"Come Little Children" by D. Melhoff

NEW RELEASE and GIVEAWAY
Come Little Children
by D. Melhoff
Come Little Children is currently on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. The author stops by today for an interview. You can also read my review. Please visit all of the other tour stops and enter the giveaway below.
Description
A hidden town. A paranormal rumor. A family secret.
After graduating from the mortuary program at Mount Royal University, Camilla Carleton moves to a secluded town in the northern Yukon for her first job at a family-run funeral home. Her new employers, however, are the town’s most controversial citizens, and when strange occurrences begin happening around the morgue – including late night visits from children who were thought to be dead – she won’t stop until she uncovers the truth behind these paranormal events.
But unraveling the funeral home’s secret is just the start. When Camilla is faced with life and death decisions of her own, she must fight to undo a horrific chain of events while struggling to outsmart a serial killer, save her family, and escape the morgue alive.
Book Trailer
Review

By Lynda Dickson

Camilla Carleton, a recently-graduated mortician, travels to the Yukon to start her first job in the Vincent Funeral Home, run by the strange members of the Vincent family. A soaking wet six year old boy shows up on the their doorstep on Camilla’s first night, but that is only the beginning of the strangeness. Camilla starts speculating about what’s going on, but none of her imaginary scenarios can possibly prepare her for what is happening in reality. What dark secrets is this family hiding?
When a tragic accident threatens to ruin her life, Camilla must make a difficult decision and put her trust in Peter, the youngest Vincent. This sets in motion a chain of events which will forever haunt her.
This story starts of slowly, but stick with it. Once the action starts, you won’t be able to stop reading. Full of gory details of dead bodies and morticians’ practices, this book is moody and atmospheric. It is also darkly humorous, as evidenced by the hilarious comedy of errors that nearly sees Camilla fired on her first day of work. Come Little Children is extremely well-written, and the author has an impressive vocabulary. I’ll be keeping an eye out for future works by this debut author.
Interview With the Author
Hi D. Melhoff, thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book, Come Little Children.
What age group do you recommend your book for?
Come Little Children is for 18 and up (mainly for violence and “mature situations”), but let’s get real. We were all reading that kind of stuff much earlier on, so I’d probably slip it to a 15- or 16-year-old and say, “Go for it.”
What sparked the idea for this book?
Drugs. Sort of.
I had jaw surgery a few years ago, and I was flat on my back for almost three weeks solid. One of those afternoons, I remember watching a TV special about the funeral business (or at least I thought I was watching a TV special, maybe it was a hallucination from all the painkillers) and it hit me that a morgue would make the perfect setting for a story I’d been kicking around for a while. Plus, I’ve always wanted to write about morticians, so the morphine gave me the extra push I needed.
Which comes first? The character’s story or the idea for the novel?
It differs by project. In the case of Come Little Children, Camilla waltzed into my head out of nowhere, a fully formed image of a beautiful and intelligent mortician. The story was built around her.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
Getting the start of the book right was challenging. For one thing, I had to introduce this main character who has a very strange – and distinct – view of the world, as well as a sense of humor, while simultaneously taking readers to places they’ve never been before (the Yukon, the town of Nolan, a funeral home, etc.). When you have that many unfamiliar elements at the start of a novel, there’s not a lot of common ground that readers can draw on and use to form a clear image in their head, so you have to be careful you don’t lose them.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
I hope they enjoy the thrill ride and realize that not all horror is purely about blood, guts, and gore – some of it is much more subtle. Consequently, I hope they go around recommending it to friends who might not usually read this genre.
I sure will! How long did it take you to write this book?
Two years, part time.
What is your writing routine?
6:15am – 8:00am – Wake up, get ready, commute to the office (I have some co-working space downtown)
8:00am – 8:15am – Deal with e-mails
8:15am – 12:00pm – Write, research, talk with editors and publishers
12:00pm – 12:30pm – Shovel lunch down my throat
12:30pm – 5:00pm – More writing, more researching, etc.
5:00pm – 8:00pm – Commute home. Eat, drink, and be merry.
8:00pm – 2:00am – Anyone’s guess. Sometimes I’ll take the evening off if I feel I’ve had a productive day, but most of the time my mind wanders back to my current project, so I’ll just keep writing. Personally, I like working late. There’s something special in the air when the rest of the continent goes to sleep and no one’s awake to bother you.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Take criticism as objectively as possible. Work in the good feedback; forget the trolls. Take breaks, but go hard and give your project as much time and attention as you can afford. At the same time, don’t stress about the aspects you can’t control.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Play chess and take in live theater. I wish I could say I’m a thrill-seeker in my personal life as well as my writing life, but alas, it isn’t so.
What does your family think of your writing?
Many of them died in a tragic fire, so thank you for bringing it up.
Only joking. They’re very supportive.
I never do know when you’re joking! Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
All right, Dr. Lecter. I grew up in a small city that has since turned into something of a ghost town. My mother is a psychiatric nurse and my father owns a brew pub (unfortunately, I had neither free alcohol nor therapy growing up), and my grandparents own a farm roughly ten miles north of the city limits.
My father was athletic in his day, so he tried to enroll me in every sport he enjoyed. Hockey, baseball, soccer – you name it. Sadly, I wasn’t very good at any of them. In fact, I stunk. I’d usually show up to the locker rooms with a book tucked under my arm, or find myself day-dreaming in the outfield during all my minor league baseball games (which is actually a good place to day-dream, seeing as kids at that age aren’t usually good enough to whack the ball past second base). My sports career ended around sixth grade, which is roughly the time I started writing.
Did you enjoy school?
I was good at school, and I enjoyed some classes, but I wouldn’t say I’m an academic. The only reasons I got good marks were because: 1) I have a good memory for facts, and 2) I’m comfortable with public speaking.
I graduated from university with high honors and great distinction, but oddly enough, I hate research and academic readings. Warning: If you want more on my perspective regarding the flaws of our current post-secondary system, we’ll need to start an entirely separate blog post.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
Absolutely. Anything by Roald Dahl, Robert Munsch, and R. L. Stine.
What was your favorite book as a child?
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I think I liked the idea of being a writer early on (high school), but it took a while to finally get there. I dabbled in screenplays and poetry in university, then eventually moved on to novels.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
Sure, but don’t our childhoods influence everything we do? I guess far as direct influence – such as sticking certain settings and people into my books – I’d say yes, I probably draw on some inspiration from when I was little. But don’t get the wrong idea and think that my childhood household was anything like the Vincent Funeral Home.
I should hope not! Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
A lot of them finish my first book and immediately ask, “What’s next?” Which is a good sign, I guess. Most of them just like the posts on my Facebook page (#shameless_plug).
That said, what can we look forward to from you in the future?
I’m currently working on a summer camp horror story, which I’m very excited about. Nothing paranormal in this one, just my own take on the classic “summer slasher” story (with a few new twists, of course).
Sounds great! Thanks so much for stopping by today. It’s been a pleasure.
Thank you for the interview.
About the Author
D. Melhoff was born in a prairie ghost town located an inch above the Canadian-American border. He credits King, Poe, Hitchcock, Harris, Raimi, and his second grade school teacher, Mrs. Lake, for turning him to horror.
Come Little Children is D. Melhoff’s first commercial release.


Giveaway
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for your chance to win one of five paperback copies (US only) or one of five ebook copies of Come Little Children by D. Melhoff (international).
Links

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"Waking Up Dead (End of Days Love)" by Emma Shortt

INTERVIEW and GIVEAWAY
Waking Up Dead
(End of Days Love)
by Emma Shortt
Waking Up Dead by Emma Shortt is on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. You can read my interview with the author below, as well as enter the giveaway to win a Waking Up Dead T-shirt. Make sure you visit the other stops on the tour.
Description
You know your life has hit rock bottom when you’re living off cooked rats and showering once every few months – if you’re lucky. But for Jackson Hart things are about to get a whole lot worse. When her best friend, Tye, disappears hunting for food, kick-ass Jackson’s ‘head south to safety’ plan looks like it’s dead before it’s even begun. But then she meets ex-mechanic Luke Granger, who takes her to his bunker, feeds her with non-rat based food, and offers her protection against the zombie hordes – not that she needs it. She knows how to use a machete and isn’t afraid to.
Jackson was tempted to stay in the city with her rescuer. Food, shampoo and the possibility of finally getting laid, what more could she ask for? But the flesh eaters are getting smarter and the bunker is compromised, so Jackson and Luke have no choice but to make the journey south.
Luke and Jackson team up to find other humans in a road-trip romance for the ages. They travel for thousands of miles with zombies shadowing their every move. They must utilize every resource at their disposal … and then some. On the way, they discover that even if flesh eating zombies are knocking down their door, there’s always time for sex and even love.
Excerpt
Luke struggled for something, anything, to break the silence, and after a moment settled on her bare legs. “Don’t take this the wrong way,” he said slowly. “But why the hell are you dressed in panties and boots?”
She lifted her drink, swallowed some more soda, and scowled again. “My jeans got covered in zombie pus and I have an open wound.”
“You’ll freeze.” He made to shuck off of his jacket and pass it across to her, but she waved his offer away.
“I’m fine,” she said. “My jacket is Gore-Tex. Weighs less than a pound, all weather resistant.”
“You’re lucky to have that.”
“It wasn’t luck,” she replied. “I peeled it off a dead woman.”
“How…resourceful.”
She shrugged. “Not resourceful enough, or I wouldn’t be sitting here freezing my ass off.”
Luke felt something completely inappropriate to the situation stir as he imagined that ass and maybe it was lack of sleep, or the weirdness of actually talking to a person, but he couldn’t seem to stop the words that fell from his lips. “You’re welcome to sit on my lap and get warm that way.”
She turned and met his gaze, narrowing her eyes at his teasing words. “You’re welcome to get to know my blade a bit better.”
Luke laughed. He couldn’t help it, and inexplicably, considering their dire situation, felt his spirits rise. Yes she was giving him a death glare, and yes she’d just lost her friend, and yes the zombies were everywhere…but she was so fucking cute. Maybe there were possibilities here, assuming they survived, of course, but then wasn’t that always an assumption?
“I’m Luke by the way,” he said – thinking perhaps he should introduce himself before he really tried to hit on her.
She narrowed her eyes a little more, tilted her head, and then a heart beat or two later, smiled back. A little dimple appeared in the left corner of her face and Luke swallowed, his chest suddenly feeling painfully, and oddly, tight.
“Jackson,” she said.
And then the pounding began.
Book Trailer

Review
Loved this zombie romance story. The zombies were unique and the romance was real.
Jackson was a lovely female lead. She kicked ass and took names. Though underneath her tough kick ass exterior there was a lot going on. I feel like in a lot of zombie/post-apocalyptic books that people are a little too normal. Everyone just kind of accepts the end of the world and moves on. In Waking Up Dead I’m happy to say that’s not true at all. Jackson has some really issues she’s dealing with throughout the book and they’re presented in a very graceful way. Jackson doesn’t have these issues to force the plot to move along or as story points. The issues, I feel, are what normal, everyday people would experience if the end of the world came about.
The zombies. I love the zombies. The fast, smart, pus filled zombies are so fun. It’s a different zombie than we’re used to seeing. Yes, zombies are all sort of the same but these zombies are smart. They’re learning, evolving and to me it spells the next step in zombie entertainment. Plus, you’ve got to love the pus.
The ending left the option open for a sequel. I would definitely pick up the sequel to this book. So bring it on!
Overall, Waking Up Dead is an amazing, sometimes gory, fun filled novel about a post-apocalyptic zombie ridden world. Anyone who likes zombies will like this book.
Interview With the Author
Hi Emma, thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book, Waking Up Dead.
Thank you for having me!
You’re welcome. Which writers have influenced you the most?
I read an awful lot, sometimes as many as twenty books a month, so I’m not short of inspiration! That being said, thinking back to when I first started writing I was hugely influenced by Anne Rice. Then when I started writing seriously for publication, I was profoundly influenced by Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. I read it when I was in my early twenties and fell in love with the hero and heroine. There’s a scene at the end *spoiler alert* where they are separated between worlds, each pining for the other, and I found it to be so beautiful. I constantly aspire to create that feeling for my readers.
What age group do you recommend your book for?
It’s definitely an adult book, so eighteen plus. Though I’m sure I would have read it when I was sixteen or seventeen!
What sparked the idea for this book?
I’m a big fan of zombies in a really weird way. I both love and loathe them, and actually have a bit of a phobia of them! I thought that if I wrote a zombie-inspired book it might help with my zombie related nightmares … sort of like aversion therapy. For the record it totally didn’t!
But this book was always going to happen; it felt, once I started, that I’d been waiting years to write it.
Which comes first? The character’s story or the idea for the novel?
Most of my books come to me fully-formed. The idea will spark and almost immediately the book will be there in my head including the characters.
Wow, that’s amazing! What was the hardest part to write in this book?
Up until now I have written a whole lot of romance – paranormal, contemporary, fantasy, I’m all over the different genres! But in those books the ending was always going to be a happily ever after and, though my heroines and heroes go through some tough times, they’re never in life or death situations.
In Waking Up Dead it felt completely different to that. Although I knew how the book was going to end, I constantly felt like I could kill my hero (Luke) or heroine (Jackson) off with just a few clicks of the keyboard. I know that sounds weird, because I wasn’t going to! But sometimes it was very hard to resist! I put them in some really awful situations and it would have been perfectly realistic to have them die.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
Waking Up Dead is, at its heart, a romance. Yes there are zombies, and yes it’s the end of the world, but I’m exploring the idea of “Where there is horror can there be love?”
It is not an easy road for Jackson and Luke in this story and, when I wrote the scene where their feelings for one another come to a head, I actually felt quite teary eyed! I want the reader to feel like that. In between the scenes of gore and horror – and yes terror, I want you to be scared! – I would like the reader to pause and simply sigh in satisfaction.
How long did it take you to write this book?
About three months, which is quite long for me, but because this is the first in a series I had to plot rather than just wing it!
What is your writing routine?
I don’t have one! I have a day job, two teenagers, a hectic gym schedule, lots of eating to do (you see why the gym is needed), and much research to undertake … so I fit it in when I can. I aim for about 30,000 words a week and feel quite annoyed with myself if I don’t hit it. Basically this means I find myself writing in to the early hours of the morning …
How did you get your book published?
Once it was finished I sent it to number of publishers, including Entangled Publishing (straight into the slush pile). I directed it to Erin (my editor) because she had posted a wish list which included zombie fiction. She emailed me the week of my wedding to tell me it was a yes. I was immensely pleased! It was a great start to my week.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Read, read, read in your chosen genre and then sit down and write, write, write. The hardest thing is to get that first book out of the way. But once you know you CAN write 100,000 words – doesn’t matter how bad – that’s the first step.
You can edit what’s already there, you can’t polish an empty page.
Great advice. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I like to spend time with my family and friends. To watch sci-fi shows, to read, read, read, to run and to read!
Yes … there’s not much on that list because writing takes up nearly all my free time! When my publicists at Entangled asked me for some fun facts about me I was like … ummm … I’m really quite boring!
What does your family think of your writing?
They’re very supportive. I had to give them all signed copies of Waking Up Dead.
They’re also really on board with the more traditional romance. My youngest teen will be like, “Writing your smut tonight mom?”
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I’m very close to my brother. He’s a biochem student studying for his masters, and there’s only 15 months between us.
He’s one of my bestest friends *waves, hi Andy!*.
He’s taken to handing out flyers for my books though to random people on the train, and putting posters up where they really should NOT be put.
That’s great! Did you enjoy school?
I enjoyed aspects of it. The learning for instance, my fav subjects were physics and maths. I did not like the rules or the regulations. In truth I spent a significant portion of my time in school outside the headmaster’s office or suspended.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
Yes, though we were painfully poor and couldn’t really afford books. My mom made up for it by taking us to the library every Saturday, more to give us something to do than anything else, I think. Some of my best childhood memories are from those trips.
What was your favorite book as a child?
The Lake at the End of the World by Caroline MacDonald. I read this when I was about eight or nine and it was everything a book should be. It’s post-apocalyptic and tells the story of the last girl on Earth … only she’s not. It was brilliantly done, with references to Plato’s The Republic that I did not pick up on until I read it when I was much older.
Who were your favorite authors as a child?
I adored The Worst Witch series by Jill Murphy. I devoured those books!  
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was 15. I wrote a book, and I use that term loosely, called Crimson Wars. It was an Anne Rice-inspired vamp epic. It was very bad.  
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
I think everything we experience influences us. Whether we realize it or not.  
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Sometimes, and it is always fab when they take the time to drop me a few words. Mostly they email me to tell me how much they enjoyed a certain book and I appreciate that … though I have one reader who regularly emails me full critiques about the work, including how I should have written certain parts and why the character’s outfits were not acceptable. He’s been there from pretty much the beginning J.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
Next month sees the release of the first book in my Club Smex series, Bound by her Best Friend. This is a contemporary, erotic romance series that I am very excited about. The second book (Shackled by the Boss) will be out in December, and then third (Tied to Him) in Jan 2014. Also in Jan 2014 will be my first Entangled Indulgence book, The Seduction Game.
Then in Feb 2014 the release of the second book in my Alpha Collection, Seduced by the Very British Lord …and I’ll stop there!
There will be more zombies too! I should add that, the second book in the End of Days Love series, Waking Up Alive, is being worked on as we speak.
Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to stop by today, Emma. Best of luck with the rest of the book tour.
About the Author
As a kid Emma wanted to be an astronaut, or maybe Captain Janeway. Because she didn’t really think her career choices through very well she ended up in an everyday geek job, crunching numbers and sighing over syntax. It seemed a long way from the stars, and in an effort to escape Emma decided to get serious about her other passion. Writing.
Several years later and Emma has yet to walk on the moon or sit in the Captain’s chair, but she is still writing. She scribbles stories in all sorts of genres, contemporary, paranormal, post-apocalyptic, historical, sci-fi … if she hasn’t tried it yet she will before long. The only common theme is the romance. A hopeless romantic, everything Emma writes has a love story in there somewhere.
She lives on the west coast of England with her very Greek husband and teenage kiddos. Apart from all things geek reading is her main hobby and she likes nothing better than getting home from a hard day at work and curling up with a book, though sometimes she gets home and writes one instead.
Giveaway
Make sure you enter the tour-wide giveaway for your chance to win a Waking Up Dead T-shirt (open internationally).
Links

"No Shelter From Darkness: The Cruentus Saga" by Mark D. Evans

INTERVIEW, REVIEW, and GIVEAWAY
No Shelter From Darkness:
The Cruentus Saga
by Mark D. Evans
Bewitching Book Tours brings you the book tour for Mark D. Evans’ No Shelter From Darkness, the first book in The Cruentus Saga. Be sure to visit all the stops below. Today on Books Direct I will be interviewing the author as well as sharing an excerpt and my review.
Description
“Her hands began to shake as she looked down wide-eyed at the blood-soaked cotton that covered her.”
London emerges from the Blitz, and every corner of the city bears the scars. In the East End – a corner fairing worse than most – thirteen year-old Beth Wade endures this new way of life with her adoptive family. She also suffers the prejudice against her appearance, an abiding loneliness and now the trials of adolescence. But with this new burden comes a persisting fatigue and an unquenchable thirst that ultimately steals her into unconsciousness…
What happens next is the start of something Beth will fear more than the war itself. She begins to change in ways that can’t be explained by her coming-of-age, none more frightening than her need to consume blood. The family who took her in and the former best friend who’s taken refuge in their house can never know. Aware of the danger she poses to everyone around her, Beth has never felt more alone. But someone else knows Beth’s secret… someone who understands just how different she really is. He alone can decrypt her past and explain her future. But he’s been sworn to destroy her kind, and as Beth grows ever more dangerous, he’s forced to take sides.
Can Beth keep all of the secrets? Can she trust a man sworn to kill her? And can she stop the vampire within from taking her humanity?
Excerpt
Beth breathed furiously. She was exhausted, but the air she breathed had a new scent to it. It stopped her short. Her insides jumped in excitement at the rusty metallic scent. Her jaw twitched and her body flinched. She spun her head around, toward the aroma. Oliver had felt his way back to the uneven wall and leant against it cradling his arm. He sobbed and whimpered, while looking aimlessly at it. Beth could see what he couldn’t: a jagged edge of bone poking out from his forearm. He was slightly sheltered under the broken floorboards above him, and the rain wasn’t washing away the blood that now oozed freely. Beth didn’t need to see everything. She could smell it.
Beautiful, delicious, unparalleled and unbeatable human blood.
Her head tipped forward. Her nose flared involuntarily and her lips snarled into a sadistic smile. She felt the four pointed canines being pushed out; unsheathed. The tip of her tongue curled under one of the two fangs that slid down. Her heart deafened the rain and the approaching bombers. Almost subconsciously, she lowered herself into a half-crouch, ready to pounce, and though her nails were trimmed short, her fingers curled into claws. She couldn’t even feel the hole in her palm any more. She felt nothing at all except raging bloodlust. Her brother leant there sobbing, oblivious to the bloodthirsty creature no more than a yard away that wanted nothing more than to cover everything with his precious life force. To swim in his blood.
Beth could almost taste it.
Review

By Lynda Dickson

No Shelter From Darkness is set in 1941 in war-torn London. Beth, now thirteen, was adopted by the Wades when she was one year old, after being abandoned on the steps of a church. When next door neighbor, Mary, is orphaned, she moves in with the Wades. This leads to some interesting situations, especially when Beth starts noticing changes in her own moods, health, and behavior, and begins to crave something she can’t identify. What is happening to her? And what secret has her father been hiding?
This book provides a fascinating look at life in London during World War II. I loved the amount of detail and obvious effort the author has put into the story, along with his new twist on vampire lore. The story is told alternately from the points-of-view of Beth, her friend Mary, and her adoptive parents Lynne and Bill. It’s interesting to see how Beth changes and how, with help from an unexpected source, she learns to understand and cope with her situation.
The book is exceptionally well-written, the characters are well-drawn, and the author does a wonderful job of getting into the minds and bodies of his female characters. I guess all of that research paid off (see interview below). I look forward to the release of the next book in the series in 2014.
Interview With the Author
Hi Mark, thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book, No Shelter from Darkness.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
Dean Koontz has influenced me in terms of style. It’s only recently when I read another of his books that I realized this. He’s such a great writer with an amazing way with words, I have no shame in saying I aspire to write like him.
As far as this particular novel is concerned, I wouldn’t say this was an influence as I had already written a few drafts of mine by the time I read it, but I sure was encouraged when John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In became so successful.
I love that book! It does have a similar feel to yours. What age group do you recommend your book for?
I know some readers classify my book as YA. I can appreciate that, I can see why that may be. In my mind it’s an adult book, written for an adult audience, but at the same time there are themes in this first book of the saga that would seem to lend itself to the YA market.
But then, how many under-18s watch 18-rated films?
I of course hope that the book reaches a broad audience. I think all the books in the series would appeal to late-teens and up, through the twenties and thirties and beyond. I’m not writing them for the YA market, but the YA audience will enjoy them.
I agree. What sparked the idea for this book?
A lifelong fascination with vampires helped. Among all the other ideas I have for stories, I think a vampire story was always going to be the one that would become my first book. However, The Cruentus Saga (of which No Shelter From Darkness is the first book) will be my only foray into vampires. No other ideas I have involve them.
Back to the question, though, and although I always wanted to write a vampire story, I was waiting a long time for that spark around which I could build a good vampire story. And the idea did come just like that. From out of nowhere, I suddenly asked myself what would happen if a vampire was brought up by humans.
I’m not saying that idea in itself was original, but the way I was visualising it was. It wasn’t a case of a human taking in a vampire. It was a case of a child growing up unaware of what she was, discovering she was a vampire, and exploring what that would mean for her and those around her.
Which comes first? The character’s story or the idea for the novel?
For me, it’s the idea that comes first. In everything I’ve written, it’s the idea that creates the character, and then it’s the situations that create the character’s story. The story for probably all of my characters has changed as I write them. There might be arcs that I want to cover and I’ll make sure that arc is part of the story, but for the most part I’ll be writing with a plan for the character, but then things happen, scenarios come about and the character’s story organically changes.
I think some of my better plot threads have come about this way, totally unintentionally but naturally coming out of some scenario or situation.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
It being set in 1941 and my insistence to myself on getting the details correct made a great many parts of the book difficult to write. But even then, probably the hardest part had nothing to do with the era. It was writing about the biological aspects of Beth’s transition into womanhood. It is a major part of the story, after all it’s what starts the whole thing off, in a way. I did a lot of research and asked a lot embarrassing questions of my female friends. It was important to me that like every other part of the book, I got it right.
Not that there is a “right” as I learnt; it’s different for every girl. But my concern was getting it realistic and relatable, and not shying away from it.
Well, I think you did a remarkable job. How do you hope this book affects its readers?
First and foremost, I would like for them to be entertained. I would be happy with that. Going a bit deeper, and I know this is asking a lot, I hope that it will leave people thinking about what is evil and what is good. I hope there’s a bit of a Dexter syndrome – he’s a serial killer but you like him. Is he evil? Likewise, Beth is a vampire. *Minor spoiler ahead* She’s killed animals. We know her kind kills humans. We know she almost did kill a human; that she wanted to. *End spoiler* But we like her and (hopefully) feel sorry for her. Yet, is she evil?
What does it mean to be evil?
I hope people are left a little confused, to be honest, as to who they should be rooting for. Real life is rarely black and white, so I hope to have a bit of that ambiguity in my novel, and for people to care enough about it to think about it.
As well as all this, there are various underlying themes and messages that I hope people will pick up on.
I always think a good novel is one that stays with you, that you find yourself thinking about it for days afterward. Again, I know it’s a tall order, but if my book stays with people like that (and for the right reasons, of course), it would make me a happy man.
I like your Dexter analogy, Mark. And you’ll be pleased to know your book has stuck with me. How long did it take you to write this book?
It took me a few years to write, from the first word of the first draft to the last word of the final draft. However, due to what I’m trying to achieve with the book and the series, I spent over a decade on research and development before I wrote that first word.
Wow, that’s impressive. What is your writing routine?
On the days that I get to devote completely to writing, I usually get up, go to a coffee shop, get my favourite latte and a panini and write until my battery dies. I’ll then usually go home, plug the laptop in and at the least finish the chapter I was working on.
How did you get your book published?
I actually started out the traditional way. I spent ages creating a cover letter and synopsis and sent them off with the first few chapters to numerous agents in the UK. Most of them replied, but all those that did said the usual thing, something along the lines of “it’s good but not for us”. It’s weird, but to get a rejection letter was kind of exciting in a way, a kind of rite of passage. But then it gets depressing when you get the sixth one.
But… I have a good FB/Twitter friend, Tracey Frazier, who is an author with Seattle based team publishers Booktrope, and she kindly got my foot in their door. I sent them my stuff, and the next thing I knew they were offering to publish my book.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Really, the only thing I could say is probably the same thing any other author would say: don’t give up. Keep on writing, and keep on improving. The old adage “if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again” is possibly more true for this vocation than any other – hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was created for this vocation.
But also, when (not if) you do get published, remember to stay realistic. It’s fine to dream about your book reaching millions of pairs of eyes, as long as it is your dream and not your expectation.
I think expectation is a bit of a fine line to tread, actually. I have dreamt (and still do) that No Shelter from Darkness will reach millions, but at the same time I know that the odds are against me. This is being realistic, but it’s very easy to fall the other side of the line into pessimism, certain that you’ll never sell more than a few copies.
Expect too much and you’re very probably setting yourself up for a nasty surprise, expect too little and your ambition, enthusiasm and drive will drain away.
At least, this is what I’ve found. Perhaps you’ll never have this problem, but it would be prudent to watch out for it.
It’s a great book. I hope it reaches millions, too. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Currently this is restricted to “free” activities (I’m an author, remember). Thus it’s the usual kind of things like reading, music and movies.
I was bitten by the travel bug many years ago, however, so am constantly itching to get out of the country and embark on adventures. Anything a little bit crazy is right up my street. Unfortunately right now I have to settle for walking around London and occasionally attempting to skateboard (usually with painful consequences).
What does your family think of your writing?
My sister is my beta reader. She has confided in me that when I gave her the first book to read, she approached it with equal amounts of excitement and fear. The fear was that she’d have to sit me down and tell me that I couldn’t write and that the book was crap. Believe me, she might be my sister, but I know that if she thought that, she’d tell me. It’s why she’s such a good beta reader.
Obviously I’m telling you all this now because she breathed a big sigh of relief when she realised she wouldn’t need to have that discussion with me (apparently she said to herself, “f#@k, my brother can write!”)
That’s great, Mark. Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
It included the usual stuff; pre-school, school, wishing you were a grown up with no idea how bad a wish that was.
Did you enjoy school?
Not particularly.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
I was a little odd as a child in so much that I was creative and imaginative, drawing and painting and, of course, writing. I showed promise when it came to words, being a good speller and grasping the concepts of word formation quite early on.
But I was too busy out playing with friends to read. I’m also not the best person at being told what to do, and throughout school we were given books to read and it made me not want to read them. To be honest, it wasn’t until I left school and was no longer told to read, when I started to read.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
There was no kind of “eureka” moment for me. It slowly developed over time. Ideas for stories occur to me all the time and always have, but it wasn’t until the idea for this novel popped into my head over a decade ago and I started to develop it when the desire to write really began to burn, even though I’d been writing stories most of my life.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
Not that I’m conscious of, but I wouldn’t be surprised if my sister read this answer and said, “You’re kidding, right?”
What was your favorite book as a child?
After what I’ve said about almost actively not reading as a kid, when I did read I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and there was a book I remember reading and loving, but the title of it to this day escapes me (no prizes for guessing it was a book school didn’t tell me to read). I’ve Googled it, of course, trying to find it but to no avail. I thought it was called something along the lines of “Dark Planet”, but nothing by that name matches the book I read.
It was about a man who lands on a seemingly abandoned planet only to learn something has caused the machines to come alive and kill everyone.
To a nine-year old me, that was awesome!
Okay, we’ll put the challenge out there. Does anyone know this book?
What can we look forward to from you in the future, Mark?
I’m working on the follow-up to No Shelter from Darkness at the moment, which I’m aiming to get published sometime in 2014. If you go to the Cruentus Saga website you’ll see my plan is to get all five books in the saga published at a rate of one per year, with the last part hitting in 2017.
As far as the saga goes, I’m just so excited to write each one and get them out there, because I really do think and believe that I have a great story to tell. It all started as one book and my intention was to write one book. I didn’t expand it into a saga for the hell of writing a series, I did it because the story required it. It has evolved without me pushing it.
Beyond that, I have other ideas in gestation and I already know which one I’d like to write first outside of the Cruentus world. Whether I’ll manage to do it before or after Cruentus is complete, we’ll just have to wait and see.
But whatever I write, I always try to break convention. Even if it’s a common theme, I always try and come up with something different. They say there’s no originality left in the world. While that may be true, I will always try to prove them wrong.
That’s great, Mark. I hope you do prove them wrong. Thanks for stopping by today. I look forward to reading the next books in the series.

About the Author
Mark D. Evans was born near London, England. He graduated university with a degree in something not even remotely connected with writing and went on to become a successful consultant. Then he threw it all away to chase his dream of being an author, via a considerable amount of travelling. Today, his life largely resembles that of a nomad, and he can currently be found typing away in a tiny flat in north London, sustained by coffee.
He is the author of two short stories, Dead End Train and We Are GOD. His latest work is his debut novel, No Shelter From Darkness, which is the first book in his series, The Cruentus Saga.
Giveaway
Make sure you enter to win in the tour-wide giveaway. There are five paperback copies and five ebook copies of No Shelter From Darkness up for grabs.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Links
Book Tour Schedule

October 1 – So Much to Write – Guest blog
October 2 – Fang-tastic Books – Guest blog
October 3 – Roxanne’s Realm – Interview
October 4 – Lisa’s World of Books – Spotlight
October 7 – Book Worm & More – Spotlight
October 8 – Reading in Twilight – Guest blog
October 9 – Lis Les Livres – Spotlight
October 10 – Dalene’s Book Reviews – Interview
October 11 – Jodie Pierce’s Ink Slinger’s Blog – Spotlight
October 15 – Bewitching Book Tours Magazine – Interview
October 15 – Nicky Peacock Author – Review
October 16 – Pembroke Sinclair – Interview
October 17 – Ramblings of a Book Lunatic – Spotlight
October 18 – Wicca Witch 4 Book Blog – Spotlight
October 21 – The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom – Interview
October 22 – Bookworm Bridgette’s World – Interview and Review
October 23 – Fae Books – Spotlight
October 24 – Quill or Pill – Spotlight
October 24 – Hide the Matches – Review
October 24 – Rogue Reviews – Review
October 25 – Ebook Escapes – Guest blog and Review
October 26 – Sunshine & Mountains Book Reviews – Review
October 27 – Mythical Books – Review
October 28 – Mythical Books – Interview
October 28 – Cloey’s Book Reviews and Other Stuff – Review
October 29 – Books Direct – Interview, Review, and Excerpt
October 29 – Deb Sanders – Review
October 30 – Beverly @ The Wormhole – Spotlight and Review
October 31 – Share My Destiny – Spotlight and Review
October 31 – BK Walker Books – Review
October 31 – Booklover Sue – Spotlight and Review

"The Heavens Rise" by Christopher Rice

NEW RELEASE and REVIEW
The Heavens Rise
by Christopher Rice
The Heavens Rise is the latest offering by Christopher Rice. I came across this book as a member of NetGalley, a site dedicated to linking authors with reviewers. If you love reading and reviewing books, or if you’re an author in need of reviews, why not give it a try? It’s FREE.
Description
New York Times bestselling author Christopher Rice brilliantly conjures the shadowed terrors of the Louisiana bayou – where three friends confront a deadly, ancient evil rising to the surface – in this intense and atmospheric new supernatural thriller.
It’s been a decade since the Delongpre family vanished near Bayou Rabineaux, and still no one can explain the events of that dark and sweltering night. No one except Niquette Delongpre, the survivor who ran away from the mangled stretch of guardrail on Highway 22 where the impossible occurred … and kept on running. Who left behind her best friends, Ben and Anthem, to save them from her newfound capacity for destruction … and who alone knows the source of her very bizarre – and very deadly – abilities: an isolated strip of swampland called Elysium.
An accomplished surgeon, Niquette’s father dreamed of transforming the dense acreage surrounded by murky waters into a palatial compound befitting the name his beloved wife gave to it, Elysium (“the final resting place for the heroic and virtuous”). Then, ten years ago, construction workers dug into a long-hidden well, one that snaked down into the deep, black waters of the Louisiana swamp and stirred something that had been there for centuries – a microscopic parasite that perverts the mind and corrupts the body.
Niquette is living proof that things done can’t be undone. Nothing will put her family back together again. And nothing can save her. But as Niquette, Ben, and Anthem uncover the truth of a devastating parasite that has the potential to alter the future of humankind, Niquette grasps the most chilling truths of all: someone else has been infected too. And unlike her, this man is not content to live in the shadows. He is intent to use his newfound powers for one reason only: revenge.
Excerpt
From the Journals of Niquette Delongpre
I’m not sure how long it was down there.
The soils beneath South Louisiana are constantly shifting; a mass of alluvial sands deposited over hundreds of thousands of years by the Mississippi’s flow. It could have worked its way up from deep within the earth, possibly pressured by the nearby upwelling of one of the many salt domes that dot the bottom of my home state.
Or it could have been draw to the surface by the work of some retired and forgotten oil well. I’ve studied old survey maps. There were two within a five-mile radius of our property. But they were capped and abandoned decades ago.
I remember when my father got the call that the contractors had discovered some kind of artesian well just a few yards from where they were laying the foundation of the new house. I remember how excited he was as he breathlessly explained the possibilities to my mother and me. The cost of running a larger pipe between Elysium and one of the parish’s main water lines was considerable; that’s how isolated the place was. But after a little investigation, the aquifer turned out to be woefully small, an isolated pocket beneath layers of bedrock that had long ago been cut off from its original source.
Still, Dad wanted to put it to some kind of use, even if it was only temporary.
Book Trailer
Podcast
Eric Shaw Quinn hosts this sneak peek inside Christopher Rice’s novel and first supernatural thriller, featuring an interview with Anne Rice on the true definition of a horror novel. Christopher performs readings from the book itself. The Dinner Party Show’s “Special Correspondents”, relationship expert JoNell Samms and critic-at-large Jordan Ampersand, deliver their advance reviews of the book.
Review

By Lynda Dickson

Marshall Ferriot has his eyes set on Niquette (Nikki) Delogpre, but her boyfriend Anthem Landry stands in his way. After engineering their breakup, Marshall and Nikki are exposed to a strange organism which will change their lives forever.
When Nikki and her family disappear, and Marshall Ferriot ends up in a vegetative state and later also disappears, Nikki’s friend Ben Broyard teams up with journalist Marissa Hopewell to investigate their disappearance. This search will last eight years. When people start suffering from strange blackouts and find themselves doing things they have no memory of and, as the trail of dead bodies increases, we are left to wonder: who is controlling whom and who will be left standing?
The Heavens Rise is a tale of revenge and unrequited love, with a bit of horror thrown in for good measure. The story is told via excerpts from the journal of Niquette Delongpre interspersed with past (2005) and present accounts by Marshall, Ben, Marissa, and a couple of other minor characters. The New Orleans setting is as much a character as any of the people.
The author has a great writing style which flows easily. He is able to swap between different characters, male or female, black or white, gay or straight, and make them all believable. He weaves the story together in an artful fashion, never disclosing too much at one time. He even manages to inject some humor, as witnessed by this exchange between Ben and Marissa:
“I’m working on a novel.”
“Don’t bother. There’re too many already and not enough people to read them.”
Seriously? You realize you said that out loud, right?”
Recommended for lovers of horror and young adult paranormal genres.
About the Author
By the age of 30, Christopher Rice had published four New York Times bestselling thrillers, received a Lambda Literary Award for Best Mystery and been declared one of People Magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive. His latest novel, The Heavens Rise, is a supernatural thriller about a young woman who is exposed to a mysterious parasite in the Louisiana swamp that gives her the power to control minds and unleash living nightmares. Together with his best friend, bestselling novelist Eric Shaw Quinn, Christopher recently launched his own Internet radio show. An outrageous and irreverent comedy The Dinner Party Show With Christopher Rice and Eric Shaw Quinn.
Christopher’s first novel, A Density of Souls, was published when he was just 22. The controversial bestseller was greeted with a landslide of media attention, much of it due the fact that Rice’s mother is a legendary vampire chronicler who shares his last name (Anne Rice). He served as a contributing columnist to The Advocate for many years and his additional criticisms and witticisms have been featured in The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Salon.com and his own Facebook page, which currently hails over 100,000 subscribers. The members of the InsightOut Book Club selected his novel Blind Fall as one of the best novels of 2008, and his noir thriller Light Before Day was hailed as a “book of the year” by mega-best selling thriller novelist (and Jack Reacher creator) Lee Child. His short fiction has been featured in the anthologies Thriller and Los Angeles Noir. He recently served on the board of directors of the West Hollywood Library Fund, which was instrumental in securing private funds to build a brand new state-of-the-art library in the heart of the city he now calls home.
Links

"Black Adagio" by Wendy Potocki

BOOK TOUR and INTERVIEW
Black Adagio
by Wendy Potocki
Black Adagio by Wendy Potocki will be on tour 7-14 October thanks to Bewitching Book Tours. Today Wendy stops at Books Direct. You can read my interview with the author below. Make sure you visit all the other stops on the tour.
Description
Melissa Solange is presented the chance of a lifetime. Chosen as a member of a new dance company, she works tirelessly perfecting the one element of ballet she’s never mastered – the adagio. As she rehearses, a dark force watches. Resurrected by the surprise addition of a classic ballet to the repertoire, the sinister work is thought to be cursed – destroying anyone who attempts to dance it.
When the production’s lead dancers begin to disappear, the old warning is taken more seriously. A death worshipping cult called The Innocents is blamed, but she is not so sure. They may be the scapegoat for an ultimate evil living in the woods of Holybrook. Desperate for an answer, she searches for what lurks in the shadows of the old trees before she becomes the next victim of the Danse Macabre.
Excerpt
Keeping track of the passengers that departed, all the stops in town were completed. The last one at the outskirts of town remained. Trying to figure out why Barbara was traveling into the middle of nowhere, he ruled out that she could be headed to the school. She wasn’t a dancer, and evening was much too late to be wandering around in the dark. Then there were those woods. It made no sense for her to be going near there. No one in their right mind would be going into that forest alone.
Alone! That was it! She was going to meet someone, but why was she doing it at this time of night? Perhaps she was cheating on the man she’d left him for. If so, his heart went out to the cuckolded husband. He hated to admit it, but he could well imagine her engaging in this kind of betrayal. If she could do it to him, she was capable of doing it to anyone.
Out on the open highway, the vehicle raced at a clip. Its windshield wipers batting away, the smattering of snow drove into the glass. He stepped on the gas, his car’s tires digging in. Gripping the wheel, the heat was now shooting out and thawing his frozen extremities. His thighs still tensed, it wasn’t from the cold, only the gravity of the situation. Certain that he could press them into further action, they wouldn’t fail him. He was old, but not dead. There was no way he’d miss this opportunity.
His palms were sweating, his brow becoming moist. Old feelings surged up from the soul holding his sanity like fragile glass. His eyes already tearing up with regrets, he wondered if there was a promise of a future. While he was interested in hearing her explanation, what he really wanted was for her to change her mind.
He was being a fool. His friends and family had told him that over and over again. Even with drumming it into his head, all his chances to be happy were let go like grains of sand from a hand opening on a beach. He didn’t want to be with anyone else. It wouldn’t be fair to pretend someone else was her. 
Easing down on the brake, the final stop was up ahead. Pulling to the side of road, he parked, waiting for the inevitable. Withdrawing from the car like a cobra from a basket, he wrapped his arms over his chest, beating his arms slightly for warmth. Hopping from leg to leg, the bus came to a halt. His eyes level with the passenger that emerged, he finally saw her.
“Barbara!” he screamed, the sound covered by the loud rumble of the bus resuming its rounds.
Spinning her head around, she met his eyes. Her face taking on an expression of fright mixed with determination, she took off for the woods. Her high boots easily cutting through the deep snow, his legs had trouble lifting, but he nonetheless tried to follow the footsteps that carved out a trail.
“Barbara, please stop! I only want to talk to you!” he pleaded, “You owe me that much!”
Arms flailing from a slip, he recaptured his balance. The lip of the woods ahead, Barbara was surprisingly fleet of foot. Only a few feet ahead of him, with a tremendous effort, he shifted into a higher gear. His legs pumping forward, his arms aided in him catching up with his elusive muse.
At the foot of the path leading into the forest was where he caught her. His hand groping forward, he snatched a hold of the synthetic white material, not letting go. His other hand joined in, gaining even a better hold on her wrist. Spinning her around, he stared in horror. Unable to speak, he broke the silence with a scream.
Book Trailer
Review
Black Adagio satisfies on a deep level my love for horror & mystery. Set in a School for Dance, deep in the woods, Melissa Solange is a young dancer who wishes to be a Prima Ballerina. She faces a growing terror as she is swept along to an ending she must summon all her strength to face. I believe it is a classic… because not only its plot, but the characters brought to life, are unforgettable. The dance descriptions show the author to be deeply rooted in ballet. The suspense builds & builds till the final crescendo. Loved the ending… a must read for those who appreciate a well-written tale of mystery, horror, beauty.
Interview With the Author
Hi Wendy Potocki, thanks for joining me today to discuss your latest book, Black Adagio.

Which writers have influenced you the most?

That’s a big list! What age group do you recommend your book for?
Black Adagio would be for anyone 15 and up. It does contain some grisly deaths, but is pretty clean in terms of sexuality and language.
What sparked the idea for this book?

The idea came out of the blue. Many years ago, I was just walking down the street when this horrific image came to me. It was of a young ballerina being attacked by a creature that you’d do best to avoid. It played like a movie in my head. At the time, I hadn’t even contemplated writing. Nonetheless, that scene stayed with me. I suppose the idea was officially planted. When I finally did decide to clack away on the keyboard in an attempt to spin dark tales, that memory came back. I realized it was time to flesh the story out and that’s just what I did.

So, which comes first? The character’s story or the idea for the novel?
For me, it’s the idea. The idea just sort of floats in, and then over the course of the next few days, the characters start coming to me. Not all of them, but the protagonist and ones central to the story. When I know the lead character’s favorite color and can hear dialogue, I begin writing.

What was the hardest part about writing this book?
Without a doubt, the editing! It was excruciatingly painful. I wrote back-stories of every character – and we’re talking detailed. Of course, these events had nothing whatever to do with the story I was telling, but it allowed me to dig deeply into the psyche of each. Because I went this extra mile, I knew what motivated them and why they behaved the way they did.

But all that had to go away. While writing the book only took three months, the editing went on forever. It reached the point where I was ready to throw the manuscript, the laptop, and me out the window. The only thing that prevented it from happening was realizing I was on the first floor and wouldn’t get that hurt. Otherwise, I would have taken the plunge.

Well, I’m glad you didn’t! So how long did it take you to write this book?
Three months to write the book. But the editing process put it in the ballpark of over a year to achieve a finished product.

How do you hope this book affects its readers?
I want readers to feel the passion of dance. It’s been a lifelong obsession of mine, and I so wanted to convey the feeling of urgency that every dancer experiences. An artist needs to dance; they don’t just choose to do it. It’s part of their DNA and leads to the sacrifices they make in order to become the best they can be.

Melissa Solange demonstrates this beautifully. She embodies the discipline and the wanting of her dream to be realized so badly that she’s willing to go through anything to achieve her goal. It’s this drive that makes her tick. It’s as important as breathing air to dancers like Melissa.

What is your writing routine?
Generally, I start writing about 11:00 AM. I try to work straight through to 4 or 5. I often work on multiple projects, so it’s not strictly new writing. There may be editing going on.

How did you get your book published?
I’m a self-published author so the method is much easier. I generally use Amazon and Createspace for print copies.

What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?

I took a course in personal training and learned that there’s something called “exercise specificity”. Basically, it means that if you want to learn how to swim, you’re going to have to get in the pool and swim. The same applies to writing.

Whether you’re self-published or traditionally published or just starting to hone your craft, you have to write in order to write. Write anything you can. Take on projects that you don’t think you can tackle just for the experience. For instance, if someone wants you to write a blog on a subject that you don’t believe is your forte, just do it. If the words aren’t forthcoming, push and write something down. Anything. Just get it done.

The effort may not be your best, but you’re accomplishing several things. The first is developing a writing muscle. This will allow you to be flexible and so much more fluent in your work. Next, you’ll be broadening your horizons and growing by doing. That’s so important. Lastly, you’ll be learning how to be professional. If you desire a career, this is crucial.

Many times you’ll be called upon to write a blurb, a marketing piece or redo your bio on an ASAP basis. If you back out of those opportunities, you’ll only be hurting yourself so learn how to write in all ways, not just the ways you think are fun.

Great advice, Wendy! What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Walking, schmoozing, talking on the phone, visiting Starbucks, and conducting dance interviews. I also have been known to show up for a performance or two. I make a great audience member. I applaud until my hands bleed.

What does your family think of your writing?
Well, one of my biggest supporters is my sister. While it’s fantastic, I’ve learned that not everyone is as in love with me as she happens to be. Why? It’s a mystery to me – and to her. And while I value her opinion of my work, I’ve also learned to take everything she says with a grain of salt, but I like salt so it works out fine.

That great. Did you enjoy school as a child?

Yes, I loved school. I loved learning and my teachers and looked forward to starting a new school year. My favorite class? English.
Did you like reading when you were a child?

I loved to read when I was a child. First, my parents read fairy tales to me at bedtime. Then I read them myself. After that, I progressed. At one point in my life, I was reading a book a day.

Sounds like me! When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
It wasn’t until much later in life. In the 90s, I went through a spiritual searching. I read everything I could on the occult, religion, magic, alchemy, physics, and a variety of esoteric subjects. The outgrowth of this was writing my first book called The Chrysalis State. The story was based on an idea proposed in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. The concept is that when we die, we dream the dreams we deserve. For some this will mean heaven, but for others, this will mean hell.

Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
I suppose they’ve made me what I am, but I really try to keep my personal issues out of my writing. My most important job is to let my characters speak. I try my best to do this and not interject myself into the story.

What was your favorite book as a child?
The Black Stallion by Walter Farley. I loved this book and the entire series so much. I don’t know how many times I read it. Every night, I’d pick a passage and reread it. Whether it was when Alec spied the horse on the ship, or when he first rode him on the island, or when he won the race, I just couldn’t get enough. It was such a good book.

Who were your favorite authors as a child?
Walter Farley, of course. Then there was Jack London and Agatha Christie. I suppose Ms. Christie’s work isn’t something children normally read, but I loved mysteries and for some reason loved reading hers.

Don’t worry, I read her too! Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I don’t hear from them that often, but when I do, I find them to be very kind. They’re usually very effusive in their praise. I just get very flustered when compared to someone that I admire. I don’t know quite how to respond. Can’t very well say, “No, you’re wrong! I don’t write that well!”
Let me put it this way, it’s humbling.

What can we look forward to from you in the future?
Oh, so many things. I’m finishing Thrill. It’s a horror chiller-diller. I’m also working on a fantasy thriller series under a pen name. If that isn’t enough, I’m writing two mysteries that will also be written under a nom de plume.

As for horror, I’ve started two other novels, ZaSo and All the Women Are Witches. The Virgin and One Night in the Woods are on the backburner, as is a new horror series whose title hasn’t been announced.

I’m spreading my wings and trying new things, so expect the unexpected.

Sounds like you’re keeping busy! Thank you so much for stopping by for a chat today, Wendy. Have fun on the rest of your tour!
About the Author
Wendy Potocki lives and writes in New York City. If that isn’t scary enough, she writes in the genre of horror. She feels creating good horror is an art form. She religiously devotes herself to pursuing it over hill and dale – and in the crevices of her keyboard.
Named one of the Top Ten “New” Horror Authors by Horror Novel Reviews, she has six self-published novels. Book trailers for many of her works may be found on her website. Her next planned projects are Thrill, The Virgin, and ZaSo, a Gothic tale of horror.
In her spare time, she loves to go for long walks, drink Starbucks Apple Chai Lattes, make devotional offerings to her cat named Persephone, and be stilled by the grace, beauty and magic of ballet.
Links
Book Tour Schedule
October 7 – Books Direct – Interview
October 7 – So Much To Write – Guest blog
October 8 – Sharing Links and Wisdom – Interview
October 8 – Book Worm & More – Spotlight
October 9 – Books to Get Lost In – Guest blog and Review
October 9 – Pembroke Sinclair – Interview
October 10 – Mythical Books – Interview
October 10 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – Spotlight
October 10 – Trips Down Imagination Road – Review
October 11 – Sunshine & Mountains Book Reviews – Spotlight and Review
October 14 – Zombie Girl – Guest post and Review
October 14 – Deb Sanders – Spotlight

"No Shelter From Darkness" by Mark D. Evans – Book Tour

BOOK TOUR and GIVEAWAY
No Shelter From Darkness
by Mark D. Evans
Bewitching Book Tours brings you the book tour for Mark D. Evans’ No Shelter From Darkness, the first book in The Cruentus Saga. Be sure to visit all the stops below and return to Books Direct on 29 October when I will be interviewing the author as well as sharing an excerpt and my review.
Description
“Her hands began to shake as she looked down wide-eyed at the blood-soaked cotton that covered her.”
London emerges from the Blitz, and every corner of the city bears the scars. In the East End – a corner fairing worse than most – thirteen year-old Beth Wade endures this new way of life with her adoptive family. She also suffers the prejudice against her appearance, an abiding loneliness and now the trials of adolescence. But with this new burden comes a persisting fatigue and an unquenchable thirst that ultimately steals her into unconsciousness…
What happens next is the start of something Beth will fear more than the war itself. She begins to change in ways that can’t be explained by her coming-of-age, none more frightening than her need to consume blood. The family who took her in and the former best friend who’s taken refuge in their house can never know. Aware of the danger she poses to everyone around her, Beth has never felt more alone. But someone else knows Beth’s secret… someone who understands just how different she really is. He alone can decrypt her past and explain her future. But he’s been sworn to destroy her kind, and as Beth grows ever more dangerous, he’s forced to take sides.
Can Beth keep all of the secrets? Can she trust a man sworn to kill her? And can she stop the vampire within from taking her humanity?
About the Author
Mark D. Evans was born near London, England. He graduated university with a degree in something not even remotely connected with writing and went on to become a successful consultant. Then he threw it all away to chase his dream of being an author, via a considerable amount of travelling. Today, his life largely resembles that of a nomad, and he can currently be found typing away in a tiny flat in north London, sustained by coffee.
He is the author of two short stories, Dead End Train and We Are GOD. His latest work is his debut novel, No Shelter From Darkness, which is the first book in his series, The Cruentus Saga.
Giveaway
Enter to win in the tour-wide giveaway. There are five paperback copies and five ebook copies of No Shelter From Darkness up for grabs.
Links
Book Tour Schedule
October 1 – So Much to Write – Guest blog
October 2 – Fang-tastic Books – Guest blog
October 3 – Roxanne’s Realm – Interview
October 4 – Lisa’s World of Books – Spotlight
October 7 – Book Worm & More – Spotlight
October 8 – Reading in Twilight – Guest blog
October 9 – Lis Les Livres – Spotlight
October 10 – Dalene’s Book Reviews – Interview
October 11 – Jodie Pierce’s Ink Slinger’s Blog – Spotlight
October 15 – Bewitching Book Tours Magazine – Interview
October 15 – Nicky Peacock Author – Review
October 16 – Pembroke Sinclair – Interview
October 17 – Ramblings of a Book Lunatic – Spotlight
October 18 – Wicca Witch 4 Book Blog – Spotlight
October 21 – The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom – Interview
October 22 – Bookworm Bridgette’s World – Interview and Review
October 23 – Fae Books – Spotlight
October 24 – Quill or Pill – Spotlight
October 24 – Hide the Matches – Review
October 24 – Rogue Reviews – Review
October 25 – Ebook Escapes – Guest blog and Review
October 26 – Sunshine & Mountains Book Reviews – Review
October 27 – Mythical Books – Review
October 28 – Mythical Books – Interview
October 28 – Cloey’s Book Reviews and Other Stuff – Review
October 29 – Books Direct – Interview, Review, and Excerpt
October 29 – DebSanders – Review
October 30 – Beverly @ The Wormhole – Spotlight and Review
October 31 – Share My Destiny – Spotlight and Review
October 31 – BK Walker Books – Review
October 31 – Booklover Sue – Spotlight and Review

"The Necromancer’s Gambit (The Gambit #1)" by Nicolas Wilson

NOTE: This book is suitable for adults only
NEW RELEASE and GIVEAWAY
The Necromancer’s Gambit
(The Gambit #1)
by Nicolas Wilson
You may remember Nicolas Wilson as the author of several short story anthologies previously featured here. Today I’m announcing the release of Nic’s latest project, The Necromancer’s Gambit, the first book in his new series The Gambit. There is also one ebook copy of this book up for grabs in the giveaway.
Description
Knight, the sheriff of a local magical government, or “the Gambit,” is called to recover a mutilated body, tainted with magic and dumped at a popular haunt. When the corpse is identified as a close associate of the Gambit, he suspects a larger conspiracy threatening the fragile peace amongst the city’s magic-wielding factions. As more bodies fall, Knight finds himself fighting for the lives of those he cares about.
Excerpt
I’m not going to tell you my name. Names have power. But we’ll get to that. For now, know that everyone calls me Knight.
It’s raining, but this is Portland, so that’s redundant. My hair is soaked, plastered to my head. I get it cut at a little shop in Hazel Dell. The owner is a gentle, older woman who decorated the place like it was her parlor: balls of yarn, old portraiture, and a pink, flowery wall paper that all give it a 1950s feel. Each time I go, she’s decides I look like a different celebrity from the 30s or 40s, and insists on cutting my hair that way. Right now I’m Gary Cooper, apparently. But I go there anyway, because she’s the only one who doesn’t disturb my cowlicks, and make me look like Alfalfa.
I check my watch. Rook’s late. That’s not a good sign- or maybe it’s just a character flaw- I don’t know her well enough to say.
I’m huddled under an awning to stay out of the worst of it. Some poor bastard in a beat-up pick-up left his lights on. If it was warmer, or drier, I’d leave it alone- and I should. Never draw attention to yourself. It was the closest thing to a maxim my mother ever had. But the idea of someone having to walk home in this downpour, fuck- being stuck in this city’s lousy enough.
I walk slowly over to the truck, hoping a driver careless enough to leave his lights on maybe didn’t lock the doors. But that would make things simple, and this driver’s apparently a very practical moron.
Simplest unlocking spell I know involves sympathetic magic. You spit in the keyhole, to make the lock a part of you. Then you use an incantation to convince it that you both want the lock open; my favorite I learned from an Irish klepto who might have stolen my heart if she hadn’t made off with my wallet first.
Sympathizing a lock open always reminds me of that scene from Empire, where Luke can’t get his rocks up- because it only kind of works. Sometimes, you just look at the lock sideways, and it’s done. Other times, you can work a lock for hours, and nothing.
The Toyota’s lock has seen better days, and its owner isn’t gentle about shoving his key inside, so it’s used to being manhandled, and gives quickly. I glance around. There are enough people on the sidewalk that I’ve definitely been seen, but nobody’s paying enough attention to care. I open up the door, and feel around for a second, just long enough to find the light switch and push it in.
“The fuck are you doing in my truck?” a man asks from behind me. He’s drunk; I’m not sure if the smell or the slur hits me first. I feel a hand on my shoulder, that works its way to the collar of my leather jacket. I turn around.
“Just turning off your lights,” I say, earnest.
“You were busting into my car.” I can’t be sure if he shoves me against his truck, or nearly passes out against his truck, and uses me to cushion his landing. Either way, it’s all I can do not to punch him right in the face. I take a breath.
“You left your lights on and your door unlocked. I just wanted to help.” I put up my hands, in surrender. He knows he’s ploughed, so he stops to think about it; he can’t decide if I’m telling the truth, and I’d guess it wouldn’t be the first time he drunkenly punched an innocent man, so he lets go of my collar.
Without my collar to steady him, he falls most of the way into his cab. He’s drunker than I thought. And even if I call the cops, they’d arrive just fast enough to be worthless. I grab hold of his shoulders, to steady him, “You don’t look so good. Maybe you should sleep it off.” He grunts, and I know I’m not so lucky. I don’t quite remember which Greek or Latin root I need to finish off a drowsiness spell. I don’t dare guess, lest I Sleeping Beauty him- because I really don’t want to have to deep tongue kiss a man tonight- especially not this man.
I slam him hard against the steering wheel. “Whoa,” I yell, for the sake of a homeless man, half-asleep in a doorway with a clear line of sight. “You okay, buddy?”
He’s got a small cut in his forehead, and it’s drooling blood around his brow. “Maybe, I, maybe I should sleep it off.” He’s not unconscious, but he’s almost passed out from the drink. I fold his legs into the cab and shut the door.
“Got plans?” Female voice. Haughty. Not authoritative enough to be a cop- but it’s nobody I recognize.
“Excuse me?” I ask as I turn around.
“You know, if you’ve got a long night of date-rape planned, I can always come back in the morning. I’d hate to intrude on your evening.” I realize then it’s Rook.
“You’re late.”
“You must be Knight; Sister Magdalene said you were grumpy. I’m-” I grab her wrist and squeeze. If she isn’t who I think she is, this is the point I get maced, or maybe a fireball cast in my underpants.
“Don’t.” I give her a second to react, and when she doesn’t I let her go. “Never use your name with anyone if you can avoid it. Names have power.” Magic draws on connection. A name is giving someone a piece of you, and a stronger connection, one they can use to burn you from a distance. “Besides which, when the Salem Circle finally sets up its government, you’re going to be their castle, so you’ve already got a title. You’re Rook.”
“But don’t titles also have power?”
“Some. But less – for the same reason that saying goddamn the President isn’t nearly as effective as casting a diarrhea spell on Barrack Obama. Specificity is your friend- and your enemy.” I’m still awkwardly holding a coffee cup, and push it out to her. “It’s cold.”
“As in ice, or you didn’t grab one of those sleeve things?”
“As in whichever extreme I ordered it at wasn’t enough to overcome your extreme tardiness.”
“I’d retort with a witticism about your tardedness if I‘d had my coffee already.” She grabs the cup and drinks it like a shot. There’s a sigil on the bottom of it. Not a spell in its own right, just an activator; the sugar in her coffee is transubstantiated. The spell turns it back into an artificial sweetener, one that in significant quantities acts as a laxative. She doesn’t notice the mark- didn’t even check for one- which almost makes me want to activate the spell.
But I don’t. Because I’m trying to be diplomatic, and there are probably gentler ways to teach her caution. “I’m still not 100% on why you’re riding along with me. Our Castle is friendly enough, loves to talk tradecraft, and actually has experience relevant to your new responsibilities.”
“I’m supposed to be Rook eventually. But right now I’m just another sister. Magdalene asked me to come and learn what I could about your gambit, so we could design our equivalent from a position of knowledge.”
“Magdalene? What is she, a first century prostitute?”
Her eyes flash with a memory, and I realize she knows Magdalene’s real name and wants to tell it to me, then she says “Names have power.” I know it, too; Magdalene and I have a history, but Rook doesn’t need to know that. History has power, too.
She takes another sip from her coffee, then asks, “So is this what a magical dick does? Sit around drinking old coffee? And why couldn’t you just wait for me to get here, then let me order for myself?”
“One, because this is the only block in Portland without a Starbucks on the corner, and two, because we have a case. The moment we’re inside we’re on the clock.”
“So that’s why you had me meet you outside the Cauldron. You didn’t strike me as a dance club kind of guy.”
“Am I that obvious?” I kneel in front of my homeless witness from before. It takes a moment for him to recognize me, and he worries for an instant that I mean to shut him up, until he sees the green of a bill in my hand. “Guy in the truck hit his head pretty hard. You want to keep an eye on him, for me?” He mumbles something that sounds like ‘sure’ and palms the twenty; we both wish it was more.
Review
If a paranormal film noir was turned into a Dungeons and Dragons style RPG, it would read something like this… Wickedly awesome!
A secret society of Mages, operating under the mast of The Gambit. Like chess pieces, King, Queen, Castle, Knight, Rook and Pawn, are charged with policing the magic wielding community and maintaining the treaties with the vampire society. When mutilated and magically booby trapped “Black Dahlia” corpses start turning up, everyone becomes a suspect. Meanwhile, a rival group makes a very public play to overthrow the gambit.
Strip joints, booze, and raunchy sexual humor. This isn’t for the `straight and narrow’ or easily offended crowd. The jokes are often of the inside nature, you know it’s funny, but you aren’t quite sure why… and in the hands of a less talented author, probably wouldn’t have worked. In this case, it was harmonious as Nic Wilson, whether intentionally or not, has empathetically placed us in the shoes of Rook, the new kid on the block, while she struggles to learn the ropes within the Gambit.
With the body count rising, mercenaries with a thirst for extreme violence on your tail and time running out, whom do you trust? And if you survive, how far would you go in the name of justice?
About the Author
Nicolas Wilson is a published journalist, graphic novelist, and novelist. He lives in the rainy wastes of Portland, Oregon with his wife, two cats and a dog.
Nic has written eight novels: Whores: not intended to be a factual account of the gender war, Dag, and The Necromancer’s Gambit are currently available for ereader and will soon be available in paperback; Nexus, Banksters, Homeless, The Singularity, and Lunacy are all due for publication in the next two years. Nic has also written several short story collections.
Nic’s work spans a variety of genres, from political thriller to science fiction and urban fantasy.
For information on Nic’s books, and behind-the-scenes looks at his writing, visit Nic’s website. Sign up for his mailing list to receive a free novella, Dogs of War.
Giveaway
Enter the giveaway to win an ebook copy of The Necromancer’s Gambit, kindly donated by the author.
Links