Rebooting Heroes

I’m thinking of a superhero. See if you can guess who it is.

  • He’s super strong
  • He’s nearly invulnerable
  • He has telepathic powers
  • He’s a king who renounced his throne

Did you guess yet? I mean, someone like that sounds pretty cool, and I guarantee you’ve heard of him.

Give up?

Aquaman.

Yeah, that’s right. Aquaman. Everyone knows Aquaman as the “guy who talks to fish.” Sure he can breathe  under water and that’s kind of cool, but what sort of a superpower is talking to fish? Lame. And when I was a kid, he couldn’t be out of water for more than an hour or he’d weaken. That later got amended so as long as he got a glass of water or was near a humidifier, he’d be ok. That was lame too. It seemed that Aquaman would always be the laughing stock of the Justice League.

And then I read the rebooted Aquaman #1 that DC recently put out and everything changed.

I never thought I’d say this, but Aquaman is pretty kickass. This issue highlights all his strengths; Aquaman’s super strong and durable, which makes complete sense if you think about it. In order for someone to withstand the pressure at the bottom of the ocean floor, you’d have to be tough. Within the first couple of pages, Aquaman has lifted an armored car, withstood a hail of bullets and leaped to the tops of buildings from street level.

The other thing that this issue did well was directly confronting all the Aquaman hate out there. Someone asks him about talking to fish, and he responds with the following. “Fish don’t talk. Their brains are too primitive to carry on a conversation. I reach into their midbrains and telepathically push them to help me out.”

Wow. That’s a much more scientific explanation than I would’ve expected from Aquaman, which means he’s also a lot smarter than people give him credit for. When someone else asks him what it’s like “to be no one’s favorite super-hero,” Aquaman gives a very menacing glare, brandishes his trident and then walks away. The guy who was giving Aquaman crap genuinely looks rattled.

So Aquaman’s really not someone you should mess with. I never considered him like that, but I certainly do now, and I’ve added this to my list of titles that I’ll pick up each month. Maybe my kids will grow up with a lot more respect for Aquaman. I can safely say that anyone who grew up with Batman: The Animated Series has a much different take on the Dark Knight than the people who grew up with Adam West’s portrayal of Batman. (Bat-Shark Repellent? Come on, people).

Have you checked out the new Aquaman or any of DC’s other New 52? Let me know in the comments.

Halloween Blog Hop: Lisa McCourt Hollar

Today’s Halloween, and my final guest on the Halloween Blog hop is Lisa McCourt Hollar, author of the short story collection, HALLOWEEN FRIGHTS.

Nicholas: So Lisa, here we are on Halloween, one of the scariest days of the year. What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you?

Lisa: A kid ran out into the road and I hit him. He is okay today, but it is THE SCARIEST thing ever, especially when you realize you are going to hit him. I just sat in the car and screamed, “OH MY GOD,” over and over again and my daughter had to tell me to get out of the car. He was under it and when I saw him I lost it. His family told me later they were just as scared for me as they were for him. Then when he got out of the hospital…broken arm, ruptured spleen, ribs busted up, I went to see him and they made him apologize to me for running into the road. That made me feel worse because he could have died and he’s telling me sorry.

Nicholas: Wow, that is scary. I’m glad both of you were okay. So what would you do if some of the things we pretend to be on Halloween were real?

Lisa: Strap on a gun and go hunting.

Nicholas: I like the way you think. So tell me, do you think silver is truly lethal to werewolves and vampires ?

Lisa: I don’t think so. I think if I were a werewolf or a vampire, the first thing I would want to do is put out false information so that vampire or werewolf hunters wouldn’t know what to do. It’s a dangerous world for monsters. You can’t be too careful you know.

Nicholas: Hmm. Never thought of it like that… So speaking of monsters, what fictitious creature or monster do you fear the most?

Lisa: Zombies because they just don’t stop. One or two I could handle, but eventually they would overwhelm me.

Nicholas: I hate zombies. Since everyone’s talking about the zombie apocalypse right now, are You Prepared for the End of the World as We Know It?

Lisa: Yes and the way it is going, I welcome it.

And now a bit about HALLOWEEN FRIGHTS:

Halloween Frights is a collection of Halloween and ghost stories. The following is an excerpt from Happy Halloween.

Happy Halloween
Covered in mud, Sandra trudged down the road, the hazard lights from her car blinking through the dark behind her. She didn’t turn to look at their mocking blink, imagining each flicker of light a laugh from the car that had mocked her, before sputtering and coughing its last breath out there in the middle of bum fucked Egypt. She had cursed at it, the rain pouring down and thought she could hear the engine, as it cranked trying to start, whirring, “April Fools, April fools,” at her. She’d gotten out in the rain, kicked the side of the car and was rewarded when her foot slipped on the wet pavement, causing her to land on her back. “Happy effin Halloween to me,” she thought, refusing to give into the huge joke the galaxy was playing on her.

Pushing herself to her feet, she slogged to the back of the car, lifted the trunk and looked down at George. The hole in his head had made a mess of the sheet she’d wrapped him in and she was glad she’d chosen the one his mother had given them for their wedding night. They were an ugly, unromantic shade of putrid green and Sandra imagined that was why the old bitch had bought them. She’d always hated Sandra and when George had proposed, his fat, pig-eyed mother had the freakin’ nerve to have a heart attack. Three months later and a triple bi-pass surgery, she was dressed in black as Sandra walked down the aisle. That was five years ago and George was still a mama’s boy.

“Well, not anymore,” Sandra had thought, looking down at his bloody head. “Dick head may not have a spine, but he certainly had a brain. God, that’s gross.”

Trying to avoid getting grey matter on her, Sandra pulled him from the car and shrieked when his body fell out of the sheet, landing in the mud and splattering it all over her. “Just great George,” she snapped, kicking him in the side and rolling him back onto the sheet. “Always got to make a mess for me to clean up. Fuckin’ pig.”

Reaching back into the trunk, Sandra pulled out the shovel and laid it on top of her dead husband. Taking hold of the corners, she dragged him off the side of the road and into the woods. She wasn’t worried about anyone coming along and finding her car, one of the reasons she had chosen this route was because of how secluded it was.

You can buy HALLOWEEN FRIGHTS at Amazon and Smashwords.

Connect with Lisa:

Blog: http://www.lisamccourthollar.com
Twitter handle: @jezri1

Thanks for stopping by, Lisa! Remember, you can enter to win a copy of HALLOWEEN FRIGHTS over on Angel Haze’s blog. Just head on over here and leave a comment – http://angel-haze.blogspot.com/2011/09/halloween-blog-hop.html  

Halloween Blog Hop: Weston Kincade, Part Deux

Today we’re continuing the Halloween Blog hop, and author Weston Kincade has come back for round 2! In addition to writing urban fantasy, Weston also writes YA fantasy. If you missed my interview with him earlier this month, check it out here. Today we’re going to learn a bit about his novel, INVISIBLE DAWN.

 

INVISIBLE DAWN Blurb

To keep a promise and save his long-lost goddaughter, computer programmer Jedd Altran sacrificed everything, including his wife and newborn son. Now, they must pass through worlds far different than their own to escape the clutches of government killers.

In a world where rare individuals have evolved, the government kidnaps specific children to study and utilize their abilities. Madelin has been imprisoned in such a facility for thirteen years and suffers from medically induced amnesia. Facing a hopeless future, haunted dreams, and an invisible past, each morning is an Invisible Dawn and life holds no meaning, until she meets Jedd. Her newly discovered godfather becomes her beacon in tumultuous seas as they strive to find answers and allies.

Excerpt

Chapter – Prologue: Questionable Sanity

For the first few seconds of consciousness, Daniel Robertson sat on the edge of his bed staring at a ghastly image in the full length mirror. A child stared back through eyeless sockets, its skin seared to a charred remnant of its former self. Even in his waking moments, he saw the same nightmarish memory. It was as though sleep had not found him.

His digital clock glowed red, 5:04 a.m. The nightmares never let him sleep through the night. He groped for the most recent bottle he had haphazardly tossed aside the night before, but gave up when he spotted it on the floor.

His eyes returned to the wooden stand, but the phantom child was nowhere to be seen. Instead, his own depressed reflection peered back through aged eyes. A large X marred his cheek, long ago healed, but it was a reminder of his inescapable past. Sweat swelled from nowhere and grudgingly streamed down his forty-three-year-old, leathered face. At each wrinkle there was a split-second hesitation.

Fragments of his past flickered through his mind in a jumbled mess. Piecing them together while semi-conscious was like constructing a jigsaw puzzle. But suddenly the sequence of horrific events snapped into place like snapshots from someone else’s travels. Glimpses of unwanted memories returned that even alcohol could not drive away.

“As though I could ever forget,” he muttered, thinking back to the horrifying visage.

The dim glow of a streetlamp streamed through the window and cast tall shadows across the room. His yellow complexion melded with the aged bed sheets like a sickly chameleon. Even in El Paso, a heat wave like this was unusual.

A slight breeze startled the curtains to life and newspaper clippings fluttered on the wall before resigning to the push pins’ insistence. The sound drew his attention and he flicked on the nearest table lamp. It did little to illuminate the room, but was enough to see by. The victims stared out at him, their lives amounting to a small blurb. Above their heads, the articles announced, ‘Man Found Dead in Car Explosion’, and ‘Woman Killed in Foiled Carjacking’, among others.

He knew them by heart. Each represented a failed attempt to save his ex-employer’s targets. They were all that remained of his recent pursuit for salvation. He sniffed at the stale tobacco odor that permeated the apartment. It was as though the small space could never get clean; a feeling he was quite familiar with.

Lifting himself from the bed, he straightened and listened to the crack of his joints. He stretched his arms and crept over to the open window, his dark skin masking the muscular build beneath. With each footstep, the floor announced to his neighbors that he was awake. It was a reminder of the innocent lives he put in jeopardy by staying here for two months. Black Force was after him, and they were just as well trained as he. His old mercenary friends would not take hostages, and they had no qualms with eliminating witnesses.

He needed to move on before he was found, but it was difficult to give up such an ideal location. One reason he chose this dilapidated part of the city was the unfriendliness of the people. His weathered complexion helped him to blend in, and the fact that he spoke not a word of Spanish afforded him his solitude.

Daniel smiled as another faint breeze drifted through the window. Seeing an oncoming car, he stepped out of the moonlight and alongside the curtains. There was no need to broadcast his presence. Watching the sidewalk below, his attention was drawn to an interesting individual.

The man was different from other street inhabitants headed to work. He casually strode under the streetlamps holding an AK-47, but no one took notice. It was like the armed man was invisible. He passed the taco vendor Daniel frequented and even Marco failed to greet him. The old food salesman greeted everyone while grilling his morning breakfast burritos, but somehow he overlooked this man.

The oddity was barely visible at this distance, but the early risers on the streets should have spotted the gun. His clothes made him stand out like a leopard at a zebra party. Through the sporadic flow of traffic, Daniel watched the man’s russet coat and fedora bob behind passing cars. His checkered golf pants shone under the streetlamps and he walked with a slight spring in his step. He was like an armed ostrich bobbing down the city street, ready to go hunting.

Could he be with Black Force?

He doubted it, but what if his old employer had hired someone new? It was odd for a mercenary group to hire out to a competitor, but he might have eluded them too many times. Either way he needed answers to his questions, and this guy might be his key. They were questions that had plagued him for years, like ‘What could he do to stop Black Force or at least get them off his back?’ He just wanted a chance at redemption before he died. The pain he had caused was unforgettable, especially in his dreams.

His hand unconsciously went to the three scars crisscrossing his large bicep. He ran calloused fingers along the smooth skin. It was not until the last few years that he came to care about others. Up to then, he did what he wanted and what he was told without question. The scars were just a reminder of one of his father’s early lessons on obedience; something his old boss and good-old dad had in common. They did not take ‘no’ for an answer.

Losing sight of the man behind a group of chatting women, Daniel was startled into action. He needed answers, and this guy was his best chance. He searched the sidewalk for the bounding pedestrian. Seconds later, the man appeared without having lost a step. Anticipating another disappearance, Daniel gave the street a cursory glance.

Satisfied, he threw a blue button-up over his sweat-stained undershirt. It trailed behind him like a cape as he crossed the room. His hand automatically grabbed his 9-millimeter off the end-table and tucked it into his pants before bringing the door to a close. He had to catch up before the guy vanished again.

Taking the stairs two at a time, he swept through the first floor foyer and onto the sidewalk. He searched the opposing walkway for the brown fedora. The hat materialized over a taxicab, and the yellow lamplight overhead illuminated its creases like the golden eyes of an animal peering through the shadows.

Daniel bolted across the busy road and narrowly avoided a rusted-out farm truck. The only warning of its approach was a deep, male voice crooning through its open windows “… oh, mi amor,” while a salsa melody plucked along in the background.

At least I won’t be the latest obituary in the Sun Herald, he thought as the guitar melody faded.

He leapt over the last car-length of asphalt and rushed up the sidewalk. Sidestepping the barrage of pedestrians, he weaved through more oncoming groups and attempted to gain on the odd man. Daniel pumped his muscled legs harder. He threaded his way through the sporadic traffic while keeping the man in sight. It still surprised him how many people walked to work on this side of town. He felt like a running-back for the local Panthers football team, dodging moving targets. Unfortunately, he could not remember a game they had won, and his progress was worthy of the same praise. Somehow, the bobbing fedora was still drifting further away. Daniel broke into a run. Passing men and women gave him sidelong glances. A few locals cursed as he shoved them aside, attempting to close the gap with his prey.

The loud shouts did not bother the man in the fedora. He never turned or glanced back. He just continued down the packed street, his dark hat bobbing over-top the crowd. As Daniel closed the distance, the unusual man walked directly into a father and daughter walking hand-in-hand. The stranger faded into a misty existence and phased through them. Without anyone realizing, the anomaly solidified on the other side and continued as though nothing had happened.

Daniel halted mid-step as his heart skipped a beat. “Whoa, this guy can’t be Black Force,” he muttered. “He’s like their hopped-up crooked cousin.”

The possibilities tumbled through his mind. Either way, this guy’s looking for trouble.

He was tired of waiting for them to find him. He had to act. “There’s no such thing as coincidence,” he whispered with renewed confidence.

The retired mercenary redoubled his pace and began gaining on the fedora. The old courthouse was around the next bend, and the sidewalk grew more congested. His broad shoulders cowed some people, but others he cast aside like scattered chess pieces. Faces whizzed by in a blur, man … man … woman … man … child, but his attention remained on the armed stranger.

Daniel made his way to the corner, but was unable to reach his prey before the man entered the busy street. Stepping out of the packed sidewalk, the ex-mercenary stopped at the curb edge to watch the man cross. The armed apparition passed through cars undetected, heading for the municipal building. The muzzle of his rapid-fire gun came up as he approached the building front, but still no one reacted.

The veteran’s gaze followed the apparition across as the sun peaked over the mountainous horizon. But his eyes stopped abruptly when the courthouse came into view. Around it was a dimly outlined building, much larger than the courthouse of his reality. It stood over-top the historic building like a spectral shadow. He tilted his head, attempting to find the pinnacle, but its towering peak disappeared into the dawn sky. The building was enormous, like those in larger cities. It was a phantom skyscraper attempting to exist in an already occupied space. Its edges stood out against the stone structure of the courthouse, glistening blue like the threads of shimmering spider webs.

He stood motionless, in awe of the sight. Much like the man he had followed, it gave no one else reason for pause. He looked around, but even the fedora in the distance did not break its casual stride. A moment later, the man disappeared into the miasmic building.

“How could such a thing exist?”

At the base of one luminescent thread appeared a woman dressed in an outlandish, white-belted kimono. She finished thumbing the wall before turning around. Daniel peered at the block wall, searching for what she had been holding, but nothing was there. He could have sworn something had moved under her hand, but it was gone. Unlike the man in the fedora and the spectral building, her presence did not go unnoticed. She stood out in her tattered, oriental gown. The shredded kimono swirled about her with every intention of hiding her graceful curves, but failed utterly.

Her auburn hair shone in the sun’s morning rays, framing a pale face and wild eyes. Over the years, Daniel had come to know the look of fear in others. Judging by her face and the way people avoided her, she was in full flight. His brain went into overdrive as he remembered that people were looking for him. He had made a huge display and left disgruntled pedestrians in his wake. They would have no problem identifying him now.

“Dammit!” he spat. He had to do something … He had to move. And right now, this woman needed his help.

Entering the road, Daniel allowed morality to guide his search for redemption.

 

* * * * *

Here’s a bit  about Weston

Creative writing has always been a passion, and I have helped invest in future writers throughout my teaching career at the middle and high school level. In my spare time I write poetry, short stories, and have completed two novels: A Life of Death and Invisible Dawn: Book One of Altered Realities. I am currently working on the sequel in the Altered Realities Series and am about to complete a short story anthology of twisted tales and flash fiction in cooperation with two other authors. Look for the anthology titled Strange Circumstances in early 2012. I also edit novels and technical documents for those interested in my services.

As the wordsmithing process continues, I find great ideas in the oddities of mundane life and take them to new heights.

Stalk Weston on:

Blogspothttp://authorwakincade.blogspot.com/

Twitter – @WestonKincade

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/WAKincade

GoodReadshttp://www.goodreads.com/wakincade

Wattpadhttp://www.wattpad.com/user/WestonKincade

Authonomyhttp://ow.ly/6B20h

Buy INVISIBLE DAWN at these locations:

Amazon – http://ow.ly/6B2Am

Barnes & Noble – http://ow.ly/6B2XM

Smashwords – http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/48842

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/InvisibleDawn

Remember, you can enter to win a copy of INVISIBLE DAWN over on Angel Haze’s blog. Just head on over here and leave a comment – http://angel-haze.blogspot.com/2011/09/halloween-blog-hop.html  

Free Virtual Autographs!

Hi Everyone

You might have noticed a newsletter sign up form in the blog’s sidebar. When you sign up, I’ll be able to notify you when I release new works, and I’ll also do special subscriber-only giveaways. For everyone who signs up between now and 10/31, I’ll give you a personalized virtual autograph, like this:

If you want a custom message, I’ll be glad to do that too. Just say what you want in the comments!

 

Halloween Blog Hop: JL Murphey

Today we’re continuing with the Halloween Blog Hop, and J.L. Murphey, author of the horror novel Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption. J.L. was kind enough to answer a few questions for me:

Nicholas: So your novel deals with a zombie apocalypse. When that apocalypse comes, how will the zombies move?

JL: Just like in my novels. They will move fast when newly dead or have have kept themselves rejuvenated by eating brains.

Nicholas: [shivers] I hate fast zombies. So let’s say the apocalypse has hit, and your household has been infected. Could you decapitate your zombified spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend?

JL: You betcha! In my mind they are already dead so killing them again wouldn’t be murder. Besides if I don’t kill them they will kill me…survival of the fittest!

Nicholas: Darwinism at its best right there. So let’s lighten things up a bit. Halloween’s just around the corner. What’s your favorite candy? Do you give that out on Halloween or do you keep it for yourself?

JL: Peanut M&M’s it’s brain food for me. I actually do give it out at Halloween so when Halloween is over any leftovers are MINE.

Nicholas: That’s only fair. And which Halloween creature would you most like to be?

JL: To actually be or dress up as? To actually be, I think a werewolf. Werewolves can live normal lives unless there is a full moon. This year, I’m officiating at a zombie wedding so I’ll be a zombie minister.

Nicholas: That sounds like fun! So you seem to have a pretty good handle on dealing with shapeshifters and the undead. What fictitious creature or monster do you fear the most?

JL: You mean they are all fictitious? I remember a “Twilight Zone” episode with William Shatner with a creature on the wing of his airplane which only he could see. That episode still haunted me in nightmares 30+ years later.

Nicholas: Ah yes, Nightmare at 20,000 feet. That was a classic. The creature, a gremlin, certainly had an impact on me, too. Plus it’s Shatner. I mean, that right there makes it awesome.

And now, a bit about Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption

Blurb:

Dr. Donna Cairn is a genetics researcher for the Center of Disease Control. When the CDC issued the Zombie Apocalypse Alert, she discounted it as a way of advertising hurricane preparedness. When a conspiracy buff working with her in the silo speaks to her about the debunked Hapgood theory of Earth Crust Displacement, she again discounts it as just that some wacko, paranoid rambling. But when radiation levels after the Japanese earthquakes starting rising, all bets were off.

Simple dog bite patients are dying from a mysterious fever. Bodies start coming up missing from the morgues across the globe. When the death count reaches over one quarter of the world’s population dying due to this new plague, the CDC sends their best virologist, Kit Seger, to help Donna in her quest of finding the virus in her converted missile silo laboratory in Nebraska.

The dead have risen and hunger for human flesh. She never believed in zombies before, but now she believes in them. Can she and Kit find the cure before mankind becomes extinct? How do you cure people who are already dead? And better yet, how do you kill the dead?

Can it be that Donna’s unborn niece and nephew are the answer? With the earthquakes rumbling, zombies at the gate, and time running out will they find what they are looking for? Man can only hope.

Excerpt:

The night was cooler than Eckerd remembered reinforcing the chill down to his bones. In his mind he tried rationalizing the idea of summer being cold, but gave up. It took too much effort to think. At this point, he wasn’t even sure where he was or where he was going. All he knew was he needed to get warm. His rage did little in helping him achieve his goal. He buried his head deeper into his jacket and continued walking.

A man bumped into him as he passed him and Eckerd’s temper erupted. Dummkopf! Why don’t you watch where you are going? He thought the words because his mouth wouldn’t form the words. All that came out was an intelligible grunting growl of raging fury.
“Why don’t you watch where you’re going?” The man said.

Eckerd grabbed the man by the collar and they scuffled until both were rolling on the ground. Somewhere in the deep recesses of his mind, his fighting skills came into play as he pummeled the man with his fists. A couple of blows to his kidneys and groin sent the man into agony, but when the blows were returned, he was surprised he felt no physical pain. It felt good releasing some of his hostile feelings. The man put his hand over Eckerd’s mouth and tried shoving him away. Eckerd bit the hand and was rewarded by the yelp of pain coming from the other man.

The sensation of warmth flooded his mouth and he bit down harder tearing a chunk of flesh from the hand.

“Verdammt!” The man cursed and pulled his hand away from Eckerd trying to break his grip on him.

The need for warmth and a growing hunger filled Eckerd’s mind as he grabbed the other man’s head and beat it on the pavement until the other man lost consciousness. He tore another piece of flesh from the man’s bare arm and swallowed. Warmth flooded his stomach and spread outwards. The man’s blood spurted and splattered his clothes and exposed parts of his body, but he was beyond caring. He sighed in relief when he found the man’s entrails held the most warmth. Too soon the temperature of the body fell and no longer gave the warmth Eckerd’s body craved. He rose from his crouched position, left the body where it was, and continued on down the street.
Where to buy Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption
Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/79723
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Zombie-Apocalypse-Redemption-J-Murphey/dp/1463781466/
Createspace: https://www.createspace.com/3663514
Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byUpPnOxm50

About JL
I live in the Golden Isles of Georgia and married to my soul mate. I have been an author and free lance journalist of nonfictioin for thirty years. I threw my hat into the e-marketplace and self-publishing earlier this year. To date, my novel writing credits include:

Under J.L. Murphey

  • Escape from Second Eden (espionage suspense)
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption

Under Jolee Morris

  • The Sacrificial Lamb (southern suspense)

Under Grandma Jam

  • Who Stole Baby Ruth (children’s)

Thanks for  stopping by, JL!

Remember, you can enter to win a copy of Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption over on Angel Haze’s blog. Just head on over here and leave a comment – http://angel-haze.blogspot.com/2011/09/halloween-blog-hop.html  

 

How to Put Your Book in a Sidebar

I was listening to Lindsay Buroker’s podcast on blogging the other day, and she suggested having your book displayed in a sidebar on your blog. I thought this was a great idea, and wanted to share how to set that up. The video below shows you how to do it. It’s really easy and only takes about a minute or two.

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

Here’s the code for the sidebar. Just copy, paste & tweak it.

<a href=”YOUR BOOK PAGE URL HERE”>YOUR BOOK NAME</a><a href=”LINK TO BOOK PAGE HERE”><img src=”PATH TO YOUR BOOK COVER HERE” alt=”YOUR BOOK NAME eBook” width=”180″ /></a>

<center><a href=”LINK TO YOUR EXCERPT”>Read an Excerpt</a> Available from <a href=”AMAZON LINK”>Amazon</a> | <a href=”B&amp;N LINK”>B&amp;N</a> | <a href=”SMASHWORDS LINK”>Smashwords</a> | <a href=”CREATESPACE LINK”>Paperback</a></center>

And if you’re interested in using Notepad++, you can download that from here.

Halloween Blog Hop: Nina Perez

Today we’re continuing with the Halloween Blog Hop, and my guest is Nina Perez, author of the YA fantasy novel THE TWIN PROPHECIES.

Nicholas: Thanks for stopping by, Nina. So Halloween’s just a couple of weeks away, and every TV station out there is airing Halloween movies. What’s your favorite Halloween film?

Nina: The original Halloween. Michael Meyers didn’t move very fast, but the mask was terrifying. The music will always freak me out, too. That music, or something very similar, was used in these Saran Wrap commercials, and when I was a kid I’d always lose it when it came on TV.

Nicholas: Ha! I think I remember those commercials, that might explain why I found them unsettling. But back to Halloween, a lot of writers tweak the legends surrounding monsters to suit their own needs. For example, some writers have vampires that are weak against silver, while others don’t. What’s your take on that one?

Nina: I like the idea of silver being harmful to werewolves, but not so much vampires. The third book in The Twin Prophecies series will focus on werewolves and I’ve definitely adopted that part of the mythology. You gotta give your supernatural beings a few weaknesses.

Nicholas: Totally. So you’re going to go up against some undead nasties. What’s your weapon of choice?

Nina: I think I’d look badass with a crossbow, but I’m not coordinated enough to use one. I’ll go with the standard stake. Boring, but effective.

Nicholas: Style has its place, but I’m with you, go with what works. All right let’s look at things from a different perspective. Let’s say you could choose to be any sort of Halloween monster. What would you be?

Nina: Vampire. Not really that bad of an existence. Party all night, live forever…

Nicholas: Any supernatural nasties out there that freak you out?

Nina: Zombies. What makes zombie movies so scary is the premise of a small group of survivors against the whole infected world. And if they’re running, fast zombies, forget about it. I won’t sleep for days.

Nicholas: Right there with you. Fast zombies are just wrong.

And now, a bit about THE TWIN PROPHECIES:

High school sophomores Jack Morrow and Violet Ross don’t know each other, but they have similar secrets: she can feel the emotions of others and when he touches people, he can see their future. A tragic accident thrusts them into a world where they learn an even bigger secret: all the mythical beings they believed to be fictional are real.

Guided by prophecies predicting the end of the world, the mysterious Dr. Tesla – who leads an alliance of supernatural beings – helps Jack and Violet come to terms with this secret world, control the growing powers within them, and face an unspeakable evil determined to possess their very souls.

Rebirth is the first in a series that follows Violet Ross; sarcastic, smart, rebellious and Jack Morrow; sensitive, brave and loyal, as they unlock the mysteries behind magic as old as time, team up with a centuries-old vampire, and expose the corruption within the inner sanctum of a secret alliance – all while trying to graduate from high school.

The Special Edition includes a bonus chapter, new chapter titles, a new cover, and an excerpt from The Twin Prophecies: Origins.

 

EXCERPT

The two bridges that crossed the Preston River, connecting Little City to South Rosemont, were the Sagaw and the Newton. The Newton went from the warehouse district of Little City into the west side of South Rosemont and the Sagaw started at the tip of the shopping district and deposited commuters on the east side. Residents joked that from the sky you could tell the annual income of each side of South Rosemont simply by the make and model of the cars going across either bridge – the east side residents tending to be a bit more of the working-stiff variety.

Either way, it wasn’t something spoken about too often or too loudly. Rosemont residents liked to think that no matter their socioeconomic divisions, they were still better off than people living in a city like Philadelphia or New York. They considered Rosemont one of the best truly all-American small towns on the east coast.

Like all small towns, Rosemont had its traditions and stories, passed down from generation to the next, losing a bit of detail and truth along the way. There were incidents the town would never forget, like the time a fire claimed the lives of ten nuns in a Catholic church in southwest Rosemont. That story was told so many times in so many ways, that by the latest retelling, the nuns’ screams could be heard for miles before the fire trucks arrived. In truth, the nuns had been long dead – suffocated on the smoke – before anyone knew to call for help.

For many years people would talk about what happened on Maclean Road one evening in early September. They’d talk about the bizarreness of the accident and the sadness of it all. And, one day, they’d talk about how that was the start of everything.

Diane Morrow and Marianne Ross thought nothing of it when their husbands each took the wrong bridge home. It would have made more sense for the Morrows to have taken the Sagaw, and the Rosses the Newton, considering where they lived, but the women were so content from a wonderful night of good food and conversation that they welcomed the extra time the scenic routes provided.

Diane rested her hand on Nick’s thigh as he drove, looking out the window and smiling to herself. The Preston River was calm to their right and the nearly naked trees of the woods swayed to their left. Dinner with the Loebs had gone well. Joseph Loeb was building a community of condos outside of Philadelphia and Nick wanted in on the contract. He could use the work, and they could use the money.  Nick hummed as he drove, and Diane knew he thought the dinner had been a success as well.

Heading westward, the Rosses were also feeling good about life.  They had no financial worries – their issue was time. After all these years, Marianne’s hours at the hospital still caused problems. The couple could go days without seeing each other and family meals were often Brad and Violet eating alone at the island in the kitchen, for it seemed a waste to set the table for only two. Date Night provided them with the opportunity to reconnect, recharge, and rekindle.

Marianne leaned forward, looking past Brad to get a better view of the river. In the moonlight, the water looked as endless as the sky and shimmered like onyx. It reminded her of the evening they’d had an anniversary dinner there; a nighttime picnic under the stars. It would be the last happy thought she’d ever have.

She opened her mouth to recall the memory aloud when Brad jerked the steering wheel of their mid-size SUV sharply to the left, into the other lane of traffic. Where it had seemed just a moment before that they were the only ones on the road for a mile in either direction, Marianne was now staring in horror at two headlights, coming at them fast.

In the other car, Diane screamed for Nick to look out, and briefly thought they were going to avoid the accident. Nick stared straight ahead, but instead of swerving or applying the brakes, he pressed down hard on the accelerator and pointed the nose of their sedan directly at the SUV.

He never stopped humming.

Metal met metal. The engine of the late-model sedan entered the front of the car, shredding Nick Morrow’s lower half and killing him instantly. The Ross’ SUV rose up from the rear, threatening to flip the whole vehicle upside down, atop the sedan. Instead, as the sedan spun violently towards the river, the momentum caused the SUV to spin too, and land on its side. Brad Ross died instantly as well; his neck broken.

When it was over, Marianne Ross lay pinned inside her car listening to the hiss of steam, the leaking of fluids and her own struggle to breathe as her lungs filled with blood. She’d been a nurse long enough to know what was happening to her.

A few feet away in the mangled sedan, stopped dangerously close to going into the river by a guardrail, Diane Morrow was also dying. She thought about only one thing: Jack. She knew he’d be taken care of, but it wouldn’t be the same. A child needs a mother.

As Marianne felt herself fading away, there was great sadness that she wouldn’t see Violet graduate high school, get married and have children of her own. A girl would need her mother for such things.

As both women let go of the last threads of life, they prayed their children would have a mother to care for them, somehow. And though they had never met, their last thoughts were of each other.

About The Author

Nina Perez is the author of The Twin Prophecies: Rebirth, the first in a YA fantasy series. The second, The Twin Prophecies: Origins will be released in the spring of 2012. She enjoys spending time with her husband Donny and their two children, Kali and Jack, in their suburban Atlanta home. When she’s not writing she’s watching massive amounts of Doctor Who, and wishing she had her very own TARDIS. If you’re an adult, you can follow her on Twitter (@AuthorNinaPerez). If you’re a fan of The Twin Prophecies, follow her at @TwinProphecies. You can also find her on Facebook or by email: nina@blogitoutb.com

The Twin Prophecies: Rebirth – Special Edition is available at Amazon.com for the Kindle and in paperback.

Thanks for stopping by, Nina!

Remember, you can enter to win a copy of THE TWIN PROPHECIES over on Angel Haze’s blog. Just head on over here and leave a comment – http://angel-haze.blogspot.com/2011/09/halloween-blog-hop.html  

Halloween Blog Hop: Angel Haze

Today we’re continuing with the Halloween Blog Hop, and my guest is Angel Haze, author of the thriller BLOODLETTER. Angel shared some of her Halloween memories with me, and talked a bit about BLOODLETTER. Read on –

What’s Your Favorite Halloween Prank:
I love when someone hides in their graveyard or hangs from a noose disguised as a dummy, only to come alive when trick-or-treaters come knocking. I love a good scare!

What’s Your Favorite Scary Movie:
Nightmare on Elm Street (And not because I live on Elm Street. I create my own nightmares. 😉

Scariest Slasher weapon of all time:
It might seem old-fashioned and overdone, but I’m going to have to say a knife. It’s quick, quiet, and effective and has so much potential…
Mwhahahahaha!

Have you ever smashed pumpkins, stole decorations, took the whole bowl of candy that says “Take one, please!” or caused any other Halloween havoc?
When my husband, Slade, was nineteen, he and his friends would hide on top of the roof with Super Soakers and wait for the older trick-or-treaters to ring the doorbell. When the kids were about to leave, Slade would douse the unsuspecting victims. Some complained and had their parents come to the door, but others returned, armed with their own water guns to combat the Halloween roof snipers.

Scary Movie Rules to Live By:
Never say, “I’ll be right back.” You won’t.

And now, a bit about BLOODLETTER:

Thou shalt not kill.
A contradictory message written in blood at the scene of a young woman’s murder. Within days, another body surfaces with a similar calling card and, to Detective Ramon Faust and Criminalist Kelly Garret, it’s clear a deadly game is underfoot.
As the rash of horrific crimes continue, a phone call unearths a shocking revelation: Nakeita isn’t the first city the elusive killer has left his mark. The Bloodletter, as dubbed by the media, has played his deadly game before.
Delving deep into the most terrifying case of Kelly’s career, threatening phone calls and flashbacks of a forgotten near-death experience challenge her sanity and the lives of everyone she loves.

Chapter 1

“Twenty-one-year-old white female named Lily Cooper, found in Edmond Park, raped and murdered,” Detective Ramon Faust explained as he spread the crime scene photographs across the table in front of the three criminalists. “A guy named Joe Woodview found the body. He was jogging in Edmond Park around seven on Friday morning. She was hidden in a wooded area in the southeast corner. Been dead for a day and a half.”

One of the criminalists, Kelly Garret, lifted a photograph of the victim, slightly unnerved by their shared resemblance despite her being nearly ten years the victim’s senior. Beyond their similarly long, wavy, dark hair, deep brown eyes, plump lips and shapely figures, Lily had a tattoo of a lily on her hip. She had been in her second year of Nursing at the University of Nakeita. She was young, beautiful, and full of potential, but her twenty-first birthday was the last that she would see.

“She was shot point blank in her right temple with a .38 caliber revolver,” Detective Faust said. “If the killer shot from behind, this likely means he’s right-handed. But, if he shot from the side, it’s anyone’s guess. There are bruises around her wrists and around her pubic region, skin under her nails, and a few broken nails. She wasn’t going down without a fight.”

Another criminalist, Nina Brandt, leaned back in her chair, twirling a pen between her fingers. Her blonde hair was pulled in a loose ponytail, her expression hardened by growing up with three brothers and fifteen years on the job. “Good for her,” she said.
“We found a few short black hairs and some long brown hairs. Her blood alcohol content was 0.17,” said Faust.

Kelly sighed. “With her small stature and that much to drink, she didn’t stand a chance.” She glanced at Chad Evans, her best friend since childhood, surprised he hadn’t put in his two cents. His head remained down as he scribbled information into his notebook.
She shuffled through the photos. In one of them, the victim was lying supine on the grass in a pink cotton tank top and a white knee-length shirt, both stained with blood. Her skirt was pulled up, revealing her ripped panties. The small pink purse to her left was closed. Forty-five dollars in cash remained in her wallet.

“As of yet,” said Detective Faust. “We don’t know where she was that night or who she was with.”

“It was her birthday. I doubt she was out drinking alone,” said Nina, pulling the pen out of her mouth.

“No one has come forward and her parents haven’t a clue.”

“Boyfriend?”

“No.”

“What about girlfriends?” Kelly interjected.

Faust shook his head. “I have yet to find out. I’m not sure what kind of relationship the victim had with her parents. It seems to me, they were often left in the dark.”
Kelly’s eyes narrowed. “They don’t know any of her friends?”

“Her mother said she never brought them home. No one ever called the house. She provided me with a small list, but none of them, with their busy schedules, had seen her in a few weeks.”

Chad looked up from his notebook. “What about a cell phone?”

“I’m working on that.” Faust said.

Kelly tapped her fingers on the table. “Maybe she met someone, either at a bar or as she was walking down the street. Someone who wanted to take her home. Maybe she resisted. Maybe she didn’t. Maybe he wasn’t taking no for an answer.” She stared down at the ripped panties, wondering what type of woman the victim had been. Had she been interested in having sex with the man who had done this to her? Had she been interested but then changed her mind? Or had someone flat-out attacked her?

“Until we figure out something with her cell phone or someone steps forward—” Faust began.

“Why didn’t anyone report her missing until yesterday?” Kelly interrupted, tapping on one of the photos of the victim’s lifeless body.

Faust turned to her. “She was scheduled to attend an out-of-town conference on Thursday. She lived alone in an apartment. Her mother last spoke to her on Wednesday morning to wish her a happy birthday, but no one expected her home until Friday evening.”

Nina rolled her eyes. “Well, this just keeps getting better and better.”

Chapter 2

“Won’t it be wonderful?” Iesha asked, gazing into the man’s deep brown eyes. “It’ll be just as I’ve always imagined it. Oh, how happy we’ll be! The two of us raising a family.”
He shifted in his chair, avoiding her eyes. “What’s wrong?” she asked. Their eyes met momentarily, but he shied away from her. “What is it?” She squeezed his hand, but he pulled away. “Adam?”

“I can’t do this,” he said, his voice barely a whisper.

“What?” she asked, unsure of whether she had heard him correctly? “What do you mean?”

“I can’t do this,” Adam repeated. “Not anymore. I can’t leave her. I love her too much.”
Iesha’s eyes swelled with tears. “But . . . I love you.” She waited for him to tell her that he loved her too, but he remained silent, staring down at his hands.

“You love me, don’t you?”

“I . . . I . . .” His voice trailed off.

Tears streamed down her face. He wouldn’t even look at her. “You love me. I know you do.”

He stood and turned away from her. She ran to his side, grabbing his wrist. “Please, don’t do this!” she cried. “We were meant to be together! Tell me you love me!”

“I love her.”

“No!” she screamed. “I know you love me. You don’t love her!”

“I’m getting married soon. I can’t keep fooling around. I don’t want to hurt her. I just can’t.”

“What about me?” yelled Iesha, tugging at his shirt. “What about what I want?”

His eyes narrowed. “You just don’t get it. There is no you. There is no us. This was all just a big mistake.”

A mistake? Their love, a mistake? A sham? She scowled. How could he do this to her? How could he play her like this?

“But, you can’t marry her!”

“Goodbye, Iesha.” He turned his back to her.

She followed him to the staircase, searching desperately for any kind of solution. Thirty more seconds and he’d be out the door. Out of her life. She couldn’t let that happen.
She pulled on his wrist. “Don’t leave me.” She sobbed. “I feel like a broken record. What do I need to say to make you stay? Please! I’ll die without you!”

He whipped around, his eyes burning with anger. “That’s enough, Iesha! I’ve bloody well had it with you. It’s over. Get it? Don’t call me. Don’t write. Don’t email. It’s over. I don’t love you. You hear me? I don’t love you.”

That was when she pushed him.

It wasn’t supposed to happen the way it did. He wasn’t supposed to fall. Her outstretched hand couldn’t save him in time. He tumbled down the basement stairs and the sound of his neck snapping would never be erased from her mind. The terror in his eyes as he fell would forever haunt her.

A cool wind rippled through Iesha’s nylon jacket as she began to walk down the narrow dirt path. It was dark now. She figured it was probably around nine o’clock. She shouldn’t be thinking of what happened. Not in the dark.

An owl cried mournfully in the distance.

She looked around, pulling her jacket tight. A sense of uneasiness crept up, and she wondered if she was alone. Someone could be watching her from within the shadows. Some dark man could be monitoring her every move, plotting and waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Someone could be hidden behind one of the trees looming over her like souls reaching from the depths of Hell. She felt like Little Red Riding Hood being pursued from some silent, invisible wolf.

Suddenly, a dark object moved ahead of her.

Iesha felt her heart jump as a pair of glowing eyes and a mouthful of razor-sharp teeth dripping with saliva flashed before her. She shuddered, attempting to block out the horrible images. Her imagination was only making things worse.

Nervously biting her lower lip, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. There’s nothing there. It’s just your imagination, she told herself. From this, she drew little comfort. She knew she had seen something, but she didn’t intend to stay long enough to find out.

Just then, a dark outline of a man appeared less than twenty feet away, an object in his hand gleaming in the moonlight.
She gasped, surprised her suspicions had been correct. The man was just ahead of her and coming closer.

Iesha found herself surprisingly frozen in her steps, despite her mental efforts to run. She was shaking uncontrollably and her heart was pounding like a rabid animal, trying to force its way out of a cage.

Iesha could hear him laughing hysterically like he knew she was trapped. He could sense her fear and he was laughing. Or was that her imagination?

There was nothing fake about this, though. This was real. He was real.

Run. She had to run.

But her body was stiff, and her mind was racing. Desperately, she searched for an escape route, but found nothing, only a dark forest. He was closing in on her and her time was running out. There was nowhere to go. No one would be able to hear her screams. She was trapped.

Closer now, she could see his face. His long dark hair hung heavily over his forehead. His dark eyes bored into her as if he was locking his victim and drawing her in. She wanted to look away, to look past him, but she couldn’t let him see her fear.

She looked down, unable to meet his gaze. Go away! Stop staring at me! Against her wishes, she gritted her teeth and managed to look up at him. He was grinning at her with sadistic eyes that sent chills up her spine.

“Aren’t you a tasty treat,” he said, rolling his tongue along his lower lip as he stared at her breasts.

Iesha shuddered. You don’t want me! I’m fat! How can you even look at me?

The man stared down at her. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t look away. Once their eyes had locked, it was like she had turned to stone. Her breathing was shaky and loud, and she wondered if he could hear it.

He chuckled at her vulnerability, stumbling backwards. The man was drunk.

“Would you like a drink?” he asked as he offered her the bottle he’d been holding.
A bottle. It was only a bottle.

A weight lifted, but she was still not at ease. She was well-aware of his intensions. “N-no thanks,” she stammered.

His pocket. There could be a knife in his pocket. And what if he had a gun?

“I ain’t gonna hurt you, sweetheart. You don’t want a drink, that’s fine with me. Whatever you want.”

Iesha froze as he stumbled past her, flinching as his jacket brushed her side. His eyes narrowed as he caught her expression. He shook his head, muttering something incoherent about women.

She was ten feet away from him when the man began to yell. “H-hey!”

Iesha cringed and bit her lip. She hadn’t been discreet enough. Maintaining a quick pace, she refused to give into the temptation to run. She didn’t want to set him off.

“Hey!” he yelled again, this time a little louder.

She felt her leg break into a sprint. Soon she wasn’t far from home. She had to make it home where it was safe!

“You stupid bitch! I wasn’t going to hurt you!” His heavy footsteps ran close behind her.
Tears were streaming down her cheeks. She didn’t dare look back. Iesha couldn’t bear to look at that face again, but it didn’t matter. The face would be there every time she closed her eyes, taunting her. She would never be able to block it out.

She was breathing heavily, almost wheezing, but she couldn’t stop.

Suddenly, her foot caught in the root of a tree, and her arms instinctively shot out in front of her as she took in a mouthful of dirt. She found herself alone, vulnerable as she lay in the dirt as she looked back for him. Even though she couldn’t see him, there was no way to be sure that he was gone. He could still be out there, watching and waiting.
Back on her feet, she ran as fast as she could. Bombarded with cramps, she clutched her side, but her body didn’t allow her to slow down.

She was panting as she reached the house, her mouth dry, her throat burning. Her shaky hand fumbled with the keys in her coat pocket as she ran up the porch steps, past the two jack-o-lanterns.

Only when she reached the door did she dare look behind her. The man was still nowhere to be seen.

Next door, over at her neighbor’s mansion, the downstairs lights were on and music was blaring. The man must have come from there. Her neighbor, Dr. Willmar, threw wild parties regularly.

She quickly stepped into her house and closed the door. Her hands were still shaking as she engaged all three locks.

Chills ran up her spine as she felt another presence. Flipping the switch, her body stiffened as she listened.

Nothing.

Hollow breathing broke the silence. It was close, too close.

Her body was shaking uncontrollably. She whipped around and gasped as she stood face to face with the Grim Reaper.

Want to read more? Buy BLOODLETTER from these locations:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00563FA88

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/66683

 About the Author:
Angel is a Canadian author who is an avid reader of fantasy, thriller, and mystery novels. She’s a writer of thriller and YA fantasy novels, a fitness enthusiast, and a chocolate fiend. Her free time is devoted to books, dancing, fitness training with P90x, movies and Game of Thrones. Legacies of Talimura: War of the Witch is co-authored by her husband, Slade Sewell. Slade is a man who believes himself to have been born in the wrong century. A thousand years ago, he sees himself not as a conqueror, but a strategist. He is a gamer, a husband, a die-hard Leafs fan, and a brilliant storyboarder.

Connect with Angel:
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/AngelHaze7
Facebook (Profile): http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002946127730
Facebook (Page):  http://www.facebook.com/AngelHaze7
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4949334.Angel_Haze
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/angelhaze7
Website: http://www.angelhaze.com
http://angel-haze.blogspot.com

Thanks for stopping by, Angel!

Remember, you can enter to win a copy of BLOODLETTER  over on Angel Haze’s blog. Just head on over here and leave a comment – http://angel-haze.blogspot.com/2011/09/halloween-blog-hop.html  

Halloween Blog Hop: Weston Kincade

Today we’re continuing with the Halloween Blog Hop, and my guest is Weston Kincade, author of A LIFE OF DEATH. Weston shared some of his Halloween memories with me and gave a bit of info about his novel. Read on –

 

What’s your favorite Scary Movie?
When I was younger, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Pet Cemetery certainly had the top shelf of horror movies for me. They’re still up there, but as I grew older, I became a fan of twisted stories and movies that take real life and stretch it to the limits, exploring the unknown possibilities of the universe and the twisted, unexplored crevasses of the human mind. I enjoyed The Ring, and the Saw series was good for a while. Movies with paranormal aspects are quite good, like 28 Days, but my current favorites would have to be Hostel, The Exorcist, and The Shining.

What would you do if some of the things we pretend to be on Halloween were really real?
Maybe I wouldn’t feel like such a loner. A few more people/things around that understood what was rattling around in my head wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. Heck, those that didn’t want to sit around and chat could always run and hide while Van Helsing and I hunt them down.

Did you have a favorite Halloween Prank?
I wasn’t really into Halloween pranks. I kind of led a sheltered life as a kid. But, I distinctly remember one night when our small boy scout troupe was huddled around a camp fire listening to the troop leaders tell ghost stories. One had the smart idea to sneak up, grab me from behind, and pull me over the log I was sitting on. When you’re engrossed in a story in dark woods with shadows flickering across everyone’s face, that kind of thing will about give you a heart attack at the tender age of 10.

What do you usually do for Halloween?
Normally, I just give out candy like a kind adult. But when I was younger I procured one of my father’s Halloween masks, a black gorilla mask that always sent the toddlers running for the hills, even my youngest sister. I didn’t even have to have it on. As soon as I pulled it out, her giggles would turn to horrifying screams of tear-filled anguish that could have been heard across the state…and I grew up in Texas.

Have you ever smashed pumpkins, stole decorations, took the whole bowl of candy that says “Take one, please!” or caused any other Halloween havoc?
Sorry to disappoint, but by the time I was of age to consider doing that, I was more into girls and parties. I followed directions to well as a kid. Maybe that’s why I’m so engrossed in the supernatural and twisted facets of people’s minds now. I have to discover what I missed.

And now, a bit about A LIFE OF DEATH:

Blurb:

Losing a father and growing up with an abusive, drunk replacement is hard enough, but when you hardly knew the first because of his constant military deployment, it alters your perspective. As a seventeen-year-old high school senior, Alex Drummond learns the value of family and the meaning of dedication the hard way, but reliving people’s horrendous murders does have its upside. Join him as he struggles to find his destiny, understand love, and discover what really happened to his father and the skeletons hiding within his small home town.

Excerpt:

October 1st, 1995

The following morning went by without incident. I showered and dressed before Frank and the parental figures got up. The girls were lounging on the couch, watching cartoons when I emerged. I grabbed a bowl of cereal and seated myself at the kitchen table.

“Where you going, Alex?” asked Gloria during a commercial break.

“Out,” I replied.

“But where?”

“None of your business.”

Gloria looked to Abigail for help, but she remained glued to the television. I wolfed down the sugar-filled breakfast and slipped out the door.

Paige lived near my old house. Normally the walk wasn’t bad, but dark clouds gathered overhead. Before I had gotten halfway, the storm broke, soaking me with sheets of rain. Without a jacket, my father’s dark gray button-up was little protection. It looked black and clung like saran wrap by the time I reached Paige’s house. Her place was quaint. It had a long front porch with a swing that hung from the ceiling. I knocked and waited for someone to answer. Her father, a tall lanky man, appeared in the doorway a minute later. He looked as though he had been stretched at birth, but his smile broke up his awkward features and made his appearance almost normal.

“Hi, Mr. Kurtley.” His attitude was contagious and I smiled back. He had always been cordial and was the kind of guy you couldn’t help but like. “Is Paige home? I think she wanted to work on a project today, but she didn’t say what time.”

“Certainly, Alex, come on in.” He ushered me through the entryway. “She’s upstairs. I’ll tell her you’re here. Go ahead and take a seat in the living room.”

I went where he indicated while he disappeared up the stairs. An old television, framed in ornate wood, stood under a window while the rest of the room was furnished with a comfortable chair and couch. The floral designs weren’t appealing; the room had the bright feel of a woman’s touch, but it was a lot better than what I had grown used to. A shelf leaned against a far wall, housing dozens of family photos. Paige was the only child shown in their beach trips and family outings. I was engrossed in the framed photos when she bounded down the stairs.

“Hey, Alex, how you feeling?”

“Yeah, I meant to ask you that myself,” chimed her father.

“Okay…doing better,” I mumbled.

“Can we use the computer in your office?” Paige asked her father.

He nodded and we made our way up the carpeted stairs.

“Thanks for not making a big deal of things,” I mentioned once we were out of sight.

“No problem. I just wish we could do something to help.”

“If Vivian won’t admit to it, then how can anyone do anything?” I asked. “I overheard a lady when I was in the nurse’s office. I think she worked for social services. She said she wouldn’t have a place to put me for over a month, and that’s if they could prove the drunk actually did what I said.”

“The bruises aren’t enough?”

“Nope,” I replied, massaging a tender spot.

Paige thought for a moment as we entered the small room. Before voicing her question, she closed the folding doors and took a seat on the floor, between scattered papers. “Would you want to go into foster care?”

I shrugged, gazing at the wall-to-wall bookshelves hemming the room. “I haven’t really thought about it. It can’t be much worse than it is now though.”

Paige looked into my eyes with the knowledge of someone three times her age, focusing my wondering eyes. “It can always be worse.”

The thought sent my mind spinning, searching for worst-case scenarios. I came up with quite a few. “I guess I don’t have it as bad as some people.”

She nodded before continuing. “Don’t take this the wrong way.”

“Go ahead,” I replied.

“I have it pretty good. I don’t always realize it, but seeing you deal with your family makes me thankful for what I have. I’m sorry for what you go through… I just wish I could give you a piece of what I’ve got.”

“I had some happiness once,” I mentioned, a slight smile finding my lips at the memory of my father. The image of Vivian and him smiling in each other’s arms emphasized the point. How long had it been since she smiled? How long had it been since I called her Mom? I couldn’t remember. “Then a semi driver ripped that life to shreds.”

“I know, I’m sorry.”

“I’m not. I miss him, but what’s done is done. I can’t change it. At least I had those years. That’s a lot more than some people.”

She looked away and tried to organize the chaos scattered across the floor. “I was thinking about our presentation. If we start off talking about what the soldiers were fighting for, and end with how they changed the country, that should meet the requirements for the assignment. What do you think?”

The question forced my brain to switch gears. Soon, I was jotting down notes about pictures and diagrams while Paige searched the internet. This went on for more than an hour when my hand started cramping up. I needed a break.

“Be right back,” I said into the busy silence. Paige questioned me with her eyes. “Nature’s calling.” She blushed at my answer and returned her attention to the monitor.

Stepping into the tile walled bathroom, I again admired her parents’ choice of decoration, the bathtub in particular. It was white and cast iron with the clawed feet of a man-eating cat. Leaning over, I ran my finger across the detailed toes, relishing in their unique design when the dusty smell drifted by once more. I knew it this time, the odor of time-worn leather, the kind where the polish has cracked, but the mixture of chemicals persists in a pungent fragrance. Panic set in, and my muscles tightened.

The quiet of the bathroom disappeared as water rushed into the tub. The sound echoed off the walls. My body and clothes were different, female. The walls shimmered, then, settled. The clawed reservoir was almost filled. I reached over to turn off the faucet, but the sound of small footsteps padding across carpet caught my attention. I turned to find a cherub-like baby standing erect in the doorway to a connected bedroom. The room hadn’t been there a moment before, and the walls shimmered again before settling back into the new configuration. Light from beyond the doorway cascaded around the small figure.

Something’s wrong, but what?

The bedroom separating us was large and spacious, but absent of much light. Dull white light streamed through the sliding-glass door opposite the inhabited doorway. The muted radiance caressed the carpet and the corner of a large bed. I tried to inspect the open bathroom and this new bedroom, but something pulled my attention back to the odd child. I delved deeper into the shadows, attempting to discern the kid’s face, but it remained hidden. However, I could feel his eyes boring into me. A shiver ran down my spine.

Was it the woman that shivered or me? I couldn’t tell, and the thought fled like an escaped convict. The baby’s gaze devoured every ounce of my confidence. Fear erupted in the pit of my stomach as water streamed around my feet and into the carpeted bedroom.

The small infant took a step forward, its self-assured strides squishing in the wet carpet. The movement brought the child into the light. I was drawn to the splotched gray skin covering its legs and bare torso. They were the legs of a ghoul, death incarnate sent to find me.

I held my panic in check for the last few seconds, but it grew as a memory drifted into my thoughts. Waiting, exposed and cold, in the delivery room. My legs in cold metal stirrups. The doctor’s eyes peered at me from under gray, bushy eyebrows, and a silence permeated the room. Nurses sat staring at the still child in his arms. The slaps and electrodes hadn’t prompted it to scream…or breathe. Tears streamed down my face under his pitying gaze. The moment felt like an eternity.

Fear took hold, and a feminine voice tumbled across my lips, pulling my thoughts back to the overflowing bathroom. “No, I tried … I did…I’m sorry.” The child gave no sign of hearing.

I backed away from the odd figure, inch by inch, until my legs struck the edge of the bathtub. Unable to retreat further, I stood entranced by the morbid child as it moved further into the light. Its minute strides revealed miniscule hands with clawed gray fingers that clutched the air in anticipation. Its mouth stood agape, too small to house the mass of dagger-like teeth hanging over its lips. Finally, the infant’s red-eyed glare passed from the shadows into the dull light. Demonic, bloodshot eyes with sickly yellow irises held me in place. Seeing its prey quiver in fear, the infant sprinted the last few feet over the bathroom floor and closed the gap. It grabbed the hem of my nightgown and clawed its way up with inhuman speed.

I threw out my hands in a flurry, struggling to dislodge it and move away, but the tub blocked my escape. Hungry eyes and drooping lips drank my fear like a desiccated beggar, and it leapt onto my bosom. The checkered blue and white nightgown stretched in its elongated claws, but before I could unlock the air lodged in my throat, panic forced me over the antique lip and into the confines of the iron tub. The back of my head slammed into the cast-iron side with a loud crack, and I sank into the scalding water.

The swirling abyss obscured my sight. I tried to scream, but only a cloud of bubbles escaped. I cast out for a handhold, some way of freeing myself from this water-filled tomb, but dozens of small hands grasped my arms and legs. A few grabbed my shoulders and pulled me deeper. Their tiny claws dug through the nightgown and into my skin, holding tight with the strength of demons. My mouth filled with water. It was as though my lungs were on fire. Slowly, the pain filling my head subsided, and numbness engulfed my mind. I couldn’t move or think and surrendered to the darkness swirling through the turbid waters.

 

I returned with a start, my hand still perched atop the clawed foot of the iron tub. Straightening up, I pulled away from it and looked around. My eyes adjusted as I assessed my surroundings. The small bathroom with seashells and pictures of sailing ships returned, with the attached hallway that led to the office. The spacious bedroom was gone and sunlight streamed through the small, frosted window at the edge of the bathroom.

“What the hell was that?” I demanded of the room. I stared at the antique bathtub for a few silent minutes. Thinking back on the dream made me shudder, and my bruised reflection was the only thing in the mirror. But even it seemed hesitant to meet my gaze. My father’s button-up still hung over my shoulders, somewhat drier than earlier. My jeans and t-shirt were untouched by the waters in the dream. My mind sifted through the possible causes for the vision. Most of them were disturbing. Pushing the possibilities aside, I left the bathroom and returned to find Paige still searching the web. She did a double-take when she saw me.

“What happened to you? You’re white as a sheet.”

“Nothing,” I muttered, my thoughts still whirling. “I think I got a stomach bug is all.” A moment later, I asked, “Where did you get that bathtub?”

Where to buy A LIFE OF DEATH

Amazon – http://ow.ly/6B2P1
Barnes & Noble – http://ow.ly/6B3bs
Smashwords – http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/61283
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/alifeofdeath
Podiobooks – http://www.podiobooks.com/title/a-life-of-death
 

Connect with Weston

Creative writing has always been a passion, and I have helped invest in future writers throughout my teaching career at the middle and high school level. In my spare time I write poetry, short stories, and have completed two novels: A Life of Death and Invisible Dawn: Book One of Altered Realities. I am currently working on the sequel in the Altered Realities Series and am about to complete a short story anthology of twisted tales and flash fiction in cooperation with two other authors. Look for the anthology titled Strange Circumstances in early 2012. I also edit novels and technical documents for those interested in my services.

As the wordsmithing process continues, I find great ideas in the oddities of mundane life and take them to new heights.

Stalk me on:

Blogspothttp://authorwakincade.blogspot.com/

Twitter – @WestonKincade

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/WAKincade

GoodReadshttp://www.goodreads.com/wakincade

Wattpadhttp://www.wattpad.com/user/WestonKincade

Authonomyhttp://ow.ly/6B20h

Thanks for stopping by, Weston!

Halloween Blog Hop: Doug Dorow

Today we’re continuing with the Halloween Blog Hop, and my guest is Doug Dorow, author of the thriller THE NINTH DISTRICT. Doug talked a bit about Halloween with me, and also gave me a bit of info about his novel.

What’s your favorite Halloween candy?
So hard to choose. I usually get the kid’s bit-o-honey and tootsie rolls as the dad tax.

What do you usually do for Halloween?
I usually sit home and hand out the candy to the roving ghosts and goblins.

Are You Prepared for the End of the World as We Know It?
No, don’t have my zombie membership yet.

What fictitious creature or monster do you fear the most?
When I was younger I was afraid of vampires after watching Dark Shadows in the afternoon from the safety of me hiding under a blanket.

Fave Scary Movie
The earliest scary movie I remember going to which I would now call my favorite is The Ghost and Mr. Chicken

And now, a bit about THE NINTH DISTRICT:

Blurb:
The Federal Reserve has never been robbed.

FBI Special Agent Jack Miller, pulled into a high-profile case to mentor a new agent, finds himself in a clash with the toughest opponent of his career. The chase culminates in the bowels of the city, in the storm sewers and tunnels beneath The Ninth District Federal Reserve of Minneapolis.

Excerpt:
“Freeze it!” Staring out from the television was the face of a bank robber, a killer, in a mock salute. “What the hell? Is that who I think it is? Rewind it and play it again.”

“Jack, I’ve watched this ten times and there’s nothing there, nothing but that salute.”

“Rewind it. I want to see it again.” Jack pointed at the flat screen television on the wall and worked his thumb up and down against the imaginary remote in his hand. “Come on, let’s go, Junior. I want to see it again.”

“It’s Ross.”

Jack glanced back at Ross and then stared at the screen, waiting for him to play it again.“Listen. The SAC asked me to help you. I’m here to help. Let’s watch it again.”
Jack Miller was in no mood for a pissing match with a new agent who had four months in the Minneapolis FBI office after graduating from Quantico. The Special Agent in Charge assigned Jack to help with this case so he could tell the media he had his most experienced agent looking into solving the string of bank robberies, especially the last one that had resulted in a murder.

Connect with Doug

Twitter @DougDorow

Douglas Dorow Facebook author page

Blog: Thrillers R Us

Goodreads author page

Independent Author Network page

Buy THE NINTH DISTRICT

The Ninth District : Kindle

The Ninth District : Nook

Thanks for stopping by, Doug!

Remember, you can enter to win a copy of THE NINTH DISTRICT over on Angel Haze’s blog. Just head on over here and leave a comment – http://angel-haze.blogspot.com/2011/09/halloween-blog-hop.html