Thursday, 30 January 2014

Shades and Shadows

Today I'm shining the spotlight on the book, Shades and Shadows: A Paranormal Anthology (published by Xchyler Publishing), and specifically on one of its stories, The Death of Dr. Marcus Wells by J. Aurel Guay. I first made the acquaintance of the author when he kindly reviewed all the stories in another of Xchyler's anthologies, Mechanized Masterpieces (here's his review of my story: http://jaurelguay.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/our-man-fred-mechanized-masterpieces/).

When he decided to submit one of his own stories, I was privileged to be a beta reader for Marcus Wells, and delighted when it was published in Shades and Shadows (and the story is now being developed into a novel, so perhaps we haven't seen the last of the good Dr. Wells). So here's a quick peek at The Death of Dr. Marcus Wells and Shades and Shadows: A Paranormal Anthology. 


The Death of Dr. Marcus Wells by J. Aurel Guay: 

A young doctor doubts his own sanity when he sees his dead fiancé in the night, but a mysterious stranger offers him clues not only to her disappearance but the gruesome murders which plague London, and the means to solve both mysteries.

Darkness met Marcus’ eyes. Something had awoken him. He fumbled desperately for the matchbox on the nearby nightstand. At the same time that his fingers found the small tin, he heard the delicate clink of metal against the hardwood floor. With a scratch, the sulfur tip burst to life, casting a warm glow on the room.
Marcus slid from his sheets and scoured the floor for the ring he had knocked from the nightstand. A glint of diamond and a gleam of gold shone from under his bed.
As he stooped to retrieve the precious object, something beyond the ring caught his eye. On the opposite side of the bed, a pair of small, bare feet stood, motionless, by his bedside.





 Shades and Shadows: A Paranormal Anthology

In the dead of night, you sense something . . . other . . . beyond your sight, out there in the darkness. You feel a breath upon your neck, cold and clammy, fecund with mold and decay. Your hair stands on end from no random chill. The air is still. No one is there.
Travel with nine talented writers into their paranormal world, but don’t disregard that inkling that niggles somewhere in the pit of your stomach to leave the light on, to shun that dark room, and to pull the covers over your head.

Whatever you do, don't look under the bed.

The Music Man: An ill-begotten ghost story and a child’s disappearance has haunted Peter Holt his entire life. His one wish: face his personal bogeyman and right a terrible wrong . . . and perhaps find the key to laying his childhood demon to rest.

China Doll: Nothing stays broken in Kris’ small town, but someone always pays the price. Kris must decide if she is willing to do so when her beloved doll is shattered, and discovers deep secrets about her family in the process.

Split Ends: The love between Frank and Bets has never been physical, as the entire town knows. But when Bets faces heartbreak and turns to Frank for comfort, their choices open up a whole new realm of possibility.

Child of the Underworld: Starving for love and affection, Lara escapes her mother’s bleak realm to feast on the light, color, and sound of the world “upstairs.” But only one thing sates her rapacious appetite—and threatens to banish her to the darkness forever.

The Cost of Custody: When a child goes missing, Jonathan Alvey, PI, knows none but he has the skills to rescue her. But, her estranged parents must come together to create the powerful magic to find her before it’s too late.

Tombstone: Death couldn't stop one old farmer from protecting his land from oilmen, timber-cutters, and his own family. But can he hold out against 21st century technology and a researcher who sees more than dollars and cents in his homestead?

Ghost Townies: Dean and Jimbo need two things to survive the ghost apocalypse: a bolt hole where no one has died, and batteries for their flashlights. Running skills and dumb luck have kept them alive thus far, but not all the evil is amongst the dead.

Crossroads: An unexpected road trip gives Rob Daniels a chance to escape the shackles that bind him. Can Nate, his down-and-out brother, save Rob from repeating Nate’s mistakes? Or will a stranded traveler tempt Rob down forbidden paths?

The Death of Dr. Marcus Wells: The young resident doubts his own sanity when he sees his dead fiancé in the night, but a mysterious stranger offers him clues not only to her disappearance but the gruesome murders which plague London, and the means to solve both mysteries.

Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Smashwords


Monday, 27 January 2014

Interview With Author Shaun Holt

Today, author Shaun Holt stops by the blog for an interview, to discuss his writing and his debut book Waiting for the Rain.  Enjoy.

Interview with Shaun Holt

Why don't you begin by sharing a little about yourself?
I'm 28 years old, born and raised in Washington State. I got married in September 2012, to a woman who loves to read, so we have a symbiotic writer/reader relationship.

You've just published your debut novel. Can you tell us a bit about the book?
Waiting for the Rain” is about Mackenzie Roads, a high school senior, who wants to have a first kiss in the rain. A.J., an aspiring bull-rider, vows to fulfill her fantasy. It’s set in Washington State, where we have a reputation for wet weather, but naturally everything happens to keep them apart whenever it rains. The main reason I wrote this book is because I dislike all the bad examples kids have today, how teenage sex, and teenage pregnancies, are glorified. So I wanted to do the polar opposite – a teenage couple who won't even kiss until the time is right.

Why did you decide to write in the young adult and romance genres?
Simple answer is for my wife. She likes romance books more than the other genres I write, so my books usually aren't quite her flavor. “Waiting for the Rain” was something I figured she could read and enjoy. In the end, I had a lot of fun writing it, it was a fun challenge writing something out of my comfort zone. I play a little guitar, and a tip I read suggested that guitarists play something outside their genre. If you play metal music, try playing a country song. You learn things about the guitar in those other genres, which you can incorporate into your own style, which helps you create a unique sound. Same principle with writing outside a chosen genre. You learn things and develop a style you wouldn't have if you just stuck to your roots.

You write in other genres as well. What is your favorite genre?
Personally, I like action/adventure the most. I like describing other countries, their capital, their cuisine, and especially their history. I also love politics, so action/adventure allows me to delve into global political issues, play around with them a bit, and create what-if scenarios. Probably about fifty percent of these books are based around real people or real events, and the other half is just me messing around. A lot of my writing tends to be a bit satirical. As a writer, I think my challenge is to make fiction, however ridiculous the concept, seem realistic and believable. Action/adventure is especially fun, because I can toy around with things like Portugal and Spain going to war, the United States invading Canada, my take on the lost civilization of Atlantis, a nuclear Iran, et cetera.

Your book is written in the first person point of view. Did writing in that POV present challenges for you?
Waiting for the Rain” is the first 1st person point of view (me, my, I) book I've ever written, before that I've always written in 3rd person POV (he, him, his). To make it worse, the protagonist is a 17 year old girl. It was very strange at first to write as a teenage girl. My wife said the first draft read like it was written by a 25 year old guy. She was very helpful in pointing out subtle ways girls would talk, how they would act around their friends, and so on.

Can you tell us about your writing process?  Where do your ideas originate?  Do you have a certain writing routine?
There are two types of books I think – character driven and plot driven. For character driven books, I usually create a list of three or four characters, and they take the story wherever it would naturally go. For plot driven books, I do chapter-by-chapter outlines, usually coming up with about fifteen important characters. This will look something like “Russian ship is hijacked. British Royal Navy captain in Aden. Russian diplomat meets with Iranian President.” When I actually get to writing, I’ll be a little more spontaneous. Maybe I'll add a few more characters, insert chapters, and so on, but the framework of the story will be there. As far as character names, a lot of times I just combine names. For example, I knew two guys who hated each other, J.T. Marsh and Tom something, so the character is Tom Marsh. For foreign names, I tend to use Wikipedia, type in something like “List of Egyptian people”, and combine names that way. When I write, I try to write 2,000 words a night. If I stick to that, I can finish a book in a month. When the first draft is finished, I print the whole book out, and edit it with a red pen. I call this the “red pen draft”. The average book will have two or three red pen drafts.

What are some of your other interests, besides writing?
I love studying history, especially military, politics, and religion. Most of this is just to better shape my views on subjects. I think it’s very important to know the past, and understand where we came from, and what the issues mean. I started painting in Christmas of 2012. At first I was mostly doing Bob Ross-type landscapes, but now I am doing more abstract things. I go bowling a lot, I’m not so good, I average about 140, my best game was 216 I think. I used to like going to Seattle Mariners games, but now I tend to only go to games if it’s a team I've never seen. Last year I went to four games, the home opener against the Astros (first time seeing a home opener), the Chicago Cubs, the Minnesota Twins and Ken Griffey Jr. Hall of Fame night, which was awesome, against the Brewers, all teams I've never seen. Last year, I went to my first soccer game, which was an incredible experience. I think Americans will start to like soccer, especially since I believe they are becoming so cautious with football. I’m a big Seahawks fan too, very glad we made it to the Superbowl.

Who has inspired you as a writer and an author?
My mom and dad are both good writers. My dad used to write short stories and read a few of them to me when I was little, and my mom’s handwriting looks very elegant (mine is messy). Around age five, I was raised on the same property Edward R. Murrow lived on (his house had burnt down), so maybe this subconsciously turned me toward writing. In 4th grade, I stayed after school every day and typed out of a baseball book (loving baseball), to learn how to type. Computers were still relatively new in schools and typing wasn't yet a required skill, certainly unlike today, where one year olds are able to use iPads. I became enamored with the act of typing, and fell in love with words being used to tell stories. I think my desire to be a published author began then, in 4th grade. My main influence has been Clive Cussler. The first book I ever read cover-to-cover was “Atlantis Found” by Cussler, in 9th grade. Within a year I read all his books. Tom Clancy was also influential, along with John Steinbeck, Pearl S. Buck, Leo Tolstoy, and a few others.

What’s next for you?
Right now I'm doing the red pen draft of “Keeping Creed”, which I think will be the third book I publish, maybe this winter. After I finish that, hopefully in a week, I'll do a red pen draft of “German Derelict”, the first book in the Trevor Knight Series, which will hopefully be ready for publication this summer. The Trevor Knight Series is in many ways a parody of Clive Cussler’s books. I am not meaning to copy Cussler as much as I am satirizing his style and putting my twist on it. They're a lot of fun to write. “German Derelict” is the hardest book I've had to write at this point, it'd been a major struggle to get it where I’m happy with it. In essence, it is about Iran trying to acquire a nuclear weapon.

To find out more about Shaun and his writing visit his website: http://shaunwrites.weebly.com/

Waiting for the Rain is available on Amazon and Smashwords



Saturday, 11 January 2014

Join the Bloody Valentine Blog Hop 2014



Again this year, on February 14th,  I'll be hosting a darkly delightful, blood dripping, Valentine's Day blog hop where it's down with the idea of candy and flowers. For one day writers and bloggers will dispense with the sappy romance, and show you the bad side of love. 

We will be celebrating heartbreak, love gone wrong, romantic mayhem and tragedy, hopefully with that little splash of humour and blood.  On the Bloody Valentine Blog Hop you will find out what happens when the rose petals die, the candy melts, and lovers are looking for payback.

All you have to do if you like to to be one of our bloggers, is scroll on down to the bottom of this blog to the Bloody Valentine Blog Hop list, click the "add your link" button and sign up.
Then on Valentine's Day you simply post your story, poem or views on the bad side of love, adding a list of participating bloggers or a link back here to this blog. You can also add the lovely logo seen on this post if you wish.

So, join the fun and mark it on your calendar!   

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