can sense this. It can make the characters’ journeys feel fake, like the author is moving them around on a chessboard to suit the needs of the plot.

When Sarah Cohen popped into my head for Sliding Past Vertical, oh boy, did I want to slap her. Probably more than any of my other heroines. She meant well. Underneath, I could sense that she meant well, and didn’t want to hurt anyone, but some of her decisions had unintended consequences because she wasn’t thinking them through. I really felt for Emerson, who still loved her after she broke up with him in college. Stop hurting my book boyfriend, I wanted to yell at her.

spv_v3But I had to let her do what she was going to do. That’s one of the most important lessons I learned from her. As I write a book (and for a while afterward), the characters feel as real to me as the people I come across in the supermarket, on the train, in the gym. That’s what some readers say they love about them. Yet real people don’t always make the best choices, especially if they are in trying situations. They make the ones that feel like the best thing to do at the time. And knowing this has not only helped me feel more compassionate toward other people, it’s helped me feel more compassion for my characters and for myself.

I haven’t always made the “right” decisions in my personal life. Who has? Through writing, and especially when I’m given the gift of a character like Sarah, it helps me grow and helps me learn more about forgiveness.

In a novel, though, if a character never learns anything or changes in some way because of what she experiences, well, what’s the point of having her in the book? It’s a question writers often ask themselves while a story is in development. Sarah, as much as I wanted to sit her down and talk some sense into her, deserved to stay because she had to go through a transformation. She had a lot to learn. I had to be compassionate enough to let her do that on her own, without pushing her around or making her be someone that she wasn’t. And maybe that’s why she came into my life.

White Chalk – fiction with a social conscience

Discover Authors

A warm welcome to today’s Discovery tour guest, Pavarti K. Tyler.

This week, my erotic romance Sugar & Salt released and I’ve been having oodles of fun posting reviews and talking about erotica with readers.  But in the mix, I don’t want to forget the Literary Fiction novel that came out in July.  Not that long ago in the scheme of publishing.

White Chalk, is a very personal story for me.  While it’s not autobiographical and I am not Chelle, I could have been.  So could you.  So could the kid sitting on the bus next to you on your way to work tomorrow morning.  The thing is, we never know what someone’s like is like behind the walls of their mind.  It takes very little to change the trajectory of a life.  A teacher who takes a special interest in a troubled child can save them, point them in a new direction, or take advantage and shatter their understanding of love.

About the book:

WCFinalCover-200x300Chelle isn’t a typical 13-year-old girl—she doesn’t laugh with friends, play sports, or hang out at the mall after school. Instead, she navigates a world well beyond her years.

Life in Dawson, ND spins on as she grasps at people, pleading for someone to save her—to return her to the simple childhood of unicorns on her bedroom wall and stories on her father’s knee.

When Troy Christiansen walks into her life, Chelle is desperate to believe his arrival will be her salvation. So much so, she forgets to save herself. After experiencing a tragedy at school, her world begins to crack, causing a deeper scar in her already fragile psyche.

Follow Chelle’s twisted tale of modern adolescence, as she travels down the rabbit hole into a reality none of us wants to admit actually exists.

Rachel Thompson, Award-Winning Author of Broken Pieces

Tyler combines shades of ‘Lolita’ and ‘Catcher in the Rye’ in a completely new way, drawing you in with poignant characterizations. ‘White Chalk’ goes deep into teenage angst with understanding and clarity. Savor, share, and use this poignant book as a primer on the brutal effects of abuse, neglect, and self-esteem.

Awesome Indies Discovery: waterspell, a fantasy by Deborah J. Lightfoot

I am delighted to welcome today’s guest, Deborah J. Lightfoot, author of the magical Waterspell series.

The Awesome Indies Discovery begins today and runs through December 14. Featured are eight simply awesome writers whose books have met high standards of quality and been approved for the Awesome Indies lists. I am pleased and proud to be in such distinguished company. Now here is my contribution to the tour. I’m also giving away review copies of the complete Waterspell trilogy.

WATERSPELL
by
Deborah J. Lightfoot

Magic, mystery, murder, and romance …
The Waterspell Trilogy:
An intricate save-the-world fantasy adventure with complex characters, cosmic calamities, and the gothic sensibilities of Jane Eyre

~~~~~

I wrote much of Waterspell while living in the tropics in a house that was open to the breezes of soft summer nights. Often I worked late, gripped by a writer’s high, my fingers flying over the keyboard while the world slept. Vaguely I would catch the hoots of owls and the fragrances of night-blooming flowers wafting in on the breeze, but I wasn’t really occupying the same universe as the house that held me. On those magical nights, I was living with—and in—the characters of my medieval fantasy. I saw through their eyes, thought their thoughts, and felt their anguish. I didn’t merely sympathize with their pain: I felt it.

Waterspell_Book_1_cover_AIA_badge-330My writing became an out-of-body experience as my consciousness melded with my characters. Nothing existed in those moments except my pulse-pounding rush to capture not only their words and actions, but also their deepest secrets. I saw behind their masks. I knew things they’d never told anyone—hidden things they had not fully acknowledged even to themselves.

In the small hours of the night when exhaustion finally drove me from the keyboard, I sometimes found myself thinking, as I headed for bed, that I would like to read more of the story which had so riveted me. Then I would realize that I couldn’t read more of it until I had written it. The experience was like being split in two. The hours I spent out of my body, my mind at one with my characters, made for confused dreams as my essence struggled to leave the world of Waterspell and return to Earth.

When at last the writing was done and I could declare the trilogy finished, I cried a little to be parting from my characters. They were real to me. For the better part of 16 years they had lived in me, and I in them. We had spent a life together.

Waterspell_Book_2_cover_AIA_badge-330But now they were moving into a wider realm. The books were published, and readers began responding. I’ve been deeply gratified by the emotional connections that many readers have forged with these idiosyncratic characters of mine. Reviewers have called them complicated, original, mesmerizing.

Beyond Character: Going Deep

But as thrilling as it is to see my creations become real in readers’ imaginations, I’ve now found myself hoping for reviews that will give equal time to the story’s deeper themes.

One of those themes deals with the human need to belong. We all want to fit in; we want a place and a community to call our own. My protagonist, a teenage misfit named Carin, is homeless and rootless as the story begins. Her quest is to find the place where she belongs. Or more accurately, her challenge is to make a place for herself in a world where she does not really fit.

Waterspell_Book_1_cover_AIA_badge-330That’s one subtext of the story. Going still deeper, camouflaged amongst the underpinnings of the trilogy, is a commentary on environmental exploitation, ecological devastation, and Nature’s powers of regeneration, if we’ll only give Earth the chance to heal. That theme is nuanced enough that I wouldn’t expect most readers to pick up on it until late in Book 2. And even when this subtext is more fully explored in Book 3, it’s far subtler than the adventure, mystery, and romance of the trilogy’s surface layers.

Even so, I’m hoping to connect on those deeper levels with readers who enjoy a good fantasy adventure, but who also want more from a book than simple entertainment. Come for the characters, love or despair of them as you will, but please know there’s more happening in the depths of Waterspell. On the surface, the story may seem medieval. Down below, however, it’s as contemporary and relevant as the latest natural disaster or planetary catastrophe to strike our Mother Earth.

If you’re interested in environmental literary fiction or you like characters who’ll keep you up nights, I invite you to sample Waterspell Books 1, 2, and 3 at any online bookseller. The three books of the trilogy—The WarlockThe Wysard, and The Wisewoman—are the beginning, middle, and end of a continuous story, and best read as a set.

Review copies are available in all formats. Please contact me if you’d like to review.

 

Awesome Indies Discovery 1: Don’t Judge a Book By Its Magic

Discover Authors A warm welcome to today’s guest, Kate Policani, accomplished author of The Convergence series. Kate is also the creative mind behind Discover Authors. Thank you, Kate, for inviting me to participate in this tour. aia_low-res_sm-150x150   djabbim-cover-new-audiobook

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Magic

(Book 1 of The Convergence series)
By Kate Policani
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal

The fabulous Awesome Indies have granted this book with the Seal of Approval. Since its last appearance on Discover Authors, my first Convergence series book has donned a new cover for ebooks and is Now available on Audiobook! 

Giveaway

One comment on this post will win a code for a free audiobook at audible.com! Let me know what you think of the new cover and the audiobook reading. The talented Heidi Baker  has narrated the first book in The Convergence series. This tale features a lot of humor and loads of fun. As an added bonus, you can HEAR what all those crazy words sound like. Hear a sample

Buy on Audible

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